Solar Means Business

Solar Means Business: Kelly Subaru is Seeing Green

The top corporate solar users in the United States have now installed more than 1 gigawatt (GW) of solar capacity, enough to power 193,000 homes. These Fortune 500 companies have installed solar at nearly 2,000 individual installations nationwide. –SEIA

Kelly Subaru owner Tim Kelly says the auto dealership was the first business to settle in the rebranded Golden Gateway area of downtown Chattanooga in 1971. He (Kelly) marked a nearly $2 million makeover of the car store, which is the newest investment in a part of downtown that’s undergoing a vast transformation involving residential, commercial and public ventures.

“It’s been a long wait for the neighborhood to come around,” said Kelly at the dealership located at M.L. King Boulevard and Riverfront Parkway.

While the upgrades don’t increase the store’s footprint, the work included a variety of improvements with an emphasis on the environment, he said. (Kelly Subaru gets nearly $2 million makeover as sales increase nationally,September 9th, 2016 by Mike Pare)

The 50kW system is expected to decrease the the powerbill of the dealership by 1/4, saving tens of thousands of annually. Expertly installed by Solar Solutions, member of SEIA and TenneSEIA, but powered by the sun.

Many of the nations leading companies are going solar. As a recent report from SEIA shows below.

  • Target takes top spot, besting Walmart for first time
    • 1)Target: 147.5 MW  2)Walmart: 145 MW  3) Prologis: 108 MW
    • Walmart had taken the top spot in each of the last 4 reports
  • Report grows to cover 1,092 MW across 1,947 installations
    • Up from 907 MW across 1,686 installations in 2016
  • These systems collectively produce 1.5 million MWh annually
    • Equivalent to the electricity needed to power 193,000 homes
    • Offsets 1.1 million metric tons of CO2 emissions each year
  • Through the first 3 quarters of 2016, companies in this report installed 142 MW
    • Well ahead of the 130 MW installed in all of 2015

Showing really mean business and a great return on investment; but not to mention a 30% federal Tax Credit. Contact Solar Solutions for more information. 

 

HOW MUCH DOES IT COST TO CHARGE AN ELECTRIC CAR?

By Tom Moloughney – UPDATED November 2016

There are many reasons for considering making an electric car the next car you buy or lease. Besides the many environmental benefits, the promise of energy security, the silky-smooth driving experience with instant torque available without delay, and low maintenance, one of the best characteristics of electric vehicles is how little they cost to operate.

Just as with gasoline cars, some electric vehicles are more efficient than others, and the average EV needs about 30 kWh of electricity to power the vehicle for 100 miles. For example, the EPA rating for the Nissan LEAF is exactly 30 kWh per 100 miles. A Tesla Model S 60D is rated at a combined 32 kWh per 100 miles and uses a little more energy since it’s heavier and more powerful than a LEAF. The Chevrolet Bolt is currently the most efficient electric car and has a combined consumption rating of 28 kWh per 100 miles. The consumption for all electric vehicles can be viewed at the US Department of Energy’s website: www.fueleconomy.gov

According to Researchers at the University of Michigan Transportation Research Institute, the sales-weighted average fuel economy of all new vehicles sold in the United States in 2016 was 25.3 mpg. The average cost for a gallon of regular gasoline in the US over the past two years was $2.35/gallon. Using 15,000 miles as the average amount of miles a person will drive in a year, the annual cost of gasoline for the average car will be about $1,400 per year, using the average cost of gasoline in the US from 2015 through 2016. One thing to also consider is that the cost of gasoline is currently much lower than it has been through most the past decade and it’s likely to rise again sometime soon.

All of the electricity we use in America is domestically produced, and that’s a large part of why the cost remains stable. The average cost of electricity in the US is 12 cents per kWh. Therefore, the average person driving the average EV 15,000 miles per year pays about $540.00 per year to charge it.

