UK Announces 8 Major Renewable Energy Projects

The UK government has announced support for eight major renewable electricity projects giving a big boost to green energy and green jobs. By 2020, the projects will provide up to £12 billion of private sector investment, supporting 8,500 jobs, and they could add a further 4.5GW of low-carbon electricity to Britain’s energy mix (or around 4% of capacity), generating enough clean electricity to power over three million homes.

Once completed and in operation, the projects will contribute around 15TWh or 14 percent of the renewable electricity estimated to be produced by 2020, helping to put the UK well on the way to meeting its renewable energy target. The clean energy projects will also reduce emissions by 10 MtCO2 per year compared to fossil fuel power generation.

The projects have been offered under Contracts for Difference (CfD), which form part of Government’s Electricity Market Reform programme. They include offshore wind farms, coal to biomass conversions and a dedicated biomass plant with combined heat and power.

offshore-wind-power-Photo Christopher ThomondEnergy and Climate Change Secretary Edward Davey said of the announcement, “These contracts for major renewable electricity projects mark a new stage in Britain’s green energy investment boom. By themselves they will bring green jobs and growth across the UK, but they are a significant part of our efforts to give Britain cleaner and more secure energy.”

“These are the first investments from our reforms to build the world’s first low carbon electricity market – reforms which will see competition and markets attract tens of billions of pounds of vital energy investment whilst reducing the costs of clean energy to consumers,” Davey continued. “Record levels of energy investment are at the forefront of the Government’s infrastructure programme and are filling the massive gap we inherited. It’s practical reforms like these that will keep the lights on and tackle climate change, by giving investors more certainty.”

The eight projects have been awarded contracts under the Final Investment Decision (FID) Enabling for Renewables process, allocating the first CfDs that are being introduced through the Electricity Market Reform programme. Under CfDs, generators and developers receive a fixed strike price for the electricity they produce for 15 years. As a result, these contracts are vital to give investors the confidence they need to pay the up-front costs of major new infrastructure projects. The contracts are supported by the new legislative framework introduced through the Energy Act 2013. Further CfDs will be made available in the fall.

Book Review- Three Green Rats: An Eco Tale

Three Green Rats An Eco Tale book coverTru dat rat. Ok, so if you don’t have kids or hang out with kids, you may not have any idea what I just said. But the three green rat brothers of Tintown’s Broken Bottle Lane encourage us to walk softly and reduce, reuse and recycle in the children’s tale, “Three Green Rats: An Eco Tale“. Written by Linda Mason Hunter and illustrated by Suzanne Summersgill this rat tale is both fun and educational and the perfect book to review on Earth Day (April 22, 2014).

This wonderfully illustrated and highly clever book takes place in Tintown where the protagonist, Uppity Ethel Misrington, the richest rat in town, wants to build a big box store to sell stuff. Her itty, bitty niece Maybelline Burlingame Helena Stu discovers the green pastures and projects of the green brothers (Oliver, Wilbur and Tom, each with unique green skills) and becomes hooked on nature and green health. As a result, she starts to grow. When catastrophe strikes sickly Ethel, with the help of Maybelline and the green brothers, the day is saved and Ethel becomes a convert to living with less stuff and the city follows suit.

With the town saved, and the brothers heroes, shy brother Tom sums up the direction the town needs to take. “Look around, citizens. You are knee-deep in your own trash, held captive by technology, and so caught up in the rat race you don’t have time to think.”

“We are ruining our corner of Mother Earth, creating a place where no living being can thrive. We’ve cut down our tress, poisoned our air, and dumped sewage in our rivers and streams. Three Green Rats An Eco Tale book imageIt’s time to step back and ask ourselves, ‘Is this what we really want for our children?’ We must learn to live simply. We must walk softly upon Mother Earth and stop talking more than we need to survive.”

I luv it people! L-O-V-E it.

I highly recommend this book. Take some advice from the three green rats this Earth Day and learn to walk softly. This is a must read book for both children and adults to get you on the forward thinking path about how to reduce your impact and live more simply. In celebration of Earth Day, win an e-copy of Three Green Rats: An Eco tale. Email me your contact information with the subject line: Three Green Rats and the winner will be announced next week in the energy.agwired.com newsletter.

