Thursday, April 30, 2009
Wednesday, April 29, 2009
generating enough power from the sun to run everyday electrical equipment. A silicon
solar cell with 6% efficiency and later, 11% efficiency is developed.
1960 Photovoltaic cells reach 14% efficiency.
1970 A significantly less costly solar cell is designed, bringing the price down from $100 per
watt to $20 per watt. Solar cells begin powering navigation warning lights and horns on
offshore gas and oil rigs, lighthouses, and railroad crossings.
1977 Total photovoltaic manufacturing production exceeds 500 kilowatts; 1 kilowatt is enough power to light about ten 100-watt light bulbs.
1980 At the University of Delaware, the first thin-film solar cell exceeds 10% efficiency; it's
made of copper sulfide and cadmium sulfide.
1985 Researchers at the University of South Wales break the 20% efficiency barrier for silicon
1986 The world's first commercial thin-film module is released.
1992 Researchers at the University of South Florida develop a 15.9% efficient thin-film
photovoltaic cell made of cadmium telluride, breaking the 15% barrier for this technology
1999 A 32.3% efficient solar cell is developed. Researchers at the National Renewable Energy
Laboratory develop a record-breaking prototype solar cell that measures 18.8% efficient,
topping the previous record for thin-film cells by more than 1%. Cumulative installed
photovoltaic capacity reaches 1000 megawatts, worldwide.
2000 Triple Junction solar cells began with efficiencies of approximately 24%.
2002 Triple Junction cells efficiency increased to 26%.
2005 Triple Junction modules up to 28% efficiency.
2007 Latest report is that Triple Junction solar cells have evolved to a 30% efficiency.
Tuesday, April 28, 2009
Global population is projected to increase to over 9.3 Billion people by 2030, up from over 6.3 Billion today. Energy demand in Florida alone is expected to increase 76% by 2030, twice the national rate. Current energy demand is satisfied primarily by fossil fuels, which take millions of years to form a finite polluting resource. With increasing population growth trends and rising global energy demand, supplies will soon be depleted.
We need solutions today to avert salvaging a crisis tomorrow.
Monday, April 27, 2009
Prices for natural gas have spiked unpredictably over the last few years and the estimate to construct nuclear reactors has increased threefold since 2006. Indeed, Progress Energy's high nuclear cost ($17 billion) has already lead to sharp rate increases for Progress customers — $6 per month — even before construction begins. The company will be billing customers for close to 10 years before the first electron is ever produced from its nuclear reactors. Rates are projected to increase more than $40 per month in 2017 to cover construction costs.
But while this is happening, renewable power prices are coming down. For example, biopower produced from forest and agriculture waste materials has far less capital cost and can be brought on line faster and in smaller blocks than the massive nuclear plants that tend to overshoot demand and lock in high costs for utility bill payers.
Florida has the opportunity to jump into the growing solar market that allows customers to take advantage of a power source that is experiencing declining cost, tremendous employment opportunities and will provide true clean energy for our children and grandchildren.
The simple fact is that big power companies such as Progress want to maintain big profits for their shareholders at ratepayer expense, and the best way to do that is by building big, expensive plants that get into the base rate and garner a good rate of return for the company's shareholders.
Policies that promote smaller distributed renewable generation, like solar and bioenergy, will allow more players into the market, create jobs and provide more competition to the big power companies that force them to be more innovative. And that's exactly what the Florida economy, workers and utility customers need now.
Saturday, April 25, 2009
Saul Sierra, owner of the restaurant has dedicated the popular spot to the renewable energy cause. After ten years at the same location he decided to make an investment in future generations. The 3.99kW solar awning structure is expected to cover up to 20% of the electric utility consumption. This will be an annual carbon offset of 7,958 pounds of CO2. The cost of the installation was offset by a rebate from Xcel Energy and a federal tax credit for businesses who utilize renewable energy options.
The installation was performed by Boulder, CO based Lighthouse Solar. It was their first use of the unique bifacial panels for a commercial application. They have also designed and built smaller versions to act as carports or residential awnings. This structure was custom designed for the location and to support the weight of the 28 solar panels. The electric meter and emergency shutoff were moved to the east side of the building so people can see how the solar PV system ties into the power grid.
Other steps they have taken include replacing the interior lighting with compact fluorescent bulbs (CFL's), switching to recyclable or biodegradable to-go containers and using an energy saving feature on the appliances while they are closed. Mi Cocina uses Eagle Waste and Recycling for their 'single stream' recycling of cardboard, plastic and glass. They now recycle almost three times as much as they throw away by volume. The dishwasher is an energy star Auto-Chlor system that only uses 1.09 gallons of water per cycle (vs. 2+ gallons of water for conventional dishwashers.) There are also no phosphates in the soap used in the dishwasher which is environmentally friendly. Ultimately Saul sees a place to educate the community and encourage the use of renewable resources. They have planned events and school field trips to show interested residents that clean renewable energy works. Saul put it very simply "This is the right thing to do."
