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.

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.”

Solar array against cloudy sky with rainbow

U.S. Solar Flourishing Despite Trump’s Tariffs

U.S. Solar Flourishing Despite Trump’s Tariffs 1024 678 Joshua Jones

Clean energy is on the up and up again, and the U.S. solar industry is benefiting as a result. According to a new report, this year is expected to see solar installations increase despite a drop in installations last year.

Clean Energy on the Rise

The report from the Solar Energy Industries Association and Wood Mackenzie Power & Renewables, a market research group, was published June 4th. It shoes that 2.7 gigawatts of solar capacity had been added to the grid in the first quarter of 2019. That makes it the strongest in the U.S. solar industry’s history! The report projects new solar installations should grow 25 percent from 2018, to 13.3 gigawatts.The bounce back from the 2 percent dip last year was driven by large-scale utility solar projects. These types of projects account for 61 percent of the first quarter’s growth.

This marks a significant change from what was expected last year after President Trump’s announcement for tariffs on imported solar cells and modules. The industry was worried at the time that the tariffs would hinder solar, especially after 2017’s job losses. However, solar installations rose past the 2 million mark this year, which is a marker worth celebrating.

“We’ve now gone a full five quarters with the tariffs being in place, and the market has seemed to have really settled down and has grown quite robustly,” said Colin Smith, senior analyst with Wood Mackenzie, to Earther. “Now, we’re in a position where we’re seeing a lot of market growth beyond what we initially expected a year ago or simply overcome any impacts of the tariffs.”

Areas of Growth

The report notes that residential rooftop solar is seeing some growth. Meanwhile, non-residential solar is facing a decline. This refers to solar panels found on commercial and industrial facilities, as well as community solar projects. The real saviors are utility solar projects that feed into the grid. The report notes that this sector should grow by 46 percent this year from 2018. In particular, this is attributed to large solar projects in Florida and the Carolinas. Florida has been leading the charge in solar installations so far this year, followed by California.

The industry expects this growth to continue well past 2019, as well. Several U.S. utilities – from Dominion to Duke Energy – have solar projects in the works. These projects are projected to become reality by 2024. Furthermore, non-residential solar is expected to see some growth in the coming years. The authors of the report expect community solar to make up close to 30 percent of non-residential solar capacity by 2023. Additionally, another roughly 20 percent will come from solar-plus-storage as energy storage starts to gain some steam.

clean energy solar array

Helping Hands

Corporations are also helping fuel solar’s growth, said Smith. Companies like Facebook, Amazon, Apple, and Google are procuring hundreds of megawatts-if not gigawatts-of solar to help fuel their internal renewable energy targets.

“In years past, we were really looking at distributed generation so residential and commercial rooftop projects as one segment,” Smith told Earther, “but we’re now seeing this emerging segment that’s really driving growth.”

Currently, solar makes up less than 2 percent of the U.S. energy generation. However, as costs have gone down solar has grown more than 1700 percent since 2008 according to the Department of Energy. Renewables, in general, are set to be the “fastest growing source of U.S. electricity generation for at least the next two years,” per the Energy Information Administration. Meanwhile, coal generation has been falling; it’s currently only 28 percent of U.S. energy generation.

Is this enough?

Still, solar and wind energy may not be enough to meet targets set by the Paris Agreement according to E&E News reports. Other renewable clean energy types may be necessary during winter months when energy demands are highest. Governments may need to step in to ensure that more research is done on nuclear, renewable hydrogen, biogas, and carbon capture. If we’re to break our dependency on fossil fuels, we need to find ways to bridge the gaps if times come when wind and solar cannot produce enough energy.

The energy market is changing, and we all need to be prepared.

Solar array at Chattanooga Metro Airport

First Full Solar Airport in US

First Full Solar Airport in US 1440 460 Joshua Jones

Chattanooga Metropolitan Airport in Tennessee has become the first airport in the United States to run entirely on solar power. The small facility recently announced the completion of a 12-acre, 2.64 megawatt solar farm. With this, they are now able to generate enough green energy to account for the facilities total energy needs, according to the Chattanooga Times Free Press.

