Solar energy contract to save Attleboro schools $100,000 a year in electric costs

Posted on February 16th, 2017 in solar by Spencer R.



Beginning as soon as April, Attleboro schools will be saving up to $100,000 a year in electricity costs thanks to the largest roof-top solar project in the state.

The solar panels are being erected on a large industrial building in West Bridgewater.

The city school system committed to get power from the project, which is being built by Green Street Solar Power of the Bronx, N.Y., and will get an annual credit of approximately $100,000 a year to reduce its electric bills.

Green Street estimates the savings for Attleboro schools could come to about $3.5 million over the next 25 years, but school officials think it could be closer to $2 million as prices change over the years.

Still, the school will be getting a $100,000 annual break in the immediate future.

"That's a pretty good sum," Superintendent David Sawyer said.

Years ago, the schools looked into having their own solar panels placed on schools, but the idea never came to fruition.

Sawyer said when Marc Furtado came back to the Attleboro schools after leaving for another job in Somerset, he made contact with a company he was familiar with which was looking for large entities to commit to solar power.

Reggie Dormeaus, marketing administrator for Green Street, said his firm is erecting 12,000 solar panels on the building in West Bridgewater, making it the largest project of its kind in the state.

The roof space is being leased from a firm called Ajax, which owns the building. Ajax is also involved with the New England Sports Village in Attleboro.

The panels are expected to generate 4.1 megawatts of power, saving money and making for a healthier environment, he said.

He said he expects the project to be completed and the panels to be producing power in April after several months of construction.


Medicine turns to solar energy

Posted on February 15th, 2017 in solar by Spencer R.



Springfield Medical Care Systems is going solar.

The corporate parent of Springfield Hospital and the Springfield Health Center has completed its first solar project, with the installation of four solar panels in front of the entrance of the health center at One Hundred River Street.

Larry Kraft, a hospital spokesman, said the hospital will build a full solar array on land adjacent to the hospital later this year.

Kraft said Friday the two solar systems were different: One would produce hot water for use for the doctors and patients at the health center, and the larger system at the hospital would produce electricity to offset the hospital’s usage.

He said the original intent of the project was to install a system on the rooftop, but the center’s engineers determined the roof was not suitable.

But he said a portion of the building near the river is sheltered and receives what he called “excellent sunlight,” and the panels were installed there.

The four panels were installed before the onset of winter and have already started decreasing the center’s use of fossil fuels, he said.

During the next 10 years, the hot water system will offset the use of 2,500 gallons of propane, which would ordinarily heat the 600,000 gallons of water used annually by staff members, patients and visitors to the health center. He said the total cost of the system was $30,000, and panels were installed by Springfield Heating and Ventilating Co. The system was paid for by donors, including a grant from the Jack and Dorothy Byrne Foundation. Kraft said that while a rooftop installation was originally considered, it was determined that the system would produce more electricity from the ground. He said the solar installation would be built on “unbuildable ground” farther up Ridgewood Road and across the road from the hospital. He said the site is currently wooded.

“We will produce electricity,” he said, with a netmetering project, rather than hot water at the health center system.

Under a net-metering project, the hospital will receive credits for the electricity it generates, and those credits will be used to offset its electric bill.


Nigerian, American Firms to Power 25 Communities With Solar Energy

Posted on February 14th, 2017 in solar by Spencer R.




Two firms have signed an agreement to provide power to 25 communities across Nigeria using solar energy.

The communities are in Bayelsa, Ondo, Ogun and Osun states.

A Nigerian firm, Community Energy Social Enterprises Limited, CESEL, and its American counterpart, Renewvia Energy Corporation, signed a $767,512 agreement to provide solar energy for the communities on 'pay-as- you-go' basis.

The CESEL Managing Director, Patrick Tolani, signed the agreement on behalf of his company while Clay Taber, Managing Director of Renewvia, signed for his firm, at the Power Africa office in Abuja.

The MoU signing was witnessed by Power Africa Coordinator, Andrew Herscowitz, and the United States Agency for International Development mission director in Nigeria, Michael Harvey.

Mr. Tolani said the benefitting communities were those that had no access to electricity for more than 10 years, including Brass in Bayelsa and Magboro in Ogun State.

Others, he said, include Ilajera and Gbokoda in Ondo State and a community which was completely cut off the grid because of isolation in Osun State.

Mr. Taber in his remarks said Renewvia would install and operate micro-grid systems with solar photo-voltaic generation capacity and battery storage in the 25 benefiting communities.

According to him, the design of the micro-grids for the project will include PV panels, string inverters, aluminium racking and energy storage backup power.

