Posts Tagged ‘renewable energy’

Ideal Energy’s solar-plus storage system for MUM is first large-scale installation of its kind in Iowa

October 3, 2018

A detailed creative article on this innovative project written by Bob Saar for The Hawk Eye was published September 9, 2018. Click on the title to see more photos at their website. A recent synopsis published in MUM’s The Review, Vol. 34, #2, October 3, 2018 is added at the bottom. Also added info on the upcoming December 14 inauguration in The Review, Vol 34, #6, November 28, 2018, page 3.

Ideal Energy CEO Troy Van Beek with account manager Michael HalleyThe Hawk Eye caption for Ideal Energy

Here comes the Sun

Fairfield company Ideal Energy brings Iowa to national attention with new solar array installation at Maharishi University of Management.

First there is a mountain, then there is no mountain, then there is.

That Buddhist concept fits the solar energy business: The first mountain was long-term storage, but that has been alleviated with modern battery technology, paving the way for local, independent companies like Ideal Energy, Inc. in Fairfield, Iowa to enter the energy-supply business.

But that in turn led to another mountain: How will those smaller companies interconnect with utility giants like Alliant and MidAmerican Energy when they’re in competition with them for energy dollars?

Depending on who you ask, Iowa ranks somewhere in the top 20 states in solar energy development and production, based on a multitude of factors from metering to rebates to tax credits and electricity prices, but Ideal Energy is rising like the morning sun to heat things up for the Hawkeye State.

Founded in 2009 by CEO Troy Van Beek and chief marketing officer Amy Van Beek, Ideal Energy is pioneering modern solar storage technology in Iowa. One of their hottest projects is installing a large solar field for the Maharishi University of Management in Fairfield.

MUM’s array, Iowa’s newest and largest privately owned solar array, will track the sun as it moves across the sky, charging a battery system designed by Ideal Energy, providing the college affordable electricity when prices are highest. Called a solar-plus storage system, it’s the first large-scale installation of its kind in Iowa. The Iowa Economic Development Authority is sponsoring a study to encourage the spread of this new renewable technology throughout the state.

Ideal Energy is constructing the 1.1-megawatt solar tracking array on five acres of land. The panels in the array will move 120 degrees each day to track the sun’s journey. Each row of panels can move independently to maintain its own optimal angle to the sun.

Key to the dream of living entirely off the sun in the form of solar and wind energy is the need to store the sun’s output during peak times — noon on a cloudless day, for example — for use during low times — with solar, that’s all night long. Exacerbating the problem is the tendency for demand to increase at periods during low-light times.

The answer is batteries.

The array will provide electricity to the university and charge a vanadium flow battery system. When electricity is in highest demand and prices peak — hot summer days, for example — the university can draw from its own battery supply. Over time, reducing these “demand charges” will help MUM reduce its electricity bill. The battery power can also be used during emergency outages.

Renewable energy is obtained by collecting naturally replenished resources such as sunlight, wind, rain, tides, waves, and geothermal heat, all of which support sustainability.

Sustainability avoids the depletion of natural resources in order to maintain an ecological balance. In 1987, the UN said “sustainable development meets the needs of the present without compromising the well-being of future generations.”

Fossil fuels are nonrenewable — the earth has a finite supply of decomposed dinosaurs — thus a world economy based on coal and oil is not sustainable.

If the major industrialized nations worked toward sustainability by developing renewable energy sources, we wouldn’t be talking these days about global warming, melting polar icecaps or the threat of year-round hurricanes.

Back in the early 1970s, when America was bleeding out in the rice paddies of Southeast Asia, the Baby Boomers stumbled across several fresh concepts including sustainability, Buckydomes and — thanks to people like the Beatles, Donovan Leitch and the Beach Boys — a technique called Transcendental Meditation, via the Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, an Indian guru who first met those musicians in 1967.

Those so-called counter-culture concepts were not considered cutting edge; rather, they were ignored by the mainstream as being on the fringes of American societal thinking.

But mountains crumble with time and rivers flow relentlessly to the sea, thus today America embraces such previously alien concepts as solar energy, non-dependence on fossil fuels, electric cars, and Dick Tracy two-way wrist radios.

Back then, the problem was how to get off the grid; today, the problem is how to get on the grid with your solar energy system. Solar energy is big business growing larger each year, and big business means government regulation, utility giants and infrastructure.

