Solar Briefing: Campbell’s, American Water, Trade War Kicks Off

by | Oct 20, 2011

Seven solar panel makers have filed a complaint with the Commerce Department, asking the government to impose duties on cheaper Chinese imports.

The manufacturers, which included the U.S. arm of German company SolarWorld, accused Chinese manufacturers of using billions of dollars’ worth of subsidies to bolster their position in the American market. They also said their Chinese peers are selling panels here for less than their total manufacturing and shipping cost, according to the Business Week reported.

Like the Japanese automotive industry in the 1980s, Chinese solar companies could simply move plants to the U.S. to avoid tariffs and import restrictions, The New York Times said. While the outcome of the trade case is uncertain, China’s Suntech Power, the world’s largest manufacturer of blue solar panels, already has moved some assembly operations to the U.S. and other big Chinese manufacturers are considering similar moves.

Campbell’s has entered into a 20-year power purchase agreement and land lease agreement with American Capital Energy to build a 2.3 MW capacity PV ground-mount tracker system on 14 acres of the company’s facility in Sacramento, Calif.

Campbell’s expects the system to provide about 10 percent of the plant’s annual electricity needs. The Sacramento Municipal Utility District (SMUD) will purchase the Solar Renewable Energy Credits from the project. Over the course of the PPA, Campbell expects to save about $2 million and eliminate about 58,000 metric tons of CO2 greenhouse gas emissions.

Earlier this year Campbell’s finalized a PPA and land lease arrangement to construct a 60-acre, 9.8 MW photovoltaic system at the company’s largest plant in Napoleon, Ohio.

New Jersey American Water has installed a floating solar array at its Canoe Brook water treatment plant in Millburn, N.J. The company, a wholly owned subsidiary of American Water, says the array is unique in that it is built to withstand a freeze/thaw environment.

The 538 solar modules will generate 135 kilowatts of DC power, which will then be converted to 115 kilowatts of AC power, generating about two percent of plant’s power. The company expects the $1.35 million project to save about $16,000 per year in energy costs. It says it may add more panels on the reservoir

This is New Jersey American Water’s fourth solar project.

The Philadelphia Sign Company has installed a 910 kW rooftop solar system at its production facility in Pennsauken, N.J. The system uses nearly 5,000 Mage Powertec Plus 190/5 modules from Mage Solar, mounted on 6,000 stainless steel angle racks. The company expects the array to generate 1.1 million kWh a year, enough for the entire plant, whose corporate clients include Chase Bank, Bank of America, Hertz, and Target.

Finally, the University of Arizona in Tucson will be installing a solar cogeneration system by Cogenra Solar to supply both renewable electricity and hot water. The 50-module installation on top of a student dorm will supply heat for showers and laundry facilities.

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