BioEnergy Bytes

  • BioEnergyBytesDF1In a joint venture, Kyocera Corporation and Century Tokyo Leasing Corporation have announced that Kyocera TCL Solar LLC has started construction of the world’s largest 13.7 MW floating solar power plant on the Yamakura Dam reservoir, managed by the Public Enterprises Agency of Chiba Prefecture in Japan for industrial water services. Scheduled for launch in FY2018, the plant will be comprised of approximately 51,000 Kyocera modules installed over a fresh water surface area of 180,000m2 The project will generate an estimated 16,170 MWh per year.
  • Visiongain has calculated that the global offshore wind market will see capital expenditure (CAPEX) of $21,610m in 2016, including spending on turbines, foundations and installation services. This report addresses the development of the global offshore wind market, analysing the prospects for the three submarkets and ten key national markets. It focuses on CAPEX for the EPC of projects for 2016-2026, and also includes offshore wind capacity forecasts for this period.
  • ComEd received a $4 million award from the U.S. Department of Energy SunShot Initiative to design and deploy solar and battery storage technology within its planned microgrid demonstration project in Chicago’s Bronzeville neighborhood. This award will enable the most sophisticated solar project in the Midwest, while also helping ComEd and the communities we serve learn more about important technologies that will make for a more secure and green energy future.
  • During the 35th Energy Efficiency Forum in Istanbul the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) and the Clean Technology Fund (CTF) announced they are initiating a program to fund exploratory drilling investments in order to tap into Turkey’s large geothermal resources. The new $125 million aptly-named PLUTO initiative will provide funds and advice to private developers in order to lower the risks associated with the initial stages of geothermal projects, according to EBRD.

Governor’s Wind Energy Coalition Adds Solar

The Governors’ Wind Energy Coalition has added solar energy to its lineup of renewable energy promotion and has changed its name to reflect the new addition: Governors’ Wind and Solar Energy Coalition (GWSC). The Coalition’s goal is to support renewable energy technologies that among other benefits, help to put Americans to work in all 50 states.

Screen Shot 2016-01-24 at 9.45.48 PM“We are proud of Iowa’s leadership in wind energy and we are also encouraged by the recent growth in solar energy,” said Iowa Governor Terry Branstad who just last week highlighted Iowa as one of the country’s leading wind power producers. “The addition of solar to the Coalition’s portfolio represents a commitment to future economic and renewable energy growth, and further diversification of our nation’s energy portfolio.”

Rhode Island Governor Gina Raimondo said of the announcement, “I support the foresight of my colleagues to broaden the Coalition’s focus and include solar energy development as a policy priority. Wind and solar provide complementary benefits to the U.S. electric grid and will help diversify the country’s energy mix. The need for states to take a broader view of renewable power is clear.”

According to SNL Energy, wind and solar energy added 61 percent of all new generation capacity in 2015 through November. As states make plans to comply with the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Clean Power Plan, wind and solar power are expected to continue supplying large amounts new electricity in the years ahead.

“I am proud to work with governors from across the country, and both parties, to advance renewable energy. The exciting growth of both wind and solar energy provide our states with tremendous economic opportunities, as well as the ability to reduce emissions, protect public health, and build a more prosperous and sustainable American clean energy future,” said Washington Governor Jay Inslee.

According to the American Wind Energy Association (AWEA), wind power has surpassed the 70 gigawatt (GW) milestone of installed wind capacity. Per AWEA, if the pace continues, wind power can become one of the largest sources of electricity in the U.S. by supplying 35 percent by 2050. Tom Kiernan, AWEA CEO noted the group has been very effective in getting policy results that help grow the wind energy industry, and said the decision to combine forces with solar energy reflects the economic and environmental value of diversifying the country’s electric grid.

Pattern Energy Completes Amazon Wind Farm

The 150 MW Amazon Wind Farm Fowler Ridge project, located in Benton County, Indiana has been completed and is fully operational. Pattern Energy Group’s wind farm will sell 100 percent of the energy produced to Amazon Web Services (AWS) to power their datacenters.

