Monthly Archives: October 2019

DOE Awards $28 Million for Wind Energy Research, Development, and Demonstration Projects

Department of Energy News Release

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) announced the selection of 13 projects to receive a total of $28 million to advance wind energy nationwide. While utility-scale, land-based wind energy in the United States has grown to 96 gigawatts, significant opportunities for cost reductions remain, especially in the areas of offshore wind, distributed wind, and tall wind.

The funding selections were announced by DOE’s Assistant Secretary for the Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy, Daniel R Simmons, at the American Wind Energy Association Offshore WINDPOWER Conference in Boston, Massachusetts. “These projects will be instrumental in driving down technology costs and increasing consumer options for wind across the United States as part of our comprehensive energy portfolio,” said Simmons. Read more here.

Learn more about DOE’s wind energy research on the Wind Energy Technologies Office website.

ALSO IN THE NEWS

Hundreds of Mayors Call on Congress to Extend the Solar Investment Tax Credit

Solar Energy Industries Association News Release

WASHINGTON, D.C. – A bipartisan group of 231 mayors from Tacoma, Wash to Ft. Lauderdale, Fla. sent a letter to Congress today urging them to pass the Renewable Energy Extension Act (HR 3961/S. 2289), a five-year extension of the solar Investment Tax Credit (ITC).

“More than 200 mayors from 39 states are stepping up to defend the ITC,” said Abigail Ross Hopper, president and CEO of the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA). “Mayors are increasingly turning to solar energy to fight the effects of climate change and generate millions of dollars of private investment in their cities. We’re thrilled to have their support as we fight to preserve one of the most successful clean energy policies in U.S. history.” Read the entire news release, which includes several statements from mayors, here.

Learn more about SEIA’s fight to defend the solar ITC here.

Report says ExxonMobil misled public for decades

The Los Angeles Times. Republished by The Omaha World-Herald

Researchers on Monday outlined a decades-long campaign of deception on climate change by the ExxonMobil oil company and the broader fossil fuel industry — and their success at confusing the American public. The report, which was published by scientists at Harvard, George Mason and Bristol Universities, draws parallels between the campaigns launched by tobacco companies and oil industries to mislead the public about their products, both with a goal of delaying government policies and regulations that could cut into their profits. The report was released two days before ExxonMobil is set to go to trial in New York’s Supreme Court in Manhattan on allegations of misleading investors about climate change. Continue reading here.

Download the Report: America Misled: How the fossil fuel industry deliberately misled Americans about climate change

Related Articles

  • Fossil fuel corporations have deceived the public on climate change, report says, Environment Journal. According to the report, scientists working for the fossil fuel industry knew about the warming effects of CO2 emissions as early as the 1950s. In an internal memo from 1977, the scientists wrote: ‘CO2 release is most likely a source of climate modification, doubling CO2 could increase average global temperature by 3 degrees by 2050.’ Geoffrey Supran, a research associate in the Department of History and Science at Harvard University said: ‘For 60 years, the fossil fuel industry has known about the potential global warming dangers of their product.’
  • Climate Change Lawsuits Against Fossil Fuel Companies Are Heating Up, by Ken Kimmell, Union of Concerned Scientists President, UCS Blog

Yale University Poll

Yale Poll Finds Majority of Americans Think ExxonMobil, BP, Chevron and Other Fossil Fuel Companies Should Pay for Climate Change Damage, Union of Concerned Scientists Blog

A striking new survey by Yale University’s Program on Climate Change Communications and supported by the Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS) finds that most Americans (57 percent) think fossil fuel companies should pay for the damages caused by global warming.

Not surprisingly, nearly two-thirds of Californians believe that fossil fuel companies should pay for climate damages. But so too do majorities in Arizona, Idaho, Nevada, and New Mexico. And strikingly, so do majorities in Texas and Louisiana, both dominant centers of US oil and gas extraction, processing, and refining. Texas is also home to the headquarters for ExxonMobil, ConocoPhillips and the US arms of BP and Royal Dutch Shell. These results show widespread public support for the principle of “polluter pays” – that these companies should be held responsible to pay for the climate they have helped to create.

