Searchable database- chemical hazard, exposure and toxicity data

WASHINGTON – The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is making it easier to find chemical information online. EPA is releasing a database, called ToxRefDB, which allows scientists and the interested public to search and download thousands of toxicity testing results on hundreds of chemicals. ToxRefDB captures 30 years and $2 billion of testing results.

“Tens of thousands of chemicals are in commerce and current chemical testing is expensive and time consuming. Results from chemical testing are scattered throughout different sources,” said Dr. Robert Kavlock, director of EPA’s National Center for Computational Toxicology. “ToxRefDB allows the public to search, find and compare available studies about chemical toxicity and potential health effects.”

ToxRefDB provides detailed chemical toxicity data in an accessible format. It is a part of ACToR (Aggregated Computational Toxicology Resource), an online data warehouse that collects data from about 500 public sources on tens of thousands of environmentally relevant chemicals, including several hundred in ToxRefDB. Those interested in chemical toxicity can query a specific chemical and find all available public hazard, exposure, and risk-assessment data, as well as previously unpublished studies related to cancer, reproductive, and developmental toxicity.

ToxRefDB connects to an EPA chemical screening tool called ToxCast. ToxCast is a multi-year, multi-million dollar effort that uses advanced science tools to help understand biological processes impacted by chemicals that may lead to adverse health effects. ToxCast currently includes 500 fast, automated chemical screening tests that have assessed over 300 environmental chemicals. ToxRefDB, along with ACToR, allows users to take advantage of this linkage to find and download these results.

ToxRefDB contains toxicity information that forms the basis for pesticide risk assessments when combined with other sources of information, such as those on exposure and metabolism.

More information on the database: http://actor.epa.gov/toxrefdb
Note: If a link above doesn't work, please copy and paste the URL into a browser.

Green Building Products and News

Green Building Products and News April 30, 2010
Brought to you by: Scotty, Scott’s Contracting

Akeena Solar. Andalay solar panels feature built-in racking and built-in wiring for a smooth, flush appearance that resembles skylights. With 70% fewer parts and 25% fewer attachment points, the panels for a small house can be installed in less than an hour, the company says. Fewer attachment points also means fewer penetrations in the roof, so less opportunity for leaks and failure

http://www.stlouisrenewableenergy.com/ for addition Akeena Solar, Andalay Solar Panel Information
contact: scotty@stlouisrenwableenergy.com for your Custom Andalay Solar Panel Info Guide

 Fiber Optic Skylight
A new way to bring natural light into interior spaces, Huvco’s Parans Fiber Optic Skylight system collects sunlight through lenses on outdoor panels (shown), then funnels the light through optical cables to luminaires. The system’s daylight collectors mount on roofs or fa├žades. The thin, flexible optical cables, which are routed through walls and ceilings, have high light transmission that lets sunlight efficiently reach far into buildings; the luminaires are designed to recreate the feeling of sunlight. Hybrid luminaires that combine natural light and electric light are available contact: scotty@stlouisrenwableenergy.com for pricing and additional info

Quad-Lock Building Systems

The R-etro insulation system lets remodelers attach expanded polystyrene insulation to an existing building. The system, which has an R-value of 18, adapts to the shape of a building and around protrusions and openings, the company says, and it can be attached to any wall structure. After installation, the product serves as a fastening point for finish materials. contact: scotty@stlouisrenwableenergy.com for pricing, additional information and your Green Building Needs.

Retrofit reduces energy use by 60 percent

Pilot Project Super Insulation for Older Homes at Massachusetts home
You could call it an "Extreme Makeover: Energy-Efficient Edition."

In Arlington, Mass., Alex Cheimets and Cynthia Page live in a duplex that used to consume about 1,400 gallons of heating oil a year. Now their building will soon be one of the most energy-efficient in its New England neighborhood, thanks to a pilot project that retrofitted the structure with almost $100,000 worth of insulation and other products to increase energy efficiency and decrease utility costs.

