Category Archives: Green Campuses

Company plans to build 15 utility-scale storage plants in Texas

By Peter Maloney, American Public Power Association 

Independent power producer Broad Reach Power plans to build 15 utility-scale battery storage plants totaling 150 megawatts (MW) in areas near Houston and Odessa, Texas. The Houston-based company is building the storage plants on a merchant basis “on our balance sheet” and aims to sell the output into the wholesale power market run by the Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT), Steve Vavrik, managing partner and CEO, said.

Texas leads the nation in wind power with over 29,000 MW of installed wind turbines. Solar power is also gaining ground in Texas with ERCOT reporting 1,500 MW of installed utility scale solar projects and 4,300 MW of solar projects, out of 40,000 MW under study, that have already signed interconnection agreements and could be in service by year end. Read more here.

AWEA Free Use Wind Energy Image Gallery: Suzion Wind Farm in Texas

NEWS FROM OTHER STATES

21 CAMPUSES’ AGGREGATED RENEWABLE ENERGY RFP

Higher-ed consortium partners on renewable energy, Cornell Chronicle
Cornell is among 21 higher-education institutions in New York submitting a collaborative request for proposals to purchase renewable electric energy from sources built over the next 2 ½ years in New York state. Technologies such as solar, wind and hydroelectric could be considered as part of the solicited requests for proposals (RFP). The RFP, which launched June 11, aggregates the campuses’ renewable electricity needs in an effort to lower financial barriers and reduce risk.

CAMPUS MICROGRIDS

Campus Microgrids Emerge as Solution to Energy Challenges in Higher Education, Microgrid Knowledge.

This special report series on campus microgrids and reliable, renewable energy in higher education begins with an entry that explores the energy goals of today’s colleges and universities — and how to reach them. Download the full report, The Genius of Microgrids in Higher Education, courtesy of Siemens, to further explore the potential of microgrids on college and university campuses. 

PAYING IOWA FARMERS TO SEQUESTER CARBON

Inside Cargill’s experiment to pay farmers for carbon sequestration, by Heather Clancy,            GreenBiz. While Cargill is the only named company participating in the new fund, Mark Lambert, director of Quantified Ventures, said it is in discussion with other large companies.

SOLAR & WIND AS FARM PRODUCTS

Deborah J. Comstock: Solar and wind should be considered farm products as well, Monroe Evening News

In an age where we are redefining much of our infrastructure and industries, farming should be no different. 
Deborah J. Comstock is an Adrian farm owner and board member of Lenawee Indivisible. 

NEW COALITION

Land & Liberty Coalition launches Iowa chapter, Business Record
The Iowa Land & Liberty Coalition is a project of the Iowa Conservative Energy Forum, a clean-energy organization focused on state-level policy, according to the release announcing its formation. “Iowa farmers and landowners are the bedrock of our state and by partnering with them to engage in utility-scale siting efforts we hope to advance energy policies that make way for clean energy while respecting property rights,” Jake Ketzner, ICEF executive director, said in the release. 

HAPPY GLOBAL WIND DAY! 

Know The History And Objective of the Day That Highlights the Power of Wind Energy, Reve

The World Wind Day event is celebrated worldwide in more than 80 countries annually.

Historic-low interest rates will power ahead astonishing solar cost reductions

By Max Hall, PV Magazine USA

U.S.-based energy transition thinktank the Institute for Energy Economics and Financial Analysis (Ieefa) has taken a swipe at intergovernmental peer the International Energy Agency (IEA) over the latter’s prediction the Covid-19 crisis will slow the dramatic cost reductions achieved by the solar industry.

Positing the argument that the final cost of solar energy depends on solar resource, the capital cost of generation facilities and the rate of return on finance, Ieefa’s Tim Buckley pointed out PV projects have continued to be deployed at scale during the global health crisis as finance interest rates have plunged to historic lows because central banks are attempting to propel all types of economic investment during the current shock. Read more here.