Tesla Model S charging

The cost of electricity throughout the US varies much more than gasoline does, but its cost over time is much more stable. Unlike with gasoline, there aren’t huge spikes in electricity rates if a refinery has a problem, and neither does the price skyrocket when there is political instability in one of the large oil producing countries as we have often seen in the past. All of the electricity we use in America is domestically produced, and that’s a large part of why the cost remains stable. The average cost of electricity in the US is 12 cents per kWh. Therefore, the average person driving the average EV 15,000 miles per year pays about $540.00 per year to charge it. As mentioned, the cost of electricity can vary greatly depending on where you live, but in order to equal the price of the average gasoline car’s fuel costs, the price of electricity would have to be 2.5 times the national average, and cost 31 cents per kWh. The average person would save roughly $860 per year in fuel alone, and that’s assuming gasoline prices remain at their historically low current levels. Gasoline prices frequently spike up and down, but in the long run they always goes up. Electricity costs do eventually increase also, but not nearly at the pace of gasoline. Plus, with fewer moving parts, EVs cost much less to maintain. If you combine the fuel savings with the reduced maintenance costs, it’s clear to see an EV will cost you much less in the long run, even if it costs a little more up front.

100 Watt light bulbs

Another great thing about electric cars is that since you can easily reduce your electric bill by $40 to $50 per month by being more efficient, you can actually completely eliminate your transportation fuel cost! You really can’t use less gasoline unless you drive less or buy a more efficient car, but you can reduce your electricity usage at home and still drive as much as you always have. Simple measures like using a programmable thermostat, the use of LED light bulbs, replacing older appliances with Energy Star rated ones and turning off unnecessary lighting can make a big difference. In fact, five 100 watt light bulbs left on continuously for a year use nearly the same amount of energy as it takes to power an electric car 15,000 miles! Here’s how: Five 100 watt light bulbs use 500 watts. In 24 hours they use 12,000 watt-hours or 12 kWh. In 365 days they use 4,380 kWh. A typical EV that uses 30 kWh for every 100 miles will use 4,500 kWh to drive 15,000 miles. Simply by turning unnecessary lighting off at your home, you can drastically reduce or completely eliminate your annual transportation fuel cost. Try doing that with a gasser!

 

Lightening Soldiers’ Loads by Lifting PV Cells onto Flexible Surfaces

Two thousand years ago, Roman legionnaires lugged 100-pound packs into battle. A lot has changed since then, but technology hasn’t really reduced an infantryman’s load. On the battlefield, mobility is critical—but a typical, modern Marine may shoulder an 80-pound backpack containing 20 pounds of back-up batteries for an array of electronics.

“What if we could grow solar cells on the same heavy substrate we use in the standard high-efficiency, low-cost polycrystalline processes?” asked Matthew Reese, an NREL staff scientist in PV research. Afterwards, researchers could transfer the high-efficiency cadmium telluride (CdTe) or copper indium gallium selenide cells to lighter-weight packaging—trimming the weight of the cells.

When soldiers or supply convoys are forced to move slowly on repeated trips, they can become “targets of choice” for enemy combatants. Because of this, the Energy Department and Department of Defense are looking for ways to ease such heavy burdens, and a team of researchers at the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) is exploring novel approaches for making renewable power sources lighter.

Photovoltaic (PV) cells are the military’s choice to power remote bases, but the ones it uses are not only large and inflexible, they aren’t very efficient. Last summer, NREL embarked on a $1.5 million, three-year research and development contract with the Office of Naval Research to explore making lightweight solar cells. In this work, the journey has been marked by fundamental science—and creative thinking. Read more 

 

Autonomous Cars or EVs? Why Not Both?

11.01.2016 – by Mary Kathryn Campbell

We’ve read a few pieces in recent weeks which seem to relish pitting autonomous vehicle technology against electric vehicles. One pundit even speculates that we should say “goodbye to EVs.”

