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June 24 Green Energy News

Headline News:

  • BMW announced battery packs from its i3 model can power your home, integrating seamlessly with solar panels to store energy for use at night, to offset peak tariffs and act as a backup supply. Used BMW i3 battery packs could expand the system as they become available, extending their life. [Car Keys]
BMW i3

BMW i3 battery

  • Resistance from incumbents in the economy may be fierce, but according to Bloomberg New Energy Finance, the future is clear: In Australia, wind and solar will replace coal and gas, and a lot quicker than many people think, with one third of all capacity “behind the meter.” [Echonetdaily]
  • Berlin’s parliament voted to pull its money out of coal, gas and oil companies. The new investment policy, part of the German capital’s goal of completely weaning off carbon by 2050, will make the city’s pension fund, of $852.8 million, divest itself of fossil fuel companies. [Huffington Post]
  • The US is expected to deploy 77.3 GW of distributed renewables, especially solar PVs, distributed wind power and biogas, between 2016 and 2025, according to a new report from Navigant Research. The report takes changes in net metering and tax incentives into account. [North American Windpower]
  • Maui Electric’s solar grid has reached its limit, but the electric company says those customers who want solar still have options. They can opt for the Self Supply program by installing PV systems, typically with batteries, providing power to the home but not exporting electricity to the grid. [KHON2]

For more news, please visit geoharvey – Daily News about Energy and Climate Change.

Sustainability: Theme of International Day of Co-ops

On Saturday, July 2nd, co-ops in our community and around the world will be celebrating International Day of Co-operatives, joining the United Nations (UN) and the International Co-operative Alliance (ICA) in a commemoration that began in 1923.  This year’s theme, “Co-operatives: The Power to Act for a Sustainable Future,” highlights the contribution of co-operative enterprise to the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals.
“The International Day of Co-ops is an opportunity for us to look at our impact on global issues,” said Bonnie Hudspeth, Member Programs Manager of the Neighboring Food Co-op Association (NFCA), a federation of 35 food co-ops and start-up initiatives, locally owned by over 100,000 people across New England. “It is also an opportunity for our food co-ops to share the work they do every day to make our food system and economy more fair, equitable, and sustainable.”
During the UN General Assembly in September 2015, world leaders committed to the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, outlining an ambitious plan to wipe out poverty, fight inequality and injustice, and tackle climate change over the next fifteen years. The co-operative movement is recognized as having a unique role to play in these efforts, representing a business model based on ethical values and principles, with sustainable development at its core. Locally rooted and people driven, co-ops contribute to sustainable economic growth, social development, and environmental responsibility.
Here in New England, food co-ops have been at the forefront of movements for sustainability, from organic agriculture to Fair Trade, energy conservation to alternative energy, and local foods to food security.
Celebrated internationally on the first Saturday in July, Co-op Day in the United States often coincides with Independence Day, offering a unique opportunity to focus on the democratic values of the co-operative business model. Based on the principle of one member one vote, co-ops reflect American ideals of democracy, self-help, self-responsibility, and social responsibility. And because co-operatives are focused on meeting member needs rather than maximizing profit, they are focused on goals identified by their members, including social, economic and environmental sustainability.

For more information and a map of food co-ops across our region, please visit

June 23 Green Energy News

Headline News:

  • The California High-Speed Rail Authority and the California Energy Commission have agreed to a Memorandum of Understanding that focuses attention on how the high-speed rail program can help California meets its climate goals and become a greener state. [RailwayAge Magazine]
California high-speed rail

California high-speed rail

  • “Can Renewables Replace Nuclear Power?” • Utility PG&E’s announcement that it would shutter California’s last nuclear plant and replace the power with energy efficiency and renewable energy was the result of a confluence of progressive state policies making it more feasible. [Scientific American]
  • Solar Impulse 2 has landed in Spain, completing the Atlantic leg of its historic bid to circumnavigate the globe. The landing in Seville marked the end of the 15th stage of Solar Impulse’s route. Mission managers will now plot a route to Abu Dhabi where the venture began in March, 2015. [BBC]
  • Vermont Democratic gubernatorial candidate Sue Minter laid out an energy plan focused on reducing emissions, supporting clean energy job growth, and cutting energy costs. Minter also called on all candidates to oppose moratoriums and bans on clean energy technologies. [Vermont Biz]
  • Solar shade canopies installed at two North County San Diego schools have saved San Dieguito Union High School District more than $4.4 million in energy in five years. This exceeded the original projections. The developer had guaranteed a $10.5 million savings over 15 years. [PennEnergy]

For more news, please visit geoharvey – Daily News about Energy and Climate Change.

