Sun Powers The Rock - Alcatraz photo by D Ramey Logan

Sun Powers “The Rock”

Though the prison closed in 1963, 1.4 million visitors now tour Alcatraz each year. “The Rock” has been powered for 75 years by diesel fuel ferried across the bay. In 2012, a 280 kW solar photovoltaic system was installed on the roof of the island’s main cell house and provides roughly 66% of the island’s electricity needs. The solar array operates in combination with an extensive battery-based energy storage system to maximize solar electricity generation and use.

alcatraz Sun Powers The Rock









Alcatraz solar project competing for 2014 Intersolar Award

Solar Power International Offering Free Solar Training

A Photovoltaic (PV) Technical Training program consisting of 11 in-depth sessions is being offered on the exhibit floor in booth 1008 during Solar Power International 2012 (SPI ‘12). The training sessions are the newest addition to the SPI conference program and have been developed in partnership with Solar Energy International (SEI) and the North American oBoard of Certified Energy Practitioners (NABCEP). The sessions are included in both full conference and exhibits-only passes and are included with other industry participants on a variety of topics including certification programs, solar site analysis and battery-safety and maintenance.

Taking place September 10th through 13th at the Orange County Convention Center in Orlando, SPI ’12 is North America’s premier business-to-business event for professionals in solar energy. The show is presented by the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA) and the Solar Electric Power Association (SEPA). This international event is expected to attract attendees from more than 100 countries to learn about new markets for solar, new products, and the issues and strategies that will guide the industry’s growing emergence as an energy solution.

“We’ve introduced these technical training sessions as an added value to companies who want to enhance their technical skills and knowledge of their staff,” said Rhone Resch, president and CEO, SEIA. “Our industry is fast-evolving and this new program helps people working in the field keep up with the latest developments and procedures. This is critical for expanding the solar business.” “We are thrilled to partner with Solar Energy International and the North American Board of Certified Energy Practitioners, two prestigious organizations who can share their knowledge with SPI attendees,” said Julia Hamm, SEPA president and CEO. “The program consists of a wide range of topics addressing the interests of professionals at all levels, from beginner to advanced, enhancing an already comprehensive conference program.”

Solar Power in Germany Increases 40 Percent

germany sun rays 1 300x225 Solar Power in Germany Increases 40 PercentSolar power accounted for 10 percent of Germany’s total electricity production in May, an increase of 40 percent from the previous year, as reported by the Federal Association of the Energy and Water Industry. The significant jump stemmed from heightened capacity complemented by sunny days. This surge in green power generation reveals that the nation is well on its way to expanding the proportion of renewables in the energy mix. The strong market is paving the way for new foreign investors such as bSolar, an Israel-based solar PV cell company. Solar industry experts from Germany Trade & Invest (GTAI) will be at booth #7635 at the Intersolar North America Exhibition in San Francisco from July 10-12 to discuss opportunities within the sector.

“Germany’s decision to replace nuclear energy with other sources is proving to not only be possible, but is creating many valuable prospects for the renewables sector. The continued strength of the solar market has sparked greater investment from abroad,” stated Tobias Homann, photovoltaic industry expert from Germany Trade & Invest in Berlin.With the support of GTAI, bSolar established a plant in Heilbronn that produces high-efficiency bifacial cells. Its decision to invest in Germany reflects the country’s longstanding status as the world’s key PV market. The rooftop cells have the ability to produce more electricity at lower costs.

“Germany is one of the largest producers of PV technology as well as the biggest consumer of per capita solar energy worldwide,” said Dr. Yossi Kofman, Co-founder and CEO of bSolar. “Strong demand partnered with a highly skilled workforce, intensive R&D and a political framework supportive of renewables make Germany an obvious point of investment,” Kofman continued. Germany Trade & Invest is the foreign trade and inward investment promotion agency of the Federal Republic of Germany. The organization advises foreign companies looking to expand their business activities in the German market. It provides information on foreign trade to German companies that seek to enter foreign markets.

Solar Power To The People

NorCal Solar Launching Solar Energy Resource Guide

sergcoverreduced copy 229x300 NorCal Solar Launching Solar Energy Resource GuideThe Northern California Solar Energy Association (NorCal Solar) will be launching its latest Solar Energy Resource Guide (SERG) on the eve of the 2012 Intersolar North American conference in San Francisco next month. The SERG serves as a requisite tool for northern Californians interested in utilizing solar energy at home and in their businesses.The 9th edition SERG features articles covering a breadth of solar applications from photovoltaics and solar hot water to solar cooking, Passive House, zero net energy design, and more. It will also contain an extensive Solar Resources section. NorCal Solar plans to distribute over 7,500 copies of the SERG through 2014.”We are extremely excited about the 9th edition of the SERG,” said NorCal Solar President Elaine Hebert. “The expanded content will be useful to people who are new to solar and to seasoned professionals on the broad range of what solar can be. People have used past editions as something like a bible of solar, and it has helped them immensely on their career path.

