- RT @SolarIndustry New bonding authority in IL will provide up to $3B in RE financing. http://bit.ly/14tLgE #solar #
- Ohio comes up with municipal #solar plan: http://bit.ly/1DNyG6 #
- NJ #solar projects get the green light! http://bit.ly/14zSxG Over $515 million in the pipeline, NJ now 2nd place for US solar supremacy. #
- Just for fun-- British govt. issues 20-pg rulebook on Tweeting for its civil servants: http://bit.ly/NtLkm You can't make this stuff up. #
- Thinking of getting #solar but worried about the price? Community-based #solar systems offer a cheaper alternative: http://bit.ly/D90jd #
- #Solar #iPhone / #Blackberry case doubles as sleeve & backup battery: http://bit.ly/7Rerh #
- RT @AltEnergyNews NJ poised to expand solar power projects - http://is.gd/1SNqo (Keeping our fingers crossed!) #
- EPA releases top Green Power Users list: http://bit.ly/SkMsw Did your city, county or company make the cut? #
- RT @SolarFred: What are Solar Renewable Energy Credits (Green Tags) and why do they make me want to drink heavily. http://bit.ly/3xxtq #
- #Solar power rebounding like a "freight train," facing possible shortage of installers: http://bit.ly/EKHgq #
- British student designs world's first green superyacht, powered entirely on #solar and #wind: http://bit.ly/18SL4g #
As we relayed a couple of weeks ago, the Treasury Department has been slowly releasing details on the federal renewable energy grant program, which offers companies "payments for specified energy property in lieu of tax credits." In other words, instead of receiving a federal corporate tax credit worth 30 percent of the costs of an eligible solar energy system, businesses may instead apply to receive a cash grant of equal value. (To qualify for the grant option, systems must be installed in 2009 or 2010.)
This week, the Department of Energy opened up to applications for lending authority for $8.5 of the $30 billion it has earmarked for advanced renewable energy and smart grid projects. This is round six of such funding. It's good to see the department is keeping up the momentum--the DOE has "streamlined its processes to accelerate these new loan solicitations".
New Jersey regulators yesterday approved a plan for the state's largest utility to install solar panels atop 200,000 utility poles across the state. As part of the $515 million "Solar 4 All" program, PSE&G will also develop 40 megawatts (mWs) of centralized solar arrays. All told, 80 mWs of solar will be added by 2013, as outlined by PSE&G's press release:
The solar industry is still relatively new. It's going through all kinds of growing pains, from determining the best solar incentives and financing options to figuring out the best materials for solar panels themselves. One of the ways in which the industry has yet to really settle is training: for most highly-skilled trades, there is a proscribed certification process. For solar installers, the single most recognizable professional benchmark is getting a voluntary NABCEP certification. (NABCEP is the North American Board of Certified Energy Practitioners, in case you were wondering. It's a mouthful.) The organization makes a great argument for certification:
Yesterday, Pennsylvania Governor Edward Rendell announced a new tax credit for renewable energy projects, including solar panel installations, that were completed in the state in the last half of 2008 (July-December). The tax credit is equal to 15 percent of the net cost of such projects. The program budget for 2009 is $5 million. If you completed a commercial solar installation in Pennsylvania in those six months, apply for the credit by this September 15th. Pennsylvania made a splash earlier this year with its long-awaited solar rebate program. If you're not pursuing solar or another renewable energy project in PA, the governor sure thinks you should be:
Agitated by plummeting prices and falling market shares, European solar companies may soon be forced to accelerate their moving production to Asia, according to analysts. Long heralded as the solar industry’s role model and original success story, Europe has as of late started seeing its solar sector fall victim to an oversupply of cells and modules, which results in lower prices for solar systems. Add to this diminished government incentives and the stiff competition posed by Asian solar companies, which can offer prices that are on average 30 percent lower (in the case of the Chinese), and it is little surprise that European solar cell manufacturers have lost so much market share.
Armed with a net-metering agreement and enough grid-tied solar panels, you could literally eliminate your monthly electricity bills. Poof! Gone. But, as this story from KMGH Denver demonstrates, you'd still need the utility's infrastructure to make the arrangement work.
