Archive for Middle Tennessee News

Secretary of Energy, Dr. Ernest Moniz, here at U.T. Friday, April 25th to Deliver Baker Distinguished Lecture on Energy

moniz-240x300Secretary Moniz coming to Tennessee U.S. Secretary of Energy Ernest Moniz will deliver the Baker Distinguished Lecture on Energy and the Environment on Friday, April 25 from 3:30 to 4:30 p.m. at the UT College of Law, Room 132, located at 1505 W. Cumberland Ave.

As energy secretary, Moniz leads the U.S. Department of Energy in support of President Barack Obama’s goals of growing the economy, enhancing security, and protecting the environment.

The event is free and open to the public. Paid public parking will be available in the Volunteer Hall Garage.

The lecture will also be streamed live online. More details are available here.

Factory taking shape: 1,000 workers building $2 billion Wacker plant

Wacker plant today CHARLESTON, Tenn. — Construction of Wacker’s $2 billion polysilicon production plant now has about 1,000 builders on site daily as the factory’s planned startup is a little more than a year away. Unlike the Hemlock plant, this plant will open as scheduled.

“We’re pushing the project forward,” he said about the factory’s current construction schedule. “It’s pretty exciting to us.”

Wacker has hired 180 employees of the 650 it will need when production starts next year, Bachhuber said. “The backbone of the future is on board,” he said about those employees who are doing about 30 different tasks for the company. Some of the rest of the hiring is slated for later this year, though most will be done in 2015, Bachhuber said. “Many of the new workers will go to Germany for on-the-job training,” he said. “It depends on the specific task.”

The first chunks of polysilicon are to come out of the plant in the second half of next year, the plant official said in a recent interview at the sprawling site off Lauderdale Memorial Highway.

First Time in History that Solar Installations (36.5 GW) Greater than Wind Power Installations (35.5 GW)

Clean Edge predicting that solar PV will experience double-digit growth yearly and that by 2023 revenue growth in the PV industry will be $158.4 billion despite installed prices will continue to fall. The figure shows the projected gains in energy. Renewable Energy Trends 2013 to 2023

The Clean Edge report predicts an installed PV system price as low at $1.21 per watt by 2023. (maybe sooner) Clean Edge believes that in 2014 we will start to see “enlightened utilities begin to embrace distributed generation assets.” As rooftop solar continues its steady march towards adoption, utilities will continue to grapple with how to maintain healthy businesses in the face of declining electricity sales. “Some forward-looking utilities, if not fully embracing a distributed energy future, are making investments, forming partnerships, and acknowledging that the threat of DG might also be a business opportunity,” the report states. Clean Edge points to some examples of this that took place in 2013, such as Edison International’s purchase of SoCore Energy, a Chicago-based rooftop solar developer that does work in the commercial space. It also uses Duke Energy’s investment in Clean Power Finance as another example of utilities starting to think about profiting from distributed PV.

The full report can be found here.

Could Minnesota’s “Value of Solar” Make Everyone a Winner?

Until now, those under TVA Green Partners program have been producing on-site energy from a solar panel has been treated much like any other activity reducing electricity use. Effectively the energy produced from solar is subtracted from the amount of energy used each month, and the customer pays for the remaining amount of energy consumed. The nations utilities are fearful of the financial effects of a reduced distributor income from the energy produced by solar. Increasing evidence suggests that the overall economic benefits to the utility’s electric grid may outweigh the loss of revenue. Xcel Energy, the Minnesota’s largest electric utility, shared estimations for the value of solar in its comments (to reduce the value) to the Public Utilities Commission in mid-February.

Value of solar to electric power distributors


The solar market price includes eight separate factors, but the largest four account for the lion’s share of the value: 25 years of avoided natural gas purchases, avoided new power plant purchases, avoided transmission capacity, and avoided environmental costs.
The value of avoided fuel cost recognizes that utilities cannot buy natural gas on long-term contracts the way they can buy fixed-price solar energy, and it internalizes the risk of fuel variability that utilities have previously laid on ratepayers.
The avoided power plant generation capacity value recognizes that sufficient solar capacity allows utilities to defer peak energy investments (like Xcel’s recently requested three natural gas peaking power plants that an administrative law judge discarded in favor of distributed solar).
Avoided transmission capacity costs rewards solar for on-site energy production, saving on the cost of infrastructure and energy losses associated with long-range imports.
The environmental value may be the most precedent setting, because it means that when buying solar power under Minnesota’s value of solar tariff, a utility is for the first time paying for the environmental harm it had previously been socializing onto everyone else. This value is based on the federal “social cost of carbon” as well as non-carbon externality values adopted by the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission. The preliminary market value of solar estimate by Xcel Energy (14.5¢ per kilowatt-hour) for Minnesota. Here in Tennessee we have a better solar exposure and can expect the solar estimate will be larger. The cost of electricity for the homeowner is now 10 cents per kilowatt-hour. The estimated levelized cost of energy from rooftop solar presently is between 16 and 20 cents per kilowatt-hour.
Distributors with their buying power can reduce the levelized cost of energy from solar. Interestly Best Buy in partnership with SolarCity that’s now coming out of its pilot phase, roughly 65 Best Buy shops in the U.S. now offer solar arrays to their customers. The company’s solar-as-a-service offerings allow homeowners to go solar with little or no up-front costs.

