Tag Archives: Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory

In a Twist, Old Coal Plants Help Deliver Renewable Power. Here’s How

By Elena Shao, New York Times

Building and operating renewable energy projects has long been cheaper than fossil fuel plants. The barrier “is not economics anymore,” said Joseph Rand, a scientist at the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, which conducts research on behalf of the U.S. Department of Energy. “The hardest part is securing the interconnection and transmission access.” This makes old coal plants an attractive option as sites for renewable energy projects. Not only are the old plants already wired into the transmission system, they also have substations, which help convert electricity to a supply that’s suitable for use in homes and businesses. Read more here.

Photo Credit: Bill Dickinson/Flickr

DEPARTMENT OF ENERGY NEWS RELEASE

Biden-Harris Administration Announces $56 Million to Advance U.S. Solar Manufacturing and Lower Energy Costs

WASHINGTON, D.C.—The Biden-Harris Administration, through the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE), today announced a slate of new initiatives and $56 million in funding, including $10 million from President Biden’s Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, to spur innovation in solar manufacturing and recycling. Together, the funding will help make clean energy more affordable and reliable, create good-paying jobs, and enhance U.S. economic growth and competitiveness. Developing more solar power, the cheapest form of new electricity supply, is key to achieving President Biden’s goal of 100% clean electricity by 2035. “This administration wants to seize U.S. leadership in solar energy, from manufacturing to recycling, and that means making the right investments to ensure these technologies are made right here at home,” said U.S. Secretary of Energy Jennifer M. Granholm.

ADDITIONAL RECOMMENDED READING

NEW CENTER FOR RURAL AFFAIRS WHITE PAPER

Exploring Siting Guidance: Agriculture Siting Matrices Inform Renewable Energy Siting,
by Lindsay Mouw, Policy Associate, Center for Rural Affairs


Statewide renewable energy siting matrices can help reduce barriers to renewable energy development by providing guidance to local decision makers while improving transparency, trust, and fairness in the siting process. A siting matrix also creates clear standards for future development that project developers can reference before proposing a project.

Neighbors express excitement, frustration over Cass County solar farm proposal

By Abbie Petersen KETV

CASS COUNTY, Neb. — As gas prices climb, there’s a new look toward solar energy in rural Nebraska. The zoning administrator for Cass County says the proposal for the solar farm near Murray would be one of the largest in the state. But some neighbors say they think the solar farm is a bad investment. Zoning administrator Mike Jensen says it’s a big decision. Continue reading or watch the video here.

FROM PV MAGAZINE & NDA

Solar+food in ethanol fields could fully power the United States
Converting the nation’s 40 million acres of ethanol corn farms into solar-plus-food facilities would generate 1.5 times our nation’s electricity needs, while also powering a 100% electrified passenger vehicle fleet.

Nebraska Agriculture Fact Card, Nebraska Department of Agriculture, February 2022

  • In 2021, Nebraska ranked second in ethanol production capacity, with 25 operating plants having production capacity of almost 2.6 billion gallons. Approximately 31% of Nebraska’s 2021 corn crop was utilized in ethanol production.
  • Nebraska’s farms and ranches utilize 44.8 million acres, 92% of the state’s total land area.
  • There are 22 million acres of rangeland and pastureland in Nebraska, half of which are in the Sandhills.

USDA RESOURCE

Farming and Farm Income, U.S. Department of Agriculture
Most farmers receive off-farm income, but small-scale operators depend on it.
Median total household income among all farm households ($80,060) exceeded the median total household income for all U.S. households ($67,521) in 2020. Median household income and income from farming increase with farm size and most households earn some income from off-farm employment. About 89 percent of U.S. farms are small, with gross cash farm income less than $350,000; the households operating these farms typically rely on off-farm sources for most of their household income. In contrast, the median household operating large-scale farms earned $402,780 in 2020, and most of that came from farming.

