Wednesday, November 16, 2016

STOP the “Natural Gas Smell” plaguing Huntington Beach Residents

Sometimes the issues literally come right to your doorstep. Huntington Beach residents have been subjected more and more often in the last several months to city sized fumes of a "natural gas odor" coming in with the ocean breeze. The smell and concentration is paralyzing, bring on headaches, respiratory issues and sending you running to close up all the windows.

After another one of these "gas attacks" yesterday (the third in two weeks), my neighbors and I were fed up.  And apparently I'm not alone.  Since early this AM, the petition I created on the topic has received over 280 signatures, mostly from HB residents who are commenting about the effect the "attacks" has had on them and their families.

On social media some are commenting this is a natural phenomenon.  To that I say natural gas is an odorless, colorless substance until a vile sulfur based agent called mercaptan is added by gas processors, which is exactly what it smells like when one of these attacks come on.  So, if you still think it is a natural phenomenon, prove it.  My evidence suggests otherwise.

The goal of this petition is to get as many signatures and emails attached to it as possible over the next several weeks.  I will then present this to the Huntington Beach City Council, the HB Environmental Board and other stakeholders such as AQMD in an organized effort to (1) understand where these attacks are coming from (2) understand who is responsible and (3) stop them.

Please please please support this petition if you can.  There is power in numbers:

Friday, November 4, 2016

Monday, Nov 7th, 6 PM, Come voice support for an important Huntington Beach Energy Efficiency Project!!

If you live in the Huntington Beach, CA area, please come to the city council chambers at 6:00 PM Monday November 7, 2016 to hear comments and support for a very exciting energy efficiency project opportunity currently in front of the city.

Below is the full text of the opportunity, but let me summarize for those of us short on time.  The California Public Utilities Commission established a grant program in 2012 called EPIC.  HB neighborhood of Oak View has the opportunity to be a direct BENEFACTOR of this funding through a consortium team including UCI, NREL, SCE and So. Cal gas.  The grant will fund a two phase approach to turning the neighborhood into a "advanced energy community", trialing different approaches to zero net energy implementation, easier grid integration and perhaps most importantly serve as a model to provide affordable access to renewable energy generation, energy efficiency and water efficiency upgrades.

Long story short, this is a great opportunity for HB, so please come voice your support to convince the council to include HB in this project!!

Full Text:

The City of Huntington Beach has been a leader in energy efficiency, leading the way for many neighboring municipalities.  The City’s efficiency efforts have received awards from the Association of California Cities- Orange County, Sustain OC, Orange County Business Council, and Southern California Edison.  Additionally, these efforts have garnered attention from the Department of Energy, the National Renewable Energy Laboratory, and local universities.  The success of many of our efficiency initiatives is what led the team at UCI to contact the City and seek a partnership on the EPIC Challenge.

The EPIC program was established in 2012 by the California Public Utilities Commission and provides funding for applied research and development, technology, demonstration and deployment, and market facilitation for clean energy technologies.  The specific funding opportunity through the EPIC Program that the City was successful in obtaining was through the EPIC Challenge: Accelerating the Deployment of Advanced Energy Communities.  The purpose of the solicitation is to fund a competition that will challenge project teams to develop innovative and replicable approaches for accelerating the deployment of Advanced Energy Communities (AEC). The City was one of four communities chosen from Southern California.

The City is part of a diverse and well-respected team comprised of world renowned leading faculty from UCI, a built environment technology developer (Altura Associates, Inc.), the investor owned utilities (SCE and Southern California Gas Company), and a national laboratory (National Renewable Energy Laboratory) to address the EPIC Challenge to develop innovative and replicable approaches for accelerating the deployment of AEC in SCE and Southern California Gas Company service territories.  The project teams that develop the best approaches will then be eligible to compete for the second phase of additional funding to fully realize their vision of an AEC.

