Archive for Solar Thermal

Living Light Solar House moves to Oak Ridge’s Children’s Museum

The Living Light Solar House, designed by more than 200 UTK students, has been donated by the University of Tennessee to the Oak Ridge Children’s Museum. The home is 750 square feet and is a zero-energy structure, providing an example of what energy efficient housing could look like in the future. Originally produced to compete in the U.S. Department of Energy Solar Decathlon, the house will now serve as an educational and inspirational tool for children and visitors to the museum.

More information here and here.

Separate Delivery of Electricity from its Generation

distribution_linesThe distribution grids that deliver TVA electricity consist of a network of wires that carry the power around (to consumers). Distributors within the TVA system must agree to carry the power of all comers, at non-discriminatory rates too. And it can charge a fee sufficient to cover the cost of providing a reliable, responsive grid.

“Then you’ve two other parts of the system: those who own the power stations that feed electricity into the grid and those who run marketing organisations to bill for what consumers pull from the grid. And within such a system it’s simple enough to make sure that everyone who has a grid connection is charged for the use (even if that use is only insurance against cloudy days) of the grid in the appropriate manner and amount. Without having to worry about how much electricity they’re actually using.

This really is a real problem with solar power: and that really is the solution. Unbundle the utilities into a pure grid charging all for the use of it and keep that very separate from who is generating power by what means”, suggests Tim Worstall Forbes’ contributing author

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.

Getting Your Money’s Worth Out of Energy Efficiency Webinar

You know implementing energy efficiency projects can produce cash flow and grow your business, but did you know these same energy efficiency projects are also eligible for federal tax incentives?

Event: Webinar: Getting Your Money’s Worth Out of Energy Efficiency
Date: September 30, 2013
Time: 1:00–2:00 EDT / 12:00–1:00 CDT
Admission: Free


Please join the Tennessee Energy Education Initiative for a webinar on monetizing energy efficiency projects and taking advantage of tax incentives. This is valuable knowledge for CFOs, financial advisors, and other key decision makers in organizations seeking to improve bottom lines through energy efficiency initiatives.

Here’s what you can expect:
• Monetizing Energy Solutions: The Road to Funding
Christopher Russell, Visiting Fellow, American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy; Principal, Energy Pathfinder Management Consulting LLC.
• Guide to Tax Incentives for Commercial Business
CJ Aberin, CCSP, shareholder at KBKG, a specialty tax firm focused on securing energy tax incentives, will summarize the benefits of the Energy-Efficient Commercial Buildings (179D) federal tax deduction and other related tax strategies, explain the process, and share information about ideal candidates and eligible projects so you know how to get started.

http://tnenergy.org/event/getting-your-moneys-worth-out-of-energy-efficiency/

Do we want to control our energy future, or continue to rent it from other countries?

We will choose, either actively or subjectively

Do we want to control our energy future, or continue to rent it from other countries? This is the overarching question that we, the citizens of these United States, have to answer. It is decision making time. If we do not express our individual feelings about how our country moves forward to meet the energy challenges of today and of tomorrow, then we have only ourselves to blame. This question was raised by Hal Harvey, the chief executive of Energy Innovation, in an article by NY Times Thomas L. Friedman Op-Ed Columnist in a July 2, 2013. As Mr. Friedman so acutely points out. “We also have to ensure that cheap natural gas displaces coal but doesn’t also displace energy efficiency and renewables, like solar or wind, so that natural gas becomes a bridge to a clean energy future, not a ditch. It would be ideal to do this through legislation and not E.P.A. fiat, but Republicans have blocked that route, which is pathetic because the best way to do it is with a Republican idea from the last Bush administration: a national clean energy standard for electricity generation — an idea the G.O.P. only began to oppose when Obama said he favored it.”

Such a standard would say to every utility: “Your power plants can use any fuel and technology you want to generate electricity as long as the total amount of air pollutants and greenhouse gases they emit (in both fuel handling and its electricity conversion) meet steadily increasing standards for cleaner air and fewer greenhouse gases. If you want to meet that standard with natural gas, sequestered coal, biomass, hydro, solar, wind or nuclear, be our guest. Let the most cost-effective clean technology win.”

Is this consistent with the position that Senator Alexander has publicly stated, let the most cost-effective technology win? The one word omitted from the Senator’s message was the word “clean” which I am sure he would agree with having fought these many years for our natural resources such as preserving the environment of our own Smokies. Why not resurrect the Republican idea for a national clean energy standard for electricity generation? You must decide: “Is this in the best interests of our nation?”

Times article

Barack Obama puts solar at forefront of ‘assault’ on climate change

President Barack Obama today put solar at the forefront of a national strategy to cut carbon emissions in the United States as part of a “coordinated assault on a changing climate”.

The US president’s two-step climate action plan, launched at Georgetown University in Washington DC, includes regulatory efforts to curb emissions from fossil fuel power stations and to increase the use of clean energy.
“This plan begins with cutting carbon pollution by changing the way we use energy, using less dirty energy, using more clean energy wasting less energy throughout our economy,” said Obama.
“Today, about 40% of America’s carbon pollution comes from power plants. But there are no federal limits to the amount of carbon pollution those plants can pump into our air… for free. That’s not right, that’s not safe and it needs to stop.”

original article

Why Master Limited Partnerships are a Lousy Policy for Solar, Wind, and Taxpayers

SLevy comment: This post is to present the rationale for not including renewables in the Master Limited Partnership legislation. So we have both pro- and con- arguments on proposed legislation so that you, the reader, can provide your opinion as to whether our federal legislature representatives in both houses should or should not support the MLP parity act. Send in your comments and we will post them on our site.

Master Limited Partnerships (MLPs) operate like publicly traded corporations, with publicly traded stock, but don’t pay income taxes. Most folks who’ve touted expanding MLPs to include renewable energy projects see this move as “leveling the playing field.” And it will. It will allow big energy corporations to avoid paying taxes on their renewable energy projects just like they do for pipelines. First, there are many powerful, regulated industries that would love a bite at this apple, like the existing electric and gas utilities. The cost to taxpayers from letting these hogs get to the trough is likely much, much larger than the opportunity for renewable energy. These big industries – with huge lobbying budgets – are not likely to miss the opportunity.

But even more important, the extension of MLPs to renewable energy is likely to reinforce centralized, corporate control of the energy system. Right now, renewable energy – particularly solar – is transforming the energy system. It’s turning energy consumers into producers, re-routing energy dollars back into community economies, and giving cities and towns more control over their energy future. Half or more of new solar power in the U.S. is being put on the rooftops of homes and small businesses. New community solar policies (like one just adopted in Minnesota!) are giving even more Americans a chance to have skin in the energy game and share in the profits of a transition to renewable energy.

The average American isn’t going to be a shareholder of a Master Limited Partnership, but they probably will pay a share of phantom taxes in their electric and gas rates if MLPs are expanded to other energy industries. Even if Congress miraculously limits the MLP expansion to just the renewable energy industry, subsidiaries of most of the large corporations in the energy business (Shell, BP, Exxon) are building wind and solar projects. These subsidiaries would certainly be reorganized as MLPs, giving them a tax advantaged opportunity to crowd out competitors (like community solar or other distributed generation) AND make larger profits off their renewable energy business.

John Farrell authored the 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.

IMPORTANT Proposed Rule Changes to the Department of Agriculture REAP Program

The proposed rule for REAP has been posted to the Federal Register at the link below. The proposed rule will revise the Rural Energy for America Program (REAP) found in 7 CFR part 4280, subpart B. There is now an opportunity to comment on this regulation in order to provide suggestions to potentially change components of the program. Please review this document closely and if you have any comments to make, please do so. There is instruction within the document to provide your public comment on the program. The deadline for public comment is June 11th.

Go To: http://www.gpo.gov/fdsys/pkg/FR-2013-04-12/pdf/2013-07273.pdf

Some of the changes:
The Agency is proposing to allow the purchase of refurbished renewable energy systems and the retrofitting of an existing renewable energy system as eligible projects under this subpart.
For energy efficiency improvement projects, the Agency is proposing ensuring that energy efficiency improvements use less energy on an annual basis.
Simplifying the energy efficiency improvement technical report; simplifying the technical report for renewable energy system projects with total project costs of $200,000 or less

42nd National Solar Conference, SOLAR 2013, in Baltimore, April 16-20

Register today at the American Solar Energy Society for the conference details and sign up.

Highlights of the technical session include:
New techniques for making high-performance quantum-dot and nanoparticle photovoltaic cells.

The status of the High Definition PV project, an industry-wide program to reduce the cost of solar installations through plug-and-play standardization.

Several new techniques to reduce the cost of dispatchable power from concentrating solar thermal (CSP) plants, a key development in providing cheap, clean solar power to run municipal grids through the night.

Solar-powered furnaces that generate hydrogen or syngas fuels at high efficiency.

A wide variety of simplified techniques for minute-to-minute and hour-to-hour forecasting of solar farm output, useful for balancing loads across geographic regions.

Efficient new ways to store solar-heated hot water – and use solar heat to drive air conditioners.

Cheap feedstocks for cheap biodiesel.

Hybrid light rail that runs when the grid goes down.

Driving large desalination and waste-water recovery systems with renewable energy.

Promoting Solar PV Deployment Through Micro-Investments

This conference is hosted by the American Solar Energy Society to which TSEA is the Tennessee State Chapter. Established in 1954, the nonprofit American Solar Energy Society is the nation’s leading association of solar professionals and advocates. Our mission is to speed the transition to a sustainable energy economy.