Our national power grid is inadequate and inefficient. It suffers from transmission and distribution losses, is vulnerable to power outages, lacks strong data collection, does not communicate with the consumer, and is unlikely to meet the growing demand for electricity in its current state. By looking at these issues, we can better understand the need to bring the grid into the 21st century with the application of digital “smart” technology--the "smart grid".
- SunPower beats Wall St. projections, shows confidence in #solar revival: http://bit.ly/LpirM #
- Roadside energy production projects using #solar and #wind in the pipeline: http://bit.ly/12DfHA #
- The latest details on the Desertec #solar project emerge: http://bit.ly/kCvFE #
- Vehicle-to-grid technology hopes to make electric cars into batteries for the grid: http://bit.ly/zRwF5 #
- The micro-inverter vs. central inverter debate: which is better at boosting your #solar panel output? http://bit.ly/SXSIT #
- Chinese manufacturer sees marked improvement in U.S. #solar market: http://bit.ly/38vaV #
- Southern California Gas to utilize #solar air conditioners: http://bit.ly/O6kC #
- Flywheel technology to potentially store solar, wind energy outside of Albany: http://www.wnyc.org/news/articles/136934 #
- #Solar industry experts expect more automation on manufacturing side but also more installation & maintenance jobs: http://bit.ly/23keP #
- Public-private relationships offer #solar a bright opportunity: http://bit.ly/nXIsV #
The phrase "solar energy" carries a heavy connotation of electricity generation, and it is indeed shorthand for the power generated by photovoltaics panels. But you can harness energy from sunlight in a number of different ways: the second most well-known is solar thermal, or solar hot water heating. This can either directly heat hot water for domestic use, or be part of indirect radiant heat systems. It can also power an air conditioner.
Speaking of feed-in tariffs (FITs), yesterday Oregon Governor Ted Kulongoski signed into law a series of energy- and environment-related bills. Among them is House Bill 3039, which "directs the PUC [Public Utilities Commission] to develop a pilot program to integrate 25 megawatts of small scale solar energy into Oregon’s electricity mix using a feed-in tariff. The bill also requires 20 megawatts of large scale solar be integrated into utility loads." If all goes according to plan, the Oregon FIT program will be in place by April 1, 2010. This is potentially great news for solar in Oregon, as a feed-in tariff guarantees a premium price for the electricity generated by eligible renewable energy systems, like solar panels.
There are many different ways to promote the adoption of renewable power. There are rebates and grants, federal tax credits, state tax credits, refundable state tax credits, renewable energy certificates (RECs), zero- or low-interest loans, energy-efficient mortgages, power purchase agreements, solar lease programs... you get the picture. Among the options, one of the most effective -- in terms of encouraging the most renewable energy installations -- is the feed-in tariff (FIT). As you'll read below, the Sacramento Municipal Utility District (SMUD) recently approved a feed-in tariff for residential customers.
People come to GetSolar.com to learn about solar energy and its costs and benefits. They also come to us to be connected to qualified, reliable solar installers in their region. We touch base periodically with those we've helped to see how things are going, but occasionally, out of the blue, the customers call us first. We've had this kind of feedback consistently on one particular installer, and we just had to share the most recent success story. Let me tell you a little about this company, first.
Considering that roughly 56 percent of India’s 1.1 billion people do not have access to electricity and many generators still run on diesel, it might come as little surprise to renewable energy fans that the Southeast Asian giant recently announced its commitment to harness renewable energy—with a heavy focus on solar power. While only 3 percent of India’s current energy mix is renewable—biomass and wind—it plans to kick-start this number to 1,000 MW of solar a year, in addition to the promotion of other technologies.
Tuvalu has announced its intention to by 2020 meet 100 percent of its energy needs with renewable power. Threatened by rising sea levels that are associated with climate change, the tiny island country is working with an international consortium of energy companies to realize their vision. Its seems the sun will play a leading role. Already, a sizable solar panel array -- capable of supplying 5 percent of national electricity demand -- has been installed on the islands' main football stadium. As CNN reports,
Thanks to federal stimulus money, the Connecticut Clean Energy Fund (CCEF) will soon launch a rebate program for solar thermal -- or solar hot water -- energy systems. By covering 20 percent of associated costs, the state aims to support the installation of 600 residential solar thermal systems and 100 commercial solar thermal systems. The Hartford Business Journal provides a quick and interesting Q&A with Dave Ljungquist, Associate Director of Project Development at CCEF:
In the United States, electricity is generally something that we take for granted. We flip a switch and a light illuminates the room. Yet the system behind that switch is extremely complex and increasingly inefficient. Luckily, entrepreneurs, utility owners, and policymakers are collaborating to address such inefficiencies with the application of digital technology. The smart grid. You’ve probably heard the term before. In this four-part series, we will explore what exactly the smart grid is, why our current grid is inadequate, how we will benefit from a smart energy grid, and exactly where we stand today in upgrading our electrical grid. The final section will also look at what this all means for solar energy. First, let’s try to understand what the news media and policymakers mean when they talk about the smart grid.
