California Sets Goal Of 100 Percent Clean Electric Power By 2045

California has established an ambitious goal of relying entirely on zero-emission energy sources for its electricity by the year 2045.

Gov. Jerry Brown signed a bill mandating the electricity target on Monday. He also issued an executive order calling for statewide carbon neutrality — meaning California “removes as much carbon dioxide from the atmosphere as it emits” — by the same year.

“This bill and the executive order put California on a path to meet the goals of Paris and beyond,” Brown said in a statement. “It will not be easy. It will not be immediate. But it must be done.”

As the Trump administration rolls back federal efforts to combat climate change, California has actively pursued a leading role in the international fight against global warming.

The latest announcement comes shortly before Brown heads to San Francisco for the Global Climate Action Summit.

The bill specifically requires that 50 percent of California’s electricity to be powered by renewable resources by 2025 and 60 percent by 2030, while calling for a “bold path” toward 100 percent zero-carbon electricity by 2045. (“Zero-carbon” sources include nuclear power, which is not renewable.)

Previously, California had mandated 50 percent renewable electricity by 2030.

California is not the first state with such ambitions — in 2015, Hawaii established a goal of 100 percent renewable electricity sources by 2045.

But, as KQED’s Lauren Sommer reported last year, “California uses about 30 times more electricity than Hawaii and is the fifth largest economy in the world.”

California already gets a substantial portion of its electricity from renewable resources.

The California Energy Commission estimates that 32 percent of retail energy sales were powered by renewable sources last year.

But the supply of renewable energy varies from day to day — even moment to moment.

NPR’s Planet Money reported that on a sunny day this June, nearly 50 percent of the state’s electricity came from solar energy alone.

But as Sommer reported last year, that variability means it’s tricky to get renewable energy supply to match up with electricity demand:

“The sun and wind aren’t always producing power when Californians need it most, namely, in the evening.

“The state’s other power plants, like natural gas and nuclear, aren’t as flexible as they need to be to handle those ups and downs. Hydropower offers the most flexibility but is scarce during drought years.”

Large-scale energy storage systems can help address that problem, Sommer said, as could a “better-connected transmission grid system.”

California has dramatically stepped up its climate-change policies four times in the last four years, as Capital Public Radio’s Ben Bradford reported last month.

Before the new 100 percent zero-emission goal, lawmakers approved “higher renewable energy use, tighter greenhouse gas targets, and extension of the cap-and-trade program,” he wrote.

The new bill was supported by Democrats who emphasized the damaging consequences of climate change, while opposed by state Republicans who highlighted the policy’s financial costs, Bradford reported.

California’s utilities had been on track to meet the previous goal, of 50 percent clean power by 2030, “but scientists debate whether cost-efficient 100 percent clean energy is feasible or if it would require new technological advances,” Bradford wrote.

Some cities across the U.S. have attained 100 percent renewable electricity or energy supplies — including Aspen, Colo., Burlington, Vt., and Georgetown, Texas.

And earlier this year, for one entire month, Portugal produced enough renewable energy to meet its entire electrical demand — although the country did rely on fossil fuels to balance out the periodic disconnect between supply and demand.

As NPR reported at the time:

“For most countries in the world, a fully renewable energy supply still seems like a challenging target. Some small island nations have managed it — and a few larger countries, too.

Iceland and Norway meet essentially all of their electrical needs through hydro and geothermal power, and have for years — but those countries take advantage of extraordinary geology, making the accomplishment hard to replicate.

“Several small islands are all-green, but larger countries are rare. On particularly windy days in 2015 and 2017, Denmark exceeded its electrical needs through wind power alone.

“And several times in the past few years, Costa Rica has kept on the lights through on all-renewable power for several months, fueled by heavy rains that fed into hydroelectric facilities.”

CorrectionSept. 10, 2018

A previous version of this story stated that California was setting a goal for 100 percent renewable electrical energy sources. In fact, the ultimate goal calls for zero-emissions sources, which include renewable resources as well as nuclear power, which is a non-renewable zero-carbon energy source.


This article was originally published on on Sept 10, 2018 by Camila Domonoske


Tomatoes and cucumbers appear to grow just fine—and just as healthily—in smart, solar-powered greenhouses that capture solar energy for electricity.

Scientists from the University of California, Santa Cruz, have shown how crops can grow as healthily in these new greenhouses as they do in conventional greenhouses.