Photo Credit: Greg Roose /  Pixabay

Previously Posted
Overbuilding solar at up to 4 times peak load yields a least-cost all-renewables grid, PV Magazine. The global energy firm Wartsila found a least-cost renewables mix for the U.S. that involves overbuilding renewable capacity, but requires no seasonal storage, and needs only four to ten days of multi-day storage capacity. The analysis modeled meeting current uses of electricity, based on projected technology costs for 2030.

ADDITIONAL RECOMMENDED READING 

Plunging Renewable Energy Prices Mean U.S. Can Hit 90% Clean Electricity By 2035 – At No Extra Cost, Forbes. Because renewable energy prices have fallen so fast, they are now cost-competitive in all regions of the U.S., and only require modest upgrades to long-distance transmission lines, with significant “spur line” investments that avoid crossing multiple communities and states, only adding 0.2 cents/kWh to total system costs.

GREEN BONDS

What you need to know to take advantage of the green bond revolution, contributed article, PV Magazine. Green bonds have experienced rapid growth since their inception in 2007, and participants in the solar energy industry stand to benefit. In 2019, issuers launched over US$250 billion in green bonds offerings, representing 51% growth year over year.

MISSOURI CITIES’ CLIMATE ACTION

Missouri cities shine on the national climate action stage, Smart Cities Dive guest post by Ashok Gupta, senior energy economist at NRDC.

GREEN CAMPUSES

STUDY OF DUSTY SOLAR PANELS’ EFFICIENCY LOSS

CARBON-FREE SHIPPING

Sailing Towards A Low-Emissions Future, Forbes
In December 2019, a coalition of shipping owners, encompassing 90 percent of the world’s merchant fleet, announced plans for a $5 billion research and development fund to accelerate the most promising ideas, from carbon-free fuels to carbon-free ships by the early 2030s.

OPPD has streamlined its customer-owned generation program

By Jodi Baker, The Wire

“We know more and more customers are looking into owning their own generation, and we want to guide them in the process,” said Kirk Estee, Customer Alternative Energy Solutions Manager for OPPD. “We are their energy partner, and we’re here to help.”  With those goals in mind, OPPD recently revamped and streamlined its process of applying for Customer-Owned Generation (COG). And the utility created a new website, with educational resources, such as a quick-start guide, information on net metering for billing, and available tax credits. Customers will also find a calculator to determine their pay-off period for an investment in solar panels. Read more here.

Photo Credit: University of Nebraska Medical Center / LiveGreen

Also Posted on The Wire 

Video: Simple steps to save energy this summer

Opportunity for Solar to Dot the Coalfields of Southwest Virginia

Contributed by Chelsea Barnes, Solar Industry

[In April Governor Ralph Northam signed the Solar Freedom Act and the Virginia
Clean Economy Act into law]. The new laws set up enormous opportunity for solar developers in Virginia’s coalfields. To boost the potential even more, eight local governments in the region achieved SolSmart designation in 2019, setting themselves up to more readily facilitate solar development. Over the past four years, the Solar Workgroup of Southwest Virginia has readied the region for solar energy development through education, collaboration and advocacy, but its efforts were stymied by policy inequities and regulatory barriers. Now, the new laws mean solar developers can walk through the region’s door of opportunity and deliver the solar services so many people are seeking. Read more here.

Chelsea Barnes is the New Economy Program Manager for Appalachian Voices, a regional environmental advocacy nonprofit. Photo Credit: Appalachian Voices

Previously Posted

ADDITIONAL RECOMMENDED READING

NEW INDIANA COALITION

Farmer-focused renewable energy coalition formed, AgriNews
The Indiana Agriculture Coalition for Renewable Energy announced its formation across the state following two informational conference calls in March and April. The conference calls convened farmers, landowners, renewable energy developers, nonprofits and corporations to discuss knowledge and resource gaps related to the intersection of renewable energy and agriculture in Indiana.

