Hawaii PUC Rejects Utilities' Residential Solar Thermal Program

Posted by weijing3333 on May 20th, 2015

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Hawaii's Public Utilities Commission (PUC) has denied approval of the Simply Solar program, an initiative developed by utilities Hawaiian Electric, Maui Electric and Hawaii Electric Co. (collectively referred to as the HECO companies).Simply Solar was designed to provide immediate solar water heating savings to residential customers at no up-front cost. Each utility would provide funding to install solar water heating on qualifying residential properties. Participating residents would experience an immediate reduction in monthly bills, while a portion of the savings from solar water heating each month would go to repay the cost of the installation, according to the utilities.In its decision, however, the PUC cited several critical comments it received in response to the utilities' request to implement the program.

The Hawaii Renewable Energy Alliance filed an official protest based on the procedural grounds and merits of the program. The Division of Consumer Advocacy of the Department of Commerce and Consumer Affairs stated that it has "questions and concerns regarding the reasonableness of the companies' proposals," although it supported the objectives.The PUC concluded that the program was not cost-effective to ratepayers, noting that it would require "a capital expenditure of over million, or million net of potential applicable federal and state 2011-0186 renewable energy tax credits, and additional implementation costs exceeding million.

"Simply Solar was also described as a modification of another program that the PUC had already rejected.Motions to intervene or participate in the proceeding must be received by Feb. 21. In the meantime, the PUC says it will also review and consider the Simply Solar program as a "potential interim option," in conjunction with other initiatives, and will have a consultant evaluate potential amendments to the program.

Scientists at the Fraunhofer Institute for Solar Energy Systems (Fraunhofer ISE) have developed a crystalline solar cell with efficiency greater than 20% using Heraeus metallization paste.The record cell is based on the combination of two cell design technologies: metal wrap-through (MWT) and passivated emitter and rear cell (PERC). In a joint research project with the Fraunhofer ISE, Heraeus developed a via paste that interconnects the front side and back side of the MWT solar cell.

Heraeus also supplied the front-side paste for this project.In MWT cells, the busbars typically found on the front side of conventional solar cells, are shifted to the back side of the cell, thereby reducing front-side shading and allowing more light to actually hit the cell, Heraeus explains. The reduction of shading increases the efficiency.In PERC cells, the back side of the cell is designed so that incoming light is reflected back to the wafer, increasing the amount of energy captured from the cell. The combination of these two technologies creates a cell design that significantly increases a solar cell's efficiency relative to conventional solar cell technologies, according to Heraeus.
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