March 2022 NewsletterMarch 15, 2022
Clean Energy Co-op, Other NEPA Businesses to Receive Lodestar Award from Pennsylvania Solar Center
On March 3, Pennsylvania Solar Center will present its Lodestar Awards to 9 Northeastern Pennsylvania businesses including the Clean Energy Co-op. The virtual event, being held via Zoom from 4:00pm to 6:00pm, will include short videos from each of the award recipients explaining their solar projects, and will feature several speakers, including: Jack Barnett of the Clean Energy Co-Op (as well as a SEEDS Board member and Food Circle Representative); Dr. Marleen Troy, Professor of Environmental Engineering at Wilkes University; and Sen. Mario Scavello, who introduced PA Senate Bill 472 to allow Community Solar in Pennsylvania.
Learn more about the Lodestar Awards here, and register for the award ceremony event here—the event is free but registration is required. And while you’re waiting for it to start take a quick moment to contact your Representative in the PA General Assembly to remind them that Community Solar legislation is important for Pennsylvania’s future.
Recent Study Shows Total Energy Demands of US can be met with Renewable Energy
The Washington Post recently reported on a study conducted by Stanford University on the viability of total renewable sources of energy for the United States. The study, titled “Zero air pollution and zero carbon from all energy at low cost and without blackouts in variable weather throughout the U.S. with 100% wind-water-solar and storage” was published by the journal Elsevier on December 1, 2021, and offers an abundance of good news for the reliability, feasibility, cost efficiency–and multitude of other strengths–of renewable energy in the United States, including:
The study was conducted by a team at Stanford University lead by Dr. Mark Z. Jacobson. It was done using a simulation of energy needs projected by detailed data from the Energy Information Administration for the years 2050-51. The study unequivocally states that constraints to 100% renewable energy in this country are not a result of physics or nature, and a future of reliable, stable, cheaper energy is well within our grasp.
Read the Washington Post article summarizing the study here. Access the full 94-page study here. And check out the authorship team’s “Infographic Roadmaps to Transition Cities, States, and Countries to 100% Wind-Water-Solar (WWS) for all Energy Purposes,” a detailed proposal for each of the 50 states to achieve total renewable energy.
Supported with all this information, please reach out to your representatives on the state and federal levels to tell them that you heard about this study, and we know that 100% renewable energy is not just necessary, but completely feasible, and as a constituent you are looking for the transition.
Solar Did You Know with Jack Barnett
Part 2: The “Who” of your Solar Proposal
Over the years, many SEEDS members have forwarded to us various solar installation proposals they’ve received as they have sought to install solar panels to power their homes. As a general rule, SEEDS always recommends getting quotes from multiple certified contractors before selecting one. In this series I will go over some key points to help you compare and evaluate those proposals.
Last month we looked at array capacity, which is the electrical generation capacity of the proposed solar array–you can find that explanation here. This month we are going to get into the “who” of your solar installation proposal, and share the kinds of questions you should be thinking about with regard to who manufactured the panels and who is installing them.
First off, where is the contractor based? It’s good to contract with an installer that is not too far away both during the construction phase as well as if you have any issues later. A contractor that is based closer to you means less travel time for the installation, but also a quicker turn-around if repairs are necessary or some issue arises after installation. A closer location can also impact their cost in terms of travel, as well as emissions resulting from that travel and transport of equipment.
You should also be prepared to do a little research on the companies that make the panels and the inverters. The panels are the large, flat piece that collects the solar energy—probably the pieces of equipment most people think of when they think of solar power, while the inverter is the device that converts direct current (DC) electricity, which is what a solar panel generates, to alternating current (AC) electricity, which the electrical grid uses. According to Energy.gov, “an inverter is one of the most important pieces of equipment in a solar energy system.” Learn more about the inverter from Energy.gov here.
When you consider the equipment included in the proposal, think about and research the companies that manufactured these pieces. Have they been around a while or are they a newer company? Where is the equipment physically being made? What are their warranty terms, time scales and production guarantee? Are they likely to be around long term to support and honor those?
Keep in mind we have noticed that recent solar quotes often contain a caveat that the final installed equipment may be different than proposed, and that is probably reasonable given potential supply chain issues, wholesale pricing changes, and other factors of doing business. But, if there is a need for a substitution you should still have the opportunity to review any such substitution, and be allowed to reject it without penalty. You should feel comfortable talking with your contractor about that possibility, and your expectation for the opportunity to review any equipment different from what was proposed, should changes be necessary.
Look out next month when Solar Did You Know series will look at “Production Forecast,” and then the final section of this series in the following month, which will discuss details of proper price comparison. In the meantime, if you have questions relating to solar power or solar panel installation send them to us at email@example.com.
Events and Resources from the Mid Atlantic Renewable Energy Association
The Mid Atlantic Renewable Energy Association, or MAREA, is a non-profit based in Kutztown, PA “dedicated to educating and engaging the public and advocating for renewable energy production, energy efficiency and sustainable living.” Check out their About page here. MAREA offers workshops, trainings, installations, festivals and other educational events to support and spread information about renewable energy and sustainable living, as well as resources like their Directory of PA Solar Electric Installers.
Among these offerings are ongoing webinars accessible to the public online, including the upcoming webinar “Jack’s Solar Garden” on Tuesday March 29th from 7:00pm to 8:30pm. This webinar focuses on the field of Agrivoltaics, or the simultaneous cultivation of solar power and agriculture in the same space, and ways that plants and solar power can enhance each other instead of competing for space. This event is free but preregistration is required.
Past webinars are available on their website and or YouTube, including “Clean Fuel for Airports and Seaports, the Next Frontier in Sustainability” from January 25 and “Using Biochar in Landscape and Shade Tree Management” from February 22.
David Ford: Governance Circle Leader, Technology Sage
“I was so happy when David and his wife Denise became involved with SEEDS. David is a true gentleman: kind, gentle, and diplomatic, and he listens well; a pleasure to work with. He graciously says “yes” to whatever is asked of him, which I fear is too much. He has brought a deep knowledge of Information Technology and team collaboration to SEEDS. I am forever grateful to him for stepping into the Chair position for a term which gave me a much-needed break. Thank you so much, David!” –Kathy Dodge, Chair
“SEEDS is a stronger organization because of the work David has done behind the scenes, and with his boots on the ground! He and his wife, Denise, have been there for us in so many ways. “Thank you” does not seem to do justice for the immense gratitude I personally have for their selfless contributions.” – Jenna Wayne Mauder, Assistant Chair and Education Circle Representative
“David is a diligent, extremely organized and committed leader that has been huge for SEEDS, as prior Chair, as Governance Circle leader and for orchestrating the recent website upgrade. Plus he’s kept the focus on our follow-up work on the SEEDS Strategic Plan. SEEDS and our community are lucky to have him and Denise here. Their continuing contributions and volunteerism in the community is an outstanding example for me and all of us.” – Jack Barnett, Food Circle Representative
David is the professional gentleman who I first had the pleasure of meeting when he came to our house, mentoring a group of young SEEDS volunteers, conducting an energy assessment after we first became members of SEEDS. Since that time I have had the opportunity to work together with David, his depth and commitment, continue to inspire. – Chuck SanClementi, Outreach Circle Representative.
Important Step Achieved toward
Complete Recycling of Solar Panels
A German research team recently announced that they were able to produce solar panels using 100% recycled silicon from previously used solar panels, reports this article from Inside Climate News. As we enthusiastically move towards more renewable energy, and this becomes more accessible and inexpensive, it doesn’t take long to put together that the means to renewable energy must be as sustainable as the energy itself. Currently, a typical solar panel has a life span of about 25 years before wear and tear eventually renders the panel unusable. The impending waste generated by unrecycled solar panels will likely exceed 78 million tons by 2050, as this article explains.
The ultimate goal of solar recycling is a process called “circular economy,” meaning every material used in a solar panel can be extracted and used again to manufacture new panels. We have not yet arrived at that point, but the team featured in this article has taken the important step of recycling the silicon used in the solar panels, which is crucial to achieving the circular process which would eliminate waste, keeping all materials out of landfills. The article cites a growing public interest in solar panel recycling as part of a larger push towards sustainability at all levels of energy collection process, and an attention to the equally important need to minimize energy waste.
You can read the press release from the team at Fraunhofer Institute for Solar Energy Systems ISE.
Do you have any #SEEDSGoodNews stories to share with the SEEDS community? Send them to us at firstname.lastname@example.org or tag us on social media! They can be local stories from your community, or stories from around the world–anything to celebrate and spread the word about the progress of energy efficiency, renewable energy or sustainable living wherever you hear about it!
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