Axalta Distinguished Lecture Series Speaker Discusses Artificial Photosynthesis

Professor Daniel G. Nocera, the Patterson Rockwood Professor of Energy at Harvard University, was the honored speaker at this year’s Axalta Distinguished Lecture Series. Axalta Coating Systems, a supplier of liquid and powder coatings, sponsored the event which was hosted by the Department of Chemistry at the University of Pennsylvania last week. Professor Nocera’s lecture titled, “A Complete Artificial Photosynthesis,” explained his research that led to the development of an artificial device that converts water and carbon dioxide into biomass and liquid fuels using sunlight.

One of the challenges with using solar energy as a source of electricity is the need for a cost effective method to store the sun’s energy. One example of energy storage is photosynthesis, the process whereby plants and other organisms use sunlight to convert water and carbon dioxide into biomass that can be used later, as needed, as a source of fuel. Professor Nocera has mimicked key aspects of this process by creating an artificial leaf.

“We first invented an artificial leaf that can split water into hydrogen and oxygen using sunlight,” says Professor Nocera. “We then used a bio-engineered bacterium to convert carbon dioxide along with the hydrogen produced from the artificial leaf into biomass and liquid fuels. The hybrid microbial and artificial leaf operate at solar-to-biomass (10.7 percent) and solar-to-fuels (6.2 percent) yields, exceeding the 1 percent yield of natural photosynthesis,” states Professor Nocera.

“At Axalta, we are committed to delivering innovative coatings solutions that protect our customers’ products,” says Dr. Barry Snyder, Axalta senior vice president and chief technology officer. “Our sustainable coating systems benefit stakeholders, including our customers and the communities in which we operate. Professor Nocera’s research has the potential to have an impact by offering a sustainable source of energy. The translation of fundamental research to practical application, as embodied in Professor Nocera’s research, is an element of the collaboration between Axalta and the Department of Chemistry at the University of Pennsylvania.”

“The Axalta Distinguished Lecture Series provides opportunities for our students and faculty members to interact with scholars in the world,” says Gary A. Molander, department chair and Hirschmann-Makineni Professor of Chemistry at the University of Pennsylvania. “This year, we are delighted to have Professor Nocera share his innovations with us. Professor Nocera’s work exemplifies the opportunities that exist to use fundamental science to create technologies that have broad societal benefits. We look forward to continued collaboration with Axalta in the years ahead.”

Past speakers have included world renowned scientists, including Nobel Prize laureates William Moerner (Chemistry 2014), Robert Grubbs (Chemistry 2005), Ahmed Zewail (Chemistry 1999), Steven Chu (Physics 1997), Harold Kroto (Chemistry 1996), Richard Smalley (Chemistry 1996), George Olah (Chemistry 1994), P.G. de Gennes (Physics 1991), Elias Corey (Chemistry 1990), Thomas Cech (Chemistry 1989), Donald Cram (Chemistry 1987), Jean-Marie Lehn (Chemistry 1987), John Polanyi (Chemistry 1986), Yuan Lee (Chemistry 1986), Roald Hoffmann (Chemistry 1981), and Herbert Brown (Chemistry 1979).

Solar Solution Can Be Used with Third-party Tile Hooks

EcoFasten Solar has released the newest product in its line of solar roof mount solutions: The Tile Hook Flashing was designed specifically for use with third-party tile hooks.

EcoFasten Solar has released the newest product in its line of solar roof mount solutions: The Tile Hook Flashing was designed specifically for use with third-party tile hooks.

EcoFasten Solar has released the newest product in its line of solar roof mount solutions: The Tile Hook Flashing was designed specifically for use with third-party tile hooks. Because it replaces one complete tile, the need for cutting, grinding or replacing of tiles is eliminated. The Tile Hook Flashing is currently available in profiles for flat, S and W tile roofs in mill finish or sierra tan.

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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McElroy Metal Announces Website Relaunch

McElroy Metal, a metal roof and wall systems manufacturer serving the construction industry, announces its website relaunch at www.McElroyMetal.com.

McElroy Metal has dedicated sections of the new site to the specific markets it serves: residential, architectural/commercial, post frame, retrofit/recover, green building/solar and insulated metal panels. The site also contains animations highlighting installation sequences and a color visualizer enabling visitors to view their personal homes or businesses with McElroy Metal products and colors. The McElroy University portion of the site has been expanded to feature information on Hands-On Installation Classes, Substrate and Coating Facts, Finish and Substrate Warranty Education and Educational Videos.

ICMA and TSF Launch SolSmart Designation Program

The International City/County Management Association (ICMA) and The Solar Foundation (TSF) launched the SolSmart designation program. SolSmart will recognize leading solar cities and counties, as well as empower new communities to advance through no-cost technical assistance.

A core component of the technical assistance program are the SolSmart Advisors, fully-funded temporary staff embedded in up to 40 communities to help each achieve designation. Communities interested in pursuing SolSmart designation, receiving technical assistance, and applying to host an advisor can learn more and take action on SolSmart’s website.

SolSmart is funded by the U.S Department of Energy SunShot Initiative through the Solar Powering America by Recognizing Communities (SPARC) funding opportunity. Over the three-year, federally-funded portion of the program, SolSmart will recognize more than 300 communities that cut red tape around going solar and make it possible for more American homes and businesses to use solar energy to meet their electricity needs.