The so-called Massachusetts Super Insulation Project seeks to determine the benefits and cost effectiveness of retrofitting old energy-wasting houses with insulation upgrades in key areas. Though the cost for the upgrades in the home were substantial, some of the techniques used—such as proper air-sealing and adequate moisture barriers—could easily be applied to new construction and for not much more money.

Massachusetts officials are keenly interested in the results of the project, which dovetails with the state’s efforts to become more energy-efficient. “Our governor, the state House and Senate, and the executive branch are aware that the nation’s energy strategy is not acceptable, and a big part of it is the existing housing stock,” says Philip Giudice, commissioner of the state's Department of Energy Resources.

“Nationally, buildings account for 40 percent of all energy consumption and one-third of all greenhouse gas emissions,” says Energy and Environmental Affairs Secretary Ian Bowles, who chairs Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick’s Zero Net Energy Buildings Task Force. “This super-insulation project in Arlington promises to be a model for the type of innovation in the building industry that the Patrick administration hopes will soon be widespread across Massachusetts.”

The public/private effort includes the state Department of Energy Resources, the local utility NStar Electric & Gas, and a number of building product sponsors.

Bowles is right, of course. As green building practices spread through the new construction market, America’s existing housing stock remains an energy-use problem. Millions of these old structures lose large amounts of energy through leaky windows, inefficient heating and cooling units, and poorly insulated walls, all of which contribute to higher-than-necessary utility bills. The 3,200-square-foot Cheimets/Page building—divided into one condo for Cheimets and his family and one for Page—was one of these structures.

At one point when home heating oil in the Massachusetts area hit $4.69 a gallon, Cheimets says, the homeowners were paying a combined total of almost $6,500 a year for heating and hot water. “We needed to replace our siding and our roof soon anyway,” Cheimets says. “As a duplex, we could simply do the minimum or we could invest now to save later. Super-insulation was the better financial investment.”

The parties in the pilot wanted to demonstrate that it’s possible to bring an existing building up to the highest standards of energy performance. In addition to reducing energy use by between 65 percent and 70 percent, the group was also interested in exploring super-insulation as part of an overall program of energy efficiency and carbon reduction. Finally, it hoped to use the Arlington, Mass., pilot project to determine cost-effective retrofit recommendations for homeowner renovations; develop experience with and collect performance results for existing structures; and establish criteria for future state programs supporting residential super-insulation projects.

Before the work commenced, the project team consulted with Somerville, Mass.-based Building Science Corp., which performed energy parametric simulations, analysis, and economic payback comparisons of various energy retrofits options.

As a result, the extensive retrofit focused on tightening the building envelope, which included new doors and the replacement of the single pane windows. The team installed double-pane Pella fiberglass windows with low-E glazing, Tyvek stucco wrap, two layers of 2-inch Dow closed-cell foam board, furring strips, and NuCedar cellular PVC siding. They ripped off the old roof and installed two layers of 3-inch foam board on the roof deck, followed by plywood sheathing, and light-colored asphalt shingles. They also sprayed Icynene open-cell foam in the attic roof and in the basement rim joists and ceiling. Finally, the team installed a heat recovery ventilator and an on-demand water heater.

Cheimets says the upgrade have made a big difference in the comfort level of the units and in the performance of the building. “I felt the difference immediately,” he says. “There are fewer drafts and no cold spots; that’s all gone away, and we have seen about a 60 percent reduction in energy use.”

As part of the pilot project, DER and NStar have installed sensors to monitor real-time oil usage as well as temperature and humidity levels inside and outside the house. “We were using about nine gallons a day before, but now we’re using three on average,” Cheimets says.

The reduction in the building’s ongoing energy use has come at a steep one-time price tag. Overall, the retrofit cost more than $90,000, and like most renovation projects, ended up being more expensive than expected in different areas.

For example, the cost for the roof replacement was first estimated at $10,000, but the price tag nearly doubled by an additional $9,000 with the addition of super-insulation. Replacing the siding was projected to run $30,000, but it increased by $41,000 with super-insulation and re-flashing the windows. An additional $6,000 went toward the installation of expanding foam in the basement ceiling; $4,000 paid for heat recovery ventilators.

