Archive for TSEA

Energy program can aid farmers, small businesses

In Tennessee, solar panels are not as common as silos on farms, but recently they have been becoming more and more popular across the Volunteer State.

Tennessee farmers are beginning to take advantage of a U.S. Department of Agriculture grant program promoting renewable energy and energy-efficient projects.

It’s smart for farmers and owners of small businesses to invest and participate in the programs to reduce energy costs and potentially make a few extra dollars selling excess power.

The program USDA’s Rural Energy for America Program, or REAP, is providing grants and loans for renewable energy and energy projects to small businesses in rural areas with a population of 50,000 or less. It is growing in Tennessee, with more than $2 million available for projects state wide just this year, compared to $326,000 last year.

Monroe, Knox, and Loudon counties have been home to two-thirds of the projects in East Tennessee for 2006 to 2014.

The Tennessee Valley Authority’s Green Power Provider program, which pays a premium for energy generated by renewable sources has worked hand in hand with the REAP program in the past few years. Unfortunately, TVA is erasing its green power incentives as more money becomes available through REAP for investment in solar and other renewable projects.

Read the article here.

Solar Deal with TVA and Next Era

The Tennessee Valley Authority, TVA, board authorized a 20-year power purchase agreement (PPA) with Next Era Energy for 80 megawatts of solar, AP reports. This is the first installation of over 20 megawatts, currently having 128 MW of solar.

The most competitive price for solar was offered at $61 per MWh, comparable to the $59 per MWh TVA expects to pay for electricity from Mississippi’s Quantum Choctaw natural gas power plant.

The installation will be built near TVA’s Colbert Fossil Plant in Northern, Alabama.

Read the article here.

Apple Invests In A Large Scale Solar Energy Project

In San Francisco, California—Apple will spend almost $850 million on a solar energy project, potentially generating enough power for their new corporate headquarters, retail stores, and other facilities in California.

This will make Apple the largest consumer of energy from this new solar facility. Constructed on 2,900 acres in rural Monterrey County, south of San Francisco Bay, the facility will have the capacity of 280 megawatts.

CEO Tim Cook said in an investment conference that this project reflects Apple’s concern for climate change.

The project will begin later in the year and finished by the end of 2016.

Read the article here.

Another Step For Solar

For CEO Brad Mattson and CTO Markus Beck of Siva Power, producing gigawatts’ worth of thin-film solar panels through domestic manufacturing is a real possibility. This San Jose, California solar startup company is newly funded and developing the world’s largest-scale and least-expensive thin-film CIGS production line.

The company has received $10 million in new funding, including $3 million DOE SunShot grant, a $3 million conversion of debt financing from Trident Capital, DBL investors, Medley Partners and Acero Capital, as well as $4 million in new capital form the city of Wuxi, China and existing investors DBL, Medley, and Acero.

After focusing on research and development, experimenting with different photovoltaic materials and production processes, Siva has decided on co-evaporated CIGS on large glass substrates. Mattson called the technology “a gift of physics” offering the highest thin film efficiencies and fastest production process.

Siva is in need of $120 million to $150 million to launch is factory. It would be the “world’s first solar giga factory” built on California soil, helping the state reach its new 50 percent renewable goal.

Read the article here.

By Molly Denson

Solar Panel Bicycle Paths

The Netherlands, known for their massive sustainability projects, is now testing solar panels on bicycle paths. Their project named “SolaRoad” is underway this week, testing a new way to collect solar energy. The “cycle-crazy Dutch” are developing the first SolaRoad near Amsterdam. It is built of massive, “Lego-like modules” of solar panels into the concrete with heavy-duty glass on top to protect it. Another great aspect is the translucent plastic coating so bikers don’t slip. Each square yard of road generates about 50-70 kilowatt-hours of energy per year, almost enough for the initial strip of 70 years to supply power to one or two Dutch households. This first test is in Krommenie, said to run three years costing 3 million euros ($3.7 million), funded by the province of North Holland and a couple Dutch companies who are excited to commercialize solar roads. The project is already up and running, and generating electricity before it’s actual opening tomorrow. If this works like planned and brings a sufficient amount of profit against the initial installation costs, this project will hopefully open ideas to other countries willing to make the commitment.

