Brown vows to protect existing solar customers while creating an unlimited solar market to meet
Does Senator Lamar Alexander’s energy speech mark a shift in GOP tone?
In a speech at the Oak Ridge National Laboratory, Senator Lamar Alexander (R-TN) lauded distributed solar power, called for more R&D funding of clean technologies, and warned that humans are causing climate change.
The speech was a notable departure from recent GOP rhetoric on clean energy, which has been largely focused on playing up a handful of high-profile bankruptcies and questioning the validity of climate science.
Senator Alexander plays an influential role in Washington when it comes to energy policy. As the ranking member of the Subcommittee on Energy and Water Development, he helps guide how the Department of Energy is funded. The Senator is a major proponent of R&D spending on both cleantech and fossil fuels. He is also very outspoken about energy tax subsidies and commonly uses the term “big wind” in his efforts to repeal the production tax credit for wind.
Alexander’s speech covered many familiar talking points. He worried about the cost of state-level targets for renewable electricity, criticized the government for trying to “pick winners and losers,” and called for eliminating the wind tax credit in favor of more R&D spending.
However, his speech also included a few “maverick” comments that break from current GOP thinking on energy.
Early on in his remarks, Alexander commented on the need to develop low-carbon energy in order to address climate change.
“While the United States has made more gains in reducing the use of carbon than any other industrial country, the National Academies of the U.S. and twelve other countries have warned that human activity has contributed significantly to climate change and global warming,” he said. Alexander then went on to criticize cap-and-trade legislation.
Alexander also criticized state targets for renewable energy, warning they would put “too much reliance on sources that generate power only intermittently” and take up too much land area. However, he pivoted quickly to his support for distributed solar, which he said shows “great promise.”
“There certainly is a place for these renewable technologies, and solar power especially seems to me to have great promise,” said Alexander. “Fortunately, we have plenty of rooftops on which to put solar panels. And when they become cheap enough and aesthetically pleasing enough, they will probably become an increasingly important supplement to our country’s huge appetite for electricity — especially because the sun shines during the peak use hours.”
Throughout last year’s election season, GOP leaders and party allies made solar and other clean technologies a top target in their campaign to unseat President Obama.
Last spring, groups spent more than $10 million on Solyndra attack ads in one month. In July, the party rolled out an interactive website touting debunked claims that Obama’s investments in renewable energy and electric vehicles were outsourcing jobs overseas. And Republican challenger Mitt Romney called Tesla (which recently paid back its loan guarantee) a “failure,” while also proclaiming that federal loan programs were hurting investment in solar.
So does this speech mark a change in tone from the GOP?
In a speech five years ago, Senator Alexander called for more investment in electric vehicles, solar, biofuels and green buildings. Given his past support of such initiatives, Alexander’s latest speech isn’t a dramatic shift for the Senator.
But some Republicans are watching closely to see how it influences others in the party. Michael McKenna, a GOP energy lobbyist, told National Journal that Alexander’s remarks are important for Republican leaders as they consider shifting their platform in the 2016 election cycle.
“Lamar is a pretty interesting guy. Given his swingy nature, lots of people are going to pay attention to what he is saying,” McKenna said.
The political divide between liberals and conservatives over specific policies like tax credits and cap-and-trade may not close anytime soon. But if Alexander’s speech is any indication, Republicans could try to swing back to the center and take up more moderate policy positions like they promoted in the 2008 election, when “climate change” and “renewable energy” were not dirty words.
Source: greentechmedia.com Stephen Lacey: May 30, 2013
(Solar Electrical Systems is proud to have helped the military reach its renewable energy goals. SES installed 2 solar carports at the Los Angeles Air Force Base that provide 360kW of power, and provide shade for over 200 cars. Check out our video of the project at http://www.solarelectricalsystems.com/solar-systems-videos.)
From the battlefield to stateside bases, the U.S. military has proven that solar is reliable.
