Tag Archives: Energy News Network

Iowa experiment tests potential to pair solar with carbon sequestration

By Karen Uhlenhuth, Energy News Network

As thousands of acres of Iowa farmland are eyed as possible sites for solar farms, a research project is getting underway to explore a new crop that could co-exist with this burgeoning source of power: carbon sequestration. The state’s economic development office last month awarded $297,000 to an environmental consultant to create a business model “for monetizing carbon capture on solar energy farms.” Continue reading here.

Iowa Carbon Sequestration Task Force

Related Reading & EPA Resources
Perry joins Alliant Energy in brownfield solar power project, The Perry News
RE-Powering America’s Land, Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Brownfield Resources

Photo Credit: Werner Slocum / NREL

ALSO IN THE NEWS

SEIA NEWS RELEASE

Nearly 750 U.S. Solar Companies Unite for Long-Term Federal Policy Certainty
WASHINGTON, D.C. — Nearly 750 companies from across the U.S. solar supply chain sent a letter to Congress today urging action on policies that drive clean energy deployment and help us tackle the climate crisis.

The letter is part of a national campaign led by the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA) in support of transformative solar and clean energy policies in upcoming federal infrastructure legislation. The solar industry is calling for a long-term extension of the solar Investment Tax Credit (ITC) along with a direct pay provision, which will ease project financing challenges and shield the industry from pandemic-related disruptions. For more information about the solar industry’s infrastructure priorities, visit www.seia.org/infrastructure.

NEW CERES REPORT

new report released by the Ceres Accelerator for Sustainable Capital Markets reveals that the physical impacts of climate change could amount to more than a $250 billion risk annually for the largest U.S. banks.

The Ceres Accelerator report, Financing a Net Zero Economy: The Consequences of Physical Climate Risk for Banks highlights these risks and provides valuable insights to help banks realize and mitigate the systemic financial implications of physical risk. The report sets out a practical roadmap to help banks conduct risk assessments and incorporate climate risks into their day-to-day decision-making. It includes detailed recommendations across four broad categories to guide the banking industry in fully measuring, analyzing, and acting against threats posed by the physical risks of climate change.

join Ceres for a webinar on Tuesday, September 14th to discuss the report findings and recommendations with a former Senior Deputy Comptroller of the Currency and the Head of Financial Risk at Regions Bank.

Related Post: An Urgent Call To High-Emitting Sectors: It’s Time For Climate Action
Forbes
article contributed by Mindy Lubber, CEO & President of Ceres, with additional resources provided by Nebraskans for Solar.

New state funding puts solar on the curriculum for Minnesota schools

By Frank Jossi, Energy News Network

A new, first-of-its-kind state fund could help triple the number of solar installations on Minnesota K-12 schools and community colleges. Minnesota ranked 11th in the country last year for solar capacity on school buildings, with 157 installations identified in a national industry report. That leaves hundreds of rooftops with the potential to host money-saving solar projects.

School districts are at a disadvantage when it comes to solar financing since they do not pay taxes and thus can’t take advantage of state and federal tax credits. State lawmakers voted this month to provide an alternative source of funding designed to spur as many as 350 new projects on educational buildings. Read more here.

Solar panels on a school rooftop in Oregon. New state funding could help triple such installations on Minnesota K-12 schools and community colleges. Credit: Portland General Electric / Creative Commons

Local governments set record for new renewable energy procurement in 2020, groups report

By Chris Teale, Smart Cities Dive

Ninety-five local governments across 33 states procured 3,683 megawatts (MW) of new renewable energy generation capacity in 2020 through 143 deals, the largest amount of capacity ever added in one year, according to the latest update from the Rocky Mountain Institute (RMI) and World Resources Institute (WRI) in their Local Government Renewables Action Tracker.

The 143 transactions, a 23% increase over 2019’s levels, could generate enough electricity to power approximately 812,000 households annually, the organizations reported. Solar was the most popular renewable energy to be procured, at 79% of all deals, followed by wind at 17% and geothermal at 4%. Read more here.

Photo Credit: First Solar

ADDITIONAL RECOMMENDED READING

SOLAR INSTALLER SURVEY

2020 EnergySage installer survey finds one in five solar installations nationwide included a battery, Solar Power World

EnergySage and NABCEP released the results of the sixth annual Solar Installer Survey, the largest and most comprehensive business survey of solar companies nationwide. Over 650 residential and commercial installers across the country participated in this year’s survey, which was fielded and authored by EnergySage in partnership with the North American Board of Certified Energy Practitioners (NABCEP).

NELNET SOLAR TAX EQUITY INVESTMENT

Nelnet Renewable Energy Partners with Three Co-Investors to Complete $9.9 Million Solar Tax Equity Investment in the Northeast, Nelnet Renewable Energy, PR Newswire. Nelnet’s co-investors include Adams Bank & Trust and West Gate Bank, both of Nebraska.

