Tag Archives: National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL)

Power, plants: Seed mixes and ag innovation for PV solar

By Rob Davis, Director, Center for Pollinators in Energy at Fresh Energy

Driven by rapidly declining costs and 100 percent clean energy commitments from corporations and municipalities, demand for large-scale solar energy development is surging. The National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) forecasts farmers and other landowners will lease 2-3 million acres of land for ground-mounted solar arrays by 2030, a 10-fold increase from 2020.

This rapid bloom in leasing land to produce solar energy isn’t just a lifeline for farmers looking to stabilize on-farm income, it’s also a once-in-a-generation opportunity to create habitat at scale to help species critical to agriculture and ecosystem health. Climate change and loss of habitat pose significant threats to honey bees, bumblebees, monarch butterflies and a wide variety of pollinators. A recent global analysis found that 40 percent of pollinator species may be at risk of extinction in the coming years. Continue reading here,

Photo by Rob Davis, Fresh Energy: ENGIE project in Vermont

ADDITIONAL RECOMMENDED READING

AWEA INTO THE WIND BLOG POSTS

American wind power supports COVID-19 relief efforts in communities across the country
Our society and economy continue to grapple with the unprecedented challenges COVID-19 presents. Ensuring the wind energy workforce’s safety and protecting U.S. wind jobs remains the top priority, and when the economy can safely reopen, wind power stands ready to play a leading role in the recovery. However, communities across the country are struggling right now, and the U.S. wind industry is doing its part to aid in the recovery effort.

Fact check: New Michael Moore-backed documentary full of errors, fundamentally misunderstands electric systemA new Michael Moore-backed documentary has been released that examines the climate crisis and the lack of progress made so far in combating the problem. Unfortunately, and somewhat strangely, the filmmakers chose to focus much of their attention erroneously critiquing a leading climate solution—renewable energy. Let’s set the record straight on where this film gets it wrong. See this article for an in-depth look at the film’s problematic portrayal of solar power.

FROM WIND EXCHANGE – DEPARTMENT OF ENERGY NEWSLETTER

The wind industry needs a broad range of workers, including turbine engineers, project developers, and supply chain managers, to support growth. Unfortunately, employers report difficulty hiring well-qualified candidates to support this growth, while graduates have also had difficulty finding jobs. Follow these tips from wind energy professionals to help narrow this gap and learn how to breeze into the wind energy workforce.

ROOFTOP WIND

Rooftop Wind Power Might Take off by Using Key Principle of Flight, by Scientific American, EcoWatch

Solar panels perched on the roofs of houses and other buildings are an increasingly common sight in the U.S., but rooftop wind systems have never caught on. Past efforts to scale down the towering turbines that generate wind power to something that might sit on a home have been plagued by too many technical problems to make such devices practical. Now, however, a new design could circumvent those issues by harnessing the same principle that creates lift for airplane wings.

Image: An artist’s rendering of AeroMINES along the edge of a roof and combined with solar arrays. Sandia National Laboratories

GOOGLE

Google Tests Load-Shifting at Data Centers to Capture the Grid’s Peak Clean Energy Hours, Greentech Media. In its quest for 24/7 renewables, Google tries scheduling “non-urgent” computing tasks at times of maximum wind and solar output.

Previously Posted: Google is a member of two regional transmission organizations: Midcontinent Independent System Operator (MISO) and the Southwest Power Pool (SPP).

The global corporation is also a member of RE100 and the Renewable Energy Buyers Alliance (REBA).

7 Transmission Projects That Could Unlock a Renewable Energy Bounty

By Jeff St. John, Greentech Media

The case for new multi-state transmission lines has never been clearer. A growing number of states and utilities have set 100 percent clean-energy goals, with no obvious path to generating all that power close to home. The gap is growing between the transmission network’s capacity and the need to link wind farms in the Great Plains and Intermountain West, solar farms in the Southwest, and hydropower resources in eastern Canada, to other regions hungry for carbon-free energy.

Transmission developers have long said that if only a few big renewable-linked projects could get built, the path would open to others once the benefits were manifest. That theory was largely left untested in the 2010s. Here are seven still very-much-alive projects that could prove it out in the decade ahead. Read more here.

