USDA Funds 544 REAP Projects

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) has awarded 544 renewable energy and energy efficiency projects more than $6.7 million as part of the Rural Energy for America Program (REAP). USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack made the announcement at the Snake River Brewing Company, in Jackson, Wyoming. The company received a $13,810 REAP grant to install a solar panel to generate energy for the business.

srb-logo-3dThese grants will help farmers, ranchers and small business owners use more renewable energy, which cuts carbon pollution, reduces our dependence on foreign oil, saves businesses money on their energy bills and creates American jobs,” Vilsack said. “All of these are crucial components to developing healthier, more economically vibrant rural communities.”

REAP was created by the 2002 Farm Bill and was reauthorized by the 2014 Farm Bill. REAP funding has helped farmers expand renewable energy use in recent years. The new Census of Agriculture shows the number of farms utilizing renewable energy production has doubled in the last five years. Since 2009, USDA has awarded $545 million to support more than 8,800 REAP projects nationwide.

Eligible agricultural producers and rural small businesses may use REAP funds to make energy efficiency improvements or install renewable energy systems, including solar, wind, renewable biomass (including anaerobic digesters), small hydroelectric, ocean energy, hydrogen and geothermal.

Air Products Debuts Solar-Powered Fueling Station

Air Products has inaugurated India’s first solar-powered renewable fueling station in an event this week that included chief guest Shri Piyush Goyal, Union Minister for Power, Coal, and New and Renewable Energy, along with Shri Upendra Tripathy, Secretary, Minister of New and Renewable Energy. With the addition of this SmartFuel station, Air Products now has three hydrogen fueling stations operating in India.

Air Products’ SmartFuel H70/H35 retail hydrogen dispenser provides the newest generation of hydrogen dispensing to meet consumer expectations of refilling fuel cell vehicles in a safe, fast and reliable manner.

Air Products’ SmartFuel H70/H35 retail hydrogen dispenser provides the newest generation of hydrogen dispensing to meet consumer expectations of refilling fuel cell vehicles in a safe, fast and reliable manner.

The SmartFuel station is part of a mass public transport bus fueling and vehicle demonstration program, and according to Air Products generates 100 percent renewable hydrogen from solar energy via an electrolyzer. It is located at the Solar Energy Center near Delhi and part of a project managed by the National Institute of Solar Energy. The project was also implemented by India’s University of Petroleum and Energy Studies (UPES) and funded by the Ministry of New and Renewable Energy (MNRE) of the Government of India.

“As a member of industry, Air Products is proud to be involved in a program that has received such crucial validation and support from public sector, educational institute and the regulatory authorities,” commented Ravi Subramanian, business development manager Asia for Air Products’ Hydrogen Energy Systems. “This project is an important, progressive step towards unlocking the potential of hydrogen as a sustainable transportation fuel and alternative energy source, not just for India but the rest of the world.”

UPES is executing this project and it is entirely funded by MNRE. “Although this is a demonstration project, this will be a major stepping stone for India to move towards the hydrogen economy,” added Dr. Niranjan Raje, former director of Indian Oil and the principal investigator for this project.

BioEnergy Bytes

  • BioEnergyBytesDF1Alliance BioEnergy Plus, Inc. has announced the opening of Ek Laboratories, Inc. After completing construction at the end of April 2015, the company began installing and optimizing its full service analytical laboratory equipment and building its patented CTS Pilot plant. Both operations have been completed this week.
  • The K2 Wind Power Facility (“K2 Wind”) in Ontario has reached commercial operation. One of Canada’s largest wind projects, the 270 MW facility is owned and operated by Capital Power, Samsung Renewable Energy Inc. and Pattern Energy Group LP. Located in the Township of Ashfield-Colborne-Wawanosh in southwestern Ontario, K2 Wind is comprised of 140 Siemens 2.3 MW wind turbines and operates under a 20-year PPA with the Independent Electricity System Operator.
  • Envision Energy has announced the appointment of John Childs as Head of Turbine Business Development in Europe Middle East & Africa. Childs will be based in its Global Innovation Center in Denmark to lead the company’s turbine business in the EMEA markets.
  • Boralex Inc. has announced the signature of a conditional buy/sell option for a 25% economic interest in the 230 MW Niagara Region Wind Farm project in which Enercon is the majority owner. The total investment is between $900 million and $950 million and Boralex will immediately begin coordination of the project construction phase in partnership with Enercon. Extending across the Regional Municipality of Niagara, the Township of West Lincoln, the Town of Wainfleet and Haldimand County in Ontario, the Niagara Region Wind Farm project will comprise 77 3 MW Enercon turbines and construction will begin in June.

