Innovation in renewable-energy technologies is booming

October 11, 2013
New study shows that research investments and growing markets have fueled a huge rise in new patents.
David L. Chandler, MIT News Office
The number of patents issued for renewable-energy technologies has risen sharply over the last decade, according to new research from MIT and the Santa Fe Institute (SFI). The study shows that investments in research and development, as well as in the growth of markets for these products, have helped to spur this dramatic growth in innovation.
“We were quite surprised,” says Jessika Trancik, an assistant professor of engineering systems at MIT and a co-author of the new report, published in the journal PLoS ONE. Trancik — working with Luís Bettencourt of SFI and graduate student Jasleen Kaur from Indiana University — created a database of energy-related patents issued in more than 100 countries between 1970 and 2009, using keyword searches of the patents themselves, rather than the classifications assigned by patent offices. In all, the team examined more than 73,000 patents issued for energy-related technologies.

This database “gives you a view into innovation activity — who’s doing it, and where,” Trancik says. Further statistical analysis, she says, showed a clear correlation between this rise in patents and prior investments in R&D, along with growth in the markets for such renewable technologies.

The increase was most dramatic in patents related to renewable energy, chiefly solar energy and wind. Patents in fossil-fuel technologies showed a more modest increase, while those in nuclear technology were flat.

For example, between 2004 and 2009, the number of patents issued annually for solar energy increased by 13 percent per year, while those for wind energy increased 19 percent per year, on average; these growth rates approach or exceed the rates for technologies such as semiconductors and digital communications. Overall, renewable-energy patents in the United States increased from fewer than 200 per year in the period from 1975 to 2000 to more than 1,000 annually by 2009. By comparison, there were about 300 fossil-fuel-related patents in 2009, up from about 100 a year in earlier decades. The fraction of all patents accounted for by energy is also increasing.

While there was a large increase in research funding in these fields following the oil shocks of the 1970s and 1980s, that was followed by a steep dropoff. But the effect of those investments is visible in the current patent boom, Trancik says. “Knowledge persists,” she says. “A lot of work was done in the ’70s and ’80s, a lot of effort was put in, and we’re still benefitting from that.”

Trancik says the team saw the cumulative effect of investment in research, by both governments and industry, and the effect of growth in the market for renewable-energy systems — which also benefitted from government subsidies, incentives and tax breaks.

The trends were similar in the United States and elsewhere, although there were regional differences, Trancik says. While China has sometimes been accused of taking advantage of technologies invented elsewhere, and innovating mainly in production processes, the new data paint a different picture: Patents filed in China for renewable-energy technology (which includes patents filed by foreign inventors or companies) have shown dramatic growth over the last few years. “China’s really taking off,” Trancik says, adding that “understanding the nature of the technological development represented requires a close look at patent content.”

The cumulative, long-term effect of research investment is another significant finding from this study, she says. Investments tend to come in cycles, she says, “so this persistence of knowledge is significant — and comforting, in a way.”

Both investment in basic research and investment in implementation of technologies play an important role, Trancik says. “The data really show the importance of this, of the two forms of investment working together,” she says.

For example, in the case of well-established consumer technologies, such as computers, the transition to implementation by industry can be swift. But for other less-established or less-visible technologies, this process can take longer.

“Improving something that’s not valued in the market … requires more investment,” Trancik says. A lighter laptop, or one with a longer battery life, provides an obvious benefit to the consumer, “whereas a consumer wouldn’t notice when turning on the lights whether there’s more or less carbon emissions.” That’s where government regulations and investments can help jump-start new technology, she says.

Bettencourt adds that new technologies often require a long time to develop, and public investment is crucial at that early stage, allowing the technology to take off as markets kick in. “This has happened with many familiar technologies, such as cell phones, so we wanted to better understand if it may be about to happen to new energy technologies,” he says.