Friday, April 24, 2009
While Americans are increasingly interested in utilizing renewable energy applications in their homes, many are hesitant to make an investment in rooftop solar panels due to the high upfront costs, which can run tens of thousands of dollars. In addition, while state rebates and federal tax incentives have the potential to significantly defray the cost of solar power, many homeowners are unable to take full advantage of these incentives. Applied Solar intends to change this.
"While it is true that now, more than ever, Americans are concerned about the environmental impact of their actions, they are also keenly focused on controlling their monthly household expenses," said David Field, president and CEO of Applied Solar. "Any proposition to switch to solar power must also entail a way to save on household costs in the near term. If we are able to bring the payback period for solar down to three or four years versus the traditional 10 years, it makes a lot more financial sense for consumers."
Thursday, April 23, 2009
Currently with cost of grid-tie system is as low as $5.44/w installed, it is obvious to see that Hawaii and California already reaches grid-parity.
By 2009 grid-tie system cost will be at $4.77/w, $3.79/w in 2010 and $3.28/w by 2011.
In three years 16 states shall reach grid-parity.
States - Cost ¢/kWh - $/Watt
HAWAII - 18.10 - $7.31
CALIFORNIA - 12.50 - $5.27
NEW YORK - 14.50 - $4.33
NEVADA - 9.70 - $4.09
ARIZONA - 8.70 - $3.97
TEXAS - 9.70 - $3.92
MAINE - 12.20 - $3.86
RHODE ISLAND - 12.20 - $3.86
VERMONT - 12.90 - $3.85
NEW JERSEY - 11.20 - $3.74
NEW HAMPSHIRE - 12.50 - $3.73
CONNECTICUT - 11.60 - $3.67
MASSACHUSETTS - 11.80 - $3.52
FLORIDA - 9.00 - $3.48
COLORADO - 8.40 - $3.25
IOWA - 9.00 - $3.16
ALASKA - 12.40 - $3.05
UTAH - 7.20 - $3.04
NORTH CAROLINA - 8.50 - $2.99
KANSAS - 7.70 $ - 2.98
OKLAHOMA - 7.70 - $2.98
WYOMING 7.20 $2.91
MISSISSIPPI - 8.20 - $2.88
WISCONSIN - 9.10 - $2.88
PENNSYLVANIA - 9.60 - $2.87
LOUISIANA - 8.10 - $2.85
SOUTH CAROLINA - 8.10 - $2.85
NEBRASKA - 7.00 -$2.83
ILLINOIS - 8.40 0 $2.80
GEORGIA - 7.90 - $2.78
SOUTH DAKOTA - 7.70 - $2.71
ALABAMA - 7.60 - $2.67
VIRGINIA - 8.00 - $2.67
MONTANA - 7.90 - $2.64
DELAWARE - 7.80 - $2.60
MARYLAND - 7.80 - $2.60
ARKANSAS - 7.40 $ - 2.60
OHIO - 8.50 - $2.54
OREGON - 7.20 - $2.53
MINNESOTA - 7.90 - $2.50
MICHIGAN - 8.30 - $2.48
MISSOURI - 7.00 - $2.46
INDIANA - 7.30 - $2.31
TENNESSEE - 6.90 - $2.30
NORTH DAKOTA - 6.80 - $2.27
IDAHO - 6.10 - $2.14
WASHINGTON - 6.40 - $2.14
KENTUCKY - 6.10 - $2.04
WEST VIRGINIA - 6.20 - $1.85
Wednesday, April 22, 2009
In 2008, the installed capacity totaled almost 15 GW, compared to 9 GW in 2007, according to the EPIA.
1. Spain - 2,511MW
2. Germany - 1,500MW
3. USA - 342MW
4. South Korea - 274MW
5. Italy - 258MW
6. Japan - 230MW
7. Czech Republic - 51MW
8. Portugal - 50MW
9. Belgium - 48MW
10. France - 46MW
Tuesday, April 21, 2009
How much electricity do you need?
How can you reduce the overall amount of electricity that you need?
How much is it going to cost?
How can you offset that cost?
How can you best prepare your house for solar panels?
What other costs are likely to be incurred?
The first step is to asses what capacity you need and can afford. At this stage you want to consider the pay back period and also the environmental impact. An average household’s electricity use is about eighteen kilowatt hours of electricity per day. The most popular domestic size solar panel (a one kilowatt system) produces nearly four kilowatt hours (kWh) per day of electricity, depending on where you live. That’s about 20% of the average household’s electricity consumption. However, the bigger the system you buy, the more electricity you’ll produce.
