Archive for 2012

America Votes Solar – National Solar Survey 2012

Posted on: October 10th, 2012 by shannon No Comments

During early September, Hart Research undertook an online national survey of 1,206 registered voters on behalf of the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA).  The margin of error for the survey was +/- 2.8 percentage points.   Key Findings of the survey were:

9 of 10 voters (92%) believe it is important for the United States to develop and use solar power.

Of all the sources of energy that government can and should support, voters put solar at the top of the list.

By nearly a four to one margin, voters want government to support solar through tax credits and financial incentives.

Click here to see more in depth analysis of the survey.

The Clean Energy Economy is Expanding in North Carolina

Posted on: October 9th, 2012 by shannon No Comments


North Carolina’s strong commitment to develop a sustainable energy economy offers the cleantech industry the right conditions for success.  State policy includes the first and only Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency Portfolio Standard in the Southeast and some of the best cleantech tax credits in the country.  These factors, along with our strong workforce, industry leadership, and high quality of life have combined to result in many exciting economic development successes in 2012.

In March, China Ming Yang Wind Power Group, a leading wind turbine manufacturer in China opened its North American Research and Development Center on the Centennial Campus at N.C. State University in Raleigh.  Ming Yang will hire 15 engineers in the next year.

In August, Schletter, a leading manufacturer of solar-power mounting systems announced a production facility in Shelby that will employ 305 workers over the next three years with an average wage of $40,660 per year plus benefits.  The $27 million facility should be at full production by the end of 2016.

In September, ABB opened a new $90 million cable plant in Huntersville.  The cable is suitable for transmitting power from wind and solar farms or upgrading aging transmission lines.  ABB plans to employ 100 employees at the new Huntersville plant.  ABB currently employs close to 2,000 people in eight North Carolina locations.

Also in September, Semprius opened its new solar panel manufacturing facility in Henderson.  In the coming years, the company will employ more than 250 people in manufacturing and assembly of their high concentration photovoltaic solar panels which currently hold the record for solar module efficiency at 33.9 percent.

Semprius grand opening in Hendersonville, N.C.

The state anticipates more cleantech announcements in the months to come.  If you’re interested in learning more about cleantech manufacturing in North Carolina, please reach out to our Economic Development Program Manager, Betsy McCorkle –

“Solar Powering Your Community” Workshops Blazed Through the Southeast in September

Posted on: October 9th, 2012 by shannon No Comments


Despite rainy weather, talk of solar power energized over 130 workshop participants throughout the Southeast last month.  N.C. Solar Center senior policy analysts Justin Barnes, Amy Heinemann, and Brian Lips worked closely with our partners of the Sunshot Solar Outreach Partnership (SolarOPs)to pull off successful half-day “Solar Powering Your Community” workshops in Raleigh and Charlotte, N.C.; Atlanta, G.A.; and Columbia, S.C.  All of the workshops provided participants with an overview of policies and regulations that impact solar adoption (for better or worse), and an overview of options for financing public- and private-sector solar projects.

Our local expert panelists relate their solar experiences at the Charlotte workshop. September 21, 2012

The sessions also featured some excellent local guest speakers who provided their perspectives on what it takes to get solar done on public property.  In Raleigh, Julian Prosser, Assistant City Manager with the City of Raleigh, described the City of Oaks’ experience with solar and PV installations. Guest speakers at the Charlotte workshop included Rich Deming of the Centralina Council of Government, Dan Ziehm with Gaston County, Rob Phocas with the City of Charlotte, Stephen Hunting with the Parker Poe law firm, and Eric Blomendale with Dakota Energy Solutions.

Our guest speakers did a phenomenal job. They imparted good, practical advice about how to go solar, with an emphasis on describing obstacles that they experienced and how these obstacles were overcome.  That kind of peer-to-peer exchange of information is incredibly valuable.” -Justin Barnes.

In addition to the Southeast workshops, the SolarOPs team held additional workshops in Richmond, VA;  Kansas City, MO; Cincinnati and Dayton, OH; Indianapolis, IN, St. Louis, MO, and Dubuque, IA.  It was definitely a busy month, and for anyone that missed these great events, stay tuned! The Solar OPs Team will be conducting a variety of additional outreach and assistance activities during the remainder of 2012 and 2013.

*Funded by the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) SunShot Initiative, SolarOPs achieves its goals through a mix of educational workshops, peer-to-peer sharing opportunities, research-based reports, and online resources. To perform the work of SolarOPs, DOE selected teams led by the International City/County Management Association (ICMA) and ICLEI – Local Governments for Sustainability USA. The teams include the Solar Electric Power Association (SEPA); Interstate Renewable Energy Council, Inc. (IREC); North Carolina Solar Center (NCSC); Meister Consultants Group, Inc. (MCG); The Solar Foundation (TSF); American Planning Association (APA); and National Association of Regional Councils (NARC).

The goal of the SolarOPs is to help local governments take a comprehensive approach to solar energy deployment by:  Conducting outreach and sharing best practices for increasing solar energy use with thousands of local governments across the nation;  working in partnership with industry experts and national membership associations to enable local governments across the United States to expand their local solar markets; and providing actionable information in relevant areas, such as solar policies and regulations, financial incentives, workforce training, and utility and community engagement.


