American Solar Energy Society’s (ASES) National Solar Home Tour will be this Saturday, October 3 in 7 Michigan communities: Ann Arbor, Chelsea, Flint Area, Lansing Area, Traverse City, West Michigan, and Ypsilanti. GLREA, a state chapter of ASES, assists volunteers who organize local tours. Now in its 20th year, this event offers an opportunity to tour innovative homes and buildings to learn about solar energy, energy efficiency, and sustainable technologies. Specifics at www.glrea.org. Jeremy Zinn’s home shown above is on the Flint Area tour.
Dan Alway, a renewable energy pioneer and strong supporter of GLREA, passed away in late September. Dan had friends in many places, was involved with the Kalamazoo Nature Center, and was a scoutmaster. Dan was always willing to share his alternative energy expertise at workshops and was respected by all his peers. GLREA has set up a scholarship in Dan’s name and contributions can be made at www.glrea.org.
Hunter Energy Resources believes that going solar is about more than just installing panels on roofs. It is about being both fiscally and environmentally responsible. When you go solar you join a rapidly growing community of people who are proud to be creating a better future for themselves and the world. During a free design site visit and consultation, Hunter Energy will provide you with information about a custom, turn-key solar solution for your home or business. For more information: www.hunterenergyresources.com, facebook – hunterenergyresources
twitter – @hunterenergy
Michigan State University plans to outfit five of its parking lots with solar parking bays. The solar array is expected to generate 10 MW, roughly 1/6 the amount used on campus during peak hours. The parking bays will have more than 13 feet of clearance, meaning RVs will still be able to park under them during weekend tailgates. The cost of the array is estimated to be between $25 and $30 million. More details.
Dow Chemical is bringing an updated version of its solar energy shingles to select U.S. markets early next year. Powerhouse Solar System 2.0 will feature waterproofing integration with common roofing materials and fewer roof penetrations. More details.
Michigan Agency for Energy is the first energy agency in the nation to use Property Assessed Clean Energy (PACE) financing. PACE allows up-front financing of energy improvements that will be paid back by the property owners over time. The improvements that the Michigan Agency for Energy paid for cost $437,000, but are expected to save taxpayers $800,000 over the next 20 years. Improvements include a 20 kW solar array, electric vehicle charging stations, occupancy light sensors and upgrades to LED lights. More details.
MSU Student Solar Design Competition will award $10,000 in total prize money for first, second and third place and is open to undergraduate and graduate students from any Michigan college. Competition registration will close on Oct. 31 and submissions are due Nov. 25. Submissions will be evaluated for creativity, design, application and entrepreneurship. http://energyinnovationaward.msu.edu.
University of Michigan Researchers, inspired by the Japanese art of kirigami, have created a lattice-like cell that can stretch like an accordion, allowing it to tilt along the sun’s trajectory and capture more energy. The kirigami cells are made of flexible, thin-film gallium arsenide strips that have been cut in a simple, two-dimensional pattern. When the cells are stretched, the pattern pops out and allows them to become three-dimensional, tracking the sun over a radius of about 120 degrees. The patterned film can collect 30% more solar energy than conventional cells, but would need to be about twice as big. The kirigami panels wouldn’t look any different from conventional ones. The stretchy parts would be sandwiched between two surfaces, like a triple-paned window. The UM paper only demonstrates proof of concept. More details.
V-Max USA, a Southfield-based battery company, is planning to build a new Ypsilanti Township facility that will allow it to expand the solar part of its business. The company specializes in high-tech batteries using AGM technology, not battery acid, that provides 10 to 20 times the life of traditional batteries. The 24-year-old company started designing solar panels and packages in 2005 and now needs more space for research, design and shipping. More details.
Victor Leabu is one of 23 owners of hydro power plants in Michigan who are concerned that utilities plan to cut payments for power purchases by nearly half. White’s Bridge Hydro Co. in Lowell has a 32-year power purchase agreement that expires in 2016. The small 750 kW hydro plant has been operated since 1984 and the existing contract with Consumers Energy pays 7.1 cents per kWh. Utilities want to offer 4.5 cents per kWh for new contracts. The power purchasing contracts with hydro and biomass plants are required under a 1978 federal law called PURPA, the Public Utility Regulatory Power Act. Qualified generators can be paid avoided costs and avoided costs could be based on a combined-cycle gas plant at 7 cents per kWh. More details.
Ontonagon County Rural Electrification Assoc. in the UP has notified 20 net metering members that the co-op would no longer purchase their excess electricity at retail prices. Instead, the member-owned co-op will purchase excess electricity from its net metering customers at wholesale rates “minus line loss” — a difference of nearly 10 cents per kWh. The co-op’s leaders were not able to provide exact figures to justify the change, saying they are still studying the issue. More details.
