Archive for the ‘Director’s Message’ Category

Florida Manufactured Solar Electric Panels

Wednesday, December 21st, 2011

Dr. James Fenton Speaks to Florida House of Representatives, Energy & Utilities Subcommittee on December 6, 2011

Below is the transcription of the 12-minute video recording, located here: http://vimeo.com/33415686.

My name is James Fenton, I’m director of the University of Central Florida’s Florida Solar Energy Center here today and I would like to talk to you about manufacturing, manufacturing renewable energy in Florida.  Specifically I’ll use examples of photovoltaics; solar to electric panels.

Which purchase is best for Florida?

Which purchase is best for Florida?

Let’s look at Florida manufacturing jobs as a tale of two salad bowls.  The $10.00 bowl made in Florida using Florida materials keeps all the money and all the jobs in Florida.  The $9.50 bowl imported from China, manufactured by Chinese, using Chinese materials sends most of the money and the jobs to China.  Which purchase is best for Florida?

Florida imports almost all of its energy resources.  The citizens of Florida pay $27 billion for electricity and $30 billion for gasoline for a total of $57 billion per year.  This compares to our state budget of $70 billion a year.  But unlike our state budget, which I hope by the way we spend all that money in the state, most of the $57 billion leaves the state of Florida.  We are faced with two energy challenges – How can Florida reduce its imported energy costs and how can Florida’s electricity and transportation fuel be manufactured in Florida?  Can we design an energy future which allows Florida to keep our capital in the state, increasing economic activity and produce high-wage jobs.  We can and there is a path to do it.  I would like to share such a path.
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Photovoltaics Are Half the Cost of Gasoline!

Tuesday, May 24th, 2011

Everyone is impacted by the current high price of gasoline. President Obama gets criticized because the public thinks he can actually control the price, Big oil gets called before Congress because it gets substantial subsidies from taxpayers. And we, the citizens, pay the highest gas prices we have ever paid in the face of one of the country’s most severe economic downturns.

But there is hope for the Sunshine State, as every cloud has a silver lining.

For the past half dozen years or so, the automotive industry has become pretty serious about producing electric cars that work. The new Chevy Volt (Motor Trend’s Car of the Year) and the all-electric Nissan Leaf are good examples – and they are real game changers.

But what does this have to do with the cost of photovoltaics and gasoline?

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Retrofit Florida: Create Jobs and Save Money on Electricity

Thursday, April 15th, 2010

Retrofit Florida: Create Jobs and Save Money on Electricity from Florida Solar Energy Center on Vimeo.

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Director’s Message: Purchase a Solar Hot Water Heater Today – Chinese Solar Hot Water Heaters Certified for Sale in Florida are Safe and Efficient (But Please, Buy “Made in Florida”)

Monday, April 27th, 2009

U.S. Senators Bill Nelson and Mary Landrieu have introduced a resolution and bill pressing the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission to recall Chinese-made drywall and temporarily ban imports of the building material, as worries about the possible effects of the tainted product continue to grow.  The bill would ask the Consumer Product Safety Commission to impose the ban until it can create federal drywall safety standards.   It is clear that independent, third-party testing and certification has extensive value in the marketplace, especially for products such as drywall, solar water heating systems and solar electrical (photovoltaic) systems.  Independent, third-party certification provides not only protection for consumers, but also much needed consumer confidence.  Even more important, third-party certification provides protection to reputable manufacturers, ensuring that lower quality products, often from foreign markets, do not compete head-to-head with Florida and U.S. products unless they meet the same standards.  The state of Florida had the foresight to protect Florida in 1976 through Florida’s Solar Energy Standards Act of 1976 (§377.705 F.S.) which requires the Florida Solar Energy Center to certify that “all solar energy systems manufactured or sold in the state…meet the standards established by the center and…display accepted results of approved performance tests in a manner prescribed by the center.”

Governor Crist’s climate change agenda, many states passing “real renewable energy portfolio standards,” and skyrocketing electric prices have led to strong interest in solar hot water heating.  Residential electricity in Florida moved from 8 cents to 10 cents and then to 12 cents a kWh in January 2006. In the last several months, the price of electricity to some consumers in Florida has reached 15 cents a kWh!  The average Florida customer who used 1,250 kWh of electricity per month paid $120 in 2005 and $152 per month in 2008.  In 2009 they may be paying more than $160.  So, by doing nothing, the price has gone up $40 per month (33%) since 2005!

