Archive for November 26, 2012

Ten Years Shows Silicon Solar Modules Maintain 97% Original Performance

Even after a decade, aleo solar modules show only minimal age-related performance reduction (degradation). MBJ Services, an independent service provider, assessed a 5.44-kilowatt system near Bremen (Germany) which had been in operation for nearly ten years. They measured each of the 34 aleo modules’ performance with the help of a flasher. The result: an average degradation level of 2.73%. Photovoltaic system planners generally presume performance losses of 0.5% per year – but the aleo modules only degraded by about half that much. Read More

Why Not Directly Invest In Solar?

Imagine if every time you bought a car, you had to buy all the gasoline that would run the car for its lifetime. That’d be an expensive automobile. With an internal combustion engine, say, you get to amortize the total cost of the power produced over the many years that you buy fuel for that engine. It’s almost like a layaway plan for the power. Solar finds itself in an analogous situation. The cost of the energy produced over the 20 years you’ve got the system all comes at the beginning. You are prepaying, essentially, for decades of electricity production when you buy the system. That means only people with substantial cash on hand are likely to put panels on their homes. Who has an extra ten or twenty grand lying around?
And that’s where SunRun gets money from banks — hundreds of millions of dollars — and then uses that money to finance the installation of solar systems on homes. Homeowners pay on a monthly basis, not up front, at rates that are comparable to or cheaper than the grid (SunRun says). We still don’t know how much money SunRun makes on each home, but we do know that the company’s model has exploded. Most new solar is now being installed with the leasing model and other companies like SolarCity and Sungevity are trying to horn in on SunRun’s business (even if SunRun remains the largest solar leasing company).
The takeaway from SunRun is simple, though: sometimes the innovations that matter aren’t technical but financial (or even social). Of course, developing more efficient, less expensive solar cells helps, but the technology development alone cannot guarantee successful market deployments. Whole article can be found here

But why take your money and give it to a company or a bank when there is a better way that cuts out the expense of the middlemen?

Direct investment in solar by everyone. Invest affordable amounts each month with the result of lowering your energy bill. Doing so will have a long term effect on your electric bill.

That is what the Tennessee Solar Energy Association is advocating. That is why we are sponsoring the “Affordable Solar” strategic planning session on December 7th.

Agenda for Affordable Solar Workshop December 7th

Date: December 7, 2012 Time: 9 a.m. until 4 p.m. Location: U.T. Conference Center, Knoxville TN
Corner of Locust St. and Clinch Ave.

Statement of the Problem to be Addressed: The average homeowner in the TVA region cannot afford the upfront cost of solar systems for their homes. Recent surveys of rural Tennessee show the strong support for solar but Tennesseans that contributes 60% of TVA’s income are on the average 20% below the typical U.S. income. So Tennesseans want solar but cannot afford solar in today’s economic climate. What can we do to make solar affordable without subsidies?

10 min – introductions TSEA/TREEDC

60 min – Main Speaker: S. David Freeman

120 min – morning breakout

Selecting members for each group and choosing a group discussion leader
What is expected from each group and discussing what is the purpose of each question to be addressed the subjects to be discussed

Group 1: Distributor Issues
a. Collection issues
b. Transfer to TVA mechanism
c. Compensated expenses
d. Future distribution upgrades
e. Location opportunities
i. Locally by distributor
ii. Regionally by TVA
iii. Rooftops

Group 2: Installer issues
a. Initial thoughts on what David said and the proposed program.
b. Preference for local distributors
i. Requirement for local labor?
ii. Could be a small business set aside
iii. Size limits depending on location

Group 3: TVA issues
a. Initial thoughts on what David said and the proposed program
b. Effects on rates
c. Collection issues
d. Accounting issues
e. Who makes the decision to location of array?
i. Distributors
ii. TVA
iii. County
iv. Local Government
f. Any charter issues?
g. Management of program
h. Locating and sizing installed solar farm
i. Expenses incurred for TVA infrastructure
i. Charging for energy storage (who pays and how is the released power priced?)
ii. Financing
iii. Manpower
iv. Other

1 hour – Lunch / Lunch Speaker: Professor Rupy Sawhney

120 min – afternoon breakout

1. Each group continues discussion
a. Arrive at consensus on each area
b. Prepare report back to general session

2. Report back to attendees
a. Distributors
b. Installers
c. TVA
Follow-up and Future Plans

Abouelata advocates for Tennessee to be nation’s energy leader

Harvey Abouelata wants Tennessee to “take the brass ring and run with it.”

In a recent interview with, the President of ARiES advocated for a tagline that simply says “Tennessee . . . Where Energy Begins.” ARiES stands for Alternative, Renewable, Innovative, Economic, Solutions for Energy, a company that Abouelata founded about a year ago with two partners – Mary Shaffer Gill and Patrick West.

His work for the last several years in a variety of energy sectors provides a good perspective on why he believes the tagline makes sense. For Abouelata, it’s an easy sell.

“If you want to be in the theater, you go to Broadway. If you want to be in finance, you go to Wall Street. If you want to be in energy, you come here.”

Abouelata cites the state’s assets that many know – Oak Ridge National Laboratory, Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA), Electric Power Research Institute, Sharp Electronics Corporation, Wacker Chemie, and Hemlock Semiconductor.

Full Article

Visit the ARiES Energy Website

Need your opinion on some suggested topics for our next event

We noticed that the hits on our website showed a doubling of hits when we publicized our DIY workshop. That showed us that our website viewers were interested in more events where they can get information and ask questions. It was each of you who will decide on what we do next as an event. Here are some ideas that we have come up with that might be of interest. Review these topics and if you do not find what you want about to know about solar energy and what it can do for you, let us know. In fact, give us your opinion as to your interest in participating in such an event. Your opinion will be the decision maker of what we do next.

1. Solar energy for farmers and remote locations
2. Information on solar energy for teachers and lecturers
3. Benefits of solar to combat global warming
4. Adding energy storage to your home or business can provide electricity during and after natural disasters

If none of these topics satisfy your curiosity, then tell us what you want to know.
Stephen Levy, Technical Director
Tennessee Solar Energy Association