Rwanda Set to Commission Solar Plant

The first utility-scale solar PV power plant is set to go online in early August 2014 in East Africa. The 8.5 MWp solar farm will be commissioned by the Government of Rwanda and is currently in its testing phase. Today less than one in five households in Rwanda have access to electricity. The new solar project will increase the country’s production capacity by up to 8 percent.

rwanda state flagIn early July, Rwanda’s Minister of Infrastructure, Prof. Silas Lwakabamba led a high-level delegation which visited the Gigawatt Global Rwanda Ltd construction site, the utility-scale solar power plant located near Agahozo-Shalom Youth Village (ASYV) in Rwamagana District, eastern Rwanda.

“Generation and provision of electricity to all Rwandans is a priority for the Government of Rwanda. This initiative to produce 8.5 megawatts of clean energy is an important addition towards closing Rwanda’s current energy gap,” said the Minister at the site.

The Norwegian company Scatec Solar is the Engineering, Procurement and Construction (EPC) company responsible for building the power plant, and Remote Partners is the local management and support firm. The project has been funded by Norfund (Norwegian Investment Fund for Developing Countries) and KLP. The Dutch company Gigwatt Global is the developer of the project. Once the plant is online, Scatec Solar will operate and maintain the plant which will feed electricity directly into the national grid. The price is lower than for electricity generated by diesel oil.

The Government is encouraging private sector involvement and private-public partnerships as part of its development policy. In addition, energy for all is an important goal in the fight against poverty. Energy must be affordable, energy supplies must be reliable, and last but not least, energy is ideally clean and renewable. Solar energy is an important part of the energy mix along with hydropower and other sources of renewable energy in Africa.

Steller Solar Offers Project LiveWire Experience

Harley-Davidson has unveiled its first all electric motorcycle and are giving consumers a chance to experience this new ride through its Project LiveWire Experience. The first event will take place in San Diego July 24, 2014-July 26, 2014 hosted by Stellar Solar and San Diego Harley-Davidson. Project LiveWire will be at the Morena Boulevard location with the main event taking place Saturday, July 26 from 12 – 4pm. All three days will feature complimentary solar powered food and beverages from the Stellar Solar Mobile Solar Station.

Stellar Solar Harley Project LiveWireFans who take a test ride will be able to give feedback to Haley-Davidson as they tweak their electric motorcycle – the electric bike is still under development. During the three-day event, consumers will also be able to participate through a Jumpstart simulator that provides an experience almost as good as the real thing.

Stellar Solar is connected with San Diego Harley-Davidson through General Manager Ty Miller who had a Stellar Solar system installed on his home. “When we received word that San Diego Harley-Davidson was going to be one of the first locations on the tour, the Stellar Solar Mobile Solar Station immediately came to mind as a perfect fit to help power the event,” Miller said. “Electric motorcycles and solar power complement each other nicely and we are happy to promote solar along side this innovative motorcycle.”

Kent Harle, CEO of Stellar Solar and avid motorcycle enthusiast is excited for the event. “I’ve been riding motorcycles for a long time and the Project LiveWire is a unique and very impressive machine. I’d buy one today if they were on the market. I can’t wait to test ride it. This is a perfect event for our Mobile Solar Station and we are proud to be associated with San Diego Harley-Davidson.”

Analysis: Ethanol Most Competitive Motor Fuel

According to a new analysis released today, “The Economic Competitiveness of U.S. Ethanol,” U.S. produced ethanol has been the most economically competitive motor fuel in the world over the past four years. In addition, ethanol has played an important role in E-85 fill-up photo Joanna Schroederreducing consumer fuel costs. The analysis was conducted by ABF Economics and released by the Renewable Fuels Association (RFA).

The analysis reviewed actual wholesale prices paid for ethanol, gasoline and alternative octane source in several U.S. and world markets between 2010-2013. Based on the data, the report concluded, “…U.S.-produced ethanol is an exceptionally competitive additive and fuel source…” and that “…U.S. ethanol has emerged as the lowest cost transportation fuel and octane source in the world over the past several years.”

