The GW Solar Institute

  Winter 2011 Newsletter
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[Image: Symposium Poster]The Solar Institute at the George Washington University will hold its Third Annual Symposium on April 26, 2011. As in years past, the event will feature high-level speakers with globally recognized solar energy expertise. Past speakers have included Maja Wessels, Executive VP of Public Affairs for First Solar; Jon Wellinghoff, Chairman of FERC; John Lushetsky, Manager of the Solar Energy Technologies program at the US DOE, Representative Gabrielle Giffords (AZ-08); and Ted Turner.

This year, the Symposium will feature two sessions: "Grid Integration," in which the most pressing challenges to solar use will be explored, and "An Introduction to Solar," in which experts will share the inside story of real solar technology. Confirmed speakers include: Richard Perez, solar resource specialist; and representatives of leading US PV companies, First Solar and SunPower. 

For registration and program information, visit

$1/Watt program taking shape at DOE

[Image: DOE Logo]
In August 2010, the Department of Energy (DOE) Solar Energy Technologies program (SETP) held a two-day workshop, in which Ken Zweibel participated and is discussed in the Solar Institute Annual Report, to discuss and identify pathways to reducing the cost of installed photovoltaic systems to $1 per Watt (W). Current PV systems are being installed as low as $3-4/W and DOE believes "a solar energy system priced at $1/W would unlock the potential of the sun to provide low-cost, clean limitless electricity to the U.S. and the rest of the world, at the same cost of coal-based generation."

The $1/W initiative is becoming a significant activity within SETP as it has released two Requests for Information  since last month; '$1/W PV Systems: Balance of Systems (BOS)' requests information on "building integrated photovoltaic (BIPV) concepts, roof and ground mount innovations, software design tools/innovations, and BOS transformational concepts;" and '$1/W PV Systems: Solar Energy Grid Integration Systems, Advanced Concepts' seeks to identify innovations in power electronics, which could also reduce overall PV system costs, including grid integration.

Proposed ‘Solar Energy Zones’ on public lands moving forward

[Img: BLM Logo]Since 2008, the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) and the Department of Energy have been developing a Solar Programmatic Environmental Impact Statement (PEIS). The PEIS will establish agency-specific policies to help speed utility-scale solar energy projects through the environmental regulatory process by identifying possible impacts of such projects in attractive solar regions within six western states. This effort may help reduce solar deployment hurdles such as the latest permit complaint against Brightsource's 370 MW Ivanpah solar plant in California.

Last month, the Draft Programmatic Environmental Impact Statement for Solar Energy Development in Six Southwestern States was released, and dates for public meetings with DOE and BLM were announced this week. 

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Recent Blogs
[Image: Cooling Tower]"An Unusual Comparison with Nuclear," Ken Zweibel's latest blog post, has received significant attention on both The Solar Review and Renewable Energy World; including on other sites, like CleanTechnica, on which it was reported. Read the blog yourself: 

We don’t burn solar modules to make electricity. If we could recycle 100% of them forever, we would produce an infinite amount of electricity per gram of material. Even in practical use, we use less PV material per kWh than uranium per kWh when we make PV electricity in comparison to nuclear electricity. The amounts of active materials used in PV are tiny.
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