Category Archives: NewsBlog

In bid to help bees, Xcel to require vegetation disclosure in solar RFPs

By Catherine Morehouse, Utility Dive

[Xcel Energy Minnesota] plans to add 2,600 MW to 3,000 MW of solar generation by 2030 and all those projects will be required to disclose a completed copy scorecard for pollinator-friendly sites. Pollinator-friendly vegetation isn’t required in order for a project to be considered by the utility, but it will establish a precedent “of priorities and values,” Rob Davis, director of the center for pollinators in energy at Fresh Energy, told Utility Dive.

Pollinator friendly solar sites are a growing trend among utilities seeking to more holistically reduce their ecological footprint. Sites are designated as “pollinator friendly” based on state legislation, which was first passed in Minnesota in 2016 and has since spread to five other states. Read more here.

Photo by Rob Davis, Fresh Energy

IN NEBRASKA

Kearney’s Solar Farm, comprising 22,464 panels on 53 acres at Tech oNE Crossing, is currently Nebraska’s largest. The 5.7-megawatt solar array’s generating capacity is enough to power about 900 houses or supply 5 percent of Kearney’s energy load.

An additional distinguishing feature of Kearney’s Solar Farm is that it is a nationally-recognized pollinator-friendly site, benefiting local food producers. Related stories:

ADDITIONAL RECOMMENDED READING

Photo by Engie Distributed Solar

MORE RESOURCES

 LEGISLATION

WIND ENERGY & CROPS

Iowa State University Research Finds Wind Farms Positively Impact Crops
Iowa State University Extension and Outreach

That $3 Trillion-a-Year Clean Energy Transformation? It’s Already Underway.

By Phil McKenna, Inside Climate News

To keep global warming in check, the world will have to invest an average of around $3 trillion a year over the next three decades in transforming its energy supply systems, a new United Nations climate science report says. It won’t be cheap, but it’s also a change that’s already underway . . . Corporate giants including Google and Apple, for example, purchase enough renewable energy to cover 100 percent of their power needs. The research and sustainability advocacy group Ceres has been working with companies and large investors for years to help them understand both the risks to their portfolios from high-carbon sources and the opportunities of investing in cleaner infrastructure as renewable energy prices fall. Ceres argued in a report released earlier this year that achieving a “clean trillion” in additional annual investment in clean energy and infrastructure is “eminently feasible.” Read more here.

Photo Credit: Dennis Schroeder/NREL

Ceres is a sustainability nonprofit organization working with the most influential investors and companies to build leadership and drive solutions throughout the economy. Through powerful networks and advocacy, Ceres tackles the world’s biggest sustainability challenges, including climate change, water scarcity and pollution, and human rights abuses.
Initiatives include:
Climate Action 100+

Clean Trillion

ADDITIONAL INITIATIVES – JUST SOME OF THEM

The Corporate Renewable Energy Buyers’ Principles and the Business Renewables Center are the core initiatives of the Renewable Energy Buyers Alliance (REBA). 

REBA helps companies understand the benefits of transitioning to renewables, connecting large buyer demand to renewable energy supply, and helping utilities better understand and serve the needs of all energy buyers.

Click these links to learn more:

RE100 is a collaborative, global initiative uniting more than 100 influential businesses committed to 100% renewable electricity, working to massively increase demand for – and delivery
of – renewable energy. A growing number of RE100 businesses are also helping their suppliers access renewable energy for their own operations, exponentially contributing to global wind and solar energy deployment.

RE100 is sponsored by The Climate Group in partnership with CDP. Both organizations are part of the We Mean Business coalition, working with leading businesses around the world.

Sierra Club’s Ready for 100
Currently 88 cities have committed to 100% renewable energy in Sierra Club’s Ready for 100 initiative. The Sierra Club, founded in 1892, has 3.5 million members and supporters nationwide. Sierra Club’s Ready for 100 recently teamed up with Climate Parents and Seventh Generation for 100% clean energy.
Just Released: 2018 Case Studies Reports featuring 10 new cities that are ready for 100% clean energy!

