American companies are increasingly making their own power — and sales — with wind turbines located near the factories and buildings that consume the power they make, concludes a report released today.
The 2015 Distributed Wind Market Report offers the fourth annual analysis of a growing field called distributed wind, which involves generating wind power near where it will be used instead of purchasing power from large, centralized wind farms. Distributed wind can range from a small, solitary turbine at a remote cabin to several large turbines powering an entire neighborhood.
“Wind plays a key role in the rising area of distributed energy,” said report co-author, Alice Orrell, an energy analyst at the Department of Energy’s Pacific Northwest National Laboratory.
“Although distributed wind is not as widespread as distributed solar, new third-party financing options similar to the lease model that spurred growth in the residential solar market could also grow distributed wind,” added PNNL energy analyst Nik Foster, the other co-author.
The report’s key findings include:
37 percent of the new distributed wind capacity added in 2015 was for industrial uses, including factories, processing plants, and operation facilities.
Companies using distributed wind include the Whirlpool and Ball corporations in Ohio, soap manufacturer Method in Illinois, and Stafford County Flour Mills in Kansas.
Exports of U.S.-made small wind turbines, which generate up to 100 kilowatts, doubled from 2014 to 2015 — adding 21.5 megawatts of capacity in 2015. Small wind exports have accounted for more than $310 million in combined sales between 2012 and 2015.
Italy, the United Kingdom and Japan are among the largest importers of U.S.-made small wind turbines.
28 megawatts of new U.S. distributed wind power capacity was added in 2015 by installing 1,713 turbines. This brings the U.S. to a total of 934 megawatts of distributed wind capacity and 75,000 turbines installed since 2003, or about 1 percent of all U.S. wind energy capacity installed since then.
Ohio, Nebraska and Connecticut led the U.S. in new distributed wind power capacity in 2015 — respectively adding 7.7, 7 and 5 megawatts, due to a large project in each of those states.
The estimated cost of energy made from a sample of small distributed wind turbines was 11 cents per kilowatt hour in 2015, compared to overall residential electric rates that run between about 9 and 21 cents in the Continental U.S.
Annual distributed wind capacity additions have declined since 2012, when federal stimulus funding spurred renewable energy’s expansion.
It’s like rooftop solar, without the rooftops. A growing number of consumers are buying into community solar farms that allow renters and apartment dwellers to access renewable energy produced on neighborhood plots that can be small enough to host a little league baseball game. Some are so modest they’re referred to as “solar gardens.” Continue reading.
Image: 13 acre, 1.5-megawatt Jefferson County Community Solar Garden.
Photographer: Andy Cross / Denver Post via Getty Images
A north-central Minnesota solar nonprofit is creating a community solar garden for low income residents of a Native American reservation that it believes could become a national model. The 200 kilowatt community solar garden will be built by the Rural Renewable Energy Alliance for low income residents living in the Leech Lake Band of Ojibwe. It would serve from 100 to 150 families. The nonprofit plans to build the solar garden using money from a $500,000 state grant and then donate it to the tribe. Click to continue reading.
Photo of Jason Edens, Director of the Rural Renewable Energy Alliance. Credit: Tom Kelly / Creative Commons
Written by Reverend Mitch Hescox, President and CEO of the Evangelical Environmental Network, and Catrina Rorke, Director of Energy Policy and a Senior Fellow at the R Street Institute. Published by the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.
When it comes to energy generation, business as usual is hurting Missouri. Antiquated state laws are holding back investments in cheaper, cleaner electricity from renewable sources. The state’s biggest job creators have voiced concerns that they would like to build and buy renewable energy through stable, long-term contracts, as is possible in other states. Thousands of jobs for the construction and operation of locally sourced renewable power are left on the sidelines. That’s why Cargill, General Mills, Unilever and Wal-Mart are asking for new state laws that will let them purchase more cheap and clean renewable power, such as wind and solar. Continue reading.
Written by Maria Stamas, Project Attorney for Energy & Climate Programs at the Natural Resources Defense Council
464-kilowatt solar installation on “Park Villas” Multifamily Affordable housing with 268 tenants.
