Category Archives: Research

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

New Study: We can meet the Paris Climate targets for 1/3 the cost of CURRENT fossil fuel subsidies!

By Karel Beckman, Red, Green and Blue

The Leonardo DeCaprio Foundation has a new study out that shows it would take approximately $1.7 trillion per year globally to meet the Paris Climate goals and avoid climate change disaster. [Director of Innovation at the Leonardo DiCaprio Foundation] Karl Burkart notes that this amount “pales in comparison to the vast subsidies governments currently provide to prop up the ailing fossil fuel industry, estimated at more than $5 trillion per year by the International Monetary Fund (IMF). Taxpayers are unwittingly funding the climate crisis, and that needs to stop.” Read more here.

MORE CLIMATE NEWS

SEIA NEWS RELEASE


Solar is the Future of American Energy

Declaring the 2020s the Solar Energy Decade, SEIA’s President & CEO Abby Hopper made a mark at the United States Energy Association’s 15th Annual State of the Energy Industry Forum.

 

CORPORATE RENEWABLE ENERGY NEWS


Corporations’ Hunger for Clean Power Has Never Been Bigger, Bloomberg. Facebook is now the largest corporate buyer of clean power. Image: Facebook Data Center under construction in Papillion

 

ENERGY INFORMATION ADMINISTRATION

America’s Energy Future: What the Government Misses in Its Long-Term Outlook and Why It Matters, Inside Climate News
The U.S. government’s new long-term energy outlook paints a picture of the future that few utilities and energy analysts actually expect to see. It underplays how rapidly coal will retreat from the market and fails to grasp the scale of growth for renewable energy compared to utilities’ plans and analysts’ expectations.

From the editor: EIA versus the future, by Christian Roselund, PV Magazine
EIA’s short-term forecasts have been generally thoughtful and informative. But when we start to look beyond a few years, EIA’s projections start to lose their credibility, and the assumptions that they make become increasingly problematic.

GREEN NEW DEAL

Economic Reasons For The Green New Deal — The Numbers Speak For Themselves, by Carolyn Fortuna, CleanTechnica. I’ve been participating in Sunrise Movement trainings to raise awareness of the Green New Deal and to motivate Congress to take significant action
toward 100% US renewable energy within the decade. Surrounded by a mass of college kids with a spattering of we older folks, I’ve been immersed in strategizing so that we can more effectively fight at the local and national levels to make the Green New Deal a reality.

A 3-part theory of change that mobilizes millions, elects a critical mass of supportive public officials, and builds a new peoples’ alignment that advances a shared agenda for society is underway here, folks. And, should you have questions about whether a bunch of kids and an idealistic vision to restructure the way energy is done in the US is practical, just look at the numbers. More than anything, there are significant economic reasons to implement a Green New Deal.

Solar tsunami

By Christian Roselund and John Weaver, PV Magazine

Developers have applied to build 139 GWac of large-scale solar projects in the territory of six grid operators – around five times what is currently online across the country – and that figure doesn’t even cover the entire United States. By any metric, we are looking at an unprecedented boom in solar development over the next five years. Read more here.

Flickr Photo by Juwi Renewable Energies Limited


Electric Power Markets: National Overview

Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC)

 

 

Recently Posted: Capital Dynamics Signs Agreement with Tenaska to Develop Solar Projects, News Release. The transaction includes 14 solar projects with approximately 2,000 megawatts (MW) in the Midcontinent Independent System Operator (MISO) market. The portfolio represents a large share of all solar projects currently in the MISO North interconnection queue, with projects in Michigan,
Missouri, Illinois, Wisconsin, Indiana and Minnesota.

Nebraska is a member of the Southwest Power Pool (SPP) wholesale market.
Based in Little Rock, Arkansas. SPP manages transmission in fourteen states: Arkansas, Iowa, Kansas, Louisiana, Minnesota, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, New Mexico, North Dakota, Oklahoma, South Dakota, Texas and Wyoming. Its membership is comprised of investor-owned utilities, municipal
systems, generation and transmission cooperatives, state authorities, independent power producers, power marketers and independent transmission companies.

Also Published by PV Magazine:

ADDITIONAL RECOMMENDED READING

INTERVIEW

What’s In Store for U.S. Solar Energy in 2019?, by the Center on Global Energy Policy, Earth Institute, Columbia University. In the latest edition of the Columbia Energy Exchange podcast, host Bill Loveless talks to Abigail Ross Hopper, the president and CEO of the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA), the U.S. trade group for solar energy.

