Notre Dame Works to Reduce Carbon Footprint with New Solar Panel Array

By: Caroline Torie

Notre Dame’s new solar array // WSBT 22 photo

Brand new solar panels are now soaking up the sun — helping to power a Notre Dame-owned warehouse in South Bend.

On sunny and cloudy days, solar panels are collecting sustainable energy.

Solar energy can be used in many ways, and panels are also cost effective.

The University sees this new solar array as their next step in their long-term energy plan.

The front of the building looks like a standard warehouse on the far west side of South Bend. But just around the back is a collection of new solar panels, giving the facility a new source of energy.

Paul Kempf, Senior Director of Utilities & Maintenance at Notre Dame, says, “We saw this as a good place and opportunity for us to gain more experience with solar.”

The warehouse has a higher cost of electricity than on campus, and the solar panels will help defray that cost.

Local solar company Inovateus just finished installing the array.

The project has been in planning for over a year.

They started the install this spring. After testing, the panels are now up and running.

“If the sun is shining then these panels are collecting energy. so it doesn’t take a lot,” says Jordan Richardson, Inovateus Solar Project Manager.

The panels collect energy from the sun. It flows to the building through underground wiring. Then it’s converted to power that is used by the warehouse.

Kempf says, “This is all about trying to reduce our carbon footprint and as we try to wean ourselves away from fossil fuels.”

Notre Dame chose this spot for the new solar array because on the ground it’s less expensive and easier to maintain than on top of buildings.

“You’ve seen double digit decreases in panel costs so therefore solar in itself has become more applicable and more desirable.,” says Richardson.

The University is looking into other ways to add solar to their diversified energy portfolio.

“The opportunity to experiment at this scale with a variety of different technologies – be it geothermal or solar, hydro that we’re working on with the city of South Bend and other renewable & recoverable energy opportunities – you kind of keep your options open for the future,” says Kempf.

The University says the cost of the solar array was about $350,000. They expect to see a return on that investment in 15 years.


Chasing the Solar Dream in B.C.: It Takes Cash and Commitment

By: Randy Shore

Joanna Zilsel has solar panels on her roof and an electric car in her driveway. RANDY SHORE / PNG

If your solar dream is to go off the grid and cock a snook at B.C. Hydro in the process, dream on.

For all solar electricity’s advantages, in an environment where electricity is cheap and solar productivity is limited when you need it most, tapping into the sun’s power remains relatively expensive. And you are going to have to accept that you need B.C. Hydro’s help.

“B.C. Hydro is the big battery you need to get through the winter and that’s unavoidable. We live in Canada and it gets cold,” said Scott Elston, of Alternative Power Systems.

That’s not to say that solar photovoltaic electricity is a bad idea, but it takes both cash and commitment to achieve net-zero hydro consumption. And you have to be the kind of person who is willing to prepay for 10 to 25 years of electricity.

Gerry Pageau is just that sort of person, an engineer and longtime solar hobbyist who tracks the performance of each of his 31 solar panels individually.

“I’m a do-it-yourself kind of person,” he said. “I look at it like a Canada Savings Bond, except that solar power is inflation proof.”

While Pageau has done much of his own installation work with cleverly recycled mounting brackets over the course of several years, a professionally installed version of his 7.75 kilowatt rig would cost at least $23,000.

“As soon as you have to pay someone to install hardware for you then payback becomes poor to non-existent, as installed costs can easily reach $3 per watt,” he said.

During the summer, when the panels are at their most productive and his heating requirements are essentially zero, he powers two homes and sells the excess back to B.C. Hydro.

The other eight months of the year he sips from the grid and reckons annual savings on electricity of $1,200.

“I generate about 1,200 kilowatt hours a year for each kilowatt of installed panels,” said Pageau, a technical adviser for the Sunshine Coast Community Solar Association.

Doing the math, that means a rooftop array of 20 photovoltaic panels with a capacity of five kilowatts will cost around $15,000 installed and could save you up to $750 per year at B.C. Hydro’s highest Step 2 rate of 12.9 cents per kilowatt hour. Solar owners contacted by Postmedia News reported similar savings.

With a solar system grid tied to B.C. Hydro, you are even credited for excess power that flows back into the grid.

Best case scenario, you will pay off that investment in 20 years.

Gerry Pageau is the technical adviser for the Sunshine Coast Community Solar Association.

Oh, and when B.C. Hydro’s power goes down — as it frequently does in the winter — your grid-tied solar system goes down as well. Pageau has a separate set of photovoltaic panels with a battery to keep the fridge and freezer running during outages. Read more »

Elon Musk Reveals “Verbal Permission” for the Hyperloop Given From Federal Official


Elon Musk shocked the internet Thursday when he announced that The Boring Company had received “verbal governmental approval” to build the DC-New York Hyperloop with stops in Baltimore and Philadelphia. A flurry of speculations on what this might mean quickly arose, fanned by the fact that there is no such thing as “verbal governmental approval” — municipal projects cannot be commenced without written approvals, contracts, and other more formal measures.

