Clean energy Innovation District anchor Satcon was awarded a $3 million US Dept. of Energy “SunShot” award last week. DOE’s SunShot initiative aims to make solar power cost competitive with fossil fuel based grid power by the end of the decade.
If you could buy premium gasoline at the pump for the same price you pay for regular, you’d choose premium, right? Who wouldn’t choose a superior energy source (no carbon solar) over a polluting, carbon intensive one if prices were equal? That’s essentially the goal of the sunshot initiative.
In case you’ve forgotten, as recently at 2007, solar installation costs in Massachusetts were hovering around $9 a watt. Installation costs are half that these days and panel and balance of system efficiencies are improving, thanks to healthy competition, component innnovation, and smart, market based industry incentives from the state and federal goverment.
The shift away from fossil fuel based grid power (produced largely out of state) toward solar (installed locally, some components manufactured locally) also produce substantial macroeconomic benefits. Each megawatt of solar installed in Massachusetts generates 41 job years, $2.3 million in wage and salary compensation to workers and $6.1 million in economic activity (Source: DOE). Solar installations also reduce local emmissions by offsetting fossil fuel based power generation. These reductions have real human health and economic impacts. According to the US EPA, for each megawatt of solar installed in Massachusetts, reductions in emissions (sulfer dioxide, nitrogen oxide, CO2) generate $1.03 million in health benefits.
Satcon has been growing steadily at its location in the Boston Marine Industrial Park, adding jobs and manufacturing capacity. Satcon will use the award to develop a new inverter architecture that eliminates the impacts of voltage variation caused by PV system generation variability.
We congratulate them, and the three other Massachusetts SunShot award recipients, on their latest achievement.
Jun 22, 11
With its exposed plywood floors, sub-basement “dungeon” workspace, and clean energy prototypes strewn over two floors, GreenTown Labs, the newest addition to the Innovation District’s growing cleantech cluster is crackling with energy, optimism, product development, and talent. The space conjures up decade-old images of Boston’s dot.com start ups – the interiors and appointments a shade closer to ReadyMade than Dwell - but the young faces, collaborative vibe, and innovative products are everywhere, and the smattering of older suits (okay, I was wearing one too) circulating through the crowd at last night’s ribbon cutting prove that Boston’s business class is taking notice. (Boston law firm Hinckley, Allen & Snyder is GreenTown Lab’s legal sponsor and a key supporter.)
If there were a biofuel shuttle between MIT and the Innovation District, GreenTown Labs would be the first stop. Structured as a non-profit, built on strategic partnerships and considerable bootstrapping, GTL essentially serves as affordable housing for cleantech entrepreneurs who can’t pay the lease rates in Kendall Square but appreciate the Innovation District’s proximity to the mothership, Boston’s venture community, and the District’s sustainability and living lab constructs. The founding members who made the leap across the river have been joined by other incubator occupants including wind and solar power developers, a home energy management system venture, various energy efficiency start ups, and a green trade association, among others.
Boston Mayor Menino said it best before he cut the ribbon: “there are a lot of great companies in Boston, but your companies are growing” and he added, “you know, one of the companies here might become the next big company, the one that everyone recognizes around the kitchen table.”
We all look forward to watching GreenTown Labs, and its member companies grow and thrive in Boston’s Innovation District.
Newmarket Eco-Industrial Zone Project
Businesses and manufacturers throughout Boston are implementing broad sustainability measures to both green their facilities and reduce energy operating costs. While most may not have the capital to design and build a new energy efficient LEED certified building, many with strong sustainability goals have begun deploying energy efficiency improvements in fleet operations, lighting, water conservation, pollution prevention, and hvac and compressor equipment for refrigeration units.
Katsiroubas Bros., a wholesale produce distributor in the Newmarket District recently identified a series of solutions to reduce the electrical demands of their operation by replacing all of the lights to lower wattage and higher output which reduced usage by 92,972 kilowatts annually with a savings of $13,640.00 projected per year. By increasing insulation levels in their refrigerated trucks and installing idle-free systems that shut off automatically after 15 minutes their entire fleet has reduced fuel usage considerably. Katsiroubas Bros. has also increased their regional and local purchasing of produce from the Pioneer Valley Association, a group of 40 local farmers, while their green management team has begun tracking improvements on water, energy and trash usage throughout the entire business.
Here’s a link to Katsiroubos Bros. improvements-
Over the next six months the BRA’s Newmarket Eco- Industrial Zone Project funded through an EPA Sustainable Skyline’s grant will explore proven strategies for area businesses to increase building energy efficiency and facilitate the adoption of district-scale energy solutions including; combined heat and power (CHP), geothermal heating and biomass. Anti-idyling and plug-in solutions will be explored for the business district to reduce emissions from truck fleets, while cool and green roof solutions for targeted shading from street trees and awnings will be adopted to reduce urban heat islands. Stormwater management and asphalt coverage data will be compiled to identify district-wide strategies to reduce discharges into Fort Point Channel.
The creation of an eco-industrial zone will be a critical step in implementing district-scale synergies between businesses which will reduce their operating costs and make them more competitive as a sustainable model of economic growth for the city of the future.
The Eco- Industrial Park model was first implemented in the Kalundborg Eco-Industrial Park in Denmark where local manufacturers share resources through industrial symbiosis. At the heart of the project is a coal fired power plant which provides excess heat to 3500 homes, as well as a local fish farm whose waste sludge is then sold as fertilizer. By-products from the power plant scrubbers are used for a local gypsum manufacturer and the utilization of the excess heat prevents it from being discharged into the local fjord. Additionally other waste materials including fly-ash from the power plant are used in road construction and cement production.
More updates on this groundbreaking project to come…
Rising gasoline prices are painful, but GM, Nissan, Toyota, and other electric vehicle manufacturers must be celebrating the timing. EVs face market penetration challenges however, and consumer skepticism may be the smallest obstacle. States and cities have only recently begun to roll out EV charging infrastructure and electric utilities must ensure that grids are ready to handle the increased loads that EVs will create.
GreenTech has been working with a cross agency team here at City Hall to address these and other EV market adoption challenges. Charging infrastructure – public and private, renewable energy integration, permitting, EV awareness, and smart grid integration are all key issues that are on our radar.
We’ve mapped Toyota Prius owners (by planning district) as a proxy for EV adoption. (The East Boston figure – 171 – is inflated due to EVs at dealerships and Logan Airport. The private ownership number is closer to 130.)
Drop me a line if you plan to purchase an EV.
Nov 01, 10
Boston took two steps forward to improve market conditions for solar photovoltaic systems. The City has cut permitting fees for solar installations by about 60%, and released a solar permitting guide to help developers and installers more easily navigate relevant City of Boston solar project permitting procedures.
The new incentive and Guide were first announced at GreenTech’s A View From the Top, sustainable roof development event last week and should help Boston maintain solar development momentum.
With support from the Environmental Protection Agency’s Sustainable Skylines program, GreenTech will explore a range of energy efficiency and renewable energy options in partnership, and on behalf of the light manufacturing, warehousing and industrial businesses in Boston’s Newmarket area. GreenTech manager Galen Nelson plans to explore district scale sustainability solutions that can reduce businesses energy expenses, improve business competitiveness and air quality, and ultimately, create a replicable model for sustainable urban industrial centers. See related news coverage from Banker and Tradesman and EPA Region I.