Archive for the ‘Energy News’ Category

FSEC’s Cummings and Withers Receive Distinguished Awards from ASHRAE

Monday, August 17th, 2009
ASHRAE – American Society of Heating, Refrigerating, Air-Conditioning Engineers

ASHRAE – American Society of Heating, Refrigerating, Air-Conditioning Engineers

The American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE) recognized 56 members and one chapter for contributions to ASHRAE and the HVAC&R industry at the Society’s 2009 Annual Conference in June.

The Florida Solar Energy Center’s James Cummings and Charles (Chuck) Withers, Jr. received the 2008 Journal Paper Award for their article, Problems Related to Air Handler Leakage. The award honors the best paper or article published in ASHRAE Journal.

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Free Energy Efficiency Upgrades for Low-Income

Thursday, August 13th, 2009
Weatherization Works in Florida

Florida Department of Community Affairs

With assistance from the Florida American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, the Florida Department of Community Affairs’ Weatherization Assistance Program is offering grants to qualifying low-income households for energy-efficient home improvements.

Preference is given to owner-occupied homes, elderly (60 years-plus) or physically disabled residents, families with children under 12 and households with a high-energy bills.

Contact your local Weatherization Assistance Program office to see if you qualify or visit www.FloridaCommunityDevelopment.org/WAP for more information about the program.

Students Shine at EnergyWhiz Olympics

Friday, May 15th, 2009

Florida students have creative ideas for solving some of our world’s greatest energy challenges, and their renewable energy solutions were demonstrated at the EnergyWhiz Olympics – a series of day-long activities dedicated to students with an interest in alternative fuel technologies.

Nearly 700 students throughout Florida converged at the University of Central Florida’s Florida Solar Energy Center in Cocoa on Saturday, May 9, 2009 to compete in the seventh-annual EnergyWhiz Olympics. Events included the new Bright House Solar Energy Cookoff, a solar cooker and cooking contest; the Junior Solar Sprint, model-size solar car races; the High School Hydrogen Sprint, model-size hydrogen fuel cell car races; and Energy Innovations, a full-scale solar electric design challenge.

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Muradov’s Paper Featured by ScienceWatch®

Friday, May 8th, 2009

An article written by Nazim Muradov, a principal research scientist at the University of Central Florida’s Florida Solar Energy Center, was recently identified by Thomson Reuters’ Essential Science Indicators SM as one of the most cited papers in the research area of “Hydrogen Economy.”

Read Q&A from Nazim Muradov.

Q&A with Nazim Muradov

Muradov’s highly cited article, “From hydrocarbon to hydrogen-carbon to hydrogen economy,” published in the “International Journal of Hydrogen Energy” in March 2005, is now featured as a Fast Moving Front paper in the field of engineering on Thomson Reuters’ ScienceWatch® Web site:  http://sciencewatch.com/sciencewatch/dr/fmf/2009/09mayfmf/09mayfmfMura/.

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MEDIA ADVISORY: Renewable Energy Solutions Demonstrated by Students at EnergyWhiz Olympics on Saturday, May 9

Tuesday, May 5th, 2009

WHAT:
The seventh-annual EnergyWhiz Olympics is a series of day-long activities dedicated to students with an interest in alternative fuels. It is composed of the Junior Solar Sprint, Hydrogen Sprint, Energy Innovations and the new Bright House Solar Energy Cook-off.

  • The Junior Solar Sprint is a competition that challenges 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.
  • The Hydrogen Sprint is a high school competition that provides opportunities for students to explore hydrogen power with a hands-on design component and a presentation.
  • 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 fully powered by photovoltaics (PV), also called solar electric cells. Teams also create marketing pieces, such as brochures, fliers, and posters, to accompany their products.
  • The Bright House Solar Energy Cook-Off challenges students, in grades 4th – 8th, to design and build solar cookers, and to also 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 and creativity.

WHY:
These hands-on renewable energy competitions – for elementary, middle and high school students – expose students to alternative energy fuel sources, and encourage scientific know-how, creative thinking, experimentation and teamwork.

WHO:
More than 650 elementary, middle, and high school Florida students – from Tallahassee to Miami and everywhere in between – will participate in the EnergyWhiz Olympics.

Number of Teams in Each Competition –
Junior Solar Sprint:  60
Hydrogen Sprint:  13
Energy Innovations:  12
Solar Cook-off:  46

WHEN:
Saturday, May 9 starting at 9 a.m.

9:00 a.m.    Welcome – Auditorium
Dr. James Fenton, Director, Florida Solar Energy Center

9:30 a.m.    Technical Judging Begins – Junior Solar Sprint, Hydrogen Sprint
Hydrogen Sprint Presentations
Energy Innovations Displays Open to Public
Solar Energy Cook-Off – Design Judging
Solar Cookers – Displays Open to Public

11:30 a.m.    Energy Innovations Judging – Middle School Teams

12 noon    Energy Innovations Judging – High School Teams
Junior Solar Sprint Race Begins (Track Area 1)

1:00 p.m.    Hydrogen Sprint Race Begins (Track Area 2)

2:00 p.m.    Solar Energy Cook-Off – Recipe Judging (Auditorium)

3:30 p.m.    Awards Ceremony (Auditorium)

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

ADDITIONAL INFORMATION:

For more information on these exciting educational events, visit
http://www.fsec.ucf.edu/en/education/k-12/events/ewhiz_olympics.htm or view a video about the EnergyWhiz Olympics at http://vimeo.com/982597.

