3-D Printing Technology Project Will Be Presented at METALCON

The international event for the metal construction industry showcases a 3-D printing technology project developed by the Department of Energy’s Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) and industry partners at METALCON’s annual tradeshow and conference on Oct. 26 at the Baltimore Convention Center.
               
As part of its focus on technology this year, METALCON is featuring ORNL’s Additive Manufacturing Integrated Energy (AMIE) project.  AMIE demonstrates innovation through additive manufacturing, or 3-D printing, addressing electricity supply and reliability challenges via an integrated approach to power generation, storage and consumption.   
               
AMIE connects a natural gas-powered hybrid electric vehicle with a building, both printed a polymer 3-D printer.  Power flows between the vehicle and building using a bi-directional wireless power transfer technology developed by ORNL.  The structure’s 3.2-kilowatt solar panel system, paired with the electric vehicle’s batteries, generates and stores renewable power.   It is a model for systems that link buildings, vehicles and the grid, offsetting power supply disruptions.
                
In addition, AMIE exemplifies additive manufacturing’s prototyping potential in design, manufacturing and construction technologies, which will enable products to go-to-market quickly and reduce the amount of waste generated by traditional construction methods.  
               
Dr. Roderick Jackson, the technical lead for AMIE and the building envelope systems research group leader at ORNL, is a guest speaker at METALCON.  Jackson, who has a background in construction, will present the “Future of Design and Technology Trends in Construction” followed by a guided tour of AMIE in the exhibit hall.  He will explain multiple uses of this technology combined into one project and discuss the potential of integrated design, build and energy efforts.
            
“The folks at METALCON and the Metal Construction Association (MCA) understand the concept and recognize the innovation AMIE presents and how this technology could apply to the metal construction industry,” said Jackson.

“The idea behind this prototype is to introduce disruptive innovations to the construction industry.  Although AMIE is constructed from polymer composites, we can explore how to apply this technology to the metal construction industry.” 
               
“We brought together expertise from multiple research teams, along with 20 industry partners including 100 individuals, and the U.S. Department of Energy,” said Jackson.  “We took the risk to demonstrate how it can be done.  We went from a sketch on a restaurant receipt after a dinner meeting to a final product demo in nine months.  We will discuss not only how it was done, but also what prototyping means for the future of the construction industry.”
                 
“We want to know what innovations we can implement today to prepare the metal construction industry for the future,” said Jackson.  “Perhaps there is a challenge in the industry we can help overcome using additive manufacturing or integrated energy technologies.”

METALCON Show Director, Claire Kilcoyne, is excited to showcase AMIE in the exhibit hall.  “We have an opportunity to create an interactive learning experience for our attendees by connecting our educational program to the exhibit hall with this added attraction,” said Kilcoyne.  “This 3-D printing technology offers benefits to the metal construction industry.”

The Building Industry Is Working to Reduce Long-term Costs and Limit Disruptions of Extreme Events

“Resilience is the ability to prepare for and adapt to changing conditions and to withstand and recover rapidly from deliberate attacks, accidents, or naturally occurring threats or incidents.” —White House Presidential Policy Directive on Critical Infrastructure Security and Resilience

In August 2005, Hurricane Katrina made landfall in the Gulf Coast as a category 3 storm. Insured losses topped $41 billion, the costliest U.S. catastrophe in the history of the industry. Studies following the storm indicated that lax enforcement of building codes had significantly increased the number and severity of claims and structural losses. Researchers at Louisiana State University, Baton Rouge, found that if stronger building codes had been in place, wind damages from Hurricane Katrina would have been reduced by a staggering 80 percent. With one storm, resiliency went from a post-event adjective to a global movement calling for better preparation, response and recovery—not if but when the next major disaster strikes.

CHALLENGES OF AN AGING INFRASTRUCTURE

We can all agree that the U.S. building stock and infrastructure are old and woefully unprepared for climatic events, which will occur in the years ahead. Moving forward, engineering has to be more focused on risk management; historical weather patterns don’t matter because the past is no longer a reliable map for future building-code requirements. On community-wide and building-specific levels, conscientious groups are creating plans to deal with robust weather, climatic events and national security threats through changing codes and standards to improve their capacity to withstand, absorb and recover from stress.

