Archive for June 30, 2012

Join Us and Help Celebrate Our Upcoming 4th year

EPA’s Greenhouse Gas Regulations Upheld By Federal Court of Appeals

The question to be asked of the TVA board should be “how much will this cost the ratepayers?” Sure makes renewable more attractive as future investments here in TVA land.

D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals upheld Environmental Protection Agency’s rules regulating greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from major stationary sources and its determination that GHG emissions endanger public health and welfare by contributing to climate change. EPA’s rules require new major sources and major modifications to existing sources permitted after January 2, 2012 to implement the “best available control technology” (BACT) to limit GHG emissions.

Eight energy companies — FirstEnergy, DTE Energy, American Electric Power, Southern Co., Ameren, Energy Future Holdings, GenOn Energy and PPL — spent $67 million lobbying Congress to overturn EPA regulations.The court rejected arguments that EPA erred by relying on assessments of climate change prepared by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) and other scientific bodies.

The D.C. court noted that those assessments were peer-reviewed and synthesized thousands of individual studies on various aspects of greenhouse gases and climate change. The court argued that science works. “EPA is not required to re-prove the existence of the atom every time it approaches a scientific question.”

An appeal to the Supreme Court is likely. But unless the Supreme Court reverses, or Congress intervenes to limit EPA’s Clean Air Act authority, EPA’s GHG regulations remain in place.

more on the legal arguments can be found here

Scientists create spray-on battery paint

Rice University researchers have created spray-on battery paint, creating the potential for new gadget form factors.

One of the primary factors holding back the development of truly next-generation devices is battery technology. Yes, the lithium-ion power modules that energize most of our current flock of gadgets are fairly small and reliable. But they still take up a relatively large amount of space in our devices, and often dictate the form factor to a certain degree. Fortunately, scientists at Rice University in Texas have developed an interesting solution: spray-on batteries.

Neelam Singh, one of the Rice researchers involved in the project, says they will work to reduce the size of the paint needed to hold a meaningful charge, and hope to make their creation more user friendly. Singh tells New Scientist that he hopes to one day pair the spray-on battery with paintable solar cells, to create the next generation of home electrical systems. When exactly such a thing will be possible, well, we’ll just have to be patient.

Read more:

Electricity Prices in Germany have Declined – Increasing supply of Renewable Energy is one of the Main Reasons

Have you noticed the increasing frequency of ads promoting oil, coal and natural gas?  Wonder why?  The answer is the fuel costs, on the average, keep rising.  Billions are being spent by the companies that sell fuel to the public for energy generation to promote their products.

Ask yourself what is the cost of fuel for the electricity industry per year? Well, for coal, Tennessee purchased $366 million for imported coal in 2010 according to EIA.  Money leaving the valley.  I am not saying that all our electric power can be generated by renewables, but the more renewables we have, the lower will be our fuel bill.  That has a stabilizing effect on our electricity bill each month.  So it comes at no surprise that electricity prices in Germany have declined.  Is it possible that we pay more for electricity than Germany?  Average day-ahead electricity prices in Germany fell 18 percent to 43.49 euros ($54.36) a megawatt-hour in the first five months of this year compared to last year, according to data from European Energy Exchange AG compiled by Bloomberg. According to the Institute for Energy Research, Tennesseans pay $87 a megawatt-hourWhen fuel is free the cost of electricity will begin to decline.  

Electricity generation from renewable energy in Germany is reducing power prices and has left the country with a (fuel) market whose design no longer works, according to Stadtwerke Leipzig GmbH, a energy consultant firm.  Increasing supply of renewable energy is one of the main reasons electricity prices in Germany have declined, Teresniak from Standtwerke said that Germany saw peak solar production in May and this summer will probably see some negative prices during weekends when there is low demand.

An Addendum:

WASHINGTON, D.C. – As Texas braces for predicted tighter electricity reserves and higher electricity rates in the state this summer, a new report shows that adding solar capacity to the Texas electricity grid would result in lower wholesale electricity prices for Texas customers.

Analysts at The Brattle Group energy consultancy reviewed Texas electricity market data from the summer of 2011 and analyzed how prices would have been impacted if solar photovoltaic (PV) systems had been added to the generation mix. Their report concludes that adding photovoltaic solar to the Texas electricity grid in the summer of 2011 could have saved customers an average of $155 to $281 per megawatt hour (MWh) and that avoiding fuel, operations and maintenance costs associated with fossil fuels plans could have saved customers an additional $52 per MWh. Taken together, the total customer benefits of adding solar PV to the Texas grid was valued at more than $520 million.