The Army, Navy and Air Force are using more than 130 megawatts of solar for everything from powering remote special operations to air conditioning and lighting for U.S. base residences. And the forces intend to keep building toward 3 gigawatts of solar capacity by 2025 as part of a much bigger Department of Defense (DOD) commitment.
While detractors were declaring solar too intermittent to be reliable at home, U.S. Marines were successfully relying on it at battlefield sites in the Khyber Pass, according to Enlisting the Sun: Powering the U.S. Military with Solar Energy, a new report from the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA), released just in time for Armed Forces Day on May 18.
The DOD’s annual $20 billion energy budget makes it the biggest single energy consumer in the world.
USC 2911 of DOD’s title 10 Energy Performance Goals, as updated in 2009, requires 25 percent of total military facility energy consumption to come from renewable energy sources by 2025.
Driven by that target, the Navy has installed more than 58 megawatts at or near bases in Washington, D.C. and twelve states. It has plans to exceed the basic plan by obtaining 50 percent of its energy from renewable sources by 2025. Its plans call for 57 percent of its new renewables to be from photovoltaic (PV) solar through 2017.
The Air Force, the military’s biggest energy consumer, has built 38 megawatts of solar capacity operating in 24 states. It will procure 1 gigawatt of renewables by 2016. The plan is for PV to be more than 70 percent of all new Air Force renewable capacity through 2017.
The Army has installed over 36 megawatts of solar installed at bases in sixteen states on its way to procuring 1 gigawatt of renewable capacity. Solar will account for one-third of the Army’s planned renewable capacity additions through 2017.
by Lauren Dansey
We couldn’t be more pleased with our solar pool heating system. We have been swimming since late March, and the pool has been 85 to 90 degrees without turning on the gas heater. But there are some good reasons why we’ve been able to maintain that temperature.
The solar pool heating system heats up the pool during the day, but that heat will be lost at night if you don’t use a pool cover. As you can see from the picture, we cut the bubble cover we got when we built the pool to fit the pool almost exactly. We also bought a pool cover reel to make it easy to put the cover on and off. Without the reel, I think the cover would be too difficult to deal with. Now, it’s one man (or woman) job to put the cover on or off.
We usually end up swimming on the weekends, and just leave the cover on during the week. The pool will usually maintain its temperature over the weekend without the cover. We’ve actually wanted to cool the pool down a little on some of our warmer weekends, and that happens at night without the cover.
For more information about solar pool heating, call us at 805-497-9808, or fill out the contact form on our website.
by Lauren Dansey
The final installation for our two solar pool heating systems was completed last week, and we couldn’t be happier with the performance. We installed two systems, a rooftop system (the dark panels below the solar electrical panels on our roof), and an in-deck pool heating system (underneath the concrete around the pool.) The system begins to pump warm water into the pool as early as 8am, and continues until late in the afternoon. (We do have an ideal south-facing roof.) We set the desired temperature, and a separate pump operates whenever the water in the solar panels is hotter than the pool temperature. It shuts off when the desired temperature is reached. The system pumps out an amazing amount of hot water — the kids are getting exercise by positioning themselves where the water comes into the pool and swimming against the current.
The in-deck pool heating system has an added advantage, also. The concrete around the pool used to be too hot to walk on during hot afternoons, but now with the cooler water circulating underneath it, the concrete is much cooler. The heat is carried to the pool.
The goal is to not use the pool heater at all. We’re going to be careful to use a pool cover at night when the weather gets colder, and between that and the solar, we’ll see how warm we can keep the pool.
For more information about solar pool heating, call us at 805-497-9808, or fill out the contact sheet on our website.
by Lauren Dansey
Solar Electrical Systems of Westlake Village, CA, has completed solar carport installations for two 500-unit apartment complexes in the area, eliminating their $2,000 monthly electric bills.
New carports totaling 75kW were installed at the Biltmore Apartments in Thousand Oaks, CA. New carport structures were built, taking advantage of the 30% federal tax credit for the solar electrical system, carports, new lighting and paving, and new electrical systems. In fact, rebates and tax incentives paid for 85% of the project. The solar electrical system will save the owners over $4 million over the system’s lifetime, and also improve parking, security, and storage on the property.
