Archive for April 29, 2013

Many types of professions install solar systems

There is the belief that solar installations are limited to a few companies that only deal in solar. That is not the case as illustrated by the following article that describes the various occupations involved in solar construction.

The primary industry begins with solar contractors, and then branches out to electrical contractors and plumbing contractors. General contractors and roofing contractors are also involved in solar installations. Because solar PV is electrical and solar hot water is plumbing-related, the industry sees a lot of participation from plumbing and electrical contractors.
Solar contractors operate independently or in conjunction with other contractors, such as roofers. Every project is different, so who is involved depends on the size and scope of a project. A typical solar contractor can handle a small residential system from start to finish. A large utility-scale project may involve coordinating with a roofing manufacturer or general contractor.
Companies in this sector employ many electricians, but also plumbers, roofers and general construction labor. Given that every project has unique characteristics, every project requires a slightly different skill set. For photovoltaic, the main skill set is electrical. For larger scale projects, a need for steel or concrete professionals or roofers may present itself.The first step to any installation project is engineering, followed by permitting and procurement and installation.

the original article

With so many occupations associated with solar installations the job market is wider in scope than most people realize. Tennessee has enough sunlight to warrant adopting solar both for large farms and distributed solar within our communities. With the price for large installations at prices competing with fossil-fueled power generation, with the advantages of no fuel cost and the environmental benefits – what is stopping our national leaders from promoting this technology? That is a question that only they can answer.

Prices for Natural Gas are Going Up and New Drilling Goes Down

Electric Utilities May Be Disappointed with Gas Prices

More on Adding Renewables to the Master Limited Partnership Legislation: Will our Two Senators Support This Legislation?

Will Senators Alexander and Corker support adding renewables to federal legislation that will give solar the same tax benefits as oil, natural gas, pipelines? I ask all our readers to contact these two senators and advocate for the passage of this key piece of legislation.

The measure would let renewable-energy companies form master-limited partnerships (MLPs), giving them the ability to raise funds like a corporation and pay taxes as a partnership, according to a statement today from Senator Chris Coons, a Delaware Democrat. He introduced the bill with Michigan Senator Debbie Stabenow, a Democrat, and Republican Senators Lisa Murkowski of Alaska and Jerry Moran of Kansas.
MLPs have “helped the oil and natural gas industry deliver the abundant and affordable energy that powers our economy today,” Murkowski, the top Republican on the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, said in the statement. “Through a small change in the tax code, this legislation will provide renewables with the same opportunity.”

The bill is similar to a prior version focused on renewable power generation and biofuels projects that was introduced last year and failed to pass. The re-introduced bill widens the scope of projects that would qualify to include energy-efficient buildings, waste heat-to-power systems, carbon capture and storage and biochemicals. The new bill was hailed by Rhone Resch, President and CEO of the Solar Energy Industries Association as “an important step toward leveling the playing field between clean, renewable energy and long-entrenched energy sources in America.”

The proposal is supported by at least one oil and gas group. Jack Gerard, president of the American Petroleum Institute, the industry’s main lobbying group, said MLPs would provide an incentive for private investors and help wean renewable energy producers from federal subsidies.

more
See Forbes article on this subject

Free Small Business Innovative Research Funding Workshop May 22, 2013

“Introduction to SBIR/STTR Funding” Workshop

Please see information below on SBIR workshops across Tennessee – May 20, 22, 23 2013. Registration links are provided. The workshops will be in Jackson, Knoxville and Johnson City.

Jackson Chamber May 20th from 8:30 am until 3:00 pm
197 Auditorium St
Jackson, TN 38301

Knoxville Entrepreneur Center May 22nd from 8:30 am til 3:30 pm
17 Market Square, Suite 101
Knoxville, TN 37902

ETSU Innovation Lab, Training Center May 23, 2013 from 8:30 am til 3:30 pm
2109 West Market Street
Johnson City, TN 37604

This workshop provides a thorough introduction to the SBIR/STTR programs and will highlight funding opportunities.

Mark Henry, founder of Grow Emerging Companies, LLC, will present this free workshop for local researchers & business partners interested in learning about SBIR/STTR funding opportunities. Registration is free & Lunch will be provided.

Seats Are Limited – Click Here To Register Today!

For more information, contact:
Michael Carroll, michael.carroll@knoxec.net | Katie Connell, katie.connell@knoxec.net
Jim Stefansic, jim@launchtn.org

For questions regarding registration, please contact Patty Wells at patricia.wells@tennessee.edu or (615) 253-6371

Robots Install Solar Panels Reduce Installation Costs

Automation Needed for Large Solar Farms


Companies such as PV Kraftwerker and Gehrlicher in Germany are developing mobile robots that can automatically install ground-mounted solar panels day and night, in all sorts of weather. PV Kraftwerker’s robot is designed to assemble power-plant-grade solar panels, which are four times the size of the ones you’d see on a home.

The main idea is to save money on labor, which accounts for a growing fraction of the cost of solar power as panels get cheaper. According to PV Kraftwerker, a construction firm specializing in solar parks, installations that used to require 35 workers can now be done with just three workers in an eighth the time.

For a 14-megawatt solar plant, the company estimates, it might cost about $2 million to install the panels manually. Using the robot could cut that cost by nearly half. The company says that the robot, which lists for $900,000, could pay for itself in less than a year of steady use.

PV Kraftwerker built its robot from off-the-shelf Japanese components. The machinery consists of a robotic arm mounted on an all-terrain vehicle with tanklike tracks. Suction cups grip the glass face of the solar panels and the arm swings them into place, guided by cameras that give the robot a three-dimensional view of the scene. See a video on an interview with PV Kraftwerker

So far, the PV Kraftwerker robot can only do one thing: lay panels on a metal frame that humans have already installed. Two people walking along beside the robot screw the panels to the frame and make electrical connections.