The launch party takes place Monday, July 9, from 7-9:00 pm, at the Intercontinental Hotel, next door to the Moscone Center on Howard Street, San Francisco. Invited guest speakers include Jeff Spies of QuickMount PV and Amy Reardon of the California Public Utilities Commission. The party is free to NorCal Solar members and supporters and $15 for others.  RSVPs are requested at

Intersolar NA is an annual conference that provides in-depth alternative energy industry insight by bringing together companies from all over the globe to exchange knowledge and ideas and display new products. This year’s conference and exhibition will take place July 9-12 at the Moscone Center and Intercontinental Hotel. More than 22,000 people are expected. NorCal Solar will be at booth L224.”There are many people looking to break into the green job market, and our networking events are a great way to meet those already working in solar,” said Hebert. In step with its goal to enhance solar energy awareness, NorCal Solar is conducting three bus tours of local solar facilities during Intersolar NA.

“King Corn” At Do Something Reel Film Festival

Scientists Tap Into Underwater Solar Energy

full 1339546084underwater 300x200 Scientists Tap Into Underwater Solar EnergyScientists at the U.S. Naval Research Laboratory (NRL), Electronics Science and Technology Division, dive into underwater photovoltaic research to develop high bandgap solar cells capable of producing sufficient power to operate electronic sensor systems at depths of 9 meters.Underwater autonomous systems and sensor platforms are severely limited by the lack of long endurance power sources. To date, these systems must rely on on-shore power, batteries or solar power supplied by an above water platform. Attempts to use photovoltaics have had limited success, primarily due to the lack of penetrating sunlight and the use of solar cells optimized more towards the unimpeded terrestrial solar spectrum.

“The use of autonomous systems to provide situational awareness and long-term environment monitoring underwater is increasing,” said Phillip Jenkins, head, NRL Imagers and Detectors Section. ”Although water absorbs sunlight, the technical challenge is to develop a solar cell that can efficiently convert these underwater photons to electricity.”Even though the absolute intensity of solar radiation is lower underwater, the spectral content is narrow and thus lends itself to high conversion efficiency if the solar cell is well matched to the wavelength range. Previous attempts to operate solar cells underwater have focused on crystalline silicon solar cells and more recently, amorphous silicon cells.High-quality gallium indium phosphide (GaInP) cells are well suited for underwater operation. GaInP cells have high quantum efficiency in wavelengths between 400 and 700 nanometers (visible light) and intrinsically low dark current, which is critical for high efficiency in lowlight conditions.

The filtered spectrum of the sun underwater is biased toward the blue/green portion of the spectrum and thus higher bandgap cells such as GaInP perform much better than conventional silicon cells, states Jenkins. Preliminary results at a maximum depth of 9.1 meters reveal output to be 7 watts per square meter of solar cells, sufficient to demonstrate there is useful solar power to be harvested at depths commonly found in nearshore littoral zones.The U.S. Naval Research Laboratory is the Navy’s full-spectrum corporate laboratory, conducting a broadly based multidisciplinary program of scientific research and advanced technological development.

Dartmouth Students On Vehicle For Change

Intersolar North America Focusing Energy Storage

article 0 135187BA000005DC 778 634x509 300x240 Intersolar North America Focusing Energy StorageIntersolar North America will feature a close look at advanced energy storage and its impact on renewable energy generation. Intersolar North America, the premier solar industry exhibition and conference in North America for solar professionals to exchange information and develop business opportunities in the U.S. solar market, returns to San Francisco July 9-12, 2012 for its fifth year. Co-located with SEMICON West, the event is expected to draw approximately 900 exhibitors and more than 22,000 registered visitors from more than 80 countries to provide a true global perspective of the solar industry.

This year, Intersolar North America features a new special exhibit that promotes innovative energy storage technologies. PV Energy World, located in the Moscone Center, North Hall will offer expert presentations on energy storage and grid integration. The informative exhibits and display boards will stimulate discussion among visitors. As the North American solar industry matures, energy storage has emerged as a key technology to optimize renewable energy generation. Storage enables greater flexibility for the power grid, thus accelerating the deployment of affordable solar energy.  The successful commercialization and integration of new energy storage technologies promises to help boost the capacity of solar projects, ease concerns over grid strain and bring more large-scale plants online.

JLin 225x300 Intersolar North America Focusing Energy StorageJanice Lin, Executive Director of the California Energy Storage Alliance said,”Energy storage offers the solar industry the opportunity to bring several goals to fruition, including faster grid interconnection, more precise timing of output, fewer curtailment and imbalance penalties, and the potential to secure valuable new revenue from wholesale ancillary services and capacity markets. Advanced 
energy storage is poised to have a huge, positive impact on the solar industry in California and  beyond, and the storage industry is very excited to see Intersolar North America cover this formative topic in such depth at this year’s conference and on the exhibition floor.”PV Energy World is supported in part by the California Energy Storage Alliance (CESA), an advocacy coalition committed to expanding the role of energy storage to accelerate the adoption of renewable energy.  CESA counts storage technology manufacturers, renewable energy component manufacturers, developers and system integrators among its members, and this year marks the first time Intersolar will partner with CESA.

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