June 22 Green Energy News

Headline News:

  • The University of Cambridge has blacklisted all investment in coal and tar sands companies following mounting pressure to divest from fossil fuels. The University currently has no coal or tar sands investments, and has “no expectation of having any such exposure.” [CleanTechnica]
Image Credit: University of Cambridge

Image Credit: University of Cambridge

  • The nuclear reactors at Diablo Canyon, the last two in California, will close in 2024 and 2025 when their licenses expire, according to a proposal by PG&E, environmental groups, and unions. They are not economically viable, as costs for solar and wind power decline. [Bloomberg]
  • Leading investment bank Morgan Stanley believes the Australian energy market is seriously underestimating the grow of solar and battery storage, and says the technology will be installed at rates four times quicker than the incumbent energy industry expects. [RenewEconomy]
  • Exelon, known mostly as the largest nuclear generator in the US, is to become a wind energy developer as well. It notified the Ohio Power Siting Board of its intent to install up to 87 turbines to generate as much as 200 MW in northern Ohio’s Seneca County. [Platts]
  • The NorthConnect project cleared its first hurdle as Ofgem, the UK energy regulator, granted a licence to the developers, paving the way for the project to begin navigating a set of complex regulatory rules governing electricity transmission in Europe. []

For more news, please visit geoharvey – Daily News about Energy and Climate Change.

OutBack Power Debuts Energy Platform Breakthrough, SkyBox, During Intersolar Europe 2016

SkyBox, FLEXmax Ultra 300V charge controller debut provides customers with a wider range of renewable energy system design tools

ARLINGTON, Wash. – June 21, 2016 – OutBack Power Technologies, Inc., a designer and manufacturer of advanced power electronics for renewable energy, backup power and mobile applications, will launch new additions to its line of renewable energy products at the 2016 Intersolar Europe conference June 22 to 24 at the International Congress Center in Munich, Germany. The company’s energy storage and management solutions – leading with the new 230V SkyBox– will help European solar installers and users meet the challenge of integrating renewable energy generation with storage.

The perfect power platform for the European market, SkyBox is a breakthrough in the field of advanced power conversion, processing and control.

“SkyBox gives users more value for their renewable energy investment —both up-front through simplified design and installation, and, over the long-term, through the ability to ‘see’ a higher return on that investment through greater control over how they make, store and manage their energy,” explained Drew Zogby, president of Alpha Technologies (OutBack’s parent company).  “Breakthroughs such as SkyBox truly demonstrate how our proven ‘mastery of the off-grid’ translates into not only being the ‘first choice for the new grid’ but in some cases the only choice—in our booth at InterSolar we’ll be exhibiting capabilities that no other single brand can currently offer.”

For solar professionals, OutBack expects SkyBox to revolutionize the process of designing and installing PV/solar systems with energy storage. “We asked leading solar installers to imagine their ‘wish list’ for the perfect power conversion platform ahead of developing SkyBox,” said Steve Karaffa, senior vice-president/energy & industrial for the Alpha Group. “Based on their input, we re-invented the concept using all-new digital technology to create an all-in-one unit with superior efficiency and features for end-users, while reducing installation time, cost and complexity for installers—and in a compact form-factor engineered for quiet, trouble-free operation.”

Continued Karaffa, “Our unique SkyBox architecture will save installers time and increase system owner satisfaction. Most important, SkyBox provides system designers with unprecedented flexibility—they can literally install now, figure out energy storage later. SkyBox is flexible and intelligent enough to work with current and future energy storage technologies and configurations, and can even be commissioned and operated prior to battery installation.”

OutBack’s new FLEXmax Ultra 300V charge controller continues the trend of making system operation simpler for installers. It also reduces system installation time, cost and complexity, with key safety features such as arc-fault and ground-fault built-in. The higher power rating also making it possible to design systems with longer solar panel “strings” with fewer components.

