Laser processing technology enhances the ability of solar cells to harvest more sunlight

laser-enhanced-solarLaser processing produces deep ripples in silicon over a wide area — something that could enhance solar cell efficiency.

A*STAR scientists have produced a uniform nanoscale ripple pattern over a wide area on a silicon surface by scanning a femtosecond laser beam across it. Given that a rippled surface is much less reflective than a smooth surface, this simple innovation could enhance the efficiency of solar cells by boosting their ability to harvest more sunlight1.

The use of lasers to produce periodic surface structures is currently an area of intense research. Laser processing has the important advantage that it heats only the surface of a material, leaving underlying structures unaffected. However, many laser processing methods are limited: they can process only small areas and shallow ripples.


Climate and Sustainability excerpts from Obama's 2015 SOTU speech

Climate and Sustainability Oriented Excerpts of President Obama’s 2015 State of the Union Speech

In his State of the Union speech President Obama talked about fair wages for workers, he reviewed his administrations efforts to combat climate change and he made some of his boldest remarks to date about the need to do more (see his comments below). 

He referenced 9/11 and the recession saying that “we have turned the page.” He talked about economic growth, health care and immigration. He also spoke directly to Republicans saying, “We can’t slow down businesses or put our economy at risk with government shutdowns or fiscal showdowns.” and followed that up by threatening to use his veto power when he deems it necessary. 

He spoke about the need to help improve wages for working Americans and upgrade their skills as well, which includes a plan “to lower the cost of community college – to zero.” He also asked for trade promotion authority so that he can help broker trade deals that guarantee fair compensation for workers. 

He addressed the importance of science and technology to spur business growth and he emphasized the importance of digital innovation. He talked about closing tax loopholes that enable some businesses to avoid paying their fair share of taxes. He also indicated his support for smart development and the eradication of poverty. 

In the context of the 50th anniversary of the historic civil rights march in Selma, he addressed the need to make voting easier for all Americans.

Above all he repeatedly mentioned the need for meaningful debates that transcend the partisan gridlock that has prevented Congress from doing its job.

Now that he does not have to face another election cycle, the President exhibited a new confidence. In response to Republicans who cynically applauded when he said he would not be facing another election cycle, he fired back that he had won two consecutive terms.

Here are excerpts of his speech focusing on the economy, sustainability in business and climate change and better politics.

Since 2010, America has put more people back to work than Europe, Japan, and all advanced economies combined. Our manufacturers have added almost 800,000 new jobs. Some of our bedrock sectors, like our auto industry, are booming. But there are also millions of Americans who work in jobs that didn’t even exist ten or twenty years ago – jobs at companies like Google, and eBay, and Tesla.

21st century businesses need 21st century infrastructure – modern ports, stronger bridges, faster trains and the fastest internet. Democrats and Republicans used to agree on this. So let’s set our sights higher than a single oil pipeline. Let’s pass a bipartisan infrastructure plan that could create more than thirty times as many jobs per year, and make this country stronger for decades to come.

I want Americans to win the race for the kinds of discoveries that unleash new jobs – converting sunlight into liquid fuel;

And no challenge – no challenge – poses a greater threat to future generations than climate change.

2014 was the planet’s warmest year on record. Now, one year doesn’t make a trend, but this does – 14 of the 15 warmest years on record have all fallen in the first 15 years of this century.

I’ve heard some folks try to dodge the evidence by saying they’re not scientists; that we don’t have enough information to act. Well, I’m not a scientist, either. But you know what – I know a lot of really good scientists at NASA, and NOAA, and at our major universities. The best scientists in the world are all telling us that our activities are changing the climate, and if we do not act forcefully, we’ll continue to see rising oceans, longer, hotter heat waves, dangerous droughts and floods, and massive disruptions that can trigger greater migration, conflict, and hunger around the globe. The Pentagon says that climate change poses immediate risks to our national security. We should act like it.

That’s why, over the past six years, we’ve done more than ever before to combat climate change, from the way we produce energy, to the way we use it. That’s why we’ve set aside more public lands and waters than any administration in history. And that’s why I will not let this Congress endanger the health of our children by turning back the clock on our efforts. I am determined to make sure American leadership drives international action. In Beijing, we made an historic announcement – the United States will double the pace at which we cut carbon pollution, and China committed, for the first time, to limiting their emissions. And because the world’s two largest economies came together, other nations are now stepping up, and offering hope that, this year, the world will finally reach an agreement to protect the one planet we’ve got.

