Posted By Eric Paul and Don Bray,
Thursday, May 17, 2012
| Comments (0)
Greenpeace launched a series of coordinated protests at Amazon, Apple and
Microsoft locations to draw attention to the companies’ use of GHG intensive
fuels in powering their data centers.
The protests were a follow up to their recently released report, "How
Clean is Your Cloud,” which criticized the companies for expanding their
data centers without regard to the source of electricity.
have questioned the report’s details, it nonetheless highlights an important
issue. Major IT and cloud computing companies have been working to improve
energy efficiency in their data centers, and yet mitigation of GHG impacts from
power use has lagged. This matters, because
recent growth of the internet and cloud-based computing is resulting in rapid proliferation
of data centers and massive incremental power requirements.
To date, the
cost and availability of power have been primary concerns for operators when
siting data centers. Green power options for data centers have been low on the
priority list, or otherwise deemed impractical, expensive, or geographically
forward, is a natural match emerging for data centers and green power? After
all, there is flexibility in siting data centers, especially when compared to
other types of industrial facilities. Incremental power requirements from new
data centers are large and physically concentrated. At the same time, the IT industry is sensitive
to consumer opinion, and is increasingly influenced by data center efficiency
and carbon intensity metrics. As noted
in a recent Rackspace
Survey, sustainability is now important to a significant majority of
hosting services customers and is a factor in purchasing decisions. Finally, an
emerging set of solutions is making green power a more realistic option for many
new data centers.rently exploring a wide range of green power solutions, including sourcing
cleaner forms of energy from utilities and energy suppliers, purchasing
renewable energy, and deploying onsite renewable energy systems.
Energy Use in Data Centers
center energy use now accounts for approximately 1.7-2.2% of U.S. electricity
consumption. This power requirement was estimated
to be on the order of 75 million megawatt hours in 2010, according to consulting
Stanford professor Jonathan
Koomey. The vast majority of this power currently comes from the utility
electric grid, and the GHG intensity of grid electricity varies by as much as 500%
- depending upon whether power is coming from clean hydro-based or dirtier
coal-fired generating stations. With demand for cloud services and digital
information provided by data centers expected to grow exponentially, IT
companies are investing billions of dollars in new data centers.
energy use requirements are highly intensive and continuous – traditionally a
difficult match for many green energy sources.
That said, meeting growing energy demands and reducing GHG emissions from
data centers will require IT and cloud computing companies to adopt an ‘all-of-the-above’
energy strategy—comprising of a combination of different green power approaches
and energy efficiency initiatives.
New Data Center Energy Use Metrics
expanding view of data center energy use has led companies to adopt new metrics
for measuring their computing facilities. Power Usage Effectiveness (PUE),
which is total facility power divided by IT equipment power, is now a common
efficiency metric for data center operators. However, PUE does not address carbon
emissions from a data center’s energy consumption. Even the most energy efficient
data center can be powered by fossil fuels and produce significant carbon
response, The Green Grid has established Carbon Usage Effectiveness (CUE) as a
metric by which data center operators can gauge the intensity of their carbon emissions
per kilowatt-hour of energy used. It also allows them to evaluate the impact of
different energy sourcing options, whether it is electricity from the grid or
an onsite renewable system. Together,
the CUE and PUE metrics help describe a data center’s relative energy efficiency
and emissions intensity.
"green data center” is extremely energy-efficient, with a low PUE, high asset
utilization, and a low CUE through use of green power. Thus, environmental impacts are mitigated
from two essential angles — through a high degree of energy efficiency and the
use of clean energy.
Clean Energy Options for Data
cloud computing companies have three primary avenues for sourcing cleaner
energy for their data centers: procure clean energy from the local utility, purchase
energy from offsite renewable energy resources, or deploy onsite renewable
Procuring Electricity from the Grid
companies looking to reduce carbon intensity benefit from siting their data
center in the service area of utilities that utilizes renewable sources of
power. Additionally, many local utilities
now offer the option to purchase green power. And in some markets, companies
can elect to buy power from an alternative energy supplier that offers green
Utility Green Power Mix –As previously mentioned, carbon
intensity of electricity provided through the grid varies substantially. For example, siting a data center in
Washington State with access to clean, low cost hydroelectric power rather than
Utah, which relies primarily on coal, can significantly reduce resulting carbon
emissions. By making the GHG intensity of grid power a factor in data center siting,
companies can significantly reduce the emissions potential of a prospective
Greenpeace’s "unfriend coal” campaign, Facebook adopted a siting policy that
gives preference to states with access to a clean renewable energy supply. Recently, Facebook chose to site their third
major data center in Lulea, Sweden because of the large amount of available hydroelectric
capacity. Yahoo, Inc.’s decision to construct
a data center in Locksport, NY was influenced by their ability to procure 15 MW
of hydroelectric power from the New York Power Authority.
Utility Green Power Purchasing
Programs - Some
utilities offer customers the ability to purchase energy from renewable sources
at premium. Utility programs are convenient, as they combine green power
purchases and electricity services into one bill, and often source green power
locally from within the their service area. As an example, Green House Data in Wyoming is
using wind energy provided by its local utility, Cheyenne Light, Fuel and
Power, to meet 100 percent of their 10,000 sq. ft. data center’s energy
downside to utility programs is that customers are limited to the options
offered by the utility, and not every utility provider offers a green power
purchase program. Also, these programs charge
an incremental price for clean energy, so there is not a direct savings
Purchasing Energy from Renewable
utility-provided green power options are expanding, they are still limited to
specific geographic areas and utility districts. And it is unlikely that any utility will by
completely powered by renewable energy in the near future. Therefore, some IT companies are electing to
purchase renewable energy through directly through competitive retail markets,
power purchase agreements, and/or renewable energy certificates (RECs).
Competitive Retail Markets - In the handful of states with
competitive or restructured retail electricity markets, data center operators
can purchase electricity from alternative electricity suppliers that offer
greener power. The number of states with
retail markets and the amount of competitive green power suppliers is limited
but growing, particularly in Texas, where 69 green power offerings were
available as of September 2011.
Power Purchase Agreements -A number of IT companies are
signing long-term power purchase agreements (PPAs) to procure energy from renewable
energy systems. Such PPAs help renewable energy developers to obtain
preferential financing, and allow customers to purchase energy at set rates,
typically below utility electric prices.