Growth Energy Celebrates Earth Day

Today is Earth Day and people from all over the country are doing “green” things to celebrate Mother Earth. Growth Energy is taking today to discuss how the ethanol industry is committed earth_day_2014_wallpaperto improving the environment through the development of biofuels that reduce greenhouse gases.

“Our industry is committed to taking steps to mitigate harmful greenhouse gas emissions that have been shown to be a driving force in environmental damage,” said Tom Buis, CEO of Growth Energy. “That is why we are committed to producing clean, green, renewable and biodegradable fuels that are reducing our dependence on fossil fuels and are better for our environment.”

Buis notes that the benefits of using renewable fuels such as ethanol are tremendous.

For example, here are some facts about renewable fuels and the policy that promotes them: the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS):

  • As a result of the RFS, ethanol is reducing greenhouse gases by an average of 34 percent compared to gasoline, according to the Argonne National Laboratory.
  • In fact, in 2013, the 13.2 billion gallons of ethanol blended into gasoline in the United States helped reduce greenhouse gas emissions from on-road vehicles by approximately 38 million metric tons, which is the equivalent of removing roughly 8 million automobiles from the road.
  • A main source of air pollution is automobile exhaust. A solution is to add oxygenates like ethanol to fuel. By increasing the amount of oxygen in the fuel, ethanol enhances engine combustion and reduces harmful tailpipe emissions of carbon monoxide, particulate matter, oxides of nitrogen and other ozone pollutants.
  • Just a 10 percent blend of ethanol in fuel reduces tailpipe fine particulate matter emissions by 50 percent, while also reducing secondary particulate matter formation by diluting the aromatics contained in gasoline. This blend also reduces carbon monoxide emissions by up to 30 percent.

“As you can see, homegrown American fuels are truly making a difference when it comes to improving our environment. That is why it is imperative on this Earth Day to impress upon lawmakers the importance of the RFS and ensure they continue to support this successful energy policy,” added Buis.  “We need to continue on the path of innovation, and the partnership between first and next generation clean burning, biodegradable, environmentally friendly fuels, and the RFS is doing just that. We have come so far. Now is the time to move forward, not backward.”

BioEnergy Bytes

  • BioEnergyBytesDFAustin, Minnesota’s high school Go Green Club has dedicated the month of April to raise money for solar panels for the school. The students goal is to make their school a more environmentally-friendly place. This year, the Go Green Club’s goal is to install solar panels near their green roof. The club is nearly half way to its goal of raising $10,000. Click here to see their fundraising video and to donate to their Earth-friendly cause.
  • In conjunction with Washington State University Extension, USDA is co-hosting the Northwest Wood-Based Biofuels/Co-Products Conference. The conference will be April 28-30, 2014 in Seattle, Wash. The goal of the conference is to bring together the community of researchers, business leaders, government agencies, and economic development personnel to share and exchange research findings, ideas, and strategies for the common goal of sustainable development of wood-based bio-refineries for production of biofuels and co-products in the Pacific Northwest.
  • Yingli Green Energy has announced that its wholly-owned subsidiary, Yingli Energy (China) Company Limited has signed a cooperation agreement with Shanghai Sailing Capital Management Co., Ltd. to jointly form a renewable energy fund in Shanghai with an aim to invest in downstream solar energy projects in China. The Fund will have an initial size of approximately RMB1 billion. The fund is expected to invest primarily in Yingli Green Energy’s solar PV projects through various portfolios.
  • Crius Energy LLC has announced the launch of a new stand alone solar brand, Citra Solar, to focus on capturing value in the fast-growing solar sector and complement the company’s portfolio of energy brands, product offerings and distribution channels. Initially, Citra Solar services will be offered to customers of Frontier Communications, a strategic marketing partner of Crius Energy.

Renewable Electricity Could Reach 16% In Five Years

According to an early release review of the Annual Energy Outlook 2014 (the final report is slated for release on April 30th) published by the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA), renewable energy could hit 16 percent of the net U.S. electrical generation by the year 2040. This includes biomass, geothermal, hydropower, solar and wind. But the SUN DAY Campaign challenges these predictions by asserting this could happen in the next five years.

