Category Archives: Research

Department of Energy Releases Annual Wind Market Reports, Finding Robust Wind Power Installations and Falling Prices

U.S. Department of Energy News Release 

WASHINGTON, D.C. – The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) has released annual market reports documenting data and trends in wind installations, technologies, costs, prices, and performance through the end of 2018 for three sectors: utility-scale land-based, offshore, and distributed wind.

“Onshore wind energy installation continues to grow across the country, and this Administration has proven that we can pursue renewable energy advancements and deployment, particularly wind energy resources, which are predicted to surpass other sources of renewable power generation this year,” said Under Secretary of Energy Mark W. Menezes. “And with over 25 gigawatts in the development pipeline, U.S. offshore wind is poised to be a significant part of our comprehensive energy portfolio in the coming years.” Continue reading here.

Sizing Up the Corporate Renewables Market

Corporate wind and solar procurement is in its early innings, a new analysis from WoodMac and the American Wind Energy Association says.

By Karl-Erik Stromsta, Greentech Media

Anyone watching the recent explosion of demand for renewable power from corporations like Facebook, Walmart and even ExxonMobil will have wondered: how far can this go? Much, much further, is the short answer. For all its recent gains, the corporate renewables market is likely in its very early innings, according to a new analysis from Wood Mackenzie and the American Wind Energy Association (AWEA).

Solar is likely to eclipse wind as the technology of choice for most corporate deals by the early 2020s. That’s due not only to a more favorable phaseout schedule of its main subsidy but also because of inherent economic advantages in its generation profile, with solar’s natural midday output more valuable to most companies. Read more here.

The report’s free 40-page executive summary is available for download here.

Additional Recommended Reading

Solar to overtake wind in corporate renewable procurement, PV Magazine
With the capacity of renewable generation by corporations rising exponentially every year and expected to continue to do so, with the exception of an expected two-year dip when the ITC runs out, the question of why corporations are moving towards renewables becomes increasingly important. To answer that question, AWEA and WoodMac identified four key factors that accelerate adoption: branding, investor pressure, peer pressure, and the utilization of Corporate Social Responsibility to mitigate future business risks.

Those first three factors are fairly self-explanatory. The opinion that humans are contributing to irreversible and damaging climate change is a popular one that grows in popularity by the day. As more people believe it, so too will more companies, as, spoiler alert, companies are comprised of people. So between pressure from customers, competitors and investors, as well as a held belief that climate change is occurring, more companies will look to tackle this threat.

Wind feels heat from solar for US corporate renewable top-spot, Recharge News
Up to 85GW of renewables demand exists within Fortune 1000 companies through 2030 as PV challenges current sector leader wind.

Save the Date! September 12, 2019 at 7 pm


Nebraskans for Solar’s September Speaker: David Bracht, Attorney With Kutak Rock and Former Nebraska Energy Office Director
UNO’s Barbara Weitz Community Engagement Center, Rooms 201/205. Mr. Bracht will provide an overview of Nebraska’s wind and solar development and our state’s potential for future growth.


Specific topics will include:

  • power purchase agreements
  • virtual power purchase agreements
  • commercial and industrial use of solar
  • the potential for combined solar and battery installations
  • incentives and depreciation

DOE Report Confirms Wind Energy Costs At All-Time Lows

Posted by Betsey Lillian, North American Windpower

Lower installed project costs, along with improvements in capacity factors, are enabling aggressive wind power pricing. After topping out at 7 cents per kWh in 2009, the average levelized long-term price from wind power sales agreements has dropped to below 2 cents per kWh. Recently signed wind energy contracts compare favorably to projections of the fuel costs of gas-fired generation. Solar prices have also declined precipitously, pressuring wind’s competitiveness in some regions. Read more here.

Download the report here.

ALSO OF POTENTIAL INTEREST

CLIMATE NEWS

  • The climate solutions beneath our feet, by Melissa Ho, Senior Vice President, Freshwater and Food, World Wildlife Fund. Published by GreenBiz. By using a combination of climate-smart practices — rotational cattle grazing on native grasslands, planting cover crops to keep soil in place and enrich it with nutrients, innovative feed options that provide nutrition and increase the efficiency of an animal’s gut biome — a producer theoretically could achieve net negative emissions.
  • USDA reports 19 million prevented planting acres in nation, Nebraska TV
    American farmers were not able to plant crops on more than 19 million acres in 2019, including more nearly a half-million acres in Nebraska alone. This marks the most prevented plant acres reported since USDA’s Farm Service Agency (FSA) began releasing the report in 2007, and it’s also 17.5 million acres more than last year at this time.
  • CBS News Documentary: A Climate Reckoning in the Heartland. Posted by Regenerate Nebraska. 