Commenting on the analysis, RFA President and CEO Bob Dinneen said, “As proven by the recent boom in exports, American-made ethanol has evolved into the most cost competitive transportation fuel and octane source in the world. Through rapid technology adoption and innovation, U.S. producers have proudly earned the distinction of being the global leader and low-cost producer of clean-burning, renewable ethanol.”

Dinneen continued, “Despite the fact that ethanol offers greater consumer choice at a lower cost, entrenched petroleum companies continue to erect barriers that deny access to larger volumes of renewable fuels,” Dinneen continued. “In a truly free market, consumers would always choose a fuel that is produced domestically, is better for the environment and climate, and costs much less than gasoline. Unfortunately, free markets only exist in text books, underscoring the need for monopoly-breaking policies like the Renewable Fuel Standard.”

The ABF Economics study found that even after accounting for transportation costs to the reference markets of Los Angeles, Chicago, and New York, “The ‘spread’ between ethanol and RBOB [gasoline] has averaged 30 to 40 cents per gallon over the past four years in these three key markets and the difference averaged more than 60 cents per gallon in 2012.

As a result of this cost differential, the analysis found “…ethanol blended with RBOB to produce reformulated gasoline at a 10 percent (E10) blend has reduced the cost of motor fuel to consumers.” The analysis found that ethanol’s impact on gas prices goes far beyond the wholesale price spread: “This does not include the additional downward impact ethanol has on gasoline prices as a result of extending supplies and reducing demand for crude oil.”

Economic Competitiveness of Ethanol reportAccording to the report, “…even with depreciation of the real, U.S. ethanol has been more cost competitive than Brazilian ethanol in key U.S. and world markets over the past several years.” This has particular relevance in the California market, according to the study, because that state’s fuel policies strongly compel fuel suppliers to import Brazilian ethanol in lieu of U.S. ethanol. “Use of Brazilian ethanol in place of U.S. ethanol theoretically raised the price of E10 for California consumers by 8 cents per gallon over the past four years,” the study found.

In closing, the study indicates that the competitiveness of U.S. ethanol will only improve in the future: “This competitive advantage is expected to increase further, as U.S. ethanol and feedstock producers adopt new technologies and crude oil prices continue to trend higher.”

Bringing Solar Power to Rural India

The Sierra Club and the Center for American Progress (CAP) have launched a new video series, “Harnessing the Sun to Keep the Lights on in India”. The series documents the health, economic, and environmental benefits to local communities living in Uttar Pradesh, India, a rural, low-income, off-the-electric-grid region that is rapidly becoming a hotbed of solar activity. The film provides a first-hand look at the companies seeking to make good on Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s pledge to provide solar for all citizens by 2019.

“Hundreds of millions of low-income, rural Indians have been suffering from energy poverty for decades. With little access to reliable energy, they’re depending on dirty fossil fuels like kerosene to light their homes and that has serious health effects. Solar power is the key to ending energy poverty,” said Justin Guay, associate director of the Sierra Club’s International Climate Program.

This past spring, Guay traveled to Uttar Pradesh with Vrinda Manglik, Associate Campaign Representative for the Sierra Club, and Andrew Satter, Director of Video at the Center for American Progress. They spent a week visiting innovative companies like Simpa Networks and OMC Power that deliver everything from LED lightbulbs to mobile phone charging with the help of innovative pay-as-you-go solutions. They also visited villages and interviewed people living beyond the grid and benefiting from companies expanding clean energy access.

According to Sierra Club, around the world, 1.4 billion people lack modern, reliable electricity; they are living in energy poverty. In India alone, approximately 400 million Indians are living in energy poverty. Those who do have power suffer from chronic unreliability issues as well as pollution from coal-fired power plants that kill more than 100,000 people every year. But innovative companies and entrepreneurs are creating a booming market for distributed energy beyond the grid in India and providing a clean and affordable energy source that is improving the health and quality of life for many people.

“Energy poverty is a hurdle for economic mobility and improving the livelihoods of billions of people around the world. Energy is necessary for social, economic, and environmental progress. Electricity access allows for lighting into the evening hours, which can be used for studying or running a business. It is required to keep schools open and health centers running,” added Rebecca Lefton, Senior Policy Analyst for CAP.

