Wednesday, May 28, 2014

XCEL Announces 50 Megawatt Project in Colorado's San Luis Valley | SolarServer

Utility Xcel Energy (Minneapolis, Minnesota, U.S.) has signed a power purchase agreement (PPA) with SunPower Corp. (San Jose, California, U.S.) for the output of a 50 MW-AC solar photovoltaic (PV) plant that the company plans to build in Colorado.

While Xcel has signed PPAs for a number of large PV plants in the service areas of its subsidiary utilities, it has also attempted to limit the number of its customers who install PV under net metering arrangements, including attempting to institute a back-door cap on net metering in Colorado.

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Pseudoengineering: Why Solar Roadways are a Dead End

Why don't we have flying cars? It's a hard engineering problem because optimizing an airplane and optimizing a car require very different solutions. A flying car will be a both poor car and a poor airplane.

It's the same kind of problem optimizing panels for solar production and pavement for driving on. The solution will most likely work not as well as existing pavement, nor as well as existing solar panels.

  • Flat, not tilted at latitude (loses about 30% of total production)
  • Difficult optimizing for both dirt/oil shedding and traction (I believe they say this would require new materials)
  • Unknown and likely higher operations and maintenance costs
  • Additional water use for more frequent cleaning
  • Unknown and likely higher module and installation costs
  • Uncertainty about module lifetime dealing with weight, shear, and thermal expansion and contraction
  • Difficulty claiming federal tax incentives for multi-use projects
  • Expenses solutions for simple problems such as snow removal and lane markings
  • Frost heaves and potholes
  • Skidmarks, motor oil, dead leaves, roadkill, and oh yes, dirt.
Adopting technologies with this many unknowns takes a long time, especially in ultraconservative and cash-strapped public works departments.  Solar financiers tend to shy away from risk, and solar roadway projects are filled with risks.

The indiegogo project has gone viral, attracting many of the same people who are attracted to pseudoscience, except this time it is pseudoengineering.

There's a nugget of usefulness here.  We should be using land that is already paved over for solar arrays.  Developing lower cost solar canopies to place over parking lots and roadways is likely a better bet.

Take a look at these links for more: - However, not to be a huge buzzkill, but it should be noted that this idea is also completely impractical.
It seems really terrible to point this out, given the visionary nature of this project, but there are times when a wet blanket may be necessary and, much as I hate to say it, I’m here to play that role. No matter how much you love the idea of solar roadways, I really don’t think it’s a bright idea to donate any money to these seemingly-wonderful people.

Slashdot - "As far as roads go, here's an opportunity to leverage a massive area of square footage that is guaranteed to be clear of plants or other obstructions", it's actually guaranteed to be obstructed frequently, by cars, leaves, snow and ice (the suggestion of melting these away is absurd, there's nowhere near enough power for it), dust and dirt, machine grime, nearby trees, its own textured surface, etc. In addition, with all the stuff embedded in them and the enormous quantity of modules needed, things are going to break frequently, and maintenance access requires shutting down roads. Beneath the road surface is a *terrible* place for solar panels.

Extremetech.comBack in 2010, Scott Brusaw estimated a cost of $10,000 for a 12-foot-by-12-foot segment of Solar Roadway, or around $70 per square foot; asphalt, on the other hand, is somewhere around $3 to $15, depending on the quality and strength of the road. According to some maths done by Aaron Saenz, the total cost to redo America’s roadways with Solar Roadways would be $56 trillion — or about four times the country’s national debt.

Solar Gardens Talk in Princeton, NJ - June 9, 2014

Shared Solar - Can New Jersey be the “Solar Garden State”?

Date:  Monday, June 9, 2014 7-9:30 PM

Location:  Fahs Theater, Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Princeton - 50 Cherry Hill Road, Princeton, NJ  08542

How can everyone go solar? What about people who have trees shading their homes, who rent or live in multi-unit dwellings? In Colorado, Washington, Minnesota and seven other states, utility customers can subscribe to a shared solar array, or community solar garden.  Just as a participant in a community garden can grow a patch of vegetables and take them home, a subscriber to a solar garden purchases panels in the shared array and receives an electric bill credit as if the panels were on his or her own roof. Legislation will be required to make solar gardens a possibility in the Garden State.

Joy Hughes, founder of the Solar Gardens Institute, will discuss the rapid growth of community owned solar around the United States and elsewhere in the world.  Attendees will have a chance to learn the steps that will be required for New Jersey to adopt this model.

The Solar Gardens Institute provides training and tools for communities everywhere seeking to develop community solar projects. 

Local Organizer
Ray Nichols

Joy Hughes, Solar Gardens Institute

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

How to Go Solar If You Can't Put Panels on Your Roof - Shareable

An acquaintance recently told me about her experience investigating solar for her home. A solar company told her that in order to go solar, she would have to cut down the trees that shade her house -- an unfortunate trade off. If your house is shaded, your roof is facing the wrong direction, or you're a renter, you join the many Americans that can't go solar at home.

What to do?

Thankfully, depending on where you live and your motivations are, there are lots of ways you can support the solar energy transition underway.