Officials in those four cities were even more surprised than everyone else.

“Nobody in City Hall, or any of our city agencies, has heard from Mr. Musk or any representatives of his company,” deputy press secretary for the New York’s mayor office, Ben Sarle, told Business Insider. Philadelphia’s deputy communications director for the city of Philadelphia, Mike Dunn, told the publication, “We do not what he means when he says he received ‘verbal government approval.’ There are numerous hurdles for this unproven ‘hyperloop’ technology before it can become reality.”

Musk’s revelation is confirmation what Business Insider was told by a White House spokesperson referred by the Department of Transportation: “We have had promising conversations to date, are committed to transformative infrastructure projects, and believe our greatest solutions have often come from the ingenuity and drive of the private sector.”


Before Musk left the president’s advisory councils in June, he visited the White House three separate times as he worked on those councils. The U.S. withdrawal from the Paris Climate Agreement ended his work there, but perhaps not his agenda.

“The Boring Company has had a number of promising conversations with local, state, and federal government officials,” a spokesperson from The Boring Company told Business Insider. “With a few exceptions, feedback has been very positive and we have received verbal support from key government decision-makers for tunneling plans, including a Hyperloop route from New York to Washington DC.”

This development means that the Hyperloop still has to gain approval from the effected states, cities, and other regional agencies. Some officials seemed nonplussed, yet excited about the project upon its confusing announcement, perhaps signalling that this process may go smoothly.

Anthony McCarthy, the spokesman for the mayor of Baltimore, Catherine Pugh, told The Guardian: “Mr Musk’s announcement on Twitter was the first that the city heard of the Hyperloop project. ” However, Pugh said she thinks the project could “create new opportunities for Baltimore and transform the way we link to neighboring cities.”

LaToya Foster, the spokeswoman for Muriel Bowser, the mayor of Washington DC, said to The Guardian: “We can’t wait to hear more.”

Musk may not be the only person that state officials will be hearing from. He also urged followers who care about the project to contact their local officials, saying in a tweet, “If you want this to happen fast, please let your local and federal elected representatives know. Makes a big difference if they hear from you.” Then, about 90 minutes after Musk’s initial announcement, he mentioned his project in Chicago, which has received high levels of local support.

This, along with his tweet that Boston and Providence, Rhode Island, could be added to the line, may reveal Musk’s true agenda with the first announcement: stirring up interest in the project, drawing local officials into the conversation, and ensuring throngs of people living in those cities would be listening and watching when the conversation began. Musk knows that local pressure from residents can help move the project forward, and he likes his timeline progression like he likes his intercity transportation — fast.


Developers ‘Eyeing ME Renewable Energy Market’

With the cost disparity between solar and conventional electricity generation fast disappearing, several leading power plant developers are eyeing the Middle East renewable energy market in order to boost growth, said an expert.

Economic and environmental sustainability has a direct relationship in which environmental measures contribute to economic gain, according to Wermuth Asset Management, a Family Office which also acts as a Bafin-regulated investment consultant.

The company is a specialist in impact investments in resource efficient companies through its Green Gateway Funds. These funds provide growth equity to European small and medium enterprises (SMEs) focused on resource efficient products and services.

Wermuth Asset Management pointed out that as more companies aim to increase their bottom line, growth stage companies that work along the value chain of the green industrial revolution are beginning to experience rapid growth.

“Investors who want to be a part of the Green Industrial Revolution’s success story need to take advantage of this relatively nascent industry, remarked its founder Jochen Wermuth.

“Growth companies that offer ways to increase resource efficiency are becoming more prominent. The more investment they receive, the quicker this industry will mature and bear fruit,” stated Wermuth.

“At the recent G20 Summit in Hamburg, we saw public discontent towards the US’ stance toward the environment, as well as protests on the subject of global wealth and income inequality.  Both issues are cause for grave concern, but in our opinion, it will be market forces and not politics that really drive momentum for renewable energy and resource efficiency,” he noted.

According to him, the external cost of power generation by fossil fuels, mostly related to the environment and public health, has been shown to be the same or more than the cost of generating electricity by solar power.

In 2013, the external cost of fossil fuel-based energy production was equal to $150/ton of carbon dioxide (CO21).

Globally, in 2014, power plants produced an average of 519gm of CO2 to generate 1KWh of electricity, or 519kg for 1 MWh2.

“One ton of CO2 therefore accrues when producing 1.92 MWh of electricity, with a cost of $150 paid by society. This translates into external costs of around $78 per one MWh electricity produced by the global power plant mix,” he explained.

