North Coast Solar Stocks

October 23, 2009

Largest solar panel plant in US rises in Florida

Filed under: FPL, FSLR — Tags: , , , , — Jason @ 4:59 pm

Largest solar panel plant in US soaks up rays in sleepy Florida town

By Christine Armario, Associated Press Writer
4:59 pm EDT, Friday October 23, 2009

ARCADIA, Florida (AP) — Greg Bove steps into his pickup truck and drives down a sandy path to where the future of Florida’s renewable energy plans begin: Acres of open land filled with solar panels that will soon power thousands of homes and business.

For nearly a year, construction workers and engineers in this sleepy Florida town of citrus trees and cattle farms have been building the nation’s largest solar panel energy plant. Testing will soon be complete, and the facility will begin directly converting sunlight into energy, giving Florida a momentary spot in the solar energy limelight.

The Desoto Next Generation Solar Energy Center will power a small fraction of Florida Power & Light’s (FPL) 4-million plus customer base; nevertheless, at 25 megawatts, it will generate nearly twice as much energy as the second-largest photovoltaic facility in the U.S.

The White House said President Barack Obama is scheduled to visit the facility Tuesday, when it officially goes online and begins producing power for the electric grid.

As demand grows and more states create mandates requiring a certain percentage of their energy come from renewable sources, the size of the plants is increasing. The southwest Florida facility will soon be eclipsed by larger projects announced in Nevada and California.

“We took a chance at it and it worked out,” said Bove, construction manager at the project, set on about 180 acres of land 80 miles southeast of Tampa. “There’s a lot of backyard projects, there’s a lot of rooftop projects, post offices and stores. Really this is one of the first times where we’ve taken a technology and upsized it.”

Despite its nickname, the Sunshine State hasn’t been at the forefront of solar power. Less than 4 percent of Florida’s energy has come from renewable sources in recent years. And unlike California and many other states, Florida lawmakers haven’t agreed to setting clean energy quotas for electric companies to reach in the years ahead.

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October 7, 2009

FPL Prepares to Power up Nation’s Largest Solar PV Power Plant Facility This Month

Filed under: FPL, SPWR — Tags: , , , , — Jason @ 10:30 am

The DeSoto Next Generation Solar Energy Center’s 90,000 photovoltaic panels will energize Florida by end of October

Wednesday October 7, 2009, 10:30 am EDT

JUNO BEACH, Fla.–(BUSINESS WIRE)–Florida Power & Light Company (FPL) announced today that it expects the DeSoto Next Generation Solar Energy Center in Arcadia, Fla., to begin delivering electricity to customers later this month – ahead of schedule.

The facility will overtake Nevada’s Nellis Solar Power Plant for the title of largest solar photovoltaic solar facility in the nation and in North America. Constructed in less than a year, the DeSoto Next Generation Solar Energy Center uses over 90,000 Sunpower Corp. (SPWRA, SPWRB) photovoltaic panels to turn the sun’s rays into electricity to power more than 3,000 homes.

The DeSoto Next Generation Solar Energy Center is one of three new commercial-scale, renewable, solar power plants FPL is building in Florida, along with solar energy centers in Martin County and at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center. Together, these will total 110 megawatts of capacity by the end of 2010 and are expected to make Florida the second largest solar power-producing state in the country.

“Large-scale solar projects such as FPL’s DeSoto Next Generation Solar Energy Center provide Florida with the opportunity to create and attract more clean-energy jobs and produce millions of dollars in new revenue for local governments while reducing greenhouse gas emissions and fighting the effects of climate change,” said FPL Vice President and Chief Development Officer Eric Silagy. “FPL is proud to lead the development of clean, renewable solar energy in Florida, and we are positioned to build even more over the next two to three years if the state’s legislative and regulatory leaders continue to support solar energy.”

Over the past year, the facility benefited the local economy in DeSoto County by creating more than 400 jobs during construction. The county will also receive annual tax revenues that will amount to $2 million for schools and other local services by the end of next year.

Solar photovoltaic power also provides significant environmental benefits because the facility consumes no fuel, uses no water and produces no waste. Over the life of the facility, the DeSoto Next Generation Solar Energy Center will avoid the release of more than 575,000 tons of greenhouse gas emissions into the atmosphere, which is equivalent to taking more than 4,500 cars off the road every year, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. In addition, the electricity generated by this facility will reduce the use of fossil fuels in Florida by more than 277,000 barrels of oil and 7 billion cubic feet of natural gas.

