Category Archives: Energy Storage

Iowa’s rural future is brighter with solar energy

Contributed by Cody Smith, Center for Rural Affairs, The Gazette

For decades Iowans have led the nation in innovating our way to a cleaner, more reliable power grid that promotes public health and economic prosperity in our rural communities. Now, as we celebrate hitting the milestone of producing nearly 60 percent of our electricity with renewable wind energy, Iowa’s solar industry is also booming and bringing our rural economies along with it. Solar offers a way for Iowa’s local entrepreneurs to slash their energy costs and refocus resources on expanding businesses that line main streets in small towns statewide. Continue reading here.

NEWS FROM OTHER STATES

THE WIRE

OPPD expands smart thermostat program, by Jason Kuiper
OPPD’s Smart Thermostat Program has expanded, and now includes more models from several thermostat manufacturers. These additional choices give customers more options for upgrading to a smart thermostat and participating in OPPD’s program. Customers who install a qualifying smart thermostat and enroll in the program also receive a one-time, $75 OPPD bill credit, plus an additional $20 bill credit each year they participate. If customers have an existing qualified smart thermostat they can enroll directly through their smart thermostat app or online.

DEPARTMENT OF ENERGY NEWS RELEASE

DOE Launches Initiatives to Accelerate Solar Deployment in Underserved Communities
New Efforts Include $15.5 Million to Tackle Barriers to Solar Deployment, Increased Focus on Expanding Clean Energy Access to Low- and Moderate-Income Communities and Fostering A Diverse Solar Workforce

BIDEN ADMINISTRATION RELEASES CONSERVATION PLAN

Conserving And Restoring America The Beautiful Plan (PDF)
A preliminary report to the National Climate Task Force recommending a ten-year, locally-led campaign to conserve and restore the lands and waters upon which we all depend, and that bind us together as Americans.

GAF ENERGY

U.S. solar company GAF Energy moving production back home from Asia, Reuters
GAF Energy, which launched in 2019, competes with Tesla Inc in the market for solar panels that integrate with roofs. It has installed its product on more than 2,000 U.S. rooftops so far, according to [Martin DeBono, president of the company].

Solar and wind’s competitiveness over coal is accelerating, analysis shows

By Kathiann M. Kowalski, Energy News Network

“The Energy Innovation analysis does not factor in the
social costs of coal-fired power plants.”

The May 5 analysis comes from Energy Innovation: Policy & Technology, based in San Francisco. The work highlights the accelerating pace of the clean energy transition, even aside from the social costs of coal plant pollution.

“Out of the 235 plants in the U.S. coal fleet, 182 plants, or 80 percent, are uneconomic or already retiring,” according to the report, which counted plants in service in 2018. Put another way, the share of total U.S. coal plant capacity from that year that won’t be competitive beyond the next few years has climbed from roughly five-eighths to three-fourths in just two years. Read more here.

NPPD Photo: Gerald Gentleman 1,365MW coal-fired power plant in Sutherland

Kathiann M. Kowalski

Kathiann M. Kowalski is the author of 25 books and more than 600 articles, and writes often on science and policy issues. In addition to her journalism career, Kathi is an alumna of Harvard Law School and has spent 15 years practicing law. She is a member of the Society of Environmental Journalists and the National Association of Science Writers. Kathi covers the state of Ohio. More by Kathiann M. Kowalski

Previously Posted Articles by Karen Uhlenhuth, Energy News Network

  • Solar firm buying land rights near coal plants with eye toward transmission
    Josh Case, Photosol’s chief executive officer, intends to develop two arrays — one with 400 megawatts and one with 250 megawatts — on 5,000 acres he has under lease option near Nebraska’s Gerald Gentleman station. He pays an annual fee to maintain the option to lease the acreage. The projects would include 325 MW of battery storage.
  • Nebraska utility could slash emissions at little or no added cost, studies show
    The Nebraska Public Power District, which serves most of the state’s population outside the cities of Omaha and Lincoln, last year hired two firms to forecast the potential impact of federal carbon regulations. The results, by Ascend Analytics and Siemens, both conclude that the utility could significantly reduce its exposure to such policies without burdening customers with severe rate hikes. 

