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Independence takes on new meaning this Fourth of July

The Fourth of July is when our country celebrates our independence as a nation, political freedom yet it will be the same day that we will witness our continued dependence on non-renewable energy.

President Obama met with bipartisan leaders this past Tuesday to discuss clean energy. Afterward there was an opportunity to chat live with representatives from the Whitehouse, Interestingly, the format to ask questions was through either Facebook or Twitter, the questions were viewed online and then answered through live video; savvy social media networking. To say that the answers provided were in essence non-answers is unfortunately typical politics. Emphasis was placed on the transition from fossil fuels to a clean energy base. Nuclear power, described as ”no silver bullets only silver buck shots,” is included as part of a secure energy portfolio commenting that the first nuclear power plant in 30 years will be breaking ground soon with more studies to be conducted regarding the disposal of nuclear waste by a blue ribbon committee. White House officials also talked about  the Homestar program ( , considered a priority for the Administration and still moving through Congress as well as talking about how government should be leaders in offering support for the solar industry.

The President announced , Saturday, July 3, additional measures to support the creation of clean energy jobs in the United States. Through the Department of Energy, it announced $1.85 billion in conditional commitments for loan guarantees to be issued through the Recovery Act to build or expand two new solar projects, which awardees estimate will directly create over 5,000 jobs. Together, the projects (which include facilities in three states) will not only drive additional economic activity across the industry and down the supply chain, but also help establish U.S. leadership in cutting edge solar technology. These commitments represent the 12th and 13th conditional commitments for loan guarantees issued by the Department of Energy, for a total of $14.8 billion in loans to support $22.4 billion in job-creating clean energy projects.

Abengoa Solar Inc. was offered a Conditional Commitment for a $1.45 billion loan guarantee to build Solona, one of the largest solar generation plants in the world near Gila Bend, Arizona. The $2 billion project will build the first large-scale solar plant in the United States capable of storing the energy it generates. Abengoa estimates the project will avoid emitting over 475,000 tons of carbon dioxide per year-equal to the amount of carbon dioxide emitted by over 90,000 cars each year. Construction is scheduled to begin in the fall, and the plant should be operational by mid-2013.

  • According to Abengoa Solar, Inc., construction of the plant will create 1,600 jobs in Arizona and approximately 85 permanent jobs once operational.
  • At full capacity, the plant will generate 280 megawatts of power-enough to power more than 70,000 homes.
  • 70 percent of the components and products used in the construction will be manufactured in the United States.

US providers and manufacturers will supply many of Solana’s major components, such as mirrors, receiver tubes, and the heat transfer fluid. Overall, components supplied by American companies will contribute over $1.1 billion to the U.S. economy.

Two assembly factories will be constructed on the Solana site, and as a result of Solana’s large need for mirrors (over 900,000), a new mirror manufacturing facility will be sited just outside of the Phoenix area, contributing to up to another 150 jobs.

Solana will require approximately 97,000 receivers, which will be sourced from Schott Solar’s Albuquerque, New Mexico plant. The Albuquerque plant has the capacity to produce 120,000 receivers per year, but is currently underutilized.

Abound Solar Manufacturing was offered a Conditional Commitment for a $400 million loan guarantee to build two plants to manufacture state-of-the-art thin-film solar panels.

This will be the first time this technology for manufacturing solar panels is deployed commercially anywhere in the world. Abound Solar will use a portion of the loan proceeds to expand its Longmont, Colorado plant and a portion to open a new plant in an empty Chrysler supplier factory in Tipton, Indiana. Abound will reach full manufacturing capacity at the two plants in 2013.

  • Abound Solar estimates construction of the two plants will create 2,000 jobs.
  • The company estimates the project will create 1,500 permanent manufacturing and technical jobs.
  • By 2013, annual production of panels will be able to support the production of 840 megawatts of new solar power each year, enough to power more than 200,000 homes.
  • When fully operational, the plants will produce millions of solar panels each year.

