Archive for May, 2010

The US – Will It Take the Necessary Steps to be a Renewable Energy Leader

Wednesday, May 5th, 2010

The current oil spill off the coast of Louisiana is causing some Americans to question the longevity and environmental impact of oil. Renewable energy companies should take advantage of the situation and persuade Congress to make renewable energy a top priority.

Renewable energy, including photovoltaic, wind, and geothermal provide 15 percent of Germany and Denmark’s energy requirements. In those counties, utility companies are required to purchase renewable energy at a set rate. The rate is set once and guaranteed for a pre-determined number of years.

This gives renewable energy viability. The current political and economic climate makes energy prices extremely unstable. With a set rate for renewable energy, companies can get financing to install renewable energy. This policy has led to an extreme increase in renewable energy infrastructure and the creation of many jobs.

America’s energy policies are still controlled by lobbying and political pull of fossil fuel giants (BP, Chevron, Arco, Shell, and more). This money has successfully distorted public opinion about the economic, environmental, and social implementation of renewable energy. By distorting renewable energy, the fossil fuel giants have been able to make record profits and receive federal subsidies.

Many countries laugh at our outdated energy policy. They are discouraged not only because Americans use 25% of the world’s energy, but because the United States holds 4.5% of the world’s population.

The United States should be adopting the energy policy of Germany and Spain. By installing renewable energy, the United States can create much-needed jobs, secure its energy for future growth, and make the world think differently.

PACE- Property Assessed Clean Energy

Wednesday, May 5th, 2010

There is a widespread impression that clean energy is expensive.  Well, it is, but there are ways of financing it to reduce or eliminate upfront costs.  Property owners need to be proactive in looking for these options.

PACE financing, or property assessed clean energy financing, gives property owners the chance to make renewable energy and/or energy efficiency retrofits without any upfront costs.  That’s right, if you live in a participating municipality, you may qualify for a PACE bond which will allow you to pay off the costs of retrofits through your property taxes over a 15 or 20 year period.

PACE bonds are an idea that originated from a Berkeley, CA finance company, Renewable Funding.  Renewable Funding partnered with the city to help provide homeowners with a way to fund the installation of solar energy systems and energy efficiency improvements.  The “Berkeley First” program allowed homeowners to borrow the money and repay it through their home property taxes over a 20 year period.

There are several very enticing benefits to this PACE program:

– Virtually no upfront costs and no impact on your equity
– No credit or general obligation risk
– Tax liability is transferred to the new owner and upgrades remain with the property if sold
– Financing costs are comparable to a mortgage or equity line
– Property tax liens are senior to mortgage debt making borrowers less susceptible to foreclosure
– Financing is guaranteed as it comes from the IRS
– Lower energy bills and improved ROI/positive cash flow
– Immediate creation of jobs in renewable energy and energy efficiency sectors

The need for PACE bonds is estimated to exceed more than $500 billion in the coming years.  The result is a significant decrease in our greenhouse gas emissions and a strengthening of our energy independence.  PACE funding will make solar energy and energy efficiency more attainable and create a greater demand for jobs in both industries.

PACE- Property Assessed Clean Energy

Wednesday, May 5th, 2010

PACE- Property Assessed Clean Energy

There is a widespread impression that clean energy is expensive.  Well, it is, but there are ways of financing it to reduce or eliminate upfront costs.  Property owners need to be proactive in looking for these options.

PACE financing, or property assessed clean energy financing, gives property owners the chance to make renewable energy and/or energy efficiency retrofits without any upfront costs.  That’s right, if you live in a participating municipality, you may qualify for a PACE bond which will allow you to pay off the costs of retrofits through your property taxes over a 15 or 20 year period.

PACE bonds are an idea that originated from a Berkeley, CA finance company, Renewable Funding.  Renewable Funding partnered with the city to help provide homeowners with a way to fund the installation of solar energy systems and energy efficiency improvements.  The “Berkeley First” program allowed homeowners to borrow the money and repay it through their home property taxes over a 20 year period.

There are several very enticing benefits to this PACE program:

– Virtually no upfront costs and no impact on your equity
– No credit or general obligation risk
– Tax liability is transferred to the new owner and upgrades remain with the property if sold
– Financing costs are comparable to a mortgage or equity line
– Property tax liens are senior to mortgage debt making borrowers less susceptible to foreclosure
– Financing is guaranteed as it comes from the IRS
– Lower energy bills and improved ROI/positive cash flow
– Immediate creation of jobs in renewable energy and energy efficiency sectors

The need for PACE bonds is estimated to exceed more than $500 billion in the coming years.  The result is a significant decrease in our greenhouse gas emissions and a strengthening of our energy independence.  PACE funding will make solar energy and energy efficiency more attainable and create a greater demand for jobs in both industries.