For purposes of this solicitation, Advanced Energy Communities are communities that:

·         Minimize the need for new energy infrastructure costs such as transmission and distribution upgrades.
·         Provide energy savings by achieving and maintaining zero net energy community status (accounting for behavior and increasing loads from vehicle and appliance electrification).
·         Support grid reliability and resiliency by incorporating technologies such as energy storage.
·         Provide easier grid integration and alignment with the California Public Utilities Commission’s (CPUC) Long-Term Procurement Plan, and the California Independent System Operator’s local capacity requirements process.
·         Can be replicated and scaled-up to further drive down costs.
·         Are financially attractive from a market standpoint (developers, home buyers, renters).
·         Provide affordable access to renewable energy generation, energy efficiency upgrades, and water efficiency and reuse technologies that reduce electricity consumption for all electric ratepayers within the community.
·         Makes use of smart-grid technologies throughout the community.
·         Align with other state energy goals.

Projects will be funded in two phases. Phase I focuses on the development of innovative planning, permitting, and financing approaches for Advanced Energy Communities, as well as the development of a real world conceptual design of an Advanced Energy Community. Recipients of Phase I funding will be eligible to compete for Phase II funding, which will support the build-out of an Advanced Energy Community that was proposed during Phase I.

Together with funding and support from Southern California Edison and Southern California Gas Company the team will receive a total of $1.9 million to develop and apply master community design tools and to integrate innovative, high efficiency and sustainable energy technologies into Huntington Beach’s Oak View neighborhood.

The City will work closely with the Oak View Renewal Partnership (OVRP), the neighborhoods longstanding non-profit place based service organization and CIELO the business incubator based at Golden West College.  The City and the UCI team has received widespread support for this project from OVRP, CIELO, state and local legislators, non-profit providers (GRID Alternatives), and the non-profit housing partners.

The City will receive $90,000 to coordinate collaboration with community groups, residents, and will provide detailed information on existing community energy usage, provide information on energy infrastructure, and activities that occur in the community.

This project will enable the City to study community scale energy usage and test emerging technologies to determine the highest and best use of the City’s energy resources.  The research from this project will enable the City to take the findings and apply for Phase II of the Challenge but also seek funding from other federal, state, and local agencies like the South Coast Air Quality Management District to apply for projects throughout the City.

Sunday, October 30, 2016

Watch "Before the Flood" 100% FREE on YouTube

In an effort to give the largest distribution of this film as possible, the producers, financiers, publishers and all involved are distributing for free. Free.  Enjoy.

Wednesday, August 3, 2016

Mr. Trump, if your going to lie about Renewable energy, at least make it realistic

On August 2, 2016 this happened, as reported by many outlets and reference here from The,

"“It’s so expensive,” Trump said of alternative energy at a rally in Pennsylvania.
“And honestly, it’s not working so good. I know a lot about solar. I love solar. But the payback is what, 18 years? Oh great, let me do it. Eighteen years,” he said, turning to wind power. “The wind kills all your birds. All your birds, killed. You know, the environmentalists never talk about that.”"

Ladies and gentlemen, the Republican candidate for President.  The fact at a Republican candidate decides to tell lies about renewable energy is not a surprise.  The real surprise is how LAZY these lies are.  They are cartoon level lazy.  "Kill all the birds"?  As I sit here typing on this keyboard I see 3 birds out my window.  I can hear another 3-4 because the window is open.  I guess wind power hasn't got to them yet.

Billionare Mark Cuban, who once said a Trump presidency was a good idea, recently changed his tone drastically, saying that the opportunity Trump has was squandered because he was "lazy" and "didn't do the work".  I am a rabid support of renewable energy and action on climate change, but there are certainly criticisms.  He was just too lazy to find actual criticisms, so he gave caricatures of criticisms.

Well, a rebuke is not really needed, but in true Trump fashion I'll give it with as little work as possible.. here it is for the solar.. here it is for the wind.. you're welcome...enjoy.

