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July 2019

New Solar Farm in Norwich NY

New Solar Farm in Norwich NY 150 150 Joshua Jones

Norwich was able to begin one of the largest community solar Project in New York state last week with the appointment of a local construction firm. The project will see 52,569 installed over the next six to nine months. It is projected that the solar farm will produce roughly 20 million kilowatt hours of electricity per year. All NYSEG customers will be eligible to join the solar farm. This includes renters and households that would other wise not be able to install roof-top solar. Solar Farms New York will be making a presentation to the Norwich Town Council on July 8th.

Leading the Charge in NY Solar Farms

The first phases of the project are already underway after being approved by the town. The motion to approve the project was unopposed. Town Supervisor David Evans explained his land was part of the lease when the project was first proposed. As such, the supervisor decided to recuse himself from the approval process. “They hope to have the project finished by early fall. This is a great thing for our area and county. It is clean energy and will add more to a small tax base. Local people will have a chance to take part,” said Evans on Monday.

“The Town of Norwich has shown amazing leadership in New York State’s effort to replace all fossil fuel electricity generation by 2040,” said Jeffrey Mayer, CEO of Solar Farms NY. “Thanks to the Evans family, enough solar panels will be planted to provide the community and its households decades of clean, renewable energy to one of the country’s most beautiful regions,” he added. The solar farm would be built on about 79 acres located on 5050 State Highway 23 in Chenango County.

Mayer explained that the solar electricity produced by the Norwich solar farm will go directly to the NYSEG grid, in accordance with New York state rules. “All NYSEG customers benefit from more renewable energy production,” he said, “but only our members will enjoy guaranteed savings on their monthly bills.”

Community Solar Farm Breaks Ground

Burrell’s Excavating Inc is the company that has been hired as the civil engineers that will prep the site for construction. Barrell’s, a family owned business, street and road reconstruction projects in the region. With their high-tech equipment, they’re able to navigate challenging terrain for commercial and residential projects.

According to Mayer, the community solar farm will be built on four contiguous farms owned by members of the Evans family. The yield of the first farm has already been sold out with NYSEG customers of the Norwich area. “We expect the farms to be completed in early 2020, less than a year from now, at which time they will begin to deliver valuable savings to our members,” Mayer added.

Solar Farms like the one at Norwich sell their electricity to NYSEG in compliance with New York’s community solar program. In turn, credits are put on customers’ bills. Because of this, customers pay Solar Farms New York for their electricity instead of utility companies. Solar Farms New York will bill customers 95% of the value of the credits they receive from NYSEG, resulting in a 5% savings on their solar credits.

The community solar project will also benefit local governmental entities in the form of payments in lieu of property taxes. Approximately $1,415,000 will be paid to the Town of Norwich, Chenango County, over the life of the project.

Improving Solar by Mimicking Nature

Improving Solar by Mimicking Nature 150 150 Joshua Jones

Scientists at NCSU have recently published research that may change the way we see and use solar energy.

The current standard in solar is synthetic semiconductors. You’ve seen them before; either on your neighbor’s roof, the top of a high-rise, or even on calculators. They work with incredible efficiency to convert beams of sunlight into useable energy, and are in use all across the globe. Solar continues to grow in popularity, and the technology is quick to follow.

While it’s usually synthetic semiconductors used to convert energy, these scientists have instead used chlorophyll to successfully mimic the way a plant converts sunlight into food.
Natural based semiconductors have the potential to be more cost effective and more environmentally friendly than traditional solar. These panels would also be flexible, allowing them to be installed almost anywhere.

While using a natural-based semiconductor may have many benefits, we are still quite a ways away from seeing this type of solar in regular use. Currently, scientists have only successfully used chlorophyll to convert light into energy in a lab environment. They are hoping their research today will pave the way for a future where we can implement this technology in our daily lives to further reduce our footprint.


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New York Passes Ambitious Climate Bill

New York Passes Ambitious Climate Bill 150 150 Joshua Jones

Renewable energy advocates everywhere are celebrating the state of New York passing a major climate bill. Called the Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act, the law aims to radically curb New York’s emissions by more than tripling the state’s solar capacity and promoting the development of off-shore wind turbines.

While New York currently produces more than 1.7 gigawatts of solar power, this new bill aims to boost that to 6 gigawatts by 2025. This is an ambitious target that falls in line with the state’s goal of being emission-free by 2040. Sean Gallagher, vice president of state affairs for the Solar Energy Industries Association, was quoted as saying “This legislation mandates enough local solar to power 1 million households by 2025…this legislation also establishes one of the most aggressive clean energy mandates in the country.”

Achieving this goal would put New York ahead of even well-known progressive states like California, which has committed to reaching emission-free status by 2045. “It’s definitely the most progressive bill that we’ve seen anywhere,’’ Miles Farmer, a senior attorney at the Natural Resources Defense Council, said in an interview. That statement comes as a host of other states make similar pledges to implement clean energy. In April, Puerto Rico passed legislation to source all of its electricity from renewable energy sources by 2050. New Mexico, Hawaii, Nevada, and Washington have all made similar pledges already, along with hundreds of cities and counties across the nation.