Leading up to the world premiere of the video, the Sierra Club and CAP released a series of behind-the-scenes video clips of their week in India, filmed using Google Glass. The technology was used for translations from Hindi to English, flight information, navigation, and the filming of parts of the video series.

DOE Allocates $31M to Establish FORGE

The Department of Energy (DOE) has allocated up to $31 million to establish a new program: Frontier Observatory for Research in Geothermal Energy (FORGE). The field lab will be dedicated to cutting-edge research on enhanced geothermal systems (EGS).

EGS are engineered reservoirs, created beneath the surface of the Earth, where there is hot rock but limited pathways through which fluid can flow. During EGS development, underground fluid pathways are safely created DOE FORGE programand their size and connectivity increased. These enhanced pathways allow fluid to circulate throughout the hot rock and carry heat to the surface to generate electricity. In the long term, DOE believes EGS may enable domestic access to a geographically diverse baseload, and carbon-free energy resource on the order of 100 gigawatts, or enough to power about 100 million homes.

“The FORGE initiative is a first-of-its-kind effort to accelerate development of this innovative geothermal technology that could help power our low carbon future,” said Assistant Secretary for Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy Dave Danielson. “This field observatory will facilitate the development of rigorous and reproducible approaches that could drive down the cost of geothermal energy and further diversify our nation’s energy portfolio.”

According to DOE, the research and development (R&D) at FORGE will focus on techniques to effectively stimulate large fracture networks in various rock types, technologies for imaging and monitoring the evolution of fluid pathways, and long-term reservoir sustainability and management techniques. In addition, a robust open data policy will make FORGE a leading resource for the broader scientific and engineering community studying the Earth’s subsurface. These significant advances will reduce industry risk and ultimately facilitate deployment of EGS nationwide.

The FORGE initiative is comprised of three phases. The first two phases focus on selecting both a site and an operations team, as well as preparing and fully characterizing the site. In Phase 1, $2 million will be available over one year for selected teams to perform analysis on the suitability of their proposed site and to develop plans for Phase 2. Subject to the availability of appropriations, up to $29 million in funding is planned for Phase 2, during which teams will work to fully instrument, characterize, and permit candidate sites.

Subject to the availability of appropriations, Phase 3 will fund full implementation of FORGE at a single site, managed by a single operations team. This phase will be guided by a collaborative research strategy and executed via annual R&D solicitations designed to improve, optimize, and drive down the costs of deploying EGS. In this phase, partners from industry, academia, and the national laboratories will have ongoing opportunities to conduct new and innovative R&D at the site in critical research areas such as reservoir characterization, reservoir creation, and reservoir sustainability.

DNV GL Identify Solar Module Quality Leaders

DNV GL has released its new PV Module Reliability Scorecard 2014, that found that nearly 2/3 of the cumulative 130 gigawatts of installed solar photovoltaic modules in the world were produced in the last three years. This period marked record module price reductions as well as module manufacturers’ aggressive cost reductions. This cost reduction, finds the Scorecard, has led to questions around long-term PV performance and module quality while at the same time, projects are being built in more extreme and diverse environmental condition then ever before.

To address these concerns, the Scorecard identifies module manufacturers’ reliability performance from a standardized accelerated life testing program. The Scorecard supports PV project developers, EPCs, investors and asset managers in their evaluation of leading module manufacturers and is a critical tool for quality-backed procurement strategies.

Screen Shot 2014-07-18 at 8.20.58 AMGTM Research has compiled data from DNV GL’s highly accelerated life testing (HALT) on major global PV module manufacturers. Participating manufacturers were subject to rigorous tests designed to mimic real world environmental stresses and identify potential long-term quality issues and failure modes. The Scorecard goes beyond standard module qualification and certification tests and allows the industry to identify the spectrum of performance differences across the module vendor landscape.

In the Scorecard, GTM Research found that module vendors performed relatively well across all metrics, with a few exceptions on specific tests. However, “module reliability is not necessarily a consistent quality. Of all vendors analyzed, only one company consistently ranked within the Performance Leaders group for all test regimens,” wrote report author and solar analyst Jade Jones.