SolSmart national designation will signal that a community is “open for [solar] business,” helping to attract local economic development and create solar jobs. Attracting new solar businesses can help communities deliver cost savings for solar customers and local governments while new solar installations can help communities achieve their climate goals.

“Our city has worked hard to make solar more affordable and easier for our residents and small businesses to install,” says City Manager Scott Wingerson of Gladstone, Mo. “We have seen firsthand how our actions have led to considerable social and economic benefits locally. The solar panels that have been installed at our water treatment plant have served to partially offset the annual utility costs at this facility. Solar gives us another tool to help manage operational costs. SolSmart presents cities and counties nationwide with an opportunity to realize similar benefits, and I encourage every community to join Gladstone and get involved.”

The SolSmart program seeks to address solar “soft costs,” which are business processes or administrative costs that can increase the time and money it takes to install a solar energy system. Local governments are in a unique position to reduce these costs and to promote the use of solar in their jurisdictions.

SolSmart offers three levels of designation: Bronze, Silver and Gold. Communities can earn points to achieve designation tiers by taking action across eight categories. To achieve designation, communities must meet minimum requirements pertaining to two main categories: permitting, as well as planning, zoning and development regulations. SolSmart communities then have flexibility in achieving the remaining points toward designation in six special-focus categories.

“The role of local governments in building stronger and more resilient communities has never been greater,” says ICMA Executive Director Robert J. O’Neill Jr. “Cities, towns and counties consume a large portion of the nation’s electricity, which is why they can also have a significant impact on the financial, environmental, and economic health of the country by adopting solar energy technologies. The SolSmart program will recognize that impact.”

ICMA will lead the effort to designate communities under SolSmart by reviewing applications and determining whether a community meets the criteria for designation. Communities that apply and do not reach the base designation level will be referred to TSF and their team to receive no-cost technical assistance to help the community qualify for designation. The SolSmart technical assistance program includes the opportunity for communities to host fully-funded temporary staff called SolSmart Advisors. These program ambassadors will travel to communities selected through an open, competitive process and provide personalized, hands-on assistance to help each host community achieve SolSmart designation.

“The Solar Foundation and its technical assistance partners have extensive experience working with communities to implement best practices,” says Andrea Luecke, president and executive director of The Solar Foundation. “We look forward to collaborating with local governments on SolSmart to tackle soft cost barriers and establish robust solar markets. Additionally, we are excited to roll out the SolSmart Advisors program, and encourage all communities pursuing designation to apply to host an Advisor by mid-June.”

ICMA will be supported by the National Civic League, Home Innovation Research Labs, Meister Consultants Group, and TSF. Joining TSF on the technical assistance team are the National Renewable Energy Laboratory, Meister Consultants Group, the National League of Cities, the National Association of Counties, the Solar Energy Industries Association, the Electric Power Research Institute, the Regulatory Assistance Project, and Brooks Engineering.

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.

MiaSolé and GTech Global Partner to Sell FLEX Modules in Northern California

GTech Global and MiaSolé have entered into a sales representative agreement. GTech Global will sell MiaSolé FLEX modules in Northern California. GTech Global “GTG” and its associates have more than 35 years of business experience in developing and implementing energy-efficient building solutions. Their group has focused their expertise on energy management and conservation. A broad range of experience has qualified GTG to be a developer of energy management programs. They are excited to partner with MiaSolé and the opportunity to help serve the thin-film solar market.

GTech Global will sell 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 and method of attachment increases the likelihood of damage in an earthquake, making FLEX modules the ideal solar solution for the Northern California market. This adhesive approach also 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 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. The FLEX-02 Series module is IEC 61646 & IEC 61730 and UL 1703 certified.

The FLEX-02 module provides GTech Global customers other significant benefits. The low weight of the module (less than 0.7 pound 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.

MiaSole and Advanced Roofing Technology Enter into Sales Representative Agreement

Advanced Roofing Technology Inc., a manufacturers’ representative company that offers building industry professionals—architects, engineers, managers and owners—a distinctly different approach to material selection, and MiaSolé have entered into a Sales Representative Agreement. Advanced Roofing Technology Inc. will sell MiaSolé FLEX modules in Hawaii and the Pacific Islands.

Advanced Roofing Technology was founded in 1991 and combines a total of 43 years of hands-on roofing and construction experience with more than two decades of marketing professionalism. Advanced Roofing Technology Inc. has continually molded the firm to market demands and industry trends without compromising excellence in standards and practices.

Advanced Roofing Technology will sell MiaSolé FLEX modules, efficient thin-film lightweight flexible modules with an efficiency rating of +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 the Hawaiian and Island markets. This adhesive approach also 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 available in two formats. The FLEX-02W module is 39.3 inches 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 inches by 102.3 inches and is rated at 120-watts, and designed specifically for standing-seam metal roofs. The FLEX-02 Series module is IEC 61646 & IEC 61730 and UL 1703 certified.

The FLEX-02 module provides Advanced Roofing customers other significant benefits. The low weight of the module (less than 0.7 pound 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.

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.”