Archive for March, 2013

NC Solar Center to offer accredited geothermal training course starting April 29th

Posted on: March 28th, 2013 by shannon No Comments


If you haven’t heard, the Solar Center is now drilling for energy! In response to the need for more geothermal installer training, the NC Solar Center is offering a 40- hour International Ground Source Heat Pump Association (IGSHPA) Accredited Installer course.  This week-long Geothermal course will be held on April 29 – May 3, 2013 in Raleigh, and is part of the Renewable Energy Technologies Diploma Series.

This week-long workshop is designed for developers, architects, manufacturers, distributors, dealers, installers, HVAC contractors, trenching/drilling contractors, and anyone who desires a working knowledge of this innovative and rapidly growing technology. Representatives from public utilities, private utilities, and rural electric cooperatives can also benefit from training.  NC well contractors receive up to 40 CEU from the NC Well Contractors Certification Commission. Click here to register now!


NC State to offer free screening of energy documentary “Switch” – April 8th

Posted on: March 28th, 2013 by shannon No Comments


The North Carolina State University Energy Council and Arcos Films will hold a FREE screening of Switch, a new award-winning documentary that moves past the politics to deliver the straight answers on energy on:


Monday, 4/8 – 7:00pm

North Carolina State University

Witherspoon Student Cinema


Is fracking polluting our water? How dangerous is nuclear? Will gasoline prices continue to rise? Can we clean up coal? Can renewables really power our future?

Switch delivers straight answers to today’s most controversial energy questions, as energy visionary Dr. Scott Tinker travels the world, exploring leading energy sites, from coal to solar, oil to biofuels, most of them highly restricted and never before seen on film. He seeks the truth from international leaders of government, industry and academia, then cuts through the confusion to discover a path to our energy future as surprising as it is practical.

“The Energy Council is pleased to present a showing of the movie, SWITCH,” said Dr. Bill Winner, chair of the university’s Energy Council, responsible for advocating for NC State’s diverse energy initiatives. “The movie, and our campus energy experts, explain the need for “Switching” to new and more sustainable ways to produce, distribute and use energy. Come and enjoy the film, and envision our new energy future.”

Those campus energy experts represent multiple energy-related programs including the Advanced Transportation Energy Center, the NC Solar Center, and a student from the environmental science department.  After the film, there will be an opportunity for open discussion.

Switch is part of the Switch Energy Project, a multi-pronged effort to build a global understanding of energy. This screening is part of over 250 universities across the country participating in the GSA Switch Energy Awareness & Efficiency Program, which launched last fall at over 40 pilot schools with a student ambassador program, efficiency drive and screening of the film.


U.S. Solar Market Grows 76%: An Increasingly Competitive Energy Source

Posted on: March 22nd, 2013 by shannon No Comments


GTM Research and the Solar Energy Industries Association® (SEIA®) have released the “U.S. Solar Market Insight: Year-in-Review 2012,” the definitive analysis of solar power markets in the U.S. With another record-breaking year in 2012, solar is the fastest growing energy source in the U.S., powering homes, businesses and utility grids across the nation. The Solar Market Insight annual edition shows the U.S. installed 3,313 megawatts (MW) of solar photovoltaics (PV) in 2012, a record for the industry. Perhaps most importantly, clean, reliable, affordable solar is continuing a major growth pattern that has made it a leading source of new electricity for America that’s increasingly competitive with conventional electricity across dozens of states today.

Even with the cost of solar falling for consumers, the market size of the U.S. solar industry grew 34 percent from $8.6 billion in 2011 to $11.5 billion in 2012—not counting billions of dollars in other economic benefits across states and communities.  As of the end of 2012, there were 7,221 MW of PV and 546 MW of concentrating solar power (CSP) online in the U.S. — enough to power 1.2 million homes.

“There were 16 million solar panels installed in the U.S. last year – more than two panels per second of the work day – and every one of these panels was bolted down by a member of the U.S. workforce,” said Rhone Resch, president and CEO of SEIA. “We’ve brought more new solar online in 2012 than in the three prior years combined. This sustained growth is enabling the solar industry to create thousands of good jobs and to provide clean, affordable energy for more families, businesses, utilities, and the military than ever before. This growth simply would not have occurred without consistent, long-term policies that have helped to ensure a stable business environment for this country’s 5,600 solar companies – many of them small businesses.”

