Category Archives: Research

Free SEPA Research – Value Stacking in Minster: A rural village leverages solar, storage and 4 revenue streams

Grid-edge innovation of another order
With one award-winning solar-plus-storage project under its belt, the Village of Minster,
Ohio — population, just under 3,000 — thought adding a community solar project to its portfolio would be the logical next step. That is, it seemed logical until Dannon, the town’s largest energy user and employer, decided to add a 280,000-square-foot distribution center to its already massive yogurt-making plant, and wanted to power it with clean, solar energy.

Minster tackled the challenge by switching the community solar project to commercial. The town is also planning a third project, with additional storage to create a microgrid and sell power into the regional wholesale electricity market.

Small town, big vision
In 2016, Minster became the first small public utility to pair solar, and storage demand, serving  as a model for the kind of public-private partnerships that are needed to advance the combination of these technologies. The town’s story underlines why, sometimes, designing a successful community solar program means knowing when to put a project on hold, while staying focused on customers’ needs, shifting market conditions and the bottom line.
Download the Research Report here. 

Find out more:  Watch SEPA’s video on Minster’s successful strategies for expanding its solar and storage projects here.

SEPA’s On-Demand Webinars


ADDITIONAL RECOMMENDED READING

BROWNFIELDS NEWS

The Brownfields Utilization, Investment, and Local Development Act of 2018: What’s changing for the Brownfields Program?, Lexology

The Brownfields Utilization, Investment, and Local Development (BUILD) Act of 2018, which was part of the omnibus spending bill, does not significantly overhaul the old Brownfields program, rather it “builds” on it by:

  1. Significantly increasing the program’s funding and ability to participate in the Brownfields programs;
  2. Incentivizes the redevelopment of contaminated properties adjacent to water or those which will promote renewable energy; and
  3. Expands the exceptions from liability under CERCLA.

Kansas City clean energy goals could get a boost from utility partnership

By Karen Uhlenhuth, Midwest Energy News

Kansas City has an important ally in its push to cut the city’s energy consumption and increase its use of renewable power. Kansas City Power & Light, the city’s electric utility, says it is on board with helping the city achieve a list of ambitious clean energy goals drafted last summer. “We found that there was an alignment between the direction the city wants to go, and… .the business model that KCP&L is pursuing,” said Dennis Murphey, the city’s chief environmental officer. Read more here.

Photo by Brian Smarker, Flickr

ALSO IN THE NEWS

PRO: Using our renewable fuels key to a comfortable future

Opinion written by Michael E. Kraft, The Frederick News-Post

As noted energy expert Hal Harvey, the CEO of San Francisco’s Energy Innovation said in 2016, “a clean future now costs less than a dirty one.” Indeed, in Iowa, Illinois, Kansas, Nebraska and certain parts of Texas, wind turbines can generate electricity at a lower cost, even without subsidies, than any other technology . . . The benefits in improved air quality, public health and reduced greenhouse gas emissions are substantial, and recent studies tell us they will grow over time while also increasing employment and strengthening the economy. Read more here.

Michael Kraft is professor emeritus of political science and public and environmental affairs at the University of Wisconsin-Green Bay. Readers may write him at UWGB, 2420 Nicolet Dr., MAC B310, Green Bay, WI 54311 or email him at kraftm@uwgb.edu.

Photo by NextEra Energy Resources showing wind turbines that are part of the Steele Flats Wind Energy Center in Jefferson and Gage Counties in Nebraska

WIND AND SOLAR RESEARCH REPORTS

Nebraska Wind Energy Fact Sheet, American Wind Energy Association
Wind project data current to 4th quarter 2017.
Nebraska is a national leader in wind resource potential. Nebraska is one of the top states in the country for potential wind energy generation, with a technical potential of approximately 880,000 megawatts (MW) according to NREL. Nebraska now has 1,426 MW of installed wind power and was the 18th state to join the “Gigawatt Club.” Nebraska’s wind potential, combined with manufacturing expertise, could make the state a powerhouse for the wind industry while providing savings for electricity customers. The state lies in the Southwest Power Pool (SPP), where wind power saved electricity customers $1.2 billion in 2013.

Nebraska Wind Projects

  • Installed wind capacity: 1,426 MW
    State rank for installed wind capacity: 17th
  • Number of wind turbines: 785
    State rank for number of wind turbines: 17th
  • Wind projects online: 23 (Projects above 10 MW: 16)
  • Wind capacity under construction: 702 MW
  • Wind capacity in advanced development: 726 MW
    Download Fact Sheet (PDF)

More AWEA Resources

Large Corporations Are Leading America’s Surge in Solar Deployment: SEIA Releases Solar Means Business 2017 Report, Highlighting America’s Leading Corporate Solar Installers

WASHINGTON, D.C. – America’s top companies are investing in solar in record amounts, according to the Solar Energy Industries Association’s brand new Solar Means Business 2017 report, which tracks on-site commercial solar installations and ranks top corporate solar users. This year’s report contains data from over 4,000 companies, totaling more than 2.5 gigawatts of solar capacity across approximately 7,400 solar projects.

