Posts Tagged ‘CFLs’

Las Cruces solar farm will produce enough power for 2,000 homes

Úterý, Červen 26th, 2012

Sunflowers are known for their ability to track the sun across its east-west arc through the sky.

An array of solar panels west of Las Cruces will do the same.

City officials on Tuesday inaugurated a 12-megawatt solar-power generating plant just south of the Love’s truck stop on Interstate 10.

Dubbed the Las Cruces Centennial Solar Farm, the plant is expected to produce enough electricity to power about 2,000 homes a year, according to an estimate by El Paso Electric Co.

The 48,900 solar panels are grouped in bunches and mounted on about 2,200 mechanized stands, officials said. Like the sunflower, they follow the sun across the sky.

The ability to maximize power-generating capacity by tracking the sun is one of several reasons the plant is expected to be among the most productive solar plants run by the Maryland-based SunEdison and possibly one of the most productive in North America for its size, said Tim Derrick, vice president of global services for SunEdison North America.

Other factors favoring the plant include the abundance of sunny days, a relatively high elevation and plenty of wind; the latter two attributes will help keep the solar panels cooler than they’d otherwise be, Derrick said.

“This is a unique location,” he said. “The sun is our fuel, and you have very abundant fuel in Doca Ana County.”

SunEdison spearheaded construction of the $50 million capital project and will continue as its operator. It’s owned by PNC Bank, a national bank.

In addition, SunEdison has a 25-year contract with El Paso Electric Co., which has pledged to buy the plant’s electricity.

Electric company officials touted the project as one of a handful in Doca Ana County that are helping achieve a state standard, which requires electric companies to supply 20 percent of power through alternative energy sources by 2020.

“By 2020, it’s 20 percent of our New Mexico load” that has to come from alternative energy sources, said Rocky Miracle, senior vice president of corporate planning and development for El Paso Electric.

With the new solar plant, El Paso Electric Co. reaches the 3 percent mark, meaning about 37 megawatts is derived from renewable sources, Miracle said.

The new plant will also reduce greenhouse gas emissions, according to El Paso Electric. It will offset emissions equivalent to about 4,400 vehicles a year.

In comparison, one of El Paso Electric Co.’s main plants, the Newman Power Station, which is mostly powered by natural gas, generates about 485 megawatts, Miracle said.

Against a backdrop of hundreds of solar panels, Las Cruces Mayor Ken Miyagishima and Davin Lopez, executive director of the Mesilla Valley Economic Development Alliance, flipped an oversize light switch to ceremonially mark the plant’s start.

Derrick said the plant actually went online in mid-May. A second, “almost-identical” plant, also spearheaded by SunEdison, is about to go online in Chaparral, he said.

Between the two plants, about four or five permanent jobs will be generated, Derrick said.

The company plans to contract out for other services, such as washing the panels.

Lopez said it would take the establishment of more solar-power plants before a solar-panel manufacturer might decide to locate in the area.

Solar power panels installed

Úterý, Únor 7th, 2012

The systems were installed on the roof of the Eastside Parking Structure, the Clayes Performing Arts Center and the Kinesiology and Health Science Building. Another part of the solar project included the installation of electric vehicle charging stations that were added to the Eastside Parking Structure.

Jay Bond, associate vice president for Facilities Management and campus architect, said the motivation behind the installation of these PV panels included: saving money, saving energy, and contributing to help save the planet. Bond added that it is important to be responsible citizens and take a leadership role.

The CSU system has a program where a third party installs PV panels on campus and then maintain and operate the panels on behalf of the campus.

“Our uniqueness was we were able to finance these ourselves,” said Bond. “We took internal money from the Auxiliary Services Corporation, and they loaned money back to campus and the campus is paying them back out of saved power.”

Interim President Willie Hagan said CSUF has been a leader in energy conservation for the past 20 to 25 years. With budget reductions and tuition increase, Hagan explained how past projects have saved millions of dollars in energy bills.

According to Bond, the total cost of the PV installations was roughly $6 million. Over a five-year period, CSUF is receiving a $2.3 million incentive from Southern California Edison. The rest of the project will be paid through energy savings. This project is designed to save CSUF approximately $9 million over the next 20 to 25 years.

Physical Plant Director Willem van der Pol said the PV system earns renewable energy credits because it is producing clean energy. Van der Pol explained that in a cap-and-trade market, CSUF would be able to trade the credits.

“When there is a company that creates a lot of pollution, they would be able to buy credits from us to offset the pollution they have created,” said van der Pol. “This will be eventually a traded commodity.”

The Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design Program was created by the U.S. Green Building Council. This program rates facilities based on how energy efficient they are designed. LEED certification levels include Certified, Silver, Gold and Platinum.

“We have been trying to make sure all of our buildings that we build now are the LEEDs gold or higher,” Hagan said. “Which is basically saying they’re close to the pinnacle of energy efficiency for buildings.”

Other ways CSUF has been energy efficient is by installing motion censors in classrooms and offices and purchasing programs that automatically shut off computers. Van der Pol said CSUF is also fine-tuning the air conditioning systems to become more energy efficient.  Another project is replacing 70,000 fluorescent lights with LED (light emitting diode) lights.

Your light bulb questions answered

Čtvrtek, Únor 2nd, 2012

Although halogen bulbs don’t offer much of an energy savings over ordinary incandescents, compact fluorescents sure do, and you’d be a fool not to use them whenever you could. Me, I’ve got ‘em all over the house, including right here in the desk lamp.

The incandescent light bulb, though surely up there with the telephone as Coolest Invention Ever, has like old rotary-dial phones been rendered obsolete by advancing technology. It’s one of the least efficient devices you’ll ever lay hands on, converting just 5 to 8 percent of the energy it uses into light, with the rest thrown off as heat. Easy-Bake Ovens used to use a 100-watt incandescent bulb as their heat source. Not anymore — the toy was redesigned in the expectation that 100-watt bulbs would disappear.

Halogen bulbs are only marginally better. Though much is made of the fact that they’re 30 percent more efficient than ordinary incandescent bulbs, 30 percent better than completely dismal is still embarrassingly bad. Ninety percent of the energy used by a halogen bulb is given off as heat-the bulbs can reach temperatures of 700 to 1,000 degrees Fahrenheit, making them a fire hazard. I’m sure there must be some reason to use halogen bulbs, but energy efficiency isn’t it.

CFL bulbs are a different story. They use only about a quarter of the energy of an incandescent bulb to produce the same light, waste much less heat, and supposedly last eight to 10 times as long.

That said, CFL bulbs have annoying drawbacks. They can take a minute or more to reach full brightness, an inconvenience if you’re flipping on a closet light.

They work poorly in the cold — I have one in a recessed ceiling fixture with an unheated attic above it, and when I first switch it on in the winter I can get more illumination by lighting a match.

The failure rate is higher than advertised. I’ve had a couple burn out after just a few months in recessed cans in the kitchen.

Disposing of CFL bulbs is a pain. They contain mercury and so must be brought to a special recycling facility rather than tossed in the trash. Early reports suggesting you’d have to call in a hazmat team if you broke one were exaggerated. The fact remains that the EPA’s advisory about what to do if you have an accident lists 19 steps.

Some say CFL bulbs are an interim technology that will eventually be swept away by bulbs utilizing light-emitting diodes. LED bulbs use even less energy than CFLs, reach full brightness instantly, don’t run on mercury, are unaffected by cold, and supposedly will last 25,000 to 50,000 hours. Unfortunately, the LED equivalent of a 100-watt incandescent bulb right now costs on the order of 50 bucks.

I won’t be stocking up on LED bulbs any time soon. Still, I’m an eco kind of guy. Left to my own devices, my guess is I’d wind up with maybe 60 percent CFL bulbs at my house and the rest incandescent.

But no. The government says that, except for specialty applications, I’ll have to replace them all.

All in the service of the greater good, you say. If only it were so. The net social benefit of legislating incandescent bulbs out of existence is likely to be negligible.

A spokesman for the Natural Resources Defense Council says changing bulbs will eliminate the need to build 30 electric power plants. That sounds like a lot until you realize the U.S. has 5,800 electric power plants.

Going ‘green’ sometimes turns into green

Čtvrtek, Leden 12th, 2012

Students, faculty and staff at Bishop Watterson High School are increasingly discovering that it’s not only easy being green, but also sometimes less expensive.

A wide array of programs and initiatives to increase recycling and reduce energy consumption has been introduced at the East Cooke Road high school since about 2009, according to science teacher Will Reiss. More than 50 percent of the time, he said, the “green” approach has been found to reduce the impact on the school’s budget, as well as the impact on the environment.

“We have taken the philosophy here, as we prepare the students to survive in this day and age, they should look at the economic aspects, too,” Reiss said.

These programs have been less about the bottom line and more about preparing the students at Bishop Watterson to be better stewards of the earth, in the opinion of longtime principal Marian Hutson.

