Category Archives: Research

Big Oil’s Net-Zero Plans Show the Hard Limits of Carbon Offsets

By Kate Mackenzie, Bloomberg Green

A tracking project from American University lists dozens of large companies that, as of December 21, cited carbon dioxide-removal (CDR) in their pledges for climate neutrality. They include Apple Inc., Walmart Inc., British Airways Plc, and many of their peers. It’s not just companies. The European Union’s promise to cut emissions 55% by 2030 has been criticized for relying in part on land-based “carbon sinks” to soak up some of the pollution.

As more companies follow suit, the total volume of offsets they rely on will quickly exceed the ability of the planet to provide them. Without more concrete near-term actions, “net zero” risks becoming a fairytale providing cover for the heavy emitting industries, particularly those in the fossil fuel sector who have aggressively blocked climate action. Read more here.

Kate Mackenzie writes the Stranded Assets column for Bloomberg Green. She advises organizations working to limit climate change to the Paris Agreement goals.

NATIONAL ACADEMIES REPORT

National Academies report sees $300 bil cost by 2030 for a zero-carbon economy, American Public Power Association

The reportAccelerating Decarbonization of the U.S. Energy System, the first of two, said that achieving the 2050 goal is feasible and presented a technical blueprint and policy road map for the next 10 years. The report also found that immediate action would be required to achieve the greenhouse gas emission reduction goals and that most near-term reductions would come from the electricity sector, electrification of vehicles, and home heating. 

BLACK & VEATCH REPORT

Green Hydrogen: A Rising Star, T&D World
According to Black & Veatch’s latest Strategic Directions: Electric Report, based on a survey of more than 600 industry stakeholders, utilities over the next decade expect solar (79%) and wind (67%) power to help them meet their clean energy goals or cut their emissions and carbon output. That’s presumably because those renewables are readily deployable with established, matured technology and competitive costs. But looking past 2030, those numbers drop into the 40th percentiles, segueing to more deployments of hydrogen (58%) — an energy-dense alternative fuel that emits only water — and battery energy storage (48%) as the leading, more favored options as they evolve.

FROM THE WHITE HOUSE BRIEFING ROOM

LINCOLN-BASED BUSINESS IN THE NEWS

Directions 2021: Nelnet’s Alyssa Martin enjoys balance of work and life in hometown, by Victoria Ayotte Brown, Lincoln Journal Star. Requires digital subscription.

“Nelnet is becoming a leader in the tax equity space and is really paving the way for a carbon-free future by facilitating the development of solar projects all over the country. I think there’ve been 86-plus solar projects Nelnet has had a role in helping along. It’s really amazing. It’s going to continue to grow, and I’m excited to be part of it.” – Alyssa Martin, legal counsel for tax and renewable energy for Nelnet

Previously Posted: Nelnet announces new division focused on solar, Lincoln Journal Star

GREEN TRANSPORTATION

FEATURED WEBSITE FOR KIDS

Launched in 2010, NASA’s Climate Kids website tells the story of our changing planet through the eyes of the NASA missions studying Earth. Targeting upper-elementary-aged children, the site is full of games, activities and articles that make climate science accessible and engaging.

NASA is a world leader in climate studies and Earth science. While its role is not to set climate policy or prescribe particular responses or solutions to climate change, its purview does include providing the robust scientific data needed to understand climate change. NASA then makes this information available to the global community – the public, policy- and decision-makers and scientific and planning agencies around the world.

As wind industry goes big, this New England startup looks to shrink turbines

By David Thill, Energy News Network

Skyscraper-high blades are increasingly standard on wind farms, but Pecos Wind Power thinks its small, distributed turbines will be a better fit in Vermont. The fact that the turbines are serving the communities they’re sited in could help secure community support, said Julia Leopold, head of communications at VPPSA [Vermont Public Power Supply Authority].

“If you can directly correlate the benefit of the project to the community, then the community will be a bit more receptive to it,” she said, noting large renewable projects are sometimes sited in communities while their power is sold elsewhere. Read more here.

LINKS TO MORE INFORMATION & RESOURCES

IN NEBRASKA 

Bill would regulate wind energy in Nebraska, KMTV

Wind energy had a ‘banner year’ in 2020. Here’s what that means for Joe Biden’s climate plan.

By Elinor Aspegren, USA Today

A study from the American Clean Power Association released this month reports that 2020 was a record year for the industry, with developers adding enough megawatts of capacity to provide power for millions of homes and inching the U.S. closer to the Biden administration’s goal of carbon neutrality by 2035.

