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.