Labor Day honors American workers that have made this country great since 1776, but we have
another laborer that has served mankind ever since the first human walked the earth. That laborer
is our own personal nuclear power plant 93 million miles away, the sun.
Some 20,000 to 40,000 years ago, mankind learned to use the sun’s stored energy to make life
easier. They discovered fire, and they used fallen branches to cook food, light up the night,
keep warm, and keep predators at bay. There were very few humans on earth and lots of trees. The
sun used a process called photosynthesis to combine carbon dioxide from the air with sunlight and
water to grow more trees and add oxygen to the air to make breathing easier. The process was
In the late BC years, oil was discovered. Oil was formed when the sun helped to grow animals and
plants (diatoms). The remains of these life forms lived millions of years ago in a marine
environment before the dinosaurs roamed the earth. Over millions of years, these remains were
covered by layers of sand and silt. Heat and pressure from these layers helped the remains turn
into what we today call crude oil. The first recorded use of oil was for pavements in Babylon
around 1000 BC. It was years later before people used oil for fuel.
Coal was formed much the same way as oil. The energy in coal comes from the energy stored by
plants that lived hundreds of millions of years ago, when the Earth was partly covered with
swampy forests. For millions of years, a layer of dead plants (grown by the sun, water, and
carbon dioxide) at the bottom of the swamps was covered by layers of water and dirt, trapping the
energy of the dead plants. The heat and pressure from the top layers helped the plant remains
turn into what we today call coal. The earliest known use of coal in the Americas was by the
Aztecs who used coal for fuel and jet (a type of lignite) for ornaments. Coal would later power
the Industrial Revolution as more efficient than cutting and burning wood. Coal is a nonrenewable
energy source, because it takes millions of years to create. Although coal is the most abundant
fossil fuel produced in the United States, it requires strip mining, removal of whole mountain
tops, or dangerous shafts taking workers deep under the ground. It also leaves mercury, arsenic,
other harmful chemicals behind after consuming oxygen and releasing carbon dioxide into the air.
We have to work hard to get oil and coal out of the ground, but the sun can work directly for us.
As I am writing this blog, the lights in my room are turned off; I’m using the oldest form of
energy used by humans, from more than 20 to 40 thousand years ago. I’m using daylighting. Light
from the adjacent window provides more than enough illumination for my task. We used daylighting
even before our ancestors discovered releasing the stored solar energy that fire extracts from
The sun can work more for us as well. It can heat water for our showers and cooking needs. If you
have ever been swimming in an outdoor pool or lake, you have used a solar water heater. Modern
versions can collect heat on our rooftops just like a hose sitting in the sun in summer yields
hot water. Try to take a drink from a garden hose in summer, and it will likely be too hot to
drink until it runs for minute or so. Rooftop collectors gather heat from the sun and transfer it
to the water. Pumps bring the water into a storage system until people inside the house need it.
The sun works hard to provide the heating energy, while only a small amount of electricity is
used for the pumps and the controls.
The sun can work to generate the electricity for your hot water system as well all your other
needs. Solar cells only generate a half a volt; cell amperage is about an amp per square inch, so
a single square inch of solar cells produces only about half a watt. Fortunately, we can connect
a lot of cells together so that we can get 250 to 400 watts from each panel. Again, that’s not a
lot of electricity, but we can string panels together to form a powerful solar array. We can even
connect multiple arrays to get more than enough electricity to run an energy efficient home.
So this Labor Day, think how the sun can work to make your life easier. Of course it helps if
you’ll do a bit of work yourself before asking the sun to do all the work. Every dollar you spend
on energy conservation (insulation, energy efficient appliances and lighting, sealing air leaks,
etc.) will save you three to five dollars by reducing the size of the solar array you will need
to operate your home.
Labor Day, a time to honor American workers and to look for a way to make our labor more effective.
