Posts Tagged ‘solar guide’

AAAE Energy Forum Recap

Wednesday, February 22nd, 2012

by Steve Barrett

The AAAE Energy Forum convened last week in sunny West Palm Beach, Florida.  The Forum was last held in Seattle in February of 2010 and several of the participants from that event, including me, worked on the organizing committee for this year’s forum.  The group expects the program to become an annual event with February in Florida acting as a great draw.

Energy Efficiency Forum Postcard

Besides the inviting weather, energy is a topic of great interest in the aviation community given escalating costs and innovative solutions.  The conference attracted 80 professionals with diverse expertise including airport staff, solar energy developers, energy and environmental consultants, airport planners, architects, engineers, utilities, and financial institutions.  Airports represented included Palm Beach, Orlando, Lee County, Metro Washington Airport Authority (MWAA), Minneapolis-St. Paul, Los Angeles World Airports (LAWA), Dallas-Fort Worth, Jackson Hole, Toronto, and Cold Lake Alberta.

I moderated the first two panels covering renewable energy topics.  I also made two separate presentations: “Technical Guidance for Evaluating Selected Solar Technologies at Airport [aka The Solar Guide]” and “Can Wind Energy and Aviation Be Compatible?”  Other renewable energy topics covered in presentations included solar development by airports and private lease holders, geothermal, and fuel cells.  There was a significant amount of programming on energy efficiency measures including the diversity of equipment replacement actions that can be taken, from light bulbs to heating and cooling systems, and quick payback periods.  An FAA representative summarized funding possibilities under the Voluntary Airport Low Emissions (VALE) Program and action by Congress just two weeks ago under the FAA Reauthorization allowing Airport Improvement Program (AIP) funds to be used for energy efficiency-related upgrades.  The second day’s lunch speaker from “Space Florida” spoke about NASA’s plans for supporting a growing commercial spaceflight business including issuing contracts to private companies to ferry payload and passengers to the International Space Station over the next few years.

As energy issues continue to impact all aspects of commerce and quality of life, the AAAE Energy Forum is expected to become the aviation industry’s prime conference for discussing energy challenges and opportunities.  The committee has already started planning for next year’s event.

Presentations are posted on HMMH’s website.

Let the sun shine!

Tuesday, August 2nd, 2011

by Phil DeVita

Recently I installed a photovoltaic (PV) solar system on the roof of my house to generate electricity.  Some of you may be thinking “I have always thought of putting in a solar system but the costs seemed too high.”  I had similar reservations until I recently read an article in the Boston Globe about a west coast solar company (SunRun) which was offering to install and operate solar residential PV systems for minimal money down.  What’s the catch?  You have to buy the power generated by the system from SunRun at a fixed price over an 18-year period.  I thought this was an interesting concept, but I was still skeptical and had a lot of questions.

First, we should step back and see how this all came about.  When I bought my house many years ago I knew there was good potential for solar, evidenced by the annual baking of my backyard.  The main roof is oriented to the south with minimal shading during the late morning and afternoon (ideal solar production hours).   I thought this would probably be a great place for a solar PV system.   I researched a couple of systems but the price was a little too high.  Other priorities took precedent, so I put the idea on the backburner for a few years until I came across this article on SunRun.

After reading the article, I was intrigued and made an appointment with Alteris Renewables (the local representative for SunRun).  Alteris came out to my house and looked at the orientation and pitch of my roof, surface area, solar resource, shade, etc. and confirmed my initials thoughts that my roof would be an ideal candidate for solar.  Alteris took my last couple of electric bills and made some calculations to determine the adequate size of my system (kW) which would determine the number and size of the panels.  The results were computed on the spot and out popped a 5.5 kW energy plant, enough to power approximately 80% of my electricity needs.  This is great you say, but what about the price?   With SunRun, you have the option to purchase the system out right or with a little money down, SunRun will install and operate the system and the homeowner purchases the electricity at a set price over an 18 year period (also known as a power purchase agreement).  I was familiar with the PPA option through our research developing the FAA Solar Guide; however, I had not heard the concept applied to residential applications.  This seemed to be a much more affordable option; however, by not owning the system, I would not reap the total benefits (i.e. free electricity and RECs).   I sat down with both options and laid out the pros and cons of each.

Owning the system

 Pros

  • You get free electricity (i.e. no PPA) and net metering benefits (i.e. spinning the meter backwards for electricity generated but not used);
  • Tax credits available from the Federal Government along with state incentives to subsidize the costs; and
  • Additional revenue potential from generating renewable energy credits (RECs) produced by the system which can be sold on the trading market.

Cons

  • You own the system.  Responsible for the upkeep and maintenance of the system;
  • The inverter alone can cost $5K to $10K and is good for about 10 years; and
  • High investment cost.

Leasing the System

Pros

  • 3rd Party is responsible for the operation and maintance of the system;
  • Guaranteed production from SunRun and stable electricity costs each year;
  • Lower investment costs.

Cons

  • Do not get credit for the RECs;
  • 18 year PPA commitment.

I did some additional research and carefully weighed each option and decided to pull the trigger on the PPA plan.  It was an attractive plan for me where I would not have to worry about the maintenance of the system (peace of mind), minimal investment upfront, guaranteed production, fixed cost for my electricity (lower than what I was currently paying), and still have the net metering capability. 

Alteris ordered all the equipment and the system was installed over a two day period.  My system consists of 30 panels which are tied together and run to an inverter in my basement which is then tied to my utility meter.

Having the system has been a great learning tool for my kids to teach them about renewable energy and climate change.  It is also a talking point in the neighborhood where people come up to me and ask about my system and how it’s operating.  Many of my neighbors say, “Hey I like your system, I want to get solar panels for my house”.  Unfortunately, solar is not for everyone.  You need to have good southern exposure and unimpeded sun during the peak hours for it to work efficiently.

My system has been operating for about 7 months and to date I have generated over 3,576 kilowatt hours of electricity, equivalent to operating a television for 25,007 hours, the energy to power 26 computers for one year, or the energy to power 99 homes for one day. 

Even though I do not care for the summer heat, I do realize that when it’s hot and sticky outside, that hot summer sun is helping to offset my utility bill and reduce GHG emissions, which are good things.

So let the sun shine!

Solar Guide for Airports Released

Monday, December 6th, 2010

by Steve Barrett

I am very happy to tell you that the FAA has formally released the “Technical Guidance for Evaluating Selected Solar Technologies on Airports”, also known as the Solar Guide.  The Solar Guide is the FAA’s central reference for solar development projects.  For airports interested in exploring solar opportunities, the Guide provides information on appropriate siting, required approvals, and options for funding.  For FAA staff, it provides guidance on technical reviews of issues like glare and radar interference and what type of information may be appropriate to address those concerns. 

Over the past six months,I worked with Dr. Jake Plante from the FAA’s Airport Planning and Environmental Division to draft the Guide.  Phil DeVita and Bob Miller provided critical research and review to make sure the Guide was up to HMMH’s professional standards of quality.  Several other members of HMMH’s technical and communications staff also contributed to the final product.   I think you will find the Solar Guide to be a very easy to read document that will facilitate better communications between aviation and energy groups with a mutual interest in developing solar, as well as enhancing and streamlining the regulatory review and approval of future airport solar projects.