Enhancements were also made to OutBack’s trusted OPTICS control and monitoring technology, which provides sophisticated energy flow metrics at-a-glance. The enhancements include the addition of solar “fleet” management for users with multiple systems, in campus or micro-grid applications. All of OutBack’s innovations are designed with residential energy independence in mind, providing homeowners and installers with reliable, “future-proof” technology to ensure a high return on investment regardless of changing regulatory policies and energy scenarios.

Visit OutBack Power at Intersolar

Intersolar Europe 2016 is the largest solar technology trade fair in the world and a destination for industry leaders and renewable energy users looking for innovations in energy monitoring, management and storage. OutBack Power will participate in several presentations and trainings during the event. To learn more about SkyBox and other OutBack products, join the team at Intersolar Europe 2016 at booth #B2.250 or email


About OutBack Power Technologies

OutBack Power Technologies, a member of The Alpha Group, is the leading designer and manufacturer of advanced power electronics for renewable energy, back-up power and mobile applications. Founded in 2001 with an emphasis on product performance and innovation, OutBack is now a brand leader in the renewables industry, backed by the resources of the 40 year-old Alpha Group. OutBack is established as the first choice of professionals designing systems for harsh environmental conditions and applications where reliability is paramount. Whether the application is village micro-grids in Africa, rural electrification projects in Latin America, remote off-grid cabins in Alaska, or a suburban home in Southern California, OutBack Power Technologies has set the bar for delivering advanced power conversion electronics. OutBack products and systems are sold through a network of distributors serving advanced solar installers around the globe. Famous for its legendary power electronics, OutBack is also a leader in the rapidly-growing field of energy storage for PV systems. For more information, please visit

June 21 Energy News

Headline News:

  • An electric plane project is in the works at NASA, and the new aircraft is called the X-57. It’s an initiative to demonstrate that electric-powered aviation can be clean, quiet, and quick. With 14 small engines means the X-57 will need less energy to cruise at a speed of 175 mph. [Fox News]
Artist's concept of the X-57. (NASA Langley / Advanced Concepts Lab, AMA, Inc.)

Artist’s concept of the X-57. (NASA Langley / Advanced Concepts Lab, AMA, Inc.)

  • Throughout the second half of 2015, and first six months of 2016, renewables have weathered the global price slump for oil handily. This is turning out to be the year when cheap renewable energy sources are beginning to dominate the global energy markets. [Global Risk Insights]
  • Recent trends demonstrate a rapid growth in corporations directly buying renewable energy from wind, solar and other renewable energy generators. Renewable energy capacity under corporate power purchase agreements doubled each year from 2012 to 2015. [Lexology]
  • In a recent study published in the journal Nature Climate Change, researchers at MIT found that it currently makes economic sense to combine large-scale energy storage systems with renewable energy projects, such as wind and solar farms, in some locations. [The National Law Review]
  • Entergy Nuclear got approval from state regulators to build another storage facility to hold the balance of its spent nuclear fuel that is currently in Vermont Yankee’s spent-fuel pool. The decision allows Entergy to create space for 22 dry casks to hold radioactive fuel. [Barre Montpelier Times Argus]

For more news, please visit geoharvey – Daily News about Energy and Climate Change.

June 20 Green Energy News

Headline News:

  • The sun-powered Solar Impulse 2 aircraft set off from New York’s JFK airport, embarking on the transatlantic leg of its flight around the world to promote renewable energy. The flight is expected to take about 90 hours before landing at Spain’s Seville airport. [Bangkok Post]
Solar Impulse SI2. November 14, 2014. Photo by Milko Vuille. CC BY-SA 4.0 international. Wikimedia Commons.

Solar Impulse SI2. November 14, 2014. Photo by Milko Vuille. CC BY-SA 4.0 international. Wikimedia Commons.

  • University of Iowa researchers are working with a California-based startup company to make clean energy from sunlight and any source of water. They have created a small solar-powered device that can be placed in any type of water, even including seawater or wastewater. []
  • Estonia’s wind farm output reached a peak of 207.79 MW at one point on Saturday, which was nearly 26.3% of total power generation in the country at the time. Estonia is one of eight member states that have surpassed their renewable energy target for 2020. [SeeNews Renewables]
  • Solar thermal technology is being used to power the air-conditioning system of an entire shopping center in Australia. The system’s trough collectors capture solar heat and stores it in oil. The oil’s heat powers an indirect evaporative cooler to cool the center in summer. [Gizmag]
  • Clean Energy Collective is executing the next phase of its Massachusetts development plan by adding 21 MW of solar projects to its portfolio. The new community solar capacity, delivered across 14 projects, will serve customers in areas of Uxbridge and southeast Massachusetts. [Worcester Telegram]

For more news, please visit geoharvey – Daily News about Energy and Climate Change.