For more information about FPL’s Next Generation Solar Energy Centers, visit http://www.FPL.com/solar.

Florida Power & Light Company

Florida Power & Light Company (FPL) is the largest electric utility in Florida and one of the largest rate-regulated utilities in the United States. FPL serves 4.5 million customer accounts in Florida and is a leading employer in the state with nearly 11,000 employees. The company consistently outperforms national averages for service reliability while customer bills are well below the national average. A clean energy leader, FPL has one of the lowest emissions profiles and the No. 1 energy efficiency program among utilities nationwide. FPL is a subsidiary of Juno Beach, Fla.-based FPL Group, Inc. (FPL). For more information, visit http://www.FPL.com.

June 20, 2009

Partial Eclipse for Solar Shares?

Filed under: CSIQ, CSUN, DUK, ENER, ESLR, EXC, FPL, FSLR, JASO, LDK, SOLF, SPWR, STP, TSL, YGE — Tags: , , , , , — Jason @ 6:00 pm

By MIKE HOGAN
barrons.com

Mostly sunny skies for solar — but tread carefully.

INVESTORS IN SOLAR STOCKS TEND TO LOOK on the bright side of things. The result: some industry shares have risen to dizzying heights.

Share prices of Trina Solar (TSL), Canadian Solar (CSIQ), Yingli Green Energy (YGE), Suntech Power (STP), Solarfun (SOLF), JA Solar (JASO) and China Sunergy (CSUN) have logged triple-digit percentage gains over the past quarter, according to Barclays Capital (www.barclayscapital.com). LDK Solar (LDK), First Solar (FSLR) and Evergreen Solar (ESLR) have posted high-double-digit returns.

We will get to what we would do with the shares in a minute, but first let’s see how this relatively small industry came back after crashing harder than most when the bottom fell out of the stock market. One propellant has been resurgent oil prices, which tend to reinforce the need for alternatives. Of course, the overall market’s revival has helped a lot, too.

Also important, solar stocks have a halo of political favor that helped them avoid a capital-deprivation-induced coma a few months ago. Instead, they will spend the next eight years protected by the government with a generous allowance of federal, state and local tax incentives, reports the Solar Energy Industries Association (www.seia.org/cs/solar_tax_policy). This protection comes courtesy of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009.

SUBSIDIES ARE REQUIRED — for the time being, at least — because even with a free supply of sunshine, solar is the costliest way to generate electricity by a sizable margin, notes global energy researcher New Energy Finance (www.weforum.org/pdf/climate/Green.pdf). It faces significant technology hurdles before it can take its place alongside baseload energy sources on the national power grid. On the other hand, solar is uniquely equipped to be a low-cost answer to the peak-demand problems that bedevil utilities.

“We feel that, within three years, solar will achieve price parity with natural gas and other sources during afternoon and summer peak-load hours,” says Barclays Capital Analyst Vishal Shah.

Delivering a fraction of 1% of America’s electricity at present, solar won’t command much more than a couple of percentage points 20 years from now, says the U.S. Energy Information Administration (www.eia.doe.gov/cneaf/alternate/page/renew_energy_consump/rea_prereport.html).

But of more relevance to investors is that this narrow slice of a very large energy pie is growing at an astounding rate, says Merrill Lynch researcher Steven Milunovich. Pre-eminent energy auditor British Petroleum (www.bp.com) reported a 69% increase in solar installations in 2008, of which the U.S. has about one gigawatt of the world’s 14 gigawatt capacity (www.bp.com/sectiongenericarticle.do?categoryId=9023789&contentId=7044135). A megawatt (MW) is one million watts and a gigawatt (GW) is 1,000 megawatts.

By Shah’s count, projects already in the pipeline should add more than three GW of new generating capacity by 2012 to each of two relatively untapped markets — utilities and large-scale commercial businesses. The recovery and reinvestment legislation lets businesses get cash back from the U.S. Treasury Department for 30% of the cost of a solar project (www.treas.gov/recovery/programs.shtml). That and low-interest loan guarantees, notes Shah, are adding jumbo solar arrays to the roofs of big-box stores like Wal-mart (WMT) (http://walmartstores.com/FactsNews/NewsRoom/ 9100.aspx) and multi-megawatt solar farms to the portfolios of utilities that need to offset carbon emissions.

