Archive for Grants and Incentives

Attendees Fund 50 kW of Solar PV for Tennessee’s Bonnaroo Music Festival

A 50-kilowatt array has been installed at Bonnaroo paid for by donations from attendees. Voluntary contributions from Bonnaroo’s roughly 80,000 annual attendees, collected through ticket sales since 2012, footed the bill for the system. Bonnaroo reserves opt-in donations exclusively for onsite sustainability improvements. In addition, festival organizers added a $1 fee to every ticket sold in 2012 to generate additional money for green initiatives. The solar installation directly resulted from both types of fan support.This is the first permanent solar system installed at a major American music festival. The clean energy produced by the system is equivalent to 20 percent of the power consumed at Bonnaroo during the annual four-day music and art extravaganza. David Bolt’s company, Sustainable Future, installed 196 SolarWorld panels. David Bolt stated that his company will supply an additional, temporary solar array at this year’s festival, which will provide shade as well as electricity for fans. “An important aspect of sustainability is to use land efficiently. Employing panels to create shade for fans next to the solar stage at Bonnaroo is a great way to accomplish this.” The system, mounted on the roof of a metal structure in the backstage area, will generate more than 61,000 kilowatt-hours of energy each year – equal to about 20 percent of Bonnaroo’s total annual power needs. While the system will not be visible to patrons, fans will peruse a solar display in “Planet Roo,” an area devoted to sustainability.

Solar Product Development (Taking Great Ideas into a Profitable Reality)

How do you take your idea from a napkin sketch out to volume manufacturing?

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This MOOC will take a brief look at what it takes to move from a great idea into a fully developed and profitable product. We will cover the entire product development cycle but will provide somewhat greater focus on the technical aspects of engineering through manufacturing. We will use real world solar products for an in-depth case study. While focused on solar products, the same general outline may be applied to any mechanical, electro-mechanical product development effort.

Presenter: Tom Ortman is a Mechanical Engineer, working in Commercial and Industrial Product Development for his 35 year career. He worked for companies like Siemens and IBM in his early career, before founding Concurrent Design. In his twentieth year guiding Concurrent Design, Tom has worked for start-ups through Fortune 500 clients. He counts well over 1,600 projects at Concurrent Design, starting in electronics and moving into semiconductor technology, solar energy and clean technology. Concurrent Design routinely works in the full continuum of the product development world from ideation through high volume production.

http://www.concurrentdesign.com/

http://www.concurrentdesign.com/solar_energy_products.htm

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TVA Cuts Back on Bellefonte Nuclear Plant While Residential demand spurs U.S. solar installations in 1Q13

The nation now exceeds 8.5 GW of cumulative installed solar electric capacity, of which 7.9 GW is PV. Solar nearly made up half (48 percent) of all new electric capacity installed in the U.S in 1Q13. Meanwhile in an effort to revive the stalled build at the Bellefonte nuclear power plant, the Tennessee Valley Authority is trimming the project’s budget by 64 percent and cutting 530 jobs at the facility, The budget for Bellefonte is being cut from $182 million to $66 million. According to the AP, the massive cutbacks call the entire future of the project into question.
The cutbacks come on top of a spate of bad news for the nuclear industry, culminating in the announcement last week that Southern California Edison was permanently closing the long-troubled San Onofre nuclear plant.

U.S. solar energy installations totaled 723 megawatts (MW) from January through March, a 33 percent increase from a year ago and the solar sector’s best-ever first-quarter performance. Residential solar installations rose 53 percent year-on-year to 164 MW, with the utility segment more than doubling to 318 MW. Third-party-owned solar residential systems made up two-thirds of all residential PV installations in California (exceeding non-residential for the first time), and 86 percent of them in Arizona. Residential solar has managed to expand, at times well into double-digits, for 12 of the past 13 quarters. The only top-tier residential market to shrink in 1Q13 was Arizona, which fell 9%. Average PV system costs were $3.37/W, a 24 percent drop over the past year, though that’s about 10 percent higher than the previous quarter because of fewer utility-scale projects coming online. Residential systems fell about 16 percent Y/Y (2 percent Q/Q) to $4.93/W, non-residential also fell 16 percent Y/Y (8 percent Q/Q) to $3.92/W, and utility system prices declined 26 percent Y/Y but only 6 percent Q/Q to $1.12/W. Note that there’s an especially wide range of installed PV prices by state, anywhere between $3-8/W.

