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  1. Recently, Florida witnessed two very powerful solar inclusions. Martin Next Generation Solar Energy Center completed in 2010 and Jacksonville Solar Project completed in 2013 can together power 12,400 Florida homes. While many in Tampa are considering installing solar panels for their homes and commercial spaces, the one sector that often goes unnoticed is health. Did you know that hospitals across the nation are quietly joining the solar revolution by embracing the sun’s energy? In Central Florida, for instance, James A. Haley VA Medical Center has started its $20 million project to go solar. This is only a reflection of the trend that you may notice in many other parts of the country. Across the US, more and more hospitals are switching to solar to cut costs and reduce their carbon footprint. Boulder Community Hospital Foothills Campus in Boulder, Colorado, Bronson Methodist Hospital in Kalamazoo, Michigan, Laguna Honda Replacement Hospital and Rehabilitation Center in San Francisco, California and The Patrick H. Dollard Discovery Health Center in Harris, New York are some of the green hospitals in the US that have taken a lead role in environment stewardship by embracing solar. So what makes solar such a viable solution for the healthcare sector? Below are some of the major reasons: Embracing Solar Makes a Sound Business Sense In any given economy, hospitals are among the greatest energy consumers of all institutions. Rooftop solar panels help healthcare facilities meet their energy requirements in a cost-effective way. As compared to the rates of conventional resources, solar energy is way more affordable. Most importantly, as opposed to fossil-fuel-based electricity, whose price surges by leaps and bounds every year, the cost of generating solar energy tends to drop with each passing year. A plunge in the energy expenditure will translate into substantial annual savings for hospitals which, in turn, can be utilized for providing better services to patients. Moreover, solar PV systems can open up an additional stream of income for hospitals, too. They can make some extra earning by selling excess electricity to their local grid via Feed-in Tariffs. Solar Provides the Ultimate Solution for Power Back- Up Woes Hospitals need a round-the-clock undisrupted power supply to carry on with their critical operations. Be it for running the basic equipment like fan, light, refrigerators, and air conditioning systems or operating surgical and other critical medical devices, hospitals consume a lot of electricity on a day-to-day basis. But what happens in the case of a power outage? Shortage in power supply may bring the entire system to a grinding halt. Investing in an in-house solar plant can enable hospitals to deal with such emergencies. In fact, the cost of power backup can be brought down virtually to zero by running hospitals on solar. This saving, in turn, helps hospitals to improve their bottom lines. As opposed to noisy, fume-spewing diesel generators, solar electricity is clean and green and thus helps maintain a peaceful environment within the premise. Solar Opens Up Access to Government Funds Across the country, different types of financial incentives are available at the national, state, and local levels that hospitals can avail for installing solar panels on their premises. For example, in California, the state's Energy Commission provides financing for hospitals through low-interest loans for feasibility studies and the installation of energy-saving measures under its Energy Efficiency Financing Program. In many other states, funds are available in a variety of forms including grants, tax credits, loans, and more. Many Tampa homes have opted for solar panels for residential use. The good news is that solar for hospitals are also catching up fast. This is an inspiring trend which will hopefully help many more people to embrace solar in their daily lives.
  2. With more than 130,000 workers currently employed in its renewable energy sector, Florida is currently undergoing a green-tech boom. While a number of cities are making their presence felt in the field of alternative energy, Tampa is leading the pack with the city currently boasting almost 9 Megawatts of customer-owned PVs. According to industry watchers, biofuel is the next big thing which is going to happen to the city’s green energy sector. Tampa Is Turning Its Trash into Cash Biomass is already a popular source of alternative energy in the US with this biomass-derived green fuel accounting for roughly half of all the renewable energy produced across the nation. In fact people in the US use more of it than any other country in the world. According to renewable energy thought leaders, as one of the most prolific sources of biomass in the United States, Tampa is poised to play a bigger role in this sector in the upcoming years. Apart from being a highly populated city, Tampa attracts millions of tourists every year, subsequently contributing to the establishment of hundreds of municipal waste facilities. With the city using these facilities to their full potential, this great volume of waste is creating huge financial opportunities for the city of sun and sand. New jobs are being created. Most importantly it is stirring up huge public interest in alternative fuels. More and more people are becoming aware of the benefits of switching from traditional fossil fuel based energy to alternative energy. All these are opening up new research opportunities and attracting investments, subsequently boosting the job market in and around the city. Ethanol-Based Biofuel Technologies Are Shaping Florida’s Energy Future Ethanol, which is a renewable fuel mainly produced from agricultural crops such as sugar cane and corn, can go a long way to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and cut down the nation’s dependency on imported oil. In addition, green fuel generation will create jobs, subsequently stimulating the local economies. A number of research projects are being carried on in some of Tampa Bay area’s premier institutions that are focused on developing, assessing, and commercializing the technologies that may help produce sustainable Ethanol-based biofuels from inedible sources, such as biomass and algae. Green energy firm Algenol is a good case in point. This Fort Myers-based company is bringing an algae-based ethanol product to the market for the first time through a distributorship contract with a Boca Raton-based marketing company. In a news statement, the company CEO Paul Woods said that this ethanol-based product, christened as Algenol, is more efficient than its corn-based counterparts. While Algenol yields a whopping 8,000 gallons of fuel per acre per year, for corn-based ethanol the figure stands at an annual production of only 420 gallons per acre. Wood is hopeful that through its partnership with the Boca Raton firm, Algenol will be able to distribute 18 million gallons of algae-derived ethanol every year. The fuel can be used by the region’s retail fuel stations as well as fleet vehicle applications. MagneGas, Too, Holds Promise The brainchild of ex-Harvard and Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) Professor Ruggero Santilli, MagneGas is another alternative energy product that is hugely helping the Sunshine State in its journey toward energy independence. Made from liquid waste, such as vegetable oil, MagneGas provides a cleaner alternative to natural gas and is ideal for powering bio-fuel vehicles, cooking and heating. The fact that over 100,000 cylinders were sold in just three years, the product seems to hold strong market potential. Companies with a stake in the green energy sector are pumping in millions of dollars to pave the way for cleaner and potentially more affordable fuel solutions. Thanks to these initiatives concerning alternative energy, Tampa has emerged as one of the commendable forces in the clean-tech space. A strong partnership between the corporate sector and the universities can help the state take bigger strides toward a greener future.
  3. As consumers across the US are becoming increasingly aware of the boons of using renewable energy solutions and even businesses are reducing their dependence on fossil fuels, the solar solutions industry is flourishing in several US states including the bustling and sunny city of Tampa that has emerged as a hub of renewable energy. Currently, hundreds of solar technology companies are catering to residential and commercial needs in the city, offering a variety of solutions, right from solar lighting to solar hot water systems, solar pool heating and more. A combination of Federal tax incentives, grants and easy loans for such projects and the diminishing cost of solar equipment is not only spurring solar energy projects across the city but also calling for more manpower to join the trade. The role of solar solutions is therefore not just restricted to a consumer’s personal financial gains, in terms of reduced power bills, or even restricted to environmental benefits in terms of less use of fossil fuels emitting toxic gases. The rapid adoption of solar technology is actually benefiting the entire city of Tampa and the nation’s economy at large by creating jobs and generating work opportunities, too. How Solar Solution Companies are Boosting Job Creation: The US solar market is the third largest in the world. The total contribution of the solar industry to the US economy has been estimated at a whopping 15 billion dollars. Earlier this year, a Bloomberg report revealed that US solar companies ramped up their hiring by 22 percent in the year 2014. According to the Solar Foundation, approximately 170,000 people are currently employed across various solar companies in the country. Given its labor-intensive nature, it is hardly surprising that by the end of this year, another 36,000 solar jobs are likely to be added to the sector. Tampa, too, is riding the wave with the city’s solar tech companies bringing hundreds of high paying jobs in the city over the past few years. The local administration is encouraging both home grown and multinational renewable energy companies to set up facilities in the city by assisting land acquisition, permits and related matters.Being labour-intensive, solar energy companies can create more jobs than the traditional power sector. Since the solar manufacturing facilities typically leverage the local workforce, the firms’ investments remain right with the local communities. This in turn is helping to boost the local economy. High-in-demand solar jobs include technicians in the manufacturing facilities, installers, experts in research and development sectors and people in sales and marketing. Why Solar Solutions are a Hit in Tampa: A typical residential 1kWp (kilowatt peak) PV panel can provide 2.5kWh (kilowatt hours) to 5kWh output per day. In other words, it can generate approximately 900kWh to 1800kWh electricity per year. The adoption of solar is helping reduce pressure on the city’s power grid. According to the National Renewable Energy Laboratory’s estimation, rooftop solar panel installations, on an average, can enable households to avoid enough CO2 emission, offsetting the polluting effects of two cars running for 28 years. As such they are doing a commendable job in reducing the city’s carbon footprint. The Way Ahead: As we can see, the proliferation of solar power is aiding in economic recovery in the U.S in ways more than one. Looks like, backed by the right policies, solar energy can even steer the nation toward complete energy independence. Keen to capitalize in the consumers’ growing interests in the alternative energy technologies as well as maintain a steady job creation process in this thriving sector, solar solution companies in Tampa are pressing for the development of industry standards and regulations for the renewable energy projects, enhancement in the city’s transmission capacities and expansion of tax benefits and other financial incentives.