Gregory F. Nemet, an associate professor of public affairs and environmental studies at the University of Wisconsin who was not involved in this research, says, “Understanding the determinants of innovation in energy technologies is an issue of great importance. … The approach here is novel in that the authors go beyond the technology case-study approach, which characterizes the overwhelming majority of work in this area. The data they use and the analysis they conduct allow the authors to overcome the idiosyncrasies of individual technologies, and arrive at general findings about the driving forces of innovation in energy.”

The research was supported by the Army Research Office, the Los Alamos National Laboratory, the National Science Foundation and the Solomon Buchsbaum Research Fund.

Builders Offering Solar as a Standard Option

September 17, 2013

Are Solar Panels the Next Granite Countertop for Builders?

Justin Doom, Bloomberg

September 12, 2013

NEW YORK CITY — Solar panels are the next granite countertops: an amenity for new homes that’s becoming a standard option for buyers in U.S. markets.

At least six of 10 largest U.S. homebuilders led by KB Home include the photovoltaic devices in new construction, according to supplier SunPower Corp. Two California towns are mandating installations, and demand for the systems that generate electricity at home will jump 56 percent nationwide this year, according to the Solar Energy Industries Association.“In the next six months, homebuilders in California and the expensive-energy states will be going solar as a standard, and just incorporating it into the cost of the house like any other feature,” Jim Petersen, chief executive officer of the PetersenDean Inc., the largest closely held U.S. roofing and solar contractor, said in an interview.

See below for full article at:  RenewableEnergyWorld.com

http://www.renewableenergyworld.com/rea/news/article/2013/09/are-solar-panels-the-next-granite-countertop-for-homebuilders

AZ one of Top 12 Solar States

August 21, 2013
New Report Ranks Top 12 States Leading the U.S. in Solar Power
Rob Sargent,
Environment America
Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Washington, D.C. – Today, Environment America Research & Policy Center released Lighting the Way: What We Can Learn from America’s Top 12 Solar States, a new report highlighting a solar energy boom across the country. The top 12 solar states ranked by per capita solar are: Arizona, Nevada, Hawaii New Jersey, New Mexico, California, Delaware, Colorado, Vermont, Massachusetts, North Carolina and Maryland.

“The sky’s the limit on solar energy,” said Rob Sargent, energy program director with Environment America. “The progress of these states should give us the confidence that we can do much more. Being a leader in pollution-free solar energy means setting big goals and backing them up with good policies.”

See below for the full report from Environment America Research & Policy Center:

http://www.environmentamerica.org/news/ame/new-report-ranks-top-12-states-leading-us-solar-power

 

 

Tour Homes and Businesses Across Arizona Utilizing Solar Energy

October 4, 2011

Come one, come all…this is the opportunity to view innovative green homes and building here in the state of Arizona.  The Arizona Style 2011 Tours of Solar and Sustainable Buildings is happening this month.   This event has been conducted nationwide for the past 16 years and throughout the state of Arizona residents have the ability to tour these designated homes and building for free to see first hand the advantages of solar energy and its uses.

This event is originally coordinated by the American Solar Energy Society (ASES).  It is the largest grassroots effort to educate the public on solar energy, how to utilize it efficiently and additional sustainable technologies.  The hope is that this education will encourage people to research solar energy further and hopefully have it installed on their homes/businesses.

Where can consumers find an event near them in Arizona?

The Tucson Business Tour will be featuring how to power a business using solar on Thursday, October 13th. At this tour business owners can learn about costs, installers, and ROI.

If consumers are located in the Valley Verde area on Saturday, October 22nd consumers can visit homes and businesses in Sedona and Cottonwood.  This event also is a free self-guided tour that will expose consumers to the latest technologies.  There will be certified solar energy installers on hand to discuss the technologies, incentives and financing options with consumers who are interested.

For those located in the Phoenix metropolitan area there will be two days of self guided tours – Saturday and Sunday, October 22nd & 23rd. There will be a number of homes and businesses that consumers may tour for ideas.  This event was originally scheduled for the weekend prior, but was postponed so please ensure you have the correct dates.