HIGH-CAPACITY EV CHARGERS 

Report finds increase in high-capacity EV chargers could benefit utilities, by Peter Maloney, American Public Power Association

The premise of the report, Charging Smart, is that an increase in the maximum power level of residential electric vehicle (EV) chargers is imminent and will likely reach the highest charger levels within a decade, leading to increased costs for utilities by shifting charging load to times of day when electricity is more expensive. 

The authors recommended that utilities should explore time variant rate options, as well as hybrid pricing options that offer higher fixed rates from 6am to midnight and discounted fixed rates from midnight to 6am. Utilities should also consider incentives for the deployment of smart charging technologies, such as owner-operated programmable charging systems and direct charge control functions in conjunction with pricing signals. And, finally, the authors say utilities should establish outreach campaigns to influence customer behaviors to shift charging patterns. 

“What’s so promising about this analysis is the clear opportunity to push innovation that will use vehicle electrification to create a more reliable electric grid and maximize greenhouse gas reductions,” Suzanne Russo, Pecan Street CEO, said in a statement.

Energy Storage Grows Up

By Jeff Postelwait, T&D World 

Energy storage is even maturing to the point where it can take the place of building a new power generation asset or building grid upgrades. “When you add storage to your mix, everything becomes more flexible. You can increase hosting capacity of a transmission circuit without having to build a lot of new facilities. So, it’s easy to think of it as a competitor, but what it really is, is more of an enabler and a partner.”    Jason Burwen, interim CEO of the Energy Storage Association. Read more here.

Also By Jeff Postelwait: Energy Goals: What Does a New Administration Mean for Utilities? A look at the future of energy at the federal and state levels, and how the commercial sector also is a powerful driver for renewables.

ADDITIONAL RECOMMENDED READING

MODEL POLLINATOR-FRIENDLY SOLAR BUSINESS

Solar Power + Bees = Extra Benefit For Massachusetts, by Zachary Shahan, CleanTechnica

Navisun is focused on small utility-scale solar farms and community solar farms. It co-develops, acquires, owns, and operates the solar projects. The two it has just completed, one of which is a community solar farm, are fairly small projects, totaling 3.8 MW of solar power, but the company is just getting rolling and it intends to build and operate many more. 

PRIVATE INVESTMENTS IN RENEWABLE ENERGY

The Future of Private Equity and Solar Energy, contributed by Christopher J. Macklin, Certified Financial Planner (CFP), Solar Magazine

Investments in renewable capacity totaled more than $2.5 trillion between 2010-2019, according to BloombergNEF data. Solar alone drew in half of those funds—$1.3 trillion to be exact—and grew from just 25 GW at the beginning of 2010 to more than 660 GW by the end of the decade. That’s enough energy to power 100 million homes in the U.S. each year. The high volume of capital flowing into the renewable energy sector has increased asset prices. To counter this, private equity firms seeking higher returns are turning to projects under development as opposed to ones already operating.

SALESFORCE

Inside Salesforce’s bold play for supply-chain leadership, by Joel Makower, Chairman & Executive Editor, GreenBiz Group

Last week, the cloud-based software company Salesforce notified its thousands of suppliers that it will include language in all future procurement contracts requiring them, among other things, to set science-based targets to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions. And it set financial penalties for those that don’t. It was an unprecedented and bold move that, if emulated by others and aggressively enforced, could transform companies and markets far faster than any regulation ever could.

Salesforce Report: More Than a Megawatt: Embedding Social & Environmental Impact in the Renewable Energy Procurement Process

TENNESSEE VALEY AUTHORITY

Biden’s TVA appointments offer crucial chance for climate justice, Energy News Network

Biden’s nominations to the board of the Tennessee Valley Authority could help fulfill his climate promise by making TVA a model for how public power can lead the clean energy transition, writes guest commentator Gaby Sarri-Tobar, a campaigner with the Center for Biological Diversity’s Energy Justice program.

SOLAR POWER WORLD 

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
__________________________________________

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

Businesses urge Biden admin to set ambitious federal climate target

By Cailin Crowe, Smart Cities Dive

A group of multinational corporations — including Apple, Microsoft and Walmart — and small to medium enterprises have signed a letter urging the Biden administration to pursue an ambitious federal climate target, or national determined contribution (NDC), that will reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions at least 50% below 2005 levels by 2030.