Friday, June 10, 2016

Size of Energy Storage Market Explained

With ASES Solar 2016 / Intersolar Conference coming up fast (have you registered?  Are you going? You probably should!), much focus will be on the Intersolar exhibit floor.  Last year there were three floors, one for PV generation products (modules), one for Balance-of-System products (trackers, racking) and one for emerging energy storage products (batteries, PowerWall, ect).  With each floor taking up about the same amount of space and with hundreds of players, it makes sense to look at these three prongs of the renewable power industry from a market size point of view.   The results may surprise you!  For consistency we will focus on Q1 2016 results in the US.

PV Modules:  Lets first focus on the bellwether: PV modules.  SEIA reports 1,665 MWdc of modules sold in the US in Q1.  Lets say average sale price of a module is $0.65 / W, this amounts to $1,082,250,000 in sales (a lil over $1 BILLION) in the first quarter of this year.

PV Balance of System:  IHS reported last year the 2014 annual global market size for balance of system product was ~$3.1 Billion, with the US accounting for ~36% of the total market.  Doing some rough math, this projects a quarterly US market size of $279,000,000, which is likely an underestimate because these numbers are already 1.5 years old.  Either way it is a line in the sand for the point of discussion at the moment.

Energy Storage: Now what you've all been waiting for.  Energy storage has been the hot new thing in renewables for awhile now, but just how big is the market today?  Just how much can your "batteries in a box" company make?  Greentech Media reported this month that a total of 18.3 MW, more aptly described as 21.1 MWh, of storage was deployed Q1, 2016 in the US.  With Tesla claiming prices of $300 / kWh, lets be generous and say these systems had a total value of about $800 / kWh.  With that, the total value of the market is $14,600,000.  The batteries alone (at $300 / kWh) is less than $6,000,000.  At a compound annual growth rate of 50% (which some claim is too low), it would take 12 years for storage to reach the same size as PV modules today, and 8 years to reach the same size as the US PV BOS market.  Meanwhile those markets are growing aggressively as well.

For a visual comparison of these three markets, click on the picture below.

So what are the reasons to be cautious about storage?  First, despite being a tiny market there are already hundreds of players, from big names like Tesla and Lockeed Martin, to dozens of smaller me-too players.  Second, there is already a fairly good, yet embattled in some areas, competitor to storage:  net metering.  If you have solar on the roof and an agreement with the utility to give you credit for energy you put back on the grid, then guess what, you already have a great (and free) storage system.  Third, there are really no reasons why this developing industry will be a "high margin" endeavor, much like PV modules.  

Reasons to be bullish on storage abound, but it is a good bet that storage will have more shakeout than opportunity for most players in the next 5 - 10 years.

Thursday, April 21, 2016

SunEdison is Bankrupt

Less than a year ago in July, 2015 SunEdison was a wall street darling.  Trading at $31 / share and worth $8 Billion, what a difference 9 months makes.  Today the embattled, deeply debt laden and deeply misguided solar developer / manufacturer filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection as covered by many major news outlets.

The stock sits as a market cap of $0.115 billion, an erosion of about $28 million / day since last July.  Just to put this in context, Solyndra lost (the tax payers albeit) $535 million, so the collapse of SunEdison is basically 16x Solyndras in size.

It seems that "work capital" was secured in order to keep operations moving during this period, but in all likelihood the "new" SunEdison will be a much smaller, less abitious enterprise after emerging from restructing, which could take a very long time.

All in all, this is another black eye for the solar business that it doesn't really need.  With the ITC extension in December, it seems to always be two steps forward, one step back for the solar business.  On the other hand, companies which relied less on Financial Engineering to pump their value are still doing quite well in solar for the foreseeable future.

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

OCR / ASES Participating in CSU Fullerton Earth Week Tomorrow!

Happy to announce (a little last minute, but better than never!) that OC Renewables and ASES will have a booth at tomorrow's Cal State University Fullerton campus as part of their Green Expo.  I will be there with the latest issue of Solar Today hoping to sign up many young and exciting students to the local OCR network of clean energy enthusiasts as well as the ASES national organization.