Interactive Map 

Support for Making Fossil Fuel Companies Pay for Climate Damages, Yale University’s Program on Climate Change Communication


Estimated % of adults who think fossil fuel companies are responsible for global warming damages (57%), 2019

This tool maps variations in Americans’ opinions about existing or potential lawsuits against fossil fuel companies. Climate scientists say the burning of fossil fuels (coal, oil, and natural gas) is causing global warming, which results in more extreme weather, droughts, wildfires, and flooding from sea level rise. We asked over 5,000 Americans who is responsible for the damages caused by global warming. The maps combine this nationally representative survey data with additional census and geographic data and modeling to depict the percentage of Americans in each state, congressional district, metro area, and county who hold fossil fuel companies responsible for the local damages of global warming.

Nebraska Data

  • A search by state shows that 50% of Nebraskans surveyed hold fossil fuel companies responsible for the local damage of global warming.
  • County searches, among others, show the following results:

Cherry County: 58%
Colfax County: 56%
Dawes County: 57%
Douglas County: 56%
Lancaster County: 55%
Thurston County: 61%

ACCIONA acquires 3,000 MW in photovoltaic projects being developed in the USA

Acciona News Release

ACCIONA today announced the signature of an agreement with the US company Tenaska to acquire a portfolio of photovoltaic projects in seven states across the country. The portfolio comprises approximately 3,000 megawatts (MW) of rated power in utility-scale photovoltaic plants and 1.000 MW of battery storage. The transaction covers 20 projects located in the States of Pennsylvania, Ohio, Kentucky, Illinois, Kansas, Oklahoma and Missouri, within the scope of the PJM Interconnection and Southwest Power Pool (SPP) markets. Tenaska – through Tenaska Solar Ventures, the company’s solar development services business – will work with ACCIONA to complete development of the projects.

The Omaha, Nebraska-based company has a robust renewables program that includes solar and wind generation in various stages of development, construction and operation. Tenaska Solar Ventures provides development services to approximately 40 projects in 11 states, totaling roughly 6,000 MW of renewable solar capacity. Read more here.

Related Article

ACCIONA buys solar + storage on a national scale, PV Magazine
The Spanish company has purchased 3 GW of solar projects and 1 GW of solar + storage from developer Tenaska, with all of the projects concentrated in non-traditional solar markets.

Previously Posted

The Midwest’s solar future will be unlike anything seen before, PV Magazine
Fitch Solutions Marco Research has boldly predicted the region will be a main driver towards the 100 GW of solar power capacity expected to hit the U.S. over the next 10 years. The procurement will be led by city and utility commitments to renewable energy, the falling costs of solar and the continued expansion of popular community solar programs.

More Regional & State Energy Transition News

Green Bonds

Green bonds lead sustainable funding past $1tn mark, PV Magazine International
In the past 12 years, green bonds have raised nearly $800 billion for investment in clean energy and other sustainability projects and companies are now pegging bond interest payments to their environmental performance.

Grid Decarbonization

Carbon-free – are we at a tipping point?, sponsored content by DistribuTECH, written by Julia Hamm, SEPA President. Published by Utility Dive. Of all the changes and industry trends I’ve witnessed over the past two decades, I believe the most significant is one we are witnessing today: voluntary utility commitments to get to 100% clean or carbon-free energy within the next two-and-a-half to three decades. 

EV News

Featured Nonprofit Energy Transition Initiative

The Just Transition Fund (JTF) is a national philanthropic initiative focused on coal community transition. The Fund supports and connects frontline communities through four key strategies.

Where JTF Works
The Fund focuses on coalfield and power plant communities. Our geographic priorities include key states in Appalachia, the West, and the Midwest. The Fund gives preference to states experiencing the largest numbers of plant retirements and to regions that contain both plants and mines.

Inside Oakland’s clean energy economy strategy

By Daniel Hamilton, Sustainability Manager, City of Oakland, GreenBiz

In my city of Oakland, California, climate change policies and programs are a core approach to creating jobs, raising wages, addressing historical inequities for women and minorities, improving the health of residents and improving the quality of life for all. In the battle for the soul of a nation, cities such as Oakland are showing that the clean energy economy is America’s best strategy for creating a prosperous and better tomorrow.

Restoring prosperity under such conditions will be a generational challenge, but offers enormous potential. The best place to start is the clean energy economy. Multiple federal, state, non-profit and research organizations have documented the impact that the transition to low carbon energy has had on jobs creation, health and lowering costs of energy. Read more here.

Referenced Initiatives

  • Building Decarbonization Coalition
    More than 50 cities in California are expected to bring forth limitations or complete elimination of natural gas systems in newly constructed buildings by early 2020.
  • CURB Analysis: Oakland became the first city in North America to use the CURB tool as a key, in-depth input to its climate planning and will share its experience as a pilot with other interested cities.

