Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Sorry Tri-Cities, Benton REA Reaches Limit For Washington State Solar Incentive

BY: Eugene Wilkie

As a local Tri-Cities solar company we are disheartened that we have to inform our customers in the Benton Rural Electric Association,  Benton REA has joined the list of Washington utilities that is ending the Washington State Cost Recovery Incentive Program. (Please see notice below) It is due to the fact that they have reached their limit and can no longer accept applications. For our company NOW SOLAR LLC and Absolute Power Inc it has a large impact as we have current customers in this utility area that will no longer be eligible.

A little background on the incentive is basically customers can receive up to $5000 a year until June 2020. (Please see the full incentive description below) It has been an amazing boost for us as it allows the customer to pay off a system that maximizes the incentives in about 3-4 years and for larger systems 5-6 years. Unfortunately we will no longer be able to offer this to our Benton REA Customers.

We would encourage anyone in the remaining utilities such as Franklin PUD, Benton PUD, and the city of Richland to  investigate the prospect of solar sooner than later as they are seeing rapid growth in the amount of solar installs in their districts and they have the same cap. We are grateful to the Tri-Cities for the interest in solar and are sorry to see the opportunities for Benton REA customers come to an end.

We would like to take the opportunity to encourage everyone to call your legislature and encourage them in January to lift the cap up from one-half of a percent of taxable sales to a more realistic number. We have kept our margins low combined with the incentive as we really believe that any home owner should have the ability to cost effectively be energy independent. The Washington State Incentive does this very effectively. Solar is one of the few energy technologies that makes sense for both the utility as well as the home or business owner.
In May 2005, Washington enacted Senate Bill 5101, establishing production incentives for individuals, businesses, and local governments that generate electricity from solar power, wind power or anaerobic digesters. The incentive amount paid to the producer starts at a base rate of $0.15 per kilowatt-hour (kWh) and is adjusted by multiplying the incentive by the following factors:
  • For electricity produced using solar modules manufactured in Washington state: 2.4
  • For electricity produced using a solar or wind generator equipped with an inverter manufactured in Washington state: 1.2
  • For electricity produced using both solar modules and an inverter manufactured in Washington state: 3.6
  • For electricity produced using an anaerobic digester, by other solar equipment, or using a wind generator equipped with blades manufactured in Washington state: 1.0
  • For all other electricity produced by wind: 0.8
These multipliers result in production incentives ranging from $0.12 to $0.54/kWh, capped at $5,000 per year. Ownership of the renewable-energy credits (RECs) associated with generation remains with the customer-generator and does not transfer to the state or utility.
This incentive applies to both single-owned systems and community solar projects. To be eligible for a single-owned system, the person that owns the system must also own the property it is installed on and be a customer of the utility that serves the site of the property. The base rate is $0.15 kWh, adjusted by the multipliers for technology types and in-state manufactured components.
Community solar projects are able to receive the production incentive, and are defined as solar energy systems up to 75 kilowatts (kW) that are owned by local entities and placed on local government property, or owned by utilities if the utility has annual sales no greater than 1,000 megawatt-hours (MWh) and if the project is funded voluntarily by utility ratepayers. Projects on local government property that are owned by limited liability companies, cooperatives, or mutual corporations or associations are also able to receive the incentive. The company itself is not eligible, but members may take advantage of the incentive. The base rate for community solar projects is $0.30/kWh and the multipliers are the same as those used for other renewable energy technologies. Each participant in a community solar project, or each owner of a project, can apply to receive this incentive and may receive up to $5,000 per year.
The state's utilities will pay the incentives and earn a tax credit equal to the cost of those payments. The credit cannot exceed the greater of $100,000 or 0.5% of a utility’s taxable power sales. Incentive payments to community solar projects cannot exceed 25% of the total allowable credit. The incentive amount may be uniformly reduced if requests for the incentive exceed the available funds.
The incentives apply to power generated as of July 1, 2005, and remain in effect through June 30, 2020. A utility may not claim any tax credits for incentive payments after June 30, 2021.
Click here for the Department of Revenue (DOR) renewable energy system certification form and here for the community solar project certification form. Click here for the DOR annual incentive payment application and here for the DOR annual incentive payment application for community solar projects.