GREEN CAMPUSES

MISO NEWS

MISO deploys GridUnity platform to streamline electric generation interconnection, GridUnity News Release, PR Newswire

The GridUnity platform has been deployed by utilities and ISO/RTOs across 17 U.S. states to date. Learn more at https://gridunity.com.

Prior to the GridUnity solution, MISO engineers were manually reviewing each application in detail. With the new GridUnity tool, applicants receive immediate, automated feedback if an entry is incomplete, ensuring all submitted applications meet established standards. MISO staff will now be able to review and respond to submitted applications in a fraction of the time that was previously required, providing guidance throughout the rest of the interconnection process. This will create a fully transparent and near-real-time interconnection queue, freeing engineers to spend their time addressing the higher-value needs of their customers.

WOODEN WIND TURBINE TOWERS

Wooden Turbine Towers Promise To Push Wind Industry To Greater Heights, contributed by Mike Scott, Forbes. A new design for wind turbine towers could see them made from wood rather than steel, soaring to ever-greater heights and producing more power, if a new trial proves successful.

FORECASTING THE WIND

Thanks To Renewables And Machine Learning, Google Now Forecasts The Wind, by Jeff McMahon, Senior Contributor, Forbes

Google and the Google-owned Artificial Intelligence firm DeepMind combined weather data with power data from 700 megawatts of wind energy that Google sources in the Central United States. Using machine learning, they have been able to better predict wind production, better predict electricity supply and demand, and as a result, reduce operating costs.  In a Deepmind blog post, they outline how they boosted profits for Google’s wind farms in the Southwest Power Pool, an energy market that stretches across the plains from the Canadian border to north Texas:

EV CHARGING

Retail co-location may prove key to sustainable funding for EV charging, panel finds, Utility Dive Adding charging facilities at retail and restaurant locations is one of the most profitable ways to increase EV infrastructure, a senior project manager at Atlas Public Policy said during a Wednesday webinar hosted by the Center for Climate and Energy Solutions that also featured representatives from Georgia Power and EVgo.

RECOMMENDED KIDS’ BOOKS

Stop the Summer Reading Slide With Eco-Themed Kids’ Books

What The Post-Pandemic World Needs Is A Solar Energy Revolution

By Enrique Dans, Senior Contributor, Forbes

One technology above all has exceeded all expectations over recent years: solar energy. Near-exponential growth has lowered manufacturing costs and efficiency of the solar cells to the point that building a solar energy generation plant is now significantly cheaper than its fossil fuel equivalent, or even maintaining an existing unit — and most importantly, leave a negligible carbon footprint

Today, virtually everything that most people think they know about solar energy, about the days when only subsidies made solar installations profitable and some generated power with diesel engines at night, is completely obsolete and outdated. The solar energy landscape has changed so much in terms of costs and performance that it requires completely new analyses. Read more here.

ON-FARM SOLAR 

Indiana farmers see benefits in on-farm solar power for grain storage systems, contributed by Emergent Solar Energy, PV Magazine. “Every morning a potential energy source rises over the horizon to the east of my farm,” said Will Harlow, owner of the farm. “It seemed a waste to not harness this daily free energy source, erasing some of what I take from the grid. The solar components’ being made in the United States was also important to me. I hope if any positive comes from this pandemic, it is that we must do what we can to get production of all kinds returning to America.”

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

 

 

 


Nebraskans for Solar

Department of Energy: Farmer’s Guide to Going Solar

ADDITIONAL RECOMMENDED READING

NET METERING

FERC Might Rewrite Solar Net Metering. Here’s What That Could Mean, by Ben Huffman and Marc Palmer, Greentech Media

On April 14, the New England Ratepayers Association (NERA) petitioned FERC to assert jurisdiction over any on-site, behind-the-meter generation that injects energy onto the grid. If FERC asserts such jurisdiction in the manner requested by NERA, individual states could lose control over their solar net-metering policies — with myriad implications for the U.S. distributed solar market. FERC is currently accepting comments and intervenors from individuals and organizations. The period to comment or intervene ends June 15, 2020.

