Monthly Archives: April 2021

U of M researchers pitch ‘green’ ammonia as key to renewable energy future

By Walker Orenstein, MinnPost

As wind and solar power make up an increasingly large share of energy production in the U.S., finding ways to store the intermittent energy they create is critical for when the wind isn’t blowing and the sun isn’t shining. The University of Minnesota is working on a novel way to help solve the storage puzzle for renewable energy: by creating ammonia.  

Michael Reese, director of renewable energy at the U’s West Central Research and Outreach Center, said the U has previously turned wind power into ammonia that can be used for fertilizer and even to fuel agricultural equipment. Read more here.

Presentation by Michael Reese to the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission: Green Ammonia for Fertilizer, Fuel, and Energy Storage

NPPD & MONOLITH’S GREEN AMMONIA INITIATIVE

Previously Posted

NPPD RFP

Request for Proposals for Renewable Energy Resources, 4/19/21
Description: NPPD is seeking bids for Renewable Generation Power Purchase Agreements (PPA) with a proposed Commercial Operation Date (COD) during calendar year 2025. NPPD seeks to procure Energy, Capacity, and environmental attributes (including Renewable Energy Credits or RECS) for a term between 10-30 years.

NEBRASKA ALSO IN THE NEWS HERE

“Coal may contain as many as 76 of the 92 naturally occurring elements of the periodic table.” 
United States Geological Survey
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DOE Awards $19 Million for Initiatives to Produce Rare Earth Elements and Critical Minerals, Department of Energy News Release 

“The very same fossil fuel communities that have powered our nation for decades can be at the forefront of the clean energy economy by producing the critical minerals needed to build electric vehicles, wind turbines, and so much more,” said Secretary of Energy Jennifer M. Granholm. “By building clean energy products here at home, we’re securing the supply chain for the innovative solutions needed to reach net-zero carbon emissions by 2050 – all while creating good-paying jobs in all parts of America.” 

Production of rare earth elements and critical minerals, which serve as key components to several clean energy applications such as magnets in wind turbines and batteries in electric and conventional vehicles, is a prime example of how DOE is supporting regional economic growth and job creation in regions traditionally home to the fossil fuel industry.

The initiatives include:
University of Kansas Center for Research Inc. (Lawrence, Kansas) plans to study the feasibility of recovering critical minerals from coal and associated strata in the Cherokee-Forest City Basin encompassing Kansas, Iowa, Missouri, Nebraska, Oklahoma and the Osage Nation.
DOE Funding: $1,500,000

See Also: FACT SHEET: Biden Administration Outlines Key Resources to Invest in Coal and Power Plant Community Economic Revitalization, The White House Briefing Room

ADDITIONAL RECOMMENDED READING

Solar Industry Statement on President Biden’s First Address to Congress

Solar Energy Industries Association News Release

Following is a statement from Abigail Ross Hopper, president and CEO of the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA) on President Biden’s Address to Congress:

“President Biden’s emphasis on creating jobs and tackling climate change is a welcome theme tonight in his address to Congress. In working with his administration, we have found that his whole-of-government approach to both jobs and climate is real.

“We know that solar energy plus storage must play a central role in achieving the president’s aspirations for reducing emissions from the power sector. Solar and storage will create hundreds of billions of dollars in new investment and hundreds of thousands of family-supporting jobs this decade. Continue reading here.

American Clean Power Association News Release

American Clean Power Association Encourages Congress to Support the American Jobs Plan

The American Clean Power Association (ACP)  today issued the following statement in support of President Biden’s first address to the 117th United States Congress.

“Climate and clean energy have never before featured so prominently in a presidential address to Congress. This is an historic moment that until now was inconceivable. This is a first, and it underscores that our economic strength and our climate leadership are inseparable. 

The clean energy transition is already well underway, but the President’s infrastructure push is a once in a generation chance to accelerate progress, put steel in the ground, and build a clean infrastructure system that’s the envy of the world. We implore Congress to support the American Jobs Plan to put the country back to work building a sustainable future. There is not a moment to waste.” – Heather Zichal, ACP CEO

OPPD’s CEO Selection Process Advances As Board Announces Finalist For The Position

OPPD News Release, April 28, 2021

During a special board meeting this morning, the Omaha Public Power District Board of Directors announced they have named a finalist to potentially lead the utility when Timothy J. Burke retires July 2. While no action was taken today, directors announced  Javier Fernandez as the final candidate for the chief executive officer position. They plan to officially vote on the final CEO selection at their next monthly meeting May 20 at 5 p.m. The board’s selection comes after conducting interviews over the past several weeks with five, highly-skilled internal candidates. Continue reading here.