Before you run off spending thousands of dollars on solar panels for your home you may want to consider what other, less expensive things you can do right now to reduce the total amount of electricity that you really need, for instance, some actions that you can take that will have a dramatic impact on your energy consumption are - double glazing windows, shutting off rooms to reduce heating requirements and installing energy efficient appliances and monitoring systems.
When considering costs you want to look at the cost of the technology as well as the cost of installation, with the technology you want to consider not only price but quality and other likely emerging technologies as well.
When looking for ways to offset the cost of your solar panels for homes projects you will want to investigate the likely impact of rebates, net metering and also financing arrangements if applicable.
Net metering vs gross metering - Some governments are planning to adopt “feed-in-tarrifs” which increase the rate home owners are paid for producing electricity from solar panels. Gross metering is best for households because it means you’re paid the higher rate for all the electricity you produce. That system has been used in most countries where solar power has been successful. With net metering, you don’t know what you’ll get so it’s hard to estimate your systems’ payback time - a disincentive to investing in solar panels.
You may not be ready for installing solar panels in your home yet or perhaps you are building a new home with an inclination that you may decide to go solar in the future. If this is you then you may wish to ensure that your home is designed with passive solar design concepts in mind and build with a roof at the correct angle and facing in the correct direction. A flat roof with tar and chip roofing makes for easy installation of solar panels. If you already own a home, you may want to get it assessed to see whether your house is suitable for solar panels and perhaps get a list of recommendations on what you can do to prepare.
Other cost considerations relate to pre-installation, post-installation and safety factors.
Even if you have the money and are very keen to install a bazzillion solar panels on your roof it may help to start with smaller projects first so that you can get used to the technology and see if it is right for you. So smaller projects that you can start with include installing a solar pool heater, a solar hot water system or purchasing a portable solar panel system that can be used to power a few appliances at a time such as a TV, computer or BBQ.
Unfortunately if you don’t include the environmental costs of coal-fired electricity when comparing them with solar, it becomes very difficult to justify the investment in solar panels for homes. Saving money is not what motivates the early adopters and if that’s all that motivates you, then perhaps going solar is not for you. Whilst it’s possible to reduce the cost of solar panels for your home by being diligent and doing your research to ensure that you are getting the best possible return on your investment - the cost of solar panels for homes is still the number one biggest issue preventing most people from going solar. Many of these factors are within your control but some are not. The technology is continuing to improve, rebates becoming more widely available and net metering policies becoming more consumer friendly, the question that you have to ask yourself is - is solar power right for me now? And if the answer is no, then what else could you be doing to achieve the same outcome - reducing your energy costs whilst helping out the envrionment.
Monday, April 20, 2009
Shares of Chinese solar companies soared on Thursday’s news, though some were giving up part of their gains in Friday morning trading. American depository shares of Suntech Power Holdings (NYSE: STP) gained $3.44, or 43.8 percent, to close at $11.29 on Thursday but were down 43 cents, or 3.8 percent, to $10.86 in Friday morning trading. Trina Solar (NSDQ: TSL) likewise saw a Thursday gain of $3.54, or 40.8 percent, to close at $12.19, but were down 11 cents, or 0.9 percent, to $12.08 in Friday morning trading. JA Solar Holdings Co. (NDSQ: JASO) closed ahead by $1.11, or 41.7 percent, at $3.77 on Thursday, and had added 18 cents, or 4.8 percent, to rise to $3.95 in Friday morning trading.
Analysts were mixed on whether the Chinese subsidy plan justified big gains for those solar companies, given that they and their North American, European and Asian competitors are all facing big slides in prices for the solar cells and modules they produce.
Still, the Chinese subsidy announcement – combined with European nations’ existing feed-in tariffs and other supports for solar power, as well as new and more generous U.S. solar incentives – gave the analysts hope that prices would stabilize from their downward march, helping to stem the build-up of inventory throughout the silicon solar panel supply chain.
Whether China’s subsidies would directly boost already growing domestic manufacturers remained unclear, the RBC Capital Markets analysts noted. “We also do not know if China will dictate a domestic-produced requirement as they have done for the wind industry,” the analysts wrote. China has built up a sizeable solar industry based almost entirely on exports, but several large-scale domestic solar power projects have been announced in the past year.
Saturday, April 18, 2009
Inventor Jon Bohmer with the oven he has made out of a cardboard box.
The ingeniously simple design uses two cardboard boxes, one inside the other, and an acrylic cover that lets in the sun's rays and traps them. Black paint on the inner box, and silver foil on the outer one, help concentrate the heat. The trapped rays make the inside hot enough to cook casseroles, bake bread and boil water. What the box also does is eliminate the need in developing countries for rural residents to cut down trees for firewood. About 3 billion people around the world do so, adding to deforestation and, in turn, global warming.