The Billion Dollar Green Challenge
The Billion Dollar Green Challenge encourages colleges, universities, and other nonprofit institutions to invest a combined total of one billion dollars in self-managed “green revolving funds.” The Sustainable Endowments Institute launched The Challenge in 2011. Download a brief summary that explains The Billion Dollar Green Challenge, including partners and funders.

Interfaith Center on Corporate Responsibility
Currently celebrating their 47th year, the Interfaith Center on Corporate Responsibility (ICCR) pioneered the use of shareholder advocacy to press companies on environmental, social, and governance issues. This coalition of over 300 global institutional investors currently represents more than $400 billion in managed assets. Leveraging their equity ownership in some of the world’s largest and most powerful companies, ICCR members regularly engage management to identify and mitigate social and environmental risks resulting from corporate operations and policies.

Green Faith
Green Faith’s mission is to inspire, educate and mobilize people of diverse religious backgrounds for environmental leadership. “Our work is based on beliefs shared by the world’s great religions – we believe that protecting the earth is a religious value, and that environmental stewardship is a moral responsibility.”

As You Sow
Founded in 1992, As You Sow promotes environmental and social corporate responsibility through shareholder advocacy, coalition building, and innovative legal strategies. Their vision is a safe, just, and sustainable world in which protecting the environment and human rights is central to corporate decision making. “Corporations are responsible for most of the pressing social and environmental problems we face today — we believe corporations must be a willing part of the solutions.”

Green America
Green America’s mission is to harness economic power—the strength of consumers, investors, businesses, and the marketplace—to create a socially just and environmentally sustainable society. The organization focuses on four areas for system transformation, insisting on social justice and environmental health across all sectors. “We believe if we can get these right, the rest of the economy will follow: 1. Climate and clean energy, 2. Sustainable food and agriculture,
3. Responsible investing and 4. Fair labor.” Campaigns include: Clean Energy Victory Bonds

Proxy Preview
Proxy Preview is a collaboration between three organizations: As You Sow, Sustainable Investment Institute, and Proxy Impact to help investors align their values with their investments. Publishes Annual Guide: Proxy Preview 2018 is the 14th edition of the insider’s guide to social and environmental shareholder proposals. This free publication is the #1 resource for shareholders looking to align their values and investments. “Bible for socially progressive foundations, religious groups, pension funds, and tax-exempt organizations” – Chicago Tribune

SocialFunds.com
Social Funds.com features over 10,000 pages of information on SRI mutual funds, community investments, corporate research, shareowner actions, and daily social investment news.

The Shine Campaign is a new, global campaign blending communities of faith, philanthropy and finance to solve energy poverty.

DERs coming whether or not markets are ready: experts

By Peter Maloney, American Public Power Association

Distributed energy resources are coming, even though the regulatory and legal structures in wholesale power markets are still evolving, experts said at an American Public Power Association conference in Charleston, S.C., earlier this week. “This is not just a matter of policy; it is a matter of consumer choice,” Jeff Dennis, general counsel for regulatory affairs at Advanced Energy Economy, said on Oct. 8 at the Association’s Legal and Regulatory Conference. “DERs are coming whether or not wholesale markets provide them the market opportunity, “but we think it is important to provide that market opportunity,” Dennis said. Continue reading here.

ADDITIONAL RECOMMENDED READING 

New Poll Shows Solar Is the Favored Form of Electricity Nationwide, SEIA News Release
76 percent of voters and 87 percent of opinion leaders think their utility should deploy more solar power.

Kansas City utility packages clean energy with federal tax savings

Written by Karen Uhlenhuth, Midwest Energy News

Kansas City Power & Light’s plan to return federal tax savings to customers also includes measures to encourage renewable energy purchases, community solar and reduce energy usage. The package includes a green tariff, demand response aggregation and new rate designs available to about 800,000 electricity customers in the Kansas City area. Missouri utility regulators are expected to approve the plan soon. The measures also provide policy certainty for the City of Kansas City to move ahead with some of the ambitious clean energy goals it articulated just over a year ago. Continue reading here.