OPPD POSTS RESIDENTIAL SERVICE CHARGE FAQs ON WEBSITE

The final adjustment to the residential service charge begins January 1. Review the Rate Restructuring FAQs for details

FAQ #9:  I am considering installing solar panels and/or wind generation at my home. How would this affect me?
Because the fixed portion of the bill is increasing, customers who wish to install solar or wind to meet part of their energy needs would see an increase in the payback period associated with recovering their investment.

Previously Posted: Are regulators starting to rethink fixed charges?, Utility Dive
[In 2017], regulators only approved 6 out of 84 proposals for higher customer charges, suggesting regulators might be looking for “something better,” Proudlove told Utility Dive. Autumn Proudlove is senior manager of policy research at the North Carolina Clean Energy Technology Center (NCCETC).

In Nebraska, a unique carbon-capture concept has a lot of unknowns

Written by Karen Uhlenhuth, Energy News Network

In November, the Nebraska Public Power District (NPPD) announced a partnership with Finland’s Lappeenranta University of Technology and Wärtsilä, a Finnish manufacturer, to explore using that company’s technology to generate electricity from methanol, which would be synthesized by combining hydrogen and carbon dioxide.

While a news release touts the study as intending to help “accelerate the move towards a future where energy will be produced from 100 percent renewable carbon free sources,” NPPD does not yet know whether any carbon reduction benefits will result. Read more here.

Photo Credit: Wärtsilä

NEBRASKA ALSO IN THE NEWS HERE

ASU engineers break solar cell record, ASU News
Arizona State University researchers continue to break solar cell efficiency records in an effort to harness the sun’s energy more economically as a renewable source for electricity. Last year, Assistant Professor Zachary Holman and Assistant
Research Professor Zhengshan “Jason” Yu in ASU’s Ira A. Fulton Schools of Engineering set a world record of 23.6 percent
efficiency for a tandem solar cell stacked with perovskite and silicon.

The number was a few percentage points shy of the
theoretical efficiency limit for silicon solar cells alone. Now, the team improves upon the record by nearly two percentage points, to 25.4 percent, in a joint project with researchers at the University of Nebraska–Lincoln, predicting they’ll be nearing 30 percent tandem efficiency within two years.

Photo: The perovskite/silicon tandem solar cell created by researchers at Arizona State University and the University of Nebraska–Lincoln has the potential to transform mainstream silicon technology and lower the cost of solar energy. Photo by Erika Gronek/ASU

ADDITIONAL UNIVERSITY NEWS

Stanford scientists locate nearly all U.S. solar panels by applying machine learning to a billion satellite images, Stanford University News. Stanford researchers have identified the GPS locations and sizes of almost all U.S. solar power installations from a billion images. Using the data, which are public, they identified factors that
promote the use of solar energy and those that
discourage it. Photo: Telesis Inc’s solar array in Lincoln 

How Can Ordinary People Combat Global Warming?

U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the Washington Post  
Republished by the Omaha World-Herald

Americans produce an average of 21 tons of carbon a year, about four times the global average, according to the Natural Resources Defense Council. The decisions you make each day can make a difference, but it’s hard to know where to start. Tips from advocates for the environment: Continue reading here.

Photo: Bob and Gina’s Home in Lincoln. Credit: SWT Energy

Also in today’s Omaha World-Herald:

WEB LINKS OF POTENTIAL INTEREST

ALSO IN THE NEWS

Free Research: “Non-Wires Alternatives: Case Studies from Leading U.S. Projects”

In today’s electricity market, non-wires alternatives are capturing public attention and inspiring decision makers to explore the grid benefits and potential cost savings resulting from integrating new distributed technologies in place of new infrastructure upgrades. As interest grows, industry practitioners are seeking out more information and lessons learned from past and existing NWA projects.

To help shed light on a broad set of NWA projects in the U.S., E4TheFuture, Peak Load Management Alliance and Smart Electric Power Alliance jointly selected 10 NWA case studies and have distilled insights into this report.

What’s in the report:

  • Highlights of 10 NWA case studies and a summary of their key attributes (project size, technologies, key drivers, and grid challenges faced).
  • Policy review of the state of non-wires alternatives.
    Examples of innovative energy solutions to meet today’s grid challenges.
  • Key insights and challenges from the planning, sourcing, and implementation phases.
  • Full-length NWA case studies with additional resources in the Appendix.

The full report detailing selected NWA case studies was funded by E4TheFuture and is available for free to download.

Free Companion Webinar: Non-Wires Alternatives: Insights from the Nation’s Leading NWA Projects, December 6, 2018, 1-2 p.m.

