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A Research Institute of the University of Central Florida Issue No. 1: October 2004

Letter "W"elcome to the first edition of The Energy Chronicle, the Florida Solar Energy Center's (FSEC®) new online quarterly newsletter. We hope you enjoy reading about the latest news, activities and events that we're featuring this issue.

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Hurricane Relief

If your home or business was damaged during one of this summer's hurricanes, check out our important hurricane feature articles this edition that cover:

Additionally, the Disaster Contractors Network (www.dcnonline.org) provides good information for contractors and consumers affected by the hurricanes.


Energy Gauge Class 1, 2, 3
October 18-23, 2004
A Workshop for Electric
Utilities, Electricians and Photovoltaic System Installers

November 1-5, 2004
Checklists for Sustainable Developments
Ft. Walton Beach, FL
November 17, 2004

Florida Green Home Designation Certification Course,
Ft. Walton Beach, FL
November 18, 2004

A flyer on these two courses is available here.

Energy Gauge FlaCom I
November 30, 2004
Energy Gauge Class 1, 2, 3
December 6-11, 2004
Registration links and a complete listing of courses can be viewed at: http://www.fsec.ucf.edu/en/

Hurricanes Keep Bill Young Busy with Solar-Power Disaster Relief Efforts

Mobile PV trailer powering medical tent
FSEC's mobile PV trailer powers medical tent.
(Photo credit: Bill Young)

When Florida’s highways started jamming up with people evacuating their homes as hurricanes Charley and Frances roared toward the state, FSEC’s Bill Young was driving in the other direction. Young, a Senior Research Engineer in FSEC’s Photovoltaics (PV) and Distributed Generation Division, conducts training programs on the use of photovoltaics and solar energy in disaster response, recovery and mitigation.

Just days after Hurricane Charley blasted Florida’s west coast, Bill joined disaster damage assessment teams in the Punta Gorda and Port Charlotte areas. He had brought along his solar power trailer, built for his disaster-relief training programs.

“I drove around looking for a disaster medical assistance team working with FEMA, and found one in a tent outside of Fawcett Memorial Hospital. Actually, I heard the sound of their petroleum-fueled generator before I even saw them. We set up [the PV equipment] at their medical tent, and it worked beautifully. The trailer gave them the power they needed for their tent and allowed them to treat injuries.”

A brief trip back to FSEC to replenish his supplies, then he was off to Colorado to give a paper and conduct a workshop on solar energy use in disasters at the World Renewable Energy Congress. He got home just after Hurricane Frances hit the Central Florida area and again joined in disaster relief efforts.
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Energy-Efficient Choices Can Provide Post-Hurricane Benefits:
A Research Review

Following the onslaught of Florida’s record four hurricanes, many homes need re-roofing and repair. While coping with the aftermath of the hurricanes is difficult, FSEC buildings research offers practical methods for homeowners who must make repairs.

photo of different roofing systems on FSEC's test facility
FSEC researches various types of roofing materials.
(Photo credit: Nick Waters)

When a house is exposed to hurricane forces, its roof is most susceptible to damage. If you have to re-roof, consider that construction quality matters with all roofing systems. Properly installed hurricane straps, nails and screws are a must. Also, choosing the right roof can result in a cooler home, reducing the energy you use. FSEC research has shown that a white reflective tile or a white metal roof can reduce space cooling by 20% or more.

FSEC research findings can be applied to make repaired homes more energy-efficient and more resilient when faced by future storms—even fairly comfortable in the event of power outages. <Full Story> blue diamond Top

Director's Message: New Florida Standards Developed

photo of Philip Fairey
Philip Fairey, Interim Director

The Florida Solar Energy Center is working to update its standards for testing, certifying and rating solar systems. The Florida Statute that created FSEC in 1975 charges the Center to “develop and promulgate standards for solar energy systems manufactured or sold in the state based on the best currently available information . . .” and to "establish criteria for testing performance of solar energy systems. . . ." This statutory charge is implemented through Chapter 6C7-8 of the Florida Administrative Code (FAC) — the "FSEC rule."