“If you look at the additional cost of super insulating (compared with just doing the required work in ‘standard’ fashion) doing this work is an additional cost of $50,000, or $25,000 per family” in the two-unit duplex, according to program documents.

While the costs are high, Cheimets says they should be taken in context of retrofitting an 80-year-old house that featured 50 windows and suffered from bad insulation from the start. Doing such upgrades in new construction would be cheaper. “If you’re building a new house, you would be taking certain things into consideration like facing the roof south, using fewer windows, and decreasing the amount of angles in the roof,” he says.

John Dennis Murphey agrees that using such strategies would absolutely make such a remodel cheaper. “That’s what we’re doing now on one house,” says the principal of Chevy Chase, Md.-based Meditch Murphey Architects.

There are also other ways to save money on such a project. Murphey, for example, has eliminated conventional sheathing from his houses all together. Instead, he uses 2 x 6 studs, spray foam insulation, and metal bracing to make the studs rigid. “The studs are energy highways,” he says. He then wraps his houses in 1.5 inches of foam board, which creates a thermal break.

Instead of simply balking at the added costs, though, Murphey says builders and consumers should look at the overall project and the long-term benefits. “Energy prices have come down, but who knows where the price of oil will go,” he continues. “My bet is that they will go up. I’ll take that bet every time.”

Members of the Super Insulation Project would probably agree. It is estimated that the annual savings to the homeowners will be $2,350 to $4,000 per year. “At the current heating oil cost of approximately $2.35 a gallon, it's a 20-year payback,” program documents say. “But a few short weeks ago the price was closer to $4 a gallon, and the price of oil is likely to rise again in the coming years, dramatically shortening the payback period.”

By:Nigel F. Maynard, Senior Editor, products, at BUILDER magazine.
Contact scotty@stlouisrenewableenergy.com or scottscontracting@gmail.com for your Green Building Needs.  Addition Green Building information can be found at http://www.stlouisrenewableenergy.com/


ENERGY STAR E-Update:Quadruple Energy Savings,DOE to Create $130M Research Center,Retailers Can Save When They Go Green,Study: White Roofs Can Cool Urban Temperatures,Tips for Foodservice Operators,more

 from Scotty's mail box
EPA Ranks U.S. Cities with the Most ENERGY STAR Labeled Buildings
EPA maintains a list of all buildings that have earned EPA's ENERGY STAR and, for the second year, has created a list of the U.S. metropolitan areas with the largest number of ENERGY STAR labeled buildings. Continuing the impressive growth of the past several years, in 2009 nearly 3,900 commercial buildings earned the ENERGY STAR, representing annual savings of more than $900 million in utility bills and more than 4.7 million metric tons of carbon dioxide emissions. Los Angeles, Washington, D.C., San Francisco, Denver, Chicago, Houston, Lakeland, Dallas-Fort Worth, Atlanta, and New York head the list of cities. Details are available in the EPA Press Release. Houses of Worship will be added to this list in 2010 since these facilities can be rated using Portfolio Manager and can earn the ENERGY STAR. Learn moreabout the Houses of Worship rating. Link

ENERGY STAR Leaders Quadruple Energy Savings in One Year

In 2009, EPA's ENERGY STAR leaders prevented the equivalent of more than 220,000 metric tons of carbon dioxide and saved more than $48 million across their commercial building portfolios. These savings have quadrupled since 2008 and represent the single greatest year of savings since EPA recognized the first ENERGY STAR leaders in 2004. For details on the awards see the EPA Press Release. This year EPA released a new report profiling leading organizations for reducing greenhouse gas emissions through energy efficiency. The report: "Profiles in Leadership, 2010 ENERGY STAR Award Winners," highlights over 100 organizations across many sectors of the U.S. economy. The report offers insights into this diverse set of winners and their energy-efficient approaches and practices. For more information see the EPA Press Releaseor view the full report.

DOE to Create $130M Research Center for Building Efficiency

The Obama administration has announced that the U.S. Departments of Energy, Commerce and Labor and four other federal agencies are joining together to establish a nearly $130 million regional research center to develop and implement new technology for building efficiency. Buildings account for almost 40 percent of U.S. energy consumption and carbon emissions. The new center is part of the effort to reduce energy use and utility bills while stimulating the economy and creating jobs. Greener Buildings has the report. Link

Retailers Can Save When They Go Green

Retailers can save big bucks by thinking of green and energy-saving alternatives. From keeping the freezer door closed to examining tax incentives there are plenty of options to save money through green practices. See the article in Globe Streetwith more information.

Study: White Roofs Can Cool Urban Temperatures

White roofs can cool urban temperatures, according to Keith Oleson, a scientist at the National Center for Atmospheric Research. Such roofs are being used in cities across the country -- including Washington, D.C., and Seattle -- and have caught the attention of Energy Secretary Steven Chu. Review the entire article on MSNBC.

Scott's Contracting, St Louis, Missouri: Installs Eco Friendly Roofing Choices for all Applications
Contact Scotty for Pricing & Installation

Tips for Foodservice Operators
Restaurants & Institutions offers tips for food service operations and restaurants that want to adopt more environmentally sustainable measures. "There is a huge misconception," said Chris Moyer, manager of the National Restaurant Association's Conserve initiative. "A lot of people think, 'If I'm not doing it all, then I'm not doing anything.'" Start with small steps, experts advise, such as separating your trash and investing in green cleaning products. Then you can focus on larger commitments, such as replacing incandescent bulbs and getting LEED certification. See the full article in Restaurants & Institutions.

ENERGY STAR Product of the Month:
Commercial LED Lighting

LED stands for light-emitting diode. LEDs are small light sources that become illuminated by the movement of electrons through semiconductor material. Qualified commercial products use at least 75% less energy and last 35 times longer than incandescent lighting. Plus, qualified LED lighting produces virtually no heat and provides optimal light color for any environment from parking lots to high-end show rooms. For more information, visit the ENERGY STAR product page which includes an overview, specifications, buying guidance and FAQs. LED technology is moving at a fast pace and you should check every few months for new types of LED lighting products.


3 Story House Painting Pictures

Scott's Contracting 3 Story House Painting Pictures

see more Crown Square Building Restoration Photos and Information at: http://sustainablecitiescollective.com/Home/32212

Scott's Contracting, Stump Removal

Scott's Contracting Project Pictures

Tree Stump Removal

Tree Stump Removal, Clare Baxter Properties


Selecting Photovoltaic Modules and Inverters

Considerations for Selecting Photovoltaic Modules and Inverters

With so many different types of products on the market today for the solar electric (PV) industry, selecting the right module or inverter can be the difference between a successful system and a failed one. With the fast growth of the US market and other parts of the world, it seems that almost overnight the PV market has hundreds of companies to choose from when selecting product. Being that longevity is one goal in providing an extended return of investment (ROI) for projects, it is important to select the products from companies that you can trust will be around into the distant future.

Research can be a daunting task in regards to finding the balance of quality, longevity, and price — your distributor can be a great source of information when considering products for a PV systems. Your representative should be able to provide you with information about product warranty, quality of the product, price (often reflected in dollars per watt), and any technology implemented into the product.

As it relates to solar modules, the most expensive side to the system, a low priced module can get very tempting. While important, price should be weighed in conjunction to a manufacturer’s longevity; after all how good is a 20-25 year warranty when the company no longer exists? Additionally, there is a common miss-conception that module efficiency should be the deciding factor — efficiency generally only affects a systems size not performance. Efficiency reflects a modules ability to convert the sun’s energy into electrical power. For example a 200 Watt 16% efficient module vs. a 200 Watt 20% efficient module reflects a reduction in the system physical size by 20% but this will also most likely increase the cost of the module and therefore the length of ROI on the same 200 Watts of power. Until just recently, module technology was mostly based only on efficiency and material type, but now some electronic technology is implemented into the modules themselves increasing the modules energy yields, and power output.

