Category Archives: Solar Schools

Nebraskans for Solar & Nebraska Solar Schools Volunteers Meeting

January 14, 2020 from 7 to 8:30 p.m.
UNO’s Community Engagement Center, Meeting Room 127
6400 University Drive S (64th & Dodge)

We are hosting a roundtable discussion / work party for everyone interested in volunteering to help with and provide your input on our events, programs and projects. We will discuss volunteer opportunities and assemble materials for Earth Day celebrations, Nature Nights and other large events, presentations and hands-on workshops.

At this work party we will put together 1,000 Mini Solar Cooker Kits made from pizza boxes and other materials, which kids of all ages can decorate at Earth Day events and take home to make S’Mores with their families and friends.

This event also provides an opportunity for teachers and after-school program directors to learn more about our Nebraska Solar Schools’ NEED Solar Energy Kits project and, for those who are interested, to fill out an order form for a free kit.

Click here for more information. Please join us if you can. Reserved parking is available in the lot in front of the Community Engagement Center. Just let the lot attendant at the kiosk know you are there for a Nebraskans for Solar event.

The Expert Take: Katherine Hamilton on our energy transition

Generation 180 Interview

At Generation180, we’re working to inspire and equip individuals to get involved in the energy transition. It’s complex and it’s big. So to provide a better sense of where we’re headed, we’re providing a deeper dive into what’s happening with this transition—where are we right now, how far we’ve come, and, most importantly, where we need to go.

As part of our online Boot Camp project, we recently spoke with Katherine Hamilton, an energy expert with over 30 years of industry experience. Katherine has worked with the National Renewable Energy Laboratory and is currently the chair of 38 North Solutions and former co-chair of a World Economic Forum council on advanced energy technology. Here [is] what’s on Katherine’s mind and what she sees as the role of “everyday energy leaders.” Read more here.

LINKS TO MORE INFORMATION ABOUT GENERATION 180

SUSTAINABILITY JOBS

Jobs You Can Do With a Sustainability Degree, Earth911

GREEN SCHOOLS

Iowa City schools anticipate cutting carbon emissions in half in five years, Iowa City Press-Citizen
Iowa City schools appear on track to reduce carbon emissions by more than 45% by 2030, the goalpost student climate activists have pushed for in Iowa City, according to a consultant’s report.  But the report indicated that reducing carbon emissions to a net-zero by 2050, another goal pushed for by climate activists, will require the district to take action. 

REGENERATIVE FARMING & CLIMATE RESILIENCY

Black farmers embrace and implement solutions for climate resiliency, by Leah Penniman, Co-Director Soul Fire Farm, GreenBiz

Leah Penniman is a farmer, educator, soil steward and food justice activist. She is co-director and program manager of Soul Fire Farm in Grafton, New York, and the author of Farming While Black: Soul Fire Farm’s Practical Guide to Liberation on the Land.

 

RURAL ENERGY FOR AMERICA PROGRAM (REAP)

The Rural Energy for America Program provides guaranteed loan financing and grant funding to agricultural producers and rural small businesses to purchase or install renewable energy systems or make energy efficiency improvements.

Program Status: Open
Program Information
Program Fact Sheet
Hoja Informativa del Programa en Español

NEW REPORT

ENVIRONMENT AMERICA

Environment America releases 2020 state legislative agenda priorities, News Release
State affiliates of Environment America, a national nonpartisan advocacy group, delivered meaningful progress on several environmental and public health issues in 2019. But given the obstacles that still exist at the federal level on those issues and more, states will have to continue to lead in 2020. Here is a roundup of the top issues and bills that Environment America’s 29 state affiliates will be working on across the country this coming year:

ELECTRIC VEHICLES

2020 will be a key year (and decade) for electric vehicles, GreenBiz
This article is adapted from GreenBiz’s weekly newsletter, Transport Weekly, running Tuesdays. Subscribe here. 

