Monthly Archives: August 2020

Project Supports Nebraska Regenerative Agriculture

Drovers Magazine

The Nature Conservancy, McDonald’s, Cargill and Target are coming together to launch a new five-year, $8.5 million project aimed at working with Nebraska farmers to advance proven soil health practices to help mitigate greenhouse gas emissions and help farmers adapt to climate change. Overall, this effort has the potential to sequester 150,000 metric tons of carbon dioxide over the course of the project – equivalent to removing over 32,000 cars from the road in one year.

Nebraska is one of the top states for U.S. beef production and among the top three states for corn production, a key ingredient for cattle feed. This project will work with interested farmers to reach 100,000 acres of land and provide them with the technical and financial assistance to scale the implementation of regenerative soil health practices, including cover cropping, reduced tillage and diversified crop rotation. As an Ecosystem Services Market Consortium pilot, the program works to connect farmers to private sector payments for societal climate and water benefits. Read more here.

Image Credit: Bruce Knight / SlideShare

Additional Recommended Reading

Cover crop usage increases by 50%, Scottsbluff Star-Herald
According to the Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education Program (SARE) 2020 National Cover Crop Survey, American farmers have increased their cover crop acreage by approximately 50%, an increase from an estimated 10 million acres on 133,500 farms to more than 15 million acres on 153,400 farms between the USDA’s 2012 and 2017 ag census.

Based on survey results from 1,172 farmers located throughout the nation who completed the survey, 93% of respondents reported they have used cover crops and have cover crop experience, while 7% reported they had never used cover crops in their farm system. Of the growers who incorporated cover crops into their management plans, the 2020 National Cover Crop Survey revealed farmers believe cover crops were beneficial to their operation in a number of ways.

Nebraska Nanoscale Facility gets five-year renewal

By Dan Moser | Research and Economic Development
Nebraska Today, University of Nebraska Newsroom

The Nebraska Nanoscale Facility — housed mostly in the Voelte-Keegan Nanoscience Research Center — has received a $3.5 million grant from the National Science Foundation to ensure its continuation through at least 2025. Nebraska’s facility is one of 16 centers created under the NSF’s National Nanotechnology Coordinated Infrastructure program, designed to advance the nation’s nanoscience research by expanding the equipment and service capabilities of universities and industries.

“We can proudly say here in Nebraska that this is quite an elite club we are in,” said Christian Binek, director of the nanoscale facility.  The national infrastructure aims to ensure “the entire country is equipped with the tools and expertise to perform nanoscience and nanotechnology.”

Read more here.

MORE NEBRASKA / MIDWEST NEWS STORIES

Alternative energy supporters vying for NPPD board

By Molly Hunter, The Columbus Telegram

Voters in Platte County will have a hand in influencing the state’s renewable energy future in November. The Nebraska Public Power District (NPPD) is the Loup Power District’s wholesale power supplier. Eleven seats on the NPPD Board of Directors are up for election this fall. Supporters of alternative energy sources are vying for at least four of those seats, including the one that covers Platte County. Continue reading here.

PREVIOUSLY POSTED

MORE LOCAL NEWS

OPPD board Chairman Craig Moody announces bid for Omaha City Council, Omaha World-Herald
Craig Moody, chairman of the Omaha Public Power District board and co-owner of a small business focused on sustainability, has announced a campaign for District 3, which covers the city’s downtown and midtown areas. Council President Chris Jerram, who currently represents the district, has said he won’t seek reelection.

 

ADDITIONAL RECOMMENDED READING

CALIFORNIA 

US ENERGY STORAGE ASSOCIATION ANNOUNCES NEW GOAL

100GW in 10 years: US Energy Storage Association issues ‘expanded vision’, Energy Storage News

The US national Energy Storage Association (ESA) has adopted a goal for the deployment of 100GW of new energy storage using a range of technologies by 2030, updating a previously set 35GW by 2025 target.
The trade group has nearly 200 industry stakeholder members.