Bohmer named his invention the Kyoto Box, after the international environmental treaty to reduce global warming. The box can be produced in existing cardboard factories. It has gone into production in a factory in Nairobi, Kenya, that can churn out about 2.5 million boxes a month. Bohmer has also designed a more durable version, made from recycled plastic, which can be produced just as cheaply. He envisions such cardboard ovens being distributed throughout rural Africa. "In the West, we cook with electricity, so it's easy to ignore this problem," he said. "But half the world's population is still living in a stone age. The only way for them to cook is to make a fire. "I don't want to see another 80-year-old woman carrying 20 kilos of firewood on her back. Maybe we don't have to."
Friday, April 17, 2009
The plant, as currently proposed, would not comply with certain applicable laws, ordinances, regulations, and standards nor comply with state water policies that pertain to the use of fresh water in industrial applications and power plant cooling systems, the assessment says. The solar plant’s proposed use of potable groundwater for power plant cooling and the project's process and potable water needs would cause a significant adverse impact to potable water resources and could affect current and future users of groundwater, the report says. The preliminary analysis shows that, with the exception of soils and water resources, and its visual impact on the landscape, the solar power plant’s potential impacts could be mitigated to a less than significant level.
The commission’s staff says it is waiting to receive from the applicant new design data related to the engineering of the proposed diversion channel to determine if it impacts to the floodplain and neighboring properties will be avoided or mitigated. The project proposed by Beacon Solar LLC, a subsidiary of Florida Power and Light Energy is a concentrated solar electric generating facility proposed on 2,000 plus acres in eastern Kern County. It would use parabolic trough solar thermal technology to produce electrical power from a steam turbine generator, fed from a heat exchanger.
If licensed by the California Energy Commission, the solar thermal facility will begin construction in late 2009 or first quarter of 2010, with commercial operations beginning in approximately the fourth quarter of 2011.
Thursday, April 16, 2009
Under feed-in tariffs, big electric companies are required to buy — at a higher than usual price, guaranteed through long-term contracts — the excess power produced by small-scale solar systems. Those could include your neighborhood grocery store's rooftop solar panels, for example, or an array on municipal land. Such installations can be expensive. The guaranteed tariff payments, combined with government rebates, would help defray buyers' costs and encourage wider use of solar power. That serves the vital goal of reducing dependence on fossil fuels, which contribute to global warming.
Large utilities aren't enthusiastic about the tariff approach. They tend to prefer a more centralized strategy involving "renewable energy credits," purchased through competitive bidding from big solar "farms," not rooftop providers. But credible research suggests that feed-in tariffs do more to broaden the use of clean energy, stabilize prices and create local job opportunities.
In Germany, where the feed-in tariff system has taken hold, "Germans pay 25 percent less per kilowatt hour for renewable energy and deploy seven times more renewable energy," a recent Environmental Defense Fund letter stated. Lawmakers have a crowded agenda and limited time. But we hope they reserve some of it for an open, informative debate on solar feed-in tariffs. Proponents should get a chance to present their case before the sun sets on the annual legislative session.
Here's a good picture of "The Grid":
Nowadays we have several issues to face that are causing concern to humanity in general and the western world specifically. I don't think I need to repeat them here but basically they are environmental as well as geopolitical in nature. Hence, the old coal or oil burning power plant needs to be phased out and we must become much more efficient at generating and delivering electricity to end users or the costs become extraordinary over time. The powers that be have decided to attack this problem on several fronts at once ... which is a good thing ... finally.
Obviously the first thing to consider ... as we would with any engineering system ... is efficiency. OK then, only so much can be achieved by making the big old power plants more efficient because they are just that ... big old power plants.
Some efficiency can be gained along the way by improving transmission efficiency and presumably some of that is going on as we speak. Hopefully some of the infrastructure funding will be spent wisely in this area. Energy efficiency initiatives that reward consumers and businesses for reducing electricity and gas usage could result in utility bill savings of $168.6 billion, according to a report released by the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy (ACEEE).
Rising prices for power tends to get the end users to improve efficiencies ... but without having more information to base decisions on, it's tough to really make a difference. So, what we need then is some way to monitor each individuals power use so they can see what is costing them more money ... which then allows them to alter their behaviors if necessary.
Enter the first element of a Smart Grid ... namely the Smart Meter. This device will replace that old meter with all the spinning wheels that is currently only used to measure monthly use so the power company can send you a bill. Here's what one looks like:
What makes these meters smart is that they can communicate electronically with a central system via the powerline or internet or perhaps another electronic network. That means that the power company can instantaneously know how much electricity you are using. That allows them to balance loads thus increasing the efficiency of the grid. It also allows them to charge you without sending out a meter reader by the way ... which theoretically should save you some money. Not only that, power fees can be assesed based on time of day, low load periods etc.
