Archive for Technology

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

Urban Green Lab works to build sustainability in Nashville

Jennifer Tlumak, executive director of Urban Green Lab, said anyone can relate to three pillars of sustainability on some level.

Urban Green Lab is a nonprofit organization that aims to use sustainability to improve the health and lifestyle of Nashville’s residents through workshops, demonstrations and discussions about how to live a sustainable lifestyle according to its executive director, Jennifer Tlumak.

Tlumak is a homegrown talent. She was valedictorian of her 1997 graduating class at Hillsboro High School before she went on to work with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and recently finished her master’s degree in public health from Emory University.

Now, as executive director, she’s looking to expand the organization into local schools by creating a mobile lab. The project is in the design phase but will be a trailer outfitted with solar panels, green technology and exhibits with which students will be able to interact.

original article

 

TREEDC CONFERENCE AT TENNESSEE TECH UNIVERSITY

The Tennessee Renewable Energy and Economic Development Council  Conference will be held at Tennessee Tech University in Cookeville on October 12 through the 14th this year.  

Registration is OPEN for all exhibitors/sponsors/advertisers as well as conference attendees for the October 12-14 renewable energy conference hosted by Tennessee Tech University and University of Tennessee MTAS. The Tennessee Renewable Energy & Economic Development Council (www.treedc.us) is a statewide organization  which now has 96 Tennessee mayors as members and works with Tennessee and world-wide stakeholders to advance renewable energy for Tennessee communities and businesses.

TREEDC is pleased to announce that our Annual Conference Keynote Speaker will be Neil Petchers, President, Chief Executive Officer of NORESCO. NORESCO  is a unit of United Technologies Corporation. one of the largest energy services companies in the U.S., NORESCO performs energy and maintenance savings and significant infrastructure upgrades to existing facilities.

A preliminary program can be seen here

Early Bird Registration Rates of $89 End September 1, 2014

 

 

 

New Business Member – MOUNTAIN VIEW SOLAR

Our latest business member is Mountain View Solar. They are now installing solar systems in our local region. What is particularly interesting about them is the focus on electric vehicle charging at your home. Chances are that if you are a commuter that drives less than 30 miles a day round-trip to work and home, then you are probably thinking about an electric vehicle.

Mountain View Solar is West Virginia’s largest solar PV installation company and has been recognized by various state and national organizations. Specializing in residential, commercial, municipal and government solar installations, Mountain View works throughout West Virginia, Maryland, Pennsylvania, and Virginia and now in Tennessee.

We now offer installation of solar-powered charging stations for electric vehicles, and have provided residential and commercial customers with a source of free fuel for their electric vehicles!

Be sure to contact:
Jon Bates
Regional Operations Director
Mountain View Solar
1200 Deaton Rd
Lenoir City,Tn. 37772
865-964-5091
jon@mtvsolar.com
www.mtvsolar.com/tn

ARIZONA PUBLIC SERVICE COMPANY FOR APPROVAL OF ITS 2014 RENEWABLE ENERGY STANDARD IMPLEMENTATION PLAN FOR RESET OF RENEWABLE ENERGY ADJUST-OR

This illustrates the concept of distributed generation

I have included this entry because of Tennesseans interested in solar photovoltaic (PV) energy. Maybe a model for our state and TVA

Responding to clear customer interest, Arizona Public Service (APS) proposes a 20 MW
utility-owned residential distributed generation (DG) program that will help APS meet
the 2015 renewable energy requirement. Under this program,
APS would strategically deploy DG to maximize system benefits. APS would also support the local
solar community by competitively selecting third-party local solar vendors to install
these DG systems across APS’s service territory. To benefit all customers, APS would
install the DG on customer rooftops and on the utility side of the meter. APS would
“rent” these rooftops in exchange for a $30 per month bill credit. This simple bill credit
structure will provide all customers-including those who cannot currently afford it-an
opportunity to “go solar.”
To install 20 MW of residential DG, APS would deploy systems on
approximately 3,000 customer rooftops. On these rooftops, APS would install 4-8 kW
photovoltaic systems, depending on the roofs’ configurations. Just as APS might lease
land to locate a large-scale solar facility, APS will “rent” these 3,000 customer rooftops
for 20 years

reference here

Green Earth Solar Completes Second Project for Owner John Harrison

Harrison Dairy Solar Installation

Knoxville-based Green Earth Solar finished up the 39.6-kilowatt system in May, which is made of 128 310-watt panels and is expected to generate more than 46,000 kilowatts annually.
The installation was the second project between Green Earth Solar and Sweetwater Valley owner John Harrison. Completion comes a year after Harrison installed a 50-kilowatt energy system at his Thunder Hollow Farm.
Trevor Casey, Green Earth Solar director of sales, said implementing a green energy system took “a little under a week.” The project was funded through a $20,000 United States Department of Agriculture grant.
“I don’t have much thoughts on it because it’s pretty simple. It just sits there and works,” Harrison said, laughing. “It’s pretty straight forward. It’s one of the few things that we seem to do that doesn’t require much effort. It’s pretty effortless, I guess, is how I’d describe it.