“It’s a privilege to team with AWS on the Amazon Wind Farm Fowler Ridge, demonstrating the strong and growing appetite for wind power from the country’s leading corporations,” Amazon Wind Farm turbinesaid Mike Garland, President and CEO of Pattern Energy. “This facility was completed on schedule and we are beginning 2016 with all 16 of our wind power facilities fully operational. Since our IPO we have grown the portfolio by 119%, underscoring the value of our strategic relationship with Pattern Development and our ability to execute attractive third-party acquisitions.”

The Amazon Wind Farm Fowler Ridge consists of 65 Siemens 2.3 MW wind turbines with ‘Made in America’ components. The turbine blades, nacelles, towers, and transformers were manufactured in the United States. “Siemens is proud that workers at our factories in the Midwest produced the turbines for the Amazon Wind Farm Fowler Ridge, which continues an exciting trend of technology companies and major corporations turning to wind power for their energy needs,” said Jacob Andersen, CEO Onshore Americas, Siemens Wind Power and Renewables Division.

According to the American Wind Energy Association (AWEA), companies such as Amazon, are helping to boost wind power in the U.S. with direct wind energy contracts. In other examples, Microsoft and Walmart have both contracted directly with companies to build wind farms to generate electricity for their operations.

Jerry Hunter, vice president, Infrastructure at AWS said of the project completion, “AWS has a long-term commitment to achieve 100% renewable energy usage for our global infrastructure footprint, and we continue to make progress towards this goal. We’re very excited to announce with Pattern Energy that the Amazon Wind Farm Fowler Ridge is now live and producing electricity, bringing a new source of clean energy to the grids that power our datacenters.”

Book Review: Power From The People

“We must take rapid, effective, innovative action to change the ways we generate and use energy; renewable energy is ubiquitous, offering a new model of energy generation that is local, democratic, and free from the abuses of a centralized monopoly.

Power From the PeopleThis week I focus on community energy. The call to action above is from the Energy Democracy, Renewable Communities Alliance and leads off the last chapter of Power From The People,” by Greg Pahl. The book discusses how to organize, finance and launch local energy projects. While the book is now a few years old, the information in which it contains is still valuable.

Local energy, writes Pahl, is the result of rethinking energy to look at ways of becoming more energy-resilient that don’t necessarily rely on centralized corporate-dominated utilities. “Simply stated, local energy projects rely on locally available renewable energy resources that service local needs.”  This can be solar, wind, biomass, ag waste, and more and in some instances can become regional projects such as a hydropower project.

The book walks the reader through the current energy situation from a climate and economic perspective and discusses why and how to “rethink” energy. Pahl then moves to how a consumer can make his/her home energy resilience and then how a community can become energy resilient. Throughout the dialogue, Pahl provides examples of successful projects – even some that took years and a lot of creative thinking to come into fruition. He also offers four core principles of community energy.

  • Community Ownership, Community Benefit: Ensuring that projects meet broader  needs of the community including the health of the local economy and environment.
  • Renewable, Local, and Distributed: Renewables by definition won’t run out, so they are ideal for building local energy security.
  • Adaptive Resilience: A community is not going anywhere, so the ability to adapt to changing conditions is essential.
  • Conservation First: We must reduce the overall amount of energy we use.

Continue reading

BioEnergy Bytes

  • BioEnergyBytesDF1The nation’s mayors released a new survey report showing how cities are deploying solar electricity systems, LED lighting and low-energy buildings to meet their energy and climate goals. Released at the Conference’s 84th Winter Meeting in Washington, D.C., the findings show mayors overwhelmingly identified these three technologies to be the “most promising” technologies for curbing climate emissions and reducing energy use in their cities.
  • Renewable Energy Systems has announced the sale of the Bluestem Wind Project to Exelon Generation, one of the nation’s leading power producers. Exelon Generation is the nation’s 12th largest wind producer with a combined 1,500 megawatts of wind generation and more under construction.
  • 2015 marked a banner year for solar power in North Carolina as Duke Energy companies set a record for the amount of solar energy they added in the state — more than 300 MW, enough to power about 60,000 average homes at peak production.
  • SolarCity has announced SunRaising, a referral program that allows nonprofit organizations to raise funds by encouraging members to adopt solar. Each time a supporter of a specific SunRaising partner organization signs up, SolarCity will donate $200 to that organization. Homeowners who go solar through a SunRaising partner will also receive their system’s first month of power for free from SolarCity as a thank you for helping their local nonprofit.

