Thursday, September 08, 2011

SolarCity in largest residential solar project in US history - $ 1 Bn, 371 MW

SolarCity took a major step today in an initiative that could double the number of residential solar photovoltaic installations in the United States. U.S. Energy Secretary Steven Chu today announced the offer of a conditional commitment for a partial guarantee of a $344 million loan to help secure financing for SolarCity’s “SolarStrong™” project. As part of the project, SolarCity plans to partner with the country’s leading military housing-privatization developers to install, own and operate up to 160,000 rooftop solar installations on as many as 124 military housing developments across 33 U.S. states. The project is expected to create more than $1 billion in solar projects and 371 megawatts of new solar generation capacity. USRG Renewable Finance, a subsidiary of U.S. Renewables Group, will serve as the lead lender for the project in partnership with BofA Merrill Lynch.

“We’re extremely grateful to the Department of Energy’s Loan Programs Office, in addition to our partners, U.S. Renewables Group and BofA Merrill Lynch. Without this group, we would not have been able to make the economics of this project work,” said Lyndon Rive, SolarCity’s CEO. “Now the solar industry has a debt model that can make distributed generation affordable on a massive scale.”

SolarCity, which currently employs more than 1,200 people in 11 states, will create new jobs and help jumpstart the renewable energy industry in up to 22 additional states, some of which have very little solar generation capacity today. According to the National Renewable Energy Laboratories’ (NREL) Jobs and Economic Development Impact model, the SolarStrong installations would be expected to create nearly 6,000 direct job-years related to the installation and ongoing maintenance of the systems. SolarCity hopes to fill as many of the jobs as possible with U.S. veterans and military family members.

The SolarStrong projects will likely include installing solar on other privatized buildings on military bases, such as community centers, administrative offices, maintenance buildings and storage warehouses. The first SolarStrong-eligible project—a coordinated effort between real estate developer Lend Lease and SolarCity—is already underway at Hickam Communities at Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam in Hawaii. When completed, that project alone will provide renewable power to more than 2,000 military family homes.

“Thanks to the Energy Department’s leadership and resolve, we can now bring an unprecedented opportunity to privatized military housing across the U.S.,” said Aaron Gillmore, SolarCity’s vice president of solar development. “We believe the SolarStrong model will deliver the most affordable solar option available to military housing, and provide a template for financing large-scale residential solar projects well into the future.”

The SolarStrong project will help the Department of Defense (DOD), the single-largest energy consumer in the U.S., secure its energy needs from renewable sources operated in parallel with the utility grid. DOD has a stated goal to migrate to greater than 25 percent renewable energy generation by the year 2025.

Yingli Green Energy, ECN and Amtech Join Efforts to Develop N-type MWT High Efficiency PV Cell and Module

Yingli Green Energy Holding Company Limited (NYSE: YGE) ("Yingli Green Energy" or the "Company"), a leading solar energy company and one of the world's largest vertically integrated photovoltaic ("PV") manufacturers, which markets its products under the brand "Yingli Solar", the Energy research Centre of the Netherlands ("ECN"), a leading solar research center in Europe, and Amtech Systems, Inc. (NASDAQ: ASYS) ("Amtech"), a global supplier of production and automation systems and related supplies for the manufacture of solar cells through its solar division Tempress Systems B.V., today announced the achievements of a three-party research collaboration on the N-type Metal Wrap Through ("N-MWT") PV cell and module technology. This joint project was an extension of Project PANDA, which was kicked off in 2009. As of the date of this press release, a cell efficiency of 19.7% and a module efficiency of 17.6% have been achieved in the laboratory, respectively.

The N-MWT PV cell technology is expected to reduce up to 40% of the metal coverage comparing to standard crystalline cells, which leads to approximately 1.5% relative cell efficiency gain. ECN has also shown that the PV modules based on N-MWT technology can be made with thin cells at high yield, which demonstrates the potential to reduce the wafer thickness and silicon consumption, leading to a large cost reduction potential.

Mr. Jingfeng Xiong, Vice President of Technology of Yingli Green Energy, commented, "We are pleased to announce the new milestones of Project PANDA, which demonstrates our solid cooperation with leading technology institutes in solar industry. Together this joint project, we target to reach towards 20% cell efficiency and module efficiencies of 18% and more. The launch of N-MWT PV cell and module illustrates our mission to be a cost leader and provide the best product to customers at the same time."

"Thanks to our continuous investment in cutting edge technologies, we can further enhance our leading position in terms of high efficiency products," Mr. Liansheng Miao, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Yingli Green Energy, commented. "High efficiency module is becoming much more attractive for project investors as the roof-top system segment has been enjoying a fast development speed. We are glad that we have the capability to meet customers' demand."

Mr. Robert Kleiburg, Technology Director of ECN, commented, "We are very pleased to combine our MWT technology with Yingli's years of experience to commercialize cutting edge technologies. This cooperation is in line with our long-term mission: transfer high-level knowledge and technology to the market."