Monthly Archives: September 2015

Shell CEO: Solar Energy To Be Backbone of World’s Energy System

By James Ayre, CleanTechnica

Ben van Beurden

Ben van Beurden

Solar energy will comprise the backbone of the world’s energy system in years to come, according to the CEO of Shell (yes, that Shell), Ben van Beurden. The exact words used by Van Beurden were that he has “no hesitation to predict that in years to come solar will be the dominant backbone of our energy system, certainly of the electricity system.” Considering that these words were from the CEO of one of the largest oil companies in the world, one would assume that he has good reasons for saying what he did.  Read more.

SEE ALSO: Shell chairman announces new Energy Transitions Commission 

Madison Gas & Electric plans ‘community solar’ pilot project in Middleton

By Thomas Content, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

An example of a community solar project: Convergence Energy Solar Farm in Walworth County, Wisconsin.

An example of a community solar project: Convergence Energy Solar Farm in Walworth County, Wisconsin.

Continuing a string of announcements this year regarding “community solar” projects in Wisconsin, a Madison utility has rolled out its plans for a community solar pilot initiative in the city of Middleton . . . Under the utility’s proposal, a typical utility customer who buys a 1 kilowatt share of the project would pay a onetime fee of $189 and then pay $155.50 per year, with that rate fixed for 25 years.

Read the entire article here.

Utilities Taking a More Proactive Approach to Community Solar

By Stephen Lacy, Greentech Media

Photo Credit: Greentech Media

Photo Credit: Greentech Media

Community solar is transforming from an experimental offering supported by mandates to a powerful utility tool for retaining customers, says a leading community solar developer.

With 115 megawatts of projects expected through the end of 2015, community solar is still a small fraction of the U.S. solar market. But the sector is defined not just by the number of megawatts being installed, but by how they’re getting installed.

Increasingly, that’s happening outside of mandated state programs, said Tom Hunt, the vice president of corporate development at Clean Energy Collective (CEC).

Continue reading here.

Two books you can download for free: The Great Transition and Empowered

The Great Transition: Shifting from Fossil Fuels to Solar and Wind Energy
By Lester R. Brown



The energy transition is here. As fossil fuel resources shrink, as air pollution worsens, and as concerns about climate instability cast a shadow over the future of coal, oil, and natural gas, a new world energy economy is emerging. The old economy, fueled largely by coal and oil, is being replaced with one powered by solar and wind energy.

The Great Transition details the accelerating pace of this global energy revolution. As many countries become less enamored with coal and nuclear power, they are embracing an array of clean, renewable energies. Whereas solar energy projects were once small-scale, largely designed for residential use, energy investors are now building utility-scale solar projects. Strides are being made: some of the huge wind farm complexes under construction in China will each produce as much electricity as several nuclear power plants, and an electrified transport system supplemented by the use of bicycles could reshape the way we think about mobility. Download the book here.

Empowered: A Tale of Three Cities Taking Charge of their Energy Future
By Bentham Paulos, Midwest Energy News



Energy in America is undergoing a period of rapid change, driven by new technologies, consumer empowerment, and the imperative to reduce emissions that cause global warming.

But people who want to save energy or install solar panels are finding their efforts are at odds with utilities seeking to preserve their profits. Seeing an existential threat to their business model, utilities across the country are pursuing policy changes that will make it less viable for customers to generate their own electricity.

Impatient with the slow pace of change at the state level, an increasing number of cities — such as Boulder, Minneapolis and Madison — are taking matters into their own hands as their citizens seek energy that is local, affordable, and clean.

Empowered describes how city officials and activists in Boulder, Minneapolis, and Madison are fighting back against entrenched utilities, and taking charge of their energy future.

Download free PDF here. Can be read online, or uploaded to Kindle and other devices.

Click here to subscribe to Midwest Energy News’ daily headlines sent by email.

Shell chairman announces new Energy Transitions Commission: “We won’t abandon energy, but we will evolve”

By Adam Lashinsky, Fortune

Shell, the leader in oil and gas, says it will pursue solar power and other alternative energy—if that’s where the market is going.

Chad Holliday, chairman of oil giant Shell, said Monday the company aims to change accordingChad Holliday to data gathered by a new industry commission it is helping to form—even if the information leads it away from its current businesses. Shell will be part of the 16-member Energy Transitions Commission, which he announced at Fortune Brainstorm E, an energy and environment conference in Austin.

Holliday credited global consultant McKinsey for coming to the oil industry with the idea for the commission. He said it will look initially at issues like solar energy and air pollution. The goal, he said, is to paint [a] picture of where the energy industry is going—as opposed to where the oil industry would like it to go.

Continue reading here

About Brainstorm E – from Fortune’s CEO Daily Blog

The conference, which assembled several hundred business leaders and energy experts in Austin, Texas, is providing plenty of reason for optimism. Solar and wind energy are expanding faster than expected, thanks to the combination of rapidly falling prices and tax subsidies. Battery technology for energy storage is advancing. Efficiency gains have kept overall energy usage below 2007 levels. And new investments in technology promise more progress in the future. The conference also has highlighted efforts by business to encourage, and profit, from the change – including the creation of a new Energy Transitions Commission to help business gather data and make smart decisions about the rapidly changing energy environment.

3 Reasons Why Shell Halted Drilling in the Arctic, by Wendy Koch, National Geographic. “Its news coincided with the launch of the Energy Transitions Commission, a global group including Shell that aims to address both energy poverty and climate change.”