At the state level, 2012 was another year for breaking records. California became the first state to install over 1,000 MW in one year, with growth across all market segments. Arizona came in as the second largest market, led by large-scale utility installations, while New Jersey experienced growth in the state’s non-residential market. The top 10 largest state solar markets in 2012 were:

1. California   1,033           6. Massachusetts   129
2. Arizona   710                 7. Hawaii   109
3. New Jersey   415           8. Maryland   74
4. Nevada   198                  9. Texas   64
5. North Carolina   132      10. New York   60

In addition to record annual installations, the fourth quarter (Q4) of 2012 shattered all-time quarterly records as well, with 1,300 MW of installed PV, besting the previous high by a whopping 64 percent. The residential and utility segments had their best quarters ever, installing 144 MW and 874 MW respectively.

“2012 was a busy year in the U.S. solar market,” said Shayle Kann, vice president at GTM Research. “The market value of U.S. solar installations reached $11.5 billion in 2012, up from just $3.6 billion in 2009. Amidst this boom, the industry faced newly-imposed import tariffs on Chinese solar cells and ongoing consolidation in the manufacturing space. In 2013, we expect another strong year, driven in part by new mechanisms to increase the availability, and lower the cost, of solar project financing.”

The residential market saw meaningful growth in California, Arizona, Hawaii, Massachusetts, and New York, as average residential system prices dropped nearly 20 percent in one year – from $6.16 per watt in Q4 2011 to $5.04 per watt in Q4 2012. SEIA and GTM Research expect residential solar to surge in 2013 and beyond, as third-party solar financing options spread across the country.

The non-residential segment, which includes commercial, governmental, and non-profit systems, installed more than 1,000 MW in 2012. Leading non-residential markets included California, New Jersey, Arizona, Massachusetts, and Hawaii.

Meanwhile, the utility market continues to be dominated by installations in the desert southwest. There were 152 utility solar installations in 2012, and eight of the ten largest projects currently in operation were completed in 2012. These installations represented 54% of total installed capacity, or 1,782 MW.

SEIA and GTM Research expect the growth to continue into 2013 and beyond. For this year, the report forecasts 4,300 MW of new PV installations, up 29 percent over 2012, and 946 MW of concentrating solar power. Over the next four years, the residential and non-residential markets are expected to gain market share as system prices decline, the industry becomes even more efficient, and new financing channels arise. “All of these data point to solar having turned the corner,” added Resch.  “Solar is an affordable option for homes and businesses today, and is well on its way to becoming a substantial part of America’s energy portfolio.”

Key Report Findings
·       PV installations grew 76% in 2012 to reach 3,313 MW

·       There are now more than 300,000 PV systems operating across the U.S.

·       The U.S. installed 11% of all global PV in 2012, the highest market share in at least fifteen years

·       Cumulative PV capacity operating in the U.S. as of the end of 2012 stood at 7,221 MW and cumulative operating concentrating solar stood at 546 MW

·       Twelve states installed over 50 MW of solar each in 2012, up from eight in 2011

·       There were over 90,000 solar installations in 2012, including 83,000 in the residential market alone

·      The non-residential segment, which includes commercial, governmental, and non-profit systems, installed more than 1,000 MW in 2012. Leading non-residential markets included California, New Jersey, Arizona, Massachusetts, and Hawaii.

·       Weighted average PV system prices fell 27% in 2012, reaching $5.04/W in the residential market, $4.27/W in the non-residential market, and $2.27/W in the utility market

The “U.S. Solar Market Insight: Year-in-Review” can be found at The 2012 report is the most detailed and timely research available on the continuing growth and opportunity in the U.S. The report includes deep analysis of solar markets, technologies and pricing, identifying the key metrics that will help solar decision-makers navigate the market’s current and forecasted trajectory.