Weatherization program pays off in long-term savings

McCook Gazette Editorial

Unfortunately, people who would benefit the most from lower energy bills often cannot afford the improvements to achieve them. That’s where the Nebraska Weatherization Assistance Program comes in. Tuesday is Weatherization Day in Nebraska, spotlighting an effort that has been weatherizing homes for low-income and elderly citizens for more than 42 years.

Eight non-profit community service providers operate the program. Since the Weatherization Assistance Program began, over $204 million went to make energy efficiency improvements in more than 68,800 Nebraska homes affecting the lives of thousands of Nebraskans, many of who are elderly, disabled, and families with children. Learn more here.

NEWS FROM OTHER STATES

Photo: Walmart Rooftop Solar 

CLEAN ENERGY JOBS & TRAINING PROGRAMS 

RESEARCH

Researchers at Case Western Reserve University want to push solar panel lifespans to 50 years, Solar Power World. A team of solar energy researchers from Case Western Reserve University in Ohio has been awarded $1.35 million from the U.S. Department of Energy Solar Energy Technologies Office to continue its work toward increasing the efficiency and lifetime of photovoltaic modules—specifically aimed at pushing their lifespan to 50 years.

FEATURED VIDEO

What Happens in the Arctic Doesn’t Stay in the Arctic is a six-minute video produced by the Aspen Global Change Institute. 

New EIA report shows wind pulls its weight

By Curtis Walter, Into the Wind, AWEA Blog

new report from the Energy Information Administration (EIA) found that wind and solar generated over 20 percent of the total electricity in 10 states last year. This offers yet another data point that renewables like wind power have become an important part of America’s electricity mix. The 10 states include Iowa, Kansas, Oklahoma, South Dakota, North Dakota, Vermont, California, Maine, Colorado, and Minnesota. Together, they represent a diverse sample of Lower 48 states running on more affordable, reliable, clean energy than ever before.
Continue reading here,

ADDITIONAL RECOMMENDED READING

Microsoft, Walmart, Iron Mountain: The corporate buyer parade continues

Potential Model for Nebraska: Onsite in North Providence, Rhode Island’s solar powered landfill – with PHOTOS

By John Weaver, PV Magazine USA

The most important picture, below, of the entire site is the landfill gas vent – rerouted because this solar power plant is built atop the collected refuse of humanity. Much ado was made of the “barren land” made use of by the solar project – especially noted, by every single politician, how the town was now making money from a site that was costing North Providence money. The win-win-win cliche was definitely in the air.

Read the entire article and view more photos here.

Nebraska Brownfields: FAQs

ALSO PUBLISHED BY PV MAGAZINE

CORPORATE PURCHASING 

Corporate Renewable Energy Deals Smash Records in 2018, Greentech Media
According to the latest figures from Business Renewables Center, a membership program at Rocky Mountain Institute (RMI), corporate buyers in the U.S. have purchased a total of 4.81 gigawatts of renewable energy so far this year — and the figure is expected to top 5 gigawatts by December. The total number of commercial and industrial renewable energy deals will be even higher, as RMI’s numbers refer only to contracts for large, off-site renewable energy projects.

ADDITIONAL RECOMMENDED READING

Flickr Photo: River City Parking Ramp in St. Paul, Minnesota

COMMUNITY SOLAR NEWS

NEW STUDY


Deloitte sees renewable energy in the fast lane, PV Magazine International
Solar PV and wind energy are now evolving from established to the preferred energy sources, according to a recent Deloitte study analyzing the global renewable energy market. In addition to the price-parity factor, Deloitte experts claim increasing improvements in storage technologies will make the integration of renewables easier.

COFFEE POWER 

Dunkin’ Donuts tiny house runs on coffee power, CBS News
More than mere mortals run on Dunkin’ Donuts coffee. Case in point is a transportable tiny home that’s powered by a biofuel blend using 80 percent coffee oil extracted from spent Dunkin’ coffee grounds.

Economists who changed thinking on climate change win Nobel Prize

By Quirin Schiermeier, Nature

A pair of US economists, William Nordhaus and Paul Romer, share the 2018 Nobel Prize in Economic Sciences for integrating climate change, and technological change, into macroeconomics, which deals with the behavior of an economy as a whole. Nordhaus, at the University of Yale in New Haven, Connecticut, is the founding father of the study of climate change economics. Economic models he has developed since the 1990s are now widely used to weigh the costs and benefits of curbing greenhouse gas emissions against those of inaction. Romer, who is at the NYU Stern School of Business in New York, was honored for his work on the role of technological change in economic growth. The economist is best-known for his studies on how market forces and economic decisions facilitate technological change. Read more here.

Photo: William Nordhaus (left) and Paul Romer

Related: Curbing global warming could save US$20 trillion