At Oakview Apartments in Westlake Village, CA, 53kW of solar panels were mounted on existing carport structures. Leaky roofs on the structures were removed and replaced with new roofs when the solar system was installed, again taking advantage of the 30% federal tax credit, with rebates and tax incentives paying for over 77% of the project. The new system will save the owners over $1 million over the next 25 years.
Solar Electrical Systems is the most experienced solar design and installation company in Southern California, and has helped customers reduce or eliminate their electric bills since 1978. For more information on commercial or residential solar electricity, radiant heat, solar hot water, and solar pool heating, contact Solar Electrical Systems in Westlake Village, CA at 805-497-9808 or visit solarelectricalsystems.com.
by Lauren Dansey
As the next step in our in-deck solar pool heating adventure, concrete was poured over the solar heating tubes. When the concrete was poured, workers made sure that the tubes were approximately 2″ below the concrete surface. This maximizes the heat that is transferred to the tubes, without the possibility of the tubes showing in the concrete.
To the right is the finished pool and deck. The concrete gets very hot in the direct sun, so we’re looking forward to turning on the solar. We can’t turn the heat or solar heating on until a month has passed so the pool surface can cure, but the temperature without heating is a very comfortable 85 degrees. The rooftop pool solar and in-deck solar heating will allow us to extend our swim season year-round, without increasing our utility bill. I’ll bring you an update when the solar is turned on and let you know how it affects our heating bill.
Below you can see the rooftop solar pool heating panels on the roof, below the solar electrical (PV) panels. We used ten 4 ft. by 8 ft. Heliocol panels. They are shorter than the normal Heliocol panels, designed for roofs that don’t have room for the larger panels. Solar pool heating is the most cost-effective use of solar in your home, with a return on investment of just 2-4 years. We’re looking forward to swimming into the fall.
By Lauren Dansey
The installation of our in-deck solar heating system is progressing. The forms for the concrete were put in place, and then solar tubing was coiled where the cement will be poured. As you can see from the pictures, as much tubing was put into the cement forms as possible. The tubing should be about 2″ below the finished surface. Darker deck surfaces work better for better heat absorption.
Deck coverage should be about 200 percent of the pool surface area, but we’re just putting in a small system to augment the Heliocol solar pool heating system that will go on the roof.
In-deck solar pool heating is appropriate for pool decks, tennis courts, driveways and sport courts. It will also cool your deck or tennis court when the cool water is pumped through the tubing.
Call us for more information on in-deck solar pool heating, rooftop solar pool heating, solar electricity, radiant heating, and solar domestic hot water. We can show you how to reduce your home’s utility bills, and extend your family’s swim season without paying more to heat your pool.
By Lauren Dansey
At our home in Westlake Village, we power our home with a dual solar electrical system. A 9.2kW Kyocera system is on the roof, and we also have a 3.2kW patio cover system. Because of these two systems, we don’t pay an electric bill, and when we recently decided to put in a pool, we were concerned about the added cost each month to heat it. Our home, our car, and our business are all powered by solar, so we thought it was only natural to heat our pool with it.
We have a small yard, so we’re only putting about 100 square feet of concrete around the pool, but we decided to put in a small in-deck pool heating system. Tubes are put into the concrete when it’s poured, and water is circulated through the tubes. When the cement heats up, it heats up the water, and that warm water is circulated to the pool. The cool water running through the cement (before it heats up) also serves to cool down the concrete slightly. This system works well for people who are putting in new cement and don’t have a lot of room on their roof for a rooftop pool solar heating system. We’re also considering adding some rooftop pool solar. There’s not a lot of room because of the solar electrical system, but Heliocol now has some small rooftop panels available. Between that and the in-deck system, we should be able to cut our pool heating bill substantially.
We will post updates and pictures on the installation as it progresses.