These tours are in place to help educate consumers and hopefully make more people aware of what sort of impact solar energy installations can have in a consumer’s home and the carbon footprint they leave behind.

Interested in entering the solar energy industry?  Whether you need certified solar training to become a BPI Analyst, Weatherization Tech, Solar Panel Installer or receive training in solar thermal and solar domestic hot water we have a program.  To begin your new career, start training with eRenewable Resource Institute.  Contact us at 480 446-0400 or info@erenewableresource.com.

 

 

 

 

Solar Challenge Going on in Arizona between Communities

October 3, 2011

Most Arizona residents do not realize there is a challenge going on between communities to see who is best utilizing solar within their community.  Arizona SmartPower is the organization leading this challenge.  They want the communities to commit to installing solar on 5% of owner-occupied homes by the year 2015.  In addition, they have partnered with local credit unions to create solar loan products, making installation easier for homeowners.   Currently, there are a dozen Arizona communities taking on this challenge, but they welcome greater participation and competition.

Arizona SmartPower is a non-profit organization.  Once a county, or even an HOA, has passed a resolution supporting the goal of 5% solar on owner-occupied homes they go to work in the community.  They reach out offering educational seminars, solar coaching sessions and recruit solar ambassadors.

Once your community is involved homeowners can contact the organization and ask for a Solar Coach.  The Solar Coach assigned to a homeowner will help them to:

– Figure out how much the system will cost;

– Calculate the monthly cost savings;

– Decide what equipment is best for the home; and

– Find a certified solar trained installer.

Since Arizona SmartPower is a neutral third party they do not sell or install any equipment.  Nor do they receive a commission from parties that do.  They simply offer homeowners the resources so they can do the research and make a decision for their installation.

Once a homeowner has solar installed on their home they will more than likely be asked to become a Solar Ambassador for the program.  The best people to discuss and sing the praises of solar energy are the people benefiting from the program.  This is a very important key to the Arizona Solar Challenge and their success.

If you have questions or would like to bring the Arizona Solar Challenge to your community please contact Toni Bouchard at tbouchard@smartpower.org or call her at 480-219-4395.

Interested in entering the solar energy industry?  Whether you need certified solar training to become a BPI Analyst, Weatherization Tech, Solar Panel Installer or receive training in solar thermal and solar domestic hot water we have a program.  To begin your new career, start training with eRenewable Resource Institute.  Contact us at 480 446-0400 or info@erenewableresource.com.

 

Arizona Based Solar Training Facility Offers State Energy Sector Partnership (SESP) and Training Grants

September 29, 2011

eRenewable Resource Institute, based in Phoenix, Arizona, is taking full advantage of the State Energy Sector Partnership (SESP) and Training Grants that are part of the Department of Labor (DOL) which funds to the State Workforce Investment Boards.  This federal green energy training grant was developed to provide training funds to help career seekers obtain national certifications and training in energy efficiency and renewable energy industries.  There is $190 million allocated in the form of grants to assist those people who need training in a new field to get themselves back into the workforce.

Donna Marie Bertault, CEO of eRenewable Resource Institute, says, “We feel so fortunate that we can be helping so many displaced professionals find a way back into the workforce.  And not only with better skills, but with a career in an industry that is growing and has permanent place in the future for your society.  Our certified solar training program will prepare anyone for a meaningful lace in the renewable energy resource industry.”

Choosing a certified solar energy training program requires some research.  Some things you will want to ensure the facility you are looking at includes:

  • State licensed by the State Board for Postsecondary Education;
  • ISPQ accredited* renewable energy school;
  • NABCEP approved provider for the NABCEP Entry Level exam;
  • Entry and advanced level solar installation classes focused on residential and commercial solar design, installation and compliance through ISPQ accredited curriculum; and
  • Hands-on working labs with seasoned solar professional educators.

