Kyocera Corporation has donated solar power generating systems to four secondary schools in Tanzania and three primary schools in Uganda. Donation ceremonies were held at the schools in Kilimanjaro, Tanzania and Bushenyi (Uganda) during which Kyocera executives shared hopes that the solar systems would improve the schools’ infrastructure and contribute to the students’ educational development.
In Tanzania, ceremonies were held at two representative schools in Kilimanjaro: Vumari Secondary School also attended by His Excellency Mr. Masaki Okada, Japanese Ambassador to Tanzania, and Mabilioni Secondary School. They were warmly welcomed with music and dances by the students, their parents and other people from the community. Donations in the last fiscal year also included Kirangare and Tae Secondary Schools.
In Uganda, ceremonies took place at all three schools in Bushenyi: Nyakarama Boarding Primary School, Ryakasinga Model Primary Boarding School, and Rweigaaga Day & Boarding Primary School, with the attendance of Mr. Yukihisa Nakano, First Secretary of the Embassy of Japan in Uganda at the first two schools.
The installations are part of larger donation projects that have been ongoing since 2009, in which Kyocera has been providing solar power generating systems to schools in Tanzania and Uganda that have no access to the electricity grid. The five-year projects consist of 600-watt solar power generating systems for 35 schools in total, each with storage batteries as well as basic equipment such as lamps, TV sets and radios — lighting up the classrooms and diversifying learning activities for the students.
In addition, the solar systems are occasionally used as an electricity source for the people of the community to charge their mobile devices. With additional installations at seven schools in the last fiscal year, donations have already been made to a total of 28 schools, with seven more to follow by March 2014.
The City of Santa Clara is aiming to become more sustainable and has set a goal of installing 30 megawatts of customer-installed solar power by 2017. With a grant from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) several projects included solar power including a new solar project at Henry Schmidt Park. Vista Solar, who managed the project, selected SunPower solar panels for the rooftop project.
In one week, Vista Solar finished the project on-time and on-budget. “Working with Vista Solar went really smoothly. We had great communication from Vista Solar, and we are really happy with our solar system,” said Mary Medeiros McEnroe, Public Benefit Program Manager for the City of Santa Clara.
Henry Schmidt Park’s lighting, internal electric baseboard heating, and other electrical appliances are now being powered by solar energy. The City of Santa Clara is turning to Vista Solar again for a 125 kW solar system at the Jenny Strand Solar Research and Development Park.
Thousands of students in Rio Rancho, New Mexico will now be learning with solar power. Conergy is currently installing two solar power plants on the campuses of V. Sue Cleveland and Rio Rancho High Schools. The solar installations will total 1.2 megawatts (MW). The public schools will be using the power produced by the sun, via a 20-year Power Purchase Agreement (PPA) with Washington Gas Energy Systems.
“We are very proud that our two high schools will be supplied with renewable power and that we will be making a valuable contribution to sustainability in our community,” said Al Sena, responsible for building management at the Rio Rancho public schools. “This will allow our students to experience the benefits of clean power generation, first hand. With the solar installations, we cover about 80% of our total annual power requirements while cutting our electricity costs at the same time – without major upfront investment.”
The power plants consists of more than 8,200 solar modules installed on 4.7 kilometers of Conergy SolarLinea mounting systems. They will produce nearly 4.3 million kilowatt hours of energy each year. This is the same amount of energy as needed by 43,000 laptops running 8 hours a day for one year.
Anthony Fotopoulos, Managing Director of Conergy USA added. “In many regions of the USA, grid parity has been achieved for end consumers, and solar power is already considerably cheaper today than power from the grid. Local consumption via power purchase agreements is the future of the American electricity market.
“With this electricity market model, end consumers benefit from considerable electricity cost savings from the green power – without substantial upfront costs. In the sunshine state of California, for instance, around 70% of all solar plants on private homes are already financed by third parties today; in the case of commercial power plants, the figure is over 40% – and the trend is upwards,” Fotopoulos concluded.
A Georgia-based biodiesel maker is celebrating its first year in business for its retail station. Atlanta’s Clean Energy Biofuels, which touts its biodiesel as the only in the country that is made using 100 percent solar power, threw a party for the one-year anniversary of the opening of their retail biodiesel station by hosting Atlanta Green Drinks, a monthly networking gathering for people interested in sustainability, green business, environmental and social causes, architecture and design, organics, renewable energy:
Over the past year we have had the pleasure of providing fuel to a wide range of drivers, from local residents to landscape companies to cross country travelers – Woody Harrelson and New Belgium Brewing Company’s Tour de Fat, just to name a few. Everyone who provides grease or purchases our fuel has been key to our success this year. By using the fuel from our retail station, you are helping prevent carbon dioxide from being emitted into the air, making a real difference in the environment.