Inverters are also a key function to the PV system and also typically the second most costly item of the system. Inverters contain many electronic components and over the years can be stressed to their limits, so selecting a manufacturer that has proven technology and a solid warranty can help save the installer a problem down the road. In the past the PV market has seen typically a 10 year inverter warranty and a fail period on the inverters in the first 15 years, however with today’s leading manufacturers these numbers are progressively getting better with 15+ year warranties and a fail period after the first 20+ years.

Product selection can take a significant amount of time, but with a good distributor relationship, on-going training, and a focus on longevity you can become a better installer with better projects and happier customers.

04/02/10,Michael Harvey- Able Energy Co.

Contact: Scotty, Scott's Contracting Green Builder "St Louis Renewable Energy" for all your Green Building and Renewable Energy Needs


A Message From Congressman Russ Carnahan

April 6, 2010

Saint Louis, Missouri

Thank you for contacting me in regard to H.R. 1835, the New Alternative Transportation to Give Americans Solutions (NAT GAS) Act of 2009. I appreciate hearing from you and welcome the opportunity to respond.

As you know, the NAT GAS Act would extend tax credits and incentives to encourage the use of natural gas in the commercial and federal vehicle fleets. It would direct the U.S. government to run 50% of its vehicles on compressed or liquefied natural gas by 2014, and it would authorize the Secretary of Energy to administer grants for research leading to cleaner, more efficient engines powered by natural gas.

Please be assured that since coming to Congress, I have been working hard to reduce our dependence on foreign oil, bring down record-high fuel prices, and launch a cleaner, smarter energy future for America. I have consistently supported legislation to lower costs while creating hundreds of thousands of high paying, clean energy jobs.

Last year, Congress took a number of steps to encourage the development of alternative energy sources. The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act invested over $43 billion in researching and deploying new sources of energy. I also recently introduced legislation to create energy innovation hubs, which will be tasked with conducting intensive research to develop alternative energy sources.

Currently, the NAT GAS Act has been referred to three House committees, including the Committee on Science and Technology, of which I am a member. Please know that as this bill continues to be debated, I will keep your views firmly in mind.

Please feel free to get in touch with my office in the future if I can be of further assistance to you on this or any other matter of concern. I also hope you will find my website, carnahan.house.gov, a useful resource for keeping up with my work in Washington and the 3rd District of Missouri, and I welcome you to sign up for my e-newsletter at carnahan.house.gov/updates Thank you again for taking the time to share your thoughts with me.


PV Industry, fastest Growing Industry

Info supplied by Scotty "St Louis Renewable Energy" Missouri.
Posted on March 23, 2010 by J. Peter Lynch, Financial Anaylst

PV – A Question of Scale

PV is already the fastest growing industry in the world. But if it is going to play a significant role in future worldwide electricity production, it all comes down to one word – scalability.

The PV industry happens to be the fastest growing industry in the world, with a promising chance to remain the fastest growing industry for the next 25 to 50 years. The PV industry worldwide grew at a compound annual rate of 35% during 2000-2009.

What is the cause of this enormous growth and why is it expected to continue? The reason is really quite simple. The market demand is enormous and PV has a number of unique characteristics that give it clear and significant advantages over any other source of electrical energy.

Unique Advantages of PV:
1. No moving parts, minimal maintenance
2. Safe and simple operation
3. High dependability, durable and long life (30+ years)
4. Scalable in output, from micro-watts to millions of watts (megawatts)
5. Silent operation
6. Maximum output coincident with peak utility power loads (summer time)
7. No emissions, no pollution
8. Portable, easy and fast to install anywhere
9. Available everywhere there is sunlight.
10. Ability to integrate attractively into existing and new buildings

What the PV Industry Needs

What could an industry with all these unique advantages, plus being the fastest growing industry in the world, possibly need?

The answer is quite simple. It needs to reduce its cost of production. Bottom line, it currently costs too much to produce PV cells. In order to dramatically reduce the cost, the industry must deploy next generation technologies that are scalable to larger volumes that will enable the needed cost reductions.

How could there be an industry with a product that is too expensive be the fastest growing industry in the world?

