Everywhere they look, they see sunshine and opportunity and they can’t wait to get to work making energy and making money.
During the SOLAR CITIES WORKSHOP, NewEnergyNews had a chance to talk with Lyndon Rive, CEO of workshop host SolarCity
. Rive, a successful entrepreneur before he got into the solar energy business, has put together a dynamic business plan and BIG venture capital backing from the likes of Paypal/Space X founder Elon Musk and J.P. Morgan Bank. SolarCity is coming to your town. Wherever you are. More on their plans in the post.
During the workshop, three of four speakers said Peak Oil is as important as climate change and environmental concerns in motivating their solar energy commitment.
Chatterers all over the convention center wonder about transmission. There is not enough of it. There is not enough of it from rural sites where solar and wind energy are most fulsomely developed to cities where electricity is consumed (energy “sinks”).
Later in the day, Ted Turner announced his DT Solar is installing a 700 kilowatt system at ProCaps Laboratories in Henderson, Nevada. In answer to why this relatively pedestrian solar installation warranted a cocktail reception on the Queen Mary, NewEnergyNews was told what it already suspected: Turner’s New Jersey-based company is moving in on the west. California has sunshine, tax subsidies and a state government dedicated to policies that incentivize renewable energy growth.
Are the big boys coming for sun the way they recently did for wind? Is consolidation around the corner?Solar Power 2007 – Day 1WHO
SolarCity (Lyndon Rive, CEO); presenters (Tom Kimbis, US Department of Energy; Tam Hunt, Community Environmental Council; Cal Broomhead, San Francisco Department of Environment; Anthony Pereira, President/CEO, altPOWER
); Ted Turner
, media mogul, philanthropist, environmentalist and CEO, Turner Renewable EnergyPereira's altPOWER is overseeing installation of a 33 kilowatt photovoltaic system at The Solaire in New York City's Battery Park, around the corner from ground zero.WHAT
- “SOLAR CITIES WORKSHOP; Leading the Solar Revolution in Your Community, Your City, Your Neighborhood” – a workshop leading into Solar Power 2007
, the biggest solar energy industry conclave ever.
- SolarCity, a bold new business plan bringing solar energy development to every city it can reach and organize.WHEN
- The workshop was September 24, as was the interview with Rive.
- SolarCity is aggressively developing community programs all over California. We discussed 2 southern California programs, one in Santa Monica that just finished and one in Malibu that just opened up.San Francisco has partnered with Google to create an interactive website of all its solar installations. Click through to site on the link below.Interactive map of San Francisco’s solar installations here.WHERE
- The workshop was at the Long Beach Convention Center
in Long Beach, CA, where Solar Power 2007 formally opens September 25.
- Superb workshop presentation by Pereira on Building Integrated Photovoltaic projects in New York City.
- SolarCity’s programs typically run 2 to 3 months. They begin with a campaign to create awareness and end with a committed group of investors. SolarCity installs in businesses...WHY
Hot term in city development of solar energy: Peak Shaving
– providing peak demand supply to the grid makes solar system installation viable even in environments where individual systems are not yet cost effective.
- Strategies for developers: Help cities see the way solar energy works for them – organize for better prices, see the good in pollution-free energy that comes with favorable return on investment, jobs for the communities, peak shaving for the local utilities which makes it easier to meet their demand and less likely they will face brown-outs.
- Obstacles: (1)Permitting can be streamlined; (2) inspections can make installations better when inspectors are educated to purposes and problems; (3) costs get better when systems get bigger or more systems get bought; (4) Considerable investment (this will be most homeowners' second biggest financial outlay, less than the house but more than the car) can produce return 3 – 5 times that of a banked savings account....and SolarCity installs in homes. SolarCity is coming.
- The SolarCity program in Santa Monica had a target of 50 kilowatts. The program was so well received they ended up with 80 kilowatts. The Malibu target is 50 kilowatts.
- SolarCity communities are selected on the basis of the average electricity consumption, then on the average electrical bill. Incomes and history of solar adoption in the community also are considered. Once a community is identified, residents and businesses are targeted by direct mail and local press. Free educational seminars are held. The idea is to gather a large enough group of buyers to get volume discounts.
- Determined to provide to solar adopters what they promise, SolarCity includes a wireless transmitter with its installation so energy production can be monitored 24/7.QUOTES
- Rive, SolarCity: “Local [solar energy] builders don’t like us because there’s a new guy in town taking all the business with better prices and better services but when you look at the data you see that while SolarCity does ten times more than everybody else, everybody else does better, installs more systems in the two months we’re there.”
- Rive, on solar cost: “Payback is the wrong way to look at it. Return on investment is the way to think about it. A savings account gives you 2% return. Solar system return on investment with a utility like Los Angeles Department of Water and Power (LADWP) that has lower rates is 5%-6%. Solar system return on investment with a utility like Southern California Edison (SCE) that has higher rates is 10%-12%. And studies show a solar system increases the value of the house more than the cost…it is the best home improvement you can do for property value.” Is he about to do it again?Quote of the day: Ted Turner welcomed his guests and said a few brief words about DT Solar’s new western installation. Afterwards, a fellow from Pennsylvania said it sounded harsh but Turner said it with a gentle southern drawl and a twinkle in his eye. No doubt he meant every word. He probably meant something like “doing well by doing good” but what he said was, “We’re doin’ a lotta good and we’re gonna make a lotta money.” NewEnergyNews suspects he’s right.