EV CHARGING STATIONS WITH BATTERY STORAGE

Energy storage for EV charging can lower demand charges, Guidehouse reports, Utility Dive

EV charging stations with battery storage systems can make EV charging more cost effective by drawing energy from the grid during low-demand periods and releasing power to charge EVs during peak-demand periods, according to a Guidehouse Insights report. 

SOLAR-POWERED SCHOOLS & CHURCHES

Catholic Energies adding solar to Virginia schools and churches, Solar Power World
The combined projects will generate over 1.6 million kWh of clean electricity each year for decades and save the churches more than $2 million in energy operating costs during the term of their solar agreements.

Innovative Homes, Energy Careers Featured in New Virtual Sessions Offered by Solar Decathlon

Since 2002, the U.S. Department of Energy Solar Decathlon® has inspired more than 450 collegiate teams and 23,000 students worldwide. In addition to the focus on tomorrow’s leaders, the Solar Decathlon has a foundational goal of providing educational programs and opportunities for the general public.

In September, the Solar Decathlon will start a new series of 10 virtual sessions with topics ranging from tours of houses with innovative designs to residential energy usage to jobs in the energy sector. Offered at no cost, these webinars are available to the general public and cater specifically to current and prospective homeowners, members of the real-estate industry, educators, students and young professionals, home builders, renovation contractors, and others interested in viewing state-of-the-art homes.

During a traditional Solar Decathlon Build Challenge event, thousands would converge on the educational tents to learn more about these topics. Through these monthly webinars, virtual “visitors” can access this exclusive content from the comfort of their homes.

Below are additional details on each planned webinar.

  • Solar 101 – How Solar Energy Works
    Wednesday, September 16, 2020, 12-1 pm 
    Learn more about this webinar and register here
  • Discovering Clean Energy Careers
    Wednesday, October 14, 2020, 12-1 pm 
    Learn more about this webinar and register here
  • A Virtual Hands-On Energy Workshop for Families
    Wednesday, November 18, 2020, 12-1 pm 
    Learn more about this webinar and register here
  • Solar Student Leaders of Tomorrow Showcase
    Wednesday, December 16, 2020, 12-1 pm 
    Learn more about this webinar and register here
  • Resilient Home 411: Strategies to Weather and Recover from Natural Disasters
    Wednesday, January 20, 2021, 12-1 pm 
    Learn more about this webinar and register here
  • Zero Energy Ready Homes: New and Growing Fast
    Wednesday, February 17, 2021, 12-1 pm 
    Learn more about this webinar and register here
  • The Future of Solar: A Tour of Cutting-Edge Solar Research with the U.S. Department of Energy
    Wednesday, March 17, 2021, 12-1 pm 
    Learn more about this webinar and register here
  • Solar Decathlon Build Challenge Team House Tour
    Friday, April 16, 2021, 12-1 pm 
    Learn more about this webinar and register here
  • Winning Solar Home – The DOE Solar Decathlon Build Challenge Winners
    Wednesday, May 19, 2021, 12-1 pm 
    Learn more about this webinar and register here

The U.S. Department of Energy Solar Decathlon is a collegiate competition that challenges student teams to design and build highly efficient and innovative buildings powered by renewable energy. The Design Challenge is a one-to-two-semester, design-only competition, while the Build Challenge is a multiyear design-build competition.

The most successful teams will complement architectural and engineering excellence with innovation, market potential, building efficiency, and smart on-site energy production. The U.S. Department of Energy Solar Decathlon continues to “push the envelope” on the design of high-performance, efficient, affordable, innovative buildings while promoting student innovation, STEM education, and workforce development opportunities.

Additional details are on the Solar Decathlon website.

Local View: Don’t hamper wind growth

By Gary Thompson, Lincoln Journal Star

Last month, the Gage County Planning and Zoning Commission voted to recommend to the County Board of Supervisors that amendments be made to existing regulations governing development of wind farms in the county.

