Powerhive Begins Operating MicroGrids in Kenya

Powerhive East Africa has achieved something no other private company has done – been given permission to generate, distribute and sell electricity to the Kenyan public beginning in Kisii and Nymaira counties in Western Kenya. Using microgrids, the company, a subsidiary of Powerhive, Inc., will directly deliver electricity to hundreds of rural communities that are beyond the reach of the national grid.

For more than two years, Powerhive has been operating microgrid pilot projects utilizing 100 percent renewable energy in four villages in Kisii, Kenya. The pilot projects serve approximately 1,500 people and have played a critical role in creating new businesses, enabling the use of productive appliances, powering schools, and displacing kerosene and diesel, which emit toxic pollutants.

According to Powerfhive, the Kenya Energy Regulatory Commission’s (ERC) decision to provide a concession to an off-grid utility company reflects the beginning of a global transformation in the energy sector. “The Powerhive permit was granted in recognition of the fact that grid expansion is not always the most economical choice to expand energy access; off-grid alternatives have a role to play,” wrote Dr. Frederick Nyang, director of economic regulation for the Kenya ERC, in a letter. “[Powerhive has demonstrated] that its microgrids are capable of operating in compliance with the prescribed standards for residential and commercial electricity service provision.”

Powerhive microgrid in KenyaHistorically, explains Powerhive, governments have pursued rural electrification almost exclusively through major public investments in grid expansion. Through its distributed energy delivery solutions, Powerhive aims to complement such government and utility efforts by focusing on areas that are too costly for grid extension. Powerhive East Africa’s concession, and the resulting deployment of microgrid projects, will set the stage for rapid global expansion and support Kenya’s goal of electrifying 100 percent of the population by 2030.

“The government of Kenya recognizes that the fastest and least expensive approach to reach 100% electricity access is to allow private investment in distributed generation infrastructure,” said Powerhive East Africa’s Managing Director Zachary Ayieko. “Other national governments aggressively pursuing rural electrification targets can also benefit greatly by using Powerhive’s energy access solution.”

ampCNG’s CNG as Truck Fleet Surpasses 30M Miles

ampCNG’s compressed natural gas (CNG) long-haul truck fleet has surpassed 30 million miles. The Class 8 CNG trucks achieved a fuel efficiency of 6.17 miles per diesel equivalent gallon. The company says with this achievement, they have demonstrated the commercial and operational viability of CNG as a fuel for heavy-duty trucks. ampCNG’s primary business is developing, owning, and operating public access CNG fueling stations built for the heavy-duty trucking industry. ampCNG currently owns and operates 21 CNG stations nationwide (19 of which are part of amp Trillium, ampCNG’s joint venture with Trillium CNG) and has plans to open several more this year.

RDF Kenworth PhotoGrant Zimmerman, Senior Vice President of Business Development at ampCNG, said of the milestone, “We are proud that our fleet has now run 30 million miles on CNG and we will be putting our operations experience to good use. We look forward to continuing to share our proven CNG operating experience to help more trucking fleets safely reduce and stabilize their fuel costs by converting to CNG.”

The 42-truck fleet is leased by Renewable Dairy Fuels, a subsidiary of ampCNG, and operated by Ruan. The fleet carries raw milk from Fair Oaks Farms to processing facilities in Kentucky, Michigan, Tennessee and Indiana. Since deploying the CNG trucks in 2011, ampCNG has displaced approximately 4.6 million gallons of diesel and eliminated approximately 7,100 tons of CO2.

Zimmerman added, “We don’t want to be in the trucking business, but we felt it was important to put these trucks on the road to prove that CNG works for the Class 8 market. Along the way, we reduced operating costs for our dairy customers and helped the environment. Furthermore, the drivers report that they actually prefer CNG versus their old diesel units because the CNG trucks are cleaner and quieter.”

BioEnergy Bytes

  • http://energy.agwired.com/category/bioenergy-bytes/The VELUX Group and the social business Little Sun have announced a partnership with the NGO Plan International to distribute a new solar lamp – the Natural Light solar lamp – in three African countries: Zimbabwe, Zambia and Senegal. The partnership with Plan International will deliver sustainable solar-powered light to people living off-grid in areas without electricity, through a program that involves and empowers local communities.
  • Soventix Chile SPA and JA Solar have announced the establishment of a joint venture in Santiago de Chile that will develop large scale solar photovoltaic power projects in Chile.
  • Envision Energy has announced that it aims to install a superconductive generator on one of its most advanced wind turbines. The product named EcoSwing generator is designed for a +3 MW class direct drive turbine, and will provide enough electricity to power 1000 households.
  • Green Charge Networks‘ intelligent energy storage solution was named a Finalist in the new category, Energy Industry Innovation of the Year category in the 2015 American Business Awards. This category recognizes singular innovations in energy-related technology, production, conservation, storage or delivery, by an organization in the U.S.

Free Webinar on USDA Biorefinery Assistance Program

Calling those interested in producing advanced biofuels and biochemicals. An upcoming free webinar, “USDA’s 9003 Biorefinery Assistance Program,” will discuss how to take advantage of the program. The webinar will take place Wednesday, June 3, 2015 at 1:00 pm ET. The event is hosted by Stern Brothers & Co., Wilson Sonsini Goodrich & Rosati, and B2BWebinars.com.