Major coal user Duke Energy (DUK) will buy all 16 MW of capacity from a new SunEdison (www.sundedison.com) facility, and build 10 MW of its own capacity (www.duke-energy.com). Florida Power & Light (FPL), the nation’s largest solar operator, plans another 110 MW, including a 10 MW solar array at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center (www.fpl.com/news/ 2009/52709.shtml). Even nuclear powerhouse Exelon (EXC) is developing a new 10 MW facility with SunPower (www.sunpowercorp.com) in downtown Chicago (www.exeloncorp.com/aboutus/news/pressrelease/corporate/ 04232009_1Q+Earnings.htm).

The new tax regime helps defray what can be $30,000 in up-front costs for residential solar systems that now account for most American capacity (www.nrel.gov/docs/fy09osti/44853.pdf). EIA anticipates another 1.6 million installations by 2016 (www.eia.doe.gov/oiaf/aeo/demand.html) from consumers who can find which local, state and federal programs apply to their locales in the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (www.nrel.gov) database at DSIRE (www.dsireusa.org).

The real catalysts for share appreciation, though, will be the megawatt-sized utility and commercial installations, says Shah. Government pump priming has restarted the flow of private capital, adds New Energy Finance (www.newenergyfinance.com): “Already in the second quarter, investment in clean energy companies via the public markets has rallied sharply with well over $2 billion of completed secondary issues.”

SO WHAT SHOULD INVESTORS DO? Chinese solar companies sell at a median multiple of 55 times 2009 earnings, a heady bounce from their median nine times just before China announced its stimulus plans in March. Meanwhile, their American cousins have climbed to a median multiple of 27 times — led by a 74% run-up in U.S. technology leader First Solar.

Depending on the price you paid, Shah suggests you might want to lighten up on Canadian Solar and Solarfun based on valuation. But don’t abandon the sector altogether. As high as they are, valuations aren’t that rich in terms of projected 2010 earnings, says Shah. He and Milunovich agree this could be a breakout year, in which select companies — leading Chinese crystalline-silicon panel makers like Yingli, JA and Suntech, and U.S. thin-film innovators like First Solar, SunPower (SPWRA, SPWRB) and Energy Conversion Devices (ENER) — will be able to support a 20-plus multiple.

While small solar companies have more headroom for share-price gains than do larger energy companies, their shares come with more risk and volatility. Don’t be blind to the downside.

June 4, 2009

New Energy Bill Could Light Up Domestic Solar Power Industry

By Miho Nagano
Thursday June 4, 2009, 6:03 pm EDT

The federal comprehensive energy bill could change the whole game for the solar industry.

If the bill passes Congress and becomes law, it would require U.S. utility companies to supply around 15% of their electricity from renewable sources like solar and wind power by 2020.

This means utilities would need large-scale solar systems to generate enough electricity to meet the federal mandate.

Up to now, Germany has been by far the biggest solar energy market — close to a 35% share — because of its heavily government-subsidized solar facilities. The U.S. accounts for only 5% of the global market, according to analysts.

But that could quickly change. The U.S. will be the strongest market in the next two or three years, and could grab a 25% to 30% market share in the long run, says analyst Stephen Chin of UBS.

Price Matters

When utility companies shop for solar panels, price matters. They may go for the providers with the lowest prices. Utilities, which largely depend on public money, are “very price-sensitive,” Chin said.

The industry’s cost-cutting leader, First Solar (FSLR) of Tempe, Ariz., has a big advantage when it comes to pricing. The maker of solar panels can now manufacture solar modules for 93 cents per watt, down 5% from 98 cents in its fourth quarter. Still, it managed a hefty 56% gross margin in the first quarter.

First Solar’s costs per watt of electricity beat Chinese competitors. Yingli (YGE), a Chinese low-cost leader, couldn’t break $1 per watt in the first quarter even with falling silicon costs, says analyst Kelly Dougherty of Macquarie Research.

UBS analyst Chin estimates that First Solar charges $1.80 per watt to utility clients for panels while competitors charge around $2.50 per watt, a difference of 25% to 30%.

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May 28, 2009

FPL, NASA celebrate new solar array at Kennedy

Filed under: FPL, SPWR — Tags: , , , , — Jason @ 1:24 pm

5/28/2009 1:24:38 PM

CAPE CANAVERAL, FLA.: At Kennedy Space Center today, Sen. Bill Nelson and Reps. Suzanne Kosmas and Bill Posey joined officials from Florida Power & Light Company (FPL) and NASA to celebrate the groundbreaking of FPL’s Space Coast Next Generation Solar Energy Center.