If you are in the area please stop by and say hi!  Event runs from 10 AM to 1 PM on the Cal Sate Fullerton Campus.  Check out a report on the school newspaper for more information at this link, or the school's earth week website at this link here.

See you there ~ Adam

Friday, February 12, 2016

Renewable Energy Networking Event hosted by OCR / PickMySolar / ASES

I get a lot of emails asking why OCR doesn't do regular meetings anymore.  We prefer to hold off on asking to donate your time to an event until it is really something special... and this EVENT is that something special!

Please join OC Renewables, the American Solar Energy Society and for a limited attendance open house at the recently finished La Kretz Clean Tech Innovation Campus in Los Angeles on Feb 18 at 6pm. 

You will be hosted to a tour of the center, a short presentation about ASES / OCR and PickMySolar and then open it to networking and refreshments.  Come and talk to some of the most well connected clean tech entrepreneurs in LA!   We also expect some guests from the press and the public sector.  

Please RSVP by registering at EventBrite at this link.  It is absolutely free, but attendance is limited to 60x guests.  

A PDF flyer of the event is at this link.  Simo and I (and Max from PickMySolar) can't wait to see you there!

~ Adam

Thursday, February 4, 2016

SOLAR 2016 Conference Call For Abstracts!

If you are in the solar biz, then you know the two main industry conference every year are Intersolar held in San Francisco, and Solar Power International which is held in a different city every year.

What you might not know is that OC Renewables parent organization, ASES, is having their 2016 SOLAR conference IN PARTNERSHIP with Intersolar this year from July 11-13, 2016 at the Intercontinental Hotel in San Franciso, the same time and place as Intersolar.  This means you get access to two fantastic conference experiences in one place, at one time.

While Intersolar is more focused on the business end, ASES SOLAR 2016 is focused on the technical, the practical and the interesting facets of solar / renewable energy.  Abstract submission for speakers at the conference is now open and closes Feb 22, so if you are working on something interesting, please do drop an abstract for a chance to present a poster or a talk at the show this July.

Topics of specific interest at the conference for ASES include:

Technology Advances:

Renewable Heat
Renewable Electricity
Clean Transportation
Energy Efficiency

Managing a Grid with High Penetration Renewables:

Renewables Working Together
Electrical and Thermal Storage
Renewable Energy Resource Forecasting
Resource Assessment
Load Management

Energy Economics, Public Involvement and Participation:

Resource Conservation
Public Education Innovations
Policy and Financing
Solar Decathlon and Related Competitions
Community Solar
Solar on Native Lands
Community-based Actions

Zero and Low Energy Buildings:

Resilient/Regenerative/Low-energy/Low-carbon architecture
Building Simulation Tools and Monitoring
Daylighting Methods and Case Studies
Embodied Energy and Life Cycle Assessment

I'll definitely see you there!

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Art + Renewable Energy = LAGI, are you ready to compete?!

 Simo takes a minute to explain in depth what the Land Art Generator Initiative Competition (LAGI), going on right now (applications due in May) and focused in Santa Monica for this year is all about.  Could you be the next big winner in this the-mother-of-all-clean-tech-architecture-design-competitions?:

The LAGI 2016, Land Art Generator Initiative, is a landmark initiative that has brought together artists, architects, scientists, landscape architects, and engineers in a first of its kind collaboration. The goal of the Land Art Generator Initiative is to design and (perhaps) construct a series of public art installation that uniquely combine aesthetics with clean energy generation. The works serve to inspire and educate while providing renewable power to thousands of homes around the world.

The idea for LAGI first came from Elizabeth Monoian and Robert Ferry in 2009 during a trip to Dubai. After leaving Pittsburg, the LAGI founders were impressed by the plenitude of energy resources in the United Arab Emirates even if this city relies essentially on fossil fuels and is among the least sustainable cities in the world.