Companies can sign PPAs for onsite or offsite renewable solutions. PPAs require that the customer organization has
excellent credit, and is willing to sign a long-term contract.
an excellent example of a company using PPAs to procure clean energy for new
data centers. Google has signed two
20-year PPAs with wind farm developer NextEra Energy, to purchase more than 100
MW of power for each of their data centers in Iowa and Oklahoma. Energy from
the wind farms are provided to the local electric grid and sold to the local
utility, while Google retains the renewable energy certificates (RECs) and
applies them to energy used at their data centers. By signing a long-term PPA, Google has
provided NextEra Energy with a secure revenue source, which allows them to
obtain financing, and in the process helps to stimulate demand for more
Renewable Energy Certificates
energy certificates (RECs) represent the environmental attributes of the
generation and delivery of 1 megawatt-hour of green power to the U.S. Grid. RECs have become a popular option for easily
and inexpensively offsetting emissions from data center electricity use. Leading
IT companies Intel, Microsoft, Cisco, and Dell are among the top purchasers of
RECs. In fact, Intel is top green power purchaser in the U.S., purchasing more
than 2.5 million MWh to meet 88 percent of its total electricity use. Datapipe, Inc., a cloud computing company, has
purchased more than 56 thousand MWh of RECs to offset the emissions associated
with the electricity consumed by its U.S. offices and data centers.
RECs represent an incremental cost for companies, versus potential energy cost
savings. RECs can be sourced locally or nationally, meaning that there may or
may not be local environmental benefits from the purchase of RECs. Currently,
the cost of RECs is very low by historic standards, and critics of RECs are
questioning "additionality”, the impact of RECs in supporting new renewable
Deploying Onsite Renewables
renewable energy solutions reduce demand for utility-provided power generated
by fossil fuels, and offer the potential to reduce energy costs. Onsite
renewables also help to add capacity and reduce impacts on the local utility grid,
which may not have been initially designed to handle significant new demands
from a data center.
viable onsite renewable energy options depends on several key factors,
including physical site characteristics, geographic location, availability and
cost of utility power, available incentives and the organization’s sustainability
goals. And multiple onsite renewable energy solutions may be deployed
simultaneously, as is the case with Apple’s Maiden, North Carolina data center,
which is deploying both solar and fuel cells to partially power the facility.
Solar PV –Dropping solar photovoltaic prices
combined with federal and local incentives have made solar viable at data
centers in a growing number of locations. Solar can help reduce a data center’s energy
costs, by producing power during the middle of the day when cooling demands and
electricity rates are typically the highest.
Rooftop solar systems can also offer a shading benefit as well.
data centers are highly energy-intensive and require energy continuously
throughout the day. Solar panels are
low-intensity generators, requiring on the order of seven to ten acres for one
megawatt of capacity. And this power is produced only during the day. So while solar
panels may be able to cost-effectively serve some fraction of a data center’s
energy needs, other sources of power will also be necessary.
energy systems carry a significant upfront cost, and may be customer financed,
or financed through a third-party PPA.
companies such as Apple (20 MW), eBay (665 kW), Facebook (100 kW), i/o Data
Centers (4.5 MW) and McGraw-Hill Companies (14.1 MW) have all installed, or
announced plans to install, solar PV systems at a data center facility.
Fuel Cells –Fuel cells, which produce
electricity from natural gas or hydrogen, are also emerging as an onsite
renewable energy solution for data centers. Fuel cells offer high availability
and uptime, capable of providing large amounts of energy around the clock as
needed in data centers. Additionally, waste
heat from fuel cells can be used to help cool the data center and further
is that fuel cells require a constant fuel source of gas to produce electricity,
typically utility-provided natural gas.
While natural gas burns considerably cleaner than coal, it is a fossil
fuel and generates a net GHG impact. Some companies are addressing this issue
by directly or indirectly procuring biogas from sources such as landfills,
waste treatment facilities and hog farms, for their fuel cells. Another significant
issue is that fuel cells are very expensive, and available incentives vary by
location. A variety of financing and
power purchase options are emerging to help mitigate the upfront cost issue.
plans to install 4.8 MW of fuel cells at its Maiden, North Carolina data
center. Microsoft recently launched a
pilot project for a grid-independent data centers powered by fuel cells directly
supplied with biogas. To provide the
biogas, Microsoft is exploring siting data centers at landfills and wastewater
treatment plants. AT&T and NTT
America have also installed fuel cells at their data center facilities.
Onsite Wind – Wind is another potential onsite
option, though significant upfront cost, space requirements, intermittency and
siting issues make it impractical for most existing data center locations. Yet wind power is plentiful, and can be less
expensive than other renewables options. Effective use of significant onsite
wind resources is more likely to result from bringing a data center to a wind
farm, than vice versa. As an example, Other World Computing in Illinois
installed a 131-foot-tall turbine to provided 100 percent energy for its data
center. However, the data center is still reliant on the utility grid to handle
intermittency issues and serve as a back up power supply.
And as discussed
previously, wind power is playing a major role in other green power strategies
being used at data centers, as a source of renewable energy credits and power
purchase agreements, as noted in the Google PPA example.
variety of clean energy solutions are available for IT companies looking to
mitigate GHG emissions in their data centers. Yet these solutions must be
evaluated on a site-by-site and solution-by-solution basis, in the context of a
comprehensive data center energy strategy comprising both energy efficiency and
Greenpeace accurately points out, "global IT and cloud computing companies have
a tremendous opportunity and unique responsibility to take greater control of
their electricity supply chain, and to manage their energy ecosystem both
outside and inside the data center.”
viewed in total, data centers may indeed represent a ‘killer app’ for green
power. Data centers are proliferating, their
energy requirements are substantial, and these facilities have the potential to
be flexibly located where green power is most economic and plentiful. The IT industry is progressive, consumer
aware, and under intense scrutiny by NGOs on this issue. All of this makes data
centers and IT companies natural candidates for increased green power use in
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Posted By Eric Paul,
Wednesday, April 04, 2012
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Last week, Mark Gaspers, U.S. Energy Manager with IKEA North
America, and Pete Kadens, President of SoCore Energy, joined AltaTerra Research
for an online conference on how corporate solar power strategies are evolving
beyond isolated or pilot installations, and moving toward portfolio-wide
Pete and Mark are highly knowledgeable on the subject. At IKEA, Mark is responsible for
the rollout of solar at 39 IKEA facilities in the U.S. by the end of this year
– representing 89% of all IKEA facilities in the U.S. At SoCore Energy, Pete
has assisted leading retailers and REITs, such as Walgreens, JC Penney and
Kimco, in developing onsite solar electric systems across a portfolio of
Deploying solar across a real estate portfolio requires
solar developers and corporate customers to address a number of challenging
questions. To provide insight into
these challenges and how they are being addressed by IKEA and SoCore, I have
summarized a few key points from the event below.
Solar incentives and energy costs, more than solar
irradiance, are the primary drivers to determining the financial feasibility of
solar at a given site. According
to Pete, financial returns for a solar project in states such as Massachusetts
or New Jersey can be more substantial than in sunny states such as Arizona or
California, where production-based solar power incentives have dropped off.