ADDITIONAL RECOMMENDED READING

Court OKs controversial power line despite Missouri landowners’ objections

By Kurt Erickson, St. Louis Post-Dispatch

In a ruling issued Tuesday, the Missouri Court of Appeals Eastern District rejected claims that the Public Service Commission had erred in giving a green light in March to the construction of the Grain Belt Express Transmission line. The 19-page ruling is the latest victory for backers of the project, which aims to bring Kansas wind energy east to Missouri, Illinois and Indiana.
Read more here.

Website: Grain Belt Express Transmission Line

ADDITIONAL MIDWEST NEWS & OPINION

NEWS FROM OTHER STATES

NATIONAL NEWS

ENERGY STORAGE

WORKFORCE DIVERSITY

The business case for gender equality in solarPV Magazine
The writer, Lara Anton, is responsible for the client management of Samuel Knight International’s renewable energy portfolio.

SOLAR SCHOOLS

8 schools that went solar in 2019, by Kelsey Misbrenner, Solar Power World
Solar installations powering K-12 schools are on the rise. Creative financing through PPAs and grants help make these nonprofit installations a possibility, and the benefits are vast: Schools save money on electricity, and students get firsthand experience with solar energy.

In rural Colorado, the kids of coal miners learn to install solar panels

By Nick Bowlin, High Country News

This story is a part of the ongoing Back 40 series, where High Country News reporters look at national trends and their impacts close to home.

At a picnic table in a dry grass field, a group of elementary school students watched as high school senior Xavier Baty, a broad-shouldered 18-year-old in a camouflage ball cap and scuffed work boots, attached a hand-sized solar panel cell to a small motor connected to a fan. He held the panel to face the setting Colorado sun, adjusting its angle to vary the fan speed.

“Want to hear a secret?” he asked the kids around him. “This is the only science class I ever got an A in.” Continue reading here.

Nick Bowlin is an editorial fellow at High Country News.

RE100 experiences biggest year ever

By Tim Sylvia, PV Magazine

RE100, the coalition of the world’s largest companies committed to becoming 100% renewably powered experienced a banner year in 2019, growing by over a third, with 40% of that growth coming from Asia and the South Pacific. Now, with over 200 members, the cumulative electricity demand of RE100 participants, if taken as one country, would be 21st in the world, at 228 TWh/year. Read more here.

RE100.Org

NEW SURVEY

Almost every American supports the extension of clean energy tax incentives, Smart Energy International. The study was conducted by Global Strategy Group and has found that:

  • Americans overwhelmingly support extending tax incentives for clean energy and would change their vote based on the issue. 89% of voters support the extension.
  • 95% of Democrats, 86% of Independents and 83% of Republicans support the government’s extension of clean energy tax incentives.

ENERGY STORAGE NEWS & REPORT

NEBRASKA IN THE NEWS HERE

Clean B.C. is quietly using coal and gas power from out of province. Here’s why, The Narwhal
Behind the sheen of its CleanBC program, the province holds back hydro power to instead import cheap electricity from 12 states including Wyoming, Utah, Nebraska and Montana which generate 55 to 90 per cent of their power from coal.

NEWS FROM OTHER STATES

BIFACIAL SOLAR PANELS

Whiplash: Bifacial Solar Modules to Retain US Tariff Exemption, Greentech Media
In a win for project developers, a court blocked the Trump administration from withdrawing a tariff exemption for imported bifacial solar modules.

ENERGY EFFICIENCY

GTM POLITICAL CLIMATE PODCAST

Big Oil on Trial: Where the Climate Lawsuits Currently Stand, Greentech Media
In this episode of Political Climate, we speak to UCLA law professor Ann Carlson and journalist Emily Atkin about litigation that could cost fossil fuel companies billions.

FEATURED CLIMATE INITIATIVE

The U.S. Climate Alliance represents 55 percent of the U.S. population and an $11.7 trillion economy – an economy larger than all countries but the United States and China. The climate and clean energy policies in Alliance states have attracted billions of dollars of new investment and helped create more than 1.7 million clean energy jobs, over half the U.S. total. The Alliance is demonstrating that climate leadership and economic growth go hand-in-hand.

NATURAL CLIMATE SOLUTIONS

SOLAR SCHOOLS & POWER PURCHASE AGREEMENTS

A 2.9-Megawatt Solar Project For 10 Schools & 24% Of Richmond Public Schools’ Electricity Needs, CleanTechnica

Standard Solar, Inc. is now supporting Richmond Public Schools with a 2.9-megawatt solar project that should be completed this year. “Energy management with education and local engagement is a powerful combination and with less funding being allocated to schools year over year, public school administrators must find innovative means to deliver programs,” explained John Finnerty, director of business development for Standard Solar. “With our smart project financing, solar expertise and local engagement, we can provide the funding to make implementing a solar energy program without capital expenditure possible, all while equipping schools for a brighter future.”

Infrastructure and Energy Alternatives, Inc. Announces Wind Construction Project Award in Nebraska

Infrastructure and Energy Alternatives Press Release, Globe Newswire

The award is for construction of the Thunderhead Wind Project in Antelope and Wheeler counties in Nebraska. The project will consist of 108 GE turbines with 300 megawatts of capacity. The power will be delivered into the Nebraska electrical grid. Work on the project began in November with completion scheduled for September 2020. The scope of IEA’s work includes construction of project access roads and turbine foundations, as well as erection of the turbines. Read more here.

Previously Posted: AT&T set to buy power output from new northeast Nebraska wind farm, News Channel Nebraska

Photo Credit: Invenergy

MORE CORPORATE NEWS

RE100 UPDATE: 216 RE100 companies have made a commitment to go ‘100% renewable’. Read about the actions they are taking and why.

RE100 ANNUAL REPORT

 

 

Going 100% renewable: how committed companies are demanding a faster market response

 


ENERGY STORAGE NEWS

NEW PV MAGAZINE US SENIOR EDITOR: PV Magazine announces veteran industry journalist, Eric Wesoff, as US senior editor

TIME-OF-USE RATES: Survey: Customer education needed for time-of-use rates to be successful, Energy News Network

SOLAR SCHOOLS: Editorial: PPAs offer a financial bright side for our schools, Richmond.com

CIRCULAR ECONOMY: The circular economy can be a holistic approach to addressing climate change, GreenBiz

NATIONAL CLIMATE BANK ACT: National Climate Bank initiative could be a boon for solar, PV Magazine. A companion bill to the National Climate Bank Act is expected to be introduced in the House, which could provide a huge boon to the solar and the solar plus storage markets.

CLIMATE RISKS

SEIA NEWS RELEASE

Study: Solar Tariffs Cause Devastating Harm to U.S. Market, Economy and Jobs
Tariffs on imported solar cells and modules have led to the loss of more than 62,000 U.S. jobs and $19 billion in new private sector investment, according to a market impact analysis released today by the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA).

Multinationals pushing governments to enable renewable energy deployment

By Robin Whitlock, Renewable Energy Magazine

RE100, the global corporate initiative led by The Climate Group in partnership with CDP, has now counted 200+ multinational companies targeting 100 percent renewable electricity, by 2028 on average; with one in three already above 75 percent renewable. One in two are preparing to use their influence with stakeholders, such as policy makers and utilities, to push for faster transition to renewables. RE100 membership has grown by over a third in the last year, with the energy-critical Asia Pacific region accounting for over 40 percent of new joiners. Three more companies joining today include the Ralph Lauren Corporation. Read more here.