We see a false equivalency argument between the problems that the two technologies solve. Electrified drive trains offer cleaner air, fewer parts to maintain, and most importantly, a break from the grip of fossil fuels. Autonomous, or self-driving cars, theoretically provide increased mobility, safety, and energy efficiency.

While the evolution of EVs has admittedly suffered starts and stops, the last decade has seen a steady rise in options for consumers. These commercially available production vehicles benefit from rapid advances in batteries, OEM manufacturing investments, and strong policies and incentives in many states, from California to Massachusetts, from Colorado to Tennessee, and many others. Manufacturers in Europe and the US are also striving to achieve regulatory goals which EVs help them meet. Thanks to all of these factors, and education and advocacy work by groups like Plug In America, more than a dozen vehicles are available for purchase in all 50 states, with two long-range, groundbreaking cars on the near horizon, GM’s Bolt and Tesla’s Model 3.

Meanwhile, the nascent autonomous vehicle sector is still in its infancy.

Google's self driving car

Google’s self driving car

Adding complication to the technologies’ development, clear policy mechanisms for autonomous vehicles have not been established or are still in the works. Most states have no regulations yet to address autonomous vehicles. Policymakers face an extremely steep learning curve with self-driving cars. Additionally, without an overarching federal approach, there is a great deal of room for conflict among states, which will also curb their deployment.

The final, and maybe the most difficult potential barrier to a fully automated fleet, in the US, anyway: the American consumer. Americans still love to drive. And the vast majority of American EV drivers cite the experience, the cars’ superior driving performance as a key reason for never returning to an ICE vehicle. Although the movement away from personal vehicle ownership is trending, changing user and consumer behaviors is often on an evolutionary scale: long and arduous.

All of this said, we see great potential synergies for combining these new models and modes of transportation. Tesla has taken the lead here, with autonomous tech standard in its Models S and X. Looking forward a decade or two, imagine car sharing networks of autonomous vehicles serving neighborhoods with notoriously poor air quality. Or widespread deployment of electric buses and trucks which will be automatically directed to the most efficient routes possible, all while mitigating the potential for catastrophic human error. We’d encourage pundits to look for ways to transform the transportation sector which will benefit consumers and the environment, not pick winners or pit markets against each other. We’d also encourage policy makers and car makers to look at combining these technologies, and even consider mandating that new autonomous vehicles be electrified.

What if my tax bill is smaller than my tax credit amount?

Using the example of the $10,000 solar system, the ITC amount you would be eligible for is $3,000. But what if your total tax liability for that year is only $2,000? Can you carry over the remaining $1,000 to the next year?

It is fairly clear in form 5659 that, yes, you are allowed to carry unused credits forward into the next year (see lines 12-16 of the form) – and possibly beyond. This means that your tax liability for year 1 would fall to $0, and you would have an additional $1,000 of credit to put towards the following year’s tax bills.

However, it is yet unclear whether you will be able to carry unclaimed credits in the years after the ITC is discontinued.

ITC three scenarios

Figure 1: Comparing how the ITC would apply in three tax liability scenarios: a) $5,000 annual tax liability, b) $2,000 annual tax liability and c) $0 annual tax liability. For simplicity’s sake, we assume that the solar system costs $10,000, making the ITC amount would be $3,000. In scenarios a) and b), the ITC benefits are applied over 1 and 2 years, respectively. In scenario c) the ITC cannot be claimed due to insufficient tax liability (meaning that a solar lease might be a preferable option to purchase).

Falling Battery Prices Will Open Up a World of Innovation

Oct 26, 2016 at 6:02PM

The auto industry is just the first, and most visible, domino in a number of industries that will be upended by falling battery prices. A report by Blooimagesmberg New Energy Finance and McKinsey & Co., cited by Bloomberg, found that the average battery-pack price fell 65% from $1,000 per kWh in 2010 to $350 per kWh last year. It even came out last year that General Motors(NYSE:GM) is paying LG Chem (NASDAQOTH:LGCLF) just $145 per kWh for battery cells to make packs for the upcoming Chevy Bolt.

