Friday, May 20, 2011

Why We Use Enphase Microinverters

Microinverters are a relatively new technology. They are an innovative advancement on the traditional “gang “or “string” inverter. An inverter functions to convert the DC energy from the sun into AC energy that we Americans use within our homes. Before microinverters were around, a string of panels on the roof of your house was connected to one inverter on the side of your house. If one of the panels had a performance issue from shading, bird droppings, or any other type of malfunction, the whole string of panels connected to that shared gang inverter would go down and stop producing power until the issue was resolved. Even worse, to figure out which panel had the issue you had to physically inspect each and every panel.

But now, by using microinverters that are wired on the backs of panels, each panel is independent of one another.

If a panel using a microinverter has a performance issue, only that specific panel will stop producing power. Even better, the microinverter functions as a unique tracking device, and with Enphase’s innovative Enlighten remote software monitoring package, all panels with microinverters are continually sending performance data to Enphase employees who are paid to make sure your solar array is always producing the optimum level of power. When an issue arises, 9 times out of 10 the problem can be resolved by sending a simple reboot signal to the microinverter. But even if that doesn't work, you don't have to spend countless hours troubleshooting each and every panel. The microinverter is self-identifying.

Enphase even has a 100% uptime guarantee that states they will reimburse eligible customers 100% of the cost of any energy lost due to the malfunction of one of their microinverters, for up to 30 days, and based on a reimbursement rate of 20 cents per kWh (the average GA utility customer pays 12 cents per kWh and members of the GA Power Solar Buyback Program are paid 17 cents per kWh of generated renewable energy). The microinverters come with a 15 year limited warrantee and have been laboratory tested under simulated conditions to work for over 100 years!

Friday, April 29, 2011

Cumming, GA Sees Another BIG Solar Installation

Image credit - AJC

Some wording borrowed from AJC and Forsyth County News

Most everyone has heard of cutting a ceremonial ribbon to welcome new facilities, but how about a power cord? That's exactly what one south Forsyth business did to officially roll out the second largest commercial solar energy array in Georgia.

DataScan Technologies LLC, a subsidiary of JM Family Enterprises Inc., now has the capacity to capture and convert sunlight to create an estimated 285,500 kilowatt hours of electricity each year.

To symbolize the impact on the firm's electricity bill, company leaders cut a yellow electrical cord instead of a red ribbon during a dedication ceremony Tuesday.

DataScan Technologies is a global leader in wholesale finance accounting and risk management systems and services. It employs about 500, including some 200 at the local center.

Brent Sergot, vice president of DataScan, said officials began developing ways to reduce the data center's environmental impact about a year ago. He said the solar array, which is more than 24,000 square feet and housed on the center's roof, has the capacity to produce electricity equal to that used by some 25 standard residential homes each year.

It would take 377,000 pounds of coal or 477 barrels of oil to produce that much energy.

Colin Brown, president of JM Family Enterprises, thanked state leaders for approving Georgia's Clean Energy Tax Credit legislation during the past legislative session. The previous cap of $2.5 million dollars per year for solar projects was increased to $5 million dollars during an eleventh hour meeting.

"Without a partnership with the state of Georgia, this would not have happened," Brown said. "We're headquartered in the sunshine state of Florida, but Florida offers no energy credits.

"Georgia is on the fore-front in leadership in this area. You're having a great impact on the environment while also creating jobs."

Estimates from the Georgia Environmental Finance Authority and the Georgia Solar Energy Association indicate the solar industry in 2010 had about 450 direct and indirect jobs, which generated about $1.3 million in withholding taxes.

DataScan's solar array features nearly 1,200 glass modules, which absorb sunlight and can withstand winds up to 130 mph. The modules are also hail-resistant.

The array, produced by California-based solar systems manufacturer Solyndra, is arranged on the roof to avoid shadows.

Officials said the $2 million investment in the array should be returned in about seven years through reduced power costs.

The short-term goal is to lower the data center's energy consumption by 10 percent in 2011.
Several state and local elected officials attended Tuesday's dedication.

Forsyth Commissioner Todd Levent called the project "absolutely on target."

"I'm all for the whole concept of getting away from foreign oil," he said. "With a seven-and-a-half-year return on their investment, this makes a lot of sense.

"It's nice to know Georgia is leading the way with environmental incentives."

Another business in Dawsonville recently went solar on their rooftop due to the lucrative tax incentives and solar energy repurchase agreements that are currently offered from local utility companies.

A display in the lobby of DataScan Technologies shows how much electricity a newly-installed solar array is generating. Local officials toured the south Forsyth facility during a "power-cord-cutting" ceremony Tuesday. Below, DataScan Facilities Manager Dennis Arserio, right, shows Forsyth County Commissioner Todd Levent some of the technology used in the solar array.

