Pfister Energy’s Maryland office, located in Baltimore, has some great news. If you haven’t heard, Governor Martin O’Malley signed the Renewable Energy Portfolio Standard for Solar Energy and Solar Water Heating Systems bill into law, which is designed to reduce the expected end date of Maryland’s 2% solar carve-out initiative by two years.
Essentially, this bill is to make sure the state doesn’t fall behind in its path to sustainability. With an emphasis on solar-related construction projects, this bill is expected to result in roughly 1,000 new jobs between now and 2018, and should keep Maryland on track as it strives to achieve year-over-year job growth in the renewable energy sector.
“This is an important victory for Maryland’s quickly emerging solar energy market,” said Rhone Resch, president and CEO of the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA). “The state’s RPS policy has worked. We’ve seen a dramatic decline in the cost of solar energy, rapid job growth and tens of millions of dollars in economic expansion. But a potential market distortion would dramatically constrain growth of solar in Maryland.”
The industry growth should have plenty of benefits. The new jobs will help the economy, and by accelerating the project time, we will all be able to enjoy the benefits of clean solar energy sooner rather than later. “Turning rooftops into power plants is a statewide initiative that lets Maryland stand out,” commented William Cole of Pfister Energy Baltimore.
As far as the construction process goes, it appears that most of the projects will be related to solar paneling construction. That, of course, is good news, because any further use of solar energy is positive. However, we hope that the state understands the importance of utilizing a range of solar energy methods. At Pfister Energy, our experience shows that companies who look at solar electric (photovoltaics) AND other solar-based technologies like daylighting systems and solar thermal systems can significantly reduce the energy consumption of a facility. Either way, today’s decision was big news, and a great step for the state of Maryland.
by Chris Grablutz
How can you successfully apply different or multiple renewable energy technologies? Pfister Energy is based in the Garden State, one of the most diverse in terms of people, culture, and landscape. As a resident of NJ and Project Manager at a renewable energy business, I often think about how renewable energy can help the wide range of businesses located here and what industries can increase productivity, revenue, and image with the adoption of one or more clean, green or efficient technologies.
- How can photovoltaics (solar energy), wind energy, daylighting, solar thermal, green roofs, and rainwater harvesting affect the bottom line for small and large businesses?
- Is ROI (return on investment) the only factor to be considered? Can energy-related thinking benefit employees, the employer, clients and the neighboring community?
If you are a business owner, financial expert or facilities operator, this blog is the start of a short series of posts that describe each of the technologies below in lay terms. I will also include some benefits unique to the technology or to different industries and applications.
Photovoltaics – also called PV, solar power, solar energy and solar system (like the planets but not). Solar panels are usually mounted on racks or directly glued to the roof (different module types) of a building. In some cases, the racks are actually on the ground. When the sun shines (year-round), the solar panels convert the sun’s energy into electricity to offset the power used in your building. End result? Your business will need significantly less power from the utility!
Wind Energy – also called wind turbines or sometimes just turbines. These high tech spinning devices harness the mechanical energy from the wind to create electrical power. The more wind turbines you install, the more energy you create and the less electrical power you’ll buy from the utilities.
Daylighting – Bring natural light into your building with an engineered skylight. While this technology doesn’t create energy it can make a significant reduction in your total power consumed. Just like buying Energy Smart appliances, this is one easy way to lower your electric bill and create an improved working environment.
Solar Thermal – Similar to solar electric, solar thermal technology heats water and / or air that can be used to heat a liquid for process applications or heat the building (or makeup air). To maximize space and dollars even more, solar thermal can be easily combined with solar electric (PV) to become an integrated system that really puts your roof (or wall) to work while slashing utility bills.
Green Roofs – Think of an oasis on the roof of your office…a carpet of natural beauty that protects your building from the relentless radiation of the sun and provides a retreat from the cubicle existence. Not only is it “cool” but green roofs are cooling because they reduce utility bills by insulating the top floor. Cool!
Rainwater Harvesting – A re-use of natural resources, rainwater collection systems divert and safely store rainwater so that it can be used for outdoor activities such as irrigation, car washing etc.
Armed with information and ideas, my hope is that you will act upon some of my observations about each technology. Maybe you’ll be interested in more than one! If you have questions or need some technical information (science and engineering is what I do), just ask or give me a call.
Stay tuned for my next blog…Solar Energy for Businesses: What You Need to Know.
I was recently reading about the Air Force’s commitment to energy efficiency and renewable energy systems. While I was aware of the branch’s role in the Department of Defense’s efforts to increase renewable energy usage, I was pleasantly surprised to see how far along they have come in their initiative.
Master Sgt. Angelita Colon-Francia, of the Air Force Public Affairs Agency office, revealed in a recent statement that the Air Force is well on pace hit its target of generating 1 gigawatt of renewable energy by 2016. The expectation is that by 2025, 25 percent of the Air Force’s electricity will be from renewable energy sources.
Frankly, this is great news, because what is the military’s role in the DoD’s renewable energy program? Considering the type of equipment used by the military branch, namely large pieces of aircraft, the need for jet fuel will surely limit the ability to implement the same renewable energy strategies that other branches will rely on. Yet, the Air Force is finding innovative solutions to keep up their end of the DoD’s efforts.
“To successfully achieve the Air Force mission to fly, fight, and win in air, space and cyberspace, the Air Force must have assured access to reliable supplies of energy, such as renewable energy when and where we need it in support of the mission,” said Dr. Kevin T. Geiss, Deputy assistant secretary of the Air Force for energy.
One way the Air Force can reduce its carbon footprint is through strategy, rather than just installation. Finding ways to naturally improve energy efficiency as an integrated part of the building rather than installing new renewable energy products can prove to be a cost-effective, yet environmentally friendly, method.
The links below describe a DoD demonstration project currently underway at Goodfellow Air Force Base in Texas. Instead of just replacing an old roof with the same type of roof, the building will be re-roofed with an integrated solar electric AND solar thermal roof. The project improves energy efficiency by incorporating insulation and air barrier improvements into the retrofit roofing system that includes solar thermal and solar electric (photovoltaic or PV) collectors. By combining and utilizing mainstream components, this high performance building envelope system holds great potential for the federal government. If proven effective (heating water, creating electricity, reducing fuel consumption, and effectively protecting the building interior), the DoD can roll out cost-effective retrofits of its 2B square foot building inventory without disrupting the occupants or facility operations. To learn more about these projects, read though these two articles:
By trying and analyzing the efficacy of new energy efficient methods, the Air Force can reach its renewable energy goals. What do you think of their strategy and direction? What do you think about a roof that incorporates solar thermal (creates heat) and solar electric (creates power) as a part of the roof system? (Another way of thinking about may be, “What else can a roof be doing in the Texas hot sun?”)