The new measure would also give New York’s regulators new direction that may lead to stricter pollution limits for power plants, as well as incentives to phase out natural gas and oil from home heating systems. While this raises some concerns around the potential increase in manufacturing costs, a report released earlier this year by Vote Solar estimates that achieving the bill’s solar goal will sustain more than 11,000 jobs between now and 2025.

What do you think of New York’s new climate bill? Will it affect you personally? Let us know your thoughts down in the comments below!

Lightyear One solar powered EV

Lightyear One – The Solar Powered Car

Lightyear One – The Solar Powered Car 600 337 Joshua Jones

A Dutch company has debuted a solar powered electric vehicle (EV) that is capable of traveling up to 450 miles on a single charge. The Lightyear One was officially unveiled Tuesday, June 25th at an event in Katwijk, Southern Netherlands. The prototype was developed by a team hailing from Eindhoven University of Technology.

Lightyear, the company behind the car, was founded in 2016 by members of Solar Team Eindhoven. The team has won a number of solar-powered car races with what’s considered the world’s first family car powered by solar energy. The Lightyear aims to bring a road-ready solar vehicle to the consumer market.

Innovating for the Future

The Lightyear One can accommodate five adults, with about 28 cubic feet of storage space. The 16.5 square feet of solar panels -mounted on the roof and hood- provide the solar batteries with roughly 7.5 miles per hour of exposure to sun. While this may not seem too impressive, it can also be charged at regular EV stations. This includes 60 kW (fast-charging) which will charge the car up to 315 miles of range in an hour. It can also charge up to about 250 miles of range overnight with standard (European) 230V sockets.

The built in solar panels allow the car to charge while it’s stationary. Additionally, they provide a “boost” to power while in motion. During a four-hour drive, the Lightyear one is projected to collect nearly 31 miles worth of extra charge. If the drive pulls over for a pit stop or lunch, the vehicle will continue to charge! Exact range and mileage will vary depending on a number of factors including climate and driving frequency. However, the company estimates that someone driving the national average of 20,000 km (about 12.4k miles) per year “in the cloudy Netherlands” would get around 40 percent of their mileage from solar annually.

Lightyear One profile front


Facing Challenges

The amount of energy required to power a vehicle weighing upwards of one to two tons is a big challenge in developing solar vehicles. The nature and size of vehicles provide limited space for solar panels. Because of this, Lightyear has worked to optimize the car’s weight and structure, using aluminum and carbon fiber materials. They are also fine tuning aero-dynamics to reduce drag in an effort to lower energy consumption.

“Our job at the aerodynamics team is to ensure that the air will move along the curves of the car as smoothly as possible, because we stop the air from moving in swirls, into holes, or into interstices, we reduce friction between the car and the air. We want the car to cut through the air just like a raindrop – the ultimate example of an aerodynamic object.”
– Annemiek Koers, Aerodynamics Engineer at Lightyear.

The development of Lightyear One has been no secret. At the official unveiling on the 25th, the company announced that anyone can now reserve one of their cars for a fee of €119,000 ($135,000) – though the full price is actually €150,000 ($170,000). 100 units have already been reserved despite the 2021 release date. The company says that the cost reflects the novelty of the technology. They hope that future iterations will help bring the price tag down.

“Since new technology has a high unit cost, we have to start in an exclusive market,” Lightyear CEO and co-founder Lex Hoefsloot added. “Lightyear One is the first long-range solar car and has staggering specifications. The next models we plan to develop will have a significantly lower purchase price. In addition, future models will be provided to autonomous and shared car fleets, so the purchase price can be divided amongst a large group of users.”

Lightyear One rear profile

Charging Forward

The EV market is still small compared to petroleum and diesel, but it is growing. The cumulative EV sales hit the 4 million mark last year according to Bloomberg NEF. That doesn’t seem like much with over a billion cars globally, but the broader picture paints a promising trend. It took around five years to sell the first million electric cars and just a year and a half to shift the second million. Furthermore, it only took 6 months to pass 4 million electric vehicles sold after hitting the 3 million milestone.

Companies are starting to significantly invest into EV charging infrastructure, with fossil fuel giants like BP and Shell acquiring charging network providers. Additionally, efforts to develop infrastructure for charging vehicles as they move are being seen. For example, Sweden is developing “electrified roads”. While solar powered cars are not a new concept, they have yet to reach the commercial market at any scale. With a range of up to 450 miles, Lightyear hopes to accelerate the uptake of EVs globally – with solar energy as the draw – by alleviating one of the core sticking points for many would-be EV converts.

“The main goal of the car is to fill in where electric cars fall short,” Hoefsloot added. “Research has shown that range and the lack of charging options are still the top concerns that people have when considering electric cars. With Lightyear One, we want to show that our technology enabled us to build one of the most sustainable cars on the market, that also offers great convenience.”