When a corporation installs solar at scale, smaller projects
of 100 kW or less are increasingly feasible from a financial standpoint. Walgreens, which has deployed more than
100 smaller systems, has proven that smaller solar arrays can be built in an
economically viable way, if included in a portfolio of projects. The incentives
for these smaller systems also can vary significantly from incentives for
megawatt-plus installations. Incentives for smaller systems are becoming
increasingly available from municipalities and utilities.
There are significant benefits to installing solar at a
portfolio of sites rather than doing a one-off project. Corporations can realize higher savings
from reduced transaction costs, increased buying power and lower financing
costs. For instance, with the current oversupply of solar panels in the market,
now is an excellent time for customers to bring larger projects to solar
equipment providers to achieve greater savings. Building at scale also typically results in faster
installations with improved logistics and less operational impact.
Developers and corporations can also work with states and
utilities to receive customer incentives for multi-site installations. SoCore Energy in conjunction with
Walgreens went to the state of Ohio to receive custom incentives for a 90-site
solar deployment at Walgreens in Ohio.
According to Mark, system output ($/kWh), rather than
overall system capacity ($/W), really drives ROI. Design details - array tilt, shading, module output,
inverter efficiency and maintenance routines – all impact a systems output and
ROI. As the example in Figure 1
shows, ROI for systems with the same capacity can vary dramatically based on
the system’s output.
Figure 1. Example ROI of
(Courtesy of Mark Gasper,
Unlike the majority of other corporations deploying solar,
IKEA has chosen to purchase all of their 39 systems rather than signing
PPAs. From IKEA’s perspective, if
a PPA developer can make a profitable return on a system, IKEA can as well.
There have been a number of challenges IKEA has faced
deploying solar at a wide range of locations. Determining the feasibility of
individual systems required a significant amount of upfront planning, due
diligence and feasibility studies (e.g. roof evaluation, structural capacity,
etc.). From a physical standpoint,
every store is different and requires its own due diligence process.
And managing incentives and interconnection requirements
requires a significant amount of backend administration. Navigating the complexities of
different utility and state incentive and interconnection procedures can also
be confusing and time consuming.
Nonetheless, IKEA has addressed these challenges, and has
been helped in the process by qualified solar integrators they have
chosen. IKEA has found that purchasing
the systems and implementing them on a portfolio-wide basis has offered
improved returns, increased building property values, maximized available tax
incentives and allowed them to control all aspects of the portfolio-wide
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Posted By Don Bray and Eric Paul,
Friday, March 30, 2012
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In February, word leaked that Apple will install a 20
megawatt solar farm—the largest customer-sited solar array in the U.S—at
its data center in Maiden, North Carolina, dubbed by some as the
‘iDataCenter’. The project has
reinvigorated the debate on the potential role of solar at data centers. Can
solar make a meaningful contribution to reduce the environmental impact of
energy-intensive data centers or is it simply an expensive marketing tool?
Two weeks ago, James Hamilton of Amazon Web Services and a
former data center architect for Microsoft posted a blog
highlighting his reservation for large solar farms at data centers, noting "I
just can’t make the math work and find myself wondering if these large solar
farms are really somewhere between a bad idea and pure marketing, where the
environmental impact is purely optical”.
In our view, the question is a good one, and as with many
things, the answer is ‘it depends’.
Based on a data center’s goals and operating circumstances, solar may
indeed be a very good match – or it may not.
In the ideal ‘green data center’ scenario, a data center has
plentiful access to inexpensive power, and this power originates from renewable
sources. Further, the data center
is extremely energy-efficient, with a low PUE and high asset utilization. Thus, impacts are mitigated from two
essential angles – through a high degree of energy efficiency, and use of
cost-effective clean energy.
Of course, a data center’s ability to access cheap green
power is heavily location-dependent.
Where utility-provided green power is not available, an organization may
choose to consider other alternatives, such as onsite renewables or purchase of
renewable energy credits (RECs).
Yet RECs represent a net cost to an organization. And while flexible and
inexpensive compared to deploying an onsite renewables system, they are viewed
by some as a less visible, direct, and/or economically advantageous way to
source green power.
Financially, solar works best in areas with abundant sunlight,
high electric rates, and attractive financial and tax incentives. For the solar facility owner, the
ability to benefit from tax incentives is highly beneficial. Also important is having plenty of
suitable roof or ground space and a predictable long term demand for
electricity at the same site, ideally with a use and energy cost profile that
maps well to when the sun is shining.
In such cases, solar power can represent a cost-savings opportunity for
And in terms of potential environmental benefits, it’s
important to understand the source and carbon intensity of local grid
electricity, and where incremental or peak power will come from. GHG intensity in electricity can vary
greatly; by as much as 5 times or more, depending upon whether power is coming
from clean hydro-based or dirtier coal-fired generating stations.
Data centers are high-intensity energy users, and solar
panels are low-intensity energy generators. Also, data center energy use is 24 by 7, while solar
production peaks during the day and goes to zero at night. Therefore, data centers are poor
candidates for solar in a comprehensive ‘net zero energy’ context. And even if a data center was 100%
solar powered, it would need to remain connected to traditional electric grid
resources, due to issues with solar intermittency, variability, and
Yet in areas with the right mix of utility rates and solar
incentives, data centers can cost-effectively serve some fraction of their
energy needs with onsite solar energy.
And from an environmental standpoint, solar is more beneficial in
utility areas where energy is otherwise produced from dirty sources. For example, 46% of the electricity in
North Carolina, where Apple’s data center is sited, comes from coal.
And while a data center’s energy needs are continuous, solar
can help reduce incremental demand for electricity during peak periods. Need for additional cooling is often
influenced by when the sun is shining the brightest. And where roof mounting is possible, panels can shade the
roof and reduce building cooling requirements. As more utilities move toward real-time pricing, the
contribution of solar to reducing peak-demand electric load presents additional
In James Hamilton’s blog post, he points out a number of the
arguments against the use of solar at data centers. First, current solar arrays are typically meeting only a
small fraction of the data center’s energy use. For instance, the 100 kW solar array at the Facebook
Prineville Oregon Facility will provide for only 0.4% of the facility’s overall
power needs. He also argues that
with limited funds available to reduce the environmental impact of a data
center, investments may be better made to improve efficiency of power
distribution, cooling, storage, networking and server and increasing overall
utilization, rather than investing in solar.
Another common criticism is that solar requires a lot of
space. According to Rich Miller from Data
Center Knowledge, it takes about seven acres of solar panels to generate
one megawatt of electricity – so powering a data center requires a significant
amount of land. Apple is clearing 171
acres next to its data center to make room for the 20-megawatt solar farm. Clearing land and trees for such a
large solar array can also have negative impacts on the local environment.
To date, the use of solar at data centers has been
limited. In addition to Apple,
McGraw-Hill Companies, i/o Data Centers, and Sonoma Mountain Data Center have
all installed or announced plans to install solar arrays greater than one
megawatt. Listed below are a few of the larger solar installations at data
centers in the United States.
