IKEA Plugs-in Fuel Cell System to Generate More Onsite Power at San Diego Store

“Plugging-in this fuel cell system is an exciting milestone that complements our existing rooftop solar array,” said Jim Tilley, store manager. “Utilizing fuel cells will reduce our carbon footprint and help create an even more sustainable community here in San Diego.”

Courtesy: businesswire.com

Slightly larger than the physical size of a commercial back-up generator, the 200-kw, biogas-powered project will produce approximately 1,665,101 kWh of electricity annually for the store, the equivalent of reducing 877 tons of carbon dioxide (CO2) – equal to the emissions of 185 cars or to providing electricity for 130 homes yearly (calculating clean energy equivalents at www.epa.gov/energy/greenhouse-gas-equivalencies-calculator). Combined with the 252-kW solar array installed atop the store in 2011, the fuel cell project will help generate a majority of the store’s energy onsite.

For the design, development and installation of this fuel cell system, IKEA contracted with Sunnyvale-based Bloom Energy, a provider of breakthrough solid oxide fuel cell technology generating clean, highly-efficient on-site power.

Drawing from its Swedish heritage and respect of nature, IKEA strives to minimize its operations’ carbon emissions because reducing its environmental impact makes good business sense. IKEA evaluates locations for conservation opportunities, integrates innovative materials into product design, works to maintain sustainable resources, and flat-packs goods for efficient distribution. U.S. sustainable efforts include:  recycling waste material; incorporating key measures into buildings with energy-efficient HVAC and lighting systems, recycled construction materials, warehouse skylights, and water-conserving restrooms; and operationally, no plastic bags in the check-out process, and selling only LED lighting. IKEA U.S. has installed electric vehicle charging stations at 15 stores and solar arrays at 90 percent of it’s locations, integrated two geothermal projects at two store locations and owns two wind farms. This investment in fuel cell technology reflects the company’s goal to be energy independent by 2020.

Located on 10 acres along I-8 between I-805 and I-15, the 198,000-s.f. IKEA San Diego opened in September 2000 and employs approximately 325 coworkers. In addition to 10,000 exclusively designed items, IKEA San Diego presents 32 different room-settings, a model home interior, a supervised children’s play area, and a 150-seat restaurant serving Swedish specialties such as meatballs with lingonberries and salmon plates, as well as American dishes. Other family-friendly features include a Children’s IKEA’ area in the Showroom, baby care rooms, preferred parking and play areas throughout the store. IKEA installed a rooftop solar array and 3 electric vehicle charging stations at the store in 2011.

Since its 1943 founding in Sweden, IKEA has offered home furnishings of good design and function at affordable prices. There are currently more than 390 IKEA stores in 48 countries, including 43 in the U.S. IKEA has been ranked among “Best Companies to Work For” and, as further investment in its coworkers, has raised its own minimum wage twice in two years. IKEA incorporates sustainability into day-to-day business and supports initiatives that benefit children and the environment.

Courtesy: http://www.globalrenewablenews.com/



Three-Mile-High Futuristic Skyscraper has a Smog-Eating, Self-Cleaning Coating

By: Lacy Cooke

What will the world look like in 2062? Manufacturing company Arconic gives us a preview with their latest campaign called “The Jetsons“. The firm’s engineers teamed up with futurists to update the world of the Jetsons with new design marvels like flying cars and three-mile-high skyscrapers covered in a smog-eating, self-cleaning coating. The thing is, a lot of the technologies showcased in their campaign are already available.

Flying cars inspired by nature, 3D-printed aerodynamic airplanes, and solar-powered rovers are among the technologies dreamed up for The Jetsons campaign. But The Jetsons doesn’t only draw on the stuff of imagination; some of the materials utilized are on the market today, such as EcoClean, a coating released in 2011. When water vapor and light mix with the chemicals in EcoClean, free radicals form. The free radicals suck up and break down pollutants so they can be washed off the building “with just the slightest bit of moisture,” like dew or light rain, according to EcoClean.

Sherri McCleary, a chief materials scientist at Arconic, told Business Insider, “The functional coating provides aesthetics, it provides maintenance benefits, and it also provides a benefit to the surrounding environment by reducing the content of pollutants around it.” The company claims 10,000 square feet coated with EcoClean “has the approximate air cleansing power of 80 trees.”

Another futuristic technology that will probably hit markets well before 2062 is Bloomframe, invented by Hofman Dujardin and developed by Arconic company Kawneer. Bloomframe is a motorized window that can transform into a balcony in 55 seconds. An Arconic company spokesperson told Business Insider the technology will be available in the “near future.”

3D printing could allow Arconic to bring futuristic technologies to market today; McCleary said the technology could enable buildings that wouldn’t otherwise be feasible to endure unique climates and high winds, and offer architects more options.