“While all modules met the regulatory UL requirements, long term real world performance is not simply pass/fail. More robust module designs were clearly identified,” said Jenya Meydbray, Head of Module & Inverter testing at DNV GL and former PVEL CEO.

Tests in the Scorecard program include extended thermal cycling, damp heat, humidity-freeze, dynamic mechanical load, and potential induced degradation for positively and negatively biased modules.

Wind Power Growth Surging Where Supported

According to Worldwatch Research Associate Mark Konold and Climate and Energy Intern Xiangyu Wu, double-digit growth continued in the global wind market in 2013. In the latest Vital Signs, the writers state that there are 318 GW of wind capacity online today with 35 GW added in 2013. However, the growth was a significant drop from the average growth rate over the last 10 years (21%). In addition, overall investment declined slightly from $80.9 billion in 2012 to $80.3 billion in 2013.

In 2013, offshore wind capacity continued to see growth as projects became larger and moved into deeper waters. Until recently, deep-water offshore wind has developed on foundations adapted from the oil and gas industry, but deeper waters and harsher weather have become formidable challenges requiring newly designed equipment. Shipbuilders are expanding to make larger vessels to transport bigger equipment and longer and larger subsea cables to more-distant offshore projects.

wind_power_figure_1_0It’s these trends, write the authors, that have kept prices high in recent years. As of early 2014, the levelized cost of energy (LCOE) for offshore wind power-which includes the cost of the plant’s full operational and financial life-was up to nearly $240 per megawatt-hour (MWh). By comparison, the LCOE of onshore wind installations in various regions of the world is under $150 per MWh, having fallen about 15 percent between 2009 and early 2014.

According to the authors, onshore, wind-generated power is becoming more cost-competitive against new coal- or gas-fired plants, even without incentives and support schemes. Over the past few years, capital costs of wind power have decreased because of large technological advances such as larger machines with increased power yield, higher hub height, longer blades, and greater nameplate capacity (which indicates the maximum output of a wind turbine).

Tighter competition among manufacturers continues to drive down capital costs, and the positioning of the world’s top manufacturers continues to shift. The top 10 turbine manufacturers captured nearly 70 percent of the global market in 2013, down from 77 percent the year before.

In addition, the writers found that in an effort to maintain profitability, manufacturers are trying new strategies, such as moving away from just manufacturing turbines. Some companies focus more on project operation and maintenance, which guarantees a steady business even during down seasons and can increase overall value in an increasingly competitive market. Some manufacturers are also turning to outsourcing and flexible manufacturing, which can lower overall costs and protect firms from exchange rate changes, customs duties, and logistical issues associated with shipping large turbines and parts.

Lincolnland Agri-Energy Celebrates 10 Years

Lincolnland Agri-Energy is celebrating its 10th anniversary this year. The Palestine, Illinois-based ethanol plant is now producing 57 million gallons of ethanol per year and employs 41 local residents. In 10 years, the ethanol plant has produced 470 million gallons of ethanol. Over the weekend, Lincolnland Agri-Energy hosted an open house for the community to celebrate its milestone.

Since they began operating in 2004, Lincolnland has actively taken steps to develop and expand their facilities. They broadened into corn oil extraction, added a fermenter, and implemented selective milling technology.

Lincolnland Agri-Energy“We are proud to produce cost-saving, renewable ethanol that furthers America’s energy independence. Lincolnland’s ethanol production facility has helped revitalize the community, create demand for our local farmers, and save Illinois drivers money at the pump,” said Eric Mosbey, general manager of Lincolnland Agri-Energy. “This is an exciting day for everyone involved in making Lincolnland a success. The past 10 years of production would not have been possible without the support of our stakeholders, the dedication of our employees, and the cooperation of the local community. We look forward to another 10 years.”

The ethanol plant has fostered an active presence in the local community by hosting elected officials including then-Senator Barack Obama (D-Ill.) and Congressman John Shimkus (R-Ill.). Both elected officials were given a warm welcome as they learned more about ethanol production and the impact it has on the local community. The company also partners with the local junior college to offer internships and donate equipment so students can learn more about the ethanol production process. Lincolnland supports many local programs and is a long-time sponsor of the annual Labor Day rodeo in Palestine, Ill.