Company officials and guests gather on the roof of DataScan Technology on Tuesday to view the company's new solar power system.

'Georgia is on the forefront in leadership in this area. You're having a great impact on the environment while also creating jobs. Colin Brown President, JM Family Enterprises. 'I'm all for the whole concept of getting away from foreign oil. With a seven-and-a-half-year return on their investment, this makes a lot of sense.'

Other local solar developments include a solar carport and solar powered EV charging station that is currently being constructed by Atlanta mogul Ted Turner, a 48-acre landfill that is being converted into a solar power plant, and another 30 acre lot near Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport that will include 4,000 solar covered parking spaces.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Ted Turner IS Captain Planet

Article source: AJC

I failed you, Atlanta. I sat down to interview Ted Turner last week with one main goal: to get an answer to a question that several local business and political leaders have been asking themselves lately.

The question: How can Atlanta get its mojo back? Big ideas like going after the Olympics and building Hartsfield-Jackson have largely been responsible for turning the metro area into what it is today. But to our detriment over the past several years — to this very day — there has not been a big idea capturing our imagination.

So who better to ask about what the next big idea might be than a visionary like Turner?

He wouldn’t bite.

“I’m not a business consultant,” he said.

I asked the question a few different ways, but his head and heart are elsewhere now — on tackling nuclear disarmament, containing population growth and reducing global warming by investing in alternative energy.

Turner, 72, argued that making the globe a better place benefits Atlanta, too.
“The last time I checked, Atlanta was on the planet Earth,” he said.

Intellectually, he’s right, of course. Still, I can’t forget how much of an impact he had in helping turn around a struggling downtown Atlanta — CNN Center, Turner Field, Philips Arena and the Turner Entertainment complex beside the Downtown Connector are examples.

I covered Turner for this newspaper during part of the 1990s, and I know that several of his advisers told him there were greener pastures in the suburbs. But Turner would have no part of it.

“God knows what would have happened to Atlanta if we moved to the suburbs,” he said.
Now, however, Turner only spends about 10 percent of his time here as he tackles some of the planet’s biggest messes with his money — a running total of $1.5 billion to the U.N. and a variety of environmental and anti-nuclear causes — and his mouth.

“My top priority is nuclear weapons because they can end it all in an afternoon,” he said. “There’s going to be a nuclear-weapons accident,” he predicted, similar to the nuclear power plant disaster in Japan.

Unstable governments with nuclear weapons, such as Pakistan’s, threaten the world, he said.

“We need to get rid of all nuclear weapons immediately,” he said. He knows that’s not going to happen but sees his role as pushing the envelope.

That same style takes hold when he talks about our reliance on oil and coal.
“The days of fossil fuels are over,” he said. “The trouble is we’re going to run out of atmosphere first.”

Turner is involved with promoting clean energy, favoring solar, wind and geothermal projects. He has reservations about natural gas and opposes the resurgence of nuclear power.

“Who wants to have a nuclear power plant in their backyard today?”

In the side yard of Turner Enterprises downtown — the parking lot — he has installed solar panels to help power the building. (I can’t criticize him for overlooking Atlanta on that score.)

“I think clean, reliable energy should be our top priority,” he said. The federal government should phase out subsidies for the fossil fuel industry, he believes, and transfer that money to beefing up alternative energy sources.

He recently teamed up with Atlanta-based Southern Co. and the local power cooperative serving Cimarron, N.M., on a big solar project there.

Speaking of teams, I asked if he had an interest in becoming a sports owner again, since the Thrashers are for sale and he was instrumental in bringing pro hockey back to Atlanta. There have been persistent rumors about the Thrashers ending up in Canada as the Flames did, negating Turner’s efforts from 15 years ago.

“No, I’ve done sports — been there, done that,” he said.

(During his quest for an NHL franchise back then, I once threatened to stop a Manhattan elevator right before Turner was heading into a closed-door meeting if he didn’t give me a quote to pacify my editor. “Ted, I’m not going to get fired over you,” I remember telling him. “OK, OK,” he replied, before telling me what was going on.)

I couldn’t end the interview without asking what business accomplishment he considers his most significant. I thought he might say the influence he had on other wealthy business people to give away their money, which a lot more are doing these days.

Instead, Turner cited an Atlanta icon.

“Of my business accomplishments, I’m proudest of CNN because it brought information to people who were deprived. … There are 99 24-hour news networks in the world today. … It’s amazing. When we started, there were zero.”

From Henry Unger, The Biz Beat - AJC

Friday, April 15, 2011

Green And Growing In East Dublin, GA

Quitting time on Nathaniel Drive once meant traffic, bumper to bumper, from the bridge spanning the Oconee River into Dublin back to the textile plants that spun the fabric of a thriving local economy. Now, Nathaniel is a lonely, almost lifeless 3.5-mile stretch of five-laned blacktop. Weeds and grass grow tall through cracks in the parking lot at the former Forstmann plant, once Laurens County's largest employer with 1,500 workers.

