First Diesel Hybrid PV System Online in Guelph

Canadian Solar Inc. has completed one of the first diesel hybrid PV system in the remote microgrids in northern Ontario, Canada. The 152kW rooftop solar array on the Deer Lake First Nation Elementary School is the first project under the strategic partnership with NCC Development, LP (NCC), a First Nation renewable energy management company, in a commitment to use renewable energy (RE) microgrid solutions to assist the energy needs of off-grid First Nations and remote communities.

canadian solar logoNCC has identified more than 80 First Nations and remote communities for potential RE microgrid solution deployment, in an effort to promote photovoltaic services and projects to areas heavily reliant on diesel and challenged by limited access to electricity.

“NCC is optimistic in moving forward with our partner Canadian Solar, as we continue to build strategic collaborative efforts with leaders in the solar and renewable energy industry to foster sustainable development of Canada’s indigenous communities. As North America’s largest producer of solar power solutions, Canadian Solar’s industry leading experience and expertise will greatly contribute to our efforts,” said Geordi Kakepetum, Chief Executive Officer of NCC Development LP.

Dr. Shawn Qu, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Canadian Solar Inc. noted of the project, “Our partnership with NCC started 3 years ago. It underscores our strong commitment to Canada, helping to bring solar power to areas previously unable to get connected to the grid. Solar is a green, flexible, low-cost, and sustainable energy solution for these underserved First Nations and other rural areas. We are proud of our involvement in this important effort and the direct impact we will have on so many deserving families.”

During a ribbon cutting ceremony, Chief Royale Meekis, the leader of Deer Lake First Nation said, “To reduce peak load and connect five more homes, we developed a three-part plan, including conservation, load shifting, and installing a PV solar system. This is important not only for the families who are waiting to move into these new houses, but for all of Deer Lake.”

Deer Lake First Nation aims to eventually replace 50 percent of their diesel consumption with the RE microgrid retrofit solution. The focus of the partners in developing RE microgrid solutions is also to help to build much needed additional clean energy capacity, and to support future economic development in the communities.

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.

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.

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.

DOE Issues Draft Renewable Energy Solicitation

The Department of Energy (DOE) has issued a draft loan guarantee solicitation to identify innovative renewable energy and energy efficiency projects located in the U.S. The projects much avoid, reduce, or sequester greenhouse gases. When finalized, the solicitation is US DOE Energy logoexpected to make as much as $4 billion in loan guarantees available to help commercialize technologies that may be unable to obtain full commercial financing.

“Through our existing renewable energy loan guarantees, the Department’s Loan Programs Office helped launch the U.S. utility-scale solar industry and other clean energy technologies that are now contributing to our clean energy portfolio,” said Secretary Ernest Moniz. “We want to replicate that success by focusing on technologies that are on the edge of commercial-scale deployment today.”

The Renewable Energy and Efficient Energy Projects Loan Guarantee solicitation is intended to support technologies that are catalytic, replicable, and market ready. Within the draft solicitation, the DOE has included a sample list illustrative of potential technologies for consideration. While any project that meets the eligibility requirements is eligible to apply, the Department has identified five key technology areas of interest: advanced grid integration and storage; drop-in biofuels; waste-to-energy; enhancement of existing facilities; and efficiency improvements.

The Department welcomes public comment on a range of issues and will consider public feedback in defining the scope of the final solicitation. In addition to initiating a 30-day public comment period, a schedule of public meetings will be posted on DOE’s website. The draft solicitation can be found online at http://lpo.energy.gov.

Hydrogen Fuel Cells Soon to Power Forklifts

Forklifts may soon be powered by zero-emission hydrogen fuel cell systems. Research being conducted by Sandia National Laboratory and Hawaii Hydrogen Carriers (HHC) are looking to design a solid-state hydrogen storage system that can refuel at low pressure four to five times faster than it takes to charge a battery-powered forklift, a $33 billion market in 2013 according to Pell Research. The researchers say this technology would give hydrogen a competitive advantage over batteries.

Dino Vournas, Sandia National Labs

Dino Vournas, Sandia National Labs

“Once you understand how these forklifts operate, the fuel cell advantage is clear,” said Sandia’s project manager Joe Pratt.

Pratt explains that refueling hydrogen fuel cell powered forklifts takes less than three minutes compared to the hours of recharging needed for battery-powered forklifts. In addition, fuel cell-powered forklifts are able to operate continuously for eight or more hours between fills. Whereas today companies using battery-powered forklifts need to purchase three battery packs for each forklift to ensure continuous operation. They also need to set aside warehouse space for battery recharging.

Sandia has worked with the fuel cell forklift industry for several years to help get clean, efficient and cost effective fuel cell systems to market faster. Standards developed by Sandia soon will be published so industry can develop new, high-performing hydrogen fuel systems for industrial trucks.

Intrigued by the potential benefits of fuel cells over the electric batteries that now power most forklifts, HHC obtained a grant from the Department of Energy’s Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE) and asked Pratt to help improve the design of a hydrogen storage system for fuel cells.

Pratt has spearheaded other Sandia efforts to introduce hydrogen systems into the marketplace. He served as technical lead, for instance, for studies on the use of fuel cells to power construction equipment, personal electronic devices, auxiliary equipment and portable generators. Most recently, he led a study and subsequent demonstration project on commercial use of hydrogen fuel cells to provide power at ports.

HHC is developing technologies for the fuel cell forklift market and expects cost reductions and performance improvements that will help the market grow. The company is developing a low-pressure hydrogen storage system that can be refueled at standard industrial gas pressures. This technology should reduce fuel system cost and expand the market to facilities that can’t accommodate conventional high-pressure fueling systems.

Central Texas Marks 20 Years of Alternative Fuels

lone-star-20The Lone Star Clean Fuels Alliance in Austin, Texas this week celebrated 20 years of being green, starting before being green was cool.

The LSCFA recognized the achievements of many leaders who helped Austin cut 10 tons of greenhouse gas emissions in one year alone, and attendees had the opportunity to drive renewable energy vehicles such as the Nissan Leaf and a stand-up electric police mobility vehicle.

The LSCFA, formerly known as Central Texas Clean Cities, is a non-profit coalition dedicated to reducing petroleum consumption through alternative fuels. Over the past 20 years the association has helped to clean up City of Austin fleet vehicles as well as other fleet and personal vehicles in five Central Texas counties counties. In 2012 alone, its stakeholders reduced petroleum consumption by 1.6 million gallons. Clean Cities helps to advance the alternative or renewable fuels of propane, biofuels: ethanol/E85 and biodiesel, natural gas, electric and hydrogen. It was the sixth Clean Cities coalition started in the U.S. where there are now about 90.

Clean Energy Bill Hits House of Reps

Clean Energy Victory Bonds WillSeveral groups have been promoting clean energy victory bonds, a throwback from World War II. This week the concept gained support as the House of Representatives as the Clean Energy Victory Bonds Act of 2014. The Treasury bonds starting as low as $25 will allow Americans to invest in the country’s clean energy future.

The bill was introduced by U.S. Reps. Zoe Lofgren (D-Cali.) and Doris Matsui (D-Cali.) and includes 14 co-sponsors and is endorsed by Green America and the American Sustainable Business Council, which together represent half a million consumers, companies, organizations, and investors.

Todd Larsen, corporate responsibility division director for Green America, said, “This bond is modeled after the successful WW II Victory Bond which millions of Americans purchased. The Clean Energy Victory Bond will provide individual and institutional investors with the opportunity to invest in clean energy sectors such as solar, wind, second generation biofuels, electric vehicles, and residential and commercial energy efficiency programs. There are currently few investment opportunities for the average investor interested in supporting the shift to a clean energy economy so this bond fills a need for both investors and industry.”

Clean Energy Victory Bonds logoAccording to Green America and the American Sustainable Business Council, Clean Energy Victory Bonds will create the following major benefits:

  • Leverage $50 billion investment to provide up to $150 billion in public and private financing to fund the production of innovative energy technologies, at a time when the U.S. is falling behind other countries in clean energy manufacture and installation.
  • Help create at least one million competitively-paying jobs in the U.S.
  • Support America’s clean energy sector, helping to ensure that the U.S. remains a world leader in this increasingly crucial and competitive industry.
  • Reduce U.S. dependence on foreign sources of energy, enhance national security, and limit price increases and fluctuations.
  • Provide a secure, competitive, government-backed investment vehicle for average Americans and investment institutions alike seeking a safe place for their money.
  • Offer flexible redemption options at interest rates superior to most bank accounts.
  • Help all Americans to invest in the future of their country and benefit from their investments.
  • Promote a cleaner environment through the financing of clean energy technologies.
  • Protect the health and safety of Americans by reducing local air and water pollution throughout the country.