He said, "Renewvia and CESEL would sell micro-grid customers electricity by Kilowatts through a 'pay as you go' structure.

"The competitiveness of the system helps to ensure payment, as the project would provide consistent and reliable power at a less expensive price than current rural power generation by diesel."

He added that Renewvia and CESEL also planned to facilitate the transaction through mobile payments, noting that the project would employ local and remote resources to support the needs of the power plant for each micro-grid.

The project was supported by Power Africa, a U.S. energy project initiated in 2013 to assist African countries in accessing energy.

It is expected that the project would provide up to 10 megawatts and connect over 10, 000 households, according to a study by Renewvia.

The project is also expected to be completed in one year.

CESEL is a private Nigerian company that has led the community engagement for six operational micro-grid projects in Nigeria. These micro-grids received funding through the Nigeria Bank of Industry and United Nations Development Programme.

Renewvia is a private U.S renewable energy developer and solar power plant operator established in 2009. Renewvia specialises in providing mini-grid and solar energy solutions for residential, commercial and utility-scale applications.

Micro-grid is a small network of electricity users with a local source of supply that is usually attached to a centralised national grid but is able to function independently.


New Job Numbers Show Bright Future For Solar Energy

Posted on February 10th, 2017 in solar by Spencer R.



Trump promised to create jobs and revive America’s struggling coal industry throughout his campaign. The decline in coal plants and the rise of natural gas and solar power makes that unlikely. New jobs data suggests that the real growth in energy jobs is coming from the sky, not the ground.

The solar power industry now employs twice as many people as coal does, according to the 2017 Employment and Energy report from the Department of Energy. A jobs census by the Solar Foundation calculated that the industry added 73,615 jobs in 2016 -- more jobs than oil, natural gas and coal combined. The foundation itself uses a stricter definition of solar jobs, according to which the industry added 51,000 roles. What's more, solar accounted for two percent of all new jobs created in 2016 and is hiring faster than its competitors.

Solar workers can make respectable wages, too. The median national hourly wage is $45 for sales jobs and $26 for installers, according to the Solar Foundation. Construction workers who pursue training in solar technology can expect to move on to jobs paying $20 or $22 an hour after a year, according to a 2015 report on Maryland solar jobs by the foundation.


UC Riverside Conference to Focus on Solar Energy

Posted on February 8th, 2017 in solar by Spencer R.



California leads the nation in solar energy, with more than 580,000 projects and 4,500 megawatts installed statewide. To achieve even higher penetration, researchers, the solar industry, and government leaders are turning their attention to new technologies that will improve the performance of solar energy projects and lower their costs.

The latest breakthroughs and how they can be leveraged in the Inland Empire will be discussed at UC Riverside’s third annual solar conference, “Solar Energy Directions for Inland Southern California: Where is it Going?,” which is set for 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Thursday, Feb. 23 at the Bourns Technology Center, 1200 Columbia Ave., Riverside, 92507. The conference is designed for government leaders, planners, council members, businesses, utilities, and the general public. The cost is $85 for non-students, $40 for non-UCR students, and $25 for UCR students. Those planning to attend should complete the online registration form.

Andrew McAllister, commissioner of the California Energy Commission, and V. John White, executive director of the Center for Energy Efficiency and Renewable Technologies, will be among the speakers. Panel sessions throughout the day will explore challenges and opportunities for incorporating solar energy, including how the marketplace works, local policies, and the latest breakthroughs. This year, the conference will have a panel dedicated to solar-related research being done at the University of California. A full agenda is available online.

UCR’s Alfredo Martinez-Morales, managing director of the Southern California Research Initiative for Solar Energy (SC-RISE) and one of the conference organizers, said the event will highlight some of the most successful initiatives already in place, with a look to further increasing solar energy generation across Southern California.

“As the interest in solar energy continues to grow, this conference is a resource that can help government agencies, utility companies, end-users, and the technology community make the right decisions about how to apply solar power economically and efficiently,” Martinez-Morales said.

This event is hosted by UCR’s College of Engineering-Center for Environmental Research & Technology(CE-CERT), the UCR School of Public Policy’s Center for Sustainable Suburban Development, andSouthern California Research Initiative for Solar Energy, and co-sponsored by SolarMax Technology, Inc., SunPower, Riverside Public Utilities, Western Riverside Council of Governments, City of Corona, and First Solar.



Women’s mosque goes solar in India clean energy push

Posted on February 8th, 2017 in solar by Spencer R.



Set up 20 years ago in a remote corner of Lucknow, Ambar Mosque is known for promoting women’s rights and putting up visitors to a nearby hospital.