Yet data centers come in a wide range of sizes and
configurations. The vast majority are considerably smaller than the mega-data
centers of Apple or Facebook, and many are co-located in buildings used for
multiple purposes. Onsite solar power, even if covering a relatively small
percentage of energy use, can help to reduce energy costs and hedge volatile
energy prices. With solar power
prices rapidly declining—20 % in 2011 according to GTM Research—and attractive
incentives available, solar is making financial sense in an increasing number
of locations, and will play an expanded role in the future. And owners wishing to focus their
capital on improving efficiency may be able to use third party financing and a
power purchase agreement (PPA), to install solar onsite and earn financial and
environmental benefits without having make a capital investment.
Solar is unlikely to be a ‘silver bullet’ solution for a
data center’s energy needs and brand image. And it should not be marketed as such. Rather, it should be evaluated in the
context of a comprehensive data center energy strategy, including energy
efficiency and use of clean power. No matter how good a data center may be at
energy efficiency, it will still require electricity from the utility electric
grid. Solar has the potential to
help incrementally reduce a data center’s environmental impact and lower
operating expenses. And to what degree depends upon the circumstances.
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Posted By Eric Paul,
Friday, February 24, 2012
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Last month, SEPA released a new study titled, "Heating Up:
The Impact of Third Party Business Models on the US Market for Solar Water and
Space Heating.” The report
profiled the emergence of a number of new and existing third-party options for
financing solar water heating.
While third party financing has potential to revolutionize the
commercial SWH market, there are still a number of challenges holding back such
financing mechanisms. However,
existing industry players and new market entrants are actively devising ways to
overcome these challenges.
As I’ve discussed in previous
posts, commercial solar water heating (SWH) is less expensive and captures
more energy per square foot than solar PV—making it a compelling proposition
for many businesses in hot water intensive sectors. Although solar water
heating systems are less expensive to own and operate than solar electric
systems, their upfront cost is still a challenge for many buyers.
Third party financing and turnkey services allow customers
to purchase SWH with no upfront costs. The paper identified six different
financing models, each with its own set of benefits and challenges:
Commercial customers can receive a low interest loan from
the local government or utility as part of loan program, such as Local
Property-Assessed Clean Energy (PACE) or on-bill finance (OBF) programs. These programs allow customers to pay
for a system over a ten to twenty year period, on their property taxes for PACE
programs, or utility bills for OBF programs. Despite widespread interest in
PACE and OBF programs, the availability of these programs is limited.
Currently, there are only four operational commercial PACE
programs, with nine programs in the design phase and four more in the
preliminary planning phase. According to ACEEE’s "On-Bill Financing for Energy
Efficiency Improvements” report, there are currently 31 existing OBF programs
spread across twenty different states.
However, the number of PACE and OBF programs is likely to increase, as
more utilities and local governments become interested in starting their own
Solar thermal energy
service companies (ESCO)
Customers can contract with ESCOs to develop, install, and
finance a wide-range of energy improvements, such as lighting retrofits or
SWH. ESCOs operate on a
shared-savings model and keep a certain percentage of energy savings. When
ESCOs contract with a customer, they develop a prioritized list of projects
based on potential savings and payback period. Oftentimes, ESCOs choose to
implement only energy efficiency projects with short payback periods, rather
than installing SWH with a typical payback period between seven to ten years
depending on available incentives and local energy costs. Additionally, ESCOs
work best for larger institutional and commercial customers, meaning that
medium and small sized businesses are underserved.
Customers can also choose to lease SWH equipment. However, the use of third party
commercial leasing is limited at the moment, and has not gained much traction
with SWH. With a lease, customers
are typically responsible for the operational risk of their system.
Revenue Projects with Utilities
Utilities can work with a turnkey third party developer to
offer SWH to its customers. The
utility and the developer earn a share of the project’s savings, while
customers pay a flat fee for the service.
However, shared revenue financing has not been widely used. Lakeland Electric and Regensis Solar
Power pioneered the model for the residential marketplace but no one has yet
attempted to replicate it for the commercial marketplace.
Purchase Agreements (akin to PPAs)
In recent years, third-party energy purchase agreements
(EPAs) have emerged as financing tool for SWH. EPAs are similar to power purchase agreements (PPAs). Customers purchase the energy to heat
water at a contracted rate for ten to twenty years from the EPA provider who
installs, owns, and operates the system.
An EPA removes both the upfront cost and the operational risk from the
Many people see EPAs as the ‘Holy Grail’ of energy
improvement financing, but there are still a number of challenges to their
widespread use. To pencil out,
EPAs rely on strong SWH incentives and good solar resources. Commercial SWH systems also
require more engineering and design work than residential projects, adding
another element of complexity.
Finally, EPAs oftentimes compete against natural gas prices, which are
historically low. These factors have lead EPA providers to selectively offer
the EPA only to customers when the economics are compelling.
The paper also mentioned a novel financing mechanism being
pioneered by Skyline Innovations.
This new financing mechanism is similar to an EPA, but uses price-indexed
energy cost instead of a standard three or four percent annual escalator. Skyline offers customers a fixed
discount off their utility bill for water heating over a ten to fifteen year
term. No upfront capital is
required from the customer, but customers give up the RECs and other incentives
to finance the system. The true
benefit of this model is that it guarantees customers energy savings even if
the price of energy decreases. In
an EPA, customers could be hurt if the price of energy drops below the
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Posted By Administration,
Monday, February 06, 2012
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Institutions seeking to deploy on-site clean energy
solutions are facing a number of challenging questions: How can solutions be deployed under
tight budget constraints, with a minimum of upfront cost? What deal and
financing structures are available to non-tax paying institutions? Is it best to build and own a system
internally, or use a third-party developer?
As more institutions look to on-site clean energy generation
to reduce operating costs and meet environmental goals, these questions are
growing in importance. In this
post, I will explore how institutions are approaching these questions, and
provide examples of new financing and development approaches being utilized. This is my second post based on content
from EUCI’s Utilizing Clean Power Development Conference hosted in Philadelphia
in the middle January. My first
post detailed the steps organizations are taking to evaluate on-site clean
energy solutions and is available here.
Budgetary constraints and the need for a quick return on
investment are typically the most challenging issues facing institutions
looking to develop on-site clean energy.
With the economic recession and reduced budgets for capital improvement
projects, institutions are demanding fast payback periods—typically much less
than seven years, which is common for internally financed on-site renewables.
Furthermore, many institutions may be assuming that on-site renewable energy is
too expensive, and/or requires a large upfront investment. However, a number of service-based
financing approaches, including power purchase agreements (PPAs) or energy
services performance contracts (provided by ESCOs) have emerged to help address
this problem. These approaches
offer the potential for organizations to reap the benefits of on-site clean
energy, minimize upfront investment and shorten payback periods.