Virtual Meet & Greet

Prior to the board making a final decision, OPPD is giving the public an opportunity to meet Javier Fernandez, learn more about his background, experience and thoughts about the future.

OPPD will host a virtual meet-and-greet event on Monday, May 10, from 5:30-7:30 p.m. If interested in attending, Webex registration information is coming soon and can be found on this Community Connect page: CEO Transition.

Read more about Javier Fernandez here:

Family led Fernandez to his OPPD ‘family’

Wind energy company studying Jefferson County for possible wind farm

By Michael Shively, News Channel Nebraska

FAIRBURY, NE — A major renewable energy company is studying to see if Jefferson County would be a good spot for a new wind farm.The Jefferson County Commissioners voted unanimously on Tuesday to approve a special use permit for Big Blue Nebraska Wind LLC to build a meteorological tower. The tower will be built about two miles northwest of Harbine. Big Blue Nebraska Wind LLC is owned by NextEra Energy . . . Continue reading here.

Photo: NextEra Energy’s Sholes Wind Farm in Wayne County, Nebraska

NextEra’s Nebraska Projects Also Include: 

Of Potential Interest To High School Teachers & Students

 NEW REGENERATIVE AG ORGANIZATION 

Jessica Gnad“a dedicated soil health advocate with more than a decade of experience in the food, finance, and farming industries,” heads up Great Plains Regeneration, a new alliance made up of farmers, ranchers and academics from Kansas and neighboring states. The organization’s leaders also include two Nebraskans: Graham Christensen, from Oakland, who serves on the board of directors, and Trey Blackhawk, from Winnebago, a member of the advisory board. Great Plains Regeneration’s current initiatives include: farmer/rancher-led education, watershed regeneration, regional marketplace development.

Visit Great Plains Regeneration for more information.

VILSACK ADDRESSES RECENT FALSE CLAIMS ABOUT BIDEN’S CLIMATE ACTION PLANS

USDA chief Tom Vilsack says climate plans won’t involve a leaner meat diet, land seizures, Omaha World-Herald

WASHINGTON — The Biden administration will not use eminent domain to take farm or ranch property out of production to meet its climate goal of conserving 30% of U.S. land and water by 2030, nor will it try to restrict people’s meat consumption, Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack said Monday.

Additional Recommended Reading
USDA: 100 Days Update
Here is a summary of USDA’s work over these past 100 Days of the Biden-Harris Administration and a look at what is ahead.

New Report Identifies 22 Shovel Ready Regional and Interregional Transmission Projects

WASHINGTON, D.C. — A new report released today identifies 22 shovel ready, high-voltage transmission projects across the country that, if constructed, would create approximately 1,240,000 American jobs and lead to 60,000 megawatts (MW) of new renewable energy capacity, increasing America’s wind and solar generation by nearly 50 percent. The report, Transmission Projects Ready to Go: Plugging into America’s Untapped Renewable Resources, produced by Americans for a Clean Energy Grid (ACEG) as part of the Macro Grid Initiative, outlines how these projects could begin construction soon if more workable transmission policies are enacted. These regional and interregional transmission lines would not only bring quality wind and solar resources to areas with high demand but also increase economic development and grid resilience as well as provide cost-savings for consumers. Read more here.

About Macro Grid Initiative:
The Macro Grid Initiative is a joint effort of the American Council on Renewable Energy and Americans for a Clean Energy Grid to promote investment in a 21st century transmission infrastructure that enhances reliability, improves efficiency and delivers more low-cost clean energy. The Initiative works closely with the American Wind Energy Association, the Solar Energy Industries Association, the Advanced Power Alliance and the Clean Grid Alliance to advance our shared goals. To learn more, visit https://acore.org/macro-grid-initiative

About Americans for a Clean Energy Grid:
Americans for a Clean Energy Grid (ACEG) is the only non-profit broad-based public interest advocacy coalition focused on the need to expand, integrate, and modernize the North American high-voltage grid. ACEG brings together the diverse support for an expanded and modernized grid from business, labor, consumer and environmental groups, and other transmission supporters to support policy which recognizes the benefits of a robust transmission grid. 

FACT SHEET: Biden Administration Advances Expansion & Modernization of the Electric Grid, The White House Briefing Room

A New Program Like FDR’s Civilian Conservation Corps Could Help the Nation Fight Climate Change and Transition to Renewable Energy

By Judy Fahys, Inside Climate News

President Joe Biden has been talking about the idea since before he took office. A week into his presidency, he directed the secretary of the interior to lead development of a strategy to mobilize a Civilian Climate Corps—“the next generation of conservation and resilience workers”—to help address the climate crisis. Then he called for spending $10 billion on the updated CCC in the $2 trillion jobs and infrastructure plan he proposed earlier this month.

“It’s reached a level of seriousness and intention that I have never seen before,” said Mary Ellen Sprenkel, president and CEO of the Corps Network, a national association representing the nation’s 135 existing conservation corps, mostly private-public partnerships that have adopted the corps model for job training and community service. Read more here.

Civilian Climate Corps Act

Image Credit: The Corps Network

Additional Recommended Reading

Student Conservation Association News Release

Young Americans Believe Climate Change is Real – and Want to Do More to Stop It
Eighty-six percent of young Americans believe the world’s climate is changing and 71% conclude human activities are the cause, but youth are struggling to identify individual practices they can take to improve global sustainability, according to a new nationwide poll.

Released by the Student Conservation Association (SCA)The SCA Climate Survey reveals the perspectives of 15-25 year olds on climate change, environmental justice, and related public policy initiatives. The poll shows that although nearly 40% of respondents view climate change as a “crisis,” 83% believe there is still time to prevent its worst effects. Youth are split, however, on whether that goal is achievable.

About the Student Conservation Association
The Student Conservation Association (SCA) is America’s oldest and largest youth conservation organization. SCA conserves lands and transforms lives by empowering young people of all backgrounds to plan, act, and lead while they protect and restore our natural and cultural resources. Founded in 1957, SCA’s mission is to build the next generation of conservation leaders, and seven in 10 of alumni worldwide are employed or studying in conservation-related fields. For more, visit www.thesca.org.

Additional Climate Resource

Climate Science 101, Covering Climate Now 
Climate scientist Dr. Katharine Hayhoe explains the basics of climate change for beginners and those in need of a refresher.

About Covering Climate Now

Mindful of the media’s responsibility to inform the public and hold power to account, we advise newsrooms, share best practices, and provide reporting resources that help journalists ground their coverage in science while producing stories that resonate with audiences. Co-founded by the Columbia Journalism Review and The Nation in association with The Guardian and WNYC in 2019, CCNow’s 460-plus partners include some of the biggest names in news, and some of the smallest, because this story needs everyone.

Learning about renewable energy: New curriculum brings solar to the classroom

By Theresa Bourke, Brainerd Dispatch

About 60 school districts in Minnesota use solar energy, and they now have access to a complementary curriculum to go along with their arrays. The Rural Renewable Energy Alliance, along with other community partners, recently developed a kindergarten through eighth grade curriculum aimed at teaching students about solar energy as a clean, renewable option for the future.

Based in Backus, the Rural Renewable Energy Alliance is a nonprofit aimed at bringing solar and other renewable energy sources to Minnesota communities. The organization’s new curriculum is a natural extension of its Solar Schools project, a partnership with the Region Five Development Commission to install solar panels with 1.5 megawatts of solar capacity at schools in Pine River-Backus and Pequot Lakes, along with both the Brainerd and Staples campuses of Central Lakes College. Continue reading here. 

For more information about the Rural Renewable Energy Alliance’s solar energy curriculum, visit rreal.org/knowledge-is-power.

ZOO IN KANSAS TEACHING BY EXAMPLE

100% green energy and 6 other changes Sedgwick County Zoo has for its 50th birthday, The Wichita Eagle

The Sedgwick County Zoo will ring in its 50th birthday on May 27 with an unveiling of its new entry building and zoo store, both of which will run on 100% renewable energy. The zoo also plans to announce six additional environmental initiatives to reduce the zoo’s carbon footprint. “I think the role of the modern zoo and aquarium is more important today than it’s ever been,” said Dr. Jeff Ettling, the zoo’s executive director. “We all need to take action now because we’re seeing the dramatic impact that climate change is having here at home. We really need to walk the talk. It’s one thing to talk about conservation, it’s another to actually put it into action.”

