Archive for Solar

Renewable Energy Provided 100% Of New U.S. Generating Capacity In January

Renewable energy – including wind, solar and biomass resources – accounted for all new generating capacity added in the U.S. in January, according to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission’s (FERC) latest Energy Infrastructure Update.

The 1.231 GW of new U.S. electrical generating capacity entering service in January represented nearly a threefold increase in new renewable energy generating capacity compared to January 2012, when wind, solar and biomass provided 431 MW of new capacity.

Wind energy accounted for the largest share of the new capacity in January, with six new units providing 958 MW, followed by 16 units of solar (267 MW) and six units of biomass (6 MW). No new generating capacity was reported for any fossil fuel (i.e., natural gas, coal, oil) or nuclear power sources.

Renewable sources now account for 15.66% of total installed U.S. operating generating capacity, and wind energy represents 5.17% of the total. Other renewable resources include water (8.5%), biomass (1.29%), solar (0.38%) and geothermal (0.32%). In comparison, natural gas accounts for 42.37% of total operating generating capacity, followed by coal (29.04%), nuclear (9.23%) and oil (3.54%).

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Solar Training – Solar Electric Design and Installation (Grid-Direct) in Knoxville Scheduled for April 8 thru 12th

Sustainable Future is excited to help with Solar Energy International (SEI) training in Knoxville April 8th, 2013 – April 12th, 2013. This five day course is great for those wanting to get into the solar industry or those that need to prepare for the NABCEP entry level test. Included in the course will be some “hands on” exercises at the Sustainable Future solar park, with class room work being held at a local hotel. This course will be taught by two very seasoned solar installers who have installed systems all over the country. This course will provide an overview of the three basic PV system applications, primarily focusing on grid-direct systems. The goal of the course is to create a fundamental understanding of the core concepts necessary to work with all PV systems, including: system components, site analysis, PV module criteria, mounting solutions, safety, and commissioning. The course will also cover the basics of sizing a residential grid-direct system, wire sizing, overcurrent protection, and grounding – all of which will be expanded upon in PV202.

Prerequisites: Before participating in the PV101 in-person workshop, students are required to complete the self-paced PV 101 PREP online component (included in price of PV101, you will automatically be enrolled in PV PREP Online at the time you register for PV101).

Date: April 8 through April 12, a five day course
Location: Knoxville, TN
Instructors: Joe Villacci, Kyle Bolger
Tuition: $995.00

More information

Sir Richard Branson’s Necker Island – RFP Announced For Renewable Energy Project

The Carbon War Room (CWR), Homer Energy, and Reznick Think Energy, LLC (RTE) launched a request for proposals (RFP) today on behalf of Virgin Limited Edition for the provision of renewable energy and energy services on Necker Island in the British Virgin Islands, home of Sir Richard Branson.

The Request for Proposal has two phases of bids:

Phase 1: Engineering and design solutions for a 750 kW of solar PV in an open field, 8 kW of PV on the Great House, and Solar Carports.

Phase 2: Indicative bids sought for a wind turbine, significant load controls and batteries, and an overall energy supply and management contract.

Virgin Limited Edition will purchase all services and products from one party or multiple products and services from a variety of parties, and the selected bidders will have the ability to take advantage of significant marketing opportunities throughout the project’s lifecycle and beyond. All respondents will be able to access the entire RFP or sections of the RFP after signing a Non-disclosure Agreement (NDA) and paying an administration fee.

Interested parties should use the following link to learn more about the RFP:

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.

New Thin-Film Solar Cell May Provide Electricity at Grid Parity Using Gallium Arsenide Solar Cells

Global Photonic Energy Corp. (GPEC), has created a thin-film solar cell that has the ability to provide electricity at grid parity or the cost of traditionally provided electricity.
Gallium Arsenide (GaAs) is a better photovoltaic candidate than silicon reaching 30% or better efficiency. Problem with Gallium Arsenide cells is that they are very expensive to manufacture in large sizes. Instead these cells are used in concentrating solar PV arrays where the sun image is concentrated some 500 times focusing the light onto a small millimeter sized GaAs cell.

Dr. Stephen R. Forrest of the University of Michigan said the breakthrough, presented at the Fall Meeting of the Materials Research Society, is the result of substantially reduced production costs. It is based on a patent-pending invention that reuses the same Gallium Arsenide wafer multiple times to produce solar cells. This unlimited wafer reuse approach to conventional “epitaxial lift off” technology that typically leads to wafer damage, and hence only a very limited number (1 to 2) of wafer reuses, has the potential to reduce the cost of a typical Gallium Arsenide solar cell to below $1 per Watt (peak).

“This exciting development implies that ultra-high efficiency solar cells based on Gallium Arsenide can eventually produce electricity at or below grid parity.” Dr. Forrest stated. “Using integrated solar concentrators and our adhesive-free, cold-weld bonding technology to plastic substrates, we estimate electricity could be produced as low as $0.45 cents per Watt, compared to traditional grid parity of $1 per Watt.”

GPEC is excited by the discovery. With this new discovery, the cost structure is dramatically reduced and can be used in numerous applications. The high efficiency, light weight and flexible solar cells are deployed on roll up plastic sheets. GPEC anticipates their use in spot powering vehicles, mobile military equipment and satellites, and off-grid locations. The company has big plans and want to license its intellectual property in order to commercialize the technology. To date, GPEC has a total of 425 patents.

Expect Solar Prices to Bottom Out and Begin to Rise Very Soon

The reason that solar panel prices are so low is because the supply of panels have exceeded the demand. The supply was projected on the historical growth of solar which had been rising at a spectacular rate, but governments around the world have fallen into a recession mode and have trimmed or eliminated the supports for the solar industry. Examples here are the elimination of the 1603 grant and the rising need to reduce solar set-asides in the renewable energy credits in many of our states. It started with Spain, then Italy and then Germany. China has cut back on the manufacturing of panels and many of their businesses as well as those around the world have seen their profit margins disappear. The spot price of polysilicon had reached a low of $13 per kilogram; way below the manufacturing cost of roughly $20. The smaller cell manufacturers and the panel makers have been failing narrowing down the supply of panels. The results are beginning to show up with the spot price of polysilicon rising to $16 on the spot market. With the rise in polysilicon prices will come an increase in the cost of cells and finally the cost of panels. So, if you can afford to buy panels, now is a good time. So, unless we increase the demand substantially, the price will remain static or rising until the scale of manufacturing expands significantly.

German Power Tumbles to Record Low as Solar Damps Demand

By Julia Mengewein – Jan 16, 2013 12:44 PM ET

Power for 2014 delivery in Germany and France dropped to records as rising solar output is expected to cut demand for other electricity sources.
German power, a European benchmark, fell as much as 1.5 percent, according to broker data compiled by Bloomberg. The equivalent French contract declined 0.3 percent.
Electricity for Germany next year lost 65 cents to 43.30 euros ($57.93) a megawatt-hour, it’s biggest decline since March 6, according to broker data compiled by Bloomberg. The French equivalent lost 15 cents to 46.20 euros.

As much as 18 percent of electricity demand may be replaced by solar panels not connected to Germany’s grid, reducing demand for other sources by 6 to 10 percent by 2020, Per Lekander, a Paris-based analyst at UBS AG (UBSN), said in a research note.

“The unsubsidized solar growth should drive wholesale power prices further down,” he said.

full article here

Knoxville Zoo Going Solar With Help From Wampler’s

Thanks to Wampler’s Farm Sausage, Knoxville Zoo is taking its most ambitious step yet toward sustainability; the installation of a solar power system on the roof of The Stokely African Elephant Preserve barn. The 50 kilowatt system, constructed by local energy electrical contractor ARiES Energy, LLC, will produce clean, renewable energy for the zoo and provide an opportunity to educate guests on the use of green power.
Knoxville Zoo partnered with Wampler’s Farm Sausage and Family Brands International, makers of Elm Hill hot dogs and Cades Cove barbecue, because of their success in solar power generation at their manufacturing facilities. Thanks to the assistance from Wampler’s, the zoo can further their mission of environmental conservation by reducing their carbon footprint with the added benefit of providing an ongoing income stream for the zoo as part of the TVA Green Power Providers Program

Full Press Release

Interested in how YOU can go solar?? Join ARiES Energy for a solar workshop at the zoo January 26th.  For more information, click here.

Can’t make it on the 26th?Join us Tuesday January 22 at United Community Bank in Farragut at 5:30PM or Wednesday January 23rd at Bearden Beer Market at 6:30PM


Advantages of Solar Heat Exchangers

Design and Operation

Solar water heating is a system that uses the heat of the sun to effectively heat water for households and commercial use. Solar heaters use collectors to capture and absorb solar energy. Some systems use a flat plate design composed of insulated boxes which house a black absorber plate that is surrounded by layers of glass. The heat travels through the glass and strikes the absorber plate, becoming trapped in the process. Liquid-filled tubes attached to the absorber plate carry the heated water wherever it is needed. Liquid to liquid systems use a transfer fluid that is heated, and then convey the heat to a separate water supply. Passive solar heat exchanger consist of an absorber material and a piping system which uses no moving parts, whereas an active system might use a pump to move larger water volumes. The coil-in-tank design uses a simple tube inside a storage tank. A tube-in-tube systems has an outer and inner tube allowing direct fluid to fluid contact. Shell-and-tube systems use two tubes encased in a shell outside the storage tank, allowing fluid to travel in opposite directions. Solar heat exchangers have many benefits over conventional heat exchanger designs.


Solar water heaters can produce a temperature increase in almost any climate. This depends upon the amount of solar energy provided and the water source, but they can typically cause a temperature variation from incoming water of 60 degrees to 90 degrees Fahrenheit. In freezing temperatures, Glycol is used, which has antifreeze capabilities to minus 60 degrees Fahrenheit. Due to the absorption effectiveness of the plate, coil or tube material over a sustained period of solar energy radiation; even a weak solar emission is magnified and sustained.

Electricity and Fuel Savings

Solar energy is cost-free, negating the use of electrical components needed to heat coils, tubes or plates, other than an assist pump to circulate the fluid when needed. This substantially reduces the electrical heating bill by as much 50 to 80 percent, which begins to show dividends after the initial purchase and installation is recouped. The requirement for oil, wood or coal fuels used to heat the incoming water are non-existent, allowing additional savings.


Depending upon the complexity of the system, solar heat exchangers are less likely to fail or breakdown and the maintenance requirements are reduced. The passive solar heat exchangers excel in this area. Solar heat exchangers can be dismantled and cleaned thoroughly, often times by the homeowner or resident. On the other hand, boilers and furnaces, used to heat incoming water, develop performance problems or fail and can cause high repair costs.

Carbon Footprint

Solar heat exchangers are environmentally friendly, since they produce no toxic emissions or chemicals that are harmful to the environment. They are less likely to cause health problems in a building structure should they emit airborne particles or leak fuel oil. These factors promote self-sufficiency and safety, as well as safeguarding the environment.

About the Author
Elliot Delaney is a writer for, a leading online retailer of brazed plate heat exchangers

Homes with PV Systems Sell at a Premium

Many of our members have asked if there is information on the value of having a solar system on their home’s worth. The answer is yes. The proof is in a report released by the Lawrence Berkeley Laboratory (LBL) in April 2011. The report was based on home sales in California so the increased value may be different here in the TVA valley. With that proviso, what the LBL report found was that new homes with PV increased the value of their home between $2.30 and $2.60 per watt installed capacity. Existing homes produced a higher premium, somewhere around $6.00 per watt or more.
research report summary