BOULDER, COLO. – (October 15, 2013) Three new community-owned solar PV facilities by community solar pioneer Clean Energy Collective (CEC) began delivering power to ratepayers in Colorado this week, bringing to 10 the number of shared utility-scale arrays operating in the state. An additional 10 facilities, about 5 MW, are in the development pipeline for Colorado.
The resort town of Breckenridge, Colo. is now host to two 500 kW community-owned solar facilities that will serve Xcel Energy customers in Summit County. Both systems were sold out before construction was complete. A 400 kW community-owned system perched on a former Air Force hangar is also now delivering clean power to Denver County ratepayers. Combined with the 106 kW original array on the historic Hangar 2 building, this creates the nation’s largest building integrated PV (BIPV) installation at over 500 kW.
Introduced in 2010, CEC’s community-owned solar model (COS) was designed to provide every ratepayer in a utility territory the opportunity to purchase individual solar panels in a shared, locally-sited, utility-scale array. This innovation opens up solar PV ownership to renters, people in multi-dwelling buildings, properties with poor solar exposure, and individuals of all income levels. Because they are sited and maintained for maximum production, utility-scale facilities provide more energy for longer than smaller, individual systems, allowing for a faster and greater financial return.
“Our model is not supplanting people who want to and can put solar on their house, but rather opening the market to the other 75% of electric users who have until now faced insurmountable barriers,” said CEC founder Paul Spencer.
While community solar makes PV energy available to everyone on the grid, real traction for rapid deployment has come from its broad appeal for utilities. Large IOU’s, municipal utilities, and rural cooperatives can add solar to their mix with a turn-key solution. It provides in-network, reliable, utility-scale clean energy generation at reasonable power rates that applies nicely to RPS requirements without capital outlay or responsibility for monitoring, customer administration, operations and maintenance.
CEC has partnered with six utilities so far in Colorado, including 11 facilities rewarded through Xcel Energy’s Solar*Rewards Communities program. Once complete, access to solar ownership will be available to more than 95% of Colorado ratepayers. CEC has also installed the state’s first community-owned solar gardens for New Mexico, Minnesota, and Vermont, and has topped $40 million in facility developments.
“CEC has cracked the code, opening a consumer solar market that is four-times larger than the onsite solar marketplace as we have traditionally known it,” said Nikhil Garg, Vice President of Black Coral Capital, a Boston-based investment firm focused on cleantech and alternative energy.
About Clean Energy Collective (CEC)
Colorado-based Clean Energy Collective is a developer of community-based renewable energy facilities and a national leader in community power generation. CEC pioneered the model of delivering clean power-generation through utility-scale facilities that are collectively owned by participating utility customers, establishing the first community-owned solar garden in the country near El Jebel, Colorado. Today, CEC has 23 community-owned facilities online or in development, representing more than 10 MW of community-sited clean energy.
Very High Efficiency and Lightweight Solar Material Provides Unmatched Power to Weight Ratio
SAN FRANCISCO, CA – July 25, 2013 – During a keynote at the small unmanned systems business expo in San Francisco, CA today, Alta Devices’ CEO, Christopher Norris, explained that small unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV) are no longer constrained to short-range or limited flight times and are now able to fly as long as the sun is shining. This is expected to have tremendous economic value for agricultural, public safety, wildfire mapping, search and rescue, law enforcement, industrial applications, and many others.
In the past, solar solutions for powering these vehicles were either too heavy or could not produce enough power for long-range flight, or both. However, a small UAV outfitted with Alta Devices’ mobile power technology can produce enough power, while adding practically no weight, to fly indefinitely under the sun.
Alta Devices manufactures the world’s thinnest, most flexible, and most efficient solar material. It can be used on anything that moves, can be carried, or worn, to generate substantial power from light. In the case of a typical small UAV with a 9-foot wingspan, Alta’s material can generate roughly 125W of power and weigh about 125g (about 4.5 ounces). In many cases, this is enough power to sustain flight and keep an on-board power source fully charged.
Chris Norris, Alta Devices president and CEO explained, “A broad range of civil unmanned systems will benefit from extended range and endurance. For example, when a UAV is used to map a wildfire, or on a human search and rescue mission, it is critical to have flight times that are as long as possible.” And for agricultural use, the ability to extend the range of a UAV and shorten the task of monitoring a large area by avoiding stops to recharge, has significant economic benefit to the farming community. According to a report published by the Association for Unmanned Vehicle Systems International (AUVSI), precision agriculture and public safety represent over 90% of the potential for civil UAS use and will result in an economic benefit to the United States of 82 billion dollars between 2015 and 2025.
Gretchen West, executive vice president, Association for Unmanned Vehicle Systems International (AUVSI) said, “Efficiency and endurance are the holy grail for unmanned systems. Enabling all-day flight times for small UAVs will change the game for civil use and represents a significant market opportunity.”
