The SunShot Prize aims to decrease in the soft costs associated with small-scale solar energy systems by more than 65%.
As part of the Energy Department’s SunShot Initiative, the Department on September 12 announced the start of a new competition to make it faster, easier, and cheaper to install rooftop solar energy systems. The SunShot Prize makes a total of $10 million in cash awards available to the first three teams that consistently demonstrate that the non-hardware costs, or price to plug in, can be as low as $1 per watt
for small-scale photovoltaic (PV) systems installed on American homes and businesses. This target represents a decrease in the “soft costs” of solar energy systems—including permitting, licensing, connecting to the grid, and other non-hardware costs—by more than 65%. The winning teams will demonstrate that solar energy is an affordable solution for families and businesses in the United States.
The SunShot Prize is meant to inspire innovative, sustainable, and verifiable business practices that reduce soft costs to $1/W. Achieving this target will bring the SunShot goal of $0.60/W for residential system soft costs within reach by the end of the decade. During Phase I of the competition, winning teams will successfully deploy 5,000 small-scale (2–15 kilowatt) rooftop PV systems with non-hardware costs averaging $1/W. Phase II, which is intended to assess the business sustainability of the winning teams, calls for the installation of an additional 1,000 qualifying systems.
The competition will run through 2015.The first-place winner will receive $7 million, second place will receive $2 million, and third place will receive $1 million for successfully achieving the competition’s goals. In addition to the cash award, the first-place team will officially become “The Winner of America’s Most Affordable Rooftop Solar” prize. The SunShot Initiative is a collaborative national effort to make solar energy cost-competitive with other forms of energy by the end of the decade. See the Energy Department press release
and SunShot Prize website
ORPC’s TidGen power system, shown in this rendering, has begun delivering power to the grid from Cobscook Bay, Maine.
The first grid-connected tidal power project in the United States project is now delivering electricity to the utility grid from an underwater power system in Cobscook Bay, Maine. Bangor Hydro Electric Company verified on September 13 that electricity generated by an underwater turbine generator is flowing to their power grid from Ocean Renewable Power Company’s (ORPC) Cobscook Bay Tidal Energy Project. The project is funded by a $10 million investment from the Energy Department, as well as the Maine Technology Institute and private investors.
The device, called a TidGen, is designed to operate in shallow tidal or deep river sites at depths of 50 to 100 feet , and has a peak output of 180 kilowatts. That amount is enough electricity to power 25 to 30 homes annually. In April, the Maine Public Utilities Commission approved a 20-year power purchase agreement for ORPC’s Maine Tidal Energy Project (which includes the Cobscook Bay Project) with three utilities: Central Maine Power, Bangor Hydro Electric, and Maine Public Service. Two additional TidGen devices will be installed at ORPC’s Cobscook Bay Project site in the fall of 2013, and together, the three-device power system will generate enough energy to power 75 to 100 homes. The devices connect directly to an onshore substation through a single underwater transmission line. See the ORPC press release Web page
, the May 9 edition of EERE Network News
, and the Energy Department Water Power Program website
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) on September 14 set the amount of bio-diesel products required to be included in diesel fuel markets in 2013 at 1.28 billion gallons. Biobased diesel products are advanced bio-fuels that are derived from sources such as vegetable oils and wastes oils from renewable sources.
The Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007 established the second phase of the Renewable Fuel Standards program that specifies a one billion-gallon minimum volume requirement for the biomass-based diesel category for 2012 and beyond. The law also calls on EPA to increase the volume requirements after consideration of environmental, market, and energy-related factors. See the EPA press release
and the Renewable Fuels Standard Web page
The Solar Decathlon Europe 2012, a complementary competition to the U.S. Department of Energy Solar Decathlon, which challenges collegiate teams to design, build, and operatre solar-powered houses that are cost-effective, energy-efficient, and attractive, began on September 14 in Madrid, Spain. Teams from 14 countries will participate in this year’s competition, coming from Brazil, China, Denmark, Egypt, France, Germany, Hungary, Italy, Japan, Netherlands, Norway, Romania, Spain, and the United Kingdom. In 2007, the Spanish Ministry of Housing signed an agreement to organize the event, and the first European gathering was in Madrid in 2010.
A combination of task completion, measurement, and jury scoring determined Solar Decathlon Europe’s first champion, Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University. The event ends on September 30. See the Solar Decathlon Europe website
Walmart Stores Inc., Costco Wholesale, and Kohl’s Department Stores lead the top 20 U.S. companies in terms of on-site solar energy capacity, according to a report from the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA) and the Vote Solar Initiative. Combined, the top 20 corporate solar users’ photovoltaic (PV) installations, which total at least 279 megawatts, generate an estimated $47.3 million worth of electricity each year. SEIA and Vote Solar released the findings on September 12.
The amount of solar installed by the top 20 solar-powered companies could power more than 46,500 average U.S. homes. Altogether, U.S. commercial solar installations could power more than 390,000 American homes. The companies analyzed for this report have deployed more than 700 individual PV systems on their facilities in at least 25 states and Puerto Rico. Rounding out the list, in order, are IKEA, Macy’s, McGraw-Hill, Johnson & Johnson, Staples, Inc., Campbell’s Soup, Walgreens, Bed Bath & Beyond, Toys ‘R’ Us, General Motors, FedEx, White Rose Foods, Dow Jones, Snyder’s of Hanover, ProLogis, Hartz Mountain Industries, and Crayola. See the SEIA press release
and the full report