June 19 Green Energy News

Headline News:

  • The largest solar power rooftop in Central Texas was unveiled at the Strictly Pediatrics Surgery Center in Austin. Built by Freedom Solar Power, its nearly 2,500 solar panels should meet half of the building’s energy needs. It is expected to create more than 1.2 million kWh of electricity annually. []
Aerial view of the solar rooftop at Strictly Pediatrics Surgical Center.

Aerial view of the solar rooftop at Strictly Pediatrics Surgical Center.

  • This past May was the warmest May month in a 137-year period, breaking global temperature records, according to a report published Thursday by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. Right now, 2016 is on pace to be the hottest year on record. [CNN]
  • Researchers from the University of Sussex found that the ancient West African method of adding charcoal and kitchen waste to highly weathered, nutrient poor tropical soils can transform the land into enduringly fertile, carbon-rich black soils which they call “African Dark Earths.” [The Marshalltown]
  • President Obama says climate change is the biggest threat to US national parks. He says meadows are already drying out at Yosemite National Park in California, where he spoke Saturday after spending the night in the park with his wife, Michelle, and daughters Malia and Sasha. [Capital Public Radio News]
  • While the oil boom in North Dakota may be over, the recent wind boom could be here to stay. In the past decade, there have been more than 400 wind turbines placed on the western side of the state with an additional 550 proposed to be constructed by 2018, with more to come. [The Dickinson Press]

For more news, please visit geoharvey – Daily News about Energy and Climate Change.


SolarFest 2016 Workshops& Presentations



Last week SolarFest announced 14 world-class acts including headline performers Dar Williams, Donna the Buffalo, and Marcia Ball on two solar-powered stages.

“The music sounds great – but what about the workshops?”

On July 15th & 16th we are thrilled to offer more than 50 workshops across five different subject tracks at our beautiful new home at the Southern Vermont Arts Center in Manchester, VT.  Here’s just a sampling of the topics being presented:

  • Renewable Energy & Conservation – Introduction to Solar Electric; Off-grid Solar Design; Solar Plus Storage; Graywater Heat Exchangers; Demystifying Solar; Renewable Energy Choices; Small Wind Turbines; Zero Energy Weatherization; Heat Pump & Solar Water Heaters; Renewable Energy Financing
  • Green Buildings – Making Your Home More Efficient; Earth Sheltered Housing; Reassessing Passive Solar Design; Tiny House Efficiency; Carbon Dioxide Tracer Gas Testing; Pre-fab Straw Panels; Biophilia & Biophilic Design; Multi-family Passive House
  • Sustainable Living & Food – Native American Mindfulness; Environmental Solutions in Plain Sight; Year-round Indoor Salad Gardening; Regenerative Farm Approach to Energy, Carbon, and Soil; Socially Responsible Investing; Mindful Lifestyle Choices; Medicine from Field & Forest; Solar Cooking in Your Own Backyard
  • Music & Arts – Songwriting; Improvisation as Conversation in Experimental Jazz; Solar Stories Workshop; Guitar Master Class; World Percussion; Circle of Gongs; Art as a Vehicle for Social Change
  • Advanced Technology & Policy – Advanced Aerodynamics; Energy Storage Technology, Policy & Opportunities; Solving the World’s Sustainability Problems; Solar PV Business & Finance; Environmental Impacts of War & Militarism; Cold Climate Heat Pumps; Renewable Natural Gas; Carbon Pricing & Energy Independence; Electric Vehicles & the Grid

Tickets are now on sale, including discounted one- and two-day passes and camping. With the support of our dedicated sponsors, admission starts at only $20, with weekend campsites in the largest sculpture garden in New England available for only $30.

Enjoy SolarFest — share the latest insights from professionals and practitioners — surround yourself with art, music you can dance to, and information you can use.