A better politics is one where we spend less time drowning in dark money for ads that pull us into the gutter, and spend more time lifting young people up, with a sense of purpose and possibility, and asking them to join in the great mission of building America.

If we’re going to have arguments, let’s have arguments – but let’s make them debates worthy of this body and worthy of this country.

That’s a better politics. That’s how we start rebuilding trust. That’s how we move this country forward. That’s what the American people want. That’s what they deserve.


ernie moniz solar

Statement from Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz on the 2014 Solar Job Census

ernie moniz solarWASHINGTON, D.C. — Secretary Ernest Moniz issued the following statement today on the 2014 National Solar Jobs Census:

“Solar power is a key component of our all-of-the-above approach to American energy, creating good-paying American jobs that support our growing clean energy economy. According to a new report released by the Solar Foundation today, the solar industry is continuing its rapid growth, with more than 170,000 Americans employed throughout the U.S. solar supply chain. In the last year alone, the industry added more than 31,000 jobs – accounting for one out of every 78 new jobs created in the U.S. This diverse and vibrant workforce is vital to achieving the President’s goal of doubling electricity generation from renewable sources yet again by 2020.”


In the utility-scale market, the Energy Department’s Loan Program has helped build a strong foundation for photovoltaic solar generation in the United States. The program financed the first five utility-scale PV projects larger than 100 megawatts in the United States, which helped prove that the technology is viable and cost-effective at commercial scale. Since our initial investments, a number of new utility-scale projects larger than 100 megawatts have been financed by the private sector without assistance from the Department’s Loan Programs Office.

The Energy Department’s SunShot Initiative is also working to make solar energy cost-competitive with traditional energy sources by the end of the decade, and through partnerships with industry, universities, communities and the Department’s national laboratories, the initiative is more than halfway to its goal. To support the continued growth of the solar industry, the initiative’s Solar Instructor Training Network supports training programs at community colleges across the country that will assist 50,000 workers in their effort to enter the solar industry by 2020. Already, the existing network of nearly 400 community colleges in 49 states has trained over 30,000 people since 2010.


solar plane

Solar Impulse plane to circle globe on just solar and storage

solar planeAn ambitious project to “do the impossible” – and fly a plane around the world without a single drop of fuel will begin in late February.

The flight route for the Solar Impulse 2 was unveiled today in Abu Dhabi, where the circumnavigation will begin in just over a month, and all going well, finish at the same place in June or July.

To do that it will stop in 12 countries (see below) having flown via Oman, India, Myanmar and China, and then undertaking long flights across the Pacific to Hawaii and the west coast of the US, and then on to New York, and then across the Atlantic to Europe and north Africa and back to Abu Dhabi.


Indiana Solar

A Bill to Kill Solar Power in Indiana

Indiana Solar

EVANSVILLE, Ind. – Clean-energy supporters and utilities are at odds over a new bill at the statehouse.

Electricity customers in Indiana who use solar power receive credits for selling excess power back to the grid, but HB 1320 would minimize those credits, and allow utilities to set fixed charges for solar users.

Brad Morton, owner of Morton Solar in Evansville, is among those speaking out against the legislation. Morton says it would increase the cost to install solar power, effectively killing it as an energy option in Indiana.

“It takes the incentive out of the homeowner’s pocket and puts it right into the pocket of the utility company,” he says. “That’s what this bill is all about, shifting the profits from the homeowner to the utility company.”

National “Shout Out For Solar” Day

shout-out-for-solarToday is National Shout Out For Solar Day! Despite its tremendous popularity, as well as its importance to the U.S. economy and our environment, solar energy is facing an uncertain future in Washington, D.C. and in some state capitals. It’s critically important to show your support for solar by urging your friends, family, neighbors and coworkers to “#GoSolar #USA!” Help us spread the word on Twitter by using some of the sample tweets below.