When operational in 2017, the Multifamily Affordable Solar Roofs program (AB 693) would provide up to $1 billion in solar funding over 10 years and will be the first in the countryspecifically designed to provide low-income renters with (1) increased access to onsite solar-generated electricity and (2) directeconomic benefits via solar electricity credits. The law targets installation of 300 megawatts (MW) of solar energy, which, if accomplished, would fully power the equivalentof 75,000 California homes . . . Funded from revenues from California’s cap-and-trade auctions under the state’s pioneering Global Warming Solutions Act, the Affordable Solar Roofs Program (AB 693) will bring the benefits of California’s clean energy policies to communities suffering disproportionately from pollution and provide an economic stimulus in low-income neighborhoods. Read more here.
With the right incentives, coal industry employees could find the same gleam that their peers in the solar sector now have. That’s according to Michigan University associate professor Joshua Pearce and Oregon State University Ph.D student Edward Louie, who published a study that appears in the Journal of Energy Economics. Their premise is that the growth in solar energy employment in the United States over 15 years could offset and absorb the job losses that have occurred in the domestic coal business. “The coal industry is on a downward slope from which it won’t get off,” Pearce, who teaches electrical engineering, told this reporter. Click to read the entire article. Photo Credit: Shutterstock
ALSO IN THE NEWS GSA to request information on deploying storage in federal government buildings By Robert Walton, Utility Dive
The General Services Administration, an independent agency which helps manage the U.S. government, is preparing an energy storage request for information that could be the first step in bringing more efficient energy use and load management to more than 10,000 buildings under its control. Continue reading.
What the Community Solar Customer Wants: A New Special Report from the Smart Energy Power Alliance and Shelton Group
What will it take to make solar power accessible for everyday Americans? Community solar programs may indeed be the answer, but it will take smart packaging, pricing and messaging to be successful. And that depends on identifying the right target audience and understanding their deepest drivers.
This new special report, based on a survey of more than 2,000 American commercial and residential energy customers, will give utilities the data and insights needed to market community solar successfully, including:
The ideal target audience for community solar
Who prefers a lease and who prefers a subscription/rate plan
Whether array visibility matters
Whether participation fees turn customers off
Whether and how they want to be recognized for participating
Which program sponsors and terminology customers prefer
How big the potential market is for both residential and commercial community solar
MASON CITY — Library Director Mary Markwalter and the Mason City Library board know what it’s like to put a lot of energy into an idea. On Thursday, they celebrated their three-year quest to have solar energy at the library with a ribbon-cutting ceremony. Solar panels have been installed on two of the library’s roofs. The first talk of solar power at the library began in 2013, said Markwalter. In 2014, the city budgeted $375,000 in its capital improvement budget for it and bids even came in below budget. Read more.
The Saline County Wind Association (SCWA) Inc. has voted to enter into negotiations on a wind lease agreement with APEX Clean Energy of Charlottesville, Virginia. APEX has indicated it plans to build a 300 megawatt wind energy facility in the following townships of Saline and Fillmore counties: Atlanta, Olive, Turkey Creek, Belle Prairie, Chelsea, Franklin and Glengary. APEX has renewable energy projects in 25 states, most of those projects being wind energy facilities. This will be their first project in Nebraska. Click to continue reading.
Fillmore County is about 120 miles from Omaha, with a population of approximately 5600 according to the latest census. Geneva is the county seat.
The Tesla-SolarCity proposed merger is really just the tip of the energy cloud: “This emerging energy cloud landscape, a concept that borrows from cloud computing, represents a range of technical, commercial, environmental, and regulatory changes that challenge the traditional hub-and-spoke grid architecture.” [Elon Musk]. Click to read more.
In an upcoming webinar titled The Integrated DER Ecosystem, Navigant Research and two industry leaders, SolarCity and Generate Capital, will discuss how these bundling trends, in addition to other advances in the DER landscape, present opportunities and challenges in the market. The transition to the energy cloud is a bumpy path, but it is already redefining the grid architecture and customer relationships of the future.