Sen Udall & Friends Unveil National RES Bill

U.S. Senators Tom Udall (D-NM) and friends, Edward Markey (D-MA), Martin Heinrich (D-NM), Michael Bennet (D-CO), Jeff Merkley (D-OR), Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) and Mazie K. Hirono (D-Hawaii) has introduced a national Renewable Electricity Standard (RES) they say will pump nearly $300 billion into the economy while combating climate change. The bill would require utilities to generate 30 percent of their electricity from renewable energy sources by 2030.

New Mexico Senator Tom Udall“A national Renewable Electricity Standard will help slow utility rate increases and boost private investment in states like New Mexico – all while combating climate change,” said Udall, who helped pass RES legislation through the U.S. House of Representatives and has continued to champion the issue as senator. “Investing in homegrown clean energy jobs just makes sense, and that’s why I’m continuing my fight for a national RES. More than half the states – including New Mexico – have widely successful RES policies, and it’s time to go all in. I’ve long pushed for a ‘do it all, do it right’ energy policy, and a RES will help us get there.”

If passed, the federal legislation would create the first national threshold for utilities to provide a certain percentage of their electricity from renewable resources, including wind, solar, biomass and others. It would set an 8 percent requirement by 2016, followed by gradual increases to meet the 30 percent by 2030 goal. More than half of the states already have renewable generation standards with specific timelines and target standards, and the legislation would not preempt stronger standards already implemented by states.

“Our record droughts, burning forests, dying fish, and melting icecaps all point to the urgency of taking on climate change,” said Merkley. “The only answer is burning less fossil fuel and moving toward renewable energy. Senator Udall’s bill would accelerate that transition and is a key to saving both our economy and our environment from the ravages of climate change.” Continue reading

Ecuador Rolls Out Ethanol Program

Gasolina EcopaisPresident Rafael Correa of Ecuador has issued a decree that orders the gradual national roll out of a 10pc ethanol blend in gasoline, using a price index published by Argus Americas Biofuels. The country is branding the ethanol-blend “Ecopais” and the goal is aimed at reducing the country’s growing high-octane gas imports that are blended with locally produced low-octane gas to make 87 octane and 92 octane.

“We are delighted that Ecuador has chosen to base its new ethanol mandate on Argus price assessments, in recognition of our clear methodology and benchmark status in global biofuels markets,” Argus Media Chairman and Chief Executive Adrian Binks said.

A number of Latin American countries have adopted Argus-related pricing in oil and energy markets. The Ecopais announcement follows last year’s decision by state-owned oil company PetroEcuador to price its crude exports against the ASCI benchmark — Argus’ volume-weighted average of US deepwater sour crude deals.

Pricing will be calculated based on the Argus ethanol price plus delivery costs from the U.S. Gulf coast to Ecuador plus a K factor of 18 cents per liter.

What’s the GHG Performance of Polluters?

Next 10 has released, “Green Innovation Index, International Edition,” a report that analyzes and ranks the economic and energy performance of the world’s 50 largest greenhouse gas (GHG) emitting countries. The reports reviews country gross domestic product (GDP), emissions, energy productivity, renewable energy generation, clean tech investments and other key metrics. The report find the European Union collectively, and its individual nations, leads the world on several critical indicators.

Green Innovation Index“Some of the world’s largest economies are now decoupling economic growth and energy use, actually growing their GDPs while shrinking their carbon footprints. Last year marked the first time we’ve been able to say conclusively that a drop in global carbon emissions was caused by something other than an economic downtown,” said F. Noel Perry, businessman and founder of the nonpartisan nonprofit group Next 10.

Perry will be presenting the results as part of the events leading up to the Business & Climate Summit taking place at the UNESCO headquarters. The event is also part of Climate Week Paris.

The report finds the European Union ranks as the: #1 producer of renewable energy; #2 in global electric vehicle sales (2014), accounting for 30 percent of sales worldwide; #1 in clean tech IPOs (2014); #2 in clean tech venture capital, attracting just over $1 billion in 2014; #1 in wind energy patents; and #2 in clean tech patents, with 11,000 registered in 2014.

