Category Archives: Research

‘This is how to build it’: Book aims to provide a legal guide to decarbonization

By Marie Cusack, Energy News Network

Legal Pathways to Deep Decarbonization in the United States is co-edited by John Dernbach,
director of the Environmental Law and Sustainability Center at Widener University in
Harrisburg, Pennsylvania and Michael Gerrard, director of the Sabin Center for Climate Change Law at Columbia University.

Dernbach and Gerrard have partnered with Richard Horsch, a retired partner from the
international law firm White & Case LLP, to assemble a network of attorneys around the country to donate their time and turn the book’s recommendations into model climate laws and
regulation. Dernbach and Gerrard also plan to launch a website in May that will be a platform to provide resources and information to policymakers, lawyers and advocates. Read more here.

Photo Credit: Roland Balik / U.S. Air Force

ADDITIONAL RECOMMENDED READING

Want To Limit Global Warming? Electrify Everything, Finds Study, CleanTechnica
Researchers at the Lappeenranta-Lahti University of Technology (LUT) in Finland and Energy Watch Group (EWG) have completed a 4½ year study that examined how to meet the goals of the Paris climate accords without such measures as carbon capture and geo-engineering. Their conclusion? Run everything on electricity and generate all of that electricity using renewables, primarily solar.

Going Green: Homes with Solar Panels Sell for 4.1% More

Zillow News Release, PR Newswire

More than 80 percent of home buyers say energy-efficient features are important, a truth that’s reflected by data showing homes with solar energy systems fetch higher prices. A new Zillow® analysis shows homes with solar-energy systems sold for 4.1 percent more on average than others nationwide in the past year[ii]. The sale premium varies by market – 5.4 percent in New York, 4.4 percent in San Francisco and 3.6 percent in Los Angeles, for example. This Earth Day, Zillow is highlighting a green initiative that helps inform homeowners and buyers about their own solar potential by putting a Sun Number on more than 84 million homes nationwide. The Sun Number provides a sense of each home’s solar-energy potential and the energy savings that comes with it. Read the entire news release here.

Photo by SWT Energy based in Lincoln: Janece and Dwayne’s 10.6-kilowatt photovoltaic
array, with south- and west-facing solar panels on their home and garage. Their home’s heating and cooling systems are both electric.

Midwest Sees Surge in Clean Energy Jobs

The region is creating jobs in renewable energy and the clean energy industry
more quickly than the rest of the country.

By Casey Leins, U.S. News & World Report

THE MIDWEST ADDED MORE than 28,000 clean energy jobs in 2018, resulting in a 4 percent growth rate, according to a recent report released by national advocacy groups Clean Energy Trust and Environmental Entrepreneurs. The 12 Midwestern states employed more than 737,000 workers in the clean energy industry last year, with 71.5 percent of those jobs falling under the category of energy efficiency.The report looks at employment in the following clean energy sectors: energy efficiency, renewable energy generation (including solar, wind, geothermal, bioenergy and low-impact hydroelectric power), advanced transportation, advanced grid and clean fuels. Read more here.

Clean Jobs Midwest

How the Green New Deal Can Unify Rather than Divide Us

Written by Ken Kimmel, President of the Union of Concerned Scientists

The “Green New Deal,” which seemed to spring out of nowhere, has captured the attention of many of us who recognize that the need to prevent runaway climate change is the greatest challenge of our time. Its inspiring title calls to mind an era when our country worked together to pull out of a depression. Its main proponents are young people—who better than the up-and-coming generation to demand that the former one leaves behind a world that is habitable? And, it calls for action on a scale that aligns with the best available science.

Unfortunately, many who oppose acting on climate change are using the Green New Deal as a political football . . . Those of us who want the United States to lead on climate change, whether such action is called a Green New Deal, or another inspiring frame (e.g., 100% clean energy by mid-century) must not let this happen. The key is to define the Green New Deal before the caricatures stick, by showing that, while it is ambitious, it is realistic and affordable. We can succeed if we follow these principles: Continue reading here.

Previously posted YouTube video exemplifying local “micro” Green New Deals sprouting up all across the country: How one small city sowed the seeds for its own Green New Deal

100% RENEWABLE ENERGY NEWS

Puerto Rico passes 100% renewable energy bill as it aims for storm resilience, Utility Dive

The U.S. territory will join Hawaii, California and Washington, D.C., with its 100% RPS target, which includes interim goals of 40% renewables by 2025 and 50% by 2040. 
Photo Credit: Flickr user Ricardo’s Photography

NEW REPORT

Battery Power’s Latest Plunge in Costs Threatens Coal, Gas, Bloomberg New Energy Finance

The most striking finding in this [levelized cost of electricity update], for the first-half of 2019, is on the cost improvements in lithium-ion batteries. These are opening up new opportunities for them to balance a
renewables-heavy generation mix. Batteries co-located with solar or wind
projects are starting to compete, in many markets and without subsidy, with coal- and gas-fired generation for the provision of ‘dispatchable
power’ that can be delivered whenever the grid needs it. 

