Briefly Noted … Solar Energy

– Germany’s largest solar plant has started operation in Bavaria and will generate 1.56 million kWh a year for the grid. The PV facility, which cost US$7 million, has 12,672 solar modules with a total surface area of 14,500 m2. The Upper Palatinate region is described as one of the sunniest areas of Germany, with annual insolation of 1,075 kWh/m2. – Cypress Semiconductor is installing a solar electric generation system at its new headquarters in San Jose, to offset expensive peak power purchases. When completed, the system will be the largest PV facility in the Silicon Valley, generating electricity from its 335 kW rooftop array. The facility will be manufactured and installed by PowerLight Corp of Berkeley, California. “We see no reason why other Silicon Valley firms shouldn’t follow suit,” says Cypress CEO TJ Rodgers. “This project was entirely justifiable on economic merits alone.” – A diagnostic centre in the Indian state of Maharashtra claims to be the first to successfully function on solar energy, for as long as 45 days. The Unique Diagnostic Centre says other hospitals can rely on solar energy to carry out emergency operations, without being concerned about power failures. The centre has been using solar for 14 hours a day, which has considerably reduced electricity costs. The total cost of the 4 kW installation was Rs 14.5 lakh. – Japan Storage Battery Co. is recalling 335 solar cell-based power generators, following reported outbreaks of fire in the equipment. The fires began in the PV inverters, according to company officials who found that some components were soldered improperly with a robotic soldering machine. The recalled units are 191 that the company sold under its own brand and another 144 that it supplied to Canon for sale under the Canon label. The defective inverters were shipped between November 1999 and April 2000. Japan Storage Battery claims to have a 10% share of the domestic market for solar power generators. – The government of India has had a substantial take-up of a soft loan scheme for the installation of solar water heaters. The scheme is being implemented through Indian Renewable Energy Development Agency intermediaries, as well as seven public sector banks, and offers a rate of 5 percent for non-profit and small businesses, and 8.3 percent for commercial firms. Individual and institutional consumers have used the loans to install a total of 110,000 m2 of solar water heaters. – The Canadian Coast Guard will purchase Cdn$40,000 of solar panels from Soltek Solar Enegry of Victoria (BC) for use with the Department of Fisheries & Oceans on the east coast. The purchase will convert two existing 480 watt PV systems to 4,800 watt capacity. – Anaheim Public Utilities has received two grants, totaling US$36,000, from the American Public Power Association under the Association’s Demonstration of Energy-Efficient Developments Program. The grants will fund two projects, of which one is the ‘Photovoltaic System for Anaheim Beautiful Harmony Garden’ that will receive $16,000 for a variety of PV applications.

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