The new solar photovoltaic power facility is the result of a unique public-private partnership between FPL and NASA and demonstrates both organizations’ commitment to bringing clean-energy solutions to the state.

“The Space Coast Next Generation Solar Energy Center is an important part of Florida’s clean-energy future. I grew up in Florida, seeing NASA as the home of historic American achievements, so I love the idea of FPL helping to power the space program,” said FPL President and CEO Armando J. Olivera. “Like NASA, FPL is looking beyond the horizon. We are building more emissions-free solar power with the quality of life of our children and grandchildren in mind.”

“The partnership between NASA and FPL is an excellent one that comes at the right time,” said Robert Cabana, director of Kennedy Space Center. “It will help provide clean, renewable power to Florida residents, it will help support America’s space program by supplying electricity directly to Kennedy Space Center, and it helps to reduce our reliance on fossil fuels and improves the environment.”

The Space Coast Next Generation Solar Energy Center will be located on NASA property at Kennedy Space Center and, when completed, will produce an estimated 10 megawatts of clean, emissions-free power for FPL customers, which is enough energy to serve roughly 1,100 homes.

FPL is also building a separate solar facility of approximately one megawatt that will provide clean power directly to Kennedy Space Center, helping NASA meet its renewable energy goals.

“There’s no better time than right now to start using the sun and other clean sources to power America,” said Nelson. “And, perhaps, there’s no better agency to help lead the way than NASA. Let’s hope power companies all over the country take a cue from this partnership.”

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May 11, 2009

Solar manufacturing ramps up in the U.S.

Filed under: FPL, FSLR, SPWR, STP — Tags: , , , , — Jason @ 1:23 pm

by Todd Woody
GreenWombat

German solar company Schott on Monday cut the ribbon on a $100 million factory in Albuquerque, N.M., that will produce solar panels as well as receivers for solar trough power plants. Meanwhile, Chinese solar giant Suntech said Monday that it will build a solar cell manufacturing plant in the United States.

The move to North America comes as the European market softens as government subsidies ebb and solar panel prices fall. Despite the severe U.S. recession, Schott and Suntech are betting that the solar market will boom when the economy recovers and they’ll gain a competitive edge by manufacturing near customers.

“We think North America in general is the next big market for solar power,” Gerald Fine, CEO of Schott Solar’s North American operations, told Green Wombat. “Especially in the case of concentrated solar receivers you want to be close to your customers and provide great customer service and low shipping costs.”

And it doesn’t hurt to be generating green jobs as well. The 200,000-square-foot New Mexico factory employs 350 people. The plant was built too late to take advantage of the Obama stimulus package’s 30% tax credit for renewable energy manufacturing. But Fine said the tax credit will encourage Schott’s plans to eventually expand the facility to 800,000 square feet with a workforce of 1,500.

The receivers the factory makes are long glass-covered steel tubes that sit above parabolic troughs in large solar farms. The troughs concentrate sunlight on the receivers to heat a synthetic oil inside that is used to create steam that drives an electricity-generating turbine.

Fine declined to discuss specific customers for the receivers but there are numerous solar trough power plants being planned for the Southwest, including Abengoa Solar’s Solana project in Arizona and utility FPL’s (FPL) Beacon 250-megawatt solar in California.

“We feel pretty comfortable with our order books in both product lines for the foreseeable future,” said Fine. “If you look at the publicly announced plans and try to put a reasonable probability of them being completed, there’s in excess of two gigawatts of power plants out there.”

Schott will have the North American receiver market to itself but will face some stiff competition when it comes to making photovoltaic modules. Thin-film solar cell maker First Solar (FSLR) is headquartered in neighboring Arizona and claims the lowest cost of manufacturing. Last year, German solar cell maker SolarWorld opened a factory outside Portland, Ore., while Silicon Valley’s SunPower (SPWRA, SPWRB) makes some of the most efficient solar cells — albeit overseas.

And now China’s Suntech (STP) is moving into the U.S. manufacturing market. The company on Monday said it is looking at several states as potential sites for a factory and will make a decision on where to locate the facility within six months

“We believe in the outstanding long-term prospects of the solar energy market in the United States, and we will continue to invest in our ability to meet a substantial portion of that potential growth through in-market manufacturing,” Suntech CEO Zhengrong Shi said in a statement.