Now the female-led faith centre – where women pray alongside men – is installing solar panels to set an example of clean energy in Uttar Pradesh, a state lagging behind its targets.

At 1kW, the system generates a fraction the electricity of the coal plants that dominate India’s power mix. But it is expected to meet three quarters of the mosque’s modest lighting and cooling needs – and its founder hopes to inspire others.

“Over the last few years, air quality in the city has become worse while rural areas of Uttar Pradesh have been suffering frequent power cuts,” said Shaista Ambar.

“We must all do our bit… If everyone starts using solar energy then Lucknow’s air quality will start to improve as well as reduce power cuts.”

Narendra Modi’s government aims to install 100GW of solar panels across India by 2022, to light up more homes and reduce reliance on polluting coal.

The technology can increasingly compete on cost with new coal plants, albeit on a smaller scale, where the policy, network and financing conditions are right.

But policy from Delhi is unevenly applied at state level, Arjun Srihari, head of marketing for solar company 8minutes told Climate Home: “Effective policy implementation is a major, major stumbling block.”

Uttar Pradesh, India’s most populous state, is only 13% of the way to an interim goal of 1.8GW solar capacity by March 2017, according to analysis firm Equatorials.

Energy access tops the list of concerns for UP voters, with 38% experiencing daily power cuts, a poll this month by FourthLion shows. The same survey found 87% were willing to use energy from the sun if it would curb air pollution.

Lack of information is another barrier to take-up. 8minutes gifted the 79,000 rupees (US$1,200) solar package to Ambar Mosque in a bid to spread awareness.

“We are trying to incentivise people to switch to solar and we wanted to use this case as a model for the community,” said Srihari.


UPS to spend $18 million on solar panels

Posted on February 8th, 2017 in solar by Spencer R.



Global parcel delivery giant UPS Inc. will spend $18 million on solar energy panels, allowing each building in the initiative to produce half of its daily energy requirement from the sun, the company said Tuesday.

Atlanta-based UPS currently collects power from panels mounted on its buildings in Palm Springs, Calif., and in Lakewood, Parsippany, and Secaucus, N.J. The company will now purchase more than 26,000 additional solar panels, leading to a nearly fivefold increase in the amount of power generated from solar at UPS facilities today.

The initiative will expand UPS' total solar power generating capacity by almost 10 megawatts—enough electricity to power 1,200 homes annually, and enough to offset 8,200 metric tons per year of carbon emissions produced through electricity generated at fossil fuel-powered plants.

The company also said it would roll out additional solar deployments over the next several years as it identifies the most efficient sites among the 2,580 facilities it operates worldwide.

"Solar technology is a proven way to effectively and efficiently provide long-term power to our facilities," Bill Moir, director of facilities procurement at UPS, said in a release. "We have a significant number of facilities that are well positioned to deploy solar at scale and increase our sustainable energy options for our buildings and electric vehicles."



Solar Panels to Help Cornell Achieve 2035 Carbon Neutrality Goal

Posted on February 7th, 2017 in solar by Spencer R.



 Solar energy now powers seven percent of Cornell’s energy consumption due to the addition of three new solar panel plants in December, according to Cornell’s Campus Sustainability Office.

Sarah Brylinsky, sustainability communications and integration manager at the Campus Sustainability Office, said that this solar energy change puts Cornell on track to achieve its carbon neutral campus initiative by 2035.

“Wind and solar power technology is currently available to meet the goal,” said Sarah Zemanick, director of the Campus Sustainability Office. “They are competitive financially with fossil fuel power sources, but upfront investments in both energy supply projects and grid modernization are required to create and move the new renewable energy needed.”

When asked what obstacles Sustainable Cornell might face, Zemanick said that progress could be impeded as the University transitions from old to new energy systems.

“Cornell University embraces the challenges of innovation,” she said. “There will be challenges with transitioning from our current energy systems to new ways of producing, operating and managing, but as a University we are uniquely positioned to use these challenges as educational and research opportunities, and share our progress and successes with the world.”

“Cornell Big Red Bikes will re-launch this spring, providing a bike sharing opportunity for students as well as faculty and staff,” she said.
Zemanick also expressed enthusiasm for a “Recyclemania” Steering Committee, which had its kickoff event at the Cornell basketball game against Yale Saturday.

“Last year, Cornell was the nationwide winner afor the Green Game competition, and we hope to beat rivals Princeton, Harvard and others in the total waste reduction this year,” she said.

In order to achieve a sustainable shift the University needs to foster support from the entire Cornell community, according to Brylinsky.

