Archive for 2012

Solar firm Semprius opens Henderson plant Sept. 26

Posted on: September 17th, 2012 by shannon No Comments

DURHAM, N.C. — Solar technology startup Semprius will opened its production plant in Henderson on Sept. 26.

Semprius is based in Durham but chose Henderson for its first manufacturing facility. The company is eligible to receive some $8 million in state and local tax incentives.

Plans call for Semprius to hire some 250 workers over the next several years to man the Henderson facility.

N.C. Gov. Bev Perdue attended the opening day launch at a 9 a.m. ceremony.

“The highly anticipated opening of this new facility has significant implications for the future of renewable energy,” said Sempris Chief Executive Officer Joe Carr. “It’s a major milestone for Semprius, and we’re very proud of our team and our public and private partners that have helped us bring it in on time and on budget. With production ramped up, we will be able to effectively service our customers, including companies like Siemens and Pratt & Whitney Rocketdyne.”

Semprius has developed proprietary technology for development of photovoltaic solar modules. The company has set a record for conversion efficiency of solar power conversion to energy at 33.9 percent.

That achievement earned Semprius high praise recently from MIT.

Semprius has raised more than $40 million in venture capital from investors such as Intersouth Partners in Durham as well as In-Q-Tel, the investment arm of the CIA, plus Siemens Venture Capital.

In July, Semprius secured $8 million in credit.

Horizon Technology Finance Corporation and Silicon Valley Bank agreed to provide an $8 million venture loan “facility.”

Horizon will provide $5 million and Silicon Valley Bank the remaining $3 million.

 

Reposted from WRALTechwire

N.C. Solar Center attending SPI 2012 in Orlando

Posted on: September 5th, 2012 by shannon No Comments

The N.C. Solar Center will be exhibiting at Solar Power International 2012 in Orlando beginning September 11 through September 13. The show is expected to draw thousands of solar energy industry professionals from 100+ countries with more than 900 exhibiting companies from all vertical markets in the solar power spectrum.

The N.C. Solar Center’s focus is to meet and talk with clean energy companies interested in locating in North Carolina, to educate attendees about the current policy surrounding solar and clean energy in North Carolina, and to gather information and learn more about new trends in the solar industry.

 

Booth # 3548

Location: Orlando Convention Center

Dates: 9/11/12 – 9/13/12

 

Thanks  to our…..

 

Partners:

The N.C. Sustainable Energy Association, Raleigh Economic Development, and Evolve Energy

 

Sponsors:

ABB, Research Triangle Regional Partnership (RTRP), Southern Energy Management, Parker Poe, Kimley-Horn, N.C. Department of Commerce, RB Engineering, ENlight Solar, CommScope, Argand Energy, Carolina Solar Energy, First Century Energy, and SolarHot.

 

About SPI

SEIA and SEPA—two non-profit organizations—present SPI. All proceeds from Solar Power International are used to further the associations’ mission: to support and advance U.S. solar markets through market-building and educational initiatives.

Learn more about Solar Power International 2012

Installing Solar Panels on Historic Buildings

Posted on: September 4th, 2012 by shannon No Comments
A Survey of the Regulatory Environment

 

Cultural resources such as historic buildings and districts occupy an important place in our nation’s built environment; however these same resources are often considered impediments to achieving a community’s energy efficiency and renewable energy goals. While this assumption is at times unfounded, the fact remains that certain regulatory practices may limit the use of renewable energy technologies on historic resources.

However, with the adoption of financial incentives and the removal of regulatory impediments to the use of solar as a viable power source, solar energy systems are being installed on buildings in urban and rural communities throughout the United States.  As solar technology improves and become more affordable, this trend is likely to continue.

The question is, then, when and how are solar panels to be installed on historic buildings, in historic districts or at historic sites?

The report, Installing Solar Panels on Historic Buildings: A Survey of the Regulatory Environment, prepared by the North Carolina Solar Center and the National Trust for Historic Preservation, offers a pathway to better integration of solar energy systems onto historic resources.

This paper was created as part of the North Carolina Solar Center’s efforts under the SunShot Solar Outreach Partnership, funded by the U.S. Department of Energy’s SunShot Initiative. As a member of this partnership, the North Carolina Solar Center provides information and technical expertise to local governments interested in implementing solar programs and policies.

 

Read entire publication

 

President Obama Signs Executive Order Promoting Industrial Energy Efficiency

Posted on: August 30th, 2012 by shannon No Comments

For Immediate Release
August 30, 2012
 
 
WASHINGTON, DC – Today, President Obama signed an Executive Order to facilitate investments in industrial energy efficiency that will strengthen American manufacturing and help create jobs.  These efforts to boost industrial energy efficiency, including combined heat and power systems, can save manufacturers as much as $100 billion in energy costs over the next decade, improving their bottom lines and strengthening U.S. manufacturing competitiveness.  These types of efficiency measures will reduce energy consumption and reduce harmful emissions.

“Today, we are taking another step to strengthen American manufacturing by boosting energy efficiency for businesses across the nation,” said President Obama. “This action will cut costs, increase efficiency, and help our businesses create strong, middle class jobs.  We’ll continue to do everything we can to put more people back to work and build an economy that lasts.”

While manufacturing facilities have become more energy efficient over time, there is an opportunity to accelerate and expand this trend with investments that reduce energy use through more efficient manufacturing technologies and processes, such as the expanded use of efficient, on-site heat and power generation, known as combined heat and power (CHP).  This Executive Order builds on important steps the Administration has taken to scale up private sector investments in energy efficiency in our homes, buildings, and factories with efforts like the Better Buildings Initiative and investments upgrading homes around the United States.

In addition, it directs the Departments of Energy, Commerce, and Agriculture, and the Environmental Protection Agency, to coordinate actions at the Federal level while providing policy and technical assistance to states to promote investments in industrial energy efficiency.  The Executive Order also directs agencies to foster a national dialogue through ongoing regional workshops to encourage the adoption of best practice policies and investment models that overcome barriers to investment, provide public information on the benefits of unlocking investment in industrial energy efficiency, and use existing Federal authorities that can support these investments.

Today’s Order also establishes a new national goal of 40 gigawatts of new combined heat and power capacity by 2020, a 50% increase from today. Meeting this goal would save energy users $10 billion per year, result in $40 to $80 billion in new capital investment in manufacturing and other facilities that would create American jobs, and would reduce emissions equivalent to 25 million cars.

 

Learn more about Combined Heat & Power: A Clean Energy Solution

Solar panels sales energized by lower prices, rebates

Posted on: August 21st, 2012 by shannon No Comments

A combination of federal and state tax credits, plummeting equipment prices and an environmentally savvy population has led to a dramatic increase in the number of Wilmington rooftops outfitted with solar panels, according to local installers.

From 2008 to 2010, Wilmington-based Cape Fear Solar Systems outfitted approximately 17 homes with solar panels; from 2010 to 2012, that number jumped to 51, a 200 percent increase, said Linda Hanykova, a spokeswoman for the company. Solar Star Energy Corp., also located in the Port City, saw its solar panel installation business nearly double in the same time period, according to Gary LeBer, general manager.

“It’s partly because of the rising cost of electricity. People are becoming more aware of the potential to be energy-independent,” he said. “Equipment prices have come down over the years. It’s still a sizable investment, but as long as the tax credits are there to offset, they’ll pay for themselves in anywhere from seven to eight years.”

Through the end of 2016, residential solar installations are eligible for a 30 percent reimbursement from the federal government, with no cap. In North Carolina, residents are also eligible for a 35 percent reimbursement on system costs, up to $10,500. Additionally, Progress Energy ratepayers can enroll in the utility’s SunSense program, which offers an up-front rebate of $1,000 per kilowatt of the solar system’s installed capacity, among other incentives.

