June 2019: The Latest in Solar Industry News

by | Jun 16, 2019 | industry news

It’s an exciting time for the renewable energy industry! We are seeing advances in solar energy training, major businesses pledging to go green, new statistics about renewable energy versus coal, and tariff exemptions for bifacial solar panels. Here’s a closer look at some of the latest solar industry headlines.

 

Renewable Energy Beats Coal

In an industry first, renewable energy sources have surpassed coal in electrical generating capacity. Data from the Federal Energy Regulatory Committee (FERC) shows that 1,545 MW of wind energy and 1,473 units of solar energy were added in the past quarter, tipping the scale in favor of renewable resources over fossil fuels.

Renewable energy capacity in the US has been growing an average of 1% per year. However, the generating capacity of utility-scale solar has more than doubled in the past two years. The data does not take into account distributed renewables like rooftop solar, which accounts for about 30% of solar energy generation in the country.

It’s possible that capacity by nuclear, coal, oil and natural gas combined could decline by 24 MW, which means more fossil fuel systems are being retired than are entering service – a great sign for renewable energy in the US.

Target and Bank of America Going Green

Target gets about 22% of its power from renewable energy sources and has committed to using 100% renewable energy sources in its domestic stores by the year 2030. The massive retailer has made two solar power purchase agreements in Illinois and Texas that have the capacity to power 280 Target stores for a year. Target also plans to install solar panels on 500 of its stores by next year.

 

Also, Bank of America announced plans to install more than 60 new onsite solar installations by 2022. The installations will be located at banking centers, ATMs, BofA offices, and other operations. The project is expected to generate 27 MW of renewable electricity. This is a significant push toward their ultimate goal of purchasing 100% renewable energy by 2020.

 

Tariff Exemptions for Solar Panels

There has been an update to the Section 201 trade ruling: as of June 13th, bifacial solar panels are now exempt from 30% trade tariffs on crystalline silicon photovoltaic (CSPV) cells and modules.

The exemption applies to bifacial panels that “absorb light and generate electricity on each side”; fiberglass panels “without glass components other than fiberglass” and with power outputs of 250 W to 900 W; and panels that consist of “solar cells arranged in rows that are laminated in the panel and that are separated by more than 10 mm, with an optical film spanning the gaps between all rows that is designed to direct sunlight onto the solar cells, and not including panels that lack said optical film or only have a white or other backing layer that absorbs or scatters sunlight.”

 

Solar Industry VR Training

Austin-based Interplay Learning has partnered with Global Sustainable Energy Solutions (GSES) to provide virtual reality solar training for site surveying, installation, commissioning and troubleshooting services.

GSES specializes in solar PV design, system auditing, book publishing, and training. Online and face-to-face course offerings were no longer sufficient to meet the demand of students in Asia, Africa, Australia and the Pacific Islands. There were simply not enough instructors to go around. Virtual reality courses don’t require instructors to be present, and they allow students to learn about the products and systems they will use on the job through 3D simulations and interactive video.

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