Monthly Archives: February 2016

Webinar: “Department of Energy’s Budget Request for Renewable Power in Fiscal Year 2017”

Energy Secretary Moniz briefing on 2017 Budget Request to Congress. Click image to view the short video.

Energy Secretary Moniz briefing on 2017 Budget Request to Congress. Click image to view the short video.

Leaders from the Department of Energy’s Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE) are hosting a webinar on the budget request for its renewable power portfolio in the next fiscal year. The webinar will take place next Monday, February 29th,  from 12:00 to 1:30 p.m. CST. Deputy Assistant Secretary Doug Hollett will be joined by SunShot Initiative Director Lidija Sekaric to discuss EERE’s proposed investments in solar energy.

The webinar will also include information about geothermal, wind, and water power technologies and their respective office directors. In addition, the webinar will highlight key departmental crosscutting initiatives.

SPEAKERS: Deputy Assistant Secretary Doug Hollett and SunShot Initiative Director Lidija Sekaric

Register here.

For the Department’s FY17 budget request fact sheet, click here.  

Achieving Clean Power Plan targets well ahead of schedule

By Daniel S. Cohan, contributor, and Leah Y. Parks, The Hill
The Hill
Technologies from LED lights to electric cars to heat pumps are leaping past their less-efficient successors and are poised for mass adoption. Meanwhile, plunging prices push wind turbines and now solar panels into pole position for least-cost new electric capacity. Together, the technological innovations and market shifts are drastically reducing our nation’s need for coal for electric generation, and is even slicing into natural gas demand as well . . . Prices of wind, solar energy and storage technology are plummeting. Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory reports that wind power cost just 2.5 cents per kilowatt hour (c/kWh) in 2014, with prices plunging further each year. Austin Energy inked a then-record low sub-4 c/kWh price for solar power last June, and Houston agreed to pay 4.8 c/kWh. EIA energy outlooks have missed these plunging prices even as other sections of the Department of Energy and the private sector report them. However, common sense can recognize that coal-laden trains from Wyoming, or even gas fracked from shale fields, will struggle to compete with direct-delivered breezes and sunshine as renewable technologies cheapen.

Cohan is associate professor of civil and environmental engineering at Rice University. Parks is co-author of “All-Electric America: A Climate Solution and the Hopeful Future” and associate editor of ElectricityPolicy.com and Electricity Daily.

Read the entire story here. 

Graveyard solar array gets OK from City of Ypsilanti

The Highland Cemetary and DTE are coming close to a deal for a parcel of land to use for a nearly 1-MW solar project. Photo Credit: Dominic Valente / The Ann Arbor News

The Highland Cemetary and DTE are coming close to a deal for a parcel of land to use for a nearly 1-MW solar project. Photo Credit: Dominic Valente,  The Ann Arbor News

By Tom Perkins, Ann Arbor News

The 800 kW array is planned for a roughly 150-foot by 1,000-foot parcel in the cemetery’s northeast corner near the River Street and Clark Road intersection.  When online, it will produce enough electricity to power around 150 homes, or two percent of the city’s housing stock.

“It’s going to be a great use of under-utilized space, and it doesn’t impact wonderful, natural features on the west side of the property that’s adjacent to the river,” City Planner Bonnie Wessler said.

Read more.

City of Palo Alto considers solar power contract at under 4 cents/kWh

By Christian Roselund, pv magazine

50-MW solar farm. Photo Credit: pv magazine

50-MW solar farm. Photo Credit: pv magazine

This is the cheapest power purchase agreement known to pv magazine staff.

“I have not seen a PPA for 40 years before, or a PPA for under 4 cents,” Mercom Capital CEO Raj Prabhu told pv magazine. “It might make sense for both parties: Very low clean power PPA for the city and a very long-term contract for the vendor which justifies the record low price.”

Read more here.

New Analysis Shows Minnesota Can Save Millions AND Cut Carbon Pollution

Written by Sam Gomberg, Union of Concerned Scientists Blog

 sam-gomberg
A new UCS analysis released today shows that strengthening Minnesota’s commitment to renewable energy and energy efficiency will drive billions in capital investments, reduce carbon emissions, and lead to significant cost savings on consumer electricity bills through 2030. Further, by setting a cap on carbon emissions and auctioning off carbon allowances, the state could generate more than $200 million in annual revenues that could be used to further reduce electricity bills or be reinvested for the benefit of Minnesotans. Read more here.

Sam Gomberg is an energy analyst and an expert on responsible energy policies that support the development of renewable energy and energy efficiency resources.

