Tag Archives: Energy News Network

Analysis: New wind, solar cheaper than operating most existing coal plants

By Kathiann M. Kowalski, Energy News Network

Locally generated solar and wind energy could already replace almost three-fourths of
electricity made by U.S. coal plants for less than the cost of continuing to operate those plants, according to an analysis released today by two clean energy research groups.

By 2025, the share of “at risk” coal generation will jump from 74 percent to 86 percent, adds the report by Energy Innovation Policy & Technology in San Francisco and Boulder-based Vibrant Clean Energy. “We’re not talking about replacing every coal plant overnight,” said report
co-author Eric Gimon at Energy Innovation. “What we’re saying is every coal plant should be looked at.” How do coal plants compare to solar or wind energy in the analysis?
Continue reading here.

SoCore Energy Photo: Kearney Solar Farm

Kathiann M. Kowalski is the author of 25 books and more than 600 articles, and writes often on science and policy issues. In addition to her journalism career, Kathi is an alumna of Harvard Law School and has spent 15 years practicing law. She is a member of the Society of Environmental Journalists and the National Association of Science Writers.

Related article by John Weaver, PV Magazine: Trade your coal for locally sourced solar power by 2025!

ALSO PUBLISHED BY ENERGY NEWS NETWORK

Small Iowa town hopes benchmarking makes big impact on energy efficiency, by Karen Uhlenhuth

As state lawmakers and investor-owned utilities in Iowa retreat from energy efficiency investments, Bloomfield stands in stark contrast. The building benchmarking program is part of an aggressive plan to tap
efficiency and renewables to meet a goal of total energy independence by 2030 for the small town of about 2,700 people in far southeastern
Iowa. 
Photo by Jo Naylor, Flickr, Creative Commons: Bloomfield, Iowa

Microgrid boosters hope Michigan ‘energy district’ will spur more interest, by Andy Balaskovitz

Microgrid advocates hope a Michigan utility’s proposed “energy district” can help demonstrate the technology and spur more interest in similar projects. Consumers Energy announced plans last month for a smart energy district on a 4-square-block area near the utility’s headquarters in Jackson. Though not formally a microgrid, the plan calls for developing a “smart energy community” around renewables, battery storage and electric vehicles, mirroring concepts of interconnected “smart cities.” Photo Credit: Consumers Energy

Minnesota-Vermont partnership will offer solar to low-income families

Written by Demetria Lee, Energy News Network


The energy assistance project aims to reduce energy costs for 50 households by building a community solar garden.

When a Minnesota nonprofit partnered with the Leech Lake Band of Ojibwe to build a
community solar array in 2017, they believed their model could scale nationally. That theory is being tested as the Rural Renewable Energy Alliance (RREAL) travels east to Vermont’s Windsor
and Windham counties where they are working with Southeastern Vermont Community Action (SEVCA) to provide solar power to 50 low-income households. Jason Edens, director of RREAL, started the nonprofit in his garage with a group of local volunteers. Their goal was to alleviate the burden of high energy bills in northern Minnesota by installing solar units for low-income households. Continue reading here.

Rural Renewable Energy Alliance (RREAL)

Rural Renewable Energy Alliance Photo: A RREAL crew installs a solar panel at Pine River-Backus School in central Minnesota.

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 

Omaha utility’s carbon intensity goal obscures ongoing fossil fuel use

Written by Karen Uhlenhuth, Midwest Energy News

The carbon intensity goal passed on a 6-2 vote. The goal could change if the board revisits the issue after January, when newly elected board members — including three clean energy supporters — are seated. A debate about carbon intensity also surfaced recently in Iowa, where
MidAmerican Energy won regulatory approval last week for a 591-megawatt wind farm known as Wind XII. In its application, the utility’s president and CEO, Adam Wright, noted that the project would lower the utility’s carbon intensity to about 638 pounds per net megawatt-hour, compared to 1,839 pounds per megawatt 15 years ago, before it began investing in wind energy. “The carbon intensity, even if it’s calculated correctly, doesn’t mean they’ve reduced their emissions that much,” said Paul Chernick, an attorney representing the Sierra Club in the case.
Read the entire article here.

Pat Hawks / Flickr / Creative Commons Image

Related News Stories

CARBON CAPTURE 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.

Solar bonus is latest clean energy incentive for Massachusetts farmers

By Sarah Shemkus, Energy News Network

A solar incentive launched this week in Massachusetts is the state’s latest effort to make it easier for farmers to adopt renewables and become more energy efficient.

“We’re getting farmers as much help as they can on a topic they don’t have a lot of time to invest in,” said Gerald Palano, alternative energy specialist for the Massachusetts Department of Agricultural Resources. “The more we can do to keep agriculture alive and well in the state, in the end is better off for all of us.” Read more here.

Photo by Paul Franz/Massachusetts Office of Travel & Tourism

Nebraska clean energy advocates gain at least two allies on Omaha power board

Written by Karen Uhlenhuth, Energy News Network

Nebraska clean energy supporters have two new allies on Omaha’s public power utility board, and a third race still too close to call could give renewable and efficiency champions a clear majority on the eight-member board. Eric Williams and Janece Mollhoff were elected to six-year terms on the Omaha Public Power District board after campaigning in support of clean energy policies. A third clean energy supporter, Amanda Bogner, held a 225 vote lead as of Friday with a recount expected due to the close margin. “We’re embarking on a new age for this power district,” said Michael Shonka, an Omaha solar installer who advocates for clean energy and keeps close watch on the nonprofit utility, which is run by a publicly elected board.
Continue reading here.

Note: Eric Williams is a past president of Nebraskans for Solar and a current board member. He and his twin brother, Scott Williams, co-founded the nonprofit Omaha Biofuels Cooperative in 2008.  Both have been active in environmental and renewable energy advocacy organizations for many years.

Iowa, already a leader on wind, looks to take the next steps on storage

By Karen Uhlenhuth, Midwest Energy News

State officials see huge potential for batteries to help make the most of its wind and solar generation, and they hope to test it with a new grant-funded project. The Iowa Economic Development Authority has awarded a $200,000 grant to support research into the workings of two large solar-plus-storage projects by Fairfield-based Ideal Energy. Ideal will gather information about how the systems work and share it with a team of researchers at Iowa State University who will analyze it. Read more here.

Related: Iowa solar installer using storage to help customers avoid costly demand charges

Photo by Ideal Energy

ALSO WRITTEN  BY KAREN UHLENHUTH

 


Nebraska tribe to double solar capacity after landing federal grant

 

 


Nebraska tribe becomes a solar power leader on the Plains

 

 


Omaha hotel is first project financed with Nebraska’s PACE legislation

Video – OPPD Bracing For Future With Electric Cars: Power Provider Needs Data From EV Owners To Plan Ahead

By David Earl, KETV Omaha

Thousands of dollars in savings are on the table until the end of the month for Omaha Public Power District customers in Douglas County. The public power provider is trying to encourage the purchase of electric vehicles and the charging station you’d need in your home to power the car.

Funding for the OPPD incentives is made possible through the Nebraska Environmental Trust. The power provider had enough money for 50 $4,500 rebates that apply to the purchase of an electric vehicle and the specific charging station. As of Wednesday, they had just 11 rebates left to claim. Watch the video or read the transcript here.

KETV Photo

TWO MORE KETV VIDEOS OF POTENTIAL INTEREST

MORE EV NEWS
Report: EV adoption could eventually save Minnesotans billions, Energy News Network
A recent report says increasing the use of plug-in electric vehicles in Minnesota will reduce utility bills, improve air quality and create an infrastructure allowing utilities to manage increasing demand. The cost-benefit analysis shows net benefits statewide could range from $4.6 billion to more than $30 billion depending on the level of plug-in electric vehicle adoption.

Q&A: Report outlines cost of continued reliance on coal

By Allen Best, Energy News Network

Rural ratepayers in the Rocky Mountain region will pay hundreds of millions of dollars more for electricity if their wholesale supplier fails to take advantage of low-cost renewable energy opportunities, according to a new report released today.

Tri-State Generation & Transmission supplies power to 43 member electrical co-operatives in New Mexico, Colorado, Wyoming, and Nebraska. Together, the co-ops have a million customers, which in the co-op setup are also members. Continue reading here.

Rocky Mountain Institute Report: A Low-Cost Energy Future For Western Cooperatives: Emerging Opportunities For Cooperative Electric Utilities To Pursue Clean Energy At A Cost Savings To Their Members

Photo: The Laramie River Station near Wheatland, Wyoming. Tri State Generation owns a share of the facility.

Tri-State Generation & Transmission Territory 

 


Nebraska

CR Chimney Rock Public Power District, Bayard
MW The Midwest Electric Cooperative Corporation, Grant
NW Northwest Rural Public Power District, Hay Springs
PH Panhandle Rural Electric Membership Association, Alliance
RS Roosevelt Public Power District, Scottsbluff
WB Wheat Belt Public Power District, Sidney

Nebraska tribe to double solar capacity after landing federal grant

Written by Karen Uhlenhuth, Energy News Network

The Winnebago Tribe of Nebraska has installed more than 400 kilowatts of solar, including these on a senior housing facility.

The Winnebago tribe plans to install 320 kilowatts of solar panels in nine locations on the reservation, to serve about 221,660 square feet. The new installation will provide electricity to two gas stations, the tribe’s casino, its accounting office and a community center, and is expected to reduce electric use at those locations by 6 percent. The tribe expects to save $47,000 annually on its electric bill as a result.

Earlier this year, the tribe finished installing 400 kilowatts of solar capacity, funded in part by a $375,000 federal grant. It put solar panels on the tribal powwow grounds, the economic development office, veterans’ building, senior center, and some senior housing. Robert Byrnes, whose company will install the arrays, said he anticipates beginning work no later than November and finishing in the spring. Read more here.

ALSO WRITTEN BY KAREN UHLENHUTH

 

Nebraska tribe becomes a solar power leader on the plains

 

 

 

Omaha hotel is first project financed with Nebraska’s PACE legislation
Lincoln, Nebraska, is expected to follow Omaha in establishing a PACE program under the state’s 2015 law.

 

ABOUT KAREN UHLENHUTH

Karen spent most of her career reporting for The Kansas City Star, focusing at various times on local and regional news, and features. More recently, she was employed as a researcher and writer for a bioethics center at a children’s hospital in Kansas City.