The Green Innovation Index also found that among these nations, plus California:

  • Spain, Germany, Italy, California, Philippines, the EU, Belgium, Netherlands, U.K. andGreece have the greatest share of electricity from renewable sources among top emitters (in order).
  • France leads the world in lowest carbon intensity; Uzbekistan is highest (GHG per GDP).
  • U.S. (with California), the EU, Japan, South Korea, Germany, California, China, Taiwan,France and U.K. (in order) are top ten in clean technology patents (2014).
  • Clean tech venture capital investment declined in the EU (-10 percent), France (-43 percent), Canada (-19 percent), India (-4 percent) and Israel (-11 percent) from 2013-14.
  • U.S. clean tech venture capital investment grew 74 percent (2013-14), California 153 percent.

“This year’s Green Innovation Index, International Edition tracks a clear shift to clean energy around the world. Although fossil fuels still represent a significant portion of our overall energy use, many analysts believe we have reached an important tipping point—globally, we are now adding more capacity for renewable power annually than fossil fuels,” added Doug Henton, chairman and CEO of Collaborative Economics, which developed the Index for Next 10.

BioEnergy Bytes

  • BioEnergyBytesDF1Belltown Power announced it has commissioned four solar projects totaling 50MW in the UK. Belltown’s in house engineering team managed the projects from consent stage through construction and into operations, successfully delivering all four projects ahead of the 31 March deadline for 1.4 ROCs.
  • Pattern Energy Group Inc. has announced it has closed the previously announced acquisition of two operational wind power facilities totaling 351 MW from Wind Capital Group, LLC and its affiliates for a final purchase price of $242 million plus assumed net debt of $102 million. The acquisition includes ownership interests in the 201 MW Post Rock Wind facility in Kansas, and the 150 MW Lost Creek Wind facility in Missouri.
  • Renova Solar, a Palm Desert, CA-based solar installer and SunPower Master Dealer, has received the SunPower “Residential National Dealer of the Year” award for its outstanding performance as a SunPower dealer in 2014.
  • Florida Power & Light Company (FPL) has been named to the Grid Edge 20 – the top 20 companies in the nation that are transforming the energy industry – by Greentech Media. FPL was singled out for its industry-leading approach to the grid, using technology to better manage the electric system and deliver reliable service that ranks among the best in the nation.

Team Uber Qik Breaks EV Driving Record

Team Uber Qik has broken the unofficial electric vehicle (EV) coast-to-coast world record with an elapsed drive and charge time of just 58 hours and 55 minutes. Drivers Rodney Hawk, Deena Mastracci and Carl Reese departed from Los Angeles City Hall in a Tesla P85D on April 16 at 11:41 p.m. PST and arrived at New York City Hall on April 19 at 1:36 p.m. EST, setting two new records for the fastest U.S. coast-to-coast time and least charging time in an EV.

gI_115274_IMG_6682Accompanied by witnesses and timekeepers, Anthony Alvarado, Matt Nordenstrom and Johnnie Oberg, Jr., Team Uber Qik, led by Reese, broke the previous EV U.S. coast-to-coast time record of 67 hours and 21 minutes set by a team from Edmunds.com in summer 2014. While the team broke two records during this trip, Guinness only recognizes the “least non-driving time to cross the U.S. in an electric vehicle,” meaning the shortest amount of charging time. The team logged just 12 hours and 48 minutes plugged in at Tesla’s growing network of supercharging stations conveniently located along major freeways and free to use for all Tesla owners.

“I was inspired by my grandfather who took me on road trips as a child and Alex Roy who broke the cross-country record in a gasoline vehicle in 2006,” said Reese of Santa Clarita, California. “Tesla is such a compelling car company that is creating tens of thousands of American jobs, with Tesla Motors in Fremont, California, Giga Factory in Sparks, Nevada, and Space X in Hawthorne, California.” Reese prides himself on purchasing products only made in the U.S., from shoes and clothing to the Tesla the team drove across the country.

Global fleet tracking company GPS Insight sponsored Team Uber Qik’s record-breaking trip by providing the GPS tracking equipment necessary for third party verification, as required by Guinness Book of World Records. Other sponsors include InspectMobile.com, TeslaGrille.com and Chalkolot.com. The 691 horse-powered Tesla P85D used for the trip is owned by Reese and Mastracci. The team of timekeepers followed the drivers in a Chevrolet Suburban.