Improvements to infrastructure resiliency, whether they are called risk-management strategies, extreme-weather preparedness or climate-change adaptation, can help a region bounce back quickly from the next storm at considerably less cost. Two years ago, leading groups in America’s design and construction industry issued an Industry Statement on Resiliency, which stated: “We recognize that natural and manmade hazards pose an increasing threat to the safety of the public and the vitality of our nation. Aging infrastructure and disasters result in unacceptable losses of life and property, straining our nation’s ability to respond in a timely and efficient manner. We further recognize that contemporary planning, building materials, and design, construction and operational techniques can make our communities more resilient to these threats.”

With these principles in mind, there has been a coordinated effort to revolutionize building standards to respond to higher demands.

STRENGTHENING BUILDING STANDARDS

Resiliency begins with ensuring that buildings are constructed and renovated in accordance with modern building codes and designed to evolve with change in the built and natural environment. In addition to protecting the lives of occupants, buildings that are designed for resilience can rapidly re-cover from a disruptive event, allowing continuity of operations that can liter- ally save lives.

Disasters are expensive to respond to, but much of the destruction can be prevented with cost-effective mitigation features and advanced planning. A 2005 study funded by the Washington, D.C.-based Federal Emergency Management Agency and conducted by the Washington-based National Institute of Building Sciences’ Multi-hazard Mitigation Council found that every dollar spent on mitigation would save $4 in losses. Improved building-code requirements during the past decade have been the single, unifying force in driving high-performing and more resilient building envelopes, especially in states that have taken the initiative to extend these requirements to existing buildings.

MITIGATION IS COST-EFFECTIVE IN THE LONG TERM

In California, there is an oft-repeated saying that “earthquakes don’t kill people, buildings do.” Second only to Alaska in frequency of earthquakes and with a much higher population density, California has made seismic-code upgrades a priority, even in the face of financial constraints. Last year, Los Angeles passed an ambitious bill requiring 15,000 buildings and homes to be retrofitted to meet modern codes. Without the changes, a major earth- quake could seriously damage the city’s economic viability: Large swaths of housing could be destroyed, commercial areas could become uninhabitable and the city would face an uphill battle to regain its economic footing. As L.A. City Councilman Gil Cedillo said, “Why are we waiting for an earthquake and then committed to spending billions of dollars, when we can spend millions of dollars before the earthquake, avoid the trauma, avoid the loss of afford- able housing and do so in a preemptive manner that costs us less?”

This preemptive strategy has been adopted in response to other threats, as well. In the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy, Princeton University, Princeton, N.J., emerged as a national example of electrical resilience with its microgrid, an efficient on-campus power-generation and -delivery network that draws electricity from a gas-turbine generator and solar-panel field. When the New Jersey utility grid went down in the storm, police, firefighters, paramedics and other emergency-services workers used Princeton University as a staging ground and charging station for phones and equipment. It also served as a haven for local residents whose homes lost power. Even absent a major storm, the system provides cost efficiency, reduced environmental impact and the opportunity to use renewable energy, making the initial investment a smart one.

ROOFING STANDARDS ADAPT TO MEET DEMANDS

Many of today’s sustainable roofing standards were developed in response to severe weather events. Wind-design standards across the U.S. were bolstered after Hurricane Andrew in 1992 with minimum design wind speeds rising by 30-plus mph. Coastal jurisdictions, such as Miami-Dade County, went even further with the development of wind- borne debris standards and enhanced uplift design testing. Severe heat waves and brown-outs, such as the Chicago Heat Wave of 1995, prompted that city to require cool roofs on the city’s buildings.

Hurricane Sandy fostered innovation by demonstrating that when buildings are isolated from the supply of fresh water and electricity, roofs could serve an important role in keeping building occupants safe and secure. Locating power and water sources on rooftops would have maintained emergency lighting and water supplies when storm surges threatened systems located in basement utility areas. Thermally efficient roofs could have helped keep buildings more habitable until heating and cooling plants were put back into service.

In response to these changes, there are many opportunities for industry growth and adaptation. Roof designs must continue to evolve to accommodate the increasing presence of solar panels, small wind turbines and electrical equipment moved from basements, in addition to increasing snow and water loads on top of buildings. Potential energy disruptions demand greater insulation and window performance to create a habitable interior environment in the critical early hours and days after a climate event. Roofing product manufacturers will work more closely with the contractor community to ensure that roofing installation practices maximize product performance and that products are tested appropriately for in-situ behavior.