Interested in entering the solar energy industry or applying for a grant?  Whether you need certified solar training to become a BPI Analyst, Weatherization Tech, Solar Panel Installer or receive training in solar thermal and solar domestic hot water we have a program.  To begin your new career, start training with eRenewable Resource Institute.  Contact us at 480 446-0400 or info@erenewableresource.com.

Resource: http://www.grants.gov/search/search.do?mode=VIEW&oppId=48074

 

 

50 New Permanent Solar Jobs Coming to Goodyear, Arizona

September 23, 2011

Exciting news for the economy of Goodyear, Arizona – Saint-Gobain of France broke ground this week on the construction of a solar mirror facility.  This new facility when completed will employ 50 permanent positions.  In addition the facility will manufacture millions of square feet of solar mirrors used in solar thermal and concentrating solar power (CSP) installations, including solar concentration towers and liner Fresnel lenses.

This facility is the first in the U.S. for the multi-billion multinational corporation.  Fabrice Didier of Saint-Gobian was quoted saying, “Our strategic decision to expand manufacturing into the United States confirms the importance of this market in our business portfolio. The new facility will be working with the best technology available.”  According to a Solar Energy Industry Association-GTM Research market study, the solar photovoltaic (PV) industry grew 69% year-over-year in Q2 2011 here in the U.S.

Saint-Gobian made the decision to build in Arizona because of the proactive renewable energy policy.  Didier said, “The Arizona Renewable Energy Tax Incentive Program helped to encourage us to select the state for our new plant. Following a tough selection process, we chose to set up our plant in the Phoenix area, in Goodyear, where we are pleased to have been very positively received.”

Mayor of Goodyear, Georgia Lord, said, “Goodyear is honored to have Saint-Gobain, one of the top 100 worldwide companies and a leader in the solar industry, build its first North American solar facility in our city. We’re pleased the state solar incentive program that Goodyear worked so hard on has brought us such a prominent solar partner.”

In addition to the 50 jobs it will create in Goodyear there will be other local businesses like restaurants, housing, home improvement store, etc. that will benefit from the building of this new facility.

Interested in entering the solar energy industry?  Whether you need certified solar training to become a BPI Analyst, Weatherization Tech, Solar Panel Installer or receive training in solar thermal and solar domestic hot water we have a program.  To begin your new career, start training with eRenewable Resource Institute.  Contact us at 480 446-0400 or info@erenewableresource.com.

 

Benefits of Installing Solar Energy Panels

September 21, 2011

The more people learn about solar energy it is hard to imagine that they cannot see the benefits of installing solar energy panels on their homes.  Just in case the benefits of incorporating solar energy are still misunderstood please find below a list of benefits homeowners can receive by going green.

  • Solar energy is not only sustainable, it is renewable and this means that we will never run out of it.
  • We can generate our own source of electricity via solar panels, so we need not be dependent on the public utility companies and their price structure.
  • Once installed solar energy requires little maintenance.
  • Choosing solar energy creates jobs.  It is a growing industry and people are continuously seeking certified solar training programs so they are eligible for hire.
  • In many states there are significant tax rebates offered on the equipment and installation of solar related products and services.
  • If the solar system creates more solar power than used most electric companies will provide credits or write a check at the end of the year to the homeowner for the additional power generated.
  • Solar electricity power plants and personal solar panels produce zero emissions and make no adverse mark on the environment.
  • Large solar plants are providing so many jobs it is boosting the economy in the surrounding areas for small business owners or restaurants, drug stores, etc.
  • The advancements in technology used to create solar energy are continuing to improve making it even more cost effective. As it becomes more affordable to install new solar energy generators the price of solar electricity will continue to decrease.
  • Solar energy panel installation companies are already offering leasing programs to make it even more affordable and accessible for every homeowner.

Investing in solar energy for a home or business is a smart move that will only pay off financially and environmentally in the future.  The benefits will continue to flourish over time.

Interested in entering the solar energy industry?  Whether you need certified solar training to become a BPI Analyst, Weatherization Tech, Solar Panel Installer or receive training in solar thermal and solar domestic hot water we have a program.  To begin your new career, start training with eRenewable Resource Institute.  Contact us at 480 446-0400 or info@erenewableresource.com.