Also Posted Today on GreenBiz

With the clean economy, it’s (still) a sink-or-swim moment, by Joel Makower, Chairman & Executive Editor, GreenBiz Group

This week, as we prepare to welcome 3,000 professionals to the ninth annual VERGE conference in Oakland, California, we are both stirred and sanguine by what we see. The clean economy is taking shape, in some cases faster than anyone predicted, in other cases plodding and frustratingly slow.

Who’d have predicted back in 2011 the rapid rise of circularity among the world’s largest brands, for example, or the realization of markets to draw down greenhouse gases, profitably, from the atmosphere? That electric vehicles would become, or soon will be, the norm instead of the exception? That the built environment increasingly would rely on electricity rather than natural gas for heating, cooling and other things? That agriculture would be seen as a key to solving climate change? Or that the electrification of aviation would be in the wings?

All of these are now part of the VERGE agenda. Individually and collectively, they are emblematic of a moment as filled with potential as it is fraught with challenges. That’s what this week is about: seizing the potential, busting through barriers, upending entrenched systems, improving lives and adapting to the new normal — all in the name of creating a clean economy that works for all.

If you are unable to be with us in person, I invite you to tune in to the free VERGE Virtual livestream. See here for details. Read the entire article here.

Previously Posted Podcast

‘This May Be The Single Biggest Business Opportunity In Human History’, contributed article by Devin Thorpe, bestselling author, educator and speaker. Published by Forbes.

IEA Report

Renewable capacity set for 50% growth over next few years, IEA says, CNBC
Renewable power capacity is forecast to increase by 50% between 2019 and 2024, the International Energy Agency (IEA) said Monday. According to its “Renewables 2019” market report, the increase will amount to 1,200 gigawatts (GW) and be driven by drops in cost and what the IEA described as “concerted government policy efforts.” Overall, renewables’ share in worldwide power generation is seen growing from 26% now to 30% in 2024.

Farm practices could be a way to reduce impact of heavy rains, UNL researcher says

By Roseann Moring, Omaha World-Herald

Keep living roots in the soil to get more precipitation absorbed. That was a key takeaway from a University of Nebraska-Lincoln researcher’s deep dive into water retention practices. The Nebraska Legislature this year approved the creation of the Healthy Soils Task Force. Healthy soils are those with more carbon, or living matter, in it, said Chairman Keith Berns, a Bladen farmer who also runs a cover crop seed business. The benefits of healthy soil, he said, include being better for the environment, producing healthy food and saving money for the producer.

“It works really well and allows them to make more money but it’s also environmentally better,” Berns said. And, yes, it increases water absorption — which in turn helps prevent flooding and erosion. [Aaron Hird, Nebraska’s soil health specialist at the Natural Resource Conservation Service] said every farmer he talked to that had cover crops during this year’s flooding said those fields fared better than others nearby. And cover crops can help the soil recover from the effects of the flood, allowing production to resume faster, he said. Read the entire article here.

The above graphic was published as part of the research Andrea Basche and co-author Marcia DeLonge conducted to analyze different farming practices and soil retention. Credit: University of Nebraska-Lincoln

Related Article
Analysis IDs ag practices to fight flood, drought, by Scott Schrage, University Communication, University of Nebraska-Lincoln

About the Co-Authors
Andrea Basche is Assistant Professor of Agronomy and Horticulture at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, and Marcia DeLonge is Research Director and Senior Scientist, Food and Environment, Union of Concerned Scientists.

Previously Posted Articles

  • Nebraskans talk extreme weather. Just don’t call it climate change, Christian Science Monitor
  • Soil matters more than you thinkby Shauna Sadowski, GreenBiz
    A single teaspoon of healthy soil can support more microorganisms than there are people on the planet. These microorganisms play a role in unlocking the soil’s complex network of physical, biological and chemical functions, and scientists are just scratching the surface in understanding these interconnected relationships. What we do know is that healthy soil has the potential to restore ecosystems, increase biodiversity and improve water quality, among other ecosystem services. It also can draw carbon out of the atmosphere and store it underground, helping to reduce greenhouse gases. With 70 percent of sequestered carbon stored in lands directly influenced by agriculture, grazing or forest management, the food industry has a unique opportunity to tackle climate change through better soil management. 
  • How regenerative land and livestock management practices can sequester carbon, by Shauna Sadowski, GreenBiz. Developing a holistic, inclusive and outcomes-based approach to regenerative agriculture means inviting all types of farmers to the conversation and prioritizing impact measurements at the farm-level. We recognize that farmers are critical to advancing this work, and we want to do what we can to support them and advance their regenerative practices.