NEWS FROM OTHER STATES

APPLE NEWS RELEASE

Apple commits $430 billion in US investments over five years
Apple today announced an acceleration of its US investments, with plans to make new contributions of more than $430 billion and add 20,000 new jobs across the country over the next five years. To date, nearly 60 of Apple’s US sites are LEED certified. Apple is carbon neutral for all of its operations in the US and around the world, and last year committed to be 100 percent carbon neutral for its entire supply chain and products by 2030. Apple’s $430 billion US investments include working with more than 9,000 suppliers and companies large and small in all 50 states, supporting American job creation across dozens of sectors, including silicon engineering, 5G, and manufacturing.

ENVIRONMENT AMERICA

Statement: Biden moves toward allowing states to return to setting stricter vehicle emission standards
Vehicle tailpipes are a major source of health-harming air pollution and greenhouse gas emissions. After seven years of decline, air pollution started rising in 2016. By 2018, 108 million Americans lived in areas that experienced more than 100 days of degraded air quality. U.S. PIRG and Environment America had called on Biden to strengthen federal fuel economy and vehicle emission standards, and restore state authority, in theFirst Things to Fixreport, which outlined 20 environmental protections the president should enact when beginning his time in office.

Environment America Initiatives include: Mayors for Solar Energy
Environment America’s Mayors for Solar Energy project is helping city leaders take concrete steps toward this brighter, healthier future by building a broad, bipartisan community of mayors and giving them the tools they need to tap into the power of the sun.

Environment America Priorities

Carbon market farming bill introduced in Congress

By David Murry, High Plains Journal

A bill that, if passed, would give the U.S. Department of Agriculture authority to lay the groundwork and set standards for a “carbon farming” market was introduced in Congress April 20. The U.S. Senate Ag Committee planned to take up the Growing Climate Solutions Act April 22 during a committee hearing to coincide with Earth Day.

The bill was originally introduced last June but has since been refined and reworked after input from Republicans. Its title says its purpose is “to authorize the Secretary of Agriculture to develop a program to reduce barriers to entry for farmers, ranchers, and private forest landowners in certain private markets, and for other purposes.” Read more here.

Photo Credit: USDA

Additional Recommended Reading

Featured USDA Resource

Northern Plains Climate Hub
The Northern Plains Climate Hub serves Montana, Wyoming, Colorado, Nebraska, South Dakota, and North Dakota. The Hub delivers science-based knowledge, practical information, management & conservation strategies, and decision tools to farmers, ranchers, and forest landowners with the goal of helping them adapt to weather variability and changing climatic conditions.

More Nebraska Resources

Additional National Legislation: The Agriculture Resilience Act 

Agriculture Resilience Act a Thoughtful, Nuanced Approach to Climate Action, National Farmers Union News Release

“While the window is still open, we must take every possible opportunity to adapt to our changing climate and limit its impact. One key piece of the puzzle is the agriculture sector, which can not only work to reduce its own greenhouse gas emissions, but it can also offset other sectors’ emissions by sequestering carbon in the soil – a fact that the Agriculture Resilience Act recognizes and seeks to put into action. This thoughtful and nuanced bill would strategically further climate initiatives across USDA programs in an effort to provide farmers with the tools, resources, and assistance they need to implement climate-smart practices.” – NFU President Rob Larew

National Farmers Union
National Farmers Union advocates on behalf of nearly 200,000 American farm families and their communities. We envision a world in which farm families and their communities are respected, valued, and enjoy economic prosperity and social justice.

Nebraska Farmers Union
Founded in 1913, Nebraska Farmers Union is dedicated to protecting and enhancing the quality of life and economic well-being of family farmers and ranchers, and their rural communities. As Nebraska’s second largest family farm and ranch ag organization with over 4,000 family farm and ranch families as members, Nebraska Farmers Union is dedicated to the farm income issues which matter most to rural families. With active members across the state, Farmers Union is one of Nebraska’s oldest and strongest grassroots organizations.

Remarks by President Biden at the Virtual Leaders Summit on Climate Session 5: The Economic Opportunities of Climate Action

The White House Briefing Room

We’ve made great progress, in my view, so far. And I’m grateful to all the leaders who have announced new commitments to help us meet the existential threat of climate change. This summit is a start — a start of a road that will take us to Glasgow for the U.N. Climate Change Conference in November where we’re going to make these commitments real, putting all of our nations on path to a secure, prosperous, and sustainable future.

Today’s final session is not about the threat of climate change poses; it’s about the opportunity that addressing climate change provides. It’s an opportunity to create millions of good-paying jobs around the world and innovate — in innovative sectors — you know, jobs that bring greater quality of life, greater dignity to the people performing those jobs in every nation. Read more here.