 

 

Vote “YES” on “Go Solar in Arizona” Economic Development Initiative

September 19, 2011

“Go Solar in Arizona” Economic Development Initiative will increase Arizona’s Personal Solar Tax Credit from 25% to 50% with a maximum cap of $12,000 per rooftop. This will make it affordable for an average household to be able to pay for a 5.3-kilowatt system that will save them around $1,000 per year on their electricity bill at today’s rates.

Why should you vote YES on this initiative?  This initiative will allow Arizona to…

  1. Install their preferred source of renewable solar energy resource
  2. Reduce operating costs for utilities by $3 billion
  3. Protect themselves from rising traditional energy costs
  4. Create thousands of jobs in solar & industry related support positions
  5. Generate millions in new taxable state revenue
  6. Engage investors into SREC’s
  7. Setup SREC Trading Exchange to buy/sell/export SREC’s
  8. Create a demand for more than two million solar panels
  9. Attract new solar panel manufacturing plants to meet the demand
  10. Make solar affordable with the SREC’s & a $12,000 solar tax credit

Based on the growth achieved by the solar industry in 2009 to 2010, the “Go Solar in Arizona” Economic Development Initiative should create the demand for more than 1,300 new solar installation companies that will create jobs for approximately 10,000 to 20,000 workers as the solar industry grows.   What a great way to transition the number of displaced construction related workers in Arizona that were unable find work after the housing market fell apart.  Now they can find a certified solar training program, get the additional training they need and re-enter the workforce into an industry that is on the rise and in demand.

The main goal of this initiative is to create jobs, make solar affordable for homeowners and help protect Arizona families from rising electricity bills.

Interested in entering the solar energy industry?  Whether you need certified solar training to become a BPI Analyst, Weatherization Tech, Solar Panel Installer or receive training in solar thermal and solar domestic hot water we have a program.  To begin your new career, start training with eRenewable Resource Institute.  Contact us at 480 446-0400 or info@erenewableresource.com.

Solar Energy Panel Theft Increases – How to Protect your Investment

September 15, 2011

Solar energy panels have increased in value as people have learned about the incredible savings that can be earned by installing them on their home and/or business.  The down side of this investment is that as the value increases so does the interest of the unscrupulous in our society. Solar energy panels can be found on the black market. Theft of solar panels has increased around the world.  Many homeowners have lost tens of thousands of dollars worth of equipment in single incidents.

No one wants to be a victim of any type of theft.  However with the size and location of this precious investment a homeowner might be unsure how to best secure this investment. Sure, most homeowners insurance policies would cover this type of theft, but the end result is inconvenience and increased premiums.

Most states still prohibit the installation of systems such as high voltage electrifiers, or acid bombs, however there are other ways to protect your investment. Here are some tips for solar panel security:

  • When affixing panels have the certified solar trained installer use one-way screws or Bryce Fasteners.
  • Do not leave ladders around the house that make it easier for criminals to gain access to the roof.
  • Engrave identification into the panel frames.
  • Do not brag in public about how much you invested in your solar panels.
  • Install movement detector lights on your roof.
  • Chain the panels together with heavy gauge nylon coated wire.

While there is no way to stop someone who is very determined from stealing your panels, most thefts are opportunistic, so the more difficult you can make it, the more likely that the parties will give up in frustration.

As you want to protect any investment that you make do it right the first time.  Installers that have had certified solar training will know of these special tools (i.e. Bryce Fasteners) and be able to secure your investment from the point of installation.

Interested in entering the solar energy industry?  Whether you need training to become a BPI Analyst, Weatherization Tech, Solar Panel Installer or receive training in solar thermal and solar domestic hot water we have a program.  To begin your new career, start training with eRenewable Resource Institute.  Contact us at 480 446-0400 or info@erenewableresource.com.


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