“May Day, May Day” Video Released

Americans United for Change has released a new video in response to the recent oil spill in Santa Barbara, California as well as several other recent oil spills. ‘May Day, May Day‘ is a roundup of news coverage showing why May was another messy oil spill month. The nonprofit notes the images of beach-goers trudging through tar to rescue oil soaked birds serve as a vivid reminder of the consequences of America’s dependence on oil.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) estimates that there will be 14,000 oil spills this year. This, cites American United for Change, is why people should be asking the EPA ‘what they were thinking’ when they cut back the Renewable Volume Obligations (RVOs) as part of the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS). The RVOs are significantly under what was mandated by Congress when the legislation was passed. The organization said this decision continues to limit consumer choice at the pump and encourages the oil industry to keep drilling and spilling.

The move would also discourage investment in infrastructure, said Americans United for Change, that would “bust through the so-called ‘blend wall'” and discourage innovation towards cleaner and cheaper fuels.

The new video is as part of the organization’s ongoing project RareIncidents.com, inspired by American Petroleum Institute President Jack Gerard who in 2011 attempted to dismiss the BP spill disaster in the Gulf Coast as “clearly a rare incident”.

Intel Pilots Micro-Turbine Rooftop Wind Power

Intel is participating in a unique pilot wind power project. The company is installing 58 micro-turbines on the roof to help renewably power their building. According to Marty Sedler, director of global utilities & infrastructure for Intel, the project came about due to their ongoing efforts to find more sustainable ways to use technology. This is why, he said, Intel began piloting one of the world’s largest operating rooftop arrays of wind micro-turbines on the roof of its worldwide headquarters in Santa Clara, California.

Rendering of the planned installation of 58 Wind Micro-Turbines on the rooftop of Intel's global headquarters building in Santa Clara, California. The installation is underway and will be complete in May 2015.  IMAGE SOURCE:  JLM Energy, Inc.

Rendering of the planned installation of 58 Wind Micro-Turbines on the rooftop of Intel’s global headquarters building in Santa Clara, California. The installation is underway and will be complete in May 2015. IMAGE SOURCE: JLM Energy, Inc.

Sedler explained that the micro-turbines are a proof-of-concept project, in which Intel hopes to collect data that could help the company better support green power applications and identify ways to continue evolving its sustainability programs. Intel also hopes the project will inspire other companies and electric users to consider creative new options to conserve energy.

Many companies, such as Intel, are not in a position to install full-scale wind turbines on their property. This is why the company partnered with JLM Energy, a Rocklin, California-based company that built and installed the micro-turbines. Sedler said each micro-turbine is between 6 and 7 feet tall and weighs approximately 30 lbs. The model of micro-turbine that Intel is using is the smallest design available for commercial buildings and is considered the most efficient turbine in its size class. Due to their small size, the micro-turbines are versatile in their potential uses and applications, said Sedler.

Each micro-turbine generates approximately 65 kWh. The array was sized to provide the electricity required for the lighting and general operation of Intel’s Executive Briefing Center. Sedler explained that since the micro-turbines need no fuel other than wind, they produce green power at no additional cost. For every kWh of green electricity the micro-turbines produce, Intel will require one fewer kWh of grid power, therefore reducing the need for power sources that produce much higher levels of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. Continue reading