Suggested Tweets:

  • Click to Tweet: Shout Out for Solar! The #solar industry is 3X as big as 3 yrs ago and can power 4 million homes! #gosolar
  • Click to Tweet: Here’s a Shout Out to the nearly 175k men and women working in the #solar industry today! #GoSolar
  • Click to Tweet: I’m Shouting Out for #Solar because of nearly 20 MILLION TONS less carbon in the environment every year! #gosolar
  • Click to Tweet: Shout Out for #Solar today and say you support clean #energy for our environment, economy and future! #GoSolar
  • Click to Tweet: Shout Out for the half a million #homeowners who have chosen to #GoSolar, protecting the environment and improving the economy!
  • Click to Tweet: Solar Tweeps: Raise your hand(le) if you #supportsolar and give a Shout Out for #Solar today! #GoSolar
  • Click to Tweet and then fill in with the Twitter user of your choice: I know the [@NHL] supports #solar! Can we get a Shout Out for Solar from them today? #GoSolar

2014 was a year of tremendous growth for the U.S. solar industry.  Today, there’s an estimated 20 gigawatts (GW) of installed capacity in the United States – enough to power 4 million American homes, or every home in a state the size of Massachusetts or New Jersey.

This unprecedented growth is helping to create tens of thousands of American jobs, save hundreds of millions of dollars for U.S. consumers and businesses, and reduce pollution nationwide. And, frankly, we’re just scratching the surface of our industry’s enormous potential.

To help celebrate this remarkable progress, lay the foundation for an even brighter future and send an important message to policymakers nationwide, we need to show the world how much public support this crucial technology enjoys. Help us spread the word by shouting #GoSolar from the rooftops on January 16th!

Print and share your #GoSolar signs!

Download signs

Click here to download a handy factsheet on Shout Out For Solar Day. If you want to learn more about how solar is powering America, we’ve created an educational website: America Supports Solar. Check it out!

How To Participate

  1. Download and print your sign. Take a picture of you holding your sign.
  2. Upload your picture to Facebook, Twitter or Instagram and use the hashtag #GoSolar. We’ll find it!
  3. Finally, join the Thunderclap so your tweet or post goes out on January 16!


Selling Solar Homes

Homebuyers pay more for solar PV homes, says Berkeley Lab report

Selling Solar HomesA multi-institutional research team of scientists led by the U.S. Department of Energy’s Lawrence Berkley Laboratory (Berkeley Lab), in partnership with Sandia National Laboratories, universities, and appraisers found that home buyers consistently have been willing to pay more for homes with host-owned solar photovoltaic (PV) energy systems —averaging about $4 per watt of PV installed—across various states, housing and PV markets, and home types. This equates to a premium of about $15,000 for a typical PV system. The team analyzed almost 22,000 sales of homes, almost 4,000 of which contained PV systems in eight states from 1999 to 2013—producing the most authoritative estimates to date of price premiums for U.S. homes with PV systems. FINALCover_010915

“Previous studies on PV home premiums have been limited in size and scope,” says Ben Hoen, the lead author of the new report. “We more than doubled the number of PV home sales analyzed, examined a number of states outside of California, and captured the market during the recent housing boom, bust, and recovery.”

More than half a million U.S. homes had PV as of 2014, and the number is growing rapidly. The growth in home PV systems means that the real estate industry will need reliable methods to value these homes appropriately. Further, having greater certainty in those methods will likely facilitate additional growth in the residential PV market.

Berkeley Lab's Ben Hoen (Credit: Roy Kaltschmidt)

Hoen is a researcher in the Environmental Energy Technologies Division of Berkeley Lab, who collaborated with researchers from Adomatis Appraisal Services, Real Property Analytics/Texas A&M University, University of California at San Diego, San Diego State University, and Sandia National Laboratories.

The study also found only a small and non-statistically significant difference between PV premiums for new and existing homes. Additional findings include the existence of a PV “green cache” (home buyers paying a certain amount for a PV system of any size and incrementally more as system size increases) and an apparent sharp depreciation rate for the PV premium in home sales transactions as those PV systems age. The study also finds that market premiums are statistically similar to those estimated using the income and cost approaches, methods familiar to appraisers. This similarity to standard appraisal practices further bolsters the report’s usefulness to real estate professionals and markets.

“As PV systems become more and more common on U.S. homes, it will be increasingly important to value them accurately, using a variety of methods,” says co-author Sandra Adomatis, an appraiser who helped develop the Appraisal Institute’s Green Addendum and who has written and spoken extensively on valuing green features. She noted, “Our findings should provide greater confidence that PV adds a quantifiable premium to a wide variety of homes in California and beyond.”

