Massachusetts’s Solar Program is Flawed

Solar advocates and nonprofit organizations have voiced their concern about the Baker administration’s new Solar Massachusetts Renewable Target (SMART) program. The advocates acknowledge the positive move by the Department of Energy Resources (DOER) to create a good program. But, according to them, in its current state the program doesn’t offer solar savings to most affordable housing projects.

According to Mark Sandeen, co-founder and president of MassSolar, “We are concerned that the SMART program as currently proposed, may impose administrative hurdles and set compensation rates so low that continued development of low-income solar will become impossible.”

“SMART could be a positive development for solar, but without a program that expands sharing and offers a fair compensation for solar production, many in our communities, especially the low income tenants we serve, will be left behind by the solar revolution,” according to said Gail Latimore, Executive Director of the Codman Square Neighborhood Development Corporation in Dorchester.




Trina Solar Offering Bifacial PERC Module

Trina Solar has launched its bifacial solar module DUOMAX Twin at Clean Energy Expo China (CEEC Expo) 2017 in Beijing. The company is involved in the development of PERC cell technology and production. DUOMAX Twin uses both the front and back sides. The back side uses scattered and reflected light. The module can deliver up to 25% more than traditional modules.

According to Rongfang Yin, VP of Global Sales & Marketing at Trina Solar, “Going forward, Trina Solar will put additional effort into product segmentation, which will allow our customers to choose products uniquely suited to their distinct project environments.”


Southern Power’s East Pecos Solar Facility goes Online 

Southern Power, a subsidiary of Southern Company, has begun commercial operation of the 120 MW East Pecos Solar Facility in Pecos County, Texas.

First Solar has built the 1.2 million panel-facility, and the company will also operate and maintain it. The 1,000-acre project started last year in February. Austin Energy has made a 15-year agreement to purchase the energy and associated renewable energy credits.

“The East Pecos Solar Facility joins our growing renewable fleet in Texas, and we look forward to operating it for the benefit of our customers,” stated Buzz Miller, Southern Power President and CEO.


Yingli Partners with ECN and Tempress to Mass Produce IBC Cells

Prominent solar panel company Yingli is moving into the IBC cells market. The company has partnered with equipment manufacturer Tempress and Dutch researcher ECN for a pilot in which it has developed interdigitated back contact (IBC) n-type solar cells.

The IBC cells contain 6-inch wafers and use Yingli’s PANDA process for low-cost production of conventional n-type solar cells (n-PERT). The process was adapted for IBC-type cells using the screen printing for patterning and metallisation. The pilot line proves that the commercial production of the cells is feasible for short term.  The three companies aim to produce cells having 22% efficiency by the end of this year. Commercial production is expected to begin next year.

Albert Hasper, GM, Dutch Solar Equipment company Tempress, said “For Tempress this is an important opportunity to adapt and develop equipment and process that can be used in the production process of these next generation cells. A partner like Yingli combined with ECN, puts us in a position where developments can go really fast, which I think is best demonstrated by achievements like this.”

According to ECN researcher Dr. Ilkay Cesar “The pilot line now provides IBC cells in sufficient quantities to enable efficient back-contact module development which will boost the Dutch and EU PV tool and material supplier industry. The ECN Industry Research Program (IRP) aims to bring our simplified IBC technology to 23% within 3 years. IRP partners can start pilot production in less than 3 months as already demonstrated by Yingli.”

Dr Dengyuan Song, Chief Technology Officer, Yingli, said “It is our honour to cooperate with ECN and Tempress in producing IBC cells and we appreciate their highly industrial focus, which will enhance the chances to bring this product to the market in the short term. This cooperation and the pilot production of IBC cells are consistent with our long-term commitments to making solar electricity affordable and accessible for all through continued technology innovation.”

Grid, Solar

Tampa’s Largest Solar Power Project is Complete 

Burns & McDonnell has completed the 23 megawatt (MW) Big Bend Solar project in Tampa, Florida. Situated near the Big Bend Power Station, the 106-acre solar photovoltaic (PV) project contains 202,000 thin-film PV panels that can power 3,300 homes. This is the first utility-scale solar project of  Tampa Electric.

The panels have sensors and drive motors to track the movement of the sun, thus delivering 20% more energy gain than fixed installations. The Solar Plant has DC to AC inverters provided by SMA.

According to Burns & McDonnell Principal Matt Brinkman, “The Big Bend Solar Plant is significant in proving utility-scale PV is cost competitive with traditional generation for regulated utilities.”