Administration to impose 30 percent tariff on solar cell imports

President Donald Trump has approved tariffs on imported solar cells, U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer announced Monday.

The tariffs would initially kick in at a higher rate in the first year, then decrease in subsequent years. For the first year, a 30 percent tariff would be applied to imported solar modules and cells.

Lighthizer’s office said the trade representative made recommendations to the president based on the findings of the independent, bipartisan U.S. International Trade Commission.

The agency had been asked to look into whether foreign imports of solar cells/modules were causing “serious injury to domestic manufacturers.”

Both South Korea and China decried the Trump administration’s new tariffs: Seoul said it would file a complaint about the changes, and Beijing said the U.S. was deteriorating the global trade environment.

Below are the approved safeguard tariffs on solar modules and cells:

  • Year 1: 30%
  • Year 2: 25%
  • Year 3: 20%
  • Year 4: 15%

Only two days after the announcement, the Department of Energy released an article on its website detailing a $3 million prize competition to “reenergize innovation in U.S. solar manufacturing.”

The release goes on to say: “The American Made Solar Prize will incentivize the nation’s entrepreneurs to develop new processes and products that will reassert American leadership in the solar marketplace. This prize is in additional to total DOE funding of up to $400 million for solar projects and technologies in 2017. It will lower barriers American innovators face in reaching manufacturing scale by accelerating the cycles of learning, while helping to create partnerships that connect entrepreneurs to the private sector and the network of DOE’s national laboratories.”

Read the original CNBC story here.

Energy Mentor Network Spotlight: Harvey Abouelata

The Tennessee Advanced Energy Business Council is continuing its series of feature stories highlighting the mentors behind the Energy Mentor Network program offering industry specific expertise.

The Energy Mentor Network‘s goal is to foster the growth of Tennessee advanced energy technologies and startups by connecting entrepreneurs with mentors. This gives Tennessee yet another advantage in grabbing its more than fair share of the $1.3 trillion global advanced energy market.

The Energy Mentor Network is run by the Tennessee Advanced Energy Business Council in partnership with Launch Tennessee.

In broad strokes, the Energy Mentor Network pairs mentors with promising new companies and entrepreneurs through a structured program involving panel presentations and mentoring sessions.

The purpose of the program is to develop quality startups. After completing the program, startups will have an investable pitch deck, a rock solid business model and a plan to establish more traction. These tools will position Tennessee’s entrepreneurs to raise capital, request other funds like SBIR grants, and scale their company.

Harvey Abouelata, President of ARiES Energy (Credit: ARiES Energy)

Harvey Abouelata, President of ARiES Energy (Credit: ARiES Energy)

This week TAEBC is highlighting mentor Harvey Abouelata. He serves as the President of ARiES Energy.

Harvey has worked on a variety of renewable energy projects for Wampler’s Farm Sausage and most recently a 1.37 MW solar installation for Appalachian Electric Coop – the first utility-scale community solar project in the state – which was officially unveiled in early January.

He also has extensive experience in business management, business planning, strategy, sales, marketing, promotions, public relations, and new technology brand identity with concentration in the renewable energy field.

Related: ARiES Energy celebrates five year anniversary

While being involved in the solar industry, he has succeeded in bringing millions of dollars in grants to local companies and the State of Tennessee.

At ARiES, he oversees business operations and management, marketing strategy, and overall customer satisfaction. In recent history, Harvey was the Vice President of Sales and Marketing at a privately owned Knoxville company where he oversaw the sales, product development, and marketing of residential and commercial products and services for solar PV and thermal design. Prior to this position, he was the Director of Sales and Marketing for another renewable energy company launch.

Since graduating from Rochester Institute of Technology in 1984, he has been helping businesses launch, reorganize, and bring new technologies to market. Harvey excels at setting up successful sales, marketing, business plans and economic development strategies for companies, as well as executing public outreach and education.

TAEBC is still accepting mentors for the Energy Mentor Program. If you are interested in this opportunity, please visit the “For Mentors” section of the Energy Mentor Network portion of TAEBC’s website.