By fusing art and energy, the LAGI main’s goal was to come up with new forms of public arts that would solve today’s most pressing problems, global warming and pollution, in an artistically relevant way. Art has an important role here as it can contribute to the aesthetic of the renewable energy installations which are often not considered terribly appealing. Aesthetics is a big deal for some potential renewable generation owners.  A recent Dallas Morning News article characterizes a resistance movement  to “ugly” solar panels as visual pollution.  (Source).

For 2016, Ms. Monoian and Mr. Ferry encourage creative people to submit their ideas and projects for large-scale and site-specific public art installations that generate carbon-neutral electricity and drinking water for the City of Santa Monica, California. LAGI jurors have been consistently impressed by the innovation and the creativity that the participants show to the public and this year is shaping to be no different.

In previous years the competition has focused on cities such as Dubai/Abu Dhabi, New York & Copenhagen.  Entries to the competition has been growing since 2010, registration is free and the best two teams are rewarded with cash prizes. The requirements and guidelines for every team include the fact that the installation should be a three dimensional form that has the ability to stimulate and challenge the mind of the viewer and attract him on every level. In addition to this, the installation must not exceed 80 meters in height and has to be safe to people who view it on the Santa Monica Pier. More guidelines and specifications can be found on the LAGI website here.

LAGI is excited this year to have an expert and interdisciplinary panel of jurors including Senator Ben Allen, Mr Kevin McKeown (Mayor of the City of Santa Monica), Mr Craig Watson (Director of California Arts Council) in addition to many qualified people. They will judge each team on their adherence to the design brief, the integration and sensitivity of their work and how efficient their installation is.

~ Simo, Associate @ OCR

Tuesday, January 12, 2016

Oil at $30/barrel, $20/barrel totally possible

  Back on March 19, 2015, we posted an OCR blog post on the unprecedented price erosion in oil.  It closed that day at $43/barrel.

Fast forward a little less than a year, and oil producers are begging for $43/barrel oil as the price closed today just a hair above $30, with some analysts betting it could get as low as $20!

So why is this happening?  The short of it is that no one who plays in the global oil business is willing to give up market share.  Many are more willing to draw oil out of the ground and sell it at a loss then risk losing their chunk of the market.

This is doubly true for nation-state producers with no other notable economics activity, like Saudi Arabia and Venezuela.  In these places the stability of their entire political system depends on selling oil and using the proceeds to subsidize everything for their citizens.  OPEC (which is largely run by Saudi) has basically stated it is ready to hold production (thereby keeping a glut of supply, unless demand somehow magically ramps up) until 2018.  By then many of the US producers wont have a choice but to declare bankruptcy.

How does this all affect solar you might ask?  It really doesn't.  Solar is much closer tied to natural gas prices and policy.  Natural gas is already basically free in most of the country, and solar is competing quite nicely.  And on the policy front solar got a big gift from the Feds in December when the ITC was extended and clarified until 2022.

So what business would you rather own right now?  A solar installation company, or an oil production company? Time to go start that solar installation company.

Monday, January 4, 2016

2016 California Solar Incentives - What you need to know

With another year come and gone, the time is now to focus on the future!  2016! And with changes abound in the incentives structures for solar, OCR felt it a great first assignment for our new Associate Simo Yezrour was to publish an article concerning what you need to know about going solar in California in 2016.  Without further delay!:

Today, power from the sun is the fastest growing source of energy in the US. The country already has enough installed solar capacity to power nearly 4 million homes (out of about 85 million total in the US) and progress continues as there are still many incentive programs helping lower the cost of solar systems for consumers.

In California, the solar business continues to show strength. How so? The combination of yearlong sunshine with layers of supportive solar policy continues to encourage more business and consumers to go solar.