GTM Research,



Reposted from North American Clean Energy

ACC Clean Energy Challenge Competition takes place at NC State on April 9

Posted on: March 22nd, 2013 by shannon No Comments


The $100K ACC Clean Energy Challenge is a business plan competition encouraging students from all universities throughout the southeastern United States to develop business plans for new clean energy companies. NC State University is proud to host the competition this year in partnership with Duke, UNC-Chapel Hill, Wake Forest, and, competition organizer, Maryland.

Join us for the $100K ACC Clean Energy Challenge Finals and Awards Ceremony on Tuesday, April 9 from 11:30 AM until 5:00 PM. Come cheer on your favorite ACC University, and participate in other exciting activities such as:

  • A Clean Energy Expo with ACC Clean Energy Challenge semi-finalists as well as clean tech industry partners.
  • An expert panel discussion on “Entrepreneurship: From Seed to Start-Up to Seasoned Enterprise” moderated by Lee Anne Nance, Senior Vice President, Research Triangle Region.
  • Presentations from the “Final Four” university teams vying for the $100,000 prize.
  • And, of course, lunch!

To learn more about the ACC Clean Energy Challenge, please visit our website at This event is free and open to the public.

Sustainable energy conference comes as state looks at overhauling law

Posted on: March 19th, 2013 by shannon No Comments

Just a few years ago North Carolina’s Sustainable Energy Conference events focused on the moonshot dream of developing state policies to promote the clean energy sector.

This year the conference will be held in Raleigh at a time that state legislators are trying to undo a key state policy, and the first law of its kind in the South, that promotes renewables and energy efficiency.

This week’s introduction of House Bill 298, which seeks to freeze the state’s renewables and conservation mandate, will lend a sense of timeliness to panel discussions about the status of solar energy, wind farms and other renewables in North Carolina.

In Thursday’s announcement of the conference, N.C. Commerce Secretary Sharon Decker frames the debate by extolling the clean energy sector as “vaulting North Carolina into a top-tier state for clean energy jobs and lifting the entire Southeast with it.”

Speakers at this year’s 3-day sustainability conference will include Marilyn Brown, a Georgia Tech professor who worked on the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change and shared a Nobel Prize with former vice president Al Gore.

Other speakers will include James Ellis, electric vehicle manager for Nissan North America, maker of the Nissan Leaf electric car, and Ty Mitchell, executive vice president for Cree, the Durham-based maker of LED lighting.

Panel discussions will cover microgrids, power grid security, federal and state policies, North Carolina’s energy clusters, solar farms, offshore wind farms, biofuels and others.

The discussion of solar farms and wind farms is likely to include the fallout from House legislation introduced by Republican Mike Hager, a former Duke Energy engineer who regards clean energy mandates to be boondoggles. The state’s 2007 energy law requires that investor-owned electric utilities offset 12.5 percent of retail power sales with renewables or efficiency programs by 2021.

Hager’s bill would freeze that mandate at the current 3 percent. His bill would also prohibit power companies from paying additional incremental costs to cover the costs of renewables and efficiency programs beyond the 3 percent they have attained so far.

The 2007 law spawned a surge in solar farms, including a planned 100-megawatt project that would be one of the largest in the country. It also forced Duke Energy, Progress Energy and rural and municipal utilities to develop programs to pay customers cash incentives for buying energy efficient appliances and adopting other conservation measures.


Written by: John Murawski, Raleigh News & Observer

Research Triangle Cleantech Cluster Launches Smart Transportation Industry Focus

Posted on: March 13th, 2013 by shannon No Comments


Research Triangle Region, N.C. – Research Triangle Region economic developers and companies have officially entered the race to make the region a leader in plug-in electric vehicle (PEV) technologies.

The Research Triangle Cleantech Cluster (RTCC) will announce today (Wednesday, March 13) the launch of a smart transportation industry focus that will capitalize on the region’s critical mass of PEV companies and research, as well as a statewide plan to make North Carolina plug-in ready from mountains to sea.

The announcement will be made at a meeting of the N.C. Plug-in Electric Vehicle Taskforce, the group that is leading the statewide effort, as it celebrates completion of its statewide PEV readiness plans. The event will be hosted by Advanced Energy, the organization that will manage RTCC’s industry engagement in smart transportation.