“What started as an idea by a group of local farmers has turned into a successful ethanol plant that is run with integrity and gives back to the local community. The hours, days, and years of dedication can be seen in every aspect of this business today,” said Bob Dinneen, president and CEO of the Renewable Fuels Association. “This truly is a day to celebrate and honor the 10 years of hard work that has gone into making this business a success.”

Iowa Supreme Court Rules for Solar

SEIA 40 anniversary logoIn a setback to the regulated utility model, the Iowa Supreme Court has ruled that a power purchase agreement (PPA) between the city of Dubuque and Eagle Point Solar does not violate state law. Regulated utility companies had fought the arrangement, claiming to have exclusive rights to sell to customers in their service areas. On Friday, July 11, 2014 Iowa’s high court disagreed.

After the decision was handed down, Rhone Resch, president and CEO of the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA), said of the win, “This is an important milestone for solar energy in Iowa. It undoubtedly will help to jumpstart solar installations across the state, creating new jobs, pumping money into the economy and reducing pollution. But just as importantly, this is a victory for freedom of choice, affirming the right of Iowans to decide how they want to power their homes and businesses in the future. We commend the court for doing the right thing.”

Offshore Wind Fastest Growing Power Sector in Europe

Offshore wind energy development in Europe is the fastest growing power sector with 4.9 GW of new capacity under construction according to the European Wind Energy (EWEA). The 4.9 GW will be comprised of 16 commercial offshore wind farms under construction.

EWEA 2014 Statistics ReportDuring the first six months of 2014, 224 new offshore wind turbines totaling 781 megawatts were fully connected tot the grid. This is 25 percent less than during the same period in 2013. However, there are 282 wind turbines installed that have not been connected to the grid during the first six months. Once connected, this will add an additional 1,200 MW of offshore wind energy capacity.

“Despite offshore wind power installations being lower than in the first six months of last year, it remains the fastest growing power sector in Europe” said Justin Wilkes, Deputy Chief Executive Officer at EWEA. “However, despite significant financing activity in the first half of the year, the contraction in installations we have witnessed in these first six months, may well continue into 2015 and 2016.”

“To ensure healthy growth in the latter part of the decade, and to ensure offshore wind energy plays its role in meeting the EU’s competitiveness, security, renewable and climate objectives, the industry must be given longer-term visibility,” Wilkes continued. “An ambitious deal on the 2030 Climate and Energy package by the EU’s Heads of State in October would send the right signal, making their decision particularly important for the offshore wind sector,” he concluded.

Total installed offshore wind capacity in Europe is now 7,343 MW in 73 wind farms across 11 countries, capable of producing 27 TWh of electricity, enough to meet the needs of over 7 million households – or the entire population of the Netherlands.

UCR Helps Solar Energy Get a Boost

A recent article published in the Journal of Physical Chemistry Letters by University of California, Riverside (UCR) chemists looks at the research focused on “singlet fission,” a process in which a single photon generates a pair of excited states. This 1->2 conversion process has the potential to boost solar cell efficiency as much as 30 percent.

UC Riverside Singlet Fission researchIn addition to improving solar panels, the research can also aid in developing more energy-efficient lighting and photodetectors with 200 percent efficiency that can be used for night vision. Biology may use singlet fission to deal with high-energy solar photons without generating excess heat, as a protective mechanism.

Today solar cells work by absorbing a photon, which generates an exciton, which subsequently separates into an electron-hole pair. It is these electrons that become solar electricity. The efficiency of these solar cells is limited to about 32 percent; however, by what is called the “Shockley-Queisser Limit”. Future solar cells, also known as “Third Generation” solar cells, will have to surpass this limit while remaining inexpensive, requiring the use of new physical processes. Singlet fission is an example of such a process.

“Our research got its launch about ten years ago when we started thinking about solar energy and what new types of photophysics this might require,” said Christopher Bardeen, a professor of chemistry, whose lab led the research. “Global warming concerns and energy security have made solar energy conversion an important subject from society’s point-of-view. More efficient solar cells would lead to wider use of this clean energy source.”