Furthermore, the CA carbon reduction plan is expanding, the average photovoltaic system price continues to fall and incentives continue to allow businesses and homeowners to save on their bill with solar.  It is projected that 2016 will see an additional 1,940 MW of solar installed in California, which is by far the largest installed capacity in a single year, growing the total capacity by about 20% (from ~ 10 GW today to an estimated 12 GW)

What does this mean for YOU?:

At the Federal level, the Database of State Incentives for Renewables & Efficiency (DSIRE) contains many grant and loan programs for the residential sector in California. The most known of them all is the Residential Renewable Energy Tax Credit incentive also known as the ITC, that has recently been extended by the congress, with a gradual step down of the credits between 2019 and 2022. The solar system must be placed in service before December 31, 2021 to be eligible.

The ITC states that a taxpayer, either a professional or individual, may claim a credit of 30% of qualified expenditures for a solar photovoltaics or a solar water heating system that serves as a dwelling unit, located in the United States to be owned and used as a residence by the taxpayer.

The Investment Tax Credit has been the main Federal policy mechanism supporting deployment of solar systems all over the US. Before the recent policy decisions for the future of the ITC, modeling conducted by IHS Technology, a global energy analyst, prior to the extension of the ITC, forecasted that U.S. solar installations would have reached nearly 17 gigawatts in 2016 driven by the rush from developers to finish projects ahead of the December deadline. This would then lead to a drop to just 6.5 GW in 2017. The jury is still out on the effect of new ITC legislation on planned 2016 projects, but it is safe to say the pressure is off to get projects completed in 2016.

The Federal ITC provides tax credit for expenditures on newly installed solar systems.  Expenditures include labor costs for on-site preparation, assembly or original system installation and piping-wiring to interconnect a system to the home. If the federal tax credit exceeds your 2016 tax liability, the excess amount may be carried forward to the succeeding taxable year.

Advantages of installing these systems include a non-limit credit if your system is installed before December 31st, 2021. In addition to this, the home served by the solar installation doesn’t need to be the taxpayer’s principal residence. However, heating swimming pools and hot tubs using water-heating systems won’t provide you extra tax credit as well as some other conditions that apply to these properties.

Other DSIRE Federal programs are expiring by the end of 2016. Most of these incentives are Energy Rebate programs that provides a cash rebate for customers planning to install new solar systems. They are all provided by local utility companies like SoCalGas, SCE, PG&E, SDG&E and depend on the solar capacity installed on your roof.

All these rebates can be found on the Database of State Incentives for Renewables at:

Benefits at the state level are led by the California Solar Initiative(CSI), a solar rebate program for California consumers, provides upfront cash incentives. In aggregate, these incentives are worth more than $2 billion to customers installing photovoltaic and electricity displacing solar thermal systems. CSI benefits are available within the service areas of the three major California investor-Owned Utilities service territories: Pacific Gas and Electric Company, based in the Bay Area, California Center for Sustainable Energy, based in San Diego and finally Southern California Edison Company, based in Rosemead. CSI incentives, combined with federal tax incentives, could cover up to 50% of the total cost of a solar system.

Depending if you have a single-family or multi-family house, the incentives amounts differ. The Affordable Solar Housing Program offers rebates based on the size and performance of the system installed. The incentives range from $1.90 – $2.80 per watt depending on whether common area load or tenant load is offset for multi-family house. On the other hand, the single-family house incentives amount depends on your income level and your program eligibility. The DSIRE page has all the information you will need about CSI as well.  CSI is also running until the end of the 2021.

On the municipal / local level, green building incentives and rebate programs exist for many cities including high profile programs in Santa Monica, San Diego, San Francisco & Los Angeles. For example, the Property Assessed Clean Energy (PACE) financing program allows homeowners in SoCal and the Bay Area to borrow money for energy improvement projects which are repaid through their property taxes. It is administered by the FIGTREE Energy Financing that also finances a variety of renewable energy and energy efficiency products. Click the link here to see if your city is participating.

Overall, the ITC has been largely responsible for the over 1,600% YoY growth in CA solar installations since it was implemented in 2006.  The Dec, 2015 decision to clarify the ITC for solar until 2022 will no doubt has a very positive effect on the stability of the industry in the US and, by proxy, the world.

~Simo, Associate @ OCR