Tag Archives: National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL)

Largest agrivoltaic research project in U.S. advances renewable energy while empowering local farmers

Case study contributed to Solar Power World by HansenRE.

The global installed capacity of agrivoltaics, or the co-development of the same area of land for both solar power and agriculture, has grown rapidly from about 5 MW in 2012 to approximately 2,900 MW in 2020. One of the largest driving factors for this growth is the need to continue to build solar projects to mitigate climate change in the face of dwindling available non-agricultural land. According to the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL), by 2030, utility-scale solar could cover almost 2 million acres of land in the United States. A recent Oregon State University study also estimates that converting just 1% of American farmland to agrivoltaics would not only meet the nation’s renewable energy targets, but also save water and create a sustainable, long-term food system. Additionally, agrivoltaics have been shown to increase crop production, solar panel efficiency as well as farmer income. Continue reading here.

Photo by Byron Kominek, owner of Jack’s Solar Garden in Boulder, Colorado: A beehive operated by Best Bees and sponsored by Google located at Jack’s Solar Garden. Best Bees installs and maintains honeybee hives on commercial and residential properties across the U.S. and seeks to improve bee health and expand bee populations.

Solar and wind’s competitiveness over coal is accelerating, analysis shows

By Kathiann M. Kowalski, Energy News Network

“The Energy Innovation analysis does not factor in the
social costs of coal-fired power plants.”

The May 5 analysis comes from Energy Innovation: Policy & Technology, based in San Francisco. The work highlights the accelerating pace of the clean energy transition, even aside from the social costs of coal plant pollution.

“Out of the 235 plants in the U.S. coal fleet, 182 plants, or 80 percent, are uneconomic or already retiring,” according to the report, which counted plants in service in 2018. Put another way, the share of total U.S. coal plant capacity from that year that won’t be competitive beyond the next few years has climbed from roughly five-eighths to three-fourths in just two years. Read more here.

NPPD Photo: Gerald Gentleman 1,365MW coal-fired power plant in Sutherland

Kathiann M. Kowalski

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. Kathi covers the state of Ohio. More by Kathiann M. Kowalski

Previously Posted Articles by Karen Uhlenhuth, Energy News Network

  • Solar firm buying land rights near coal plants with eye toward transmission
    Josh Case, Photosol’s chief executive officer, intends to develop two arrays — one with 400 megawatts and one with 250 megawatts — on 5,000 acres he has under lease option near Nebraska’s Gerald Gentleman station. He pays an annual fee to maintain the option to lease the acreage. The projects would include 325 MW of battery storage.
  • Nebraska utility could slash emissions at little or no added cost, studies show
    The Nebraska Public Power District, which serves most of the state’s population outside the cities of Omaha and Lincoln, last year hired two firms to forecast the potential impact of federal carbon regulations. The results, by Ascend Analytics and Siemens, both conclude that the utility could significantly reduce its exposure to such policies without burdening customers with severe rate hikes. 

HIGH-CAPACITY EV CHARGERS 

Report finds increase in high-capacity EV chargers could benefit utilities, by Peter Maloney, American Public Power Association

The premise of the report, Charging Smart, is that an increase in the maximum power level of residential electric vehicle (EV) chargers is imminent and will likely reach the highest charger levels within a decade, leading to increased costs for utilities by shifting charging load to times of day when electricity is more expensive. 

The authors recommended that utilities should explore time variant rate options, as well as hybrid pricing options that offer higher fixed rates from 6am to midnight and discounted fixed rates from midnight to 6am. Utilities should also consider incentives for the deployment of smart charging technologies, such as owner-operated programmable charging systems and direct charge control functions in conjunction with pricing signals. And, finally, the authors say utilities should establish outreach campaigns to influence customer behaviors to shift charging patterns. 

“What’s so promising about this analysis is the clear opportunity to push innovation that will use vehicle electrification to create a more reliable electric grid and maximize greenhouse gas reductions,” Suzanne Russo, Pecan Street CEO, said in a statement.

Energy Storage Grows Up

By Jeff Postelwait, T&D World 

Energy storage is even maturing to the point where it can take the place of building a new power generation asset or building grid upgrades. “When you add storage to your mix, everything becomes more flexible. You can increase hosting capacity of a transmission circuit without having to build a lot of new facilities. So, it’s easy to think of it as a competitor, but what it really is, is more of an enabler and a partner.”    Jason Burwen, interim CEO of the Energy Storage Association. Read more here.

Also By Jeff Postelwait: Energy Goals: What Does a New Administration Mean for Utilities? A look at the future of energy at the federal and state levels, and how the commercial sector also is a powerful driver for renewables.

ADDITIONAL RECOMMENDED READING

MODEL POLLINATOR-FRIENDLY SOLAR BUSINESS

Solar Power + Bees = Extra Benefit For Massachusetts, by Zachary Shahan, CleanTechnica

Navisun is focused on small utility-scale solar farms and community solar farms. It co-develops, acquires, owns, and operates the solar projects. The two it has just completed, one of which is a community solar farm, are fairly small projects, totaling 3.8 MW of solar power, but the company is just getting rolling and it intends to build and operate many more. 

PRIVATE INVESTMENTS IN RENEWABLE ENERGY

The Future of Private Equity and Solar Energy, contributed by Christopher J. Macklin, Certified Financial Planner (CFP), Solar Magazine

Investments in renewable capacity totaled more than $2.5 trillion between 2010-2019, according to BloombergNEF data. Solar alone drew in half of those funds—$1.3 trillion to be exact—and grew from just 25 GW at the beginning of 2010 to more than 660 GW by the end of the decade. That’s enough energy to power 100 million homes in the U.S. each year. The high volume of capital flowing into the renewable energy sector has increased asset prices. To counter this, private equity firms seeking higher returns are turning to projects under development as opposed to ones already operating.

SALESFORCE

Inside Salesforce’s bold play for supply-chain leadership, by Joel Makower, Chairman & Executive Editor, GreenBiz Group

Last week, the cloud-based software company Salesforce notified its thousands of suppliers that it will include language in all future procurement contracts requiring them, among other things, to set science-based targets to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions. And it set financial penalties for those that don’t. It was an unprecedented and bold move that, if emulated by others and aggressively enforced, could transform companies and markets far faster than any regulation ever could.

Salesforce Report: More Than a Megawatt: Embedding Social & Environmental Impact in the Renewable Energy Procurement Process

TENNESSEE VALEY AUTHORITY

Biden’s TVA appointments offer crucial chance for climate justice, Energy News Network

Biden’s nominations to the board of the Tennessee Valley Authority could help fulfill his climate promise by making TVA a model for how public power can lead the clean energy transition, writes guest commentator Gaby Sarri-Tobar, a campaigner with the Center for Biological Diversity’s Energy Justice program.

SOLAR POWER WORLD 

Wind and solar energy are job creators. Which states are taking advantage?

By Karin Kirk, Yale Climate Connections

This analysis presents one way to look at renewable energy jobs in all 50 states. Every state already employs people in wind and solar energy. Each state also has a given amount of wind and solar potential. Some states are translating their natural potential into jobs, while others lag far behind.

Following are seven maps, stepping through three questions: How many jobs does each U.S. state have in wind and solar? How much wind and solar potential is there in each state? And how well has each state created jobs in wind and solar, given the size of their potential? Read more here.

Photo Credit: Walmart / Flickr

Solar array keeping Hemingford powered

By Mark McCarthy, Scottsbluff Star Herald

While other municipalities in the region and across the Midwest experienced rolling blackouts during the most recent cold snap, Hemingford was able to maintain electrical service due at least in part to the village’s solar energy production. City Clerk Barb Straub said Hemingford likely avoided the blackouts due to the production.

“Our solar is scheduled to produce about 10% of the village usage,” she said. “I can’t say for certain, but that probably helped our situation so that we didn’t have to (have a disruption in power).” Read more here.

Photo Credit: GenPro Energy Solutions

FROM NEBRASKA’S LARGEST UTILITIES

ALSO OF POTENTIAL INTEREST

Texas must increase ties to the national grid and DER to avoid another power catastrophe, analysts say, Utility Dive. Planning for inter-regional transmission and distributed resources could do what ERCOT’s competitive, energy-only market didn’t – keep the heat and lights on, energy advisors say.

COMMUNITY MICROGRIDS

Community Microgrids — “Cornerstone Of Future Energy Operations”, CleanTechnica
A modest description of microgrids would mention their role in energy resilience. A National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) description might go further and describe microgrids as the cornerstone of future energy operations. In either case, integration comes first, which is why the Solar Energy Technologies Office (SETO) announced in 2020 that it would award $34 million to energy systems integration projects, with a portion committed to developing community microgrids.

As wind industry goes big, this New England startup looks to shrink turbines

By David Thill, Energy News Network

Skyscraper-high blades are increasingly standard on wind farms, but Pecos Wind Power thinks its small, distributed turbines will be a better fit in Vermont. The fact that the turbines are serving the communities they’re sited in could help secure community support, said Julia Leopold, head of communications at VPPSA [Vermont Public Power Supply Authority].

“If you can directly correlate the benefit of the project to the community, then the community will be a bit more receptive to it,” she said, noting large renewable projects are sometimes sited in communities while their power is sold elsewhere. Read more here.

LINKS TO MORE INFORMATION & RESOURCES

IN NEBRASKA 

Bill would regulate wind energy in Nebraska, KMTV

Wind energy had a ‘banner year’ in 2020. Here’s what that means for Joe Biden’s climate plan.

By Elinor Aspegren, USA Today

A study from the American Clean Power Association released this month reports that 2020 was a record year for the industry, with developers adding enough megawatts of capacity to provide power for millions of homes and inching the U.S. closer to the Biden administration’s goal of carbon neutrality by 2035.

In all, 16,913 megawatts of new wind power capacity was installed in the U.S. last year – an 85% increase over 2019. That’s the equivalent of the power generated from 11 large coal plants, and enough to serve nearly 6 million homes, Jonathan Naughton, a professor of mechanical engineering and director of the Wind Energy Research Center at the University of Wyoming, told USA TODAY. Read more here.

Nebraska Clean Energy Fact Sheet, American Clean Power Association

ADDITIONAL RECOMMENDED READING

Onward and Upward: How Recent Trends Will Power Breakthroughs in 2021 and Beyond,
Greentech Media article contributed by John Carrington, CEO and Director of Stem.

Not even 100 days into his administration, President Biden’s sense of urgency in tackling climate issues and driving a clean energy revolution is clear. Here is a look at how key recent trends in energy and climate — including remarkable clean energy progress under dire circumstances — will lead to real and sustainable breakthroughs in 2021 and beyond.

FACT SHEET: President Biden Takes Executive Actions to Tackle the Climate Crisis at Home and Abroad, Create Jobs, and Restore Scientific Integrity Across Federal Government, The White House Briefing Room

SEIA NEWS RELEASE

Solar Industry Statement on Blue Collar to Green Collar Jobs Development Act

“The Blue Collar to Green Collar Jobs Development Act introduced by Rep. Bobby Rush (D-Ill.) will make the American solar industry stronger, better trained and more diverse. Our industry will need tens of thousands of workers as it continues to expand and we are deeply committed to efforts to diversify our workforce, bring the benefits of the energy transition to all, and create economic opportunity for Americans in every community, including those who worked in traditional energy industries.” – Abigail Ross Hopper, President and CEO of the Solar Energy Industries Association

ZERO ENERGY READY HOMES

DOE’s Zero Energy Ready Home Program helps homebuyers quickly identify high performance homes that are so energy efficient, all or most annual energy use can be offset with renewable energy. Now a trilogy of videos is available to tell that powerful story to American homebuyers.


DOE’s Video Trilogy

Live Better
Live Healthy
Live Future Ready

The Sun Haven: Net-Zero Energy Home in Lincoln (GRNE Solar).

ENERGY EFFICIENCY

Why energy efficiency is key to net-zero, GreenBiz Group

 

 

 

 

 

Despite the rise of net-zero commitments and new financial models proliferating, we’re slowing on our efficiency gains. Global efficiency improvements have been on the decline since 2015, according to the International Energy Agency (IEA). Energy intensity in 2020 is expected to improve by only 0.8 percent — nearly half of the improvements for 2019 (1.6 percent) and 2018 (1.5 percent). 

ENERGY STORAGE

NREL outlines four-phase framework for energy storage development, American Public Power Association


The report released late last month is the first publication to come out of NREL’s multi-yea
Storage Futures Study, which will explore energy storage technologies across a range of potential future cost and performance scenarios through 2050.


KEYSTONE XL

Cancellation of Keystone XL Pipeline Shapes Energy Investment, Environment + Energy Leader article contributed by Anthony Shaw, Founder, Progeneration Energy

The fate of Keystone XL and similar projects are fueling reinvention in the oil sector. Companies like Shell and BP are no longer defining themselves as oil companies, building new brand identities as integrated energy companies. 

Previously Posted: Nebraska’s better off without Keystone XL, Lincoln Journal Star Editorial Board 

State energy plans show how process can match final product in impact

By Karen Uhlenhuth, Energy News Network

This winter, lawmakers in two Plains states are backing bills calling for a similar process. In Nebraska, state Sen. John Cavanaugh has proposed spending $250,000 on a climate action plan that would be produced by the University of Nebraska. In Kansas, state Rep. Mark Schreiber is preparing a bill to form a task force to provide “strategic guidance and objectives” for energy in the state.

The vast majority of states already have a climate or energy plan. According to the National Association of State Energy Officials, all but eight — including Kansas, Illinois and Wisconsin — have drafted a state energy plan. The Center for Climate and Energy Solutions says 33 states have released or are developing a climate action plan. Read more here.

LB 483: Provide for a climate change study and action plan

Previously Posted 

  • Nebraska needs overall plan for energy policies, Lincoln Journal Star, November 4, 2015
    Nebraska’s Energy Office director says the state needs a comprehensive approach to its energy policies as it faces what could be a “seismic” change in federal regulations governing emissions. David Bracht, Gov. Pete Ricketts’ chief adviser on energy issues, talked about state energy policies Wednesday at the eighth annual Nebraska Wind and Solar Conference in Omaha. . . .
    [The]
    Nebraska Legislature has instructed the state Energy Office to create a comprehensive energy plan and budgeted more than $630,000 to see it done.
    LB469 Provide procedures and reporting requirements relating to a state plan on carbon dioxide emissions, require a strategic state energy plan, and provide requirements for meteorological evaluation towers.
  • 2011 Nebraska Energy Plan, National Association of State Energy Officials (NASEO)

ALSO IN THE NEWS

  • Masdar Achieves First Close on 1.6 GW Clean Energy Portfolio in United States from EDF Renewables, EDF Renewables News Release. The Abu Dhabi-based renewable energy company said the U.S. offers “considerable scope for further growth.” Power from the diversified portfolio projects will be sold under long-term contracts to a variety of offtakers, including utilities, hedge providers and community choice aggregators (CCAs). The 300MW Milligan 1 Wind Farm in Saline County, Nebraska is included in the portfolio.
  • Wadena now powered by 100% carbon-free electricity, Wadena Pioneer Journal
    Harnessing the winds on the open plains of Nebraska or the sun in Iowa tends to provide more bang for the buck than the dark winters up in the woods of northern Minnesota. This article includes a brief video about renewable energy certificates (RECs).

ENERGY STORAGE

EV NEWS

Commentary: Clean transportation can help prevent pollution that damages our health and heightens COVID risk

Written by Dr. Shelley Francis and Johana Vicente, Energy News Network

If you are Black, Latinx, or a member of an Indigenous community, you are far more likely than a white person to know someone firsthand who has died of COVID-19. This mirrors what is happening in cities, suburbs, rural areas and tribal lands across the U.S. — our communities are being ravaged by the virus. As of mid-January, more than 375,000 Americans have died of COVID-19, with people of color between 2.2 to 2.5  times more likely to have died from the virus than whites of the same age. There are a number of longstanding racial inequities rooted in our current economic and social systems that contribute to this disparity . . . Continue reading here.


Dr. Shelley Francis
is co-founder of EVHybridNoire, the nation’s largest network of Black people and people of color who are enthusiastic about shifting away from fossil fuels. Francis co-wrote this op-ed with Chispa National Director Johana Vicente.