The Red Faces of the Solar Skeptics

For years, these critics — of solar photovoltaics in particular — have called renewable energy a boutique fantasy. A recent Wall Street Journal blog post continues the trend, asserting that solar subsidies take money from the poor to benefit the rich. this year the total photovoltaic capacity in the United States is projected to reach 10 gigawatts, the energy equivalent of several nuclear power plants. (By one estimate, photovoltaic costs crossed over to become cheaper than electricity generated by new nuclear plants about four years ago.)

Solar subsidies are dwarfed by historical taxpayer support of both fossil-fuel and nuclear-generated electricity. The International Energy Agency warns that continuing fossil-fuel subsidies contribute significantly to global environmental problems. The President has suggested that the 30% tax benefit for solar PV be eliminated or severely reduced. My reply is sure, when you remove all the subsidies for electric power of any type. Especially nuclear and fossil fuels.

To answer the critics that solar will depend on energy storage for it to be considered a dispatchable resources for electricity. Then why did TVA build one of the largest pumped stores before solar was on the horizon? It is simple, it is to balance supply and demand of electricity. it is the same reasoning for coal and nuclear plants where the plant says on line and the extra energy is sent to the store for use later. It is the same deal for solar.

An investment analysis by the financial services company UBS contends that an “unsubsidized solar revolution” has begun that could eventually supply as much as 18 percent of electricity demand in Germany, Spain and Italy. The report goes on to suggest that electric utility companies serving these markets may see their profits take a hit. The UBS analysts say that consumer-supplied solar electricity tends to reduce the spikes in electricity demand on the power grid (so-called peak load) from which these utilities have traditionally derived much of their revenue.

see the original article that led to this blog item at: http://economix.blogs.nytimes.com/2014/03/10/the-red-faces-of-the-solar-skeptics/?_php=true&_type=blogs&src=rechp&_r=0

Apply now for 2014 Rural Energy for America Funding

solar farming2Farmers, ranchers and rural small businesses can apply now for grants and loan guarantees for clean energy projects under the Rural Energy for America Program – or REAP. REAP was renewed in the 2014 Farm Bill and supports a wide range of energy efficiency and renewable energy technologies, including wind, solar, biogas, biomass, small hydroelectric, geothermal, tidal, wave, and hydroelectric technologies.

An official notice of funding availability is expected in early April, with an application deadline 60 days later. This notice would be for funds from the 2014 appropriation plus funds carried over from previous years (total about $28 million). When the final REAP rule is announced, possibly in June or July, a second funding announcement will be issued for the 2014 mandatory funding ($50 million) from the new Farm Bill. Applications submitted but not funded in the first round will be considered in the second round.

Applicants should also be sure to check in early with the state staff of USDA rural development. They can answer questions, provide useful advice and may need to visit the project during the application process.

For more information go to: http://www.rurdev.usda.gov/TN-Home.html

Free Workshop On Benefits And Incentives Available For Solar To Area Residents

Do-It-Yourself Workshop. Ours will be comfortably indoors

Do-It-Yourself Workshop. Ours will be comfortably indoors

green|spaces in partnership with Aries Energy, is providing a free workshop to local residents that are interested in solar for their homes. The workshop will take place on March 19 at green|spaces, 63 E. Main Street Chattanooga, Tn. 37408 from 8-9 a.m.

Attendees will learn about the Tennessee Solar Program including incentives, credits, federal tax credits and applications. Additionally, the workshop will cover information on the typical grid-tied system and other unique solar installations. TVA has an annual cap on the solar programs it offers. The residential program is filling rapidly.

To r.s.v.p., individuals may contact Dawn Hjelseth at 423 648-0963 or email dawn@greenspaceschattanooga.com.

Sniper attack on power grid

A recently revealed criminal attack upon a Pacific Gas & Electric (PG&E) substations has given lawmakers pause and turned the subject not just to cybersecurity for electric power infrastructure, but physical security.
The Wall Street Journal reported a previously unpublicized 52-minute assault by snipers on PG&E’s Metcalf transmission substation. The assailants fired some 100 bullets into the substation, which knocked 17 transformers out of service.
PG&E was able to stave off a loss of service by diverting to other T&D assets, but utility workers had to spend 27 days repairing the shooters’ damage to the substation area.
The FBI, which is serving as lead agency on the investigation, does not believe the attack was an act of international terrorism. Jon Wellinghoff, who led FERC at the time, said he believed the incident was domestic terror.

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New Farm Bill Preserves Core Clean Energy Programs

After three years of stops and starts, debate and negotiations, the Congressional Farm Bill Conference Committee has released a compromise bill between the House and the Senate that includes mandatory funding for a downsized Energy Title, including the Rural Energy for America Program (REAP) and Biomass Crop Assistance Program (BCAP).

If passed by Congress, the funding for REAP and BCAP in the compromise would ensure the popular programs will continue to support diverse technologies for renewable energy and energy efficiency initiatives in farm communities across the nation. REAP offers grants and loan guarantees for renewable energy and energy efficiency projects owned by farmers, ranchers, rural small businesses and rural electric co-ops. BCAP provides incentives to jump start sustainable energy crops that also provide conservation benefits.

“While the overall Energy Title funding has been reduced, this compromise provides the certainty for renewed growth in rural energy projects under both REAP and BCAP,” Olsen said. The bill announced late Monday by the Farm Bill Conference Committee includes $881 million for Energy Title programs over ten years.

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