AVERTING FUTURE DISASTERS THROUGH PROACTIVE DESIGN

Rather than trying to do the minimum possible to meet requirements, building practitioners are “thinking beyond the code” to design structures built not just to withstand but to thrive in extreme circumstances. The Tampa, Fla.-based Insurance Institute for Business & Home Safety has developed an enhanced set of engineering and building standards called FORTIFIED Home, which are designed to help strengthen new and existing homes through system-specific building upgrades to reduce damage from specific natural hazards. Research on roofing materials is ongoing to find systems rigorous enough to withstand hail, UV radiation, temperature fluctuations and wind uplift. New techniques to improve roof installation quality and performance will require more training for roofing contractors and more engagement by manufacturers on the installation of their products to optimize value.

Confronted with growing exposure to disruptive events, the building industry is working cooperatively to meet the challenge of designing solutions that provide superior performance in changing circumstances to reduce long-term costs and limit disruptions. Achieving such integration requires active collaboration among building team members to improve the design process and incorporate new materials and technologies, resulting in high-performing structures that are durable, cost- and resource-efficient, and resilient so when the next disruptive event hits, our buildings and occupants will be ready.

A Coastal Home Is Built to Withstand the Severe Weather that Destroyed Its Predecessor

Dave Caldwell doesn’t have to travel into the future to see how a sustainable beach house—a complete rebuild of a home destroyed by Hurricane Sandy—in Westerly, R.I., will survive the next major storm. Half an hour northeast along the coastline, on the ocean side of Narragansett Bay, stands a testament to resiliency, another new home that Caldwell built in October 2012, just two weeks before Sandy swept in.

The Westerly, R.I., coastal home features an asphalt laminate shingle and integrated solar shingle roofing system.

The Westerly, R.I., coastal home features an asphalt laminate shingle and integrated solar shingle roofing system.

Featuring the same asphalt laminate shingle and integrated solar shingle roofing system, the Narragansett Bay home weathered the worst storm to hit the Ocean State in more than half a century, emerging unscathed while 1,000 other coastal Rhode Island properties incurred a combined $35 million in damage. The home’s survival demonstrated the power of construction techniques used to protect against the forces of nature—techniques that Caldwell repeated in the re-creation of the Westerly home.

For Caldwell, the second-generation owner of North Kingstown, R.I.-based Caldwell & Johnson, a design-build firm founded in 1968, the construction industry’s response to Hurricane Sandy only validates an approach to sustainable building that emphasizes long-term value over one-time costs. He says the owners of the Westerly home, a retired couple from South Carolina, were not afraid to put a little money into making the building stout and durable after their previous home was destroyed by the storm. “The goal,” he says, “was to sit and watch the next category 5 hurricane blow through.”

HURRICANE DESTRUCTION AND ITS AFTERMATH

It’s a good thing nobody was at the Westerly home in late October 2012 when 15-foot waves carrying softball-sized stones and tons of sand crashed onto Misquamicut State Beach. The structure there at the time was a bedrock of family tradition, an annual summer destination for the owners and their children and grandchildren. But without insulation to even keep out cold air in winter, it was no match for flooding and gale-force winds. Caldwell describes the storm’s impact in neat and peaceful terms. “After the tidal surge, not much of the house was left,” he says. “Where the living room used to be, there was a 4-foot pile of sand.”

Commissioned to rebuild using the maximum footprint allowed by regulatory agencies, Caldwell designed a flood-resistant foundation using concrete footings and pilings reinforced with rebar and breakaway walls at ground level so the rest of the house will not be compromised by the next big storm. The whole house received airtight insulation, efficient heating and cooling systems, and a third-party-verified air quality measurement that combined to achieve a silver rating by the National Green Building Standard, which is maintained by the National Association of Home Builders, Washington, D.C.

Caldwell gets a lot of customer requests to add rooftop solar panels. Many times he says no because of shading impacts or suboptimal roof orientation that can limit energy production. When site conditions allow for solar, Caldwell usually brings in a subcontractor for the installation. For high-end projects with an aesthetic that requires preserving the architectural integrity of the roofline, Caldwell has his own construction crew, led by foreman Dwayne Smith, install solar shingles that integrate with traditional shingles to form a seam- less roof system. Smith went through a manufacturer’s training program to become a certified roof shingle and solar shingle installer, making Caldwell & Johnson eligible for warranty protection from the supplier and demonstrating to customers that the firm is serious about the product.

