Visitors check solar panels at a stand p

Yesterday was a tough day for renewables, with rising reports of solar panel defects, a failure of Kenya’s renewable-heavy national power grid, and ethanol losing some of its cost advantage over gasoline.

Solar developers, testing labs, financiers and insurers are reporting defects with solar panels – some that have caused fires – early on in their expected life spans. There are no reliable figures about the extent of the problem, but it is clearly cause for concern, especially with US solar panel generating capacity having grown to 7,266 megawatts in 2012 from 83 megawatts in 2003. [New York Times]

State-controlled Kenya Electricity Generating Company – KenGen – which supplies 80% of the country’s power and gets 68% of that from renewable sources, left 2 million people without electricity after the power grid failed yesterday. [Quartz]

Ethanol prices strengthened relative to gasoline – the spread between the two narrowed by 1.42 cents per gallon, to 22.08 cents per gallon – on fears that wet Midwest weather will impact planting. Declining ethanol production has whittled stockpiles down to record lows for this time of year. [Bloomberg]