By almost any measure, the U.S. solar market is on fire–Well, except on Wall Street

REUTERS: Solar is having a great year, except on Wall Street

Installations of solar panels are expected to soar by a third this year, the price of solar power is now cheap enough to compete neck and neck with gas and coal-fired power in places like California, and the fledgling industry received a vote of confidence last week when U.S. President Barack Obama announced a groundbreaking plan to curb power plant emissions. Even China’s currency devaluation could cut panel costs for U.S. solar installers.

Wall Street, however, has been dumping solar shares this year, largely on concern, which investors say is misplaced, that tumbling oil prices will sap demand for alternative energy, even though oil isn’t used to generate power.

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THE INDEPENDENT: China builds huge solar power station which could power a million homes

China is set to build a giant solar power station in the Gobi desert, which could generate enough energy to supply one million homes. The proposed power station will measure 10 square miles and generate 200 megawatts of solar energy.

The plans will fall in line with the Chinese government’s ambitious initiative to reduce the country’s fossil fuel energy by 20 per cent by 2030 in addition to cutting its green house gas emissions. Construction began six years ago on the country’s first large –scale power station, according to National Geographic.

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BLOOMBERG BUSINESS: Theft and Sabotage Belie India’s Buzz Over Solar Power

Disappointment spread across Tarun Singh’s face when he saw that parts of his solar power microgrid in eastern India’s Bihar state had been stolen.

Batteries meant to store energy stood disconnected from solar panels and drained of essential acid at the site in Kayam village. Singh, chief executive of Veddis Solars Pvt., said he hadn’t been paid the rent due on the small plant since February.

“I’m on the verge of saying goodbye to the state,” he said in an interview at Kayam, surrounded by cobwebs and grime in a control room that’s supposed to be kept clean. Singh, who’d flown from his southern Indian base in Hyderabad to inspect the grids, said he’d consider relocating the equipment.

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VOX: California’s plan to let solar panels Voltron together into a “virtual power plant”

How can we get more wind and solar power integrated into energy grids?

Meeting the long-term challenge — getting to, say, 75 percent of renewable electricity or higher — will require technological innovation and sustained declines in cost. It’s exciting to think about. But in the short term, the barriers facing wind and solar are rather more pedestrian. They are regulatory and managerial, embedded in the rules and customs that now govern the operation of grids and energy markets. (I have written about these boring but important issues before.)

Progress in reforming those rules is going to come in dribs and drabs, here and there, as grid managers and regulators test out new ways of doing things and best practices spread. One interesting bit of progress took shape in California recently, and though it is modest and preliminary, it points the way to some pretty exciting things in the future.

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