Traditional solar panels would not have been suitable for the Westerly beach home, because durability was a principal concern for the client, a retired physicist.

Traditional solar panels would not have been suitable for the Westerly beach home, because durability was a principal concern

Traditional solar panels would not have been suitable for the Westerly beach home, because durability was a principal concern.

“Durability is a key component of sustainable green building,” Caldwell explains. “Oceanfront homes in our region are exposed to some pretty harsh elements throughout the year, including high winds, ice, salt and more. Fortunately, the individual components of the integrated solar system are up to task, and the fastening system allows the entire array to be secured directly to the roof deck as an integral unit.”

Caldwell was able to easily dispel the concern by referring to the Narragansett Bay project that survived Hurricane Sandy, where his team had installed solar shingles for the first time. “That home came through the storm with no problem at all. The solar energy system turned on and hasn’t had a problem since,” he says.

If the conditions in Rhode Island don’t provide enough assurance that solar shingles can withstand the worst that Mother Nature has to offer, Caldwell can also point to an installation he’s put on his own ski house in the White Mountains of New Hampshire, about 4,000 feet above sea level. “If you wanted to test this stuff, that’s getting on the outer edge of the bell curve,” he says. “I wouldn’t put traditional solar panels there. It would be too dangerous. But in pretty harsh conditions, the solar shingles work great.”

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PACE Financing is the Key to Unleashing Energy-efficiency and Renewable-energy Retrofits in Commercial Buildings

Architects, contractors and managers who make a living improving the energy efficiency of buildings know the drill: They fight hard for cost-effective energy-efficient designs, and they fight even harder to ensure these designs and systems survive cost-cutting efforts that can arise.

Through the GreenFinanceSF program, San Francisco-based Prologis used PACE financing to fund lighting upgrades, HVAC improvements and rooftop solar. These upgrades reduced purchased electricity costs by 32 percent. PHOTO: PACENation

Through the GreenFinanceSF program, San Francisco-based Prologis used PACE financing to fund lighting upgrades, HVAC improvements and rooftop solar. These upgrades reduced purchased electricity costs by 32 percent. PHOTO: PACENation

Technically sound projects don’t always get off the ground for several economic reasons. Sometimes the split incentive embedded in leases means the owner makes the capital investment but the tenant reaps the economic benefit. Other times, architects, contractors and managers must face the fact that they simply cannot get internal capital allocated to energy-efficiency projects despite their undeniable cost effectiveness. For small business owners, it can come down to lack of funds. For larger companies, the capital allocation process often translates into investment hurdle rates that are hard to attain because energy-efficiency projects must meet two- or three-year simple paybacks.

If an energy retrofit project makes economic sense and internal capital won’t be allocated to it, textbooks suggest the use of external capital. In practice, it’s not that easy. For small business owners, getting third-party financing often requires personal guarantees, some equity investment or other conditions. For larger companies, the use of external capital involves lengthy discussions that may include the downside of borrowing when a building’s holding period is up in the air, the cost of project capital versus corporate debt, and the balance sheet impact of the borrowed funds.

Enter Property Assessed Clean Energy (PACE) Financing. PACE is a tax-lien financing program that allows interested property owners to finance qualifying energy-efficiency and clean-energy improvements on their properties through a voluntary benefit assessment placed on their property tax bill.

This exciting form of third-party financing provides unique benefits to building owners:

The 542 Westport Avenue Shopping Plaza, Norwalk, Conn., financed a $285,000 lighting upgrade, which reduced electricity costs by more than $17,000 per year. PHOTO: Hartt Realty Advisors LLC

The 542 Westport Avenue Shopping Plaza, Norwalk, Conn., financed a $285,000 lighting upgrade, which reduced electricity costs by more than $17,000 per year. PHOTO: Hartt Realty Advisors LLC

