Tag Archives: renewable energy

What to know about conservation compliance

By Erin Herbold-Swalwell, Farm Progress

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack, in his address at the 2021 Commodity Classic, said that work on “climate-smart ag” should begin before the next farm bill. Proposed increases in funding of the Conservation Reserve Program and an increased emphasis on carbon credits and carbon banks, renewable energy, and other environmental matters bring different opportunities for farm families, but also remind us that we need to understand the rules of enrollment in USDA programs. Read more here.

USDA Conservation Programs

The USDA offers voluntary, incentive-based conservation opportunities to landowners through local field offices in nearly every county of the nation. USDA helped landowners develop conservation plans and enrolled a record number of acres of private working lands in conservation programs, working with more than 500,000 farmers and ranchers to implement conservation practices that clean the air we breathe, conserve and clean the water we drink, prevent soil erosion and create and protect wildlife habitat. USDA support – leveraged with historic outside investments – helped support producer incomes and reward them for their good work.

USDA Resources

Nebraska News

Farmers express interest in possible carbon reduction methods, by Jerry Guenther, Norfolk Daily News

More USDA Resources

Center for Agricultural Profitability

The interdisciplinary Center for Agricultural Profitabilitywhich was approved March 11, 2021, facilitates faculty research, conducts outreach related to agricultural profitability and trains undergraduate and graduate students — all to support informed decision-making in agriculture through applied research and education.

Center for Agricultural Profitability Webinars – Archived & Upcoming

Senate advances bipartisan infrastructure bill in procedural vote

By Jacob Pramuk, CNBC

The Senate voted Friday to move forward with a bipartisan infrastructure bill, as Majority Leader Chuck Schumer pushes to pass it as soon as next week. The vote was delayed briefly as senators reportedly worked out an issue related to broadband. The final text of the legislation has yet to be released. The procedural measure needed only a simple majority to pass. The final tally was 66 votes in favor, and 28 against. Continue reading here.

Related Reading

AMERICAN CLEAN POWER ASSOCIATION REPORT

First Clean Power Annual report shows record U.S. renewables growth and investment
WASHINGTON DC, July 29, 2021 – The American Clean Power Association today released its first Clean Power Annual report, which showed wind, utility solar, and battery storage power capacity in the U.S. topped 170 gigawatts (GW), following a record 26 GW of clean energy projects coming online in 2020.

ALSO IN THE NEWS

USDA REAP FUNDING NOTICES

  • Rural Energy for America Program Energy Audit & Renewable Energy Development Assistance Grants (July 26, 2021) Federal Register Notice
  • Rural Energy for America Program Renewable Energy Systems & Energy Efficiency Improvement Guaranteed Loans & Grants (July 26, 2021) Federal Register Notice

U.S. DEPARTMENT OF ENERGY 

Lower Battery Costs, High Value of Backup Power Drive Distributed Storage Deployment
Fourth Report in NREL’s Storage Futures Study Uses Distributed Generation Market Demand Model To Estimate Behind-the-Meter Storage Capacity, Identify Drivers of Customer Adoption. Several findings in the study demonstrate that PV and batteries make an economical pairing. Because an average PV-plus-battery storage system is larger than PV-only configurations, battery storage increases the PV capacity and the system’s economic value.

Read the Report: Distributed Solar and Storage Outlook: Methodology and Scenarios.

Upcoming Webinar: NREL’s Storage Futures Study team will host a free public webinar on Tuesday, August 10, 2021, from 10 to 11 am CT. Register here.

BATTERY MATERIALS RECYCLING

Former Tesla CTO’s battery materials recycling company announces US$700 million+ investment, Energy Storage News

Former Tesla battery guru JB Straubel’s materials recycling company Redwood Materials has attracted more than US$700 million in investment. Redwood, which is currently developing processes to produce battery materials that can be resold into the supply chain, has partnerships in place with the likes of Panasonic, Envision AESC and Amazon. The company pledges to recycle any device with a lithium-ion battery including phones, laptops and power tools, although a major focus is being placed on electric vehicle (EV) batteries.

IREC and The Solar Foundation Merge Operations

 Interstate Renewable Energy Council News Release
July 12, 2021

IREC has officially merged with The Solar Foundation, welcoming The Solar Foundation’s staff and programs into a single, expanded nonprofit dedicated to the rapid adoption of clean energy.

IREC and The Solar Foundation announced their intention to merge in November 2020, citing increased impact, longstanding mutual respect, and natural synergy between their programs. With the merger of the organizations’ staff completed, all of The Solar Foundation’s programs are now housed at IREC. The combined organization supports the accelerated growth of renewable energy and energy efficiency and a 100% clean energy future that is reliable, resilient, and equitable. Further details can be found on the expanded IREC website.

Read the entire news release here.

