Introducing One Stop Solar Projects

One Block off the Grid (1 BOG) has introduced a new one-stop-shop model that allows homeowners to compare pricing and financial options such as leases and power purchase agreements (PPAs), much like they would on Kayak or Expedia. The difference: homeowners also receive unbiased guidance throughout the process from an independent 1BOG solar specialist.

1BOG is now offering PPAs and leasing options for homeowners in 15 states from the nation’s best solar providers. Based on a person’s location, electricity consumption and size of his house, a homeowner can compare different offerings to go solar for little or no money down, have the option to create custom payments 1BOG Solar Quoteand investment options, or explore pre-paid opportunities.

“Anyone who owns a home and has a high monthly electricity bill should consider solar. Now all they have to do is go to 1BOG to shop and compare options, and in minutes they’ll see what solar can do for them,” said Ousman Bah, managing director of 1BOG. “Our advisors will walk them through PPA or leasing options, help them understand what is the best option based on their area and their needs and give them the information they need to make an informed decision. It’s all free, and there is no hassle.”

1BOG’s says its success is based on demystifying the complexities around going solar. Many homeowners recognize that it’s a good idea, but have a hard time knowing where to begin. That’s where 1BOG comes in. And did you know that homeowners who go solar save an average of $1,200 U.S. per year and are able to lock in rates for up to 25 years?

“What 1BOG now offers will allow thousands of American families to compare and select the best solar provider in the nation without leaving their living room,” added Bah. “We believe this will be the key to unlocking the true potential of solar in the U.S. market.”

BioEnergy Bytes

  • BioEnergyBytesDFBorrengo Solar Systems has announced its solar expertise contribution to “The Green Schools Investment Guide,” a free resource guide available to K-12 schools that demonstrates how schools can implement healthy and resource-efficient building improvement. Development of the guide was led by the Center for Green Schools at the U.S. Green Building Council and Architecture for Humanity.
  • The Department of Environmental Protection has announced that it’s Alternative Fuels Incentive Grant (AFIG) Natural Gas Vehicle program is now open. The program will provide an estimated $10 million in grants to help companies and organizations purchase or convert medium to light-weight natural gas vehicles.
  • VIASPACE has signed a Giant King Grass supply contract with Sagay Central of Bacolod City, Negros Occidental, Philippines.
  • Sandia National Laboratories and SRI International are joining forces to explore, test and evaluate a broad range of hydrogen and natural gas fuel systems and components for transportation applications. The five-year memorandum of understanding is the first agreement in Sandia’s new Center for Infrastructure Research and Innovation (CIRI), an alternative fuel research and innovation facility whose goal is to accelerate hydrogen and natural gas infrastructure technologies into the marketplace.
  • Mounting Systems, Inc. has released the new open terrain PV racking system Sigma I XL that reduces pile-driving time and requires less site improvement and maintenance time than its two-post counterpart. Resembling the Greek letter “Pi”, the Pi-rail’s consists of a horizontal beam that provides strength and stability with minimal material usage.

Uesugi Farms Turns Barren Land Into Ripe Commodity

Usegui Farms has turned barren farm land into a rip commodity with solar energy. Vista Solar along with Uesugi Farms’ General Manager Pete Aiello and several local leaders dedicated the solar power project with a ribbon cutting ceremony. The solar project was installed by Vista Solar and is now producing enough power from the sun to offset 91.5 percent of the farm’s electrical demand. Along with a zero-down operating base lease, the system is projected to create more than $2.6 million in savings over the next 25 years.

“Vista Solar did an excellent job helping us turn a business liability into an asset,” said General Manager Pete Aiello. “Not only did they provide professionalism and expertise in designing and installing the system, but they excelled in all the aspects surrounding it, including obtaining the financing and educating our staff about solar.”

uesegi_solar_panelsWith a low base flood elevation, this parcel of farmland has been prone to flooding, making it nearly impossible to grow crops. Uesugi Farms contracted with Vista Solar to create a design that could transform the unusable land into a solar generation facility. Elevated six feet off the ground to avoid flood damage, the system comprised of 300 Watt Canadian Solar panels and 3-phase, transformerless Refusol string inverters is capable of producing more than 1.25 million kilowatt hours of solar energy annually – enough energy to power more than 100 homes.

