SACE promotes solar energy locally in Knoxville

Guest Blog | June 26, 2009 | Energy Policy

knoxvillesolarOne of the great partnerships that SACE has going is working with the City of Knoxville on their Solar America Cities Program. The City of Knoxville along with a strong group of partners has really stepped up to aggressively move forward on energy issues. To recognize their achievements, the City of Knoxville received the 2009 Tennessee Municipal League Achievement Award for Excellence in Green Leadership on June 16, 2009.

While the City of Knoxville Solar America Cities program has many components, one that is most accessable to the general public is the series of public workshops organized by SACE. The workshop topics vary from a simple introduction to solar technology to the most recent workshop held Saturday June 13th at Ijams Nature Center, which gave a more in-depth look at solar Photovoltaic (PV) technology.

solar-workshop-pic-6-09I gave the first presentation and started the workshop with an overview presentation on solar PV technology and offered guidance on best practices for attendees that wanted to purchase PV systems. Next was Neil Placer with Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA), who gave a presentation on technology trends, building integrated solar and micro inverters. Curt Maxey from Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) and also a technical lead for the Solar America Cities project gave a presentation on the difference between crystal, multi crystal and thin film technologies and also talked about concentrated solar PV technologies.

solar-workshop-2-6-09The solar workshops have been standing room only and the level of interest is a strong indicator of the bright future for solar. In addition to the information provided by the speakers, the local solar installers are also actively involved in the project. Two local businesses achieved NABCEP installer certification, which helps ensure high quality, high performance systems. Many of those certified installers are working together in preparation for an upcoming solar tour in Knoxville on Saturday, October 3rd. Stay tuned for more details.

As the solar industry takes off in the southeast region, there will be huge opportunities for business development. A testament to this was the location of two, billion-dollar polysilicon manufacturing plants in Tennessee in 2009. Polysilicon is a material used in the production of solar cells for panels. Through the addition of new clean energy businesses and manufacturing companies, plus participation in programs like Solar America Cities, Tennessee is poised to play a leading role in the transition to a clean energy economy.

solar-workshop-6-09As SACE’s Tennessee Director of Renewable Programs, I also serve as Project Coordinator of the Knoxville Solar America Cities program. We’re thankful to enjoy an active partnership with Erin Burns and Madeleine Weil from the City and all the partners working together to lower the barriers and work together to expand the local solar market. Knoxville’s partners in the Solar America Cities Program include: SACE, Department of Energy (DOE), TVA, the Knoxville Utilities Board, ORNL, the Tennessee Department of Economic and Community Development, Florida Solar Energy Center, Knoxville Area Transit, Public Building Authority (PBA) and Ijams Nature Center. If you are interested in attending a future workshop or becoming involved, email me at

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