New Bloomberg New Energy Finance Report Forecasts Strong, Steady Solar Growth -- with the Investment Tax Credit (ITC) Extended

ANAHEIM, CALIF. and WASHINGTON, D.C. - A new report from Bloomberg New Energy Finance (BNEF) predicts substantially more solar generating capacity will get built in the United States, and a major industry downturn will be avoided, if the federal solar investment tax credit (ITC) is extended at its current level.
The ITC is set to drop from 30 percent to 10 percent for commercial systems and zero for residential systems at the end of 2016. According to the BNEF analysis, this will produce a sharp drop in industry activity in 2017. Developers will scramble to complete projects with contracts based on the current credit before the end of next year. That pipeline depletion, and weaker economics, will result in a drop of roughly 8 gigawatts (GW) in annual installations through 2017.  Such a dramatic drop would bring new solar installation activity to its lowest annual level since 2012.
BNEF also explored the impact of a 5-year extension of both the residential and commercial credits at 30 percent, with the addition of a commence-construction clause. Enacting such an extension by mid-2016 helps prevent the highly-disruptive 2017 cliff currently set in law.
“With a proposed five-year federal ITC extension, we anticipate an additional 22 GW of solar will get built by 2022,” Bloomberg analyst Madeline Yozwiak said. "Without it, we still anticipate solar growth in the next decade, but it will be a much rockier ride."
In a separate analysis, pairing the BNEF forecast with the Jobs and Economic Development Impacts model (JEDI) developed by National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL), the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA) found the U.S. would lose more than 80,000 solar jobs during 2017 alone without an ITC extension. Factoring in the fallout from related industries that stand to be impacted, the analysis shows a loss of more than 100,000 American jobs from failure to extend the ITC.
“The good-paying jobs of more than 100,000 Americans and thousands of U.S. companies – many of them small businesses – are at risk if the ITC is not extended,” said SEIA President and CEO Rhone Resch. “As the voice of the solar industry, SEIA will not rest until Congress fully understands the importance of this critical policy. The time to act is now.”
The ITC is a 30 percent federal tax credit for solar systems on residential (Section 25D) and commercial (Section 48) properties that, under current law, remains in effect through Dec. 31, 2016. After that, unless Congress takes action, the commercial credit will drop to 10 percent and the residential credit will expire fully.
To read more of the findings from both analyses go to

Obama just announced $120 million in new solar and clean energy funding. Here’s what that means.

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Graphene made superconductive by doping with lithium atoms

September 2, 2015 by Bob Yirka
Graphene made superconductive by doping with lithium atoms
Charge-transfer doping of graphene by lithium adatoms. Credit: arXiv:1508.05925 [cond-mat.supr-con]
A team of researchers from Germany and Canada has found a way to make graphene superconductive—by doping it with lithium atoms. In their paper they have uploaded to the preprint server arXiv, the team describes the process they used and the results they obtained when testing it.
By now, most everyone in the science community is aware of , the single carbon atom layer of material that is being studied to figure out how it can be mass produced and connected to other devices to take advantage of its superior electrical properties. Some have also been looking into whether the material could be made into a superconductor—prior research a decade ago showed that graphite could be made superconductive by coating it with other . Since that time, the search has been on to find just the right coating for graphene. Three years ago, a group in Italy created a model that suggested might be the right choice, now, based on the work done by this latest team, it appears that they might have been right.
In this effort, the researches first grew samples of graphene on a silicon-carbide substrate—those samples were then placed in a vacuum and cooled to 8K and were then "decorated" very precisely with a layer of lithium atoms. To convince themselves that the result was superconductive, the team tested the material with angle-resolved photoemission spectroscopy—doing so revealed that electrons sent through the material slowed down, which they suggest was the result of electron-phonon coupling (the creation of Cooper pairs)—one of the hallmarks of a superconductor. The team also identified an energy gap between those electrons that were conducting and those that were not, energy that would be needed to brake electron-phonon coupling.
Further tests will have to be done to discover if it is possible to demonstrate a complete loss of electrical resistance and the expulsion of an , tests that can prove the material to be a true superconductor.
In related news, another group working at Sungkyunkwan University in South Korea has also been working with coating graphene with lithium and in their paper also uploaded to arXiv, they claim they have observed superconductivity in samples of layers of graphene doped with lithium.

More information: Evidence for superconductivity in Li-decorated monolayer graphene, arXiv:1508.05925 [cond-mat.supr-con]
Monolayer graphene exhibits many spectacular electronic properties, with superconductivity being arguably the most notable exception. It was theoretically proposed that superconductivity might be induced by enhancing the electron-phonon coupling through the decoration of graphene with an alkali adatom superlattice [Profeta et al. Nat. Phys. 8, 131-134 (2012)]. While experiments have indeed demonstrated an adatom-induced enhancement of the electron-phonon coupling, superconductivity has never been observed. Using angle-resolved photoemission spectroscopy (ARPES) we show that lithium deposited on graphene at low temperature strongly modifies the phonon density of states, leading to an enhancement of the electron-phonon coupling of up to λ≃0.58. On part of the graphene-derived π∗-band Fermi surface, we then observe the opening of a Δ≃0.9 meV temperature-dependent pairing gap. This result suggests for the first time, to our knowledge, that Li-decorated monolayer graphene is indeed superconducting with Tc≃5.9K.
Journal reference: arXiv search and more info                                                     

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