 

In Nebraska: The City of Lincoln’s Exemplary Climate Action Leadership

We Are Still In: Current Climate Actions City Of Lincoln, Nebraska Is Taking, by Frank Uhlarik, Sustainability and Compliance Administrator, City of Lincoln, Nebraska. The City of Lincoln acknowledges the threat of Climate Change and the need to develop and implement sound policies and programs intended to mitigate and/or adapt to the effects of Climate Change.

About We Are Still In
We Are Still In is a joint declaration of support for climate action, signed by more than 3,900 CEOs, mayors, governors, tribal leaders, college presidents, faith leaders, health care executives, and others. The organizations they represent comprise the largest and most diverse coalition of actors ever established in pursuit of climate action in the United States.

Additional Recommended Reading: Mayor Releases Draft Climate Action Plan, News Release, City of Lincoln Mayor’s Office

Lincoln’s Leadership on Clean Transportation

More Related News Stories & Resources:

EV EQUITY

With bans on gas-powered vehicles, here are key steps to increase EV equity, GreenBiz article contributed by Pamela Gordon, Managing Director, PGS Consults, Presidio Graduate School

At Presidio Graduate School, we see affordability of EVs as being both an equity and a diversity factor. Some of our professors reserve an empty seat in their classroom representing those who are not able to join the discussion. Although most new product and service adoptions are at first expensive before becoming more affordable, it’s time to buck the old way of targeting markets that inherently exclude those not usually in the room.

EV CHARGING DESERTS

In Chicago, ‘charging deserts’ part of racial divide on electric vehicles, Energy News Network
Public charging stations are most heavily concentrated in the city’s more affluent neighborhoods, creating a chicken/egg scenario for electric car adoption.

EV MAINTENANCE & REPAIR COSTS

It’s Official — Consumer Reports Confirms EV Owners Spend Half As Much On Maintenance, CleanTechnica

Data is king, and when it comes to information on the frequency of repairs on automobiles, Consumer Reports has more data than anyone. For its latest report, it did a deep dive into the data from its 2019 and 2020 reliability surveys of electric and gasoline powered vehicles. After crunching all the numbers, Consumer Reports says “drivers of electric vehicles are saving an average of 50% on maintenance and repair over the life of a vehicle compared to owners of gas-powered vehicles.”

SOLSMART SOLAR + EV GUIDE

SolSmart Report: Solar & Electric Vehicles, A Guide For Local Governments
This new report outlines key strategies including educating community members on the benefits of PV and EVs, organizing group purchase campaigns to support both technologies, providing financial and non-financial incentives on EV and PV regulation, and adjusting local regulations to reduce costs and ease integration.


EV CHARGING STATIONS WITH BATTERY STORAGE

Energy storage for EV charging can lower demand charges, Guidehouse reports, Utility Dive
EV charging stations with battery storage systems can make EV charging more cost effective by drawing energy from the grid during low-demand periods and releasing power to charge EVs during peak-demand periods, according to a Guidehouse Insights report. 

VEHICLE-TO-GRID (V2G) BENEFITS

Public power utilities, others pursue vehicle-to-grid opportunities, American Public Power Association


In 2019, the Electric Power Research Institute (EPRI) released a study finding that utilities and ratepayers can derive substantial value from large-scale deployment of EVs equipped to transmit power to the grid.


FEDERAL LEADERSHIP THAT WILL ALSO BENEFIT OUR COMMUNITIES

Biden administration will replace the entire federal vehicle fleet with EVs, CNET

The current federal vehicle fleet is estimated at

around 645,000 vehicles, and President Biden plans to replace all of them with American-made electric vehicles. 

NREL’S FEDERAL FLEET TRAINING VIDEOS

NREL Learning Resources: NREL’s fleet electrification experts develop training content and regional workshops that help fleets evaluate EV potential for sites, campuses, and more.

You are invited to DOE’s National Community Solar Partnership Virtual Summit

The U.S. Department of Energy Solar Energy Technologies Office invites you to join the National Community Solar Partnership (NCSP) Virtual Summit on Thursday, October 29 from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. CT. The summit will highlight partners’ innovations and progress to date in ensuring access to affordable community solar for every U.S. household by 2025. The event will feature speakers from leading community solar organizations and highlight case studies of innovative community solar projects from across the country. Register here.

This event is hosted by Nation of Makers, a Power Connector supporting the American-Made Network through the National Renewable Energy Lab.