Our biodiesel is the only biodiesel in the country produced using 100% solar energy. It is also completely locally sourced, meaning that every cent is pumped right back into the Georgia economy. Our biodiesel also meets the American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM) International Standard, which ensures quality and consistency that rivals conventional diesel.
The company also touts their turning of old grease into biodiesel as a way to lift a “burden on our landfills and sewers into the greenest transportation fuel available.”
Check out the pictures from the event on Clean Energy Biofuels’ Flickr page.
The Quartzsite Solar Energy Project located in La Paz County, Arizona has received approval from the U.S. Secretary of the Interior to proceed. The 100 megawatt project will be located on Bureau of Land (BLM) managed land. The Quartzsite Project will be utilizing SolarReserve’s concentrated solar power (CSP) technology with integrated storage which allows the facility to operate like a conventional power plant.
“These projects reflect the Obama Administration’s commitment to expand responsible domestic energy production on our public lands and diversify our nation’s energy portfolio,” Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell said. “Today’s approvals will help bolster rural economies by generating good jobs and reliable power and advance our national energy security.”
With more than $600 million of direct investment in Arizona, the Quartzsite Solar Energy Plant will generate approximately 440 jobs during peak construction and 50 full-time jobs for operations and maintenance. In addition, the project is expected to create local economic stimulus in the form of $15.7 million in sales tax during the construction period, with construction spending injecting another $46.3 million into the local and regional economy.
“The BLM has done a tremendous job of administering a rigorous and fair permitting process for this project,” said Kevin Smith, CEO of SolarReserve. “We appreciate the agency’s support of this and other renewable energy projects that are critical to reducing harmful emissions from conventional power plants while creating real employment opportunities. The Quartzsite project will be SolarReserve’s second major project successfully permitted on BLM land which demonstrates that industry and government can collaborate effectively.”
The Quartzite Solar Energy Project has completed all major permitting necessary for advancing the project into construction and is actively engaged in power marketing efforts. The project is slated to begin construction in 2014, once a Power Purchase Agreement has been contracted and financing for the project complete.
DuPont and Chinese green power company Yingli Energy Company Limited have signed a one-year, $100 million solar energy deal. The strategic agreement includes the supply of advanced solar materials, the installation of a solar power plant and co-marketing initiatives and expands a previous $100 million supply agreement between the companies announced in February of last year.
“Materials are critical to help ensure our solar panels provide superior power output for their 25-year expected lifetime, or longer,” said Liansheng Miao, chairman and chief executive officer, Yingli Green Energy. “The agreement we have signed with DuPont assures our supply of high-quality materials that have proven performance and our continued collaboration on further technological advances to optimize the efficiency and durability of our products. Yingli Green Energy has long been committed to making solar affordable for everyone with superior quality products.” Continue reading
Several organizations in California, including Californians Against Utilities Stopping Solar Energy (CAUSE), American Lung Association of California, California Environmental Justice Alliance (CEJA) and Presente.org are petitioning the California Energy Commission to quantify the air quality and economic benefits associated with the states “net energy metering” policy.
According to CAUSE, net metering provides solar consumers with fair credit for the energy they put back on the grid, which utilities then sell to other customers. The organization says monopoly utilities in California and across the country are trying to eliminate net metering in order to halt the consumer-driven popularity of rooftop solar.
“By driving the expansion of rooftop solar, net metering helps improve the quality of the air we breathe while creating jobs in our community,” said Dr. Luis Pacheco, Medical Director of the Transitional Care Unit at California Hospital Medical Center and CAUSE co-chair. “These were key considerations when net metering was adopted, and should be included in an assessment of the policy’s overall effectiveness.”
The requested study would supplement analysis of the more limited impact of net metering on non-solar ratepayers’ electric bills and would also include various other benefits including: local job growth and increased employment throughout California; increased local economic activity that generates tax revenue for state and local governments; improved air quality through reduced need for fossil fuel power generation; reduced death and disease associated with fossil fuel power generation; reduced greenhouse gas emissions; lower wholesale market prices for electricity due to decreased demand; and improved grid security and reduced economic costs from power outages.
CAUSE says attention to these additional society impacts comes at a time when Investor-Owned Utilities (IOUs) have begun to diverge from one another on the impact of net-metered solar on the grid. In a recent ratepayer impact study conducted earlier this year by Crossborder Energy found that net metering will deliver net benefits of more than $92 million per year to California ratepayers.
“Air pollution poses a serious threat to our state’s health. Powering our buildings with on-site clean, renewable energy instead of burning fossil fuels can help reduce harmful air pollution and lower energy costs at the same time,” addedStrela Cervas, co-coordinator of the California Environmental Justice Alliance. “We should better understand the societal benefits associated with net metering before making policy changes.”
IKEA has added another solar installation to one of its stores, this one located in Charlotte, North Carolina. The 122,000 square foot PV array consists of a 1,015 kW system, built with 4,228 panels. The system is estimated to produce 1,330,000 kWh of solar power each year.
This solar installation is the 39th for IKEA in the U.S. increasing its solar presence to nearly 90 percent of its locations with a total generation goal of 38 MW. Unlike many other companies, IKEA owns and operates all of its solar PV energy systems as opposed to a solar lease or power purchase agreement (PPV). The company has set a goal of becoming energy independent by 2020 and to date, has more than 250,000 solar panels installed on buildings around the world.
“The installation of solar panels at IKEA Charlotte is another way we can build upon our ongoing commitment to sustainability,” said Richard Castanon, IKEA Charlotte store manager. “At IKEA, we believe in creating a better every life for the many people, so investing in renewable energy accomplishes helps contributes to that goal. We appreciate the support of the City of Charlotte, Duke Energy, and Gehrlicher Solar, our partners in this project.”
An agreement has been signed that will establish the first research plant and lab for wind energy in Jordan. The National Center for Research and Development of the Higher Council for Science and Technology has signed an agreement with Elsewedy for Wind Energy Generation (SWEG) to establish a pilot plant and research lab for wind energy in Al Fujaij, Al Shobak, having a 1.65 MW capacity at a cost of €2.92 million.
This agreement is part of a project to develop a national industry in concentrated solar energy and wind energy that is financed by the European Union and European assistance program to Jordan for renewable energy. The project aims to provide Jordan with technical assistance on running feasibility studies for the renewable energy system, calculate the cost of electricity generation from wind energy and help the country in pricing the cost of energy generation based upon the practical operation of these plants to boost investment in the renewable energy market in the Kingdom.
During the EU Parliament in Brussels, a “breakthrough” green renewable energy program coined Project Volt Gas Volt was called for to make fossil fuel and first generation biofuel use obsolete. The call was made by Corinne Lepage, Member of the European Parliament (also the former French Minister of the Environment) and American Professor of Management, Robert I. Bell.
According to Lepage and Bell, renewable energy can now “keep the lights on” without disruption due to new technology and long term financing proposal for the project allowing surplus energy from wind and solar to be stored. Project Volt Gas Volt (VGV) offers a reliable, safe, phase-out of nuclear power and fossil fuels with the possibility of enhancement rather than a reduction in life style.
“With Project VGV, industry and government have the solution for a successful energy transition, to optimize wind and solar energy,” said Lepage and Bell.
An element of the program would rely on new technology that converts surplus electricity generated by wind farms and solar parks to methane, that can then be stored for months in the existing natural gas grid. Bell and Lepage say the methane would become the “battery” for renewable energy while simultaneously making fracking obsolete.
“We will use the surplus energy from nuclear, now largely wasted at night, to help pay for the exit from nuclear. And we will use the CO2 generated from burning waste, biomass and from steel mills and cement plants to generate the methane,” explained Bell.
Lepage added, “From now on, the question of exiting from nuclear while maintaining a continuous and sufficient production of electricity should not be a taboo, but a realistic political choice, one which will determine the employment of tomorrow.”
Naval Support Activity (NSA) Mid-South officially welcomed into service the Navy’s first solar-powered electric car charging station with a ribbon cutting ceremony. During the ceremony NSA Mid-South Executive Officer Cmdr. Brad Meeks thanked the combined Naval Facilities Engineering Command (NAVFAC) and Commander, Navy Installations Command (CNIC) team that brought the station online. He noted that the new photovoltaic carports are a sign of how the base is evolving to face new challenges.
“Naval Support Activity Mid-South is leading the way,” said Meeks. “This is the first solar power charging station in the Navy, and I want to thank our NAVFAC public works team for seeing this project through. Their efforts have ensured NSA Mid-South’s role in building a clean, sustainable future for our Navy and our nation.”
The carport will enable NSA Mid-South to recharge its current fleet of 17 electric vehicles with renewable electricity in approximately four hours, while reducing demand on the commercial power grid. In addition to charging vehicles connected through either 110V or 220V plugs, the carport will also provide excess electricity to the local power grid, further reducing the base’s electricity costs. The 150-foot-long panel structure tilts automatically to track the sun and includes several safety features to protect against high wind or lightning strikes. So far, the energy generated is enough power more than 60 average sized homes for a day.
Public Works Department Mid-South will monitor the carport’s production via a Web-based system and will rely on the base operations support contractor to maintain the individual solar arrays and components over its expected 25-year lifespan. The carport is part of an ongoing $10 million CNIC project to install seven sites with E85 (85% ethanol / 15% gasoline) stations, nine sites with solar carports and five sites with stand-along electric vehicle charging stations and Navy installations.
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 and 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.”
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.”
With 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.
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. “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.
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.”
“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.