For a given institution, the right deal and financing
structure will be a function of the organization’s goals. As previously mentioned, there
are strategies and solutions available to fit a wide range of institutional needs. One of the most common renewable
energy financing mechanisms used today is the power purchase agreement
(PPA). In a PPA, third-party
developers own and operate the system, and sell energy back to the institution
at rates lower than the local utility.
In the PPA scenario, institutions don’t have to put up any upfront
capital and aren’t required to operate the system.
Yet with this important benefit comes a few drawbacks. PPAs typically require institutions to
give up ownership of the associated renewable energy credits (RECs). To address this issue, institutions may
make arrangements with their PPA provider to maintain some of the RECs, or
possibly to buy cheaper RECs from wind projects to replace the potentially more
valuable solar RECs. Another more recent issue with PPAs is that changes in accounting
rules have categorized PPAs as leases, thus requiring institutions to report
the PPA on their balance sheet.
A second popular financing mechanism is the performance
contract. These are offered by
energy service companies (ESCOs), also sometimes known as renewable energy
service contracting (RESCO).
Performance contracts are based off a shared savings model. ESCOs determine a range of energy
efficiency and renewable energy projects and recommend a package of
improvements to be paid for by the energy savings. ESCOs have been around since the 1970’s, but have evolved
and expanded their offerings over the years. Recently, ESCOs have been forced to become more transparent
as institutions. At the same
time, their customers are becoming more knowledgeable, and are demanding
greater input into the package of energy efficiency and renewable solutions
determined by the ESCO.
Interestingly, some smaller and more specialized ESCOs are
emerging, which focus on a few select services. One example is Skyline Innovations, which is focused on
offering guaranteed savings from solar water heating. As Skyline’s founder Zach Axelrod put it "If you can save
companies even a small amount of money and guarantee it, they are happy”.
In addition to PPAs and performance contracts, institutions
are also implementing a number of other innovative strategies to financing
on-site clean energy. One
mechanism is to combine and aggregate sites in an RFP to reduce project installation
costs and make it more attractive to developers. The Morris County Improvement Authority partnered with solar
developer Tioga Energy to install 3.2 MW of solar at 19 different facilities
for 7 local government units. The
project allowed Morris County to receive PPA pricing at $.106/kWh in the first
year, well below market prices.
The model is now being replicated in counties throughout New
One of the most fundamental questions facing an institution
is whether to own and operate a renewable facility, or rely on a third-party developer
for part or all of the construction and operations of a facility. For most institutions the answer to
this question depends on if they pay taxes, and how much. For non-tax paying institutions, or
institutions with little tax appetite, developers are essential for monetizing
the potential tax benefits of a project.
This type of monetization can support close to half of a project’s cost,
through use of the investment tax credit,
and accelerated depreciation.
Developers also play a key role in taking on many of the risks
associated with an on-site renewable solution. The developer will be responsible for ensuring a system is
operating, and also will be responsible for the risk of selling the RECs or solar
RECs from a project. Most
institutions lack the capacity to deal with the inherent risks associated with
Despite the benefits of using a developer, some institutions
still see an upside to owning and operating their own systems. In this
scenario, institutions can retain the RECs from a project, have greater control
over the system, and the ability to directly manage installation and
maintenance processes. However, owning and operating an on-site renewable
system can require significant internal resource and expertise, which many
institutions don’t possess.
Now more than ever, institutions have a range of options
available for developing on-site renewable energy solutions. And some of these options allow
institutions to achieve their environmental goals and save money without a
large upfront capital outlay. As
these innovative approaches become more common and widely available,
institutional on-site clean power development will continue to proliferate.
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Posted By Eric Paul,
Tuesday, January 31, 2012
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Earlier this month, I attended EUCI’s Utilizing Clean Power
Development Conference in Philadelphia.
The conference brought together a variety of large institutions
(hospitals, municipalities, universities, etc.), developers, and financers to
discuss the opportunity and challenges surrounding deployment of on-site
renewable energy. Institutional
customers are being provided with multiple pathways and options for deploying a
growing number of on-site renewable solutions. And in evaluating these solutions, institutions must consider
a range of dynamic factors.
In this first post, I will discuss how institutions are
evaluating on-site renewable energy with a few anecdotes from the conference.
In the second post, I will go into more detail on the different options
available for deploying on-site renewables, and some common challenges facing
large institutional customers.
A decision to invest in on-site renewable energy can be
complicated. Deploying renewable
energy requires institutions to ask new questions, conduct detailed analysis,
and develop a detailed action plan. They must carefully analyze the relative
merits and drawbacks of different options, and be wary of jumping to
When evaluating the technical feasibility of solutions,
institutions are looking closely at their energy use profile to find solutions
that best meet their needs. According to Jim Easterly of Black and Veatch, the
roadmap for developing on-site renewable energy begins with an assessment of
needs. Determining how much,
where, and when your organization uses energy is crucial. This helps determine what types of solutions
may or may not be viable. For
example, solar photovoltaics are most attractive for sites that use large
amounts of electricity during the middle of the day, when electricity rates are
Site considerations, such as physical constraints and renewable
resource quality, are important factors for which organizations often don’t
account. Some organizations are quick to play favorites and select a solution
before evaluating such factors.
James Freihaut from the DOE Clean Energy Application Center shared an
experience working with a naval facility set on deploying wind, despite the
site having very poor wind resources.
Physical constraints at many sites also reduce the number of
potential renewable energy solutions. For example, many roofs were not built to handle the
added weight of hosting a traditional solar photovoltaic array. Installing solar may require such
facilities to do major roof renovations, adding cost and reducing the
feasibility of the project. Also, institutions must carefully consider such
factors as constructability and maintainability.
Another major variable is government incentives. The economic feasibility of on-site
renewable energy is usually reliant on federal, state, and local incentives to
reduce costs, and bring payback periods to an acceptable level (typically
around 6-7 years). Incentives also
enable developers to offer PPA agreements at rates below utility electric
The volatility of many incentive programs is adding
complexity, and making it a more difficult decision to invest in on-site
renewables. This is particularly
true on the U.S. East Coast, where many solar renewable energy credit (SREC)
markets, particularly in New Jersey, have experience dramatic price
decreases. For example, a school
in New Jersey evaluating solar in 2010 or early 2011 would have expected to
sell SRECs from its project around $650/MWh. By the time the project was
completed in 2012, the value of SRECs had plummeted to around $225/MWh.
Another variable for institutions is permitting. Currently, permitting requirements for
renewable solutions differ greatly, dependent on state and municipality. When evaluating different solutions,
institutions must work with local permitting and planning departments to
determine necessary permits and avoid permitting issues.