Combined, the available programs can be enough to offset a large portion of the initial costs. Johanna and James Timberlake, who installed a dozen panels on their Hampstead home late last year, will recoup around two-thirds of the $30,000 they paid for equipment and installation.

“That’s the main reason that allowed us to do it,” said Johanna, who made the switch to solar for environmental reasons. “We could not have done it without the tax credits.”

Those reimbursement programs, coupled with the decreasing cost of the solar panels themselves, have made solar a more realistic option for Tar Heel State residents, said John Donoghue, owner of Cape Fear Solar Systems.

“The price decrease is significant. It’s probably down 30 to 40 percent in the last two to three years,” he said. “It’s happening everywhere, but there are pockets scattered throughout the country where it’s more popular than others. We happen to have a state with extremely good tax credits.”

But even with those offsets, the initial cost of a solar panel array remains expensive. For now, residential systems are a possibility mostly for wealthier homeowners who are interested in long-term energy savings or environmental conservation – qualities that happen to fit a sizable chunk of the population in the Port City.

“We have 209 customers enrolled in the SunSense program. Forty-eight of those are in the Wilmington area,” said Scott Sutton, a spokesman for Progress Energy Carolinas. “The type of person attracted to the Wilmington area might be a little more environmentally conscious, might be a little more affluent, and I know there are active solar developers there that have been marketing and getting referrals.”

Though solar panels have become more common along the coast, new systems are still enough of a rarity to attract attention. Jacqui Leiblein, who oversaw the installation of an array at Culligan Water Conditioning on Carolina Beach Road, was unprepared for the interest generated by the panels.

“You would not believe how many people we have had call here about those panels,” said Leiblein, whose father owns the company. “We’ve had other businesses call about them, individuals, and they all want to talk to him about the solar panels and how they work. People are really interested in them.”

The Timberlakes have also fielded questions from friends, neighbors and, in one case, a stranger riding past on his bicycle. No one who’s inquired about the panels has purchased their own system yet, though that may change soon.

“When I mentioned to a friend that we were doing it, he was very interested from a conservation standpoint,” Johanna said. “I think it’s not just the financial savings, because we have a long time before we’ll break even. It is a sense that we need to be doing something to protect the environment, and this is our best effort.”

 

Written by: Kate Queram

Wilmington Star News

SEIA’s Major Solar Projects List

Posted on: August 21st, 2012 by shannon No Comments

This list is for informational purposes only, reflecting projects and completed milestones in the public domain. The information in this list was gathered from public announcements of solar projects in the form of company press releases, news releases, and, in some cases, conversations with individual developers. It is not a comprehensive list of all utility-scale solar projects under development. This list may be missing smaller projects that are not publicly announced. Particularly, some smaller projects located outside of California that were built on a short time-scale may be missing from this list.

This list includes ground-mounted utility-scale solar power plants larger than 1 MW that directly feed into the transmission grid. This list does not include large “behind the meter” projects that only serve on-site load. One exception to this is large projects on military bases that only serve the base.

SEIA does not guarantee that every identified project will be built. Like any other industry, market conditions may impact project economics and timelines. SEIA will remove a project if it is publicly announced that it has been cancelled.

SEIA actively promotes public policy that minimizes regulatory uncertainty and encourages the accelerated deployment of utility-scale solar power.

 

View and download the Major Solar Projects List on Slideshare

Five Key Takeaways from the U.S. Solar Market Trends Report

Posted on: August 17th, 2012 by shannon No Comments


1.  Photovoltaic markets are growing quickly

Last year was another banner year for solar, with large increases in both the number and average size of photovoltaic (PV) installations. The capacity of PV installations in 2011 more than doubled, compared with 2010 installations. More utility-scale systems and an increase in the average system size accounted for this dramatic growth. The total capacity of utility and nonresidential systems installed in 2011 increased by 145% and 132% respectively compared with 2010.  The average size of all PV installations grew 64% in 2011, to 29 kWDC. Fig. 2: Annual Installed Grid-Connected PV Capacity by Sector (2002-2011).

 

2.  Installations are concentrated in a few states

In 2011, more than two-thirds of grid-connected PV system installations were concentrated in California, New Jersey, Arizona and New Mexico, as shown. Of the top 10 states, Arizona had the highest growth, with more than 4.5 times as many installations as the year before. The market more than tripled in New Mexico and New York, and more than doubled in California, New Jersey and Hawaii. On a per capita basis, six states — Arizona, Colorado, Delaware, Hawaii, New Jersey and New Mexico — had more installations than California in 2011, demonstrating how the market is diversifying across the country.

 

2011 Rank by State 2011

(MWDC)

1. California 537.8
2. New Jersey 306.1
3. Arizona 287.8
4. New Mexico 122.1
5. Pennsylvania 78.2
6. Colorado 75.5
7. New York 68.3
8. Texas 51.1
9. North Carolina 45.5
10. Hawaii 40.5
All Other States 232.0
Total 1,844.9

 

3.  Utility-sector PV installations more than doubled in 2011 compared to 2010

The utility sector’s share of all U.S. grid-connected PV installations grew from virtually none in 2006 to 15% in 2009, to 32% in 2010, and to 38% in 2011. Of the 10 largest PV installations in the United States, five were installed in 2011. The two largest U.S. PV installations installed in 2011 were the 49-megawatt DC (MWDC) Mesquite Solar 1 Plant in Arlington, Ariz., which supplies power to Pacific Gas and Electric Co. customers in northern California, and the 35-MWDC plant in Webberville, Texas, which supplies power to Austin Energy.

 

4.  The average size of non-residential distributed installations is increasing

The capacity of non-residential sector installations, like government buildings, retail stores, warehouses, and military installations, more than doubled in 2011 compared to 2010. The average size of a non-residential distributed installation grew by an astounding 46%. The largest installations to date in this sector were a 9-MWDC installation at Gloucester Marine Terminal in Gloucester City, N.J., and a 6-MWDC installation at the U.S. Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs, Colorado. Favorable economics for consumers and a rush to complete installations before the expiration of the Treasury 1603 Grant program at the end of 2011 fueled this explosive growth.

 

5.  Policy remains the most important market driver

Federal tax credits and cash grants are an important financial component of most installations. State policies affect PV installations, with most installations happening in the few states with favorable solar policies. Though their impact on the total market is declining, financial rebates have historically been the most important state policy initiative, especially for smaller installations. State renewable portfolio standards (RPSs), which mandate that utilities generate a percentage of their power from solar or other renewable sources, tend to encourage larger installations. These are fast becoming the most important state policy tool. Installed PV costs are declining and there are now a few markets where PV costs compete with electricity prices.

 

By Larry Sherwood, IREC

Solar company to create more than 300 jobs in NC

Posted on: August 14th, 2012 by shannon No Comments

SHELBY, N.C. — A designer and manufacturer of solar power mounting systems plans will set up its U.S. headquarters in Shelby and create more than 300 jobs at a production and distribution facility.

Gov. Beverly Perdue said Monday that Schletter Inc. will create the jobs by the end of 2016 and invest more than $27 million in the facility in Cleveland County.

Since 2008, Schletter has been manufacturing its photovoltaic mounting systems at its only U.S. production facility in Arizona. The company now supplies 25 percent of all solar mounting systems produced and delivered in the U.S.

The average compensation is expected to be almost $41,000 plus benefits. The average annual wage in Cleveland County is almost $33,000.

The project was made possible in part by state grants.

 

Story by Associated Press

The Secret to Solar Power

Posted on: August 13th, 2012 by shannon No Comments

Most mornings, Danny Kennedy hops on a bike with orange saddlebags and rides half an hour from his home to Oakland’s Jack London Square. He makes for quite a picture cruising down Telegraph Avenue, decked out as he often is in an orange helmet, orange jacket and orange leather Adidas shoes. When he arrives at his office, he often makes his rounds on an orange indoor bike. (He’s not joking around with the orange thing.) Though Kennedy was once a young environmental activist documenting the horrors of the oil and mining industries, he’s now a 41-year-old company man. The orange that he wears daily — which extends even to the checks on his shirts, and which drives his wife crazy — is the brand color for his rapidly growing residential solar company, Sungevity, whose revenues grew by a factor of eight in 2010 and doubled again in 2011, and whose employees have grown to 260 from 3 since the company’s inception five years ago.

{The Sungevity founders (from left) Alec Guettel, Danny Kennedy and Andrew Birch at a home installation.}

 

Given that growth, it’s somewhat surprising to learn that Kennedy and Sungevity aren’t taken very seriously by their larger competitors. Kennedy’s activist past and his willingness to wear his commitment to the solar industry quite literally on his sleeve are viewed by some as a liability in an industry desperate to demonstrate its seriousness. Thanks to increased Chinese production of photovoltaic panels, innovative financing techniques, investment from large institutional investors and a patchwork of semi-effective public-policy efforts, residential solar power has never been more affordable. But even with pricing that requires no initial capital outlay from consumers and guarantees lifetime savings — and even occasional opportunities to make money, by selling power back to the grid — Americans still aren’t buying into solar in significant numbers.

 

To read the entire article, visit  http://tiny.cc/e6eziw

 

Written by: JEFF HIMMELMAN, New York Times

First NC CHP Initiative Meeting of the year hosted by Piedmont Natural Gas

Posted on: August 7th, 2012 by shannon No Comments

The first meeting of the North Carolina Combined Heat and Power Initiative (NC-CHPI) was hosted at Piedmont Natural Gas in Charlotte, NC on June 28, 2012.  NC-CHPI is an industry led group that promotes market development for combined heat and power, waste heat recovery and district energy technologies and concepts.  CHP technologies can help the industrial and manufacturing sector become more competitive and grow by controlling energy costs and improving efficiency.  CHP is also an important strategy at institutional and government facilities, and when deployed delivers benefits of reduced facility energy costs, reduced emissions, peak demand management, and energy security for critical infrastructure.

Representatives from Piedmont Natural Gas, Lime Energy and the North Carolina Solar Center led agenda items with key discussions on the market opportunity for CHP in NC.  Thirty-five participants attended representing CHP development interests and end-users; including Abundant Power, Burns & McDonnell, Calor Energy, Capstone Turbine Corp., Caterpillar, Coca-Cola Bottling Co. Consolidated , Crowder Construction Company, Duke Energy, Forsite Development Inc., the North Carolina Sustainable Energy Association, Solar Turbines and MMS Solutions.  Former SE-CEAC Director Keith McAllister, noting the impressive turnout, stated that “The goal of this meeting should be to come out of here with a core group of leaders to make something happen.  With the policies, regulatory climate, low cost of fuel and awareness of CHP, the business opportunity and savings opportunity is right”.

A key outcome from the meeting was the creation of an 11 member Organizing Committee that will steer the group’s goals, decisions and activities. In addition, sub-committees are under formal organization that will deliberate Policy, Technology & Boiler MACT Compliance, Financing and Marketing & Outreach.
These focus areas were defined during this all-participant meeting and the committees will work to identify measures to promote market access for CHP technologies.

The North Carolina Solar Center hosts the U.S. DOE Southeast Clean Energy Application Center (SE-CEAC) as part of its Renewable Energy, Clean
Power and Industrial Efficiency program. The SE-CEAC organized this meeting to re-fuel the initiative which started in 2010. The NC-CHPI has met throughout the past two years, however this year there is a push for the organization to be more action oriented with a specific agenda to advocate the CHP market in North Carolina.

The NC-CHPI Organizing Committee will be meeting throughout the rest of the summer, working towards establishing a formal Board that will collectively work on NC policy issues and support to the CHP market.  To receive updates and meeting notices, follow the NC-CHPI on its LinkedIn: Follow NC-CHPI on LinkedIn