TVA now accepting proposals for 200MW of renewable energy

TVA is now accepting proposals to develop 200 megawatts (MW) of renewable energy that can be brought online by the end of 2023. The deadline for proposal submissions is April 24. 

According to the Request for Proposal, the utility is interested in procuring up to 200 MW of new stand-alone renewable energy resources or renewable energy plus battery energy storage systems, including all the associated environmental attributes. 

TVA procured more than 1,300 MW on behalf of customers through similar requests for proposals in 2018 and 2019. According to the utility, large-scale solar costs 80 percent less than private-scale solar and delivers the best value for renewable energy across TVA’s seven-state service territory.

Recently, the TVA Board of Directors approved six flexibility principles in its February meeting that may grant local power companies the ability to buy or generate power on their own. Previously, TVA sought public input on the potential environmental impacts of a 150-MW solar project in Lincoln County, Tennessee. The power provider entered into an agreement with Elora Solar, LLC to purchase power generated by the proposed solar facility.

TAEBC champions advanced energy as a job creation and economic development strategy in the state. This move allows TVA to provide more clean, reliable energy for their customers.

The utility provider will announce the selected proposals in fall 2020. To review TVA’s RFP and submit bids, visit this link

TAEBC Annual Meeting 2020 highlights transportation electrification initiatives, advanced energy leadership

The Tennessee Advanced Energy Business Council (TAEBC) held another successful Annual Meeting at Schneider Electric’s Nashville Hub earlier this month.

TNECD Commissioner and TDEC Commissioner Featured speakers included Commissioner Bob Rolfe of the Tennessee Department of Economic and Community Development (TNECD) and Commissioner David Salyers of the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation (TDEC), who spoke about electric vehicles (EV) and their role in Tennessee’s advanced energy economy.

The event kicked off with TAEBC awarding Dan Hurst, CEO and founder of Strata-G, with the second-ever Thomas B. Ballard Advanced Energy Leadership Award, which honors exemplary leadership and success in championing, connecting, and strengthening Tennessee’s advanced energy economy. Last year, the inaugural award went to Ballard himself.  

“As a founding board member of the Tennessee Advanced Energy Business Council, Dan Hurst embodies the qualities of a servant leader,” said Cortney Piper, Executive Director and Vice President of TAEBC. “His dedication and commitment to building a new organization that represents an entire industry that makes Tennessee a better state in which to live, work and play is truly admirable. That same vision and devotion have enabled Dan to lead and grow a successful business in East Tennessee that embraces energy innovation, environmental stewardship and sustainability.”

Schneider Electric’s Vice President of Power Products, Emily Heitman, welcomed TAEBC to Schneider Electric’s Nashville Hub and reinforced the company’s commitment to doing business in Tennessee. Her presentation was followed by Piper, who outlined TAEBC’S top achievements in 2019 and emphasized the organization’s goals and priorities moving into 2020. 

Next, Silicon Ranch Corporation’s Director of Regenerative Energy and Land Management, Michael Baute, spoke about the company’s holistic approach to solar power plant design, construction, and operations. Since launching Regenerative Energy with one 52-acre project in 2018, the program has grown exponentially with 31 projects on 5,923 acres throughout five states this year.

On TAEBC’s Energy Mentor Network Panel, Helge Nestler, Founder and President of Ginko Technologies, pitched his startup and mission to accelerate the use of sustainable waste treatment methods to reduce landfills and recover energy from waste. Afterwards, he was joined by Ira Weiss, Energy Mentor Network Entrepreneur-in-Residence and principal of Weiss Associates, for a panel discussion about Nestler’s entrepreneurial journey and value of the Energy Mentor Network program for startups like Ginko Technologies.

Later, Drew Frye, Senior Power Utilization Engineer at TVA, spoke about EV trends and the utility’s EV strategy for the state. In addition to providing a 10-year snapshot of the role of EVs from 2010 until now, Frye highlighted TVA’s role with Drive Electric Tennessee and what is next on the horizon for TVA, including improving charging infrastructure, enhancing consumer awareness, promoting supportive EV policies, and ensuring EV availability. 