The Benefits of Distributed Energy

Wednesday, May 5th, 2010

The Benefits of Distributed Energy

Distributed energy.  Sounds good.  It is.  It’s actually the ultimate goal when it comes to dealing with our energy crisis.  In the back of our minds, we want to minimize our impact on the environment.  But when it comes down to discussing energy, we simply want to make it affordable, improve the quality and the reliability of the supply.  Distributed energy does just that.  It refers to the many new technologies that have small, modular, power-generating capacity and are combined with load management and energy storage systems to provide energy at or near the point of consumption.

Traditional methods of producing energy used more centralized operations that generate power onsite and deliver it to consumers through high-voltage power lines.  Examples of these more centralized operations are nuclear power plants, coal burning plants, and hydroelectric damns.  It goes without saying that these particular methods are have significant impacts on the environment.

Distributed energy requires consumers to produce their own energy onsite to feed into their utility’s electrical grid.  Distributed energy involves a wide range of technologies including wind turbines, solar power, fuel cells, microturbines, reciprocating engines, load reduction technologies, and battery storage systems.  These distributed energy technologies are used to produce baseload power, peak power, backup power, remote power, power quality, as well as cooling and heating.

The effective employment of distributed energy also relieves congestion in transmission lines, prevents energy rate fluctuations, stabilizes the electricity grid, and re-establishes energy security.  Because distributed energy sources need to be connected to the grid, they also support and strengthen the central-station model of electricity generation, transmission, and distribution.  

 The Department of Energy is currently developing technologies to integrate renewable and distributed energy systems into the electricity grid at the distribution level.  Americans must make efforts to retrofitting their properties with renewable and distributed energy systems that improve the overall effectiveness of our energy infrastructure.

BP Solar closes Maryland plant due to market competition

Monday, May 3rd, 2010

BP Solar closes Maryland plant due to market competition

Though BP Solar is a big name in the renewable energy industry and maintains steady investment in wind energy technology, its efforts in solar development have endured a significant blow.  

On March 26th, 2010, BP Solar announced that it would be ceasing operations at their Frederick, Maryland manufacturing facility. BP Solar opened the facility just three and a half years ago.  With lower cost solar materials and equipment being imported from China and even India, BP Solar simply determined the move to be the most financially practical.

Out of 430 employees at the Frederick plant, 320 were laid off.  Production involved with silicon casting, wafering, and cell manufacturing was ceased and all workers associated with these departments lost their jobs.  BP Solar plans to shift all the remaining in-house manufacturing to other low-cost joint ventures to ultimately become more affordable to their market.  Sales and marketing , research and technology, project development and other business support functions will remain.

Reyad Fezzani, CEO of BP Solar, stated “Solar prices declined between 40 and 50 percent since the onset of the financial and economic crisis, compressing industry margins and driving solar power towards grid competitive pricing.  By shifting our supply to a high quality, low cost supply base to serve both distribution customers and large scale projects, we have strengthened our position as a provider of competitive solar solutions with our offer of the highest lifetime value.”

Beginning in the first quarter of 2009, BP Solar also closed several other high-cost manufacturing locations and consequentially reducing their prices by 45%.  Most solar companies have found themselves drastically lowering their inventory values due to strong international competition and depressed silicon prices.  

Rich Hessler
Increase your Solar Company’s Profits with Focused Solar Marketing 

How to Choose a quality Solar Installer in Los Angeles

Monday, May 3rd, 2010

How to Choose a quality Solar Installer in Los Angeles

The age of renewable energy is upon us.  Going green in one’s daily routine is easier.  However,  making a renewable energy retrofit on your home can be a chore if you do not know where to begin.

Here are some things to think about when choosing a quality solar installer in Los Angeles. 

First, you can always think about looking up a quality solar installer in the Los Angeles Yellowpages.  Those professionals tend to be dependable because they wouldn’t be listed in the Yellowpages if they were not dependable.  If you don’t use that method to find a quality solar installer, try locating a Los Angeles contractor on the internet.  There are many directories that provide lists of certified and experienced quality solar installers.

You must know what questions to ask when you select a quality solar installer.  In Los Angeles, there are many quality solar installers; this may result in a bidding war if you decide to contact several.  This may not be what you want.  Getting the lowest estimate is not the best course of action.  Contractors can easily take shortcuts to win your business with the lowest bid or they may not be experienced and are willing to go lower than quality solar installers.  You must ask pertinent qualifying questions of your installer to determine if they are experienced and trustworthy.  You will naturally gravitate toward a quality solar installer in Los Angeles if they can demonstrate these characteristics.

Ask them to show you all the proper licenses that are required of a solar installer in Los Angeles.  Not all electricians know how to install solar and not all certified photovoltaic installers know how to tie in the system to the utility grid.  Make sure they are experienced in both or have a team who can do each task competently.  In some cases, experience can be interchangeable with formal training.  You have to like your quality solar installer but make sure they have the proper credentials.

Also, ask if they have any references of past jobs.  It gives you a resume of their work.  You can find out if there were any complications with their service on prior projects.  

Ask about a service agreement.  This states what services the quality solar installer is responsible for and lays out the terms of the deal.  You should also ask your quality solar installer what incentives and rebates are available to apply for in Los Angeles.