Solar farm hindered from powering the university
Photo by Margaret Faust | Elon News Network According to Assistant Director of Sustainability Kelly Harer, there are two state laws that restrict the sale and transport of energy from Loy Farm to Elon’s campus.
The solar panels on Elon University’s solar farm can power up to 418 homes every year — about 10% of Elon’s annual electricity consumption.
The 15-acre solar farm was constructed in 2015 and consists of 9,900 individual solar cells. At its full potential, the farm is expected to generate 4,500 megawatt-hours of electricity annually, though the electricity produced over the past three years has been a little under 3,000 megawatt hours of energy annually, due in part to cloudy days.
The purpose of the farm is to use solar energy, a form of clean energy, to power Alamance County instead of using fossil fuels like coal, oil and natural gas, which are bad for the environment, according Kelly Harer, assistant director of sustainability.
Two state laws prevent the university from directly getting all the energy.
The first law, according to Harer, says that third-party energy suppliers can’t sell to other third parties. In other words, Loy Farm Solar, the company leasing the property, can’t sell their energy directly to Elon.
The second law, Harer said, madates that only utility companies can transmit power over or under public roads. Since the solar farm is on the other side of the train tracks, the panels cannot send the electricity directly to campus.
“Even if we did spend all the time and money, we wouldn’t be able to use the energy directly on campus,” Harer said.
Instead, Loy Farm Solar, which invested 6 million into the farm, sells its solar energy to Duke Energy, which then sells it to Elon University.
Harer said people often ask why Elon leased this land for solar energy if the university can’t use the energy itself, but she said Elon has a responsibility to help solve the climate crisis.
“We know there’s a climate crisis. It’s happening now. And we want to be part of the solution, even if we can’t claim credit for it right now,” Harer said.
A report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change found that if global temperatures continue to rise at the current rate, things will only get worse. wildfires, heat waves, food shortages and droughts and less drinking water are only some of the consequences of burning fossil fuels instead of using clean energy.
Harer said since she faces the climate crisis every day in her job, she has to look for the upsides. One such upside, she said, is more people recognizing the importance of addressing the climate crisis.
“I think the climate crisis is getting more attention now than ever has been,” Harer said. “We have solutions out there. We just need to implement them.”
individual solar cells are used on Elon University‘s 15- acre solar farm.
of North Carolina’s energy is solar powered.
of Elon’s annual electricity consumption can be powered by the solar panels on Elon University‘s solar farm.
was invested into Elon University‘s solar farm by Loy Farm Solar.
SolarCity 2023 Review (History, Lawsuits Tesla Acquisition)
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In this article, we’ll discuss the history of SolarCity, its products and services, Tesla’s 2016 acquisition and the investigations into the company as they stand today. For more information about Tesla’s current solar offerings, see our full Tesla Solar Review. Or, if you want to get a free quote from a top solar panel installer to compare with Tesla, you can click the link below.
What Is SolarCity?
SolarCity began in 2006 as a residential and commercial solar provider, manufacturing and installing its own solar panels and equipment. The company was headquartered in Fremont, California, before being purchased by Tesla Inc. in 2016 for 2.6 billion.
SolarCity was widely considered one of the best solar companies in the years leading up to 2016, often finding itself in the limelight due to its ambitious technology, high-profile installations and close proximity to Tesla’s eccentric CEO, Elon Musk, who served on SolarCity’s board before the acquisition. SolarCity was co-founded by Lyndon Rive and Peter Rive, Musk’s cousins.
Even since the acquisition, SolarCity’s name has peppered news articles and social media sites in stories citing whistleblowers and defective products. But what happened to SolarCity? Is it still in business as a subsidiary of Tesla?
SolarCity Products Services
So, what made SolarCity stand out in its heyday? The company specialized in high-volume installations of power purchase agreements (PPAs) for solar, popularizing a door-to-door solar sales structure similar to those in use today by companies like Sunrun. In addition to its installations, SolarCity manufactured a number of cutting-edge products such as advanced rooftop solar panels, a prototype for solar shingles and more.
Let’s take a closer look at SolarCity’s products and services.
Solar Panels: SolarCity’s panels were at one point among the most efficient solar panels on the market, topping even industry leader SunPower in 2015. Tesla continues to FOCUS heavily on powerful solar panels, having recently unveiled 420- to 430-watt modules.
Electric Vehicle Chargers : A match perfect for Tesla, SolarCity’s EV chargers hit the market around 2010. Tesla planned to bridge the gap between SolarCity and Tesla Motors with its EV chargers that run on solar energy, a big part of its master plan to become a sustainable energy conglomerate.
Solar Roof: Though just a prototype at the time, SolarCity’s solar roof technology allowed homeowners to install solar shingles that appear no different from a conventional roof, yet generate electricity the same way as solar panels. This idea evolved into Tesla’s current Solar Roof tiles.
Energy Efficiency Upgrades: SolarCity offered energy efficiency audits, upgrades and technology along with its solar systems through partnerships with home energy firms.
Commercial Solar Installations: SolarCity completed a number of high-profile commercial solar projects spanning from eBay’s headquarters to Intel campuses.
SolarCity Power Purchase Agreements
A PPA is similar to a solar lease. wherein a solar company installs solar panels on your roof but retains ownership of the panels. In a PPA, you purchase the power those panels generate from the solar company at a fixed monthly rate. Most PPA contracts ensure that PPA customers will pay less per month than they were spending with their local utility company.
SolarCity deployed a widespread network of door-to-door sales representatives pitching solar PPAs to great success in the early 2010s. In 2015, a year before the acquisition, SolarCity was the leading national residential solar contractor. according to Solar Power World.
SolarCity’s old reviews offer a good glimpse into what went wrong. Early positive reviews mention the easy process of signing a solar PPA, while negative reviews cover poor customer service and expensive products as the company began to struggle.
Positive SolarCity Reviews
As mentioned, solar leases and PPAs allowed SolarCity to expand as quickly as it did within the residential solar market. For a few years, SolarCity led the nation in volume of residential solar installations. Here’s what one happy customer had to say in a 2014 SolarCity power purchase agreement review:
“Why pay for electricity when you can use the sun!? I got a lease program for my house in Pomona through SolarCity. Couldn’t be happier! Permitting was annoying, but that’s reasonable (psh, government and all). Anyway, 10/10 would recommend.” — Tom via Trustpilot
Negative SolarCity Reviews
The company’s ambitious pace of growth was ultimately its downfall. As reflected in the majority of SolarCity reviews, customer service struggled while soared in order to save the company’s slimming bottom line.
“I’ve never seen such pitiful customer service in my lifetime. Rude, condescending, and downright worthless with their help or concern. Had we known this originally, we would have never had Tesla/SolarCity come anywhere near our home. Being the biggest may have its advantages, but it all falls apart when your customer service is as lacking as it is at SolarCity.” — William via Yelp
“In summary, we were interested in going solar, but SolarCity’s pushy sales team and unacceptable behavior have turned us off from ever going with them. Their proposal was also much more expensive than other companies such as Sunrun, Sungevity or SunPower. I would not suggest getting your solar through SolarCity.” — Brad via Yelp
As far as the story of SolarCity goes, this is where it ends. SolarCity entered 2016 crippled with debt and struggling to turn a profit. Its value was near all-time lows. Tesla stepped in and purchased SolarCity in 2016 for a sum of 2.6 billion.
To Tesla, the acquisition of SolarCity made sense due to its low valuation, a mission that aligned with Tesla’s and an opportunity to become “the world’s only vertically integrated sustainable energy company.”
Tesla, which also manufactured solar storage technology at the time (the Tesla Powerwall 1 was unveiled in 2015), could now sell and install electric cars, EV chargers, solar panels and energy storage systems, interconnected under one corporate brand.
However, it wasn’t all smooth sailing from there.
Though 85% of Tesla shareholders approved of the acquisition at the time, a few red flags waved in the years following it. In one instance, Walmart reported seven separate fires that began from poorly installed Tesla panels in 2019.
Most recently, a whistleblower stepped forward after claiming he was let go from Tesla last year for raising safety concerns after the acquisition. The SEC complaint read “Tesla and SolarCity, which it acquired in 2016, did not disclose its ‘liability and exposure to property damage, risk of injury of users, fire, etc. to shareholders’ prior and after the acquisition.” As of December 6, 2021, Reuters reports that the SEC has opened a probe into this aspect of the acquisition.
It didn’t help that the owners of SolarCity were relatives of Elon Musk, who was also a board member for SolarCity prior to the acquisition. Musk had to appear in court to defend the acquisition at one point during a separate lawsuit by shareholders who saw the purchase as more of a bailout.
To make a long story short, a number of questions emerged surrounding Musk’s true intent with the purchase, whether he misled shareholders as to the value of SolarCity and if Tesla products built with SolarCity’s influence are as safe as they claim.
Since the acquisition in 2016, the SolarCity brand has no longer been used; it now operates as Tesla Solar. SolarCity’s technology has evolved into the products we see offered by Tesla today. The most notable products include solar panels, EV chargers, the Tesla Solar Roof and the Tesla Powerwall 2.
Though Tesla’s solar panel sales haven’t flourished in the years following the messy SolarCity deal, its storage technology sets the industry standard for the best solar batteries. Tesla Powerwalls are flying off the shelves; the company can’t meet the mounting demand, resulting in months-long waitlists for its products.
As far as the investigations are concerned, analysts say that SolarCity remains a small part of Tesla’s overall clean energy and automotive operations, and the overall impact of any investigations could be limited.
If you’re looking for the best solar companies operating today, SolarCity is a dead end. If you’re interested in the recent history of solar and the companies that shaped it, however, SolarCity is a fascinating case study.
Elon Musk was also recently criticized for defying California’s stay-at-home orders to reopen his Fremont factory
Published July 14, 2020 7:20PM (EDT)
cenes at the Tesla car factory include the building’s exterior with a solar panel on the property (right of frame). (David Butow/Corbis via Getty Image)
Linette Lopez, a Business Insider journalist who has covered numerous controversies involving the electric vehicle and clean energy company Tesla, reported last week that at least seven fires had occurred after the company secretly swapped out faulty parts on solar panels on its customers’ roofs.
What I revealed is that, for years, Tesla has had a secret operation inside the company called Project Titan, where it would clandestinely switch out a faulty part on many of the solar panels on its customers’ roofs, Lopez told journalist Nomiki Konst on her eponymous show. Now, the solar panels are not made by Tesla. They’re made by a Chinese company named Trina [Solar]. And the problem was that the Trina panels were connected to these heat regulators made by a company called Amphenol. And the heat regulators are not working, so then the Trina panels would overheat. And what do you have? You have. an overheating solar panel. In many cases, you have a fire.
She added, And this came to light because Walmart started suing Tesla, because it had seven fires on its roofs at Walmarts across the country. In one Walmart, they had to shut down operations for two weeks. So naturally, Walmart was pissed, and Tesla tried to keep this story under wraps. Because while [Tesla CEO] Elon Musk is very litigious, he tends to punch down. He doesn’t want to get in fights with Walmart.
This is not the first time that Lopez has documented allegations of technical issues at Tesla. Lopez reported last month that the company had continued to manufacture its signature Model S cars, even though it was aware of a serious design flaw in its battery.
Tesla learned of a design flaw in the car battery, which could result in leaks, and struggled to figure out how to fix the situation, according to emails obtained by Lopez. The documents revealed that the end fitting of the battery’s cooling coil, which helps regulate its temperature, was composed of aluminum so weak that tiny pinholes could form in the location where two key parts were meant to braze together. Possible leaks could leave behind a flammable residue inside of the battery, causing it to short.
On two separate occasions, Tesla used a third-party company to test its cooling coils. Despite receiving troubling results, Tesla continued to manufacture Model S cars, according to Lopez.
Tesla has faced other controversies over the years, from vehicles which have caught fire and fatal Autopilot accidents to concerns about the cars’ quality and reliability. recently, Tesla has also been criticized after Musk defied California’s stay-at-home orders in May in order to reopen his automobile factory in Fremont. The acts of defiance included dismissing reports on the pandemic as dumb, filing a lawsuit for injunctive relief and threatening to move his factory out of California.
After the factory was reopened before its May 18 agreement with Alameda County, the facility suffered from a coronavirus outbreak, The Washington Post reported. Regarding one worker’s experiences, the outlet wrote:
No social distancing at all when clocking in/out [because] people are. in a hurry to go home or get back to their work station, the individual in the seat assembly plant said in a text message. As far as social distancing, the worker said, management don’t say anything to the associates [because] they’re not doing it either.
As for the changes: It’s like nothing but with a mask on, the worker said.
Despite the alleged suffering of his employees, Musk saw his net worth increase by 48% to 36 billion between mid-March (when the pandemic reached the U.S.) and mid-May.
Tesla did not immediately respond to Salon’s request for comment regarding the claims in Business Insider’s reports.
By Matthew Rozsa
Matthew Rozsa is a staff writer at Salon. He received a Master’s Degree in History from Rutgers-Newark in 2012 and was awarded a science journalism fellowship from the Metcalf Institute in 2022.
This solar-powered Tesla could be the future of electric cars
Elon Musk might be leading the electric car revolution, but this scientist is making his vehicles greener.
Electric cars are only as green as their power supply, and in Australia, that’s not very green at all.
Just 24 per cent of the nation’s energy comes from renewables, while the vast majority stems from fossil fuels like oil, coal and gas.
But as the green car revolution gets underway, one Aussie inventor is looking to the sky for a renewable. and portable. charging solution.
“We’re taking a vehicle to the remotest parts of Australia and charging it with a lightweight technology that can generate electricity from sunlight,” says Paul Dastoor, Professor of Physics at the University of Newcastle, New South Wales.
“It strikes me that this is actually an ideal test bed to give us information about how we would go about using and powering technology in other remote locations. for example, in space.”
Can you power a Tesla from the sun?
To test his theory, Dastoor will use 18 specially-designed solar panels to power a 15,000km journey around Australia in a Tesla electric car.
The printed panels offer a lightweight solution to conventional solar cells, allowing the energy system to be rolled up and stored in the back of the vehicle.
And at just €7 per square metre, they provide a cheaper alternative too.
“As far as the Tesla is concerned, it will be the same as plugging into any wall plug that it would normally plug into,” says Dastoor. “It won’t know that the energy is coming from printed solar cells.
The innovative panels are produced on commercial printers originally used for manufacturing wine labels. Dastoor hopes the Australian-made product will inspire locals to think again about the potential of solar energy.
“The fact that we show a Tesla driving around Australia, powered by brand new Australian solar technology, it’s going to do an awful lot in terms of raising the profile of solar,” continues Dastoor.
“I think people want this. I think the community is seeking these sorts of answers to the problems it’s being presented with, day in, day out, around climate change.
What does Elon Musk think about the project?
The Charge Around Australia (CAA) team will visit 70 schools on their 84-day trip, giving students a taste of what the future may hold.
When asked about the Tesla founder, Elon Musk, Dastoor remains optimistic that he will support the project.
“I hope that if he finds out about it, he would be very pleased,” adds the professor.
“It shows how our innovative technology is combining with his developments to provide new solutions for the planet.
Watch the video above to find out more about the solar-powered Tesla.
Video editor Ben Anthony Horton
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