Archive for Middle Tennessee News

Adults can go back to school for free at any one of the 27 Tennessee Colleges of Applied Technology

The programs are part of Gov. Bill Haslam’s plan to increase the number of college-educated residents in Tennessee to 55 percent by the year 2025.

Those interested in returning to school must apply by May 15.

State lawmakers approved the Reconnect grant last year when they signed off on the Tennessee Promise, which allows eligible high school seniors to attend community college for free.

The Chattanooga open house will showcase 24 programs ranging from industrial electronics to massage therapy.

Patrick Wade, assistant director of TCAT in Knoxville, said the campus is adding more night programs, all of which are in demand locally.

The original article can be located here:NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP)

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.

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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 Holds Meeting Open to Comments on Their Integrated Resource Plan

April 6 is scheduled for a webinar and public meeting at the TVA Knoxville Tower which usually starts at 7 am and typically lasts for an hour and a half. During that time the public is encouraged to provide comments on the draft Integrated Resource Plan and associated draft Environmental Impact Statement. To prepare for providing comment, TVA has made downloads of both plans available for public inspection.
TVA seal

The purpose of the IRP is to determine how TVA can best meet the Tennessee Valley’s demand for electricity over the next 20 years and fulfill its mission of low cost reliable power, environmental stewardship, and economic development.

The draft IRP and EIS are available for review on the IRP website at http://www.tva.com/environment/reports/irp/. TVA will hold a series of public meetings beginning on March 19 to discuss the draft IRP and EIS, to answer questions, and to receive comments on the drafts. Details on the public meetings are posted project webpage.

Comments on the draft IRP and EIS must be submitted no later than April 27, 2015. Comments may be submitted online, at the public meetings, by mail to the address below, or by email to IRP@tva.gov. Please note that any comments received, including names and addresses, will become part of the project administrative record and will be available for public inspection. TVA will consider all comments in preparing the final IRP and EIS.

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.

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.

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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.

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.

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.”

original article