Among these was the requirement that each turbine be set back at least one mile away from any non-participating residence. If approved, this would be one of the most restrictive regulations in the nation — and its practical effect would be to ban any further development of wind energy within the county borders. Continue reading here.

Gary Thompson has served as an NPPD Board of Directors member for 27 years. He lives in Clatonia.

Also In Nebraska

Solar Farm Field Days

By Rob Davis, Director of Fresh Energy’s Center for Pollinators in Energy

In early August, I spent three days from pre-dawn to near-dusk out in the field with colleagues and collaborators capturing the best of Minnesota’s pollinator-friendly solar arrays. The summer sun presents an amazing opportunity for photos and first-hand experiences that tell the story of how low-impact PV solar designs and management—including pollinator-friendly ground cover—are already implemented on projects ranging from utility-scale down to community-scale. Fresh Energy’s Center for Pollinators in Energy will be sharing more photos and even video from these field days in the weeks and months ahead, but here are some informal behind the scenes photographs that I couldn’t resist sharing. Read more here.

Rural Energy for America Program Applications Now Open


The USDA Rural Energy for America Program (REAP) seeks applications for loan guarantees and grants for renewable energy systems and energy efficiency improvement projects.

Deadlines

  • Applications for Grants of $20,000 or Less and Loan/Grant of $20,000 or Less Combo Applications due by November 2, 2020, or March 31, 2021.
  • Applications for Unrestricted Grants or Loan/Unrestricted Grant Combo Applications due by March 31, 2021.
  • Guaranteed Loans are accepted on a continuous application cycle.

Additional Information
Program Fact Sheet
Hoja Informativa del Programa en Español

Nebraska Contact Person
Jeff Carpenter, Business Program Specialist, State Energy Coordinator, 402-437-5554

ENERGY RESOURCES FOR NEW FARMERS & RANCHERS

The USDA sponsors the development of a new series of extension materials designed specifically with new farmers in mind. Called “Energy Answers for the Beginning Farmer & Rancher,” it utilizes farm energy experts from university extension programs across the country to answer hot-topic energy questions. The main product of the project is a series of short, engaging videos and resources that give useful tips and information on farm energy. Contributing extension programs include Illinois, Michigan State, Nebraska, Penn State, Rutgers, Virginia Tech, and Wisconsin.

Links to additional resources for solar-powering farm operations & farmhouses: 

The federal solar Investment Tax Credit (ITC) is 26% to the end of 2020, dropping to 22% in 2021 and 10% for commercial and utility-scale projects and 0 for residential projects in 2022.
Source: Database of State Incentives for Renewables & Efficiency (DSIRE) 

Obtaining a REAP grant, which provides 25% of the cost of a renewable energy system or energy efficiency improvement project, plus the federal Investment Tax Credit (ITC) of 26% would reduce the price a little more than half. Equipment depreciation is an additional benefit available for businesses to cut the cost even more.

Nebraskans for Solar Resources

Department of Energy Resource: Farmer’s Guide to Going Solar

Why NextEra’s green hydrogen pilot is a big deal

By Christian Roselund, Editorial Director, Rocky Mountain Institute
Republished by GreenBiz

In its recent quarterly results call, U.S. power giant NextEra announced that its utility subsidiary Florida Power & Light (FPL) plans to build a 20-megawatt electrolyzer to produce hydrogen from water. If approved by regulators, the plant will run on power from otherwise curtailed solar and feed hydrogen to burn in FPL’s Okeechobee gas plant.

On the global stage, the scale of this investment does not raise eyebrows. “Green” hydrogen electrolysis plants of a similar scale are underway in a number of other nations, and some are scheduled for completion by the end of this year. In the United States, the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power’s (LADWP) plan to convert its coal-fired Intermountain Power Plant in Utah to a mix of hydrogen and gas will involve a much larger supply of hydrogen from electrolysis. However, what is important is not just the megawatts. Continue reading here.