BioEnergy Bytes

  • BioEnergyBytesDF1A new report, “Integrating Renewable Energy Into the Electricity Grid,” prepared by The Brattle Group for the Advanced Energy Economy Institute (AEE Institute) finds that high penetration levels of renewable generation are not only technically feasible but are already being managed without compromising reliability of electric power service. This suggests that an increasing share of renewable energy can be integrated into the nationwide electricity system going forward.
  • Shunfeng International Clean Energy (SFCE) has announced that it has signed a cooperative agreement with the French Polynesian government to deploy its low-carbon, integrated solutions, to facilitate a sustainable environment for its citizens. With SFCE’s clean energy applications, French Polynesia will be the first country in the South Pacific Region to demonstrate the move towards a clean energy future, by establishing itself as a low-carbon, green island.
  • ClearPath, a private foundation dedicated to building support for center-right clean energy and climate solutions, has announced the launch of its first major initiative, ClearPath.org. The digital platform showcases information on solutions that support U.S. innovation, economic growth, job creation, and energy independence. With a total endowment of $165 million, ClearPath develops cutting edge digital media platforms, makes strategic grants for research and policy development, and engages in targeted advocacy at both the state and national levels. $40 million is committed to these collective efforts through to the end of 2016. Founder Jay Faison has personally committed an additional $10 million endowment to a 501(c)(4), which is underway and will raise additional funds.
  • eMotorWerks has announced a partnership with Slingshot Power to offer a solar package that delivers the most advanced residential charging solution at an attractive bundled price to enable a cleaner, more resilient and more affordable way of charging electric vehicles. Customers contracting with Slingshot Power will receive a free JuiceBox Pro 40. Its advanced time-of-use functionality and ability to react to electric grid conditions allows EV drivers to minimize adverse impact on the grid while maximizing the use of clean energy to recharge their cars.

Propel Fuels Leads California in E85

Propel Fuels has released a new white paper, “E85: A California Success Story,” that details their leadership as an E85 leader in California as well as in the U.S. Developed by the Propel Silicon Valley Workshop, the paper, and subsequent website, examines the productive role in what the paper terms as “low carbon E85″ has had in enabling California to meet its carbon reduction and petroleum reduction targets, while improving air quality in the state’s severe non-attainment communities.

E85 a California Success Story“Thanks to smart public policy and a strong value proposition for consumers, California’s E85 use has become a success story, and a road map for our nation for implementing low carbon fuels,” said Rob Elam, CEO of Propel Fuels. “This research conclusively demonstrates that E85 is a successful, sustainable, cost-effective fuel that consumers are choosing when they have retail access.”

Today, California has more than 1 million flex fuel vehicles (FFVs) on their roads. Utilizing data collected by Propel’s research team coupled with work done by the California Air Resources Board (CARB) and California Energy Commission (CEC), the paper highlights information on E85 market growth, consumer demographics, value perceptions, emissions reductions, and the future potential of E85.

Key research findings include:

  • California has the highest rate of E85 growth of any state in the nation. E85 use has expanded 600% in California since 2009, while gasoline demand has decreased.
  • E85 use has significant positive impacts on air quality, greenhouse gas (GHG) reductions and petroleum reductions; providing air quality benefits in severe non-attainment areas by contributing 18-67% reduction in NOx as well as a 32% reduction in GHG emissions.
  • E85 use has specifically benefited CalEPA designated Disadvantaged Communities.
  • E85 is California’s value fuel, with 92% of users saying it is the same or better value than gasoline.
  • California’s 1 million FFVs can displace 600 million gallons of petroleum gasoline with E85.
  • California’s retail E85 volume per location exceeds the national average by 300%.
  • As a result of its policies, California is home to the lowest carbon ethanol in the country.

EEI and DOE to Accelerate EV Development

The Edison Electric Institute (EEI) and the Department of Energy (DOE) have announced a partnership that will identify and pursue collaborative opportunities to promote and accelerate the nationwide adoption of electric vehicles (EVs).

During EEI’s Annual Convention in New Orleans, DOE Secretary Ernest Moniz and EEI President Tom Kuhn signed a memorandum of understanding to take a variety of joint actions—including research, infrastructure, and outreach programs—to accelerate the widespread adoption of EVs.

EEI President Tom Kuhn and Energy Secretary Moniz sign an MOU on electric vehicle adoption. — in New Orleans, Louisiana. Photo Credit: EEI

EEI President Tom Kuhn and Energy Secretary Moniz sign an MOU on electric vehicle adoption. — in New Orleans, Louisiana. Photo Credit: EEI

“The U.S. transportation system produces a third of the country’s carbon emissions, making it essential that we improve plug-in electric vehicle technology and increase their numbers on the road,” said Moniz during his speech. “Today’s announcement enhances the kinds of private-public partnerships needed to remain at the forefront of advanced vehicle technologies that reduce our emissions and provide safe, reliable transport for the American people.”