The massive decline in battery costs is already gaining battery-electric vehicles a share of the overall new-vehicle market. But don’t underestimate the adjacent industries that will open up as innovators learn how energy storage creates new opportunities.

The electric vehicle will drive battery prices lower

Scale is the first cost-reduction driver for batteries, and it has driven most of the 65% decline in costs in just five years. And as demand for electric vehicles grows, costs will continue to fall. According to Bloomberg New Energy Finance, just 52,000 EVs were sold in 2010; that number was up to 448,000 last year. By 2018, Tesla Motors (NASDAQ:TSLA) alone plans to sell 500,000 EVs, so the scale is becoming much bigger.

READ MORE HERE….

USDA Seeks Applications for Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency Loans and Grants

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USDA Rural Business-Cooperative Service Administrator Sam Rikkers today encouraged rural small businesses and agricultural producers to apply for loans and grants to support renewable energy and energy efficiency projects.

“These projects create long-term, economic benefits for businesses and rural communities,” Rikkers said. “USDA’s funding helps promote U.S. energy independence and supports the production of home-grown energy sources. I encourage all eligible applicants to take advantage of this opportunity.  These investments can help a small business cut costs, expand operations, hire more workers and provide a better service to the communities in which they operate.”

USDA is accepting Rural Energy for America Program (REAP) applications for: 1) energy audit and renewable energy development assistance grants, and 2) renewable energy system and energy efficiency guaranteed loans and grants.

The application deadline for energy audit and renewable energy development assistance grants is Jan. 31, 2017. Applications for renewable energy system and energy efficiency grants of $20,000 or less are due by Oct. 31, 2016, for the firs11204868_10156122621575223_5264684579691067763_nt funding cycle and March 31, 2017, for the second funding cycle.  Applications for renewable energy system and energy efficiency grants of greater than $20,000 and all combination grants and guaranteed loans are due by March 31, 2017. USDA will set aside 20 percent of the funds for grants of $20,000 or less.

Applications for renewable energy system and energy efficiency grants or for loan/grant combinations that are received after March 31, 2017, will be considered in Fiscal Year 2018, which starts Oct. 1, 2017. Guaranteed loan applications will be reviewed and processed when received, with periodic competitions. For additional information, contact the USDA energy coordinator for your state, or see page 71689 of the October 18 Federal Register.

Eligible applicants for renewable energy system and energy efficiency loans and grants include agricultural producers and rural small businesses, which may include tribal business entities, rural electric cooperatives and public power entities. Renewable energy sources include wind, solar, renewable biomass (including anaerobic digesters), small hydro-electric, ocean, geothermal or hydrogen derived from these renewable resources. Eligible applicants for energy audit and renewable energy development assistance grants include State, tribal or local governments; institutions of higher education; and rural electric cooperatives and public power entities.

Congress created the REAP program in the 2002 Farm Bill and reauthorized it in the 2014 Farm Bill with guaranteed funding of no less than $50 million annually for the duration of the five-year bill.

In 2015, USDA provided a $500,000 REAP grant to support SR Camden LLC’s solar farm in Camden, Ark. The $32 million, 12 megawatt solar array on 100 acres at the Highland Industrial Park has more than 150,000 solar panels. The energy produced from the panels is fed to the adjacent electric utility substation and is enough to power about 2,400 homes for a year.

Nationwide, USDA has helped finance more than 12,000 REAP projects since 2009. When fully operational, these projects will generate or save enough energy to power more than 750,000 homes annually, and replace more than 36 million barrels of oil annually.    READ MORE HERE

Contact a Solar Provider to find out more. www.tennesseesolarsolutions.com

Trump and Clinton butt heads on solar in first presidential debate

In the first Presidential debate last night, candidates Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton could not have made their differing opinions on solar and climate change clearer.

Clinton pointed to a correlation between a healthy energy policy and job creation, stating that the nation could have “10 million more new jobs”, citing a sustainable energy policy as an “investment where we can grow the economy.”

“Take clean energy,” she said. “Some country is going to be the clean-energy superpower of the 21st century. Donald thinks that climate change is a hoax perpetrated by the Chinese. I think it’s real.”

Trump retorted that he “did not say that”. However, the Twitter account of the Republican nominee tells a different story, with a tweet from 2012 insisting that “The concept of global warming was created by and for the Chinese in order to make US manufacturing non-competitive.”

The concept of global warming was created by and for the Chinese in order to make U.S. manufacturing non-competitive.

Clinton originally vowed to install half a billion solar panels in her first term back in July 2015, and repeated her intent again during the debate: “And I think it’s important that we grip [climate change] and deal with it, both at home and abroad. And here’s what we can do: we can deploy a half a billion more solar panels. We can have enough clean energy to power every home. We can build a new modern electric grid. That’s a lot of jobs; that’s a lot of new economic activity.”

 

READ MORE HERE….

Is Tesla’s Powerwall Battery a Game-Changer?

Tesla Expands Into Power Storage Market

Elon Musk has never been one to shy away from a bold and disruptive strategy, from his startup of PayPal through SpaceX to Tesla Motors (NASDAQ:TSLA). With his recent announcement of Powerwall, Tesla’s introduction into the commercial battery/power storage market, Musk is embarking on a strategy to make renewable energy a more mainstream technology.

Costs of solar panels have been coming down for some time to where they can begin to challenge coal and gas-fired plants on a cost per kilowatt-hour (kWh) basis and solar infrastructure costs are also trending down significantly. The “missing piece” of the renewable energy picture is a reliable way to store the energy and

Is Tesla's Powerwall Battery a Game-Changer?
Is Tesla’s Powerwall Battery a Game-Changer?

balance out the demand issue — solar energy is only available during daylight hours and peak demand never matches up with peak generation. That makes most consumers of solar energy still reliant on the power grid.

 

Residential solar power is installed and wired into the grid, allowing the power company to regulate the flow based on need (and set up a suitable metering and billing method, as well). A large enough storage system could make homes fully independent of the grid. Powerwall is a first step in that direction….. READ MORE HERE

TN Solar Solutions Wins 2016 Sustainable Project of The Year, People’s Choice

Building Industry Associations Award Best of the Best with First Annual BRIC Awards April 27, 2016: Chattanooga, TN: The Associated General Contractors of EastTennessee,

2016 Sustainable Project of The Year
Ginny Kincer, COO of TN Solar with 2016 Sustainable Project of The Year Award.

American Institute of Architects of Chattanooga, Construction Specification Institute of Chattanooga, green|spaces and Sustainability Professionals of Greater Chattanooga recognized the best of the best in the building industry at the first BRIC (Building Recognition in Chattanooga) Awards ceremony on April 26 th .

“The goal of this event was to recognize the best of the best so that when a developer is starting a project, they know who the best architect, contractor and team to work with in Chattanooga and surrounding area.” stated Dawn Hjelseth, green|spaces Director of Development. “We want high quality building in Chattanooga and will do so by recognizing who is doing it.”

The event was presented by the Associated General Contractors of East Tennessee and benefited the ACE Mentor Program. The ACE Mentor Program mission is to engage, excite and enlighten high school students to pursue careers in architecture, engineering, and construction through mentoring and to support their continued advancement in the industry.

green|spaces presented: Sustainable Project of the Year

o Judge’s Choice: DH&W – Chattanooga Metropolitan Airport Authority

o People’s Choice: Tennessee Solar SolutionsGreen Urban Lab

o Honorable Mentions:

 Adamson Developers: Affordable Housing Initiative

 Chambliss, Bahner & Stophel: LEED Certification

 Antidote – End of Normal Home

 Crash Pad – Johnson Street Project

 Liberty Tower – LEED Certification & Renovation

 Unum – Employee Home Recycling Program