Archive for the ‘Energy News’ Category

Permit-Ready Solar System Certification Now Faster and Cheaper

Monday, June 19th, 2017
GO SOLAR Florida. Express PV Certifiction System. Fast. Permit-Ready. Low-cost. https://scp.fsec.ucf.edu/

Express PV Certification now FREE until the end of June.

COCOA, Fla., June 19, 2017— Contractors installing photovoltaic (solar electric) systems in Florida can now obtain permit-ready documents in a matter of minutes, thanks to a new online express solar certification system developed by the University of Central Florida’s Florida Solar Energy Center (FSEC)®.

The database-driven, web-based Solar Certification Portal will process inputs from professional engineers and contractors licensed to install photovoltaic (PV) systems in Florida. The output includes an electrical schematic and supporting equipment documentation—which complies with prevailing codes and standards—certified by FSEC and ready for use in the building permit process.

Express system certification only costs $150—a $100 reduction over the current manual system certification fee. Tier 1 PV systems (10kW or less) are eligible for express processing.

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Energized Students Infectious at Statewide Renewable Energy Competition

Monday, June 5th, 2017

COCOA, June 5, 2017—Nearly 50 schools across Florida—from Key West and Tallahassee—participated in this year’s EnergyWhiz competition last month at the University of Central Florida’s Florida Solar Energy Center.

More than 115 teams, which included nearly 500 students, prepared their projects for competition: model-sized solar cars for the Junior Solar Sprint (JSS), solar ovens for the Cook-off, full-scale photovoltaic panels for Energy Innovations, energy-efficient animal homes for the Critter Comfort Cottage competition, and go-cart-sized electric cars for the Electrathon.

In the longest running event, JSS, cars underwent inspection, design judging, time-trials, and new this year, team interviews. “Questions from judges may sometimes be intimidating, but interviews give students the opportunity to shine when they’ve put their heart and soul into a project,” said Guytri Still, JSS lead design judge and former middle school science teacher.

Long table with students on one side, inspectors on other side. JSS car being weighed in.

Junior Solar Sprint cars are inspected and weighed. Credit: Selina Black

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Permit-ready Solar System Certification Now Available Within Minutes

Thursday, June 1st, 2017
Close up view of photovoltaic panels

Express Photovoltaic System Certification Now Offered

COCOA, Fla., June 1, 2017—Contractors installing photovoltaic (solar electric) systems in Florida can now obtain permit-ready documents in a matter of minutes, thanks to a new online express solar certification system developed by the University of Central Florida’s Florida Solar Energy Center (FSEC)®.

The database-driven, web-based Solar Certification Portal will process inputs from professional engineers and contractors licensed to install photovoltaic (PV) systems in Florida, and produce an electrical three-line schematic and supporting equipment documentation—which complies with prevailing codes and standards—certified by FSEC and ready for use in the building permit process.

In an effort to encourage licensed contractor and engineer feedback, a two-week introductory period will allow use of the new express system free of charge. Beginning June 16, each system certification will only cost $150, a $100 reduction over the current manual system certification fee.

Manual PV system design certification is a labor-intensive and time-consuming process. The new express PV system certification process is expected to dramatically reduce the time and costs associated with permitting rooftop PV systems in Florida.

This new express online certification system results from a three-year program sponsored by Broward County with funding from the US Department of Energy’s SunShot program. FSEC was one of several team members of the Go SOLAR Florida initiative that was established to develop policies and procedures to standardize solar energy permitting and remove institutional barriers across the state of Florida, thereby reducing soft costs associated with rooftop PV system installation.

Access the Solar Certification Portal at https://scp.fsec.ucf.edu/. For questions, contact pvsystem@fsec.ucf.edu or 321-638-1457.

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PR17-04

Inventor of Laser Printer Speaks at UCF’s FSEC on May 18 at 11 a.m.

Monday, May 15th, 2017

CANCELLED. Due to unforeseen circumstances, this presentation will be rescheduled.

 

UCF Energy Connections Seminar Series presents, “Imagination versus Knowledge” by Mr. Gary Starkweather, inventor of the laser printer and color management technology.

UCF Energy Connections Seminar Series

Listen. Learn. Connect.

We now live in a world where we have access to stupendous amounts of knowledge. How does this knowledge enable new and innovative ideas or does it? Mr. Starkweather will use the example of the laser printer as insight into imagination and the use of knowledge, and also look at other instances of innovation. Many companies no longer spend much money on

Illustration of light bulb with "idea" written as the filament, doodles all around light bulb, and three pencils in yellow, green and blue with the words creative, knowledge, education

“Imagination versus Knowledge”

research and this is unfortunate. Eli Lilly said that research is the “Soul of the company, the heart of the business.” In 1899, the head of the U.S. Patent department said that the operation ought to be closed down, as all the good ideas have been invented. Since that statement, about 7 million patents have been issued. Imagination is very important. Mr. Starkweather will take a look at it and how it can be supported.