For photos, rankings and the report’s underlying data, go to SEIA’s multimedia landing page www.seia.org/solarmeansbiz.

Let’s Be Clear: Solar Energy Benefits Everyone

By Sean Gallagher, Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA) Blog

Since the Stone Age, back when Fred Flintstone fought with Barney Rubble, there has been tension between neighbors. Yet the neighborly spat UC Berkeley Professor Lucas Davis recently blogged about shouldn’t be a fight at all. Solar panels aren’t just good for the people who have them — they’re good for everybody.

Davis claims if a neighbor installs solar panels, it will cost him $65/year in higher electric bills, but his math is wrong. Instead of costing him more, it’s very likely those panels are saving Davis money. Read more here.

More News – Mainly Solar

Wind Energy News

EV News

VW’s Electrify America to install EV chargers at Walmart stores, Reuters

FREE REPORTS

National Survey of Attitudes of Wind Power Project Neighbors & Companion Webinar Series

Survey Background and Motivation
The installed wind power capacity in the United States through the end of 2016 was capable of supplying approximately 6.2% of the nation’s electricity demand from about 60,000 utility-scale turbines (Wiser & Bolinger, 2017). Through 2015, almost 1.4 million homes were within 5 miles (8 kilometers) of a U.S. utility-scale wind power project, and each year in the preceding 10 years, turbines placed in large projects (projects with more than 60 turbines) were closer to homes at a rate of approximately 150 feet (46 meters) per year on average.

Experts predict continued reductions in the cost of wind energy (Wiser et al., 2017) and additional wind project deployment in the years ahead (Mai et al. 2017). Achieving this continued deployment will require coordination and cooperation with the communities and community members in which the wind power projects will be located, including local authorities, citizens, landowners, businesses, and non-governmental organizations. These individuals and organizations often look to other communities with wind power projects to understand the potential costs and benefits of moving forward with such a project.

In 2015, the U.S. Department of Energy funded Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (Berkeley Lab) began to lead a 4-year project collecting data from a broad-based and representative sample of individuals living near U.S. wind power projects. The aim was to widen the understanding of how U.S. communities are reacting to the deployment of wind turbines, and to provide insights to those communities considering wind projects.
Download Summary of Results (PDF)

Webinar Series
A Berkeley Lab 4-part webinar series, Understanding Wind Project Neighbors Through a National Survey of Attitudes, began January 30th. Three more webinars will be held on the following dates at 12 p.m. Central Time.

  • January 30th, 2018
    Overall Analysis of Attitudes of 1,700 Wind Power Project Neighbors 
    A recording of the webinar, presentation and project results are available here.
  • February 13, 2018
    Wind Power Project Planning Process Fairness and Attitudes
    This webinar has been completed. A recording of the webinar, presentation and project results are available here.
  • February 27, 2018
  • Predicting Audibility Of and Annoyance To Wind Power Project Sounds Using Modeled Sound Register Here.
  • March 13, 2018
    Comparing Strongly Annoyed Individuals with Symptoms near U.S. Turbines to Those in Surveyed European Communities Register Here.

More information about the webinar series is available here.

Study Provides Baseline Insights On Solar Industry Workforce Diversity 

Solar industry improves recruitment of women but still lags in
equal wages and positions for people of color

Washington, D.C. — New research released by The Solar Foundation in partnership with the Solar Energy Industries Association’s Women’s Empowerment Committee reveals that the 260,000-worker-strong U.S. solar energy workforce is more diverse than similar American industries, but still needs to make progress in order to ensure fairness and equality for its employees. The 2017 U.S. Solar Industry Diversity Study provides statistically significant evidence for what has long been casually observed, proving that women and people of color face significant hurdles to accessing the equal pay and senior positions of their white male counterparts, with women of color being affected the most. The 2017 U.S. Solar Industry Diversity Study is the first comprehensive study on diversity of the U.S. solar energy industry. Continue reading.

U.S. Solar Market Adds 2.4 GW in Q2, Largest Second Quarter Ever

Media Release: Solar Energy Industries Association & Greentech Media Research

BOSTON, Mass. and WASHINGTON, D.C. – The U.S. solar market continued its years-long expansion in the second quarter of 2017 as the industry installed 2,387 megawatts (MW) of solar photovoltaics (PV), the largest total in a second quarter to date. This tops Q1’s total and represents an 8 percent year-over-year gain, GTM Research and the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA) said in the latest U.S. Solar Market Insight Report.

