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Alternative & Renewable Free Advertising!

Posted in Cooperatives / Communities / Networks / Travels, Sustainability with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on April 18, 2010 by Drogo

Free Advertising for Alternative Power Businesses!

Please list any companies that help support alternative power on this blog page (reply below). 30 states (including Washington DC) have legislation requiring utility companies, distributors, and suppliers to include some power from renewable sources. Many small companies are focusing on helping clients with state energy program credits. Currently most of our electricity continues to come from burning coal.

Here are some small companies that are making a difference in Frederick County, Maryland: FITCI Incubator, US Photovoltaics, UR Solar, TimberRock, SES Frederick, Potomac Wind Energy, Chesapeake Green Fuels, and Nelson Commercial Plumbing.

Each small company only manages about 300 client households, compared to the entire population, but it is a start.


2003 BP Solarex Tour

Posted in Alternative Architecture, Sustainability with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , on March 29, 2010 by Drogo

The BP Solarex Facility Tour in Frederick,  MD

November 2003 – These are the notes.

Jefferson County, WV residents toured the BP Solarex facility in Frederick, Maryland. In attendance were John Henry Dale, Michael Shor, and Walton Stowell Jr. & Sr.. The following information is based on notes taken during the tour and official Solarex publications. Special thanks to Public Relations representative Debby Burgon. They did not allow photographs inside.

Although Solarex is now owned by British Petroleum, the Solarex plant was owned by Amoco & Enron in the 1980’s.  Now BP Solar boasts that their “Projects Group designed and supplied over 50,000 systems (totaling 70MW) and managed over 25,000 installations (nearly 15MW).”, and “completed installations in more than 150 countries (a record unmatched by any other company in the industry)”.

First on the tour was the Casting Room and the Sizing Room.  Michael asked what Silicon cost per # . The ‘crystalline operations’ and ‘tech center’ contained blocks of ingot, crystalex controllers, and a large cutting room  1=> 25 bricks / casting station vats.  An ‘ingot crusher’ machine cranked away as a loud speaker echoed in the docking bay.  Terms such as ‘silicon powder’ and ‘top-cut’ were discussed and cylinders were cleaned with corrosive chemical bath.  Next was the ‘hot form block melting room’.

The ‘wafer cutting room’ contained many purple, pink, orange ear plugs; white suits, grey slop gloves goo, and blue slippers.  This is where ‘template calibration’ for the solar cells took place also.

Next an Airlock leads into a blue floor, where wafer separation, cleaning, and setting begin.  Automated cleaning and etching stations occurred in glass tanks.  (SiN) Silicon Nitride  240 microns = 3-4 sheets thickness.  A violet / dark blue wafer coating with “silver paste” was then baked in aluminum.  These would go to a drying furnace in front and back lines with automated tooling systems.

multi- & mono- solar cells  (multi-cells are darker, absorb more sun, more efficient)  “silicon is dangerous”

A large final room housed machine plates that mounted bar stripes (bus bar) with tabbing ribbons, and negative / positive copper wire with silver coating.  Then there were assembly-soldering operations for the complete solar panels; which were then laminated, and ‘cassettes’ were loaded into a matrix machine with roller knobs.  Contained in soldered back-matting is dios wiring and label black caulking buettle. Current / voltage testing / reading SPI sun Simulator BP 380U. The panels are cleaned, flashed, and boxed in argon @ 23.8 degrees.  NRE National Renewable Energy

The cost of a solar system is directly proportional to how much energy you require.  Small cabin systems start at a few 1000 dollars.  A typical household system could cost anywhere from $10,000 to $40,000. “Clean Power Estimator” = evaluates $ saved contact section to discuss design with a distributor. Array combo – Inverter – Utility kw/h meter.

Currently prices are still not economically feasible or comparable with grid power in most states. Illinois has a very limited subsidy program for homeowner, like in Japan and Germany. Skylight connector modules have (leads) silicon-nitride covering over wafers.

Some questions remain:

“What percentage of energy used to produce solar panels in the plant, is provided by solar energy?”

“Why is taking so long to open more plants?” and “Why do you now have a barbed wire fence?”

“Why did you cut over half of your workforce in 2010?” (update)

2010 BP Solarex Job Cuts

Oil Company cuts jobs at Solarex, BP “Big Plans” for the Future!

Posted in Sustainability with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on March 29, 2010 by Drogo

Oil Company cuts only Solar Panel manufacturing plant it has on the East Coast by 2/3 in 2010

Blame it on poor economic bubbles created by giants of industry and banking.

Blame it on anything you want, but the facts are sad regarding our plans to improve ourselves in the 21st Century. Besides all the economic and political problems we have been facing in housing, banking, health care, insurance, and jobs; forget about issues of War in the Middle East, Education and Terrorism; one industrial plant stood alone on the entire East Coast of the United States of America. That was BP Solar. It had been restructured and growing in the past decade. Now that hope is diminished by more than 2 thirds.

SCOD was proudly given a tour through the plant years ago, with some hope for the future of alternative energy and good American jobs. Now we are being thrown back to the Reagan years, where it was popular to make fun of Jimmy Carter’s environmental energy policies and tax cuts for solar panels. Who needs alternatives when America is addicted to Oil and stubbornly proud of it?

BP Solarex justifies cutting 320 workers because labor is cheaper in India and China. About 110 workers will remain as sales distribution and engineering staff. Maryland State Government had already dedicated over ten million in stimulus credits last year, but BP said it was not enough based on current market problems. They have already shut down plants in Australia and Spain.

This reinforces my opinion that alternative energy plants need to be run by more public utility companies, and not fossil fuel companies. Rules should be put in place to enforce companies to fire CEO’s and managers when “unforeseen economic problems” arise and cannot be handled, rather than lay-off workers.

Is there no rehab for Oil Addiction? Step One is admitting we have a problem. What is Step Two?

Other Solar Panel Links:

SCOD Tour of BP Solarex (2003 notes)

SCOD Tour of BP Solarex (video slideshow with narration)

Frederick News Post Article

BP Solar Website