According to the Administration’s, the Recovery Act alone is investing over $90 billion in clean energy, which could produce as much as $150 billion in clean energy projects.

• In the first quarter of 2010 alone, Recovery Act clean energy investments directly created more than 80,000 clean energy jobs. These investments supported an additional 20,000 jobs throughout the economy.
• By 2012, these investments are projected to have created more than 700,000 clean energy jobs.
• More than two thirds of Recovery Act clean energy investments support renewable energy generation, energy efficiency, and clean transit projects. Other Recovery Act clean energy investments support grid modernization, advanced vehicles, carbon capture, and more. For example, the Recovery Act is investing:

  • $2.4 billion in advanced batteries and electric vehicles
  • $4.5 billion in smart grid projects and programs
  • $5 billion in weatherizing homes to make them more energy efficient

• More than $3 billion in Recovery Act funds are being put to work for clean energy job training and innovation.
• Through the first quarter of 2010, the Recovery Act has already obligated nearly $40 billion and paid out more than $9 billion.

Released on May 27, 2010, Florida’s Public Service Commission (PSC) approved the need for the Gainesville Renewable Energy Center (GREC). The project as proposed is intended to decrease reliance on coal generation, hedge against potential future carbon costs, and address the local government’s effort to enter the emerging renewable energy market. The Gainesville City Commission gave a 30-year energy contract between Gainesville Regional Utilities and Gainesville Renewable Energy Center the go-ahead, allowing a 100MW biomass power plant xto be built.

“I am pleased to support (the) Commission decision to diversify Florida’s fuel mix and assist a local community’s desire for renewable energy,” said PSC Commissioner Lisa Polka Edgar as it passed. “As Florida continues to explore ways to expand its renewable portfolio, it’s important that we assist utilities in planning for a cleaner energy future.”

In the report recently released in June 2010 by the Broward County Green Workforce Innovation Project, the three areas likely to experience growth in green jobs are: Energy Efficiency, Solar Technology and Biomass. One of the reasons cited for the slow growth of solar in the state has been lack of funding for the solar rebate program by the state. According to Robert Kornahrens, president of Advance Roofing Inc.,in an April 28 SunSentinel letter, unless there is new legislation that increases demand for solar technology…training…”may go to waste or the newly trained Floridian will have to move to find a job in renewable energy”. Advanced Green Technologies, which spun off from Advance Roofing Inc. focuses primarily on thin film solar cell training and installation.

Currently, Broward County is in discussion with a number of solar technology manufacturers, Off Grid Solar, U.S. Solar Institute and Florida Solar One, Inc. who are considering locating operations here. Key to the discussion of stimulating consumer demand for renewable energy, specifically solar will be the adoption and implementation of PACE (Property Assessed Clean Energy) financing passed by the Florida Legislature and encouraged by Broward County.

About Valerie J. Amor:
As an architectural consultant, LEED AP, LEED certification reviewer, real estate broker and AIA associate, Valerie J. Amor is dynamically engaged in sustainability and issues regarding the built environment. Actively participating in several local, county and national organizations and committees focused on sustainability issues, she is also owner/principal of Drawing Conclusions and founder/president of Green Collar Connection, companies engaged in sustainable design, real estate development, green job training and research. Knowledgeable and well connected she brings you timely and thoughtful articles. Reach her at .

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Posted by Valerie J. Amor on Jul 4 2010. Filed under Broward County, Emerging Green, Environmental, Federal Government, Fort Lauderdale. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry

1 Comment for “Independence takes on new meaning this Fourth of July”

  1. Ailis

    While solar is truly a worthwhile clean, renewable energy source with the ability to make us energy independent, taxpayer-backed loan guarantees for nuclear power are NOT about energy independence. The other part of the story? In several cases, U.S. taxpayers will be subsidizing a largely foreign-controlled nuclear power project that is designed overseas and consisting of components made by foreign labor. After the short-term construction jobs are gone, the French will still be dining out on the largesse of U.S. taxpayers. Happy Energy Non-Independence Day!


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