Solar Implementation Library Updated

DCE Solar has released the third installment in its Solar Implementation Library. The new report focuses on the unique installation challenges and opportunities present with landfills, also known as “brown fields,” and other locations where standard beam-driven rack mounts would be inappropriate or impossible.

“Land that is otherwise unusable for development or building holds tremendous potential for solar energy collection,” said Bill Taylor, CEO of DCE Solar. “By adding a new source of Screen Shot 2015-05-15 at 11.03.21 AMrevenue generation for these properties, property owners can optimize their return on investment for a wide variety of real estate assets.”

In addition to presenting additional streams of income for property owners, DCE Solar’s report also highlights excellent earning potential for installers. The report states, “Ballasted ground-mount arrays are often another opportunity for developers to utilize low cost available land to create a nice ROI. This report is a guide that will assist those professionals in obtaining the results they expect.”

Common challenges such as corrosion prevention, anchoring and slippage, and streamlined assembly are also highlighted in the report. As well, considerations such as materials used in composition, the ability to pre-assemble off-site, and methodologies for minimizing maintenance are discussed. Like other instalments in the library, the report outlines a best-practices approach for the various sites that require zero-penetration applications.

“One of our goals for this report in particular is that it will attract additional opportunities for the solar energy industry,” added Taylor. “By reducing the cost, we expect to see continued expansion of the solar market.”

BioEnergy Bytes

  • BioEnergyBytesDF1At a time when clean energy and water sources are critical to the health of our planet SunPower and the Surfrider Foundation have launched a partnership. Surfrider Foundation members can reduce their carbon footprints with solar, while locking in low electricity rates, and protecting oceans, waves and beaches around the world. As part of the program eligible Surfrider Foundation members and supporters can receive a $500 mail-in rebate on the purchase or lease of a high efficiency residential solar energy system from SunPower. Along with the rebate, SunPower will donate $1,000 to the Surfrider Foundation for each system installed.
  • Sungevity, Inc. has announced the appointment of Jan Slaghekke as Chief Global Officer, a new position for the company. Slaghekke is responsible for managing Sungevity’s expansion and strategic relationships in key markets outside the U.S., including its partnership with E.On as they work collaboratively to enter the German market.
  • DTE Energy has announced it is teaming with Domino’s Farms and Ford Motor Company to build and operate the two largest solar arrays in Michigan. DTE Energy has begun construction of a 1.1-megawatt photovoltaic solar installation at Domino’s Farms, just east of Ann Arbor, which will be completed and operational by the end of the year. The project will comprise more than 4,000 panels on property just north of M-14 and west of Earhart Road and have the capacity to generate 1,089 kilowatts of electricity.
  • Clean energy company Invenergy LLC announced the start of commercial operations of its 31.5 MW Grand Ridge Energy Storage project in La Salle County, Illinois. The project is located about 80 miles southwest of Chicago at Invenergy’s Grand Ridge Energy Center, which is comprised of a 210 MW wind farm; a 20 MW solar project; and an existing 1.5 MW energy storage unit.

Yellowstone Distributed Energy Project Powers Up

Old hybrid batteries have a new home on the range. Toyota has flipped the switch on a project that is reusing 200 old battery packs from Toyota Camry hybirds. The Lamar Buffalo Ranch field campus in Yellowstone National Park, now not only features buffalo, but an innovative distributed energy system that combines solar power generation with re-used Camry Hybrid battery packs. The result according to Toyota: reliable, sustainable, zero emission power to the ranger station and education center for the first time since it was founded in 1907. Solar panels generate the renewable electricity stored within the 208 used Camry Hybrid nickel-metal hydride battery packs, recovered from Toyota dealers across the United States.

Announced in June 2014, the partnership among Toyota, Indy Power Systems, Sharp USA SolarWorld, Patriot Solar, National Park Service and Yellowstone Park Foundation is an innovative effort to extend the useful life of hybrid vehicle batteries while providing sustainable power generation for one of the most remote, pristine areas in the United States.

Toyota_Yellowstone_Battery_001“Through our long-standing partnership with Yellowstone National Park and the Yellowstone Park Foundation, Toyota has helped preserve Yellowstone for future generations,” said Jim Lentz, chief executive officer, Toyota North America. “Today, our relationship with Yellowstone continues, as more than 200 battery packs that once powered Toyota Camry hybrids have found a new home on the range.”