The symbiosis of small outfits like Ideal with the big utilities — Alliant and MidAmerican in Iowa — is a topic beyond the scope of this story, but look at it this way: Companies like Ideal are the Davids standing tall for the common man, and Alliant is Goliath, only this time, the two are not combatants but are, instead, reluctant dance partners carefully avoiding stepping on each others’ toes.

One of the early solar energy problems was storage: Efficient use of solar requires storage for dark hours and peaks. Used railroad engine batteries were used by some off-gridders, but they had too short a cycle to keep a factory running all night, and thus battery technology had to grow up before solar could become truly viable.

At the heart of the solar problem was the duck curve — that’s the graph of usage versus time of day, which, when plotted out, looks like a duck’s silhouette. The fact the peak demand does not occur when the sun is high means peak usage is somewhat the inverse of peak solar input. In other words, while everyone leaves the office or factory to drive to McDonald’s for lunch, they aren’t using electricity, even though the sun is at it’s zenith. Conversely, when those same workers go home in the evening to fire up the stove, the TV, the hot tub, the Xbox to play Minecraft — that’s when the sun is crashing on the western horizon.

That’s why America needs companies like Ideal Energy.

Ideal wisely focused on battery storage. Today’s battery technology far surpasses those bulky D-cells you used to slide into your dad’s big flashlight, and two technologies are leading the way: vanadium flow and the batteries used in Tesla automobiles.

The vanadium flow battery is a non-toxic, pH-balanced battery whose performance does not degrade over time. Ideal was considering lithium-ion batteries, but those degrade: after 15 years, the top of the line lithium-ion batteries will only hold 50 percent of their initial charge. NEXTracker, owned by Fluxtronics, Ideal’s source for vanadium flow batteries, warranties their batteries for the life of the solar power system as long as Ideal follows a recommended annual maintenance schedule. That means after 25-plus years, the vanadium flow batteries will still hold 98 percent of charge.

A 2-by-4-by-6-foot vanadium battery sits at the end of each row on the MUM array, which consists of 3,150 panels rated at 350 watts each.

The Tesla Powerwall is the same battery utilized in Tesla’s cars; it can be integrated into a modular system and built out for commercial applications. Tesla also does this for residential homes, but the level Ideal is dealing with is large commercial installations.

Troy Van Beek earned his bachelor’s degree in sustainability from MUM and brought his Navy SEAL experience to the company.

“A part of the mission that has created Ideal is that we look at resource security as part of what we’re doing,” Troy said. “We’re in the process of creating abundance for our clients, and that’s really important because of the effect that it has on opportunity. The more opportunity there is, the less need for conflict.”

Amy Van Beek said the MUM project is the first solar and storage, large-scale battery project in the Midwest.

“It’s pretty significant because the National Renewable Energy Labs put out a study about a year ago indicating Iowa is one of the top ten states in the country to benefit from battery energy storage for peak demand mitigation,” she said.

Demand mitigation can reduce energy prices for hours with high price spikes by reducing the marginal generating cost of the system.

“The University is one of these peak demand customers,” Amy said. “We in Iowa have some of the lowest utility rates in the country, but for peak demand users, they’re in the top ten highest utility rates in the country. That can be a big problem for universities, manufacturers, even non-profit organizations — anybody that’s a large electric user.”

Troy Van Beek said that together, the vanadium flow battery technology and the tracking system makes the MUM project unique.

“It gives the U a good energy profile for its particular type of energy curve,” he said. “So that gives nice shoulders on the energy that’s being produced throughout the day. It really gives them a good payback on the project itself.”

That’s enough battery talk for today. Here’s something you can meditate upon tonight: The Sun is free and you can harvest whatever heat, light and wind by-products you want, all day, for free.

The technology to do so is not free. The delivery infrastructure is not free. The maintenance, legislation and continuing R&D are not free.

In the end, there will be no more solar mountains as more energy companies shine as brightly as Ideal Energy.

Read more about Ideal Energy’s projects at www.idealenergysolar.com.

The lyrics to Donovan’s song “There is a Mountain” refer to a Buddhist concept often attributed to Qingyuan Weixin, later translated by D.T. Suzuki in his “Essays in Zen Buddhism.

###

Also see Iowa Entrepreneur profiles Ideal Energy, Fairfield. IPTV first aired this 13-minute story, on July 28, 2017.

On Oct 10, 2018, Ideal Energy posted Women Empowered: a short film about the leaders driving Iowa’s energy future.

See The Review story below:

(more…)

KTVO News: Solar power at Maharishi University

July 22, 2010

Solar power at Maharishi University

by Matt Buhrman

With a flip of the switch, solar power is taking over one construction site in the Heartland.