USDA’s 9003 Biorefinery Assistance Program is open and offering loan guarantees for advanced biofuel and renewable chemical production facilities. Up to $1 billion in loan guarantee authority is anticipated over the next few years, including FY14 and FY15 Farm Bill funding. The USDA is offering this source of financing to projects, but demand is expected to be high. In the webinar, panelists will discuss the upcoming opportunity and how companies can submit successful projects.

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The panel will address the following topics:

  • Past winners and lessons learned from past 9003 releases;
  • Assessment of the competitive landscape and projects that are a good fit for 9003;
  • How renewable chemicals projects fit in under 9003 program rules;
  • Application requirements, including a Feasibility Study, Environmental Report, Technical Report (including pilot data) and Business Plan;
  • How to prepare for outreach to lenders of record; and
  • Status of program interactions with Office of Management and Budge.

Click here to view the full agenda. Click here for registration information.

DOE’s Moniz to Speak at WINDPOWER 2015

For the first time, U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) Secretary Ernest Moniz will speaking at WINDPOWER, the largest wind industry event in the U.S. The annual conference and expo is hosted by the American Wind Energy Association (AWEA) and will be held this year in Orlando, Florida May 18-21, 2015.

Secretary Moniz will speak during the Welcome & Opening General Session on Tuesday, May 19, starting at 8:30 am. He is expected to discuss Wind Vision, the DOE’s definitive new report that shows how wind energy can create ample economic, environmental and health benefits and DOE Secretary Ernst Monizcontinue to provide key contributions to the nation’s energy portfolio. He will also explore advancements in wind turbine technology that could open up economic wind opportunities in many parts of the country.

Doug Greenholz, President of IKEA Property Inc., also confirmed he will be speaking during the Welcome & Opening General Session. Greenholz manages IKEA’s 40 existing stores and support units in the U.S. He is expected to talk about IKEA’s investment in U.S. wind farms and wind energy across the globe. The company announced late last year the purchase of a 165-megawatt Texas wind farm, the single largest renewable energy investment made by the company ever. The company is one of many to recognize the benefits of stably-priced, affordable wind power in recent years.

Click here for more information and to register.

BioEnergy Bytes

  • http://energy.agwired.com/category/bioenergy-bytes/Trina Solar Limited has announced that it has set up Trina Solar Science & Technology (Thailand) Ltd., a subsidiary company in Thailand to build a manufacturing facility with 500 MW of module and 700 MW of cell production capacity. Trina Solar will invest US $160 million in the facility, which is located in Rayong of Thailand. Production is projected to commence in late 2015 or early 2016.
  • Agility Fuel Systems, a designer and producer of natural gas fuel storage and delivery systems for heavy duty trucks and buses, announced today it will be opening a 204,000 square foot production facility in Salisbury, North Carolina. The new facility, expected to commence production later in 2015, is strategically located north of Charlotte, North Carolina, in order to be in close proximity to heavy duty truck and bus OEM assembly plants.
  • In a new report, “U.S. Distributed PV O&M and Asset Management: Services, Markets and Competitors,” GTM Research and SoliChamba Consulting identify a wide range of competitors entering the distributed PV operations and maintenance and asset management market, which the duo forecasts to reach $803 million by 2020. According to the report, asset management encompasses the ongoing financial, commercial and administrative tasks related to a PV installation. Operations and maintenance (O&M), also covered in the report, encompass the array of technical activities that enable PV systems to produce energy efficiently and within regulatory guidelines.
  • The U.S. Department of Energy has awarded Penske Truck Leasing a $400,000 grant for the company’s Alternative Fuel Vehicle (AFV) Demonstration and Enhanced Driver Experience Project, to be administered by the Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy. Penske will utilize the funds to further introduce alternative fuel vehicles to its customer base.

MN Ethanol Industry Contributed $2.3B in 2014

According to a new study, “Contribution of the Ethanol Industry to the Economy of Minnesota,” found that Minnesota’s ethanol industry accounted for $2.34 billion of the state’s gross domestic product (GDP) during 2014. The report was published by ABF Economics and found that the industry generated $7 billion in gross sales for state businesses and supported 18,630 full-time jobs. This in turn, cites the report, generated $1.74 billion in household income in Minnesota in 2014 as well as $132 million to state and local government tax rolls.

“This study by ABF Economics clearly shows how significant the ethanol industry is to Minnesota’s economy, especially in rural areas where it supports other industries,” said Tim Rudnicki, executive director of the Minnesota Bio-Fuels Association who commissioned the study.

Screen Shot 2015-05-07 at 4.19.05 PMFor the study, ABF Economics estimated the impact of the ethanol industry on Minnesota’s economy by applying expenditures by the relevant supplying industry to the final demand multipliers for value added output, earnings and employment.

“In this study, ABF used the IMPLAN (Impact Analysis for Planning) economic model to construct a model of the Minnesota economy including the sectors that support the ethanol industry, the links between them, and the level of economic activity,” noted John Urbanchuk, managing partner for ABF Economics, in the study.