TENASKA NEWS

2GW pipeline of California battery projects revealed by Capital Dynamics and Tenaska, Energy Storage News. Asset management firm Capital Dynamics has signed a deal with Nebraskan independent power producer Tenaska to develop nine battery energy storage system (BESS) projects located in California’s highest electrical load centers.

NRECA NEWS RELEASE

NRECA, DOE Launch Rural Battery Storage Research Projects, August 17, 2020
The National Rural Electric Cooperative Association (NRECA) today launched four rural battery storage projects in partnership with five electric cooperatives and the Department of Energy (DOE) Office of Electricity. The projects are being funded in part by DOE and will examine how energy storage systems can improve the resilience of critical infrastructure in rural areas. Two of the projects simultaneously will support military installations served by electric cooperatives and will help fulfill Department of Defense energy assurance goals. “This is a great example of how America’s electric co-ops and the more than 95 military facilities that they serve are evolving together,” said NRECA CEO Jim Matheson.

Related News Stories

NRECA Member Co-Ops’ Renewables

MASS-MARKET “ENERGY-AS-A-SERVICE” MICROGRIDS

Schneider Electric and Huck Capital Launch ‘Energy-as-a-Service’ Microgrids for the Mass Market, Greentech Media. A new company, 5D Energy, will pitch no-money-down solar, storage and backup power for small and medium-size C&I customers.

UTILITY DIVE’S “PROPELLING THE TRANSITION” SERIES

GTM ‘S POLITICAL CLIMATE PODCAST

How Texas Turned Green: On this week’s Political Climate, former FERC Commissioner and Chairman of the Texas Public Utility Commission Pat Wood discusses competitive power markets and how a red state became a green energy leader.

GTM’S INTERCHANGE PODCAST

The Wild World of ESG Investing. This week on The Interchange podcast: Can we get environmental, social and corporate governance right?

UPCOMING GREENBIZ WEBCAST

Sustainable Recovery: ESG Values and our Resilient Future, September 15, 12 pm
This one-hour webcast will focus on the principles of sustainable recovery and how ESG-led strategies help organizations successfully navigate the trials of COVID-19 and today’s other complex challenges.

NEW SOLSMART SOLAR + EV GUIDE

SolSmart Report: Solar & Electric Vehicles, A Guide For Local Governments

This new report outlines key strategies including educating community members on the benefits of PV and EVs, organizing group purchase campaigns to support both technologies, providing financial and non-financial incentives on EV and PV regulation, and adjusting local regulations to reduce costs and ease integration.

SEIA NEWS RELEASE

Solar Businesses Offer a Helping Hand to Communities Affected by COVID-19 (Part 3)
With COVID-19 cases still surging in the United States, solar companies continue to step up to make an impact in their communities and help our country #RebuildBetter. Here’s how several solar companies are giving back to their fellow Americans during this crisis.

Nebraska solar farm highlights tension between cities, electricity wholesaler

By Karen Uhlenhuth, Energy News Network

The city of Norfolk, Nebraska, soon will celebrate its first solar farm — and the last one allowed under a contract with its electricity wholesaler. The 8.5-megawatt community solar project is being developed in partnership with the Nebraska Public Power District, which supplies power to most of the state outside of Omaha and Lincoln. The hitch for Norfolk is that the public utility’s contracts prevent municipal customers from generating more than 10% of their peak load from alternative sources, a threshold the city expects to reach with this project. Continue reading here.

ADDITIONAL RECOMMENDED READING

Norfolk solar facility, battery energy storage system ready to go, Norfolk Daily News
NPPD plans to enter into a 30-year agreement with N Solar for an 8.5 megawatt solar unit to be constructed on land at the city’s well field. The expectation is installation of the solar panels will begin in 2021 with operations beginning by the end of 2021.