This contradiction is a result of the fact that the market is so vast, and that despite the current tremendous industry growth, it is only the beginning of the industry’s long-term growth curve. Incredible as it may sound the industry actually has the potential to grow at 30% per annum rates for decades.

Regardless of this dichotomy, long-term world demand will exceed long term supply (even at current “high” costs) and when future decreases in cost are accomplished the demand will literally soar far beyond the capabilities of current technology.

To address this coming demand surge, new next-generation technologies, capable of far greater production volumes, will be necessary; hence process scalability will be needed.

United States Electricity Market

The current U.S. electricity demand is roughly 4 trillion watts (4 Terawatts or TW) and is growing at approximately 2.5% per year. Current projections place demand somewhere between 11 TW and 18 TW by 2050.

To illustrate the tremendous potential of the PV industry and also the current and future demand-supply imbalance facing the industry let’s look at a few macro numbers.

For PV to supply only 1% of the U.S. demand in 2010, the worldwide PV production capacity would have to be 44 billion watts, which is over 20 times larger than current worldwide capacity. It is obvious that expanding the total industry capacity 20 fold in a few years is impossible, one thing for sure, we MUST set the bar a lot higher.

Megawatt (MW) = one million watts of electricity

Gigawatt (GW) = one thousand megawatts (one billion watts) of electricity

Terawatt (TW) = one thousand gigawatts (one trillion watts) of electricity

U.S. Electricity Demand 2010 vs. Current PV Industry Capacity

a-Percentage of Demand (2010) to be met with PV                  
b-# Times larger than current worldwide industry capacity

c-GW of capacity needed

-1%    44      20 Times Larger
-5%    220  125 Times Larger
-10%  440  250 Times Larger

The above figure shows the enormous potential of PV and how large worldwide PV capacity would have to be compared to current industry capacity, for PV to achieve 1%, 5% and 10% of the worldwide electricity market.

At least two points become very clear from the figures above:

1.The potential market for PV worldwide is absolutely enormous;

2.New production technologies will be needed to produce far greater volumes at far lower prices if the industry is ever going to make a significant penetration of this huge market.

Currently 90%+ of the world’s solar cells are manufactured using silicon technology. This technology is over 50 years old and the good news is that it has done an amazing job at dramatically reducing the price of solar cells over the years. The bad news is that the price needs to decrease even more and it cannot do this without technologies that can be scaled up to produce GW and not the current industry MW.

Unless the industry develops a manufacturing technology or discovers a new breakthrough technology that is capable of cost effectively producing PV at the GW level, PV can never make a significant contribution to future electricity generation.

Importance of Development of the Next Generation of Manufacturing

In addition to the obvious huge business opportunity, there may be other factors that will necessitate the rapid development of the PV industry and a host of new next-generation clean technologies. This future increase in demand may not be able to be addressed by fossil fuel sources for a number of reasons that, for the most part may be beyond our control:

Limitations to addressing this growth via fossil fuels:

•Peak Oil: Short term, Peak Oil is approaching, when worldwide demand will exceed supply permanently. This may cause a rapid and permanent rise in the price of oil and natural gas that will make them uneconomical at best and unavailable at worst.

•Global Warming: Longer term, global warming may drastically limit our use of fossil fuels to generate electricity. This will be especially true of generation of electricity with coal, which currently supplies over 50% of the electricity generated in the U.S. and is a very significant contributor to carbon to our atmosphere.

Bottom Line

The future of the PV industry and how significant of a role it will play is a question of scale. We have to start thinking big and we have to start right now.

The answer is clear: we need to accelerate our development of next generation technologies, with far greater production capacity, so that we will have far lower cost of production.

There are a number of other macro and micro factors that will also be needed, which I will cover in a subsequent article. But the bottom line from a macro point of view is quite simply:

The world needs PV technology capable of GW of PV production not MW.

J. Peter Lynch has worked, for 33 years as a Wall Street analyst, an independent equity analyst and private investor, and a merchant banker in small emerging technology companies. He has been actively involved in following developments in the renewable energy sector since 1977 and is regarded as an expert in this area. He is currently a financial and technology consultant to a number of companies. He can be reached via e-mail at Solarjpl@aol.com. Please visit his site for the promotion of solar energy.