  • The cost of PACE financing and the benefits generated can be shared with tenants, thus eliminating the split-incentive issue that derails so many energy-efficiency projects.
  • One-hundred percent of project costs, including soft costs such as development fees, can be financed through PACE, which removes the requirement for out-of-pocket expenses for owners.
  • PACE financing is available with flexible terms up to 20 years, making it possible to generate positive cash flow—and operating income—from projects with simple paybacks as long as 12 years. This increased operating income translates to higher property values for building owners.
  • PACE is entirely property-based financing. As a result, it requires no personal or corporate guarantees.
  • PACE is attached to a property tax bill, so the obligation to repay the financing automatically transfers to the new owner upon the sale of the property, along with the energy-saving benefits generated by the project. This eliminates any holding-period concern owners may have.
  • It’s generally accepted that PACE does not affect a building owner’s typical loan covenants, such as debt to equity ratios.

PACE funding is provided or arranged by a local government for 100 percent of a project’s costs and is repaid with a voluntary assessment during a term of up to 20 years. The property owner pays its typical tax bill, which now includes the PACE finance charge, and the local government redirects that payment to the investor.

Capital provided under a PACE program is secured by a lien on the owner’s property. Like other tax assessments, PACE assessments assume a first lien priority and the repayment obligation automatically transfers to the next property owner if the property is sold.

Similarly, in the event of default, only the payments in arrears would come due and the PACE financing does not accelerate. Because assessments are repaid through the property tax bill—a secure payment stream—PACE projects are seen as less risky than other financing mechanisms and, therefore, benefit from lower interest rates from the private sector with no government financing required.

The 542 West Avenue Shopping Plaza features a solar canopy that powers the exterior LED lights. PHOTO: Hartt Realty Advisors LLC

The 542 West Avenue Shopping Plaza features a solar canopy that powers the exterior LED lights. PHOTO: Hartt Realty Advisors LLC

PACE builds on a long history of benefit assessments that a government can levy on real-estate parcels to pay for the installation of projects that serve a public purpose, such as sewers and sidewalks. PACE serves a public purpose by reducing energy costs, stimulating the economy, improving property valuation, reducing greenhouse-gas emissions and creating jobs.

Pioneered by the city of Berkeley, Calif., in 2008, PACE is now a proven and effective tool to attract private capital to clean-energy projects. Commercial PACE programs are currently operating in 16 states and Washington, D.C., including more than 2,000 municipalities.

More than 700 energy-efficiency retrofits have been financed to date by commercial and industrial building owners using PACE. Indianapolis-based Simon Property Group, a global leader in retail real estate and an S&P 100 company, first used PACE in 2009 and has accelerated its use since then. Prologis, a leading developer of industrial real estate, used PACE to perform an energy-efficiency and renewable-energy retrofit at its headquarters in San Francisco in October 2012.

In Connecticut, hundreds of owners have elected to use PACE to retrofit their buildings, including the Norwalk Center, a family-owned shopping center, whose owner found PACE was ideal to finance energy-efficiency and renewable-energy improvements. In Bridgeport, Forstone Capital used PACE to retrofit the mechanicals and envelope of its 100,000-square-foot office building, which will save the owner nearly $250,000 in energy costs annually. Without PACE, it would have implemented only a fraction of its desired work scope.

Property owners across the U.S. are using PACE because it saves them money and makes their buildings more valuable. PACE pays for 100 percent of a project’s costs and is repaid for up to 20 years with an assessment added to the property’s tax bill. PACE financing stays with the building upon sale and is easy to share with tenants.

PACE is a simple and effective way to finance energy-efficiency, renewable-energy and water-conservation retrofits to buildings. Building owners who want to take advantage of PACE financing can find out where PACE is available via PACENation, a recognized source of impartial, independent and consensus-based information about PACE.

CenterStar Energy Offers Expertise and Support for the Solar Industry

Experienced solar renewable energy group launches CenterStar Energy Services LLC, filling a critical need for one of the world’s fastest growing industries. This re-entry into the solar industry is designed to offer specialized expertise and optimized support nationally.

CenterStar Energy is headed by seasoned industry leaders committed to a future for cleaner energy in our world. Its foundation is built on a strong management team with deep experience along with a diverse group of investors. The group has excelled as a skilled resource providing inventive design, superior products and support, including more than 75 expert staff and field technicians exceeding more than 35 years of industry experience.

The CenterStar brand emphasizes its commitment to sustainable energy and mission to provide a full spectrum of renewable energy services.