Candidate solutions can be evaluated and ranked relative to
the factors described above - technical feasibility, cost and economic
feasibility, resource quality, environmental issues, site conditions and other
institutional factors. Organizations can use ranked solutions to develop a
strategic action plan for deploying on-site renewable energy.
Ultimately, a decision to invest in on-site renewable energy
must reflect the institution’s strategic goals, objectives, and expected
outcomes. Assuming a proposed
solution fits with the organization’s strategic direction, careful evaluation
of technical, economic, permitting, and other detailed factors when evaluating
a proposed solution will help ensure a minimum of surprises, and that the
installation performs as anticipated.
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Posted By Administration,
Tuesday, December 20, 2011
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Last week, Kimberly-Clark and Prologis announced the
installation of a 4.9 MWDC solar array at its Redlands, Calif.
distribution center—expanding on a 100 kW array installed in 2009. Kimberly-Clark joins a growing group of
corporations, such as IKEA, Walmart, and Walgreens, which have expanded and
broadened their solar commitments in 2011. After successfully deploying pilot solar projects, many of
these organizations have become comfortable with larger on-site installations
and deploying solar organization-wide.
IKEA is a good example. With the announcement of ten new
solar projects last week, IKEA will have solar power at all of its Southern US
locations and 75 percent of its US-based stores when the systems are
complete. In total, IKEA will have
solar at 33 sites with a combined capacity of 26.8 MW. IKEA has been able to install solar at
locations across the U.S., even in the South—an area not known for solar
projects. In fact, the 2.5 MW of
solar IKEA will install in Georgia is more than the cumulative solar capacity
in the state as of 2010.
IKEA isn’t the only company that has announced big solar
plans in the past few months. Walgreens announced plans to install 90 solar PV
systems at its stores throughout Ohio. Walmart announced that it would install
solar panels on up to 60 stores in California. It is not just large
corporations making solar plans; institutional customers are starting to
explore partnerships to deploy solar organization-wide as well. One example is the California
Department of Corrections, which announced a partnership with SunEdison to
install 25 MW worth of solar at four of its facilities.
This trend toward organization-wide adoption of solar is significant
for developers and commercial customers.
For customers, solar is becoming an important part of an overall energy
strategy. Solar benefits include reduced
energy costs and significant public relations benefits. Customers partnering with one developer
on multiple large installations can realize further cost savings. And for developers, organizations with
a large portfolio of buildings are proving to be ideal target customers. They represent a significant opportunity
to grow business volume, geograpic coverage and visibility.
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Posted By Administration,
Friday, December 02, 2011
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The end of November has come with a string of new and
interesting solar project announcements.
- The adoption of solar at military installations
continued to gain momentum, as Bank of America stepped in to provide a $1
billion loan for SolarCity’s SolarStrong project to bring 300 MW to military
residences and two megawatt-plus installations were completed.
- Manufacturing and warehouse facilities continued
to be excellent candidates for 500 kW+ systems, particularly in states with
strong solar incentives.
- L’Oreal installed its third solar system in
2011. The 13 kW array is the first
ground-mounted system at an industrial facility in Arkansas.
- Prestage Foods in North Carolina will host one
of the largest solar thermal systems.
Hot water from the 2,100-collector system is being provided to Prestage
with no upfront costs as part of a solar thermal power purchase agreement with
- A New Hampshire school entered into the first
solar hot air power purchase agreement.
Solar at Military
Facilities Gains Momentum
There was big news this week for one of the most ambitious
projects to bring rooftop solar to military housing. Bank of America stepped in to provide SolarCity with a $1
billion loan to install up to 300 MW of solar capacity on military housing
in 33 states over 5 years. Earlier
this year, SolarCity lost a conditional loan guarantee from the US government
for 80% of a $344 million loan to support the project in the wake of Solyndra’s
collapse. The project has
been scaled back slightly from a goal of 160,000 to 120,000 solar
In other military renewable energy generation news,
cogeneration system was chosen as one of the twenty-seven projects for the U.S.
Department of Defense's (DoD) Environmental Security Technology Certification
Program (ESTCP). The ESTCP program
seeks to monitor, test, and evaluate emerging energy solutions in a real world
environment. CoGenra has received
$2 million to install its solar electric and hot water cogeneration system at
two military sites.
This month also featured a number of new solar project
announcements and completions.
MW solar PV system is being installed at the Bachelor Enlisted Quarters
complex at the U.S. Marine
Corps Air Ground Combat Center (MCAGCC) in Twentynine Palms, Calif.
MW solar installation has been completed at two US Coast Guard locations in
Puerto Rico. The installation
consists of 200 residential rooftops, six commercial rooftops, five carport
arrays, and three ground-mount arrays.
The US Army Reserve base in Arden Hills, MN is nearing
completion on the largest
solar installation in Minnesota in 2011. The 350+ panel system is expected to save the center up to
$12,000 in electricity costs annually.
The Oregon Military Department announced Monday that 134 kW of
solar PV will be installed on the rooftops of three warehouse facilities at
the Oregon Emergency Response Center.
In December, construction is set to start on a 13.78
MW solar facility at the Naval Air Weapons Station China Lake, CA. The system from SunPower will provide
more than 30 percent of China Lake's annual energy load, helping to reduce costs
by an estimated $13 million.
Facilities and Warehouses Continue as Strong Targets for Solar
Warehouse and manufacturing facilities, which typically have
ample roof and ground space for larger on-site solar projects, continue to be attractive
for solar. A number of
organizations announced new on-site solar systems at the end of November.
MW rooftop-mounted solar system has been installed at the United Stationers
Supply Co. warehouse in Cranbury, NJ.
US Foods in Phoenix, AZ installed a 905
kW solar PV system. The array
is expected to provide 15% of the division’s annual electricity needs and is US
Foods’ third solar installation.
The system is being leased from Del Solar.
Annabelle Candy Company in Hayward, CA installed a 439 kW rooftop system,
which consists of more than 1,400 SunPower modules. The system will offset 90% of the facility’s electricity
costs and save $6.5 million in energy over the 25-year life of the system.
GloPak Corp. announced the installation of a 3,454 panel, 1 MW
roof and ground mounted solar system at its South Plainfield, NJ
manufacturing facility. The system
is expected to save $180,000 annually on electricity costs.
L’Oreal installs its
third solar system of 2012
L'Oréal USA installed a 60
panel, 13 KW solar array at its North Little Rock, AR manufacturing
facility. While a solar
array under 100 kW would hardly be news in many states, the commencement
brought the governor of Arkansas and mayor of North Little Rock. According to a L’Oreal spokesperson,
the array is the first industrial ground-mounted solar array in Arkansas. The
system was funded in part by North Little Rock Electricity, which provided
$60,000 for the solar panels, and a rebate from Arkansas’ energy office for
$26,000. L’Oreal was only
responsible for $50,000 of the $136,000 project.