Certificate in Renewable Energy Management Groups Produce First-Rate Projects

Posted on: October 9th, 2012 by shannon No Comments

The N.C. Solar Center completed another successful round of the Certificate in Renewable Energy Management (CREM) program. CREM is the only program in the country that is especially designed for the non-installer that covers trends in renewable energy technology, federal and local policy, and financing strategies. Professionals who have attended the program come from diverse backgrounds – from engineering to marketing, and banking to project development.  The class, which typically runs for three months, requires participants attend 36-plus hours of online and onsite classes, complete the short quizzes and submit and present a group project. Each group project is comprised of professionals from different disciplines to work together and come up with a project that uses the skills and knowledge gained during the course of the program.

“For me, a particular highlight was viewing the class projects undertaken and presented by the students taking the program,” said Forrest Milder, a Boston-based lawyer who taught the course Practical Aspects of Renewable Energy Project Development, and was also a former chair of the MIT Enterprise Forum of Cambridge.   “The students obviously put a first-class effort into their work and treated the assignment like a true business opportunity.  They interviewed potential off-takers, developers, accountants and lawyers, and some of the groups produced a classy work product that looked like it was done by a seasoned professional.   You could tell that these groups put a lot of work into it their presentation and it didn’t look like a mere class project.”

Projects have included feasibility studies, a study on community solar’s perils and promise, and proposals for clean energy systems in manufacturing. The fall 2012 class projects involved creative ways to have solar installation on schools and university buildings, and a non-profit business plan to distribute pre-fabricated powerports with emergency and developing world use.

“The most tangible value that the class gets out of this particular course is the group project,” said Lyra Rakusin, Workforce Development Specialist at the N.C. Solar Center and course designer of CREM. “The effort that each group puts in analyzing the pros of a location, gathering the data, deciding which technology to use, and making the project work financially helps these professionals understand what it takes to make it in this growing industry. In the end, these are the skills needed to create the jobs of this century.”

While the CREM program caters to the non-technical side of renewables, the N.C. Solar Center continues to offer workshops for installers and system designers of solar electric, solar thermal, wind systems and home energy raters. The Center also has workshops for STEM teachers and community college instructors who wish to incorporate renewable energy into the classroom. That effort is funded by the U.S. Department of Energy’s SunShot Program and the Solar Instructor Training Network.

For more information about the Certificate in Renewable Energy Management, contact Lyra Rakusin at or 919-624-3061.

Clean Transportation Partners’ Success Highlight Use of Propane and Hybrid Electric Vehicles

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

Two documents recently posted on the N.C. Solar Center’s Clean Transportation web pages : the  Hybrid Electric Vehicle Impact Summary  and Propane Vehicles Success Story  highlight two of the alternative fuel/advanced vehicle technologies expanded through the Clean Fuel Advanced Technology (CFAT) project- a six year project of the Center that spanned 2006-2012. An overall summary of the CFAT project, which focused on education, outreach, recognition of exemplary efforts and sub-award funding assistance for technologies that reduce transportation related emissions in eligible North Carolina counties, is captured here.

A 2010 CFAT call for projects led to the purchase of 23 light- duty hybrid electric passenger vehicles (HEVs) by seven government entities: Cities of Cherryville and Raleigh, Centralina Council of Governments, Nash and Person Counties, Nash Rocky Mount Schools and Town of Chapel Hill. Collectively these vehicles drive approximately 365,000 miles and displace over 9,500 gallons of gasoline annually through the increased efficiency of the hybrids compared to vehicles being replaced.

Another CFAT success story is the use of propane (aka as LPG or autogas) by the Iredell County Sheriff’s Department. Thirteen (13) 2010 Ford Crown Victoria patrol cars were converted to gasoline-LPG bi-fuel vehicles. The conversion cost was $4,615 per vehicle for a total project cost of $59,990. Project funding contributed $38,865 with the Sherriff’s Office cost share of $21,125 coming from Drug Interdiction Funds. With LPG pricing considerably less than conventional fuels (current state contract prices for a transport load of propane before taxes is around $1.08 per gallon) the Sherriff’s Department is saving money while reducing emissions. As a low carbon fuel propane burns cleaner than its conventional counterparts. Moreover, LPG is widely available through an established distribution network.

All in all, drivers soon discovered that there is little compromise in style and performance with HEVs and LPG vehicles. In fact, an additional 20-25 plug-in electric, hybrid electric and propane vehicles were purchased by project partners as a result of their initial experience through the grant-funded project. The N.C. Solar Center is pleased that the CFAT project will continue with $6.2 million in funding from the NC Dept. of Transportation for federal fiscal years 2013-2015. The project will expand with a media campaign, training opportunities and additional funding for emission reduction sub-award projects.

Solar Power International 2012: New trends in technology

Posted on: September 27th, 2012 by shannon No Comments

The N.C. Solar Center joined thousands of other solar industry professionals in Orlando, F.L. in early September for the largest solar industry event in North America, Solar Power International (SPI) 2012. The conference is co-organized by the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA) and Solar Electric Power Association (SEPA) and this year featured a keynote address by former president Bill Clinton.