Globeleq Inaugurates Jeffreys Bay Wind Farm

Globeleq has inaugurated its latest wind energy project in South Africa. The 138 MW Jeffreys Bay Wind Farm is located between the towns of Jeffreys Bay and Humansdorp in Eastern Cape and has an estimated annual production of 460 GWh and will provide renewable electricity for nearly 100,000 average South African households.

Jeffreys Bay Wind-Farm-SunsetBack in April, Globeleq marked the start of operations at two solar facilities, the 50 MW De Aar and 50 MW Droogfontein installations on the Northern Cape. All facilities are part of South Africa’s renewable energy program and according to the company, are among the very first large scale renewable power plants to be built in the country.

Mikael Karlsson, Globeleq’s CEO said, “The completion of these facilities is the result of a truly global partnership with the Government of South Africa and Eskom and the private sector of developers, investors, lenders, constructors, suppliers and the local community. It demonstrates significant support for independent private power producers in the region and indicates the sustainability of the renewable energy sector. As the leading African private power company, Globeleq is committed to pursue further investments in clean and reliable power for the region.”

Similar to other countries, South Africa has identified job creation and skills development through development of renewable energy. During the wind farm’s construction, Globeleq said more than 700 people worked on the site, of which 45 percent were drawn from the local community. A percentage of the project’s operational revenues will be reinvested into the local community through socio-economic and enterprise development programs creating the skills needed to support the growth of the renewable energy industry in South Africa.

“What an exciting time to be a part of this industry. In such a short period we have built an alternative source of energy which will provide ongoing benefits for the country and the industry alike,” said Mark Pickering, Managing Director of Globeleq South Africa.

Globeleq is the majority shareholder in a consortium group, consisting of Mainstream, Old Mutual, Thebe, Enzani, Usizo and the Amadla Omoya Trust. Globeleq through its wholly owned South African subsidiary, manages the operation and commercial aspects of the Jeffreys Bay, De Aar and Droogfontein facilities.

Dominion Virginia Power Dedicates ODU Solar Project

Norfolk, Virginia-based Old Dominion University (ODU) is the recipient of the first solar roof installation in the Hampton Roads area. Dominion Virginia Power dedicated the solar project located on ODU’s Student Recreation Center. Last May, Dominion selected the university to be one of the first participants in the company’s Solar Partnership Program under which Dominion builds and operates solar facilities on leased rooftops.

“ODU is a good fit for this program as it continues to pave the way for alternative energy research at the university level in the Commonwealth,” said Ken Barker, vice president of Customer Solutions at Dominion. “This project will undoubtedly provide both community and educational benefits. Our new program allows us to integrate solar power into our diverse mix of resources to ensure reliable electricity. Solar energy will be a source of generation moving forward, and we hope to add 20 to 30 new solar installations over the next several years.”

odu-rooftop-aerial-photo1More than 600 solar panels were installed as part of the solar energy system. These panels will generate about 125 kilowatts of electricity during daylight hours, which is enough to supply the energy needs for an equivalent of 31 homes.

John R. Broderick, president of Old Dominion University said of the solar project, “With Dominion’s generous support over the years, our university’s development of solar technology and groundbreaking photovoltaic energy research has been recognized nationally. Thanks to more than $3 million in research grants from a variety of sources, including Dominion Virginia Power, Dr. Sylvain Marsillac and his team have been able to further this research by testing solar energy concepts on the rooftops of Kaufman Hall, the Student Recreation Center and more.”

The Solar Partnership Program was approved by the Virginia State Corporation Commission in November 2012. PowerSecure, a North Carolina-based company with offices in Virginia, was chosen as the engineering, procurement and construction company to complete the project. Under the program, Dominion will construct and operate up to 30 megawatts of company-owned solar facilities on leased rooftops or on the grounds of commercial businesses and public properties throughout the company’s Virginia service area. When fully implemented, the program will generate enough electricity for up to 7,500 homes.

