Beyond 1603 — There is Still Hope

July26, 2012 by Shannalee in Financial News

investment for solarThe Federal 1603 Grant, which famously allowed for the monetization of the 30% ITC (investment tax credit), expired at the end of 2011—but that doesn’t mean the end of solar for commercial and industrial customers.

According to a recent report from Renewable Energy World, some renewable energy companies are currently working with commercial and industrial companies to develop new models that provide access to third-party capital. Success will require the combining of several different systems, all of which have similar characteristics like these:

  • Standardization of Documents: Project documentation and varying credit quality are two of the greatest limiters of the C&I market in a non-1603 grant environment. The ability to produce and use a set of repeatable documents will greatly reduce the transaction cost and the time needed for investor review and approval.
  • Utilizing a Single EPC Provider: Quality design and installation and a firm financially capable of providing real installation warrantees will be required to access larger sums of capital and debt to allow for efficient and reliable financing solutions in this market. This will require larger, more financially sound EPC providers or the continued consolidation of smaller firms. Either way the risk of poor design and installation will need to be minimized.
  • Utilizing a Single O&M Provider: The long-term nature of these assets will require professional and guaranteed maintenance from a firm that can stand behind each project and ensure the highest quality of ongoing operations. Large-scale O&M providers will in essence protect the power generation and cash flow of a system backed by institutional investors. This will require higher quality components with long-term bankable warranties.
  • Providing a Bankable Production Guarantee: Different production profiles will add complexity to the predictability of cash flows and will have a profound effect on the availability and cost of project level debt. A meaningful production guarantee from the O&M provider or a credible third party will help to reduce financing costs and streamline the approval process.

Those who can meet these kind of demands will find major benefits from a more streamlined solar market. For more information, see the original article at Renewable Energy World.

(image credit: gridfreepower.info)

Plastic Solar Cells Close to Production

July25, 2012 by Shannalee in Solar Living

heliatekGermany-based solar startup Heliatek GmbH recently announced plans to begin production of the products it’s been developing since launching in 2006: flexible, organic photovoltaic cells.

“We are finishing the manufacturing line; we will be in production in the next few weeks,” Thibaud Le Seguillon, CEO of Heliatek, said in an interview.

Production will take place at the company’s new Dresden factory, which took 14 million euro (about $18 million) to construct. Future plans involve a second, much larger, fab, also to be built in Dresden. Before the second line can be made, Heliatek will have to raise further funds—60 million euro (about $75 million). It has 25 million euro pledged already from investors, which include BASF, Bosch, RWE, Wellington Partners, eCapital, Hightech Grunderfonds, TGFS and GP Bullhound.

“Organic photovoltaic is an important next generation technology for BASF,” said Dirk Nachtigal, Managing Director of BASF Venture Capital. That’s why BASF is developing new organic materials for solar cells that enable efficient and competitive energy generation. “In order to fully exploit the potential of this innovative technology, our collaboration with partners like Heliatek is of strategic importance,” continued Nachtigal.

In terms of recruiting investors, Heliatek has working in its favor the fact that it is a renewable energy technology company involved in manufacturing for export, traditionally a selling point. But on the down side, investors will likely be wary of photovoltaic companies, which have seen many bankruptcies over the last few years.

For more information about Heliatek GmbH and its organic-based photovoltaics, visit Heliatek.com.

New Solar Panels Aim to Capture Light We Don’t See

July25, 2012 by Shannalee in Solar Living

new solar cells from MITThere’s more to the sun’s power than the part we can see—just ask anyone who’s gotten a sunburn on an overcast summer afternoon. In addition to the powerful, visible spectrum we can look at and which most photovoltaics are built on, there is another part. And new solar cells from the researchers at MIT are designed to capitalize on that overlooked aspect of solar power.

Through their first “all-carbon” solar cells, MIT researchers have found a way to capture light we don’t see and turn it into usable energy. Through a new device that goes right on top of existing panels and uses carbon instead of silicon as their primarily material, researchers have found a way to make it possible to put carbon nanotubes and C60 to work changing infrared light into electric currency.

“It’s a fundamentally new kind of photovoltaic cell,” said Michael Strano, the Charles and Hilda Roddey Professor of Chemical Engineering at MIT. “If you could harness even a portion of the near- infrared spectrum, it adds value.”

While the production of purified carbon nanotubes on a large scale and for affordable prices is only now a new reality, there is a good chance that further refinements could lead the concept to spread to many other surfaces as well. Since its transparent to visible light, these cells can overlay regular solar panels or other materials.

“It’s very much a model system and other groups with help increase the efficiency,” said Rishabh Jain, a graduate student and a lead author of the study.

At Soluxe Solar, we’re always excited to hear about new developments in the world of solar and are looking forward to future applications of MIT’s new device!

(Image source: Bloomberg.com)

Pure Energies Group Acquires 1BOG

July11, 2012 by Shannalee in Solar Living

Pure EnergiesCanadian solar project developer Pure Energies Group announced Monday that it has acquired One Block Off the Grid, the startup that helps neighbors find better solar deals by pulling together their combined knowledge and resources.

“They are very good at acquiring customers,” said Chris Stern, a spokesman for Toronto-based Pure Energies, in a recent interview. “We bring the engineering, procurement and construction piece and we’re going to be hiring.”

In fact, since its founding in San Francisco in 2008, 1BOG has brought in thousands of clients across forty states, providing the connecting link between solar installers, reputable providers, homeowners looking to install panels and homeowners who already have. Through this new acquisition, for which details have not been disclosed to the public, Pure Energies plans to take 1BOG’s expertise and use it to create a sort of comparison-shopping service for the homeowners it serves, whereby they’ll be able to find the best deals on solar energy in their neighborhoods.

Pure Energies sells solar systems in Ontario, where a lucrative feed-in tariff has created a need for solar installers that has already led to installations of several megawatts of projects in the area so far. As a result of this new deal, Pure Energies plans to put 1BOG’s website to work in Ontario and in turn to offer 1BOG installer and technical support in the states.

According to Andrew Krulewitz, GTM Research solar analyst, 1BOG’s idea offers great potential for homeowners to save money as they’re able to compare prices from big companies like SunRun, SolarCity and Sungevity.

“Typically these firms push for a commitment on the first sales meeting, and why not? With no upfront cost to the homeowner, the end-customer is simply happy to be saving money,” he said. “If Pure [Energies] can foster competition in this regard, third-party residential installers will be forced to reduce overall costs dramatically to continue to provide competitive electricity rates and keep positive margins.”

To learn more about Pure Energies, visit Pure-Energies.com.