“We lead by developing and building innovative, profitable renewable energy solutions to benefit our customers, our communities and our world. We are excited about bringing CenterStar Energy to the next level and continuing to exceed all of our customers’ expectations with the superior level of support that we are committed to delivering and they come to expect,” says Sean S. Angelini, CEO and president.

MiaSolé and SolEnergy Enter into Representation Agreement

SolEnergy LLC has entered into a representation agreement with MiaSolé in which SolEnergy will represent MiaSolé in Louisiana, Maryland and North Virginia. SolEnergy offers innovative, mission-critical solar power and energy solutions that provide customers guaranteed savings, NetZERO design options, cutting-edge energy storage systems, remote building energy metering and controls, energy system retro-commissioning, and advanced energy-efficiency options. These flexible, scalable systems are tailored by SolEnergy to meet and exceed the energy needs of today’s growing businesses.

SolEnergy will offer MiaSolé FLEX modules, efficient thin-film lightweight flexible modules with an efficiency rating of more than 16 percent. MiaSolé FLEX modules bond directly to the roof surface with a simple peel-and-stick adhesive. The low-profile FLEX module provides superior wind resistance and a seismic advantage over traditional rack-and-panel systems where their higher profile increases the likelihood of damage in a hurricane or earthquake, making FLEX modules the ideal solar solution for solar carports and commercial buildings. This adhesive approach eliminates the need for racking and reduces labor and logistics cost to provide a 20 percent lower BOS cost than traditional glass solar systems. In addition, the MiaSolé Flex modules use innovative bypass diode technology that enables better shade performance. The FLEX-02 Series module is IEC 61646 & IEC 61730 and UL 1703 certified.

Wind and Solar Accounted for All New Electrical Generation Brought into Service in January

Two new federal government reports underscore not only the continued rapid growth of renewable energy sources (biomass, geothermal, hydropower, solar, wind) in the electric power sector but also the ongoing failure of government forecasts to accurately anticipate and predict that growth.

In the first 2016 issue of its monthly “Energy Infrastructure Update” report, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) notes that five new “units” of wind (468 megawatts) and 6 new units of solar (145 MW) accounted for 100 percent of new electrical generation brought into service in January. No new capacity for nuclear, coal, gas, or oil was reported. Renewables now account for 17.93 percent of total installed operating generating capacity in the U.S.: hydropower (8.56 percent), wind (6.37 percent), biomass (1.43 percent), solar (1.24 percent), and geothermal (0.33 percent). In fact, installed capacity for non-hydro renewables (biomass, geothermal, solar, wind) alone (9.37 percent) now exceeds that for either nuclear (9.15 percent) or oil (3.84 percent).

The new renewable energy capacity added in January is continuing a trend. Just a month earlier, FERC’s December 2015 “Energy Infrastructure Update” revealed that renewables had accounted for 64 percent of all new electrical generating capacity installed last year.

Separately, the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) has issued its latest “Electric Power Monthly” (covering all twelve months of 2015) indicating that electricity generated by renewable energy sources grew by over 2 percent compared to 2014 and accounted for almost 13.5 percent of “utility-scale” electrical output in the U.S. last year.

Moreover, EIA’s end-of-the-year data reveals significantly higher growth in the renewable energy sector than the agency had forecast less than three months ago for calendar year 2015 in its “Short-Term Energy Outlook.” At that time, EIA said it expected “total renewables used in the electric power sector to decrease by 1.8 percent in 2015. Hydropower generation is forecast to decrease by 8.2 percent, and non-hydropower renewable power generation is forecast to increase by 4.2 percent.”

In reality, compared to calendar year 2014, non-hydro renewables increased by 6.9 percent, hydro output declined by just 3.2 percent, and the total of hydropower plus non-hydro renewables grew by 2.03 percent. For calendar year 2015, grid-scale renewables accounted for 13.44 percent of net U.S. electrical generation—up from 13.16 percent in 2014. Of that, non-hydro renewables accounted for 7.30 percent while conventional hydropower was 6.14 percent. Generation by all non-hydro renewable sources grew in 2015. Biomass was up by 0.3 percent, wind by 5.1 percent, geothermal by 5.6 percent, and solar by 49.6 percent.