April 23, 2009

SunPower Reports First-Quarter 2009 Results

Filed under: EXC, FPL, PCG, SPWR, XEL — Tags: , , , , , — Jason @ 4:05 pm

Thursday April 23, 2009, 4:05 pm EDT

– Signed 3-year, 300 to 600 MW supply agreement with FPL Group in April 2009

– Awarded 17 MW power plant agreement with Xcel Energy in April 2009

– Announced 8 MW power plant development agreement with Exelon in April 2009

– Received regulatory approval of 210 MW power purchase agreement with Pacific Gas and Electric

– Booked more than $60 million in North American commercial systems projects

– Began construction of SunPower’s first Italian power plant with Api Nova

SAN JOSE, Calif., April 23 /PRNewswire-FirstCall/ — SunPower Corporation (SPWRA, SPWRB) today announced financial results for its 2009 first quarter which ended March 29, 2009. Revenue for the 2009 first quarter was $214 million and compares to revenues of $401 million in the fourth quarter of 2008 and $274 million in the first quarter of last year. The Components and Systems segments each accounted for 50% of first-quarter 2009 revenue.

“The first quarter of 2009 was the most challenging quarter we’ve seen since SunPower went public in 2005,” said Tom Werner, SunPower’s CEO. “Our quarterly performance was impacted by seasonality, the continuing effects of the credit crisis and difficult economic conditions. Despite these headwinds we were able to deliver strong gross margins in our Components business and positive non-GAAP net income. We have responded to current market conditions by moving to a demand-driven manufacturing model and reducing our planned operating expenses to align with our adjusted revenue outlook. Our recent announcements with FPL Group (FPL), Exelon (EXC) and Xcel (XEL) are representative of the range of opportunities in our utility and power plant business pipeline. Looking forward, we see positive trends emerging in a number of market segments, including the rooftop, distributed power plant and utility markets that give us confidence that we are well positioned for growth in the second half of 2009, 2010 and beyond.

“We were also pleased to announce today our expanded partnership with FPL Group through a significant supply agreement for future solar projects. This builds on our successful commencement of construction of the 25 megawatt DeSoto Next Generation Solar Energy Center in the first quarter of 2009. We look forward to working with FPL Group on future solar power plants around the country,” Werner concluded.

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FPL Group Signs Solar Power Supply Agreement with SunPower Corp.

Filed under: FPL, SPWR — Tags: , , , , — Jason @ 8:30 am

SunPower Will Also Establish a Florida R&D Center If the State Continues a Robust Solar Program

Thursday April 23, 2009, 8:30 am EDT

JUNO BEACH, Fla.–(BUSINESS WIRE)–FPL Group (FPL) and Silicon Valley’s SunPower Corp. (SPWRA, SPWRB) today announced a supply agreement for SunPower’s high-efficiency solar panels and its SunPower® Tracker technology beginning in 2010 through 2012. In addition, SunPower has separately committed to locating a research and development center in Florida if the state continues its robust solar program.

Under the terms of the agreement, SunPower will supply its high-efficiency solar photovoltaic panels and proprietary tracking systems to FPL Group subsidiaries Florida Power & Light Company (FPL) and NextEra Energy Resources.

“Our agreement with SunPower for competitively priced panels and systems represents a key milestone in the execution of our solar strategy. For NextEra Energy Resources, this agreement will further advance our solar development efforts in key markets such as Colorado, California, Arizona, and New Jersey. In addition, assuming continued support by Florida’s legislative and regulatory leadership for the deployment of solar power in Florida, this agreement benefits the state through the creation of more clean energy jobs and will help to ensure that our utility customers in Florida will get the best pricing and technology available for solar projects. SunPower’s success on the construction of the DeSoto Next Generation Solar Energy Center makes us confident in furthering this important relationship,” FPL Group President and COO Jim Robo said.

SunPower will also locate a research and development center employing up to 50 employees in Florida if the state government continues to support the deployment of additional solar energy. SunPower will work with FPL and the state to identify a suitable location for such a facility. Continued strong demand in Florida also could lead to manufacturing and distribution centers for solar panels and tracking systems being located in the state as well.

“FPL Group is the leader in providing renewable energy, having invested nearly $10 billion in growing that business. It’s already the world leader in deploying utility-scale solar and we believe that it will continue to be a driving force in the industry. We’re delighted to expand and strengthen our already successful partnership,” said SunPower CEO Thomas H. Werner.

