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Table of Contents

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Major Topic Sections

Fossil-fueled Power
Non-Fossil Generation
End-Use Efficiency
Electricity T&D
Carbon Sequestration
Non-CO2 Reductions
Other GHG Reductions

Related topics in this section

Up to Section Head
Nuclear Energy
Wind Power
Solar Thermal Elec.
Biomass Power
Geothermal Energy
Pumped Storage
Green Pricing
Green Tag Pgms.




Electricity generated from photovoltaic (PV) systems produces zero emissions, is modular, and can produce energy anywhere the sun shines. Investment in PV may be cost-effective in certain distributed generation and grid-support applications where PV output tends to coincide with local peak demands.
Few power-generation technologies have as little impact on the environment as photovoltaics. As it quietly generates electricity from light, PV produces no air pollution or hazardous waste. It doesn't require liquid or gaseous fuels to be transported or combusted. And because its energy source - sunlight - is free and abundant, PV systems can guarantee access to electric power.

Small, stand-alone PV systems have proven practical in many areas of the country where connection with the local distribution system was too costly or impractical. Such systems, when coupled with a storage battery, can serve loads such as homes, radio stations, hydroelectric control systems, telephone repeaters, and isolated lighting systems.

Placement of PV generation on buildings can result in a reduction in PV installation costs. Integrating PV into buildings also puts the generation source as close to the user as possible, eliminating some of the costs associated with transmission and distribution.  PV may be installed in buildings as part of the roofing, walls, and/or windows.

“Solar-powered hybrid lighting” is an exciting new technology launched in 2005 that promises to provide a better quality of indoor lighting for commercial buildings while saving energy and money. Developed at the Oak Ridge National Laboratory and funded by DOE and TVA, the system pipes sunlight into a room. A roof-mounted collector and small optical fibers transfer the sunlight to hybrid fixtures that allow both solar and electric light sources to work in tandem. The electric lights are dimmed when the sunlight is bright and are turned up again when clouds move in or the sun sets. Because the system can block ultraviolet and infrared heat more effectively than windows and skylights, it reduces the energy used for cooling as well as lighting. The cost savings can be especially dramatic in areas where sunshine is abundant.

In January 2006, President Bush announced an Advanced Energy Initiative. An integral part of this Initiative is the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE’s) Solar America Initiative (SAI). The goal of the SAI is to reduce the cost of solar photovoltaic technologies so that they become cost-competitive by 2015. To complement the R&D and testing/evaluation activities that are the backbone of the SAI, the DOE will conduct Market Transformation (MT) efforts.

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 Power Partners Projects


APS, Arizona’s largest and longest-serving electric utility, has created a number of solar-based programs for its more than 874,000 customers throughout the state. Through its Solar Partners program, APS gives residents, businesses, and communities the opportunity to purchase solar energy and to help develop the technology. APS now has more than five MW of installed solar capacity statewide. In addition to solar energy, the company is an active partner in the development and testing of other renewables such as biomass, hydrogen, and wind technologies.

BP Solar designs, manufactures, and markets solar electric systems for a wide range of applications in the residential, commercial, and industrial sectors. BP will have a 200-MW global production capacity by the end of 2006, and plans to increase solar sales threefold in three years. In California, New Jersey, and New York, BP Solar Homes Solution® enables customers to purchase a complete home system through Home Depot stores. In July 2006, BP announced Mono2, a new silicon growth process that significantly increases cell efficiency over traditional multi-crystalline-based solar cells.

Exelon’s ComEd subsidiary funded the installation of photovoltaic systems throughout its service area. In 2004, Chicago passed the one-MW milestone for installed photovoltaic systems with the completion of the Exelon Pavilions in Millennium Park, which integrates photovoltaics into the building’s exterior walls - a first-of-its-kind system. Other photovoltaic installations include systems on ComEd’s Chicago North and South facilities, several universities, affordable single-family housing units, and the Cook County Domestic Violence Court House - which, at 110 kW, is the largest single system in the city to date.

FPL Group’s Sunshine Energy program enables customers to support renewable generation sources such as bio-energy, wind, and solar. For every 10,000 customers who sign up for the program, FPL will build 150 kW of solar capacity in Florida. Sunshine Energy costs an additional $9.75 per month. In just one year as a Sunshine Energy customer, an average Florida household avoids more than five tons of CO2 emissions - as much as a car getting 22 miles per gallon of gasoline would produce in more than 11,000 miles of driving. Regardless of a participating customer’s actual electricity usage each month, buying Sunshine Energy ensures that 1,000 kWh of electricity are produced by cleaner generators serving Florida and other states. The program also provides environmental benefits to the regions where these generators are located.

TVA in 2004 added a solar system at Bridges, a youth leadership training center in Memphis, and in 2005 TVA launched its 16th solar site at the Morgan County Vocational Technical School in Wartburg, Tennessee. The program was further enhanced with the addition of 15 wind turbines to the three original turbines at TVA’s Buffalo Mountain site in east Tennessee. Dedicated on Earth Day 2005, the new turbines increased the generating capacity of the site to 29 MW, making it a major source of power for the renewable program and the largest commercial wind installation in the Southeast. TVA has a 20-year power purchase agreement with Invenergy, the energy company that developed and built the new turbines. The 18 wind turbines at Buffalo Mountain can generate enough power to serve about 3,800 homes.

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 References, Sources, and Other Useful Data

Clean-Energy-Ideas.com, "Solar Panels"

Using solar panels is a great way to generate clean and renewable electricity to power remote appliances, or even the average home. Consumer information on solar panels and wind turbines, including energy system suppliers. Contact info@clean-energy-ideas.com.

U.S. Department of Energy, Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy, “Photovoltaics”

Photovoltaic R&D efforts by the Department of Energy address a broad spectrum of issues – from improving materials and deposition to developing manufacturing processes to testing and engineering PV systems for various uses and locales.

U.S. Department of Energy, Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy, “Solar Initiatives”

The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) Solar Energy Technologies Program (SETP or Solar Program) actively supports the deployment of solar energy technologies, often through various initiatives. To achieve its goals, DOE partners with industry and with other government organizations at the federal and local levels. Current and past DOE initiatives include the Solar Decathlon, Solar America Initiative, and Million Solar Roofs Initiative.

Western Area Power Administration, “Renewable Resources Program”

Western has a long and fruitful history of promoting and implementing solar energy–including solar thermal and photovoltaic systems–on both agency and power customer facilities. Western can procure renewable energy certificates and renewable energy from suppliers through a request for proposals and pass the energy and/or benefits on to purchasing utilities.

White House, "Advanced Energy Initiative" (January 2006)

In the 2006 State of the Union address, President Bush announced his Advanced Energy Initiative. An integral part of this Initiative is the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE’s) Solar America Initiative (SAI). The goal of the SAI is to reduce the cost of solar photovoltaic technologies so that they become cost-competitive by 2015.

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Website prepared for the Edison Electric Institute
and the Electric Power Industry Climate Initiative

Prepared by Twenty-First Strategies, LLC.
Copyright © 2009.  All rights reserved.
Last revised: Dec. 11, 2009.