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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.

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First Solar Inc. and Sunpower Corp are Planning a Joint Venture

(Bloomberg) — First Solar Inc. and SunPower Corp., the two largest U.S. solar-panel manufacturers, are planning a joint venture that will own and operate some of their projects.
The companies expect to register for an initial public offering for the new venture, according to a statement Monday. They didn’t say when that may occur or how much they would seek to raise through the IPO. The shares surged in after-hours trading.
The SunPower-First Solar venture would be part of a growing trend in the renewable-energy industry to pool projects into publicly traded entities that offer shareholders payouts, known as yieldcos. Companies that build power plants, including Abengoa SA and NRG Energy Inc., sell completed projects to their yieldco affiliates and use that capital to fund new power plants.

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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.

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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.”

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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

How much fuel does it take to power a 100 watt light bulb for one year?

How much fuel does it take to power a lightbulb

Good Magazine performed an interesting experiment which underscores the benefits of renewables while simultaneously showing off the shortcomings of coal, nuclear and natural gas. It calculated how much energy it would take to keep a 100 watt light bulb burning for an entire year. The results are charted in the infographic below but here is a quick rundown:

Coal: 714 pounds.
Natural Gas: 143 pounds.
Nuclear: 0.35 pounds.
Solar: 8 days, 8 hours and 14 seconds of energy from 100 square meters of solar panels.
Wind: 2 hours, 20 minutes and 9 seconds from a 1.5 MW turbine at 25% capacity.
Hydroelectric: 2 hours and 35 minutes.

Yes, it is an incandescent light bulb.
Forbes Magazine

Congressman Denies Climate Change, Says Scientists Are In It For The Money

The House Energy and Commerce Committee Tuesday voted down an amendment that would have stated conclusively that climate change is occurring.

E&C Committee members voted 24-20 against the amendment, introduced by Rep. Jan Schakowsky (D-IL) to H.R. 3826, the Electricity Security and Affordability Act. That bill, if it makes it through Congress, would put an end to EPA regulations on emissions for new power plants until technologies like carbon capture and storage are commercially viable in at least six states for one year. It passed in Tuesday’s committee, but the amendment, which would have placed on the record that the committee accepts that climate change is happening and is caused by greenhouse gas pollution, did not.

Twenty-four E&C members — all Republicans — voted against the amendment. Among them was E&C Chair Rep. Fred Upton (R-MI), who has said before that he doesn’t think climate change is caused by human activity, and Joe Barton (R-TX), who also questions humans’ role in climate change. In total, the Republicans who voted to deny climate change have accepted about $9.3 million in career contributions from the oil, gas and coal industries, according to analysis by the CAP Action War Room.

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Knoxville Solar Tour Set for October 18th, 2014

Knoxville Solar Tour 2014

The solar tour will consist of six separate stops throughout Knox county, both within Knoxville city limits as well as outside. A description of each stop will be given to the audience as well as an idea of what to expect at the particular stop. The audience is encouraged to ask questions at any point during the tour except during certain brief presentations.

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Stop #1: Immediately outside of the Knox Area Transit (KAT) transit center is a rooftop solar array consisting of 24 solar panels contained in a mount. This array supplies the Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) with the power it produces. According to the U.S. Department of Energy’s Solar City report on Knoxville, “The 4.68-kW installation at the newly constructed downtown transit center—Knoxville’s first municipally owned PV system—was fully funded by the TVA through a cost-share agreement.”1 The array was installed by David Bolt, president of Sustainable Futures, LLC.

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SolarTourPic3Stop #2: Across the street from the transit center is the Civic Coliseum Parking Garage. The garage has 24 electric vehicle charging stations along with two companion solar arrays that provide power to the chargers. These solar panels were installed by Efficient Energy of Tennessee, and the charging stations were installed by ECOtality, a San Francisco based electric transportation company.

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Stop #3: The next stop on the tour is the historic Jacob Building in Chilhowee Park near downtown Knoxville. The 57,000 square foot building has a 50 kilowatt (kW) photovoltaic solar array installed on it’s roof. This array offsets approximately 47 tons of CO2 annually.2 It was installed by ARiES Energy, a Knoxville based solar energy installer.

Stop #4: Following the Jacob Building is the SPECTRUM solar farm exhibit located in the East Town Mall in east Knoxville. The SPECTRUM exhibit serves to educate the public on “exciting things happening in the Tennessee solar world”3 like the 5 megawatt West Tennessee Solar Farm, one of the biggest solar farms in the southeastern US, located in Stanton, TN. The SPECTRUM exhibit is sponsored by the West Tennessee Solar Farm, the University of Tennessee, the Oak Ridge National Laboratory, and the Tennessee Valley Authority.SolarTourPic5

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Stop #5: Our second to last stop is a private residence owned by Tom Meek. It is an advanced, off-grid solar home system. This is a system with battery back-up as well as a natural gas generator. This allows Mr. Meek to operate independently of the main electrical system for several days.

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Stop #6: Our final stop is at the offices of the Green Earth Solar LLC. Green Earth Solar is a local solar systems installer for both residential and commercial systems. Green Earth was also one of the first solar Installers in the state of Tennessee to receive NABCEP certification for installing solar systems. They have installed systems on a wide range of buildings and facilities including the Knoxville Convention center, Calhoun’s Restaurant in Turkey Creek, and the Oak Ridge National Laboratory.

Knoxville Solar Tour 2014

10:10 – Transit Center Array (301 Church Ave., Knoxville, TN 37915)

10:25 - Coliseum Parking Garage

10:30 - Mount on buses

10:55 - Jacobs Building, Chilhowee Park(3301 E Magnolia Ave, Knoxville, TN 37914)

11:45 - SPECTRUM East Town Shopping Center (3001 Knoxville Center Dr. Knoxville TN)

12:35 - Meek Residence (8208 Nubbins Ridge Road, Knoxville 37919)

1:00 – Green Earth Solar (9111 Cross Park Drive, Suite 120, Knoxville TN)

1:30 – Return to Transit Center

The bus should be located near the solar installation on the parking garage to facilitate loading.

Our special thanks go to Mayor Madeline Rogero, Erin Gill, Director of the Knoxville Office of Sustainability, and Brian Blackmon, Project Manager at the Knoxville Office of Sustainability.

List of Local Solar Installers: Efficient Energy of Tennessee, ARiES Energy, Sustainable Future , Twin Willows Construction, Green Earth Solar

Knoxville Solar Tour 2014

The 2014 Knoxville Solar Tour was brought to you be the City of Knoxville and the Tennessee Solar Energy Association.

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Lunch was generously donated by ARiES Energy and will be provided to participants of the tour free of charge and will be served in-transit between the SPECTRUM exhibit and the Meek Residence. We will be able to collect any trash.

SolarCity to hire 600 for jobs in Arizona, California, Delaware, Maryland and Massachusetts

SolarCity to Expand in Seven States, Open 20 New Operations Centers

SolarCity logo1Sep 04, 2014
SAN MATEO, Calif., — SolarCity (Nasdaq: SCTY), the nation’s #1 solar power provider and largest solar employer, is expanding again. Following a quarter in which it more than tripled the number of new customers it added as compared to the same period the prior year, SolarCity plans to open 20 new operations centers in seven states . The new regional operations centers are expected to create more than 600 additional jobs in Arizona, California, Delaware, Maryland, Massachusetts, Nevada and New York. The new locations will reduce operations costs by decreasing service and installation drive times, and will contribute to state and local economies by creating new jobs in a range of disciplines. SolarCity expects to open new operations centers in the following areas by the end of the year -

America is making lots of solar energy. What’s holding it back from making solar panels?

The solar industry is positively booming in the U.S. The annual installation of solar systems rose from 1.265 megawatts in 2008 to 4.75 gigawatts in 2013. From nowhere, America has emerged as the third-largest market for solar. Installers are carpeting the nation’s deserts, parking lots, and rooftops with polysilicon panels that convert sunlight into electrons.

While the U.S. is manufacturing a lot of solar energy, production of solar panels has been another story entirely.

NREL labThe two biggest solar panel manufacturers headquartered in the U.S., First Solar and SunPower, have located most of their manufacturing capacity in Southeast Asia. U.S. module production fell from 1,200 megawatts in 2011 to 541 megawatts in 2012 and bounced back up to 988 megawatts in 2013, according to the Solar Energy Industries Association. “U.S.-based module production is currently limited to about 1 GW in practice,” says Finlay Colville, vice president at the solar-market research and analysis firm NPD Solarbuzz. “This represented just 2.5 percent of global demand in 2013.”

As the solar industry grows, other factors are pushing the production and consumption of U.S-made panels. Government agencies such as the military are among the most prolific purchasers of solar panels, which means their contractors may have to comply with the Buy American Act and the Buy America provisions of the 2009 stimulus bill. In addition, many of the entities arranging large solar installation are cities, states, nonprofits, or public institutions such as universities that tend to ask about the source of the materials used. “Over the last 24 months we’ve also seen a rise in what I term ‘emotional Buy American buyers,’ ” said Matt Card, vice president of global sales and marketing at Suniva. Industry experts say panels produced in the U.S. can cost only 10 percent more than panels made in China. “These are private companies or citizens who decide they are going to choose American-made panels.”

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