See free and low-cost opportunities to learn more about renewable energy. Most offer professional
development hours for professional engineers. Visit the ASA
Solar Classes and Training Opportunities
Monday, September 2, 2013: Five US nuclear reactors shuttered in recent months. Now what?
November 20, 2012: STILL IMPORTANT Pssst! Hey, buddy, can you spare a few hours?
The Alabama Solar Association is looking for a few good men and women who want to leave
a better future for our children and grandchildren. Will you help?
Question: What is the one thing every single human being on the planet can do that's considered
green? Whatever the answer is, multiply that by billions of human beings and you create some
noticeable Green results.
Unplug the "Wall Warts." by Morton Archibald, Huntsville, Alabama USA
Wait! These are not US “brown-outs.” These are tropical “brown outs.”
You see, Filipinos define a “brown-out” as when the power goes completely off but for less than 12
hours. It may be because an overloaded sugar cane truck took out a few power poles, or it might be
workers are repairing something.
Friday, the power was out all day. A power company worker phoned his friend at the machine shop to
explain the duration and extent of the day’s “brown-out,” and he called a worker at my son-in-law’s
motor scooter repair shop who told us. Forewarned, we loaded in the car and headed south for the day.
We ate a leisurely lunch at an air-conditioned restaurant in a mall in Angeles City, enjoyed a new movie, shopped leisurely, and headed back home just as the power came back on.
The following days had shorter power outages from half a day to half an hour on successive “brown-outs.”
Now in the USA, we generally recommend against battery-backup PV systems whenever a power grid is reasonably close. A simple, grid-tied system will work almost seamlessly for 25 years with little or no maintenance. An off-grid system, or even a grid-tied system with battery backup, requires extra expense and maintenance. Initial costs may be as much as 50 percent higher, and replacement of batteries every three to ten years (depending on use) may stretch payback periods close to the 25-year lifespan of the system. “If you have a grid, use it,” advises ASA Technical Director Larry Bradford of Southern Solar Systems.
But during a tropical climate like the Philippines, power outages are frequent and repairs often slow. We need to rethink Bradford’s philosophy.
Unless your business is part of a big shopping mall or other facility with backup generator power, your business comes to a complete stop. In the case of our family scooter shop, all day Friday and part of Monday was a complete loss.
On a ship somewhere on the Pacific Ocean right now are two very large batteries. I brought a charge controller and inverter with me. I’ll buy panels and rails locally. In a few weeks, I hope to have a PV system in place to deal with “brown-outs” here.
If I am fully successful, I will reduce the power outage problem in one small mom-and-pop shop in one small town in one country in the most populous part of our globe. What I really hope is that I will inspire other businesses here to cover their empty roof spaces with solar panels to reduce the need for backup generators.
Our three biggest challenges of solar today are, in order of priority:
Education of engineers, scientiswtsw,
legislators, utility officials, the public, etc.
Posted from Tarlac City, Philippines, by
A. Morton Archibald, Jr., P.E., C.E.M.
President, Alabama Solar Association
ASA Solarite goes International:
Affordable Energy Solutions of Huntsville is going to work in the Philippines. Normally limited to
Alabama and Southern Tennessee, the firm is branching out. A team from the firm will be developing and
teaching a two-day class on “Energy Efficiency Planning for Optimization” in Manila this spring. While
there, we will install at least one grid-tied photovoltaic system with battery backup.
Nothing shows the energy situation in the Philippines than the lighthouse on the fortress island of
Corregidor. The original 19th Century Spanish lighthouse used whale oil lamps to guide ships from the
South China Sea into Manila Bay. Electric lights replaced the oil lamps and eventually the lighthouse
evolved into the tower shown to the right. Brimming with electronics and powered by solar panels, the
tower still guides ships safely into and out of Manila Bay.