In all, 16,913 megawatts of new wind power capacity was installed in the U.S. last year – an 85% increase over 2019. That’s the equivalent of the power generated from 11 large coal plants, and enough to serve nearly 6 million homes, Jonathan Naughton, a professor of mechanical engineering and director of the Wind Energy Research Center at the University of Wyoming, told USA TODAY. Read more here.

Nebraska Clean Energy Fact Sheet, American Clean Power Association

ADDITIONAL RECOMMENDED READING

Onward and Upward: How Recent Trends Will Power Breakthroughs in 2021 and Beyond,
Greentech Media article contributed by John Carrington, CEO and Director of Stem.

Not even 100 days into his administration, President Biden’s sense of urgency in tackling climate issues and driving a clean energy revolution is clear. Here is a look at how key recent trends in energy and climate — including remarkable clean energy progress under dire circumstances — will lead to real and sustainable breakthroughs in 2021 and beyond.

FACT SHEET: President Biden Takes Executive Actions to Tackle the Climate Crisis at Home and Abroad, Create Jobs, and Restore Scientific Integrity Across Federal Government, The White House Briefing Room

SEIA NEWS RELEASE

Solar Industry Statement on Blue Collar to Green Collar Jobs Development Act

“The Blue Collar to Green Collar Jobs Development Act introduced by Rep. Bobby Rush (D-Ill.) will make the American solar industry stronger, better trained and more diverse. Our industry will need tens of thousands of workers as it continues to expand and we are deeply committed to efforts to diversify our workforce, bring the benefits of the energy transition to all, and create economic opportunity for Americans in every community, including those who worked in traditional energy industries.” – Abigail Ross Hopper, President and CEO of the Solar Energy Industries Association

ZERO ENERGY READY HOMES

DOE’s Zero Energy Ready Home Program helps homebuyers quickly identify high performance homes that are so energy efficient, all or most annual energy use can be offset with renewable energy. Now a trilogy of videos is available to tell that powerful story to American homebuyers.


DOE’s Video Trilogy

Live Better
Live Healthy
Live Future Ready

The Sun Haven: Net-Zero Energy Home in Lincoln (GRNE Solar).

ENERGY EFFICIENCY

Why energy efficiency is key to net-zero, GreenBiz Group

 

 

 

 

 

Despite the rise of net-zero commitments and new financial models proliferating, we’re slowing on our efficiency gains. Global efficiency improvements have been on the decline since 2015, according to the International Energy Agency (IEA). Energy intensity in 2020 is expected to improve by only 0.8 percent — nearly half of the improvements for 2019 (1.6 percent) and 2018 (1.5 percent). 

ENERGY STORAGE

NREL outlines four-phase framework for energy storage development, American Public Power Association


The report released late last month is the first publication to come out of NREL’s multi-yea
Storage Futures Study, which will explore energy storage technologies across a range of potential future cost and performance scenarios through 2050.


KEYSTONE XL

Cancellation of Keystone XL Pipeline Shapes Energy Investment, Environment + Energy Leader article contributed by Anthony Shaw, Founder, Progeneration Energy

The fate of Keystone XL and similar projects are fueling reinvention in the oil sector. Companies like Shell and BP are no longer defining themselves as oil companies, building new brand identities as integrated energy companies. 

Previously Posted: Nebraska’s better off without Keystone XL, Lincoln Journal Star Editorial Board 

Welcome to The Power Line

By Greg Alvarez, Deputy Director, Communications
American Clean Power Association

The clean energy transition is here, and it’s a time of tremendous opportunity and excitement as the pace of the transition seemingly accelerates by the day. This shift to a 21st century clean energy economy will be one of the dominant stories of the next decade, and to help overcome the transition’s challenges and ensure U.S. homes and businesses are increasingly powered by clean energy, we’re thrilled to announce the formation of the American Clean Power Association (ACP).

ACP brings together wind, solar, transmission, and storage companies, along with manufacturers and construction companies, developers and owners/operators, utilities, financial firms, and corporate purchasers to advocate on behalf of the clean power industry. All the different kinds of companies involved in building the utility-scale clean energy projects of the future are now uniting behind a powerful common voice. Read more here.

ACP Video

ACP Report

A Majority Renewables Future
The report, conducted by international analysis group Wood Mackenzie, finds that reaching a majority renewables grid will:

  • Deploy over $1 trillion in capital investment over the next decade.
  • Support nearly 1 million direct, renewable energy jobs.
  • Stabilize wholesale power prices and preserve grid stability.
  • Reduce U.S. carbon emissions by over 60 percent.

Administrative and legislative policies can pave the way for the U.S. to achieve these benefits within the next 10 years.

Download the executive summary.

Sustainable ‘tiny house’ project making progress

By Jason Kuiper, The Wire, OPPD Blog

Despite the challenges presented by the coronavirus, the area’s first sustainable small house is moving closer to completion. What is a sustainable house? The way project coordinator Bing Chen describes it, it is a small, ADA-compliant house about the size of a studio apartment that is self-sufficient.

That means it incorporates passive solar heating, solar electrical generation, and a roof-collected rain water system, among other enhancements. Chen is partnering with OPPD and other local organizations on the Small Sustainable House (SSH).

Continue reading here.

Top Image: Architectural visualization of the Sustainable Small House by Steve Eggerling
Right Photo Credit: The Wire 

Additional Links / Resources

Passive Solar Research Group, UNL
Director: Dr. Bing Chen
The Passive Solar Research Group’s “Sustainable Small House” Research Project

Book 

 

Path to Passive: Nebraska’s Passive Solar Primer, 1982 – available for download from the Nebraska Energy Office

 

 

Presentation 


Dr. Bing Chen’s presentation to Nebraskans for Solar at UNO’s Community Engagement Center: Small House on the Prairie: A Sustainable Assisted Living Unit (ALU) Demonstration Project Utilizing Renewable Energy (PDF)

Commentary: Clean transportation can help prevent pollution that damages our health and heightens COVID risk

Written by Dr. Shelley Francis and Johana Vicente, Energy News Network

If you are Black, Latinx, or a member of an Indigenous community, you are far more likely than a white person to know someone firsthand who has died of COVID-19. This mirrors what is happening in cities, suburbs, rural areas and tribal lands across the U.S. — our communities are being ravaged by the virus. As of mid-January, more than 375,000 Americans have died of COVID-19, with people of color between 2.2 to 2.5  times more likely to have died from the virus than whites of the same age. There are a number of longstanding racial inequities rooted in our current economic and social systems that contribute to this disparity . . . Continue reading here.


Dr. Shelley Francis
is co-founder of EVHybridNoire, the nation’s largest network of Black people and people of color who are enthusiastic about shifting away from fossil fuels. Francis co-wrote this op-ed with Chispa National Director Johana Vicente.

 

In Nebraska: The City of Lincoln’s Exemplary Climate Action Leadership

We Are Still In: Current Climate Actions City Of Lincoln, Nebraska Is Taking, by Frank Uhlarik, Sustainability and Compliance Administrator, City of Lincoln, Nebraska. The City of Lincoln acknowledges the threat of Climate Change and the need to develop and implement sound policies and programs intended to mitigate and/or adapt to the effects of Climate Change.

About We Are Still In
We Are Still In is a joint declaration of support for climate action, signed by more than 3,900 CEOs, mayors, governors, tribal leaders, college presidents, faith leaders, health care executives, and others. The organizations they represent comprise the largest and most diverse coalition of actors ever established in pursuit of climate action in the United States.

Additional Recommended Reading: Mayor Releases Draft Climate Action Plan, News Release, City of Lincoln Mayor’s Office

Lincoln’s Leadership on Clean Transportation

More Related News Stories & Resources:

EV EQUITY

With bans on gas-powered vehicles, here are key steps to increase EV equity, GreenBiz article contributed by Pamela Gordon, Managing Director, PGS Consults, Presidio Graduate School

At Presidio Graduate School, we see affordability of EVs as being both an equity and a diversity factor. Some of our professors reserve an empty seat in their classroom representing those who are not able to join the discussion. Although most new product and service adoptions are at first expensive before becoming more affordable, it’s time to buck the old way of targeting markets that inherently exclude those not usually in the room.

EV CHARGING DESERTS

In Chicago, ‘charging deserts’ part of racial divide on electric vehicles, Energy News Network
Public charging stations are most heavily concentrated in the city’s more affluent neighborhoods, creating a chicken/egg scenario for electric car adoption.

EV MAINTENANCE & REPAIR COSTS

It’s Official — Consumer Reports Confirms EV Owners Spend Half As Much On Maintenance, CleanTechnica

Data is king, and when it comes to information on the frequency of repairs on automobiles, Consumer Reports has more data than anyone. For its latest report, it did a deep dive into the data from its 2019 and 2020 reliability surveys of electric and gasoline powered vehicles. After crunching all the numbers, Consumer Reports says “drivers of electric vehicles are saving an average of 50% on maintenance and repair over the life of a vehicle compared to owners of gas-powered vehicles.”

SOLSMART SOLAR + EV GUIDE

SolSmart Report: Solar & Electric Vehicles, A Guide For Local Governments
This new report outlines key strategies including educating community members on the benefits of PV and EVs, organizing group purchase campaigns to support both technologies, providing financial and non-financial incentives on EV and PV regulation, and adjusting local regulations to reduce costs and ease integration.


EV CHARGING STATIONS WITH BATTERY STORAGE

Energy storage for EV charging can lower demand charges, Guidehouse reports, Utility Dive
EV charging stations with battery storage systems can make EV charging more cost effective by drawing energy from the grid during low-demand periods and releasing power to charge EVs during peak-demand periods, according to a Guidehouse Insights report. 

VEHICLE-TO-GRID (V2G) BENEFITS

Public power utilities, others pursue vehicle-to-grid opportunities, American Public Power Association


In 2019, the Electric Power Research Institute (EPRI) released a study finding that utilities and ratepayers can derive substantial value from large-scale deployment of EVs equipped to transmit power to the grid.


FEDERAL LEADERSHIP THAT WILL ALSO BENEFIT OUR COMMUNITIES

Biden administration will replace the entire federal vehicle fleet with EVs, CNET

The current federal vehicle fleet is estimated at

around 645,000 vehicles, and President Biden plans to replace all of them with American-made electric vehicles. 

NREL’S FEDERAL FLEET TRAINING VIDEOS

NREL Learning Resources: NREL’s fleet electrification experts develop training content and regional workshops that help fleets evaluate EV potential for sites, campuses, and more.

Inside Clean Energy: Real Talk From a Utility CEO About Coal Power

By Dan Gearino, Inside Climate News

Let’s begin with a game of, “Who said that?” Here’s the quote: “There is not a regulated coal plant in this country that is economic today, full period and stop,” he said. You might guess that it’s someone from the Sierra Club Beyond Coal Campaign or the Natural Resources Defense Council. But the correct answer is that those words came from the CEO of the country’s largest electricity utility by market value,  Jim Robo of NextEra Energy, speaking last week in a conference call with analysts about the company’s latest earnings report. Continue reading here.

Also written by Dan Gearino

AMERICAN CLEAN POWER REPORT

American Clean Power Market Report Q4 2020
American Clean Power’s newest market report details the latest U.S. wind industry, utility-scale solar, and energy storage activity and trends. The public version of the report provides a summary of key takeaways and graphics from the full report, which is available for ACP members. ACP’s future quarterly reports will include the association’s own data on utility-scale solar and energy storage, along with wind.

Download the report for free – public version.
Nebraska Clean Energy Fact Sheet

News Release: Wind Industry Closes Record 2020 With Strongest Quarter Ever

About American Clean Power
American Clean Power represents the renewable energy industry in the United States, bringing together over 1,000 member companies, 120,000 members, and a national workforce located across all 50 states. By uniting the power of wind, solar, storage, and transmission companies and their allied industries, we enable the transformation of the U.S. power grid to a low-cost, reliable and renewable power system.

The ACP Team
ACP’s Careers page is coming soon.

Public power utilities, others pursue vehicle-to-grid opportunities

By Paul Ciampoli, American Public Power Association

In 2019, the Electric Power Research Institute (EPRI) released a study finding that utilities and ratepayers can derive substantial value from large-scale deployment of EVs equipped to transmit power to the grid. Sunil Chhaya, the study’s project manager, noted in aEPRI Journal article that EPRI researchers developed models to calculate the value of V2G-capable vehicles for California’s distribution systems. Chhaya noted that key insights on what could happen were:

  • V2G technology can provide 2–3 times the value of managed charging;
  • V2G technology can provide $671 million in annual grid benefits, based on 3.3 million EVs in 2030 (the medium EV forecast) with half of those EVs V2G-enabled;
  • V2G technology can provide $1 billion in annual grid benefits, given 5 million EVs in 2030 (the aggressive EV forecast and a California goal) with half of those V2G-enabled; and
  • If half of California’s 600,000 EVs today were V2G-enabled, they could provide $39 million in annual net value from peak shaving and ramping support

Read more and see additional APPA resources here.

