2012 marked a record year for America’s solar industry. Installations surged by 76 percent compared to 2011 — representing an estimated market value of $11.5 billion. From commercial to residential, every sector experienced growth, but the clear standout of 2012 was utility-scale solar. Utility-scale solar projects are designed to generate massive amounts of electricity. Unlike other sectors, the electricity generated by utility-scale projects is sold directly to wholesale utility buyers. In the recently released U.S. Solar Market Insight report, GreenTech Media and SEIA found that the utility-scale sector grew by an unprecedented 134 percent last year — with eight of the largest solar projects in America starting operation.
The cell converted 37.8 percent of solar energy using a new class of high-efficiency multi-junction solar cell, created from two or more materials and leveraging Boeing technology that makes semiconductor materials more reliable. The record was set without concentration, the common practice of having lenses or mirrors focus solar rays on the cells.
Georgetown University is going solar with SolarCity on a project that is expected to cut the school’s energy bills by tens of thousands of dollars and reduce more than 600,000 pounds of carbon pollution over its lifetime. The student-spearheaded initiative, Solar Street, installed 75 solar panels across rooftops of six university-owned historic townhouses on the scenic campus in the nation’s capital. The project was unveiled today in an on-campus ribbon cutting ceremony. “Georgetown is pleased to be leading the first university solar electricity project of its scale on a historic residential block in Washington, DC,” said Robin Morey, vice president for planning and facilities management at the university.
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The plant is expected to produce an amount of energy equal to that needed to serve about 225 SRP customers’ homes and requires minimal water use.
The energy storage capability of this technology solves the problem of intermittency typical of other renewable energy sources. Additionally,because of it high efficiency, this technology can generate almost twice as much energy as a comparably sized solar facility, including facilities powered by photovoltaic panels or by a direct steam tower