Courtesy: http://inhabitat.com/


The Declining Cost In Producing Solar Energy, Outlook For 2017

By: Derrick A. Lila

Trends today, indicate that solar power is now cheaper than coal in most parts of the world. Projections from various sources indicate that in less than a decade, solar power would most likely be the lowest-cost option almost everywhere.

The solar supply chain is experiencing “a Wal-Mart effect” from higher volumes and lower margins, Sami Khoreibi, founder and chief executive officer of Enviromena Power Systems, an Abu Dhabi-based developer told Bloomberg.

Bloomberg reports that just last year, 2016, countries from Chile to the United Arab Emirates broke records with deals to generate electricity from sunshine for less than 3 cents a kilowatt-hour, half the average global cost of coal power.

pvbuzz media also reported that Canada and the United States recorded the largest installs to date. Adding that the U.S Energy Information Administration (EIA) expects solar capacity to continue growing, anticipating an increase of more than 30 percent in 2017.

Here is the list of forecasts for 2017:

1. GTM Research expects some parts of the U.S. Southwest approaching $1 a watt today, and may drop as low as 75 cents in 2021, according to its analyst MJ Shiao.

2. The U.S. Energy Department’s National Renewable Energy Lab expects costs of about $1.20 a watt now declining to $1 by 2020. By 2030, current technology will squeeze out most potential savings, said Donald Chung, a senior project leader.

3. The International Energy Agency expects utility-scale generation costs to fall by another 25 percent on average in the next five years.

4. The International Renewable Energy Agency anticipates a further drop of 43 percent to 65 percent for solar costs by 2025. That would bring to 84 percent the cumulative decline since 2009.

Courtesy: http://www.pvbuzz.com/declining-cost-solar-energy/


U.S. and Canada Falling Behind China in Race for Renewable Energy

By: Shawn McCarthy

China is rapidly gaining dominance in the fast-growing, global renewable energy market, as state-owned companies make massive overseas investments to secure the country’s leadership.

Countries such as the United States and Canada need a clear and aggressive strategy in the battle for the manufacturing and services businesses that support renewable energy, which is now outpacing fossil-fuel investment in the power sector, says a report from Australia’s Institute for Energy Economics and Financial Analysis (IEEFA), an independent think tank that tracks global energy markets.

Last year, Chinese firms invested a record $32-billion (U.S.) in overseas renewable energy and electricity transmission assets, including a $13-billion acquisition by China’s State Grid Corp. of Brazil’s CPFL Energia SA, an electricity generation and distribution company, and Tianqi Lithium’s $2.5-billion purchase of Chile’s Sociedad Quimica y Minera (SQM), a major lithium producer.

In the domestic market, Chinese companies invested $103-billion in renewable energy and associated low-emission technologies – a 17-per-cent increase over 2015 and two and a half times the amount spent in the United States which was the second leading investor in the renewable sector, said the IEEFA report, which is being released Friday.

It notes the International Energy Agency forecast last year that, between 2015 and 2021, China will account for 36 per cent of all hydroelectric capacity growth, 40 per cent of wind and 36 per cent of solar capacity growth. Bloomberg New Energy Finance forecasts the world will invest $7.8-trillion in renewable power over the next 25 years, compared to $2.1-trillion in fossil-fuel electricity.

“The U.S. is already slipping well behind China in the race to secure a larger share of the booming clean-energy market,” IEEFA’s Tim Buckley said. “With the incoming [Trump] administration talking up coal and gas, prospective domestic policy changes don’t bode well.”

Improving technology and declining costs – as well as climate-change policies – are driving investment in renewable energy sources, primarily in electricity but also in electric vehicles and efficiency technology, he said. “This is a technological shift that is unstoppable,” he said in an interview, though he acknowledged that government policy can affect the pace of change.

Canada has fallen behind in the global market for manufactured parts for the renewable-energy sector. It will have to have a clear strategy to meet the challenge of China, or import an ever-increasing share of the high-value technology, Mr. Buckley said. That includes harnessing government-backed financial institutions to support exports.

The increasing dominance of China in the supply chain could create a disincentive for the United States and other countries to aggressively pursue renewable-energy options because the effects on employment would be muted if many of the parts must be imported. President-elect Donald Trump is also threatening to impose tariffs on many imports into the United States, which would drive up the cost of renewable-power components.

Mr. Buckley said Beijing is pursuing a clear strategy to dominate in emerging energy technologies, just as it cornered the market on rare earth minerals, which include critical elements for batteries and other high-tech applications. Its companies are backed by Chinese development banks.

Five of the six largest solar panel makers are Chinese. Half of the top 10 wind turbine makers are based in China, with Xinjiang Goldwind Science & Technology Co. Ltd. overtaking Denmark’s Vestas Wind Systems A/S in 2015 as the world’s largest turbine manufacturer.

