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.

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“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.

#NEO2015 Identifies Five Power Trends

Worldwide power generation will experience five trends over the next 25 years according to the New Energy Outlook 2015 published by Bloomberg New Energy Finance. The report is based on analysis country-by-country and technology-by-technology of electricity demand, costs of generation and structural changes in the electricity system.

New Energy Outlook 2015“NEO 2015 draws together all of BNEF’s best data and information on energy costs, policy, technology and finance. It shows that we will see tremendous progress towards a decarbonised power system. However, it also shows that despite this, coal will continue to play a big part in world power, with emissions continuing to rise for another decade and a half, unless further radical policy action is taken,” said Michael Liebreich, chairman of the advisory board at Bloomberg New Energy Finance.

New Energy Outlook focuses on five major shifts that will occur through 2040:

  • Solar, solar everywhere. The further decline in the cost of photovoltaic technology will drive a $3.7 trillion surge in investment in solar, both large-scale and small-scale.
  • Power to the people. Some $2.2 trillion of this will go on rooftop and other local PV systems, handing consumers and businesses the ability to generate their own electricity, to store it using batteries and – in parts of the developing world – to access power for the first time.
  • Demand undershoots. The march of energy-efficient technologies in areas such as lighting and air conditioning will help to limit growth in global power demand to 1.8% per year, down from 3% per year in 1990-2012. In OECD countries, power demand will be lower in 2040 than in 2014.
  • Gas flares only briefly. Natural gas will not be the “transition fuel” to wean the world off coal. North American shale will change the gas market, but coal-to-gas switching will be mainly a US story. Many developing nations will opt for a twin-track of coal and renewables.
  • Climate peril. Despite investment of $8 trillion in renewables, there will be enough legacy fossil-fuel plants and enough investment in new coal-fired capacity in developing countries to ensure global CO2 emissions rise all the way to 2029, and will still be 13% above 2014 levels in 2040.

Jon Moore, chief executive of Bloomberg New Energy Finance, added, “Last year’s forecast from BNEF identified the big share that renewables would have in power investment – that raised eyebrows at the time, but other energy forecasters have since piped a similar tune. This year’s report pushes our thinking further, with updated analysis on the slowing levels of demand we are already seeing, and on the proliferation of small PV systems.”

Approps Bill Shortchanges Rural America

According to the Agriculture Energy Coalition (AgEC), the current version of the House Appropriations Committee’s Fiscal Year 2016 Agriculture Appropriations Bill would shortchange rural America. As it currently stands, the bill would reduce mandatory spending levels for Energy Title programs including the Renewable Energy for America Program (REAP), Biomass Crop Assistance Program and the Biorefinery, Renewable Chemical and Biobased Product Manufacturing Assistance Program. In light of this, AgEC has vowed to fight the changes in mandatory spending.

Lloyd Ritter, co-director of the AgEC, said, “The renewable energy and energy efficiency programs in the Farm Bill help rural America create new manufacturing opportunities and AgEC logostable, well-paying jobs. A new report to Congress, released just yesterday, demonstrates the broad economic impact of innovative biobased technology. The biobased products industry contributes $369 billion annually to the U.S. economy and employs more than four million Americans. The more than 40,000 biobased products already on the market displace about 300 million gallons of petroleum per year, which is equivalent to taking 200,000 cars off the road. Countless wind, solar, biomass and other projects are making a major impact as well.”

Ritter continued, “Nevertheless, the House Appropriations Committee is seeking to roll back the mandatory funding levels Congress agreed to last year when passing the bi-partisan Farm Bill. For Fiscal Year 2016, the House bill proposes cutting millions from the Section 9003 program, the Biomass Crop Assistance Program, and the Renewable Energy for America Program.”

“Such reductions in the mandatory funding levels that Congress previously set will undermine the ongoing effectiveness of these programs. The Agriculture Energy Coalition, comprising renewable energy, energy efficiency and agricultural groups, will continue to fight to ensure that these programs are implemented successfully,” concluded Ritter.

California Breaks the 10,000 MW Solar Barrier

According to the new U.S. Solar Market Insight Report, California has become the first state in the country to exceed 10,000 MW of installed solar capacity. California has more solar assets than most nations, including the United Kingdom, France, Spain, Australia and Belgium. The report was conducted by GTM Research and supported by the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA).