The project, funded largely by the Federal Aviation Administration, cost a total of $10 million. It took nine years and three phases to complete. It utilizes onsite batteries to support night time power operations and has an expected life span of 30 to 40 years. The array is built in the southwest corner of the airfield on land deemed unusable for aviation purposes, and is visible from Chattanooga’s two runways. “It’s good for our environment and our bottom line,” Dan Jacobson, chairman of the Chattanooga Metropolitan Airport Authority, said at a press event. He made note that the solar panels produce enough electricity to power 160,000 light bulbs.

John Naylor, vice president of planning and development for the airport, told Bloomberg News in December that officials from nearly 50 airports around the world have visited or contacted the Chattanooga airfield in recent years. He said they came to learn more about their solar operations. Several major airports, including San Diego and the UK’s Gatwick, have installed solar panels capable of handling a portion of their power needs. Moreover, the world’s busiest airport, Atlanta’s Hartsfield-Jackson Airport, is looking to construct renewable energy microgrids to help power a portion of it’s operations. The trend looks to follow in the footsteps of the global leader in clean energy aviation, which is Cochin International in Kerala, India. Cochin as been 100% solar powered since 2015, with a 29.5 megawatt array.

Persian Gulf coast, Dubai

Dubai Joins Clean Energy Race

Dubai Joins Clean Energy Race 960 640 Joshua Jones

Taking Inititave

The Persian Gulf is speckled with oil and gas rigs. However, it may soon be home to a more environmentally sustainable energy source. Dubai Electricity and Water Authority (DEWA) has stated they are thinking of developing floating renewable energy plants in the Persian Gulf. On June 9th, it launched a search for consultants to advise on the project.

DEWA’s plan fits with the over-arching goal of Dubai’s government to develop it’s renewable energy resources. The city-state has relatively little oil or gas compared to it’s neighbor, Abu Dhabi. Because of this, they’re following a plan known as the Dubai Clean Energy Strategy 2050. This aims to ensure that 75% of it’s total power output comes from clean sources by 250

The Plan

In order to reach that target, the authorities estimate they will need to have 42GW of clean electricity-generating capacity in place by then. Large projects are already being developed to help reach that goal. These include the Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum Solar Park in the desert outskirts of the city. This park is believed to be the largest single site solar energy project in the world! The first phases of the project are already up and running, but is still being expanded upon. Their aim is to have 5GW of installed solar capacity on site by 2030 at a total cost of AED50 billion ($13.6 billion).

DEWA has asked consultants to bid on a contract to advise them on developing and constructing solar plants out at sea. The contract will cover feasibility studies and an environmental impact assessment report, among many other topics. It is not yet known the quantity or location of offshore solar capacity Dubai is planning to develop.

Connecticut Green Bank Makes Active Effort to Boost Solar in Communities of Color

Connecticut Green Bank Makes Active Effort to Boost Solar in Communities of Color 150 150 Joshua Jones

CT is changing the trend of disparity regarding solar adoption in communities of color.

According to figures from Connecticut Green Bank, adoption of solar in communities of color is on the rise. This is due to Green Banks successful efforts to make solar energy more affordable for homeowners in these communities, as well as low-to-moderate income (LMI) households by actively engaging these traditionally unserved communities.

In the past seven years, the number of rooftop solar installations has increased by more than 50% per year. However, in many states, communities of color haven’t joined in this rapid adoption of solar. A 2019 Tufts University study found that majority Black and Hispanic neighborhoods have installed less rooftop solar compared to neighborhoods with No Majority race by 61% and 45%, respectively, while majority White neighborhoods installed 37% more.

Addressing the Problem

Green Bank launched the Residential Solar Investment Program (RSIP) in 2012 to make rooftop solar installations more affordable. This provided Connecticut homeowners with rebates and performance-based incentives (PBI) meant to lower the initial out-of-pocket costs. RSIP has helped over 30,000 households add solar to date. They continue to approach the current 300 megawatt program allocation. The Green Bank and it’s Board of Directors addressed an observed income disparity in solar adoption in 2015. They added special incentives for low and moderate income households to the residential solar program. Thus quickly accelerated solar adoption in low and moderate income communities.