Ben Huffman is a partner with law firm Sheppard Mullin’s energy, infrastructure and project finance team. Marc Palmer is managing director of New Resource Solutions, a clean energy project facilitator.

 UC’S ESG INVESTMENT POLICY 

UC’s investment portfolios fossil free; clean energy investments top $1 billion, University of California Press Room

To date, UC’s new energy investments have developed and accelerated 9.2 gigawatts (GWs) of wind and solar capacity across all the platforms in which it has invested. Directly attributable to UC Investments’ share of the platforms is 1.47 GWs of wind and solar energy capacity in the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom, Japan and India. According to the U.S. Department of Energy, 1 gigawatt of power is comparable to the energy produced by 3.125 million photovoltaic panels or 412 utility-scale wind turbines.

People in quarantine are searching for solar power

By Tim Sylvia, PV Magazine

While the popular thought since the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic has been that solar, on the residential side, would be put on the back-burner by consumers until economies reopened and life returned to what can be salvaged of pre-virus normalcy, reality may not reflect this sentiment. New data from a consumer survey conducted by The Harris Poll for LG shows that consumer interest in investing in solar has actually risen since the onset of the pandemic. Continue reading here.

Image Credit: BusinessWire

NFS Resources for Nebraskans interested in going solar:

ADDITIONAL RECOMMENDED READING

BERKSHIRE HATHAWAY ENERGY 

DISTRIBUTED STORAGE

Distributed storage could save Texas $344 million per year by deferring transmission and distribution costs, by William Driscoll, PV Magazine. Adding enough distributed storage to reduce peak demand by 20% could defer up to one-fifth of the transmission and distribution expenditures in Texas for about 10 years, a study found. Other states may find the study’s analytical insights to be useful.

SOLAR PANELS

500 W-plus panel race intensifies with JA Solar’s new module and Risen’s first shipment, PV Magazine USA. Chinese manufacturer JA Solar has announced a new 525 W+ panel and said the product will be available from the second half. Domestic rival Risen has shipped the first batch of its high-powered modules and intends to stick to pre-Covid-19 plans to ramp up production.

GREEN CAMPUSES

TRANSPORTATION

4 ways to make most of this pivotal mobility moment, by Katie Fehrenbacher, GreenBiz

GLOBAL NEWS

Inside Clean Energy: With a Pen Stroke, New Law Launches Virginia Into Landmark Clean Energy Transition

By Dan Gearino

One lawmaker compared the passage of the statute, which requires the state to move to 100 percent carbon-free energy by 2045, to landing on the moon.

Read more here.

NEW YORK INITIATIVES

In New York, a New Way for Stay-at-Home Customers to Get Paid for Shaving Peak Energy, Greentech Media. New York is struggling with the country’s worst coronavirus outbreak, but it’s also pushing ahead on its ambitious clean energy goals. Those include major expansions of wind and solar power, more energy storage to manage that intermittent supply — and, on the demand side of the equation, programs that can turn utility customers from passive consumers into active grid-balancing participants. 

GREEN CAMPUSES

University of Pennsylvania signs PPA for largest solar project in the state, Solar Power World
The University of Pennsylvania has signed a Power Purchase Agreement (PPA) for the creation of a solar power project moving the University significantly closer to meeting its commitment of a 100% carbon neutral campus by 2042, as outlined in the “Climate & Sustainability Action Plan 3.0.”

Recommended Resources

CARBON PRICING

NextEra, Vistra join array of stakeholders in asking FERC to look at carbon pricing, by Catherine Morehouse, Utility Dive. A wide group of energy stakeholders, including independent power producers, gas interests and clean energy advocates, are asking federal regulators to look more closely at the benefits of pricing carbon across wholesale electricity markets.