The project is L’Oreal’s third installation this year. Earlier, it installed a 1 MW array at
their Franklin, NJ manufacturing center and a 1.4 MW system at its Piscataway,
NJ manufacturing plant. According
to the company, twenty percent of its electricity used globally last year was
from renewable sources. This is part of L’Oreal’s commitment to reduce GHG 50%
of 2005 levels by 2015.
First Solar Hot Air
Power Purchase Agreement Signed at New Hampshire School
Sanborn Regional High School in New Hampshire signed the first
power purchase agreement for hot air provided by ultra-efficient solar
thermal hot air collectors. The ten-year
contract will provide the district with 1,4000mm BTU’s of thermal energy and
save at least $17,000 annually off the schools fuel-oil heating bills. Enerconcept
Technologies is providing four Lubi™ wall-mounted solar hot air
collectors. The collectors will
cover 8,000 sq ft of the school’s southern wall and provide a majority of the
school’s heated make-up air requirements.
Revolution Energy is providing financing and Shift Energy is installing
and connecting the system to the school’s HVAC system.
Turkey Farm to Host
Mega-Solar Thermal System
Construction has begun on a solar thermal system at
Prestage Foods in St. Pauls, NC.
The solar thermal system will provide the 260,000 sq ft turkey
processing facility with an estimated 100,000 gallons of hot water per
day. The 2,100 ground-mounted
flat-plate collectors will be installed in three phases, each consisting of 700
collectors. Phases one and two are
expected to be complete by March 2012.
The system required a custom designed pump house and solar storage
system, which can provide hot water for the facility 24 hours a day. FLS Energy will own and operate the
system and sell Prestage energy for water heating at a rate below the cost to
heat water from propane.
Mission College in Santa Clara, CA dedicated a 1.1
MW parking lot canopy solar system, which is expected to save the school
$8.5 million in electricity cost over the 25-year life of the system. The system is one of seven solar
installations completed by SunPower at educational facilities in the last month.
The company has also built systems for community colleges including Bakersfield
College, Mendocino College, Napa Valley College, Ohlone College, the
Foothill-DeAnza Community College District, and the Los Angeles Community
Point Loma Nazarene University (PLNU) has installed a 620 kW PV system and a 54 kW solar hot water
system (SHW). The combined
savings of the two projects is expected to be up to $1.6 million over twenty
Port Administration will have 750 kW of solar installed on two building
rooftops by Pepco Energy Services Inc., as part of a $27.6 million
energy-saving maintenance contract.
Spiral Binding Co. in Totowa, NJ will host an 825
kW solar project installed by Amberjack Solar Energy.
kW solar system is being installed at the Kaiser Permanente's Westside
Medical Center, which is under construction in Hillsboro, OR. The solar array is part of the
building’s effort to obtain LEED Gold certification.
The York-Chester Plaza building in Gastonia, NC will host a 740
kW rooftop PV system. The
National Renewable Energy Corp. is leasing the roof space from Gaston County,
and will sell power generated from the system to Duke Energy.
A recently installed 843
kW solar PV system at the Ice House of New Jersey in Hackensack will meet
22% of its electricity needs.
The University of Texas San Antonio has installed a 140 kW solar PV
system on its University Center South facility, and a 30 kW PV system at the
campus Engineering Building.
kW solar system, including two solar-powered EV charging stations, have
been installed at the Twin Hills Unified School District in Sebastopol,
The Laredo Bus Facility in Decatur, GA has installed a 1.2
MW solar canopy, which is the second largest at U.S. transit system
according to a press release from Suniva.
The East Mesa Detention Center in San Diego, CA installed a 1
MW solar parking canopy this week.
The array is expected to save $1.3 million in energy costs over the
twenty-year power purchase agreement.
San Diego County has installed eleven other solar arrays at other county
facilities, including the North County Regional
Center, Fallbrook Community Center and Ramona Library.
Toms River Regional
School District is in Ocean Beach, NJ is nearing the completion of solar installations on eleven schools and two other buildings
owned by the Board of Education.
This is the second phase of solar projects that the school has
completed. In 2004, the district
installed solar on seven facilities as part of the Smart Schools
Initiative. By replacing the
schools’ roofs at the same time as installing solar, the school estimates that
it saved $5 million. When phase
two is complete, the district will have 6.2 MW of installed solar capacity. The project is estimated to save the
school district $12.15 million in energy costs over the next 15 years.
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Posted By Eric Paul,
Monday, November 21, 2011
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Last week at the Renewable Energy Markets Conference, leading
corporations, renewable energy generators, and utilities gathered to discuss the
state of voluntary and compliance green power and renewable energy certificate
(REC) markets. The conference
demonstrated the growing use of green power by corporations and institutions,
but also highlighted some of the most pressing challenges facing the industry.
Lori Bird from NREL began the conference with some findings
from her recently released Renewable Energy Certificate Status and Trend report. For the first time ever, the compliance
market for RECs was greater than the voluntary market. The compliance market grew rapidly from
less than 30 million megawatt-hours (MWh) in 2009 to 55 million MWH in 2010, in
response to increasing RPS requirements.
In the voluntary market, organizations and individuals purchased 35.6
million MWh of green power. The purchase of voluntary RECs, which had been
growing between 20-75 percent annually, slowed significantly, growing by only
six percent. You can read more
about our analysis of the report here.
In a panel session entitled, "Making the Business Case for
Green Power,” representatives from SC Johnson, WhiteWave Food, and New Leaf
Paper discussed their motivations for purchasing RECs and green power. All of
the panelists mentioned that purchasing RECs was a strategic decision driven by
company and founder values. For New Leaf Paper, green power purchases are an
important part of their overall sustainability effort, which is vital to the
company’s strategy. New Leaf’s
commitment to sustainability has allowed the company to line up large corporate
buyers and grow rapidly with no outside funding, in a low margin industry. For WhiteWave Foods, REC purchases are
a key differentiator of their products. REC purchases are so important to its marketing strategy that
funding comes from the marketing budget.
At SC Johnson, green power purchases are key to meeting organizational
and product sustainability goals. SC Johnson’s green power purchases have helped
to build the company’s reputation, and ranking as one of the top ten green
Another interesting topic of debate at the conference
focused around installing on-site renewable energy versus purchasing off-site
green power. Yet most corporate representatives
at the conference described on-site renewable energy and purchasing green power
as complimentary rather than competing solutions. Organizations are taking a portfolio driven approach to cost
effectively meet sustainability goals.
For many organizations, installing on-site renewables is either too
expensive or restricted by physical limitations (lack of roof space, sunlight,
etc.). Additionally, installing on-site renewable systems can take years to
develop, while RECs can have an immediate impact on a company’s sustainability
efforts. For Intel, RECs are a key
part to the company’s multi-pronged approach to address the company’s energy
use. While Intel has installed
on-site renewables, purchasing voluntary RECs allowed Intel to make an
immediate splash and gain recognition from the EPA’s Green Power Partnership.