About Alta Devices
Alta Devices is (EM)POWERING THE UNPLUGGED WORLD™ by delivering the world’s most efficient, thin and flexible mobile power technology. Converting light into electricity, Alta’s technology extends the energy source of a system, and in many cases, completely cuts the traditional power cord. The solution can be completely integrated into the final system, and is ideal for use in unmanned systems, consumer electronics, automotive, remote exploration, or anywhere size, weight, and mobility matter. Alta Devices holds world records for energy conversion efficiency1, and has received funding from, Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers, August Capital, Crosslink Capital, AIMCo, GE, Dow, and others. The company is headquartered in Sunnyvale, CA.
For more information, visit http://www.altadevices.com.
As hurricane season begins, the employees of NRG Energy (NYSE: NRG) are preparing to help affected coastal areas by championing a new concept called “Power2Serve” – anchored by a 42-foot disaster relief vehicle and 26-foot trailer combination designed to deliver immediate power, emergency shelter, access to news and information and Wi-Fi internet connectivity to those in need. The vehicle was unveiled today to crisis management officials in the home city of NRG retail subsidiary, Reliant.
NRG purchased the commercial grade vehicle from a stock car racer and, drawing on expertise from across the company, modified it to suit its new mission. At the same time, approximately 400 NRG employees from across the country signed up to staff the vehicle as Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) and “ServeCrew” community volunteers. CERT members receive training in search and rescue operations, medical response, disaster psychology, shelter operations, and basic fire suppression. ServeCrew members are qualified to set up power charging stations, assist residents in filling out necessary forms and applications, and provide IT support.
“The Power2Serve vehicle is a way for NRG to be more involved in our communities as part of future disaster relief efforts – harnessing our collective skills and knowledge in a creative, hands?on way to respond quickly to help affected people,” said Fran Sullivan, senior vice president of plant operations. “It’s an opportunity for us to bring electricity to impacted residents in times of urgent need, to do whatever we can to make their lives a little better.”
The Power2Serve vehicle and trailer, along with three smaller, complementary vehicles providing additional services as needed, will be dispatched in coordination with local, state, and federal disaster relief authorities. The large unit has sleeping accomodations for seven volunteers and is completely self-sufficient, powered by a 10 kilowatt solar array, a 20 kilowatt diesel generator and a 10 kilowatt auxillary diesel generator.
Additional features include:
- An enclosed 50 x 20 foot pavilion to provide cooled or heated temporary shelter for residents
- Numerous flat panel TVs to show news or weather broadcasts
- 100 charging stations for cell phones, cameras, small tools and power equipment
- Wi-Fi and satellite service, and tablet computers to access email and the internet
The Power2Serve initiative is just one example of NRG’s commitment to improving the quality of life in local communities through employee-led volunteerism, donations, and corporate grant matching. Earlier this year, employees across the company raised $428,000 for Superstorm Sandy relief efforts. And last year, NRG contributed $5.4 million and 17,000 volunteer hours to benefit over 700 charitable organizations.
NRG is at the forefront of changing how people think about and use energy. We deliver cleaner and smarter energy choices for our customers, backed by the nation’s largest independent power generation portfolio of fossil fuel, nuclear, solar and wind facilities. A Fortune 500 company, NRG is challenging the U.S. energy industry by becoming one of the largest developers of solar power, building the first privately-funded electric vehicle charging infrastructure, and providing customers with the most advanced smart energy solutions to better manage their energy use. In addition to 47,000 megawatts of generation capacity, enough to supply nearly 40 million homes, our retail electricity providers – Reliant, Green Mountain Energy and Energy Plus – serve more than two million customers. More information is available at www.nrgenergy.com. Connect with NRG Energy on Facebook and follow us on Twitter @nrgenergy.
MS Turanor PlanetSolar, the world’s largest, solar-powered yacht ever constructed, will sets sail this month on a transatlantic, scientific expedition to study climate change. In only 22 days, the vessel broke its Guinness World Record for completing the fastest transatlantic crossing with a solar boat, solely operated without any fuel or CO2 emissions.
The sun-powered, 102-ft. catamaran will dock in 16 different cities along its journey and make its U.S. debut with a stopover in Miami at Sunset Harbour Yacht Club, South Florida’s only five-star, certified green marina. To celebrate its arrival, a private press conference luncheon and VIP tour of the vessel will take place starting at 11:30 a.m. on Monday, June 3rd, with local dignitaries and government officials in attendance.
The expedition kicks off the vessel’s second global tour and the launch of the 2013 “PlanetSolar Deep Water” expedition, where distinguished scientists from the University of Geneva (UNIGE) will collect data from air and water to study the key parameters of climate regulation, specifically atmospheric aerosols, phytoplankton and ocean eddies, whirlpools that carry large amounts of energy. In addition, the vessel will conduct environmental clean-up missions by collecting floating plastic waste and host educational events in port cities to raise public awareness of climate issues.
Locally, students from inner-city schools affiliated with Communities In Schools of Miami, Inc. the local chapter of the nation’s leading dropout prevention organization, and students attending Florida International University are scheduled to tour the vessel to learn more about climate regulation and environmental issues.