Thanks SEIA

When do you think that TVA will start lowering the price we pay for electricity?

Solar PV project in Historic Downtown Morristown

DeBord Family Partnership plans to install an 11.73 kW solar PV project on the rooftop of the 144 West Main Street building in Historic Downtown Morristown. The project will use aesthetic and innovative solar technology that can be installed within the design requirements of the local Historic Zoning Commission and will add to the historic building’s complete renovation.
Randy DeBord, owner of DeBord Family Partnership, stated, “This will be my second solar energy project in the historical Morristown district, proving solar can be cost effectively incorporated into a historical district. We are excited about this project because of the success of our first solar project. We are providing clean energy and lowering our utility bills while preserving the aesthetics of our beautiful downtown architecture.” In addition he stated, “We have partnered with ARiES Energy, a leading energy contractor, to deliver this turnkey, clean, and renewable energy solution.

Tennessee Watches other States Prosper with Growing Solar Industry

The New Jersey State Assembly has passed a bill that would increase the state’s solar energy requirements under its renewable portfolio standard (RPS) program, as well as allow additional facilities to qualify for virtual net metering.

The State Senate passed an earlier version of the bill last month by a vote of 23-8, and a modified version cleared the State Assembly Monday by a vote of 68-4.
Under the bill, utilities would be required to obtain 2.05% of their electricity sales from solar by 2014 – a mandate that would be ramped up on a tiered basis to 4.10% by 2028.
New Jersey’s current RPS requires that each utility obtain 22.5% of its power from renewables by 2021, and features a tiered solar carve-out of 306 GWh beginning in 2011 and increasing to 5,316 GWh by 2026.

“We’re hoping that it will create an environment for more long-term contracts at SREC price levels that will allow projects to get financed,” Naik, co-owner and principal at Old Bridge, N.J.-based solar integrator GeoGenix, explains. “Today, with high electricity [prices] in New Jersey (10.97¢ – 11.90¢) and the current cost of the technology and systems, our model shows that you need $250 SRECs (Solar Renewable Energy Credit) in a 10-year long-term contract to make financial sense for a 500 kW commercial system.”

According to the Mid-Atlantic Solar Energy Industries Association, there are more than 10,000 New Jerseyans working in the solar industry.

The legislation also would make public projects (i.e., solar installations on municipal buildings, schools, etc.) eligible for virtual net metering, which would allow them to use solar credits to pay for the power used by non-connected buildings under their jurisdiction.

The bill now awaits the approval of Gov. Chris Christie (R), who is expected to sign the legislation into law.

read more

TSEA Sponsor ARiES Demos The New CHyP System

This 200 kW system was powering a generator with clean, renewable energy. Source: ARiES Energy

ARiES Energy hosted a special event called Demo Day, to demonstrate the bioenergy technology developed by Proton Power that takes biomass such as switchgrass and municipal solid waste and converts it to electricity.  The system uses biomass to produce a hydrogen-rich syngas that can be combusted to produce electricity in a generator, or converted into diesel fuel through another processing step.  The CHyP system can use up to 70% of the trash that goes into landfills, and emits only 9kg of CO2 per Megawatt of electricity generated (compared to 1110kg for coal).  Over 50 people attended this event.

Although the CHyP system isn’t solar energy, it uses the idea of producing hydrogen from abundant sources of energy (in this case, trash!).  HyperSolar is developing a concept of a solar-powered hydrogen generator using water and solar electricity to produce hydrogen.

ARiES Energy also provides turn-key solutions for solar installations and geothermal, and prepares professional grant proposals to secure all possible funding.

For more information, visit their website

Energy Policy — Looking for the Broad Side of the Barn

TSEA has been following Craig Shields, blogger on green energy, a battle-hardened veteran in the fight to bring in the Green Energy Age. I strongly recommend his site. This is an excerpt of his latest entry:

Wednesday morning as I was getting ready to conclude my participation in the Renewable Energy Finance Forum, I had a thought I wanted to share. It had been two-days of nitty-gritty financial talk — extremely precise language of tax lawyers and investment bankers, which left me more than ready to resume a discussion of the “broad side of the barn.” As important as all these issues of cost of capital, production tax credits, and Senate bills addressing master limited partnerships may be, this really had been, to some degree, an exercise in missing the forest for the trees.

In this article Craig is focusing on the difficulties in bringing experts from different areas together to focus on ways to create a comprehensive finance program to promote our next generation of electric power. There are so many voices in the discussion that it is hard to imagine a conclusion that will satisfy everybody with a dog in the fight. Maybe what is needed is for a non-biased party that has a solid reputation for integrity to compile all the various inputs and try to make sense in offering a solution that all will hate but begrudgingly agree is a solution they can live with.

That brings to mind our own Baker Center. The University of Tennessee’s Baker Center “Assessment of Incentives and Employment Impacts of Solar Industry Deployment” dated May 1, 2012, last paragraph in the summary section states:
“We find that solar energy is following the same incentive-driven path as other traditional energy sources before it, consistent with the government’s decision to incentivize energy production for a variety of policy purposes. We also conclude that the federal investment in solar energy could bring about a number of tangible benefits, including increased employment, global business opportunities, and energy supply diversity”.

That Baker Center report commissioned by the Solar Energy Industry Association has lead to NY state policymakers debating the New York Solar Jobs Act, which would lay the groundwork for the addition of 3,000 megawatts of solar in the Empire State by 2021. Give some thought to having the Baker Center, with its integrity and excellence, being funded to figure out how Tennessee could increase its use of renewable energy a midst the jungle of TVA restrictions, Tennessee legislature and other factors that would go into a policy that could be presented to our citizens and to TVA board for adoption that would lead to a more stable and consistent overall pathway towards new jobs and cleaner electrical energy generation in Tennessee.


June 28th, Long Island Power Authority (LIPA) announced a CLEAN solar initiative, otherwise known as a feed-in tariff to spur up to 50 MW of commercial and large-scale solar projects in its region over the next two years. Under the program, LIPA will purchase all of the energy generated by local solar projects at a fixed-rate of 22 cents per kilowatt-hour for 20 years.  Projects must be at least 50 kilowatts (kW) in size so residential systems won’t qualify. LIPA said that it expects the largest projects to be in the 3-MW range. The program is capped at 50 MW.

Craig Shields blog is located here

$2.3 Million in Clean Tennessee Energy Grants Awarded

Seventeen Recipients to Receive Grants for Projects Benefiting Both the Environment and Bottom Line

NASHVILLE – Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam and Department of Environment and Conservation Commissioner Bob Martineau today awarded more than $2.3 million to fund energy efficiency projects for local governments and municipalities, utilities, other organizations and private entities across Tennessee.

The Clean Tennessee Energy Grants were awarded to 17 recipients for projects designed to reduce air emissions, improve energy efficiency and create cost savings.  Today’s announcement in Memphis marks the first time these grants have been made available.  The grant program provides financial assistance to state and local government agencies, utility districts, and private businesses/organizations in Tennessee to purchase, install and construct energy projects.

Funding for the projects comes from an April 2011 Clean Air Act settlement with the Tennessee Valley Authority. Under the Consent Decree, Tennessee will receive $26.4 million over five years to fund clean air programs in the state (at approximately $5.25 million per year).  In addition to the $2.3 million in Clean Energy Grants announced today, $3 million was announced earlier this year for energy efficiency projects in state government.

Full Article

3M PV Film Replaces Glass for Solar Panels

3M said the project will lower costs for U.S. commercial panel companies at a time when there is increased competition from foreign rivals. 3M said its new photovoltaic film is thin and lightweight, which cuts manufacturing time and replaces the need for the heavy glass used in rooftop solar modules. The film is also waterproof. The sun-facing
side is Fluoropolymer.

With our new production equipment and continued product innovation, 3M is well positioned to not only increase the performance of our Ultra Barrier Solar Film, but also significantly drive down the costs,” Derek DeScioli, 3M’s global business development manager for renewable energy, said Monday.

This revolutionary product is a result of more than a decade of development in transparent barrier technology, as well as over 45 U.S. patents and patent-pending applications. 3M™ Ultra Barrier Solar Film is engineered for flexible Copper Indium Gallium Selenide (CIGS), Cadmium Telluride (CdTe) and Organic Photovoltaic (OPV) solar modules. It’s designed to replace glass in flexible thin film solar panels, delivering high light transmission, superb moisture barrier performance and excellent weatherability. Compared with glass-glass modules, flexible PV modules manufactured with 3M™ Ultra Barrier Solar Film can reduce installation time, remove the need for metal racking, cut logistics expenditures and lower module manufacturing costs.

taken from 3M information