Ineffective Government Programs, Obama Administration & Congrees

Info Supplied by: Scotty, "St Louis Renewable Energy" Missouri. Posted on March 25, 2010 by Robert Lahey, Ardour Capital

Government's Role in Cleantech

The Obama Administration and Congress should be praised for their desire to expand clean technology, but many of their efforts have been largely wasted on ineffective government programs. Right now, they have a unique opportunity to apply valuable lessons of the 2009 stimulus bill to a jobs bill. The stimulus bill allocated approximately $100 billion to 40 different cleantech programs, and one year later, it is very clear which funds had the most impact on the sector. Given the benefit of hindsight, it is disturbing that Congress is attempting to throw more money at the least successful programs.

One example of a struggling stimulus bill program is the Department of Energy Loan Guarantees. It was originally established by the Energy bill of 2005, but the stimulus bill dramatically increased its budget for renewable energy projects. In theory, the program is a solution to the current financing bottleneck; the government should be able to improve tight lending conditions by backing the borrowers. As a political bonus, the Administration can claim credit for the total value of the loans while Congress only has to approve a small fraction for defaults.

While the loan guarantee program addresses a critical problem tempering cleantech growth forecasts, the government’s execution is lagging its ambition. The DOE has issued several press releases recently highlighting progress, but the only actions have been “conditional” approval of pre-stimulus bill applications. Since 2005, only one company has ever received a loan. The stimulus bill gave the DOE $6 billion to support $60 billion in loans, though $2 billion was later redirected to the popular cash for clunkers program. The remaining $4 billion is still untouched and no company appears close to ending the drought because of a slow and burdensome application process.

Securing a loan guarantee involves high application fees, credit requirements, and mandatory environmental studies that move at a snail’s pace. These conditions discourage companies that need financing most. As a result, the program may end up making only a small number of loans to well connected companies that probably can get financing elsewhere, albeit at a higher rate. The program is disturbingly reminiscent of President Carter’s Synfuels Corporation which was canceled by President Reagan for failing to make a substantial impact on the alterative fuel sector.

Cleantech stimulus programs that have made the most awards to date are generally those with the smallest government roles. For manufacturers of wind turbines and solar panels, there is the new Advanced Energy Manufacturer’s Tax Credit (MTC) which provides a 30% tax credit on the cost of new or retrofitted facilities in the US. This program recently awarded its entire $2.3 billion stimulus bill funding in just one round of solicitations to 183 projects. For renewable energy project developers, the stimulus bill extended a similar 30% tax credit through 2012 and made them convertible to cash grants through 2010. Since the grant program was launched in August 2009, it has given out over $2.5 billion to 324 projects.

The difference between the tax credits and loan guarantees is the role of government. Allowing companies to claim tax credits is not considered a “major government action,” and therefore they are exempt from the most burdensome environmental reviews. In contrast, the loan guarantees trigger a wide range of environmental regulations, and also financial due diligence that is conducted at a slower pace than comparable private sector processes.

The House of Representatives is ignoring the lessons of the stimulus bill by doubling down on cleantech programs with large government roles. The jobs bill it passed last December adds $2 billion to the loan guarantee programs and attempts to streamline its application process. There is nothing allocated for the MTC which is out of funding, the grant programs expiring this year, the wind tax credits expiring in 2012, or the bioenergy tax credits which expired in 2009.

The Senate proposals ignore the cleantech sector almost entirely, but their energy bill demonstrates that this chamber has also missed the lessons of the stimulus bill. The bill it passed at the committee level in July 2009 would create a new “Green Bank” within the DOE, which appears largely the same as the loan guarantee program and Synfuels Corporation.

If Congress is serious about job creation and energy independence, it should make long-term extensions to the tax credit and grant programs. This would give banks confidence in their expected returns, spur lending and increase growth expectations for the sector.