OMAHA RANKS #7 AMONG GREENEST U.S. CITIES FOR RENTERS

The Greenest Cities in the U.S. for Renters, Apartment Guide

In the heart of the Great Plains, many view Omaha as a far-flung place known for quality steak, college baseball, 311 and Warren Buffett. But the diverse Nebraska city of half a million residents is a heartland oasis filled with culture, education, upscale shopping and trendy dining. And with nearly 22 percent of properties reporting green amenities, it’s the greenest city in the Midwest for renters.

LIBRARIES’ CLIMATE LITERACY PROGRAMS


How libraries are improving climate literacy in their communities,
Yale Climate Connections


The Racine Public Library is one of 25 libraries with funding from the American Library Association to offer programming about climate change.

Energy News Network year in review: stories of hope and resilience in 2020

By Ken Paulman, Energy News Network

It hardly bears repeating that 2020 has been a challenging year. A historic pandemic that has killed hundreds of thousands and devastated countless others, police killings that ignited an overdue national reckoning on systemic racism, and a divisive election that threatened to erode the very foundation of democracy continue to weigh on our hearts and minds as the year draws to the close.

But in the midst of all of this, there are still stories of hope and resilience, and throughout 2020, Energy News Network reporters have been diligently working to highlight people who are committed to meeting the challenge of building a better world. And so — while we acknowledge and hold close the pain that this year has brought — we’d like to highlight some of these stories. Continue reading here.

About Ken Paulman
Ken Paulman is the director of the Energy News Network at Fresh Energy and is a founding editor of both Midwest Energy News and Southeast Energy News. Prior to joining Fresh Energy, he was the managing editor for online news at Minnesota Public Radio. He started his journalism career in 2002 as a copy editor for the Duluth News Tribune before spending five years at the Spokesman-Review in Spokane, Washington, where he worked as a copy editor, online producer, features editor and night city editor. A Nebraska native, Ken has a bachelor’s degree from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln and a master’s degree from the University of Oregon. He is a member of the Society of Professional Journalists and Investigative Reporters and Editors.

Subscribe to Energy News Network daily email digests here.

Photos by Clean Energy Economy Minnesota; Jimmy Davidson, Appalachian Voices; Gotham Greens

Power from the Prairie aims to link West Coast sun with Midwest wind

By Karen Uhlenhuth, Energy News Network

The missing link between California solar power and Midwest wind energy may be a 600-mile stretch from southwestern Wyoming to northwestern Iowa. A pair of energy consultants with Upper Midwest roots are promoting a $9.5 billion vision for an interstate transmission-plus-storage project aimed at connecting two long-separated regional electricity grids.

Rob Schulte and Fred Fletcher believe their Power from the Prairie concept would produce massive benefits for utilities, customers and the country’s clean energy transition, enabling variable wind and solar resources from multiple regions to backfill and balance each other out on the grid. Continue reading here.

About the Interconnection Seams Study Karen Uhlenhuth references: How a Plan to Save the Power System Disappeared, The Atlantic and Investigate West

Photo Credit: Dori / Wikimedia Commons

Also published today by Energy News Network:
‘Dark money’ group raises fears in Illinois energy negotiations, by Kari Lydersen
A mysterious group has spent more than a quarter million dollars promoting a vague agenda that’s critical of Illinois utilities’ clean energy transitions.

Nebraska utility won’t convert power plant to run on hydrogen after all

By Karen Uhlenhuth, Energy News Network

Nebraska’s largest electric utility and the manufacturer that will soon be its largest private customer have agreed to abandon a potentially innovative plan to partially convert an aging fossil fuel power plant to run on hydrogen. The Nebraska Public Power District in 2018 said it had contracted with Monolith Materials to buy all of the hydrogen byproduct produced at a new factory under construction near the utility’s 225-megawatt Sheldon Station power plant, about 20 miles south of Lincoln. The power district planned to convert a 120-megawatt boiler to burn hydrogen, something that’s never been done before. Continue reading here.

NPPD Photo: 225-MW Sheldon Coal Plant near Hallam, Nebraska

ALSO WRITTEN BY KAREN UHLENHUTH

Solar firm buying land rights near coal plants with eye toward transmission

Solar firm buying land rights near coal plants with eye toward transmission

Written by Karen Uhlenhuth, Energy News Network

A utility-scale solar developer is acquiring land rights near U.S. coal-fired power plants, hoping the facilities will close sooner than expected and open up lucrative transmission connections. Photosol US, a subsidiary of a French company, has purchased options near plants in Nebraska and Kansas, as well as the San Juan Generating Station in northern New Mexico. While the San Juan plant has approval from state regulators to shut down in 2022, the Nebraska and Kansas plants, completed in the early 1980s, do not have retirement dates. The Nebraska Public Power District, which owns the Gerald Gentleman Station, has begun evaluating the plant’s future. Read more here.

Wikipedia Photo: The Gerald Gentleman Station, located just south of Sutherland, is Nebraska’s largest electricity generating plant. The station consists of two coal-fired generating units which were launched into service in 1979 and 1982 and which together have the generation capacity of 1,365 megawatts of power.

NPPD’s R-Project: Reducing transmission congestion and providing opportunities for additional renewable energy 

Project Overview
NPPD’s R-Project is a 345,000-volt transmission line from NPPD’s Gerald Gentleman Station near Sutherland to NPPD’s existing substation east of Thedford. The new line will then proceed east and connect to a second substation to be sited in Holt County.

NPPD’s electric grid is an essential link to ensuring service for our customers. The R-Project will increase the reliability of the transmission system, relieve congestion on the existing system, and provide additional opportunities for development of renewable projects if desired at the local level.

Southwest Power Pool’s Role
NPPD is a member of the Southwest Power Pool, a regional transmission organization. The SPP conducted a study, also known as the Integrated Transmission Plan, to assess the needs of the entire transmission network with the SPP region over the next 10 years. The R-Project is one of numerous projects to come out of that study.

Additional Recommended Reading

Department of Energy awards funding for Phase II of carbon capture study for Gentleman Station, NPPD News Release

Environment America Launches a 10-state campaign calling for all new homes to be built with solar panels

Environment America News Release

BOSTON — In January 2020, California became the first state to require all new houses to be built with solar panels. Today, Environment America is launching a first-of-its-kind campaign calling on additional states across the country to set similar standards for solar power on new homes. The coordinated national campaign will advocate for a solar homes requirement in at least ten states: Colorado, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Nevada, New Mexico, North Carolina, Pennsylvania and Texas. While each state may have slightly different goals, the campaign’s intention is to introduce bills in 10 states in the next two years. Continue reading here.

ACCELERATING ADOPTION OF COMMUNITY SOLAR

New US Solar Power Scheme Aims At Invisible Middle, by Tina Casey, CleanTechnica
A vast middle ground of opportunity for solar power development is ripe for the picking if only somebody could see where it is. Well, the US Department of Energy sees it, and is determined to pick it. The agency is moving forward with a plan to kickstart activity in the area of mid-sized arrays ranging from 50 kilowatts to 3 megawatts. That may sound like peanuts, but it includes the important community solar sector, so — wait, what is community solar anyways?

ENERGY STORAGE

The magnificent seven: US states with energy storage mandates, targets and goals, Energy Storage News. The US national Energy Storage Association’s policy director, Jason Burwen, spoke with Andy Colthorpe about the seven early adopter states and whether this is likely to be a spreading pattern across the country.

OPPD IN THE NEWS

TRADE ASSOCIATIONS’ STATEMENTS ON HOUSE $1.5 TRILLION INFRASTRUCTURE BILL 

GREEN BIZ’S “30 UNDER 30” AWARDS

The 2020 GreenBiz 30 Under 30, GreenBiz Editors
We are proud to introduce our fifth annual cohort of twentysomethings who are sustainability leaders within — and without — their companies, nonprofits and communities. The Class of 2020 hails from seven countries, including Switzerland, the Netherlands, Brazil and Taiwan, and they are tackling diverse challenges — from cultivating a more sustainable food system to advocating for climate justice on behalf of disadvantaged communities to testing best practices for circular cities to negotiating impactful renewable energy contracts. The list of their accomplishments is long and growing longer by the day, and they’re just getting started.

AGRIVOLTAICS

Pollinator-Saving Solar Panels: Good for Farmers, Good for Business, by Tina Casey, Triple Pundit. Conventional solar arrays typically force farmers to choose between raising crops and generating electricity in order to survive financially. However, a new body of research called agrivoltaics is demonstrating that farmers can have the best of both worlds. A recent report the National Renewable Energy Laboratory, for example, indicates that properly designed, low-impact solar arrays can be compatible with agricultural use.

MORE ON AMERICA’S RENEWABLES INVESTMENT ATTRACTIVENESS

ALSO IN THE NEWS

TRANSITION IN COAL COUNTRY: PART ONE

EV NEWS

Is this electric plane the future of flying?, GreenBiz article contributed by David Elliott, Senior Writer, World Economic Forum. The world’s largest all-electric plane has completed its maiden voyage, flying for 30 minutes in the skies above Washington state. Its safe landing in Moses Lake, about 186.5 miles southeast of Seattle, is a milestone in a dream that’s been floating about since the late 1800s — air travel powered by electricity.

Omaha utility’s solar plan collides with suburban development aspirations

By Karen Uhlenhuth, Energy News Network

The Sarpy County board of commissioners on Tuesday adopted new zoning language that would complicate, and possibly undo, plans by the Omaha Public Power District to develop a solar farm and gas-fired power plant in the fast-growing suburban county. Along with the restraints on solar arrays, the commissioners approved a moratorium on construction of fossil-fueled power plants through Oct. 31. Although the new regulations likely would prohibit the utility from proceeding with its current plan, there probably is a viable alternative, according to Stephen Bruckner, general counsel for the Omaha Public Power District. Read more here.

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.

More Articles by Karen Uhlenhuth

Photo Credit: Lincoln Electric System

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