Perhaps the most important proposed change to FSEC’s standards is the inclusion of photovoltaic (PV) modules and systems. For the first time, standards for testing and rating PV modules and certifying PV systems are included. FSEC’s PV standards are based on ISO/IEC 17025:2005, the international standard for testing PV. During the past three years, FSEC developed and tested the proposed standards in the form of “voluntary” standards used to qualify systems for a series of Florida grant programs that help reduce the cost of PV systems to program participants. This past year, for example, these standards qualified PV systems for installation on 29 secondary schools around the state (See SunSmart Schools article in this issue.) Students and teachers will use the monitored data from these systems as “living” examples in their science and math classrooms through a special interactive web site that FSEC created called EnergyWhiz.com.

The proposed standards also update Florida’s solar thermal collector and system standards, allowing manufacturers to more easily qualify collectors and systems under international (ISO) standards and under national programs offered by the Solar Rating and Certification Corporation (SRCC). For example, under the proposed standards, a manufacturer may choose to have its collectors tested either through the ISO collector qualification standard or the Florida qualification standard, allowing them to qualify their solar collectors in expanded markets if they choose.

FSEC has also sought public input on the proposed standards through a special web site called Florida Solar Standards Online (www.fsec.ucf.edu/stds/). This web site contains draft copies of the proposed standards along with comments from the public and responses from FSEC. While it is always difficult to get it “just right” in the development of standards, it is clear from the public comments that FSEC is on the right track.blue diamond Top

Muradov Investigates Environmentally Friendly Production of Hydrogen

photo of Nazim Muradov
Nazim Muradov

Dr. Nazim Muradov of the Hydrogen R&D Division is leading FSEC research on the technical and economical feasibility of large-scale production of hydrogen and carbon by the catalytic dissociation of natural gas. This novel approach to solving the energy and environmental problems associated with producing hydrogen from fossil fuels offers an environmentally friendly way to produce hydrogen. Most industrial hydrogen production today is based on the steam methane reforming process, a source of significant CO2 emissions (about 10 tons of CO2 per ton of hydrogen produced).

Muradov points out, “It’s felt by many energy experts that the huge quantities of CO2 emissions that come from using fossil fuels to produce hydrogen might potentially diminish the environmental appeal of hydrogen as an ecologically clean fuel.” The FSEC researchers have been awarded a U.S. Patent for the development of the thermocatalytic process for CO2-free production of hydrogen and carbon from hydrocarbons. <Full Story>blue diamond Top


The Sun is Shining on Front Porch Florida

blue house with solar panel on roof
Solar water heating installation in Ocala, FL
(Photo credit: John Harrison)

The phrase “Front Porch Florida” has been in the news in recent months. The words conjure up visions of friendly neighborhoods, and it is just this type of vision that may have inspired the state’s initiative designed to provide communities the means to take back their neighborhoods through revitalization programs, making them once again exciting places to live, work, and play. The Front Porch Florida program brings all segments of a neighborhood together to improve the quality of life.

Front Porch neighborhoods have resident-driven initiatives focusing on neighborhood improvement through education, child care, crime prevention, adult care, job creation, family self-sufficiency, housing, economic development and youth programs. However, the state’s solar industry is adding its own contribution to the initiative, called “Front Porch Sunshine.” This program provides additional benefits for communities through the provision of solar water heaters to qualifying residents. Front Porch Sunshine is targeting 20 underserved communities from Pensacola to Miami and extends the environmental and economic benefits of solar energy to Floridians with low incomes.

FSEC has joined with the Florida Solar Energy Research & Education Foundation (FlaSEREF) under a contract from the Department of Environmental Protection’s Florida Energy Office to implement this program in the 20 designated Front Porch Communities. These efforts have already installed 150 solar water heaters on residences within Front Porch communities throughout the state.

FSEC’s John Harrison, who oversees the technical aspects of the Front Porch Sunshine program, developed and maintains the program’s web site (http://fsec.ucf.edu/solar/projects/frontporch/frontporch.htm). He also developed the technical request for quotations, specifications and review of the bids.

