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.
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.
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.
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.