Related Resources

The Solar Foundation News Release
November 12, 2020

Washington, D.C. and Albany, NY – The Solar Foundation and the Interstate Renewable Energy Council (IREC) today announced they have signed an agreement to merge into a single, expanded nonprofit dedicated to the rapid adoption of clean energy.

The merger will combine the strengths of two renowned national clean energy organizations, effectively doubling the staff and quadrupling the impact. The Solar Foundation is the leading national nonprofit dedicated to accelerating adoption of solar energy and related technologies and, since its relaunch in 2010, has had a remarkable ten-year track record of leading cutting-edge research, education, and capacity building programs. IREC has been trusted for its independent clean energy expertise for nearly 40 years, playing a critical role in building the foundation for rapid adoption of clean energy by tackling regulatory, workforce, and economic barriers. Read the full news release here.

The Solar Foundation’s Work

The Interstate Renewable Energy Council’s Work

Combined Resources – Scroll down for links to all IREC Programs, Training and Career Resources, and more.

Developer Abandons Keystone XL Pipeline Project, Ending Decade-Long Battle

By Jeff Brady and Neela Banerjee, NPR

Keystone XL would have passed through Nebraska, and for years, a coalition of Indigenous tribes, ranchers and local environmentalists demonstrated, lobbied and sued to halt the pipeline’s construction. Its proposed route in Nebraska cut through the Ogallala Aquifer, the groundwater source for millions of Plains States residents. The pipeline’s opponents in Nebraska feared that any leak from Keystone XL would damage the critical aquifer, and they welcomed the end of the project.

“On behalf of our Ponca Nation we welcome this long overdue news and thank all who worked so tirelessly to educate and fight to prevent this from coming to fruition. It’s a great day for Mother Earth,” Larry Wright Jr., chairman of the Ponca Tribe of Nebraska, said in a statement. Read more or listen to the “All Things Considered” broadcast here.

Image Credit: Prairie Nebraska.Org

A timeline of the controversial Keystone XL pipeline project, by The Canadian Press, Toronto Star

PREVIOUSLY POSTED

Canadian Officials React To Biden Revoking Keystone XL Permit, All Things Considered, NPR
Canadian officials say they’re disappointed that President Biden revoked the Keystone XL Pipeline permit — but they’re also looking forward to working with the new administration on climate change.

Nebraska’s better off without Keystone XL, Lincoln Journal Star Editorial Board
Increased investment in renewable energy — wind energy, solar power, electric vehicles, etc. — proves that America’s future will involve fewer fossil fuels going forward, a fact underscored by the growing number of financial institutions and other entities that now refuse to invest in the oil and gas industry. The grassroots coalition of environmentalists, farmers, ranchers and property-rights advocates who fought the pipeline tooth and nail can celebrate, knowing their efforts weren’t in vain. 

Canada predicts largest oil province Alberta to lead growth in renewables, Reuters
Canada’s biggest oil-producing province Alberta is expected to see the fastest growth in renewable energy capacity between 2018 and 2023, the Canada Energy Regulator forecast in a report, as new wind and solar projects help replace coal-fired electricity. By 2023, 26% of Alberta’s electricity capacity will come from renewable sources, up from 16% in 2017. 

Climate Change Risks & Global Markets – Natural Resources Defense Council

What Is the Keystone XL Pipeline?: How a single pipeline project became the epicenter of an enormous environmental, public health, and civil rights battle.

When TC Energy said the pipeline would create nearly 119,000 jobs, a State Department report instead concluded the project would require fewer than 2,000 two-year construction jobs and that the number of jobs would hover around 35 after construction.

The market case, even before the COVID-19 pandemic sent oil prices plummeting, has also deteriorated. Low oil prices and increasing public concern over the climate have led Shell, Exxon, Statoil, and Total to either sell their tar sands assets or write them down. Because of this growing market recognition, major new tar sands projects haven’t moved forward with construction for years, despite investments from the government of Alberta, Canada. For example, in 2020, Teck Resources withdrew its ten-year application to build the largest tar sands mine in history—citing growing concern surrounding climate change in global markets.

U of M researchers pitch ‘green’ ammonia as key to renewable energy future

By Walker Orenstein, MinnPost

As wind and solar power make up an increasingly large share of energy production in the U.S., finding ways to store the intermittent energy they create is critical for when the wind isn’t blowing and the sun isn’t shining. The University of Minnesota is working on a novel way to help solve the storage puzzle for renewable energy: by creating ammonia.  

Michael Reese, director of renewable energy at the U’s West Central Research and Outreach Center, said the U has previously turned wind power into ammonia that can be used for fertilizer and even to fuel agricultural equipment. Read more here.