Clean Power Plan A Top Energy Issue

The Clean Power Plan (CPP) is among top issues that legislators will face this year in energy according to the Council of State Governments.

“Energy issues will continue to receive significant attention in 2016,” said Liz Edmondson, director of energy and environmental policy at CSG. “Market forces, governmental regulations and increasing technology are changing the way we generate, transmit and use energy. In light of these issues, state policymakers and regulators will need to work together to comply with new federal regulations such as the Clean Power Plan, and to ensure that consumers continue to enjoy reliable and affordable access to electricity.”

In addition to the Clean Power Plan, states will face a variety of policy issues related to an increase in natural gas production. Other top issues in energy and environment include electricity transmission, ratemaking and grid reliability; water quality and quantity; and the use of science-based decision making.

The CPP continues to be a hot button issue with coalitions coming together to sue the EPA in an effort to block the plan’s implementation. This week the U.S. Court of Appeals rejected a stay requested by opponents.

“This is a huge win for protecting our health and climate from dangerous carbon pollution, said David Doniger, director of Climate and Clean Air Program at the Natural Resources Defense Council. “The Court has brushed aside the polluters’ bogus bid to block the Clean Power Plan, and the electricity sector will continue the shift from its high-pollution, dirty-fueled past to a safer, cleaner-powered future.

“The decision greenlights work that most states have already begun to put the Clean Power Plan into action, and signals to others that there is no excuse for holding back on implementation. Cutting the largest source of carbon pollution fueling climate change should be Job One,” added Doniger.

BioEnergy Bytes

  • BioEnergyBytesDF1According to GTM Research, 59 gigawatts of solar PV were installed globally in 2015, a 34 percent increase over 2014’s total. The report finds that the U.S. share of expected global PV demand between 2015 and 2020 has increased from an average of 10 percent to 15 percent due to the extension. This is despite a substantial increase in demand expected for the Asia-Pacific region (apart from China) in 2016 and beyond. On the other hand, FIT pullbacks in Japan, the U.K. and China have tempered expectations.
  • FFP New Hydro LLC has announced the receipt of hydropower licenses from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) for four projects located on the Muskingum River in Ohio. The four projects are expected to have a combined generating capacity of 15 MW from plants added to existing Lock and Dam facilities owned and operated by the Ohio Department of Natural Resources. FFP New Hydro also has final license applications pending for two more projects on the Muskingum River.
  • Envision Energy has announced the establishment of its Global Blade Innovation Center in Boulder, Colorado. This marks yet another significant investment in R&D by Envision in the United States. Kevin Standish, a recognized leader in turbine blade design in the wind energy industry, will lead this operation.
  • SoloPower Systems has announced the completion of its first commercial-scale deployment in South Africa. The Company’s ultra-light weight photovoltaic (LPV) modules were successfully installed on a factory rooftop in Port Elizabeth, South Africa, as the first in a two-phase project. The installation was commissioned by Dumont Power, a SoloPower Systems’ distributor.

Reynolds, Naig Highlight Fueling Our Future 100

During the 10th Annual Iowa Renewable Fuels Summit, Iowa Lt. Governor Kim Reynolds, along with Mike Naig, deputy secretary of agriculture, highlighted the new “Fueling Our Future 100” program. In round one, the program has allocated $2.49 million dollars to help Iowa gas retailers install 107 blender pumps and 8 underground storage tanks to store high blends of ethanol. Naig said applications for the 2nd round of funding are due February 1, 2016.

