Category Archives: Green Campuses

New Report Shows Steep Increase in School Solar Power Drives Savings on Energy Bills, Frees Up Resources during Pandemic

Generation180 News Release, PR Newswire

As school districts struggle to adapt to a nationwide budget crisis brought on by the COVID-19 outbreak, many K-12 schools are shoring up budgets with a switch to solar power, often with minimal to no upfront capital costs. Since 2014, K-12 schools saw a 139 percent increase in the amount of solar installed, according to a new report from clean energy nonprofit Generation180, in partnership with The Solar Foundation and the Solar Energy Industries Association.

The report finds that 7,332 schools nationwide utilize solar power, making up 5.5 percent of all K-12 public and private schools in the United States. Over the last 5 years, the number of schools with solar increased by 81 percent, and now 5.3 million students attend a school with solar.  The top five states for solar on schools—California, New Jersey, Arizona, Massachusetts, and Indiana—helped drive this growth. Continue reading here.

Download the report: Brighter Future: A Study on Solar in U.S. Schools, 3rd Edition

Generation 180 Resources

  • The How-To Guide for Schools Going Solar offers step-by-step advice for going solar and includes an introduction to solar finance.
  • The Solar Schools Campaign Toolkit is an organizing guide for students, parents, teachers and community members who want to catalyze solar energy at their schools.
  • The Virtual Help Desk provides a library of resources, answers frequently asked questions and offers personalized support.

Learn More Here
Generation180.org
SolarforAllSchools.org

The Solar Foundation Initiatives 

Solar Energy Industries Association Website 

America’s Top Colleges for Renewable Energy 2020

Environment America Report 

America’s colleges and universities are leading the transition to a 100 percent renewable energy system. Small liberal arts colleges, large public universities and community colleges alike, from every corner of the U.S., are taking the lead in reducing energy consumption, deploying renewable energy technologies, and switching to electric vehicles (EVs). More than 40 colleges and universities now obtain 100 percent or more of their electricity from renewable energy sources. Read more here.

Environment America’s 100% Renewable Campaigns

SOLAR PANEL PRICES

Solar Panel Prices Have Dropped Off Cliff & Sunk Into Ocean — Solar Panels 9× Cheaper Than In 2006, by Zachary Shahan, Clean Technica 

NEW PV MAGAZINE SERIES

Lights and shadows of 500 W plus solar panels – part I
In the first article of a series, PV Magazine Editor Pilar Sánchez Molina analyzes with industry experts challenges and opportunities created by new panels with power output exceeding 500 W.

EV NEWS

  • Could The U.S. Automobile Fleet Run On Wind And Solar Power?, Forbes article by Senior Contributor Robert Rapier. It would require 4.4 times more electricity produced from wind and solar power in 2019 to equal the 1.8 trillion kWh required to replace gasoline. That may seem like a lot, but over the past decade wind and solar power generation have increased by a factor of 5.4. At the growth rate of the past decade, it is possible that in another decade we could produce enough wind and solar power to power all the nation’s automobiles with a 100% EV fleet.
  • Amazon hands Mercedes-Benz its biggest electric vehicle order to date, GreenBiz
    Mercedes-Benz says by the end of the year it will offer five electric vehicle models and 20 plug-in hybrid vehicle editions. Its vehicle and battery production also will be carbon-neutral, using clean energy.

HYDROGEN

A Look At The ‘Colors’ Of Hydrogen That Could Power Our Future, Forbes article contributed by Alex Ivanenko, Cofounder and CEO of HyPoint, a company developing zero-carbon emission hydrogen fuel cell systems for urban air mobility.

While the use of hydrogen as a fuel dates back more than 150 years, recent announcements have brought hydrogen back into the spotlight as leaders around the world seek to secure a sustainable energy future. And if the future is to be powered by hydrogen, no industry will be left untouched.