Contact Susan Schleith, FSEC Education Coordinator, at 321-638-1017 or Susan@fsec.ucf.edu.

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PR09-07

Energy Experts Offer Zero Energy Green Home Webinar Series

Monday, May 4th, 2009

The University of Central Florida’s Florida Solar Energy Center (FSEC) will now offer a 12-course Webinar series on how to design, build and operate a Zero Energy Home — a home that produces as much energy as it uses.

This series of online courses offers practical education from building science experts with more than 30 years of research and experience. These courses are appropriate for architects, builders, contractors, designers, educators, energy auditors, energy raters, engineers, prospective homebuyers and utility representatives.

During these tough economic times, builders are looking for ways to attract home buyers and the new government administration is concentrating on creating “green jobs.”  Zero Energy Homes provide an opportunity to accomplish both and save consumers money while reducing their carbon footprint. These courses will show participants how to maximize energy-efficient design, make the best “green” choices, and optimize performance from solar and home energy management systems.

12-Course Webinar Series Begins June 3

The 12-course Webinar series begins June 3, 2009.

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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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Brevard Builder Takes the “Builders Challenge” – Media, public invited to tour new energy-efficient home at 2 p.m. April 25

Friday, April 24th, 2009

As homeowners cope with rising utility bills and declining income, the University of Central Florida’s Florida Solar Energy Center (FSEC) has responded to a challenge from the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) to help produce homes 30 percent more energy efficient than typical new homes.

Additionally, these new homes will meet other stringent “quality criteria” for indoor air quality, durability and comfort set forth in DOE’s new Builders Challenge program (www.buildingamerica.gov/challenge).

The Builders Challenge is backed by two decades of research conducted by DOE’s Building America program (www.buildingamerica.gov) that proves this goal can be achieved cost-effectively all across the country. FSEC, located on the UCF Brevard campus in Cocoa, leads one of DOE’s Building America teams (www.baihp.org) and has worked with a dozen of the first builders to achieve the Builders Challenge.

FSEC researchers will co-host the unveiling of LifeStyle Homes’ first Builders Challenge home this Saturday, April 25, at 2 p.m. The public and home building community are invited to the event, which will include a tour and testing demonstrations. Look for signs in the Whispering Winds community off Dairy Road in West Melbourne. For directions, visit the LifeStyle Homes Web site: www.BuildingALifeStyle.com.

LifeStyle Homes SunSmart Energy Initiative logo

LifeStyle Homes' SunSmart models meet the DOE's Builders Challenge quality criteria.

LifeStyle Homes – based in Melbourne, Fla. – is the first Brevard County builder to achieve the Builders Challenge with its new line of SunSmartSM models. FSEC’s Building America researchers provided technical assistance and third-party certification to LifeStyle Homes, which is required by the Builders Challenge criteria.

“We are extremely proud of our collaboration with LifeStyle Homes,” says Dr. Subrato Chandra, FSEC’s Building America program director. “We look forward to many more of these high-performance Builders Challenge homes being built. We plan to work alongside LifeStyle Homes every step of the way as they work toward our mutual goal of building zero energy homes, which provide their total energy needs from the power of the sun.”

Larry Hufford, founding partner of LifeStyle Homes, echoes the thoughts of many Builders Challenge participants.

“Increasing the energy efficiency of our homes offers solid benefits to our customers,” Hufford said. “It helps them save on their monthly and annual energy bills, and it is the right thing for us to do in moving our country toward energy independence.”

For more information, contact
Neil Moyer, FSEC Building America researcher, 321-638-1409
Jake Luhn, LifeStyle Homes, 321- 727-8188 extension 303

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PR-06rev

Energy Experts to Share Their Knowledge at Sunsational EarthFest

Monday, April 13th, 2009

Sunsational EarthFest, a new Earth Day event, will help residents learn about renewable energy, resource conservation and the environment in a fun and relaxed atmosphere.

The University of Central Florida’s Florida Solar Energy Center (FSEC) and the Brevard Community College Green Team will host the event on Saturday, April 18, from 9 a.m. until 4 p.m. Everyone is invited, and admission is free.

Learn from the experts how to cut your energy costs without sacrificing comfort, the benefits of green roofs, the basics of solar energy and the latest research in alternative fuel technology. Tours of the center will also be offered.

Exhibitors and vendors will offer presentations, demonstrations and activities.
Solar energy, environmental and educational exhibits — including various types of alternative fuel vehicles — will be on display, and a farmer’s market will feature local organic food. Activities for kids include a bicycle rodeo, solar boat demonstrations, a bouncy house and face painting. In addition, the Middle School Science Bowl finalist teams will race their model hydrogen fuel cell cars.

The BCC Green Team will present free educational and environmental films, “Gimme Green,” “Who Killed the Electric Car?” and “Kilowatt Ours.” The BCC Planetarium and Observatory will present two showings of the movie “A Living Sea,” which is shown in IMAX, at a discounted rate of $3.

Sunsational EarthFest activities will be located throughout the north end of the Brevard Community College Cocoa Campus and at the Florida Solar Energy Center, 1679 Clearlake Road, Cocoa.

Sunsational EarthFest is sponsored by the Florida Solar Energy Center, the BCC Green Team, Bright House Networks, FLORIDA TODAY and SolarWorld.

For more information, call Susan Schleith at (321) 638-1017 or go to www.floridaenergycenter.org/go/earthfest.

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