Archive for November, 2011

EV Test Drive event in Western NC on Dec. 1st

Posted on: November 29th, 2011 by shannon

Greengov group members in Western NC are invited to attend the Electric Vehicle Test Drive Event on Thursday, December 1st at the Eaton plant in Asheville. The Land-of-Sky Regional Council, Eaton Corp. and the NC Division of Air Quality have organized this event to give the public an opportunity to:

  • Test drive an electric vehicle, including the Chevy Volt and the Nissan LEAF
  • Plug in to the first DC Fast Charge Station installed in Western NC

There will be a speaking event from 9am to 9:30am to highlight efforts in the region to introduce plug-in EVs into the marketplace, install charging stations, and support local job growth. Speakers include Hendersonville Mayor Barbara Volk, Eaton Plant Manager John Wirtz, and Stan Cross of Bio-Wheels RTS.


The EV Test Drive Event will last from 9am to 12pm at the Eaton plant located at 221 Heywood Rd, Arden NC 28704 (directions). Please send an email to to RSVP and reserve a test drive slot.

Notice: Email disruption possible for the next few days

Posted on: November 29th, 2011 by shannon

Due to N.C. State University migrating to GMAIL for its new email system, some staff at the Solar Center may have disruptions with email during the next few days while this transition is taking place.  If you have a problem reaching a staff member via email, please check our staff listing page for specific phone numbers. Thank you!

District Energy and CHP Webinar – 11/17 at 1pm EST

Posted on: November 17th, 2011 by shannon

District Energy and CHP: Valuable Infrastructure for Sustainable Communities

Thursday, November 17, 2011 1:00 PM – 2:00 PM EST



DOE Southeast Clean Energy Application Center logo


The North Carolina Solar Center manages the US Department of Energy’s Southeast Clean Energy Application Center, which promotes deployment of highly efficient power and heat generation technologies. Our areas of work include Combined Heat and Power (CHP), District Energy and Waste Heat to Power. The Center is producing a webinar on District Energy and CHP, which is free to attend live or may be viewed later via a recording posted at the Southeast Clean Energy Application Center’s website.



Register for this webinar at


As cities, campuses and communities evolve to support denser populations with growing energy needs, traditional energy paradigms are giving way to cleaner, more efficient solutions like district energy systems. Although early investments in district energy and combined heat and power first took shape under Thomas Edison in Manhattan in the 1870’s, today’s district energy systems deliver very high reliability, reduced emissions, enhanced energy security through fuel flexibility, and tremendous economic advantages due to fuel efficiencies reaching toward 90%.

As population density climbs, we can no longer afford to simply hang all the load on the electricity grid. Thermal energy networks for heating and cooling cities or campuses can utilize surplus heat from power plants, or from waste to energy or from renewable sources like biomass, landfill gas, or geothermal. Natural sources of cooling like oceans, lakes and rivers can provide clean, abundant and affordable renewable district cooling to remove expensive peak demand from the wires and avoid emissions due to power generation.

In fact, in a May 2011 International Energy Agency report, heat was found to be the primary end use energy at 37% in OECD countries and at 47% globally, more than transport and electricity generation combined. To develop more sustainable cities and communities, infrastructure investment in thermal energy is critically important.

This briefing will provide an overview of the emergence of district energy in North America and discuss two cases: an award-winning and highly efficient CHP district energy system at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and the private/public partnership investment in district heating and cooling for downtown Nashville, TN.
Robert Thornton – President, IDEA
Ray DuBose – Director, Energy Services at UNC-Chapel Hill
Harry Ragsdale – President, Thermal Engineering Group, Inc
Host:  Isaac Panzarella, Director, US DOE Southeast Clean Energy Application Center

Capital City’s First Dual Biofuels Station Opens with $.85 Fuel

Posted on: November 17th, 2011 by shannon

For Immediate Release


November 16, 2011




Crown Express Mart One of Handful in Nation Offering E85 & B20


Raleigh, N.C. – The first station to offer both E85 (85% ethanol/ 15% gasoline) and B20 (20% biodiesel/80% petroleum diesel) celebrated its grand opening with dignitary remarks, a ribbon cutting and an $.85 per gallon E85 promotion. The Crown Express Mart is located at 1210 New Bern Ave., just east of downtown near the intersection with Poole Rd. The station underwent extensive renovations and began providing the renewable fuel options in early October. “We are excited to be able to offer alternative fueling options in the Raleigh area. Individual and fleet customers now have a choice and convenient place to pump E-85 & B20 fuel seven days a week,” said Kokila Amin, one of the station owners.