WHERE:
Florida Solar Energy Center, 1679 Clearlake Road, Cocoa, FL 32922-5703

WHEN:
Thursday, May 18, 2017 @ 11:00 a.m.

COST:
Free

Solar Cars, Cookers and Inventions Compete at EnergyWhiz on May 13

Tuesday, April 25th, 2017

By Sherri Shields
April 25, 2017

COCOA, FL–Elementary, middle and high school students—from Florida’s Panhandle to the Keys—will show off their solar cars, cookers and inventions during EnergyWhiz on Saturday, May 13th.

EnergyWhiz logo

EnergyWhiz – a forum for students to demonstrate their science, technology, engineering, art, and math capabilities through hands-on, energy-focused projects and activities.

EnergyWhiz is a day-long event that showcases sustainable and renewable energy-focused products with real-world purpose that are designed, built and demonstrated by teams of students. Each project category requires students to share what they have learned with their peers, the public and industry professionals who also serve as project evaluators. Creative thinking, scientific know-how and effective communication skills all come into play at EnergyWhiz.

The 15th annual event is held from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on the Cocoa campus of the University of Central Florida (UCF) and Eastern Florida State College, at UCF’s Florida Solar Energy Center (FSEC), 1679 Clearlake Road. The event is free and open to the public.

DJ Chill Will—the world’s first solar-powered DJ and also a full-time, middle school environmental science teacher—will be emceeing the event in the morning. He will also be demonstrating photovoltaic equipment components and functions, teaching
scientific concepts behind photovoltaic technology, and educating on the applicability of using renewable energy to reduce environmental impacts. Food trucks and a showcase of electric vehicles will also be at EnergyWhiz.

Competitions will include: Junior Solar Sprint, Energy Innovations, Solar Energy Cook-off, and the Electrathon.

  • The Junior Solar Sprint is a competition that challenges elementary and middle-school students to design, build and race model solar cars. Awards are given based on vehicle design, quality of craftsmanship, innovation and vehicle speed.

    Female student and male student at the starting line of the Junior Solar Sprint yellow track, racing their model-size solar cars. Female student's car is slightly ahead of male's car.

    Students design, build and race solar-powered cars in the Junior Solar Sprint. Credit: Sherri Shields

  • The Solar Energy Cook-off challenges students in grades 4 through 12 to design and build solar cookers and cook a recipe of their own creation using the power of the sun.  In Top Chef-style, each dish will be judged by a panel of experts based on taste, ingredients, presentation and creativity.

    One male student positions the solar cooker while the other male student stands behind the cooker, stands behind the cooker, facing the sun and uses his hand to determine the path of the sun in relationship to the cooker.

    Tracking the sun to position the solar cooker is crucial in keeping an optimal oven temperature for cooking. Credit: Cheryl Carson

  • The Energy Innovations program is a full-scale solar electric design and marketing challenge for middle and high school students. Each participating team designs and constructs a product or artistic work powered by photovoltaics, also called solar electric cells. Teams also create marketing pieces—such as brochures, fliers, and posters—to accompany their products.

    Solar panels arranged on a pyramid designed of PVC tubing that sits inside a child-sized swimming pool with water in it.

    Energy Innovations challenges students to design, engineer and market full-scale, solar-powered devices that have real-world applicability. Credit: Liza Robles

  • The Critter Comfort Cottage competition challenges students in grades 4 through 12 to demonstrate their understanding of energy efficient and eco-friendly building design for a pet of their choosing.

    Students design energy-efficient and eco-friendly homes for pets in the Critter Comfort Cottage. Credit: Cheryl Carson

  • The Electrathon is a competition for high school students and older. The go-cart-type vehicles, powered by an electric motor and batteries, must be skillfully designed, built and driven to maximize distance traveled within a given time limit.

    Six electric go-cart-style cars starting the race in a parking lot.

    Go-cart-type electric vehicles are skillfully designed, built, and driven to maximize distance traveled with a time limit. Credit: Alik Smith

This year’s EnergyWhiz sponsors include: Florida Power & Light Company, Duke Energy, Publix Super Market Charities,  Airport Chrysler Dodge Jeep Ram, American Muscle Car Museum, LifeStyle Homes, Solar-Ray, Inc., and Smart Electric Power Alliance.

