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John Rodriguez

Levelised cost of storage: A better way to compare battery value

September 21, 2016
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When it comes to choosing batteries for home or commercial battery storage, it can be difficult to sift through the multitude of options to find the IDEAL battery for your application. The options range from different operating voltages, amp-hour (Ah) storage capacities, sizes, weights, brands and – to make things even more complicated – different […]

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ElectrIQ residential battery units bring smarts to the table

April 14, 2016
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Palo Alto startup ElectrIQ Power is set to release a modular, all-in-one 10kWh battery storage energy management system in Q4 2016. They are looking for strategic partners in Australia. The system features: (i) an integrated DC-to-AC string inverter; (ii) maximum power point tracking for connected PV systems; (iii) comprehensive microsecond energy metering; and (iv) wifi capabilities to enable wireless […]

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Honey, I shrunk the inverter! Winners of Google competition push limits of inverter size

April 7, 2016
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The CE+T Power ‘Red Electrical Devils’, winners of the Google ‘Little Box Challenge’, have created a 2kW inverter the same size as a takeaway coffee cup. The winners of the Little Box Challenge were announced on the last month at the ARPA‑E Energy Innovation Summit, where the Red Electrical Devils were presented with the one […]

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Going with the flow: An introduction to redox flow batteries

August 19, 2015
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Renewable energy technologies – solar PV in particular – are on the cusp of changing the energy landscape. In combination with the right load profile and in the right settings, solar‑powered electricity has reached a point where it is more cost‑efficient than combustion generators. But to make that next big step we need to find […]

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Reposit Power brings (solar-plus-storage) power to the people

July 31, 2015
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Reposit Power has created a software package which allows PV and battery owners to trade generated electricity directly onto the wholesale electricity market. The software is designed to support and improve the operation of the grid by selling electricity back to the grid at times of stress, when demand is extremely high. In the process, […]

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PV Magazine’s 50 ‘array changing’ technologies sure to excite the solar enthusiast

July 23, 2015
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PV Magazine has released a report outlining the 50 top ‘array changing technologies’ featured at this year’s Intersolar Europe exhibition and conference. The ‘downstream’ technologies were picked based on their ‘ability to make a major impact on solar arrays today and in the future’ by ‘driving power outputs up and LCOE down’. A complete list […]

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Berkshire Hathaway subsidiary nabs record low PV tender below 4c/kWh

July 21, 2015
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NV Energy (Nevada) and Austin Energy (Texas) last week agreed to two separate record-low solar farm PPAs below 4c/kWh. As the lower rate of the two PPA rates, NV Energy has agreed to pay 3.87c/kWh for a 100MW project developed by First Solar. NV Energy is also owned by Berkshire Hathaway, a company founded by […]

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Solar Impulse 2 sets record, flies emissions-free across the Pacific

July 20, 2015
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The Solar Impulse 2 (SI2) solar powered-aircraft has just set a new distance record for emissions‑free flight by flying non-stop from Nagoya (Japan) to Hawaii. The voyage took all of 4 days, 21 hours and 52 minutes over a total distance of 7,212km and was the longest, most arduous leg of the team’s emissions‑free round‑the‑world […]

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Hot water storage helps maximise PV electricity use

June 18, 2015
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Storing solar energy in the form of hot water is an effective and low-cost way of maximising the use of generated excess PV electricity. Australia’s net-metering arrangements and despicably low feed-in-tariffs typically mean that the large amounts of excess PV electricity generated during the middle of the day – when residential demand is close to […]

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UNSW adds fast chargers, Tesla Model S and BMW i3 to EV arsenal

June 17, 2015
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The University of New South Wales (UNSW) has recently installed two additional electric vehicle (EV) fast chargers at the Kensington campus. The charging station, which sits behind the Tyree Energy Technologies Building (TETB) research hub, is the second EV charging station to be installed on site. The new ChargePoint and ABB fast charging units have […]

