The U.S. Department of Energy today released the Solar Futures Study detailing the significant role solar will play in decarbonizing the nation’s power grid. The study shows that by 2035, solar energy has the potential to power 40% of the nation’s electricity, drive deep decarbonization of the grid, and employ as much as 1.5 million people—without raising electricity prices. The study’s findings call for massive and equitable deployment of clean energy sources, underscoring the Biden Administration’s efforts to tackle the climate crisis and rapidly increase access to renewable power throughout the country.
“The study illuminates the fact that solar, our cheapest and fastest-growing source of clean energy, could produce enough electricity to power all of the homes in the U.S. by 2035 and employ as many as 1.5 million people in the process,” said Secretary of Energy Jennifer M. Granholm. “Achieving this bright future requires a massive and equitable deployment of renewable energy and strong decarbonization polices – exactly what is laid out in the bipartisan Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act and President Biden’s Build Back Better agenda. Read the entire news release.
Utility Dive article contributed by David Hart, director of the Clean Energy Innovation Policy Program at the Information Technology and Innovation Foundation (ITIF), and Stefan Koester, ITIF senior policy analyst.
“We found that we can get to 80+% renewable energy at the same cost as keeping the system at today’s level of renewables,” said [Wesley] Cole, NREL senior energy analyst and lead author of the paper. “Increased renewable energy contribution also reduces emissions, so going beyond today’s levels of renewable energy is a no-brainer.”
Location, location, location — when it comes to the placement of wind turbines, the old real estate adage applies, according to new research published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences by Carnegie’s Enrico Antonini and Ken Caldeira.
AMERICAN PUBLIC POWER ASSOCIATION
Small town revitalization series – Part 1: Economic Development, by Paul Ciampoli The American Public Power Association (APPA) is pleased to introduce the first in-depth, three-part Public Power Current newsletter series this week, on small town revitalization. Thank you to all the small utility systems across America who were eager to share their stories towards promoting economic development initiatives (Part 1), employee recruitment and retention efforts (Part 2), and beautification plans (Part 3). Of America’s nearly 2,000 public power utilities, a vast majority of them are considered “small.”
WASHINGTON, D.C. [6/24/21]—Today, U.S. Senator Tina Smith (D-Minn.) and U.S. Representative Abigail Spanberger (D-VA 7)—along with U.S. Senator Ben Ray Luján (D-N.M.) and Representative David G. Valadao (R-CA 21)—introduced legislation in both the Senate and House aimed at improving the Rural Energy for America Program (REAP), which provides financial assistance to agricultural producers and rural business owners to install renewable energy systems and adopt energy efficiency measures
MGM’S RENEWABLE ENERGY PROCUREMENT
MGM unveils solar project it says will power 13 Vegas hotels, Las Vegas Sun The array of solar panels sits in the desert northeast of Las Vegas and will be managed by Invenergy, which owns and operates renewable energy developments throughout the world. The largest resorts and casinos on the Las Vegas Strip have gradually left Nevada’s public utility, NV Energy, and begun producing their own power.
Photo: MGM’s first solar array in Las Vegas on the roof at the Mandalay Bay Resort
The sustainability imperative imperative, by Joel Makower,
Chairman & Co-founder, GreenBiz Group
At long last, this stuff is being taken seriously — very seriously. And while there remain those who view the whole shebang — net-zero carbon emissions, ESG metrics, climate tech, the circular economy and all the rest — as “woke capitalism” (another mean moniker), those critics are finding themselves shunted off to the side, marginalized, a voice in the wilderness.
Clean Energy States Alliancehas issued anexpression of interestfor new, innovative energy storage pilot projects, with an emphasis on projects advancing social equity and community resilience. Potential projects must be at least 500 kilowatts in size with a minimum duration of two hours to be considered, and incorporation of other advanced energy technologies, like renewable generation and electric vehicle charging, is preferred. Projects determined to be of interest may be eligible for technical and financial support after submitting a full proposal. Responses are due by July 15. More details about the opportunity can be foundhere.
There are now at least seven rural electric cooperatives considering what it would cost to leave the service of Tri-State Generation and Transmission Association, a sign that the utility’s efforts to reduce costs and carbon emissions have not appeased its membership. The cooperatives include Wheat Belt Public Power and Northwest Rural Public Power in Nebraska. Read more here.
Why Blue Horizon Energy is opening an office in Marcus, Iowa, Solar Builder Magazine The solar industry is growing rapidly across the Midwest and around the country as farms and businesses realize the long-term benefits of generating their own clean energy. In addition, the advancing technology and declining costs of solar energy and battery storage are making these solutions more profitable and accessible for organizations of all sizes and types.
