Solar plane midway through first intercontinental flight

Solar Impulse, a Swiss sun-powered aircraft, on Friday finished the first leg of its attempt at an intercontinental flight without using a single drop of fuel.

The solar plane took off Thursday from Payerne, Switzerland, bound for Morocco. It landed safely Friday on a planned three-day technical stopover in Madrid, where it will get a new pilot.

If successful, the 1,550-mile journey will be the longest to date for the craft, which last year completed its first international flight from its home in Switzerland to Brussels.

Pilot Andre Borschberg handled the first leg of the trip for the Solar … Read more

Solar firm SunPower goes micro

A leading solar manufacturer has decided to offer panels with microinverters for automatically converting electricity from direct current to alternating current.

SunPower, which is partly owned by gas and oil giant Total, announced this week it's adding the E18 and E19 AC Solar Panel series to its line of solar panels. The new solar-panel models will come integrated with SolarBridge Pantheon AC microinverters made by SolarBridge Technologies.

Normally, a solar panel generates electricity in DC (direct current), and needs to be routed to an inverter that converts it to AC (alternating current), the standard used in homes, before it … Read more

Buzz Out Loud 1529: HTC tries to buy some street cred (Podcast)

HTC spends $300 million to acquire some Beats Electronics awesomeness, but we have to admit: we're befuddled. Also, Apple is now officially the world's most valuable company, and we're happy, because they're slightly less evil than ExxonMobil. And in the worst idea we've heard in a while, the British Prime Minister floats the idea of turning off social networks to stem the rioting in London. Dude, do you WANT more riots!?

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Ford EVs to come with household solar-panel option

Ford and solar-panel maker SunPower have created a solar-powered electric-car package.

Buyers of Ford's electric vehicles will have an option to have SunPower's rooftop solar panels installed for about $10,000 after a federal tax rebate. The companies estimate that the 2.5-kilowatt array will generate enough juice, about 3,000 kilowatt-hours a year, to fuel a car for about 1,000 miles a month of driving.

The "Drive Green for Life" program means drivers can cut the cord on fossil fuels by generating power during the day and charging at night, according to the companies. … Read more

Total closer to SunPower stake

Oil and gas giant Total is set to buy 60 percent of solar panel maker SunPower on June 14 after the companies received approval from the European Union. The great unknown is whether this combination changes the energy industry or merely gives SunPower some cover as the solar industry enters a rocky period.

The EU approval, announced yesterday, clears the way for Total to close its all-cash offer for 60 percent of SunPower's outstanding shares in a deal valued at $1.4 billion. Given that the two companies received U.S. regulatory clearance already, the deal is set to … Read more

Oil giant to buy $1.4B stake in SunPower


French energy company Total has offered to pay up to $1.37 billion for a majority stake in U.S. solar company SunPower, one of the biggest moves ever by an oil and gas giant into the market for renewable energy.

Solar power has been one of the fastest growing energy industries in recent years, but still remains tiny compared with oil, gas and coal because of its higher cost. With Total's financial heft behind it, San Jose, Calif.-based SunPower said solar energy would become competitive with fossil fuels more quickly.

"It's a vote of confidence … Read more

NRG, SunPower plan 250-megawatt solar plant

NRG Solar and SunPower said today they expect to begin construction on a large 250-megawatt solar installation next year in California's central coastal region.

The project would be one of the largest solar plants in the U.S., the companies said. NRG Solar, a subsidiary of utility NRG Energy, is purchasing the project from SunPower for about $450 million over four years.

The California Valley Solar Ranch plant will use SunPower's solar photovoltaic panels, which are mounted on trackers that position the panels to follow the sun to optimize power output. SunPower will build and operate the plant. … Read more

SunPower unveils more efficient solar panels

SunPower, a Silicon Valley manufacturer of high-efficiency solar cells, panels, and systems, announced Monday the debut of its its new SunPower E19 Series solar panels, a product lineup that offers an efficiency of 19 percent or greater.

The efficiency figure measures how great a percentage of the sunlight that hits a solar panel is actually converted into usable electricity. The higher the efficiency, the cheaper the cost of using solar energy.

Some companies have reached up to 42 percent efficiency in testing their products. Others have claimed even higher percentages in the lab. But most commercial silicon solar cells average … Read more

SunPower to acquire SunRay for $277 million

U.S. solar-panel manufacturer SunPower has signed an agreement to acquire SunRay Renewable Energy and its existing solar projects for $277 million, both companies announced Thursday.

The maker of high-efficiency solar panels said approximately $235 million of the deal will be in cash, which SunPower announced it already has in hand, forgoing the need to raise equity capital to finance the deal. The remaining $42 million will be in the form of credit and promissory notes.

SunRay, a European solar-power company, might be best known for its completion in November of the 24-megawatt Montalto di Castro solar-photovoltaic power plant, the … Read more

SunPower lands mega solar deals in Florida

SunPower on Thursday announced two deals with Florida Power & Light to build 35 megawatts worth of electricity, including an installation at the Kennedy Space Station.

The deals are the largest to date for SunPower, which makes and installs solar photovoltaic panels.

A 25-megawatt plant will be installed by DeSoto County by 2009 and the Kennedy Space Center will have its 10 megawatt plant done by 2010. Florida Power &Light will own and operate the plants.

The largest solar photovoltaic plant in the U.S. is at the Nellis Air Force base in Nevada, which generates 14 megawatts.

Earlier … Read more