Life is hard in the Philippines. Gasoline cost about five bucks a gallon. It takes the average Filipino
worker two and a half day of 10 to 12 hours a day to buy one gallon. Electricity is 25 cents per
kilowatt-hour, or about double what Alabama Power charges now. That’s more than an hour’s wages for just
one kWh. “Brown-outs” are common. A “brown-out is defined as grid power being shut off for less than 12
hours; longer than 12 hours is a blackout.
At just ten degrees north latitude, there’s a lot of sunshine in the Philippines. “As we enter 2013, we
would like to focus on the solar rooftops because we believe this is going to be a major initiative by
the [solar] industry in providing solutions to our problems in the energy sector,” said Theresa
Cruz-Capellan, one of the founders of the Philippine Solar Power Alliance (PSPA).
ASA president and Solarite Morton Archibald will travel to Manila in April to help Filipinos achieve
their goal of more rooftop solar. The two-day class will include the current energy crisis, energy
efficiency - the best source of new energy, building energy efficiency, transportation energy efficiency,
utility energy effi¬ciency, recycling-the third best option, solar - the source of all energy, energy
economics, solar hot water, photovoltaics, maintenance and repair, and ways you can implement the
lessons learned to today’s energy challenges.
Morton will then proceed to the provincial capital of Tarlac City on Central Luzon about 110
kilometers (70 miles) north of Manila. The economy of Tarlac Provence is primarily agricultural with
principal crops of rice, sugarcane, and other fruits and vegetables. Tarlac City supports the
surrounding farmers of the province with mills and machinery. May daughter and her husband own a
business that manufactures and modifies motor scooters – the primary means of personal
“Brown-outs” are very common in Tarlac City. Businesses often have to shut down and air conditioning
has to shut down with a brown out, and it’s no fun to stay inside in a tropical climate without AC.
In other words, all work stops until the power comes back home.
Morton will organize a crew of local workers and train them to install a grid-tied photovoltaic
system with battery backup in Tarlac. This will show local businesses there how they can keep
critical systems operational while the power is out—which is a lot.
Working conditions? We’ll have a view of a volcano across a green pasture as we work.
That’s it to the right.
I hesitate to call any Alabama solar project small; while the typical US state had 88 megawatts installed
as of January, Alabama had less than one. A five-kilowatt solar garden is small by the megawatt standard,
but I could make a huge difference in a state lagging so far behind our neighbors.
The Frog Pond Manor Solar Garden above is an excellent example. This modest system more than meets the needs
of the Franklin County homeowners; at 5 PM on July 3rd, we watched the meter turn backwards. Their
system was putting power back onto the Alabama Power grid, as their solar garden met all the home’s energy
needs and then some. It was a thrilling moment.
RAIS® (Redundant Array of Integrating Solar) Wave systems consist of alternating rows of
180-watt photovoltaic (PV) modules and patented reflectors. Look carefully at the photo above, and you
can see rows of blue-tinted glass behind each row of modules. Viewed from above and in sunlight, these
reflectors appear bright orange. They are designed to reflect the optimum wavelength of sunlight onto the
Most flat-plate PV panels only produce significant electricity from 9:00 AM until 3:00 PM solar time. A
glance at the local sun chart shows why. The sun does not even reach the face of a traditional panel
until the sunlight passes the 90° solar azimuth, and even then light is parallel to the face plate;
sunshine perpendicular to the face is the most efficient.
As soon as the sun peeks over the horizon, however, sunlight begins reflecting onto the modules north of
each reflector. This continues before the sun even strikes the face of the modules themselves. This
captures sunlight that would normally be lost on a traditional system.
The tenKsolar RAIS® PV module with its ground-breaking Cell Optimizing technology is the only flat plate
PV module capable of efficiently harvesting reflected light. Other solar panels depend on uniformly
distributed light to balance the cells in the system. They can only make as much electricity as their
least productive cell. This means that shading or adding extra light to a cell creates a problem for
conventional panels. However, tenKsolar RAIS modules integrate the light across the entire module surface
and turn it into power. Because of proprietary Cell Optimizing internal to the module, spots of shade,
soiling, even physical damage to a portion of a module will have minimal impact on the individual module
or array output.
