Two unrelated rulings by the World Trade Organization and a court in Oregon could point toward greater U.S. market access for Chinese solar and wind companies. The WTO sided with Chinese solar manufacturers in a dispute over trade barriers, while the Oregon judge found in favour of construction equipment maker Sany Heavy, after the Obama Administration vetoed its proposed wind farm on national security grounds. “The two cases are quite different, but each reflects the wariness Washington feels towards these Chinese firms due to their government ties,” Young writes.
Battery storage for photovoltaic solar systems was the big story at the recent Intersolar North America conference, McCabe writes, for two reasons: More solar on the grid means more storage to address problems with intermittent production. And falling battery costs open up new opportunities to combine photovoltaics with electrical storage. “New policies, new electrical tariffs (the way utilities charge customers), and new storage use cases are creating profits for both the PV industry and the utilities,” he states.
Tesla Motors may have to pay tens or hundreds of millions of dollars in a dispute with a trademark squatter in China. Tesla thought the case was solved, but businessman Zhan Baosheng has now launched a formal lawsuit, after buying up the trademarks in Chinese and English in 2006. “China seems determined to uphold its laws that often seem to favor those opportunists, not only hurting big foreign names like Tesla but also harming homegrown companies,” Young comments.
SolarCity Corporation, EnerNOC, Inc., NextEra Energy, Inc., and General Electric could be among the stock market winners when the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s new carbon pollution regulation goes into effect, according to this post on AltEnergyStocks. Roen says the regulation will bring “a seismic shift in the power generation landscape,” favouring companies that can help states deliver on the four building blocks in the EPA plan: improved power plant operations, substituting high-carbon coal generation with natural gas, substituting fossil fuel facilities with low- and zero-carbon renewables, and greater energy efficiency. “While the proposed regulations are still in a draft phase, there is no doubt that the changes already occurring in the utility business will continue,” Roen writes. “Savvy investors well positioned in the proper companies and industries will be sure to benefit from this continued energy transformation.” (Please do not take this summary as investment advice. See the disclaimer in the full article for details.)
Solar Wind Energy, Inc. is planning a 1,250-megawatt, chimney-style installation in San Luis, Arizona that will use solar-heated air to create a downdraft to drive turbines at the chimney’s base. “Solar towers, or chimneys as some call them, are low-tech, Fiakas writes. “The power conversion rate is much lower than other solar thermal designs, such as the solar collectors now operating in California and other areas. However, low cost per solar collector area helps offset the low conversion rate.”
Chinese wind turbine manufacturer Ming Yang has announced plans to build 300 gigawatts of new capacity (yes, 300 billion watts from one manufacturer) in eastern Jiangsu province, AltEnergyStocks reports. “Beijing has set an ambitious target of building 35 gigawatts of new energy power capacity by the end of next year, with Chinese firms expected to supply the big majority of wind and solar equipment needed to meet the target,” Young writes. “The plan is designed not only to lower China’s reliance on dirtier fossil fuels, but is also aimed at promoting a battered field of new energy equipment makers that are only now emerging from a prolonged sector downturn.”
Analyst Paula Mints, founder of SPV Market Research, says some photovoltaic producers are playing a shell game by double-counting shipments, giving the impression that solar is growing even faster than it actually is. “Unfortunately, shipment reporting has often been a matter of saving face and looking successful more than arriving at an understanding of what is really happening,” she writes. Actual electricity generation data still point to a massive increase in solar output. But Mints says inaccurate production data have “made the industry look significantly more successful than it is and helped (along with too low prices) bring about the end of most of its incentives. Conventional energy, of course, does not need to worry about its success interfering with its ongoing incentives and subsidies.”