Ward Lenz, Director of the State Energy Office at the N.C. Dept. of Commerce showing off the new E85/B20 fuel pump

Ward Lenz, Director of the State Energy Office at the N.C. Dept. of Commerce showing off the new E85/B20 fuel pump

There are close to 2,000 E85 capable flex fuel vehicles (FFVs) located in the zip code of the New Bern Ave station according to research conducted by RL Polk and Associates in July of this year. Across the state there are 18 commercial service stations offering E85, while there are over 236,000 FFVs according to data tracked by the N.C. Solar Center at N.C. State University and RL Polk. It is important to provide fuel options, as there are over 40 makes and models of FFVs offered by auto manufacturers at no additional cost to the purchaser as compared to the same model that is not E85 compatible. FFVs can be operated on gasoline, E85 or any blend of ethanol in between. A fuel sensor provides information to adapt to the specific blend of ethanol powering the vehicle. Ethanol is a cleaner burning fuel currently produced in the United States primarily from corn grown in the Midwest. A byproduct of ethanol production is distiller’s grain, a high protein animal feed. E85 has been used for over a decade in North Carolina by the Department of Administration State Motor Fleet, but has only become available at commercial service stations over the past five years.

Biodiesel is a cleaner burning fuel that is made from a variety of feedstock in the United States, including waste vegetable oil, soybeans and animal renderings. It can be utilized in a variety of blends in any diesel engine with no modifications required. In most fleet and consumer applications it is offered at a 20% blend level. B20 has been used by the N.C. Department of Transportation for over a decade and is provided at over 100 state fuel sites. The New Bern Crown Express is the third station to provide B20 to the motoring public in Raleigh, the 28th across the state.

Funding for the E85 refueling infrastructure was provided in part through a grant from the N.C. Solar Center using Congestion Mitigation Air Quality funds from the N.C. Department of Transportation. The B20 refueling infrastructure was funded partially with American Recovery & Reinvestment Act funding provided to Kargo Corp, the station owners, from the N.C. Department of Commerce. “We are grateful that the state has taken such a forward looking position on supporting the use of renewable fuels as these public private partnerships support clean air and domestic fuel and distribution opportunities” , said Anne Tazewell, Transportation Program Manager at the N.C. Solar Center. Representatives from state and local government spoke at the ribbon cutting along with Steve Walk, Protec Fuel Management. Protec and the Renewable Fuels Association partnered with the station owners on the $.85 gallon E85 for 85 minutes fuel promotion price at the opening celebration to encourage FFV drivers to try America’s home grown fuel.



About the NC Solar Center

The N.C. Solar Center, a division of the College of Engineering at N.C. State University, has operated since 1988 as a focal point for solar and other renewable energy programs, information, research, technical assistance, and training for the citizens of North Carolina and beyond. For more information about the N.C. Solar Center and the clean transportation program visit



Anne Tazewell, N.C. Solar Center, 919-513-7831,

Shannon Helm, N.C. Solar Center, 919-423-8340,

FMC Lithium expanding in Gaston

Posted on: November 16th, 2011 by shannon

Story by: Steve Byers, Charlotte Observer


Manufacturer FMC Lithium is making a $50 million investment in Gaston County.

The company, which makes the material necessary to power advanced lithium batteries, said Friday it is expanding its sprawling Bessemer City plant over the next three years. That expansion includes the addition of 20 to 25 jobs at the 215-employee plant. Also, FMC officially launched a new lithium metal purification process designed for high-technology energy storage applications.

U.S. Sen. Kay Hagan, D-N.C., was on hand for Friday’s announcement and toured part of the 900-acre plant. She hailed the investment in “clean-energy technologies.”

“Clean energy bolsters our national security and reduces our dependence on foreign oil,” Hagan said at a news conference. “It protects our environment and, what’s most important to me, it creates jobs in North Carolina. And these jobs are not going to be shipped overseas.”

