Archive for December 31, 2013

Biggest Cost Reduction for Rooftop Solar Installations

According to a recent time-and-motion study of rooftop solar installations, the biggest opportunity for cost reductions are with integrated racking, and in eliminating the array of little nuts, bolts, wires, clips, pieces and parts that don’t add any functional value to the system, but still need to be assembled on the rooftop.

Full Report

Creating A Solar Energy Bank

solar-works-rooftop-panels-310x224What if households could deposit excess solar output in an “energy bank”, and use it to drawn down when needed or loan energy to others.

There is no doubt that rooftop solar systems are seen as a threat to incumbent utilities – be they they generators suffering from lower demand or network operators finding their business model under threat.

Most of the scenarios generated for the development of rooftop solar, such as that by the CSIRO Future Grid forum, suggest the development of in-home battery storage that could enable householders to shift their peaks, store energy for night-time or even, one day, go off grid.

But another proposal involves a different way of thinking about this – using storage, in this case compressed air, to create a sort of “solar bank” that would allow householders to deposit surplus electricity, and either draw down for their own use or lend it out to others.

The proposal comes from General Compression, a Boston-based company which is developing and trialling technology that allows excess output to be stored as compressed air in large caverns.

General Compression argues that its proposal avoids the pitfalls of rooftop solar created when too much strain in put on the network when the sun goes down, or from too much electricity being sent back to the grid.

But what if a single bulk energy storage facility could act like a bank for thousands of distributed solar system owners, suggests Peter Rood, the development manager from General Compression.

A network connected storage project would allow multiple customers to “deposit” energy into the bank during the day when they have excess generation and later “withdraw” that energy when the sun goes down.
Read more at http://cleantechnica.com/2013/12/18/creating-solar-energy-bank/#8XV1VeDRoeQXUWD2.99

WattJoule Licenses Exclusive Rights to Breakthrough Energy Storage Technology

WattJoule Corporation, a developer of next-generation flow battery energy storage systems, has entered into an exclusive, worldwide intellectual property licensing agreement with the University of Tennessee Research Foundation. This agreement allows the full commercialization of patent pending, breakthrough energy storage technology developed over the last three years and funded by the Department of Energy’s Office of Electricity Delivery and Energy Reliability, under the program leadership of Dr. Imre Gyuk; the Office of Naval Research; and the National Science Foundation. The latter two funding sources have focused on various fundamental aspects of the technology. The DOE funding, in particular, has focused on more applied development which has led to significant performance improvements. “The aim of our research is to provide industry with proven, cost-effective new technology,” said Dr. Gyuk, “we are setting the stage for widespread deployment of Energy Storage.”

“This technology allows us to practice high-power, high-efficiency operation that enables low-cost energy storage across a number of chemistries,” said Greg Cipriano, VP Business Development and Founder of WattJoule. “The heart of our new redox flow battery is a greatly improved electrochemical cell, where we can produce 10 times more power, for the same volume, over commercial flow battery systems. This high-power operation significantly reduces the amount of expensive material needed and this dramatically reduces cost. It also enables greater dynamic power range, which opens up a large spectrum of applications for one product platform that no other company can provide.”

About WattJouleWattJoule is developing a next generation electricity energy storage system that uses a safe water-based liquid. The company has patent-pending breakthroughs that solve the historical problems that have prevented the full commercialization of flow battery technology. WattJoule’s product platform will enable a wide range of customer benefits including a reduction in electricity costs and enabling the widespread deployment of wind and solar generation, microgrids, advanced smart grid capabilities and grid reliability improvements. More information is available at www.wattjoule.com.
About University of Tennessee Research Foundation UTRF is the not-for-profit organization responsible for commercializing and licensing technology discovered by faculty across the University of Tennessee System. For more information or to view technologies available for licensing, visit utrf.tennessee.edu.

PHG Energy and General Electric Provide Renewable Power to West Tennessee City

NASHVILLE, Tenn., Dec 18, 2013 (BUSINESS WIRE) — The first commercial collaboration between PHG Energy (PHGE) of Nashville and GE Power & Water business of the General Electric Company GE is officially online and creating electricity from waste materials at a new Covington, Tenn., facility.

GE’s Clean Cycle* generator, based on the Organic Rankine Cycle (ORC) technology, produces power by utilizing heat delivered through PHGE’s downdraft gasification system and waste-mixing process. The two companies successfully proved the coupling of the technologies in an extensive research and development project that resulted in the first collaboration. Now the system is deployed and functions using the city’s wood waste and sewer sludge. Previously both waste streams had been transported and dumped into landfills at considerable cost to the city.

NAACP: New Report Examines State Energy Policies

The NAACP has released a new report that assesses energy policy in all 50 states from a civil rights lens. Titled “Just Energy Policies: Reducing Pollution and Creating Jobs,” the report provides analysis of each state’s energy sector policies based on both the environmental and economic impacts.

“Our report is a call to action for our community and our leaders,” stated NAACP Interim President and CEO Lorraine C. Miller. “This is both a monumental moment and an opportunity for civic engagement. The decision made about energy by public utility boards and local officials have a direct impact on our community. We must know who the decision makers are and spur them into action with our votes.”