ALSO WRITTEN BY KAREN UHLENHUTH

Photo by Tim Hynds / Sioux City Journal: South Sioux City’s Solar Park, a 2.3-megawatt array (1,200 panels) located on a 21-acre solar park south of the city, alongside C Avenue. The array generates enough energy to provide 5% of South Sioux City’s electrical needs. This is the first Nebraska project for California-based developer SolarCity, a Tesla subsidiary. Archived News Story: Solar is South Sioux City’s latest investment in renewables, Sioux City Journal

Propelling the transition: The battle for control of virtual power plants is just beginning

By Matthew Bandyk, Utility Dive

The largest power plants in the the U.S. — massive feats of engineering like the over 5,000 foot-long, 6,800-MW capacity Grand Coulee Dam — are proving to be no match in scale to the combined power of the rooftops and basements of homes and businesses across the country. Distributed energy, including rooftop solar, on-site batteries to store electricity and more, are on track to grow to nearly 400 GW in the U.S. by 2025, according to projections from Wood Mackenzie, significantly greater than the amount of coal or nuclear power capacity in the U.S. today.

The existence of that much power leads to an inevitable question: who controls it? Utilities see distributed energy as both a threat to their business models and an opportunity to harness this relatively new and massive source of energy to make money. The rise of distributed energy has led to a conflict between a utility-centered business model and a service model based around third parties. “The fundamental question is who can manage and schedule distributed energy resources (DERs) and how?” said Omar Saadeh, business strategy manager at Accenture. “It’s a question being asked in a number of states.” Continue reading here.

Photo by Sonnen: The all-electric Soleil Lofts apartment community in Herriman, Utah, a virtual power plant managed by Rocky Mountain Power, which is owned by Berkshire Hathaway Energy (BHE).

Clean Energy Group Webinar
An Introduction to Virtual Power Plants, September 28, 12 to 1 pm

NREL

This Lab Aims to Prepare the U.S. Electricity Grid for a Climate Transformation, by E&E News, Scientific American. A new test bed at the National Renewable Energy Laboratory will explore ways to ease the shift to renewables and energy storage systems.

ELECTRIC BILLING

The Current System of Electric Billing No Longer Makes Sense: Here are some suggestions for fixing it. Greentech Media article contributed by Dan Seif, vice president for market development at 7X Energy, a Texas-based solar developer.

SEIA NEWS RELEASE

Black & Veatch Joins Board of U.S. Solar Trade Group
Globally, Black & Veatch has implemented more than 100 GW of solar and wind energy, over 2,500 MWh+ of battery energy storage, and has deployed more than 700 distributed energy buildouts through its range of solutions from engineering services to EPC.

800-WATT SOLAR PANEL

JA Solar launches 800 W solar panel, PV Magazine International
The new product, currently the most powerful panel on the market, was showcased at the SNEC PV Power Expo in Shanghai. Also presented at the fair was a 780 W product from Tongwei and a 660 W module from Trina.

FEATURED SOLAR PROJECT

Habitat La Crosse adds solar power, La Crosse Tribune


Habitat for Humanity La Crosse Area’s “Soak up the Sun” Project is adding a 53.28 KW solar power system on the roof of their office and ReStore building in La Crosse. To learn more, visit: www.habitatlacrosse.org.

GREEN HYDROGEN

Starting a new industry, PV Magazine
As a business prospect, producing hydrogen via sustainable means remains in its infancy. However, analysts appear increasingly certain that we are seeing the dawn of a vital new industry. In Europe, some countries (such as Germany and Portugal) have already adopted national strategies for the production and use of the fuel. And in July, the European Union also published a comprehensive hydrogen strategy as a central part of a climate-neutral Europe.

EV CHARGING

How Convenient! Ultra Fast, Battery-Boosted EV Charging At ampm Stores, by Tina Casey, CleanTechnica. The field of battery-enabled ultra fast EV charging is about to blow up out of nowhere. In the latest development, the company FreeWire Technologies has inked a deal with the convenience store chain ampm to install its battery-integrated Boost Charger System. Look for plenty more where that came from: ampm happens to come under the umbrella of newly minted clean tech giant bp through its bp America, Inc. subsidiary.

Previously Posted BP News Release: BP invests in mobile electric vehicle charging company FreeWire to deliver rapid charging at retail sites