Courtesy: http://www.theglobeandmail.com/report-on-business


10 Predictions for Rooftop Solar in 2017

By:  Barry Cinnamon

I got lucky with my predictions for rooftop solar in 2016 — pretty much on target with nine out of the 10 darts that I threw. But this year is shaping up to be much more challenging, with routine solar-coaster turmoil combined with political uncertainty. Looking forward to 2017, my list no longer includes the benefits of the Clean Power Plan and 500 million solar panels (along with the EPA and half the equity in the remaining solar module companies). Nevertheless, I remain very optimistic about the future of clean technology industries simply because their economic benefits have been proven. So here are my 10 predictions for rooftop solar in 2017.

1. Module prices will stay at current low levels, roughly 35 cents for megawatt orders, roughly 45 cents for container quantities and roughly 55 cents for small orders. Manufacturers prefer to operate their production lines at full capacity (and full employment), even if they are selling at breakeven or less. As the year progresses, these low prices will apply to higher and higher efficiency modules. Differentiated modules — those with integrated electronics, simplified installation technology or 20+ percent efficiency — will command higher price points and margins simply because they provide more value to installers and homeowners.

2. U.S. solar manufacturing will continue to decline. Sadly, the module supply chain is almost entirely from Asia: wafers, cells, backsheets, EVA, junction boxes, glass and aluminum frames are all cheaper in China with comparable quality. Political rhetoric will not bring manufacturing back without a good plan to address the supply of key components in the U.S. Ironically, tariffs have made things much worse for U.S. manufacturers — removing tariffs on cells and extruded aluminum for solar would go a long way toward improving the economics for the remaining U.S. module manufacturers.

3. Community solar will struggle to get traction. Customers want both clean and cheap solar power. But when community solar is developed by utilities, they charge a premium for solar, so customers don’t buy. When lower per kilowatt-hour cost community solar projects are developed independently, utilities act to delay projects or increase costs in order to protect their monopoly. More local governments will step in with community-choice Aggregation programs. These CCA programs break the utility electricity sales monopoly, providing clean and cheap power to customers.

4. State solar organizations will gain membership and influence throughout the U.S. as net energy metering and rate design issues are tackled by state public utility commissions. Meanwhile, the Solar Energy Industries Association will fight a rear-guard action in Washington, D.C. to preserve the most precious TLAs (three-letter acronyms): ITC, DOE and EPA.

5. The TLA for 2017 is “BTM.” The divide between utility-scale solar and behind-the-meter (BTM) solar will become more apparent as the zero-sum game for selling electricity intensifies. The cost difference between utility PPAs (about $0.04 per kilowatt-hour) and customer-owned residential solar (about $0.06 per kilowatt-hour) will continue to narrow, eliminating the argument that bigger is better when it comes to solar deployments.

6. Small local and medium-sized regional rooftop solar companies will continue to thrive. Bigger is badder in the solar business. Companies that use debt to claw to the top of the revenue hill are inevitably knocked off and out. Stubbornly high customer-acquisition costs will make it cost-prohibitive for any installation company to pursue a fast growth strategy without outside investors. More simplified solar financing options will become available to small and medium-sized installers — and companies providing these independent financing products will thrive. Meanwhile, high-pressure sales installers/deal originators who were hooked on no-money-down financing and naive customers will discover they have no referral business and cannot continue to pay high customer-acquisition costs.

7. Utility deployments of battery storage system will grow rapidly in the U.S. Trial programs will drive this initial demand, and income from rate-basing these installations will improve the bottom lines of utilities and vendors. Meanwhile, customers will see zero impact other than higher rates. BTM energy storage systems will continue to be deployed gradually in Hawaii and to a lesser degree in California. Residential BTM deployments need better economic drivers (lower equipment costs, incentives and even demand charges) before deployments begin to take off. BTM energy storage systems are still at the stage that rooftop solar was in 2000.

8. Customers will not install technology that provides services to utilities — even if products are free with a small return value stream — because utilities will not make the value stream significant enough. Customers learned their lessons with smart meters: cool technology that benefits utilities tends to raise rates, provides negligible access to customer data, and enables customer-unfriendly services (demand charges and dynamic TOU rates). As we saw with rooftop solar and smart thermostats, customers would rather invest in energy-saving technology themselves and follow price signals to reap the benefits. On the other hand, utilities prefer to build this infrastructure and rate-base these investments — thereby guaranteeing a profit. Utilities and PUCs like the intellectual concept of distributed energy resources, but the value to customers is too low and intangible, especially when customers can invest in similar technology themselves.

9. Storage equipment companies will continue to underestimate the true cost of their new products in order to generate buzz and initial sales. These true costs include diverse component integration, software configuration, permitting, installation, troubleshooting and service. Companies that provide a fully integrated solution, including all required hardware and software in a single plug-and-play box, will get the most initial traction from experienced installers.

10. President Trump will embrace solar because it is cheaper and continues to be a jobs engine. He will follow in Obama’s footsteps as he welcomes a solar system on the top of his new house for the next four to eight years.

Courtesy: https://www.greentechmedia.com/