Read the article here.

By Molly Denson

Universities Make A Move Towards Solar Energy

SolarPV_300x2001

In a move to transition to more sustainable energy production American University, George Washington University and George Washington University Hospital are joining together in a plan to provide all three institutions with clean solar energy. The three joined together for a 20 year solar purchase that will supply 123 million kilowatt hours of clean energy each year. The clean energy will be supplied from several large scale solar farms in the surrounding North Carolina area comprised of 243,000 solar panels and will comprise the largest PV project on to the East of the Mississippi River. This partnership will remove roughly 15,000 metric tons of CO2 which equates to the removal of roughly 3,000 cars from the roads. This step forward in energy production by the three institutions will hopefully lay a blueprint for other universities who are wanting to switch to cleaner means of energy production.

Read the full report from the American University here: http://www.american.edu/finance/sustainability/au-to-source-50-percent-power-from-solar.cfm

White House on Climate Change

Solar panels on the White House

Volkswagen Chattanooga Powers Up Largest Solar Park In Tennessee

VW solar plant

Volkswagen’s Chattanooga plant powered up the largest single solar installation at an automotive manufacturing facility in the United States and the biggest solar installation in the state of Tennessee. At a dedication ceremony here, dignitaries today flipped a giant light switch to signal the official opening of the “Volkswagen Chattanooga Solar Park”, built on Volkswagen’s compound in Chattanooga.

The solar installation at Volkswagen Chattanooga confirms the awarding of the highly-coveted LEED Platinum certification to VW by the U.S Green Building Council in late 2011. At that time, the Building Council called the Chattanooga manufacturing facility “the world’s greenest auto plant” and noted it was the first automotive manufacturing plant in the world to receive the top LEED certification. Today, the Chattanooga plant remains the only auto plant worldwide to earn the LEED Platinum certification. 


The electricity produced from the solar park is expected to meet 12.5% of the energy needs of Volkswagen’s Chattanooga manufacturing plant during full production and 100% during non-production periods. The plant covers 1.9 million square feet and employs more than 3,000 people who manufacture the highly-acclaimed Volkswagen Passat sedan. For Volkswagen, the solar park in Chattanooga will rank as the automaker’s largest photovoltaic installation worldwide.


Silicon Ranch (www.siliconranch.com), which develops and operates solar energy solutions tailored to meet its customers’ needs, will own the solar park and sell the electricity to Volkswagen under a 20-year Power Purchase Agreement (PPA). Phoenix Solar Inc. (www.phoenixsolar.com), the U.S. subsidiary of Phoenix Solar AG (www.phoenixsolar-group.com), provided engineering, procurement and construction (EPC) services in building the solar park over the last six months. 


Frank Fischer, CEO and Chairman of Volkswagen Group of America, Chattanooga Operations LLC, said, “We are proud to power up the biggest solar park of any car manufacturer in North America today. The solar park,” he said, “is another proof point of Volkswagen’s worldwide commitment to environmental protection under its ‘Think Blue. Factory’ philosophy, a broadly focused initiative for all Volkswagen plants to achieve more efficient use of energy, materials and water and produce less waste and emissions.” Mr. Fischer added, “Powering up the solar park also validates the awarding of the LEED Platinum certificate to Volkswagen Chattanooga, which is still the only car factory in the world that has earned such an honor.”



Ford develops solar powered car for everyday use

Ford has developed a concept model that runs primarily on solar power, which could bring the world one step closer to having a vehicle for everyday driving that is not dependent on traditional energy sources.

The C-MAX Solar Energi Concept is a collaboration between Ford, SunPower Corp. and the Georgia Institute of Technology. The concept car is expected to be unveiled next week at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas.