Archive for Global

FREE WEBINAR: Best Practices for Effective Energy Efficiency Program Design: From Strategy to Savings

DATE: Wednesday, May 15, 2013
TIME: 1:00 PM ET/10:00 AM PT  

Please join Nexant, Greentech Media, PacifiCorp, and Santee Cooper as we discuss best practices for effective energy efficiency program design, including utility program case studies.  The changing landscape of demand side management (DSM) energy efficiency programs requires utilities to leverage a combination of industry best practices and innovation in technologies to successfully plan, design and deploy DSM programs.  Join us for this one hour webinar to learn about: 
· Effective DSM program design and why it is important
· Defining a program’s success while identifying barriers and challenges in the marketplace
· Meeting compliance requirements and energy savings goals
· Managing increasingly complex programs in a cost-effective manner
· Improving customer and trade ally engagement, satisfaction and participation

Registration Fee: Free

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

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.

Retail Electric Business Predicted to Loose Market Share

The Edison Electric Institute has issued a report predicting that there will be a change in the market share for retail electric business if the present trend towards distributed renewable energy continues at it’s rapidly changing mix of standard electric power production and the increasing percentage of renewable energy sources, particularly solar PV continues to evolve. The report dated January 2013 entitled “Disruptive Challenges: Financial Implications and Strategic Responses to a Changing Retail Electric Business” was authored by Peter Kind of Energy Infrastructure Advocates. The key premise is that the increasing inclusion of solar PV will reduce market share for the electric power industry which will lead to higher risk for investors. The result of a higher risk will be increased cost for borrowing money for the power industry. The report sites two similar industries that were drastically changed by market forces and regulatory changes: the airlines and the telephone (AT&T) industry. The report concludes that near term actions are to “institute a monthly customer service charge”, develop a tariff structure to reflect the cost of service and value provided to DER (solar PV) customers and to “analyze revision of net metering programs in all states so that self-generated DER (solar PV) sales to utilities are treated as supply-side purchases at a market-derived price.”

It is my suggestion that the industry adapt itself to incorporate solar PV in such a way as to improve its retail electric business position. My advice to the industry: constructively adapt renewables into your energy mix: it is not a curse but a blessing.

The full report is available on the web at: http://www.eei.org/ourissues/finance/Documents/disruptivechallenges.pdf

Empowered by the Past: Red State Co-ops Go Green

Charles Cotton never gave much thought to the fact that he owns a piece of Jackson Energy Cooperative, the utility that delivers power to his home in Berea, Ky. But last November, Cotton’s membership paid off in a way he hadn’t expected: The cooperative gave him an energy upgrade, installing a plastic moisture barrier underneath his house and replacing his old furnace with an efficient heat pump. Jackson Energy’s status as a cooperative led directly to Cotton’s retrofit. It is one of four rural electric cooperatives participating in a pilot program called How$martKY, run by the Mountain Association for Community Economic Development (MACED). The program will let Cotton slowly pay back the cost of the retrofit: His bill is smaller than before, but he’s actually paying a bit more than the cost of the electricity he uses. The extra charge is how he repays the cost of the retrofit. It’s a scheme called on-bill financing—a way for people of all financial backgrounds to reap the benefits of energy efficiency without a big up-front cost.

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Citigroup: How solar module prices could fall to 25c/watt

Energy analysts at global investment bank Citigroup suggest that the cost of solar PV modules could fall beyond most expectations in coming years – and reach a cost of just 25c a watt by 2020. The US Department of Energy, for instance, says its Solar Sunshot program aims to get the cost of solar PV down to $1/watt by 2020 (50c/W for the modules, the rest in balance of systems costs) – a situation that would deliver energy at a levelised cost of around $60/MWh, making it cheaper than new coal and gas-fired generation.

Bloomberg New Energy Finance makes a similar forecast. Greentech Media recently lowered its forecast for solar modules to 42c/W by 2015. On the other hand, Australia’s official government forecaster, The Bureau of Resource and Energy Economics, suggests that the starting point is higher than most current estimates, and predicts solar PV will not fall much below $140/MWh by 2020, and then make little progress over the following decade.

Citigroup’s report paints a very different picture in the two scenarios painted by the Citi team led by Jason Channell.

City to Require Solar in New Construction

Every new housing development must average 1 kilowatt per house. Not here, but in California. California is a light-year ahead of Tennessee and most of the country when it comes to solar acceptance.

The Lancaster, California City Council unanimously approved changes to the city’s zoning code that require housing developers to install solar with every new home they build.
This is the latest piece in what Republican Mayor R. Rex Parris described at the City Council meeting as a plan to make Lancaster “the solar capital of the universe.”
Lancaster’s now official Residential Zones Update specifies, along with a range of green building provisions, that new single family homes meet minimum solar system requirements in the same way that they must meet minimum parking space requirements.
“The purpose of the solar energy system standards,” it reads, “is to encourage investment in solar energy on all parcels in the city, while providing guidelines for the installation of those systems that are consistent with the architectural and building standards of the City.” It is further intended “to provide standards and procedures for builders of new homes to install solar energy systems in an effort to achieve greater usage of alternative energy.”
Residential homes on lots of 7,000 square feet or more must have a solar system of 1.0 kilowatts to 1.5 kilowatts. Rural residential homes of up to 100,000 square feet must have a system of at least 1.5 kilowatts.

Nominate an expert to the TVA board — Are you kidding?

personal note: I would have never guessed that our U.S. Senators would oppose the nomination of one of this country’s most outstanding expert in the area of money saving energy efficiency. Why?? I ask each of our readers to let their two senators hear their opinion as the Brown nomination

Our Tennessee senators don’t like whom our president is trying to reappoint to the Tennessee Valley Authority board of directors: an expert on energy issues. Dr. Marilyn Brown, a Georgia Tech professor and former research administrator at the Oak Ridge National Laboratory with a long list of work and research mostly ending in “energy efficiency,” has been re-nominated by President Obama to a term on the TVA board after she’d been vetoed here at home back in January.

The nomination, sent to Capitol Hill Thursday night, comes more than two months after Sens. Lamar Alexander and Bob Corker used Senate procedures to block Obama’s previous attempt to appoint her to a six-year term.

Brown, who came to the board in 2010 to fill out the a vacated term and served through the end of 2012, is widely recognized for her expertise in energy efficiency and other “sustainable” energy policies. She teaches in Georgia Tech’s School of Public Policy after formerly working for the Department of Energy at the Oak Ridge National Laboratory.

“This is another example of the Obama White House not listening,” Alexander said in a statement Friday.

“I told the White House in advance that the TVA board needs a nominee with a better understanding of the relationship between low electricity rates and better jobs in the Tennessee Valley. The Senate now has the responsibility to exercise its constitutional role of advice and consent on the nominee.”

Corker was even more critical.

“TVA needs leaders who enthusiastically support the mission of producing economical electricity and have an abiding appreciation of its important economic development role and impact on the well-being of Valley residents,” he said.

“Unfortunately, during my discussions with Dr. Brown, it was clear she does not share that point of view.”

original article here and Sundog Blog