“Advanced Energy sees working with the RTCC to lead a smart transportation industry engagement program as one of the next logical steps for the task force to take,” said Jeff Barghout, Advanced Energy’s division director for transportation initiatives.

“The task force’s ongoing work with more than 200 organizations showed us the significant concentration of electric vehicle supply chain companies that already operate in this region. We intend to build on that work to accelerate the growth of the industry and make electric vehicles convenient for our residents to use,” Barghout said.

RTCC Managing Director Lee Anne Nance said the smart transportation focus is a natural fit with the RTCC’s rapidly maturing smart grid cluster. For example, the Advanced Transportation Energy Center, co-located with N.C. State University’s FREEDM Systems Center, is developing technologies that will help the electric power industry manage large-scale uptake of plug-in electric vehicles. The FREEDM Center, meanwhile, is conducting research that will transform the nation’s electric power grid into a smart ! grid that will manage distributed energy resources, ensure a secure communication backbone and improve efficiency.

“The center’s work is transforming the power industry in the same way the Internet transformed the computer industry from mainframe to desktop to mobile device,” Nance said. “Together, smart grid and smart transportation hold extraordinary potential for innovation and business development in our 13 counties.”

Wake County Economic Development, which leads the region’s smart grid focus, will support RTCC and Advanced Energy’s work with industry knowledge and connections, said Wake EDC project manager Michael Haley.

“Wake EDC is facilitating national and global linkages of companies, suppliers, support agencies and researchers working on smart grid innovation and business development, and the spill-over and connections to smart transportation have just naturally emerged,” Haley said. “We see this as a win-win for our business development and for our region’s quality of life as we develop the full spectrum of smart, clean technologies.”

Local industry leaders, like Scott Henneberry of Schneider Electric, agree. Schneider Electricmanufactures electric charging stations in Knightdale.

“Schneider Electric is a $30 billion global energy management leader, and electric vehicle charging stations are a growing and important part of that,” said Henneberry, RTCC board member and vice president of smart grid strategy for Schneider Electric, an RTCC founding company. “A massive deployment of electric vehicles will require a smart grid, so we see tremendous upside potential for this industry.”

The Research Triangle Cleantech Cluster is an initiative of business, government, academic and nonprofit leaders working to accelerate the cleantech economy and is led by a 10-member board of directors. The Research Triangle Regional Partnership (RTRP) formed and manages the RTCC with funding from industry members ABB Inc., Duke Energy, Field2Base Inc., Power Analytics Corp., PowerSecure International, RTI International, SAS, Schneider Electric, Sensus and Siemens. RTRP is a public-private partnership that leads economic development strategy for the 13-county Research Triangle Region of North

Advanced Energy (AE) is a nationally recognized nonprofit with a mission to provide economic, environmental and societal benefits through innovative and market-based approaches to energy issues.  Established in 1980, AE has been developing innovative programs, conducting cutting-edge research and analyzing real-world effectiveness for energy issues in order to deliver tangible results with practical, sustainable solutions for customers, partners, members and the energy-using public. Located in Raleigh, N.C., AE focuses on applied building sciences in residential, commercial and industrial sectors; industrial process technologies; renewable energy; motors and drives testing; and emerging transportation initiatives (such as electric transportation). AE’s facility houses state-of-the-art laboratories, where they perform testing and applied research in all of the evolving disciplines. For m! ore information, visit


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Contact: For more information on the RTCC, visit or contact Managing Director Lee Anne Nance(919) 334-4075.

Case Study: Solar in Small Communities

Posted on: March 7th, 2013 by shannon No Comments


The Solar in Small Communities: Columbia, MO case study examines how a medium-sized community can enable and encourage solar development in their community. The case study aims to share  Columbia’s efforts with other local governments as a testimony to the impact local governments can have on a state solar market. The primary focus is on the unique efforts that it has made using its municipal utility, which include creating a utility renewable energy standard with a specific solar target, authorizing net metering, offering solar rebates to customers, and pursuing solar PPAs with local commercial businesses and installations on city government property.

This case study was created as part of the N.C. 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.

Click here to read the case study.