BNEF: Corporations signed contracts for 8.6 GW of clean energy in 2019

By Michelle Froese, Windpower Engineering

U.S. corporations bought 5.95 GW of clean energy in 2019, closing in on the 2018 total, according to BloombergNEF’s (BNEF) recently published, 2H 2019 Corporate Energy Market Outlook. The report shows that companies are once again flocking to Texas – historically the largest corporate procurement market in the country – where 40% of the activity in 2019 has occurred. However, just 1 GW of deals in the U.S. have come from green tariffs with regulated utilities. It is unlikely to reach the 2.6 GW seen in all of 2018.

This may be a result of buyer apprehension, as several companies have been involved in highly publicized legal battles with regulated utilities over clean energy buying. Companies are instead favoring the virtual PPA model, which has made up 82% of all U.S. deals in 2019. Read more here.

Resources for Businesses


RE100:
191 RE100 companies have made a commitment to go ‘100% renewable’. Read about the actions they are taking and why.

Renewable Energy Buyers Alliance (REBA)
In 2018, four leading NGOS — Rocky Mountain InstituteWorld Wildlife FundWorld Resources Institute, and Business for Social Responsibility — merged their renewable energy programs, the Business Renewables Center, the Future of Internet Power, the Buyers Principles, and Green Tariff programs. This programmatic consolidation builds upon their collective success and offers a single streamlined solution.

REBA’s goal is to catalyze 60 gigawatts (GW) of new renewable energy by 2025, and expand the number of organizations buying clean power from dozens today to tens of thousands.

 

U.S. Renewable Energy Map: A Guide for Corporate Buyers,
World Resources Institute

 

Save the Date!
September 12, 2019 at 7 pm – Nebraskans for Solar’s September Speaker: David Bracht, Attorney With Kutak Rock and Former Nebraska Energy Office Director, UNO’s Barbara Weitz Community Engagement Center, Rooms 201 & 205. Mr. Bracht will provide an overview of Nebraska’s wind and solar development and our state’s potential for future growth.

Specific topics will include:

  • power purchase agreements
  • virtual power purchase agreements
  • commercial and industrial use of solar
  • the potential for combined solar and battery installations
  • incentives and depreciation

GreenBiz Webcasts

IEA, EDF unit to build 300 MW wind farm in Nebraska

By Jeff Postelwait, Electric Light & Power

Infrastructure and Energy Alternatives and EDF Renewables North America will build the 300 MW Milligan 1 Wind Farm in Saline County in southeast Nebraska. The project award is valued at about $98 million, according to IEA, and will be able to power up to 115,000 average homes. The power generated by the project’s planned 99 turbines will be delivered into the Southwest Power Pool electrical grid. Continue reading here.

Photo: The 320-MW Rattlesnake Creek Wind Farm located in Dixon County, Nebraska.
Credit: Enel Green Power North America

Additional Recommended Reading

Previously Posted

Additional Resources
AWEA’s State Fact Sheets
Wind Energy in Nebraska, WINDExchange, U.S. Department of Energy 

2019 American Wind Week 
You can learn more about wind power, and potentially visit a wind farm or factory, during the third annual American Wind Week, August 11-17. American Wind Week is a national celebration of U.S. leadership in wind power and the many ways wind powers opportunity for jobseekers, communities, and a cleaner future. A map of events and proclamations is available at AmericanWindWeek.org.

Busting the myth on energy returns: Renewables to beat fossil fuels

By Michael Mazengarb, RenewEconomy

New research published in the journal Nature Energy has warned that society may be heading towards a ‘net energy cliff’ unless it undertakes a rapid shift to renewables, as fossil fuels become increasingly harder to access. As reserves are depleted, fossil fuel supplies will require exploration in harder to reach places, forcing it further offshore, and digging deeper to reach the remaining supplies, and at greater cost.

The study was completed by researchers at the Sustainability Research Institute at the University of Leeds and has found that manufacturing processes for solar panel and wind turbines have continued to improve, while access to fossil fuel resources continues to get more difficult. Read more here.

New study: Solar power delivers much more than just clean energy

Environment America News Release

Americans benefit from solar panels in important ways that are often overlooked by policymakers, according to The True Value of Solar: Measuring The Benefits of Rooftop Solar Power, a new study released today by Environment America Research and Policy Center and Frontier Group.  States should assess all those benefits when determining their energy policies and incentives.

