Solar power is lending a hand after the debilitating earthquake that hit Fukushima, Japan earlier this year. Companies including Kyocera are installing rooftop solar panels at record paces in order to compensate for power outages throughout the area. Specifically, Kyocera has increased one of its solar plants to produce 230kW of power. The Japanese government has placed restrictions on electricity usage to reduce power consumption, and as a result many companies are beefing up their solar power initiatives to keep the lights on.
Thin-film solar panels are increasing in popularity due to their convenient size and efficiency. One manufacturer of thin-film solar cells, SoloPower has raised $43.7 million in order to increase production of roll-up solar panels. The company is based in San Jose, and plans to build its biggest plant yet. The plant will employ roughly 500 people, and when operating fully will produce and estimated 400mW of thin-film photovoltaic modules every year.
Helios Solar Works (Milwaukee), a large solar panel production company, has teamed up with Arista Power (New York) in order to provide solar products for the US Army, the Federal Bureau of Investigation and other government entities. Arista Power manufactures wind turbines and other renewable energy products and has deals with the US military already in place. The partnership will refer Helios solar products to government agencies through Arista Power. The US military has increased interest in solar power and other forms of renewable energy in order to secure energy independence. In fact, the Department of Defense released an energy strategy in June that expressed interest in using green technology as a way to protect soldiers from attacks on fuel convoys. Arista Power already has contracts with the FBI and the US military for renewable energy projects and plans to use Helios solar panels for these projects.
Much of rural India is taking advantage of solar energy and how it can affordably power homes throughout the world. Small-scale companies and aid from designated programs are allowing the poorer sections of rural India to install solar panels and bypass the central electrical grid. Currently 40 percent of rural India lacks power making the potential for solar energy great. The frustration of the poor combined with the growth and viability of solar power has motivated companies like Selco Solar Light to provide 125,000 homes with solar panels. Currently producing roughly 50mW of power throughout the poorest sections of India, the government hopes to quadruple that to 200mW in the next two years.