“The success of EnergyWhiz is in large part due to our volunteers and sponsors,” said Susan Schleith, K-12 Education Director at FSEC. “Whether you can spare a couple of hours or the whole day, you can help make EnergyWhiz a continued success.” Volunteers and sponsors can sign-up at: http://www.fsec.ucf.edu/go/energywhiz.

For more information about EnergyWhiz, visit http://www.fsec.ucf.edu/go/energywhiz, watch a video about the EnergyWhiz at http://vimeo.com/9522310, or contact Susan Schleith, K-12 Education Director, at susan@fsec.ucf.edu or Sherri Shields, Communications Director, at sherri@fsec.ucf.edu.

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PR17-02

 

UCF Establishes Chapter of National Academy of Inventors

Wednesday, November 9th, 2016

By Barb Abney

November 8, 2016

Group photo of inductees into National Academy of Inventers UCF Chapter. UCF Office of Research and Commercialization backdrop behind members.The University of Central Florida inducted 29 researchers into its new chapter of the National Academy of Inventors on Monday night in a gala focused on innovation and invention.

The NAI membership has more than 200 institutional organizations that encourage and support their faculty, staff and students to create innovative and groundbreaking technologies.

“We have faculty and students who are creating technologies that change the world,” said Elizabeth Klonoff, vice president for research and dean of the College of Graduate Studies. “Our past success, in combination with our ever-expanding potential to impact areas as diverse as engineering, education and health, is growing our reputation as a change agent. This NAI chapter will play an important role in growing that reputation and spurring on more innovation, which will benefit our community here and beyond.”

Issa Batarseh, professor of electrical engineering, and Tom O’Neal, associate vice president for commercialization and innovation, will lead UCF’s chapter.

“Innovation is on the rise at UCF and this strong inaugural class of inventors makes it clear that we are making an impact,” O’Neal said.

UCF has routinely ranked among the top universities in the country for the strength of its patents. Together, the inaugural class holds 541 of the 925 patents the university has claimed since 1989.

Several new chapter members – who are already NAI Fellows – were recognized at the gala.

UCF’s newest national fellow, Guifang Li, professor of optics and photonics, physics and engineering, was recognized by the NAI in 2015 for his optical-fiber communications technologies. He is the lead inventor on 24 U.S. issued patents and his work has been influential in building faster and more efficient network-communication systems.

Some of the inaugural members are James J. Hickman, professor of chemistry, biomolecular science and electrical engineering, who is building human-on-a-chip systems to test toxicity of pharmaceuticals and ultimately eliminate the need for human and animal drug trials. Hickman has received 10 U.S. patents while at UCF.

Also, Richard Blair, associate professor of chemistry, has developed a proprietary method to give industry-affordable access to graphene – one of the world’s strongest materials. He has licensed the technology to UCF startup company Garmor Inc. and is the lead inventor on eight U.S. issued patents.

Founded in 2010, the NAI is a non-profit organization with more than 3,000 members. The NAI seeks to recognize and encourage inventors with U.S. patents, enhance the visibility of academic technology and innovation, encourage the disclosure of intellectual property, educate and mentor innovative students, and translate its members’ inventions to benefit society.

Inventors from UCF’s Florida Solar Energy Center, and the number of patents they earned while at UCF, include: Danny Parker (30), Nazim Muradov, Ph.D. (27), Issa Batarseh, Ph.D. (21), and Ali Raissi, Ph.D. (18).

The complete list of UCF fellows is at https://tt.research.ucf.edu/nai

Metrics for Energy Efficient Buildings: How Do We Measure Efficiency?

Tuesday, September 27th, 2016
efficiency level conceptual meter indicates 100 percent, isolated on white background

When it comes to an entire house or building, or comparing homes or buildings, what should the measurement be?

Some measurements are very direct like the height cleared by the Olympic high jumping gold medalist this summer. Efficiency has a number of nuances, though, that make measuring it difficult in terms that allow consumers to make informed decisions. When it comes to an entire house or building, or comparing homes or buildings, what should the measurement be? And how should you compare energy use on-site versus off-site? How do you determine what is efficient about the building versus the operations of the building? And how should renewable energy use or the time of energy use, and time-dependent cost of energy use factor in? Should the emissions of the source of the energy used be factored? To learn more, read the paper written by FSEC’s Deputy Director Philip Fairey and Natural Resources Defense Council’s David Goldstein.

Adobe Acrobat PDF icon

Metrics for Energy Efficient Buildings: How Do We Measure Efficiency?*

 

*This paper was presented at the 2016 ACEEE Summer Study on Energy Efficiency in Buildings in Pacific Grove, CA in August  2016.

Can a Water Heater Help Cool Your House?

Tuesday, September 27th, 2016
Heat pump water heater inside laundry room of house, photo.