ECONOMIC RECOVERY & RESILIENCE

GREEN TRANSPORTATION

KEYSTONE XL

US judge cancels permit for Keystone XL pipeline from Canada, Associated Press

Maine public schools have savings opportunity with efficient lighting

By David Thill, Energy News Network

Public schools in Maine this month can get extra financial assistance to install LED lighting. Aside from being a cleaner source of energy, efficiency experts say the new technology can save a lot of money in the long term for schools, where lights are one of the biggest energy drains. They can also create a better learning environment for students and teachers. Efficiency Maine, the state’s efficiency utility, is leading the incentive program. Efficiency utilities are state-regulated organizations dedicated to distributing efficiency funding and other support. Continue reading here.

Photo Credit: Marco Verch / Flickr / Creative Commons

Previously Posted 

In Massachusetts, students step up to pressure schools on renewable energy, by Sarah Shemkus, Energy News Network. Student campaigns are underway on more than a dozen campuses demanding a transition to 100% renewables.

Also In The News

Nearly 3,000 solar panels will help power Glenbard East, Chicago Daily Herald

 

Glenbard High School District 87 is bringing solar power to one of its campuses as more suburban schools are drawn to the cost savings and environmental benefits of the renewable energy source.

 

 

Beatrice City Officials Hear About Proposed Wind Farm

By Doug Kennedy, Nebraska News Channel

BEATRICE – Even though it won’t have any decision-making authority over it, the Beatrice City Council and Mayor heard about a wind farm proposal Monday night that could have a significant financial impact for the Beatrice area. An attorney representing NextEra Energy Resources, told city officials the company is considering a 50-turbine wind farm in northern Gage County on land mostly owned by one entity and leased for farming.

David Levy, of Omaha said at this point, no formal permit application for the project has been filed with the Gage County Planning Commission. The development would cover roughly a five-by-seven-mile area, made up of about 35 sections of property from south of Nebraska Highway 41, to near Pickrell. NextEra Energy Resources, a subsidiary of Florida Power and Light, is looking at a 124-megawatt wind farm that could power about 40,000 homes, producing an estimated $850,000 to $900,000 in property tax revenue annually, mostly in the Beatrice School District. Continue reading here.

Photo: “Wind Rainbow” – Free Use American Wind Energy Association Image Gallery

Additional Recommended Reading

  • UNK looks into sustainable future with carbon-neutral goal by 2050, by Brandon Cortes, NTV One of the biggest shareholders of the Kearney solar farm is the University of Nebraska-Kearney (UNK). They say they plan on going carbon-neutral by 2050. “As administrators, I think we have a duty and responsibility to evaluate any chance we can to help us move more towards climate neutral,” said Vice Chancellor for Business and Finance Jon Watts.
  • Major FPL solar plan gets state approval, The News Service of Florida
    TALLAHASSEE, Fla. — Pointing to issues such as expanding renewable energy, state regulators Tuesday approved a $1.8 billion plan by Florida Power & Light to add 20 solar-power plants by the middle of next year. Under SolarTogether, customers will be able to voluntarily pay more on their electric bills to finance the solar projects and receive credits that are expected to result in them getting a “payback” in about seven years.
  • How an Iowa utility and solar advocates found a compromise on net metering, by Karen Uhlenhuth, Energy News NetworkA proposal, which still needs to pass in the legislature, would preserve net metering and let utilities recoup costs faster.

Can The US Wind Industry Beat The Coming Headwinds?

Forbes article contributed by Joshua Rhodes, Senior Energy Analyst,
Vibrant Clean Energy LLC in Boulder, Colorado

This is the second installment of a multi-part series.
Rhodes’ first article in the series: The Future Of US Solar Is Bright

The US wind industry currently supports over 110,000 jobs and, in 2018, about $11 billion was invested in new wind projects in the US. There are currently over 57,000 wind turbines in the US, totaling over 100,000 MW of total capacity. In 2018, wind provided about 6.5% of all US electricity generation, and year after year wind-heavy grids such as the Southwest Power Pool and the Electric Reliability Council of Texas break records for the amount of wind instantaneously meeting demand on the system. As of 2019, these records stand at almost 67% and 56%, respectfully.