FAIRFIELD, IOWA — Fairfield Mayor Ed Malloy and State Representative Curt Hanson (D-Fairfield), officially started the solar electricity of the Utility Cottage at Maharishi University on Thursday afternoon.

The renewable energy will be used to power all the equipment needed to complete construction on the university’s new Sustainable Living Center (SLC).

The SLC will set a new standard for green building in America by being completely off the grid with respect to electricity, heating and cooling, water, and waste…and it is the first of its kind on any campus in the world.

“As much as we are very excited about what we mark today, we know that in the very near future this will be commonplace. But let this building be a great demonstration model in the meantime to show others how this is done,” Mayor Malloy said.

“Use this as a learning tool and learn from the experiments that are taking place in this building, and perhaps get more of us off the power grid, more of us off foreign oil, more of us energy efficient,” Representative Hanson said.

The SLC will serve students in the university’s Sustainable Living major. Among its features, the building will have classrooms and workshops.

“I know that our future leaders that will really influence education, politics, and society at large are going to be studying and training in this building, at this university. And for that we are very fortunate, and I am very proud,” Mayor Malloy said.

“Hopefully it’s going to be studied by a lot of engineers all over the United States and maybe we can export some of these ideas to the whole nation. So I’m very happy to be here and learn more about this cutting-edge technology,” Representative Hanson added.

Also recognized on Thursday afternoon were students and other community leaders who played a major role in this green initiative.

Video is courtesy of KTVO Television and heartlandconnection.com

Solar Energy to Power Completion of MUM’s Sustainable Living Center

Solar Energy to Power Completion of MUM’s Sustainable Living Center

July 19, 2010

Maharishi University of Management

MUM to Launch Renewable Energy System

Solar panels provide power to complete construction of Sustainable Living Center

 

Photo credit: Robbie Gongwer

Fairfield, Ia, July 20, 2010 – On Thursday, July 22, at 2 pm, Fairfield’s ‘green’ mayor, Ed Malloy, will flip the switch on the solar electricity of the Utility Cottage to use only renewable energy to power all the equipment needed to complete construction of Maharishi University of Management’s (MUM) new Sustainable Living Center. (SLC)

The Sustainable Living Center will set a new standard for green building in America by being completely off the grid with respect to electricity, heating and cooling, water, and waste, and will be the first of its kind on any campus anywhere in the world.

On Earth Day, Whole Tree Posts and Beams were put in place, walls were tilted up, and roof trusses were placed on top of them. The entire shell of the building is now complete and is expected to be ready for occupancy in late fall.

Four Building Philosophies

The Sustainable Living Center features four green building philosophies. It has been designed to meet the Living Building Challenge, the highest standard for sustainable design and green building in the world. It will be one of the first three to achieve this. And it will be unique because it will be the first to combine that standard with the standards of LEED Platinum certification, Building Biology, and Maharishi Vedic Architecture.

Architects talk about 2030 as the year when all buildings will be built this way, sustainable and without a carbon footprint. But MUM is doing it now, with existing technologies and materials. “There’s no other building like this going up in the nation, or in the world for that matter, that we know of,” said nationally known green building expert Mike Nicklas, FAIA, founder and president of Innovative Design, the building’s Project Architects.

To date, Innovative Design has designed over 4750 buildings and more than 100 schools that use renewable energy solutions. Mike Nicklas is the Technical Architect for this project, and Jon Lipman, AIA of Fortune-Creating Buildings, is the Design Architect. Mr. Lipman was responsible for the initial concept, and for the design and Vedic architecture throughout the project.

A Building That Teaches

The Sustainable Living Center will serve students in the university’s Sustainable Living major. It will have classrooms, workshop, meeting room, greenhouse, kitchenette, research lab, recycling center, and offices, as well as east and west covered verandas and a porch on the north.

It has been designed as a building that teaches. In addition to embodying sustainability, it will allow students to monitor performance and energy efficiency and make adjustments.

“The Sustainable Living Center will be a living, evolving building,” said David Fisher, head of the MUM Sustainable Living Department, who helped plan the building. “The building itself is an educational tool, not just a passive one like most classroom buildings. It will provide participatory education where students will be continually adding to, or altering, the building and grounds as well as systematically checking its effectiveness.”

Off the Grid

The Sustainable Living Center will be completely off of the energy and utility grid. Every feature will exemplify healthy and sustainable green building — and will be geared to teaching those principles.

