Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Investing in solar energy

Among the leading U.S. solar-related stocks, First Solar (NASDAQ: FSLR), GT Advanced Technologies (NASDAQ: GTAT) and SolarCity (NASDAQ: SCTY) saw the largest upswings in the number of their shares sold short in the first two weeks of August 2014.

US solar electricity production since 1985

The US EIA projects US solar generating capacity to increase more than tenfold between 2011 and 2040 

World's largest photovoltaic power stations:

Solar House #1 of Massachusetts Institute of Technology in the United States, built in 1939, used Seasonal thermal energy storage for year-round heating.

Photovoltaic (foreground) and Solar water heating (rear) panels located on rooftops in Berkeley, California. Note the low tilt of the photovoltaic panels, optimized for summer, and the high tilt of the water heating panels, optimized for winter.

Part of the 354 MW SEGS solar complex in northern San Bernardino County, California.

Solar array at Nellis Air Force Base. These panels track the sun in one axis.

An array of 7,600 solar panels manufactured by China's Yingli Green Energy Holding Co. converts sunlight into electricity on the Livingston Campus of Rutgers University in New Brunswick, New Jersey

Crescent Dunes in Nevada: a concentrated solar power plant, is expected to start operations in 2014. The plant uses molten salt to generate power and store energy.

This concentrated solar power plant is similar to California’s Ivanpah. The 110-megawatt plant is being developed by SolarReserve LLC near the city of Tonopah, midway between Las Vegas and Reno.

The plant is expected to supply more than 500,000 megawatt-hours a year, enough to power 75,000 homes during peak hours.

Crescent Dunes will use 10,000 sun-tracking mirrors the size of billboards, called heliostats, which will track the sun and focus its rays onto a central tower. That concentrated sunlight will heat molten salt -- the secret ingredient at Crescent Dunes.

The molten salt will be used to generate electricity immediately as well as store it for later use. The plant will be able to store about 10 hours worth of energy in its molten salt tanks, which means it is able to be as flexible as conventional power plants, producing electricity during peak periods on cloudy days and hours after the sunset.

Crescent Dunes is expected to begin operations this year, and when it does all of its power will be sold to Nevada Power Company for the next 25 years.

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