“I think it’s our responsibility as citizens to provide opportunities for them to learn keeping the environment safe for our future citizens is vital,” she said last week. “To be good stewards of our environment, students need to learn that’s a way of life.”

The philosophy in place BWHS will be extended into the feeder schools during the 2012 summer institute, Hutson added. The program for the institute, open to seventh- and eighth-grade students, will be titled, “It’s Cool to Be an Eco School.”

Around 1,000 people, including students, teachers, administrators, staff members and even parents, participate in the recycling efforts at Bishop Watterson, according to Reiss, who retired from a 30-year career in public schools in 2001 and became a science teacher at the high school five or six years ago.

“The replacement of incandescent bulbs in the chapel, maintenance shop, boiler room, copier room and storage areas with energy-saving compact fluorescent bulbs was done at the recommendation of the school maintenance department. Altogether we replaced over 200 high-energy-use incandescent bulbs with the low-energy, long-life CFLs (compact fluorescent lamps).”

In addition, according to Mar, the drama department requested the replacement of the theater lighting with dimmable CFLs in order to upgrade the light coverage. Since these use about one-fifth the amount of electricity of a standard incandescent bulb, this will equate to several thousands of dollars in reduced utility bills over the three- to five-year lifetime of the bulbs, the spokeswoman indicated.

“In conjunction with the schoolwide recycling program, our environmental club recycles the incandescent bulbs, as well as all kinds of fluorescent bulbs as they are replaced,” Mar wrote regarding the programs. “The materials from all of our recycled light bulbs are now reused in the creation of new industrial equipment, such as new fluorescent bulbs and fiberglass insulation.”

The Pay-Off

Čtvrtek, Prosinec 8th, 2011

Just how quickly can a new lighting system pay itself off? Well, it depends on a number of variables unique to a given manufacturing facility, such as the need for a backend retrofit as opposed to a simple re-lamp. In simple terms, Callham says with CFLs most companies see a complete ROI in two or three years.

Other technologies, such as LEDs, could offer more substantial benefits, depending on how they’re used. Callham says that one of the benefits of using LEDs, for example, is integrating them into other energy-saving systems, such as motion sensors that turn lights on only when a worker is present, or smart-dimming sensors that gauge the amount of natural light coming into the plant and shine only the necessary amount of artificial light,reducing electrical load to just a few watts.

And for those who doubt the efficacy of these lighting programs, it’s important to note that lighting has long been the lowest-hanging fruit in “green” or sustainable facilities operations. The figures that Callham mentioned aren’t just marketing-speak with a little fudging to make them more appealing, and the high efficiency
of new lighting technologies is undeniable.

By upgrading to CFL, HID, or LED lighting technologies, manufacturers will generally protect themselves from the EISA mandates planned for the end of the decade. And if you ask Callham, it’s a wonder that more companies haven’t made these upgrades already. He says, “With lighting, when you calculate the utilities incentives to take some energy off the grid, you’re talking about paybacks of 50 percent. I defy anyone to find a 50 percent return somewhere else that isn’t related to their production.”

Manufacturers can receive additional benefits from not waiting in the form of savings from the power utility company. As mentioned before, one part of EISA is to reduce load on the nation’s electrical grid, and even though power utilities love those monthly payments, they do have something to gain in keeping loads to a
minimum, especially during those warm summer months. Many utilities have incentive programs for companies who are able to reduce their needs due to investment in energy-efficient equipment.

For example, a manufacturer in Wisconsin, can be rebated $25 for each LED fixture purchased, and can work with a Focus on Energy agent to get rebates as large as $500,000 based on energy efficiency investments. If the company doesn’t have the necessary capital to retrofit their plant, they can get loans up to $100,000 from the local utilities. Depending on one’s state, the oftentimes frightening initial investment can be partially offset by these incentives, and will certainly help the ROI reach parity as soon as possible.

In addition, many have spoken out about the potential dangers of CFLs, which contain mercury, a toxic chemical that could prove to be dangerous if a lamp is broken on the plant floor. Others have said that CFLs and LEDs aren’t capable of producing the kind of light temperature (that yellow glow, compared to white CFLs or LEDs) they desire.

Manufacturing, as a conduit between American manufacturers and the news that affects them most, has heard these arguments. In the past, our readers have been vocal about the desire for choice, even if it’s more expensive in the long-haul. Callham has heard these concerns, too. He says, “I think the resistance is to the mandate itself, not the financial benefit. I think when someone’s compelled to do something, they’re going to work against that mandate. That’s human nature.”