“Our bold ideas and willingness to embrace the challenge will bring us together as a community, and allow us to explore courageous ways of creating a future that is good for the planet, our long-term prosperity and all people,” she said. “Each small step — reducing paper use in one office, or introducing local foods at an event series — displays the power of a community to come together and create real change.”


China is now the world’s largest solar power producer

Posted on February 7th, 2017 in solar by Spencer R.



Not only is it the world’s most populous country, it’s now also the world’s biggest producer of solar energy. On Saturday, the National Energy Administration (NEA) noted that the nation officially claimed the title after doubling its installed photovoltaic (PV) capacity last year. By the end of 2016, China’s capacity hit 77.42 gigawatts, and while this is great in terms of raw numbers, it’s a lot less impressive relative to the country’s massive population.


As it stands, solar energy represents only one percent of the country’s energy output. But this may soon change as China devotes more and more of its attention towards clean energy. The NEA says that China will seek to add more than 110 gigawatts within the next three years, which could help the nation up the proportion of its renewable energy use to 20 percent by 2030. Today, it stands at 11 percent.



China’s geography certainly lends itself to large solar energy farms. Last year, Shandong, Xinjiang, and Henan provinces enjoyed the greatest increase in their solar capacity, whereas Xinjiang, Gansu, Qinghai, and Inner Mongolia ended up with the most overall capacity at the end of 2016.

Weaning itself off of fossil fuels will require quite a hefty investment; one that China appears ready to make. As per a Reuters report, the nation will be pouring some 2.5 trillion yuan ($364 billion) into renewable power generation by the end of the decade.


This dedication to environmentally friendly energy sources could put pressure on other nations around the world to do the same. Already, Ireland has passed a bill that would make it the first country to divest from fossil fuels. And some countries are finding increasingly creative ways of moving away from fossil fuels — Iceland, for example, is drilling the world’s largest well for geothermal energy.



Utah Clean Energy, Salt Lake City unveil 10-year solar deployment plan

Posted on February 3rd, 2017 in solar by Spencer R.



 Utah's breakneck pace of solar energy adoption over the past decade needs to continue on an accelerated course, advocates say, unveiling a plan Thursday that recommends the removal of existing roadblocks.

The Wasatch Solar Team, led by the advocacy organization Utah Clean Energy and Salt Lake City, developed "A Bright Future: A 10 Year Solar Deployment Plan for Utah," and introduced it at a media event at the state Capitol.


Advocates, industry and others collaborated to produce the plan, which outlines four key areas of continuing challenges and identifies ways to reduce their impact.

"This is the future we really want to provide to all Utahns," said Vicki Bennett, director of sustainability for Salt Lake City.

In 2006, there were only 76 rooftop solar installations in the state, according to the Wasatch Solar Team. By 2016, several thousand households were producing an estimated 140 megawatts of solar energy.

For that growth to continue, the plan recommends expanding access to solar energy by removing unnecessary restrictions on rooftop solar, reducing the shortage of available financing options, tackling the lack of suitable roof space and opening up avenues to people on fixed incomes.

The state would also be well-served if it implemented a mechanism to streamline the permitting process, with the report noting that depending on where one lives, "obtaining that permit can be a walk in the park or a tangle of red tape."

The existence of unpredictable and inconsistent rules often lead to added costs and prolonged wait time for customers, the report adds, pointing out that in some extreme cases, installers have been deterred from working in certain communities.

Salt Lake City and Utah Clean Energy teamed up to develop the Solar Permitting Toolbox more than three years ago to help local governments streamline the process.

Sarah Wright, executive director of Utah Clean Energy, said a no-nonsense approach that incorporates best practices can eliminate a significant hurdle to solar energy adoption.

Wright added that the state needs to work to reduce costs associated with the interconnection process, which was upgraded with new standards in 2010.

Since that time, national guidelines for the interconnection of rooftop solar have been modified to reflect the growing interest in renewable energy, the report notes.

One of the most complicated and likely the most controversial challenges the report outlines lies at the heart of a recommendation to overhaul the utility business model to align it with the 21st century embrace of renewable energy and energy efficiency.

While renewable energy and improved energy efficiency may save public utilities and customers the expense of costly capital investments — such as a new power plant — the power provider loses out of profits realized from new electricity sales.

Ben Hart, managing director of the Governor's Office of Economic Development, said tapping into Utah's energy resources and ensuring associated industries grow and thrive is a cornerstone of his office's focus.

With Utah's remarkable growth in solar, Hart said the state needs to do what it can to assure continued success.

In 2015, for example, Utah was fifth in the nation for new solar installations and was 11th for cumulative solar capacity per capita.


Each year, he added, Utah's solar market doubles.