Ditto says public power access to clean energy tax incentives is ‘low hanging fruit’, American Public Power Association Allowing public power utilities to have access to clean energy tax incentives is “low hanging fruit” in terms of policy-related action that can be taken in the short term in order to incentivize not-for-profit utilities to build their own clean energy generation, said Joy Ditto, President and CEO of the American Public Power Association (APPA) on March 22.
This finding comes from Offshore Wind for America, a new report released by Environment America Research & Policy Center and Frontier Group which examines US offshore wind potential by coastal region and by state. Offshore Wind for America also documents the status of existing projects and technological advances.
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.
NPR’s Michel Martin Interviews Professor Gretchen Bakke.
The storm in Texas highlights just how fragile U.S. infrastructure can be, and so you might wonder if this problem extends beyond Texas. It does. In their most recent report card, the American Society of Civil Engineers gave the U.S. energy infrastructure a D-plus, stating, quote, “without greater attention to aging equipment, capacity bottlenecks and increased demand, as well as increasing storm and climate impacts, Americans will likely experience longer and more frequent power interruptions,” unquote.
We wanted to learn more about this, so we called Gretchen Bakke. She is the author of “The Grid: The Fraying Wires Between Americans And Our Energy Future,” which examines the history of electrical power and its current challenges. When we spoke earlier today, she explained the problems in Texas are partly due to its independence from the U.S. power grid.
Read the text of this “All Things Considered” interview or listen to ithere.
About Americans for a Clean Energy Grid Americans for a Clean Energy Grid (ACEG) is the only non-profit broad-based public interest advocacy coalition focused on the need to expand, integrate, and modernize the North American high-voltage grid. Sponsors and supporters of the Americans for a Clean Energy Grid coalition are broadly supportive of ACEG’s mission and vision.
Included in The Biden Plan: Rebuild Our Infrastructure for a Sustainable Economy The order catalyzes the creation of jobs in construction, manufacturing, engineering and the skilled-trades by directing steps to ensure that every federal infrastructure investment reduces climate pollution and that steps are taken to accelerate clean energy and transmission projects under federal siting and permitting processes in an environmentally sustainable manner.
Dandelion Raises $30M to Scale Up Home Geothermal Energy, Greentech Media There’s a lot of energy underneath homes — if reasonably priced technology can be scaled up to tap its potential. A U.S. Department of Energy study indicates that geothermal heat pumps, which capture the steady temperatures of underground air to heat homes in winter and cool them in summer, could cost-effectively replace fossil-fuel- and electric-powered heating and air conditioning in up to 28 million homes.
Most initiatives to fight climate change today focus on reducing fossil fuel emissions from electricity generation, transportation, and buildings. But to avoid the worst impacts of climate change we must also significantly reduce the atmospheric carbon that has already been emitted. While efforts are underway to develop new and high tech mechanisms to accomplish this, there is an immediately available and economically viable pathway for atmospheric carbon removal—one that provides a compelling new value proposition for farmers to revitalize their soils and get paid for doing it.
E2 (Environmental Entrepreneurs) is a national, nonpartisan group of business leaders, investors, and professionals from every sector of the economy who advocate for smart policies that are good for the economy and good for the environment. Our members have founded or funded more than 2,500 companies, created more than 600,000 jobs, and manage more than $100 billion in venture and private equity capital.
As the nation moves to ramp up clean-energy production, Jack’s Solar Garden, a locally owned farm just south of Longmont, could provide a model for family-scale operations across the U.S. The farm has boosted revenues after planting 3,200 solar panels, enough to power more than 300 homes, and uses the soil underneath to grow produce. Continue reading here.
Photo by the National Renewable Energy Lab: Jack’s Solar Garden in Boulder County offers tours to visiting farmers and local schools to help cultivate the next generation of agrivoltaic farmers.
Additional Recommended Reading & Viewing
YouTube Video: Agrivoltaics: Solar Panels Bring Life to Struggling Farms | NowThis
How wind turbines are providing a safety net for rural farmers, World Resources Institute On a farm in O’Neill, Nebraska, Mike Zakrzewski wakes up every morning to tend his cattle and grow corn and soybeans on the farm he’s known since childhood. The youngest of nine children, he began farming with his dad in 1982, eventually buying the land from his parents and raising two children there with his wife. But due to climate change, this corner of Nebraska is not the same land he farmed with his father almost four decades ago.
Land Report Infographic: Bill and Melinda Gates own farmland across 18 states,
including among their largest holdings 20,588 acres in Nebraska.