For additional information: RE100

FEATURED SOLAR SCHOOLS REPORT

Powering A Brighter Future: A Report on Solar Schools in Virginia, Generation 180
Power purchase agreements (PPAs) are the primary method Virginia schools use to finance solar installations. Nationwide, PPAs account for nearly 90% of K-12 solar school installations since 2014.4 Through a PPA, a third party purchases, owns, and maintains the solar panels, and the school or district agrees to buy the electricity produced by the system for the length of the agreement, often 25 or more years. PPAs are popular with schools because they make it possible to install solar with little-to-no upfront investment or ongoing maintenance costs. In addition, the school or district typically pays a lower electricity rate than it previously paid the utility, resulting in immediate energy cost savings.

MODEL CHARITABLE SOLAR PROJECTS

Solar field, pre-K both examples of public-private fund-raising efforts, The Toledo Blade
Charitable projects with both public and private roots took center stage in Toledo on several occasions during 2019, with the most recent being the official start of a solar-energy project on the former Jeep factory site whose revenues will benefit nearby neighborhoods.

BLACK HILLS ENERGY

Colorado utility sees “opportunistic window” to save money with solar and wind plus storage, PV Magazine. Black Hills Energy is seeking 200 MW of solar power or wind plus energy storage capacity as part of an RFP, driven – not by any requirements – but by 2019 summertime bids solar and solar plus storage bids of 2.4¢/kWh and 3.6¢/kWh and the pending step down of the 30% investment tax credit.

Black Hills Energy serves 1.2 million customers in eight states: Arkansas, Colorado, Iowa, Kansas, Montana, Nebraska, South Dakota and Wyoming.

MORE ENERGY TRANSITION NEWS

This Energy Transition Is Different. Here’s Why, by contributor Andy Stone, Forbes
Renewable energy employment already far surpasses employment in fossil fuels, and the gap will continue to grow.  Economics clearly favor an energy transition. All of this serves to show that conditions are in fact ripe for us to reach the goals outlined under the Paris Accord.  Despite arguments to the contrary, at our time of existential crisis when rapid change is required, we have the tools at hand to get the job of energy transition done.

Andy Stone is producer and host of the Energy Policy Now Podcast from the University of Pennsylvania’s Kleinman Center for Energy Policy, and consultant on policy and communications issues with energy sector advisory firms.

FEATURED SOLAR WORKFORCE RESOURCES

  • The Solar Training Network is a workforce development program led by The Solar Foundation and funded by the Department of Energy. Through original research, solar-focused career fairs, regional employer-instructor summits and an online interactive directory, the Solar Training Network improves understanding of the solar jobs landscape and lays the groundwork for a better qualified and more diverse solar workforce.
  • The Solar Energy Industries Association: Careers in Solar Energy

For Ohio farmers, wind turbine revenue helps take the sting out of a ‘bad’ year

By Kathiann M. Kowalski, Energy News Network

Wind energy advocates say this year’s disappointing growing season in Ohio is a prime example why state lawmakers should be trying to make it easier, not harder, for farmers to put wind turbines on their properties. Unusually wet weather made it a bad year for many Ohio farmers, but those with wind turbines on their land had a welcome and predictable source of additional income to make up for some of the losses. About a sixth of Ohio’s farm acreage couldn’t be planted, according to data released this month by the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Farm Service Agency. Read more here. 

USDA Resource: Prevented or Delayed Planting

Photo: Wind turbines in Blue Creek Township, Ohio. Credit: Nyttend / Wikimedia Commons

Also Written By Kathiann Kowalski

ADDITIONAL. RECOMMENDED READING

TRIBAL UTILITY-SCALE SOLAR

NM Native American Tribe Plans Solar Farm to Provide Renewable Energy Source, Inside Sources
A New Mexico Native American tribe plans to build a 50-megawatt solar farm, which includes a 20-megawatt battery storage unit, making it the first tribally owned, utility-scale solar project in the nation, according to a new report. The Jicarilla Apache tribe’s solar power project would transmit a large portion of its electricity to Albuquerque through the Public Service Company of New Mexico (PNM), according to an Institute for Energy Economics and Financial Analysis (IEEFA) report.

SOLAR SCHOOLS

Solar power is coming to five schools in Newport News, Williamsburg Yorktown Daily
The city’s public school system has partnered with Sun Tribe Solar to add solar power panels at five schools. Installation starts in 2020. See the full pdf presentation here.

PACE FINANCING 

A $60,000 solar project, with no money down. Program helps Colorado businesses finance renewable energy projects, Colorado Sun. The Colorado legislature passed a bill authorizing the program in 2013. More than 35 states, plus the District of Columbia, have C-PACE enabling legislation, and more than $1 billion in projects have been financed so far. The program’s administrative costs are paid via a 2.5% fee (not to exceed $50,000 per project) added to each C-PACE project, which is typically included in the total financed amount. Program and projects are solely financed through private capital.

TRANSMISSION NEWS

  • SPP Board Directs Construction of 44 Transmission Projects, Transmission & Distribution World These upgrades will facilitate reliable delivery of lower-cost generation.
  • A penny for your powerlines, PV Magazine
    Research by Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory suggests that overall costs of transmission needed to integrate variable renewables is between 0.1-1¢/kWh, on top of the 2.9-4.6¢/kWh utility scale wind and solar power costs.

INTERNATIONAL NEWS 

8 Countries (Besides the US) With Solar Under $25 Per Megawatt-Hour, Greentech Media
Around the world, solar power price records just keep on coming.

OPINION

How utilities wield bad science to stunt clean energy, Utility Dive. Contributed article by Greer Ryan, the Renewable Energy and Research Specialist at the Center for Biological Diversity, and Emma Searson, the Go Solar Campaign Director at Environment America.

This is especially true of distributed solar — small-scale solar installations on homes and businesses. These systems help everyone, not just those with solar panels on their roofs, by delivering reliable, pollution-free energy to our communities. They also bring enormous benefits to wildlife and wild places. For example, solar panels paired with native plant restoration can provide habitat for threatened pollinators. But because of utilities’ actions, distributed solar is being held back from its full potential. To fully realize the advantages of using the sun’s energy to power our communities, we need to fundamentally change the way we value energy sources.

Duchesne Academy installs solar panels; part of school’s sustainability initiative

By Sean Everson, KETV News

There are 30 solar panels on the rooftop of Duchesne Academy of the Sacred Heart in an effort to become more sustainable and also incorporate the technology inside the classroom. “We worked with Verdis Group to establish four goals for us for sustainability. One of those goals is to be net positive energy by the year 2030,” said [Principal Eric Krakowski]. That means one day being able to generate enough power to run everything in the school, but for now, once online, the energy created will power multiple classrooms, including the school’s science, technology, engineering, arts and math lab, where students can integrate the data into coursework. Read more or watch the video here.

Nebraska Solar Schools Pilot Project
The Duchesne Academy is among the schools participating in Nebraska Solar Schools’ pilot project funded by the Nebraska Environmental Trust to provide 100 National Energy Education Development (NEED) Solar Energy Kits to K-12 schools. To learn more about this project and request a kit, click here.

Trinity to showcase STEM lab at event

By Tammy Real-McKeighan, Fremont Tribune


Could Reese Barton be a budding engineer? Only time will tell for the fourth-grader at Trinity Lutheran School in Fremont. But on Wednesday morning, Reese spoke enthusiastically while participating in the school’s new STEM lab, where renovations are underway.

Continue reading here.

Photo by Tammy Real-McKeighan

 

Nebraska Solar Schools’ NEED Solar Energy Kits Project (PDF)
Trinity Lutheran School in Fremont is one of many statewide K-12 schools now participating in Nebraska Solar Schools’ National Energy Education Development (NEED) project in which teachers and principals are provided free solar energy kits upon request and for as long as quantities last for their classrooms and after-school STEM programs, through a generous grant from the Nebraska Environmental Trust. Solar beads, or UV Beads, mentioned in the article, is just one of many activities among the curriculum materials included in two of the NEED kits: The Sun and Its Energy for Grades K-2 and Wonders of the Sun for Grades 3-5.