LAND LEASE RESOURCE FOR FARMERS & RANCHERS 

Considerations for Leasing Land for Solar Development, by F. John Hay, Extension Educator for Bioenergy, University of Nebraska Lincoln

Links to More Extension Resources

Coal-rich Indiana is going solar. It’s not easy

By Jeffrey Tomich, E&E News

“Solar is like a private CRP [Conservation Reserve Program]. Instead of the government
paying farmers, we pay the farmers.” – Nick Cohen, CEO of Global Energy

The coal mines dotting Indiana’s southwest corner are quickly giving way to a new source of energy that will help power Hoosier State factories and farms in the decades to come — the sun. Solar projects totaling 22,000 megawatts of capacity —- 50% greater than the sum of Indiana’s coal fleet — are seeking to plug into the two wholesale power grids that cover parts of the state, PJM Interconnection and the Midcontinent Independent System Operator.

The boom is part of a broader trend playing out across the Midwest and the United States as solar costs continue to fall. But coal-reliant Indiana has emerged as an unlikely solar hot spot, with more new capacity seeking interconnection than California last year, according to a recent analysis by Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory. In fact, only Texas and Arizona saw more gigawatts of solar capacity added to interconnection queues. Read more here.

Additional information on land use and utility-scale solar is available here: 

SOLAR ENERGY INDUSTRIES ASSOCIATION

 

 

 


Siting, Permitting & Land Use for Utility-Scale Solar
There is tremendous solar power generation potential in the United States. In five minutes, enough sunlight shines on the continental U.S. to satisfy our electricity demand for an entire month. Research from the National Renewable Energy Laboratory shows that the entire U.S. could be powered by utility-scale solar occupying just 0.6% of the nation’s land mass.

BUREAU OF LAND MANAGEMENT – U.S. DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIOR

Solar Energy: The Bureau of Land Management (BLM)
The BLM manages millions of acres of public lands with excellent solar energy potential. Climate concerns, state renewable energy portfolio standards, investment tax credits, technological advances, and decreasing costs of equipment are drivers of interest to site utility-scale solar energy development on public lands. As a result, we expect that private companies will continue to have an interest in developing this resource on public lands. In fact, we have been approving solar projects since 2010.

ThSolar Energy Environmental Mapper is an online mapping tool that allows users to overlay solar energy potential on BLM-administered lands with other natural, social, and cultural resource data. BLM staff and stakeholders can use the tool to identify areas with high solar energy potential and low resource conflict that may be appropriate for solar energy development.

THE NATURE CONSERVANCY 

 

 


Six Pathways to a Clean and Green Renewable Energy Buildout

Renewable energy infrastructure requires a lot of landespecially onshore wind and large-scale solar installations, which we will need to meet our ambitious climate goals. Siting renewable energy in areas that support wildlife habitat not only harms nature but also increases the potential for project conflicts that could slow the buildout—a prospect we cannot afford. Building renewables on natural lands can also undermine climate progress by converting forests and other areas that store carbon and serve as natural climate solutions.

Fortunately, there is plenty of previously developed land that can be used to meet our clean energy needsat least 17 times the amount of land needed to meet the Paris Agreement goals. But accelerating the buildout on these lands requires taking pro-active measures now.

Clean & Green: Pathways for Promoting Renewable Energy, a new report from The Nature Conservancy (TNC), is a call to action that highlights six ways for governments, corporations and lenders to promote a clean and green renewable energy buildout.

Previously Posted

New coalition of industry and academia to commercialize solution for full recyclability of wind turbine blades

News release from Vestas Wind Systems A/S, Olin Corporation,
Danish Technological Institute, and Aarhus University

A coalition of industry and academic leaders have developed a new technology to enable circularity for thermoset composites, the material used to make wind turbine blades. The new technology delivers the final technological step on the journey towards a fully recyclable wind turbine value chain. To enable the adoption of this new technology, and to advance a circular economy across the wind industry, a new initiative entitled CETEC (Circular Economy for Thermosets Epoxy Composites) has been established. Within three years, CETEC is aiming to present a fully scoped solution ready for industrial adoption, based on commercialization of the novel circularity technology. Continue reading here.

Photo Credit: Vestas

NATIONAL SEIA NETWORK

Iowa Solar Energy Trade Association joins national SEIA network, Solar Power World
SEIA announced that it is adding the Iowa Solar Energy Trade Association (ISETA) as an official state affiliate. ISETA becomes the 20th SEIA affiliate, joining its neighbors Minnesota, Wisconsin and Missouri in the growing network of state solar advocacy groups. These formal partnerships help to connect regional organizations to additional resources and the national effort to promote solar in markets around the country.

FEATURED RESEARCH

AMERICA’S LARGEST COMMUNITY SOLAR PROGRAM

FPL builds massive solar center in Southwest Florida to support largest community solar program, Florida Insider

Florida Power and Light Company(FPL), the state’s largest electric power supply and utility company, is investing in solar energy in a big way with a new mega-solar center in Southwest Florida.  The company, which services over 5.6 million customer accounts and supports more than 11 million residents in the state, has set a goal to have 30 million solar panels installed by 2030. The new DeSoto County center has the company well on its way to its mark, with 300,000 panels already in place. Photo Credit: FPL

LARGEST BROWNFIELD COMMUNITY SOLAR PROJECT IN U.S.

Houston will turn old landfill into community solar site, contributed by Angely Mercado, GreenBiz

Houston, home to nearly 4,600 energy-related firms, is making a big investment in solar. City officials are planning to turn a landfill in the Sunnyside neighborhood into a solar farm, a move positioned as an economic development initiative with equity at its core. Once completed it will be the largest brownfield solar installation in the U.S., according to city officials. 

Photo: A rendering of the community solar project planned for the Sunnyside landfill in Houston. 

OFF-GRID HOMES

Off-the-grid homes are coming to your neighborhood, as climate change creates suburban survivalists,by Diana Olick, CNBC

“More severe storms each year are going to further and further indicate the needs for resilient development,” said Ben Keys, associate professor of real estate at the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School. Keys studies the effects of climate change on real estate and the growing need for housing that can function off the grid. This goes well beyond solar panels. 

SEIA Statement on House Climate Plan and Environmental Justice Priorities

News Release, Solar Energy Industries Association

“We strongly support the environmental justice priorities in this plan and the provisions that will lead to greater solar adoption in communities that are often left behind. The report outlines science-based policy recommendations that if enacted, will provide every American with access to the broad opportunities that our industry creates including access to clean, reliable and affordable energy. This is an important starting point and would build on the jobs and economic opportunity that solar energy provides, priorities for both sides of the aisle. We look forward to working with all members of Congress and the Executive Branch to move the substance of this report into bipartisan legislative action.” – Abigail Ross Hopper, SEIA President & CEO

Read more here.

Download the Report
Solving The Climate Crisis: The Congressional Action Plan for a Clean Energy Economy and a Healthy, Resilient, and Just America

Additional Recommended Reading

MORE ON BERKELEY LAB’S NEW SURVEY

US Solar Plants Now Expected to Run for More Than 30 Years: Berkeley Lab, Greentech Media article contributed by Justin Gerdes. The assumed useful life of projects now averages 32.5 years, up from 21.5 years in 2007, according to a canvass of solar project developers, sponsors, asset owners and consultants conducted by researchers at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory. At the same time, the industry has managed to slash the costs to operate projects by half, with levelized lifetime operational expenditures falling from an average of $35 per kilowatt-year for projects built in 2007 to $17/kW-year for projects built in 2019 (all kW values shown are direct current, or DC).

BRIDGING AMERICA’S DIGITAL POWER & INFORMATION DIVIDES

Building bridges across the digital power and information divides, GreenBiz article contributed by Tom Baruch. Part 2 in a series. Part 1 is here. The COVID-19 pandemic offers the opportunity to build a positive, equitable future by bridging the digital divide. Improving global connectivity by digitizing and democratizing the information cloud and power grid (bits and watts) will intensify environmental, social and governance (ESG) investing and increase gross domestic product across all industries.

COMPANIES WITH HIGH ESG SCORES

Can Trump trump the ESG juggernaut?, by Joel Makower, Chairman & Executive Director, GreenBiz Group

One constant throughout 2020’s parade of pandemonium is that investing in companies with high environmental, social and governance scores has been relentlessly gaining momentum. The pandemic, the recession, the social strife, the political hyperpartisanship, the growing climate crisis — none of this vertiginousness has knocked ESG funds and investment strategies off their remarkable growth trajectory. This is big. Historically, ESG investing has been sidelined during trying economic times, largely for fear that it would tamp down returns. But recent data has shown quite the opposite: ESG funds are outperforming the overall market.

INSPIRING STORY ABOUT COMMUNITY PARTNERSHIPS

Feeding Families in Need: Renewable Energy Companies Enter the Mix, Food Tank
As U.S. food assistance programs grapple with overwhelming demand during the coronavirus pandemic, some in New England are finding support from unusual partners—renewable energy companies.

Solar Industry Vows to Lead Power Generation in the 2020s

SEIA News Release

WASHINGTON, D.C. – When energy and climate analysts look back on the 2020s, they will see a transformed energy landscape dominated by new solar energy generation, the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA) said in recognition of the start of the Solar+ Decade. “The 2010s were filled with more highs than lows, and the solar industry is in a strong position to become the leading source of new energy generation this decade,” said Abigail Ross Hopper, SEIA’s president and CEO. “Working in collaboration with other clean energy technologies, including storage, solar will lead a clean energy economic boom while also reducing greenhouse gas emissions.” Continue reading here.

Learn more about the Solar+ Decade: www.seia.org/solar-decade
Read the roadmap that will get us there: www.seia.org/roadmap

About SEIA
Celebrating its 46th anniversary in 2020, the Solar Energy Industries Association is the national trade association of the U.S. solar energy industry, which now employs more than 242,000 Americans. Through advocacy and education, SEIA is building a strong solar industry to power America. SEIA works with its 1,000 member companies to build jobs and diversity, champion the use of cost-competitive solar in America, remove market barriers and educate the public on the benefits of solar energy.

ADDITIONAL RECOMMENDED READING

INTERNATIONAL NEWS

NEW REPORT

Utility-Scale Solar: Empirical Trends in Project Technology, Cost, Performance, and PPA Pricing in the United States – 2019 Edition, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory
The utility-scale solar sector has led the overall U.S. solar market in terms of installed capacity since 2012. In 2018, the utility-scale sector accounted for nearly 60% of all new solar capacity, and is expected to maintain its market-leading position for at least another six years. More than three-quarters of all states, representing all regions of the country, are now home to one or more utility-scale solar projects. This report—the seventh in an ongoing annual series—provides in-depth data-driven analysis of the utility-scale solar project fleet in the United States.

New money: Green banks and green bonds are bringing billions to utilities for the energy transition

By Herman K. Trabish, Utility Dive

Hundreds of billions of dollars in untapped new money can finance the U.S. power system’s transition away from legacy fossil assets to renewables and distributed generation. Utilities like Duke Energy and Xcel Energy have issued billions in green bonds to fund renewables development. Green banks in New York, Connecticut and other states are backing investments in distributed resources and energy efficiency. It appears much more institutional money wants in on the green opportunity. Congress is considering proposals for a National green bank, which can help propel the energy transition if it can win the acceptance that major utilities told Utility Dive it deserves. Read more here.

ADDITIONAL RECOMMENDED READING

MIDWEST SOLAR ADVOCACY STORIES

From green-minded business owners to political activists: an industry shift in the Midwest, Solar Power World. For many Midwest solar companies, taking on advocacy roles in an industry just getting off the ground has been a necessary responsibility. Here is a look at solar policy in three Midwest states and how local solar installers have taken matters into their own hands.

CLIMATE ACTION GOALS & PROGRESS

MORE EV NEWS

MORE INDUSTRY NEWS

  • Secretive energy startup backed by Bill Gates achieves solar breakthrough, CNN
    Heliogen, a clean energy company that emerged from stealth mode on Tuesday, said it has discovered a way to use artificial intelligence and a field of mirrors to reflect so much sunlight that it generates extreme heat above 1,000 degrees Celsius. The breakthrough means that, for the first time, concentrated solar energy can be used to create the extreme heat required to make cement, steel, glass and other industrial processes. In other words, carbon-free sunlight can replace fossil fuels in a heavy carbon-emitting corner of the economy that has been untouched by the clean energy revolution.
  • Old dog solar panel manufacturer, Panasonic, learning new home storage tricks, PV Magazine
    Panasonic recently launched their EverVolt home energy storage system, with an AC and DC coupled unit that easily can scale up to 34 kWh and, when coupled with their HIT solar modules, can power your home indefinitely if the grid goes down.
  • Target in energy milestone — ahead of schedule, Chain Store Age
    During the past five years, Target has installed more solar systems than any other company, according to data from SEIA’s Solar Means Business report. The chain is also a four-time Energy Star Partner of the Year. 
  • Wind output to jump 37% because of climate shift — study, E&E News

FEATURED GREEN CAMPUS

Award spotlights UI’s energy efforts, Champaign/Urbana News- Gazette
Five years after it opened, the $98 million Electrical and Computer Engineering Building at the University of Illinois has been awarded “platinum” certification under the LEED environmental rating system. Designed to someday be a “net zero” energy user, the building has a $3 million rooftop solar array with 950 panels that generate renewable electricity for the building and, on sunny days, contribute to the campus-wide power grid. The building also uses power from campus solar farms.

TRACKING THE SUN REPORT

US Solar Panel Prices Continue Dropping, Solar+Storage Increasing — Tracking The Sun Report, CleanTechnica. Tracking the Sun (PDF) is an annual report from Berkeley Lab on installed solar panel prices and other trends among grid-connected, distributed solar photovoltaic (PV) systems in the United States.

SOLINATOR VIDEO

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.

Department of Energy Releases Annual Wind Market Reports, Finding Robust Wind Power Installations and Falling Prices

U.S. Department of Energy News Release 

WASHINGTON, D.C. – The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) has released annual market reports documenting data and trends in wind installations, technologies, costs, prices, and performance through the end of 2018 for three sectors: utility-scale land-based, offshore, and distributed wind.

“Onshore wind energy installation continues to grow across the country, and this Administration has proven that we can pursue renewable energy advancements and deployment, particularly wind energy resources, which are predicted to surpass other sources of renewable power generation this year,” said Under Secretary of Energy Mark W. Menezes. “And with over 25 gigawatts in the development pipeline, U.S. offshore wind is poised to be a significant part of our comprehensive energy portfolio in the coming years.” Continue reading here.

Property values near wind energy projects show no decline

The Grand Island Independent, Opinion written by Lu Nelson,
Policy Associate at the Center for Rural Affairs

In many public forums across Nebraska, local residents have expressed concerns related to proposed wind energy projects in their communities. A consistent worry is the effect wind farms would have on neighboring property values.

In response to these concerns, the Center for Rural Affairs prepared a fact sheet that reviews findings of studies conducted by the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory — as well as the Universities of Rhode Island and Connecticut — which analyze factors influencing property values prior to the announcement of a project, after the announcement, before construction and post-construction. Read more here.

The fact sheet may be found here.