The stimulus bill clearly demonstrates that these programs inject money at a fast pace to a wide pool of applicants. Because of technology advances and favorable tax policies, the cost of renewable energy has dropped considerably in the last several years and it is closing the gap with fossil fuels. However, the sector is still reliant on subsidies until it sees further economies of scale which will be necessary to achieve price parity with traditional energy sources. Bank lending is the key bottleneck right now, and it would be served best by a more silent partner in the government.

Robert Lahey is the Senior Legislative Analyst at Ardour Capital Investments LLC, and can be reached at rlahey@ardourcapital.com. Founded in 2002, Ardour Capital is the leading research and investment-banking firm exclusively focused on energy technology, alternative energy and power, and clean & renewable technologies. Ardour Capital publishes in-depth company coverage and industry specific research. Ardour Capital offers private and public companies a full range of corporate finance, investment banking and capital market services. Ardour Global Indexes is a family of pure play alternative energy indexes that is the primary measure of cleantech equity performance.

Solar Could Meet 10% of US Energy Needs

Report: Solar Could Meet 10% of US Energy Needs

Environment America last week released a new report that outlines the road to meet 10 percent of the United States' energy needs by 2030.

While Sentor Bernie Sanders (I-VT) was on hand for the release of the report, Senator Mark Udall (D-CO) rolled out the first of a package of clean-energy job-creation bills based on those ideas.

Building a Solar Future: Repowering America’s Homes, Businesses and Industry with Solar Energy looks at a variety of solar technologies including photovoltaics, concentrating solar power, solar water heaters, solar space heating, and passive solar design.

The report not only outlines the how these technologies could be used but also takes a look at a number of places its they're being used to good effect today.

These projects include Wal-Mart’s use of skylights, which has cut energy costs in some stores by 15 to 20 percent and a Frito-Lay plant in California uses solar concentrators to provide heat for cooking snack foods.

Environment America called on local, state and federal governments to commit to expanding solar energy, recommending investment in solar technologies and research and development, as well as requiring that utilities get more of their electricity from renewable energy and requiring that buildings codes move towards all new buildings using zero net-energy.

We applaud Environment America for its leadership in addressing our nation’s biggest energy challenges – our dependence on fossil fuels and the need to address the pollution that is causing climate change – while also addressing our nation’s biggest economic challenge – creating jobs,” said Jamie Resor, CFO for groSolar. “This report, combined with the Solar Bill of Rights, provides a policy roadmap for leveling the playing field for an energy source that more than 92 percent of Americans say they want more of, now.”

While Sentor Bernie Sanders (I-VT) was on hand for the release of the report, Senator Mark Udall (D-CO) rolled out the first of a package of clean-energy job-creation bills based on those ideas - specifically an idea he heard during a visit to Holy Cross Energy in Glenwood Springs. Holy Cross Energy has teamed up with the Clean Energy Collective to offer ways for homeowners to pool their resources and invest in solar panels located on a separate plot of land.

It's a new method of tapping solar energy, known as community solar projects or "solar farms," which has the potential to increase the market for solar power. But solar energy providers across the state and the country have found that the federal tax code hasn't taken into consideration growth and innovation in the solar industry. While the law currently allows homeowners to take an income tax credit for PV cells installed on individual homes, it doesn't allow the same credit for community solar projects.

Senator Udall's Solar Uniting Neighborhoods (SUN) Act of 2010 modernizes the tax code regarding solar energy, enabling homeowners who invest in community solar projects to take a 30 percent tax credit just like individuals who install PV cells on their houses. Like other solar tax credits, it would expire in 2016 unless renewed.

"The best ideas to create jobs come from people on the ground - they are the experts on the needs and demands in our communities. And this is the perfect example of how we can work together to turn those good ideas into reality," Senator Udall said. "I'm proud to introduce this bill based on what I learned on the Western Slope. It will expand the use of our abundant solar power, strengthen Colorado's renewable energy industry and create good-paying jobs throughout our state."

Info Provided by Scotty "St Louis Renewable Energy" Missouri.  Article Found: RenewableEnergyWorld.com,March 23, 2010

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