Intersolar North America Awards Champion of Change

The first ever Champion of Change award was bestowed upon Michael Peevey, president of the California Public Utilities Commission during Intersolar North America taking place this week. The award was given in conjunction with the California Solar Energy Industries Association (CALSEIA) for Peevey’s outstanding commitment to supporting renewable energy at the national and international levels.

“For three yeTuesday, July 8ars, the Intersolar AWARD program has singled out landmark projects in North America that represent major technological, economical and environmental achievements,” said Markus Elsässer, CEO of Solar Promotion International, an organizer of Intersolar North America. “This year’s winners demonstrated how well designed systems that utilize the latest technologies to deliver cost-effective solar energy could benefit a variety of customer requirements. These projects, from off-grid applications to mid-sized systems to utility-scale installations, highlight solar energy’s versatility and show that the industry is well on its way toward maturation.”

The Intersolar AWARD winners for solar projects in North America were judged on pioneering character, uniqueness, economic benefits, benefits for the environment and society, degree of technical innovation and proof of innovation. An independent committee of industry experts chose three award winners:

  • First Solar won the award for its Agua Caliente Solar Project, a 290 MW project that is currently the largest fully operational PV power plant and covers 2,400 acres in Yuma County, Ariz. First Solar developed, engineered, constructed and operates the system, which was designed to minimize land disturbances and to maximize stability, reliability and cost-effectiveness. This project revolutionizes how solar integrates with the power grid.
  • Solaire Generation Inc. won the award with the Whole Foods Market Solar Carport. The 325-kilowatt installation is New York’s largest solar carport, and, in addition to generating enough energy to meet 20 percent of the store’s demand, the eye-catching project showcases how solar power can be integrated with other green initiatives such as rainwater harvesting and brownfield re-development. The carport has a capacity to recover 30,000 gallons of rainwater and is educating shoppers with its unique design of both the practical and aesthetic potential of solar.
  • Princeton Power System won the award with its distinctive Alcatraz Island Microgrid System. Created as a response to failures of conventional energy sources, Alcatraz is a pioneer in energy independence. Princeton Power Systems cooperated with the U.S. National Park Service and created a system that provides more than 80 percent of the island’s electricity needs for the one million visitors that come every year. The 400kW system creatively utilizes prison spaces, such as old generator rooms and rooftops, and integrates cutting-edge technologies without compromising the historic quality of the site and making the system invisible to the outside viewer.

“By expanding our AWARD program to honor individuals alongside technologies and key projects, we are highlighting the people and the ideas that drive the industry,” added Klaus Seilnacht, CEO of FMMI International GmbH, an organizer of Intersolar North America. “The solar industry needs advocates like Michael Peevey. We are excited to continue to recognize the people who have helped make North America one of the largest solar markets in the world.”

Battery Bat Houses for Hydroelectric Projects

Bat Houses from scrap volt battery casesEagle Scout Matthew Netherland has developed a creative way to help bats who live near hydroelectric projects. Using discarded scrap Volt battery covers donated by GM, Netherland built 22 bat houses for Consumers Energy to install in their energy properties.

“This project connects a lot of environmental dots,” said Rich Castle, Consumers Energy’s natural resource manager for hydro generation. “Hydro dams generate clean electricity, and cars that run on electricity are a cleaner form of transportation. The battery covers from the electric-powered vehicles are being kept out of landfills, and by being utilized as bat homes they allow biodiversity to thrive along the river habitats that produce renewable energy.”

About 100 or more bats can live in each bat box, which includes five chambers. Netherland, a friend and two adult mentors helped build the bat boxes in about two months that will be installed by Consumers Energy.

“I’m thankful that GM had the perfect shell for the bat box plans, and that Consumers Energy has great locations to place the boxes,” said Netherland from Boy Scout Troop 185 from Clarkston, Michigan. “Both companies have been great to work with, very encouraging and generous.”

Emily McDonald, environmental engineer for GM who coordinated with Netherland on his project, added, “I’m so impressed by Matthew’s energy and dedication to this project. We’ve worked with renowned bat experts on our bat house design and are grateful that we can partner with others who share our passion for conservation and will help us make a lasting impact. The Volt covers are made with durable material and will result in wildlife nesting opportunities for a long time.”