Harrison worked with weatherization agencies in finding potential sites and conducted site inspections in Front Porch communities. He conducts inspections of the installed systems and provides technical assistance to partner FlaSEREF. He notes that “Front Porch Sunshine’s solar water heaters, coupled with the weatherization improvements to the residences, have raised the economic and comfort level of residents in Front Porch Florida communities.”blue diamond Top

Florida SunSmart Schools Use Ample Supply of Sunshine to Light Classrooms and Spark Imaginations

The Florida Solar Energy Center helps Florida SunSmart Schools use their ample supply of free sunshine to light classrooms and spark imaginations. The SunSmart Schools program, a partnership between the Department of Environmental Protection/Florida Energy Office (DEP/FEO) and the state’s electric utilities and other industry partners, installs photovoltaic (solar electric) systems in schools throughout the state.

Through this program thousands of Florida’s students and teachers learn about solar energy’s role in meeting the state’s electricity demand, promoting economic development and providing energy security and a clean environment. FSEC also provides students and teachers with an educational activity kit, web-based learning activities and lesson plans that correlate with the Sunshine State Standards for science and mathematics.
The SunSmart Schools pilot was funded at $750,000 from DEP/FEO, which was used to subsidize the installation of PV systems on 29 Florida schools. <Full story>blue diamond Top


Dr. Ali T-Raissi and Dr. Cunping Huang Receive Innovative Technology Award

photo of Dr. Huang and Dr. T-Raissi holding certificate
Dr. Huang and Dr. T-Raissi
(Photo credit: Nick Waters)

Dr. Ali T-Raissi and Dr. Cunping Huang of FSEC’s Hydrogen Research and Development Division were honored with the Innovative Technology Award at the 15th World Hydrogen Energy Conference in Japan in July. They were the only U.S. scientists honored at this prestigious international conference. The award was for their work on “A New Solar Thermochemical Water-Splitting Cycle for Hydrogen Production.”

A copy of the news release announcing this award is located: http://securedb.fsec.ucf.edu/operation/press_display?pressid=2158.blue diamond Top

photo of Neelkanth Dhere
Neelkanth Dhere

Dr. Neelkanth Dhere: Brazilian Vacuum Society Emeritus Member
Dr. Nellkanth Dhere of the Photovoltaics and Distributed Generation Division was honored with the Emeritus member designation in the Brazilian Vacuum Society during the 25th Brazilian Congress of Applications of Vacuum in Industry and Space conference in August. He delivered the conference’s inaugural keynote address on the research at FSEC’s PV Materials Lab and also delivered a lecture on the establishment and formative years of the society. Dhere was a Founder-President of the society from 1978-1980 and served as editor of the Brazilian Journal of Applications of Vacuum in Industry and Science from 1980-1987. While in Brazil for the conference, he also taught a four-day course on Thin-Film Solar Cells at the Technological Center of the State of Minas Gerais and visited several other local universities to discuss academic collaboration for degree programs and scientific collaboration for R&D projects with FSEC. Top

photo of David Block
David Block

Dr. David Block: Hydrogen Technologies — Facts and Myths
FSEC’s Director Emeritus, Dr. David Block, delivered the keynote speech at the American Solar Energy Society’s annual conference in July in Portland, OR. His talk, “Hydrogen Technologies – Facts and Myths,” discussed the problems, opportunities and challenges still to be faced in using hydrogen in our society. Though he discussed these issues, he concluded that “I am positive that we have to move forward on hydrogen. There is simply no other answer.”

Read the speech in pdf format.
View the news release announcing this speech: http://securedb.fsec.ucf.edu/operation/press_display?pressid=2157 blue diamond Top

Photovoltaics and Distributed Generation Training
Staff members of the Photovoltaics and Distributed Generation Division have been actively involved along with other division members in three courses focusing on photovoltaics:

  • photo of Kevin Lynn
    Kevin Lynn
    A week-long course called “Installing Photovoltaic Systems,” a 50/50 mix of coursework and hands-on instruction teaching students how to install grid-connected systems. The course will next be offered November 1 - 5 at FSEC. FSEC instructor, Kevin Lynn, describes the program:

    “A major focus of our program is to help ensure that only the highest quality PV systems are installed in the field. This requires not only the highest quality components and a well designed system, but also a competent contractor who can properly install the system. Our week-long class is designed to provide contractors with enough background information and hands-on experience in order to reach that level of competence.”

    Information is available at www.fsec.ucf.edu/pvt/education/index.htm.

  • A one-day program for code officials that teaches building/electrical inspectors how to properly examine an installed PV system for safety and code compliance.

  • A one-day program that serves as preparation for the NABCEP (North American Board for Certified Energy Practitioners) exam, a voluntary nationwide certification for PV installers. Details are available at www.nabcep.org/. Kevin Lynn taught this course to 30 students at the annual conference of the American Solar Energy Society in Portland, OR, in June. Attendees included PV distributors, utility representatives, manufacturers and others from non-profit organizations, and were from 13 different states.

FSEC has been accredited by the Institute for Sustainable Power (ISP) to train PV installers. ISP is a non-profit organization created in 1996 to improve the quality of renewable and sustainable energy projects and improve the quality of workforce development for sustainable, local jobs. It accredits training programs worldwide to ensure that students taking these programs will have the knowledge, skills, experience and capability to provide the expected services. Information is available at www.ispq.org/.blue diamond Top


California Governor Announces Program to Bring Photovoltaic Systems to
One Million Homes

On August 20, California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger announced a statewide program to install photovoltaic systems on one million new and existing homes by 2017 that “will establish California as a world leader in solar technology.”

The program, which will provide energy savings during peak demand periods while diversifying California’s energy portfolio, is expected to save 2700 megawatts of peaking power and offset more than 50 million tons of CO2 – the annual equivalent emission of 400,000 vehicles.

By 2008, new home builders in California will be required to offer solar panels as an option in all subdivisions with 25 or more homes and give buyers an estimate of the costs and savings they will get from the system. The California Energy Commission will offer consumers rebates to use photovoltaics on their homes, and the Public Utilities Commission will develop time-of-use pricing plans for customers so that they can sell excess electricity back to the grid.

To fund the program, the California legislature approved $200 million, with another $30 million coming from the Public Goods Charge that was established in 2001.blue diamond Top

Ford Fuel Cell Vehicles in Florida

Orlando, Florida, will be one of the sites for a fleet of fuel-cell-powered Ford Focus sedans to be deployed in five cities. Ford Motor Company made the announcement recently as it celebrated the production of the first fuel-cell-powered Ford Focus sedan. The Focus Fuel Cell Vehicle (FCV) features a fuel cell stack from Ballard Power Systems, a nickel metal hydride battery pack, and a regenerative braking system that uses brake-by-wire electro-hydraulic technology.

Ford is building an evaluation fleet of Focus FCVs for demonstration programs in Orlando, Sacramento, California and Taylor, Michigan, as part of the U.S. Department of Energy's Controlled Hydrogen Fleet and Infrastructure Demonstration and Validation Project. Vancouver, British Columbia, and Berlin, Germany, will also have fleets of Focus FCVs. The vehicles are part of initiatives to promote development of hydrogen-based technologies

Ford is working with BP to build a network of hydrogen fueling stations in these cities to support the vehicles. Some BP stations will use near-term hydrogen production technologies, such as reforming natural gas, while others will generate hydrogen from renewable energy resources

As Ford rolls out its Focus FCV, a number of other automakers continue the development of their fuel cell vehicles. These include DaimlerChrysler, General Motors, Honda, Hyundai, Nissan, Toyota, and Volkswagen.blue diamond Top

This newsletter has been produced by Ken Sheinkopf, Adrienne Henzmann, Sherri Shields, and Anne Marie Anderson.
Florida Solar Energy Center