Recent studies show that this has also been very successful in reaching communities of color in the state. Today, on a per owner-occupied household basis, there are 86 percent more RSIP installations in majority Black neighborhoods, 18 percent more in majority Hispanic neighborhoods, and 20 percent more in No Majority race neighborhoods as compared to majority White neighborhoods.

Solar For All

The Green Bank’s Solar for All program has been a primary driver of democratic access to solar energy in the state. The organization released a request for proposals seeking contractors to help reach under served markets in 2015. This RFP resulted in their partnership with solar provider PosiGen and the creation of the Solar for All program.

Solar for All utilizes Green Bank’s elevated incentive to offer LMI homeowners a solar lease along with energy efficiency upgrades. The upgrades are customized for each home and include air sealing, LED light bulbs, pipe wrap and programmable thermostats. These are in addition to the measures installed as part of the state’s Home Energy Solutions (HES) program. PosiGen’s Solar for All program has been even more successful than the overall RSIP program in reaching communities of color. PosiGen has more projects per home in majority Black (1275%), Hispanic (408%) and No Majority race (427%) neighborhoods than in majority White neighborhoods.

“In 2015, when we realized that all homeowners in Connecticut did not have access to the benefits of the clean energy economy, our mission compelled us to act. This study confirms that the response to our programs in under served communities of color has been even more positive than we anticipated,” said Bryan Garcia, president and CEO of Green Bank. “Today, there are still significant opportunities for residential solar growth in owner-occupied homes across the state, and we are committed to working with partners like PosiGen to continue to make green energy available and affordable for all Connecticut neighborhoods.”

Green Bank to Boost Solar in Communities of Color

Solar Array at Middletown water treatment planr

Greenskies Installs Solar Array for Middletown Water Treatment Facility

Greenskies Installs Solar Array for Middletown Water Treatment Facility 960 540 Joshua Jones

Middletown calling it a victory for the local economy and environment!

City officials praised the installation of a 714-panel solar array to help off-set the effects of the “single largest energy hog in the city” – its water treatment plant. These solar panels, installed June 2018 by Greenskies Renewable Energy, are projected to save the city 280,000 kilowatts of electricity per year.

“This is an important project, especially now with people conserving more and more water, and the demand for water is trending downward. Without this project, we would eventually need to raise rates. It will produce clean water using less electricity from the grid, which, in turn, helps stabilize water rates we charge customers,” said Joe Fazzino, acting director of Middletown Water & Sewer.

The solar array, installed at the Higby water treatment plant on the Middletown line, are projected to power 75-85 percent of facility’s electricity usage.

Many were delighted that the city enlisted a Middletown-based small business to complete the project including State Sennator Len Suzio and R-Meriden. Greenskies, which paid for the system and installation, are selling the power produced to Middletown at a discounted rate over the next 20 years, as per their contract. This firm has also installed solar arrays on the roof of the city-owned R.M. Keating Historical Enterprise Park on Johnson Street where its office is based.

The project is estimated to save the city $9,00 annually in electricity costs, greatly reducing the environmental effects of burning fossil fuels. Emission rates are expected to be one tenth of the previous total output at the water treatment plant. This project, which had been in the making for about 6 years. It was started in late fall of 2017 and completed in the spring of 2018 according to the vice president of construction at Greenskies, John Beauton.

In Connecticut, as well as other parts of the northeast, peak solar months are July through September when the sun’s elevation is lower and there is less sunlight, mentioned Beauton. In the winter months, output is low due to the concentrated snowfall, particularly January and February, he added.

Jeff Hush, member of the city’s Clean Energy Task Force, represents low-income interests on the panel. Comfortable, Healthy, Energy Efficient and Renewable Middletown, dubbed CHEER, is a collaboration between the task force, North End Action Team, Home Energy Services, New England Conservation Services, Sunlight Solar and others which hopes to lessen the city’s dependence on fossil fuels. The task force is increasing it’s efforts to improve housing costs for low- and middle-income communities in Middletown, who carry an energy burden disproportionate to their household income.

“With the solar project, we are able to produce clean, potable water using less electricity from the grid,” said Acting Water and Sewer Director Joseph Fazzino. “This is a very important project, especially now with people conserving more and more water, the demand for water is trending downward. Without this project we would eventually need to raise rates, so this will help us stabilize our water rates. Nobody really likes to have their water rates going up.”