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News Article | November 29, 2016

Peter Thiel, a recent addition to Donald Trump's transition team, is bringing Trae Stephens, a principal at Thiel's Founders Fund, onto the team, according to Bloomberg. Stephens is on board "to help shape defense and vet Defense Department staff." Thiel has made investments in cleantech and energy including LightSail Energy, Stem, Vivint Smart Home and Transatomic Power, a startup working to commercialize a molten salt reactor. Thiel, known as the "Don of the PayPal Mafia," co-founded PayPal. He was also an early investor in LinkedIn and the first outside investor in Facebook, as well as one of the largest shareholders of Airbnb. Here's a quote from an essay by Thiel: “Since 1920, the vast increase in welfare beneficiaries and the extension of the franchise to women [i.e., voting--Ed.] -- two constituencies that are notoriously tough for libertarians -- have rendered the notion of ‘capitalist democracy’ into an oxymoron." Stem, a player in the commercial-scale energy storage market, named Bill Bush as its new CFO. Prior to joining Stem, Bush served as the CFO of Borrego Solar. Previously, Bush was CFO of Solar Semiconductor, an India-based PV module builder and distributor. Stem claims to have more than 470 systems totaling more than 75 megawatt-hours installed or under contract with customers including Cargill, Wells Fargo, Marriott, Macy’s, Safeway and Whole Foods. Earlier this year, Stem announced a $15 million add-on from Peter Thiel's Mithril Capital Management, bringing its total venture funding to more than $110 million since its founding in 2010. Other investors in the firm include Angeleno Group, Iberdrola and GE Ventures. Stem has also closed on more than $350 million in project financing from Generate Capital, Starwood Energy Group and Clean Feet Investors. Jim Hughes, former CEO of First Solar, has joined Eos Energy Storage as chairman of the board. Eos builds zinc-based batteries and has raised $50 million from investors including OCI, NRG Energy, AltEnergy and Fisher Brothers. The company has long been targeting a price of $160 per kilowatt-hour for its batteries. Sunrun hired Patrick Jobin, former Credit Suisse director, as VP of finance and investor relations. Jobin will operate out of Sunrun’s Denver office and report to CFO Bob Komin. Sunrun continues to post positive news in an edgy residential solar market. Last quarter, Sunrun installed 65 megawatts of residential solar systems, a 69 percent jump. Lynn Jurich, the CEO of Sunrun, noted, "Year-to-date, we have taken market share..,[and] realized a 43 percent year-over-year increase in megawatts deployed, a 53 percent increase in net present value creation, [and] a 10 percent year-over-year improvement in our cost." Raj Atluru, formerly an investor at Silver Lake Kraftwerk and DFJ, is now managing director at Element Partners LLC, according to his LinkedIn profile. Atluru was an early investor in SolarCity. Enertech Search Partners, an executive search firm with a dedicated cleantech practice, is the sponsor of the GTM jobs column. Among its many active searches, Enertech is looking for an Account Manager -- Auto. The client provides electric vehicle (EV) charging to more people and places than ever before. They operate the world's largest and most open EV charging network and also design, build and support the technology that powers it. The client is seeking an Auto Sales Director with a successful track record and relevant experience in selling or managing automotive OEM & dealership relationships. In this role you will be also working with VARs/channel partners and developing relationships with automotive OEM stakeholders. Must be creative, independent, focused and an excellent problem solver. Based in Los Angeles. Marc van Gerven, formerly with First Solar, is now VP of solar at Shell. Van Gerven wrote about First Solar's $848 million deal with Apple for a 130-megawatt solar plant here. Paul Dickson was promoted to chief revenue officer at Vivint Solar. Don Peifer is now VP of innovation at Acuity Brands. Previously, Peifer was at Architectural Lighting Works, and before that, at Soraa. He founded Lunera Lighting. Way back in 2009, Acuity bought Sensor Switch, a maker of motion-controlled and programmable sensors, for about $205 million. Acuity Brands also bought Lighting Control and Design, a maker of light-dimming devices, digital thermostats and related software. Adura Technologies, a startup in the networked lighting space, was acquired by Acuity Brands in 2013. Acuity also purchased eldoLED, a maker of LED driver electronics, in 2013, and acquired Distech Controls, a maker of energy management and building controls, for approximately $252 million, in 2015. Acuity now has about 15 brands under its roof, all involved in some aspect of the lighting ecosystem. Who will replace nuclear scientist Ernest Moniz as the U.S. energy secretary? We've already reported on the possibility of Oklahoma fracking tycoon Harold Hamm assuming the role. The Associated Press, referencing "transition-planning documents," reported that Trump is also considering North Dakota Rep. Kevin Cramer (R), investor Robert Grady, and The Nuge to lead either the energy or interior department. Mercedes-Benz Energy Americas has added Boris von Bormann, former CEO of Sonnen, as its new CEO. As GTM's Julian Spector just reported, parent company Daimler AG has created Mercedes-Benz Energy Americas to sell stationary storage to the U.S. market. Like Tesla, this is a car company that developed EVs and then put its battery expertise to work in a stationary storage product. Howard Wenger, SunPower's president of business units and an executive officer at the firm for almost a decade, will be leaving the company. He was on the executive team of PowerLight, which was acquired by SunPower in 2007.

Stauth J.,Dartmouth College | Stauth J.,Solar Semiconductor | Seeman M.,Solar Semiconductor | Kesarwani K.,Solar Semiconductor
Digest of Technical Papers - IEEE International Solid-State Circuits Conference | Year: 2012

Solar photovoltaic (PV) energy has increased in importance in recent years as a viable alternative to carbon-producing sources of energy. In an effort to drive PV energy towards grid parity, there is a need to improve the power electronics and architecture for grid-connected systems [1-3]. Traditional PV systems use a central inverter to manage multiple strings of series-connected PV modules [3]. With mismatch among the PV cells, the energy production of the array suffers in several ways: 1) in series strings, current is limited to the lowest-performing cell in the string, 2) if current is forced to exceed this level, external bypass diodes need to turn on throwing away power available in the string and incurring conductive losses, 3) with bypass diodes on, total string voltage may deviate from maximum power voltage (Vmpp), reducing energy production of all modules in the string. © 2012 IEEE.

Stauth J.T.,Dartmouth College | Seeman M.D.,Solar Semiconductor | Seeman M.D.,Texas Instruments | Kesarwani K.,Dartmouth College | Kesarwani K.,Solar Semiconductor
IEEE Transactions on Power Electronics | Year: 2013

This paper discusses the theory and implementation of a class of distributed power converters for photovoltaic (PV) energy optimization. Resonant switched-capacitor converters are configured in parallel with strings of PV cells at the sub-module level to improve energy capture in the event of shading or mismatch. The converters operate in a parallel-ladder architecture, enforcing voltage ratios among strings of cells at terminals normally connected to bypass diodes. The balancing function extends from the sub-module level to the entire series string through a dual-core cable and connector. The parallel configuration allows converters to handle only mismatch power and turn off if there is no mismatch in the array. Measurement results demonstrate insertion loss below 0.1 and effective conversion efficiency above 99 for short-circuit current mismatch gradients up to 40. The circuit implementation eliminates large power magnetic components, achieving a vertical footprint less than 6mm. The merits of a resonant topology are compared to a switched-capacitor topology. © 2012 IEEE.

Solar Semiconductor | Date: 2010-02-11

Methods and apparatuses for equalizing voltages across a plurality of photovoltaic units connected in series are provided. The apparatus may include a plurality of energy storage devices. In a first configuration, each of the energy storage devices is configured to be connected in parallel with one of a first set of the photovoltaic units. In a second configuration, each of the energy storage devices is configured to be connected in parallel with one of a second set of the photovoltaic units. The apparatus may also include a plurality of switches configured to switch between the first configuration and the second configuration, to equalize the voltages across the photovoltaic units.

Solar Semiconductor | Date: 2010-05-12

Methods and apparatuses for equalizing voltages across a plurality of photovoltaic units connected in series are provided. The apparatus may include a plurality of energy storage devices. In a first configuration, each of the energy storage devices is configured to be connected in parallel with one of a first set of the photovoltaic units, and a voltage across a first one of the energy storage devices has a first polarity. In a second configuration, each of the energy storage devices is configured to be connected in parallel with one of a second set of the photovoltaic units, and the voltage across the first one of the energy storage devices has a second polarity that is different from the first polarity. The apparatus may also include a plurality of switches configured to switch between the first configuration and the second configuration, to equalize the voltages across the photovoltaic units.

Solar Semiconductor | Date: 2010-03-18

A method for producing a solar photovoltaic panel with an embedded RFID, and resultant product, are disclosed. A layup is formed of at least a first lamination layer and a plurality of electrically connected solar photovoltaic cells. At least a second lamination layer is added to the layup, and a lamination process is applied, forming a solar photovoltaic panel. An RFID tag is embedded in the panel before, during or after applying the lamination process. The RFID tag may be embedded between a front layer and a back layer, between sheets of ethylene vinyl acetate, between a backside of the layup and a junction box, or in an adhesive, sealant or polymerizing material. A solar photovoltaic panel with an embedded RFID tag is thereby formed. Instantiation information pertaining to the individual solar photovoltaic panel, including installation location information or test information, and product information are stored in the RFID tag.

Solar Semiconductor | Date: 2011-03-15

Systems and methods for operating a solar direct pump are provided. A system for controlling an alternating current (AC) pump includes a photovoltaic module, a temperature sensor that measures a temperature of the photovoltaic module, a calculator that calculates a maximum power point (MPP) voltage of the photovoltaic module based on the temperature of the photovoltaic module, and a frequency controller that adjusts a reference frequency of power supplied to the pump based on the MPP voltage.

Solar Semiconductor | Date: 2011-11-09

A frame member is disclosed for a mounting a solar panel in a solar module. Embodiments of the frame member include an elongated outer sleeve having a channel configured for receiving an elongated inner reinforcing member disposed therein. The reinforcing member may be slidably inserted into the channel in some embodiments and is operable to structurally strengthen the outer sleeve. The reinforcing member may be made of a material having a greater tensile strength than the outer sleeve. A method for assembling the frame is also provided.

News Article | November 19, 2008

Can a solar company run a carmaker? And do we really want to find out? Well, Germany’s SolarWorld announced today that it wants to take the plunge into the auto industry with a bid for Adam Opel, the well-known German brand and a subsidiary of struggling General Motors since 1929. But analysts are very skeptical, and GM has flat-out denied the possibility. “It’s pure speculation,” Geri Lama, a spokeswoman for GM, told us. “Opel is not for sale.” SolarWorld, which makes solar modules for residences as well as large-scale solar plants, believes it can get Opel to go green, turning the automaker into a producer of more energy-efficient and low-emission vehicles. SolarWorld said it’s planning to offer €250 million ($313.5 million) in cash, plus another €750 million in bank credit lines. But the company has put some high demands on the deal, saying that the credit lines are conditional on getting German government guarantees, and that a core prerequisite is the complete separation of Opel from GM, as well as compensation payments for all of Opel’s German jobs, totaling €1 billion. It’s not clear from SolarWorld’s statement whether GM is expected to cough up that compensation cash, or if it would come from the government. Despite the detail SolarWorld is providing, however, industry watchers remain unconvinced such an offer will come to fruition. “This is a great gag,” Juergen Pieper, a car analyst at Bankhaus Metzler, told Reuters, alleging that the company is only making the bid to get itself into the news. Prior to making a move for the auto industry, SolarWorld has kept itself busy in the world of solar. Last month, it opened a 480,000-square-foot manufacturing plant in Oregon, and in June, SolarWorld signed a deal to deliver over €750 million worth of crystalline silicon wafers to Solar Semiconductor. With its owner, GM — along with Chrysler and Ford Motor — back on Capitol Hill today with the hopes of securing a bailout from Washington, Opel is seeking help at home. Chancellor Angela Merkel said that the German government will conduct a constructive review on the possibility of extending a state liquidity guarantee to Opel. But the chancellor said that the government needs to ensure that any funds from a state guarantee remain in Germany and don’t end up in the U.S. SolarWorld said that if a deal goes through, Opel would continue to produce its current models, but would extend its offerings to include electric and hybrid vehicles. According to SolarWorld, Opel is already working on the development of electric and hybrid drive cars at its research center in Rüsselsheim. And SolarWorld said it has its own experience to offer for the carmaker from the years it’s spent working on the development and testing of solar-powered vehicles. SolarWorld said some of those vehicles have participated in motor racing, although most cars that are completely solar-powered are extremely lightweight, tiny vehicles that bear little resemblance to anything that Opel produces. GM’s largest subsidiary outside of North America, Opel got its start making sewing machines back in 1862 and has been producing cars since 1899. Its passenger cars include the Astra, Corsa and Vectra, with light commercial vehicles including the Combo and Movano.

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