Presentation by Michael Reese to the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission: Green Ammonia for Fertilizer, Fuel, and Energy Storage

NPPD & MONOLITH’S GREEN AMMONIA INITIATIVE

Previously Posted

NPPD RFP

Request for Proposals for Renewable Energy Resources, 4/19/21
Description: NPPD is seeking bids for Renewable Generation Power Purchase Agreements (PPA) with a proposed Commercial Operation Date (COD) during calendar year 2025. NPPD seeks to procure Energy, Capacity, and environmental attributes (including Renewable Energy Credits or RECS) for a term between 10-30 years.

NEBRASKA ALSO IN THE NEWS HERE

“Coal may contain as many as 76 of the 92 naturally occurring elements of the periodic table.” 
United States Geological Survey
__________________________________________

DOE Awards $19 Million for Initiatives to Produce Rare Earth Elements and Critical Minerals, Department of Energy News Release 

“The very same fossil fuel communities that have powered our nation for decades can be at the forefront of the clean energy economy by producing the critical minerals needed to build electric vehicles, wind turbines, and so much more,” said Secretary of Energy Jennifer M. Granholm. “By building clean energy products here at home, we’re securing the supply chain for the innovative solutions needed to reach net-zero carbon emissions by 2050 – all while creating good-paying jobs in all parts of America.” 

Production of rare earth elements and critical minerals, which serve as key components to several clean energy applications such as magnets in wind turbines and batteries in electric and conventional vehicles, is a prime example of how DOE is supporting regional economic growth and job creation in regions traditionally home to the fossil fuel industry.

The initiatives include:
University of Kansas Center for Research Inc. (Lawrence, Kansas) plans to study the feasibility of recovering critical minerals from coal and associated strata in the Cherokee-Forest City Basin encompassing Kansas, Iowa, Missouri, Nebraska, Oklahoma and the Osage Nation.
DOE Funding: $1,500,000

See Also: FACT SHEET: Biden Administration Outlines Key Resources to Invest in Coal and Power Plant Community Economic Revitalization, The White House Briefing Room

ADDITIONAL RECOMMENDED READING

Facebook Data Center to expand over 500 acres in Springfield

 By Austin Plourde, Omaha World-Herald, March 24, 2021

Facebook announced today that it is further investing in the Sarpy County community by expanding its Papillion Data Center by an additional one million-square-feet. According to a press release from Facebook, this expansion will bring an additional $400 million in capital investment to Sarpy County, as well as 100 new operational jobs.

Matt Sexton, community development regional manager at Facebook’s Papillion Data Center, said Facebook is no stranger to the Springfield area as the data center has worked with the Springfield Platteview Community School District through several grants and initiatives to enhance STEM education. “Expanding into Springfield was a no brainer for us,” he said. “They’re an incredible community that’s growing and it’s really exciting to be there.” Read more here.

The Papillion Data Center Facebook has changed its name to Sarpy Data Center to reflect the expansion.

Sustainability in Agriculture

American Farm Bureau Federation (AFBF)

America’s farmers and ranchers are leading the way in climate-smart practices that reduce emissions, enrich the soil and protect our water and air, all while producing more food, fiber and renewable fuel than ever before. U.S. agriculture contributes just 10% to overall GHG emissions, far less than other major industries, and plays an active role in enhancing wildlife and absorbing carbon. At Farm Bureau, we are proud of agriculture’s sustainability story, and we believe the future of agriculture is bright as we work together to further climate-smart solutions that protect our resources, farms and communities. See AFBF Resources Here.

Quick Links to Resources By Topic

To chart the course ahead with recommendations to achieve climate goals through voluntary, market-driven programs, AFBF co-founded the Food and Agriculture Climate Alliance.

 


To showcase the tremendous progress farmers and ranchers have made in achieving sustainability goals, AFBF co-founded
 Farmers for a Sustainable Future.

New FERC Chair’s Focus: Environmental Justice and Climate Change Impacts

By Jeff St. John, Greentech Media

 

Richard Glick has a long list of priorities for his chairmanship of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission. He has already outlined many of them, such as reforming energy market policies that restrict state-supported clean energy resources, expanding transmission capacity and unblocking new grid interconnections, and incorporating climate change impacts into the agency’s decision-making process. Continue reading here.

 

ENERGY INFRASTRUCTURE 

Severe weather, blackouts show the grid’s biggest problem is infrastructure, not renewables

GRID RESILIENCE: GRIDTECH MEDIA

In the near future, the scale of the batteries serving U.S. power grids is set to explode, increasing from about 1.5 gigawatts today to tens or hundreds of gigawatts by 2030. These batteries will play a vital role in shifting intermittent wind and solar power from when it’s produced to when it’s needed and serving broader grid services needs on an increasingly decarbonizing grid.

But as a resource that can both absorb and discharge energy at a moment’s notice, batteries are very different from both dispatchable generators and intermittent wind and solar farms. That requires new technical and economic systems for managing and valuing them — and the grid operators that run wholesale electricity markets serving about two-thirds of the country are struggling to make those changes to keep up with the pace of growth.