Renewable energy growth is significantly outpacing earlier EIA projections. Less than four years ago, in its “Annual Energy Outlook 2012,” EIA forecast that non-hydro renewables would grow at an annual rate of 3.9 percent and provide about 250,000 thousand megawatt-hours in 2015 while non-hydro renewable electrical generating capacity would reach approximately 85 gigawatts (GW). It also forecast that non-hydro renewables would not surpass hydropower until 2020.

In fact, EIA now reports actual generation from non-hydro renewables in 2015 to have hit 298,358 thousand megawatt-hours from utility-scale facilities alone; in addition, at least 12,141 thousand megawatt-hours was provided by distributed solar photovoltaic and an unknown amount from other distributed, small-scale renewables that are not grid-connected (small wind). Further, electrical generation from non-hydro renewables surpassed that from hydropower more than a year ago.

And, according to FERC, the total installed generating capacity of wind, biomass, solar and geothermal units had reached 109.6 GW by January 2016—and this reflects just the combined capacity of larger renewable energy facilities. FERC’s data only includes plants with nameplate capacity of 1 MW or greater and therefore does not reflect the additional capacity provided by rooftop solar or other smaller, distributed renewable energy systems.

“Just a few years ago EIA had forecast that renewables might provide 15 percent of the nation’s electricity by 2035,” notes Ken Bossong, executive director of the SUN DAY Campaign. “It now appears that goal could be reached within the next two years and quite possibly sooner.”

Solar PV Tiles Fit Alongside Standard Roof Tiles

The Intecto integrated solar PV tile from Romag is specially designed to fit seamlessly alongside standard residential and commercial roof tiles and is available in a range of colours to match existing roof coverings.

The Intecto integrated solar PV tile from Romag is specially designed to fit seamlessly alongside standard residential and commercial roof tiles and is available in a range of colours to match existing roof coverings.

A new concept in building integrated PV products from solar manufacturer Romag means property aesthetics, building design and visual appearance need not be compromised by rooftop solar Installations.

The Intecto integrated solar PV tile is specially designed to fit seamlessly alongside standard residential and commercial roof tiles and is available in a range of colours to match existing roof coverings.

The system has been specifically developed to enable architects, house builders and roofing contractors to provide an effective rooftop PV solution with a conventional appearance and without any compromise in solar power production.

Installed directly and securely onto wood roofing battens using a guaranteed fixing system, the frameless Intecto units sit flush with conventional interlocking concrete, clay and terracotta tiles and can be used to provide a whole roof PV solution if required.

The lightweight tiles reduce roof loading, eliminating the need for any roof reinforcement, and contribute to higher Code for Sustainable Homes and BREEAM ratings.

The special roof integrated tiles have been developed to meet design and aesthetic considerations, and can be used to meet specific planning conditions. They are also appropriate for use in heritage and green-belt areas, where the requirement is for rooftop solar PV systems that maintain the integrity of individual buildings and their local environment.

The Intecto roof tiles incorporate the same high-quality PV cells used in Romag’s existing range of PV products, enabling the system to provide the same weatherproofing and protection measures provided by traditional tiles, but with the added benefit of renewable energy generation.

Available in black, grey and terracotta colours, the new range is fully IEC and MCS certified and complies with other international and European building industry regulations and roofing performance standards.

Whitehead & Associates and MiaSolé Partner to Sell Solar Modules

Whitehead & Associates Inc., a power and energy solutions and services company that provides a wide range of custom electrical applications, and MiaSolé have entered into a sales representative agreement. Whitehead & Associates will sell MiaSolé FLEX modules in Georgia, Alabama, Florida, Tennessee, South Carolina and North Carolina.

Whitehead & Associates services virtually every branch of the electrical industry, including the electric utility, commercial and industrial, large power users, and all lighting markets. Established in 1968, Whitehead & Associates has more than 45 years of rock-solid results and reputation to bolster their portfolio of offerings.

Whitehead & Associates will sell MiaSolé FLEX modules, the most efficient thin-film lightweight flexible modules on the market today—with an efficiency rating of more than 16 percent—generating the most power possible. The FLEX-02 Series module is available in two formats. The FLEX-02W module is 39.3 by 102.3 inches and is rated at 360 watts, and designed for low-slope commercial single-ply roof systems. The FLEX-02N module is 14.6 by 102.3 inches and is rated at 120 watts, and designed specifically for standing-seam metal roofs. Both FLEX-02 Series modules bond to the roof surface with a simple peel-and-stick adhesive. This adhesive approach eliminates the need for racking and reduces labor and logistics cost to provide a 20 percent lower BOS cost than traditional glass solar systems. The FLEX-02 Series module is IEC 61646 & IEC 61730 and UL 1703 certified.