The IMPLAN model evaluated the gross output, value added (GDP), household earnings and employment generated by the ethanol industry in 2014.

In 2014, the study notes, Minnesota’s ethanol industry spent $2.7 billion to produce 1.1 billion gallons of ethanol, 3.3 million tons of dried distiller’s grains (DDGs) and 184 million pounds of corn oil.The ethanol industry’s expenditure included corn, industrial chemicals, electricity, natural gas, water, labor and services such as maintenance, insurance and general overheads. Spending for these goods and services represented the purchase of output of other industries that operate in Minnesota, ABF Economics said. Continue reading

NY-Sun MW Block Incentive Program Kicks Offs

New York is set to launch its NY-Sun Commercial/Industrial MW Block Incentive Program that is designed to create new jobs and improve economic development throughout the state. The Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA) is calling the program a “key step” in expanding the use of solar.

“Once again, New York is showing how effective public policies can pay big dividends for the state’s economy and its environment,” said SEIA President and CEO Rhone Resch. “We applaud Gov. Cuomo, his administration, legislative leaders and the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA) for the successful launch of the MW Block Incentive Program and for their commitment to New York’s clean energy future. We also want to give a ‘shout-out’ to Con Edison, PSEG and the other utilities which are taking part in this exciting new program.”

Dykes Lumber Company solar power project with assistance from the NY-Sun program.

Dykes Lumber Company solar power project completed with assistance from the NY-Sun program.

NYSERDA says the $1 billion program is designed to expand solar deployment through public-private partnerships, as well as training programs for installers and public officials, standardized permitting, customer aggregation, consumer education and systems development.

Resch said the NY-Sun Initiative is clearly working. Growing by 105 percent, New York had the seventh most new solar capacity added last year in the nation, according to a recent report. The state also maintained its Top 10 ranking in total installed capacity, finishing the year behind only New Jersey and Massachusetts among Northeastern states. In 2014, New York added 147 megawatts (MW) of solar electric capacity, bringing its total to 397 MW.

“To put the state’s remarkable progress in some context, the 397 MW of solar installed today in New York is more than our entire country had installed by 2007. That’s an amazing achievement,” Resch added. “What’s more, we expect 2015 to be New York’s best year ever for new PV installations, with more than 250 MW on new capacity projected to come online.”

BioEnergy Bytes

  • http://energy.agwired.com/category/bioenergy-bytes/The European Wind Energy Association (EWEA) has appointed Kristian Ruby as Chief Policy Officer. Ruby is a widely recognised expert in sustainability communication and political affairs. He joins EWEA from Danish consultancy Operate, where he was manager in the sustainability team, specialising in climate, environment and energy issues.
  • IKEA has announced it had officially plugged-in Kansas’ largest rooftop solar array, atop the recently opened IKEA Merriam. The 92,000-square-foot solar array consists of a 730.17-kW DC system, comprised of 2,394 panels, and will produce approximately 986,800 kWh of electricity annually for the store.
  • Germany will become the world’s leading market for annual offshore wind turbine installations in 2015, with the country set to add an impressive 2,071 Megawatts (MW) this year, an almost fourfold increase from the 529 MW added in 2014, according to research and consulting firm GlobalData. “Wind Regains Momentum in 2014 and Industry Outlook Improves,” finds that global annual offshore wind installations will more than double, from 1,681 MW in 2014 to 3,903 MW in 2015, with a dip to 3,255 MW forecast for 2016.
  • Weekend Business Report, hosted by Ileana Bravo, will air a Special Report featuring Ryder System, CNG 4 America, Consolidate Energy Solutions and more where they will look at many of today’s critical energy and environment issues. The report will take an in-depth Deep Dive look at natural gas and how clean burning fuels like Compressed Natural Gas [CNG] and Liquid Natural Gas [LNG] are not only having a positive environmental impact and helping to secure our energy future, but doing so using clean domestic natural gas while creating jobs and saving money for enterprises.

EWEA Welcomes ETS Reform, Carbon Reserve Goals

The EU-28 Member States and the European Parliament have agreed to introduce a market stability reserve in 2019 to tackle a glut of over 2 billion excess permits in the Emissions Trading System (ETS). At hearing the news, the European Windy Energy Association welcomed the move made between lawmakers to reform the ETS before 2021.

ewea-logoAccording to EWEA, the surplus of allowances is currently suppressing the carbon price and failing to hold Europe’s worst polluters to account over their emissions.

Policymakers have also agreed to transfer the backloaded and unallocated allowances into the market stability reserve before they flood the market at the end of the decade. The number of these allowances could be as high as 1.7 billion according to analyst estimates.

Ivan Pineda, Director of Public Affairs at the European Wind Energy Association, said, “The start date of 2019 shows that Member States are prepared to compromise. It is also pleasing to see that a substantial number of excess allowances will not be returning to the market and will instead go directly into the reserve. But we have to acknowledge that Member States and the Parliament could have been far more ambitious in the shake-up of the carbon market and that much more comprehensive reform is needed in order for this instrument to provide a meaningful signal to investors.”