Risks to distributed generation of solar PV are threefold, say SEIA and GTM Research:
Net metering revisited. As distributed generation expands, utilities are seeking to revise, cap, and even remove net metering. This will take different forms in different regions — and varying degrees of resistance or acceptance — but it will have major implications everywhere.
Utility electricity rate structures. How utilities set up their tariff structures, incorporating time-of-use pricing and fixed or volumetric charges, will have a significant impact on the economics of solar energy systems. “While net metering is currently a more public battleground, we anticipate that rate structures will soon follow behind,” they say in the report.
Who’s going to pay for it? Distributed generation could require more than $48 billion of investments from now through 2017 — far exceeding what’s been provided to date. There will be a need for new sources of capital, new financing models (think REITs and MLPs, and crowdfunding and community solar), and new investors in existing structures (tax equity). “Project finance could serve as a significant bottleneck to growth over the next four years,” they write.

original articles here and here

Utilities weigh getting into solar installation business

Some U.S. utilities are looking at getting into the solar rooftop business as the installations are creating an increasing threat to their business model.
The Wall Street Journal reported companies such as American Electric Power co. and Southern Co. are looking at making the move.
Arizona Public Service Co. has only a rooftop program for government and schools. Salt River Project has built a large solar system and allowed people to buy into it instead of getting rooftop solar.

original article

update: An appropriate quote from an article in the Forbes article: “The electric utility business model is broken. Rather than burn the Earth in political battles over net metering, we should be reimagining the regulatory compact between utilities and ratepayers and regulators.” to which I say Amen.

Tennessee Senators – Level the Playing Field of the Master Limited Partnership Legislation

Senator Alexander is quoted in a National Journal article as acknowledging climate change and the need to reduce carbon pollution. Two of his “four grand principles” includes ending the obsession with taxpayer subsidies and strategies for expensive energy and allowing marketplace solutions to create an abundance of clean,cheap, reliable energy. Right now taxpayers are subsidizing energy sources including all fossil-fuels and one wonders if our two senators are willing to eliminate all subsidies for all energy sources. The United States taxpayer is fossil fuels’ largest benefactor at $502 billion in 2011. That $502 billion is just over 3% of the US economy, currently being given away to big fossil fuels companies. Now let’s talk about leveling the playing field for energy choices based on Senator Alexander’s desire for clean, cheap, reliable energy. Depends on how you choose to compare these choices. For example, the industry uses “Grid Parity.” “Grid Parity” is defined as the point when PV-generated electricity becomes competitive with the retail rate of grid power. TVA has stated that it expects grid parity for solar in the valley by 2016. With the cost of solar energy decreasing and the cost of traditional power increasing, the abundance of clean, cheap, reliable energy will favor renewables after 2016 which is less than 3 years away.

Then there is the “Levelized cost of energy” (LCOE). LCOE is the minimum price at which energy must be sold for an energy project to break even. Typically LCOEs are calculated over 20 to 40 year lifetimes, and are given in the units of currency per kilowatt-hour, for example USD/kWh. Solar’s LOE uses a life of 20 years. We know that is an understatement for the useful life of solar based on monocrystalline silicon based panels. First, the panels are warranted to have a 80% output at the end of 25 years. Second, studies of 30+ year old panels showed no degradation. A more rational life of the premium solar panels should be either 30 or 40 years in life. This drastically reduces the LOE for solar.

We can further decrease cost of solar by giving it the same tax benefits as all the other energy fuels. This can be done by including renewables in the recent legislation offered in the house and senate. In the senate the legislation is called “The Master Limited Partnerships Parity Act.” The Master Limited Partnership includes all fossil-fuels but not renewables. Both houses have bi-partisan support for the addition of renewables. In a Duke study, a baseline LCOE for all energies included in the MLP showed a decrease in LCOE of 5 cents per kilowatt-hour without federal tax credits. In addition the inclusion of renewables in the MLP legislation would reduce the cost of financing of renewable energy projects by that same 5 cents per kilowatt-hour. Today,the cost of financing makes up an ever-greater fraction of the total cost of renewable projects by as much as 50% according to Brookings.

Should the federal government continue research into solar photovoltaics? The answer is yes. The aim should be to increase the efficiency of future solar systems while keeping close control of the cost of manufacturing.

Senators Alexander and Corker, support the Master Limited Partnership Parity Act and hold to Senator Alexander’s principal of to create an abundance of clean,cheap, reliable energy.

Master Limited Partnership Parity Act – What It’s All About

In the race to capture the economic benefits of the growing clean energy sector, the Master Limited Partnership Parity Act would provide an opportunity for U.S. businesses to mobilize private capital and better compete. It would provide the same tax treatment for investments in clean energy and fossil fuels . Sen. Chris Coons (D-DE) introduced the bipartisan bill today with original co-sponsors Jerry Moran (R-KS), Lisa Murkowski (R-AK), and Debbie Stabenow (D-MI). Congressmen Ted Poe (R-TX), Mike Thompson (D-CA), Peter Welch (D-VT), Chris Gibson (R-NY), and Cory Gardner (R-CO) co-sponsored companion legislation in the House.

“We applaud this bipartisan group of co-sponsors on the introduction of the Master Limited Partnership Parity Act,” says Phyllis Cuttino, director of Pew’s clean energy program. “Our research indicates that nations with consistent, transparent clean energy policies do better in attracting private investment.”