“This is an exciting engagement for Whitehead & Associates to represent MiaSolé FLEX modules,” says Scott Whitehead, president at Whitehead & Associates. “This high-performance solar roofing in such a lightweight form can serve a variety of markets, including commercial, industrial, auto and off-grid. Whitehead & Associates will continue to bring innovative products and value to our customers so they can maximize energy efficiency in a cost-effective manner.”

The FLEX-02 module provides Whitehead & Associates’ customers significant benefits. The low weight of the module (less than 0.7 pounds per square foot) allows installation on roofs that cannot support the weight of traditional glass solar panels. Because the FLEX-02 panels adhere directly to the roof surface, there are no penetrations, eliminating the worry of leakage and damage to valuable contents within the building. The FLEX-02 also is aesthetically pleasing, blending into metal and TPO roofs and preserving the original look of the roof. The low-profile FLEX-02 module provides superior wind resistance and a seismic advantage over traditional rack-and-panel systems where their higher profile increases the likelihood of damage in a hurricane or earthquake.

ClearWorld and MiaSolé Partner to Provide Flexible Solar Panels

ClearWorld and MiaSolé entered into an agreement in which MiaSolé will be the supplier of flexible solar panels for ClearWorld’s LED lighting system, RETROFLEX.

ClearWorld and MiaSolé entered into an agreement in which MiaSolé will be the supplier of flexible solar panels for ClearWorld’s LED lighting system, RETROFLEX.

ClearWorld LLC, a renewable energy system solution provider, and MiaSolé have entered into an exclusive Multi-MW agreement in which MiaSolé will be the sole supplier of flexible, lightweight solar panels for ClearWorld’s unique LED lighting system, RETROFLEX. “MiaSolé’s unique cell design and flexible module enables a host of non-standard applications,” says Jeff Zhou, MiaSolé CEO. “We are very excited to see our technology used in such an innovative and game-changing application as the ClearWorld RETROFLEX LED Light.”

ClearWorld RETROFLEX, available internationally, is a patented lighting technology that brings clear cost-saving and environmental benefits to clients. RETROFLEX light poles harness solar energy and provide outdoor lighting that preserves resources, requires no moving parts, and is virtually maintenance-free. The RETROFLEX unit supports wireless monitoring for faults, as well as wireless programming, including dimming capabilities. Its unique design allows the panels to be affixed to any dimension, diameter or finish, and will work with any existing pole without compromising the integrity of its design.

MiaSolé FLEX is uniquely well-suited to this application as the lightweight, flexible solar modules wrap around the base of the light structure, eliminating the solar rectangle “wing” design of typical solar streetlight panels and dramatically reducing build-up of dust and bird droppings that decrease module efficiency. The modules on a RETROFEX unit require very little maintenance when compared to glass panels installed at an angle of 30 degrees. The vertical installation also reduces the chance of vandalism and theft, and preserves the aesthetic appeal of the light. In addition, attaching FLEX modules directly to the cylindrical shape of the pole increases resistance to wind. A traditional solar light with rectangular panel can withstand 70 to 90 mph winds while a light powered by a MiaSolé flexible module can withstand 150-plus mph. The curved design also performs better in high temperatures.

MiaSolé FLEX modules are efficient thin-film lightweight flexible modules with an efficiency rating of 16 percent. For ClearWorld, the power generated by a MiaSolé module is sufficient to charge a backup battery that can power an LED streetlight for up to eight days, meaning even in times of inclement weather the light will be operational. According to ClearWorld CEO Larry Tittle, “This exclusive supplier agreement with MiaSolé will provide ClearWorld with the capability to achieve its goal of bringing clear cost-saving and environmental benefits to our clients.”

Because solar-powered lighting is self-contained, it is off-grid and can be used in remote installations and is unaffected by power outages. It is ideal for roadways, sidewalks, apartment and condominium complexes, corporate and industrial parking lots, retail parking lots, university campuses, government institutions, and military installations.