Photo: Caleb Zahnd

NEWS FROM OTHER STATES & PUERTO RICO

We Want Sun: A 100% Renewable Puerto Rico?

AGGREGATION NEWS

 

Hawaiian Electric selects 7 solar-plus-storage projects for a combined 260 MW of renewable energy, Pacific Business News

 


ZERO-ENERGY HOMES

Zero energy homes makes cents – as Vivint builds in Rhode Island,
PV Magazine
RMI has released an economic analysis of Zero Energy homes, suggesting their economics meet industry standards and stay within homeowner appetites for larger investments, while Vivint Energy has built such a home in Rhode Island

 

The Sun Haven: Solar-Powered, Net-Zero Energy Home in Lincoln
Lincoln-based GRNE Solar teamed up with Wilderness Construction to build this net-zero energy home, with solar on the roof and outlets for electric vehicles in the garage. The home, called the Sun Haven, is located at 6077 Chartwell Lane in Lincoln. Through the use of solar power this home will produce as much energy as it consumes. YouTube Video: Drone View of The Sun Haven

FREE SEPA REPORT – CLICK IMAGE TO ACCESS IT

  • Over 1 GWh of Energy storage deployment by utility type and market segment
  • Overviews of 10 projects showcasing diverse energy storage applications
  • Easy to grasp summary of every state-level storage mandate and incentive

FYI FOR SOLAR SYSTEM OWNERS

 

Is It Necessary to Clean Solar Panels?
Mr. Green shines a light on the answer, Sierra Magazine

Rocky Mountain Institute officials agree Carbon County, Wyoming is breeding grounds for transition into renewable energy sources

By Ray K. Erku, Wyoming Business Report

RAWLINS – In many respects, Carbon County is at the forefront of a modern-day gold rush. Instead of mining for precious metal, however, fortune seekers look to harvest one of the Cowboy State’s most natural of resources: Wind . . . For the Anschutz Corporation, parent company of Power Company of Wyoming, the slated 1,000-turbine Chokecherry and Sierra Madre wind farms will eclipse $5 billion in projected costs. Once completed, it’ll be considered the largest onshore wind generation facility in North America . . . PacifiCorp and Rocky Mountain Power, subsidiaries of multinational conglomerate Berkshire Hathaway, which is headed by Buffett, are beginning to stomp their footprints in the county by partnering with Invenergy Co. to spearhead production of not just the Ekola and TB Flats projects, but the Gateway West Transmission Line. Read more here.

Photo by Power Company of Wyoming: According to Business Insider, a 2017 analysis revealed that it took $102 to generate one megawatt-hour from coal, compared to wind, which took $45. 


Managing the Coal Capital Transition, Rocky Mountain Institute

 

 

MORE ENERGY TRANSITION NEWS

COSTS OF SOLAR PANELS CONTINUING TO DROP

Module prices have fallen by up to 25% so far this year, by Emiliano Bellini, PV Magazine
According to a Q3 report by EnergyTrend, monocrystalline module prices have fallen almost 20% this year, while those for polycrystalline modules have dropped by more than 25%. Increased consolidation among manufacturers and developers is expected to occur in China, and the global solar market, with more merger deals, plans for capacity reductions, and even factory closures.

PV MAGAZINE: SEIA GUIDE UPDATE 

Best practices for building residential solar power and market confidence

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

Could solar be a better deal than demand response for Iowa customers?

Written by Karen Uhlenhuth, Midwest Energy News

An Iowa clean energy advocate is trying to convince the state’s largest electric utility to rethink the way it manages peak demand. Kerri Johannsen, energy program director for the Iowa Environmental Council, thinks MidAmerican Energy could deliver better value for ratepayers by investing in solar instead of its expensive demand response programs . . . Johannsen calculated the cost to MidAmerican’s ratepayers at about $60,347 per megawatt hour. About $48,000 of that was for capacity, or the guarantee of access to power when needed. Continue reading here,

iStock Photo

MORE IOWA NEWS

How Much Power is 1 Gigawatt?, U.S. Department of Energy

NEWS FROM OTHER STATES

NEBRASKA’S SOLAR ENERGY DEVELOPMENT

SEIA: Nebraska Solar – Data Current Through Q2 2018
Solar Installers: Complete this survey to add your business to SEIA’s database. If you have questions or concerns about SEIA’s Nebraska stats or would like to request that additional solar projects or other information be added to our state’s data, contact SEIA research staff at data@seia.org or 202-469-3735.
SEE ALSO: Solar Energy Generation in Nebraska, Nebraska Energy Office. Updated September 28, 2018