The MS Turanor PlanetSolar’s team will sail along the Gulf Stream’s ocean current, one of the most important regulators of European and North American climates, from May to August. The expedition will be led by Professor Martin Beniston, climatologist and director of the Institute of Environmental Sciences at University of Geneva.
One of the instruments installed onboard, the Biobox, which was developed by the applied physics group at UNIGE, is currently the only device capable of making a thorough analysis of aerosols using laser technology. It will be tested for the first time aboard the MS Tûranor PlanetSolar.
At the helm of MS Turanor PlanetSolar is Captain Gerard D’Aboville, the first man to row across two oceans solo: the Atlantic Ocean and the Pacific Ocean.
Most Americans want the U.S. to place more emphasis on developing solar power, recent polls suggest.
A major impediment, however, is the cost to manufacture, install and maintain solar panels. Simply put, most people and businesses cannot afford to place them on their rooftops.
Fortunately, that is changing because researchers such as Qiaoqiang Gan, University at Buffalo assistant professor of electrical engineering, are helping develop a new generation of photovoltaic cells that produce more power and cost less to manufacture than what’s available today.
One of the more promising efforts, which Gan is working on, involves the use of plasmonic-enhanced organic photovoltaic materials. These devices don’t match traditional solar cells in terms of energy production but they are less expensive and – because they are made (or processed) in liquid form – can be applied to a greater variety of surfaces.
Gan detailed the progress of plasmonic-enhanced organic photovoltaic materials in the May 7 edition of the journal Advanced Materials. Co-authors include Filbert J. Bartoli, professor of electrical and computer engineering at Lehigh University, and Zakya Kafafi of the National Science Foundation.
The paper, which included an image of a plasmonic-enhanced organic photovoltaic device on the journal’s front page, is available at: http://bit.ly/11gzlQm.
Currently, solar power is produced with either thick polycrystalline silicon wafers or thin-film solar cells made up of inorganic materials such as amorphous silicon or cadmium telluride. Both are expensive to manufacture, Gan said.
His research involves thin-film solar cells, too, but unlike what’s on the market he is using organic materials such as polymers and small molecules that are carbon-based and less expensive.
“Compared with their inorganic counterparts, organic photovoltaics can be fabricated over large areas on rigid or flexible substrates potentially becoming as inexpensive as paint,” Gan said.
The reference to paint does not include a price point but rather the idea that photovoltaic cells could one day be applied to surfaces as easily as paint is to walls, he said.
There are drawbacks to organic photovoltaic cells. They have to be thin due to their relatively poor electronic conductive properties. Because they are thin and, thus, without sufficient material to absorb light, it limits their optical absorption and leads to insufficient power conversion efficiency.
Their power conversion efficiency needs to be 10 percent or more to compete in the market, Gan said.
To achieve that benchmark, Gan and other researchers are incorporating metal nanoparticles and/or patterned plasmonic nanostructures into organic photovoltaic cells. Plasmons are electromagnetic waves and free electrons that can be used to oscillate back and forth across the interface of metals and semiconductors.
Recent material studies suggest they are succeeding, he said. Gan and the paper’s co-authors argue that, because of these breakthroughs, there should be a renewed focus on how nanomaterials and plasmonic strategies can create more efficient and affordable thin-film organic solar cells.
Gan is continuing his research by collaborating with several researchers at UB including: Alexander N. Cartwright, professor of electrical engineering and biomedical engineering and UB vice president for research and economic development; Mark T. Swihart, UB professor of chemical and biological engineering and director of the university’s Strategic Strength in Integrated Nanostructured Systems; and Hao Zeng, associate professor of physics.
Gan is a member of UB’s electrical engineering optics and photonics research group, which includes Cartwright, professors Edward Furlani and Pao-Lo Liu, and Natalia Litchinitser, associate professor.
The group carries out research in nanphotonics, biophotonics, hybrid inorganic/organic materials and devices, nonlinear and fiber optics, metamaterials, nanoplasmonics, optofluidics, microelectromechanical systems (MEMS), biomedical microelectromechanical systems (BioMEMs), biosensing and quantum information processing.
AMECO Solar announced a free Solar 101 Community Workshop on Wednesday, May 1 from 6:30 to 7:30 pm in Long Beach, CA.
Organized by AMECO, the workshop will teach you how to use the sun’s power to benefit your home or business. Our team of experts will go over the basics of solar energy in addition to other topics including: how much money you can save with solar, how to finance a solar installation and how to choose the best solar system and solar installer. Attendees will be given the chance to ask questions at the end of the workshop.
Patrick Redgate, our President & CEO commented, “After thirty nine years in the solar business, we have accumulated a lot of knowledge about solar. We want to pass this information on to the community and hope that our session will inspire more people to consider solar, making their homes and business more sustainable.”
There are a limited amount of spaces available so register today to lock in your spot at the Solar 101 Community Workshop. Fill out a brief form on our Solar 101 Registration page or call us at (562) 633-4400. We hope to see you there!