Archive for February 17, 2012

PV Tech Newscast Feb. 17

Interest in solar energy rising in Dickson, TN

Solar Plexus owner Jim Lindsey and Sundog Solar owner Gary Wolf, who brought solar power to DMA. / Submitted

It’s an election year, and talking heads on both sides of the political aisle have championed job creation, and promoted small business growth to stimulate a lagging economy.

Robert Cooper has compiled 40 years of experience in design and construction, including 11 years building theatrical sets at The Renaissance Center in Dickson. He was laid-off a year and a half ago from his position at the fine arts facility.

Cooper has since turned to the solar energy industry as a source of income and employment, applying his talents with design, drawing and construction to use installing solar panels with Nashville-based Sundog Solar.

Cooper and DMA are among a growing list of individuals and businesses increasingly turning to the solar energy industry as a source of employment in a job market that’s recently seen double-digit unemployment rates, and as a hedge against future energy inflation costs.

Full Article

Silicon Ranch, Phoenix Solar Installing 200 kW PV Array

Phoenix Solar Inc. and Silicon Ranch Corp. plan to build a 200 kW PV solar system on the roof of the Second Harvest Food Bank of Middle Tennessee.

Construction on the rooftop is currently under way, with completion scheduled for the second quarter of this year. The project will require the installation of 840 solar modules.

As owner of the solar facility, Silicon Ranch will sell the electricity to the Tennessee Valley Authority and share a portion of the proceeds with Second Harvest. In turn, Second Harvest will use the proceeds to reduce costs. Phoenix Solar will provide engineering, procurement and construction services, as well as long-term operations and maintenance services.

UT Biosolar Breakthrough Promises Cheap, Easy Green Electricity

Barry D. Bruce, professor of biochemistry, cellular and molecular biology, at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, is turning the term “power plant” on its head. The biochemist and a team of researchers have developed a system that taps into photosynthetic processes to produce efficient and inexpensive energy.

Bruce collaborated with researchers from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Ecole Polytechnique Federale in Switzerland to develop a process that improves the efficiency of generating electric power using molecular structures extracted from plants. The biosolar breakthrough has the potential to make “green” electricity dramatically cheaper and easier.

Full Article

President’s 2013 Budget Revives 1603 Solar Tax Credit, Eliminates $4B in Fossil Fuel Subsidies

Here are some of the highlights of the energy portion of the budget:

  • The budget provides for an extension of the Section 1603 Treasury Program, a program that addresses the scarcity of tax equity for financing solar projects.
  • The budget proposes the repeal of over $4 billion per year in “inefficient” tax subsidies to oil, gas, and other fossil fuel producers.
  • The budget proposes funding the DOE’s Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy at $2.33 billion, an increase from 2012 figures.
  • $310 million for the SunShot Initiative to make solar power at grid parity without subsidies by 2020.
  • $95 million for wind power, including offshore wind technologies.
  • $65 million for geothermal power and enhanced geothermal energy technology.
  • $770 million for the Office of Nuclear Energy, including funding to research and develop small modular reactors (SMRs).
  • The DOE receives $27.2 billion under the budget request, a 3 percent increase from 2012 levels.
  • The Office of Science would receive $5 billion to fund basic research.
  • The beleaguered DOE loan guarantee program would not win any expanded funding, though the budget does call for maintaining the current loan portfolio.


Wacker Polysilicon to expand Charleston, TN, operations again

The current construction of the new Wacker plant near Charleston, TN. Photo by Doug Strickland /Chattanooga Times Free Press.

CLEVELAND, Tenn. — Wacker Polysilicon officials are expected to announce an additional $300 million investment in their northern Bradley County operations after receiving a one-time $1 million property tax abatement for 2014.

Wacker, originally having made a $1 billion commitment to its Charleston facility, ultimately will increase its investment to $1.8 billion, said Farlow. He noted that the company already had made an additional $500 million investment without asking for further concessions from the county.

In addition to the property taxes that Wacker will provide the county, it will pump an estimated $65 million into the community through salaries and wages for its projected staff of 600 employees, said Farlow.

Full Article

TVA Launches Solar Solutions Initiative

TVA is now starting to take applications for the Solar Solutions Initiative!  It is for solar systems between 50 kW and 1 MW installed by a local certified contractor.  All solar panels must be manufactured and/or assembled in the Tennessee Valley region.  It is a two year pilot project with a cap of 10 MW each year.  Details and applications can be found at

Solar Solutions Initiative Fact Sheet

ARPA-E Announces Request for Information on $150 Million FOA

Today, ARPA-E released a Request For Information (RFI) concerning a draft Open Funding Opportunity Announcement (FOA). ARPA-E intends to formally issue a revised version of this Open FOA in early March 2012. The Open FOA is expected to support transformational and disruptive high-impact energy R&D projects related to renewable power, bioenergy, transportation, conventional generation, the electrical grid, and building efficiency, among other technology areas.

ARPA-E’s first FOA, issued in 2009, was a similarly open call for the most transformative energy technology solutions to our nation’s most pressing security, economic, and environmental challenges.

The RFI provides instructions for submitting comments on the draft Open FOA, which must be received by 5 PM Eastern Time on February 29, 2012 at

Draft for review

Oak Ridge National Labs Developing Charging Of Electric Vehicles While They Are Out On the Road

A handful of researchers are even working to extend the concept to allow charging of electric vehicles while they are out on the road. Researchers at Oak Ridge and Stanford recently developed detailed concepts for such a system. In a $2.7 million federally funded project, researchers at Utah State University are installing a system to charge buses as they stop along a route in Salt Lake City.
In the Oak Ridge model, 200 coils would be embedded in a section of the roadway and controlled by a single roadside device; successive coils would be energized as electric vehicles pass over them, providing enough power for the vehicle to reach the next series of coils a mile down the road.
John Miller, a research scientist at Oak Ridge, estimates that each series of coils plus the controller would cost less than a million dollars. “Wireless chargers for electric vehicles are so convenient. You don’t have to mess with plug cables. You don’t care what the weather is. You don’t even have to think about it. I think it’s going to catch on superfast,” Miller says.

Hawkins County Schools will be the first system in Tennessee with Solar PV

The installation of energy efficient lighting at all Hawkins County schools, which was completed last month, is already beginning to show significant energy savings including more than $65,000 at three schools alone between May and December of last year. But two more projects discussed by the Hawkins County Board of Education Thursday evening will drive down the system’s energy costs even further. Those projects include the installation of solar panels at 11 Hawkins County schools by Morristown-based TerraShares (President John Adkins), which will sell electricity back to the Tennessee Valley Authority.