Yet robotic installation may become more common as other components get adapted to automation. PV Kraftwerker and other companies are also developing robots that, guided by GPS, can pound poles into the ground and then mount panels on them, eliminating the need for workers to install frames. Newer solar modules can be snapped or glued into position instead of being screwed in. Special plugs could even allow robots to make the electrical connections (see “New Solar Panel Designs Make Installation Cheaper”).

Original article

comment: The ‘sweet spot’ for solar PV today is large solar farms. Farms in the multi-megawatt size constructed on large ground based sites. Combined with pumped storage these power generators would be a dispatchable power source at a competitive cost with other non-polluting electric power generation. Automation is the key to reducing the overall cost. Robotic technology could really shrink the installation cost to a fraction of what it presently costs using existing installation methods.

Take a Lesson from Gary Wolf

Original site for downloading

Retail Electric Business Predicted to Loose Market Share

The Edison Electric Institute has issued a report predicting that there will be a change in the market share for retail electric business if the present trend towards distributed renewable energy continues at it’s rapidly changing mix of standard electric power production and the increasing percentage of renewable energy sources, particularly solar PV continues to evolve. The report dated January 2013 entitled “Disruptive Challenges: Financial Implications and Strategic Responses to a Changing Retail Electric Business” was authored by Peter Kind of Energy Infrastructure Advocates. The key premise is that the increasing inclusion of solar PV will reduce market share for the electric power industry which will lead to higher risk for investors. The result of a higher risk will be increased cost for borrowing money for the power industry. The report sites two similar industries that were drastically changed by market forces and regulatory changes: the airlines and the telephone (AT&T) industry. The report concludes that near term actions are to “institute a monthly customer service charge”, develop a tariff structure to reflect the cost of service and value provided to DER (solar PV) customers and to “analyze revision of net metering programs in all states so that self-generated DER (solar PV) sales to utilities are treated as supply-side purchases at a market-derived price.”

It is my suggestion that the industry adapt itself to incorporate solar PV in such a way as to improve its retail electric business position. My advice to the industry: constructively adapt renewables into your energy mix: it is not a curse but a blessing.

The full report is available on the web at: http://www.eei.org/ourissues/finance/Documents/disruptivechallenges.pdf

IMPORTANT – REAP Larger Budget Authority Than First Announced

I just got off a call with D.C.

They have indicated to us that we should have a larger budget authority than the amount stated in the Notice of Funding Authority for the Renewable Energy for America Program (REAP). In 2012 there was a limitation on funding but that limitation is not imposed on 2013 so budget authority will be higher. This translates to more money for our statewide allocation, in particular, for $20,000 or less grants. At this time I do not know how much more money, I just know we will have more funds and the deadline for the program will be moved back from the current deadline of April 30, 2013 to May 31, 2013 in order to solicit more applications.

I will send you more information as I find out. Towards early May I should get a better account of what our allocation will look like and will let you know that amount. In the meantime, if you have some projects that you were holding off on sending that are in the $20,000 or less range or can apply for that amount I would encourage you to submit them as it looks like we will have more funding at this point and your projects will be more competitive for funding.

Will Dodson | Business & Energy Programs
Rural Development – Tennessee State Office
U.S. Department of Agriculture
3322 West End Avenue, Ste. 300 | Nashville, TN 37203
Phone: 615-783-1350 | Fax: 615-783-1395
www.rurdev.usda.gov/tn

Solar PV Training in Knoxville Saturday May 11th

John Kemmery, our latest business member, is hosting a solar PV training workshop at the Jubilee Banquet Hall, 6700 jubilee Center Way, Knoxville for the beginner planning to break into Sales or Installation. The workshop schedule is below:
8 am – 8:30 am Registration
8:30 am Introduction and Overview with films and slides
9:30 – 10 am Systems available by John Kemmery
10:00 am – 11:00 am System Sizing with Garret Hendrix PE
11:00 – 12:00 Requirements for Connection to the Grid (John Kemmery and Garret Hendrix)
12:00 – 1:00 pm Lunch
1:00 – 2 :00 pm Newest developments; Best choice options (John Kemmery)
2:00 – 4:00 pm Comprehensive off grid Program Design, sizing including proper equipment selection
4:00 – 4:30 Open discussion

Cost for an individual is $90.
Cost for two or more reservations is $80 each

Who should attend?
Green businesses
Engineers planning to be working with PV equipment
Architects
Contractors planning to add PV installing to their business
Homeowners thinking about adding solar for their home
Business owners planning for a future PV system
Electricians needing the tools and information to be successful in expanding into PV
Sales people needing an understanding of PV in order to sell PV systems
Anyone wishing to learn the newest advancements

IMPORTANT Proposed Rule Changes to the Department of Agriculture REAP Program

The proposed rule for REAP has been posted to the Federal Register at the link below. The proposed rule will revise the Rural Energy for America Program (REAP) found in 7 CFR part 4280, subpart B. There is now an opportunity to comment on this regulation in order to provide suggestions to potentially change components of the program. Please review this document closely and if you have any comments to make, please do so. There is instruction within the document to provide your public comment on the program. The deadline for public comment is June 11th.

Go To: http://www.gpo.gov/fdsys/pkg/FR-2013-04-12/pdf/2013-07273.pdf

Some of the changes:
The Agency is proposing to allow the purchase of refurbished renewable energy systems and the retrofitting of an existing renewable energy system as eligible projects under this subpart.
For energy efficiency improvement projects, the Agency is proposing ensuring that energy efficiency improvements use less energy on an annual basis.
Simplifying the energy efficiency improvement technical report; simplifying the technical report for renewable energy system projects with total project costs of $200,000 or less