Multi-Pronged Clean Energy Management Strategy
The conference also featured a number of interesting panel
sessions and conversations around the challenges facing organizations looking
to purchase and install green power. Bob Valair of Staples expressed the difficulties of
dealing with different regulators and utilities across different locations. A number of panelists also noted that
the lack of legislative certainty around carbon and energy has prevented them
from making long-term REC purchases. Perhaps the biggest issue discussed was the low price
of voluntary RECs. At less than
$1/MWh, many panelists are concerned about how well voluntary RECs are actually
helping to stimulate development of renewable energy in the market.
Voluntary Renewable Energy Certificate Prices
Yet the underlying trends motivating corporations to
purchase green power are likely to intensify in the coming years, including enterprise
sustainability, rising energy prices, consumer environmental awareness, and
investor demands. Despite the
economic downturn, green power purchases and the number of organizations
purchasing green power continues to grow.
At the same time, as the cost of energy efficiency and renewables technologies
continues to decline, more organizations will make direct investments in reducing
demand, and on-site renewable generation.
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Posted By Eric Paul,
Monday, November 14, 2011
Updated: Monday, November 14, 2011
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heavyweights' latest solar plans
Two of Silicon Valleys most talked about firms; Facebook and
Apple, both had solar projects announced in the past two weeks.
Facebook announced that it will be making is first
investment in solar energy with the installation of a hybrid
solar electric and thermal system at its new Menlo Park headquarters. The cogeneration system from Cogenra
will provide hot water and electricity to the headquarters’ fitness
facility By combining solar PV and water
heating, a cogeneration system can achieve up to 80 percent efficiency compared
to 15 percent for a standard PV system, which helps to increase savings by 60
to 100 percent according to Cogenra.
The system is expected to payback Facebook’s initial investment in less
than five years and displaces 60 percent of the fitness center’s natural gas
Apple on the other hand quietly began working on developing
electric facility at its data center in southern Catawba County, NC. The Charlotte Observer uncovered the
project when permits and other engineering plans were uncovered. The size of the so-called Project
Dolphin Solar Farm has yet to be announced. Apple is currently powering its Austin , TX; Sacramento, CA;
and Cork, Ireland, facilities with 100 percent clean energy.
IKEA installs three new PV systems, now has solar at half of US facilities
With the completion of three
solar pv systems, more than half of the IKEA’s U.S. based stores have
installed solar. A 1 MW, 4,311-module
system was installed at the company’s Draper, UT store. A 941 kW system was installed at New
Haven, MA store, and a 497 kW system was installed at the Portland, OR store. IKEA will own and operate the three
latest installations. In total,
IKEA has solar at twenty-three facilities in the United States with more
projects still being developed this year.
voluntary green power purchases slow in 2010
According to a new report released by NREL,
commercial and institutional voluntary green power purchases slowed in 2010, growing
only six percent. In 2010, corporation
and institutional voluntary green power purchases were shy of 26 million MWh. Retail RECs, which were previously
growing between 20% to 75% annually in previous years, only grew by six percent
as well. However, the number of
organizations purchasing RECs increased by more than 23 percent. The paper attributed the slower growth in
voluntary RECs purchases to the economic downturn or a potential shift from
purchasing RECs to installing more on-site generating facilities.
Source: AltaTerra Research, NREL
Other commercial and
institutional solar announcements
Johnson City, TN has selected ESA Renewables to install and
ground and roof mounted solar facilities of an unannounced size. Twenty-one follow on systems could be
installed later as part of the agreement.
Toray Plastics Inc. has installed a $2 million, 445
kW solar electric system at its 70-acre campus in North Kingstown, RI. The project, which is comprised of
1,650 panels and covers three acres, is the largest in Rhode Island according
to the company’s press release.
The Buccini-Pollin Group and Distributed Sun announced a
partnership to develop and operate rooftop
solar systems on 29 buildings with a capacity up to 1.5 MW in the Concord
and Foulkstone Plaza office parks in Wilmington, DE.
The Phipps Conservatory and Botanical Garden’s Center for
Sustainable Landscapes has become home to a new 125
kW system installed by Energy Independent Solutions with panels from
SolarWorld (pictured below).
Photo courtesy of SolarWorld
O’Hare Airport has joined a growing number of airports around the country
installing solar. Solar electric
panels will be installed on up to 60 acres at the airport.
The City of Phoenix has installed forty-two
pre-fabricated solar parking structures at the Burton Barr Library. The SolarWing parking structures
include solar panels, LED lightings, and can easily incorporate
electric-vehicle charging infrastructure.
Staples and SunEdison announced earlier this month that
since entering into a partnership in 2005,
30 million kWh have been produced on solar systems installed at 33 Staples’
properties in California, Connecticut, Maryland and New Jersey.
The Kent County Commissioners and Board of Education
announced that they will host 1.57
MW of solar electricity to power Kent County High School, Worton Elementary
School and the Kent County Community Center. The ground-mounted system will be built on 10 acres owned by
the Board of Education.
Palmdale School District celebrated the installation
of solar systems at eighteen of the schools twenty-four facilities. Currently, eight of the eighteen
installations have been completed with the remaining systems to be completed by
spring of 2012. When finished the
systems will have a capacity of 5.9 MW.
Three locations in Michigan were chosen at random by CMS
Energy to participate in an experimental advanced renewable energy
kW of solar will be installed at two government facilities in Saginaw and
Jackson, with a third 10 kW system to be installed at a Grand Rapids restaurant.
Jurupa Unified School District in California has entered
into an agreement with Chevron Energy Solutions to install a 2.7
MW solar system and complete a number of energy efficiency projects, which
are expected to save the school district $34 million.
Cheer Stone, Inc.. a leading stone company, will install a 366.6
kW solar electric system at its distribution facility in Anaheim, CA. The $1.8 million project is expected to
be complete in early 2012.
Worldwide, a global electronics recycler and independent distributor of
electronic components, has completed a 234
kW solar system at its Fremont, CA headquarters.
on three solar
farms with a capacity of three megawatts has begun at Edwards Air Force
Base in California.
of a 497
kW system has begun at J&S Wholesale and Rental in Asheboro, NC. J&S will lease a third of its roof
space to Argand Energy Systems for the system, but will not purchase energy
from the system. Progress Energy
Carolinas will purchase the energy and renewable credits as part of its SunSense
Commercial Solar PV Program.
The San Francisco Public Utilities
Commission (SFPUC) headquarters will host 688
solar panels as part of the buildings effort to obtain LEED Platinum
The City of Industry, CA has awarded a contract
to Sunvalley Solar to install 200
Construction is schedule to begin in 2012.
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