The research was supported by funding from the U.S. Department of Energy SunShot Initiative. The SunShot Initiative is a collaborative national effort that aggressively drives innovation to make solar energy fully cost-competitive with traditional energy sources before the end of the decade. Through SunShot, DOE supports efforts by private companies, universities, and national laboratories to drive down the cost of solar electricity to $0.06 per kilowatt-hour. Learn more at

fossil fuels

New study revisits old news: keep fossil fuels in the ground

fossil fuelsIf Nature publishes it, will people finally listen? That may be what researchers from the University of London are hoping, because the international science journal has published a new study telling us what we’re already supposed to know—that we need to leave most of our fossil fuels in the ground if we want to keep climate change under control. Bill McKibben’s told us as much, of course, but policy makers don’t appear to have gotten the message yet.

But the timing of the study is good. The House has voted in favor of the Keystone XL pipeline; the new Republican-majority Senate votes next, and is expected to pass the bill. But maybe, just maybe, this study will give them second thoughts. It’s the first study to identify exactly which fossil fuels should be left alone. The list includes most Canadian tar sands, all Arctic oil, as well as 82% of the world’s stores of coal and half of its natural gas.


navigant research

Revenue from distributed energy storage is expected to exceed USD 16.5 Billion by 2024, says Navigant Research

navigant researchA new report from Navigant Research analyzes the global market for distributed energy storage systems (DESSs), including global market forecasts for power capacity, energy capacity, and revenue through 2024.

These advances are helping to meet demand for distributed and flexible resources created by the spread of solar PV, electric vehicles, electric vehicle charging, and home energy networks.

One of the fastest-growing markets for energy storage globally, distributed energy storage is the focus of rapid innovation and intense competition. In particular, residential and commercial energy storage has far exceeded industry expectations for growth and market volume in 2014, and is poised for significant growth in the coming years. According to a new report from Navigant Research, worldwide revenue from DESSs is expected to grow from $452 million annually in 2014 to more than $16.5 billion in 2024.

“The development of advanced battery chemistries, including lithium ion (Li-ion), flow batteries, advanced lead-acid, and other next-generation chemistries, has enabled rapid advancement in the distributed storage market,” says Anissa Dehamna, senior research analyst with Navigant Research. “These advances are helping to meet demand for distributed and flexible resources created by the spread of solar PV, electric vehicles, electric vehicle charging, and home energy networks.”

Several challenges still remain for DESSs, according to the report, including the need for cost reductions, effective software and controls, and integration expertise across nearly every storage technology. Successful vendors are likely to be those that have cultivated strong distribution networks and offer one or more of the following in addition to energy storage: advanced software and controls, alternative financing structures, or integrated PV.

The report, “Community, Residential, and Commercial Energy Storage,” analyzes the global market for DESSs, with a focus on three distinct applications: community energy storage (specifically energy storage at the distributed transformer), residential energy storage (with and without solar PV), and commercial energy storage. The study provides an analysis of the market issues, opportunities, and challenges associated with distributed energy storage. Global market forecasts for power capacity, energy capacity, and revenue, broken out by application, technology, region, and ownership model, extend through 2024. The report also examines the key technologies related to DESSs, as well as the competitive landscape. An Executive Summary of the report is available for free download on the Navigant Research website.


Federal Tax Credit

The Solar Industry Needs to Let Its Federal Tax Credit Die, Says This CEO

Federal Tax Credit

Wind has suffered from its reliance on the whims of Congress. Don’t let solar suffer the same fate, argues Camilo Patrignani.

The Investment Tax Credit (ITC) is arguably America’s most important solar policy. This 30 percent tax credit spurred 1,600 percent annual growth since its implementation in 2007 and turned solar into an economic engine.

But the ITC is only authorized at 30 percent through 2016 before falling to 10 percent thereafter (for non-residential systems), and federal gridlock leaves its extension in doubt. America’s wind industry has suffered boom-and-bust cycles from Production Tax Credit reauthorization uncertainty, leaving analysts to ask if solar will suffer the same fate.

So here’s a proposal: let’s prevent a tumultuous future by reducing the ITC to 10 percent in 2017 and letting it expire in 2018. This may seem odd for a solar CEO to call for, but we won’t need the ITC if we’re given a smooth glide path to prepare as an industry.