Led by the “We Mean Business” coalition and nonprofit sustainability advocacy group Ceres, the companies that signed the letter each have business operations in the U.S. and share the goal to halve emissions over the next decade to help the country reach net zero emissions by 2050.
Read more here. 

Website Links
We Mean Business Coalition
Ceres

RELATED NEWS & RESOURCES

The Institute On Taxation And Economic Policy (ITEP) Analyses

The Institute On Taxation And Economic Policy (ITEP) is a non-profit, non-partisan tax policy organization that conducts rigorous analyses of tax and economic proposals and provides data-driven recommendations on how to shape equitable and sustainable tax systems. ITEP’s expertise and data uniquely enhance federal, state, and local policy debates by revealing how taxes affect both public revenues and people of various levels of income and wealth.

PRESIDENT BIDEN’S FY 2022 BUDGET PROPOSAL

FEATURED AMERICANS FOR A CLEAN ENERGY GRID RESOURCE

What Everyone Needs to Know about Transmission: Facts and Sources
To download the full “Facts and Sources” document, click here.

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.

NPPD’S R-PROJECT RESOURCES

Initial solar contract inked for OPPD’s Power with Purpose

The Wire, OPPD Blog

The future is growing brighter as OPPD takes its first steps to acquire up to 600 megawatts of utility-scale solar generation. OPPD recently signed a contract with Community Energy, Inc. for an 81-megawatt solar array spread across approximately 500 leased acres south of Yutan, Neb., in eastern Saunders County. When complete, this facility will be capable of powering around 14,000 average homes. The facility’s name: Platteview Solar.

[Power with Purpose-Solar, available here], features background information, Frequently Asked Questions and a forum where anyone can ask a specific question not addressed in the FAQ. OPPD is striving to be a net-zero carbon utility by 2050, and the commitment to renewable energy heralded by this announcement is one important step on that pathway to decarbonization. Read more here.

ROOFTOP SOLAR

Inside Clean Energy: The Coast-to-Coast Battle Over Rooftop Solar, by Dan Gearino, Inside Climate News

Last year, all but four states—Alaska, Nebraska, North Dakota and South Dakota—took some kind of action on rooftop solar policy, according to the most recent “50 States of Solar” report from the NC Clean Energy Technology Center. (Autumn Proudlove, senior policy program director at the center, was one of the people I spoke with about what’s happening in states right now). There are big differences in the states’ approaches, but what they share is an awareness that regulations need to change to be ready for a market in which rooftop solar is much more common.

Yet, regulators only control part of the financial equation. The costs of solar panels continue to decrease. And customers are increasingly buying solar along with battery storage, which means people are storing excess electricity for their own use rather than sending it back to the grid, reducing the importance of net metering policy.

Previously Posted

UNIVERSITY OF NEBRASKA-LINCOLN NEWS

A student-led competition held as part of the E.N. Thompson Forum on World Issues is helping expand sustainability planning at the University of Nebraska–Lincoln. Offered as part of the forum’s 2020-21 focus on environmental issues, the E.N. Thompson Forum Sustainability Idea Award challenged Recognized Student Organizations to plan, develop or execute a “green” project that aligns with the university’s new sustainability and resilience master plan. The contest featured four themes: transportation, energy, waste management, and sustainability and COVID-19. “It was incredible to see a broad spectrum of student groups — more than 12 — participating and outlining a variety of interesting topics,” said Prabhakar Shrestha, sustainability coordinator for the university and a judge for the competition.

University of Nebraska-Lincoln: “Big Red Sat-1” is an education mission with a primary goal of engaging and developing future aerospace engineers by contributing to the development of critical technologies to improve solar power generation. The technology demonstration secondary focus is to take proven perovskite panel technology at technical readiness level (TRL)-5 to TRL-6 by testing the panels in space using flight heritage information and systems to maximize potential success. Testing should provide answers on handling and the life of perovskites, as well as comparative day/night performance with silicon in a space environment.

OTHER MIDWEST STATES IN THE NEWS

The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) Solar Energy Technologies Office (SETO) has announced the 10 teams selected to advance to the final stage of the $3 million American-Made Solar Prize Round 4. The finalists were selected from 20 teams that presented their solar innovations to a panel of expert judges at a demonstration day hosted by Carnegie Mellon University’s Wilton E. Scott Institute for Energy Innovation.