100% RENEWABLES NEWS

RE100: Why a successful energy strategy calls for a board-level commitment, PV Magazine Contributor, Anesco
One key topic to grab the headlines during Climate Week NYC was the news that RE100 companies – a group of organizations who have all made a public commitment to go ‘100% renewable’ – are outperforming their peers.


NEW REPORT

Renewables 2018: Market analysis and forecast from 2018 to 2023, International Energy Agency
Solar PV capacity is forecast to expand by almost 600 GW – more than all other renewable power technologies combined, or as much as twice Japan’s total capacity, reaching 1 terawatt (TW) by the end of the forecast period. Despite recent policy changes, China remains the absolute solar PV leader by far, holding almost 40% of global installed PV capacity in 2023. The United States remains the second-largest growth market for solar PV, followed by India, whose capacity quadruples.

AWEA FACT CHECK

No, wind turbines do not cause global warming,
Into the Wind, AWEA Blog

Two researchers, David Keith and Lee Miller, released a new paper [Thursday] and their findings are problematic for several reasons. Furthermore, certain media outlets are misreporting what the paper actually says. 

Pairing Wind + Solar for Cheaper, 24-Hour Renewable Energy

By Dan Gearino, Inside Climate News

Along a country road east of Lima, Ohio, a company is preparing to build one of the world’s largest renewable energy projects that pairs wind and solar to create a hybrid power source. It’s a rare combination now, but one that’s expected to become more common because of its potential to cut costs while providing a more consistent flow of clean energy. Invenergy is starting with a 175 megawatt wind farm. Within the wind farm, it plans to build a 150 megawatt solar farm. Together, they would produce enough electricity for about 175,000 homes. The wind and solar energy complement each other. Learn more here.

Photo: Invenergy’s Grand Ridge project in Illinois is one of a small number of hybrid power projects to combine wind and solar energy in one site. A larger one with more solar is planned for Ohio. Credit: Invenergy

NEWS FROM OTHER STATES

NATIONAL/REGIONAL NEWS

Your appliances can save the grid (and allow more solar), PV Magazine
A new report by Wood Mackenzie finds a surprising amount of potential demand flexibility in U.S. homes, which can make the job of integrating more solar and wind easier. Among the many dramatic changes happening in the U.S. electricity sector is entrepreneurs, utilities, policymakers and most importantly consumers waking up to the possibility of flexible demand, through the use of “smart” appliances, electric vehicles (EVs) and batteries.

EV NEWS

ENERGY TRANSITION NEWS

Bank of the West Makes $1 Billion Commitment to Energy Transition, PR Newswire

ONLINE SOLAR CAREER PLATFORM

The Solar Training Network manages AmericanSolarWorkforce.org, a comprehensive online platform to help solar companies recruit qualified candidates; allow solar job seekers to find career and training opportunities; and help the entire industry build a strong and diverse solar workforce.

The Solar Training Network is a program led by The Solar Foundation and funded by the U.S. Department of Energy Solar Energy Technologies Office. This online tool, revised and improved version of an earlier online platform, was unveiled last week at Solar Power International in Anaheim, California.

FOSSIL RESEARCH

DOE spent more than $500M on dead projects, E&E News
Nearly half the $2.7 billion in fossil research money spent by the Department of Energy over the last seven years supported nine carbon capture demonstration projects, the majority of which were canceled or withdrawn, according to a report from the Government Accountability Office.

