SMUD sponsors solar model car competition

Electric vehicles (EVs) hold a lot of promise for greening the transportation sector, and could do even more if the electricity that powers them comes from the sun. To encourage the next generation of consumers to think about automotive innovation, SMUD You are leaving WAPA.gov. sponsors an annual Solar Car Race for high school students.

Students competing in the Solar Car Race all start with the same kit and then add custom touches.

Students competing in the Solar Car Race all start with the same kit and then add custom touches. (Photo by SMUD)

More than 300 high school students competed in this year’s event, held at Cosumnes River College You are leaving WAPA.gov. on April 19, as part of Earth Week. The competition is open to any high school in SMUD’s service territory.

Community comes together
The race took place in the college’s quad, and the construction department designed and built the wooden race track used by the racers. The event also gives students an excellent opportunity to visit a community college campus and experience what it has to offer.

The Sacramento Electric Vehicle Association You are leaving WAPA.gov. and EV owners were also on hand to exhibit many models of available EVs and to discuss the technology and benefits of driving a plug-in hybrid electric vehicle.

Tools for students, teachers
SMUD provides each school registered with up to six solar car kits, which contain a 12-watt solar module from PITSCO You are leaving WAPA.gov. and car accessories from Solar MadeYou are leaving WAPA.gov. Using the same solar panels, motors and gear sets as a jumping-off point, the students choose their own materials and design the car they are going to race. The entries compete for not only the fastest car, but also for best design, most sustainable, best engineering and most creative design. Each participating student receives an event t-shirt, also provided by SMUD.

In addition to the kits, SMUD also offers professional development workshops for teachers interested in using the solar-powered cars in their science or physics curriculums. A variety of workshops and training, exhibits and online resources are available to both teachers and students through SMUD’s Energy Education & Technology Center.

Racing toward future
Participation in the solar car race has doubled since it began 13 years ago, which is not surprising in a territory that has around 8,000 electric vehicles. The Solar Car Race is loosely based on the Department of Energy’s Junior Solar Sprint, a classroom-based national competition of solar-powered model cars for students, grades six through eight.

As a community-owned, not-for-profit utility, SMUD is focused on balancing its commitment to low rates with the goal of supporting regional vitality, and education is central to that effort. Through events like the race, the Solar Regatta and an Energy Fair, SMUD gives back to its community, while helping to develop the professionals who will create the energy solutions of the future.

Source: SMUD, 4/24/17

Applicants line up for LADWP feed-in tariff

The Los Angeles Department of Water And Power’s Redirecting to a non-government site (LADWP) new feed-in tariff (FiT) already has more applicants for its first round than were planned for in the whole program.

In the FiT program’s first week of accepting applications, requests represented 107 megawatts (MW) of potential new generating capacity. LADWP is offering only 20 MW’s worth of contracts in the first round. The agreements will run for 20 years, and pay from 17 to 13 cents per kilowatt-hour (kWh).

Some applications may be deemed infeasible, even before the formal proposal review. But LADWP Senior Assistant General Manager Aram Benyamin was pleased with the tremendous response to the program. “We expect that following the project review that will take place over the coming months, the first FiT projects will be on their way toward generating 20 MW of renewable solar energy for Los Angeles,” he said.

The applications cover 97 projects throughout DWP’s service area, with more than half the proposals sited in the San Fernando Valley. The program splits projects into two tiers: smaller projects from 30-150 kilowatts, and larger ones running up to 3 MW in capacity. Only 22 small project applications were submitted, possibly because the relatively low payment of 17 cents per kWh made those projects less economically viable.

Utilities offering feed-in tariffs contract with smaller power generators to pay a premium rate for all the power the system produces. Unlike net metering, the energy producers are not necessarily tied to a metered account, so instead of offsetting their energy use, they receive payment for their power. Governments and power providers use FiTs as an incentive to develop renewable energy systems. Germany and Australia have implemented different types of FiTs with notable success, if different results in both cases. Source: KCET via SEPA News, 2/19/13