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April 10, 2009

World’s largest solar photovoltaic power plant proposed

Filed under: FPL — Tags: , , , , — Jason @ 5:00 pm

4/10/2009 5:00:26 PM

BABCOCK RANCH, FLA.: Real estate developer Kitson & Partners entered into an agreement with electric utility Florida Power & Light (FPL) to build the world’s largest solar photovoltaic power plant at Babcock Ranch, Florida, making the city the world’s first powered by solar energy.

The Kitson-FPL deal will start the city on a path to create 20,000 permanent jobs, according to Kitson officials.

The 17,000-acre city of Babcock Ranch will consume less power than the proposed FPL on-site solar facilities will produce, allowing it to become the first city on earth powered by zero-emission solar energy. The city of Babcock Ranch will also be home to an integrated “smart grid” that will provide greater efficiencies and allow residents and businesses to monitor and control their energy consumption. All commercial buildings and homes in the new city will be certified as energy-efficient and constructed according to Florida Green Building Council standards.

The City of Babcock Ranch is also a model of conservation: Over half of its 17,000 acres will be permanently protected as greenways and open space, and the city is adjacent to the 73,000-acre Babcock Ranch Preserve. The Babcock Ranch Preserve was created by the largest-ever completed conservation purchase by the state of Florida, facilitated by Kitson & Partners.

“I believe clean energy and sustainable development are the future of the American economy,” said Syd Kitson, chairman and CEO of Kitson & Partners, the Palm Beach Gardens, Florida-based developer of the city. “Babcock Ranch will be a living laboratory for companies, workers and families ready to reap the rewards of innovation. No other place in America will be home to such a concentration of new jobs and technologies, energy-saving advances and global economic leadership. I could not be more enthusiastic to be a part of this major step toward economic recovery and a sustainable future.”

A recent study conducted by independent research firm Fishkind & Associates found that the city of Babcock Ranch will generate 20,000 permanent jobs across a wide range of industries and income levels, including education, retail, service industries, high technology, administration and manufacturing. Thousands of additional temporary jobs will be created in construction and related fields over the next 20 years.

The city of Babcock Ranch will ultimately include 6 million square feet of retail, commercial, office, civic and light industrial space. The entire city will be wireless-internet enabled and an ultra-high-capacity digital pipeline will support the use of current and emerging technologies.

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April 7, 2009

Xcel Energy and SunPower Sign Contract to Build 17-Megawatt Solar Photovoltaic Power Plant in Colorado

Filed under: FPL, PCG, SPWR, XEL — Tags: , , — Jason @ 8:00 am

Tuesday April 7, 2009, 8:00 am EDT

DENVER, April 7 /PRNewswire-FirstCall/ — Xcel Energy (XEL) and SunPower Corp. (SPWRA, SPWRB), a manufacturer of high-efficiency solar cells, solar panels, and solar systems, today announced an agreement to build a 17-megawatt AC photovoltaic (PV) solar power plant in Colorado’s Alamosa County. When completed at the end of 2010, the power plant will be the second-largest high-efficiency solar PV power plant in North America. It is expected to create approximately 200 jobs during construction.

“We believe that solar power generation will play an increasingly vital role in our efforts to meet the wishes of our Colorado customers for more renewable, clean energy sources,” said Tim Taylor, president and CEO for Public Service Co. of Colorado, an Xcel Energy company. “SunPower’s experienced approach to solar power plant design and construction will allow us to quickly complete this important project.”

The plant will use SunPower® Tracker systems, which generate up to 30 percent more energy per land area than conventional systems and reduce land-use requirements. SunPower Trackers tilt toward the sun as it moves across the sky, increasing energy capture and providing more power on hot summer days when utilities need it most.

“Today, high-efficiency solar PV technology is competitively-priced for power plant applications. It’s fast to install, and reliably delivers clean power, particularly during peak demand hours,” said SunPower CEO Tom Werner. “We congratulate Xcel Energy for providing leadership in the promotion of solar power development, and for demonstrating how renewable technologies are part of the solution to ensure the health of our economy and our environment.”

Xcel Energy is ranked as the fifth-largest utility provider of solar power in the nation. In Colorado, the company has acquired more than 25 megawatts of on-site solar generation from homes and businesses participating in Xcel’s Solar*Rewards rebate program. In addition, the company buys power from an 8.2-megawatt solar farm adjacent to where the new facility will be built. The company also is the nation’s number one utility provider for wind power, and is working to meet various renewable energy standards in many of the eight states in which it serves.