- RT @SolarFred The Hamburger and the Solar Panel. How will your company stop #solar from being a commodity? http://bit.ly/TAEGk #
- AZ touts its #solar advantages over CA @ #Intersolar: http://bit.ly/10uBcn #
- How did NJ rise to solar prominence? http://bit.ly/3cUb0Y #
- Hawaii quickly adopts #solar hot water: http://bit.ly/S2dGy 50,000 solar hot water heaters installed to date--keep it up, Hawaii! #
- Did your city make the #solar Top 10? Check out this report for a great overview of the CA #solar market: http://bit.ly/QMFJ8 #
- DOE and BLM seek public comment on federal #solar initiative: http://bit.ly/eqtqX hurry--the comment period ends July 30! #
- Green stimulus in Asia & Australia could move #solar demand east: http://bit.ly/JM7Lk #
- To everyone at the conference--thoughts on these 7 trends predicted to dominate #Intersolar? http://bit.ly/huZdf #
- California Solar Cities report now out: http://tinyurl.com/ntaqqv #
- RT @careersinsolar Solar Energy Initiatives Forms Alliance with Comm. Rehabilitation Center to Retrain Displaced Workers http://bit.ly/L3h2S #
- Solar stocks, prices driven down by heavy competition in a bad market: http://tinyurl.com/l3xh7p #
- China under fire for green protectionism: http://bit.ly/19640i #
- Great read from earth2tech: 5 reasons utilities want to build their own solar projects http://bit.ly/Iv33e #
- RT @LadyVirescent DOE Awards More than $141 Million for State Energy Programs in Six States and Territories http://bit.ly/8IpFb #
- RT @WSJEnergyBlog Desert Sun: Europe'a Huge Solar Ambitions in the Sahara http://tinyurl.com/l855fr Desertec kicks off! #
- http://bit.ly/1521S2. Obama in Ghana. #
New Hampshire homeowners who installed solar panels over the past year have been waiting for the Public Utilities Commission to release solar rebate funds via the state's residential renewable energy rebate program. On Tuesday, July 14th, the NH PUC flipped the switch, making the solar rebate application form (PDF) available online.
Yesterday, Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick and state Attorney General Martha Coakley announced an innovative approach to guiding solar development in the state. 2008's Green Communities Act gave the state's four investor-owned utilities through 2012 to develop up to 50 MW of solar capacity. But each service territory and customer base is very different from the others, and while diversity is great, it doesn't make for cost-effectiveness. Accordingly, the official press release announced that:
Towards the end of last week, a company based in Washington State announced plans to build what would be the world's largest solar photovoltaic (PV) power plant. If project developers gain approval from Kittitas County, Teanaway Solar Reserve will construct near the town of Cle Elum a 75-megawatt plant, consisting of 400,000 individual solar panels. As reported by the Seattle Times,
Under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, the federal government offers businesses a cash grant worth 30 percent of the cost of qualifying renewable energy systems, provided they're installed in 2009 and 2010. The grant option is designed to provide direct payments in lieu of the 30-percent federal renewable energy tax credit. Until recently, details on the grant application and approval process were murky.
Updated for 2016: We get a lot of questions here at GetSolar about why solar installation seems expensive. Savvy internet users point out news items that say solar should be mere pennies per watt in the next few years, or come across the wholesale prices for solar panels and believe that's what they should be paying for installation. But like any specialty in the construction industry, solar installation has a wealth of good reasons for being as expensive as it is. One of the main reasons is expertise. When I'm asked if it's possible to learn how to install solar on your home and avoid using an installer, I say sure...if you have a few years to grab a master electrician's license and solar certifications.