In conjunction with distributed energy storage technologies and renewables, enables utilities to dispatch clean, efficient power into the electric grid during peak periods. Basically they will be able to increase the efficiency of their existing operations and have the ability of adding intermittant (renewable) power generation.
Knowing how much energy you are using at any given time ... and what it is costing you based on the time of day etc. gives you a means to cut costs if you wish by scheduling or cutting usage. With a smart meter and smart grid you will be able to see exactly what is happening at any given time. That should save energy and money too.
The primary driver in the adoption of Smart Grids is of course the power companies. They will benefit the most by extending the life of their power plants and infrastructure and increasing the efficiency of their systems.
The government is on board and ready to provide funding for these projects. As we've all read lately ... there is a worldwide movement in this direction ... finally. Many companies are jumping into the fray now that it appears that we have our backs to the wall and need to implement this stuff right away. They will be the ones that design the systems, build the equipment, finance the projects, install and monitor the equipment and systems. Along the way we need training and education too. Almost every segment of the economy can benefit from this movement.
When will it become "Smart"?
It's already happening around the country and I'm sure the push will be on for others to get this going as soon as possible. On the forefront is a company called Xcel Energy with their SmartGridCity project in Boulder Colorado. This advanced, integrated smart grid system – when fully implemented over the next few years – will provide customers with a portfolio of emerging technologies designed to provide environmental, financial and operational benefits.
Also, MEREGIO (Minimum Emissions Region), is a smart power grid project currently under development for pilot deployment in the Karlsruhe-Stuttgart region of southern Germany, one of the most densely populated areas of the country and widely considered Europe’s biggest manufacturing and high-tech hub. The objective of the project is to create an optimized and sustainable power network that reduces CO2 emissions to as close to zero as is technically feasible and humanly possible.
With the US government throwing $8.3B at the development of smart grids, I think there will be a great deal of activity in the next few years. It will obviously take some time to build smart grid projects around the world ... but the desire and hopefully the investment funds are in place now so let's hope that the snowball keeps rolling.
Coming as I do from a background of Home Technologies (visit HomeToys.com to see what I mean) I can tell you that being able to monitor energy is only one aspect of the smart grid vision ... and in the end, that may not even be the driving force that gets smart meters installed in the majority of homes.
What if the power company could deliver entertainment and communications to your home via the smart grid so that you could get rid of the cable and telephone connections and just have one set of wires in the house. Plug appliances in and have them communicate with each other. Phone or surf to your home system and turn on the hot tub so it's warm when you get home or turn off the lights you forgot. Plug in a set top box and have it connect to the internet so you can watch video on demand ... or tune into you favorite TV network. Plug in a telephone and communicate with your friends just as though you were on a regular phone. Plug in your car and have it provide backup power to your house ... or even sell the excess back to the power company.
This is not a daydream and I think you will agree that the Power Companies would find this scenario much more profitable in the long run than simply being able to increase the efficiency of their energy systems.
The HomePlug Alliance is one organization that has been working for years to make this dream a reality and they already have several member companies with products on the market that will do exactly what I'm talking about above.
In any case, the future looks bright for those companies that align themselves with the building and maintaining of the Smart Grid ... not only in the US, but around the world. If it's done right ... the main beneficiaries will be you and I.
The global credit crunch is hitting the solar energy market at a time when solar cell and panel makers have to place bets on new markets.
Germany has been the top solar energy market thanks to a reliable feed-in tariff program that requires utilities to pay high prices for solar energy. But it's a maturing market with about 1.5 gigawatts of solar power capacity by the end of 2008, and is likely to hit the limit at 3 gigawatts to 4 gigawatts, said Travis Bradford, president of the Prometheus Institute, at Greentech Media's Surviving the Shakeout conference in Phoenix on Tuesday.
Germany's program costs the ratepayers in Germany €300 to €500 per household per year, he added. "That can't be left unchecked," Bradford said, noting that some German politicians had unsuccessfully pushed to significantly shrink the feed-in tariff program last year. The proposal was to slash the solar electricity rates by as much as 30 percent, which caused no small amount of fear among solar panel makers from Europe, the United States and Asia. Lawmakers ultimately lowered the rates to about 10 percent. Spain also proved to be a gold mine – but that was in 2008. The country has dramatically cut its feed-in tariff program, leaving solar panels makers eyeing Greece, Italy and the United States as the next hot markets.
Bradford, along with GTM Research's senior analyst Shyam Mehta laid out the global solar market landscape and players at the conference. Here are the highlights:
PG&E hopes to have the system running by 2016 and is seeking permission from regulators to contract with a company called Solaren to put the system in place.
Experts say that harnessing solar power in space has advantages over terrestrial systems since solar energy can be harvested around the clock and is never obscured by clouds or bad weather.
Solaren’s solar-power satellite would consist of mirror arrays up to several kilometers wide, which would focus sunlight onto photoelectric cells. The electrical power would be converted into a microwave beam directed towards Earth, where it would be converted back into electricity.