“Forward-thinking businesses like Uesugi Farms are motivated by the significant savings that solar can provide for their bottom line, but at the end of the day, they often have several other mission-critical places where their capital is needed. Being able to provide a way to start saving with solar right away while preserving precious capital and lines of credit is one of the things that makes this project and Vista Solar so unique,” said Jaymes Callinan, vice president of Vista Solar.

With the commissioning of their new solar system, Uesugi Farms has deepened its commitment to environmental stewardship by converting a barren plot of land into a carbon-offsetting, renewable energy-generator while adhering to their fiduciary duties as a family business. Aiello said this is a legacy decision that will benefit generations to come.

Groups Ask For Water “Road Map”

Leaders of the Committee for the American Clean Energy Agenda (ACEA) praised Rep. Eddie Bernice Johnson (D-TX) and 22 of her House colleagues for urging new U.S. Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz to release the long overdue “road map” on how to manage the development of U.S. energy resources without harming the quality and supply of water supplies. The Energy Policy Act of 2005 required water-related recommendations, but as of yet, have not been submitted to Congress.

The coalition comprised of more than 120 citizen organizations and 2 million members, is concerned about the link between energy development and a clean, safe Waterwater supply. With this mission in mind, ACEA applauded the letter submitted by several U.S. House members to Energy Secretary Moniz.

“Without this information, Congress is flying blind when it comes to developing an energy policy so reliant on the availability of fresh water. As we enter the summer months when the impacts of droughts on agriculture and water shortages are felt across the country, access to these recommendations become all the more crucial,” said Pam Solo, president and founder of the Civil Society Institute.”We should have an energy policy where people mater and that includes having access to clean and safe water.”

Back in January, an ACEA survey found that 92 percent of Americans think “U.S. energy planning and decision making” should be based on a “comprehensive understanding of what our natural resources are.” In essence, this is the “road map” that Congress requested but which was never produced. According to ACEA, the national water road map attracts the support of 92 percent of Republicans, 89 percent of Independents, and 94 percent of Democrats.

“This letter from lawmakers echoes the sentiment of the American people that we must better understand how our energy policy impacts this country’s precious water resources,” stressed Heather White, executive director of the Environmental Working Group. “The Department of Energy cannot afford to delay any loner the release of the ‘Water Nexus’ road map when energy production increasingly threatens water quality across the country, as well as quantity in places where water is scare.”

Tenaska Imperial Solar Hosts “Power On” Event

Tenaska Imperial Solar Energy Center South has added its latest solar project, located in Imperial Valley, CA, to the grid. The company held a “Power On” event to commission to solar project with more than 130 people in attendance. The energy produced will be delivered to San Diego Gas & Electric’s (SDG&E) Sunrise Powerlink. The project was the first under construction in the area and one of the largest commercially financed solar projects in the U.S. The ground mounted photovoltaic solar project will produce up to 130 megawatts of energy – enough to power nearly 44,000 homes.

“Today we celebrated delivering on our promise to send clean renewable energy to Californians,” said Bob Ramaekers, vice president of development for Tenaska. Tenaska Imperial Solar South Project“Reaching this milestone at our inaugural power solar project is confirmation that Tenaska’s 26 years of experience in energy project development and construction provide a strong foundation for the successful development of utility-scale solar.”

According to SDG&E, the newly completed 117-mile Sunrise Powerlink serves as the main catalyst for renewable energy projects, by fulfilling its goal as a renewable energy “superhighway” that will deliver green power generated in the Imperial Valley to the San Diego region.