Saturday, May 10, 2014

Xcel's Solar*Connect: More Options Or A New Battlefront In The War On Solar? | Solar Industry

Former Colorado PUC staffer Rich Mignogna, who presided over the workshops that preceded the rule making for the Community Solar Gardens Act, sounds off about the proposed XCEL large scale solar program.

One thing he suggests is expanding who may subscribe to a given solar garden (currently limited to those within the same county as the solar array).  This would certainly make solar subscriptions available to more people, and increase competition; the local monopolies that exist in many Colorado counties and utility service area may lead to higher prices for subscribers.  It would, however, lead to a preponderance of solar gardens being located in high-sun areas like the Pueblo area and the San Luis Valley.

- Joy


On April 3, Xcel Energy in Colorado - a.k.a., Public Service Co. of Colorado - submitted an application to the Colorado Public Utilities Commission (PUC) for approval to begin a solar energy-based green pricing program dubbed Solar*Connect. Xcel customers may recognize this as a solar version of its existing Windsource program - another green pricing offering with a checkered history.

Those who have been following the net metering wars know that Colorado is one of the current battleground states, and this application must be viewed in the context of that battle. If you cut through the spin, it becomes clear that this is yet another salvo in Xcel's war on not only the small distributed generation (DG) solar generator, but on community solar gardens (CSG) as well.

Read more:

Thursday, May 8, 2014

Colorado: Solar Gardens Bill Clears Legislature

A bill that COSEIA worked on during the legislative session to eliminate  business personal property taxes for Solar Gardens cleared its last legislative hurdle and is headed to the governor for signature. HB-1101 won final approval in the Senate on a 20-15 vote. All Democrats and two Republicans supported the measure.

Wednesday, May 7, 2014 Mercatus Adopts SAPC Document Standardization For Solar Securities

Geeky, but worth it.


The U.S. National Renewable Energy Laboratory convened theSAPC working group in 2013 to promote the securitization of solar photovoltaic assets and associated cash flows in the marketplace.

Solar Crowdfunding Promises Growth but Requires Careful Management | Clean Energy Finance Forum

Crowdfunding solar power allows companies to diversify and expand their capital sources but requires careful risk management, according to a panel called "Crowdfunding for Renewable Energy Projects: How Big Could It Be?" at the Bloomberg New Energy Finance Future of Energy Summit on April 8.

"I think it's going to explode," said Lee Bailey, managing director and co-managing partner at US Renewables Group. "Conventional areas of financing have proven difficult and expensive. The pools of capital have dried up significantly."

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Sunday, May 4, 2014

Global solar dominance in sight as science trumps fossil fuels

Solar power has won the global argument. Photovoltaic energy is already so cheap that it competes with oil, diesel and liquefied natural gas in much of Asia without subsidies.
Roughly 29pc of electricity capacity added in America last year came from solar, rising to 100pc even in Massachusetts and Vermont. "More solar has been installed in the US in the past 18 months than in 30 years," says the US Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA). California's subsidy pot is drying up but new solar has hardly missed a beat.

Saturday, May 3, 2014

"Rhubarb" Flow Battery Could Bolster Renewables Storage | IEEE Spectrum

Rhubarb battery, anyone?
A group at Harvard University has created an aqueous flow battery that uses a quinone, a type of organic molecule that happens to have favorable electrochemical properties. The particular quinone they used is nearly identical to one found in rhubarb.
Flow batteries, which date back more than three decades, replace the solid electrodes of standard batteries with two liquid electrolytes. The liquids, contained in separated tanks, flow through a cell stack, letting ions and electrons move through a porous membrane in order to discharge and recharge the battery. They are considered good candidates for large-scale renewable energy storage because you can scale up the tank size of a flow battery in order to increase the megawatt-hours of storage available without being forced to also scale up the power capacity; with more traditional batteries like lithium-ion, the components come as a package deal, meaning to achieve 50 megawatt-hours of energy storage you also need to pay for 50 megawatts capacity.

Friday, May 2, 2014

Connecticut legislature won’t vote on ‘shared solar’ bill this session | New Haven Register

HARTFORD >> Efforts to bring renewable energy to a broader group of Connecticut residents won’t come to fruition during this legislative session, state lawmakers have told solar energy advocates.
With the current legislative session scheduled to end Wednesday, supporters of the so-called “shared solar” bill are assessing why the legislation failed to win enough support from lawmakers to be brought to a vote. And supporters of the legislation say they will be ready next year to make another attempt at getting the bill passed.

Is an Energy Storage Tsunami About to Hit California? : Greentech Media

Is energy storage the new holy grail of a clean energy future? Energy storage can take the form of large batteries, flywheels, pumped hydro facilities, compressed-air energy storage, and many others. However, the exciting "new kid on the block" is battery storage, largely because of its relatively small size, modularity and rapidly declining costs.

California is at the forefront of the storage revolution and policymakers have recognized the potential role of energy storage in a number of new programs. The biggest of these programs is the AB 2514 energy storage procurement program. This law required the California Public Utilities Commission to consider creating an energy storage procurement mandate for utilities. And that's about all the law did, leaving most issues to the discretion of the CPUC. The law did, however, require that any storage that is mandated must also be cost-effective. That is, the mandate couldn't lead to any net costs for ratepayers. (This is a common requirement in California for new programs, despite the common myth that legislators and policymakers don't care about costs.)

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