Last week the U.S., if not the world, celebrated what has come to be known as Earth Week—the unofficial holiday celebration of environmentalism and conservation. As such it was a good week for solar, particularly in the Northeast where one company announced the completion of two high-visibility projects and solar kept sprouting like a spring garden. Meanwhile, BMW’s outlook on solar got sunnier with an announcement that owners of it’s EVs could get a deal on a PV carport or installation through its partners. And solar thermal is showing more promising signs of growth in the U.S.
It definitely was a good week for All Earth Renewables. The Vermont-based company recently announced two high-visibility commercial installations. Last week the company announced that it completed a 500 kilowatt array at Berkshire East, a Charlemont, Mass.-based ski resort. The solar arrays compliment year-round resort’s wind turbine and together the systems will generate about 2.1 million kilowatt hours of electricity annually, making it the world’s first ski resort to source all it’s electric needs from on-site generation, according to All Earth Renewables.
What better way to polish off a day on the slopes in Massachusetts than with some hard cider from a neighbor. Solar and cider lovers can rejoice—All Earth’s got that covered too with Woodchuck Cider’s parent company, Vermont Hard Cider Co. The company’s new installation will provide up to 15 percent of the cidery’s electric needs, according to Vermont Hard Cider. The company now sources about 40 percent of it’s electricity from green energy, with 25 percent of its power coming through Vermont’s methane-generating Cow Power program.
That’s solar news for two Northeast states, how about a third? Solarize Canton—one of five Solarize Connecticut collective purchasing campaigns—has been wildly successful so far. After holding initial meetings Ross Solar Group, the installer chosen to administer the program in the region, reported that in just over two weeks, 52 residents have already signed up for the program. As more sign on before the July 12 deadline, their collective purchasing power will drive down the costs of solar for every one who participates in the program.
Shifting gears, BMW strengthened its 360° ELECTRIC project by partnering with SOLARWATT to provide solar photovoltaic carports and rooftop installations for future owners of it’s highly anticipated i line ofelectric vehicles (EVs). The german auto-maker has announced a number of partnerships under the program aimed at making the transition to EVs easier. Other partners are working with BMW to standardize chargers for the vehicles.
The National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) released a new report last week discussing the value that thermal energy storage adds in concentrated solar power electric systems, finding significant value for systems with the added energy storage components. With storage the overall operational value of CSP with storage was determined to be between $80 per megawatt hour to about $135 per megawatt hour—compared to a baseload value of about $60 per megawatt hour for other energy sources.
Also on the solar thermal side, Skyline Innovations is financing and installing solar hot water across 11 AMCAL multifamily properties in California while delivering the 2,100 residents in the project savings of 30 percent on their hot water bills. The installation is being completed with no up-front costs either to the residents or AMCAL. Such agreements are becoming increasingly common for PV installations, but not as much for solar hot water, since it hasn’t taken off as much as PV has in the U.S.