Thursday, March 25, 2010

Net zero energy home, Tesla, kids' scavenger hunt among exciting additions to The Solar and Wind Expo

With The Solar and Wind Expo just a little over a month away, we have some exciting new developments to report for both attendees and exhibitors.

First, we are fortunate that the “Net-Zero Living Home” – that the U.S. Department of Energy took around the U.S. for a year – will be part of the Expo, courtesy of exhibitor Daylight Solar. As you might guess from its name, a net-zero home needs no power from the grid. The structure will demonstrate many energy-saving techniques that you can incorporate into your home or business. The Net-Zero Living Home will be hard to miss just outside Exhibition Hall at the Fairgrounds.

Also hard to miss will be a Tesla roadster, an all-electric, high-performance sports car – with a 200-mile range to boot – that we just found out will be at the Expo. Welcome, Tesla!

Alongside the Net Zero Living Home will be a small carport with solar panels (supplied by exhibitor Kenergy) and a charging station where you can power up an all-electric or plug-in hybrid vehicle. Between the home and carport, we’re hoping you’ll be able to get a nice glimpse of what a future based on energy efficiency and renewable power would look like.

And since we don’t want the adults to have all the fun, we’re hosting a Solar and Wind Expo Scavenger Hunt for kids of all ages! The contest, which will be both fun and educational, will be centered around renewable energy (naturally)...

For much more the Scavenger Hunt and the rest of the Expo, please read the April newsletter, coming soon to your in-box or at

Friday, March 19, 2010

Governors’ coalition urges strong support of wind energy development by Congress, U.S.

A coalition representing more than half of the nation's governors this week called on Congress and the Obama Administration to take strong action to develop wind energy in the U.S.

Iowa Gov. Chet Culver and Rhode Island Gov. Donald L. Carcieri, who co-chair the Governors' Wind Energy Coalition, on March 16 released Great Expectations: U.S. Wind Energy Development, the Governors’ Wind Energy Coalition’s 2010 Recommendations. Maryland Governor Martin O’Malley is a member of the coalition, as are the governors of all the surrounding states: Pennsylvania, Delaware, New Jersey, Virginia and West Virginia.

“The title of the governors’ recommendations could not be more apt,” said Governor Culver. “Americans have great expectations for the nation’s energy future, and these recommendations from the nation’s governors to Congress and the Administration meet those expectations,” Governor Culver said.

“This is the first set of comprehensive wind energy recommendations ever submitted to Congress by a group of the nation’s governors,” said Governor Carcieri. “These recommendations could not be more timely. Congressional action on the energy bill seems to have stalled. It is our hope that these recommendations — and the national bipartisan consensus they represent — will advance the energy deliberations now under way in Congress,” Governor Carcieri stated.

The recommendations call for the following actions by both Congress and the Administration:
· Adopt a Renewable Electricity Standard.
· Develop New Interstate Electric Transmission System Infrastructure as Needed to Provide Access to Premier Renewable Energy Resources both On-Shore and Offshore.
· Fully Support Coastal, Deep Water, and Offshore Wind Energy Technology and Transmission Research and Development.
· Streamline Permitting Processes for Both Offshore and On-Shore Wind Energy Development Projects.
· Expand the U.S. Department of Energy’s Work with the States and the Wind Industry to Accelerate Innovation.
· Extend the Treasury Department Grant Program in Lieu of the Investment Tax Credit, and Adopt a Long-Term Renewable Energy Production Tax Credit With Provisions to Broaden the Pool of Eligible Investors.

The Governors’ Wind Energy Coalition provides national leadership on wind energy policy. The Coalition is a bipartisan group of 29 of the nation’s governors who are dedicated to the development of the nation’s wind energy resources to meet America’s domestic energy demands in an environmentally responsible manner — while reducing the nation’s dependence on imported energy sources and stimulating state and national economic development.

Great Expectations: U.S. Wind Energy Development, Governors’ Wind Energy Coalition’s 2010 Wind Energy Recommendations is available at

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Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Mayor Dixson of Greensburg excited to be coming to Solar and Wind Expo to tell how his city went from devastation to green

Yesterday afternoon, we spoke with Bob Dixson, mayor of Greensburg, Kansas, who will be the keynote speaker at The Solar and Wind Expo. After telling him how honored we are to have him as our keynote, he told us how honored he was to be invited East to be part of the Expo and to have a chance to tell his town’s remarkable story.

As many of you know, Greensburg was devastated by a tornado in 2007 with the tragic loss of 11 lives. Dixon plans to start his presentation by telling how Greensburg was virtually destroyed by the twister but decided to use this terrible blow as an opportunity to rebuild as an all-green city.

Next, he’ll relate how Greensburg then planned for rebuilding, basically from the ground up, with sustainability as a guiding force. Based on the idea that “we’re all stewards of our environment,” the town determined to use a mix of conservation, wind, solar and geothermal energy to provide virtually all of its power. All of Greensburg’s electricity, for example, is supplied by a community wind farm built by Suzlon, Dixson said. In addition, all new or rebuilt structures must be LEED-certified.

Improving the environment is “about what each individual can do to make the world more sustainable,” and then companies and larger groups will take up the sustainability banner, too, Dixson said. He noted that Greensburg is a small town in America’s rural heartland, not a city on the East or West coast which might be thought a more “natural” place to go all-green. A Greensburg Website proudly states, “We daresay that there is nowhere else in rural America where one can overhear conversations peppered with talk of ‘LEED Platinum’, ‘ground source heat pumps’, and ‘low-flush toilets’ – sometimes all in the same breath.”

Mayor Dixson plans to stick around after his talk (at noon on Saturday, May 7) to answer questions and be available to talk to attendees as well as the media. We very much look forward to hearing about his town’s inspirational transformation to a model of sustainability, and hope you can be there, too.

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Monday, March 15, 2010

Several renewable energy companies exhibit at Md. Home & Garden Show, including Solar and Wind Expo participants Astrum, Greenspring and Groundloop

If you looked, you could find a little bit of everything at the annual Maryland Home & Garden Show, held over five days from March 6-March 14 at the Maryland State Fairgrounds in Timonium; that’s also where The Solar and Wind Expo will take place May 7-9. The more than 600 exhibitors ran the gamut from lawn care to patio equipment to lamps to fencing to gardening supplies to fully landscaped gardens – to renewable energy.

The renewable energy companies on hand included Solar and Wind Expo participants Astrum Solar – our platinum sponsor – whose exhibit included its online “solar calculator;” Groundloop/A+ Solar, with solar, wind and geothermal power; and Greenspring Energy, which provides solar energy systems as well as other energy-saving services such as energy audits.

Also exhibiting at the Home & Garden Show was Daylight Solar, which is considering bringing to The Solar and Wind Expo a major display on a Net-Zero Energy Home that toured the country with the U.S. Department of Energy (also participating in the Expo). Other renewable energy participants included Continuum Energy, solar energy and energy efficiency; Aurora Energy, solar; Total Energy Concepts, geothermal; and ZNS Custom Decks & Additions, which also installs solar electric systems as well as solar daylighting tubes.

At the show, you could pick up the premiere issue of the Maryland Home Improvement Guide, a free monthly magazine that plans to have a major focus on sustainability and whose first issue included pieces on water conservation and Earth Day 2010.

The Solar and Wind Expo continues to gather momentum and is quickly filling up, though there are still some spots available for exhibitors. Please go to our Website,, for all the details as well as the latest information on the event.

Friday, March 12, 2010

New Jersey going gangbusters over solar; Verdant to use wind turbines under East River to generate power

For today’s entry, we’re going up the East Coast a little, where one state – New Jersey – is going gangbusters over solar, and one company – Verdant – is using a unique approach to wind to generate power in New York’s East River.

The Garden State hit 100 megawatts of solar capacity last October, and by the end of January, had more than 5,100 solar electric systems installed, according to the New Jersey Board of Public Utilities. The state proudly proclaims that it’s tops in the U.S. for solar panels per square mile.

And the utilities board last summer approved more than $500 million in projects that will more than double the amount of solar power generated in New Jersey, putting it Number Two behind only California in sun-generated power, according to the Associated Press. New Jersey Governor Jon Corzine says he wants to generate nearly a third – 30% - of the state’s energy from renewable sources by 2020.

Turbines under the water

One company, Verdant Power ( is using an innovative approach to generate renewable, emissions-free – as well as “invisible” – electricity for New York City: It’s installing specially designed wind turbines to capture energy produced by the current in the East River.

Under Verdant’s Roosevelt Island Tidal Energy (RITE) Project, the company could start installing as many as 30 underwater turbines in the East River by 2011 after licenses are approved, according to the New York Daily News. Collectively, the turbines would collectively provide 1 megawatt of electricity, enough to power 30,000 homes.

Once the East River project is underway, the company plans to explore similar hydropower installations in the Hudson River and Long Island Sound, according to the Daily News.

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Monday, March 8, 2010

Maryland county councilman wants to officially allow small turbines in residential areas

Calvin Ball, a member of the Howard County Council in Maryland (outside Baltimore), wants to make sure that residents are able to erect and operate small wind turbines on their property if they desire. To this end, he has proposed legislation in the council to specifically allow small turbines in residential areas of the county, as reported by WJZ-TV and the Baltimore Sun.

Currently, Howard County doesn’t specifically prohibit or allow wind turbines in residential areas. Two other counties in the region, Frederick and Carroll, allow them in all areas. But residents both in Baltimore City and Baltimore County have encountered opposition from officials when they tried to erect small wind turbines.

Ball’s proposal would allow both free-standing turbines as well as small turbines on pylons. Small turbines generally cost between $15,000 and $30,000, can pay for themselves in eight years and last up to 50 years. His bill must be reviewed first by the county planning board and then the Howard County Council.

As of now, there are only two wind turbines in the county. If adopted, Ball’s proposal could encourage the development of more wind energy in Howard County, and possibly surrounding jurisdictions as well.

A number of small wind turbines will be on display at The Solar and Wind Expo, taking place May 7-9 at the Maryland State Fairgrounds in Timonium.

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Thursday, March 4, 2010

Solar, wind, geothermal all show strong potential in mid-Atlantic, U.S.

With the season of renewal about to begin (finally!), this seems like a good time to highlight how far renewable energy has come in this country in the past several years as well as how much potential there is for renewables in the mid-Atlantic and the U.S. – especially with the economy finally starting to warm up, too.

Renewable energy installations in the United States nearly tripled between 2000 and 2008, according to the U.S. Department of Energy’s Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy. Including hydropower, renewable energy represented nearly 11% of total installed capacity and more than 9% of total generation in the United States in 2008.

And renewable energy has been capturing a growing share of new capacity in the U.S. during the past few years. In 2008, renewable energy accounted for more than 43% of all new grid-connected electrical installations in the United States—a large contrast from just four years earlier, when all renewable energy captured only 2% of new capacity additions, according to the Department of Energy.

As for specific types of renewable energy, solar has high potential right here in the mid-Atlantic. “Believe it or not, Maryland gets 95% as much sunshine per day as Florida, the official ‘sunshine state.’ And we get almost twice as much sun as Germany, the world leader in solar installations,” according to Astrum Solar, Annapolis Junction, Md.:
And a solar photovoltaic (PV) system can generate a quicker payback in – again, believe it or not – the mid-Atlantic than California, the Golden State, says a 2009 study by SYN-DEX Consulting, Alexandria, Va. (“Comparing Simple Payback of Solar Systems in California and the Mid-Atlantic States”) “When it comes to the PV marketplace in the United States, everyone recognizes that California is the largest market. However, as California’s incentives ratchet down and other states develop their markets, emerging states” such as Delaware, the District of Columbia, Maryland, New Jersey and Pennsylvania “are starting to look more favorable,” the study says.

