Award-Winning PV Cell Technology Pushes Efficiency Higher
NREL III-V Multijunction Photovoltaics Group and its industry partner, Solar Junction, won the R&D 100 award from R&D Magazine for a world-record multijunction solar cell. SJ3, a three-layered cell, converted 43.5% of the energy in sunlight into electrical energy. But just last month, NREL has eclipsed its own record with recorded results at 44% efficiency at 947 suns. These are numbers that has stimulated demand for the cell to be used in concentrator photovoltaic (CPV) arrays for utility-scale energy production. CPV technology gains efficiency by using low-cost lenses to multiply the sun’s intensity, which scientists refer to as numbers of suns.
Buffett Utility Buys SunPower Antelope Valley Project
Warren Buffett’s MidAmerican Energy Holdings Co. has agreed to spend as much as $2.5 billion to build two solar projects in California that are set to be the world’s largest photovoltaic development. MidAmerican acquired the Antelope Valley projects in Kern and Los Angeles counties, with a combined electricity generation capacity of 579 megawatts, from SunPower Corp. Buffett has been increasing investments in wind and solar farms and last year formed a MidAmerican unit to support the projects it has acquired.
Deal on ‘Fiscal Cliff’ gives Wind a Break
The wind industry spent most of 2012 pleading Congress to extend the production tax credit for utility-scale wind turbines. Now the industry has been given a break as Congress extended the 2.2 cent per kilowatt tax credit for one more year as part of a tax package surrounding the “fiscal cliff” drama.The wind industry employs about 75,000 workers in the United States, and the extension of the credit could save 37,000 jobs, according to the American Wind Energy Association. But others warned that the one-year extension, while welcome news, will do little to encourage new wind farm development because of the months required to get permits for new projects.
Latin America and Caribbean Demand for PV to Grow 45% Yearly Out to 2017
According to the new NPD Solarbuzz Emerging PV Markets Report, the demand for solar photovoltaic energy across Latin America and the Caribbean is forecasted to grow at a compound annual rate of 45% through 2017. Mexico, Chile, and Brazil are emerging as market leaders within the region, driven by a combination of net-metering, Renewable Portfolio Standards (RPS), and other policies. These three countries are forecast to have almost 70% of PV demand within the region by 2017.