PG&E Donates Solar to Habitat Homes

Pacific Gas and Electric Company (PG&E) has donated $1 million to support the installation of rooftop solar on 79 homes with 18 different Habitat for Humanity local affiliates throughout Northern and Central California. The company said its Solar Habitat Program, in partnership with Habitat for Humanity, is making affordable housing and solar energy a reality for deserving families, particularly in neighborhoods that have been historically underserved and overlooked.

PG&E is proud to support Habitat for Humanity’s mission of making homeownership a reality for deserving families. Our sustained collaboration on the Solar Habitat Program allows these homes to be both financially and environmentally sustainable. Together, we’re building a cleaner, brighter future for the people of California,” said PG&E Corporation Chairman, CEO and President Tony Earley.

PG&E employee volunteers help to put in landscaping on a Habitat home equipped with solar panels in San Luis Obispo, Calif.

PG&E employee volunteers help to put in landscaping on a Habitat home equipped with solar panels in San Luis Obispo, Calif.

The company has been supporting the housing program for more than 10 years. Today, they are the exclusive solar partner for Habitat for Humanity and to date, more than 660 new homes have been built with solar energy.

“Thanks to our partnership with PG&E and the Solar Habitat program, Habitat homeowners spend less on electricity and that helps us keep the overall cost of homeownership low. This is a critical piece of the overall affordability of Habitat homes,” said Phillip Kilbridge, CEO of Habitat for Humanity Greater San Francisco.

The PG&E’s said their Solar Habitat program lowers the electricity bill of an average household by $500 per year. Each solar panel generates nearly 300 kilowatt-hours of clean, renewable energy from sunlight per month, avoiding the release of more than 132,000 pounds of carbon dioxide to the atmosphere over the 30-year life of the system. In total, Habitat families have saved $9 million in energy costs through this partnership.

Earlier this year, the company and the non-profit celebrated their decade-long solar partnership by hosting the Brown Bag Build at Justin Herman Plaza in San Francisco. Community members contributed over 200 volunteer hours to Habitat for Humanity to safely construct 60 doors and window frames in 30-minute shifts during their lunch breaks for the Habitat Terrace development in San Francisco’s Ocean View neighborhood.

Mid-Year Renewable Energy Check-Up

Heading in to the second half of 2015, renewable energy accounted for nearly 70 percent of new electrical generation for the firs six months as reported by the latest “Energy Infrastructure Update” report from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission’s (FERC) Office of Energy Projects. The report finds wind accounts for more than half (50.64%) of the 1,969 MW of new installed capacity. Solar accounted for 549 MW, bimomass with 128 MW, geothermal with 45 MW and hydropower with 21 MW. The rest of the new capacity was added using natural gas (1,173 MW).

© Metalmaster | Dreamstime.com - Solar Panels Photo

© Metalmaster | Dreamstime.com – Solar Panels Photo

FERC reported no new capacity for the year-to-date from oil or nuclear power and just 3 MW from one unit of coal. Thus, as calculated by the SUN DAY Campaign, new capacity from renewable energy sources during the first half of 2015 is 904 times greater than that from coal and more than double that from natural gas. For June alone, wind (320 MW), biomass (95 MW), and solar (62 MW) provided 97 percent of new capacity with natural gas providing the balance (15 MW).

Renewable energy sources now account for 17.27 percent of total installed operating generating capacity in the U.S.: water – 8.61 percent, wind – 5.84 percent, biomass – 1.40 percent, solar – 1.08 percent, and geothermal steam – 0.34 percent (for comparison, renewables were 16.28 percent of capacity in June 2014 and 15.81% in June 2013).

Renewable electrical capacity is now greater than that of nuclear (9.20%) and oil (3.87%) combined. In fact, the installed capacity of wind power alone has now surpassed that of oil. On the other hand, sources the SUN DAY Campaign, generating capacity from coal has declined from 28.96 percent in mid-2013 to 26.83 percent today.

“With Congress now debating whether to extend the federal tax incentives for renewable energy sources, it is reasonable to ask whether the American public has gotten a good return on these investments to date,” noted Ken Bossong, executive eirector of the SUN DAY Campaign. “The latest FERC data confirms that the answer is a resounding ‘Yes!’.”

