Tag Archives: Energy News Network

Nebraska tribe’s latest energy project: reclaimed solar thermal heaters

Written by Karen Uhlenhuth, Midwest Energy News / Energy News Network

A Nebraska tribe that is completing the installation of 720 kilowatts of solar photovoltaic panels is pursuing another solar technology for meeting even more of its energy needs. The Winnebago tribe recently received a gift of used solar thermal heaters and soon will refurbish and install them to heat several buildings on tribal land in eastern Nebraska.

The tribe began about a decade ago to pursue greater energy self-sufficiency. In 2008 it experimented with a 25-kilowatt solar installation. The tribe’s vision and ambition grew, and it won a federal grant in 2017 and a second grant a year ago, totaling about $790,000. Read more here.

Photo by the Winnebago Tribe of Nebraska

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. Karen covers Iowa, Missouri, Kansas, Nebraska, North Dakota and South Dakota for the Energy News Network.


Also written by Karen Uhlenhuth

Additional Recommended Reading 

The Winnebago Community’s Renewable Energy Development A Part of Overall Mission, by Sam Burrish, Communications Manager, Ho-Chunk, Inc: The Winnebago Tribe’s Economic Development Corporation 

Midwest utilities ‘overwhelmingly surprised’ by solar subscription demand

Written by Karen Uhlenhuth, Energy News Network

As Midwest utilities offer solar subscription plans, customers are sending a clear message: They want more. On May 4, the Omaha Public Power District sold the last available share for a utility-owned solar project under construction on a piece of degraded land a few miles from the utility’s shuttered nuclear plant.

“We knew the demand was there, but I can say we were overwhelmingly surprised it sold out so quickly,” said Tricia McKnight, a product specialist with the Omaha Public Power District. “I think customers are a lot more environmentally sensitive than we expected.” Continue reading here.

Click here to learn more about OPPD’s community-scale solar project and watch brief videos about the program by two well-known OPPD customers and community leaders, David Corbin and Don Preister.

Lincoln Electric System Photo: Generating 5 megawatts of solar energy, the LES solar facility was Nebraska’s first community-scale solar installation. The solar farm is located on a portion of a 46-acre site near Northwest 75th and Holdrege Streets.

See Solar Examples for brief descriptions and photos of more Nebraska community-scale projects and Community-Scale Solar to read news stories about local and national projects, completed or under development.

Wind wake research suggests taking a look at projects from a different angle

Written by Karen Uhlenhuth, Energy News Network

Wind farms could boost output and revenue by orienting turbines to minimize wind wake disturbance, according to a theory being tested by federal researchers at a wind farm on the Nebraska-Colorado border. The National Renewable Energy Laboratory estimates “wind steering” could increase electricity production up to 2%. For a 300-megawatt wind farm, that could mean roughly $1 million more in annual revenue. Read more here.

Photo Credit: Dennis Schroeder / National Renewable Energy Lab

Also Published By Energy News Network


Kansas, Missouri among latest states to debate refinancing for aging coal plants
, by Karen Uhlenhuth
After gaining traction in the West, proposals to help utilities finance early retirement for coal-fired power plants have moved into the Midwest.

 

 

Efficiency upgrade helps Minnesota museum further its educational mission, by Jay Walljasper
An advanced heat recovery system saves money, slices carbon emissions, and serves as a tool to teach others about the technology.



Columbus, Ohio, shares roadmap for cleaner transportation, by Kathiann M. Kowalski
Businesses get on board with government to bring more electric vehicles and public transport to a city poised to grow.

Curriculum helps keep Illinois educators up to date on state’s evolving smart grid

Written by David Thill, Energy News Network

Illinois State University’s Smart Grid for Schools program began in 2014, funded by the Illinois Science and Energy Innovation Foundation. (ISEIF also funds Energy News Network reporting on Illinois’ smart grid.) Last year the program reached more than 16,000 students at 73 schools. It’s one of several programs trying to help teachers keep up with changes to the nation’s electric system.

The university offers teachers $200 to attend an evening of training, along with additional stipends if they help introduce the curriculum to other teachers, students and parents. The program covers concepts like smart meters, distributed generation, the use of sensors to measure grid load more precisely, and two-way communication between consumers’ devices and utilities. It’s also an introduction for many to concepts like demand response and hourly pricing. Read more here.

Photo by David Thill / Energy News Network

Published By The Kearney Hub
Kearney, Lexington, Loup City helping spearhead solar schools project

Nebraska K-12 Teachers: Request A Free NEED Solar Kit Here: www.nebraskasolarschools.org 

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.

Additional Recommended Reading 

Photo by SoCore Energy: 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.

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.