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Featured Whitepapers

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  • Investing in the Power of the Sun – The Capitalist Case for Solar Energy
    Michael Gorton, CEO & Chairman, Principal Solar & Dan Bedell, EVP Corporate Development, Principal Solar

    This paper examines the recent past and potential future of photovoltaic (PV) solar in terms of how it has compared with traditional generation and how, even without government subsidies, solar utility scale projects will reach a price per KWh that will be at – or less than – traditional generation, possibly as soon as 2014.

    Now is the time for traditional conservative thinking to re-examine the facts about solar energy and explore its potential for not only delivering more efficient and less costly power, but also for creating jobs and opportunities that jump-start economic growth.

    This jump-start would be possible because electricity drives almost every part of the economy, and cheap abundant electricity helps keep industry competitive.

  • Solar Industry Goes Mainstream: Revolutionary PV Module Rating System Empowers Solar Professionals
    Kenneth G. Allen, Rick Borry, Ph.D., Dan Bedell, Kirk Blankenship, Matthew A. Thompson, Ph.D.

    The Principal Solar Institute (PSI) has launched the PSI PV Module Rating, the industry’s first and only comprehensive, independent rating standard for comparing PV modules. The rating method is constructed without bias: PSI has no affiliation with any PV module manufacturer and no interest in promoting one over another.

    The ratings are designed to allow large-scale solar consumers to make informed, intelligent comparisons and decisions when selecting PV modules. The PSI PV Module Rating is a comparative number that can be used with pricing information to provide power plant designers, buyers and financiers with a consistent basis for choosing the best PV module for a specific application.

    Listen to the authors discuss this whitepaper during a live webinar recorded on Tuesday, December 18, 2012.   View Now »
  • Feed-In Tariffs: The Proven Road Not Taken… Why Not?
    J. Peter Lynch, President, Salem Financial, Inc. & Advisor to Principal Solar

    Feed-in tariffs (FIT) are a policy mechanism designed to accelerate investment in renewable energy technologies. Producers of renewable energy are paid a set rate for the electricity they produce, usually differentiated according to the technology used (wind, solar, biomass, et.al.) and the size of the installation.

    Over the past decade, the FIT is credited for the rapid deployment of wind and solar power among world renewable energy leaders Denmark, Germany and Spain.

    This paper will examine the FIT within the context of real-world experiences, and make a case that the U.S. needs a nationwide FIT to kick-start the renewable energy industry, restore U.S. leadership in this space, and accelerate expansion of the renewable industry worldwide.

    Listen to the author discuss this whitepaper during a live webinar recorded on Wednesday, October 10, 2012.   View Now »
  • Solutions for the Texas Energy Shortage
    Ron Seidel, PE, Board of Directors, Principal Solar

    In the summer of 2011, Texas experienced EXTREMELY LOW reserve margin periods throughout the state… causing average wholesale electricity prices to skyrocket to more than twice their normal level. Given that Texas is expected to add another 14 million to its population between 2010 and 2030, these shortages raise alarms about the state’s ability to meet future energy demand. Success will depend upon finding the most effective way to incent the development of more capacity.

    Unlike many other states, Texas has had a competitive retail market for electricity since 2001, replacing the traditional cost of a service-based regulated market. The market requires customers to choose a competitive electricity supplier and allows retail suppliers to set their prices without regulatory interference. However, regulatory action has resulted in caps being placed on system-wide wholesale power prices with the intent of protecting consumers. It is these system-wide offer caps that have limited prices, reduced potential profitability for wholesalers and restrained the development of new generation.

    Listen to the author discuss an update to this whitepaper during a live webinar on Thursday, March 14, 2013.   View Now »
    Listen to the author discuss this whitepaper during a live webinar recorded on Thursday, September 20, 2012.   View Now »
  • Navigating by the Sun: U.S. Department of Defense Takes Aggressive Lead as Early Adopters of Solar Energy
    Rebecca “Becky” Halstead, Brigadier General (retired) & Michael Gorton, Chief Executive Officer, Principal Solar

    The U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) has a long-standing tradition of accelerating technological innovation, serving as early adopters and impacting the broader commercial market in such areas as aviation, computing and global positioning systems (GPS). For the past several years, the DoD has been playing this same role in the renewable energy space. In fact, The Pew Charitable Trusts reports that the DoD clean energy investments increased 300 percent between 2006 and 2009, from $400 million to $1.2 billion. Projections for 2030 are set to eclipse $10 billion annually,1 with an overall target of obtaining 25 percent of the DoD’s energy from renewable sources by 2025.