ADDITIONAL RECOMMENDED READING
Report suggests Minnesota aim beyond Clean Power Plan target, by Frank Jossi, Midwest Energy News 

Clean Power Plan: After the stay: Where all 50 states stand, by Elizabeth Harball and Emily Holden, E&E Publishing  

U.S. Solar Market Sets New Record, Installing 7.3GW of Solar PV in 2015

For the first time ever, solar beat out natural gas-capacity additions

By Mike Munsell, Greentech Media

Source: GTM Research / SEIA U.S. Solar Market Insight report

Source: GTM Research / SEIA U.S. Solar Market Insight report

In yet another record-breaking year, the solar industry in the United States installed 7,286 megawatts of solar PV in 2015. GTM Research and the Solar Energy Industries Association announced the historic figures today ahead of the March 9 release of the U.S. Solar Market Insight report.

Read the entire article here.

ADDITIONAL RECOMMENDED READING
Utility Dive: U.S. solar industry built a record 7.3 GW of new capacity in 2015, by Herman K. Trabish. “The ITC extension will result in a 20 GW annual solar market in the U.S. by 2020,” GTM Research Senior Vice President Shayle Kann recently told Utility Dive. “At that rate, more solar will be installed each year than was added to the grid cumulatively through 2014.”

Soybeans to solar: Boom is boon for landowners

By Dan Linehan, Mankato Free Press
Mankato Free Press
MANKATO — When John Frey of Mankato received an inquiry about putting a solar array on his land, he didn’t need to be persuaded on the merits.

Renewable energy was already his sole focus after retiring as a dean at Minnesota State University. Solar power, he said, is a virtual requirement if we’re to wean ourselves off fossil fuels.

When 40 acres of solar panels go up on his rural Lake Crystal land, perhaps this May, he’ll be looking at it as part of a global solution to climate change.

Click here to continue reading.

Photo credit: Mankato Free Press / Trevor Cokley. A worker checks the alignment of the newly installed solar panels near the POET ethanol plant south of Lake Crystal. Customers of the South Central Electric Association can buy a membership in the 134-kilowatt array for an estimated $1,175 a panel.

EPA asks Volkswagen to make electric cars in U.S.

The charging plug of an electric Volkswagen Passat car is pictured at charging station at a VW dealer in BerlinReuters / Welt am Sonntag 

U.S. authorities have asked the German carmaker Volkswagen to produce electric vehicles in the United States as a way of making up for its rigging of emission tests, the German newspaper Welt am Sonntag reported.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is currently in talks with Volkswagen with the aim of agreeing on a fix for nearly 600,000 diesel vehicles that emit up to 40 times legal pollution limits.

Read more here.

Photo by Reuters / Fabrizio Bensch: The charging plug of an electric Volkswagen Passat car is pictured at charging station at a VW dealer in Berlin, Germany.

Red Lake Nation goes solar

John Enger, Minnesota Public Radio (MPR)

Red Lake development director Eugene McArthur announced plans Thursday to install acres of solar panels on the rooftops of the tribe's largest buildings. Construction of the project will begin this June and save the tribe roughly $2 million a year in energy costs. John Enger | MPR News

Red Lake development director Eugene McArthur announced plans Thursday to install acres of solar panels on the rooftops of the tribe’s largest buildings. Construction of the project will begin this June and save the tribe roughly $2 million a year in energy costs. John Enger | MPR News

It’s one of the largest solar projects planned in northern Minnesota, and tribe leaders said it is a big step toward energy independence for the Red Lake Nation. “Grandfather sun and mother earth are the foundations of who we are as native people,” said Red Lake development director Eugene McArthur. “With this project, we’re harnessing the forces of nature . . . We can talk about the cost savings,” McArthur said, “but that’s not the whole story.”

Read more here.

ADDITIONAL RECOMMENDED READING
Red Lake Band to Go Fully Solar Within Five Years, by Michael Meuers, Indian Country Today Media Network

Michigan researchers issue guidelines for sustainable energy storage

Written by Andy Balaskovitz, Midwest Energy News

Image Credit: Portland General Electric

Image Credit: Portland General Electric

As energy storage deployment grows across a variety of sectors and fuel sources, a team of researchers at the University of Michigan has published a set of 12 principles to help guide projects on the most sustainable path forward . . . “These are guidelines or principles you can take into account to make sure there is the least environmental impact in terms of optimizing solutions,” said Maryam Arbabzadeh, a graduate assistant at U-M’s School of Natural Resources and Environment. She is also author of “Twelve Principles for Green Energy Storage in Grid Applications,” which was recently published in Environmental Science and Technology. Arbabzadeh said the study is published with “very good timing as utilization of energy storage is growing rapidly.”

Read the entire article.