N.C. Solar Center staff attended the show to learn more about new trends in the industry, make new contacts, and represent North Carolina and its strong solar industry on a national stage.  As in previous years, the Center exhibited at the conference and had support through partnerships/sponsorships. Many thanks to our sponsors:

The N.C. Sustainable Energy Association, Raleigh Economic Development, N.C. Department of Commerce, ABB, Evolve Energy, Parker Poe, the Research Triangle Regional Partnership, Carolina Solar Energy, RB Engineering, Commscope, Enlight Solar, Argand Energy, Southern Energy Management, Kimley-Horn and Associates, SolarHot, and First Century Energy.

The exhibit hall housed over 900 exhibitors, including more than 200 first-time exhibitors, compared to last year’s 1,200 exhibitors.  The halls were dominated by photovoltaic products and service providers, while there was a relatively small area of solar thermal exhibitors.  In their own ways both solar technology industries are, as Rhone Resch, president and CEO of SEIA, said in his opening remarks, “experiencing the best of times and the worst of times.”  The U.S. solar thermal industry is developing new products and rapidly expanding a development model of third-party owned systems that sell metered solar thermal energy, while they are struggling to lower system prices to compete with dropping PV prices, excitement about PV, and low natural gas prices.  The U.S. PV industry is rapidly growing the size and number of PV installations, while a severe component and system cost pressure is driving industry consolidation, led by module manufacturers.

This rapidly growing industry is spurring lots of innovation, which was noticeable  by all the new products and services. The major system component makers continue to add features designed to increase value for PV system owners. One trend seen was module manufacturers teaming up with microinverter manufacturers to provide AC solar modules.  AC modules were available at SPI 2011, but were much more commonplace this year.  Inverter manufacturers are introducing new products designed to drive down costs and meet the demands of the electric grid. Many of the new inverters for the U.S. are transformerless, which are common in Europe now and are lighter and more efficient than transformer-based inverters. The newest inverters are also starting to offer communication with the local gird operator/utility, opening the door for a smarter grid powered by solar.

At least two major solar manufacturers displayed new energy storage systems designed to increase the value of a PV system. These systems ranged in size from a small residential system to a system designed for integration with a utility-scale PV system.  These new energy storage systems come at a price premium today, but are expected to drop in cost and become more prevalent as the growth of electric vehicles help drive down the cost of the batteries.

The exhibit hall had just as many mounting system exhibitors as inverter exhibitors, and just as much product innovation as well. Many vendors were offering product updates, or entirely new systems, designed to lower system lifetime cost, primarily by decreasing the time required to install the system. There were nearly as many monitoring system exhibitors who were offering whiz-bang real-time monitoring of PV system performance. And, there were at least a few new exhibitors offering advanced software that plows through huge amounts of map based data with the goal of providing a very low cost evaluation of potential PV sites.

The N.C. Solar Center will be exhibiting at SPI 2013 in Chicago to represent North Carolina’s growing solar and clean energy industry.   For partner and sponsorship opportunities, please contact Shannon Helm at

Plug-In Electric Vehicle Week

Posted on: September 26th, 2012 by shannon No Comments


Monday, October 1 – Saturday, October 6, 2012

The Triangle Region will host Triangle Plug-In Electric Vehicle (PEV) Awareness Week to promote electric transportation and educate the public on what it means to be a PEV ready region.

NC State kicked off PEV Awareness Week early on Friday, September 21, 2012 with the Electric Vehicle Charging Stations Grand Opening on Centennial Campus. The event was also part of Campus Sustainability Day.

Marbles Museum is celebrating PEV Awareness Week and kicking off National Energy Awareness Month with a free movie screening of “Revenge of the Electric Car” at 7:30 p.m. on Friday, October 5, 2012.

There will also be other activities, including an electric vehicle display on Marble’s courtyard, a special Ride-n-Drive event with a Nissan LEAF, and several energy-themed children’s activities (regular admission fees apply).


Click here to register for the Marbles Museum event.


Click here for more information about PEV Awareness Week and other events happening throughout the week.

IEEE Energy Conversion Congress & Exposition being held at the Raleigh Convention Center

Posted on: September 18th, 2012 by shannon No Comments

This week, staff from the North Carolina Solar Center is supporting the efforts of the Raleigh Chamber of Commerce and the Wake County Chamber of Commerce at the IEEE Energy Conversion Congress & Exposition being held at the Raleigh Convention Center.  The Raleigh and Wake County Chambers of Commerce are sharing a booth to tell the success stories of clean energy, smart grid, and utility innovation happening right here in Wake County.  Engineers and policy analysts from the Solar Center are providing technical expertise to companies interested in relocating or expanding their operations to North Carolina.  The N.C. Solar Center appreciates the opportunity to work closely with local governments as they reach out to industries in the solar, wind, smart grid, and energy efficiency space.

You can learn more about the Congress & Exposition here:

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…..



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



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