“The Sunrise Powerlink is one of the largest and most significant projects in the history of San Diego Gas & Electric and we are thrilled that Tenaska is delivering its first energy from its Tenaska Imperial Solar Energy Center South project to our infrastructure,” said Jim Avery, senior vice president of power supply for SDG&E. “SDG&E is a leader in the acquisition of renewable energy and our partnership with Tenaska is an important part of meeting the state’s clean energy goals.”

Earlier this year, Tenaska Imperial South was awarded 2013 project of the Year from Imperial Valley Economic Development Corporation for its contributions to the region.

Everything That’s Wrong About Coal

Not a fan of Coal? Neither is the Sierra Club who has released a new video highlighting the dangers of mining, burning and disposing of coal. The goal of the video is to explain problems with coal-powered dirty fuels, the benefits of clean energy, and the need to move the country beyond coal.

“It’s clear that coal is a dirty, dangerous and outdated fuel source that is making kids sick,” said Mary Anne Hitt, director of the Sierra Club’s Beyond Coal campaign. “From mining, to burning, to disposal, coal is wreaking havoc on our health and our planet. We hope this video helps viewers better understand the dangers of powering our country by burning coal, and why it is so important that we transition to clean, renewable sources of energy.”

Some examples of a clean, renewable energy future: solar and wind energy.

Souilly Wind Farm in France Commissioned

Enovos Luxembourg has officially commissioned its Souilly wind farm located in France. The wind farm consists of five Vestas V90 wind turbines with a power capacity of 2 MW each. The site has an estimated annual production of more than 22,000,000 kWh a year, enough to provide power to 5,500 households.

Souilly wind Farm“Over 10,000 tons of greenhouse gas emissions can be avoided every year thanks to the green energy produced by Souilly farm,” said Daniel Christnach, Head of Renewable Energies & Cogeneration at Enovos. “With the addition of this project, the company now has a total renewable energy production capacity of 271 MW in Luxembourg, Germany, Belgium, France and Italy.”

The company also has a second wind farm in France with a total output capacity of 12MW. In addition, they have three wind projects in Germany with a total output capacity of 27.8 MW and five wind projects in Luxemburg with a total capacity of 48.6 MW.

“As a supplier of electricity and natural gas, we are aware of the limited availability of fossil fuels,” added Marc Reiffers, COO Enovos. “We want to contribute to the supply of sustainable energy and actively protect the climate through sizeable investments in renewable energies, and in this instance it is wind turbines. Our investment in the Souilly wind farm, developed by ABO Win, Wiesbaden, proves our commitment to renewable energy sources that respect the environment.”

Siouxland Energy Steps Up to Step Down Gas Prices

e85-ethanolAs gas prices continue to rise, the ethanol industry is taking a bold step to ensure consumers save at the pump. While E10 and E15 are saving drivings money with each gallon, now flex fuel drivers who use E85 can save even more money. Siouxland Energy and Livestock Cooperative (SELC), a 60 million gallon per year ethanol plant in Sioux Center, Iowa, is now offering E85, a fuel blend of 85 percent ethanol and 15 percent gasoline, directly to retailers and is passing in the RIN value generated by blending ethanol directly to them. The hope, the retailer then passes their saving on to consumers.

According to OPIS, recent prices for E85 at Iowa terminals were about $2.69 per gallon, while SELC listed the price for their E85 at only $2.17 per gallon. Last week, Absolute Energy of St. Ansgar, Iowa announced the implementation of the same program.

“Here at Siouxland Energy, we’re passing on the RIN savings to the consumer, and it’s making for some very attractive E85 prices,” said SELC Commodity Manager Tom Miller. “I think ethanol plants are growing tired of watching a middleman pocket the RIN value to the detriment of consumers. Our plant wants consumers to understand the real value of homegrown ethanol, so we’ve cut out the middleman and we’re selling E85 directly to retailers at a much greater discount.”

A RIN, or renewable identification number, is a free credit earned by the blender of ethanol that can then be sold on the open market to oil refiners, which use the credits to demonstrate compliance with the federal Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS).