Canadian Solar Connects 3 Japanese Solar Projects

Canadian Solar has grid connected three solar photovoltaic (PV) power plants in Japan with a total of approximately 5.2 MWp.

Canadian Solar logoThe 2.2 MWp Tsukuba Stones Solar Power Plant was connected to the grid on June 26, 2015. Powered by 8,448 Canadian Solar CS6P-260P modules, it will generate approximately 2,474 MWh of clean, emission-less solar electricity every year and the electricity generated from this project will be purchased by Tokyo Electric Power Co., Ltd. under a 20 year feed-in-tariff contract at the rate of JPY40.00 ($0.33) per kWh.

The 2.0 MWp Tomigaoka Solar Power Plant was connected to the grid on June 29, 2015.  Powered by 7,920 Canadian Solar CS6P-255P modules, it will generate approximately 2,415 MWh of clean, emission-less solar electricity every year and the electricity generated from the project will be purchased by Kyushu Electric Power Co., Inc. under a 20 year feed-in-tariff contract at the rate of JPY36.00 ($0.30) per kWh.

The 1.0 MWp Isa City Solar Power Plant was connected to the grid on June 9, 2015. Powered by 3,654 Canadian Solar CS6P-255P modules, it will generate approximately 1,175 MWh of clean, emission-less solar electricity every year and the electricity generated from the project will also be purchased by Kyushu Electric Power Co., Inc. under a 20 year feed-in-tariff contract at the rate of JPY40.00 ($0.30) per kWh.

“We are very pleased to announce the successful completion and grid connection of these three projects, which well demonstrates the execution ability of our local project development and EPC teams in Japan,” said Dr. Shawn Qu, Chairman and CEO of Canadian Solar Inc., “We are well on track to complete more projects in the quarters ahead in this important market that is expected to make an important contribution to our planned YieldCo.”

Colorado’s RPS Going Forward

Colorado’s Renewable Portfolio Standard (RPS) is going forward. The Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals has upheld the constitutionality of the legislation stating the RPS does not impose unlawful regulations on out-of-state companies. In their written opinion, the judges determined that Colorado’s RPS would not harm interstate commerce.

Current state law requires electric generators to ensure that a percentage of the electricity they sell to Colorado consumers comes from renewable sources. That prompted the Energy and Environment Legal Institute (EELI), which has longtime ties to the coal industry according to the renewable energy industry to file suit in federal court – arguing that out-of-state companies wereScreen Shot 2015-07-14 at 10.14.43 AM unfairly and adversely impacted.

The Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA) and the Interwest Energy Alliance (a regional partner of the American Wind Energy Association (AWEA)) were two of several organizations to intervene on behalf of the Colorado Public Utilities Commission and in support of the state’s RPS.

“Because electricity can go anywhere on the grid and come from anywhere on the grid, and because Colorado is a net importer of electricity, Colorado’s renewable energy mandate became a ‘target’ for people and groups hoping to freeze or rollback RPS programs – not only in Colorado, but also in other states around the nation,” said SEIA President and CEO Rhone Resch. “By ruling on the substance of the issue, we believe the Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals decision sends a clear signal that renewable energy standards are, in fact, legal under the Constitution’s dormant commerce clause. We applaud the court for its clear guidance.”

Colorado was the first state in the U.S. to adopt a renewable energy standard by a popular vote. The renewable energy industry said the law has widely benefited the state as wind power supports up to 7,000 well-paying jobs, including manufacturing jobs at 22 facilities around the state and wind has attracted $7.8 billion in capital investment to the state’s economy. Continue reading

Koolbridge’s Smart Load Tech Heads to NCCETC

The North Carolina Clean Energy Technology Center (NCCETC) at North Carolina State University has signed a five-year Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) with North Carolina-based Koolbridge Solar, Inc. NCCETC will work with Koolbridge to test their Smart Load Center technology, a smart circuit breaker panel for integrating a photovoltaic and energy storage system with a home’s or commercial building’s loads and the electric grid. In other words, when the sun is shining, the technology transfers the loads from the grid to the off-grid solar and battery system for use when the sun goes down. Koolbridge Solar’s technology was invented by Paul W. Dent, who according to Wikipedia is the co-inventor of Bluetooth wireless technology.

