Monday, October 8, 2007

MREA Solar Power Home Tour

I attended the Midwest Renewable Energy Association's Solar Home Tours in Milwaukee this past Saturday. It was a great opportunity to see several small scale solar electric and solar hot water systems here in the Milwaukee area. Below I've posted a few of the photos from the day. Click the photo photo in the slide show to view picture captions.

Created with Admarket's flickrSLiDR.

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Solar Powered Camel and Conference Summary

Many thanks to WE Energies and the awesome folks in their Renewable Energy department for sending us out to the solar power conference this year! This was an excellent opportunity for me to immerse myself in the world of solar and try to learn as much as possible.

Ever since my 7th grade science research report on solar energy was published circa 1981, I've long had a fascination with harnessing the sun's power. It was great to have the chance to attend THE industry trade show on solar. Everything that is happening with solar technology is incredibly inspiring.

It was definitely a treat to hear Ted Turner speak, but the many panel sessions were also excellent. I attended a session with California builders who are making solar a standard feature in many of their developments-how cool is that! Solar hot water is something that I wasn't very familiar with prior to attending the conference-I attended a session on this technology and I now have some familiarity with how this solar thermal works and is being applied in residential and commercial applications. I was inspired by what Macy's, Johnson & Johnson, eBay and Google are doing with solar power in their companies. Their stories about the greening of their companies were great.

Over the course of the week, I met many interesting folks here in the Long Beach, CA. I was amazed by the number of representatives from investment firms who were in town learning about the industry and looking for winning companies - I think this is a sign that this industry is healthy and a force. I met a policy maker from England, Miguel, who was at the conference to learn about the industry in the states and to promote feed-in-tariff policy to help further stimulate and promote the industry. I met a few Badgers who are working in the solar industry as well-one guy who works for an installation/integration firm in Washington state and one recent UW-Madison graduate who is working for BP-Solar in SoCal. All-in-all, I found this to be an extremely positive and friendly group of people who take a great deal of pride in what they are doing for this important industry.

Solar has the potential to help with so many of the challenges facing our world today and going forward. It is something that can greatly benefit the energy needs of the 1st world, 2nd world, 3rd world and future world-best of all, it is a CLEAN energy technology. Ted Turner's quote, "We should stop dropping bombs and starting giving out solar panels," is a sound bite that will resonate with me for quite some time. I look forward to sharing my experience from the conference with the students and teachers at University School.

In one of the sessions I attended a presenter showed the photograph included in this me, this sums up the value and importance of solar for our planet. Do you know what this photo is all about??

A few more photos...

Just a couple of cool sunset pictures from the marina area in Long Beach....

I like this photo....hopefully we'll see racks on buses in Milwaukee County some day (they have bus racks on buses in Madison, WI)...

Parking meter powered courtesy of the big ball of fire...

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Educational Display Kiosk

Here is a 20 second video clip of what an educational kiosk for a solar PV system would like like. The system shows real-time electrical production from the site's solar electric system and also contains before, during and after pictures of the system installation. The kiosk in the video shows data for a public school system in California. The performance of the system may also be tracked online.

Photos from the Floor and Solar Stories from the Corporate World

The exhibition floor at the Solar Power Conference is unbelievable! Obviously there are many solar PV panels to look at, but I also saw a Tesla Motors Electric Car at one of the booths! This is a high performance electric car that will be on the streets any month now. Many photos from the floor are included with this post (I even met a former member of the UW-Madison Wrestling team who now works in the solar industry).

I also attended a conference on Solar PV initiatives/green initiatives in the corporate world. Four company representatives spoke about their respective company's foray into a solar PV system. Macy's (Marc Gordon), Johnson and Johnson (Mark Loukides), eBay (Bence Oliver), and Google (Robyn Beavers) were all represented on the panel.

All of these companies are doing some extremely innovative things with not only solar pv systems, but also efficiency, overall sustainability, etc. They seem to pride themselves on the leadership that their companies have displayed in the area of environmental awareness. Their policies and practices are cutting edge and serve as a wonderful carrot for all of us. They all see solar as a solid financial choice, especially given the rising cost of traditional electricity generation. Additionally, they all believe their green initiatives to be a competitive advantage in terms of customers and attraction/retention of company employees. Furthermore, all of the panelists felt as though their respective projects would not have been financially possible without financial assistance/grant programs.

Pictured here-Marc Gordon of Macy's, Mark Loukides of Johnson and Johnson, Bence Oliver of eBay and Robyn Beavers, Sustainability Officer from Google

Education Kiosk at Long Beach Convention Center

The Long Beach Convention Center has a large scale solar PV system on the roof. The photos in the slideshow here show the contents of their lobby-located educational display. The Kiosk shows background information on city green efforts, live data from the roof mounted PV system, and real world examples so folks are better able to relate to the electrical production of the system.

Zap Car Siting

On the solar installation tour from Monday I saw my first Zebra Zap car up close and personal. This car is fully electric with a range of 25 miles or so.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Ted Turner Keynote

Ted Turner gave the keynote address at the National Solar Power Conference in Long Beach today. I have to say, it might have been the highlight of the week! At one point in his talk he said, "Instead of dropping bombs on people we should be giving them PV panels!" He was great and commented on everything from the solar industry, to the US military, his background in the development of the cable business, and politics of course.

After the keynote the Wisconsin group involved with the WE Energies grant met for a few minutes for a photo and introductions.

Solar PV Installation Tour

Yesterday we toured several solar PV electric system installations in the LA area. The sites included the Los Angeles Convention Center, the John Ferraro building car port, the California Dept. of Transportation building, the Electrical Training Institute of Southern California, and the carport canopy at Cal State Dominguez Hills.

Photos and a couple of video clips from the day follow...

1/2 mW system on the roof at the Electrical Training Institute in LA:

100 kW carport system at the John Ferraro building:

LA Convention Center Solar PV system (125 kW):

Monday, September 24, 2007

Live from Long Beach, CA!!

Yesterday was my travel day and I made it to Long Beach without a hitch. After checking in at my hotel, I took a cab to the convention center district and the Long Beach convention center for registration. The harbor area of Long Beach is pretty neat-a scenic little boardwalk takes you around a park, lighthouse and tons of restaurants.

This morning I'm trying to figure out the bus schedule so I can get down to the convention center for the all day solar site visit tour that I'm scheduled for. I'm looking forward to the site tours as we're expected to visit several large scale installations. One of the sites that we're visiting has a 450 Kw array! Lots of pictures and video clips will hopefully be posted later today!