Archive for Energy Storage

UT Reaffirms Focus on Energy With Newest Car Charging Station

Solar-Array-300x181 Advances in solar technology may come as a result of a new electric vehicle charging station and solar panels at UT, created in partnership with the university’s West Tennessee Solar Farm.

They are being located atop the Eleventh Street Garage and are the reason for the recent construction and space closures.

Completion is due by the end of the month, the area will offer five sports devoted solely to electric vehicles with 7 total chargers available.

The station will be connected to the Power Electronics Laboratory in the Min H. Kao Electrical Engineering and Computer Science Building, part of the Center for Ultra-Wide-Area Resilient Electric Energy Transmission Networks, or CURENT.

“This is a great opportunity to help the environment while at the same time demonstrating some of the latest green technology,” said College of Engineering dean Wayne Davis.

The five-megawatt West Tennessee Solar Farm, on of southeast’s largest solar arrays, is located along interstate 40 about fifty miles northeast of Memphis.

Online since 2012, the farm is capable of producing enough energy to power 500 homes a year. It was created through the stimulus-funded Volunteer State Solar Initiative and is owned and operated by UT.

“The purpose of the West Tennessee Solar Farm is to generate power, demonstrate new technology, and educate the public about solar power. This project with the College of Engineering is a fulfillment of those goals by offering educational opportunities to students who may one day develop solar technology of the future,” said Stacey Patterson, UT System assistant vice president and director of research partnerships for UT, who coordinated efforts between the college and the solar farm.

Revenue generated by the solar farm is funding the garage project and connecting it to the Power Electronics Laboratory.

Find the article here.

Solar Power Sees 30% Increase Over Last Year

Peery family dentistry in Lynchburg, Virginia installs 1,430 square feet of solar panels to new office property in 2014.

Peery family dentistry in Lynchburg, Virginia installs 1,430 square feet of solar panels to new office property in 2014.

 

According to the Solar Energy Industries Association and GTM Research, U.S. solar power grew by 6.2 gigawatts in 2014, a 30% increase over the previous year–representing nearly $18 billion in new investment. Thousands of new photovoltaic (PV) arrays in homes, schools, businesses and utilities, as well as large concentrated solar power facilities raised the U.S.’s profile as one of the world’s leading adopters of solar power.

“Shayle Kann, senior vice president at GTM Research, noted that in just five years, the U.S. PV market—which does not include concentrated solar plants—has witnessed a fourfold expansion, from an estimated $3 billion in 2009 to $13.4 billion last year.”

Solar energy accounted for 32 percent of the nation’s new generating capacity in 2014, surpassing both coal and wind energy. Emerging solar states and large utilities desiring to take up renewable energy options are reasons for such increase, in addition the growing popularity of third-party leases offered by firms like SolarCity and Sunrun.

“Today the U.S. solar industry has more employees than tech giants Google, Apple, Facebook and Twitter combined,” Rhone Resch, SEIA’s president and chief executive officer, said in a statement.

Many states have developed well-established solar markets in the last year, leading to the residential sector adding 1.2 GW of capacity in 2014, surpassing its previous annual record of 1 GW.

States rising in the solar ranks include New Mexico, Missouri, Maryland, New York, Texas and Hawaii, each adding close to 100 MW of solar capacity in 2014.

The southeast saw an increase as well. Tennessee and Georgia experienced increases in utility-scale solar and Louisiana and South Carolina sustained growth in the residential sector.

A continued boom is expected in U.S. solar markets is expected, with a projected 31% growth target for 2015.

 

TVA to rely more on natural gas and renewable energy

Nashville, Tennessee- The country’s largest public utility will begin to rely more on natural gas and renewable energy in the future.

Monday- The Tennessee Valley Authority released their resource plan for the next 20 years. This plan is a road map for how utility will respond in good or bad economic times or during periods of more environmental regulation.

TVA officials see the agency relying much more on natural gas and renewable energy, especially solar power. For the first time, TVA officials say that energy efficiency is viewed on the same level as any other forms of power.

