Solar Industry Highs and Lows – All in One Week

Solar energy in America has seen its ups and downs, and this week both have hit together.

Bankruptcy News

Solar power developer Solar Trust of America filed for bankruptcy this week, putting into jeopardy a number of projects, including the Blythe Solar Power Project, a 1,000-megawatt power plant which would have been built in the Mojave Desert. The Blythe project had secured a $2.1 billion guaranteed federal loan, but with Solar Trust’s parent company, German developer Solar Millennium filing for bankruptcy late last year, something apparently had to give!

German solar developers are struggling as Germany reduces it’s support for the industry, while the cheaper Chinese panels flood the market.

There is still hope for the Mohave Desert project, if a company with deeper pockets buys it, and given that it is already licensed and includes transmission rights, it may make an attractive option.

LA Approves Feed-in Tariff

Meanwhile, the Los Angeles City Council this week approved a measure to allow a feed-in tariff to be offered in Los Angelos. A feed-in tariff allows local property owners to install roof-top solar power systems and sell the power generated back to the local power company (in this case the local Department of Water and Power), making solar power a legitimate investment for business and home owners alike.

Image courtesy of Energy.ca.gov

If the feed-in tariff goes ahead, it would make LA the largest city in the US to implement one, and would change the breakdown of renewable energy in the city from being mostly imported from outside the LA basin, to being locally generated. Because large amounts of electricity are lost when transported long distances, this would be a boon for efficiencies.
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