BioEnergy Bytes

  • BioEnergyBytesDFThe Georgia Alternative Fuel Vehicle Roadshow is taking place in Georgia this June beginning in Athens on June 3, 2013. The events are free.
  • In the state of Queensland, Australia, Conergy recently commissioned a 100 kilowatt rooftop to the grid that operates without any feed-in tariff.  The retirement nursing home “Casa d’Amore” in South Brisbane solar system contains 400 Conergy PowerPlus modules on 6,888 square feet producing 146 megawatt hours of power each year.
  • Save the date for The RIN Academy on Monday, August 26, 2013 in Des Moines, Iowa. Hosted by EcoEngineers, Iowa State University and the American Coalition for Ethanol (ACE), the RIN Academy is a one-day workshop. Topics include: RFS mandates; higher blends of ethanol & breaking through the blend wall – Opportunities & Challenges;  2013-2014 RIN & commodity pricing trends; the regulatory frontier: RIN QAP, new fuel pathways, emerging technologies; meeting the D5 mandate: sugar ethanol or biodiesel?
  • The 5th Annual OPIS RFS2, RINs & Biodiesel Forum will be held October 17-18, 2013 in Chicago. Top biofuels experts will guide attendees through the RFS from every angle. Participants will learn how to survive the RIN crunch by hedging risk, strategies for optimizing RIN allocations, specific attestation best practices, the nitty gritty legal details of the RFS, implications of California’s Low Carbon Fuel Standard, and more.
  • Natural Power has announced the establishment of its 14th office in Halmstad, Sweden. The new base widens service provision into Scandinavia, expanding on the company’s existing client base. Ex-Triventus employee Mikael Palmqvist joins the company as Senior Technical Manager responsible for the new office.

Key Hydrogen Report on OpenEnergyInfo

As part of the Open Government initiative launched by the Obama Administration, Sandia National Laboratories’ Technical Reference on Hydrogen Compatibility of Materials has made its debut on the Energy Dataset of OpenEnergyInfo, or OpenEI. The work has been available on Sandia’s website for several years but the lab says this new site makes the work more widely available.

“The Technical Reference is a valuable tool for the hydrogen delivery and storage industries,” said Sunita Satyapal, director of the Fuel Cell Technologies Office, the Department of Energy (DOE) office that has sponsored Sandia’s work on the Technical Reference. “It can help eliminate R&D redundancies by providing extensive OpenEI wiki gateway hydrogencompatibility data to the broader industry. By sharing these crucial findings on OpenEI, the Technical Reference can increase the rate of progress towards overcoming the barriers of hydrogen delivery and storage and allow us to reach full commercialization of FCEVs sooner.”

The Technical Reference focuses on compatibility issues between hydrogen and other materials. Due to their small size, hydrogen molecules can seep into materials at room temperature. This high rate of diffusion can promote embrittlement in some of those materials and some materials can be downselected depending on the application and conditions.

To help overcome this challenge, the Technical Reference provides detailed information of the effects of hydrogen on the materials that might be used in equipment for storing hydrogen and delivering it to fuel cell electric vehicles. Developed and updated by researchers at Sandia, the Technical Reference consolidates results of extensive review of reports and journal publications, as well as new research conducted by Sandia, on a range of compatibility issues that must be addressed to increase the cost-effectiveness and ease-of-use of hydrogen vehicles and their infrastructure.

“The reviewed and tested data in the Technical Reference can help industry target and develop components and systems with fewer hydrogen compatibility issues,” said Sandia researcher Brian Somerday, who, along with Sandia colleague Chris San Marchi was a principal developer of the report. “This could potentially accelerate the timetable for the hydrogen-fueled transportation system.”