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Director’s Message: Energy Too Costly for Florida

Friday, April 3rd, 2009

While gasoline prices have recently dropped, electric costs are skyrocketing!  Gasoline for all of the 90s was about $1 a gallon, oil $18 a barrel, natural gas was $2 for a thousand cubic feet and residential electricity in Florida was 8 cents a kWh.  Gasoline at its peak last year was over $4, oil over $140 a barrel, and natural gas over $11 for a thousand cubic feet and residential electricity in Florida was 12 cents a kWh.  In the last several months, the price of electricity to some consumers in Florida has reached 15 cents per kWh.  The average Florida customer who used 1,250 kWh of electricity per month paid $120 in 2005 and $152 per month in 2008.  In 2009, the average customer will be paying more than $160.  So by doing nothing, the price has gone up more than $40 per month (33%) since 2005.  Some customers will be paying $188 per month, a $68 per month increase (50%) since 2005!

Alternative energy is called alternative, until it is cheaper, but cheaper than what? – electricity out of the wall at 12 cents yesterday, 15 cents today, 18 cents tomorrow?  Are you aware that people in the U.S. pay different amounts for electricity?  The average residential retail price of electricity in the U.S. was 10.6 cents per kWh in 2007.  Florida was 11.2 cents, most southern states were about 9 cents, WV 7 cents, UT 8 cents, NY and CT about 18 cents, and CA and NJ 15 cents.  So, states that burn coal have the cheapest electricity rates. Places like Utah and West Virginia burn their own coal, so even though they get all the pollution and the greenhouse gasses, at least they get to keep all their money, unlike Florida which ships more than $25 billion out of state to purchase fuel.  Florida has already been paying more for cleaner burning fossil fuels than the Southern states to our north.  We are now paying more for natural gas than we are for coal, and that price increase is more than what is being suggested to add to our electric bills for solar energy.

New Jersey has more solar than Florida because homeowners in NJ have a Renewable Portfolio Standard, and fees (collected into a Public Benefit Fund) are used to incentivize the homeowner for solar on their roof.  If such a fund collected $1.50 on your electric bill in Florida, we could have the equivalent of California’s Million Solar Roofs Program.  Clearly $1.50 is less than the $40 a month cost of doing nothing.  While solar water heating is cost effective today, solar electricity (photovoltaics) without a subsidy is not cost effective today, but the subsidy is still less than the cost of “accelerated cost recovery” for nuclear power.  What about the jobs?  These jobs will not be in China and India, they will be done by your neighbor.  Vote Solar estimates that more than 3,800 megawatts (MW) of solar could be added by 2020 and with it approximately 85,500 new jobs in Florida. What a great way to love your neighbor.

Jim Fenton, Director
Florida Solar Energy Center

Director’s Message: “Shovel Ready” Energy Infrastructure for Florida

Monday, March 23rd, 2009

Put People to Work Replacing all Residential Incandescent Lighting with Compact Fluorescent Lighting

What happens if we use “shovel ready” federal stimulus funds for energy infrastructure improvement to pay a professional to come to your house and change out your incandescent lighting with compact fluorescent lighting (CFL) before the end of 2010?  How much energy would the state save?  Could we put off building new power plants?  How much money would you, the homeowner, save on your electric bill?  How much would it cost to replace all of Florida’s light bulbs?  How many jobs would be created? How much green house gases would be eliminated?

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Director’s Message: Fuel Price Solutions – The Long and Short of It

Friday, September 19th, 2008
Fuel price reduction by energy-efficient vehicles, oil drilling, speed limits, or ethanol?

Fuel price reduction by energy-efficient vehicles, oil drilling, speed limits, or ethanol?

Over the past few months, high oil and gasoline prices have had pundits and politicians flailing away about what we should do.  On the one hand, some believe the United States is sitting on countless oil deposits, and the quickest, best solution is to poke holes in the ground and watch gas prices fall. On the other hand, weathered industry professionals, such as retired oil baron, T. Boone Pickens, realize an immediate need for independence from oil, whether domestic or foreign.  In Pickens’ recently purchased TV spots, he clearly states that “we can’t drill our way out of this emergency,” and in a recent interview with CNN’s Lou Dobbs he said America should utilize its cleaner, cheaper, abundant resources, such as natural gas, wind and solar power.

The U.S. consumes about 21 million barrels of oil per day (mbd) – roughly 25 percent of total world oil production.  We import almost two-thirds of what we use (14 mbd ) from foreign countries.  The cost of these imports is approaching $2 billion per day ($700 billion per year at $136 per barrel).  This is a significant drain, both on the finances of individual households and on our national economic security.

What are the near term (three to five-year) options?

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