Your Questions About Renewable Energy Group

Jenny asks…

help with senior capstone project ideas?

I want to do something related to HVAC, Renewable Energy, Heat Pumps, Solar area but am having trouble with ideas.

I have about 2.5 months in a group of 3 people to create something.

Any ideas would help. This is the hardest part, getting the idea.

admin answers:

From a practical standpoint, may I suggest finding the highest return on investment on some common home upgrades. These may not be true, but will give you an idea, IE if I spend 15 years in my home and have solar panels installed on day one, I will see x thousands saved. Or say if I had blown in insulation in the attic improving my R factor by x on day 1 and I stay in the home for x years I will see a return on investment of yyyy.

From the engineering perspective this project could be really simple because its just looking up data, but from the actual applicable perspective it could be amazing. The true value will be taking these data points, comparing them, and then providing PRACTICAL REAL WORLD advice. Set up a website. Depending where you are located you could correct for climate, IE for the US, up North Solar Panels ROI wont be as high, as if you were in the Florida Keys

There isn’t that much physically you could do with this concept, but the data should be out there to provide useful results. Bonus points from me for providing home owners with actual useful data.

Steven asks…

What funding/grants are available for energy efficient businesses?

I would like to start a privately owned “Green” business that utilizes energy efficient appliances and solar panel energy. I am also a woman teaming up with an individual of minority decent. I know there are funding possibilities for such things, but I don’t know where to start. Please advise!

admin answers:

The grants given for businesses are for those who seek to research and discover renewable energy sources — not for simply using environmentally friendly appliances and solar panel energy

It is hard to find grants to start a business. Unlike the myths that some perpetuate, federal government and even private foundations hardly give grant money for starting a for-profit business.

One possible exception is for companies developing or exporting agricultural goods, including food and forest product. Another exception could be the Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) or Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) programs http://www.sba.gov/aboutsba/sbaprograms/sbir/index.html , which fund the research and development of technological innovation that meets specific government needs.

Your best bet actually will be from the states if they offer grant programs for women (or any other special interest groups — minorities, women, disabled, veterans, etc). Or check with non profit organizations, particularly women organizations if they offer grants. Examples include

Iowa Women’s Foundation http://www.iawf.org/
New Mexico Women’s Foundation http://www.nmwf.org/guidelines.html

Even SBA does NOT give out grants. From the SBA website http://www.sba.gov/mostrequesteditems/CON_FAQ2.html

“The U.S. Small Business Administration does not offer grants to start or expand small businesses, although it does offer a wide variety of loan programs. (See http://www.sba.gov/financing for more information) While SBA does offer some grant programs, these are generally designed to expand and enhance organizations that provide small business management, technical, or financial assistance. These grants generally support non-profit organizations, intermediary lending institutions, and state and local governments.”

Nonetheless, you can go to the Catalog of Federal Domestic Assistance (CFDA) http://www.cfda.gov and Grants.gov http://www.grants.gov – these are two sites created by the federal government to provide transparency and information on grants. Browse through the listings and see if you can find any grant that would support a for-profit venture.

Here is a listing of federal grants for small businesses. See if there is any available for individuals for starting a business — THERE’S NONE.
Http://12.46.245.173/pls/portal30/CATALOG.BROWSE_BENEF_RPT.show

Most of the federal grants are given to specific target groups with specific requirements (e.g. Minority business owners involved in transportation related contracts emanating from DOT – Grant#20.905 Disadvantaged Business Enterprises Short Term Lending Program

Grants are also often given to non profit groups or organizations involved in training or other similar activities (grant 59.043 Women’s Business Ownership Assistance that are given to those who will create women’s business center that will train women entrepreneurs

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