BioEnergy Bytes

  • BioEnergyBytesDFYingli Solar along with Solar Roof Systems, Kingspan and Atama Solar Energy, have raised a total of 24,000 Euro for SolarAid, the London based charity using solar power to help education in Africa. The fundraising will support SolarAid’s ‘Lighter Learning’ programme to improve the education of children in Africa by providing lighting for classrooms in 12 schools across Zambia.
  • The MILENA technology to produce green gas, electricity or fluid fuels from waste and biomass, developed by Dutch energy institute ECN, is going going. The company has signed a license agreement with Royal Dahlman to implement the technology worldwide.
  • Pacific Green Technologies has entered into an agreement to acquire Pacific Green Energy Parks Limited, the sole shareholder of Energy Park Sutton Bridge Limited (EPSB). EPSB has obtained planning permission to develop a 49 MWe biomass power plant on land located at Sutton Bridge, Lincolnshire, UK.
  • ConEdison Solutions has launched a Government Energy Forum on its website. The forum allows public-sector professionals to post comments and exchange ideas with their public-sector peers about emerging energy issues and news affecting energy supply for government.
  • The Board of Directors of the American Solar Energy Society has named Seth Masia, currently director of communications at ASES, to step into the role of interim executive director. He assumes the duties of Susan Greene, who will leave her job as president of ASES on May 31.

Georgia Fights for More Solar Power

Residents of Georgia are asking Georgia Power Company to increase the amount of solar energy in its 20 year plan. Last week, Georgia Public Service Commission and its staff heard testimony from Robert E. Green, CEO of Georgia Solar Utilities, asking the Commissioners to deploy solar energy farms to rural counties that are scheduled to lose their coal and oil-fired power plants.

In its written testimony to the PSC, Georgia Solar Utilities requested 500 megawatts — enough to power 200,000 homes — to be deployed to areas that are being economically-impacted by coal-plant closures.

Georgia Power Company recently presented their 20-year energy plan to the PSC. In the plan, the company provided no new solar resources for Georgia ratepayers.  Tom Fanning, CEO of the Southern Company (Georgia Power’s parent company), said at a recent Atlanta Press Club appearance that “renewables are going to remain a niche for some time.” However Tim Echols with the Georgia Public Service Commission said, “We’ve got to change our thinking on renewables.”

Rocky Creek Solar Farm“We’re losing Plant Harllee Branch in the months to come and a significant portion of Putnam’s tax revenues may be lost — several million dollars annual to be exact. This is a concern that I share with all of the communities facing the same dilemma,” said Representative Rusty Kidd, who along with many others have testified during the public phase.

During his testimony, Robert E. Green noted, “We have a unique window of opportunity to use historically-low interest rates in the bond market to install solar energy farms that will provide long-term stability in energy rates. Zero future fuel costs means additional savings to future generations. Through our plan, hundreds of millions of dollars in investments will be provided to local communities and hundreds of new jobs will be created.”

The Georgia Public Service Commission will hear final testimony from Georgia Power lawyers in June on the merits of changes to the Integrated Resource Plan, with a final vote to take place in July.

PacificAg Created Through Merger

PACAG-001 Final Logo CMYKSister companies Pacific Ag Solutions and Pacific PowerStock have merged to become PacificAg. According to the company, the merger creates the largest agricultural residue and hay harvesting business in the U.S. with operations in seven states and the largest fleet of biomass harvesting equipment in the country.

“We have always served two important markets: demand for forage crops for livestock to feed a growing global middle class and dynamic growth in the uses and demand for agricultural biomass to replace petroleum and other fossil sources in the creation of bioenergy, cellulosic biofuels, bio-based chemicals and other bio-based products. Originally we felt two sister companies were necessary to meet the demands of these distinct marketplaces,” said Bill Levy, founder and CEO of PacificAg.

“Years of experience developing and operating feedstock supply chains for both domestic and export forage and for bioenergy markets have demonstrated that in practice, serving these distinct customer groups involves leveraging the same equipment fleets, complementary operational and logistics skills and processes,” Levy continued. “The synergies now apparent far outweigh any benefits of operating the former companies separately. Operating as one company will enable us to be more responsive and more competitive to meet the growing demand for agricultural biomass at commercial scale.”