Photo Credit: Nebraska Public Power District

NATIONAL RENEWABLE ENERGY LAB PROJECT

A big grid solution to harness small solar arrays, PV Magazine
With electric utilities often having little information about how much solar power they are receiving from distributed PV systems, it is hoped the NREL project will help them gain more visibility of, and control over the volumes injected into networks.

DOE FUNDING ANNOUNCEMENTS

ASES SOLAR 2020

SOLAR 20/20: Renewable Energy Vision Goes Virtual, ASES News Release, PR Newswire
The American Solar Energy Society’s 49th Annual National Solar Conference, SOLAR 20/20: Renewable Energy Vision, will now take place 100% online in their first ever virtual conference. Learn more at ases.org/conference.

SOLAR INDUSTRY 

What can solar learn from the 2008 financial crisis in the age of Covid-19?, by Tim Sylvia, PV Magazine. Even as global PV forecasts fall, tax equity dries up and unemployment rises, Jim Spano, co-founder of RadiantREIT, believes that the right type of government stimulus could not only help the solar industry recover — but drive it to new heights. Regardless of the financial tool used to make the upfront cost of developing a project manageable, Spano thinks that the solar industry is in a unique position to rebound more quickly and with less long-lasting effect than other industries.

AWEA NEWS RELEASE

Voters Strongly Favor Offshore Wind Energy
New Polling shows near identical support among Republicans and Democrats for adding more offshore wind to the American energy portfolio. Majority of voters say wind energy will be more important in 10 years than oil and natural gas.

MORE ON RECENT KANSAS SUPREME COURT RULING

Inside Clean Energy: Rooftop Solar Wins Big in Kansas Court Ruling, by Dan Gearino, Inside Climate News. The Kansas Supreme Court has provided a rare and sweet victory for renewable energy advocates in the state, with national implications. The court issued a unanimous ruling on Friday agreeing with advocates that a 2018 utility rate plan was discriminatory in the way it created a new charge that inflated the bills of rooftop solar customers. This has the potential to alter the national debate over how utilities deal with rooftop solar, considering that utilities in other states have pointed to Kansas as a model.

MINNESOTA

New suburban solar projects part of a wave of new projects in Minnesota, StarTribune
There are now an estimated 7,500 solar arrays in the state, with 1,000 going in just last year. 

NEBRASKA IN THE NEWS HERE

Japanese investor provides tax backing for 43MW US wind, reNEWS
Financing is for a pair of operational facilities in Nebraska and Minnesota. The 30-megawatt Kimball wind farm has been operational since May 2018. It has a 20-year offtake agreement with the Municipal Energy Agency of Nebraska.

RE100 BUSINESS

IKEA owner acquires US solar parks to boost renewables transition, Smart Energy International

 EUROPE

‘Europe’s largest’ solar power facility comes online as the industry faces coronavirus challenges, CNBC. A 500 megawatt solar photovoltaic plant, described by Spanish utility Iberdrola as “Europe’s largest,” sent its first megawatt hour of energy to the grid earlier this week, a welcome bright spot for an industry that in the months ahead could experience difficulties brought about by the coronavirus pandemic. The Núñez de Balboa facility is located in Extremadura, a region in the west of Spain. According to Iberdrola, it has over 1.4 million solar panels and will be able to supply energy to 250,000 people per year.

Lincoln Journal Star Letter: Commit to clean energy

Written by Alison Krohn

The City of Lincoln and Lincoln Electric System have taken steps towards a sustainable future through multiple efforts. The Lincoln Environmental Action Plan (2017-2018) calls for a 25% reduction in carbon emissions by 2025 while increasing the use of renewable energy 50%.

LES offers several incentives for renewable energy generation and energy efficiency improvements. The utility obtains approximately 40% of its distributed power from renewable sources. But are these goals and incentives enough? Continue reading here.

Photo: Telesis Inc’s solar array on top of the former Meadow Gold Dairy House at Seventh and M Streets in Lincoln’s historic Haymarket.

ADDITIONAL RECOMMENDED READING

FEATURED RESOURCE: LOW-INCOME SOLAR POLICY GUIDE

Best Practices for Utility Ownership
In considering the roles utilities can and should play in making solar available for low-income households and underserved communities, Principles and Recommendations for Utility Participation in Solar Programs for Low-Income Customers from the Environmental Law & Policy Center, GRID Alternatives, and Vote Solar outlines three interrelated sets of guidelines and considerations for policy makers and regulators to review.