When reviewing EIA’s own published data for the 11-year period January 1, 2003 through December 31, 2013 revealed that the percentage of the nation’s net electrical generation Biomass pelletsrepresented by renewable energy has expanded from less than 9 percent in 2004 to nearly 13 percent in 2013. Given the relatively consistent growth trends of the past decade or longer for most renewable energy sources and their rapidly declining costs, it seems improbable that it will require another 27 years to grow from 13 percent to 16 percent according to SUN DAY Campaign. Thus, EIA’s forecast is not just unduly conservative; almost certainly, it is simply wrong.

If the trends reflected in EIA data from the past decade continue, cite the SUN DAY campaign, renewable energy sources could increase to as much as 13.5 percent of net U.S. electrical generation in 2014, to 14.4 percent in 2015, to 15.3 percent in 2016, and reach or exceed 16.0 percent no later than 2018 — i.e., within five years and not the 27 years forecast by EIA. At worst, they would reach 16 percent by 2020.

“Inasmuch as policy makers in both the public and private sectors – as well as the media and others – rely heavily upon EIA data when making legislative, regulatory, investment, and other decisions, underestimation can have multiple adverse impacts on the renewable energy industry and, more broadly, on the nation’s environmental and energy future,” noted Ken Bossong, executive director of the SUN DAY Campaign. “Consequently, EIA is doing a serious disservice to the public by publishing analyses that are inherently inconsistent with its own historical data and near-term projections.”

The SUN DAY Campaign has published its own full 32-page report that includes the assumptions and projections made, on a technology-by-technology basis, using EIA data. In addition, following the projections provided for each technology is a listing of recent studies and news reports that offer alternative or complementary scenarios – many of which are more aggressive than those provided by the SUN DAY Campaign. These additional studies suggest that even SUN DAY’s analysis may prove to be unduly conservative.

CSR Looks to Convert Used Railroad Ties to Biofuels

The Coalition for Sustainable Rail (CSR) has announced a new initiative to review the feasibility of “upcycling” used railroad ties into advanced biofuels. The research project is funded by a grant from the Indiana Rail Road (INRD). Working with the Natural Resources Research Institute (NRRI) of the University of Minnesota – Duluth, CSR aims to determine the viability of converting some of the 15 million ties replaced by U.S. railroads each year into a clean-burning coal alternative.

railroad ties“CSR is thrilled to have the support of the Indiana Rail Road on this important, potentially historic opportunity,” said CSR President, Davidson Ward. “INRD is dedicated to innovation and technology, and its investment in our primary research is an inspiration to the entire team.”

Using a biomass processing technique known as torrefaction, the researchers at NRRI and CSR will convert the structure of used railroad ties, primarily made from hardwood species, into a clean, renewable, homogeneous, and densifiable biofuel. The final result is anticipated to be a pelletized biofuel that can be used in power plants. However, the biofuel will first powe CSR’s test bed steam locomotive, the Santa Fe Railway’s 1937-built No. 3463.

“As the son of a Santa Fe dispatcher and a lifelong student of that railway, I’m intrigued in CSR’s desire to rebuild and modernize such an innovative piece of technology as the 3463, and especially NRRI and CSR’s pursuit of energy, fuel and transportation development,” said INRD President and Chief Executive Officer, Thomas G. Hoback. “This important research impacts not only the future of energy in the U.S., but it honors the tradition of American innovation, from the reconstruction and modernization of an iconic steam locomotive to the biofuel development associated with our donation.”

This initial investigation aims to identify any hurdles involved with the conversion of railroad ties to fuel, including the handling of wood preservatives found in railroad ties. CSR will make results of the research known through its “White Paper Program“.

Hoback concluded, “This is something that I believe could lead to a key development in the future of the railroad industry. It is important to take pride in the history of where we’ve been, and the unique melding of research with preserving history, as championed by CSR, is a great way to honor the legacy of the Santa Fe.”

BioEnergy Bytes

  • BioEnergyBytesDFGrowth Energy, the leading coalition of U.S. ethanol supporters, welcomed Three Rivers Energy, LLC as its newest member, bringing total plant membership to 83, with another 85 associate members. Three Rivers Energy is located in Coshocton, Ohio.
  • The 2014 International Fuel Ethanol Workshop & Expo, the ethanol industry’s largest conference, released its agenda featuring more than 140 speakers and four comprehensive tracks. Now in its 30th year, the FEW is taking place June 9-12, 2014 at the Indiana Convention Center. Registration is open.
  • Kyocera has announced plans to invest in a tax equity partnership for the development of solar photovoltaic (PV) projects valued at $38 million in New York state, leveraging the 30% federal energy investment tax credit. As part of the investment, Kyocera has also entered into an agreement with U.S. Light Energy to utilize high-quality, dependable Kyocera solar modules on all installations. USLE (formerly New York Light Energy) is in the final stages of installing 9.4 megawatts (MWDC) of PV systems, with the expectation that the installations will be completed by June 2014.
  • Plug Power Inc. has signed a non-binding memorandum of understanding (MOU) with Hyundai Hysco Co. Ltd. (Hysco), to create a joint venture partnership to develop and sell hydrogen fuel cells in countries throughout Asia using Hysco’s advanced stack and plate technology. Specifically, the proposed five-year joint venture will develop, manufacture and sell fuel cell solutions, products and stacks for applications in Asian markets. Under the terms of the MOU, the companies must finalize the details of the joint venture by July 31, 2014.

10 Reasons to Transition to Sustainable Fuels

This week is Earth week and Advanced Biofuels USA is asking and answering the question, “Why Transition to Sustainable Renewable Fuels? The organization has published 10 reasons why the country should transition to renewable fuels in a handy handout for use by civic organizations, church stewardship groups, teachers, environmental groups and any and all who are interested in renewable transportation energy.

“By publishing this easy-to-understand handout, we are furthering this educational nonprofit’s mission to promote understanding, development and use of advanced biofuels,” said Executive Director, Joanne Ivancic.

Why Transition to Sustainable Renewable FuelsThe idea came from an honors presentation by biology major Agatha Macairan, an intern from Hood College based in Frederick, Maryland, explained Ivancic. Macairan has been working on an article about why we can’t already buy 100 percent sustainable renewable fuels for all our transportation needs and admitted to struggling with the complexities involved in answering the question so we began to look for a way to simplify the issue.

“So, working together, we came up with these 10 excellent reasons based on her work, her discussions with friends and our additional observations. Instead of asking ‘why can’t we?’ we pose the question ‘why should we?'” added Ivancic.

Why Transition to Sustainable Renewable Fuels?

  1. Climate Change –Recycle carbon. Don’t release “new” carbon from its underground storage.
  2. Energy Security – Peak Oil. We need to prepare for when oil runs out.
  3. Health Benefits – Ethanol can replace carcinogenic aromatics, and substantially reduce harmful emissions.
  4. More Efficient Engines Require Biofuels – Higher octane, higher ethanol transportation fuels. Engine manufacturers can maximize the efficiency of smaller, more efficient engines that utilize high combustion pressures and take advantage of other useful properties of ethanol. Cleaner, lower maintenance jet engines with renewable jetfuel. Less expensive maintenance for biodiesel hybrid buses.
  5. Environmental Benefits – Avoid deep water drilling oil spills, destruction of habitat from tar sands or fracking.
  6. National Security – Military do not have to protect feedstock sources or transportation routes of advanced biofuels.
  7. Jobs – Advanced biofuel production creates local jobs in agriculture, forestry, waste management, engineering, science and biorefineries. Not to mention the jobs which support these with food, shelter and services.
  8. Leadership in Science and Technology– Historically, the basis of economic success. Advanced biofuels is today’s frontier.
  9. Keep your money at home! – Do not spend your currency on foreign energy resources.
  10. Not Under Someone Else’s Control – Lessen foreign energy providers’ power.

 

Denver Clean Cities Helps Reduce Gas Use

Coloradans are breathing cleaner air with the help of the Denver Metro Clean Cities (DMCCC). Utilizing alternative fuels and advanced vehicle technologies, stakeholders displaced 5.88 million gallons of gasoline in 2013. This prevented 27,000 tons of greenhouse gases and air pollutants from entering the atmosphere – equivalent to the carbon dioxide generated by approximately 90,000 homes during five days.

electricvehicleparkingClean Cities is a U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) program designed to reduce petroleum consumption in the transportation sector. Colorado is home to three such coalitions, which cumulatively helped stakeholders displace 10.2 million gallons of gasoline and 49,000 tons of greenhouse gases last year.

Tyler Svitak, the Clean Cities Manager at the American Lung Association in Colorado, described how the program works. “We assist public and private vehicle fleets, local governments, fuel providers, utilities, and other stakeholders in beginning or expanding an alternative fuel portfolio, which often involves education, technical guidance, or connection to a similar project locally or nationally.”

The City and County of Denver has had a close relationship with Clean Cities since its inception in 1993, and as the City’s fleet continues to look toward innovative ways to save money and reduce emissions, Clean Cities is assisting in the process.

“The Denver Metro Clean Cities Coalition has been a valuable resource for Denver for years, helping educate our City about alternative fuels and opportunities to implement them,” said Felix Espinoza, Denver Public Works’ Fleet Management Director. “Our partnership with Clean Cities has furthered our goals of incorporating alternative fuels and green technologies that improve air quality, lower operating costs, and provide a healthy, livable, and connected city.”

Svitak explains that harnessing alternative transportation fuels like electricity, natural gas, and propane can dramatically reduce pollutants coming from vehicle tailpipes, increase our nation’s energy security, and boost local economies, but what is often a more convincing argument is the amount of money saved in operating costs from using these alternatives.

Last quarter the average national price of natural gas was $2.09 per gasoline gallon equivalent (the amount of energy in natural gas it takes to equal the energy of one gallon of gasoline), propane was $2.43/gallon, and electricity was $1.16 per eGallon (the electrical energy equivalent of a gallon of gasoline), and for fleets or consumers traveling enough miles, the payback over the life of a vehicle can be significant.

Though, there are still significant challenges to the widespread adoption of alternative fuels and Clean Cities helps to overcome those through education, knowledge, and training. Refuel Colorado, a Colorado Energy Office project aimed at increasing alternative fuel use in the state, incorporates an energy ‘coaching’ program where organizations like Clean Cities, Garfield Clean Energy, and 4CORE help fleets and local governments understand the factors influencing their bottom line, including lifecycle ROI analysis to help look at the long term savings instead of the initial investment.

Shell Eco-Marathon Seeks Most Energy Efficient Car

The North America leg of the Shell Eco-Marathon will kick off in Houston, Texas April 25-27, 2014. The event brings hundreds of high school and college students from around the world together to showcase their energy efficient cars. The winning team’s car will travel the farthest distance using the least amount of energy.

For the Houston leg, Linde North America will be the supplier of the hydrogen fuel cell vehicles. Mike Beckman, vice president Hydrogen Fueling, said, “Shell chose Linde as its exclusive worldwide hydrogen supplier because it wanted a solid and technically capable global partner for all of its Eco-marathon events around the world.” The first event of 2014 was held in Manila, Philippines, in February; Rotterdam, Netherlands, will be the site for the May event.

Shell Eco-marathon is also an educational platform, giving innovators practical experience of developing smarter, sustainable transportation. “We’re excited about the opportunity to work 2014 Shell Eco Marathon Prototype Concept Carwith this highly motivated and skilled group of future engineers that falls in line with our support for the STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) initiative,” Beckman added. “These young people are our future, and we’re happy to support this effort.”

Linde will be working with eight teams whose vehicles will require hydrogen, and will be providing valuable technical support and advice to the student teams from North and South America.

“The Shell Eco-marathon is a unique competition that challenges students to design, build and drive the world’s most energy-efficient car,” said Norman Koch, Technical Director Shell Eco-marathon. “We are very pleased to partner with Linde for the fourth consecutive year supporting these students to develop energy efficient mobility solutions for the future.”

The Houston event will be held at Discovery Green Park and George R. Brown Convention Center in downtown Houston.