During Q1 2015, California installed 718 MW of solar energy raising the state’s total capacity to 10,649 MW – enough to power nearly 2.6 million homes. The report went on to point out that California had big increases in Q1 across all solar sectors. Of the new capacity added, 231 MW were residential, 88 MW were commercial and 399 MW were utility scale. Together, these installations represented a $1.7 billion investment across the state in the first quarter alone, found the report.

FIGURE- U.S. PV Installations, Q1 2010-Q1 2015“When it comes to creating clean energy jobs and protecting the environment, California is showing the world how to get the job done,” said Rhone Resch, SEIA president and CEO. “To put the state’s remarkable progress in some context, today California has 10 times more installed solar capacity than the entire nation had in 2007. We congratulate Gov. Brown, his administration, legislative leaders and the people of California for being at the forefront of America’s efforts to create a vibrant and growing clean energy economy.”

Resch said California’s explosive growth in solar is due, in large part, to stable and effective public policies such as the solar Investment Tax Credit (ITC), Renewable Portfolio Standards (RPS) and Net Energy Metering (NEM). Nationwide, solar remains the fastest-growing source of renewable energy in the United States.

The residential market also continued to flourish in Q1, with installed system prices dropping 4 percent year-over-year – and down nearly 50 percent since 2010. The upswing in residential installations is expected to continue in the foreseeable future, especially in light of a recent report by the California Energy Commission, which shows that more than a quarter of all new homes being built in Southern California are being constructed with solar energy systems. Presently, there are 2,226 solar companies at work throughout the state, employing 54,700 Californians.

USDA Funds 544 REAP Projects

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) has awarded 544 renewable energy and energy efficiency projects more than $6.7 million as part of the Rural Energy for America Program (REAP). USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack made the announcement at the Snake River Brewing Company, in Jackson, Wyoming. The company received a $13,810 REAP grant to install a solar panel to generate energy for the business.

srb-logo-3dThese grants will help farmers, ranchers and small business owners use more renewable energy, which cuts carbon pollution, reduces our dependence on foreign oil, saves businesses money on their energy bills and creates American jobs,” Vilsack said. “All of these are crucial components to developing healthier, more economically vibrant rural communities.”

REAP was created by the 2002 Farm Bill and was reauthorized by the 2014 Farm Bill. REAP funding has helped farmers expand renewable energy use in recent years. The new Census of Agriculture shows the number of farms utilizing renewable energy production has doubled in the last five years. Since 2009, USDA has awarded $545 million to support more than 8,800 REAP projects nationwide.

Eligible agricultural producers and rural small businesses may use REAP funds to make energy efficiency improvements or install renewable energy systems, including solar, wind, renewable biomass (including anaerobic digesters), small hydroelectric, ocean energy, hydrogen and geothermal.

Air Products Debuts Solar-Powered Fueling Station

Air Products has inaugurated India’s first solar-powered renewable fueling station in an event this week that included chief guest Shri Piyush Goyal, Union Minister for Power, Coal, and New and Renewable Energy, along with Shri Upendra Tripathy, Secretary, Minister of New and Renewable Energy. With the addition of this SmartFuel station, Air Products now has three hydrogen fueling stations operating in India.

Air Products’ SmartFuel H70/H35 retail hydrogen dispenser provides the newest generation of hydrogen dispensing to meet consumer expectations of refilling fuel cell vehicles in a safe, fast and reliable manner.

Air Products’ SmartFuel H70/H35 retail hydrogen dispenser provides the newest generation of hydrogen dispensing to meet consumer expectations of refilling fuel cell vehicles in a safe, fast and reliable manner.

The SmartFuel station is part of a mass public transport bus fueling and vehicle demonstration program, and according to Air Products generates 100 percent renewable hydrogen from solar energy via an electrolyzer. It is located at the Solar Energy Center near Delhi and part of a project managed by the National Institute of Solar Energy. The project was also implemented by India’s University of Petroleum and Energy Studies (UPES) and funded by the Ministry of New and Renewable Energy (MNRE) of the Government of India.