Two Midwest teams are among the finalists:

Cool Tech Solar (North Oaks, MN): A nano-textured heatsink material for the back of a solar panel to increase the surface area, helping dissipate heat and lowering the panel’s peak operating temperature.

Rocking Solar (Monroe, OH): A solar panel tracker system that tracks the sun using a rocking motion, reducing the weight of a photovoltaic system and the number of roof penetrations required for installation.

Read the SETO newsletters for updates on the next demo day, and learn more about thAmerican-Made Solar Prize.

VOLKSWAGEN DIESEL EMISSION MITIGATION PROGRAM

Local governments set record for new renewable energy procurement in 2020, groups report

By Chris Teale, Smart Cities Dive

Ninety-five local governments across 33 states procured 3,683 megawatts (MW) of new renewable energy generation capacity in 2020 through 143 deals, the largest amount of capacity ever added in one year, according to the latest update from the Rocky Mountain Institute (RMI) and World Resources Institute (WRI) in their Local Government Renewables Action Tracker.

The 143 transactions, a 23% increase over 2019’s levels, could generate enough electricity to power approximately 812,000 households annually, the organizations reported. Solar was the most popular renewable energy to be procured, at 79% of all deals, followed by wind at 17% and geothermal at 4%. Read more here.

Photo Credit: First Solar

ADDITIONAL RECOMMENDED READING

SOLAR INSTALLER SURVEY

2020 EnergySage installer survey finds one in five solar installations nationwide included a battery, Solar Power World

EnergySage and NABCEP released the results of the sixth annual Solar Installer Survey, the largest and most comprehensive business survey of solar companies nationwide. Over 650 residential and commercial installers across the country participated in this year’s survey, which was fielded and authored by EnergySage in partnership with the North American Board of Certified Energy Practitioners (NABCEP).

NELNET SOLAR TAX EQUITY INVESTMENT

Nelnet Renewable Energy Partners with Three Co-Investors to Complete $9.9 Million Solar Tax Equity Investment in the Northeast, Nelnet Renewable Energy, PR Newswire. Nelnet’s co-investors include Adams Bank & Trust and West Gate Bank, both of Nebraska.

OMAHA RANKS #7 AMONG GREENEST U.S. CITIES FOR RENTERS

The Greenest Cities in the U.S. for Renters, Apartment Guide

In the heart of the Great Plains, many view Omaha as a far-flung place known for quality steak, college baseball, 311 and Warren Buffett. But the diverse Nebraska city of half a million residents is a heartland oasis filled with culture, education, upscale shopping and trendy dining. And with nearly 22 percent of properties reporting green amenities, it’s the greenest city in the Midwest for renters.

LIBRARIES’ CLIMATE LITERACY PROGRAMS


How libraries are improving climate literacy in their communities,
Yale Climate Connections


The Racine Public Library is one of 25 libraries with funding from the American Library Association to offer programming about climate change.

FACT SHEET: The American Jobs Plan

The White House Briefing Room

The President’s American Jobs Plan is a historic public investment – consisting principally of one-time capital investments in our nation’s productivity and long-term growth. It will invest about 1 percent of GDP per year over eight years to upgrade our nation’s infrastructure, revitalize manufacturing, invest in basic research and science, shore up supply chains, and solidify our care infrastructure. These are investments that leading economists agree will give Americans good jobs now and will pay off for future generations by leaving the country more competitive and our communities stronger. In total, the plan will invest about $2 trillion this decade. If passed alongside President Biden’s Made in America corporate tax plan, it will be fully paid for within the next 15 years and reduce deficits in the years after. Read more here. 

Additional Recommended Reading & Viewing

Deb Haaland Confirmed As 1st Native American Interior Secretary

By Nathan Rott, NPR KIOS

Deb Haaland, a member of New Mexico’s Laguna Pueblo, has become the first Native American Cabinet secretary in U.S. history. The Senate voted 51-40 Monday to confirm the Democratic congresswoman to lead the Interior Department, an agency that will play a crucial role in the Biden administration’s ambitious efforts to combat climate change and conserve nature.