Lauren Thirer Of GE To Speak At 2015 Wind and Solar Conference

By John Hansen, Conference Committee Co-Chair and Nebraska Farmers Union President
Nebraska Rural Radio Association News Release

Lauren Thirer1Lincoln, NE- This year’s eighth annual
Nebraska Wind and Solar Conference and Exhibition being held at the Omaha Hilton in Omaha, NE, November 4-5, will feature some exciting new speakers, and the return of a conference attendee favorite, Lauren Thirer with GE Renewables. A Consumer Energy Showcase, open to the public, will be held the evening of Tuesday, November 3.

Thirer will be the keynote speaker during lunch on the first day of the conference, Wednesday, November 4.

“Lauren’s session was one of the top presentations at last year’s conference and she is an incredible presenter,” said Dean Mueller, Division Manager of Sustainable Energy & Environmental Stewardship for Omaha Public Power District (OPPD).

Read more here.

Registration information is available at the conference website:

Student-led solar projects at Utah’s universities

Two of the solar arrays on the west penthouse of the J. Willard Marriott Library, University of Utah. Universities across Utah are leaders in student-led sustainability programs and practices. Photo Credit: J. Willard Marriott Library

Two of the solar arrays on the west penthouse of the J. Willard Marriott Library, University of Utah. Universities across Utah and the nation are spearheading student-led sustainability programs that include renewable energy projects. Photo Credit: J. Willard Marriott Library

USA Today: Solar power more affordable for some Utah students, by Matthew Kunes

[Weber State University], an hour north of Salt Lake City, is one of many state universities tackling sustainable solutions to reduce the campus’s carbon footprint, which includes carbon neutrality, clean energy and energy efficiency. This year, its Sustainability Practices and Research Center will launch a new solar program that allows students, faculty and community members affordable access to solar energy for their homes. A typical five-panel set up, for example, might cost $2000, half of the normal expense.

Weber followed in the footsteps of a similar program sponsored by the University of Utah, which brought solar energy to Salt Lake City “U Community Solar” program in 2014.

Read more here.

In his article, Matthew Kunes mentions the American College and University President’s Climate Commitment. Universities, colleges, and community colleges across our nation have pledged to combat climate change, including the following signatories in Nebraska:

Central Community College, College of Saint Mary, Creighton University, Doane College

The American College & University Presidents’ Climate Commitment (PDF)

Goal 7 of the United Nations New Agenda for Sustainable Development: Affordable And Clean Energy For Everyone

Photo: United Nations

Photo: United Nations

1.3 billion people worldwide live without electricity. Goal 7 of the United Nation’s Agenda for Sustainable Development over the next 15 years is to: “Ensure access to affordable, reliable, sustainable and modern energy for all.” The goal calls for global access to electricity and more renewable energy.

UN News Release: UN deputy chief says world now has ‘legitimate hope’ that universal goal on energy will be met

27 September 2015 – United Nations Deputy Secretary-General Jan Eliasson today welcomed the adoption of the first-ever universal goal on energy, but cautioned that it will take “arduous work” to reach the targets needed to end poverty and combat climate change as part of the new sustainable development agenda.

Mr. Eliasson spoke of the importance of working across economic, social and environmental dimensions to participants of a high-level event of Sustainable Energy for All, a multi-stakeholder partnership, on the sidelines of the UN Sustainable Development Summit, at which the new Goal was adopted along with 16 other goals and 169 targets to wipe out poverty, fight inequality and tackle climate over the next 15 years.

He cited as examples of successful partnerships already underway:

Continue reading here.

UN Goals

Q&A: What can a million dollars do for clean energy?

By Kari Lydersen, Midwest Energy News

Earlier this month, Invenergy founder, president and CEO Michael Polsky made a $1 million contribution to the World Resources Institute to “fund projects that increase access to clean, affordable and reliable power,” as the institute put it.

Letha Tawney

Letha Tawney

The contribution created a Chair for Renewable Energy at the institute, a Washington D.C.-based global non-profit organization that promotes sustainable policy and investment focusing on climate, food, energy, forests, water and sustainable cities.

The chair is filled by Letha Tawney, also director of utility innovation at WRI. Continue reading here.

WRI’s Partners
World Wildlife Fund
Edison Electric Institute 
Rocky Mountain Institute’s Business Renewables Center
Business for Social Responsibility

Public agencies enable SolarCity’s community solar offering for low income families

By Andy Colthorpe, PV Tech

Families on low incomes in California will be able to benefit from a new drive by PV-install and PVTech1leasing company SolarCity, enabled by a program set up by the state’s regulator. California Public Utilities’ Commission (CPUC), responsible for setting out the terms under which privately owned utilities operate, has run the MASH (multifamily affordable solar housing) program since 2008. To date, over 350 projects have gone ahead through the scheme, enabling the addition of 22.7MW of PV generation capacity across California . . . GTM Research put out a report in June that called community solar the “most significant” growth market in US PV, predicting that it could reach 500MW a year by 2020 . . . As well as expanding the reach of solar onto the rooftops and carports of low income households, SolarCity’s new offering will train up installers from those communities as well, the company said.

Read the entire article here.

Photo Credit: SolarCity. The community solar projects for low-income families will include carport installations as well as rooftops. 

Shared Renewables / Community Solar Resources – Solar Energy Industries Association