“As a member of industry, Air Products is proud to be involved in a program that has received such crucial validation and support from public sector, educational institute and the regulatory authorities,” commented Ravi Subramanian, business development manager Asia for Air Products’ Hydrogen Energy Systems. “This project is an important, progressive step towards unlocking the potential of hydrogen as a sustainable transportation fuel and alternative energy source, not just for India but the rest of the world.”

UPES is executing this project and it is entirely funded by MNRE. “Although this is a demonstration project, this will be a major stepping stone for India to move towards the hydrogen economy,” added Dr. Niranjan Raje, former director of Indian Oil and the principal investigator for this project.

Michigan Winery Goes Solar

The largest solar agribusiness installation at a winery, Chateau Chantal Winery & Inn, is now online after a ceremonious flip of the switch by Michigan U.S. Senator Debbie Stabenow. “Michigan IS a leader in renewable energy,” staid U.S. Senator Stabenow. “Make, grow and innovate – that’s what we do best in Michigan.”

Chateau Chantal Power Up Switch_052915The 148.5 kW Harvest Energy Solutions solar installation will offset 40 percent of the winery’s energy needs. More than 50 invited guests were on hand to celebrate completion of the solar project.

“We’ve been harvesting grapes on this farm for 29 years and are now excited to diversify by harvesting the sun’s energy with the largest solar array at a Michigan winery,” said Marie-Chantal Dalese, president and CEO at Chateau Chantal.

Chateau Chantal’s solar PV system is made almost entirely with parts and equipment made in Michigan, from the Harvest Energy Solutions’ manufactured racking and clips to the Michigan-made solar panels.

“At Chateau Chantal, we’ve been incredibly lucky to steward this amazing property on Old Mission Peninsula. Installing a large scale solar array is one more way we can reflect our commitment to a healthy environment. Our vineyard has been MAEAP (Michigan Agriculture Environmental Assurance Program) certified for 8 years and we ceased application of chemical fertilizers in our vineyard 10 years ago,” Dalese. Continue reading

Kansans Want More Solar

Kansans want more solar. A recent poll finds 73 percent of Kansans agree that the opportunity for homeowners to adopt solar energy is an important part of providing choice and competition. In addition, 79 percent of respondents agree that Kansas could benefit from new jobs created by the solar industry. Today, one of every 78 jobs in the U.S. is in the solar industry. The poll was conducted by Magellan Strategies and commissioned by The Alliance for Solar Choice (TASC).

This 10 kW ground-mount at @PLHSKAWS features 40 @SolarWorldUSA panels and @IronRidge racks in Perry, KS. #KSSolar  Photo Credit: Cromwell Solar

This 10 kW ground-mount at @PLHSKAWS features 40 @SolarWorldUSA panels and @IronRidge racks in Perry, KS. #KSSolar Photo Credit: Cromwell Solar

“Solar jobs in Kansas have been increasing at a rate over 30% each year; these are good-paying, skilled jobs that are at risk if Westar attempts to eliminate solar competition,” said Aron Cromwell, CEO Cromwell Solar, based in Lawrence, Kansas.

According to TASC, Westar Energy awaits the Kansas Corporation Commission’s ruling on a proposal that would impose higher tariffs on solar customers in its service territory. The proposed change would force solar customers onto discriminatory rates with high monthly charges that will stop the growing solar market in Kansas. TASC and Cromwell Solar have petitioned to intervene in the rate case to advocate for residential rates that encourage consumer energy choice. Westar has opposed both parties’ participation in the case.

Additional finding include that 76 percent of Westar customers oppose Westar’s proposal to impose a tariff fee on customers with solar panels. With 80 percent of Republicans and 75 percent of Democrats agreeing that their utilities’ positions on clean energy are based on what’s best for these companies’ profits, the results, said TASC, call into question Westar Energy’s motives in proposing this anti-solar change.

“It is rare to see this level of bipartisan support for anything, but it is clear from these results that Kansans will not stand for Westar Energy or any utility to take away their ability to install solar,” said David Flaherty, CEO of Magellan Strategies.

Westar’s rate case is pending before the Kansas Corporation Commission. Public hearings are planned for July 21 and 23. The Commission should issue an order by the fall.