“Power from the sun is a boon to the environment, protects our health from dirtier power options and gives us a shot at leaving our kids a better world,” Susan Rakov, chair of Environment America Research and Policy Center’s Clean Energy program, said. “We need to appreciate what solar energy is really worth, and base our public policies on it.” Read more here.

MORE NEWS & RESOURCES

For first time, renewable generation exceeds coal nationwide

By Jason Kuiper, The Wire, OPPD Blog

In April, U.S. monthly electricity generation from renewable sources exceeded coal-fired generation for the first time, according to a recent story by the American Public Power Association (APPA). The APPA story was based on data from the Energy Information Administration (EIA). The story said renewable sources provided 23% of total electricity generation compared to coal’s 20%. Read more here.

NextEra Photo of Butler Ridge Wind Energy Center wind turbines on farm land in Dodge County, Wisconsin.

More News & Resources

News & Resources from the Department of Energy’s Latest WINDExchange Newsletter

  • 2019 Tribal Energy Webinar Series
  • Wind for Schools Brochure 2019
  • NREL Receives DOE Funding for Wind-Wildlife Mitigation Technologies
    NREL recently received DOE funding to reduce environmental impacts of wind energy by improving the effectiveness of ultrasonic acoustic deterrents technology, which emit frequencies perceptible to bats to discourage them from approaching wind turbines. Other technological innovations include thermal imaging cameras and specially developed radar technologies, both of which detect and deter wildlife from approaching wind turbine blades. Learn more about NREL’s work to identify the best wind-wildlife mitigation technologies. Eight other organizations also received funding to help reduce environmental compliance costs and environmental impacts of land-based and offshore wind energy.
  • DOE Announces Winners of Collegiate Wind Competition 2019 Technical Challenge
    DOE’s Collegiate Wind Competition aims to prepare college and university students from multiple disciplines to enter the wind energy workforce by providing real-world technology experience. The competition challenges participants with tasks including business plan development; wind plant siting; and wind turbine design, building, and testing. Twelve collegiate teams gathered at DOE’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) Flatirons Campus in May to compete in the Collegiate Wind Competition Technical Challenge. Click here to see who won.

Cost of Rooftop Solar Power Set for Another Steep Plunge

Written by Tina Casey, Triple Pundit

Rooftop solar arrays can be a valuable asset for businesses seeking clean power, and new financing tools make it easier than ever to avoid up-front costs. However, the process of buying a rooftop solar array can still be intimidating. It is not unusual for solar customers to lose interest after their project gets bogged down by long processing times for permits, inspections and grid connections. That’s about to change, if the new “SolarApp” program goes according to plan. Continue reading here.

About Tina Casey

Tina writes frequently for TriplePundit and other websites, with a focus on military, government and corporate sustainability, clean tech research and emerging energy technologies. She is a former Deputy Director of Public Affairs of the New York City Department of Environmental Protection, and author of books and articles on recycling and other conservation themes. She is currently Deputy Director of Public Information for the County of Union, New Jersey.

Read more stories by Tina Casey.

Image credit: Biel Morro/Unsplash

Rural America could power a renewable economy – but first we need to solve coal debt

By Joe Smyth, Clean Cooperative

As prices for new wind and solar projects continue to drop, renewable energy is booming across the United States, surpassing coal earlier this year for the first time ever. And most renewable energy projects are built in rural areas, harnessing abundant wind and solar resources. Yet the electric cooperatives that power most of rural America remain particularly reliant on coal – in part because of billions of dollars in debt on increasingly uneconomic coal plants.

Solving this coal debt problem in rural America is the focus of a new report by the Center for Rural Affairs, We Own It, and CURE (Clean Up the River Environment). Rural Electrification 2.0: The Transition to a Clean Energy Economy explores strategies that policymakers and electric cooperatives could pursue to restructure or eliminate debt that is currently tied up with uneconomic coal plants. Continue reading here.

NRECA Infographic: While electric cooperatives have begun to add more new renewable energy projects in recent years, overall they still remain more reliant on coal than other utilities. According to the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association, coal accounts for 40% of electric cooperatives’ fuel mix, compared to 27% nationally. – Joe Smyth

Smyth’s list of recommended reading on electric cooperatives and coal debt:

He also provides a list of further reading on presidential candidates’ plans on climate, energy, and food.