The Top Stories of 2006
January 1, 2007
the passage of SB1 in California to a solar cell breaking
the 40 percent efficiency barrier to a record year
for wind power in the U.S., Canada and UK, renewable
energy made tremendous strides over the past 12 months.
So, to welcome in the New Year, we're recapping some
of the highlights of 2006.
Solar Roofs Bill Signed into Law
After a long roller-coaster ride in the California
legislature, the Million Solar Roofs Bill, SB1, became
law when Governor Schwarzenegger, who campaigned on
a pledge to create a major solar program, signed the
bill in August.
Cell Breaks the 40% Efficiency Barrier
A photovoltaic (PV) cell achieved a milestone in December
with a conversion efficiency of 40.7 percent. Produced
by Spectrolab, Inc. -- a wholly owned subsidiary of
Boeing -- and funded in part by the U.S. Department
of Energy (DOE), the breakthrough could lead to PV
systems with an installed cost of $3 per watt and
produce electricity at a cost of $0.08 to $0.10 cents
Tax Bill for Renewables Passed by Congress
The U.S. Senate approved the "Tax Relief and Health
Care Act of 2006" by a vote 79-9, thereby extending
many of the tax credits that benefit the renewable
energy industries. President Bush signed the bill
into law in December.
to Acquire PowerLight
SunPower Corporation, a manufacturer of solar cells
and panels, announced in November that it had signed
a definitive agreement to acquire PowerLight Corporation,
a global provider of large-scale solar power systems.
The deal is valued at $332.5 million.
to Build 154 MW Solar Energy Plant
In the face of overwhelming scientific evidence, the
Australian Government made a significant change in
its energy policy this past October by announcing
it will contribute AUS$ 75 million [US$ 57 million]
toward building the world's largest solar energy plant
as part of its recently unveiled renewable energy
Group to Invest $3 Billion in Renewable Energy
Out of an estimated $7.3 billion pledged to address
issues such as poverty, disease, conflict and climate
change at the Clinton Global Initiative (CGI) in September,
nearly half of it will go toward renewable energy
projects thanks to a $3 billion pledge by British
business mogul Sir Richard Branson.
Offshore Wind Projects Given Green Light
The British government gave the go-ahead for two major
offshore wind farms -- the London Array and the Thanet
-- to be built off the southeast coast of England
in the Thames Estuary in December. Together, the projects
will boast more than 400 turbines and are expected
to produce up to 1.3 gigawatts of electricity when
Edges Out Ethanol
Five University of Minnesota researchers took a stand
in the long-running debate over whether ethanol from
corn requires more fossil fuel energy to produce than
it delivers. Their answer? It delivers 25 percent
more energy than is used (mostly fossil fuel) in producing
it, though much of that 25 percent energy dividend
comes from the production of an ethanol byproduct,
Rebirth of Concentrating Photovoltaics
The Concentrating Photovoltaics (CPV) industry will
soon take up a larger share of the solar market as
technology improves, investment pours in and cost
comes down, according to leading CPV manufacturers
at the Solar Power 2006 conference and expo.
Solar to Mainstream America
When the clock strikes midnight on January 1, 2007,
SB1, California's new state law that provides $3.2
billion in funding to build a million solar roofs
over the next ten years, will officially take effect.
But in order for SB1 to succeed -- and the solar industry
as a whole to continue to expand -- it's time to start
marketing solar power as an accessible, aesthetically
pleasing, and cost-effective product to the average
consumer, according to California Senator Kevin Murray.
Energy Milestone Reached in the Arizona Desert
In the Arizona desert, 30 miles north of Tucson, the
first Concentrating Solar Power (CSP) trough-style
energy facility to be constructed in nearly two decades
officially went online in April and began delivering
power to the U.S. grid. The rows of gleaming mirrored
troughs that power a one-megawatt (MW) generator represent
a new phase for solar energy in Arizona and the broader
Power 2006 Overview, Vinod Khosla on Proposition 87
In October, we were podcasting to you from Solar Power
2006 -- the largest solar conference and expo in the
U.S. -- and we captured that mood in our audio postcard.
Also in the podcast, an exclusive interview with Vinod
Khosla of Khosla Ventures on the importance of California's
renewable energy ballot initiative Proposition 87.