National / International Resources

Nebraska Resources

Nebraska Legislation
LB 243, to create a Healthy Soils Task Force, was passed by the Nebraska Legislature on April 11, 2019 by a vote of 43 to 0 and signed by Governor Ricketts on April 18th.

Featured White Paper
Regenerative Organic Agriculture and Climate Change A Down-to-Earth Solution to Global Warming, The Rodale Institute

The white paper from the Rodale Institute found developing tests to measure carbon sequestration is the best chance for quantitatively showing the amount of regenerative agriculture needed to actually help the climate. The trials will find the best ideas and offer support networks for farmers who are already working on regenerative models. “With the use of cover crops, compost, crop rotation and reduced tillage, we can actually sequester more carbon than is currently emitted, tipping the needle past 100% to reverse climate change,” Mark Smallwood, executive director of Rodale Institute, said in the report.

Upcoming Webcast
GreenBiz – Natural Climate Solutions: Tap into the Opportunities, November 12, 2019, 10 to 11 am.

Facebook and Google: Utilities Must Take Lead on Grid Decarbonization

By Emma Foehringer Merchant, Greentech Media

SAN FRANCISCO, Calif. — Utilities, not green-minded corporations, need to lead on decarbonizing the grid, said executives at Google and Facebook. Corporate procurement now ranks among the top drivers of large-scale U.S. renewables purchases. But it’s not the long-term answer to clean energy deployment, the technology executives said Thursday, speaking at an event hosted by the American Council on Renewable Energy. They’d rather see large market shifts than an emphasis on voluntary corporate renewables goals. Google and Facebook are currently the nation’s largest corporate buyers of renewable power in 2019 and among the largest in the world. Read more here.

Google Photo: Data center operators are driving demand for renewable power around the world. 

Additional Recommended Reading

Corporate leaders: It’s time to lead on climate policy, by Mindy Lubber, CEO and president of the nonprofit Ceres. At this vital moment in the global climate crisis, corporate leadership on climate policy is a top priority. This week, I joined ten other executives of leading nonprofit organizations in an open letter calling on corporate CEOs to use their voice, their global platforms, their credibility, and their networks to support a policy agenda to get us to net-zero emissions by 2050. That is the goal that scientists say is necessary to limit global warming and avoid unprecedented damage to our planet, our economy and our communities. 

Ceres is one of the cofounders of We Are Still In, a coalition of more than 3500 investors, companies, mayors, governors, college presidents and other leaders committed to U.S. action on climate change.

RE100 Update: 204 influential businesses, including Google and Facebook, have made a commitment to 100% renewable energy. A growing number of RE100 members also are driving their global supply chains to transition to clean energy.

REBA: Google and Facebook are also members of the Renewable Energy Buyers Alliance (REBA). REBA’s goal is to catalyze 60 gigawatts (GW) of new renewable energy by 2025, and expand the number of organizations buying clean power from dozens today to tens of thousands. REBA’s Vision & Initiatives.

Recommended Viewing
What is REBA?, Two-minute video by REBA on Vimeo.

With 10% penetration, EVs could shift all residential peak load to night, analysis of SoCal Ed finds

By Robert Walton, Utility Dive

Electric vehicles have the potential to act as virtual power plants that can help utilities soak up midday renewable energy and discharge in the evenings to reduce peak load, according to a study from Jackson Associates released Wednesday. The analysis, based on 5,000 Southern California Edison (SCE) customers’ hourly loads, commuting behavior and “potential electric vehicle (EV) ownership,” concluded that at a 10% EV penetration, the batteries could shift the utility’s entire residential peak load to nighttime hours.

Over 20 million EVs are expected on U.S. roads by 2030 — a rapid increase from the 1.26 million on the road as of June, according to a Smart Electric Power Alliance (SEPA) report released this month. “[U]tilities need to plan ahead to minimize grid impacts” of growing EV adoption, the group concludes. Read more here.

 Photo Credit: Flickr; National Renewable Energy Lab

ALSO IN THE NEWS

IEA Bags US$67 Million Contract For 130-MW Wind Farm In Iowa

By Saif Bepari, Technology Magazine

Speaking on the announcement, JP Roehm, Chief Executive Officer, IEA, said that the Richland project validates Iowa’s ongoing and strong commitment towards wind energy. Iowa has already made some substantial progress by installing nearly 9,000 megawatts, while more than 1,100 additional megawatts are currently under construction in the region. Read more here.

