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The U.S.-China Trade Case Determination and What It Means for Solar Installers and Consumers
Jun19

The U.S.-China Trade Case Determination and What It Means for Solar Installers and Consumers

A few months back, we published a post on All You Need to Know About the US-China Solar Trade Dispute and how it might affect solar installers and consumers if the case isn’t settled. Well, a preliminary decision is in. The Department of Commerce (DOC) has made a preliminary determination on June 10th in favor of SolarWorld, the German/U.S. solar panel manufacturer who filed the suit. Before we get into the penalties being proposed and finalized, we should remind readers that there are two parts to this case: Part 1: The DOC Decision The first part, now in the preliminary determination stage, has to do with SolarWorld accusing China of illegally subsidizing its solar panel manufacturers with low interest loans and other cash-related subsidies that allowed Chinese manufacturers to manufacture solar panels and export them to the U.S. (and the rest of the world) at below their actual cost. The 2012 DOC decision determined that was the case and imposed over 23% to 254% in countervailing duties (CVD) on various solar cells made in China. However, Chinese manufacturers got around these tariffs by manufacturing their solar cells in Taiwan and other nearby countries, then assembling the rest of the panel in China. Consequently, this new 2014 DOC preliminary determination now includes solar cells and other basic solar panel materials being made in Taiwan and shipped back to China for assembly and export. So, how much in duties will be tacked on to the price of imported Chinese solar panels? The preliminary CVD varies and depends on the brand: For Suntech solar panels, the tariff is 35.21%. For Trina SolarEnergy, the tariff is 18.56%. For all other Chinese brands, the tariff is 26.89%. That means that the wholesale price of all Chinese-made solar panels coming into the U.S. may be increased by as much as 35.21%, and at the very least, by 26.89%! The DOC will make its final determination by August 18, 2014. But wait, there’s more: Part II: The ITC Decision Remember, we said that there were two parts. Now that the DOC has ruled, their evidence has been handed over to the International Trade Commission (ITC). The ITC is deciding whether China is intentionally overproducing (“dumping”) their artificially inexpensive Chinese solar panels on the U.S. market in order to flood the U.S. solar market, forcing SolarWorld to lower their prices to compete. The ITC previously said this was the case in the earlier 2012 decision, so most industry analysts think they’ll do so again, but now include solar panels and cells from Taiwan. Should the ITC rule in favor of SolarWorld again, then additional antidumping duties may...

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Texas $2 per Watt Rebate?
Nov27

Texas $2 per Watt Rebate?

Coserv’s $2 per Watt Rebate If you’re one of the 141,000 member-owners of the  Coserv Electric Cooperative in Texas and you’re thinking about going solar, you’re smart. You might have heard that this co-op utility offers a $2 per DC Watt rebate on solar generation. $2 per Watt? This rebate means homeowners in Texas can get $2 per DC Watt installed.  Many solar rebates are based on the size of the solar system in AC Watts,  which is a measurement of the system after the electricity has been converted from DC to grid-quality AC power.  A $2/ AC Watt rebate would already be a very strong incentive, but this rebate is in DC, which means more money in your pocket. $2/W DC  >  $2/W AC For example:  you’re installing a 2kW (or 2,000W) grid-tied solar system.  That number “2kW” is based on the sum total of watts in your solar system – we’ll call it eight 250W solar panels. In this case, you would qualify for a rebate of $4,000, given that the funds allocated towards this rebate program haven’t yet been exhausted. Depending on the size of your system, this  rebate your 2 kW (or 2000 Watt) solar system will yield a couple hundred dollars more. This utility rebate program caps off at $5,000 for each system, which is equal to a 2.5kW solar system.  Contact us today for solar design help and while you’re at it, fill out the Coserv solar rebate application form.  All 2013 funds were reserved in early 2013.   Check their website at the beginning of 2014 for any changes to this rebate and get on the list so they can reserve funds for your project.   Rebates are paid out after your solar system is installed and inspected by a Coserv Auditor. On top of this rebate from Coserv, you’ll also qualify for the Federal Tax Credit.   After any state/local/utility rebates have been subtracted (including Coserv’s solar rebate), 30% of this net cost is returned to you in the form of a tax credit that directly reduces the dollar amount you pay on your taxes....

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Will solar prices increase soon?
Jul23

Will solar prices increase soon?

Representatives from GoGreenSolar.com just attended InterSolar North America, one of solar’s leading networking events.  Businesses from more than 70 countries met in San Francisco to showcase new technologies, watch presentations, network, and discuss the future of solar.       Having had the opportunity to talk with suppliers, manufacturers, distributors, and service providers, we’ve discovered some key information that suggests that the days of low solar panel prices might soon be coming to a close.  Though no one has a crystal ball, industry-insiders believe that the prices for solar modules will be going up soon, meaning that the days of  $0.72 / Watt solar panels may not be around much longer.  Over the last several years, the surplus of solar panels being manufactured drove margins down, consequently pushing multiple manufacturing companies out of business.  While solar panels continue to get cheaper to produce, this consolidation process is now helping manufacturers that are left in the game. If you recall the trade scuffle we talked about this last year, the Chinese government was found to be providing illegal subsidies, allowing their manufacturers to sell their products below fair market value in the United States. In response, the U.S. government imposed anti-dumping tariffs of roughly 30% on Chinese solar cells.  As you might expect, Chinese manufacturers have been circumnavigating these duties by manufacturing solar cells outside China.  Taiwan, which now manufactures these cells, is now having difficulty keeping up with the increase in demand.  This could cause prices to increase. As the dominant solar panel manufacturer in the world, China recently swung back at the U.S. by implementing their own import duties on polysilicon coming from the United States.  Because this is a raw material used to make solar panels, this new tariff could also drive up the cost of solar panels. Though these issues may indicate a coming increase in solar panel pricing, even manufacturers can’t foresee what will happen several months into the future.  As you might imagine, this can pose a problem for solar projects that are scheduled months if not years into the future.  Imagine a multi-MegaWatt solar project- even a matter of a few cents would make a massive difference.   For a homeowner looking into a residential application, several cents per Watt isn’t exactly pocket change. While prices are still low, request a no obligation solar quote or call 1 (866) 798-4435. _____ Tom Jackson...

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Solar Energy, Electrons Sold Separately?
Dec21

Solar Energy, Electrons Sold Separately?

Introduction to Renewable Energy Certificates (RECs) Renewable Energy Certificates (RECs), commonly referred to as “Green Tags,” help states meet their Renewable Portfolio Standards (RPS) and other renewable energy mandates.  As state RPS requirements call for utilities to procure specific percentages of the energy they provide from renewable sources, RECs are gaining traction as a convenient opportunity.  This post will provide a brief introduction to RECs are and how they can be used.   Renewable Energy Certificates (RECs) A Renewable Energy Certificate, also known as an REC, is the legal ownership of the “clean” qualities of 1 MWh of electricity that’s generated from renewable energy sources.   When electricity is generated by a qualified renewable source like solar, something really cool happens.  Two commodities are generated:  the electricity itself and the clean qualities of that electricity.   Electrons are the same whether they’re produced by photovoltaics or fossil fuels, so the electrons from the renewable source can be sold just like any other electricity.  The rights to the properties associated with this generation, however, can sometimes be traded independently.  This is where Renewable Energy Certificates come into play. One REC is equal to 1 MWh, or 1000kWh of the clean characteristics of electricity that’s produced by the renewable source.   In the case of Solar Renewable Energy Certificates, or SRECs, this would be the “solar” attribute of the electricity generated by the solar panels.    A clean energy provider receives one REC for each MWh that their facility produces, which they can then sell.   After purchasing an REC, these clean characteristics can be legally claimed by the purchasing party.  RECs basically allow the customer to acquire the environmental benefits of renewable energy in measurable quantities.    Though the ownership of these certificates is tracked by renewable energy tracking systems such as M-RETS (Midwest Renewable Energy Tracking System) and/or WREGIS (Western Renewable Energy Generation Information System), the qualities associated with RECs are intangible so they don’t have to be restricted by geographical location in the same way as the actual electricity.  The clean qualities of the REC will sometimes have to be bundled with the actual electricity, but in theory they don’t necessarily need to be.  The extent to which RECs transcend these physical limits does depend on legislation, but we’ll see how REC markets play out with legislation in the coming years. In renewable energy certificate markets, facilities are used to keep track of the certificates. Every MWh that is generated is given an identification number so it cannot be used twice or by more than one party.  After a certificate is claimed by its rightful owner, is considered to be “retired” and cannot...

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Solar Brings Down Electricity Costs
Dec14

Solar Brings Down Electricity Costs

Image Credit: PV Magazine

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