All Posts Tagged With: "solar energy"

The Weekly Green: Juice for the Journey #12

photo by: Amy Gardner

Week 12

I’d put my money on the sun and solar energy. What a source of power! I hope we don’t have to wait until oil and coal run out before we tackle that. ~ Thomas Edison, 1931

Every generation has its sages and seers. Imagine what our world would be like if Edison had stuck around for another 20 or 30 years. In the last 70 years, we have made some progress towards harnessing the sun’s energy. If you were Edison today, where would you put your money?

More: Learn about the University Park Solar Co-op, the first of its kind in the U.S. These pioneers are paving the way for distributed energy that builds community and generates income.

Read the Weekly Green from Week 11 here.

We always love to hear from you! How juicy is this quote for you?

Shift your mindset from hell to heaven

How does the BP oil disaster affect our businesses? Its effects on businesses in the Gulf are obvious. As a savvy business owner, do you see its effects on your own? Sometimes the answer is so close, we just can’t see it.

As one way to light a candle, rather than curse the darkness, I offer this mindset shift.

In Ian McEwan’s book, “Solar,” a physicist tells the story of a man living in a rainy forest. The man is terribly thirsty. He has been cutting down trees to get at the sap, so he can quench his thirst. The destruction all around him is evidence of his desperate quest to find something to drink. Sure, he could just tilt up his head, open his mouth and let the rain in. Or he could make a bowl to catch the rain. But he’s just so good at cutting down trees. So that’s what he continues to do.

It’s an allegory of our quest for energy: we go to greater and greater lengths to dig up ancient trees and sunlight in the form of fossil fuels. And yet, the earth receives more energy from the sun in just one hour than the world uses in a whole year. But we are just so good at pulling up fossil fuels. So that’s what we continue to do.

One great distinction I’ve heard recently (in Tom Friedman’s book, “Hot, Flat, and Crowded“) is between fuels from hell (fossil fuels from the earth’s fiery crust) and fuels from heaven (solar, wind from the sky). We are living in such an interesting time; this shift from hell to heaven is taking place NOW.

To help you take advantage of this shift and contribute to your business success, here are:

Three tips to shift from hell to heaven

Tip #1: Measure Thyself. There’s that old adage, you can’t manage what you don’t measure. Awareness is the first step towards positive change. Your local utility very likely has a program to support businesses in reducing energy use. An audit is the best first step, as it gives you a baseline to measure progress.

Tip #2: Get Smart. Reduce your energy use as much as possible. Two suggestions: 1) Go around your office and plug everything into smart strips. Turn off strips with equipment that’s not in use. This goes for cell-phone chargers and anything with a bulky box at the plug end. These items use energy even when the device is turned off. 2) Lighting retrofits can save buckets of money. Contact a company like Alliance Energy Solutions for turn-key service. They package tax credits and other incentives, even zero-interest loans if you qualify, to make it very affordable. Then, you get to sit back and enjoy the savings from your new, highly efficient lighting.

Tip #3: Welcome the Sun. Two suggestions: 1) Buy Renewable Energy Credits (REC’s), either via your utility or through a third party like Clean Currents or WindCurrent. RECs go to fund wind turbines and solar installations that sell clean energy to the grid. 2) If you own your building, look into putting solar panels on the roof. Most solar installers offer pricing packages that roll in the various incentives from local, state, and federal programs. In some states, this makes the price of solar very attractive.

Were these tips helpful? Let us know. We’d love to hear what else you’re doing to welcome the sun.

Constellation Energy Commits $90 Million to Solar

photo: Business Wire
One way that businesses can implement green projects is to partner with entities offering incentives. Not just government, but also industry — in particular, utilities — have been getting into the act. The Mid-Atlantic has been long overdue for such programs.

Constellation Energy (NYSE:CEG) announced February 16 that it will support the development of commercial photovoltaic power systems with a $90 million solar capital commitment. To maximize the value of government renewable incentives, the $90 million set-aside will be available for customer-sited solar installations of 500 kilowatts or larger which begin construction before mid-year 2010.

“Constellation Energy’s solar capital commitment provides the resources to make photovoltaic power a simple and economical proposition for commercial and governmental customers who want to support clean, renewable energy at their facilities,” said Michael D. Smith, senior vice president of green initiatives for Constellation NewEnergy. “Our solar business model gives customers a single source for every step of the process, from financing to planning and permitting, construction and long-term maintenance of the system. By working with Constellation Energy, customers can make meaningful and immediate impacts on their carbon and sustainability goals.”

The capital commitment enables Constellation Energy to finance, design, construct and own solar installations for customers and supply the power generated on-site to the customer. This structure makes it possible for customers to deploy on-site solar and meet sustainability goals without incurring upfront costs. Approximately $18 million of the capital commitment has already been committed to projects soon to begin development in Maryland and New Jersey.

Constellation Energy has committed to expanding solar project development over the next several years. The company currently has approximately 25 megawatts of solar power systems installed or under way in the U.S., ranging from customer-sited rooftop installations to a 17.1-megawatt large-scale project in Emmitsburg, Md., that will be among the largest in the U.S.

Constellation Energy has developed photovoltaic installations for retailers, manufacturers, government facilities and universities nationwide, with a focus on projects in Maryland, New Jersey, Massachusetts, Pennsylvania and California where solar incentives and credits make development particularly attractive for customers financially. Solar renewable energy credits (SREC), which are granted to solar projects for every megawatt-hour of electricity produced, help make on site solar projects economically attractive. With SREC values scheduled to decline over time as states require the development of more solar generation, the next several months represent the optimal time to begin construction of on-site solar with the strongest project economics.

Structured correctly, today’s photovoltaic power systems can generate electricity that is priced at or below the cost of power from the grid. Qualifying projects of 500 kilowatts generally require at least 100,000 square feet of roof space or two acres of open ground. Organizations interested in developing solar projects can contact Constellation Energy at Sustainable-Solutions(at) or 1-877-427-2005.

Aurora Energy, Inc.

photo courtesy of: Aurora
Aurora Energy, Inc. is a Columbia, Maryland-based solar-energy company specializing in solar thermal and solar electric installations. Its website includes an extensive photo gallery of previous projects, detailing the construction of solar water-heating systems, solar paneling, and solar signage at various residential and commercial sites, both locally and nationally.

One Planet,Ours! Sustainability for the 22nd Century

photo: unknown
One Planet,Ours! Sustainability for the 22nd Century is an outdoor interactive exhibition now on view until Oct. 13th, in the National Botanic Gardens in DC. The exhibit demonstrates a variety of examples of how systems of sustainability work with demonstrations of; solar cookie baking, a solar water pump, and rainbarrel catchment. You can also visit a strawbale house built by Baltimore’s very own Polly Bart , a strawbale construction specialist working with Builders without Borders . Other programs and lectures are scheduled throughout the exhibition run and are sponsored by non-governmental organizations, government agencies, and individuals who are leading efforts toward sustainable lifestyles.
View a slide show or press videos of the project through their website.