MEDIA ADVISORY: Renewable Energy Knowledge and Skills Demonstrated by Students at EnergyWhiz Olympics on Saturday, May 1


The eighth-annual EnergyWhiz Olympics is day-long event showcasing student projects in alternative energy. Activities include the Junior Solar Sprint, Hydrogen Sprint, Energy Innovations and the Bright House Solar Energy Cook-off. The general public is invited to observe all activities.

  • The Junior Solar Sprint is a competition that challenges middle school students to design, build and race model solar cars. Awards are given based on vehicle design, quality of craftsmanship, innovation and vehicle speed.
  • The Hydrogen Sprint is a high school competition that provides opportunities for students to explore hydrogen fuel cell power with a hands-on design component and a presentation.
  • The Energy Innovations program is a full-scale solar electric design and marketing challenge for middle and high school students. Each participating team designs and constructs a product or artistic work fully powered by photovoltaics (PV), also called solar electric cells. Teams also create marketing pieces – such as brochures, fliers, and posters – to accompany their products.
  • The Bright House Solar Energy Cook-off challenges students, in grades 4th – 8th, to design and build solar cookers, and to also cook a recipe of their own creation using the power of the sun.  In Top Chef-style, each dish will be judged by a panel of experts based on taste, ingredients and creativity.


These hands-on renewable energy competitions – for elementary, middle and high school students – expose students to alternative energy fuel sources, and encourage scientific know-how, creative thinking, experimentation and teamwork.


More than 650 elementary, middle, and high school Florida students – from Tallahassee to Miami and everywhere in between – will participate in the EnergyWhiz Olympics.


Saturday, May 1 starting at 9 a.m.

9:00 a.m.      Welcome – Auditorium, Dr. James Fenton, Director, FSEC

9:30 a.m.      Technical Judging Begins –

Junior Solar Sprint

Hydrogen Sprint

Hydrogen Sprint Presentations

Energy Innovations Displays Open to Public

Solar Energy Cook-Off – Design Judging

Solar Cookers – Displays Open to Public

10:30 a.m.            Energy Innovations Judging

11:30 a.m.            Junior Solar Sprint Race Begins (Track Area 1)

12 noon      Hydrogen Sprint Race Begins (Track Area 2)

2:00 p.m.            Solar Energy Cook-off – Recipe Judging (Auditorium)

3:30 p.m.            Awards Ceremony (Auditorium)


Florida Solar Energy Center, 1679 Clearlake Road, Cocoa, FL 32922


For more information on these exciting educational events, visit or view a video about the EnergyWhiz Olympics at


Susan Schleith, FSEC Education Coordinator, at 321-638-1017 or

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REQUEST FOR PROPOSALS from Florida Hydrogen Initiative NOW AVAILABLE

The Florida Hydrogen Initiative (FHI) is a U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) funded hydrogen and fuel cell program managed by the Florida Solar Energy Center (FSEC) and the University of Central Florida (UCF). At the present time, this effort has about $1.5 million in funds that are to be awarded in competitive solicited projects. Thus, the purpose of this announcement is to transmit the FHI RFP to you in order that you or your organization may respond to it. Download the RFP. Please note the Final Applications must be received by April 23, 2010, 5:00 PM EST.  They are to be submitted to:

Q: Can state funds can be used for cost share?

A: Yes. The only exception to cost share is that federal funds may not be used.

Q: Do I have to fill out DOE SF424 forms for the budget or can I use my own?

A: Applicants are not required to complete the DOE SF 424 R&R Budget Form and should ignore references in Section C.1 to “Field K.” Applicants may use their own form as long as the requested level of detail is provided in the budget and the corresponding budget justification. As stated in Section D, applicants selected for negotiation of an award may be asked to provide other budget information, including certain DOE forms (to be specified).

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EPAct2005: Tax Credit Opportunities for Solar and Energy Efficiency

The Energy Policy Act of 2005 (EPAct 2005) is the first effort of the United States government to address U.S. energy policy since the Energy Policy Act of 1992. Among many other things, the 1724 page law provides new tax incentives for a number of solar and energy efficiency measures. Among them are:

The complete conference bill for the Energy Policy Act may be downloaded here (2.5 MB PDF file). The solar and energy efficiency provisions are found in Title XIII, Subtitle C, beginning on page 1332 page 1390 of the act.

PLEASE NOTE : The effective dates given in this Web site are based on current law and in general everything placed in service through 12/31/08 qualifies for the federal tax incentives. There is legislation being considered in U.S. congress that may extend these dates.

An Important Distinction

There is an important difference between a tax deduction and a tax credit. A tax deduction is subtracted from income before total tax liability is computed. On the other hand, a tax credit is subtracted directly from the total tax liability. This means that a deduction and a credit have very different values, with a credit being 3 or more times more advantageous to the taxpayer than a deduction. For example, a tax credit of $1,000 for someone in the 28% tax bracket is equivalent to a tax deduction of $3,571

Combined Incentives

In many cases, multiple tax incentives may be claimed. In the case of a new home for example, the builder may claim credit the high efficiency home and the homeowner may claim tax credits for solar hot water and photovoltaic and fuel cell systems. Other financial incentives, such as utility or SunBuilt rebates, further reduce the cost of building or owning a solar and energy efficient home.