NEW DEPARTMENT OF ENERGY SOLAR RESEARCH PROJECT

News Release: Department of Energy Announces $130 Million for Early-Stage Solar Research Project
Today, the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) announced up to $130 million for new research to
advance early-stage solar technologies. These projects will help to achieve affordable and reliable
energy 
to enhance America’s economic growth and energy security . . . This funding program targets five research areas: photovoltaics (PV), concentrating solar-thermal power (CSP), soft costs reduction,
innovations in manufacturing, and solar systems integration. These projects will make solar energy more affordable, reliable, and secure, while working to boost domestic solar manufacturing, reduce red tape, and make PV more resilient to cyberattack.

Previously Announced DOE Funding for Solar Energy Integration

For more information on the Solar Energy Technologies Office, visit their website HERE.

Analysis: New wind, solar cheaper than operating most existing coal plants

By Kathiann M. Kowalski, Energy News Network

Locally generated solar and wind energy could already replace almost three-fourths of
electricity made by U.S. coal plants for less than the cost of continuing to operate those plants, according to an analysis released today by two clean energy research groups.

By 2025, the share of “at risk” coal generation will jump from 74 percent to 86 percent, adds the report by Energy Innovation Policy & Technology in San Francisco and Boulder-based Vibrant Clean Energy. “We’re not talking about replacing every coal plant overnight,” said report
co-author Eric Gimon at Energy Innovation. “What we’re saying is every coal plant should be looked at.” How do coal plants compare to solar or wind energy in the analysis?
Continue reading here.

Additional Recommended Reading 

Photo by SoCore Energy: Kearney Solar Farm

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.

ALSO PUBLISHED BY ENERGY NEWS NETWORK

Small Iowa town hopes benchmarking makes big impact on energy efficiency, by Karen Uhlenhuth

As state lawmakers and investor-owned utilities in Iowa retreat from energy efficiency investments, Bloomfield stands in stark contrast. The building benchmarking program is part of an aggressive plan to tap
efficiency and renewables to meet a goal of total energy independence by 2030 for the small town of about 2,700 people in far southeastern
Iowa. 
Photo by Jo Naylor, Flickr, Creative Commons: Bloomfield, Iowa

Microgrid boosters hope Michigan ‘energy district’ will spur more interest, by Andy Balaskovitz

Microgrid advocates hope a Michigan utility’s proposed “energy district” can help demonstrate the technology and spur more interest in similar projects. Consumers Energy announced plans last month for a smart energy district on a 4-square-block area near the utility’s headquarters in Jackson. Though not formally a microgrid, the plan calls for developing a “smart energy community” around renewables, battery storage and electric vehicles, mirroring concepts of interconnected “smart cities.” Photo Credit: Consumers Energy

The 100 percent renewables moonshot: We’re closer than you think

By Grant Smith, Senior Policy Advisor for Energy at
Environmental Working Group, Contributor, The Hill

Advocates for 100 percent renewable energy often compare the effort needed to meet that goal to efforts to put a person on the moon. The truth is this: We’re closer to 100 percent renewable
energy today than we were to the moon in 1961, when President Kennedy made his famous pledge to land there by the end of the decade. Read more here.

Pixabay Photo

ENVIRONMENTAL WORKING GROUP NEWS RELEASE

Bloomberg Report: Trump To Call for 70 Percent Cut In Renewable Energy Funding. EWG said it is a scheme that is dead on arrival,
because the clean energy revolution has wide support in even the most conservative parts of the nation. Bloomberg said the Trump
administration’s 2020 federal budget request will call for slashing
funding for the Department of Energy’s Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy, from its current level of $2.3 billion to $700 million, or roughly 70 percent. 

To date, third-party evaluations have assessed one-third of EERE’s research and development portfolio and found that an EERE taxpayer investment of $12 billion has already yielded an estimated net economic benefit to the United States of more than $230 billion, with an overall annual return on investment of more than 20%.
EERE Strategic Goals
EERE Strategic Plan

ADDITIONAL RECOMMENDED READING & VIEWING

Trump tries to hold the line on coal, but America is moving on (from California to New York), by Mary Ann Hitt, Sierra Club Beyond Coal Campaign Director, Contributor, Red, Green and Blue. From retiring a coal plant that Trump tried to save with a tweet, to a historic announcement that Los Angeles won’t repower its gas plants, I want to be sure you’ve heard about these recent victories on the ground for the climate and clean energy movement that are moving our nation toward 100% clean energy.

Much hotter conditions, more extreme weather await Nebraska, northern Plains, scientists say

By Nancy Gaarder, Omaha World-Herald

A much warmer future awaits the next generation of Nebraskans as a result of climate change, according to state and federal scientists. The state also is expected to see more rain and snow, but the additional moisture may not be enough to counteract the stress of a warming world on agriculture, they said. Additionally, the region is likely to see an increase in wintertime rain and ice. Last week, two climate scientists discussed some of the impacts during a briefing on the
National Climate Assessment, published last fall. Continue reading here.