By the end of 2010, the largest high-efficiency solar PV plant in North America will be the 25-megawatt (AC) Florida Power & Light (FPL) plant that SunPower is currently building and expects to complete by the end of this year; Alamosa will be the second-largest facility. The FPL plant is almost twice the size of North America’s largest operating solar PV plant, the 12-megawatt (AC) (14-megawatt (DC)) array at Nellis Air Force base in Nevada, also built by SunPower. SunPower has a contract to build a 210-megawatt (AC) (250-megawatt (DC)) solar power plant for Pacific Gas & Electric Company (PCG) in California, which is expected to be complete in 2012.

Construction of the new Alamosa project is contingent on factors including approval by the Colorado Public Utility Commission and project financing.

About Xcel Energy

Xcel Energy is a major U.S. electricity and natural gas company that provides a comprehensive portfolio of energy-related products and services to 3.4 million electricity customers and 1.9 million natural gas customers through its regulated operating companies in eight Western and Midwestern states. Company headquarters are located in Minneapolis. More information is available at http://www.xcelenergy.com.

February 26, 2009

FPL to Power Sunshine State with Clean Energy from Nation’s Largest Solar Photovoltaic Site in DeSoto County

Filed under: FPL, SPWR — Tags: , , , , — Jason @ 2:00 pm

ARCADIA, Fla.–(BUSINESS WIRE)–Florida Power & Light Company (FPL) today announced the groundbreaking for FPL’s DeSoto Next Generation Solar Energy Center, which will bring commercial-scale solar photovoltaic power to Florida for the very first time.

At 25 megawatts, the plant will be the largest photovoltaic solar facility in the nation when it is complete at the end of 2009. The DeSoto Next Generation Solar Energy Center will use 90,000 photovoltaic panels on 180 acres of land and provide enough electricity to power more than 3,000 homes, which is nearly 20 percent of the population in DeSoto County.

“We’re proud to be the company that is bringing commercial-scale solar power to the Sunshine State. Solar power will help promote a new clean-energy economy in Florida, reduce our dependence on fossil fuels, and address global climate change through the production of emissions-free energy,” said FPL Group President and Chief Operating Officer Jim Robo.

Common on rooftops, solar photovoltaic is the technology most people envision when they think of solar energy. Photovoltaic panels convert sunlight directly into electricity, which can be fed onto the electrical grid without the need of a turbine generator. Technological advances are now making photovoltaic panels practical on a large scale.

The DeSoto Next Generation Solar Energy Center will use highly efficient SunPower (SPWRA, SPWRB) panels and proven SunPower® Tracker technology. The Tracker automatically follows the sun’s movement throughout the day, increasing sunlight capture by up to 25 percent over fixed systems.

The facility will provide significant economic benefits to DeSoto County, creating more than 200 jobs during peak construction and providing more than $2 million in annual tax revenues by the end of 2010 to help boost the local economy.

Solar photovoltaic power also provides significant environmental benefits. It is carbon-free, uses no water, and produces no waste. Over the life of the facility, the DeSoto Next Generation Solar Energy Center will avoid the release of more than 575,000 tons of greenhouse gas emissions into the atmosphere, which is equivalent to taking more than 4,500 cars off the road every year, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. In addition, the electricity generated by this facility will reduce the use of fossil fuels in Florida by more than 277,000 barrels of oil and seven billion cubic feet of natural gas.

The DeSoto Next Generation Solar Energy Center is one of three new solar facilities FPL is building in Florida, which will total 110 megawatts of clean, renewable solar energy capacity. FPL broke ground in December 2008 on the Martin Next Generation Solar Energy Center, which will be the world’s first hybrid solar energy plant and the second largest solar thermal plant in the nation.

It will generate 75 megawatts of solar energy once it is fully operational in 2010. FPL will build a third facility at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center, which will add 10 megawatts to the state’s photovoltaic solar capacity.

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December 2, 2008

FPL breaks ground on hybrid solar plant

Filed under: FPL — Tags: , , — Jason @ 6:00 pm

12/2/2008 6:00 PM

INDIANTOWN, FLA.: Florida Power & Light Company (FPL) today broke ground on FPL’s Martin 75-MW Next Generation Solar Energy Center, which will be the world’s first hybrid solar energy plant and the first utility-scale solar facility in Florida, FPL said in a statement.