“Koolbridge Solar, Inc. has a new advanced inverter, Smart Load Center, and other patented and patent-pending energy management technology designed to lower the costs of distributed photovoltaic systems and increase value by allowing for easy integration of energy storage and by allowing continued operation in case of electrical outage with the local power company,” said Stephen Burnett, chairman & CEO of Koolbridge Solar. Burnett also stated his company values the support of the NCCETC and will actively seek funding to allow for more significant input from the Center.

As part of the collaboration, The Center will provide high-level policy, market, and technical guidance to Koolbridge on their products and strategies. The Center will also support Koolbridge’s pursuit of federal and state grants and other funding opportunities wherever possible and appropriate. NCCETC is known for their work in solar policy, markets, and technology as well as related codes and standards and has received two U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) SunShot grants.

Professional Engineer and Renewable Energy Program Coordinator of the NCCETC, Tommy Cleveland, added,”The Center is pleased to have entered into the first MOA with Koolbridge Solar in accordance with its mission to improve North Carolina and citizens’ access to affordable and reliable solar energy.”

IFC Invests in Renewable Energy

IFC, a member of the World Bank Group, has announced the company is investing $25 million power company Alcazar Energy to develop and multiple solar and wind projects in the Middle East, Turkey and Africa. The hope is that the projects will aid the country’s economic growth while meeting growing power needs.

Screen Shot 2015-07-09 at 3.08.46 PM“MENA’s solar potential alone is massive,” says Maroun Semaan, Alcazar Energy co-founder and chairman. “Enough solar energy hits the region every year to satisfy the planet’s demand for power. The investment from IFC will help tap into that potential and boost power generation across the region at more competitive costs.”

Many areas throughout the MENA countries don’t have access to realiable power supply. However, cited by IFC show that power demand will grow by 84 percent by 2020. It is estimated that around $280 billion of investment will be required over the next five years to meet MENA’s growing electricity demand and the goal is to ensure much of the power demand is met by renewable energy sources.

“Powers shortages are a key barrier to economic growth and development across the region,” added Mouayed Makhlouf, IFC regional director for the Middle East and North Africa. “By harnessing the region’s considerable renewable potential, we can increase supply of sustainable, clean energy, helping to boost economic growth and alleviate poverty.”

The initiative is part of IFC’s broader regional strategy that focuses on improving the region’s infrastructure through renewable energy projects and fostering regional integration by helping companies expand operations to different parts of the region.

Clean Jobs Continue to Rise

A new report finds that more than 9,800 clean energy and clean transportation jobs were announced in the U.S. in the first three months of 2015. This is nearly double the number of jobs announced during the same timeframe in 2014. The report was released by Environmental Entrepreneurs (E2).

E2 Q1 2015 top clean job statesThe top three states for the quarter were: Georgia (2,870 jobs), California (1,885) and Texas (1,612). New Mexico, Michigan, Colorado, Virginia, Utah, Maryland and Indiana rounded out the top 10. Georgia’s No. 1 ranking was its first since E2 began its clean energy job-tracking analysis in 2011. The vast majority of its jobs came in the solar sector.

“Nearly 10,000 new job announcements in one quarter shows just how fast clean energy is growing in America,” said Bob Keefe, executive director of E2. “But building an economy increasingly fueled by clean, renewable energy like wind and solar doesn’t happen in just one quarter. Smart policies like the federal Clean Power Plan – which will reduce carbon pollution from existing power plants and increase clean energy – will help keep the job growth going.” Final Clean Power Plan standards will be announced later this summer.

Nationally, solar was the top sector in Q1, with more than 6,600 jobs announced from nearly 20 projects in solar generation and solar manufacturing. The report attributed declining materials costs as a primary reason for the solar industry’s strong showing. In the wind energy sector, more than 1,400 jobs stemming from 11 projects were announced, while the biomass, energy storage, advanced vehicle and lighting efficiency sectors announced hundreds of jobs each.

EFS Offering Hawaii Homeowners Solar Financing

Energy Finance Solutions (EFS) has partnered with the State of Hawaii’s Green Energy Market Securitization (GEMS) Program to help make clean energy improvements accessible to Hawaii utility customers. EFS has developed financing options that make the purchase and installation of solar photovoltaic systems simple and affordable for Hawaii residents.

