Carolina Panthers football stadium to add solar panels via POWERHOME Solar

Powerhome solar

POWERHOME Solar will begin installing solar panels on Bank of America Stadium, home of the Carolina Panthers, within the next few weeks. These new panels will help reduce energy costs as well as the stadium’s carbon footprint. In 2018, the NFL joined the Green Sports Alliance to support sustainability efforts across the entire league.

“Bank of America Stadium has created several sustainability goals, including using renewable energy,” said Scott Paul, vice president of stadium operations, Bank of America Stadium. “POWERHOME Solar’s use of American-made solar panels and its local roots made it the ideal partner to help ‘green’ the stadium.”

POWERHOME Solar, headquartered in Mooresville, NC, is one of the fastest growing American companies to specialize in solar energy and roofing services, and will help the Panthers maximize energy efficiency, reduce energy costs, and minimize their carbon footprint.

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“Bank of America Stadium is the third NFL facility to utilize POWERHOME Solar to help meet sustainability goals,” said Jayson Waller, founder and CEO of POWERHOME Solar. “Large commercial sites like this help us educate consumers about the simplicity and benefits of renewable energy. We hope to encourage thousands of fans to consider renewable energy and think more about the environment.”

POWERHOME Solar operates in six states, and is working with NFL franchises, professional football players, and other athletes to build stronger, healthier communities across the U.S.

— Solar Builder magazine

New Hampshire city adds new solar rooftop system, moves toward 100 percent renewable goal

new hampshire solar energy

One of New Hampshire’s largest solar arrays will save the city of Keene millions of dollars while generating enough power to offset the electric load of nearly 100 homes. The recently completed municipal project includes 2,010 solar panels on the rooftops of the Keene Ice center and adjacent Public Works Department building.

Last week, the Keene City Council approved a resolution that encourages the city and its residents to eventually generate 100 percent of its electricity from renewable sources.

“This project is part of our work to have all electricity in Keene generated by sustainable renewable energy sources by 2030,” according to Keene Mayor Kendall Lane. “We are very excited to be working with ReVision Energy in this development and look forward to future projects promoting renewable energy.”

The Keene solar array represents the largest New Hampshire project installed last year by ReVision Energy. The public works building and the police department will use the generated solar power, which will offset a significant portion of the city’s electric load while transitioning Keene away from fossil fuels.

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“It is wonderful to see the City of Keene join the growing number of municipalities, businesses and homeowners that recognize the value in transitioning away from fossil fuel-based energy to local, renewable sources of energy,” said Elijah Garrison, ReVision Energy employee-owner and director of commercial and industrial sales. “These projects help build a stronger sense of community, reduce energy costs and, of course, they harness energy from the most abundant resource available. We commend Keene for setting a positive and forward-thinking example.”

The 643.2-kilowatt municipal project will generate close to 740,000-kilowatt hours of clean energy each year and will offset roughly 777,000 pounds of carbon pollution. Using solar power to generate electricity for the municipality is equivalent to taking 76 cars off the road each year or offsetting the carbon sequestered by 416 acres of forests or the carbon emissions from burning 817 barrels of oil.

Financing for the $1.35 million solar array is provided by a group of local impact investors through ReVision Solar Impact Partners, which own the array through a Power Purchase Agreement (PPA) with the City of Keene. Under the terms of the PPA, the city initially agrees to purchase electricity at a negotiated rate below the cost of grid electricity, thereby saving taxpayer money without any capital expense. After five years, the city will have the option to purchase the system at a significant discount, enabling the municipality to generate free solar power for decades to come.

The array is expected to save taxpayers approximately $3.5 million over the life of the system if the city exercises its future purchase option. The PPA enables Keene to leverage the economic and environmental benefits of solar power while giving the impact partners an opportunity to make community investments that align with their commitment to environmental sustainability.

— Solar Builder magazine

Data center energy consumption makes a strong case for solar

solar data center

A recent report from the United Nations’ Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change found that if greenhouse gas emissions continue at the current rate, the atmosphere will warm up by as much as 2.7 degrees above preindustrial levels by 2040. Fortunately, many companies that generate huge amounts of electricity, including data centers, have pledged to switch to renewable energy.

This is great news, since it is estimated that by 2030, data center demand will increase up to 10 times its current levels, equaling 13 percent of global electricity consumption. More good news: Solar power electricity generation pricing is the cheapest electricity you can get every single day at 12 noon in many places across the United States. Much of that price drop is driven by more efficient solar modules, cheaper and smarter inverters, as well increased levels of productivity.

Data centers by the numbers

Some of the largest users of data centers are companies you have probably used at least once this week or perhaps in the last few hours, such as Amazon, Google, Uber and Facebook. Our expectations for instant gratification have led to surging demand for centers from companies in two data-intensive sectors – connected cars and the peer-to-peer “sharing economy.” The brains of these companies are in “the cloud,” which are not water and air, but buildings, machinery, and people who construct and manage it all. Google has data centers in 21 states. Facebook has nearly 15 million square feet of data center space completed or under construction, with several million more feet in the planning stages. Uber provides 15 million trips a day in 600 cities in 78 countries around the world, making the company a major user of data center infrastructure.