Wind. In 2009, 10 gigawatts (GW) of new wind power capacity was installed in the U.S.: enough to power 2.4 million homes, according to the American Wind Energy Association’s Year-End 2009 Market Report. The last quarter of 2009 alone saw the installation of 4 GW. And all this was at no cost to the taxpayer, with private investment only.

In addition, a new assessment by the National Renewable Energy Laboratory shows that U.S. onshore wind resources are larger than previously estimated. Among the conclusions from this report:
Onshore U.S. wind resources could generate nearly 37,000,000 gigawatt-hours (GWh) annually, more than nine times current total U.S. electricity consumption.
Put another way, the potential capacity of America’s onshore wind resource is over 10,000 gigawatts (GW). The U.S. is barely tapping this vast resource: current wind installed capacity is 35 GW in the U.S. and 158 GW world-wide.

And right here in Maryland, offshore wind power could provide for two-thirds of the state’s electricity needs using current technology and nearly twice as much as the state needs after the technology improves, says a recent study sponsored by the Abell Foundation. (See our Feb. 19 blog at Even onshore, new technologies are being developed that enable turbines to generate power at lower speeds, making wind more viable in areas such as the mid-Atlantic where wind doesn’t blow as strongly as off-shore or, say, in the Great Plains states.

Geothermal. There are geothermal reservoirs – areas of concentrated geothermal energy – in much of the western U.S. as well as a few other locations, including western Pennsylvania and western New York, according to the Geothermal Education Office, an organization based in Tiburon, Calif. However, geothermal heat pumps – which the EPA calls among the most efficient heating and cooling technologies available today – can be used almost everywhere in the world, without a geothermal reservoir, by drawing on the earth’s natural insulating properties.

Looking a little further into the future, renewable energy could expand exponentially in coming years in this country as technologies improve, prices of renewable devices decrease and the cost of fossil fuels rises. Put another way… the sun, wind and earth have limitless potential!

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Wednesday, March 3, 2010

U.S. Energy Department participating in The Solar and Wind Expo

The U.S. Department of Energy will participate directly in The Solar and Wind Expo with its own exhibit, the Expo’s executive director, George Lopez, announced today. The renewable energy show will take place at the Maryland State Fairgrounds in Timonium May 7-9.

“We’re delighted that the Department of Energy is participating in The Solar and Wind Expo in its first year and will have a direct presence at the event,” said Lopez. “The agency is a major player in renewable energy across the nation. Its efforts provide an important impetus for homeowners and businesses to turn to renewable energy sources, and for the U.S. to rely more on these valuable resources for power.”

The department’s staff will field and answer questions from attendees about renewable energy as well as distribute literature about the agency’s activities. Its extensive renewable energy programs run the gamut: Biomass, Geothermal, Hydrogen & Fuel Cells, Solar, Wind & Hydropower, and Vehicles.

For information on the Department of Energy’s Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy, go to

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Monday, March 1, 2010

Maryland home and business owners eligible for thousands in state grants – plus generous federal tax credit – for installing geothermal energy systems

There’s good news for Maryland home and business owners who want to install geothermal energy systems: The state will provide up to $3,000 in grant assistance for residential installations and up to $10,000 in grants for commercial installations.

In addition, qualified geothermal heat pumps installed after December 31, 2008 are eligible for a Federal income tax credit equaling 30% of the total installed cost under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) of 2009, according to the Maryland Energy Administration.

These two forms of assistance combined substantially reduce the cost of installing geothermal systems in Maryland.

To apply for a grant, a home or business owner must take the following steps:

For complete information on Maryland’s Geothermal Grant Program and its requirements (as well as a link to information on the Federal tax credit), go to

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