NEBRASKA GRID INFRASTRUCTURE NEWS

USDA Invests $8.2 Million For KBR Rural Public Power District, USDA News Release
The power district serves 4,847 customers over 2,604 miles of line in five counties in north central Nebraska.

APPA ANNUAL REPORT

Wind, solar, natural gas dominate capacity in development, American Public Power Association
Wind, solar, and natural gas are the three dominant sources in the development pipeline for electricity generation in the US, according to a report from the American Public Power Association. America’s Electricity Generating Capacity, 2020 Update is the Association’s 14th annual look at the country’s current and future capacity. Wind, natural gas, and solar projects account for 94% of all capacity under construction, which is consistent with additions over the past five years, of which 97% came from these three resources.

ENERGY STORAGE

US Storage Industry Achieved Biggest-Ever Quarter and Year in 2019, Greentech Media
“Storage is being deployed all across the country now, at megawatt-scale, in more than half of U.S. states,” said Kelly Speakes-Backman, CEO of the Energy Storage Association. Eight states now contain utility-scale storage facilities adding up to more than 50 megawatts. Another 11 states operate more than 10 megawatts each. Only 15 states have yet to adopt any advanced storage in front of the meter, according to WoodMac’s data. Overall, U.S. storage installations are expected to nearly triple in 2020 and more than double in 2021. Residential numbers, in particular, will triple this year compared to last year.

NEW 500-WATT SOLAR PANELS

How the new generation of 500 watt panels will shape the solar industry, PV Magazine
There are two solar module manufacturers, Risen Energy and Trina Solar, that have unveiled first-of-their kind 500W, 50-cell, PV modules. “For applications where you have a lot of area, particularly commercial and especially utility-scale, it’s really significant,” CEO of Cinnamon Energy Systems Barry Cinnamon told pv magazine. “You could just use fewer modules, it reduces handling costs and overall balance-of-system costs go down.” If there are less modules needed to reach the capacity specifications of a project, that means overall project costs will go down as these modules become economically viable. A significant area that will see cost reduction will come from the racking and trackers.

NREL’S FREE DATABASE

WattBuy to automate and expand NREL’s utility rate database, PV Magazine
With this new, free database, WattBuy can help residential homeowners more accurately calculate the return on investment (ROI) on a solar and/or solar-plus-storage system and make a more informed decision, Hood said. For solar financiers and energy efficiency companies, the new data will be useful for targeting new markets and for tracking projects’ ROI, he added.

EV NEWS

INTERNATIONAL NEWS

Project developers can secure cash from new IRENA funding pot, PV Magazine
The Climate Investment Platform launched by three multilateral bodies in September is now open for business and renewables companies in developing nations could qualify for help with clean energy facilities, renewables-related grid improvements and energy efficiency schemes.

Municipal aggregation savings ‘shattering expectations’ in Massachusetts

By  Sarah Shemkus, Energy News Network

The growing number of Massachusetts cities and towns that have negotiated community-wide rates for green energy have saved millions of dollars while also shrinking their carbon footprints, according to a new report released last week.

“The data shows we’re kind of shattering expectations,” said Larry Chretien, executive director of the Green Energy Consumers Alliance, the nonprofit group that put out the report. “You can add green power and still provide consumers with an opportunity to save money.” Read more here. 

Photo Credit:  Robert Laliberte / Flickr / Creative Commons

GREEN MUNICIPAL AGGREGATION 


Also known as community choice aggregation (CCA), this model allows cities and towns in MA & RI to take real climate action by greening up residents’ electricity supply.

 

MORE MASSACHUSETTS NEWS STORIES BY SARAH SHEMKUS

NEWS FROM OTHER STATES

MORE CAMPUS ADVOCACY FOR 100% RENEWABLES 

FSU Students push for commitment to 100% renewable energy on FSU campus, Florida State University News. “Students across the country are vocalizing support for transitioning to 100% renewable energy sources,” said Ryann Lynn, Clean Energy Advocate for Environment Florida. “Thirty-six colleges have already committed to that evolution, but FSU could be the first university in Florida.”