Her confirmation is as symbolic as it is historic. For much of its history, the Interior Department was used as a tool of oppression against America’s Indigenous peoples. In addition to managing the country’s public lands, endangered species and natural resources, the department is also responsible for the government-to-government relations between the U.S. and Native American tribes. Read more here.

PUBLIC POWER

Cleaner Energy is Coming; the Public Needs to Own It. InsideSources article contributed by Josue De Luna Navarro, an associate fellow at the Institute for Policy Studies.

A future where energy is 100 percent publicly owned and not profit-driven isn’t such a pipe dream. Deep-red Nebraska has had publicly owned electricity — which consists of public utility companies, co-operatives, and power districts — since 1946. This means that the state’s energy framework is not based on making a profit, but instead on providing power as a basic human right to its people. Whatever surplus they generate gets invested back into the community. Because of this structure, the state has lower utility bills than neighboring states. Other publicly owned rural electric cooperatives dating back to the New Deal exist all across the country. These systems aren’t perfect, but they prove that public energy ownership is perfectly possible.

American Public Power Association ResourcePublic Power in Nebraska

FEATURED LETTER TO THE EDITOR

Waverly Utilities doing its part on renewable energy, by Bob Buckingham of Waverly, The Courier
We would like to thank David Fredrick for his interest in Waverly’s energy future. His recent guest column provides us an opportunity to address the future of renewable opportunities for Waverly Utilities.

Previously Posted: GUEST COLUMN: Renewable energy is a good bet, contributed by David Fredrick, The Courier

LIHEAP

New $1.9 trillion COVID relief plan includes additional $4.5 billion for LIHEAP, American Public Power Association

The American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 signed into law by President Biden on March 11 includes a number of provisions of importance to public power utilities including an additional $4.5 billion in funding for the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP). Overall, the act provides roughly $1.9 trillion in direct aid to individuals, state and local governments, and businesses.

Nebraska LIHEAP, Nebraska Department of Health & Human Services

The COVID relief plan also includes:

  • $100 million for grants to monitor and mitigate pollution in environmental justice communities
  • $30 billion for public transit systems

FROM THE WHITE HOUSE BRIEFING ROOM

LONG-DURATION ENERGY STORAGE

Long-term storage gets a closer look with the growth of renewables, decarbonization push, by Paul Ciampoli, American Public Power Association

With continued growth in wind and solar power, long duration energy storage is seen by some as a key way in which to help smooth the country’s transition to a future where renewable energy plays a central role in the overall power supply mix and the push for decarbonization continues apace. Long-duration storage is still in the early stage of the product maturity curve and there are many economic and operational challenges that must be addressed if it is to play a key role in supporting the grid.

ORPHAN OIL & GAS WELLS

Energy companies have left Colorado with billions of dollars in oil and gas cleanup, High Country News

When an oil or gas well reaches the end of its lifespan, it must be plugged. If it isn’t, the well might leak toxic chemicals into groundwater and spew methane, carbon dioxide and other pollutants into the atmosphere for years on end. There are nearly 60,000 unplugged wells in Colorado in need of this treatment — each costing $140,000 on average, according to the Carbon Tracker, a climate think tank, in a new report that analyzes oil and gas permitting data. Plugging this many wells will cost a lot —more than $8 billion, the report found.

Previously Posted

Why every state is vulnerable to a Texas-style power crisis

By Umair Irfan, Vox

Just like a blackout isn’t the result of any single point of failure, protecting the grid against them demands more than any single solution. Faced with the prospect of more outages, there are a number of technical fixes: More energy storage, distributed power generation, interconnections across the major power grids, greater redundancy, microgrids, demand response, increasing energy efficiency, and hardening infrastructure. Read more here.

ADDITIONAL RECOMMENDED READING

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.

DEPARTMENT OF ENERGY NEWS RELEASE 

DOE Launches Design & Construction of $75 Million Grid Energy Storage Research Facility
WASHINGTON, D.C. – The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) today announced the beginning of design and construction of the Grid Storage Launchpad (GSL), a $75 million facility located at Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL) in Richland, Washington that will boost clean energy adaptation and accelerate the development and deployment of long-duration, low-cost grid energy storage.

Related Reading: New era as US Department of Energy gets started on long-duration energy storage R&D facility, Energy Storage News

MORE ENERGY STORAGE NEWS

FROM THE WHITE HOUSE BRIEFING ROOM