According to Levy, PacificAg is now the largest player in supply chain logistics. The company’s dedicated supply chain model, which depends on multi-year supply agreements and close, formalized cooperation from one end of the chain to the other, provides the most effective way to reduce the risks posed by cost, quality and supply volatility. Levy added that its proprietary PowerStock Pro supply chain management system provides a turnkey tool for managing every aspect of the complex feedstock supply chain from grower contracts to GIS enabled field mapping to equipment deployment, harvest results and inventory management.

Filling Up? Ethanol Will Save You Money

This Memorial Day, the Renewable Fuels Association (RFA) is reminding drivers that ethanol can help save money at the pump. As national gas prices continue to rise, the national average today is $3.66 according to GasBuddy.com. For drivers living on the coasts, it’s not uncommon to see high gas prices. Yet the oddity this year is that the highest prices in the nation last week were in Minnesota. According to various media reports, the statewide average is $4.26 per gallon.

“It is getting painful yet again to stand at the pump and watch the dollars fly by,” said Bob Dinneen, president and CEO of RFA. Thankfully, ethanol exists to help Gas Buddy Map May 27 2013lower prices, stretch the gasoline supply, and provide both engine and environmental benefits. On a larger scale, the ethanol industry is a high octane economic engine that is supporting more than 365,000 jobs across America, revitalizing challenged rural communities, and reducing the American dollars sent overseas to buy petroleum from often hostile dictators in oil-rich countries.”

According to 2012 updated research conducted by economics professors at the University of Wisconsin and Iowa State University for the Center for Agricultural and Rural Development (CARD), domestically-produced ethanol reduced wholesale gasoline prices by an average of $1.09 per gallon in 2011. That is an additional 20-cent savings over the $0.89 these same economists recorded in 2010.

It is expected that drivers in Iowa may also soon be hit with increased costs. Once again, ethanol, this time in the form of E85 (85 percent ethanol, 15 percent gasoline) that is widely available in the Corn Belt, is delivering significant savings to owners of flex-fuel vehicles.

Dinneen added, “I suspect owners of flex-fuel vehicles will enjoy their summer driving vacations a bit more than other drivers. The savings that flex-fuel drivers will enjoy is significant.”

Needed: Summer Gas Loan

It’s that time of year when families hop in the car and begin summer vacations. It’s also the time of year when gas prices jump up and the cash in wallets jumps out. When I filled up my tank yesterday, I thought I might have to go the bank and take out a “summer gas loan” to help pay for high gas prices. I’m can’t be the only one in this boat as the high gas prices are dominating local TV news casts these days.

Gas Bill May 23 2013Growth Energy’s CEO Tom Buis notes that Big Oil’s predictability is absurd. Every year the same thing happens, as more people hit the road, prices climb. It is just as certain that the sun will set in the evening, as oil companies will use any excuse to gouge consumers and blame some outside factor,” said Tom Buis, CEO of Growth Energy. “After roughly 40 days of price increases in February, switching seasonal blends were blamed. Now, it is refinery planned maintenance and tight regional supplies. Their unending excuses are as long as the list of government subsidies they have received over the last century.”

Buis says this is just another example of many, of why renewable biofuels are necessary. They provide consumer savings and a choice at the pump. They reduce dangerous dependence on foreign oil. “While Big Oil touts all the new wells, the fracking and the so-called abundant supply right here at home, prices have not gone down. Why do prices remain so high with a so-called increase in supply? Oil companies will continue to rake in record profits on the backs of their customers as they continue their monopoly on the liquid fuels market by blocking competition and doling out the same baseless excuses time and again,” Buis continues.

“Enough is enough,” says Buis. He calls for an end to the absurd addiction to foreign oil and encourages drivers to use homegrown American ethanol. He also stresses the need to stop paying nearly a billion dollars a day for fossil fuels and foreign oil and spend the money at home.

“The latest reports that motorists will pay record prices this Memorial Day weekend at the pump is no surprise, but just one of many reasons it is time we break the addiction to oil and start using higher blends of ethanol.”