If approved by Congress, this tool could lower financing costs for clean energy projects, some by as much as 50 percent, according to Recycled Energy Development, a waste energy power producer. The market value of the master limited partnerships has grown to about $370 billion The bill is supported by clean energy businesses (PDF), labor and environmental groups, and policy organizations.
A master limited partnership is a business structure that has the tax advantages of a partnership but whose ownership equity can be traded as easily as public stock. Energy projects qualifying as a master limited partnership have access to low-cost capital and liquid investment opportunities as well as a relatively high rate of return for investors. Master limited partnerships have existed since 1981 and are available to investors in fossil-fuel extraction and pipeline projects.

By expanding the list of qualifying projects to include solar, wind, geothermal, and other clean energy and transmission technologies, renewable-power projects could access new financing markets, thereby increasing investment and deployment of these clean technologies.

original article

A Second California City Establishes a Solar Mandate

SLevy: The price of electric power in parts of California is as high as 35 cents per kilowatt-hour. A strong motivation for solar whereas Tennessee has a lower price of electricity at the present. The motivation here in Tennessee is improved air quality and a buffer against future costs with other forms of electric power generation.

The town of Sebastopol, in the apple- and grape-growing rolling hills of western Sonoma County, is following suit with a much more aggressive ordinance, suggesting that solar-by-fiat might be more viable as policy. In Sebastopol, a system would also qualify if its output meets three-quarters of the building’s electrical load on an annual basis. The ordinance also includes a provision that allows officials to exempt buildings from the requirement if a site isn’t conducive to solar, but a fee or other energy-saving measures could be required.

Mayor Michael Kyes told the Press-Democrat in nearby Santa Rosa that Sebastopol, with a population of around 7,500, already had some 1.2 megawatts of installed solar capacity. “This ordinance will add to it,” the mayor said. According to the Press-Democrat, there was a citizen objection to the solar requirement registered at the Sebastopol Council meeting; someone said “mandatory sort of implies coercion” (a sentiment it’s hard to argue with). But of course all manner of building requirements are essentially coercive, and Councilman Robert Jacob seemed to capture the sentiment of the town leaders when he said that “this ordinance is not only cost-saving…it’s the responsible thing to do.”

original article

REAP funding of $70 million annually through fiscal-year 2018

Solar PV for farming

note from SLevy: At this moment TVA is no longer accepting applications for its Green Partners program for this year. The alternative for installers is to:
1. look for work out of state
2. look for niche applications which could include: agriculture, highway signs, corrosion protection, outdoor displays, medical equipment support, mobile emergency power support, military installations and developers who want to sell solar assisted homes without TVA support.

U.S. Sens. Al Franken, D-Minn., and Tom Harkin, D-Iowa, introduced energy legislation on Monday to be included in the 2013 Farm Bill.

According to Franken, the Rural Energy Investment Act will help farmers, ranchers and rural communities by encouraging the growth of agricultural energy technologies, including biofuels and renewable energies.

The proposal includes the Rural Energy for America Program (REAP), which Franken included in the 2012 Farm Bill that passed the Senate. Franken says the program helps agriculture producers and businesses in rural areas invest in energy efficiency and renewable energy projects so they can cut electricity bills and earn additional income by selling the energy they produce.

original article

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.

More on Adding Renewables to the Master Limited Partnership Legislation: Will our Two Senators Support This Legislation?

Will Senators Alexander and Corker support adding renewables to federal legislation that will give solar the same tax benefits as oil, natural gas, pipelines? I ask all our readers to contact these two senators and advocate for the passage of this key piece of legislation.

The measure would let renewable-energy companies form master-limited partnerships (MLPs), giving them the ability to raise funds like a corporation and pay taxes as a partnership, according to a statement today from Senator Chris Coons, a Delaware Democrat. He introduced the bill with Michigan Senator Debbie Stabenow, a Democrat, and Republican Senators Lisa Murkowski of Alaska and Jerry Moran of Kansas.
MLPs have “helped the oil and natural gas industry deliver the abundant and affordable energy that powers our economy today,” Murkowski, the top Republican on the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, said in the statement. “Through a small change in the tax code, this legislation will provide renewables with the same opportunity.”

The bill is similar to a prior version focused on renewable power generation and biofuels projects that was introduced last year and failed to pass. The re-introduced bill widens the scope of projects that would qualify to include energy-efficient buildings, waste heat-to-power systems, carbon capture and storage and biochemicals. The new bill was hailed by Rhone Resch, President and CEO of the Solar Energy Industries Association as “an important step toward leveling the playing field between clean, renewable energy and long-entrenched energy sources in America.”

The proposal is supported by at least one oil and gas group. Jack Gerard, president of the American Petroleum Institute, the industry’s main lobbying group, said MLPs would provide an incentive for private investors and help wean renewable energy producers from federal subsidies.

more
See Forbes article on this subject