Consider a scenario after the 2016 elections, in which a lame duck White House and U.S. Senate fully extend the ITC for six months, providing continuity for solar developers while allowing the new government to take shape. Then, the ITC is lowered to 10 percent at the end of 2017, scheduled to end on December 31 2018, and all projects started by the end of each calendar year qualify for that year’s full credit.

Precedent exists in the California Solar Initiative, which provided incentives for rooftop solar starting in 2007 with a goal of installing 2,000 new megawatts by 2016. But California’s ending incentives this year, well ahead of schedule, and the state’s solar industry is growing faster than ever – why?

The answer’s simple: regulators volumetrically reduced payments at installation milestones as the industry matured, letting market forces direct incentives instead of artificial inputs.

This measured decline is important. Consider the ongoing Chinese solar panel import tariff fight. Developers were only given a few months notice before the U.S. Commerce Department imposed tariffs, hardly adequate time to react.

Industries are typically given time to prepare, but in this case tariffs were imposed and developers immediately faced new economics on projects already under development. Even the nuclear industry was given several years to react to new regulations after the Fukushima disaster.

Without domestic manufacturing capacity, tariffs place solar developers at barely a net economic advantage, even with the ITC. On foreign projects, my company buys panels around .55 cents per watt, but on projects within the U.S., we’re paying almost .75 cents – an extra .20 cents/watt.

If a solar project averages $1.50/watt, the ITC provides approximately .50 cents/watt, but add extra costs for imports or U.S.-made panels, and projects only receive .30 cents/watt of the ITC’s intended effect.

Import tariffs incentivize domestic manufacturing and this is starting to happen: SolarCity is building a plant in New York State and foreign firms will establish manufacturing in the U.S. and Mexico next year to meet demand across North and Latin America.

But even with increased domestic manufacturing, U.S.-made panels would still be more expensive than Chinese-made panels. Initial estimates place them in the high .60 cent/watt range, meaning developers will still face a financial crunch.

Reducing import tariffs would cut incentive reliance, but even if they stay in place, solar’s improving economics provide another reason to look beyond the ITC. Average American retail electricity prices have risen from 7.61 cents per kilowatt-hour in 2004 to 10.52 cents per kilowatt-hour in September 2014, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration.

Meanwhile, solar keeps getting cheaper. International competition, technology innovations and new investment have lowered project costs 45 percent since 2012, according to the Solar Energy Industries Association. And the National Renewable Energy Laboratory forecasts double-digit annual declines will continue at least several more years.

Rising power prices and falling project costs mean distributed solar is approaching grid parity with fossil fuels (as cheap or cheaper than average utility bill prices). Deutsche Bank estimates solar will soon hit grid parity in at least 36 states even if the ITC drops to 10 percent.

The financial sector can also chip in. America has robust capital markets, and as more banks invest in solar they improve projects economics through competitive financing compensating for higher capital costs.

Post-ITC, solar developers may find it easier to bring in debt financing on a project and increase levered return to investors. The ITC attracts investors by reducing project costs and adding tax benefits, but complicates the deal by adding a tax equity investor to the equation. As solar costs fall, projects can be packaged as simplified traditional investments – debt and equity secured by the asset and long-tem returns.

In lieu of import tariffs, policymakers could also boost domestic manufacturer competitiveness through “Made in America” local sourcing rules. For context, the Brazilian Development Bank requires local components for renewable energy projects in order to secure loans at favorable rates, and India just announced it is providing hundreds of millions to fund new solar projects using Indian-made panels.

America’s solar industry still needs an ITC, at least today, but we must empower developers to be competitive without subsidies. It won’t happen overnight, but smart policy steps and a predictable wind-down will compliment industry trends to prevent volatile market contractions.

So let’s push for a smooth end to the ITC as our solar industry diversifies and becomes more efficient, creating a situation where American solar stands on its own, without federal subsidies.


Camilo Patrignani is the CEO of Greenwood Energy, an engineering, procurement and construction firm focused on the clean energy sector.


Sustainable Business

Big Year for Green Investors & Sustainable Business in 2015: Systems Thinking and the End of Oil

green-economy-2015The coming year may be the biggest year ever for green investors and sustainable business. For those with a little vision, market opportunities in 2015 are even bigger than those that emerged in 2014. After years of slow and steady growth corporate sustainability will see a significant increase in momentum this year ahead of the global climate deal scheduled to be signed in Paris at the end of the year.
While their are huge opportunities in the green economy, there are also some significant headwinds.  In the US sustainable business will face undeniable political headwinds from Republicans who are beholden to an outmoded economic model that is mired in fossil fuels. Nonetheless, savvy business leaders will see beyond the politics of the day and position their firms for the world of tomorrow.

Systems thinking may be one of the most transformative approaches to emerge out of the shadows in 2015. Systems thinking is all about the interrelationships between things and as businesses are increasingly discovering there is a powerful interrelationship between things like energy, water, efficiency, waste and recycling. The relationship between systems thinking and sustainability is about as organic as it gets and the coming together of these two forces is a natural marriage that may become a core part of mainstream thought this year.

Unless you are in the fossil fuel business, the logic of clean energy will be impossible to ignore in 2015. Those that choose to continue to ignore the clarion call in 2015, may miss the boat altogether. Once the world turns the corner, the lines will be drawn. A choice will have to be made between fossil fuels and clean energy. Being on the wrong side of this line could spell disaster.

Fossil fuels are known to cause climate change and as such they are a clear and present danger. Investors know that vast quantities of unburnable carbon are destined to stranded. They see the writing on the wall and the day is coming when divesting from fossil fuels will be a fiduciary duty.

Those who opt to align themselves with the old energy economy will share the fate of fossil fuels. Despite the manipulative doublespeak, the fossil fuel industry knows that its days are numbered. There is no future to fossil fuels and this will become painfully clear by the end of 2015.

Once dismissed as impossible, it is now becoming clear that clean energy can (and must) replace fossil fuels.

Very soon Big Oil will be greeted with the same mistrust as the finance firms that unloaded worthless collateral debt obligations (CDO’s) that led to the market collapse of 2007.


solar umbrella

Nashvillian’s solar device helps vendors in Africa

solar umbrella
Nashville resident Mawuli Tse has brought solar power to more than 600 homes in urban parts of Ghana and nearby countries through his company, Solar Light, and a new prototype.

Nashville resident Mawuli Tse has brought solar power to more than 600 homes in urban parts of Ghana and nearby countries through his company, Solar Light.

Now, he is using energy from the sun to help those in more rural communities — this time through street vendor umbrellas and a mobile phone charging kit.

With the help of a $100,000 grant from the United States African Development Foundation and General Electric, Tse is creating a portable charger powered by solar panels that fit on top of large umbrellas that often accompany street vendors’ stands.

The charger can provide vendors with an extra source of income as customers pay to charge their phones. The solar product, called “Sunana,” will also mean additional power options for the vendors, whose homes typically lack access to an electrical grid.


MESIA Winners

MESIA Unveils Winners of the 2014 Solar Awards

MESIA WinnersIn the majestic theatre of Dubai skyline on the terrace at the Emirates Towers Hotel in Dubai, the Middle East Solar Industry Association (MESIA) unveiled the winners of the 2014 Middle East Solar Awards during a gala ceremony on December 1, 2014.

In total, there were twelve trophies that were being contested across several sectors. The awards selection was conducted by an independent panel of 7 judges from around the world and chaired by Abdul Aziz Abdulla Al Midfa, MESIA chairman. Alice Cowman (CEO of Clean Energy Business Council) was part of the jury along with Taher Diab ( Director Strategy and Planning – Dubai Supreme Council of Energy), Bellen Gallego (Founder of CSP Today), Jason O’connel (Editor at Utilities Middle East), Reza Sheybani (Chairman of the British Photovoltaic Association), Frank Wouters (CEO of Wouters LDT and former deputy Director General of IRENA) and Daniel Zyweitz (CEO and Founder of Enerwhere).

“MESIA turned 5 years on November 24 this year and we are now the largest solar association in the MENA region, recognized and respected for its independent expertise. As an avidence MESIA was awarded by DEWA for its contribution in advancing solar power in the UAE. The Association was also awarded at the World Green Economy Summit” said Abdulaziz Al Midfa, the Chairman of MESIA and Chairman of the jury.

The winners of the 2014 Middle East Solar Awards are:

The Woman of the Year accolade went to Michelle T. Davies, Head of the Clean Energy and Sustainability Group at Eversheds LLP. Mrs. Davies won the award on the back of her active involvement in supporting governments in the UAE, Jordan and Saudi Arabia on forming solar policy and regulation.

The Media Personality of the Year award went to Robin Mills, the author of The Myth of the Oil Crisis and Capturing Carbon. Mr. Mills is also an outspoken and well-respected columnist at The National newspaper, with over 9,000 followers on Twitter.

The Legal Advisor of the Year went to Eversheds, an early and active supporter of the Middle Eastern solar industry. They are currently advising on several solar mandates across the region. Eversheds is advising on 8 out of the 10 solar projects in Jordan Round I. Eversheds has also advised on over 15 solar equity investments in the Middle East.

One of the most hotly contested awards was Project of the Year. It went to Enerwhere. The young Dubai-based company has been busily developing a number of solar hybrid power solutions to commercial and industrial clients in the Middle East and Africa on a rental and PPA basis.

The Regional Company of the Year went to Access. This UAE based company has become the largest fully privately-owned developer dedicated to developing sustainable energy projects in Africa. Access has won high profile solar mandates across the region and has partnered with some of the world’s leading solar companies.

Another big winner was Egypt. The country’s Electric Utility and Consumer Protection Regulatory Agency (ERA) won the Policymaker of the Year Award. The trophy went to Prof. Hafez El-Salmawy, Managing Director. Dr. El Salmawy is widely recognized as the “Godfather of Egypt’s solar FIT regime.”

Egypt was also proudly represented by Lamyaa Abdel Hady, Director of Solar FIT Program, Ministry of Electricity. She won Solar Initiative of the year. Her role has been critical in the Ministry’s recent announcement of the solar/wind FIT program. Her impact is clear: a 2,300MW solar FIT program, the largest of its kind in the MENA region

Jordan was also very well represented by NEPCO, who scooped up the Utility Company of Year. The organization support and guide the ambitious renewable energy target of 7% renewable energy in the primary energy mix by 2015 and 10% by 2020 in the country. These targets have been broken down by technologies: 600-1200MW wind; 300-600MW solar; and 30-50MW waste-to-energy.

The Commercial Advisor of the Year went to IFC (International Finance Corporation). In 2014, the IFC signed financing packages worth $207.5 million to collectively fund the construction of seven of the twelve first round solar PV power parks totalling 102 MWdc/91MWac across Jordan.

The Technology of the Year award went to NOMADD. The company developed Desert Solar Solution specifically designed to meet the biggest challenge facing the solar industry: Dust on panels. It meets all the key criteria for the job, including being waterless, fully automated, cost-effective and reliable.

Finally, the Solar Conference of The Year recognized MENASOL for its 2014 conference with over 50 presentations featuring market data, plant performance, costings and construction tips, delegates take away recordings that will have a real impact on their business operations.

This year, the Lifetime Achievement Award was very special as MESIA community wanted to thanks, of posthumous way, Mr Jit Chakravarty for his dedication to the Solar Industry. Jit was a passionate solar engineer and solar pioneer in UAE. He has been recognized with with the “Innovation of the year” award in MEE for solar pumping. He also containerized Solar plant for Umm Al Zmool – 100kW off grid (largest UAE off grid site).

For more information about the winners, please click here.

“This ceremony is a reflection of the growing scale and significance of the solar industry in the Middle East,” said Vahid Fotuhi, President of MESIA. “The winners range from 5 different countries, a record-high for MESIA. They also include both very large and quite small companies. And we have a record number of female winners this year. The future for this region is looking very bright,” he added.

This annual gala ceremony, organized by MESIA was taking place in conjunction with the 3rd Annual MENA Clean Energy Forum hosted by the Clean Energy Business Council. The ceremony, was attended by over 200 dignitaries, government officials and senior business executives from across the Middle East.

California Solar Permitting Guidebook

rooftop-solarCenter for Sustainable Energy (CSE) has released its California Solar Permitting Guidebook. This book helps Californians understand the new act signed last fall by Governor Jerry Brown, helping to ease the bureaucracy of residential installations.

By 2020, California plans on having one-third of its electricity come for clean resources, thanks to the state’s renewable energy portfolio standards. California was #1 in 2014 solar PV installations, as it typically is.

“California leads the nation in rooftop solar installations, but achieving the state’s ambitious goals for renewable energy will require even greater solar adoption, and the permitting process has been a major barrier,” said CSE Senior Project Director Tamara Gishri-Perry.