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I'm getting that "Here Comes the Sun" feeling again. Here's a "Solarview" of encouraging news from the solar energy industry to cheer us up this holiday season and maybe influence where you shop.  

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More than 8,000 panels help power Kohl's e-commerce center, by Thomas Content of the Journal Sentinal.

The 1-million-square-foot facility northeast of Baltimore is Kohl’s first logistics facility to earn green building certification from the U.S. Green Building Council.

The Edgewood building has 8,360 solar panels that can supply more than 40% of its energy needs. Total power output from the panels is 2.4 megawatts, which more than doubles the next-largest solar site for Kohl’s, a California distribution center.

The 2.4-megawatt solar project is a tad larger than the largest solar project built to date in Wisconsin – a 2.2-megawatt solar project built by Epic Systems Inc., the Verona-based developer of electronic medical records software.

Since starting an aggressive solar expansion plan Kohls has become one of the largest hosts of solar electricity generation in North America, now generating 42 megawatts of power. When I was looking on google to find some photos of the Kohl's Department Stores solar installation I ran across this article from June, that I missed reporting Kohl's ambitious solar energy program for its retail outlets which will expand 25% this year, in 30 new locations, including California, Connecticut, Maryland, Massachusetts, New York and Ohio.  

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From Kohl's to add rooftop solar panel systems to 30 additional stores:

On average, the solar panels will supply 20-50 percent of each store’s energy. Construction of the solar panel arrays on the first phase of stores began this spring. Once the installations are complete by the end of 2012, Kohl’s expects to have more than 150 solar locations across 13 states.

With the completion of Kohl’s 30 new locations, the company’s portfolio of solar sites will produce more than 74.2 million kWh of energy annually – equivalent to preventing greenhouse gas emissions from 10,032 passenger vehicles or the carbon dioxide emissions from the electricity use of 6,380 homes for a year.

Through the on-site energy generation at Kohl’s solar locations, two wind locations and the purchase of renewable energy credits, Kohl’s offsets more than 100 percent of its conventional companywide energy use.

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Get Solar reporsts 8minutenergy Renewables and Gestamp Solar to Develop 20 MW of Solar Energy for SDG&E Power Purchase Agreement

8minutenergy Renewables, LLC and Gestamp Solar today announced the signing of a 20-year contract to sell approximately 20 megawatts-ac of clean, renewable solar energy from their Calipatria Solar Farm project in Imperial Valley, Calif., to San Diego Gas & Electric (SDG&E). ...

The Calipatria Solar Farm project is a utility-scale solar generation facility sited on 160 acres of low-productivity farmland. Construction is projected to begin in late 2014, with the delivery of renewable energy to SDG&E expected by early 2015. This clean solar generation plant will displace the equivalent of approximately 54,000 metric tons of carbon dioxide (CO2) per year, which is equal to the amount that roughly 2.2 million trees would displace annually. ...

“The solar farm's annual production of approximately 48 million kilowatt hours (kWhs) of electricity will produce enough renewable solar energy to serve 9,000 households in SDG&E’s service territory,” said Martin Hermann, chief executive officer of 8minutenergy Renewables. ...  “The Calipatria project will create approximately 50 direct jobs and more than 100 indirect jobs in the area during the construction period,” said Tom Buttgenbach, president of 8minutenergy Renewables.

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And, as you might expect, More Higher Education Institutions Turn to Solar Energy, as reported by GetSolar.

“In California especially, schools are having budgets cut for the third, fourth, fifth year in a row and are looking for ways to make up shortfalls in their general fund budgets by using capital dollars," the article stated. ... For example, at Laney College in Oakland, California, school officials expect a recently installed solar project to save the college about $20,000 every month on electricity costs, according to Forbes.

"[T]he primary target in installing these systems is to have more money available to provide education, which, at the end of the day, is our mission,” said Charles Neal, the environmental sustainability manager for Peralta Community College District in the Bay Area, which Laney College is a part of. ...