The deployment of wind has been fast and furious and the US Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates that “wind turbine service technicians” will be in high demand over the next decade and will be the second-fastest growing job in the US — for those not afraid of heights. Read more here.

Northeast Community College
Northeast Community College in Norfolk is the only institution in Nebraska offering an Associate of Applied Science degree in wind energy. Learn more about Northeast’s wind technology degrees and programs and watch a brief video, Northeast Wind Energy Program, here.

Photo Credit: Northeast Community College

ADDITIONAL RECOMMENDED READING

  • Why One Solar Power Project In South Dakota Will Rule Them All, CleanTechnica
    The developer, Germany-based Wircon GmbH, is planning on a $100 million payout for 500,000 solar panels and $15 million on an underground connector cable, all up and running by 2021 under the name of Lookout Solar Park. Look out, indeed. The new solar power plant represents a 180-degree turnaround for South Dakota. As recently as 2018, South Dakota ranked dead last for solar power among all 50 states and Puerto Rico.
  • Renewable energy production could exceed coal generation by next year, Buffalo Bulletin
    Led by solar and wind, renewable generation could produce as much as 21.6% of the nation’s electricity by 2021 — beating out coal at 20.8%, according to new projections published last month by the U.S. Energy Information Administration. “That’s not a surprise,” University of Wyoming economist Rob Godby said in response to the data agency’s latest forecasts. “While a lot of people still aren’t aware of it, renewables are really the cheapest and most promising form of new energy generation in most places.”
  • 8minute Solar Energy: ‘Every Project’ Could Have Built-In Storage, Greentech Media
    A year after a leadership shakeup, 8minute has more projects in more states — and a record for solar-and-storage pricing.
  • Omaha-based Tenaska in the news here: IMPA Grows Toward More Sustainable Energy, Inside Indiana Business. IMPA is a nonprofit organization whose members include municipally-owned electric utilities. They provide power to 61 communities in Indiana and Ohio.
  • WoodMac: Lifting US Import Tariffs Would Knock 30 Percent Off Solar System Prices, Greentech Media. Solar system prices dropped 90 percent over the last nine years, but the decline was tempered by American trade tariffs, leaving U.S. prices 45 percent above those in Europe and Australia, according to new research from Wood Mackenzie Power & Renewables.

REBA NEWS

Renewable Energy Buyers Alliance Announces Top 10 U.S. Large Energy Buyers in 2019, News Release
The Renewable Energy Buyers Alliance (REBA), has announced the release of its Deal Tracker highlighting 2019’s Top 10 Large Energy Buyers, topped by Facebook with the procurement of 1.546 gigawatts (GW). The REBA Deal Tracker showcases total announcements of 9.33 GW of renewable energy in the U.S. and a shift in the energy landscape driven by the demand for accessible clean energy options. “Well over half of all energy consumption comes from the commercial and industrial (C&I) sector, so it is increasingly important that large energy buyers are identifying opportunities to reduce emissions,” said Miranda Ballentine, CEO, REBA.

TRIBAL CLIMATE ACTION PLANS 

Indigenous tribes are at the forefront of climate change planning in the U.S., Grist
According to a database maintained by the University of Oregon, at least 50 tribes across the U.S. have assessed climate risks and developed plans to tackle them. With more than 570 federally recognized tribes controlling 50 million combined acres, these adaptation plans could prove a crucial element in building resilient communities that can thrive despite weather-related catastrophes and changes to the natural environment.

Tribal Climate Adaptation Guidebook

DIVESTMENT NEWS

Harvard Faculty Vote in Favor of Divestment 179-20, The Harvard Crimson
The vote marks the culmination of a fourmonthlong debate in faculty meetings over the proper role of the University in combating climate change. Ultimately, 179 faculty members supported a motion in favor of divestment, while just 20 voted to oppose it. Faculty supporters who spoke at the meeting argued that Harvard should be at the forefront of an international divestment movement.

Harvard’s Climate Action Plan