“Florida’s future growth and economic strength depends on how we address climate change, and we know we can reduce greenhouse gases by using fewer fossil fuels and more natural energy sources like solar,” said Gov. Charlie Crist. “This solar facility is a significant step in that direction.”

The Martin Next Generation Solar Energy Center will provide enough power to serve about 11,000 homes. Over 30 years, the solar facility will prevent the emissions of more than 2.75 million tons of greenhouse gases, which is the equivalent of removing more than 18,700 cars from the road every year for the life of the project, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. The implementation of solar thermal technology will also decrease fossil-fuel usage by approximately 41 Bcf of natural gas and more than 600,000 barrels of oil.

The solar facility will consist of approximately 180,000 mirrors over roughly 500 acres of land at the existing FPL Martin Plant location. It will be the nation’s second-largest solar energy facility when it is fully operational in 2010. The Martin facility is the largest of three solar projects FPL is building in Florida. With a combined total of 110 MW of emissions-free energy, the facilities will make Florida the No. 2 producer of solar energy nationwide and will avoid nearly 3.5 million tons of carbon dioxide over the lives of the plants.

In addition to the Martin facility, FPL will also build two other solar projects in Florida – one at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center and the other in Desoto County. These facilities will add 35 MW of solar photovoltaic capacity to the state. Combined, these projects help strengthen FPL Group’s position as the nation’s clean energy leader.

“The next generation of Floridians is counting on us to address the most pressing energy challenges of our time. With the Martin Next Generation Solar Energy Center, we will capture the power of the sun to fight climate change and provide the state with clean, affordable energy,” said FPL Group Chairman and CEO Lew Hay.

“At this innovative facility, each sunrise will be the equivalent of easing our foot off the gas pedal as solar power is being produced. With the continued support of Gov. Crist, the Florida Legislature and the Public Service Commission, FPL will do more – much more – in the coming years to build Florida’s renewable energy industry,” said Hay.

October 3, 2008

Congress sets stage for solar boom

Filed under: EIX, FPL, FSLR, PCG, SPWR, STP — Tags: , , — Jason @ 6:22 pm

By Todd Woody
Fortune.com
October 3, 2008, 6:22 pm

After months of failed attempts in Congress to extend crucial renewable energy tax credits, the end game came with lightening speed Friday afternoon: The House of Representatives passed the green incentives attached to the financial bailout package approved by the Senate Wednesday night and President Bush promptly signed the legislation into law.

There were goodies for wind, geothermal and alternative fuels, but the big winner by far was the solar industry.

“It feels like we should be popping the champagne,” said a Silicon Valley solar exec Green Wombat met for lunch minutes after Bush put pen to paper.

That it took a the biggest financial crisis since the Great Depression to save billions of dollars of renewable projects in the pipeline for the sake of political expediency does not bode well for a national alternative energy policy. But the bottom line is that the legislation passed Friday sets the stage for a potential solar boom.

  • The 30% solar investment tax credit has been extended to 2016, giving solar startups, utilities and financiers the certainty they need for the years’ long slog it takes to get large-scale power plants and other projects online. The extension is particularly important to those Big Solar projects that need to arrange project financing in the next year or so.
  • The $2,000 tax credit limit for residential solar systems has been lifted, meaning that homeowners can get a 30% tax credit on the solar panels they install after Dec. 31. That will save a bundle – especially for those who live in states with generous state rebates – and goose demand for solar panels makers and installers like SunPower (SPWRA) and First Solar (FSLR). (If you buy a a $24,000 3-kilowatt solar array in California – big enough to power the average home – you can claim a $7,200 federal tax credit. Add in the state solar rebate and the cost of the system is cut in half.)
  • Utilities like PG&E (PCG), Southern California Edison (EIX) and FPL (FPL) can now themselves claim the 30% investment tax credit for large-scale solar power projects. That should encourage those well-capitalized utilities to build their own solar power plants rather than just sign power purchase agreements with startups like Ausra and BrightSource Energy.

“The brakes are off,” says Danny Kennedy, co-founder of Sungevity, a Berkeley, Calif., solar installer that uses imaging technology to remotely size and design solar arrays. “In just six months since our launch we’ve sold about a hundred systems. With an uncapped tax credit for homeowners going solar, we expect business to boom.”

(more…)

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