ENVIRONMENT AMERICA RESOURCES

Renewable Energy 101: Ten Tools for Moving Your Campus to 100% Clean Energy
Environment America designed a series of 10 fact sheets as a resource for students, faculty and administrators interested in moving their campus toward sustainability. The fact sheets have been crafted to illustrate the importance, challenges and opportunities of 10 important and distinct tools associated with building a 100 percent clean, renewable energy system. Each fact sheet includes two case studies of effective action on college campuses, as well as a list of resources.

DEPARTMENT OF ENERGY

Brouillette: 100% renewables may be possible, E&E News
Energy Secretary Dan Brouillette suggested [on Friday] it could one day be possible for the United States to reach 100% renewable energy, a goal of climate change activists. Testifying before a House Appropriations energy subcommittee, Brouillette said the Department of Energy is committed to developing large-scale battery storage to increase the use of renewable energy. Brouillette noted that the Trump administration’s 2021 DOE budget request calls for more money for an “Energy Storage Grand Challenge” to develop battery capacity. Many environmental advocates want Congress to push the country to 100% clean energy within a decade, a goal that Republicans have greeted with skepticism.

INSTITUTIONAL INVESTORS GROWING THE ENERGY STORAGE MARKET

Energy storage projects reach ‘investment-grade’ with esVolta’s $140 million debt facility, PV Magazine. It’s energy storage projects as investment-grade finance tools for institutional investors that will grow the energy storage market to $546 billion in annual revenue by 2035, as predicted by Lux Research or grow the business tenfold from 2018 to 2023, rising to $5 billion annually, according to Wood Mackenzie.

BIFACIAL SOLAR PANELS

Trina unveils two 500-watt bifacial solar modules, PV Magazine
The panels are equipped with glass-glass or glass-backsheet frames. Both offer a reported 21% efficiency. Trina plans to have a combined 5 GW of annual production capacity for the products this year.

NREL MULTI-YEAR STUDY

Bifacial Solar Advances with the Times—and the Sun: Multi-Year Study Evaluates Two-Sided Tracking Systems for More Efficient Solar Power Generation

In May 2019, a team at NREL kicked off a three-year study to evaluate bifacial modules that collect light on both sides of a panel while also following the sun throughout the day. To determine how much more power such panels can produce, the team needed data, so they are gathering it. Some of their data are already publicly available—an industry first for a study of this scale.

Road to 100: How Western water rights and local billionaires complicated Aspen’s renewables path

By Catherine Morehouse, Associate Editor, Utility Dive

This is the last of a four part series based on Utility Dive visits to cities that produce more renewable power than they consume. All four installments can be found here.

There’s an argument to be made that Aspen is the original 100% renewable city. The town of just over 7,000 permanent residents is now famous for its ski slopes flocked every winter by celebrities and millionaires. But it started as a mining town that in 1885 became the first city west of the Mississippi to electrify its homes, businesses and streets, and two years later its underground silver mines, with hydroelectric power. “Aspen led the way in the use of electricity … For years, it was the best-lighted town in the United States,” read a 1907 article in the Electrical Review, an electrical engineering periodical. Continue reading here.

About the Author

 

Before joining Industry Dive, Catherine Morehouse was at Creighton University in Omaha, Nebraska where she worked as News Editor and then Editor-in-Chief of The Creightonian. She has a B.A. in Journalism and Political Science from Creighton.

 

In Iowa, grassroots energy districts aim to spur local clean energy conversations

Written by Karen Uhlenhuth, Energy News Network

A decade ago, Craig Mosher was one of a half-dozen people trying to rethink energy in their small hometown of Decorah in northeast Iowa.  “The general concern was climate change, but the specific concern was energy, and what we could do to reduce energy use and to shift to renewables,” Mosher recalled about the group’s early meetings at Luther College, a Lutheran school with a heavy environmental emphasis. Their solution? To create an “energy district,” an entity modeled after the soil and water conservation districts of the 1930s, but with a focus on energy. In the 10 years since the founding of the Winneshiek Energy District in Decorah, energy districts have become a movement in Iowa. Read more here.

Photo Credit: Winneshiek Energy District

Also In The News

Road to 100: How one man’s mission to power his hometown by wind created a Northwest Missouri boon

By Catherine Morehouse, Utility Dive

This is the first of a four part series based on Utility Dive visits to cities that produce more renewable power than they consume.

ATCHISON COUNTY, MISSOURI — In the early 2000s, Eric Chamberlain was leading a funeral procession toward southern Minnesota when he saw several wind turbines spinning slowly over the low Iowa bluffs.

