Tag Archives: National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL)

New study: Solar power delivers much more than just clean energy

Environment America News Release

Americans benefit from solar panels in important ways that are often overlooked by policymakers, according to The True Value of Solar: Measuring The Benefits of Rooftop Solar Power, a new study released today by Environment America Research and Policy Center and Frontier Group.  States should assess all those benefits when determining their energy policies and incentives.

“Power from the sun is a boon to the environment, protects our health from dirtier power options and gives us a shot at leaving our kids a better world,” Susan Rakov, chair of Environment America Research and Policy Center’s Clean Energy program, said. “We need to appreciate what solar energy is really worth, and base our public policies on it.” Read more here.

MORE NEWS & RESOURCES

For first time, renewable generation exceeds coal nationwide

By Jason Kuiper, The Wire, OPPD Blog

In April, U.S. monthly electricity generation from renewable sources exceeded coal-fired generation for the first time, according to a recent story by the American Public Power Association (APPA). The APPA story was based on data from the Energy Information Administration (EIA). The story said renewable sources provided 23% of total electricity generation compared to coal’s 20%. Read more here.

NextEra Photo of Butler Ridge Wind Energy Center wind turbines on farm land in Dodge County, Wisconsin.

More News & Resources

News & Resources from the Department of Energy’s Latest WINDExchange Newsletter

  • 2019 Tribal Energy Webinar Series
  • Wind for Schools Brochure 2019
  • NREL Receives DOE Funding for Wind-Wildlife Mitigation Technologies
    NREL recently received DOE funding to reduce environmental impacts of wind energy by improving the effectiveness of ultrasonic acoustic deterrents technology, which emit frequencies perceptible to bats to discourage them from approaching wind turbines. Other technological innovations include thermal imaging cameras and specially developed radar technologies, both of which detect and deter wildlife from approaching wind turbine blades. Learn more about NREL’s work to identify the best wind-wildlife mitigation technologies. Eight other organizations also received funding to help reduce environmental compliance costs and environmental impacts of land-based and offshore wind energy.
  • DOE Announces Winners of Collegiate Wind Competition 2019 Technical Challenge
    DOE’s Collegiate Wind Competition aims to prepare college and university students from multiple disciplines to enter the wind energy workforce by providing real-world technology experience. The competition challenges participants with tasks including business plan development; wind plant siting; and wind turbine design, building, and testing. Twelve collegiate teams gathered at DOE’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) Flatirons Campus in May to compete in the Collegiate Wind Competition Technical Challenge. Click here to see who won.

Cost of Rooftop Solar Power Set for Another Steep Plunge

Written by Tina Casey, Triple Pundit

Rooftop solar arrays can be a valuable asset for businesses seeking clean power, and new financing tools make it easier than ever to avoid up-front costs. However, the process of buying a rooftop solar array can still be intimidating. It is not unusual for solar customers to lose interest after their project gets bogged down by long processing times for permits, inspections and grid connections. That’s about to change, if the new “SolarApp” program goes according to plan. Continue reading here.

About Tina Casey

Tina writes frequently for TriplePundit and other websites, with a focus on military, government and corporate sustainability, clean tech research and emerging energy technologies. She is a former Deputy Director of Public Affairs of the New York City Department of Environmental Protection, and author of books and articles on recycling and other conservation themes. She is currently Deputy Director of Public Information for the County of Union, New Jersey.

Read more stories by Tina Casey.

Image credit: Biel Morro/Unsplash

Senate Bill Would Set Nation on Course for 50 Percent Renewable Energy or More by 2035

Environmental Working Group News Release

Currently, 30 states have renewables standards that require utilities to generate a set percentage of electricity that ramps up from year to year. The Renewable Electricity Standard Act, by Sen. Tom Udall (D-N.M), would require the remaining 20 states without renewables standards to get on board. A number of states with enormous solar and wind generation potential, like Florida, Georgia, Nebraska and Wyoming, have so far not adopted renewables policies. The proposal would more than double the pace of solar and wind development seen over the past decade, according to an analysis of Udall’s legislation by researchers with the Union of Concerned Scientists, or UCS. Read more here.

The Environmental Working Group is a nonprofit, non-partisan organization that empowers people to live healthier lives in a healthier environment. Through research, advocacy and unique education tools, EWG drives consumer choice and civic action.

ALSO IN THE NEWS

What happens when schools go solar?

Stanford Earth Matters Magazine, Stanford University

Sunshine splashing onto school rooftops and campuses across the country is an under-tapped resource that could help shrink electricity bills, new research suggests. The study, published in the April issue of the peer-reviewed journal Environmental Research Letters, shows taking advantage of all viable space for solar panels could allow schools to meet up to 75 percent of their electricity needs and reduce the education sector’s carbon footprint by as much as 28 percent. According to the study, it’s not economically viable for educational institutions to purchase rooftop solar systems outright in any state. Rather, the projects can make financial sense for schools if they contract a company to install, own and operate the system and sell electricity to the school at a set rate. Read more here.