A number of U.S. states require electricity providers to derive a minimum percentage of their power from renewable sources by a certain date. Such a requirement is often referred to a renewable portfolio standard, or RPS. Currently, 24 states, plus the District of Columbia have formalized RPSs in place, while five other states have legislated more informal goals aimed at promoting the adoption of renewable power. The Department of Energy provides a useful RPS summary map.
More than 150 years after the pioneers saddled their horses and sharpened their pickaxes for the frontier, the land of the American West is being rushed again—but this time it's not for gold (or Manifest Destiny). After Interior Secretary Ken Salazar and Senate majority leader Harry Reid (D-NV) announced in late June federal initiatives to accelerate the development of solar power on Western public lands. Under review are 676,048 acres of land managed by the Bureau of Land Management—a Department of the Interior agency—and located in New Mexico, California, Arizona, Colorado, Nevada and Utah. Salazar said he expected the new measures to hasten 13 commercial-scale solar plants into construction by the end of next year, creating 50,000 jobs.
Massachusetts is definitely getting into the game of ramping up the use of solar energy. Governor Patrick took a bold step towards increasing installed solar power capacity in the Commonwealth by announcing the first round of proposed projects for the Solar Stimulus Program on June 30, 2009. The initial tender, known as a Request for Proposal (RFP), identified approximately 5.34MW of solar power to be installed at various publicly owned facilities. Logan International Airport is poised to be one of the primary benefactors of the Solar Stimulus Project, as the four passenger terminals are slated to receive 2.75MW of solar energy. This would place Logan ahead of Denver International, which currently boasts the country’s largest solar generation site at an airport, consisting of a 2 MW ground-mounted solar array approximately 7 miles away from the terminal. Other state facilities identified in the RFP include four sites of the Massachusetts Water Resources Authority, the Somerville Housing Authority, and a new residence hall at Westfield State College.
To streamline the solar installation process, some state-sponsored solar rebate programs are set up so that the contractor is paid directly. He or she bills the customer system cost, less the rebate. Following installation, the contractor applies for the solar rebate and collects the funds. Such an approach lessens the burden on all parties. Sometimes, however, things don't go as originally agreed -- as a recent series of events in Hawaii demonstrates.
- RT @solarfeeds The Technology Behind Passive Solar - http://bit.ly/IBhFB #
- RT @dmsolar Inhabitat » Greenest County Fair on Earth Boasts Solar Power http://bit.ly/1aP8DS Now even nostalgia seems greener! #
- UofU program opens kids up to possibilities of solar: http://www.standard.net/live/news/177958/ Wish I had this kind of program growing up! #
- RT @AltEnergyNews Colored dyes offer cheap solar power: Israeli firm - http://is.gd/1sjZD An awesome case of technology imitating nature. #
- RT @solarbusiness Solyndra scores $238M deal with German solar integrator http://tinyurl.com/lwcsgk Bay Area, represent! #
- Hopped on the bandwagon and joined the http://wefollow.com twitter directory under: #tech, #energy, #solar. C'mon down! #
- Milan trade fair commissions world's biggest #solar PV rooftop plant: http://bit.ly/1GQ7PM #
- RT @TreeHugger Is there a better nature photographer alive today than Yann Arthus Bertrand? His work is stunning http://su.pr/1nHQEf #
- For cool cats of the DIY persuasion: assemble your own #solar panel! http://bit.ly/JorCq #
- RT @olivierglaudy County begins 'green' energy zoning effort http://bit.ly/buIEp #
- How Congress could boost solar: http://bit.ly/uoNSM #
- SF #solar rebate program sees growth rise by 4x in 2008: http://bit.ly/4ECZr0 &mayor furthers SF's green dominance with solar public housing #
- Solar PV + CPS = CPV, the super-powered new kid on the block: http://bit.ly/2re2T #
- Reading @Jeff_groSolar Colorado at center of feds' solar bull's-eye http://cli.gs/U9gz90 #
- How cool is this? Solar thermal, the American way (or at least, the eSolar way with heliostats...): http://tinyurl.com/rdfe5k #
- RT @greenbiztweets PSE&G Launches $190M Customer Energy Efficiency Program http://bit.ly/2cevx9 #
Las Vegas city officials just announced a new plan to install solar panels on dozens of carports throughout the city as part of a solar initiative funded by stimulus money. Of the $11 million in question, a little over $1 million is from the Community Development Block Grant, a HUD program intended to create economic opportunity ("jobs", in English) and improve living conditions for moderate or low-income populations. The first 34 carports will be installed at a Vegas community center next year.
