Archive for March, 2007

Does the “Sunshine” State have a sufficient solar resource to support solar energy applications?

Monday, March 26th, 2007

Every so often, we get a call or email asking about the use of solar energy in Florida and whether the state has too many cloudy days and hazy sky conditions to support solar energy applications.  Many people say they have heard that solar energy applications only work well in the clear skies of the desert southwest and just won’t be as effective in Florida’s weather conditions.

While it is true that the desert southwest has the largest solar resource in the continental U.S., this does not mean that Florida has a poor resource.  Consider the following map that compares the solar resource for 2-kilowatt photovoltaic residential applications across the entire U.S.:

Map of the United States showing kWh per day for solar resources.

This image comes from a study the Florida Solar Energy Center conducted on the performance of 2-kW photovoltaic (PV) systems installed on highly efficient homes across the country. The results capture all aspects of PV system performance, including the temperature effect on cell performance as well as the efficiency of the conversion from DC to AC power through the inverter. The map clearly shows that the desert southwest has the largest solar resource in the continental U.S., but Florida is not very far behind with 85% of the maximum PV resource of any location in the country (7.2 kWh/day out of a maximum of 8.5 kWh/day). Consumers should note that many parts of the country that have more state financial incentives have a much poorer solar resource, making Florida a very cost-effective location for using solar energy.  You can view the complete study at:   www.fsec.ucf.edu/en/publications/html/FSEC-PF-380-04/.

There is Also Money Waiting for You in Florida!

There are also substantial federal income tax credits (30% of the cost of a solar hot water system) and State of Florida rebates ($500 for a system) for the installation of solar systems in Florida.  In addition, one Florida utility, Progress Energy Florida (PEF), recently implemented a new program that offers additional utility incentives of $450 for the installation of solar water heating systems.  These combine to offer a considerable buy-down for a solar water heating system.

If you are interested in photovoltaics, there is a federal income tax credit of up to $2,000 plus a State of Florida rebate of up to $20,000 for home applications and up to $100,000 for commercial applications.

Additional information on these solar energy tax credit, state rebate and utility incentive programs can be found by clicking on the following links:

Florida citizens express their opinion on solar energy for Florida:

http://www.flaseia.org/FloridaMaxon-DixonSolarPoll.pdf

U.S. Dept. of Energy Qualifies EnergyGauge Software for Calculating Tax Deduction

Wednesday, March 7th, 2007

The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) has listed EnergyGauge Summit Premier as qualified software for calculating energy savings for the energy-efficient commercial building tax deduction under Internal Revenue Code §179D.  This easy-to- use new software product also calculates LEED® building energy performance as well as energy code compliance. Released January 29 at the AHR EXPO, and approved this week by DOE, the software was developed by the University of Central Florida’s Florida Solar Energy Center.

EnergyGauge Summit Premier offers automatic ASHRAE 2001 and ASHRAE 2004 reference building creation including the Building Performance Rating Method in Appendix G of the 2004 Standard.  Unlike other software that requires the user to create multiple building decks and make many changes to create a reference building according to code or IRS rules, EnergyGauge Summit allows users to simply enter basic information on the building they are evaluating.  The software then automatically creates a reference building, performs the necessary simulations and analysis and provides a report indicating qualification for the U.S. Energy Policy Act tax deductions for whole building energy savings.  The program will also determine if the building meets the IRS standard for partial envelope, equipment or lighting savings for those projects not seeking to meet the whole building performance level. (more…)

Florida Solar Energy Center Presents Energy Award to Walt Disney World Company

Monday, March 5th, 2007
Photo of (left to right) Tom Hopkins, Walt Disney; Paul Allen, Reedy Creek; Jim Fenton, FSEC.
Tom Hopkins, Animal Operations Area Director at Walt Disney World Co. (left), and Paul Allen, Chief Energy Management Engineer at Reedy Creek Energy Services (center), accept the Energy Achievement Award presented by Jim Fenton, Director of FSEC.

At last week’s Policy Advisory Board Meeting of the Florida Solar Energy Center/University of Central Florida, Center Director Jim Fenton presented the Florida Energy Achievement Award to Paul Allen, representing Walt Disney World Company and its “Strive for Five” energy reduction program. The Florida Energy Achievement Award is presented annually to an entity that demonstrates statewide leadership and significant achievement in sustainability and energy savings in Florida. Fenton commented, “Choosing the winner of this year’s competition was especially hard, because we had a number of high-quality applications from private companies and utilities who are conducting energy-saving programs in the state and achieving significant results. Our committee felt, though, that Disney’s innovative company-wide program designed to reduce overall energy consumption by 5 percent by involving everyone from management to cast members stood out because of its wide impact as well as its individual components.”

Allen later presented an overview of the program “How Disney Saves Energy (Hint: It’s Not Magic)” in a presentation to the board and FSEC staff members. Paul Allen is Chief Engineer of Energy Management at Reedy Creek Energy Services, which provides electricity, water and fire service to Disney World. Allen described the development of the program, designed to respond to Disney management concerns about the energy consumption and the need to reduce energy usage. Called “Strive for Five,” the program involves all levels of employees in the company’s goal to reduce energy usage by 5 percent.

Energy-reducing strategies have measurement as their basis. By measuring usage in various areas and departments and presenting it in an easy-to-read format, all employees can see what is happening: how much energy is used, if it is more or less than the previous period of measurement. Allen said that when everyone in the company is looking at results, each department is motivated to do its best. Walt Disney World Company uses Utility Report Cards (http://utilityreportcards.com), a database-supported reporting system which exhibits many statistics showing how much electricity is being used and some of the factors that have impacted the usage. Disney’s innovative company-wide program is designed to reduce overall energy consumption by 5 percent by involving everyone from management to cast members-a facility-wide effort.

To read more about how Disney saves energy, click here (pdf icon 255KB).

First High School Science Bowl to be Held at Florida Solar Energy Center Saturday

Friday, March 2nd, 2007

The 2007 Southeast Regional Science Bowl competition will be held at the Florida Solar Energy Center/University of Central Florida (FSEC) on Saturday, March 3, from 9:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.  Fourteen teams from Florida will participate in an academic competition.  The top academic team members and their mentor from this Science Bowl will receive an all-expense-paid trip to Washington D.C. to represent the Southeast region of the United States at the National Science Bowl competition, April 26-30, 2007.

The Southeast Regional High School Science Bowl is a fast-paced question and answer contest in which students answer questions about earth science, physical science, life science, general science and math. (more…)