It sounds obvious: put solar panels on a movable mount to follow the sun and catch as much sunlight as possible. But applying solar trackers to a project is not clear cut. Developers not only have to consider cost and location but the type of tracker that best suits the project. Yet as innovations in technology continue, trackers are starting to play a larger role in the industry.
Solar photovoltaic (PV) technology is a recipe of highly engineered materials and components, sandwiched with specific functions and working together to harness sunlight and convert it into electricity. One of those layers is the encapsulation film which protects the solar cell and ensures its performance and reliability; its role is to provide optical and electrical transmissivity and keep out moisture.
Five years ago it seemed possible that solar water and space heating would break through into the mass market. Oil and gas prices were rising quickly and collector manufacturers had invested in larger production lines. But the successes of 2008 have not continued since. According to the latest projections by BDH, the German heating industry association, German plumbers installed 1.2 million square meters of solar collectors in 2012. This is 5 percent less than in 2011 and 40 percent less than in the boom year of 2008.
News that Germany plans to launch a €50 million solar storage incentive is the latest indicator that solar storage's time has come.
Grid parity? Far less of a big deal than the PV sector might have thought. For Parag Bhamre, a consultant at EuPD Research, the "magic day" when residential panels can compete with the grid will pass without fireworks.
Long-term forecasts on the availability of silver, the most widely used electrode material in solar photovoltaic technologies, suggest that the price of this already valuable material is likely to rise as demand from the solar industry soars.
Imagine that you're a solar PV module manufacturer whose company has invested many years in refining your product's quality and durability. With so many new products constantly entering the market, each with a claim to rival your own, how do you differentiate your module in the marketplace? Or say you are one of these manufacturers of a new product: you know your product has great potential, but with so much existing competition and so few opportunities for comprehensive testing of your module versus your competitors', how can your product gain marketplace and investment acceptance as a durable option for PV projects?
In the solar electricity market, consolidation and contraction are the buzzwords of the day. Today, all solar PV manufacturers face an over-supplied and underfunded PV market. The oversupply and drop in subsidy across Europe and the US has forced crystalline silicon manufacturers to sell panels below manufacturing costs. As the weeks tick by, major manufacturers, one after another, are announcing bankruptcies or plans for a major scaling back of their operations. Thin-film solar panel manufacturers have not been able to stay out of the fray, with many struggling to keep up.
Flexible photovoltaics (PV) have the potential to reduce the cost per Watt of solar energy and improve lifetime performance of solar modules. The conformable properties open up new market opportunities such as building integrated PV (BIPV) and portable PV. However, for flexible PV to be a viable renewable energy option and to compete with more established solar cell technologies, requires reductions in manufacturing costs, improvements in performance, and greater reliability.
Solar in South Africa ABB has signed an agreement with FG Emvelo to develop concentrating solar power (CSP) plants at Karoshoek Solar Valley in Northern Cape province, South Africa. FG Emvelo recently acquired a 340 km2 site for the plants, which will use the ABB-Novatec Solar technology, which the company claims reduces the need for...