The Colorado College in Colorado Springs has installed multiple solar arrays on top of its buildings. The systems range from 14 kilowatts to 19 kW. Two of the systems, like the 19 kW solar array on the college's Children's Center, will help the school meets its goal to be carbon neutral by 2020, the Colorado Springs Business Journal reported. The 17.2kW PV system on the roof of the Colorado College radio station is expected to produce 10 percent of the building's energy needs, lowering electricity bills, according to a news story on the college's website.

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In addition to retail outlets, universities and schools, and increasing number of sports facilities are converting to solar as well, as we learn in Sport Facilities Use Solar, Save on Electricity

Homeowners and businesses have increasingly turned to solar to reduce their electricity costs. Large and small installations have been proven to benefit organizations of all sizes, including even major sporting corporations and complexes. Some car racing facilities, from the recreational Grand Prix to the professional-level racing association NASCAR as well as other major sports leagues in the United States, have recently installing rooftop solar arrays that slash these large arenas' annual utility bills. ...

The Grand Prix New York - a 120,000 square foot indoor racing, social entertainment and corporate event venue - has installed 216 solar panels on its roof in an effort to reduce energy costs. The photovoltaic system will generate 58,360 kilowatt hours of electricity each year, and is expected to save the company about $10,000 over the next 12 months alone. ...

NASCAR Goes Green, Saves Green

In the last few years, NASCAR has increased the amount of solar energy the organization uses at its facilities. In 2010, NASCAR's Pocono Raceway in Philadelphia had a 25-acre solar farm in a former parking lot go online to provide the facility with between 3 million to 4 million kilowatt hours of electricity each year, CNN reported. The solar installation features 39,690 solar panels and was installed to save the raceway millions annually.

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And, revving our motors for a comic crescendo, and ironic turn, it turns out even the coal mining museum is converting to solar power to save money Coal Mining Museum Welcomes Solar Panels as reported by NPR>

The Big Pit National Coal Mining Museum, a former mine in Wales, celebrates the fossil fuel that sparked the industrial revolution. Now it's embracing solar energy. Renewable Energy World reports 200 newly installed solar panels could save the property as much as $650,000 over 25 years on power.

DAVID GREENE, HOST:

Good morning. I'm David Greene. It's the dawn of a new era at the Big Pit National Coal Mining Museum. The former mine in Wales celebrates the fossil fuel that sparked the Industrial Revolution. Now it's embracing solar energy. Renewable Energy World reports that 200 newly installed solar panels could save the property as much as $650,000 over 25 years on power. Put another way, the museum celebrating coal won't have to dig so deep to pay the electric bill.

Due to a global price war, the price of solar panels has come down 80% in the last five years. While this has been a disaster for some suppliers, for consumers it makes the conversion to solar power even more attractive when added to the very quick installation times compared to other forms of energy production. So expect to see these trends accelerate.

Here comes the sun. Solar energy production is an idea whose time has come.

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Comment Preferences

  •  So great! (7+ / 0-)

    It won't be long before every big box store in the country has solar collectors on the roof. It's just a matter of dollars. Once they can justify the upfront expense they'll do it.

    It's time for cheaper solar power! Zenman Energy

    by ZenManProject on Thu Dec 20, 2012 at 06:39:23 PM PST

    •  Apparently, the critical cost/benefit ratio (4+ / 0-)

      threshold has arrived.

      Thanks ZenMan

      The means is the ends in the process of becoming. - Mahatma Gandhi

      by HoundDog on Thu Dec 20, 2012 at 06:41:16 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  It can go lower (5+ / 0-)

        When the payback for solar equipment is only a couple years I think we're going to see a massive increase in solar.

        It baffles the hell out of me that I can drive by dozens of big box stores and their rooftops are filled with nothing but ballast.

        We'll get there. We have to.

        It's time for cheaper solar power! Zenman Energy

        by ZenManProject on Thu Dec 20, 2012 at 07:36:20 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  I wrote recently that fragmented on poorly thought (7+ / 0-)

          out obstacles at the local zoning and permit levels can add 120 to 180 to installation time and increase costs in the US as contrasted to Germany where national streamlined regulations have reduced costs and time down to as little as 8 days.

          We need to support national streamlining and fast-tracking of standards and zoning regulations.

          The means is the ends in the process of becoming. - Mahatma Gandhi

          by HoundDog on Thu Dec 20, 2012 at 08:03:52 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  Permits (3+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            HoundDog, Larsstephens, KenBee

            Can you post a link of that diary? If I went down to my local zoning office, I can get an electrical permit in an hour, depending on the number of people waiting in line. What takes 120-180 days?

            It's time for cheaper solar power! Zenman Energy

            by ZenManProject on Thu Dec 20, 2012 at 08:10:02 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

            •  I'll give you the post. It obviously depends on (3+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              Larsstephens, DawnN, KenBee

              your region.  The article complains that in some places utilities have deliberated rigged the process to be difficult.

              Bernie Sanders has written about this as well.

              The means is the ends in the process of becoming. - Mahatma Gandhi

              by HoundDog on Thu Dec 20, 2012 at 08:26:00 PM PST

              [ Parent ]

            •  Here's a link to a post I wrote about this last (2+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              Larsstephens, KenBee

              The means is the ends in the process of becoming. - Mahatma Gandhi

              by HoundDog on Thu Dec 20, 2012 at 08:29:06 PM PST

              [ Parent ]

              •  brain dead (4+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                HoundDog, Larsstephens, DawnN, KenBee

                Now I remember reading that.

                It would be an interesting project to identify what cities/utilities make it difficult to get Solar permits. Like a big ass google map with markers identifying how long cities take to give out solar permits. It wouldn't be hard to make, of course getting the data is another story.

                The dsire database is about to get a major overhaul, seems like it would be a useful datapoint to add.

                It's time for cheaper solar power! Zenman Energy

                by ZenManProject on Thu Dec 20, 2012 at 08:39:50 PM PST

                [ Parent ]

                •  I was thinking the same thing. I remember about (2+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:
                  Larsstephens, KenBee

                  a year ago, Senator Bernie Sanders posted an op-ed about a bill he has sponsored to fast track and streamline such regulation.

                  But, I will have to check it out tomorrow as I'm off to bed after the David Letterman monologue.

                  Thanks ZenMan.

                  The means is the ends in the process of becoming. - Mahatma Gandhi

                  by HoundDog on Thu Dec 20, 2012 at 08:42:12 PM PST

                  [ Parent ]

                  •  No, thank you! (3+ / 0-)
                    Recommended by:
                    HoundDog, Larsstephens, KenBee

                    Keep posting about solar. I'll keep reading about it. :-)

                    One of these days, you're going to write about my solar project. Then I'll know I'm somebody!

                    It's time for cheaper solar power! Zenman Energy

                    by ZenManProject on Thu Dec 20, 2012 at 09:10:05 PM PST

                    [ Parent ]

                    •  Well, why don't you write about your solar project (2+ / 0-)
                      Recommended by:
                      Larsstephens, KenBee

                      I'll be delighted to publish it Kosowatt?  Are you already a contributor?  I'd be delighted if you joined up, I can make you an editor, or whatever you like.

                      And, please consider following both Kosowatt and HoundDog as I plan to do a whole bunch more renewable energy articles in the next months.

                      If you don't want to write up your own project tell me about it and I'll co-write something with you.

                      Thanks for contributing ZenManProject.  I'd be delighted to help you take any next steps as a writer and contributer that you may aspire to.

                      I'm about to call it a night as soon as the Craig Fergeson monologue is over. (I think I declared this about the Letterman show, but got carried away with a long comment about scientific humanism.)

                      This time for sure as Bullwinkle the Moose used to say.

                      The means is the ends in the process of becoming. - Mahatma Gandhi

                      by HoundDog on Thu Dec 20, 2012 at 09:37:11 PM PST

                      [ Parent ]

                      •  I will (1+ / 0-)
                        Recommended by:
                        HoundDog

                        I'm planning on writing a ridiculous number of diaries about my project I just haven't worked in the time. I started a scientific non-profit last year to develop an open source, low cost solar steam engine. I've been studying the engineering of concentrated solar power systems for the last 5 years and have come up with a long list of ways to reduce the cost. For the last year I've been attempting to machine the parts. It's taken an enormous amount of trial and mostly error, but I'm about 25% done with the prototype. I'm setting a lofty goal producing grid tied electricity by Earth day of 2013.

                        Being an open source project other people are able to improve on the ideas so everyone involved benefits.

                        I have a way to go with the engineering, but it won't be long. I'll try and post some diaries soon.

                        It's time for cheaper solar power! Zenman Energy

                        by ZenManProject on Fri Dec 21, 2012 at 07:07:47 AM PST

                        [ Parent ]

                        •  Thanks ZenManProject. This sounds really (0+ / 0-)

                          interesting.  I was just reading an article-ad about a solar steam generating engine.  I didn't get all the way through all the links to the actual DIY project work which seemed as though they were selling a how to book, or video.

                          It seemed to combine concentrating reflectors onto a central pipe or heat collector.  Maybe it was your sight?

                          Do you have links that I could check out.  I'm especially interested in promoting more DIY projects for solar, wind, geothermal, etc.

                          The means is the ends in the process of becoming. - Mahatma Gandhi

                          by HoundDog on Fri Dec 21, 2012 at 05:15:18 PM PST

                          [ Parent ]

                          •  Possibly (1+ / 0-)
                            Recommended by:
                            HoundDog

                            What is the link? I had an article in Forbes a few months ago, that was pretty fun. :-)

                            http://www.forbes.com/...

                            He had a couple misquotes. He said I was invited to the White House, but I was only invited to CALL the White House. Granted, that alone was pretty amazing. I spoke with Dr. Wadia for about half an hour who blew my mind more than once with his knowledge of solar power, but I think I held my own.

                            My main site is at: http://www.zenmanenergy.org but I post most of my updates on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/...

                            I'm thinking about doing a diary about the evacuated tube system we designed and another about the reflectors. They're both REALLY neat. Of course it's pretty technical, so I'll have to some how make them interesting.

                            It's time for cheaper solar power! Zenman Energy

                            by ZenManProject on Fri Dec 21, 2012 at 09:05:00 PM PST

                            [ Parent ]

                          •  Thanks ZenManProject. I'll check it out. I've (1+ / 0-)
                            Recommended by:
                            ZenManProject

                            been wanting to start some do it yourself solar and wind energy projects.  Maybe I'll give yours a try.

                            The means is the ends in the process of becoming. - Mahatma Gandhi

                            by HoundDog on Sat Dec 22, 2012 at 05:18:20 PM PST

                            [ Parent ]

                •  I don't know about the big box stores, but (1+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:
                  KenBee

                  here the slowdown is definitely due to our utility company, PG&E.  Our city turns permits around pretty quickly.  When our solar panels got installed, there were several more steps to getting us hooked up to the grid so we could sell them back our excess daytime power.  The city sent someone out relatively quickly (a couple weeks?) but the utility took more than 2 months.  The lead guy who hooked us up said that he was training lots of people because solar installs were going like mad and that's why they were backed up.

                  Also, at least for residential, leasing the solar panels is an option that makes the break-even point much sooner, and zero-down leasing is available.  Leasing would make sense if a big box store doesn't want a big capital investment (albeit one with a big tax advantage).

                •  That would be very good (1+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:
                  KenBee

                  Because it might turn it into a "competition" to make it easier to make those cities/utilities look "better" to customers and citizens.

                  It sure couldn't hurt!

                  Women create the entire labor force. ---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Sympathy is the strongest instinct in human nature. - Charles Darwin

                  by splashy on Fri Dec 21, 2012 at 01:27:21 AM PST

                  [ Parent ]

  •  Google? (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    HoundDog, Larsstephens, KenBee

    Where did that chart come from with the top 20 companies? I would have thought Google would be listed. Didn't they install some huge system a few years ago?

    It's time for cheaper solar power! Zenman Energy

    by ZenManProject on Thu Dec 20, 2012 at 06:40:30 PM PST

  •  Now if they will switch to LED's too! (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    James Wells

    Then those solar panels will contribute an even larger share of their total energy use. I have changed out nearly every light in my home to LED's. The ones made by CREE, located in North Carolina, are my favorite. They produce a bright white light that appears as if sunlight is pouring in from my ceiling! They use half as much energy as even a compact fluorescent and I will not have to replace them for at least 20 years.

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