EEI’s said its collaboration with DOE builds on the electric utility industry’s leadership on transportation electrification. EEI pointed to one example of this dedication – its fleet electrification initiative. Launched last year, this effort includes a commitment by EEI and its partnering member companies to invest at least 5 percent of their annual fleet budgets in plug-in vehicles and technologies.

“The electric power industry is a tremendous leader in moving the electric transportation market forward, and we are excited to work with our federal partners to bring about the economic, environmental, and security benefits of transportation electrification,” added EEI President Tom Kuhn. “Transportation electrification benefits electric utility customers, while also bolstering America’s energy security and sustainability. These are priorities our industry shares with our government partners.”

EEI also announced that its fleet electrification initiative has exceeded the anticipated $50 million annual industry commitment, and will total more than $90 million in 2015, adding more than 800 new plug-in vehicles and 740 new charging ports to utility fleets.

EWEA Calls for RES Targets to be Met

According to a new paper released by the European Wind Energy Association (EWEA), the European Commission needs new controls to ensure the EU meets its 27 percent RES target by 2030. The EU must have benchmarks in place by December 2015 that will provide indications for Member States on reaching the EU-wide target. Member States must set their individual commitments by no later than December 2017. It is of paramount importance that the target is distributed fairly among the Member States, said EWEA.

Kristian Ruby, chief policy officer at EWEA, said, “In the absence of a nationally binding commitment for 2030, it is important that the Commission puts its foot down if Member States fail to deliver on the 27% target. We must not have a situation where some countries take a back seat in the hope that other more ambitious Member States pick up the slack.It is essentiEWEA_vertical_01al that the role of the Commission is reinforced after 2020 to safeguard investor confidence and the regulatory stability needed to take Europe’s renewables rollout through the next phase.”

In the event that national contributions do not meet the overall target, said EWEA, the Commission should broker cooperation between neighboring Member States, particularly with those that have pledged below the Commission’s original benchmark. However, if those countries still fail to make up the shortfall, the EU executive must put in place a program as of January 2020 and require that Member States with low contributions pledge to an EU-wide fund for the development of renewable energies.

Under a 2030 governance system, EWEA is calling for the Commission to make official policy recommendations on national renewable energy action plans every two years. If a Member State were to ignore a policy recommendation, the Commission could issue a warning with the possibility of referral to the European Court of Justice if no action is taken. The EU executive must also have the authority to intervene when Member States make counter-productive changes to domestic renewable energy policies.

Ruby added, “It is imperative that the Commission is able to act. Under a stricter governance system, Member States would need to inform the Commission before making any regulatory changes that might impact the deployment of renewable energies.”

Michigan Winery Goes Solar

The largest solar agribusiness installation at a winery, Chateau Chantal Winery & Inn, is now online after a ceremonious flip of the switch by Michigan U.S. Senator Debbie Stabenow. “Michigan IS a leader in renewable energy,” staid U.S. Senator Stabenow. “Make, grow and innovate – that’s what we do best in Michigan.”

Chateau Chantal Power Up Switch_052915The 148.5 kW Harvest Energy Solutions solar installation will offset 40 percent of the winery’s energy needs. More than 50 invited guests were on hand to celebrate completion of the solar project.

“We’ve been harvesting grapes on this farm for 29 years and are now excited to diversify by harvesting the sun’s energy with the largest solar array at a Michigan winery,” said Marie-Chantal Dalese, president and CEO at Chateau Chantal.

Chateau Chantal’s solar PV system is made almost entirely with parts and equipment made in Michigan, from the Harvest Energy Solutions’ manufactured racking and clips to the Michigan-made solar panels.

“At Chateau Chantal, we’ve been incredibly lucky to steward this amazing property on Old Mission Peninsula. Installing a large scale solar array is one more way we can reflect our commitment to a healthy environment. Our vineyard has been MAEAP (Michigan Agriculture Environmental Assurance Program) certified for 8 years and we ceased application of chemical fertilizers in our vineyard 10 years ago,” Dalese. Continue reading