Amidst Keystone XL Fight, Nebraska Farmers Give 10 Acres Back to the Ponca Nation

Written by Twilight Greenaway, Civil Eats

A few weeks ago, officials from the TransCanada Corporation drove two sets of wooden stakes, each fastened with about a yard of bright orange flagging tape, into the ground along two sides of Art Tanderup’s farm. But Tanderup, a retired school teacher whose Neligh, Nebraska farm sits right on the preferred route for the proposed Keystone XL pipeline, took TransCanada’s latest chess move in stride. Continue reading here. 

Photo by Twilight Greenaway: Signs commemorating a meeting of the Cowboy and Indian Alliance on the Tanderups’ farm in 2015.

ALSO IN NEBRASKA


70, OPPD Blog, The Wire

WHAT IS IT? The number of turbines that will produce electricity at the Sholes Wind Energy Center in northeast Nebraska.

 

NEWS FROM OTHER STATES

How refinancing could help retire Colorado coal plants sooner
By Allen Best, Energy News Network

Instead of continuing to operate the aging plants, paying down remaining depreciation, or debt, a utility could instead issue bonds securitized by reliable future sales.

 

NATIONAL NEWS

Abby Hopper at SEIA: #ThisIsWhy

The latest SunCast episode syndicated by pv magazine features Abby Hopper’s opening remarks at the Solar Power International Conference.

 

SOLAR SCHOOLS NEWS


New Initiative Helps More Schools Go Solar,
Solar Industry

Solar Schools 2025, an initiative of the nonprofit Renewable Nation, is seeking 50 K-12 schools across the U.S. that can “buddy up” with schools that have already gone through the process of installing solar.

 

MICROGRID NEWS

Microgrids slowly make inroads in Midwest, with Illinois taking the lead

PRODUCT LAUNCH IN THE U.S.

Commercial rooftop solar racking with one drill bit

SEIA CEO Abigail Hopper On The Future Of Solar

CleanTechnica Interview by Charles W. Thurston

CleanTechnica: What is your outlook for the U.S. solar industry?

Hopper: The future of solar is bright, I have to say. Our company members knew about the step-down of the federal tax credit, have planned for it, and are still building their businesses. In the next five years, solar installation will double. Some 8 gigawatts were announced during the first half of this year. Corporate and industrial projects are now about 10% to 12% of demand, so there are opportunities along the value chain.
Continue reading here.

100% RENEWABLE ENERGY NEWS

Dane County working to become a national leader in renewable energy, Madison Magazine

In 2017, Madison became the first Wisconsin city (and the 25th in the nation) to formally commit to 100 percent renewable energy, and now groups such as the city’s Sustainable Madison Committee and Dane County’s Council on Climate Change are working with consultants, utilities, businesses, nonprofits and citizens to go completely green. According to those involved, this is not some utopian liberal Madison goal — it makes the most fiscal sense for taxpayers and the timing has never been better.

MORE U.S. RENEWABLE ENERGY & STORAGE NEWS

Utility Solar + Storage Accelerates Ahead Of Expectations — #CleanTechnica at #SPI2018

The current demand timetable is “a profound shift and one that is faster than we anticipated,” says Hugh McDermott, the senior vice president of development and sales for iron flow battery maker ESS, based in Portland. This acceleration in demand in the market — estimated at close to 2 GW of energy storage capacity for a 4 hour period — was echoed by other industry execs during the opening day of the Third International Battery & Energy Storage meeting here in Anaheim, California.

INTERNATIONAL NEWS

World Bank bets big on batteries for solar energy boost, Phys.Org

Solar energy could be a huge source of power in Africa, but its potential has been stymied by storage batteries that are too expensive and inadequate for use in poor countries. The World Bank aims to break through that bottleneck, announcing plans Wednesday to invest $1 billion—and leverage it by another $4 billion—to boost developing countries‘ energy storage capacity from 4.5 to 17.5 Gigawatt hours by 2025. Photo: Solar array at George Airport, South Africa’s first solar-powered airport. 

China and India lead the surge to solar energy, Financial Times
Emerging markets leave developed nations behind in race for renewable power.

Netherlands to test viability of solar roads