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Tesla Energy launch shakes up the energy industry

May 11, 2015
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The recent launch of Tesla Energy and the Powerwall lithium battery banks have triggered much excitement in the energy industry. The news has renewable energy supporters optimistic about a speedy transition towards a low carbon economy. The company has release three separate units: (i) a 7kWh daily-use unit ideally partnered with solar PV systems; (ii) […]

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Bifacial solar cells – the two sides of the story

May 5, 2015
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Bifacial solar modules are making a comeback, of sorts, as the PV industry looks to squeeze more out of current solar cell technology. On the heels of Sunpreme revealing their 500W bifacial modules and MegaCell’s manufacture of 18% efficient polycrystalline bifacial cells, bifacial PV looks to work its way towards a larger share of the […]

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2015 International Technology Roadmap for Photovoltaics released

May 4, 2015
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The 2015 International Technology Roadmap for Photovoltaics (ITRPV) was released last week and is now available for download on the ITRPV website. The report contains insights from leading PV industry manufacturers and organisations, providing a snapshot of where the PV industry is right now and the direction in which it will likely head towards in […]

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Solar PV improvements changing naysayers’ stance

April 15, 2015
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Those keeping a close eye on the solar market would likely agree that this is a time of change, perhaps even a time of hope. PV technology has matured to a point where electricity retailers around the world are being compelled to engage constructively with pro-PV groups. Early-adopting utilities are finally recognising PV as another […]

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177 GW of solar installed worldwide: IEA 2014 snapshot report

April 14, 2015
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The International Energy Agency (IEA) has released their ‘2014 Snapshot of Global PV Markets’ report. The published figures state that, as of the end of 2014, there is now a cumulative total of 177 gigawatts (GW) of PV capacity installed worldwide. In 2014 alone there was at least 38.7 GW of PV installed*. Highlights from the report […]

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Metal plating as a pathway to cheaper high-efficiency solar cells

March 27, 2015
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The first instalment of this series outlined the technology developments which have kept screen printed solar cells on top of global PV sales. Despite its dominant position amongst most PV manufacturers, the classic screen printed cell looks set to be replaced by PERC cells within the coming decade. Past that, recent world records set by […]

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Owning solar panels in ‘the cloud’

March 17, 2015
Cloud Solar

  Cloud Solar is offering a new twist on the ‘traditional’ community solar model. Much like previous community-owned programs, the initiative offers ownership of individual panels within a larger solar farm. However, rather than using electricity bill credits as compensation, the revenue generated by panels is paid directly to investors, adding another degree of freedom […]

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IEA outlines position with energy storage roadmap

March 16, 2015
IEA energy storage roadmap

The International Energy Agency has released their inaugural energy storage roadmap. A logical addition to their various renewable energy roadmaps, the report aims to project the role energy storage technologies will have in future energy markets. It highlights the value of energy storage technologies – particularly batteries – not only for resolving intermittency issues inherent […]

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PERC solar cells steadily gaining steam in PV manufacturing

February 17, 2015
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The Passivated Emitter and Rear Cell (PERC) structure offers a 1% efficiency boost (absolute) and improves the current state-of-the-art by integrating a high-efficiency rear surface design. The PERC design has steadily gained traction in recent years and is compatible with common screen printing techniques, making for a relatively smooth transition for manufacturers such as JA […]

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Quiet innovations keeping screen printed solar cells on top

February 9, 2015
Printed solar cells

For all the well-deserved hype surrounding advanced solar cell designs, the screen printed (SP) solar cell remains the industry standard. Accounting for approximately 90% of worldwide production in 2014, its robust design has stood the test of time and, since its inception in the 1970s, has ballooned towards current module efficiencies approaching 18%. It has […]

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The untapped potential of Australia’s capital cities

January 28, 2015
Australian solar resources

In the first part of this series, we outlined the enormous potential for Australia to become a solar energy exporter for the southeast Asia region. In fact, we are so blessed with solar energy that we receive enough to feed our domestic electricity demand more than a thousand times over. There are however significant challenges […]

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PV systems boost US property value by an average of $18,000

January 19, 2015
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A recent report by Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory in the US quantifies the increase in property values for US homes fitted with rooftop PV systems. The study found that the average market premium across the entire sample of homes was US$4 per watt installed. This equates to a PV premium of US$15,000 for an average […]

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Solar panels after 25 years: Is there an afterlife?