“We have demonstrated that ‘smart greenhouses’ can capture solar energy for electricity without reducing plant growth, which is pretty exciting,” Michael Loik, professor of environmental studies at UCSC, said in a press release. Loik is the lead author for the paper, published in the American Geophysical Union’s journal Earth’s Future. 

Solar Power Trapped by a Red Roof

Bright magenta panels cover the tops of the greenhouses, soaking up sunlight and transferring the energy to photovoltaic strips. From there, electricity is produced.

The greenhouses are able to take sunlight for energy and leave the rest, allowing plants to grow using a technology called Wavelength-Selective Photovoltaic Systems (WSPVs). The technology, developed by co-authors Sue Carter and Glenn Alers, is less expensive and more efficient than traditional photovoltaic systems.

The team tested the growth and fruit production across 20 varieties of tomatoes, cucumbers, lemons, limes, peppers, strawberries and basil at two locations at the Santa Cruz campus and one in Watsonville, California. Scientists reported that 80 percent of the plants were unaffected by the slightly darker lighting from the magenta panels, and 20 percent of the crops grew better. Tomato plants needed 5 percent less water under the magenta panels.

Reducing the energy used in greenhouses is crucial since the use of greenhouses to grow food has increased by sixfold in the past 20 years, according to Loik.

Solar-powered greenhouses are one of several developments for new ways of farming in recent years.

Plants grown in the smart greenhouse were just as good as plants grown in conventional greenhouses. NICK GONZALES

Smart Greenhouse Detects Infestations

Another company, NatureSweet, has outfitted its greenhouses in Arizona with artificial intelligence, reported CNN. The plants are monitored with 10 cameras installed in the greenhouse ceilings which continuously take photographs to detect insect infestations or dying plants.

The software, developed by a company called Prospera, recognizes those problem spots and sends feedback 24/7. Previously, reported CNN, NatureSweet’s employees walked through the greenhouse in order to spot issues with the plants.

Green roofs are another method of growing food in an attempt to utilize space and close gaps in access to foods in urban areas.

In Washington, D.C., Up Top Acres has opened five urban farms on the rooftops of buildings since 2015, reported Washington City PaperGreen roofs improve storm-water collection, habitat protection and energy preservation, in addition to providing food. The company’s co-founder, Kathleen O’Keefe, told the paper that the company may not produce enough food for the city, but green roofs can change the way people think about food, in addition to utilizing unused space.

This article was originally published by BY  


Solar Owners Must Have The Correct Tax Appetite To Match Their Solar Energy Credits

tax credits

One of the major reasons taxpayers are drawn to business opportunities in the solar
space are the benefits provided by solar energy tax credits. Although solar tax credits are substantial, taxpayers might not reap the full benefits unless the taxpayers have the correct tax appetite. Solar tax credits are subject to the passive loss rules under the Internal Revenue Code, which means taxpayers can only use solar tax credits to offset passive income unless the taxpayers can demonstrate material participation in the trade or business.

When solar energy property is placed in service, the taxpayers who own such property are eligible for solar tax credits. The amount of the solar tax credits is a percentage of the qualified basis of such solar property. In the case of solar property, the construction of which begins on or before Dec. 31, 2019, the solar tax credit is equal to 30% of the qualified basis of such solar property. For solar property, the construction of which begins after Dec. 31, 2019, and before Jan. 1, 2021, the solar tax credit is equal to 26% of the qualified basis of such solar property. For solar property, the construction of which begins after Dec. 31, 2020, and before Jan. 1, 2022, the solar tax credit is equal to 22% of the qualified basis of such solar property. For solar property, the construction of which begins after Dec. 31, 2021, the solar tax credit is equal to 10% of the qualified basis of such solar property.

Notwithstanding the forgoing, there will be no solar tax credit for residential solar property, the construction of which begins after Dec. 31, 2021, which is owned by the owner of the home. The solar tax credit will remain at 10% for residential solar property owned by a third party through a power purchase agreement.

Advertisement Soltec

Solar tax credits are subject to the passive loss rules under Code Section 469 and its regulations. “Passive activity” is defined as any activity involving the conduct of any trade or business in which the taxpayer does not materially participate. As a result, solar tax credits can only be used to offset tax liability attributable to passive income unless the taxpayer can demonstrate material participation by satisfying one of the seven material participation tests set forth in the tax regulations. “Material participation” means involvement in the operations of an activity that is “regular, continuous, and substantial.”

