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July 2012 Archives

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The Tennessee Solar Institute has completed its solar installation grant program.

Since the program's beginning in 2010, 156 grant winners used more than $11 million from TS, along with more than $27 million of private investment in those projects, to install systems that generate a total of 6.7 megawatts of solar power. Participating companies include a mix of commercial, industrial and agricultural businesses statewide.

According to TSI, the project breakdown was 50 percent commercial, 29 percent industrial and 21 percent agricultural.

"The types of businesses that participated in the program (Solar Installation Grant) run the gamut," said Dr. John Sanseverino, TSI director of programs. "From mom-and-pop farms to large-scale manufacturers, companies lowered overhead costs by installing PV, allowing them to reinvest the savings back into their businesses."

The following Knox County companies received $792,345 in grant funds:

Grantee              DC Watts                         Incentive               Sector 
9040 Associates  102,960 $147,960            Commercial 
K & N Office Limited Partnership  56,160 $99,240            Commercial 
K & N Office Limited Partnership  47,520 $86,280            Commercial 
ETPBS Solar Corp  37,260 $70,890             Commercial 
Royal Brass & Hose  30,550 $60,825               Industrial 
FLS Energy, Inc.  28,665 $57,330              Industrial 
Oakes Daylilies  28,200 $56,400             Commercial 
Oakes Farm, LLC  28,200 $56,400             Agriculture 
Copper Cellar Corporation  27,495 $54,990            Commercial 
Copper Cellar Corporation  27,495 $54,990            Commercial 

Continue reading for a full list of grant winners.

Image credit: Tennessee Solar Institute. See the interactive map of all solar installations at
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A Greenback-based designer and inventor is putting a new spin on an old idea to create a low-cost, high-efficiency solar heating solution that he wants to manufacture in East Tennessee.

Matthew Davis, a 1995 industrial design graduate of Purdue University, has developed a solar boiler electrical generator and heat machine that converts solar energy to usable steam for heating, cooling and power generation, reports Hugh Willet in today's News Sentinel.

Davis has entered his idea into the NASA Tech Brief's Create the Future Design Contest.

At the heart of Davis' system is a century-old idea -- first developed by electrical pioneer Nikola Tesla -- based on a highly efficient steam-driven turbine. The spinning turbine is used to drive a generator to produce electricity.

Davis has also designed a unique parabolic trough mirror that focuses the sunlight on a "receiver" that heats the water and makes steam to drive the turbine. The mirror is made of cast concrete covered in an acrylic reflective material.

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At a Wednesday event celebrating the installation of solar panels on the Knoxville Convention Center, Mayor Madeline Rogero announced the city of Knoxville's participation in the U.S. Department of Energy's Better Buildings Challenge.

Knoxville is the first city in Tennessee to join the challenge, Rogero said.  Also in Tennessee, Nissan North America has joined the challenge as an industrial partner. It has committed three plants to a goal of 25 percent improvement, including its new paint plant in Smyrna, Tenn.

The program asks community leaders -- including those in corporate, government and education positions -- to reduce their portfolio-wide energy use by 20 percent by 2020 and showcase the solutions they use and the results they achieve. 

"By accepting the Better Buildings Challenge, Knoxville is leading by example," said Susanna Sutherland, manager of the City's Office of Sustainability. "This is an important step toward a sustainable future for the City and the region." 

The city's goal under the program is to improve energy efficiency in more than 2 million square feet of its public buildings by 2020. City Council approved the City's participation in the program last month. Another key part of the project involves sharing implementation successes and challenges with the community.

Knoxville is already working on energy efficiency as part of its contract with energy-services company Ameresco. The company develped an energy efficiency plan for 99 of the city's public buildings and other facilities, including the installation of the convention center's solar array.
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Three Tennessee companies have received a $1million grant from the U.S. Energy Department as part of a nation-wide effort to boost small business investment.

Enhanced Systems Consultant in Johnson City will use the funds to conduct a research project for a dynamically controlled electric demand management system.  Analysis and Measurement Services Corp. of Knoxville will fund its project, Rod Control System Online Condition Monitoring and Advanced Diagnostics for Existing and Next Generation Nuclear Power Plants.  Also from Knoxville, Phds Co. will work on a project to develop detectors for nuclear physics research.

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