A few weeks ago, wrecking crews began leveling the mill, which closed in 2007, looking to salvage whatever steel remains after the equipment followed jobs out the door. Company could make Dublin "green and growing" again Wray, the county's lead economic developer, is optimistic of a turnaround. The economic development authority is "busier than we've ever been." Officials have hosted 10 official visits by new industry prospects since January, he said. "We're excited. We're busy. The projects we're working are about $1.3 billion worth of investment - and that is with a 'B.' ... The activity, the looks we're getting, they're really quality projects. They're quality jobs with well-run companies. "We're close on several of them," Wray said. "It's a matter of the companies pulling the trigger." Targeted industries include aerospace, clean-tech, light manufacturing, wood aggregate and distribution companies. "We look very specifically at whether a business is propped up by government subsidies," Wray said. "A business propped up by government subsidies might not be the best business to go after. You never know when they might go away."

Interest has been generated with wind, solar and wood pellet-burning energy companies, and the Dublin area's potential for alternative energy prospects might have some jokingly considering a change in motto.

"Our slogan is 'green and growing,' " said Wray. "People have started to use 'green and sustainable.' "

One of the area's top selling points is location. Interstate 16 knifes through the heart of the county, which sits midway between Atlanta and Savannah, a two-hour drive to both. That access to the world's busiest airport - Hartsfield-Jackson in Atlanta - and the country's fastest-growing port was a major plus in landing the Germany-based MAGE Solar's new North American headquarters. "They could bring product into the port," Wray said, "and they could make a direct flight from Atlanta to Stuttgart, near their headquarters."

The county, he said, offers a "low cost of doing business with a high-quality of life." It is a drawing area for nine to 12 counties. "Before the recession, it was probably nine counties, but people are willing to drive further for employment," Wray said. "We're drawing from a much larger labor pool." Laurens County, which according to the 2010 Census has about 48,000 residents, has a workforce of about 22,000. Factor in the surrounding counties, Wray said, and the number of available workers is closer to 80,000. "The people who come here to work already come here to shop," he said. "They already come here to go to the doctor." The development authority owns about 600 acres, with utilities, to offer prospects, and it also has partners with available land, Wray said.

MAGE Solar has moved into the former Rockwell Automation plant, which announced in 2009 that it would close, leaving 145 people out of work. The solar panel maker actually shared the facility on Dublin's Industrial Boulevard with Rockwell for three months last year. The company already has launched and expanded its "Solar Academy" operation and has hired 40 employees, mostly management, sales and engineering personnel.

Production lines are being installed, and, after test runs, the plant could begin manufacturing solar energy panels by the end of May, said MAGE Solar spokeswoman Susanne Fischer-Quinn. The company plans to hire 350 employees within five years, she said. It also has bought additional land at the site for possible expansion.

We are proud to say the solar panels we offer at Energy Roofing Systems come from the local MAGE facility in Dublin. We are committed to investing in our local communites whenever possible.

MARTA Puts On Green-A-Palooza Featuring Solar Canopy

Source: AJC

MARTA hosts a Green-A-Palooza at the Edgewood/Candler Park Rail Station from 3 to 6 p.m. today. Featuring entertainment and giveaways, attendees will learning why mass transit is a good way to protect the planet. There will also be an introduction to MARTA’s “green” project, a federally funded Laredo Bus Facility solar canopy installation currently under construction. Once completed, it will be the largest structure of its kind in Georgia and the second largest at a U.S. transit system.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Dalton now the ‘solar energy capital’ of Georgia?

Source: GB Chronicle

With Phase I of his company’s 1 megawatt photovoltaic project near Dalton already generated electricity, United Renewable Energy’s Bill Silva has declared my hometown the “capital” of something other than what it’s best-known for. We have over 1 MW of installed solar capacity in Dalton, the ‘carpet capital,’ which is now the solar energy capital of Georgia,” says Silva, president of the Alpharetta-based solar integrator. Silva was prepping today for yet another celebratory photo op Wednesday at what I’m pretty sure is the largest single photovoltaic project now under development in Georgia. Phase I is generating 350 mw already, and the project is planned to completed over the next three years in two more phases. The project is owned by Georgia Power, which then is selling the energy to municipally owned Dalton Utilities. Other relatively large users of solar electricity in the Dalton area include carpet manufacturing plants.

Monday, April 11, 2011

Solar Inches Closer To $1 Per Watt

Source: Renewable Energy World Rapid growth in solar photovoltaics has brought installation costs within sight of $1 per watt for large projects and closer to competing with fossil fuels.