According to the company, the system could generate roughly 1.2 to 4.8 gigawatts of power, at a price comparable to that of other renewable energy sources. “While a system of this scale and exact configuration has not been built, the underlying technology is very mature and is based on communications satellite technology,” Solaren CEO Gary Spirnak said in announcing the move.
“For over 45 years, satellites have collected solar energy in earth orbit via solar cells, and converted it to radio frequency energy for transmissions to earth receive stations,” he said.
Wednesday, April 15, 2009
“Thanks to the leadership of the Arizona Corporation Commission, Arizona has the fundamental policies in place to support a healthy and robust solar market. These bills are turbo-chargers: they reduce the cost of doing business, attract new customers, and help bring new jobs to the state,” said Adam Browning, executive director of the Vote Solar Initiative.The four Arizona bills designed to foster in-state economic opportunity in the growing solar energy market include:
In California, the CPUC took another step toward a state level feed-in tariff. Key elements of a new set of rules created by the CPUC raises project size that will qualify for any tariff from 1.5 MW to 10 MW, and adds another 1000 MW (in addition to the 500 MW for the under 1.5 MW program).
The plan is called a "feed-in tariff," and supporters say it would dramatically increase demand for renewable energy systems in the state. The plan would require utilities to buy electricity generated by homeowners or small businesses, and pay them a premium price, far more than the cost of electricity from big power plants. The cost would be passed on to consumers, but supporters of the bill think Maine people would be willing to pay the extra cost.
Peter Drum from Midcoast Green Collaborative said, "I think they will when they realize what it means for Maine. For one there's huge job growth potential. Right now we're in a terrible economic strait. Germany has created over 300,000 jobs because of their feed-in tariff, and we think there will be similar rates of job growth in Maine. A conservative estimate we have is 3,000 jobs."
Going green is not only being talked about on television and magazines, but its actually happening in neighborhoods across the United States and abroad. The largest reason for this adoption of alternative energy are the ever increasing costs of electricity and gas as well as the development of easy-to-build alternative energy sources involving solar and wind.
Wind powered generators are popular because they are easy to make and use. The materials used to create wind turbines, for personal home use, are quite prevalent and can be obtained at a very reasonable cost. The end result is the development of a renewable energy source that can create energy rain or shine. Having step-by-step instructions for building wind generators is recommended and readily available on the Internet.
For anyone interested in going off the grid, building your own solar panels and wind energy sources are closer than you think. You wont have to spend a lot of money and the return is truly exceptional. The key is to start small and build from there. Most systems available today cost less than a couple of hundred dollars and can begin offsetting your costs in as little as 48 hours. Don’t be afraid to purchase a how to guide and start your first project today. The sooner you start, the sooner you’ll have a renewable energy supply and smaller monthly energy bills.
But Murkowski approaches energy with the same pragmatism that marks her general approach in the Senate. While championing the traditional fossil fuels so vital to her home state, Murkowski also embraces renewable energy and generally supports a cap on greenhouse gas emissions blamed for climate change.
Murkowski’s stance puts her to the left of many of her Republican colleagues, and even her father, Frank, whom she replaced in the Senate six years ago.
“It’s clear she’s not just picking the same old messages from the same old Republican playbook,” said Jim DiPeso, vice president for policy of Republicans for Environmental Protection. As the top Republican on the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, Murkowski is poised to play a major role as Congress debates the nation’s energy policy this spring. Already, she and the panel’s chairman, Jeff Bingaman, D-N.M., have spent months huddling over a massive energy bill that aims to advance renewable power and speed the deployment of high-voltage lines to carry that electricity across the nation.
Murkowski’s views are inextricably tied to her home state of Alaska, where drilling yielded enough oil and natural gas in 2006 to make it the nation’s second-biggest producer, behind Texas. The wells also produce royalty revenue that flows into state coffers and goes directly to Alaskans in the form of annual dividend checks.
But Murkowski insists it is a national imperative — not just a parochial concern — for Congress to chart the country’s energy path. Like other lawmakers from Alaska, including Democratic Sen. Mark Begich, Murkowski wants to allow drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge — an idea that is dead on arrival in the Democratic-controlled House and Senate.
Recognizing the dynamic, Murkowski this year is sponsoring legislation that would capitalize on advances in directional drilling by allowing oil and natural gas to be siphoned from under ANWR’s coastal plain, as long as developers don’t build wells or roads inside the refuge’s borders. Instead, operations would take place miles away, outside the refuge.
Murkowski has been a vocal proponent of federal loan guarantees to advance wind and solar production and the development of biofuels made from plant materials. But she stops short of wanting a federal mandate for renewable energy. She does not back Bingaman’s plan to require that utilities generate 20 percent of their electricity from renewable sources by 2021. And Murkowski argues that nuclear power should be count toward that mandate, which Bingaman opposes.