Photo Credit: Blue Planet Foundation

Photo Credit: Blue Planet Foundation

“Often, utility customers want to install solar, but the upfront installation cost is a challenge, and it’s not always easy for them to obtain financing through a traditional channel,” explained Cyd Miyashiro of the Hawaii Green Infrastructure Authority. “We are thrilled to offer an easy, affordable way to get our customers the financing they need—and to work with EFS, a partner with a long history and strong track record in financing energy efficiency and renewable energy. The State of Hawaii is committed to renewable power and hopes this initiative will drive increased adoption amongst our residents.”

Loans through the GEMS Program are now available to finance up to 100 percent of the cost of solar electric systems (up to $75,000), with no down payment required. The Program partners with qualified installers to assist borrowers with the installation of solar photovoltaic equipment. Fixed-rate loan terms are available for up to 20 years, and there are no closing costs or prepayment penalties associated with the loans. To be eligible, owner-occupied, single-family homes must be located in the State of Hawaii and within the Hawaiian Electric Companies’ (HECO) utility service territories.

Speaking of Hawaii, a recent Today in Energy report looks at Renewable Portfolio Standard (RPS) that were recently passed by Hawaii and Vermont. Both pieces of legislation require significant increases in renewable electricity and home solar systems will be an important factor in achieving mandates. Hawaii is requiring 100 percent renewable energy by 2045 while Vermont passed a bill creating 75 percent RPS by 2032. Both RPS targets are higher than any other U.S. states.

Golf Course Repurposed to Solar Farm

Abandoned golf course in Japan that will be repurposed into a 23 MW solar farm.

Abandoned golf course in Japan that will be repurposed into a 23 MW solar farm.

The joint venture between Kyocera TCL Solar and Century Tokyo Leasing Corporation has birthed a solar farm on an abandoned golf course in Koyto Prefecture, Japan. Once complete, the 23 MW solar power plant will generated an estimated 26,312 megawatt hours per year.

In addition to this project, Kyocera and Century Tokyo Leasing, along with two other companies, are developing a 92MW solar power plant at another abandoned golf course in the region. Not limited to Japan, several states in the U.S. including Florida, Utah and Kansas are also considering re-purposing abandoned golf courses for solar development among other uses.

Rendering of the Kanoya Osaki Solar Hills Solar Power Plant in Japan.

Rendering of the Kanoya Osaki Solar Hills Solar Power Plant in Japan.

Solar, said Kyocera, can provide a particularly productive and environmentally friendly use for defunct golf courses, which are characterized by expansive land mass, high sun exposure, and a low concentration of shade trees.

When completed, the new plant will become the largest solar power installation in Japan’s Kyoto Prefecture. The site is located in Fushimi Ward, where Kyocera established its first major solar energy research center in the mid-1970s. This year marks the 40th anniversary of Kyocera’s entry into the solar energy business.

Martifer Solar Opens PV Plant in Belgium

Martifer Solar has completed the construction and connection of a 738.45 kWp PV system on the rooftop of the Decathlon building in Evere, Belgium for the company Orka NV. The company handled all aspects of the plant development and construction.

According to Martifer, The building hosts the largest Decathlon store in Europe and currently stands as one of their largest stores in the world. With an area of 10,600 m2, the 738.45kWp PV plant installed on the building’s rooftop, was built using 2,735 monocrystalline solar panels installed on fixed structures. The rooftop PV plant will produce an estimated 632.3 MWh/year.

DCIM103GOPRO

“This PV plant installed by Martifer Solar in the Benelux region represents the reliability, safety and bankability of the projects and work that we have been doing in this region. The achievement of more than 150 projects built on over 300 rooftops in Belgium, together with our global expertise allows us to consolidate and expand our strategy for the EPC and O&M business in the Benelux region,” said Luis Pinho, operations manager in Belgium for Martifer Solar.

Jan Heyse, managing director of Orka, investor and asset manager for the project, added, “This project was more complex and had a longer development lead time due to the close integration with the construction of the building itself. We have enjoyed working with Martifer Solar to realize this project to the satisfaction of all stakeholders. With this realization Orka’s capacity in rooftop PV in the Brussels region totals 7Mwp, divided over 6 rooftops.”

With the completion of this project, Martifer Solar has installed approximately 35 MW of total PV capacity installed in Belgium.