Photo Credit: Enel

Solar Picks Up a Big Win on the Heels of a Consequential Year

By Abigail Ross Hopper, President & CEO,
Solar Energy Industries Association

Over the next several years, we have an opportunity to advance bold clean energy and climate policies, including many of the priorities in SEIA’s 100-day agenda. That starts with immediately removing tariffs on solar cells and modules, making ITC benefits available as a direct payment, investing in infrastructure and clean energy manufacturing, and ensuring there is adequate funding to support programs like SolarAPP.

I would be remiss if I didn’t underscore the importance of prioritizing equity and justice throughout all of these efforts. If we reach our goals for the Solar+ Decade, the industry will need to grow nearly seven times its size over the next 9 years, and it’s imperative that the jobs and economic benefits of that growth reach communities that have traditionally been left behind. Thanks to the wins we secured in 2020, I’m more optimistic than ever for the future of our industry. Read more here.

WIND ENERGY NEWS

DISTRIBUTED WIND

Poking The Wind Power Dragon In Ohio, One Factory At A Time — CleanTechnica Interview

Obstacles aside, it looks like the US distributed wind sector is ready for its closeup. Let’s pause for a second, though, to clarify that distributed wind refers to wind turbines of any size, not to smaller turbines per se. The key factor, according to the Energy Department, is the use of wind power for on-site energy, or to contribute directly to a local distribution grid.

On its part, the Energy Department is a keen fan of distributed wind. On-site wind power dovetails with the Energy Department’s vision for decentralizing the US grid and building more security and resiliency into the nation’s energy supply, over and above the decarbonization benefits.

Department of Energy Resource: Distributed Wind
Distributed wind energy systems are commonly installed on, but are not limited to, residential, agricultural, commercial, industrial, and community sites, and can range in size from a 5-kilowatt turbine at a home to multi-megawatt turbines at a manufacturing facility or connected to a local distribution system.

U.S. TRANSMISSION GRID

  • Coalition Calls on FERC to Strengthen Regional and Interregional Transmission Planning, Americans for a Clean Energy Grid. A bipartisan group of nine former Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) Chairs joined with transmission and renewable industry leaders earlier today to discuss and comment on a proposal to significantly expand the nation’s transmission capacity to properly support a reliable, affordable, and clean power system. The report, “Planning for the Future: FERC’s Opportunity to Spur More Cost-Effective Transmission Infrastructure,” produced by Americans for a Clean Energy Grid (ACEG), recommends FERC undertake a comprehensive transmission planning rulemaking.
  • Report Calls for a Ground-Up Overhaul of Federal Transmission Grid Policy, Greentech Media
    Richard Glick, the newly named Democratic FERC chairman, has highlighted transmission policy as a key focus for the agency this year. That could set the stage for reforming a transmission paradigm, evolved over two decades of FERC policy, that is failing to keep up with existing renewable growth, let alone that anticipated under the Biden-Harris administration’s goals to decarbonize the electricity sector by 2035

AGRIVOLTAICS

  • OSU research farm: Where agriculture, solar energy intersect, Capital Press

    AURORA, Ore. — An Oregon State University researcher is zeroing in on plans to build what he describes as “the Disneyland of sustainable agriculture.” Chad Higgins, an associate professor of biology and ecological engineering, envisions a research farm where growers can learn about co-developing land for both solar energy and crop production — a concept known as agrivoltaics.
  • Previously Posted: Installing solar panels on agricultural lands maximizes their efficiency, new study shows, Oregon State University. The study, published in the journal Scientific Reports, finds that if less than 1% of agricultural land was converted to solar panels, it would be sufficient to fulfill global electric energy demand.

GENERAL MOTORS

GM to go all-electric by 2035, phase out gas and diesel engines, NBC News

General Motors plans to completely phase out vehicles using internal combustion engines by 2035, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Mary Barra announced Thursday. The automaker will go completely carbon neutral at all facilities worldwide by 2035.

Barra has frequently touted GM’s plan for “an all-electric future,” recently increasing to 30 the number of pure battery-electric vehicles it will launch by the middle of this decade, but this marks the first time the largest Detroit automaker has set a hard target for completely phasing out gas and diesel engines for all light-duty vehicles, including pickups and SUVs.

Solar Industry Commends Biden’s Climate Executive Actions

SEIA News Release

WASHINGTON D.C.—President Biden announced key actions on several climate issues today, including clean energy jobs, infrastructure, and environmental justice. Following is a statement on these executive orders from Abigail Ross Hopper, president and CEO of the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA):  “The president has outlined a clear and carefully thought-out vision for addressing the range of climate challenges we face, and I commend and thank him for taking swift action on many of those challenges during the first week of this administration.” Continue reading here.

Additional Recommended Reading