In January 2020, The Land Report announced the launch of a sustainability standard that was developed by US farmland owners and operators. Called Leading Harvest, the organization’s goal is to create a sustainability standard that can be implemented across the greatest swath of agricultural acreage. Currently, more than 2 million acres in 22 states and an additional 2 million acres in seven countries are represented. Among the participants in the 13-member Sustainable Agriculture Working Group are Ceres Partners, Hancock Natural Resources Group, The Rohaytn Group, and UBS Farmland Investors.
Lincoln Electric System (LES), the public power utility serving greater Lincoln, Nebraska has set up a microgrid with 5 MW of load to serve critical facilities. The cost? Zero. Themicrogrid in downtown Lincoln is based around an existing duel-fuel, 29-MW generating unit and a substation and its infrastructure, according to Scott Benson, LES manager of resource and transmission planning. The project didn’t require any new equipment or a microgrid controller.
The US Department of Energy is preparing a publication that highlights the J Street microgrid project as an example of how to use existing infrastructure to provide new community benefits, [Scott Benson, LES manager of resource and transmission planning] said. Read more here.
Mary Harding elected NPPD Board Chair for 2021 Columbus, Neb. – Mary Harding of Plattsmouth was elected as Chair of Nebraska Public Power District’s Board of Directors for 2021 following that body’s annual election of officers Wednesday in Columbus. Also elected were Jerry Chlopek of Columbus as first vice chair, Melissa Freelend of Kearney as second vice chair, and Ed Schrock of Elm Creek as secretary. NPPD Vice President and Chief Financial Officer Traci Bender was elected treasurer.
The missing link between California solar power and Midwest wind energy may be a 600-mile stretch from southwestern Wyoming to northwestern Iowa. A pair of energy consultants with Upper Midwest roots are promoting a $9.5 billion vision for an interstate transmission-plus-storage project aimed at connecting two long-separated regional electricity grids.
Rob Schulte and Fred Fletcher believe their Power from the Prairie concept would produce massive benefits for utilities, customers and the country’s clean energy transition, enabling variable wind and solar resources from multiple regions to backfill and balance each other out on the grid. Continue reading here.
The Gering City Council passed an ordinance Monday evening aimed at increasing the usage of renewable energy in the future. Rich Andrysik, a professional engineer with the Municipal Energy Agency of Nebraska, spoke to the council about Renewable Distributed Generation.
CCC recognized for ‘going green’, Hastings Tribune [Central Community College] is among 416 institutions to have been included in the latest “Guide to Green Colleges,” based on a survey of administrators at 695 colleges and universities in 2019-20 concerning their institutions’ commitment to the environment and sustainability through policies, practices and programs. Editors for The Princeton Review analyzed the survey responses using more than 25 data points to make selections for the “Guide to Green Colleges,” which is available for free online and directs viewers to the colleges’ and universities’ websites. Other Nebraska institutions included in the 2021 guide are the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, University of Nebraska at Omaha, and Creighton University in Omaha.
Global Financial Institutions Plan For Major Oil & Gas Lending Exits, CleanTechnica Financial institutions have begun the long overdue process of restricting oil and gas funding. According to an October, 2020 report generated by the Institute for Energy Economics & Financial Analysis (IEEFA), over 100 and counting globally significant financial institutions have announced their divestment from coal. Additionally, an IEEFA tracker indicates that 50 globally significant financial institutions have introduced policies restricting oil sands and/or oil and gas drilling in the Arctic, including 23 to date this year. They’re leaving coal, oil, LNG, fossil gas, oil sands, and Arctic drilling.
By Christian Roselund, Editorial Director, Rocky Mountain Institute
Republished by GreenBiz
In its recent quarterly results call, U.S. power giant NextEra announced that its utility subsidiary Florida Power & Light (FPL) plans to build a 20-megawatt electrolyzer to produce hydrogen from water. If approved by regulators, the plant will run on power from otherwise curtailed solar and feed hydrogen to burn in FPL’s Okeechobee gas plant.
NRECA, DOE Launch Rural Battery Storage Research Projects, August 17, 2020 The National Rural Electric Cooperative Association (NRECA) today launched four rural battery storage projects in partnership with five electric cooperatives and the Department of Energy (DOE) Office of Electricity. The projects are being funded in part by DOE and will examine how energy storage systems can improve the resilience of critical infrastructure in rural areas. Two of the projects simultaneously will support military installations served by electric cooperatives and will help fulfill Department of Defense energy assurance goals. “This is a great example of how America’s electric co-ops and the more than 95 military facilities that they serve are evolving together,” said NRECA CEO Jim Matheson.
How Texas Turned Green: On this week’s Political Climate, former FERC Commissioner and Chairman of the Texas Public Utility Commission Pat Wood discusses competitive power markets and how a red state became a green energy leader.
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.