Heat pump water heaters were tested in the lab and in the field.

Most electric water heaters use an electric resistant rod in the tank. But there is another option for electric water heaters – one that is familiar to most Floridians, and that is a dedicated heat pump for heating hot water. Just like a regular heat pump for heating the air in your house, the heat pump water heater has a small compressor unit on top that uses vapor compression to heat the water. Prior FSEC research on heat pump water heaters (HPWH) in Florida showed that they saved approximately 66% of the energy needed to heat water with an electric resistance system. HPWHs also create a quantity of cooled, dehumidified air from the compressor section of the unit as a by-product of their operation. FSEC researchers found out that a HPWH coupled to the conditioned living space can reduce space-conditioning energy in a cooling-dominated climate, but with qualifications a lab test was undertaken to investigate the effect of coupling a garage located HPWH to the conditioned space with ductwork. With the HPWH ducted to and from the interior, cooling energy dropped by 4% or 0.8 kWh/day. Effect on space heating energy for this configuration could not be determined. Experiments also investigated using an outdoor air source for the HPWH, to supplement ventilation. During the cooling season, the HPWH tempered the outdoor air with only a minimal impact on cooling energy. Space heating energy increased by 18% or 1.4 kWh/d. The space coupling of the HPWH had a minimal impact on water heating efficiency.

In later field evaluation, eight occupied homes were retrofitted with a HPWH coupled to the conditioned space. Results were more pronounced than the lab evaluation: cooling energy savings averaged 8% (1.1 kWh/day). Space heating energy use increased by 24%, although with considerable variation and little application in Florida’s mild climate. The evaluation suggested the coupling eroded some of the HPWH water heating energy use savings, reducing it by 0.4 kWh/day or 11%. If not located in the house, you often end up with a slightly cooler garage.

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Measured Performance of Ducted and Space-Coupled Heat Pump Water Heaters in a Cooling Dominated Climate*

 

*This paper was presented at the 2016 ACEEE Summer Study on Energy Efficiency in Buildings in Pacific Grove, CA on August 22 -26, 2016.

Getting to a Near-Zero Energy Existing Home

Tuesday, September 27th, 2016
Rear view of house with screened in back porch and solar electric array with 36 panels on roof

Near-zero energy use home after deep energy retrofits.

Monitoring results over a four-year period document a phased retrofit applied to a central Florida home with very high electricity consumption, eventually ending in a home with near-zero energy use. The retrofit included simple pass-through measures, such as the installation of efficient lighting and low-flow shower heads, as well as deeper measures which included a high-efficiency space heating and space cooling controlled by a smart thermostat, a heat pump water heater, and ENERGY STAR® appliances. The average household electricity use was reduced through a combination of these efficiency measures and photovoltaic power generation by 82%. Results from the case study, and nine other deep retrofits suggest how an effective zero-energy home (ZEH) program can be implemented in otherwise poorly performing existing homes.

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From Energy Guzzler to Near-Zero Energy Home: Lessons from the Phased Deep Retrofit Project

*This paper was presented at the 2016 ACEEE Summer Study on Energy Efficiency in Buildings in Pacific Grove, CA on August 22 -26, 2016.

A More Efficient Way to Dry Clothes?

Tuesday, September 27th, 2016
Clothes and towels inside the dryer, photo.

Clothes dryers with heat pump technology were installed in eight project field homes.

Electric clothes dryers represent 5% (790 kWh) of annual energy use in Florida homes. Clothes dryers with heat pump (HPCD) technology, which use substantially less energy than standard resistance dryers, are relatively new to the domestic market. In eight FSEC project field homes, electric resistance clothes dryers were replaced with a new unvented HPCD. The estimated median energy savings are 34% (264 kWh/year or 0.72 kWh/day), and average annual savings are 36% (308 kWh/year or 0.9 kWh/day).

Dryer energy use graph, site 25, January 2014 to December 2015

Energy use showed saving more than 30 percent.

Although HPCDs use less electricity than standard resistance dryers, they still release a significant amount of heat from their operation. The unvented units that were located inside the home led to very high utility room temperatures and increases in space-cooling energy that may compromise identified savings; this is an issue the manufacturer is addressing. Given the heat issues, these unvented appliances are appropriate in Florida only if they will be installed outside of the conditioned space—typically in the garage. We further speculate, based on observed findings, that another technology—vented heat pump clothes dryer—may be the most appropriate dryer system type for Florida conditions.

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Measured Performance of Heat Pump Clothes Dryers*

 

*This paper was presented at the 2016 ACEEE Summer Study on Energy Efficiency in Buildings in Pacific Grove, CA on August 22 -26, 2016.