The seven material participation tests set forth in the regulations are as follows:

(1) Hourly safe harbor: The taxpayer participates in an activity for more than 500 hours during the current taxable year.

(2) Primary participant: The taxpayer’s participation in the activity for the current taxable year constitutes substantially all of the participation of all individuals in the activity (including individuals who are not owners of interest in the activity). As such, under Test 2, only one of the principals can satisfy the material participation test. In order for the taxpayer to satisfy Test 2, the taxpayer cannot have employees or non-employees performing most of the work. Discrete tasks, such as appropriate delegation of maintenance and servicing of solar property, or the performance of ministerial tasks, would not defeat the taxpayer’s ability to meet Test 2 so long as the taxpayer remains the primary participant and can demonstrate material participation in the trade or business. Although there is no hourly requirement to meet Test 2, the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) generally looks to see at least 100 hours of material participation from the taxpayer.

(3) Maximum participant: A taxpayer participates in the activity for more than 100 hours during the current taxable year, and such participation is not less than the participation in the activity of any other individual (including individuals who are not owners of interests in the activity). As such, if there are multiple active principals in a company owning solar property, while satisfying the 100-plus-hour requirement under Test 3, each active principal cannot participate less than anyone else, including the other active principals. There would have to be an equal division of activity across all of the active principals, at a minimum of 100-plus hours each.

(4) Significant participation activity aggregation: The activity is a significant participation activity (SPA), and the taxpayer’s aggregate participation in all SPAs during the current taxable year exceeds 500 hours. An SPA is generally an activity in which the taxpayer participates for more than 100 hours during the current taxable year but by itself does not qualify as a material participation activity otherwise.

(5) Historical participation: The taxpayer materially participated in the activity for any five years (whether or not consecutive) during the 10 years immediately preceding the current taxable year.

(6) Personal service activity: The taxpayer materially participated in a personal service activity related to the solar property (professions or trades in which capital is not an income-producing factor) for any three years (whether or not consecutive) preceding the current taxable year.

(7) Facts and circumstances: The taxpayer does not meet material participation Tests 1-6, but based on all of the facts and circumstances, the taxpayer participates in the activity on a regular, continuous and substantial basis during the taxable year. The taxpayer must participate in the activity for at least 100 hours a year under this test. Time spent managing the activity will not count towards the 100-plus hours if any individual other than the taxpayer receives compensation for managing the activity, or if another person spent more hours than the taxpayer managing the activity.

A taxpayer’s participation in an activity may be established by “any reasonable means.” These means may include “contemporaneous daily reports, logs or similar documents,” but such documents are not required if the taxpayer identifies the “services performed over a period of time and the approximate number of hours spent performing such services … based on appointment books, calendars or narrative summaries.”

For purposes of analyzing whether a taxpayer is a material participant, it is important to distinguish between work that is customarily performed by owners, which does qualify, from participation as an investor, which does not qualify.

Examples of work performed as an investor that is not treated as material participation include “studying and reviewing financial statements or reports on operations of the activity” and “preparing or compiling summaries or analyses of the finances or operations of the activity for the individual’s own use.” Taxpayers are cautioned that if they delegate to others a significant portion of the work that is required to control and operate the business, the taxpayers’ own material participation may not be considered “regular, continuous and substantial.”

The material participation of the taxpayer is not the only factor to consider when determining whether solar tax credits can be used to offset active income. The IRS also looks at the type of business entity that owns the solar property. Specifically, the IRS has taken the position that limited partners in a limited partnership and members of a limited liability company (LLC) created under state law are presumed not to materially participate in the business entities that own the solar property.

Taxpayers often enter into a business structure that involves an LLC as the holding company of the entity that owns and operates the solar property. Taxpayers may create a holding company to serve as the sole manager/member of a single member LLC that owns, installs and manages the solar property. The Internal Revenue Code provides that unless the exceptions under the tax regulations are met, “no interest in a limited partnership as a limited partner shall be treated as an interest with respect to which a taxpayer materially participates.”

Under most state laws, an LLC member has limited liability. As a result, the IRS has historically treated LLC members like limited partners to the extent that they are presumed not to materially participate in their respective trades or businesses.

The tax regulations do provide three exceptions to the general rule under the code that limited partners (or LLC members) cannot materially participate in their trade or business. The three exceptions to the general rule are when the limited partner (or LLC member) is found to meet material participation Test 1 (500-hour safe harbor), Test 5 (historical participation) or Test 6 (personal service activity).

In contrast to the position taken by the IRS, there is a line of case law that rejects the IRS’ position that LLC members are, by virtue of the limited liability provisions of state laws, equivalent to limited partners. The courts have expanded the means by which limited partners or LLC members can demonstrate material participation by allowing such taxpayers to use any one of the seven material participation tests. Although the IRS has not formally adopted the treatment of limited partners and LLC members by the courts with respect to material participation, the prevailing view is that all seven material participation tests are applicable to limited partners and LLC members.

Taxpayers with a significant appetite for the use of passive tax credits can take full advantage of solar tax credits without consideration as to whether they are materially participating in their respective trade or business. In contrast, taxpayers with an appetite to use solar tax credits to offset active income must demonstrate material participation.

Based on the prevailing case law, it is possible for LLC members to demonstrate material participation by meeting any one of the seven material participation tests. It is recommended that both the LLC operating agreement and individual business activity of the LLC member reflect that the LLC member takes part in “controlling the business.” That way, the taxpayer will be subject to the “general partner” exception under the tax regulations.

Regardless of the type of business structure that owns the solar property, all taxpayers are recommended to consider the type of income they have to offset (passive or active) and, if necessary, whether material participation can be demonstrated in order to maximize the benefits of solar tax credits.

This article was originally published by


Airbus Zephyr Solar High Altitude Pseudo-Satellite flies for longer than any other aircraft during its successful maiden flight

  • Touch down after 25 days, 23 hours, and 57 minutes
  • System capabilities demonstrated
  • Maiden Flight objectives achieved

Farnborough, 8 August 2018 – Airbus Defence and Space announced the successful landing of its first production aircraft of the Zephyr programme, the new Zephyr S HAPS (High Altitude Pseudo-Satellite). After taking off on 11th July in Arizona, USA, Zephyr S logged a maiden flight of over 25 days, the longest duration flight ever made. An application has been made to establish this as a new world record. This maiden flight of the solar-powered Zephyr S proves the system capabilities and achieved all the flight’s engineering objectives.

The previous longest flight duration record was also logged by a Zephyr prototype aircraft a few years ago, achieving then more than 14 days continuous flight, which already was ten times longer than any other aircraft in the world.

This new record flight was supported by the UK government and reflects the UK Ministry of Defence’s position as the first customer for this innovative and potentially game-changing capability.

General Sir Chris Deverell, Commander UK’s Joint Forces Command, said:

“This is a great example of how JFC is at the heart of innovation for UK Defence. We are demonstrating new technology that puts our Armed forces at the cutting edge of communication and surveillance”

Zephyr is the world’s leading, solar–electric, stratospheric Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV). It harnesses the sun’s rays, running exclusively on solar power, above the weather and conventional air traffic; filling a capability gap complimentary to satellites, UAVs and manned aircraft to provide persistent local satellite-like services.

“This very successful maiden flight represents a new significant milestone in the Zephyr programme, adding a new stratospheric flight endurance record which we hope will be formalised very shortly. We will in the coming days check all engineering data and outputs and start the preparation of additional flights planned for the second half of this year from our new operating site at the Wyndham airfield in Western Australia” said Jana Rosenmann, Head of Unmanned Aerial Systems at Airbus.

Zephyr will bring new see, sense and connect capabilities to both commercial and military customers. Zephyr will provide the potential to revolutionize disaster management, including monitoring the spread of wildfires or oil spills. It provides persistent surveillance, tracing the world’s changing environmental landscape and will be able to provide communications to the most unconnected parts of the world.

This article was originally published Aug 9 on

Dynamic Supplemental Sunlight For Your Grow Facility

John Perricone and Jonathan Cachat, PhD, co-founders of SunGrown Zero, aim to completely upend the current industry standards in cannabis related energy consumption.

John Perricone was an outdoor cultivator for over 17 years; he’s witnessed some dramatic changes over the past decade as the industry moves into large-scale commercialization. When he sold his farm in 2016, he committed himself to improving one of the largest issues the industry faces to date: increasing energy costs, decreasing wholesale values & increase supply.

Energy consumption of the cannabis industry has skyrocketed, keeping pace with the expansion of indoor production facilities. It’s not uncommon to see 50,000 sq. ft. to 100,000 sq. ft facilities these days, whose energy consumption, even with the most energy efficient, advanced LED technology, is unsurpassed. According to some experts, cannabis accounts for three percent of the energy consumption in the state of Colorado.

Through their partnership with Solatube International, Inc., Perricone and Cachat have developed a dynamic supplemental sunlight technology explicitly catering to the indoor marijuana market. SunGrown Zero is less than a year old, but already it has shown pretty dramatic results from their natural lighting innovations. The company has benefited from the legacy data & models, which Dr. Cachat collected over three years, spending $3.5MM in research & development. So while SunGrown Zero is relatively new, it was born out of research experience and filled with proven team members.


Dynamic Supplemental Sunlight

Solatube International, Inc. never intended on developing technology for the cannabis market. In fact, their focus has always been to bring natural light into an indoor space, to create an environment of clean, white, full-spectrum light, suitable for people. Over the last 30 years, they have become an industry standard for improving environments in office spaces, schools and the like, with their Tubular Daylighting Devices, which are even used to light massive indoor facilities like the Dubai Ski Resort.

The Solatuve SkyVault Series, now incorporated into SunGrown Zero’s cannabis-focused technology, is a daylighting system which brings 99.7% of the visible light spectrum (which plants favor). Most importantly, it does so with virtually no heat and infrared of the sun’s energy. As any indoor grower currently operating with an HID lighting system will admit, the ongoing issues related to heat, humidity, and, air exchange are no joke. Perricone’s system of harnessing natural daylight removes these concerns entirely.


The Savings Of Daylight Technologies

Although commonly assumed to be a lighting solution, Perricone makes clear SunGrown Zero is a total facility design. Cachat’s innovation incorporated the SkyVault Series daylight technology, in conjunction with an integrated supplemental lighting system. In regions with fewer days of sunlight, during the winter months, or throughout the different stages of cannabis growth, crops can benefit from different types of supplemental light.

In Cachat’s original testing facility, he successfully grew high-grade, medical marijuana relying on Solatube Daylighting Systems to fuel photosynthesis & LED to drive plant development. Now, with the introduction of specific light spectrums during the vegetative and flowering stages, the capacity of the system has been exponentially improved. “Using LED’s to drive photosynthesis and quite literally trick the plant into believing its fall allows us to shave two weeks off of the flowering cycle,” Dr. Cachat explained.  With total indoor environmental monitoring, the SunGrown Zero system maintains the perfect PAR reading, temperature, and humidity facility-wide. Unlike conventional HID based facilities, no heat exchange is required, which means there is no need to expel excess heat nor to introduce cool air (the number one cause of mold and mildew development).

The potential cost savings with the introduction of daylight technology indoors are dramatic. Perricone estimates that depending on region (and therefore the supplemental light requirements) most facilities using SunGrown Zero system & technology can efficiently grow high-grade marijuana with only six to ten watts per sq. ft. In comparison, LEDs require roughly 35 to 40 watts per sq. ft. and HIDS over a 100. Clearly, there are exponential energy savings to be had, especially in large-scale commercial operations over 50,000 sq. ft. We are talking about reducing millions of kWh/mth to a couple hundred thousand kWh/mth – this represents savings over $800,000/year per 10,000 sq ft of canopy.


Next Moves For Sun Grown Zero

Today, Perricone says that he’s found most growers don’t believe the hype around the SkyVault Series. They have to see it to believe it. Describing daylight technology just doesn’t do it justice. To address this issue, SunGrown Zero has taken their technology on the road, with a custom-built trailer with the SkyVault Series technology installed. With this trailer, Perricone can put the full-spectrum lighting technology on bright and vivid display. No matter the weather, the PAR readings inside the trailer when the SkyVaults are opened, are almost unbelievable. For the naked eye, its full-spectrum daylight, inside an enclosed space.

Perricone and Cachat are set to build their first flagship facility, a 10,000 sq. ft. space dedicated to active indoor cannabis cultivation. They also plan to design it as a teaching facility. Once complete, they plan to invite clients into their facility for real hands-on experience working within dynamic supplemental sunlight grow operation. As word spreads about the potential costs savings and energy efficiency of a SunGrown Zero designed facility, Perricone foresees it will become the industry standard for new builds in five years.

This article was originally published in

%d bloggers like this: