Tag Archives: microgrids

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

Community Microgrids with Energy Storage: Cost Effective and Clean

By Jacqueline DeRosa, Vice President of Energy Storage at Ameresco, Microgrid Knowledge

The growth of distributed resources is forcing utilities and grid operators to transition from standard operations to more decentralized power systems.  Already, local and clean distributed resources can directly provide a local community’s energy needs. Distributed renewable energy paired with energy storage is not just technically feasible, but also cost-effective for many applications today. New predictive analytics can optimize the use of solar, advanced energy storage, energy efficiency, and other resources to allow communities to procure renewable, low-cost energy and maintain reliability. Continue reading here.

Additional Recommended Reading

Energy Storage Has A Breakout Year On Both Sides Of The Meter, by Jeff McMahon, Forbes. Wood Mackenzie has not yet released its report on 2018, but Finn-Foley offered a sneak preview to Clean Energy States Alliance members Thursday, telling them that the fourth quarter of 2018 broke energy storage records everywhere.

Global battery storage pipeline reaches 15 GW, by Julian Jansen, IHS Markit Senior Analyst. PV Magazine International. With the U.S. market poised for exponential growth in 2019, the Americas already have a project pipeline of over 4.3 GW. As policy frameworks advance across the United States, IHS Markit already tracks project activity in 39 states, which have operational energy storage systems, with an additional five states with projects planned or under construction.

City ready for community solar gardens

By Jennifer Bailey, Commercial-News, Danville, Illinois

Illinois passed The Future Energy Jobs Act in December 2016. This legislation went into effect June 1, 2017. Under this legislation, the state created a new Community Solar program that will allow any customer of ComEd or Ameren to subscribe to a community solar garden, according to Solar in the Community which is a joint project of the Illinois Citizens Utility Board, The Accelerate Group and the Environmental Defense Fund . . . Under Illinois’ community solar program, “subscribers” can enter into an agreement to support a solar energy installation in their community — on the rooftop of a local school or community center, for example.
Read more here.

Future Energy Jobs Act

MORE COMMUNITY SOLAR NEWS

LOCATING CLOSED LANDFILLS & OTHER LOCAL BROWNFIELDS

EPA’s RE-Powering Mapper is an online interactive web application that allows users to visualize key information on renewable energy potential at specific contaminated lands, landfills and mine sites.

Using screening criteria developed in collaboration with the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL), EPA has pre-screened more than 130,000 sites for their renewable energy potential.

Access the updated RE-Powering Mapper here. 
Learn more about EPA’s RE-Powering America’s Land Initiative here.

MORE GOOD NEWS FROM STATES 

This old coal plant is now a solar farm, thanks to pressure from local activists, Fast Company. In Massachusetts, one town fought to stop
pollution–and ensured a just transition for workers at the coal plant. For more than half a century, a coal plant in the city of Holyoke, Massachusetts spewed pollution into the air. Now, the plant is closed, and 17,000 solar panels and a battery storage system–the largest in the state–send clean power to the grid. Photo by Toxics Action Center

ADDITIONAL RECOMMENDED READING

INTERVIEW

Commercial Solar Outlook: A Q&A with GE Solar, Energy Manager Today
From import tariffs to corporate sustainability goals, 2018 was a big year for the commercial solar industry, with no signs of slowing down in 2019. To understand what’s on the horizon for the commercial solar market, we asked Ellen Roybal, Managing Director
of Strategy & Market Intelligence for GE Solar, for her take on the industry.

Corporate Renewable Energy Procurement Continues to Break Records in 2018

Rocky Mountain Institute News Release

Corporate renewable energy procurement has set a new single-year record for new capacity of announced wind and solar deals in 2018, the Business Renewables Center (BRC), a membership program at Rocky Mountain Institute, reported in its updated corporate-backed renewable energy procurement deal tracker.

“The record number of companies successfully pursuing renewable energy this year sends a clear signal that environmental sustainability is a serious priority for business leaders across the economy,” said Jules Kortenhorst, CEO of the Rocky Mountain Institute. “These companies aren’t going to wait for public policy on climate issues to catch up—they are taking the initiative to
accelerate toward a prosperous, low carbon economy.” Read more here.

RMI REPORT
RMI offers playbook to support non-wires projects, American Public Power Association

IN NEBRASKA / THE MIDWEST

One for the Books: The Biggest Corporate Renewable Deals of 2018,
Energy Manager Today. Facebook: The BRC found that the social media giant signed 20 renewable contracts totaling 1,894.5 MW in 2018, which tops all the corporate deals the BRC tracked in 2016 put together. Those deals included a power purchase agreement with Enel Green Power North America in March for energy from Enel’s planned 320 MW
Rattlesnake Creek wind farm in Nebraska.

ALSO IN THE NEWS

Wind and Solar Are Revitalizing Rural America, by Grant Smith, Senior Energy Policy Advisor, Environmental Working Group
The St Louis Post-Dispatch reports that solar companies are streaming into Illinois and partnering with farmers to lease some of their land for solar projects. But this is not happening only in Illinois. Across the nation, wind and solar investments are revitalizing rural economies, providing a boost to the ups and downs of farm income.

INTERVIEW

Not for lack of ideas: an interview with NREL’s Dr, Peter Green, PV Magazine
In this interview pv magazine talks with the chief research officer at the United States’ foremost clean energy laboratory about the work that NREL has been doing, and what to expect for the
future of electricity and transportation.

SCIENTIFIC AMERICAN E-BOOK


Climate Change: Planet Under Pressure
, by Scientific American Editors  $5.99

From increasingly severe storms to collapsing coral reefs to the displacement of Syrian citizens, in this eBook we examine the effects of Earth’s changing climate on weather systems, ecosystems and human habitability and what this means for our future.

Cheapest AND Cleanest: Renewables Are Winning

By Nathanael Greene, Natural Resources Defense Council

When President Jimmy Carter put solar panels on the roof of the White House 40 years ago, renewable energy resources were a niche technology both expensive and quirky. Well, as Carter’s buddy Bob Dylan would say, “The times they are a changin’.”

Solar and wind energy are beating dirty fossil fuels and nuclear power in the marketplace. They are winning not because they are clean and necessary to combat carbon pollution, but because they are less expensive for power producers, companies and customers. As 2018 closes, it’s now safe to say that clean renewable energy is at an inflection point. Cost is no longer the biggest challenge to greater adoption of wind and solar; it is now the rules of the power markets that often keep the cheapest options from winning. Read more here.

Pixabay Photo

IN NEBRASKA

Lincoln Journal Star Letter: Farmers produce energy, too
By Matt Gregory, Clean Energy Advocate, Nebraska Wildlife Federation. Last year, Nebraska farmers collected nearly $4 million in lease payments to place wind turbines on their land. And that’s not to mention the indirect benefits of wind farms paying millions to counties and school districts, helping to lessen everyone’s property tax burden.

NEWS FROM OTHER STATES

ALSO IN THE NEWS


NREL REPORT

U.S. utilities test distributed energy management, PV Magazine

Distributed energy management systems can capture added value from solar and storage by shaving peak loads, providing grid services, and deferring grid investments. Utilities testing such systems have shared their lessons learned, while Western Australia leapfrogs ahead.

Download Report: Expanding PV Value: Lessons Learned from Utility-led Distributed Energy Resource Aggregation in the United States (PDF)

ENERGY STORAGE NEWS

Tri-State policy change discourages battery projects in rural Colorado and New Mexico, Clean Cooperative

United Power will dedicate the largest battery storage system in Colorado next week, a 16 megawatt hour Tesla Powerpack in Longmont that the electric cooperative expects will save its members $1 million each year. But recent policy changes by Tri-State Generation and Transmission Association, United Power’s wholesale power supplier, aim to discourage other cooperatives from pursuing similar projects, creating uncertainty for the deployment of battery projects in much of rural Colorado and New Mexico. United Power shifted its focus to battery projects last year, after the co-op reached the 5% limit on local renewable energy generation imposed by Tri State.

Colorado adopts rule to include storage in utility planning, Utility Dive
State regulators and lawmakers have focused on energy storage in 2018 as the governor signed a measure on consumer-installed storage and the PUC approved an Xcel Colorado plan to retire 660 MW of coal in favor of storage and solar.

NATIONAL SURVEY

Midterm Voters Want Action On Clean Energy Policy, Cres Forum Polling

Citizens for Responsible Energy Solutions Forum and the Conservative Energy Network recently released national post-election survey results finding strong support among Republicans and Democrats alike for government action to accelerate development and use of clean energy in the United States.

NEW NON-WIRES SOLUTIONS GUIDE


Rocky Mountain Institute’s Non-Wires Solutions Implementation Playbook: A Practical Guide for Regulators, Utilities, and Developers delineates innovative approaches to spur Non-Wires Solutions (NWS) adoption and recommends planning and operational strategies to improve NWS processes.

Solar Tariffs Hold Back Q3 Installations, Scramble Project Timelines As Procurement Pipeline Booms

SEIA News Release

BOSTON, Mass. and WASHINGTON, D.C. – The Section 201 solar tariffs took a toll on utility-scale solar installations in the third quarter according to the U.S. Solar Market Insight Report for Q3 from Wood Mackenzie Power & Renewables and the Wood Mackenzie Power & the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA). The residential market, meanwhile, continued to stabilize after a down 2017. Overall, the analysts expect 2018 growth to be flat.

For the first time since 2015, quarterly additions of utility-scale solar photovoltaics (PV) fell below 1 gigawatt (GW), highlighting the impact of the tariffs and the uncertainty surrounding them in late 2017 and early 2018. As a result, the U.S. solar market was down 15 percent year-over-year in the third quarter of the year, but the report notes that a strong project pipeline lies ahead. Continue reading here.

MORE U.S. RENEWABLE ENERGY NEWS & AN OP-ED

GLOBAL NEWS

Expect 680 GW Of New Wind Energy In Next Decade, North American Wind Power

A new report from research and consultancy firm Wood Mackenzie predicts more than 680 GW of new wind power capacity to come online globally over the next decade.


ENERGY STORAGE

U.S. energy storage project pipeline hits 32.9 GW this year, Solar Power World. The pipeline for energy storage projects in the United States doubled this year, ballooning to 32.9 GW, according to the latest U.S. Energy Storage Monitor from Wood Mackenzie Power & Renewables and the Energy Storage Association (ESA). While not all of the projects will come to fruition, this is a clear signpost that developers are bullish on energy storage. The report’s free executive summary is available here.

100% RENEWABLE ENERGY NEWS & A PODCAST

PROJECT AGGREGATION

NREL highlights DER aggregation project challenges, American Public Power Association. A new study by the National Renewable Energy Laboratory identifies challenges and makes recommendations for utilities implementing distributed energy resource (DER) aggregation programs. For the study, Expanding PV Value: Lessons Learned from Utility-led Distributed Energy Resource Aggregation in the United States, NREL analyzed DER aggregation programs at five utilities.

ELECTRIC VEHICLES

In Minneapolis-St. Paul, the days of diesel buses may be numbered, Midwest Energy News. Metro Transit officials have have committed to add as many as 125 electric buses over the next four years, after which they may stop buying diesel buses altogether. The multi-year strategy comes two months after clean energy advocates successfully pressured the agency to suspend the purchases of new diesel and hybrid buses so that it could study the potential for electrification.

MICROGRIDS

Homeland Security Calls for Microgrid-Driven Community Enclaves

A new Homeland Security report calls for creation of microgrid-driven community enclaves as part of a larger safety strategy should the United States experience a catastrophic power failure. Surviving a Catastrophic Power Outage finds the nation outmatched by an outage lasting weeks or months.


LOCAL NEWS

NPPD eyes hydrogen as conversion fuel at coal-fired unit, American Public Power Association. NPPD plans to change Sheldon Unit 2 near Hallam, Nebraska, from coal to hydrogen between 2021 and 2023, according to John Swanson, NPPD’s generation strategies manager. The hydrogen will flow through a pipeline from a facility Monolith Materials is building across the road from the generating unit. to manufacture carbon black, which is used in tires, cell phones, computers, wiring, etc. The process to make carbon black produces hydrogen as a by-product.

City of Hastings looking to become more sustainable

By Valerie Juarez, NTV

Hastings, NEB. — One of the tri-cities is looking to become more sustainable. This as it’s hoping to lower their amount of fossil fuels with clean, renewable energy. The city of Hastings says they’re ready for the next step, and this would be a way to protect the community and make it more resilient for the future. Continue reading here.

Related: City seeking proposals for solar project,  by Tony Herman, Hastings Tribune

NEBRASKA ALSO IN THE NEWS HERE

US Utility Invests in Kilowatt Labs to Boost Service with Microgrids, Microgrid Knowledge

Until December 2017, Kilowatt Labs was still a startup company, developing supercapacitor-based energy storage and an energy server that’s designed to manage distributed energy. But after the company delivered its first product in January, Kilowatt Labs attracted more business than expected. Most recently, it garnered a $2.5 million investment from utility NorthWestern Energy, which serves 718,300 customers in Montana, South Dakota and Nebraska. Photo: Omer Ghani, co-founder and managing director of Kilowatt Labs.

About NorthWestern Energy

NorthWestern Energy has served customers in Montana, South Dakota and Nebraska for more than 100 years. The company, which got its start in small communities, today provides more than 718,300 residential and business customers with electricity and natural gas. NorthWestern Energy is a publicly-traded company on the New York Stock Exchange.

Walmart to install solar panels on 19 of its stores in Illinois, including Belleville

By Terri Maddox, Belleville News-Democrat

The move was prompted by the state’s new Adjustable Block Program, which provides incentives for commercial and residential rooftop solar projects, as well as community solar farms. The company already has solar systems at about 350 of its 5,000 sites in the United States, including Walmart and Sam’s Club stores. Read more here.

Photo Credit: Walmart

Illinois’ impending solar energy boom, Minnesota Public Radio. The state of Illinois is about to see a 2,000 percent increase in solar energy projects by 2025 due to a new state law. The boom will likely create thousands of new jobs. 

NEWS FROM OTHER STATES

SOLAR ENERGY & DOE FUNDING

Solar Energy Beats Coal On Critical Infrastructure Resilience, Says DOE, CleanTechnica. In addition to grid integration, the agency continues to support research that helps keep the cost of solar cells down, down, and downer (check out the latest perovskite research, for example). Its funding umbrella also covers ongoing support for solar energy adoption by rural electric co-ops as well as tribal lands and cities and towns. Helping to grow the PV industry workforce is another area of focus.

MICROGRIDS

CORPORATE RENEWABLE ENERGY BUYERS

Big tech companies are becoming the top buyers of green energy to meet data needs: BNEF, Utility Dive. Bloomberg New Energy Finance (BNEF) data shows the tech industry has signed deals for 10.4 GW of renewables and tech-related corporate purchasing has already set records this year. Google has become the largest corporate buyer of renewable energy in the world, as it tries to eliminate all emissions from its footprint, but other big names like Facebook, Apple and Microsoft, are also investing heavily. Google Image.

OF POTENTIAL INTEREST TO DO-IT-YOURSELFERS

Off Grid Solar, by Joseph P. O’Connor 

Off Grid Solar is a pocket guide and quick reference for anyone looking to build a solar system with the free sunshine available to us all. “The limitations to widespread solar are not centered on the cost, the efficiency, or the need for advancements in technology. The limitations are solely due to the lack of widespread knowledge on the subject.”

Amidst Keystone XL Fight, Nebraska Farmers Give 10 Acres Back to the Ponca Nation

Written by Twilight Greenaway, Civil Eats

A few weeks ago, officials from the TransCanada Corporation drove two sets of wooden stakes, each fastened with about a yard of bright orange flagging tape, into the ground along two sides of Art Tanderup’s farm. But Tanderup, a retired school teacher whose Neligh, Nebraska farm sits right on the preferred route for the proposed Keystone XL pipeline, took TransCanada’s latest chess move in stride. Continue reading here. 

Photo by Twilight Greenaway: Signs commemorating a meeting of the Cowboy and Indian Alliance on the Tanderups’ farm in 2015.

ALSO IN NEBRASKA


70, OPPD Blog, The Wire

WHAT IS IT? The number of turbines that will produce electricity at the Sholes Wind Energy Center in northeast Nebraska.

 

NEWS FROM OTHER STATES

How refinancing could help retire Colorado coal plants sooner
By Allen Best, Energy News Network

Instead of continuing to operate the aging plants, paying down remaining depreciation, or debt, a utility could instead issue bonds securitized by reliable future sales.

 

NATIONAL NEWS

Abby Hopper at SEIA: #ThisIsWhy

The latest SunCast episode syndicated by pv magazine features Abby Hopper’s opening remarks at the Solar Power International Conference.

 

SOLAR SCHOOLS NEWS


New Initiative Helps More Schools Go Solar,
Solar Industry

Solar Schools 2025, an initiative of the nonprofit Renewable Nation, is seeking 50 K-12 schools across the U.S. that can “buddy up” with schools that have already gone through the process of installing solar.

 

MICROGRID NEWS

Microgrids slowly make inroads in Midwest, with Illinois taking the lead

PRODUCT LAUNCH IN THE U.S.

Commercial rooftop solar racking with one drill bit

Seven communities set for meter replacement by NPPD

NPPD News Release

Columbus, Neb. – Upgrading of electric meters in seven southeast Nebraska communities by Nebraska Public Power District (NPPD) is scheduled to take place this month. The meter replacements are part of a program in 2018 to replace 43,000 existing electric meters in 33 communities served at retail by NPPD.

The new meters are equipped with two-way communication known as Advanced Metering Infrastructure (AMI), a digital metering technology used around the world for more than a decade. The current meters in communities slated for replacement are electro-mechanical devices. The new meters display the reading, but in digital LED format. The meters will have an electronic circuit board module installed that will receive and securely transmit the data back to NPPD on the total amount of kilowatt hours used by a residence, business or industry.
Read more here.

See Also: Advanced Meter Infrastructure

NEWS FROM OTHER STATES

Cape Cod Military Base Runs on 100% Renewable Energy

NEW INNOVATIVE PROGRAMS / TECHNOLOGY

SEIA, HBCU Coalition Join in National Effort to Increase Diversity of Solar Industry’s Workforce, SEIA News Release
WASHINGTON, D.C. – With a goal of making the solar workforce and solar communities more diverse, the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA) and the Historically Black Colleges and Universities Community Development Action Coalition (HBCU-CDAC) have begun a new effort to increase recruitment of African-American students into the industry.

EV NEWS

In Colorado, two rural co-ops are leading the charge on electric vehicles

RECYCLING NEWS

Sunsetting solar panels: U.S. photovoltaic cell recycling incentives are beginning, GreenBiz

According to a publication by International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA), more than 90 percent of the materials in typical photovoltaic solar panels — silicon, aluminum and glass — can be recycled and used again in the production of new solar panels. 

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