Murkowski’s biggest break with her party comes on climate change. While some Republicans dispute the science behind global warming, Murkowski says she has witnessed firsthand the damaging effects of a rising global temperature in Alaska’s melting ice pack and thawing permafrost.
Convinced that heat-trapping pollutants contribute to climate change, Murkowski generally backs federal limits on carbon dioxide emissions. Last year, she joined Bingaman in sponsoring legislation that would allow oil refineries, manufacturers and other industrial operations to comply with new emissions limits by buying and selling emission permits.
The issue will test Murkowski again this year. Home-state interests pull her in different directions, keeping her between fishermen and coastal residents alarmed at the melting ice pack and energy developers tapping the state’s oil and gas.
Further complicating the issue for Murkowski is the possibility of a GOP primary challenge next year from Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin — the 2008 Republican vice presidential candidate whose name became synonymous with a “Drill, baby, drill!” chant during the campaign. Palin’s first term as governor ends next year.
Murkowski chafes that the oil and gas industry is an easy political target and has criticized Obama administration proposals to raise taxes on the sector. “People get up in the morning to hate the oil industry,” Murkowski said recently.
Murkowski’s willingness to approach complicated problems from multiple points of view gives her credibility on Capitol Hill, said Lou Hayden, a senior policy analyst with the American Petroleum Institute. “When she speaks,” he said, “she’s listened to.”
Tuesday, April 14, 2009
FPL to Equip Six Florida Schools with ‘Next Generation Solar Education Stations’ to Teach Students about Renewable Energy
The recipients of the Next Generation Solar Education Stations are:
Mandarin Lakes Academy K-8 Center, Homestead (Miami-Dade County)
Deerfield Beach Middle School (Broward County)
SunCoast Community High School, Riviera Beach (Palm Beach County)
J.D. Parker Elementary School, Stuart (Martin County)
Hinson Middle School, Daytona Beach (Volusia County)
L.A. Ainger Middle School, Rotunda West (Charlotte County)
Monday, April 13, 2009
The second largest solar thermal power plant in the World
The largest solar thermal plant outside of California
The first hybrid solar facility in the world to connect to an existing combined-cycle power plant
Utilizing the latest in Solar Thermal technology, this revolutionary solar project will help to advance the field of solar power by producing clean energy at a competitive price. According to FPL's website, the Martin Facility is expected to reduce green house gas emissions by approximately 2.75 million tons over a thirty year period, which is the equivalent of removing more than 18,700 cars from the road annually for the next 30 years.
"Lauren is proud to build this project and is dedicated to a project approach which minimizes disruption to the local community and ecosystem," said Cleve Whitener, CEO of Lauren Engineers & Constructors. In addition to this milestone solar project, Lauren also built the Nevada Solar One Power Plant, a 64 MW solar power plant located in Boulder City, Nevada. Construction for this plant, the largest built in over 17 years, was completed in June 2007.
The state's planned investment in solar energy crossed the $1 billion mark last week with the announcement of Florida Power & Light's 75-megawatt Babcock Ranch project, billed as the largest photovoltaic array in the world. FPL has three other large solar plants already under construction. Small solar installations have tripled in less than three years, and Progress Energy customers recently surpassed 1 megawatt of solar installed. Nearly 250 megawatts of solar projects have been announced statewide.
By this time next year, Florida will have more solar power installed than every state except California, said Eric Silagy, vice president and chief development officer for FPL.
"Solar is starting to come of age," he said. It's an enormous leap, considering Florida ranked dead last just a few years ago, said Philip Fairey, deputy director of the Florida Solar Energy Center. Just three years ago, there was probably less than a megawatt installed statewide.
"We were a nobody," Fairey said. "There was more solar power in New Jersey." If this is an industry just starting to come of age, then what's next?
• • •
Florida's solar industry hopes that solar can do for Florida what computers did for Silicon Valley.
If that seems farfetched, consider this: The 110 megawatts of solar that FPL has under construction will cost $738 million and employ 660 construction workers. For all that, the projects will generate only one-fifth of 1 percent of the power used by the utility's 4.5 million customers.
If FPL supplied just 3 percent of its power from solar, the investment will run into the billions of dollars and put thousands of people to work. What if other utilities around the country, spurred by new renewable energy requirements, did the same? And what if those solar panels were made right here in Florida? That could mean tens of thousands of permanent, high-paying jobs, Silagy predicted.
"Florida is, I think, at a crossroads," Silagy said. "There is a window of opportunity where we can really be a leader in the nation and around the globe on solar power."