The RAIS® Wave is designed from the ground up to be a complete solar harvesting system.
if you are going to the trouble of installing solar, pick a system that will gather the most
energy available to you.
So how many of these modest projects would it take to make a difference? If only 3.31 families in each of
Alabama’s 67 counties were to install one of these solar gardens, that would add up to a whopping
megawatt of clean energy from the sun to replace the coal-produced electricity we now use. That’s still
a long way behind the 88 megawatts a typical state has, but it would double what we have now.
Will you be one of the four families in your county?
Alabama has grid parity now: Make your own electricity at home cheaper than you can buy it
from the power company.
A five-kilowatt, grid-tied photovoltaic (PV) array will power a typical, energy-efficient, Alabama home. This
system will produce almost 160,000 kilowatt-hours of electricity over the 25-year expected life of the system.
You can get this 5 kW system installed on most homes for $20,000 or less. You can get a 30-percent Federal
Investment Tax Credit on any PV system you can install on your home. Residents of North Alabama are also
eligible for a $1,000 credit from TVA, and you may even be eligible for a $3,000 Federal grant for homeowners
who have already made significant energy efficiency improvements to their home.
You can produce your own electricity for only 8.8 cents per kilowatt-hour in most of Alabama and even less
(8.2 cents) in the TVA service area. This rate is guaranteed for 25 years. The Alabama Power and TVA
residential rates are expected to top 45 and 35 cents per kilowatt-hour respectively within 25 years.
We may not have reached grid parity yet for self-contained or off-grid systems. First of all, you will need
a slightly larger system to meet your needs year-round. PV systems naturally produce better in the summer
than in winter. Generally expect an off-grid system to cost about 50 percent more initially. Add to that
the cost of replacement batteries every five to ten years.
Off-grid may still be right for you under certain conditions. Several Alabama homeowners just live too far
from the grid to connect economically. One Dadeville homeowner lost his house in the April 27th Tornados
last year. the new location he selected was a beautiful hillside meadow nearly a mile from the nearest
power line. Alabama Power quoted him $30,000 to connect, and their rates are 12.5 cents per kilowatt-hour
now and expected to climb to more than 45 cents in 25 years. This homeowner could install a new off-grid
system for less than the $30,000 he was quoted for the new power line. He could produce his own electricity
for only 15.76 cents per kilowatt-hour, the rate projected for Alabama Power in five years.
Battery technology is advancing rapidly and prices are declining. By the time you need to replace your
off-grid batteries in five to ten years, newer, more-efficient batteries may be available for less than you
paid for your first set. Consider all your options.
Experts recommend that, if a grid us available, tie your PV installation to it. It is less expensive for
you and it actually does more to reduce the carbon footprint for the neighborhood than does an off-grid
Contact an Alabama Solar Association Solarite (see
www.al-solar.org/solarites) to find the best
solution for your home or small business.
Education is the biggest problem facing solar in Alabama.
The March Photon magazine cover proclaims “PV
Parked in Alabama: Dim prospects for accelerating solar without changes.” But in Huntsville, retired Army
General Jim Pillsbury is heading the Alabama effort of the “Sun Shot” initiative. Patterned after JFK’s “Moon Shot” program, DoE wants research
and development to bring solar costs down to $0.6 per kWh. General Pillsbury (US Army, Retired) believes
that if we can make solar practical and popular in Huntsville, the rest of Alabama will follow.
In a briefing to General Pillsbury, I listed the three biggest problems facing solar in Alabama today, in
order of priority, as:
In the early 60’s there was still a law on the books that required that anyone bringing a “horseless
carriage” into town must send a flagman 100 yards ahead, carrying a lantern if at night, to warn others of
its approach. I don’t know when the law was written—perhaps around the turn of last century, but obviously
the “horseless carriage” was not then seen to be the defining future of personal transportation. Oh, by
the way, the town was Detroit.