Read the Entire Release & Download the Free Executive Summary HERE.

Report: Energy storage is starting to become standard for utilities

By Frank Andorka, PV Magazine

According to a new report by the Smart Electric Power Alliance (SEPA), utilities are about to enter the energy storage market in a significant way. The survey, based on responses from 115 utilities, shows that 72% of them are planning on offering behind-the-meter energy storage opportunities for their residential customers, while 80% plan on offering programs to their commercial/industrial customers.. Read more here.

Photo Credit: Pixabay

Louis Lester, energy storage and batteries expert at OPPD, will be one of several speakers this Saturday at this event. His topic: “Meeting the Demand for Electricity and Battery Technology.”

Wind power costs could drop 50%. Solar PV could provide up to 50% of global power. Damn.

New reports suggest a renewables revolution is imminent.

By David Roberts, Vox

Solar and wind energy have been underestimated by analysts and politicians again and again and again. They have gotten cheaper and scaled up faster than even the most optimistic forecasts of a decade ago, or even a few years ago.

And there’s good evidence we’re still underestimating them. In fact, two new reports — one on solar, one on wind — make the point vividly. They argue that the radical trends of the last decade are going to continue, which is all that needs to happen for the energy system to tip over from disruption into revolution. Solar is going to play a much bigger role than most models predict. So far, official predictions have fallen woefully short of the rise of solar photovoltaic (PV) energy: Continue reading.

ADDITIONAL RECOMMENDED READING

Electrification Alone Will Save 42 Percent Of World Energy Demand,
Stanford Prof Says

By Jeff McMahon, Contributor, Forbes

If humans can kick fossil-fuels, they will benefit from massive efficiency increases in every sector—a net savings of 42 percent of world energy use that will both derive from and ease the transition to clean energy, a Stanford University professor says in a video released this week.

“We find that by electrifying everything in these countries and by providing that electricity with clean renewable energy, power demand goes down about 42 percent without really changing much habit,” says [Mark Z. Jacobsen], a professor of civil and environmental engineering and director of Stanford’s Atmosphere/Energy Program. For example: Continue reading.

Top Image Credit: Shutterstock. Second Photo: Professor Jacobsen

New NREL and Clean Energy Group Analysis: Five Million Commercial Customers Could Cut Costs with Battery Storage

First public survey of utility rates details economic potential for
commercial behind-the-meter battery storage market

Table: A summary of demand charges for the states with the
highest utility demand charge rates in the U.S. (NREL)

The U.S. Department of Energy’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) and Clean Energy Group (CEG) have released the first comprehensive public analysis detailing the potential size of the commercial behind-the-meter battery storage market in the United States.

NREL analyzed over 10,000 utility tariffs in 48 states, finding that more than five million of the 18 million commercial customers across the country may be able to cost-effectively reduce their utility bills with battery storage technologies.

These findings, grouped by utility service territory and state and illustrated in a series of maps and tables, are presented in NREL and CEG’s white paper, Identifying Potential Markets for Behind-the-Meter Battery Energy Storage: A Survey of U.S. Demand Charges.

The analysis determined that economic opportunities for storage exist not only in first-mover states like California and New York, but also across the Midwest, Mid-Atlantic, and Southeast. For example, tens of thousands of commercial customers in Georgia, Alabama, Kentucky, Michigan and Ohio may be subject to utility tariffs with sufficiently high demand charges to make storage a viable economic investment. Anticipated future declines in battery storage costs would enlarge the market potential in these and other states.

“With this analysis, we have identified the areas where customers have the greatest potential to benefit from investments in battery storage,” said Seth Mullendore, coauthor of the paper and a project director at CEG. “Utilities know where these opportunities exist, and now the rest of us have that information too.”

Nearly all medium to large commercial customers in every state are subject to utility demand charges, yet customers often do not understand how these charges are structured or accounted for.

For more information about demand charges, see the accompanying fact sheet.

The charges affect private and nonprofit businesses, as well as a wide array of additional customers, including community facilities, public buildings, and multifamily housing properties. In many cases, these demand charges can comprise anywhere from 30 to 70 percent of a customer’s utility bill.

NREL and CEG will host a webinar on Tuesday, September 19th to discuss the findings of the report. Authors Joyce McLaren and Seth Mullendore will present their research and answer questions from the audience. For more information on this free webinar and to register, click here: Identifying Potential Markets for Commercial Behind-the-Meter Battery Storage