The report assesses states on five different criteria: Renewable portfolio standards, Energy Efficiency Resource Standards, Net Metering Standards, Local Hire Provisions, and Minority Business Enterprise provisions. Additionally, the report lays out the potential for each state to become a leader in clean energy.

“The ‘Just Energy Policies’ report lays out a vision, supported by practical data, of the path to transitioning from energy production processes that are harmful to our communities, to energy efficiency and clean energy policy landscape that reduces pollution and creates new jobs,” stated Jacqueline Patterson, NAACP Environmental and Climate Justice Director. “Given double digit unemployment and staggeringly stark wealth differentials for African Americans, the report explicitly details mechanisms for ensuring economic gain for our communities and businesses.”

Based on the analysis of the data, Massachusetts, Connecticut and New York rank as the states with the best energy policies, while Alabama, Mississippi and Tennessee are ranked at the bottom.

“While Alabama does a good job assisting families with their utility bills and winterizing homes, our state must put more money into research and create renewable energy in our state and stop depending on coal to produce our electricity,” stated Bernard Simelton, President of the Alabama NAACP. “The coal that we use to produce electricity causes pollution in our communities, river and streams and a vast majority of those facilities are located in or close to African American and poor communities. These plants causes health issues such as lung disease and the Governor has not extended Medicaid to those individuals that would have insurance coverage that live in these areas. Therefore, many will die early from exposure to pollution if we do not change now.”

“The NAACP views clean energy as a civil rights and social justice issue. In Tennessee, we have to step away from spending billions of dollars on imported energy resources and embrace the renewable energy resource opportunities in our own backyard,” stated Gloria Sweet-Love, President of the Tennessee NAACP. “Tennessee has no renewable portfolio, no energy efficient resource standards, no net metering standard and no state or local hiring goals. “

But Tennessee is on the cusp of change,” continued Sweet-Love. ” We already have a minority business enterprise certification provision, and just last year the state opened its largest solar plant. We must admit that African Americans are underrepresented in the energy sector workplace, having only 1.1 percent of energy jobs. Our new report identifies clean energy potential state-by-state. I am concerned that an African American child is three times more likely to be admitted to the hospital and twice more likely to die of asthma attacks than a white American child.

Will Rural America Continue REAPing Renewable Energy Rewards?

Barn_Caldwell_Idaho
Based on a tally of 2013 REAP announcements, the total awards for the Southeastern states approaches $5 million in grants, leveraging more than $15 million in private dollars. These investments include solar photovoltaic installations, energy efficiency equipment, geothermal, and biomass projects.
Energy efficiency awards were particularly notable this year, with diverse projects including irrigation, lighting, agricultural curing and drying, and diesel engines being replaced with electric motors.

Here’s the state-by-state breakdown of 2013 REAP grant awards for our region (rounded down to the nearest thousand):
FL > $354,000
GA > $1,400,000
NC > $1,417,000
SC > $584,000
TN > $1,224,000

Original article

Obama Commits U.S. Federal Government To 20% Renewable Energy Target By 2020

Obama_in_Georgetown
President Barack Obama has issued a presidential memorandum directing the U.S. federal government to pursue a goal of deriving 20% of its energy from renewable sources by 2020. The document also instructs all federal agencies to take specific steps to better manage building performance, enhance energy efficiency and reduce energy waste.

The missive represents a follow-through on the president’s plan to counter climate change, announced in June. It directs agencies to achieve the renewable energy consumption target through a number of approved actions. The actions, in order of priority, are the following:

Installing agency-funded renewable energy on-site at federal facilities and retain renewable energy certificates;
Contracting for energy that includes the installation of a renewable energy project on-site at a federal facility or off-site and the retention of renewable energy certificates for the term of the contract;
Purchasing electricity and corresponding renewable energy certificates; and
Purchasing renewable energy certificates.
The memorandum sets a number of interim targets for renewable energy usage up to the ultimate 20% by 2020 goal. The first of these is a 10% target for 2015.

More information

Original Presidential Memorandum

TVA Will Pay 14 cents per kilowatt-hour in 2014

Patty West, director of TVA’s renewable energy programs, said the utility is responding to the market.

“Demand for our renewables programs is strong,” she said. said “We are working with our local power companies to direct capacity to the most cost-effective programs and streamlining the processes for these programs to make it easier for participants.”

Due to the discontent of installers resulting from the October offering in which the entire amount was subscribed in less than one minute, TVA will change its selection process using a random selection of applications. Projects will be have an equal chance of being chosen. TVA will begin accepting projects from its distributors on January 15th and will close the window on February 1st. All the projects will have an equal opportunity of being selected.

Random Project Selection

Random Project Selection

TVA announced today that it will buy up to 126 megawatts of renewable power through its three renewable energy programs. TVA is removing some restrictions on the type of renewable power it buys under its Renewable Standard Offer and is trying to streamline the approval process for new solar and wind projects.

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TVA estimates it has about 6,400 megawatts of renewable energy capacity. Beyond its solar contracts, TVA has 4,600 megawatts of generation capacity from its own 29 hydroelectric dams, 1,500 megawatts of wind from its own Buffalo Mountain wind farm and contracts with wind power producers in the Midwest, and 60 megawatts of power under contract from biomass generation from landfill methane.