“This is greater than the actual cost of renewable power generation. For example, in the Middle East, the US and Latin America, renewable power has been sold as low as $30/MWh. In Germany, solar power prices have hit  €68/MWh; wind parks achieve similar cost levels,” he stated.

According to him, the main players in this green industrial revolution are the agile SMEs, which are not yet listed.

Wermuth Asset Management focuses on growth companies that offer highly profitable projects without subsidies for renewables.

“The current process of energy transition produces economic opportunities and directly benefits both the environment and society. Progress in developing countries, such as the use of solar power for village markets, tangibly and positively change communities,” he added.


How Solar Power is Helping Gaza Residents Overcome Electricity Crisis

Most Gazans can’t afford solar energy, but for upper and middle class people in the embattled strip it is becoming an increasingly popular option as the local energy system crumbles

By: Naomi Zeveloff

Muhammad Dahman stands near the solar energy panels he installed on his roof in Gaza City. Naomi Zeveloff for The National

With two sons at university, a third son in high school, and another daughter coming up through the Gaza school system, Muhammad Dahman’s children study day and night, using lights to read and fans to cool off in the heat of Gaza City.

Though Mr Dahman, a 46-year-old journalist, is proud of his children, their study routine was once a source of anxiety. In Gaza, where electricity is at a premium, more homework meant more money. On top of the 200 shekels, (Dh206) he paid per month to connect to Gaza’s weak power grid, he shelled out at least another 200 shekels per month for a generator, just to keep the lights on at night.

In April, when the Gaza Strip power plant ran out of fuel following a dispute between Hamas, which rules Gaza, and the Palestinian Authority, which governs the West Bank, Mr Dahman decided that enough was enough. On a friend’s advice, he invested in solar energy. In May, he spent about Dh7,350 — which he is still paying off — on four shiny solar panels on the roof, next to his nephew’s pigeon coop.

The panels provide the electricity Mr Dahman’s family uses during the day, and also charges the batteries that they use at night. Now, he says, the family has a “new life”. Not only does he have enough electricity to meet all their needs, his home has become a hangout for cousins wanting to cool off or charge their mobile phones.

Sitting in his fan-cooled living room, Mr Dahman said it was a relief to no longer depend on the Gaza Strip grid. Today, he believes that solar energy is the way of the future for the territory. The fact that solar energy is better for the environment is of secondary concern to him. “I just want light!” he said.

Most Gazans can’t afford solar energy, but for upper and middle class people in the embattled strip it is becoming an increasingly popular option as the local energy system crumbles. The United Nations Development Programme is also installing solar panels in schools and hospitals in Gaza. Last month, the Israeli government further reduced its energy supply to the territory at the behest of the Palestinian Authority, which blamed Hamas for failing to repay the energy costs. Now, Gazans are receiving just four hours of electricity every 24 hours.

Not far from Mr Dahman’s home on a busy Gaza City thoroughfare, a solar company has put shimmering panels on display on the pavement outside its shop. Inside, Tareq Darwish, the Oceanic Company’s 25-year-old accountant, says that sales of the India-made panels, which must pass through Israel to reach Gaza, have almost tripled in the last 10 weeks. From selling 15 panels a month, they are now selling up to 50. With more vendors selling the panels, prices have gone down from 1,000 shekels per panel to 600 or 700 shekels each.

It’s still not cheap — Mr Darwish says he can’t even afford the product he is selling — but he tells customers that solar panels are a safe and environmentally friendly alternative to generators, which can be deadly if misused. In the past, Gazans have died from generator fires and carbon monoxide poisoning from keeping their units indoors.

Business owners in Gaza are also looking to solar energy. In the northern part of Gaza City, the tall metal roof of the Al Nour Gas station is topped by tilted solar panels drinking up the sun. The petrol station is part of a large complex owned by the Abu Qamer family, which also includes a popular 24-hour grocery store known all over the northern Gaza Strip for its large refrigerators full of perishable items such as hummus and labane cheese, and a 12-unit apartment building housing more than 100 members of the family.

Family patriarch Fateh Abu Qamer, now in his 60s, invested US$52,000 (Dh191,000) in 90 solar panels and 30 batteries to power the complex last July. In the past, the two businesses would barely bring in enough money to cover the costs of electricity, he said. But he expects to make back what he spent on the solar panels and batteries in two years.

Others in the area have taken note and one of Mr Qamer’s neighbours has already followed suit. Mr Qamer welcomes neighbours who need to charge their mobile phones and even hooked up one neighbour’s electric-powered water supply, he said. In the Gaza heat, the Abu Qamer grocery store is a welcome oasis of cool in the locality.

“The most important thing is to keep the services running,” Mr Qamer added.

In Gaza today, that is no small feat.