Support all of the learning and the fun: buy your tickets today, and share this with your friends. Become an exhibitor, contribute with a donation, and give your time as a volunteer.

See you on July 15th & 16th at the Southern Vermont Arts Center in Manchester, VT.
– Mike Bailey, Trustee & Treasurer



Rotterdam, NY Developer Builds Homes to meet Our Future

Net-zero living is now affordable for the general public!

The south side of the netZero apartment building. Note the awnings that subtly offset some of the solar gain in the summer months, yet still allow light in to keep lighting needs lower. Photos courtesy of Bruns Realty Group

The south side of the netZero apartment building. Note the awnings that subtly offset some of the solar gain in the summer months, yet still allow light in to keep lighting needs lower. Photos courtesy of Bruns Realty Group

By David Bruns

After a very successful first phase of 72 apartments, completed in September of 2015, netZero Village is completing its second and final phase with 84 more. When completed in September, the $20 million complex located at 994 Burdeck St, in Rotterdam, New York, will include 156 apartments, a clubhouse with exercise facilities and community room, walking trails, athletic field and community gardens. netZero Village is the first large-scale, market-rate, net-zero apartment complex in the United States. The goal of netZero Village is to prove that net-zero, market-rate multifamily development is commercially viable in the northeast, so the message can be spread to other developers.

The EnergyStar-certified development has proven there is a healthy demand for eco-friendly, net-zero living. The first phase of 72 units was leased in three months. The second phase is also leasing at a brisk pace; after only two months, 50 out of the 84 units are leased. The community includes a mix of one-bedroom and two-bedroom apartments, with and without study areas. The apartments range in size from around 800 square feet up to 1100 square feet. The rents range from $1,215 to $1,465 per month, including all utilities, internet, and basic TV.

netZero Village achieves its net-zero goal through highly engineered buildings that use proven, “off-the-shelf” energy-efficiency technologies combined with harvesting the free power of the sun. This is what makes the “all-inclusive” rent cost possible. Residents never have to worry about increasing energy costs and can count on the same rental payment for the duration of each lease.

It is a goal of netZero Village to offer affordable, net-zero living without sacrificing comfort. The architectural firm involved with this project is Harris A. Sanders Architects from Albany, NY. All of the apartments feature luxury amenities, including a full-sized washer and dryer in each unit, built-in microwave, range, dishwasher, covered parking and electric vehicle charging stations, and more. Energy efficient LED lighting is used exclusively throughout the village.

The single-hung vinyl windows were made by Paradigm. The glazing has a U factor of 0.21 and SHGC of 0.64. Exterior doors are fiberglass made by Therma-Tru. The walls have 3.5 inches of closed-cell spray foam on top of Zip Sheathing (R-23). The roof has four inches of polyisocyanurate foam sheet insulation on the deck with 2.5 inches of closed-cell spray foam underneath (R-38). The slab has two inches of expanded polystyrene insulation (R-11). Each apartment has its own Mitsubishi Hyper-Heat mini-split heat pump for heating and cooling. There is single head in each apartment rated at 12,000 BTUs per hour.

Apartments are EPA Indoor Airplus certified, and they are blower-door tested for air leakage of less than 0.6 ACH50. Ventilation is provided by a continuous fresh air exchange from a heat recovery ventilator in each apartment. This, combined with low-VOC materials and hard-surface flooring to minimize dust and allergens, assures superior year-round indoor air quality.

Energy from the sun is harnessed in three ways: (1) by photovoltaic (PV) solar panels that convert sunlight into electricity, (2) by solar thermal panels for domestic hot water, and (3) by the passive solar design of the buildings, so the sunlight heats apartments during the winter.

There are 66 kilowatts of PV panels installed for each 12-unit apartment building. This is more than enough to meet the 56,000 kilowatt hours needed per building annually. They are mounted on solar carports. The solar hot water systems are mounted on the building roofs. They supply over 80% of the hot water needs.

The passive solar design of the buildings generates roughly 50% of the energy needed to heat the buildings. It includes exterior features for summer shading. The passive solar design and nine-foot ceilings make the apartments feel bright and spacious.

For more information about the netZero Village, visit

David Bruns is the general manager of Bruns Realty Group.

Many thanks to our sponsor:

Harris Sanders Logo