January 12, 2015
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Price drops in recent years have made the idea of investing in PV extremely attractive, with or without subsidies. In well-designed and well-utilised systems, the investment pays itself off in a number of years and long before the standard warranty period is over. But what happens after that? Should systems be simply discarded and replaced? […]

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Fraunhofer demos plug-and-play PV system with 1-hour installation time

January 5, 2015
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The Fraunhofer Institute for Sustainable Energy Systems (ISE) has developed a plug-and-play self-configuring PV system which can enable significant reductions in the time needed to install a complete PV system. The first public demonstration of the Fraunhofer ISE system was conducted in Massachusetts (USA) and completed in one hour, certification and permits included. The Fraunhofer […]

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SMA Fuel Save solution boosts case for PV-diesel hybrid systems

December 17, 2014
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SMA’s ‘Fuel Save’ controller solution offers effective regulation and management of PV‑diesel hybrid systems. PV-diesel hybrid systems are often the most economic choice in remote areas where an electricity grid is unavailable or when the grid supply is insufficient to meet onsite electricity demand or reliability requirements. The technology can be attractive for commercial applications, […]

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Stick it where the sun shines: Solar cell stickers extend PV reach

December 15, 2014
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Researchers at Stanford University have developed an innovative way of producing ‘solar cell stickers’, thin-film PV devices which can be adhered onto practically any backing material. The thin film solar cells are assembled on top of a silicon wafer substrate and covered with a protective polymer film and thermal release tape, which acts as a […]

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Two world records over 40% add up to a great week for solar!

December 9, 2014
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Two separate research projects from the University of New South Wales (UNSW) and Soitec have set world records of over 40% solar cell efficiencies in the past week. The UNSW group, in partnership with concentrated solar photovoltaics (CSP) developer RayGen, set an efficiency of 40.4% using a combination of CSP cells and custom optical bandpass […]

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Belectric’s lead-acid ‘Energy Buffer Unit’ competing directly with combustion generators

December 5, 2014
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Belectric have installed a 2 MWh lead-acid battery ‘Energy Buffer Unit’ (EBU) in Alt Daber (Germany) designed to provide primary operating reserve power. It is touted as the first solar PV plant in Europe to operate at 110kV high-voltage levels, as opposed to the low- or medium-voltage networks solar farms are commonly associated with. The lead […]

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GameChange racking for fast-rollout PV

November 27, 2014
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‘GameChange’ has developed a fast-rollout PV racking system, among the quickest of its kind in the industry. The US-based company offers a ‘pour-in-place’ ballasted ground mounting system, especially suitable for large-scale solar farm installations. GameChange quotes an installation rate of just over 1,400 full size PV panels per week for a five-person team, which is […]

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AES Energy Storage to build record-breaking battery bank

November 25, 2014
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AES Energy Storage is set to construct the world’s largest battery bank in Long Beach, California. The 400 MWh energy storage facility – which can provide a peak power output of 100 MW – will be made using ‘Advancion’ lithium ion battery technology from AES. The plant is scheduled for commercial operation by 2021 and will be […]

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A gift from above: UAVs for solar farm quality control

November 17, 2014
UAVs for solar farm quality

BQ Energy has adopted Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) as monitoring tools for their solar farm projects. The ‘DJI Phantom 2’ UAVs are fitted with a ‘GoPro HERO3’ camera, allowing users to capture high-definition aerial views of solar installations at any stage of their construction. The replaceable 11V, 5.2Ah battery allows for up to 25 minutes […]

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