As I outlined about a month ago, Progress Energy has recently expanded its solar rebate and incentive programs. Beyond a new residential solar rebate worth up to $2.00/watt, the North Carolina-based utility has launched a commercial solar program called SunSense Commercial Solar PV. Details on the incentive structure have recently been made available. Here.
In New Jersey's gubernatorial race, solar power development has become a hot topic. Incumbent Democratic Governor Jon Corzine has been at the wheel over the last few years as the state moved from one of the country's strongest cash-based solar incentives to an innovative, and slightly risky, solar renewable energy certificate (SREC) trading program. SREC sales have been part of the state's approach to incentivizing solar for years, but until recently, they were the support--not the foundation.
Kate Mackenzie over at FT's Energy Source relays an interesting overview of U.S. R&D spending on energy, courtesy of Alexis Madrigral who, in turn, draws from a Pacific Northwest National Lab report by James Dooley.
Ever since the inception of its highly successful $3.3 billion solar subsidy program, California has been continually touted by solar power enthusiasts—ourselves included—as the model state for renewable energy adoption in the United States. As the LA Times reports this week, however, not everything is coming up roses in solar country. Due to the overwhelming success of the program, the state utilities are toeing the legal limit for the amount of electricity they can buy back from customers. Parts of northern and central California served by Pacific Gas & Electric Co. may hit the limit by the end of this year, whereas the areas served by Southern California Edison Co. and San Diego Gas & Electric Co. are in less danger of doing so. What’s a supporter of clean energy to do?
This past December, we reported that funding for Connecticut's solar rebate program had run dry. Six months later, the program is back by popular demand. The Connecticut Clean Energy Fund recently announced the re-opening of the Small Solar Rebate Program, effective July 1, 2009:
- CA Public Utilities Commission sees CA solar sector staying strong http://www.cpuc.ca.gov/PUC/energy/Solar/apa09.htm #
- MA on the hunt for #solar bids for public buildings http://bit.ly/4ZAbY #
- 1st ship to direct #solar power into its main grid http://bit.ly/124ZJv #
- Napa Wineries' #solar panels fall prey to thieves. 40 at a time? Yikes. http://bit.ly/f39xM #
- SunPower & Wells Fargo doubleteam to fund up to $100 mil in solar projects http://www.forbes.com/feeds/ap/2009/06/29/ap6600289.html #
- Nokia leads pack in Greener Electronics Guide: http://bit.ly/1rQDbi #
- RT @agrfc10 Ice bear energy system - thermal energy storage for commercial A/C units. pretty cool stuff http://bit.ly/13BAPM #
- RT @AlternativeNRG Feds Hope To Have 13 New Solar Power Plants On Public Lands By 2010: Reid announce plans .. http://bit.ly/2D593b #
- RT@EcoTechDaily via @LighterFootstep: Gorgeous Solar Power panels that mimic terra cotta tiles @ecogeek http://bit.ly/qk6tN #
- Checking out Solar Fred's new shop @REWorld: http://tinyurl.com/nkbnyc #
The Fourth of July: fireworks, steak tips, beer and American flags. I'm writing from Boston, where the historical connection is particularly strong, and the fireworks celebration especially excellent. We love our Independence Day. But how many of us try to relate the meaning of the Fourth to the state of the world today? We've been an autonomous country, for good or for ill, since 1776. Two hundred and thirty-three years. We're good buddies with our former sovereigns, and while taxes remain contentious, they're not sparking any secessionist wars (at least not yet, eh, New Hampshire?).
Good news for homeowners and businesses in Maine looking to get solar: the state has re-opened its solar energy rebate program. Here's a quick rundown of the solar rebate levels:
In a state that has long provided thought leadership on the government's role in deploying solar power, bids are now being solicited for solar projects on public buildings. Massachusetts governor Deval Patrick has set aside $20 million in stimulus funds--about 40 percent of the total stimulus funds for energy initiatives--to bankroll 16 new megawatts of solar capacity in the state. Earlier this year, the state created a buzz when it announced it was going to try for 30 new MW of solar power on public facilities.