Tag Archives: Karen Uhlenhuth

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 

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

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.

The J. M. Smucker Company Announces Renewable Energy Agreement

ORRVILLE, Ohio, Aug. 1, 2018 /PRNewswire/ — As part of its commitment to have a positive environmental impact, The J. M. Smucker Company (NYSE: SJM) announced today it has entered into a long-term power purchase agreement with Lincoln Clean Energy (LCE) for 60 megawatts (MW) of the utility-scale 230 MW Plum Creek Wind Project in Wayne County, Nebraska. Starting in 2020, the wind energy produced from the Plum Creek project will address approximately 50 percent of Smucker’s total electricity use . . . “In addition to creating high-paying local jobs, the Plum Creek Wind Project will result in over $3 million in local community benefits annually in the Wayne County area,” said Declan Flanagan, Founder and CEO of Lincoln Clean Energy.
Read more here.

MORE NEBRASKA NEWS
GE-Powered Kimball Wind Project Begins Operations In Nebraska, North American Windpower

ADDITIONAL RECOMMENDED READING

Nebraska tribe becomes a solar power leader on the Plains

Written by Karen Uhlenhuth, Energy News Network

The Winnebago Tribe of Nebraska already boasts 400 kilowatts of installed solar panels, more than nearly any other Midwestern Indian tribe. It doesn’t plan to stop there. The American Indian tribe expects to learn later this summer whether it will receive a federal grant to pay half the cost of an additional 300 kilowatts. Tribal leaders in this community of about 850 people in northeastern Nebraska say the solar push, which started a decade ago, advances commitments to sustainability and self-sufficiency, and is cutting electric bills.

“We’ve had 100 tribes visit our community,” [Ann Marie Bledsoe-Downes, vice president for community impact and engagement of Ho-Chunk Inc] said. “We talk about many subjects with these leaders. We spend substantial time on our renewable-energy effort. Other tribes say, ‘Let’s do what Winnebago is doing.’ It resonates with people that we are taking control over our own resources.” Read the entire article here.

Photo by The Winnebago Tribe of Nebraska showing solar systems on senior housing.

UPCOMING EVENT – SAVE THE DATE & JOIN US!

Tour The Winnebago Tribe’s Solar Farm And More Renewable Energy Sites

Sponsored by Nebraskans for Solar
Hosted by Robert Byrnes, Owner of Nebraska Renewable Energy Systems and  The Winnebago Community’s Sustainability Coordinator

When: August 11, 2018 from 11am to 3pm, or for as long as you want to stay.
Where: We’ll meet at the Winnebago Solar Farm at 11am for a tour, discussion,
Q&A and lunch–and then visit more sites. See our calendar for directions.

Nebraska Renewable Energy Systems, the Winnebago Community, and Ho-Chunk Inc, the tribe’s award-winning economic corporation, are developing one of the largest renewable energy infrastructures in the state. They’ve installed solar arrays at 14 sites.

Please bring your lunch and lawn chairs. Nebraskans for Solar will provide
a variety of cold drinks and desserts. Carpoolers may have an extra dessert.

ADDITIONAL RECOMMENDED READING
The Winnebago Community’s Renewable Energy Development A Part of Overall Mission,
by Sam Burrish, Communications Manager, Ho-Chunk, Inc.

RECOMMENDED VIEWING
A delegation of Winnebago tribal and business leaders, including Ho-Chunk Inc. CEO Lance Morgan, spoke at a luncheon on Tuesday, March 13, 2018, for state senators at the Nebraska State Capitol.

Kansas City clean energy goals could get a boost from utility partnership

By Karen Uhlenhuth, Midwest Energy News

Kansas City has an important ally in its push to cut the city’s energy consumption and increase its use of renewable power. Kansas City Power & Light, the city’s electric utility, says it is on board with helping the city achieve a list of ambitious clean energy goals drafted last summer. “We found that there was an alignment between the direction the city wants to go, and… .the business model that KCP&L is pursuing,” said Dennis Murphey, the city’s chief environmental officer. Read more here.

Photo by Brian Smarker, Flickr

ALSO IN THE NEWS

Are utilities co-opting community solar? Critics question term’s use

Written by Karen Uhlenhuth, Midwest Energy News

In Omaha, critics say the public utility’s community solar offering doesn’t share enough benefits with participants.

Last month, Omaha’s public utility unveiled details for a program that will help customers buy solar power without having to install their own panels. Omaha Public Power District’s community solar program follows a year of stakeholder meetings, but some critics say it’s a stretch to call it “community solar” because participants won’t share enough of the financial benefits. “It’s not really community solar,” said Don Preister, a customer who recently put solar panels on his home. Click here to read more.

Photo: PressReleaseFinder / Creative Commons

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.

MORE BY KAREN

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

Written by Karen Uhlenhuth, Midwest Energy News

In Iowa, a state with some of the highest demand charges in the nation, a solar installer is offering a storage solution that the company claims could cut power bills in half for some large electricity customers. One year ago the company, Ideal Energy, installed its first solar-plus-storage system at Stuff Etc., a large consignment store in Coralville. Amy Van Beek, the company’s co-founder and its chief marketing officer, said the project has been performing well and the company is now working with several large electricity customers in the state to determine how solar-plus-storage could work for them. Continue reading.

Photo: An Iowa solar company installed battery storage at this consignment store near Iowa City to help avoid high demand charges. Credit: Ideal Energy

INFORMATION LINKS

ALSO WRITTEN BY KAREN UHLENHUTH

New connection technology is cutting cost of solar installation

By Karen Uhlenhuth, Midwest Energy News

ConnectDER, as it’s known, generally eliminates the need to enter a home and it greatly reduces the amount of electrical work required. “It allows you to inject the solar on the customer side of the meter prior to getting into the home,” said Michael Shonka, a solar installer who has put the new equipment in a half-dozen homes in the Omaha area.  “This means we can cut out $1,000 to $2,000 worth of cost in the system because you don’t need electricians to go through foundations trying to get to the service panel, and you don’t need to rearrange the panel.” Read more here.

Photo: The ConnectDER device allows a solar array to be connected directly to the meter, eliminating the need for electrical work inside the home.

ALSO WRITTEN BY KAREN UHLENHUTH
Midwestern poultry farmers cut bills in half with new heating system: Maintaining a tropical temperature for his turkeys, even through a Nebraska winter, used to cost Bill Bevans in the neighborhood of $60,000 annually. Not any longer.

Midwest states seek to cut time, costs for solar connections

Written by Karen Uhlenhuth, Midwest Energy News

States across the Midwest are updating their interconnection rules for solar customers, a process likely to cut the time and money required to establish a connection to the grid. In addition, the new standards will equip utilities to efficiently process solar applications as their numbers likely escalate in coming years, according to an attorney who worked on revisions recently approved by the Iowa Utilities Board. Updated and improved interconnection standards are “a critical part of moving distributed generation ahead.. And having clear, fair and efficient interconnection rules is critical to enabling a healthy distributed generation market,” said Sky Stanfield, an attorney who was involved in negotiating the new standards.
Continue reading.

Photo by plien / Creative Commons

LOCAL ACTION

In March Green Bellevue presented the workshop, “Solar Powering Your Home,” co-sponsored by the Green Omaha Coalition and Nebraskans for Solar. If you missed it, you can watch it on YouTube here.

Updated Information: Regarding the discussion toward the end of the video about interconnection, OPPD is offering solar installers and code inspectors training on this process. Undoubtedly, this will make it more streamlined and customer-friendly, and OPPD is to be commended for taking this step.