Upcoming Nebraska Events – Free & Open To The Public 

Nebraska Climate Summit: A One-Day Session On Climate & Climate Change. March 21, 8:30 am – 5:00 pm at the
Nebraska Innovation Campus, 2021 Transformation Drive in Lincoln. Martha Shulski, director of the state climate
office based at the School of Natural Resources at the
University of Nebraska-Lincoln and Tyler Williams,
Nebraska Extension climatologist, as well as partners
across the university and state will lead the one-day information session on climate and climate
change. Registration capped at 350. Lunch provided. Register for the event here.

Nebraska Solar Schools Earth Month Event
Save the Date! Our speaker will be Mary DeMocker, author of The Parents’ Guide To Climate Revolution: 100 Ways to Build a Fossil-Free Future, Raise Empowered Kids, and Still Get a Good Night’s Sleep. April 11, 2019, UNO’s Thompson Center, 6705 Dodge Street, Omaha. RSVP & parking permit
required. Download flyer here for additional details.

Also written by Nancy Gaarder
11 easy steps to going green and having fun in the process, Omaha World-Herald

Community Microgrids with Energy Storage: Cost Effective and Clean

By Jacqueline DeRosa, Vice President of Energy Storage at Ameresco,
Microgrid Knowledge

The growth of distributed resources is forcing utilities and grid
operators to transition from standard operations to more
decentralized power systems.  Already, local and clean distributed
resources can directly provide a local community’s energy needs.
Distributed renewable energy paired with energy storage is not just
technically feasible, but also cost-effective for many applications
today. New predictive analytics can optimize the use of solar,
advanced energy storage, energy efficiency, and other resources to
allow communities to procure renewable, low-cost energy and
maintain reliability. Continue reading here.

Additional Recommended Reading

Energy Storage Has A Breakout Year On Both Sides Of The Meter, by Jeff McMahon, Forbes
Wood Mackenzie has not yet released its report on 2018, but Finn-Foley offered a sneak
preview to Clean Energy States Alliance members Thursday, telling them that the fourth quarter of 2018 broke energy-storage records everywhere.

Global battery storage pipeline reaches 15 GW, by Julian Jansen, IHS Markit Senior Analyst. PV Magazine International. With the U.S. market poised for exponential growth in 2019, the Americas already have a project pipeline of over 4.3 GW. As policy frameworks advance across the United States, IHS Markit already tracks project activity in 39 states, which have operational energy storage systems, with an additional five states with projects planned or under construction.

Push for renewables vexes Western power supplier

By Keriann Conroy, Perspective, High Country News

Colorado’s largest member-owned generation and transmission provider may be in trouble.
Tri-State Generation and Transmission, which provides wholesale electricity to rural
cooperatives in Colorado, New Mexico, Wyoming and Nebraska, is facing increasing pressure to let go of some of its contracts and to improve its renewable portfolio. But it appears unable to change fast enough to keep up with the times.

Most of Tri-State’s power is generated from coal- and gas-fired plants or large hydroelectric dams, but it is now facing regulatory hassles and the potential exodus of customers. Rural
“distribution” cooperatives are currently waiting to see how much it would cost them to exit their contracts, while Colorado moves toward regulations requiring more renewables.
Read more here.

Photo Credit: Missy Kennedy/Flickr

Keriann Conroy is a graduate student at Western Colorado University in Gunnison, Colorado, studying democratic practices and sustainability.

Previously Posted News Stories & RMI Report

Also of Potential Interest

The Low Income Energy Issues Forum publishes new report

By Tim Sylvia, PV Magazine

One of the most popular sentiments in growing the reach of the solar industry is getting limited and low-income customers
involved, usually through community or shared-living solar
programs. However, not all low-income customers are the same and no two community solar subscription models are the same. And, just like pistons in the engine driving the solar industry,
inconsistency and wiggle room can lead to trouble.

This was the issue studied by The Low Income Energy Issues
Forum in their newly-published report, Low Income Consumer Solar Working Group. The report
focuses on how varied and flexible community solar programs have the potential to improve utility services for these financially-limited customers. Read more here.

ADDITIONAL RECOMMENDED READING

UMN researchers incorporate solar panels in low-income housing, Minnesota Daily

A new report focusing on making solar energy more accessible may help homeowners meet mortgage payments.

“Habitat for Humanity — they provide affordable housing to
people, but even after you have an affordable home, you still have home costs like insurance … and one of those [costs] is
energy too,” said Erica Bjelland, a program development
specialist at Rural Renewable Energy Alliance. RREAL is a
nonprofit that works to make solar energy accessible to people at all income levels. The University of Minnesota’s Chan Lab partnered with RREAL to develop ways to alleviate poverty using solar energy.

Rural Renewable Energy Alliance Website

Illustration by Abby Adamski