“On the way back, I pulled off. I did not pull off during the procession. I was very polite — I did not pull the hearse over,” he told Utility Dive while driving down the Rock Port, Missouri, street he grew up on, toward the four turbines that made the town of just over 1,200 famous. “But on the way back, I stopped at a local newspaper, which is always a good clearinghouse for information, and asked about some of the wind projects.” Continue reading here.

Photo Credit: Catherine Morehouse, Utility Dive

Additional Recommended Reading

NREL Research 

Tell the kids, that 50% solar powered future of ours, it’s going to work just fine – NREL says so, PV Magazine USA. Modeling done by researchers from the Strategic Energy Analysis Center at the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL), in Sunny with a Chance of Curtailment: Operating the US Grid with Very High Levels of Solar Photovoltaics, shows how the three main power grids in the United States might run on the highest penetration solar days (90%+ of demand being met by solar), when 55% of annual electricity use is met with solar photovoltaics. The hourly model also shows how much extra solar electricity we’d have to do something with, when we’d have it (springtime), and how it might affect (lower) pricing of competing electricity generation sources.

Related Op-Ed

 ‘Economic Curtailment’ – what it is and how to embrace it, PV Magazine
In this op-ed for pv magazine, Morgan Putnam outlines a five-step process for renewable developers, environmental advocacy organizations and state agencies to embrace economic curtailment. My experience is that many utility employees quickly realize that the economic curtailment of excess renewable energy isn’t so terribly different from the use of gas peakers.

DOE Awards $28 Million for Wind Energy Research, Development, and Demonstration Projects

Department of Energy News Release

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) announced the selection of 13 projects to receive a total of $28 million to advance wind energy nationwide. While utility-scale, land-based wind energy in the United States has grown to 96 gigawatts, significant opportunities for cost reductions remain, especially in the areas of offshore wind, distributed wind, and tall wind.

The funding selections were announced by DOE’s Assistant Secretary for the Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy, Daniel R Simmons, at the American Wind Energy Association Offshore WINDPOWER Conference in Boston, Massachusetts. “These projects will be instrumental in driving down technology costs and increasing consumer options for wind across the United States as part of our comprehensive energy portfolio,” said Simmons. Read more here.

Learn more about DOE’s wind energy research on the Wind Energy Technologies Office website.

ALSO IN THE NEWS

Energy Partners: Elevated Solar Arrays Permit Agriculture And Energy Production To Work Together

By Raylene Nickel, Successful Farming

Solar energy, crops, and cattle work together at the University of Massachusetts Crop Research and Education Center. A research trial launched in 2010 suggests that generating solar energy can occur hand in hand with grazing livestock or growing vegetable crops.

“The purpose of our work has been to see if we could generate solar energy while keeping the land in agricultural production,” says University of Massachusetts (UM) agronomist Stephen Herbert. The research results show that agri-voltaics – or dual-use farming – can indeed work. The key is the design of the solar array. Continue reading here.

Photo by Rob Davis, Director of the Center for Pollinators / Fresh Energy

Deloitte Study: 100% Renewables, Beyond the Grid – Aspiration or Destination?

Deloitte News Release, PR Newswire

Huge strides have been made in organizational energy use, but giant leaps required for total transformation.

Key takeaways

  • The renewable energy transition appears poised to accelerate in the United States, with a growing list of states, cities, private and public sector organizations taking the lead.
  • Almost 45% of organizations surveyed cited commitments to increase renewable energy sources in their electricity consumption mix by a target year; nearly 25% cited having renewable production/generation goals.
  • Organizational transitions to renewable energy are being driven by cost-cutting (36.4%) and reducing environmental impact/carbon footprint (35.4%), according to survey respondents.
  • Today’s goals just the “tip of the iceberg,” massive strides in policy, technology, and procurement strategies and tools are needed to turn 100% renewables from an aspiration to a destination.

Evaluating the current trajectory to 100% renewables: Continue reading here.

Click here to learn more about the study, Moving organizational energy use toward 100% renewables—aspiration or destination?

NEW INSIDER POLL

Americans really want the US to adopt renewable energy like wind and solar power, while rejecting fossil fuels like coal, Business Insider

ALSO OF POTENTIAL INTEREST