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Electricity is the fuel that runs these data centers. Power use at data centers in the United States has grown at about a 4 percent rate annually since 2010 and is expected to hit 73 billion kilowatt hours by 2020, more than 1.8 percent of the country’s total electricity use, according to the Energy Department’s U.S. Data Center Energy Usage Report. These centers contribute about 2 percent of the world’s greenhouse gas emissions.

Major data center operators say slashing their CO2 emissions is a primary goal. Data Center Frontier reported that renewable energy has become a key component of Facebook’s data center projects. Gov. Phil Murphy of New Jersey recently unveiled more than 12,000 rooftop solar panels at the Edison Amazon Fulfillment Center. Amazon’s rooftop installation in Edison is one of 19 the company has in North America, with a goal of 50 installations worldwide by 2020. Google is the world’s largest corporate buyer of renewable energy.

Soak up the savings

There are measurable financial and environmental benefits for businesses that transition to solar power. By 2050, it’s expected that wind and solar will produce half of the world’s electricity. Partly, this is due to lower prices, with solar panel installation costs dropping by more than 70 percent over the last eight years. Additional major factors are breakthroughs in the efficiency of solar panels, better energy storage technologies and stronger awareness of traditional energy’s environmental impact.

Renewable energy costs are stable because there is virtually no recurring cost. Solar can save companies hundreds of thousands (if not millions) of dollars and has a return on investment of just 3-5 years. Many states offer solar rebate programs. For example, New Jersey provides Solar Renewable Energy Credits, allowing businesses to sell excess energy to electric generators. NY, and more recently MA, on the other hand, directly compensate system owners based on system size. Data center owners are also eligible for Federal income tax credits, and accelerated (year 1) system depreciation. When added up, these incentives can be used to cover 45%-80% of the overall cost.

Operations concerns

Data centers meet the key criteria for solar. Many data centers operate 24/7, leading to high energy bills. They also usually take up a large footprint, which means plenty of roof space for solar panel installation. Solar panels won’t disrupt the operation of the facility, since panels are installed in underutilized space, whether that’s on the roof of the property, or other open space such as a parking lot or field. A solar system also increases the life of the roof, and the value of the property.

There’s no doubt that the installation of solar panels is a major project. That’s why many companies retain a solar energy broker to help save on solar panel prices and maximize the incentives. They take on the heavy lifting of getting through the transition to solar energy, including the initial site visit, financing and all phases of installation.

Commercial solar panel installation proves to tenants that you’re investing in the future of the property and care about the environment. By adding a solar system to the building, data centers are more likely to produce higher rents and/or lower vacancy, according to the Department of Energy. Commercial solar systems increase the value of the building and cuts down operating costs.

States are on board

Helping to push businesses into the world of sustainability, New Jersey and New York’s governors have mandated that 50 percent of all electricity consumed come from renewable energy sources by 2030. Since 2011, solar in New York State has increased more than 1,000 percent. In 2018, through June, New York was ranked third nationally in residential and non-residential solar installed. Governor Cuomo established NY-Sun, a $1 billion initiative to advance the scale-up of solar and move the State closer to having a sustainable, self-sufficient solar industry. New Jersey places sixth on the Solar Energy Industry Association’s list, with solar prices falling 47% in the last year.

One thing we can count on is that the sun will continue to shine. Once you install a commercial solar system, it will keep producing power, dramatically reducing or even eliminating energy bills and working towards reducing carbon emissions.

Yaniv Kalish is the CEO of SolarKal, a commercial solar advisor, that helps companies navigate the transition to solar, from the first site visit to the final installation.

— Solar Builder magazine

California’s Vineyards a good example of how to design, develop with renewable energy focus

Vineyards_Kaiser charging 2

With opening a few months away, The Vineyards already is generating anticipation as Southern California’s newest upscale and pedestrian-friendly shopping and entertainment center. What’s more, The Vineyards will also feature some of the region’s latest and most sustainable operating systems and eco-friendly fixtures.

Rooftop solar panels will offset tenant electrical loads, power LED lights in common areas and send excess power back into the grid. Giant underground tanks have begun to capture and clean stormwater that will irrigate the carefully designed landscape, which happens to include rows of actual wine grapes. Mobile app-connected electric vehicle charging stations will be strategically placed throughout the parking lots, including two installed by Whole Foods Market, which will open a new flagship location in the spring of 2019. And interactive kiosks will help visitors to The Vineyards learn and appreciate the various ways that sustainability has driven the project’s design.

Shapell Liberty Investment Properties, The Vineyards developer, has carefully designed and implemented a range of features and construction methods to ensure a lower ecological footprint and to create a thriving community hub that will become the focal point for the surrounding north Los Angeles neighborhood. To celebrate and promote the sustainable features of the project, Shapell Liberty will seek LEED certification, a rare feat for developments of this scale – particularly shopping centers. The development will also seek SITES certification for its extensive landscape design, a badge of sustainable design comparable to LEED requirements for buildings.

“The sustainability concepts we and our tenants are bringing to The Vineyards are consistent with our and the community’s values. Our primary goal is to create a dynamic open-air experience; doing so while integrating the best and latest technologies and resources for a sustainable operation is the right thing to do,” said John Love, Vice President for Shapell Properties Inc. “Whole Foods and Kaiser Permanente were the first two major tenants to share in the vision of promoting sustainability, and more are jumping on board.”

Initially, there will be 15 charging stations available on a first-come basis when The Vineyards opens, with plans for up to 85 total electric vehicle (EV) charging stations as demand for those spaces increases. Shapell has selected ChargePoint to supply Level 2 charging stations at The Vineyards main shopping center.

A series of large underground cisterns already installed at The Vineyards will capture and filter rainwater runoff at the project to re-use for irrigation purposes.

“We’ve already had six feet of water in those cisterns from the recent rains, so we know they work,” Love said. “The reward will come when we put that storage capacity to good use to reduce what we would otherwise need for irrigation.”

The Vineyards is a mixed-use development at the intersection of Rinaldi Street and Porter Ranch Drive, featuring a pedestrian-friendly design to provide a world-class gathering and entertainment location. With complementary luxury apartments, hotel and office space, The Vineyards will be the premier open-air, mixed-use lifestyle development in the north San Fernando Valley. Design elements of the shopping center include a “main street” and central green area that will host community events, and a 4,000-square-foot community meeting room.

The project includes a recently completed three-story Kaiser-Permanente medical office building scheduled to open in early 2019, a 100-room Hampton Inn & Suites hotel targeting to break ground in 2019, and a 266-unit luxury apartment community that is under construction and slated to open in 2020. Major tenants include Whole Foods Market, AMC movie theaters, Ulta Beauty and Nordstrom Rack.

— Solar Builder magazine

Corporate renewable energy procurement hits new single-year record

corporate renewable energy

Even this crazy old dude is into it.PPA

While the federal government still somehow can’t see the economic argument for pursuing a robust renewable energy strategy, for-profit corporations are procuring it in droves, setting a new single-year record for new capacity of announced wind and solar deals in 2018.

According to the deal tracker at the Business Renewables Center (BRC), a membership program at Rocky Mountain Institute, the renewables market in the United States has almost doubled its annual total of corporate clean energy offsite deal volume since its prior high point in 2015, while the number of new entrants in the market has also doubled,

“The record number of companies successfully pursuing renewable energy this year sends a clear signal that environmental sustainability is a serious priority for business leaders across the economy,” said Jules Kortenhorst, CEO of the Rocky Mountain Institute. “These companies aren’t going to wait for public policy on climate issues to catch up—they are taking the initiative to accelerate toward a prosperous, low carbon economy.”

As of December 14, 2018, publicly announced contracted capacity from corporate power purchase agreements (PPAs), green power purchases, green tariffs, and outright project ownership in the United States cumulatively reached an annual high of 6.43 gigawatts (GW). Facebook, AT&T, Walmart, ExxonMobil, and Microsoft lead the clean energy acceleration with the top five highest volume in deals. Facebook leads the year in highest capacity with its several deals totaling 1,849.5 megawatts (MW), while also breaking all buyer cumulative annual procurement records since deals have been tracked.

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“Facebook is proud to contribute to the record-breaking year of corporate renewable energy deals,” said Rachel Peterson, VP of Data Center Strategy at Facebook. “We believe companies can and should set big commitments to drive our nation’s transition to a clean energy future.”

AT&T has also made noteworthy renewable purchasing gains by completing deals totaling 820 megawatts (MW) in 2018, its first year of market participation.

“As one of the world’s largest companies, AT&T knows that we can help enable a clean energy future,” said Shannon Thomas Carroll, Director of Global Environmental Sustainability, AT&T. “We’re proud to contribute to the record-breaking year of corporate renewable energy deals and help support America’s transition to a low-carbon economy. Our investments are helping to deliver clean energy, create jobs and support communities. They are just one way our company is working to address climate change and help create a better, more environmentally sustainable world.”

BRC’s deal tracker emphasizes the growth of corporate renewable energy purchasing in the U.S., reaching over 15 GW cumulatively since 2013.

“Large scale buyers of clean and renewable energy continue to accelerate their power to drive the zero-carbon future they want,” said Miranda Ballentine, CEO of the Renewable Energy Buyers Alliance (REBA). “We are impressed with the growth and expansion in the corporate renewables marketplace, from a broadening sector diversity, and increasingly supportive policy conditions, to utilities and developers rising to meet customer demand and reducing their own generation emissions. At this pace, we anticipate a fourfold increase in corporate renewables procurement by 2025. There is a tremendous amount of good work yet to be done, and we are counting on the power of partnership to get there.”

— Solar Builder magazine