Hagan noted that North Carolina currently accounts for 75 percent of the nation’s lithium production. She quipped that her four favorite words are “made in North Carolina.”

But she cautioned that China is making strides in the clean-energy field and is outpacing the U.S. in terms of private investment in technology.

Earlier this year, Hagan introduced a bill to provide $40 million in Department of Energy grants for research and development of next-generation lithium products. The legislation would encourage companies to conduct R&D to bring advanced battery production to the U.S.

FMC Lithium is a division of Philadelphia-based FMC Corp., a diversified chemical company with 2010 revenues of $3.1 billion and 5,000 employees worldwide.

Jon Evans, Lithium Division general manager, said the new purification process will set the Bessemer City plant apart with its emphasis on sustainability. And he said the company is planning further investments to increase capacity and capabilities in its lithium metal and lithium hydroxide products.

He said FMC used to do the purification process partially in Asia, “but I’m proud to say we brought it back to the U.S., where we can do it better and cheaper.” That elicited a “good!” from Hagan standing nearby.

The lithium storage industry is growing by 11 percent to 12 percent a year, Evans said, and FMC sees that pace continuing for the next decade. The Bessemer City plant makes lithium used in products ranging from rechargeable batteries to pacemakers and military radios, satellites and drones.

Asked about a salary range for the new employees, he said it would vary widely but called it “very competitive for Gaston County and the Charlotte area. These are highly skilled, good-paying jobs.”
Read more:

N.C. Solar Center staff presenting at the NC Beach, Inlet and Waterway Association’s annual conference

Posted on: November 15th, 2011 by shannon

The North Carolina Solar Center is participating in the North Carolina Beach, Inlet and Waterway Association’s annual conference November 14th in Wrightsville Beach. The offshore wind panel will be moderated by the Sierra Club’s Sarah King and speakers will be Brian O’Hara with the North Carolina Offshore Wind Coalition, Jen Banks with the North Carolina Solar Center and Jim Leutze, Chancellor Emeritus of UNC Wilmington and a member of the Governor’s Scientific Advisory Panel on Offshore Energy.

New Bern Crown Express Mart to Open First E85 & Biodiesel Station in Raleigh

Posted on: November 10th, 2011 by shannon



 WHO:  Kargo Corp., via its Crown Express Mart; the North Carolina Solar   Center at N.C. State University and Protec Fuel, welcome TWO cleaner-burning renewable fuels  to the capital with the kick-off of Raleigh’s first  commercial fuel station offering both E85 and B20 biodiesel.


WHAT:  Ribbon cutting and kick-off celebration with Renewable Fuels Association $.85 fuel (for 85 minutes) promotion


WHEN:  November 16, 2011  3:00 PM-4:30 PM


WHERE:  Crown Express Mart – 1210 New Bern Ave., Raleigh, NC 27610

WHY:  By being produced in the United States, renewable fuels such as ethanol and biodiesel support domestic economic development while reducing harmful transportation related emissions.



  • Kokila Amin, Secretary, Kargo Corp.
  • Rosa Gill, North Carolina House
  • Ward Lenz, State Energy Division Director, N.C. Dept. of Commerce
  • Jim Trogden,  Chief Operating Officer,  N.C. Dept. of Transportation


PHOTO OPPORTUNITIES:    3:00-3:30 speakers, 3:30 -4:30 ribbon cutting followed directly by fuel promotion with colorfully wrapped E85 compatible flex fuel vehicles fueling with E85  for $.85 per gallon, including “Zymobile” from Novozymes. Additional representatives: Congressman Brad Miller’s office, Biofuels Center of North Carolina, and N.C. Dept of Agriculture and Consumer Science.


