Mixed Greens: US solar installation more than doubles in Q2

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US PV installs headed for 3.2GW for year. Plus: Mac Group backs Irish-UK renewables plan; China’s renewables order; Germany’s cleantech boom; and greening Latrobe Valley.

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US solar PV installations have more than doubled in the second quarter of 2012, over to the same period a year earlier, in growth that the solar industry has attributed to surging demand in California. Bloomberg reports that installations totalled 742MW in the quarter, up 45 per cent since the first quarter, and could reach 3.2GW by year’s end, according to the Solar Energy Industries Association’s quarterly market report. California led installations with 217MW, followed by Arizona with 173MW.

America now has 5.7GW of installed solar capacity, enough to power 1 million homes, according to Boston-based consulting group GTM Research, who helped prepare the SEIA report. The boom was driven by utility-scale projects, however, with little growth in residential installations and declines in non-residential projects. “It’s an indicator that the utility market will be the main story this year and probably for the next few years,” said Shayle Kann, vice president at GTM, in an interview last Friday.

Currently, the US has 3.4GW of projects under construction, and about 10GW more of signed power contracts. According to Bloomberg, it will be the fourth-largest market for panel installations this year, after Germany, Italy and China.

In other news…

Macquarie Group has been revealed as a major backer for Ireland-based Mainstream Renewable Power, the group behind the Energy Bridge project, which seeks to build a 5GW transmission line dedicated to exporting green electricity from Ireland to Great Britain. MRP says it has secured €40 million in immediate finance from the Australian investment bank, with another €20 million to come, as it moves 325MW of wind and PV projects into construction across three continents. MRP says it has also raised €16.8 million from “high net worth individuals” for the Energy Bridge project.

BusinessGreen reports that China’s largest electricity companies could, reportedly, be ordered to source up to 15 per cent of their power from renewables before the end of this year. In a bid to help grid connections catch up with pace of turbine installation, companies would need source between 5-15 per cent of their energy from wind farms, according to Xie Changjun, president of Longyuan, the world’s second-largest wind power developer.

An international design competition to attract plans to help transition the Latrobe Valley into a low-carbon future is being launched in Melbourne tonight. The competition – which has more than $20,000 in prizes – will target the revitalisation of small towns, potentially rehabilitated mines and associated infrastructure. Winners will be announced on 14 December. The $120,000 project is sponsored by RMIT’s Office of Urban Transformations Research Laboratory, Latrobe City Council, the government’s Clean Coal Victoria Unit and the Gippsland Climate Change Network.

Taiwan’s Bureau of Energy under the Ministry of Economic Affairs says the ROC government will invest $NT130 billion ($A4.24 billion) to construct a nationwide smart grid over the next 20 years, as part of the national energy conservation and carbon reduction project.

A new study has estimated that Germany’s clean-technologies industry could more than double in volume by 2025, creating jobs and maintaining its global market share. Bloomberg reports that research by Roland Berger Strategy Consultants projects that the volume of German companies in areas such as resource efficiency, sustainable transport and recycling will rise 125 per cent to €674 billion, and will keep a market share of about 15 per cent while creating an expected 1 million jobs.

SunPower has signed a power purchase agreement with PG&E for delivery of the 100MW Henrietta Solar Project in California’s Kings County. PV Magazine reports that the project is estimated to generate enough electricity to power around 36,000 homes.

Indian EV maker Mahindra Ltd has announced plans to introduce at least five electric vehicles in the next three years to take advantage of a government plan to boost the country’s EV uptake.

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