Photo: Colorado Chatfield High School teacher Joel Bertelsen explains the fundamentals of a photovoltaic array to his Intro to Engineering Students. Credit: Dennis Schroeder / NREL

ADDITIONAL RESOURCES

Solar Energy Industries Association Fact Sheet: What is a solar power purchase agreement?

A solar power purchase agreement (PPA) is a financial agreement where a developer arranges for the design, permitting, financing and installation of a solar energy system on a customer’s property at little to no cost.

The developer sells the power generated to the host customer at a fixed rate that is typically lower than the local utility’s retail rate. This lower electricity price serves to offset the customer’s purchase of electricity from the grid while the developer receives the income from these sales of electricity as well as any tax credits and other incentives generated from the system.

PPAs typically range from 10 to 25 years and the developer remains responsible for the operation and maintenance of the system for the duration of the agreement. At the end of the PPA contract term, a customer may be able to extend the PPA, have the developer remove the system or choose to buy the solar energy system from the developer.

National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) Resource
Solar Schools Assessment and Implementation Project: Financing Options for Solar Installations on K–12 Schools

Consumer demand drives record year for wind energy purchases

American Wind Energy Association News Release

US wind power industry reports third strongest quarter ever for new capacity installations.

WASHINGTON — Fortune 500 brands and a range of other non-utility entities, including cities and universities, are catalyzing America’s growing demand for renewable energy by purchasing a record amount of wind power in 2018 according to a new report released today by the American Wind Energy Association (AWEA). Consumer demand combined with policy stability and low, stable prices helped wind power capacity installations rise to the third strongest quarter in the industry’s history.

AWEA’s U.S. Wind Industry Fourth Quarter 2018 Market Report reveals that non-utility customers like AT&T, Walmart, ExxonMobil, and Shell Energy purchased a record 4,203 megawatts (MW) of wind power capacity in 2018 through long-term contracts, or Power Purchase Agreements (PPA). Contracted wind capacity from non-utility customers in 2018 surged 66 percent higher than the previous high-water mark in 2015. Data from the Business Renewables Center confirms that wind provides more energy to corporate brands than any other renewable source. Read the entire news release here.

Wind Energy in Nebraska
Nebraska is a national leader in wind resource potential. Nebraska is one of the top states in the country for potential wind energy generation, with a technical potential of approximately 465,000 megawatts (MW) according to NREL. Nebraska now has 1,972 MW of installed wind power and ranks 14th in the nation for installed capacity. Harnessing more of Nebraska’s wind potential could make the state a powerhouse for the wind industry while providing savings for electricity customers. Source: Nebraska Fact Sheet (PDF), American Wind Energy Association

Wind Energy Generation in Nebraska, Nebraska Energy Office

Photo: “Wind Rainbow,” AWEA’s Wind Energy Image Gallery

Solar tsunami

By Christian Roselund and John Weaver, PV Magazine

Developers have applied to build 139 GWac of large-scale solar projects in the territory of six grid operators – around five times what is currently online across the country – and that figure doesn’t even cover the entire United States. By any metric, we are looking at an unprecedented boom in solar development over the next five years. Read more here.

Flickr Photo by Juwi Renewable Energies Limited


Electric Power Markets: National Overview

Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC)

 

 

Recently Posted: Capital Dynamics Signs Agreement with Tenaska to Develop Solar Projects, News Release. The transaction includes 14 solar projects with approximately 2,000 megawatts (MW) in the Midcontinent Independent System Operator (MISO) market. The portfolio represents a large share of all solar projects currently in the MISO North interconnection queue, with projects in Michigan,
Missouri, Illinois, Wisconsin, Indiana and Minnesota.

Nebraska is a member of the Southwest Power Pool (SPP) wholesale market.
Based in Little Rock, Arkansas. SPP manages transmission in fourteen states: Arkansas, Iowa, Kansas, Louisiana, Minnesota, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, New Mexico, North Dakota, Oklahoma, South Dakota, Texas and Wyoming. Its membership is comprised of investor-owned utilities, municipal
systems, generation and transmission cooperatives, state authorities, independent power producers, power marketers and independent transmission companies.

Also Published by PV Magazine:

ADDITIONAL RECOMMENDED READING

INTERVIEW

What’s In Store for U.S. Solar Energy in 2019?, by the Center on Global Energy Policy, Earth Institute, Columbia University. In the latest edition of the Columbia Energy Exchange podcast, host Bill Loveless talks to Abigail Ross Hopper, the president and CEO of the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA), the U.S. trade group for solar energy.

OPPD POSTS RESIDENTIAL SERVICE CHARGE FAQs ON WEBSITE

The final adjustment to the residential service charge begins January 1. Review the Rate Restructuring FAQs for details

FAQ #9:  I am considering installing solar panels and/or wind generation at my home. How would this affect me?
Because the fixed portion of the bill is increasing, customers who wish to install solar or wind to meet part of their energy needs would see an increase in the payback period associated with recovering their investment.

Previously Posted: Are regulators starting to rethink fixed charges?, Utility Dive
[In 2017], regulators only approved 6 out of 84 proposals for higher customer charges, suggesting regulators might be looking for “something better,” Proudlove told Utility Dive. Autumn Proudlove is senior manager of policy research at the North Carolina Clean Energy Technology Center (NCCETC).

EPA Updates Key Tool for Communities to Use in Turning Current and Formerly Contaminated Lands into Renewable Energy Assets

EPA News Release

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. Read more here.

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

ALSO OF POTENTIAL INTEREST

The Nordex Group: leading sustainability transformation with powerful wind turbines, Energy Digital

Today, the Nordex Group has several projects underway and is nearing completion on a 95 turbine project in Kansas, a 101 turbine project in Nebraska, and a 16 turbine project in North Dakota.
AWEA Public Domain Photo: Wind Rainbow

  • Minnesota Power, Tenaska agree on wind energy purchase, The Globe
  • Black Hills Energy proposes $57 million wind farm for new energy options, Wyoming News
    The utility submitted a proposal to the Wyoming Public Service Commission on Monday seeking approval for a new Renewable Ready Service Tariff. The program would offer commercial customers local utility-scale renewable energy resources through a subscription program to fulfill up to 100 percent of their electricity needs. Participants would be able to enter into contracts with the company to purchase renewable energy for periods of five to 25 years. To facilitate this, Black Hills is requesting approval for a 40-megawatt wind energy-generating facility west of Cheyenne, known as the Corriedale Wind Energy Project.
  • The Year of the Corporate PPA, Greentech Media
  • Colorado’s Electric Car Dream: More charging stations, less smog and the warm embrace of renewable energy, The Denver Post. The state is growing more bullish on electric vehicles as it launches a plan to “electrify” more of the state’s transportation sector
  • The story behind that Amazon shareholder proposal demanding action on climate change, Fast Company. A group of employee stockholders have signed their names to a resolution, which will be voted on at the upcoming annual shareholder meeting next year. They are requesting that Amazon prepare a report describing exactly how it is planning for disruptions posed by climate change, and how it will reduce its dependence on fossil fuels. In total, 28 employees put their names on the document. It’s a first-of-its-kind stand from employees of one of the world’s most powerful companies–a group of dissenters using the leverage provided to them via their stock options. 

SHAREHOLDER ADVOCACY / CORPORATE RESPONSIBILITY RESOURCES

As You Sow
Founded in 1992, As You Sow promotes environmental and social corporate responsibility through shareholder advocacy, coalition building, and innovative legal strategies. Their vision is a safe, just, and sustainable world in which protecting the environment and human rights is central to corporate decision making. “Corporations are responsible for most of the pressing social and environmental problems we face today — we believe corporations must be a willing part of the solutions.”

Interfaith Center on Corporate Responsibility
Currently celebrating their 47th year, the Interfaith Center on Corporate Responsibility (ICCR)
pioneered the use of shareholder advocacy to press companies on environmental, social, and governance issues. This coalition of over 300 global institutional investors currently represents more than $400 billion in managed assets. Leveraging their equity ownership in some of the world’s largest and most powerful companies, ICCR members regularly engage management to identify and mitigate social and environmental risks resulting from corporate operations and policies.

Proxy Preview
Proxy Preview is a collaboration between three organizations: As You Sow, Sustainable Investment Institute, and Proxy Impact to help investors align their values with their investments. Publishes Annual Guide: Proxy Preview 2018 is the 14th edition of the insider’s guide to social and environmental shareholder proposals. This free publication is the #1
resource for shareholders looking to align their values and investments. “Bible for socially progressive foundations, religious groups, pension funds, and tax-exempt organizations”
– Chicago Tribune

SocialFunds.com
Social Funds.com features over 10,000 pages of information on SRI mutual funds, community investments, corporate research, shareowner actions, and daily social investment news.

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.

Department of Energy Selects Five Organizations in American-Made Solar Prize Competition

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, the U.S. Department of Energy’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) has selected five organizations to facilitate and grow the American-Made Solar Prize, a $3 million competition designed to revitalize U.S. solar manufacturing. These organizations, known as Power Connectors, can receive $100,000 each for supporting the American-Made Solar Prize by recruiting competitors and partners, hosting demonstration days, and developing plans and programs to ensure the longevity of the program.

The organizations span the country and have a strong track record of helping innovators succeed:

The DOE’s Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE) has partnered with NREL to administer the American-Made Solar Prize.

ADDITIONAL LINKS TO INFORMATION