About the North Carolina Solar Center

Created in 1988, the North Carolina Solar Center, as part of the College of Engineering at North Carolina State University (NCSU), works closely with state and local government and the renewable energy industry. It manages and maintains the NCSU Solar House and serves as a resource for innovative, green energy technologies through research and demonstration, technical assistance, education, outreach and training. It also administers the Database of Incentives for Renewables & Efficiency (DSIRE), a resource providing financial incentives and policies. For more information about the N.C. Solar Center and the clean transportation program visit:


About Protec Fuel

Protec Fuel is a turnkey E85 company based out of Boca Raton, Fla., who supplies the fuel and conducted installation of the E85 station,

Contact: Anne Tazewell, N.C. Solar Center, 919—619-0185,

Shannon Helm, N.C. Solar Center, 919-423-8320,



Dr. Alex Hobbs, Assoc. Director at the N.C. Solar Center, receives NCSEA 2011 Lifetime Achievement Award

Posted on: November 10th, 2011 by shannon

Dr. Alex Hobbs received the N.C. Sustainable Energy Association’s 2011 Lifetime Achievement Award at the NCSEA Annual Conference on November 9, 2011. This award is given to an individual demonstrating exemplary leadership in the advancement of sustainable energy in North Carolina.  Dr. Hobbs has made a considerable impact in the fields of renewable technologies and energy efficiency during his career.

Dr. Hobbs is currently the Associate Director for Renewable Technologies at the Solar Center, an outreach component of NC State University’s College of Engineering. He has more than 40 years of engineering experience in the areas of electric power generation and delivery, water and wastewater treatment, as well as production agriculture and food processing. He has worked as a design/startup engineer and as project manager on conventional fossil fuel based power generation projects. As an in-house technology consultant and researcher for a major southeastern utility, Dr. Hobbs led applied research and development programs to evaluate advanced power production techniques, development and combustion of biomass based renewable fuel resources, new environmental assessment and remediation technologies and innovative load management equipment and strategies. Concurrent with the electric utility work, Dr. Hobbs has maintained a consulting engineering practice in the Raleigh area for the past 30 years. These activities have included animal waste treatment, post harvest crop handling system design, and evaluation of both large and small combined heat and power applications. Concurrent with the electric utility work, Dr. Hobbs has maintained a consulting engineering practice in the Raleigh area for the past 30 years. These activities have included animal waste treatment, post harvest crop handling system design, and evaluation of both large and small combined heat and power applications.

Dr. Alex Hobbs receives NCSEA 2011 Lifetime Achievement Award

Dr. Alex Hobbs receives NCSEA 2011 Lifetime Achievement Award (alongside Ivan Urlaub, NCSEA Executive Director and Maria Kingery, Southern Energy Management)

RTI International Adds EV Charging Stations

Posted on: November 10th, 2011 by shannon No Comments

RTI International recently added two electric vehicle charging stations on their Research Triangle Park campus.  The N.C. Clean Energy Technology Center’s Clean Fuel Advanced Technology Project recently provided RTI with a grant to purchase three neighborhood electric vehicles. RTI leadership decided to puchase the charging stations to strengthen their commitment to creating a green work environment at RTI.

RTI installed two charging stations in their parking deck, which will be compatible with all 2010 or newer EV’s, plug-in hybrid EV’s and extended range EV’s. EV charging station at RTI 2

EV charging station at RTI

EV charging station at RTI

2011 Freeing the Grid released

Posted on: November 2nd, 2011 by shannon

2011 Freeing the Grid released; more states make the grade on renewable energy policies

Renewable energy advocates today released the 2011 Edition of Freeing the Grid, a policy guide that grades all 50 states on two key programs: net metering and interconnection procedures. Together these policies empower energy customers to use rooftop solar and other small-scale renewables to meet their own electricity needs.  Now in its fifth year of publication, the report shows that states nationwide are continuing to embrace best practices and drive further improvements in these core renewable energy policies. The report’s methodology was also adopted for use in the U.S. Department of Energy’s SunShot initiative, which aims to reduce the cost of going solar by 75% before the end of the decade.

“It is clear that our nation’s states can and will continue their proud role as the growth drivers of America’s new energy economy. Renewable energy has strong support from state policymakers and the citizens they serve. That support is not restricted to any particular party affiliation or geographic location. It is bi-partisan, it is pervasive, and it is no surprise. If there’s one thing Americans in all our diversity can agree on, it’s that we can do better with our energy choices. Freeing the Grid outlines a better path forward,” said Adam Browning, Executive Director of Vote Solar.


Click here to read the highlights of the 2011 ‘Freeing the Grid’ policy guide