DTE Energy has opened Michigan’s largest solar power facility. The 1.1 MW solar project is located on the grounds of the Domino’s Farms office complex in Ann Arbor Township. It consists of more than 4,000 panels and is part of SolarCurrents, a pilot program launched in 2009. DTE has installed 11 MW of solar energy across 23 sites. More details.
Sustainable Communities Champion awards were made at the EcoWorks 7th annual breakfast. 2015 awardees were Malik Yakini (Exec. Dir., Detroit Black Community Food Security Network), Soulardarity, John Viera (Dir., Sustainability and Vehicle Environmental Matters, Ford Motor), and Jim Newman (Managing Partner of Newman Consulting Group). More details.
SunSpec Alliance, University of California-San Diego, and Solar City have launched a project to test an emerging standard for advanced inverter functionality. It’s the first real-world test of a technology set to be mandated for all new solar and battery projects in California in 2016. Funded by a $2 million California Energy Commission grant, the $4 million project will run interoperability tests featuring inverters from 7 different manufacturers — ABB, SMA, KACO, Outback, SolarEdge, Enphase and Ideal Power. Starting late this year, each company will submit their smart inverters, along with chosen battery and solar integration partners, to testing by UCSD. More details.
Brooklyn’s Red Hook neighborhood, which spent a week in the dark after Hurricane Sandy hit in 2012, is planning to use a mix of solar panels, battery storage, and small wind turbines to create a microgrid that can power local apartment buildings, businesses and a community center, as well as ensure the neighborhood can successfully endure another big storm. New York State has approved preliminary plans for 83 microgrids. The Red Hook project has won a $100,000 state grant for a feasibility study. The second phase of the state program will begin accepting proposals in November and provides grants of $1 million. More details.
HydroRevolution has announced that they have filed a Direct Public Offering to finance the construction of a solar thermal powered desalination plant in California’s Central Valley. Water produced by the plant will be purchased by local water agencies for deliveries beginning in late 2016. It will be the largest solar thermal desalination plant in North America. More
Village of Minster, a small municipal utility in Ohio, will be piloting one of the first solar+storage systems designed to take advantage of multiple revenue streams. The system, 7 MW of lithium-ion batteries linked to a 4.3 MW solar array, will manage peak energy demand, defer transmission and distribution upgrades, and add backup power for the municipal utility while also generating revenue through participating in the PJM frequency regulation market. More details.
Solar and Sustainable Home Tours will be held on Saturday, October 3 in Ann Arbor, Chelsea, Flint Area, Lansing Area, Traverse City, West Michigan, and Ypsilanti. Meet your neighbors and learn about their experiences with solar, energy efficiency, and other green practices. www.glrea.org
Novi Sustainable Homes, hosted by Sustainable Novi, will be held on Oct. 3rd, 9 AM to Noon at the Novi Civic Center, 45175 W. 10 Mile Road. This event will provide information to residents on how to improve the energy efficiency of their home, use renewable energy, and obtain energy efficiency rebates. The event will highlight local companies. https://www.facebook.com/SustainableNovi/
Michigan Interfaith Power & Light’s 10th Annual Sustainability Conference will be held on October 9 at Peoples Church in East Lansing. The conference will provide attendees with actionable information about sustainability, energy efficiency, and renewable energy. More details.
Keeping Pace with Energy Efficiency in Michigan will be held on Oct. 13, 3-6 pm at University Center, NMC in Traverse City. A panel will discuss how PACE financing can be used to upgrade facilities. Register here.
Community Solar in the Lansing Area presentation will be on October 15, 6-7 pm at Michigan Energy Options in East Lansing. John Kinch will discuss the Community Solar options that are available to LBW&L customers. There will be a networking hour from 5-6 pm.
West Michigan Sustainable Business Forum will present its 2015 Fall Conference on October 19, 11:30 am to 4:30 pm, at City Flats in downtown Grand Rapids. Featured speakers include Rob Kaplan, Managing Director of the Closed Loop Fund, Janelle Kearsley, Senior Director of Stakeholder Engagement for Walmart, Bill Stough of Sustainable Research Group, and Liese Dallbauman, former Director of Water Stewardship for PepsiCo. Learn more and register here.
Michigan Advanced Lighting Conference will be held on Oct. 29 at the Radisson Lansing. This annual event is where end users, service providers and manufacturers come together to learn, share ideas, conduct business, and explore the latest technology.
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