Environmental groups responded hailing it as an important first step but that the company hasn’t gone far enough. They criticized the draft plan for not having enough development of wind power and called it a “missed opportunity” to help TVA customers save energy, lower electricity bills and foster a clean energy economy. Environmental groups have asked the public to attend the series of public meetings that TVA will hold.

TVA now serves 9 million people in parts of Tennessee, Alabama, Mississippi, Kentucky, Georgia, North Carolina, and Virginia.

Read the article here.

Net Metering, Smart Metering What is Fair to all Parties?

When homeowners install solar on their residences, he/she needs permission from the company that supplies your electricity. There are 578,000 individual solar installations in the U.S. representing less than 2 per cent of the nation’s total capacity. So what is the problem that faces your power provider? The most expressed opposition is due to those homes that have enough solar so that at the end of the year, their electric bill is zero. The power company still provides power when the solar output is insufficient to power the home. Obviously, between sunset and the next sunrise, the home depends on the local power company for its electricity. Yet the power company receives no compensation for the service or for the upkeep of its power system.
As the editor of Power Engineering magazine, February 2015 issue says, “The debate over solar is about creating a just cost structure that is fair to both sides” (provider and user). I believe that such a fair cost structure could be created based on the power delivery and infrastructure upkeep costs.
Take the power delivery issue. The electric power provider is responsible for providing sufficient power based on the residential demand. That responsibility comes with a price. What should the price be based is the issue. Should it be a fixed cost? Should it be based on the amount of energy that the home uses when the solar PV is insufficient? This is a great topic for discussion.

Now the other cost consideration, infrastructure upkeep. Should the pricing of the power delivery be based on the cost of power to the distributor and a separate cost for system infrastructure?
“Consumers Energy is a regulated utility, meaning that the Michigan Public Service Commission (MPSC) approves all rates for electric and natural gas service provided to customers.
Rates are primarily established in two basic regulatory proceedings that address:
The base costs of utility service that incorporate the pipes and wires through which service is delivered and the costs of owning and operating power plants, and, the costs for fuel and purchased power for electric service (power supply) or gas commodity costs.”
(http://www.consumersenergy.com/content.aspx?id=4589)
So now we have an example that separates the cost of electric power and the upkeep cost of providing the system that delivers the power. Every customer tied to the grid should pay for the cost of providing the system upkeep and separately noted on the monthly electric bill. It leaves one nuance remaining; the cost of providing electric power reliably. This cost is a guarantee that you will have electric power at all times and has a value that needs to be defined. Please comment on what you think is a reasonable approach and why.

Our friends at SolarCity are looking for new PV Designers!!

Our friends over at SolarCity are looking for individuals interested in a career as a PV Designer! They will be hiring now until March 18th! Individuals with an engineering degree or previous experience are great but not mandatory. What’s more important is that you’re a quick learner, motivated, and good problem solvers! If this sounds like it would be of interest to you get in contact with us or contact SolarCity for more information. Be sure to act quickly!

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.

The Carport of The Future

With more than 40 percent of the pavement in an average city tied up in parking areas, it’s safe to say that garages and carports are all around us. Many urban areas are changing the way these concrete blocks are being viewed–one solar panel addition at a time. Solar panel carports have the ability to incredibly impact energy-production all while looking like something straight out of the future.
Certain high-profile corporations and universities have given the special carports a whirl and have since generated an abundance of power. Rutgers University in Piscataway, NJ, currently houses the largest solar parking canopy project in the U.S. With a 28-acre installation, it is no wonder over 60% of the campus’ annual electricity is provided for by the plant. With such incredible amounts of energy produced at Rutgers University by way of “solar parking”, many are left to wonder why similar additions have yet to be started in their area. The discouraging factor for such projects, as stated by Chase Weir of TruSolar, is money. Weir goes on to say, such projects are “The most expensive type of system to build”. Solar carports may be impressively beneficial and aesthetically awing, however there is no denying they are also incredibly expensive…“So at least for now, the market remains relatively niche.”

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