    Listen to the authors discuss this whitepaper during a live webinar recorded on Thursday, July 19, 2012.   View Now »
  • TECHNOLOGICAL NICHES: Concentrated Solar Thermal vs. Photovoltaic Solar
    Brett T. Gage, Principal Solar and Rick Borry, Ph.D., Principal Solar

    Concentrated solar thermal and photovoltaic solar technologies have evolved independently for decades, and both are approaching “grid-parity” power prices in many applications today. This paper will explore the different situations where each technology succeeds or fails in today’s electric power generation marketplace, specifically excluding non-electric applications such as solar hot water heating.

    As of 2012, PV has come to dominate all smaller-scale solar electricity applications, while retaining the majority market share even in commercial and utility-scale applications. CSP retains a strong niche at the utility-scale and in combined heat and power applications, where no amount of PV cost reduction is expected to overcome its inherent technology advantages.

  • Energy Efficiency & Sustainability in Organic Food Supply
    James W. Keyes, Chairman, Key Development LLC; R. Michael Martin, Principal Solar; Brett T. Gage, Principal Solar

    Over the past few decades, the organic food industry has gained increasing attention among various sectors of the population. Consumers and suppliers, alike, have facilitated this growth by appealing to a health and wellness conscience that grew out of the 20th century

    With the growth of the organic food industry is a parallel trend of social responsibility showing that consumers across all sectors are not only demanding great products at affordable prices, but also understanding that their products were produced with minimal harm to the environment.

    Examining the food industry, ONE OF THE BIGGEST QUESTIONS presented to suppliers is how to balance the quality that consumers ask for and the affordability that they need. In recent years, ALTERNATIVE ENERGY SOURCES, such as solar, have become increasingly cost effective and technologically feasible.

  • Next Generation Vehicles: Addressing Air Quality, Fuel and Efficiency
    Margaret Keliher, Board of Directors, Principal Solar & Michael Gorton, Chief Executive Officer, Principal Solar

    One hundred years ago, the automobile began showing up on the streets of our country. Many experts at the time opined that it was nothing more than a novelty. The horse, after all, had been the primary transportation source for thousands of years. Now, the car is mainstream and everything else is novelty – not to be taken seriously. The problem is that the internal combustion engine has not changed significantly since its introduction. It has been a great resource, yet it also has its weaknesses. The number one man-made contributor to dirty air is the automobile. Couple that with rising gas prices and national security issues associated with fuel resources, and one can clearly see why many are looking for alternatives to the gasoline powered internal combustion engine. The good news is there are two strong contenders to replace gasoline powered automobiles: electric vehicles and natural gas-powered vehicles.

  • Interfacing with the Electrical Grid
    Ken Allen, Chief Operating Officer, Principal Solar & Ron Seidel, PE, Board of Directors, Principal Solar

    “Interfacing with the Electrical Grid” outlines a new generation of power plants that will become increasingly dependent upon solar energy systems as a heat source, and the role federal, regional and state regulatory agencies will play in ensuring that connection, transmission and performance remains stable.

  • Navigating Environmental and Regulatory Issues to Reduce Risk
    Scott D. Deatherage, Partner, Patton Boggs LLP & Michael Gorton, Chief Executive Officer and Chairman, Principal Solar

    Understanding the full breadth of legal, regulatory and environmental issues associated with determining when and where to develop solar projects is critical to reducing risks and avoiding costly delays. “Solar Power Installations: Navigating Environmental Regulatory Issues to Reduce Risk” suggests the research, planning and design warranted to develop both private and public lands that will lead to the timely approval and construction of a project.

  • Shining Light on Renewable Energy in Developing Countries
    Robert A. Freling, Executive Director, Solar Electric Light Fund (SELF) & David Lawrence Ramsour, Private Consultant, Researcher and Economist

    Many of the poorest countries in the world have the highest exposure to the sun. “Shining Light on Renewable Energy in Developing Countries” explores the opportunities for unprecedented investment in clean, renewable alternative energy systems that have the potential to not only enrich newly industrialized countries, but positively alter the quality of life for populations around the world.

  • Turning Green Into Greener: Why public & private sectors need to begin capitalizing on the solar energy revolution.
    Wendell Brown: Inventor, Entrepreneur, Philanthropist & Michael Gorton: CEO, Chairman, Principal Solar. BS Engineering, MS Physics, Juris Doctorate

    This paper – which the authors nicknamed “Solar 101” – teaches the fundamentals of Solar energy. It is packed with current information and virtually everything you need to know about industry basics — simplifying the complex science of solar energy and providing an understanding of grid parity.

    Discover how energy efficiency investments can provide up to one-half of the needed greenhouses gas emissions reductions most scientists say are needed between now and the year 2050. Such a gain in energy efficiency would mean reduced greenhouse gas emissions and lower energy bills for consumers and businesses alike. Readers will learn how power is produced with mainstream technologies and how Solar is different from mainstream generation.