MORE WHITE HOUSE RELEASES

SOLAR ENERGY INDUSTRIES ASSOCIATION 

Tackling the Climate Crisis Means Smart Solar Solutions, by President & CEO Abigail Ross Hopper 

The American Jobs Plan is a massive step toward meeting our clean energy goals, but Congress must first deliver legislation and then pass it into law. Earth Day is a reminder of the urgency to act. Investing in solar + storage and clean energy infrastructure can generate hundreds of billions of dollars in private investment and hundreds of thousands of family-supporting jobs to help America build back better.

This includes using the tax code to encourage long-term clean energy growth, modernizing the electric grid, prioritizing domestic manufacturing, and investing in a strong, diverse workforce. SEIA is leading a campaign to ensure that Congress seizes on this opportunity and passes meaningful policies that will accelerate an equitable clean energy transition. But we cannot do this alone. We need you to send a message to your elected representatives in Washington, urging them to prioritize clean energy in upcoming infrastructure legislation.

AMERICAN CLEAN POWER ASSOCIATION

American Clean Power Association Applauds Biden Administration on Successful Leaders Summit on Climate, ACP News Release

“This has been a groundbreaking summit for climate action, shining a light on the growing global marketplace for clean energy. The Summit showcased a powerful global demand signal for clean energy. The American clean power industry congratulates the Administration for restoring American global leadership on the road to Glasgow and COP 26. But the hardest work begins now, and it begins at home. Ambitious commitments demand even more ambitious actions to drive progress. Our industry has rolled up our sleeves ready to move the country forward towards a more sustainable energy future, harnessing American ingenuity, investment, and innovation to deliver economic and jobs benefits to communities nationwide.” – Heather Zichal, ACP CEO

Valmont uses proprietary trackers in 1-MW solar project supporting its manufacturing facility

By Billy Ludt, Solar Power World

Valmont Industries, a global provider of engineered products and services for infrastructure development and irrigation equipment and services for agriculture, celebrated the interconnection of its 1-MW solar field at its manufacturing facility in Valley, Nebraska. The new solar array is the largest privately-owned, behind-the-meter solar field in Nebraska, spanning 4.3 acres. Convert, a Valmont company, supplied 45 tracker tables making the array. Continue reading here.

Links to additional information:

Photo by Valmont – Project installer: Interconnection Systems Inc based in Central City, Nebraska.

GRAND ISLAND NEWS

Grand Island looks to sell surplus credits from green energy, by Brandon Summers, Grand Island Independent

“We’ve been approached by some companies that are interested in marketing these renewable energy credits to either utilities that are in states that have these mandates for renewable energy credits, or companies out there that are interested in reducing their carbon footprint,” Utilities Director Tim Luchsinger said. In 2015, the city launched its first wind project, and a solar array pilot project in 2018. A 50-megawatt wind project in Custer County will go online in two to three years. “That will increase our renewable energy to about 45% to 50% of our total energy used,” Luchsinger said.

Recommended Resources

Previously posted articles by Karen Uhlenhuth, Energy News Network:

  • Nebraska solar farm highlights tension between cities, electricity wholesaler
    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. “Northeast Nebraska is the renewable energy hotbed of the state,” said Norfolk Mayor Josh Moenning. “I’d much rather use clean energy that’s made in our backyard than haul it in on a coal train from Wyoming, which is the status quo in Nebraska.”
  • Nebraska utility could slash emissions at little or no added cost, studies show
    A pair of reports by independent consultants both conclude that the Nebraska Public Power District could eliminate most of its carbon emissions without having to spend significantly more than it would otherwise for power.

TESLA SOLAR ROOFS

Solar energy popularity grows in Iowa, by Maggie O’Brien, The Nonpareil
A Council Bluffs electrical contractor is believed to be the first in Iowa and Nebraska to install Tesla solar roofs at the homes of customers across both states, including one customer who lives near Lake Manawa. PowerTech, which is headquartered in the Bluffs and has an office in Omaha, is awaiting the required permits before beginning construction at all three homes. In addition to the Manawa property, one home is located in rural Nebraska and one in central Iowa.

Weddle & Sons Roofing is also a certified Tesla Solar Roof installer in Nebraska. Office locations include Lincoln and Omaha.

Current job locations / listings on Weddle & Sons’ website Include Lincoln:

You Tube Video: We Installed A Tesla Solar Roof In One Day: Weddle & Sons Roofing