Solar Solutions Conference, Memphis TN
The Solar Solutions Conference, hosted by the Tennessee Solar Institute and the Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) in Memphis TN on April 10-11, 2012, offered a high level program of national speakers, regional experts, industry updates, technology innovations and networking opportunities. It attracted more than 500 participants.
Enlarge image Memphis Mayor AC Wharton (© TVA)
An international perspective on renewables and energy policy was presented by Mr. Klaus Hoppe from the German City of Freiburg, and made possible by the Transatlantic Climate Bridge Initiative that fosters German-American dialogue about energy security, economic growth and environmental issues.
Shelby County Mayor Mark H. Luttrell Jr. welcomed the audience with opening remarks at the Cook Convention Center and emphasized the region's focus on local initiatives and policies that promote clean energy sources. Memphis Mayor AC Wharton Jr., who started the second day’s program, echoed the importance of sustainability and local job creation.
Enlarge image New Solar Array at Agricenter (© www.Germany.info)
Harvesting the plentiful sun with commercial solar photovoltaic power systems is getting traction in the Tennessee Valley area that counted only three solar installations in 2000. Over the course of twelve years, installations in the Tennessee Valley have risen to 1,346 in 2012, according to TVA’s senior vice president of river operations and renewables, John McCormick, who described the growth pattern as a 100% annual increase. Tennessee is now totalling a capacity of 18 megawatt in solar power.
Germany has a sense of urgency for the use of clean energy sources, environmental protection and economic growth and strives to shape a more secure future while embracing renewables. Klaus Hoppe described the pivotal role of the Renewable Energy Sources Act (EEG) and civil engagement as driving factors for Germany’s energy road map that counts on a continuously growing use of wind, biomass, hydropower and photovoltaics to achieve the 2020 goal of using 35% renewable energy sources in the total electricity generation.
Enlarge image Klaus Hoppe, Head of Energy Department, City of Freiburg (© TVA) Mr. Hoppe's presentation also covered several examples of sustainable solutions implemented by the City of Freiburg, where he heads the energy department.
US Congressman Steve Cohen, a Memphis native, addressed solar’s place in a U.S. national energy policy and spoke about the manifold benefits of solar energy as its technology creates jobs, keeps the environment clean and lessens the dependence on foreign oil, thus saving lives by avoiding conflicts with other nations over fossil fuels. While the President has created a blueprint for securing America’s energy future, the United States does not have a formal national energy policy that addresses the “Three E’s”: energy security, environmental protection, and economic revitalization. It should be a national goal to make the United States the leading country in renewable energies, and not 2nd to China or 2nd to Brazil, concluded Congressman Cohen.
Retired U.S. Navy Vice Adm. Dennis V. McGinn, director of the American Council on Renewable Energy (ACORE), underscored in his address that energy is a significant national security issue that deserves the undivided patriotic interest across all party lines. As the consumer of more that a quarter of the world’s oil, the USA is currently paying a high price for this dependency that has the potential to undercut the country’s moral standards, stated Vice-Admiral McGinn. He encouraged all stakeholders to take the “3 E”-challenges seriously and turn them into opportunities.
Enlarge image Closing Session Panelists (© TVA) The path to a globally leading role is paved with many challenges such as policies and regulations, infrastructure, technologies and work force readiness as well as economic aspects.
Kevin Lynn from the US Department of Energy presented the ‘Sun Shot Initiative’ that aims to reach a price of less than US$ 1.50 per watt installed cost for megawatt scale solar energy production by the end of this decade in order to achieve a high level of penetration throughout the country. Various U.S. departments in DC have teamed up to assess all components of the solar supply chain while monitoring test installation plants in Florida, Texas and New Mexico, reported Mr. Lynn. Among the evaluated visions is the idea to treat PV like an affordable appliance that can be used in a ‘plug & play’ mode.
A co-operation between TVA and Georgia Tech is studying grid parity and impedance to support the development of guidelines for smart grid solutions and their commercialization. Other speakers addressed legal aspects and highlighted the need for reduced market barriers such as simplified rulemaking and permitting processes. The discussion about financing for solar installations revealed that despite the low risk in solar, many financial institutions lack education and therefore confidence regarding the potential of this renewable energy.
Enlarge image Ribbon Cutting Ceremony at Agricenter International (© www.Germany.info)
Wednesday afternoon all conference guests were invited to take part in the ribbon cutting and commissioning ceremony of the brand-new 1 megawatt single-axis tracking system solar array at the host site of Agricenter International. This is the largest such system in Tennessee with 4,160 locally manufactured Sharp solar panels mounted on sun tracking platforms.
Enlarge image (© www.Germany.info ) The Solar Solutions Conference concluded with a site visit of the University of Tennessee’s Living Light House, presently located at Shelby Farms. Professor Edgar Stach presented the 750-square-foot home that placed eighth overall in the US Department of Energy’s 2011 Solar Decathlon and showcases how thoughtful design and technology can maximize energy efficiency and sustainability.