Construction uses all non-toxic materials from local sources, as defined by the Living Building Challenge requirements. All energy will be provided from solar panels on the building and from an outside wind turbine. Rainwater catchment will be the complete source of the building’s water, with purification of drinking water via ultraviolet technology. Wastewater will be treated onsite using a constructed wetland. Natural day lighting will illuminate the entire interior. Geothermal technology will assist with heating and cooling.

An Embodiment of Sustainability That’s Feasible and Practical

This achievement is remarkable because none of the systems in the building are new or experimental, according to developer and construction manager Dal Loiselle. “The Sustainable Living Center is being constructed using ‘state-of-the-shelf technologies,’” he said. “This building proves that we can meet our environmental goals for our built environment with the materials, technologies, and green building protocols we already possess.”

A Community Oriented Toward Sustainability

Sustainability has become a major focus at Maharishi University of Management, which has long used techniques for living in harmony with natural law, including the Transcendental Meditation technique and other Vedic technologies including Vedic Architecture. The University has filed a climate action plan to be 100% carbon neutral by 2020 as part of the American College and University Presidents Climate Commitment.

Fairfield, too, has taken a strong direction toward sustainability, hiring a sustainability coordinator and moving ahead with its Go Green Strategic Plan to become a sustainable city. In 2009, MSN.com named Fairfield Mayor Ed Malloy as one of the nation’s 15 greenest mayors — alongside the mayors of New York, Seattle, San Francisco, Chicago, and Salt Lake City.

“Our city will benefit enormously by having this building on the campus of MUM as a demonstration of a new standard of design and will reinforce our commitment in Fairfield to changing the culture towards a more sustainable future,” Mayor Malloy said.

Industry-Educational Partnerships Industry leaders in green technologies provide sponsorships

The Sustainable Living Center features four green building philosophies, is entirely off grid and has amassed an impressive list of leading corporate sponsors. These industry-educational partnerships showcase a new level of leadership, cooperation and sustainable capitalism unique to green building and sustainable development within the state, nation and world at large.

The Sustainable Living Center has benefited by in-kind donations from these nationally recognized leaders in green building materials: Serious Materials (high performance windows); Pittsburgh Corning (FoamGlas insulation); Gerdau AmeriSteel (rebar); United States Gypsum Corporation (Aqua Tough-paperless drywall); Green Building Supply; SpiderLath Inc (lath mesh to support exterior stucco); and GlobalWatt (PV panels).

GlobalWatt is excited about participating in this special project and is proud to be a Platinum Sponsor. MUM SLC will be one of the very first customers to receive PV panels off the line at their new Saginaw, Michigan manufacturing plant, a former automotive facility. “We are pleased to partner with MUM on this historic educational green building,” says GlobalWatt Director of Sales, Dave Slivinski.

Wege Foundation Grant

There seems to be a Michigan connection here. With GlobalWatt in Michigan, the Kresge Foundation is headquartered in metropolitan Detroit, in the suburb community of Troy, Michigan. They provided MUM with a Planning Grant, and possibly an upcoming Challenge Grant.

Another Michigan foundation, the Wege Foundation, provided a $100,000 grant to fund the Maharishi University of Management Sustainable Living Center to help it achieve the Living Building Challenge. Peter M. Wege, who built Steelcase, Inc. into the largest office-furniture manufacturer, is an environmentalist who founded the Wege Foundation to promote environmental activities primarily in Grand Rapids, Michigan, where Steelcase, Inc. is headquartered. The board of the Wege Foundation made an exception and funded the MUM SLC in Fairfield, Iowa because it is a nationally significant sustainable building. This is the largest Foundation grant the Maharishi University of Management Sustainable Living Center has received to date. In appreciation for this gift the University will name the largest classroom in the Sustainable Living Center, the Peter M. Wege Classroom and Event Center.

The Building will also be a showcase for the public, and will feature meeting rooms, a real-time energy and renewable systems monitor, and displays of materials and building systems featured in the building to showcase partnerships with leading technologies and materials manufacturers. For more information please contact: Marco Sunseri @ 641-472-7000 x2449.

Available for media interviews: Sustainable Living department head David Fisher, construction manager Dal Loiselle, Fairfield Mayor Ed Malloy, and design architect Jon Lipman, AIA. Contact Ken Chawkin, Director of Media Relations.

• • •

Also available here: http://www.mum.edu/sustain/slc and http://www.prweb.com/releases/2010/07/prweb4290894.htm

See KTVO News Report: Solar power at Maharishi University With a flip of the switch, solar power is taking over one construction site in the Heartland. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cU69q2P_R4c


%d bloggers like this: