Solar Acronyms and Definitions

Solar Acronyms and Definitions1

ACELA: American Clean Energy Leadership Act, also known as S. 1462, is the Senate’s version of the ACES Bill.

ACES: American Clean Energy and Security Act of 2009, also known as the Waxman-Markey Bill or HR 2454, includes a cap-and-trade global warming reduction plan designed to reduce economy-wide greenhouse gas emissions 17 percent by 2020. Other provisions include new renewable requirements for utilities, studies and incentives regarding new carbon capture and sequestration technologies, energy efficiency incentives for homes and buildings, and grants for green jobs, among other things.

ACP/SACP: Alternative compliance payment (ACP) and solar alternative compliance payments (SACP) provide suppliers an option for compliance with renewable energy portfolio standards (RPS), in instances of renewable energy certificate (REC) scarcity or unavailability, or in cases where the price is unexpectedly high due to the exertion of market power.

ARRA: American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, also called HR 1, was the Recovery Act implemented by President Obama directly after his inauguration in January 2009. From this Act stemmed numerous solar programs including the Dept of Energy Loan Guarantee Program (DOE LGP), the Treasury Grant Program, and the Manufacturing Investment Tax Credit (MITC).

ASES: Established in 1954, the American Solar Energy Society is an association of solar professionals and advocates. Their mission is to inspire an era of energy innovation and speed the transition to a sustainable energy economy. We advance education, research and policy.

AWEA: The American Wind Energy Association is the national trade association for the wind industry.

BIPV: Building Integrated Photovoltaics (BIPV) refers to photovoltaic systems integrated with an object’s building phase. It means that they are built/constructed along with an object and are planned together with the object. Yet, they could be built later on. The following BIPV systems are recognized:

  • Facade or roof systems added after the building was built
  • Facade integrated photovoltaic systems built along with an object
  • Roof-integrated photovoltaic systems built along with an object
  • “Shadow-Voltaic” – PV systems also used as shadowing systems, built along with an object or added later

BCSE: The Business Council for Sustainable Energy is an organization dedicated to implementing market-based approaches to reducing pollution and providing a diverse, secure mix of energy resources. Founded in 1992 by senior executives in the natural gas, energy efficiency, electric utility, and renewable energy industries, the Council offers a distinct, business-oriented perspective on energy, environmental and sustainability issues. The Council also has an extensive global network through its sister organizations in the United Kingdom, Europe, and Australia. Together this network launched the International Council for Sustainable Energy in December 2007 in Bali, Indonesia — creating a strategic alliance that represents clean energy companies and industry associations around the world.

CHP: Combined heat and power (CHP) or cogeneration is the use of a heat engine or a power station to simultaneously generate both electricity and useful heat. It is one of the most common forms of energy recycling.

CREB: In July, 2005, Congress passed the Energy Tax Incentives Act of 2005. Among a number of other tax incentives, the Act permits State and local governments, cooperative electric companies, clean renewable energy bond lenders and Indian tribal governments to issue “clean renewable energy bonds” (CREBs) to finance certain renewable energy and clean coal facilities.

CSP: Concentrated Solar Power, used in utility-scale solar power plants.

DG: Distributed generation, also called on-site generation, dispersed generation, embedded generation, decentralized generation, decentralized energy or distributed energy, generates electricity from many small energy sources. It reduces the amount of energy lost in transmitting electricity because the electricity is generated very near where it is used, perhaps even in the same building. This also reduces the size and number of power lines that must be constructed. Typical distributed power sources in a Feed-in Tariff (FIT) scheme have low maintenance, low pollution and high efficiencies. Modern embedded systems can provide these traits with automated operation and renewables, such as sunlight, wind and geothermal.

DISCO: Distribution Company or Distribution Utility (Disco) is the regulated electric utility entity that constructs and maintains the distribution wires connecting the transmission grid to the final customer. The Disco can also perform other services such as aggregating customers, purchasing power supply and transmission services for customers, billing customers and reimbursing suppliers, and offering other regulated or non-regulated energy services to retail customers. The “wires” and “customer service” functions provided by a distribution utility could be split so that two totally separate entities are used to supply these two types of distribution services.

DOE LGP: The Department of Energy Loan Guarantee Program establishes a temporary DOE loan guarantee program for renewable energy projects, renewable energy manufacturing facilities and electric power transmission projects. Appropriates $6 billion to pay the credit subsidy costs, which should support $60 billion worth of loan guarantees. Eligible renewable projects are those that generate electricity or thermal energy and facilities that manufacture related comonents. Projects must commence construction by September 30, 2011. Davis‐Bacon wage requirements (prevailing federal wage) apply to any project receiving a loan guarantee.

DSM: Demand Side Management (DSM), also known as Energy Demand Management, entails actions that influence the quantity or patterns of use of energy consumed by end users, such as actions targeting reduction of peak demand during periods when energy-supply systems are constrained. Peak demand management does not necessarily decrease total energy consumption but could be expected to reduce the need for investments in networks and/or power plants.

EERS: An Energy Efficiency Resource Standard (EERS) is a simple, market-based mechanism to encourage more efficient generation, transmission, and use of electricity and natural gas. An EERS consists of electric and/or gas energy savings targets for utilities, often with flexibility to achieve the target through a market-based trading system.

EIS: An environmental impact statement (EIS) under United States environmental law, is a document required by the National Environmental Policy Act for federal government agency actions “significantly affecting the quality of the human environment.” A tool for decision making, an EIS describes the positive and negative environmental effects of proposed agency action – and cites alternative actions.

FERC: The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission regulates and oversees energy industries in the economic, environmental, and safety interests of the American public.

FIT: A feed-in tariff (FIT) is a policy mechanism designed to encourage the adoption of renewable energy sources. It typically includes three key provisions: 1) guaranteed grid access, 2) long-term contracts for the electricity produced, and 3) purchase prices that are methodologically based on the cost of renewable energy generation. Under a feed-in tariff, an obligation is imposed on regional or national electricity utilities to buy renewable electricity from all eligible participants.

IOU: An investor-owned utility (IOU) is a business organization, providing a product or service regarded as a utility (often termed a public utility regardless of ownership), and managed as private enterprise rather than a function of government or a utility cooperative. Such businesses can range from a family whose residential property includes a well whose flow in excess of the family’s own needs produces a secondary income, to international communications conglomerates, but political and infrastructure considerations in some countries makes the private sector of the electric-power production and distribution industry the most often discussed investor-owned utilities there.

ISO: An Independent System Operator (ISO) is an organization formed at the direction or recommendation of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC). In the areas where an ISO is established, it coordinates, controls and monitors the operation of the electrical power system, usually within a single US State, but sometimes encompassing multiple states.

kW/kWh: The kilowatt (kW) is equal to one thousand watts. The kilowatt hour (kWh) is a unit of energy equal to 1000 watt hours or 3.6 megajoules. Energy in watt hours is the multiplication of power in watts and time in hours. The kilowatt hour is most commonly known as a billing unit for energy delivered to consumers by electric utilities.

LEC/LCOE: Levelized energy cost (LEC, also called Levelized Cost Of Energy or LCOE) is a cost of generating energy (usually electricity) for a particular system. It is an economic assessment of the cost the energy-generating system including all the costs over its lifetime: initial investment, operations and maintenance, cost of fuel, cost of capital. A net present value calculation is performed and solved in such a way that for the value of the LEC chosen, the project’s net present value becomes zero. This means that the LEC is the minimum price at which energy must be sold for an energy project to break even.

LSE: Load-serving entities (LSE) are utilities, marketers or aggregators who provide electric power to a large number of end-use customers.

MITC: Manufacturing Investment Tax Credit (MITC) provides up to $2.3 billion to fund 30 percent investment tax credit for manufacturing assets used to manufacture of advanced energy property. Projects must be certified by the Treasury, in consultation with the Secretary of Energy, through a competitive application process.

MW/MWh: The megawatt is equal to one million watts. A megawatt hour is the amount of power used if 1,000,000 watts are used for 1 hour, or 1 watt is used for 1,000,000 hours.

NEMS: The National Energy Modeling System (NEMS) is an economic and energy model of United States energy markets created at the U.S. Department of Energy, Energy Information Administration. NEMS projects the production, consumption, conversion, import, and pricing of energy. The model relies on assumptions for economic variables, including world energy market interactions, resource availability (which influences costs), technological choice and characteristics, and demographics.

NRDC: Natural Resources Defense Council is an environmental action group, combining the grassroots power of 1.2 million members and online activists with the courtroom clout and expertise of more than 350 lawyers, scientists and other professionals.

NREL: The National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) is the nation’s primary laboratory for renewable energy and energy efficiency research and development (R&D).

O&M: Operations & Maintenance (O&M) are costs that relate to the normal operating, maintenance and administrative activities of a business.

PAC: Political Action Committee. A name commonly given to a private group, regardless of size, organized to elect political candidates. General function is to help fundraising efforts of political candidates. SEIA has a PAC whose mission is to help elect candidates sympathetic to SEIA policy goals.

PBI: Performance (or production) based incentives are a part of a program where rebates are paid based on energy production, designed to benefit owners of larger solar power systems The current PBI program in California pays system owners monthly for energy produced for 5 years. Rebate levels decline as participation milestones are reached.

PHEV: A plug-in hybrid electric vehicle (PHEV) is a hybrid vehicle with batteries that can be recharged by connecting a plug to an external electric power source. It shares the characteristics of both traditional hybrid electric vehicles (also called charge-maintaining hybrid electric vehicles), having an electric motor and an internal combustion engine; and of battery electric vehicles, also having a plug to connect to the electrical grid (it is a plug-in vehicle).

PPA: A Power Purchase Agreement (PPA) refers to a contract entered into by an independent power producer and an electric utility. The power purchase agreement specifies the terms and conditions under which electric power will be generated and purchased. Power purchase agreements require the independent power producer to supply power at a specified price for the life of the agreement.

PUC: A public utilities commission (PUC) is a governing body that regulates the rates and services of a public utility.

PV: Photovoltaics are the solar panels that most people are familiar with that can be placed on residential or commercial rooftops, used as an electronic charger, as well as numerous other applications. Cells are traditionally made of silicon compounds though cadmium telluride is also used. One variation is Organic Photovoltaics (OPV) which are made of carbon-based compounds.

PV America: PV America is an east coast-based conference focused on the PV industry and east coast solar market. First held in Philadelphia in June 2009, programming from the premier technical PV conference is paired with SEIA’s policy and market development expertise to give the most current updates on PV technology, industry trends and business opportunities. All proceeds of the event go toward advocacy work to advance policy and expand the U.S. solar industry market.

QECB: A qualified energy conservation bond is a type of tax credit bond which may finance a broad array of “green” projects. These projects may include reducing energy consumption in publicly owned buildings by at least 20%, implementing green community programs, or rural development involving the production of electricity from renewable energy resources.

REC/SREC: Renewable Energy Certificates (RECs), or Solar Renewable Energy Certificates (SREC), are tradable, non-tangible energy commodities in the United States that represent proof that 1 megawatt-hour (MWh) of electricity was generated from an eligible renewable energy resource. These certificates can be sold and traded or bartered, and the owner of the REC can claim to have purchased renewable energy. While traditional carbon emissions trading programs promote low-carbon technologies by increasing the cost of emitting carbon, RECs can incentivize carbon-neutral renewable energy by providing a production subsidy to electricity generated from renewable sources. It is important to understand that the energy associated with a REC is sold separately and is used by another party. The consumer of a REC receives only a certificate.

RES/RPS: A renewable portfolio standard (RPS) or renewable electricity standard (RES) is a regulation that requires the increased production of energy from renewable energy sources, such as wind, solar, biomass, and geothermal. The RPS mechanism generally places an obligation on electricity supply companies to produce a specified fraction of their electricity from renewable energy sources. Certified renewable energy generators earn certificates for every unit of electricity they produce and can sell these along with their electricity to supply companies. Supply companies then pass the certificates to some form of regulatory body to demonstrate their compliance with their regulatory obligations.

RFP: A request for proposal (RFP) is an invitation for suppliers, often through a bidding process, to submit a proposal on a specific commodity or service.

RTO: A regional transmission organization (RTO) in the United States is an organization that is responsible for moving electricity over large interstate areas. Like a transmission system operator (TSO), an RTO coordinates, controls and monitors an electricity transmission grid that is larger with much higher voltages than the typical power company’s distribution grid.

RTP: Real-time pricing (RTP) is the instantaneous pricing of electricity based on the cost of the electricity available for use at the time the electricity is demanded by the customer.

SEP: The State Energy Program (SEP) provides grants to states and directs funding to state energy offices from technology programs in DOE’s Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy. States use grants to address their energy priorities and program funding to adopt emerging renewable energy and energy efficiency technologies.

SEPA: The Solar Electric Power Association is comprised of over 560 utilities and solar industry members. Breaking down information overload into business reality, SEPA takes the time and risk out of implementing solar business plans and helps turn new technologies into new opportunities. They have an LLC with SEIA to run large conferences such as SPI and PV America.

Sierra Club: Since 1892, the Sierra Club has been working to protect communities, wild places, and the planet itself. They are the oldest, largest, and most influential grassroots environmental organization in the United States. They have chapters throughout the US and Canada.

SPI: Solar Power International (SPI), previously called Solar Power Conference and Expo, was created in 2004 when the Solar Electric Power Association (SEPA) and the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA) joined together in partnership to fill an obvious void: the US was missing a business-to-business solar conference and expo. With an industry growth rate of more than 40% per year, there was a need for a single event where industry could come together with potential customers, policymakers, investors, and other parties necessary for continued rapid growth. It didn’t take long for the event to establish itself as the premiere solar event in the US, growing from 1,100 attendees to over 22,500 in just 5 years.

TOU: Time of use rates are electricity prices that vary depending on the time periods in which the energy is consumed. In a time of use rate structure, higher prices are charged during utility peak-load times. Such rates can provide an incentive for consumers to curb power use during peak times.

Treasury Grant Program: Under ARRA, The Act extended and modified tax credits for renewable energy projects in a manner intended to make such projects more financially feasible during the current economic downturn. The Act authorized the Treasury to make direct payments to companies that create and place in service renewable energy facilities beginning January 1, 2009. Under the new program, businesses may elect to forgo renewable energy tax credits in return for an immediate reimbursement of a portion of qualified expenses. The cash in lieu of credit program is intended to provide immediate stimulus in local economies, and guidance is now available for businesses to elect direct payments in lieu of tax credits in support of renewable energy facilities. According to their press release, the Treasury and DOE estimate that the cash in lieu of credit program will support 5,000 bio-mass, solar, wind, and other types of renewable energy production facilities.

TSF: The Solar Foundation is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization that promotes the use of solar energy technologies to help meet the world’s energy needs. Through education, research and market transformation, The Solar Foundation strives to increase the use of solar energy — our cleanest, greatest, and most available energy source.

USP: Utility Scale Power is an abbreviation used to reference large-scale solar projects.

1Source: SEIA (Solar Energy Indutries Association)