While he doesn’t have anything currently planned, Harrison said he would keep an eye out for other opportunities to go green.
“In my case, a lot of it has to do with what else you’ve got going on with your business and what your tax situation is,” Harrison said. “If we had other needs that would do the same thing tax wise, you need to be able to take advantage of the tax credits.”

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.

SolarCity follows Tesla’s “Gigafactory” path, will manufacture own solar panels

GigafactorySolarPlant

SAN MATEO—In a recent move by SolarCity, the company will attempt to bring solar energy into the hands of a much larger portion of the population. Currently, photovoltaic solar panel systems are out of reach for many people because of their prices, forcing them to continue to rely on energy produced using fossil fuels. However, SolarCity’s goal is to change this, producing solar energy grid components on such a large scale that their prices will become low enough so as to become more economically viable than fossil fuels. In order to achieve this goal, SolarCity has purchased Silevo, a solar panel manufacturing firm, which SolarCity will expand, opening a new manufacturing plant in New York, and potentially more in the future. SolarCity will target a true “Gigafactory” to produce more than a gigawatt of solar power capability.  “What we are trying to address is not the lay of the land today, where there are indeed too many suppliers, most of whom are producing relatively low photonic efficiency solar cells at uncompelling costs, but how we see the future developing,” the company’s blog post read. “Without decisive action to lay the groundwork today, the massive volume of affordable, high efficiency panels needed for unsubsidized solar power to outcompete fossil fuel grid power simply will not be there when it is needed.”

Silevo is known for its ‘tunneling junction’ solar cell structure.  Combining the benefits of increased carrier generation, back of the cell contacts, matrix redundant cell connections, and eliminating bussbar current collection will create the next generation of silicon solar cells and panels that will reduce the cost of the panel by increasing the overall efficiency.  The target is rooftop solar which is the kernel of SolarCity’s business.

With TVA sales on the down side, it would be a great coup if TVA could entice SolarCity to build a plant here in Tennessee.  One gigawatt sized factory would create a $200 million yearly income for TVA and employ hundreds of workers with high paying manufacturing jobs.

TVA to study value of small providers like solar

KNOXVILLE, TENN. — The Tennessee Valley Authority is studying the value of electricity produced from small, dispersed sites, such as solar, wind or small gas turbine installations.

According to a news release from the utility, the initiative will develop methods to set the value of distributed generation to the electric grid and the value of the grid to the small energy producer. TVA will undertake the study with the help of local power companies and other stakeholders.

Solar energy will be the first resource investigated. The process is expected to last through the end of 2014. Public comments will be accepted and stakeholder group information will be posted at http://www.tva.gov/dgiv .

Note: Stakeholder group meeting should be available to the public as utube, webinar or as published on the TVA site..

More Affordable Solar PV Systems by Richard Swanson

In answer to the question What new technology will it take, Dr. Swanson replied.

Richard Swanson1“Solar panels now account for less than half of the cost of a solar panel system. For example, installers spend a lot of time and money designing each rooftop solar system. They need to have a certain number of panels in a row, all getting the same amount of sunlight. A bunch of companies are automating the process, some with the help of satellites. One of the most exciting things is microinverters [electronics that control solar panel power output] that allow you to stick solar panels anywhere on a roof—it’s almost plug and play.

To almost everyone’s surprise, silicon is still chugging along. The new developments are pretty amazing. Panasonic just announced a record solar cell efficiency. We need to do things like keep improving efficiency with new solar cell architectures, like the one Panasonic used. There are three basic new cell structures, and all of them are nearing or are already in production. We need to make thinner silicon wafers, improve ways of growing crystalline silicon. We need to switch to frameless solar panels because the cost of the aluminum frame hasn’t been going down much. We need to get rid of silver electrical contacts and replace them with cheaper copper. It’s tricky, but it can be done.”