Solar Photovoltaic and Hot Water Systems

This provision offers tax credits to individuals for residential solar energy systems.

  • For solar hot water systems, the allowable tax credit is 30% of the qualified solar system expenditures up to a maximum tax credit limitation of $2,000.
  • For solar photovoltaic (PV) systems, the allowable tax credit is 30% of the qualified PV system expenditures up to a maximum tax credit limitation of $2,000.

To be eligible for the solar hot water system tax credit, the system must be certified by the Solar Rating and Certification Corporation (SRCC) or the Florida Solar Energy Center (in the case of systems sold in Florida) and half of the energy used by the system must be derived from the sun.
There is no qualification provided for PV systems (except in Florida, where systems must be rated and certified by the Florida Solar Energy Center). Individuals may claim tax credits for either or both types of solar systems.

The incentives apply to equipment placed in service during 2006 through December 31, 2008. The IRS form to claim the credit is available at [331K]. Note that this is for non-business use of your home.

In addition, the provisions of the bill substantially increases the business investment tax credit from 10% to 30%. This tax credit is available to businesses that purchase solar thermal and PV systems during calendar years 2006 – 2008. In Florida, such systems would be subject to the requirement that solar systems manufactured or sold in the state be certified by the Florida Solar Energy Center. This business investment tax credit for solar equipment does not have a maximum credit limit.

IRS rules for qualification of this tax credit may be found in IRS Notice 2006-26.

Additional information on solar systems that my qualify for these tax credits may be found at the following Web sites:

Solar hot water systems
Photovoltaic (PV) systems

Commercial Buildings

This provision offers business taxpayers a deduction of $1.80 per square foot for commercial buildings that achieve a 50% reduction in annual energy cost to the user, compared to a base building defined by the industry standard ASHRAE/IESNA 90.1-2001. Energy costs refer only to heating, cooling, lighting and water heating, since only these uses are within the scope of the ASHRAE standard and within the control of the building designer.

Each of the three energy-using systems of the building — the envelope, the heating, cooling and water heating system, and lighting system — is eligible for one third of the incentive if it meets its share of the whole-building savings goal. Explicit interim compliance procedures are provided for lighting.

Eligible buildings include commercial buildings such as: offices, retail buildings, warehouses, etc., rental housing of four stories or more, and publicly-owned buildings. For publicly-owned buildings, there is an interesting provision allowing the credit to pass through to the "person primarily responsible for designing the building."

New construction in an existing building is also eligible for the tax deduction, with one third of the deduction amount for new construction that affects the new energy-using system (such as lighting or heating, cooling and water heating).

Compliance is determined by third party inspectors who review the plans and the actual in-place construction. Energy savings are determined by software that must be certified by the Department of Energy as meeting criteria of consistency and accuracy, following the successful experience of California’s performance-based energy code enforcement.

The incentives apply to buildings or systems placed in service during 2006-2008, although extenders increasing the eligibility through 2009 or 2010 are a distinct possibility. (see colloquia)

IRS rules for qualification of this tax credit may be found in IRS Notice 2006-52.

New Homes

This provision offers homebuilders a tax credit of $2,000 for homes that reduce energy use for heating and cooling only (not hot water) by 50% compared to the national model code — the 2004 IECC Supplement (assuming an SEER-13 air conditioner). Producers of manufactured homes can also choose to qualify for a tax credit of $1,000 for homes that save 30%. This $1,000 credit for reaching 30% savings is not available for site built homes, which must reach the 50% savings tier to qualify for the $2,000 credit. The form to claim the credit is available at [212K].

Eligible homes must demonstrate savings using software that has been approved by IRS (see below) and builders must demonstrate compliance by the use of third-party inspectors certified according to IRS rules. Similar standards exist in Florida and elsewhere under the auspices of Florida’s Building Energy Rating System and under the national standards of the national Residential Energy Services Network (RESNET). Additionally, the Florida Solar Energy Center has released a free 15-day trial version of IRS accredited software that makes the calculations that are expected to be used for tax credit qualification. To download this free 15-day trial software click here.

The incentives apply to homes placed in service during 2006 through December 31, 2008.

IRS rules on qualification for new site-built home credit may be found in IRS Notice 2006-27.

IRS rules on qualification for manufactured home credit may be found in IRS Notice 2006-28.

Existing Homes

These provisions offer cost-based incentives of 10% of the amount expended by the taxpayer for "Qualified Energy Efficiency Improvements" and up to $300 for "Qualified Energy Property" up to a maximum credit limit of $500.

"Qualified Energy Efficiency Improvements" are specifically defined as:

  • Any insulation material or system specifically designed to reduce heat loss or gain
  • Exterior windows (including skylights)
  • Exterior doors
  • Any metal roof having pigmented coatings specifically designed to reduce heat gain which meet Energy Star program requirements.

"Qualified Energy Property" is defined as:

  • Electric heat pump water heater with EF of 2.0 or greater
  • Electric air source heat pumps with HSPF of 9.0 or greater
  • Geothermal heat pumps:
    • Closed loop products with EER of 16.2 and COP of 3.3 or greater
    • Open loop products with EER of 14.1 and COP of 3.3 or greater
    • Direct expansion (DX) products with EER of 15 and COP of 3.5 or greater
  • Central air conditioner that receives the highest efficiency tier established by the Consortium of Energy Efficiency as of January 1, 2006(
  • Natural gas, propane or oil water heater with EF or 0.80 or greater
  • Natural gas, propane or oil furnace or hot water boiler with AFUE of
    95% or greater
  • Advanced main air circulating fan used in natural gas, propane or oil furnace that uses no more than 2% of the total annual energy use of the furnace.

Credit limitations on qualified energy property are as follows:

  • $50 for any advanced main air circulating fan
  • $150 for any qualified natural gas, propane, or oil furnace or hot water boiler
  • $300 for any item of qualified energy property.

IRS rules for qualification of this tax credit may be found in IRS Notice 2006-26.

Residential Fuel Cells

This provision offers cost-based 30% tax credits to individuals for qualified residential fuel cell property expenditures up to a maximum credit limitation of $500 for each 500 watts installed capacity.

IRS rules for qualification of this tax credit may be found in IRS Notice 2006-26.

Fuel Cells and Microturbines Used in a Business

This provision offers tax credits for fuel cells and microturbines used in a business. To qualify for the credit, fuel cells are required to be 500 watt capacity or greater with a generation efficiency of 30% or greater. Microturbines are required to be of 2,000 kilowatt capacity or less with an efficiency of 26% at International Standards Organization conditions. Tax credits and limitations are as follows:

  • For fuel cells, a tax credit of 30% of the expenditure up to a maximum of $500 per 500 watts of capacity.
  • For microturbines, a tax credit of 10% of the expenditure with a credit limitation of $200/kW.

IRS rules for qualification of this tax credit may be found in IRS Notice 2006-26.


The efficiency provisions were taken from a bill by Senators Snowe and Feinstein (S. 680) that offered performance-based incentives for new and existing homes and commercial buildings and for building-based solar energy. These incentives lasted until 2009 and 2010 in most cases. In recognition of the fact that incentives longer than two years are needed to transform markets, the legislative history of the Energy Bill will contain the following colloquy between Senator Snowe and Finance Committee Chair Grassley:

Colloquy with Senator Snowe and Senator Grassley
RE: Tax Incentives for Commercial Buildings

Ms Snowe:
Mr. Chairman, I want to thank you for your dedicated work in defending the Senate-passed Energy bill language in conference, particularly concerning the energy efficiency tax incentives. For the first time, there will be energy efficiency tax incentives for commercial buildings for each of the three energy-using systems of the building—the envelope, the heating, cooling and water heating system, and lighting. Each is eligible for one third of the $1.80 per square foot tax incentive if it meets its share of the whole-building savings goal. This will apply to buildings that cut energy use by 50 percent, an ambitious but very important target as buildings account for 35 percent of our nation’s energy usage, and commercial buildings are a large part of that percentage.

My concern is that, because the eligibility period was cut back from the end of 2010 to just two years, this shorter window of effectiveness could undercut the program, since the time it takes to design and construct these large buildings and skyscrapers could take longer than the two years of eligibility. This is especially a concern as the incentives for commercial buildings are one of the fastest ways in the entire energy bill that we can cut down the nation’s energy usage in the short term.

Mr. Grassley:
We are committed to this as the correct policy for large scale commercial projects. In addition we are committed to seeing energy efficient skyscrapers in the sky and recognize that these types of projects take years to design and build. We will continue to work with you to make this a long term policy of the tax code.

Ms. Snowe:
Again, your assistance is greatly appreciated and I look forward to working with you on this matter in the Finance Committee in the coming months.

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Edgewood Junior-Senior High Fuel Cell Team Successful

Four students from Edgewood Junior-Senior High School in Merritt Island recently represented the United States at the International Youth Fuel Cell Competition in Hawaii. They were one of only two teams representing the United States at the competition, which was held in conjunction with the 30th Anniversary Fuel Cell Seminar.

Florida Solar Energy Center/University of Central Florida (FSEC/UCF) faculty and staff helped to mentor the team, which includes students Michael Granatosky, Melissa Ingram, Martin Moneysmith and Taylor Munsey and instructor Ryan Cilsick.

The team received received the Ovonics Special Award for the Most Insight into the Future of Hydrogen Storage. They were also first-place Winners of the Quiz Bowl and received first place in Car Engineering. They placed second in the Timepiece Artistic competition and were second to the Japanese team in the race of the hydrogen model cars. Read more

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Florida Solar Energy Center Selected to Lead Three National Research Programs

The Florida Solar Energy Center (FSEC) has been selected to receive more than $15 million from the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) over a five-year period to conduct research in three major energy areas: fuel cells, industrialized housing, and building energy simulation.

FSEC, a research institute of the University of Central Florida (UCF), will lead nationwide teams of researchers from universities, DOE’s national laboratories and industry in the three projects. Read more

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