ARiES Energy celebrates five year anniversary

ARiES Energy marked five years of success in East Tennessee by inviting colleagues, customers and friends to Five Bar in Downtown Knoxville.

ARiES Energy is a TAEBC member. The company strives to make clean energy easy, accessible, and affordable to its clients. ARiES Energy installs solar photovoltaic, solar thermal, LED lighting, power conditioning, energy efficiency products/services and biomass/waste-to-energy technologies for commercial businesses, residences and municipalities in the Southeast.

Previous Story: ARiES Energy, Signal Energy make 2016 Top 500 North American Solar Contractors List

During the anniversary celebrations, ARiES Energy President Harvey Abouelata made an announcement over his company’s growth revealing ARiES Energy will be expanding to South Carolina.

TAEBC had a chance to talk with Abouelata after the anniversary. If you don’t know, Abouelata founded ARiES Energy in 2011 to help communities transition into a new economic future, moving away from fossil fuels towards renewable natural resources and zero waste.

Harvey Abouelata, President of ARiES Energy (Credit: ARiES Energy)

As president he oversees sales, product development, and marketing of residential and commercial products and services for power production. He has extensive experience in business management, business planning, strategy, sales, marketing, promotions, public relations, implementation, and new technology brand identity with a concentration in the renewable energy field.

During his career in the solar industry, Abouelata has succeeded in bringing millions of dollars in grants to local companies and the state of Tennessee. He also made the decision to merge ARiES Energy in 2015 with PHG Energy (PHGE) and Thompson Machinery.

Abouelata has passion in his work, and it could be felt while TAEBC spoke with him briefly over the phone.

Q: Five years is a great milestone, when you look back are you pleased with your company’s success? 

A: Yes, absolutely. I feel we’ve achieved that ten-fold. Before ARiES Energy was born, the concept was novelty…maybe, kinda…everybody liked the idea…wasn’t sure it was possible. But here’s the thing, it’s relevant. Times are changing, and it’s exciting to see the hard work happening at ARiES Energy.

(L to R) Harvey Abouelata, Knoxville Mayor Madeline Rogero, and Erin Gill.

(L to R) Harvey Abouelata, Knoxville Mayor Madeline Rogero, and Erin Gill. (Credit: ARiES Energy)

Q: What does it mean to you to be a part of the clean energy industry in Tennessee?

A: Ya know, it’s one of those feel good things. It’s exciting to go to work knowing it helps people and putting a big focus on economic development. You put that together there’s this creation that’s ultimately better for the environment. It’s something to be proud of. We have 18 people employed here at ARiES Energy and it’s almost like a pep rally. They (Employees) feel like they are making a difference in energy independence.

Another thing, it’s not just clean energy. It’s making it here in the U.S. It’s a very positive thing. Some people may take our mountains and lakes for granted, but I see it as ARiES Energy is protecting our precious resources.

(L to R) ARiES Energy President Harvey Abouelata speaking with Daniel Green and Jerry Askew.

(L to R) ARiES Energy President Harvey Abouelata speaking with Daniel Green and Jerry Askew. (Credit: ARiES Energy)

Q: ARiES Energy is growing the market for community and commercial solar projects, any specific projects that stick out that you’re proud of?

A: That’s like asking me to pick a favorite child! They’re all great! That’s not fair! Every one of our projects is exciting in its own unique way because it’s one step forward on the path to energy independence and helping the environment. I will say though, we have great clients. We’re blessed with who we work with. The momentum keeps building here, and our clients are taking it to the next level. Our clients are an extension of who we are as a company and as a team. But AEC partnering with us to build one of the largest community solar projects in Tennessee, that’s huge!

Q: Where do you see ARiES Energy going in the next five years? Any particular goals? You mentioned how the company is expanding to South Carolina at the 5th Anniversary…

A: We have a pretty aggressive expansion plan. Ever since we sold the company to PHG Energy and Thompson Machinery, we’ve got resources that have given us the luxury to expand. We’ve been spending a lot of time building a solid plan to South Carolina. We’re also considering expanding to Alabama, Georgia, North Carolina, Mississippi, and Texas. Of course that’s all on the horizon for 2017. Every year we’ve doubled in sales, and I don’t see why we wouldn’t keep expanding. We’ve hired six people this year alone and what’s important to us is that all of our employees have high quality standards. I love when I walk in to work because our employees those are people I would pick as personal friends, not just employees.

Are you a TAEBC member with news to share? Contact deborah@piper-communications.com and we’ll feature you and your company on the blog.

ARiES Energy, Signal Energy make 2016 Top 500 North American Solar Contractors List

TAEBC members ARiES Energy and Signal Energy got recognized as some of North America’s best solar contractors by ranking in the top 500 solar companies in the country.

signalEnergyConstructorsSignal Energy was ranked in the top 10, while ARiES achieved a rank of 461 out of 500 solar companies. Solar Power World magazine created the Top 500 Solar Contractors List. The list is designed to observe solar contractors’ work across the U.S. and Canada. The companies who made the list make a lasting impact in the industry by providing jobs and offering electricity consumers more options.

The list describes the company’s location, how many employees it has, its primary market, and details its primary service. Ranks are determined by the number of megawatts a company was involved with installing in 2015 in North America only. If two companies reported the same 2015 numbers, they were sorted by total megawatts installed.

According to the list, Signal Energy installed 377 total megawatts for 2015 alone. By also employing 127 people, the company has managed to build more than 989 megawatts since it was founded in 2005 in Chattanooga.

This comes as Signal Energy also achieved an overall ranking of 6 as one of 2015’s Top Solar EPCs. Solar engineering, procurement and construction (EPC) companies are the face of the industry. They design, build and maintain solar projects. They also work directly with solar consumers with their work involving installations ranging from single-kilowatt rooftop arrays to multi-megawatt utility projects.

ariesblackbackgroundAs for ARiES Energy, the company installed 0.21 total megawatts for 2015. With 14 employees, ARiES Energy overall has produced 2.24 megawatts of energy since it was founded in 2011 in Knoxville.

For a look at Signal Energy’s website and how you can learn more about the company, click here.

If you would like to learn more about ARiES Energy and the products and services it provides, click here.

A Booming Advanced Energy Economy, 8.1 Million Jobs and Counting

 As the Tennessee Advanced Energy Business Council’s Economic Impact Report foretold in 2015, the advanced energy sector has but one direction to move in and that’s up.

A recent report released by the International Renewable Energy Agency – the Renewable Energy and Jobs Annual Review 2016 – shows that more than 8.1 million people worldwide are working in the global renewable energy industry. Renewables are one part of the advanced energy sector, but a growing sector at that.

Screen Shot 2016-06-07 at 11.20.27 PMAnd, in the U.S., for the first time jobs in solar energy overtook those in oil and natural gas extraction, helping drive a global surge in employment in the clean-energy business as fossil fuel companies began experiencing shaky ground.

U.S. solar business grew 12 times faster than overall job creation. Solar jobs are bolstered by state initiatives to spur clean energy development, leading to employers adding workers at record rates to install rooftop panels. In contrast, oil and gas producers have slashed 351,410 jobs worldwide since prices began to slide in the middle of 2014.

Globally, the workforce in clean energy is expected to grow to 24 million by 2030, if targets on climate change and development are met.

What does this translate to locally in Tennessee and the Southeast?

Tennessee, rich in advanced energy resources, is poised to continue rapidly expanding upon the nearly 325,00 advanced energy jobs, supported by more than 17,000 firms within the state.

As TAEBC Charter members and research assets, Oak Ridge National Laboratory and the University of Tennessee, along with private sector innovators continue to research, develop and produce new ways to meet energy demands, Tennessee will undoubtedly lead the new energy economy.

The TAEBC Economic Impact Report showed that advanced energy requires skilled workers, serving as a primary source for high quality jobs. Manufacturers benefit from a robust advanced energy sector while advanced energy contributes significantly to state and local economies.

Tennessee is well-positioned to keep pace with the international trend, serving as a key contributor to a booming global advanced energy economy.

Source: Bloomberg CleanTechnica