Previously Posted IEA News Release, August 6, 2019
Infrastructure and Energy Alternatives, Inc. Announces $98 Million Wind Construction Project in Nebraska, Globe Newswire. The award is for construction of the Milligan 1 Wind Farm in Saline County in southeast Nebraska. This is a 300-megawatt project that is expected to provide enough energy to power up to 115,000 homes. The power generated by the project’s planned 99 turbines will be delivered into the Southwest Power Pool electrical grid. Work on the Milligan 1 project is scheduled to begin in September with full operation by November 2020.

NEWS FROM OTHER STATES

ABIGAIL ROSS HOPPER POST

Why America’s Top Businesses Are Also Leading on Solar Energy, SEIA Blog

FEATURED OP-ED

It’s time to value DER in resource adequacy
In this op-ed for pv magazine, Craig Lewis of Clean Coalition argues for a greater role for distributed energy resources to mitigate future power shortages and grid instability.

NEW STUDY

NREL engineer on the ‘grand challenges’ of supersizing wind power on the grid, Energy News Network. Wind energy is growing at a fast pace, with various forecasts projecting it will supply between one-quarter and one-third of the world’s electricity by 2050. The potential could range up to half if scientists and engineers can resolve three big challenges, according to a new review study published this month in the journal Science. 

COMMERCIAL SOLAR MARKET

5 Observations on the Commercial Solar Market, contributed article by Richard Walsh, Greentech Media. There’s more capital chasing solar assets than there are quality projects available, giving developers their pick of partners, the author writes. Richard Walsh is managing partner at Madison Energy Investments, a platform that develops, owns and operates distributed generation projects within the commercial and industrial and small utility-scale sectors.

GREEN HYDROGEN

Getting Real Serious About Renewable Hydrogen In Real America, CleanTechnica

CIRCULAR ECONOMY NEWS

5 emerging jobs in the circular economy, GreenBiz
The circular economy is celebrated as a trillion-dollar opportunity beginning to penetrate industries around the world. There’s no sector or region left untouched by the potential for reinventing systems, products and services in a fashion that ultimately creates no waste and even regenerates natural systems. At least that’s the hope among evangelists of circularity, notably the Ellen MacArthur Foundation alongside many hundreds of corporations aligned on various ambitious circular goals.

WIND WILDLIFE RESEARCH FUND

Funding innovation to support science-based solutions: The Wind Wildlife Research Fund, Into the Wind, AWEA Blog. This is a guest post from Kyle Boudreaux, NextEra Energy Resources and Chair of the Wind Wildlife Research Fund Advisory Council.

NEGATIVE WHOLESALE POWER PRICES

Strong wind power in the US Midwest today means wholesale prices are below zero, Electrek
The Plains states are seeing strong, steady winds today that are keeping the wind turbines turning, so wholesale power prices have fallen below zero. Negative electricity rates are becoming more common as utilities incorporate solar and wind power with no fossil-fuel costs. This will only increase as the US reduces coal consumption and builds more green energy sources.

Op-ed: Natural gas vs. renewable energy — beware the latest gas industry talking points

Written by Derrick Z. Jackson, Publisher, Environmental Health News

Two groundbreaking reports from the Rocky Mountain Institute (RMI) found that America has reached “a historic tipping point” where “combinations of solar, wind, storage, efficiency and demand response are now less expensive than most proposed gas power plant projects,” and will undercut the operating costs of existing gas plants within the next 10 to 20 years. Bloomberg New Energy Finance says that by 2030, “new wind and solar ultimately get cheaper than running existing coal or gas plants almost everywhere.”

An analysis by Lazard Asset Management found that the range of unsubsidized levelized costs of onshore wind and utility-scale solar to be below that of natural gas. The federal Energy Information Administration has estimated that by 2023, the levelized cost of producing power by onshore wind and solar, will be considerably cheaper than natural gas ($36.60, $37.60 and $40.20 per megawatt hour respectively for each energy source). Read the entire op-ed here.

Derrick Z. Jackson is on the advisory board of Environmental Health Sciences, publisher of Environmental Health News and The Daily Climate. He’s also a Union of Concerned Scientist Fellow in climate and energy. This post originally ran on the UCS Blog.

EV NEWS

Electric buses for mass transit seen as cost effective, by Peter Maloney, American Public Power Association