Kim Reynolds and Mike NaigReynolds noted that each blender pump installed benefits Iowa’s agricultural economy and supports good jobs for Iowa families. Adding blender pumps also gives consumers more choices at the pump, she added.

“Thanks to the support of our federal partners at the USDA, the ‘Fueling our Future 100’ program is going to ensure that consumers in our state have greater access to biofuels.  We’re appreciative of companies like Five Star Coop, New Century Farm Services, Kum & Go, STAR Energy and Three Rivers Farm Services Company for their efforts in continuing to put Iowa on the forefront of an even greater renewable future.”

The  Fueling Our Future 100 received a $5 million competitive grant from the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) Biofuel Infrastructure Partnership (BIP) program.  All funds must be matched by non-federal funds, including up to $2.5 million from the Iowa Renewable Fuels Infrastructure program. The fueling sites applying for assistance will also be required to provide a minimum of $2.5 million.

Listen to Iowa Lt. Governor Kim Reynold’s remarks here: IA Lt Gov Kim Reynolds' Remarks

Listen to Iowa Ag Deputy Secretary Mike Naig’s remarks here: Mike Naig's Remarks

10th Annual Iowa Renewable Fuels Summit Photo Album

USDA Scientists Develop Bio-Oil

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) has been working on creating better crude liquid from renewable resources to replace fossil-based fuel. Coined “bio-oil,” the renewable fuel is derived from agricultural waste such as non-food-grade plant matter procured from agricultural or household waste residue such as wood, switchgrass, and animal manures. The advanced biofuel is now a few steps closer to being able to be distilled at existing petroleum refineries.

TGRP mobile Unit

ARS scientists are testing this mobile pyrolysis system for on-farm production of bio-oil from agricultural waste.

The research team, headed by Agricultural Research Services (ARS) chemical engineer Akwasi Boateng with the Sustainable Biofuels and Coproducts Unit at the Eastern Regional Research Center in Wyndmoor, Pennsylvania, is working on a modified pyrolysis technique called “tail-gas reactive pyrolysis” (TGRP). Traditionally, pyrolysis is process that chemically decomposes plant and other organic matter using very high heat. This process is not compatible with current distillation equipment at petroleum biofineries due to its highly acidic and high oxygen content, and requires the addition of an expensive catalyst.

Now, however, using waste materials, bio-oils are being produced at an accelerated rate using a new high-output mobile processing unit funded by a Biomass Research and Development Initiative Grant from USDA’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture.  Instead of shipping large amounts of agricultural waste to a refinery plant at high cost, the mobile reactor allows conversion of the biomass into energy-dense bio-oil right on the farm. In addition, this bio-oil is a higher quality bio-oil that is more marketable to biofuel producers than bio-oil made from traditional pyrolysis methods.

“Ideally, the biofuels added to gasoline would be identical to fuels produced at petroleum refineries,” Eklasabi told AgResearch Magazine. “The quality of TGRP deoxygenated liquids is equal to or better than the bio-oil produced by catalyst pyrolysis.” And, added Eklasabi, bringing the bio-oil one step closer to being able to be distilled at existing petroleum refineries.

61st Anniversary of 1st American Solar House

US Census Bureau logoThis week marks the 61st anniversary of the first house in America with solar heating and radiation cooling. Located in Tuscon, Arizona, the house featured a large, slanting slab of steel and glass that coverts sunlight into heat that was ducted into the house. Today, many homes use solar panels to capture the natural heat of the sun and solar is currently the power source for around 83,000 U.S. homes according to the U.S. Census Census Bureau.

While solar accounts for a .7 percent of the power fueling American homes, its growing. However, of the 117 million occupied housing unit, gas remains the most heating fuel, outpacing electricity – about 57 million to 44 million.

The January 17th edition of Profile America focuses on solar power using data gathered as part of the American Community Survey. The program is produced by the Center for New Media and Promotions of the U.S. Census Bureau.

Profile America Looks at Solar