Solar is the 21st Century’s “horseless carriage.” We need education efforts to bring it out of
the dark. Solar is too little understood and often feared by engineers and architects, legislators,
utility companies, the general public, and the dinosaurs of big oil. Conoco-Phillips just spent $75
million producing a series of TV ads telling the public how clean and plentiful natural gas is as an
energy source. The ads ignore all the dangers of hydraulic fracturing, or “fracking,” used to get the gas
out of the ground. Matching the TV ads is a $75 million lobbying effort.
Professional engineers (PEs) are those engineers certified to look out for public safety. I have gotten
daily news feeds for PEs for over a year now. Since last March, the number one concern of PEs for public
safety has been nuclear safety. Second on the list, recently moving to number 1, is fracking. Third is
pipeline safety. The three top PE daily concerns on the list, of a dozen or so, are energy.
We can’t hope to spend $150 million to match the one oil company’s campaign to promote oil and gas, but we
can do a lot better than Proton magazine’s approximation that Alabama PV is parked. One way to do that is
with “Firefly,” the ASA solar trailer. We have a number of opportunities to use firefly to bring our
message to the general public:
April 14th, Earth Day, Florence
April 21st, Earth Day, Huntsville
June 23rd, Solar Day, Decatur
August 25th, Green-U, Huntsville
October 6th, National Solar Tour
More opportunities that ASA Solarites and other members can develop
We are within $600 of being able to meet our first two obligations. Firefly has wings—the solar panels
donated by Renogy. Now she needs a brain—a $600 charge controller. Can you help us put Firefly on the road
to solar education?
If your dues are current, please consider paying next year’s dues now. If your dues are not current, please
renew now. If you are not a member, please consider joining now. Please consider buying a lifetime
membership for $250 for regular members or $150 for seniors. Regardless of your status, please consider
making a donation for Firefly today. We are so close to finishing her.
Firefly needs your donations of both time and money now -- Got wings, needs brain.
We have been asked to bring Firefly to The Shoals for Earth Day on Saturday, April 14th. ASA volunteers are
working frantically to get her finished in time, but there is another snag. A critical piece of equipment,
the battery controller we thought was going to cost $100, will actually cost us $600. We would also like to
buy a nice inverter, but this is not critical right now.
Firefly now has her wings. As a minimum we need to complete the supporting frame underneath the three solar
panels. We can then attach the hinges to let the array tilt up to an optimum angle. We then have to wire
the panels and connect them to the new controller.
If time and money permits, we want to install an electric winch to tilt the array to the optimum angle. Since
this angle changes throughout the day, an electric tilt system will help us adjust tilt easily. We also want
to install meters showing the current status of the array, the controller, the battery, and other components.
Again we need money and manpower to finish this project.
Please consider making a donation now and possibly coming by Morton’s house on Saturday to work on Firefly.
She has so much potential, and we are so close to making her functional. Won’t you help?
The work parties are each Saturday from 10 AM to 3 PM at 2117 Rothmore Drive SW Huntsville. From Memorial Parkway, go west on
Rothmore from just north of the Mountain Gap Road traffic light -- it’s right across from the Bojangles Fried
Chicken place. Go ½ mile and take the first left turn onto Pembrook. My driveway is the first on the left. Call Morton at
256-658-5189 for more info.
Several people have asked me for more information on why we need a $600 piece of equipment for Firefly. The
battery controller is essential to regulate the fluctuating output of the solar panels into a steady charge
for the battery. The three panels can produce up to 135 volts direct current, but the 12-volt nominal
battery needs closer to 15 volts to charge properly.
The Outback Flexmax 60 will handle up to 150 volts DC and 60 amps of power. We can later add another array
of three panels and still use this one controller. We can also add remote metering and logging or use the
controller's internal readout to measure system performance. This controllor usually costs $750, but we
can get one for about $600.