The renewable energy lobby offers tantalizing estimates of just how green jobs could transform the economy. The national solar industry group estimates that solar could provide 440,000 permanent jobs nationwide by 2016. The Vote Solar Initiative, an advocacy group based in San Francisco, estimates that Florida could see 85,500 jobs in solar if the Legislature adopts Gov. Charlie Crist's goal of getting 20 percent of the state's power from renewable sources by 2020.
The developer behind Babcock Ranch, which will include 19,500 homes and 6 million square feet of commercial and retail space, is already negotiating with solar companies that may want to locate in Florida.
The state solar industry hopes to get a piece of the rapid expansion of solar nationwide. Solar power grew 17 percent, its third straight year of record growth, according to the Solar Energy Industries Association. The installation of grid-connected solar panels surged 81 percent. Solar panel manufacturing was up 65 percent.
Some of that growth has already found its way to Florida. Rachel Doll, marketing director at Solar Source, a Largo installer and distributor, said the solar photovoltaic business remains strong. Solar Source added eight people last year, she said.
Silagy wants more. Manufacturing, research and development could bring tens of thousands of high-paying jobs, he said. Florida has to set itself apart from other states aggressively courting the same solar companies.
"We have an opportunity to do something here in Florida," Silagy said. "But if we don't act, then it will be in states like Michigan and Minnesota and Texas and Arizona."
Others share his sense of urgency.
"We're in the fourth quarter of the game," said Jerry Karnas, Florida Climate Project director for Environmental Defense. "We're not in Hail Mary pass time, but we certainly need the hurry-up offense."
Not everyone agrees, though, on what the next play should be.
• • •
Florida's solar industry owes its recent success to policies enacted in the past three years.
First, in 2006, the state started offering a rebate of $4 a watt for solar panels. The rebate cut the cost of installation by half or more, paying homeowners $20,000 for a 5-kilowatt system. Since then, the amount of solar on the state's electric grid grew to more than 3 megawatts, and there are thousands of backlogged applications for rebates. Then, starting in 2007, Crist began pushing a series of measures that would force the state's utilities to slash greenhouse gas emissions and get more of their power from renewable sources.
Now, lobbyists are peddling a slew of new policies in Tallahassee, hoping to kick-start an even bigger boom. Proposals include strong renewable energy targets, premium prices for solar electricity, tax incentives for solar companies, rebates for consumers and firm backing from state regulators. Similar debates are playing out in states across the country, and in the nation's capital.
In the next month, the state Legislature will decide which policies will win out.
The issue has attracted farmers, developers, small-business owners, big businesses like Florida Crystals and the usual complement of utility lobbyists and environmentalists.
Riddled with acronyms and technical jargon, the debate can often be impenetrable, with millions of dollars worth of jobs and investment in the balance. The Legislature is debating Crist's "20 by 2020" renewable goal, and utilities are pushing for a "clean" goal that would include new nuclear power.
A policy known as feed-in tariffs also is gaining traction, pushed by a renewable energy lobby that includes solar installers and manufacturers. The tariffs force utilities to pay more for electricity that customers generated from solar panels than those customers pay for electricity generated by the utility's power plants. Gainesville recently adopted the tariffs, and advocates want to see it enacted statewide.
The state also could extend the policy that paved the way for FPL's 110 megawatts. Passed last year, it allows the Public Service Commission to approve renewable energy projects up to a certain limit, even if those projects cost more than fossil fuel plants.
Despite the enthusiasm for solar, it still has a long way to go before it displaces fossil and nuclear fuels. Consider that the state's three largest utilities — Progress Energy, Tampa Electric and FPL — have seen a few hundred customers install a combined solar capacity of close to 3 megawatts. The utilities together serve nearly 7 million customers and have nearly 40,000 megawatts worth of power plants that run on coal, oil, natural gas and nuclear fuel.
"The true test will be when people look out of the window of a skyscraper in their city and see their communities transform," Karnas said. "It's when the landscape, what people can see from their windows, changes. That's when we'll know we have succeeded."
Sunday, April 12, 2009
But many developers have said that they would use smart-growth building and design techniques. Last week, Mr. Kitson became the first to say that he will power his "smart" community entirely by solar energy. Mr. Kitson was joined Thursday by representatives of Florida Power & Light and three environmental groups - the Sierra Club, Audubon of Florida and the World Wildlife Fund - to announce that the very green Babcock Ranch would become even greener.
Already, Mr. Kitson has sold off 73,000 acres, about 80 percent of the ranch, to the state for preservation. Now, he's got FPL committing to build a $300 million, 75-megawatt solar photovoltaic plant to power his new town on the remaining land. The town could have 45,000 residents and 6 million square feet of commercial space.
Mr. Kitson wants to show that there can be a different way to build. And he's not forgetting the profit motive. He's got $1 billion from Evergreen Real Estate Partners out of Chicago, as The Post's Jeff Ostrowski reported in September. If smart building can be made economically smart, Florida wins.