Commissioner Salyers also spoke about Drive Electric Tennessee and the continued development of a statewide EV charging network. He reinforced TDEC’s commitment to providing a cleaner, safer environment and support for technologies that reduce emissions and improve air quality. Through its electrification efforts, “TDEC seeks to improve transportation efficiency, reduce vehicle emissions, and strengthen the resiliency of the transportation sector.”  

“Our vision for Tennessee is to become a leader in the electric transportation space,” remarked Salyers. “Electric vehicles have the potential to make our transportation system both more efficient and more resilient. We are excited to continue working alongside our fantastic partners to achieve these benefits.”

During Commissioner Rolfe’s TNECD update, he emphasized how the agency’s “first job” is to create high-quality jobs for Tennesseans. His second job, explained Rolfe, is to make sure the companies that call Tennessee home “are happy,” such as Volkswagen, Nissan, and others who are focused on EV efforts. 

“We’re going to focus on recruiting companies to Tennessee that are focused on the electric vehicle business because we think it’s here to stay,” said Rolfe. “For Tennessee to remain number one in the southeast, we’re going to be doubling down on those efforts.”

After their presentations, Saylers and Rolfe held a joint Q&A session, where they answered a range of audience questions. For example, when asked what TAEBC can do to support the state’s efforts in propelling electrification efforts further, Saylers emphasized the importance of workforce development programs that promote technical training for jobs that support the state’s advanced energy economy.

Rolfe echoed Sayler’s statements, adding, “a lot of good things are happening in Tennessee, but what we can continue to do is to make it the most inviting, business friendly state to come do business in.”

Tennessee Valley Authority on the precipice of powering our advanced energy future

By Steve Seifried, TAEBC Board Member

(Originally published on The Knoxville News-Sentinel)

The sun is rising on a new day for Tennessee and the Tennessee Valley Authority.

After six years, TVA president and CEO Bill Johnson retired recently. His successor is Jeffrey Lyash, who stands to take over the reins at a critical juncture for Tennessee’s economy and energy industry. It’s not your typical transfer of power: The ascent of the advanced energy industry hands TVA the keys to transform Tennessee into an economic powerhouse and position the utility as the energy company of the future.

Economic success is increasingly tied to energy options. Businesses of all sizes – from Fortune 100 companies to mom-and-pop stores – are setting sustainability goals and incorporating advanced energy into their processes and products, in concert with growing public awareness of energy usage and climate impact.

That’s great news for Tennessee, which is on the path to becoming the epicenter of advanced energy innovation.

Advanced energy powers Tennessee’s GDP: $39.7 billion

We sit on a war chest of unequaled energy assets: TVA, the nation’s largest public utility; Oak Ridge National Laboratory, a world-leader in scientific discovery and energy research; and a business-friendly climate. This energy axis operates as an economic development and job creation machine, pulling in businesses and talent looking to invest and expand in our state.

Here’s what that looks like in concrete numbers: Advanced energy powers Tennessee’s gross domestic product to the tune of $39.7 billion, a 2018 report from the Tennessee Advanced Energy Business Council (TAEBC) found. The industry is eclipsing even the overall economy in employment growth, employing close to 360,000 Tennesseans in positions generally paying more than the state’s average annual wage.

Whether Tennessee communities can continue to capitalize upon this lucrative industry and cement our place as a leader in the $1.4 trillion global advanced energy market depends, in large part, on what TVA and Lyash do next.

Advanced energy encompasses any technology that makes electricity or transportation cleaner, safer, more secure, or more efficient – it’s square in TVA’s wheelhouse. Even more, it’s central to TVA’s stated three-pronged mission of power generation, environmental stewardship, and economic development.

Grant local power providers and private industry easier access

We all have a stake in TVA’s embrace of advanced energy innovation, programs, and partners. By making it easier for companies to deploy advanced energy technologies and develop innovative energy solutions, TVA plays a central role in attracting and retaining talent and corporate investment in our state. Prioritizing advanced energy is vital to Tennessee’s economic development, and TVA is perfectly positioned to lead this critical initiative.

Former president Johnson will leave a legacy of general reception to advanced energy innovation, powering down aging and inefficient coal plants, launching programs to offer advanced energy options, investing in new energy technology and the next generation of energy entrepreneurs at ORNL’s Innovation Crossroads.

But there’s much to be done. While TVA’s draft 2019 Integrated Resource Plan (IRP) emphasizes some aspects of advanced energy, it stops short of fully embracing the industry in a way that would generate positive ripple effects across Tennessee’s and the Valley’s economy.

What may seem like a minor oversight today can have enormous repercussions down the road. TVA and Tennessee must not fall behind other states and regions who have positioned themselves to capitalize upon the energy of the future. The good news is that the time to strike is now.

Beginning with a commitment to flexibility and transparency, TVA should grant local power providers and private industry easier access to renewable and advanced energy generation. It should stay abreast of advanced energy trends and nurture them here in Tennessee, and deepen TVA’s investment into advanced energy resources.

TAEBC is committed to supporting TVA and its leadership under new chief Lyash to seize upon the opportunities offered by advanced energy. TVA’s commitment to advanced energy will directly benefit the utility itself, our overall economy, and every Tennessean.

Steve Seifried is an account executive with Ameresco and a board member of the Tennessee Advanced Energy Business Council.

TAEBC joins Launch Tennessee for inaugural ‘Innovation Week on the Hill’

Launch Tennessee executives were at Tennessee’s Capitol Hill early February connecting entrepreneurs and innovators with legislators to discuss key challenges that small businesses face today.

“Innovation Week on the Hill” on February 5-8 was packed with special events, meetings and meaningful connections between policymakers and job creators.

The Tennessee Advanced Energy Business Council, Life Science Tennessee, Nashville Tech Council, and EO Nashville collaborated with Launch Tennessee on this first-of-its-kind event to bring entrepreneurship and innovation to the forefront of Tennessee’s legislative process.

This shared effort resulted in:

  • 390 entrepreneur & innovator exchanges with legislators
  • 106 meetings held with legislators
  • 250+ legislative reception attendees

(L to R): Lindsey Cox, Dir. of Operations and Government Affairs at Launch Tennessee; Anna Douglas, Founder of SkyNano Technologies; State Rep. John Ragan, District 33; Cortney Piper, Vice President of TAEBC

During “Innovation Week on the Hill,” Launch Tennessee shared its success with lawmakers in helping increase the number of Tennessee angels since the State Legislature’s passage of the Tennessee Angel Tax Credit in 2016. If you remember, the ATC was designed to increase the pool of early-stage capital, get new investors engaged in the ecosystem and give entrepreneurs in Tennessee an additional selling point when pitching their companies for investment.

For 2017, Launch Tennessee issued $1.84M worth of credits, tied to $6.3M of capital invested in Tennessee companies. 29 companies attracted investment from angels benefitting from the program, receiving an average check size of $73,055 from 68 unique angel investors.

These 68 investors could receive up to $50,000 in tax credits and many invested in multiple companies. This is significant because, as awareness of ATC grew, angels wanted to maximize their amount of eligible credits for 2017 and looked for other pre-qualified companies to invest in. This created a multiplier effect, increasing the number of Tennessee investments that otherwise might not have been made.

“Innovation on the Hill” also included Launch Tennessee speaking about its invitation to join Kauffman’s first-ever Entrepreneurs’ Policy Network. The network will serve as an alliance of organizations that will bring the voices of entrepreneurs to policy debates at the state level.

(L to R): Cortney Piper, Vice President of TAEBC; Charlie Brock, CEO & President of Launch Tennessee; Lindsey Cox, Dir. of Operations and Government Affairs of Launch Tennessee.

Launch Tennessee was selected as a grant recipient and is one of six entrepreneurial support organizations chosen from an invitation-only nationwide RFP process. The Entrepreneurs’ Policy Network seeks to remove barriers to new business creation and entrepreneurial success by improving public policy at the state level.

Among other actions, grant recipients will:

  • Identify state policies that inhibit entrepreneurship,
  • Educate policymakers about the impact of those policies in erecting barriers to entrepreneurship,
  • Build support for entrepreneurs and entrepreneurship generally, and
  • Facilitate informational interactions between policymakers and entrepreneurs.

The Tennessee Advanced Energy Business Council has partnered with Launch Tennessee to form the Energy Mentor Network. The network showcases the state’s lucrative advanced energy industry and recent achievements in the field.

The Energy Mentor Network’s goal is to foster the growth of Tennessee advanced energy startups by connecting entrepreneurs with mentors and industry specific expertise.

Since 2016, the network has doubled the number of mentors in the program to 25 with expertise ranging from energy systems, clean tech, intellectual property, business and finance strategy. Six companies are currently enrolled in the Energy Mentor Network.

Last year the network recognized its first graduate, Solar Site Design, which achieved significant traction while enrolled in the Energy Mentor Network.

ORNL Office of Science technologies recognized as 2017 R&D Magazine Award Finalists

The Department of Energy Office of Science’s national laboratories had 33 technologies recently chosen as 2017 R&D 100 Award Finalists. Of those 33 technologies, several were from Oak Ridge National Laboratory with an advanced energy application.

Each year, R&D Magazine recognizes the most outstanding technology developments with promising commercial potential. The coveted awards – now in their 55th year – are presented annually in recognition of exceptional new products, processes, materials, or software that were developed throughout the world and introduced into the market the previous year.

These esteemed technologies include:

  1. ACMZ Cast Aluminum Alloys

Lightweight, high-temperature aluminum alloys will play a vital part in improving automotive fuel efficiency in the future. Common commercial alloys soften rapidly at high temperatures, limiting how manufacturers can use them in vehicles. In contrast, alloys that can withstand elevated temperatures are prohibitively expensive and difficult to cast. ACMZ cast aluminum alloys are affordable, lightweight superalloys. They withstand temperatures of almost 100 degrees Celsius, more than current commercial alloys, while providing equivalent mechanical performance. Their properties can meet the varied demands of different automotive engine components. They are also strong enough for manufacturers to use in next-generation high-efficiency combustion engines.

2. SAFIRE – Safe Impact Resistant Electrolyte

Oak Ridge National Laboratory’s Safe Impact Resistant Electrolyte (SAFIRE) improves the safety of plug-in electric vehicle batteries. In typical automotive lithium-ion batteries, the liquid electrolyte (which conducts the electrical current) poses a fire risk in high-speed collisions. To minimize this risk, current plug-in electric vehicles use heavy shielding that reduces their range and efficiency. In contrast, the SAFIRE electrolyte eliminates this risk by using an additive that transforms the liquid electrolyte to a solid upon impact. By blocking contact with electrodes, it prevents short circuiting and a potential fire. Under normal conditions, SAFIRE performs as well as conventional electrolytes. In vehicles, it has the potential to significantly reduce electric vehicle weight and increase travel range.

3. Low Cost Carbon Fiber

Carbon fiber has historically been a high-priced specialty material, which has limited its widespread use. Oak Ridge National Laboratory’s Low Cost Carbon Fiber (LCCF) production method makes high-strength carbon fiber comparable to commercially available material at approximately half the finished product cost. It is also much faster than other methods and reduces energy usage by about 50 percent. Manufacturers can also combine LCCF with plastic materials to produce lightweight composites. This product can potentially make carbon fiber an affordable material for high-volume, cost-sensitive applications such as fuel-efficient automobiles and wind turbine blades.

4. ACE: The Ageless Aluminum Revolution

Lightweight materials such as aluminum alloys can help substantially increase the efficiency of vehicles and airplanes. ACE is a new family of aluminum alloys that exhibits better performance at high temperatures and is easier to cast than previous alloys. By combining aluminum and cerium, or a similar element, with traditional alloying materials, ACE is better able to resist corrosion and be stretched into wires. ACE alloys remain stable at temperatures 300 degrees Celsius higher than leading commercial alloys. They can also withstand 30 percent more tension before they deform. Manufacturers can successfully cast ACE alloys in a wide variety of structural components without energy-intensive heat treatments. Eliminating these treatments could significantly increase production output and reduce manufacturing costs in some cases by almost 60 percent.

Click here for more ORNL technologies nominated as R&D 100 Award Finalists.