On an annual basis, the solar system will generates enough electricity to power six average U.S. households for a year, or plenty of power for the five buildings on the Ranch campus. The hybrid batteries provide 85kWh of energy storage to ensure continuous power, as the system charges and discharges. Onsite micro-hydro turbine systems, capturing energy from a neighboring stream, are scheduled to join the power mix in 2016.

The Yellowstone system is the first of its kind to use recovered hybrid vehicle batteries for commercial energy storage. Each battery pack has been disassembled and tested, and every piece that could be was repurposed. New components were also designed and built by Indy Power Systems specifically for this application, including an onboard battery management system for each battery pack. The battery management system is designed to maximize battery life and will also provide important insights into real-world performance. These insights will help Toyota design future battery performance and durability improvements.

“Toyota’s innovative response to solve a difficult problem has helped Yellowstone move closer to its goal of becoming the greenest park in the world,” added Steve Iobst, acting superintendent of Yellowstone.

Advanced Disposal Opens Gas-to-Energy Plant

Advanced Disposal has opened the doors to a new gas-to-energy plant built on behalf of the Sarasota County, Florida landfill. To celebrate, elected officials, media and community members toured the landfill and facility including the new gas-to-energy plant built by Aria Energy Company. The plant is comprised of three engines that can produce as much as 4.8 MW of electricity. Gas produced by the landfill is converted by the plant’s generators. The power created at the facility, operated by Advanced Disposal, produces energy that will be sold around the state of Florida.

Sarasota County Landfill Tour“This is a really great opportunity for the county, as well as for Aria Energy, to take a resource that would otherwise be burned away into the atmosphere and use it to create something that is usable by the community,” said Sarasota County Public Utilities Solid Waste Engineer Jason Timmons.

Guests were also invited to participate in landfill facility tours. The company said in a news release this allowed consumers to better understand where the methane is created to power the generators.

Advanced Disposal General Manager Tim Ferris provided the landfill tours and answered guests’ questions. “This is an exciting time for Sarasota County Landfill,” said Ferris. “While we are not operating the new gas-to-energy facility, we are proud to operate the landfill that produces the gas, which in turn will provide energy to not only the local community, but also across the state.”

Biofuel Producers Thrive Despite Cheap Oil

According to a new report, “How Alternative Fuel Companies Will Compete with $50 Oil,image001many biofuel producers are still able to thrive despite dropping oils prices nearing $50 per barrel. Lux Research evaluated 25 alternative fuel producers to identify the ones most likely to compete with cheap oil and found that renewable diesel producers Neste Oil and Diamond Green Diesel, gasification specialist Red Rock Biofuels, and Edeniq, which makes cellulosic ethanol, were among 13 alternative producers of fuels best positioned for cheap oil.

Lux Research analysts used its database of 400 alternative fuel producers to select 25 companies – from seven technology families, four feedstock types and three stages of development – for detailed analysis.

Among their findings:

  • Neste Oil, Diamond Green are benefiting from cost cuts. Thanks to lowered production costs achieved through feedstock diversification, renewable diesel producers Neste Oil and Diamond Green Diesel were the clear leaders in Lux’s model. On the other hand, Solena Biofuels and Joule Unlimited were among the laggards on account of delayed production and commercialization.
  • Developers move to alternate markets. Amid low oil prices, high-profile companies such as Solazyme, Amyris, and Gevo have shifted decisively toward specialty chemicals and nutraceuticals this year. Sapphire Energy also has shifted away from fuels and now targets nutraceuticals, producing Omega-3 EPA from its algae.
  • Oil majors remain a pillar of support. Believing cheap oil to be a short-term phenomenon, oil majors have remained prominent supporters of alternative fuel developers across various technology platforms. For example, Total has added to its existing portfolio in biofuels and bio-based chemical companies by investing in Renmatix, a biomass-to-sugars company.

“$50 oil was never an afterthought for technology developers,” said Yuan-Sheng Yu, Lux research associate and the lead author of the report. “Many companies have technology roadmaps for cheaper alternative fuels. Not all of them will actually achieve that benchmark, but some will – while others will find alternate markets or, ironically, use support from oil majors to survive until prices rise again.”