China May Trim Subsidy for Large Solar Projects
China, poised to become the biggest solar market this year, may restructure its subsidies to favor smaller projects over larger ones to encourage new plants in areas with power shortages. A new policy may abolish one-time subsidies and at the same time, a separate subsidy based on power production would be allotted to low-voltage plants that do not usually supply utilities. Should the government favor the move, incentives under the Golden Sun program would drop just as China calls on developers to install more photovoltaic devices than any other country.
The Promise of Gallium Nitride for Solar Inverters
Transphorm, a Google-backed startup, is showing off its first-generation gallium nitride-on-silicon transistors that the company claims will reduce the size of solar inverters while at the same time reduce its cost. According to the company, gallium nitride transistors can reduce power losses during the conversion process by as much as 50 percent. However, silicon transistors and diodes have dominated the market for a long time, so convincing manufacturers to switch to gallium nitride components will not be easy. Since gallium nitride is less expensive that silicon, the company believes that the winning combination lies in making gallium nitride-on-silicon work. This combination promises to deliver higher performance at a lower cost, making it more competitive against current silicon products.
India to Auction More Solar Capacity than Projected this Year
India, which plans to increase its solar capacity eightfold by 2017, may auction more megawatts than planned this fiscal year in a bid to reduce chronic power shortages. The government will render 750 megawatts of capacity in the first week of May, initializing the second phase of its National Solar Mission. India plans to auction more than the 1,650 megawatts targeted for the year through March 2014. The country aims to auction solar capacity in as many as five lots starting this May.
North Western Energy Acquires Interim Natural Gas Rate Adjustment
The Montana Public Service Commission recently approved NorthWestern Energy’s plea to adjust natural gas rates on an interim basis beginning April 1 pending a decision in the company’s general rate case expected in the second quarter. The commission granted a $13.2 million adjustment which will result in an increase of about 5.42% in the total bill of a residential customer utilizing 100 therms of natural gas. Since natural gas supply rates have declined significantly, total natural gas bills for an average customer would still be well below the average over the last ten years. Based on the interim adjustment, a typical monthly residential natural gas bill would be $85.81, which is still much lower than the ten-year average of $99.82.