GLOBAL RENEWABLE ENERGY REPORT

$3.40 Trillion to be Invested Globally in Renewable Energy by 2030, Finds Frost & Sullivan, News Release, PR Newswire

Frost & Sullivan’s recent analysis, Growth Opportunities from Decarbonization in the Global Power Market, 2019-2030, reveals that the 2020s will be crucial for all the participants in the power industry as the transition toward renewable energy is expected to increase, while coal takes a downturn in most developed markets. Falling costs and renewable-friendly energy policies adopted by several countries in the six major geographies—North America, Latin America, Europe, the Middle East, China, and India—are prominent reasons why solar photovoltaic (PV) and wind capacity additions are expected to soar this decade. 

A vacant lot in Gary, Indiana, will soon be home to a climate-friendly community

Written by Audrey Henderson, Energy News Network

An area in downtown Gary, Indiana, that still bears scars from a 1997 arson fire will soon boast an affordable housing complex with an eye toward energy efficiency and neighborhood revitalization. The $11 million Broadway Lofts project, scheduled to break ground September 1 for completion in 2021, is part of Indiana’s Moving Forward incentive that targets net-zero, transit-oriented affordable housing. Chicago-based Farr Associates designed the project. Broadway Lofts aims to achieve Passive House certification and net-zero energy demand through super insulation, high-performance windows, elimination of thermal bridging, air-tight construction, heat recovery within the mechanical systems and on-site renewables, according to the project website. Continue reading here.

Photo: The Broadway Lofts project will occupy this vacant lot, as seen on Google Streetview, in Gary, Indiana.

About Audrey Henderson

Audrey Henderson is an independent writer and researcher based in the greater Chicago area with advanced degrees in sociology and law from Northwestern University. She specializes in sustainability in the built environment, culture and arts related to policy and related topics. Her work has been featured in Wallpaper magazine, the Chicago Reader, Chicago Architect magazine, Next City, Transitions Abroad, Belt Magazine and other consumer and trade publications.

ACEEE’S “FIRST-OF-ITS-KIND” STUDY

Mandated energy efficiency scores would influence home buying: ACEEE, Smart Cities Dive
The inclusion of home energy efficiency scores in online real estate listings would influence buyers to purchase more efficient homes, according to research from the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy (ACEEE). 

VIRTUAL HOME ENERGY ASSESSMENTS

SRP offers free virtual energy efficiency assessments for low-income customers, American Public Power Association

Arizona public power utility Salt River Project is offering its low-income customers free virtual home energy assessments. Up to 2,000 qualified customers can receive the Home Energy Assessment. n addition to SRP, the Tennessee Valley Authority,  Energy New England, and Massachusetts Municipal Wholesale Electric Company have launched virtual home assessments.

MASSACHUSETTS’ CLEAN PEAK ENERGY STANDARD

First-in-nation Clean Peak Energy Standard launched in Massachusetts, American Public Power Association

Massachusetts this week launched the first incentive program in the nation designed to promote the use of clean energy during times of peak electricity demand. The so-called Clean Peak Energy Standard (CPS), which goes into effect on Aug. 7, builds on Massachusetts’ existing clean energy policies, such as the state’s Renewable Portfolio Standard (RPS), and requires all electricity suppliers to purchase a certain amount of Clean Peak Energy Certificates (CPECs) each year based on a specified percentage of the amount of electricity that they supply. Eligible CPS resources include renewable energy sources that meet the state’s RPS criteria, as well as demand response resources.

ENERGY STORAGE

Battery Storage Is Delivering Value For Solar Developers And Energy Consumers. But What About Cost?, Forbes. The twin goals are to increase renewable power usage and to provide electricity during peak demand. But the main obstacle is the high price of storage. The options?

GREEN CAMPUSES

Mid-State Technical College students install a large solar array at Stevens Point Campus, WAOW
Mid-State’s Renewable Energy Technician students recently got hands-on experience delivering solar energy to the College’s Stevens Point Campus. The students installed 135 solar panels on the roof of the downtown Stevens Point campus, an array that will produce almost 50,000 watts of power on a sunny day and supply approximately 15 percent of the campus’s energy usage.

SOO GREEN CLEAN POWER LINE

Plan to lay long-haul clean power line along railroads through US Midwest gets on track, Recharge
Giant 2.1GW Soo Green HVDC Link would run from Iowa to Illinois to transport wind power to eastern states.

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