Two former state utility commissioners highlight new modeling that shows distributed energy lowers the total costs of decarbonization: Anne Hoskins served on the Maryland Public Service Commission and is the chief policy officer at Sunrun. Jeanne Fox, a former president of the New Jersey Board of Public Utilities, is also a co-founder and board member of Center for Renewable Integration, Inc.

When planning for future resource investments, most utilities and regulators approach grid and system planning in silos, using tools and models that aren’t equipped to consider the total cost and benefits of distributed energy resources. This has been the case for many decades. For the first time, a team of researchers led by Christopher Clack looked at the holistic grid and incorporated local solar into grid and system planning. The model that Clack used calculated a least-cost development plan for the grid. The results are striking.

NASEO-NARUC TASK FORCE ON COMPREHENSIVE ELECTRICITY PLANNING 

The National Association of State Energy Officials (NASEO) and the National Association of Regulatory Utility Commissioners (NARUC) are providing a forum for the development of state-led pathways toward a more resilient, efficient, and affordable grid. – NARUC Website

 

 

 

 

Twelve States Announce Action Steps to Plan for Grid of the Future: State Energy Groups Release Blueprint for State Action for a More Efficient, Customer-Centric Grid

New, more comprehensive approaches to electricity planning can optimize use of distributed and existing energy resources, avoid unnecessary costs to customers, support state policy priorities, and increase transparency of grid-related investment decisions. The Task Force Roadmaps for Comprehensive Electricity Planning are accompanied by a Blueprint for State Action to support states and stakeholders who were not members of the Task Force in aligning electricity system planning processes in ways that meet their own goals and objectives. To learn more about the Task Force and access the new resources, click the link, below.

 

 

 

Task Force on Comprehensive Electricity Planning

Electricity Planning for a 21st Century Power Grid
Emerging technologies, decreasing costs, consumer preferences, new energy service providers, and state and local efforts are driving significant growth in distributed energy resources (DERs) such as solar, storage, energy efficiency, demand management, and microgrids. These investments increasingly require regulatory and policy innovation and a greater emphasis on planning to overcome system complexities and avoid unnecessary costs associated with operating the grid.

With greater alignment of resource and distribution system planning, states and utilities could:

  • Improve grid reliability and resilience
  • Optimize use of distributed and existing energy resources
  • Avoid unnecessary costs to ratepayers
  • Support state policy priorities
  • Increase the transparency of grid-related investment decisions

Previously Posted

  • Nebraska needs overall plan for energy policies, Lincoln Journal Star, November 4, 2015
    [Former] 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
  • 2011 Nebraska Energy Plan, National Association of State Energy Officials (NASEO)

Recently Posted

Nebraska’s better off without Keystone XL

Lincoln Journal Star Editorial Board

Increased investment in renewable energy — wind energy, solar power, electric vehicles, etc. — proves that America’s future will involve fewer fossil fuels going forward, a fact underscored by the growing number of financial institutions and other entities that now refuse to invest in the oil and gas industry . . . The grassroots coalition of environmentalists, farmers, ranchers and property-rights advocates who fought the pipeline tooth and nail can celebrate, knowing their efforts weren’t in vain. Read more here.

Additional Recommended Reading

When TC Energy said the pipeline would create nearly 119,000 jobs, a State Department report instead concluded the project would require fewer than 2,000 two-year construction jobs and that the number of jobs would hover around 35 after construction.

The market case, even before the COVID-19 pandemic sent oil prices plummeting, has also deteriorated. Low oil prices and increasing public concern over the climate have led Shell, Exxon, Statoil, and Total to either sell their tar sands assets or write them down. Because of this growing market recognition, major new tar sands projects haven’t moved forward with construction for years, despite investments from the government of Alberta, Canada. For example, in 2020, Teck Resources withdrew its ten-year application to build the largest tar sands mine in history—citing growing concern surrounding climate change in global markets.

Alberta’s Renewable Energy Growth

Biden Moves To Have U.S. Rejoin Climate Accord

By Nathan Rott, NET

In one of his first acts in the Oval Office, President Joe Biden signed an executive order to have the United States rejoin the Paris climate agreement, the largest international effort to curb global warming. The U.S. officially withdrew from the accord to limit climate-warming greenhouse gas emissions late last year, after President Donald Trump began the process in 2017. It is the only country of the nearly 200 signatories that has withdrawn. Read more here.

President Biden halts Keystone XL pipeline project, by David Earl, KETV
In one of his first executive orders, President Biden called the Keystone XL project a “disservice to the national interest” and said that leaving the permit for it in place would not be consistent with his economic and climate imperatives. The Biden Administration said it wants good, union jobs, but wants those workers on the frontlines of the climate crisis, building wind and solar power instead of oil pipelines.

Additional Recommended Reading