Category Archives: Research

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

New Lab Report: How to Cut the Cost of Wind Energy in Half

Department of Energy’s Wind Energy Technologies Office

Click image to watch a brief video about DOE’s Atmosphere to Electrons initiative.

New energy science and technological breakthroughs could cut the cost of wind energy in half by 2030—making it fully competitive with the fuel cost of natural gas.

This new finding is outlined in a report by the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) that examines the future of wind power plants—backed by the supercomputing power of the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE’s) national laboratories.

It’s part of DOE’s Atmosphere to Electrons initiative, which focuses on maximizing efficiencies at the plant level (i.e. how wind turbines interact with one another and the atmosphere) rather than treating each wind turbine as an individual unit. The next step is for DOE to apply high-performance computing to this grand challenge of better understanding the complex physics that control electricity generation by wind plants. Continue reading here.

Additional Department of Energy Reports
Wind Energy Continues Rapid Growth in 2016
During American Wind Week, August 6–12, the Energy Department released three wind market reports demonstrating continued growth in wind energy nationwide. The reports cover the following market sectors: land-based utility-scaleoffshore, and distributed wind. America’s wind industry added more than 8,200 megawatts (MW) of utility-scale wind capacity last year, representing 27% of all energy capacity additions in 2016. 14 states now get more than 10% of their electricity from wind.

AWEA’s Second Quarter 2017 Report: Top 5 story lines

By Hannah Hunt, Into the Wind, American Wind Energy Association Blog

Among the story lines:

  1. The U.S. wind industry reported 25,819 megawatts (MW) of wind capacity under construction or in advanced development during the second quarter, a 41 percent increase over this time last year. That includes a combined 3,841 MW in new announcements. And nearly 80 percent of that activity is found in the Midwest, Texas and the Mountain West.
  2. Kansas just became the fifth state to surpass 5,000 MW of installed capacity, with enough wind power to supply 1.5 million average homes. Kansas wind supports nearly 6,000 in-state jobs and makes lease payments up to $15 million a year to its farmers and ranchers for hosting turbines.

Read more about the report’s top 5 story lines here.

Referenced in Hannah Hunt’s article:
Gov. Brownback: Wind power could supply 50 percent of Kansas electricity
Kansas has proven it can quickly develop its wind power potential. In 2011, wind created only eight percent of the state’s electricity, only a third of what it does today. This growth has been good for the state’s families and businesses, helping them keep more money in their pockets while supporting up to 6,000 well-paying jobs. Through 2050, wind could save consumers over $1.6 billion on their electric bills, on top of nearly $4 billion in savings resulting from protection against conventional fuel price fluctuations.

Also referenced in the article: Winds of Change video from Westar Energy that shows how wind energy is benefiting Kansas families and businesses. Click image to watch it.

ADDITIONAL RECOMMENDED READING
Wind Power: Propelling America into the 21st century, Into the Wind

Renewable Energy Booming after a Decade of Progress

Environment America News Release

The United States generates nearly eight times as much electricity from the sun and the wind than it did in 2007 – enough to power more than 25 million homes – and the average American uses 10 percent less energy than he or she did 10 years ago, according to a new report by Environment America Research and Policy Center. The report, Renewables on the Rise: A Decade of Progress Toward a Clean Energy Future, also cites a 20-fold increase in battery storage of electricity and the meteoric rise in sales of electric cars – from virtually none in 2007 to nearly 160,000 last year – as evidence that despite attempted rollbacks in Washington, a clean energy revolution is under way across the U.S. Read the entire release.

Download the Report

Despite Climate Change Setbacks, Al Gore ‘Comes Down On The Side Of Hope’

 By Steve Inskeep, NET Nebraska

Former Vice President Al Gore helped shape the conversation about climate change with An Inconvenient Truth. Now he’s back with a sequel — called An Inconvenient Sequel: Truth to Powerdue out next month — and it follows Gore as he continues the crusade he made famous with that first film. The movie shows Gore standing in Miami floodwater, flying over imploding boulders of ice in Greenland and in Paris — trying to push the climate agreement over the finish line. Continue reading.

Photo: When it comes to convincing climate change deniers, Al Gore says, “Mother Nature is more persuasive than the scientific community.” Credit: Claire Harbage/NPR 

WATCH THE TRAILER
An Inconvenient Sequel: Truth to Power, Paramount  Pictures

RELATED READING
Uncertainty Ahead For Farmers Depending On Government Climate Research

Déjà Vu as Co-ops Lead in Satisfaction

By Michael W. Kahn
National Rural Electric Cooperative Association

Strong showings from electric cooperatives, as well as greater satisfaction among all electric consumers, are among the highlights of a new J.D. Power report. The firm’s 2017 Electric Utility Residential Customer Satisfaction Study shows several co-ops with top-of-the-chart scores besting many investor-owned and municipal utilities. Read more here.

Facts from NRECA’s Website on Cooperatives and Renewable Energy

  • Electric cooperatives across the country are actively expanding their future portfolios to include an array of renewable energy
  • Currently, 95% of NRECA’s distribution members offer renewable options to 40 million Americans
  • Co-ops own nearly 1.3 GW of renewable capacity and have long-term power purchase agreements (PPAs) for more than 7.3 GW – in addition to roughly 10 GW of preference power contracts with federal hydroelectric facilities.

Solar Deployment and Co-Op Solar

  • By the end of 2017, the total solar energy capacity of America’s electric cooperatives will be five times what it was two years ago.
  • This year, co-ops are on pace to add 480 MW of solar, which would bring their total capacity to 872 MW. This more than quadruples the 180 MW reached in 2015 and represents a 20-fold increase over the 37 MW capacity in 2010.
  • In addition, over the last two years, cooperatives have expanded their solar footprint from 34 states to 44 states.
  • 133 cooperatives in 30 states offer community solar programs