OutBack's industry leading Maximum Power Point Tracking (MPPT) Charge Controllers offer a history of
reliability and durability. Innovative solar harvesting and battery charging algorithms allow us to
maximize our systems potential and can increase our renewable energy yield by up to 30%.
Or does anybody have a good quality controller they can donate to Firefly? The Voc will be 135 volts DC
maximum, and the maximum amperage will be 15 amps.
Firefly gets her Wings.
Steve checks the design against plans behind Firefly's solar panels. Thanks again to
Reynogy for donating our modules for Firefly's PVC array.
Alabama has a new NABCEP installer.
What is NABCEP, and why should Alabamians care about it?
Alabama has no requirements for solar installation. Caveat emptor (Let the buyer beware) is especially
applicable in our state. While all Alabama Solar Association Solarites (professional members) are proven
to be highly qualified, NABCEP is a worldwide standard that guarantees that specific solar professional
has the knowledge and experience to design and build a system that will perform well under very specific
conditions found on your site.
NABCEP (www.nabcep.org) is the North American Board of
Certified Energy Practitioners. It is the “gold standard” for PV and solar heating installation
certification. Designed to raise industry standards and promote consumer confidence, NABCEP offers
certification and certificate programs to renewable energy professionals throughout North America and
around the world. when your installer is NABCEP-certified, you can be assured they know what they are
Certification of a profession refers to a generally voluntary process in which the certifying organization
formally grants recognition to those who meet certain predetermined standards or qualifications. It
usually includes an examination of some kind to assess the candidates’ qualifications. Certification
offers the public a high degree of protection because practitioners have to meet standards or
qualifications and pass an exam, and they do so voluntarily. Developing a certification is a complex and
time-consuming process and requires a strong administrative organization in order to maintain its quality.
Over a thousand certification programs exist in the U.S., qualifying professionals from crane operators to
energy efficiency experts, from financial planners to automobile technicians.
Until the Wright Brothers began the first school of aviation in a cotton field south of Montgomery in
1910, there was no standard certification for pilots. There was no need. There were so few airplanes
aloft, that pilots pretty much learned by trial and error. Today extensive and tough certifications guard
pilots, passengers, and innocents on the ground. I can’t imagine flying with an uncertified pilot unless I
were teaching him or her as part of the certification process.
Voluntary certification programs accomplish three important goals:
They provide a measure of protection to the public by giving them a credential for judging the
competency of practitioners;
They provide practitioners with a way to distinguish themselves from their competition; and
By potentially improving quality, they improve the public perception of the given occupation, helping
increase the industry’s prominence.
The NABCEP process has been developed and designed carefully following professional credentialing
guidelines. Standards, developed by subject matter experts, have been set and the eligibility requirements
are reasonably achievable being based on extensive input from stakeholders and deliberation among
installers. NABCEP has built a transparent, non-discriminatory program implemented with fair procedures
and due process.
Benefits of certification exist for both installers and consumers:
Identifies installers as professionals, instilling consumer confidence in their work
Validates extra resources spent on training and gaining experience
Allows for installer mobility as the market moves from state to state
Allows installers to distinguish their skills and experience in the field
Provides a means to identify qualified installers, promoting confidence in the work
Preserves consumer choice, maintaining access to both certified and uncertified installers
For years, Daryl Bergquest of Royal was the only NABCEP-certified installer. He is still the only fully
certified PV (photovoltaic) installer here.
Jeff Max of ACME Solar Works
www.acmesolarworks.net in Summerdale became Alabama’s only NABCEP-certified Solar Thermal installer.
Morton Archibald, ASA president and chief engineer of Affordable Energy Solutions
www.getaffordableenergy.com in Huntsville
has earned the NABCEP Entry Level certification. The NABCEP Entry Level Exam is a way for candidates to
demonstrate that they have achieved a basic knowledge of the fundamental principles of the application,
design, installation and operation of PV systems. It’s basically a license to learn.
The nest step for Morton is to gain some more experience and then take the NABCEP PV Installer’s exam.
NABCEP Certified PV Installers are highly experienced individuals who have passed a very rigorous
examination and have demonstrated the capability to supervise complete system installations. They must
have a detailed working knowledge of the electrical, standards, and accepted industry practice
associated with PV installations.
Please consider coming to help us this Saturday, March 24th. We meet at Morton’s house at 2117
Rothmore Drive SW in Huntsville at 10:00 AM. Go west off South Memorial Parkway onto Rothmore just north of
the Mountain Gap Road traffic light and directly across from Bojangles Fried Chicken. Go about a half mile,
past the house with a circle drive, and take the first left turn onto Pembrook Drive. My driveway is the
first on the left.
Baby Firefly is Born
During the big grid-power outage of April-May 2011, Dad and I set up a couple sets of ASA's solar
panels. We used them to recharge 12V marine batteries we purchased Thursday after the storms.
In an ideal situation, the panels would be permanently mounted to the house in a calculated
orientation that maximizes input from the average position of the sun over a year. In this
temporary setting, I just wanted to be able to move the panels now and then during the day to track
the sun. One idea (pictured above) popped into my mind.
Now this stuff was quickly and temporarily set on my son's wagon. Perhaps in a more functional setup,
the panels would be mounted a little higher up and be adjustable to accommodate various angles of
elevation, and the battery would sit as low in the center of the wagon as possible, perhaps even
recessed in a cutout in the floor of the wagon. The space between the battery and the panels would
provide a small storage area for the controller, a small toolbox, etc. A modified wagon might be a
good way to roll a setup from the car to the final display location at events, minimizing setup and
It’s not a very big system, but the 45-watt output will power a few CFL or LED light fixtures,
recharge small appliance batteries, and even run a small refrigerator.
Let’s renew our efforts to complete Firefly into a working solar power generating station. It sure
would have been helpful after the April 27th storm or other storms yet to come. Folks
on the Gulf Coast would have loved to have had some solar trailers after Katrina.
Please help Firefly!
The Alabama Solar Association is converting your ASA display trailer into a
functioning portable photovoltaic system.
We will use the rebuilt trailer for demonstration purposes, for power at outdoor
events, and for emergency power when needed. We will have a top array of 4’ x 8’
and possibly a side array of 3’ x 8’. Both arrays will to take best advantage of
the sun any time of year.
We have tentatively named the trailer “Firefly.” Like those delightful creatures that
brighten Alabama skies on summer nights, “Firefly” will generate its own power albeit
small. We need a snappy name, such as the New Mexico Solar Society’s “Sun Catcher.”
Please suggest names you feel might be appropriate for this and future generations of
solar trailers—we plan two more of progressively larger sizes and power.
We currently have nine 15-watt silicon PV panels. These panels will not provide much
100 VAC power. So we need more.
Can anyone donate any of these materials?
Solar panels, any size, any capacity, any technology?
Big batteries, preferably deep-cycle such as golf cart or marine?
A charge controller?
One or more inverters?
Two tires, size 5.750-8, new or used and in good condition?
Aluminum bar and angles, new or used, any size?
Plywood, marine or exterior grade, new or used, any size?
Can anybody volunteer to help us work on the trailer?
Saturday, April 9th at Morton’s house?
Saturday, April 16th at the Earth Day celebration at Hayes Nature Preserve on US Hoghway 431?
Thursday, April 21st at Alabama A&M Green Living Expo?
If you would like to help but have neither time nor materials, you can always make
a cash donation. Any amount would help. Just click on the green “Donation” button on
our join or donate web page to use PayPal,
or you can send a check to:
With three damaged Japanese nuclear plants leaking and possibly melting down, Americans are naturally
concerned about the safety of nuclear energy. TVA has proposed replacing existing dirty coal-fired
plants with cleaner nuclear reactors (see below). This is a mixed blessing. Nuclear releases less
harmful pollutants into the atmosphere, unless something goes terribly wrong, as it did in Japan.
The International Atomic Energy Agency placed a 19-mile no-fly zone around the damaged plants. The
U.S. Navy Tuesday detected low levels of airborne radiation at Yokosuka and Atsugi bases, 200
miles away from the nuclear plants. Dangerous levels of radiation are still leaking from one
crippled plant forced Japan to order 140,000 people to seal themselves indoors after an explosion
and a fire escalated the crisis spawned by the earthquake and tsunami.
Japanese officials told the IAEA that the reactor fire was in a storage pond and that "radioactivity
is being released directly into the atmosphere." Long after the fire was extinguished, a Japanese
official said the pool, where used nuclear fuel is kept cool, might be boiling.
PV to the rescue!
Workers set up a solar power system for a temporary office building
in the town of Minamisanriku, Miyagi Prefecture, March 31. (Daisuke Uragami AP)
Japanese engineers should consider replacing electricity they were getting from
the disabled nuclear reactor swith photovoltaic-produced electricity the original
nuclear power – solar.
We advocate nuclear power from that star we call “the sun” from 93 million miles away.
The final IRP supports TVA's comprehensive mission of service, which includes meeting the electric
power needs of its customers in a reliable, affordable and sustainable manner. The plan identifies
the resources that will be needed to satisfy expected energy demand in the Tennessee Valley region
over the next 20 years. It is consistent with TVA's Environmental Policy and it supports TVA's renewed
vision to be one of the nation's leading providers of low-cost and cleaner energy by 2020. We still
believe it does not give adequate weight to the potential of rooftop solar to increase renewable energy
contribution and reduce transmission difficulties.
The IRP is intended to equip TVA to meet its customers' needs effectively while addressing the
substantial challenges that face the electric utility industry. The planning direction it recommends
will hopefully give TVA flexibility to make sound choices amid economic and regulatory uncertainty. The
recommended planning direction tries to balance costs, energy efficiency and reliability, environmental
responsibility, and competitive prices for customers. Components of the recommended planning direction
Guideline MW Range
Window of Time
Energy Efficiency and Demand Response (EEDR)
Expand conributions of EEDR in the portfolio
Pursue cost effective renewable energy
Coal-fired capacity idled
Consider increasing amount of coal-fired capacity idled
2020 - 2024
Add pumped-storage capacity
2013 - 2029
Increase contribution of nuclear generation
2025 - 2029
Preserve option of generation with carbon capture
Natural gas additions
900 - 9,3007
2012 - 2029
Utilize natural gas as an intermediate supply source
Note1 – This range includes EEDR savings achieved through 2010. The 2020 range for EEDR and
renewable energy does not preclude further investment in these resources during the following decade.
Note2 – TVA's existing wind contracts that total more than 1,600 MW are included in this
range. Values are nameplate capacity. Net dependable capacity would be lower.
Note3 – TVA has previously announced plans to idle 1,000 MW of coal-fired capacity, which is
included in this range. MW values based on maximum net dependable capacity.
Note4 – This is the expected size of a new pumped-storage hydro facility.
Note5 – The completion of Watts Bar Unit 2 represents the lower end of this range.
Note6 – Up to 900 MW of new coal-fired capacity is recommended between 2025 and 2029.
Note7 – The completion of John Sevier combined cycle plant represents the lower end of this range.
Alabama Solar Association applauds the plan’s proposal to increase efforts on energy efficiency and renewables,
but we question the wisdom and the ability of TVA to meet the timetable for nuclear. We fully support nuclear
power, as long as it coed from that big nuclear power plant 93 million miles away we call the Sun. we will watch
anxiously over the next years as the plan develops. We believe the inevitable spike in energy prices worldwide
will drive more conservation and renewable fuels into the mix.