“From a business perspective, the Clean Energy Victory Bond makes great sense,” said Richard Eidlin, co-founder & policy director, American Sustainable Business Council. “The clean energy industry has not had the steady flow of financial support that investors and business need to plan effectively, resulting in investors often deciding to place their investments overseas rather than in the U.S.”

Tax incentives for renewable energy come and go, often without predictability, leaving investors and industry scrambling. The Clean Energy Victory Bond would extend vital tax credits for a decade, giving emerging industries the support they need to develop and become increasing competitive.

Broward County Schools Convert to Propane

Broward County Public Schools, the nation’s sixth largest school district, has purchased 98 propane autogas fueled school buses. The purchase supports the top 10 school district’s environmental stewardship program, “Learn Green. Live Green.” This is the nation’s largest single order of autogas fueled buses by a school district.

“We’ll be using these buses for our high mileage routes due to the substantial cost and maintenance savings with clean and safe autogas,” said Pat Snell, director of student transportation and fleet services for Broward County Public Schools. “Some of the savings will be funneled directly back into the classroom.”

schoolbusesSnell anticipates the county will see a six-month return on investment for the additional cost of the alternative fuel buses. According to Snell, the county will lock in an autogas fuel price at substantially less than their diesel cost. Historically, autogas costs about 50 percent less than diesel per gallon and reduces maintenance costs due to its clean-burning properties.

According to Snell, each bus will travel about 17,000 miles per year and each bus will displace about 40,000 gallons of diesel and emit 150,000 fewer pounds of carbon dioxide over their lifetime.

“School districts are eager for cleaner, lower emissions solutions that also work with their budgets. The Blue Bird Propane-Powered Vision and Micro Bird meet these needs with lower fuel and maintenance costs, decreased noise and environmental benefits,” said Phil Horlock, president and CEO of Blue Bird Corporation. “We applaud Broward County Public Schools for their forward-thinking leadership in the state of Florida.”

The purchase qualifies Broward County Public Schools to apply for funding through a state rebate program. The Florida incentive waives state taxes for gaseous alternative fuels, which include propane autogas and natural gas.

The school district purchased the buses from Florida Transportation Systems, the authorized Blue Bird dealer in Florida. The Blue Bird Propane-Powered Visions, each equipped with a ROUSH CleanTech fuel system, include a 100-gallon extended range tank that provides a 93-usable gallon capacity. Delivery begins in May for operation for the 2014-2015 school year.

PERC Recognizes Top Clean Cities Coalitions

Five Clean Cities Coalitions were awarded with the first ever Outstanding Propane Supporter awards at the Energy Independence Summit in Washington, D.C. by the Propane Education & Research Council (PERC). The award recipients included Alabama Clean Fuels Coalition, Greater Indiana Clean Cities Coalition, Clean Fuels Ohio, Dallas-Fort Worth Clean Cities, and Virginia Clean Cities. They were given the award in recognition of Propane-Council logotheir promotion of the use of propane autogas and other alternative fuels through grants, training programs, and community outreach. Their support of clean, American-made propane autogas has led to major adoptions of propane autogas vehicles in their states and across the U.S.

“For 20 years, Clean Cities has built partnerships with local and statewide organizations to encourage the adoption of alternative fuels and new transportation technology,” PERC President and CEO Roy Willis said. “Our Outstanding Propane Supporter award winners are examples of how public and private partnerships in the transportation sector are creating a cleaner future for fleets and communities nationwide.”

About the award winners:

  • Alabama Clean Fuels Coalition works with a large number of propane stakeholders, including propane retailers AmeriGas, Blossman Gas, Ferrellgas, and Heritage Propane in addition to the Alabama Propane Gas Association and propane vehicle manufacturer Roush CleanTech. They also promote propane vehicles on their website by listing applicable vehicle purchase incentives.
  • Greater Indiana Clean Cities Coalition managed a Recovery Act grant that has put more than 1,300 propane vehicles on the road in Indiana to date. The coalition also helped facilitate the construction of 120 alternative fueling stations in partnership with eight other project partners, and has secured more than $22 million in federal and state grants since 2002 for coalition member projects.
  • Clean Fuels Ohio helps organize the state’s Energy Independence Day event and actively promotes the use of alternative fuel vehicles. They’re also working on a $16 million project that would provide funding for conversions and infrastructure.
  • Dallas-Fort Worth Clean Cities is a major participant in organizing the Texas Alt Car Expo and helps fleets identify and obtain Texas grant funding for conversions. The group also works with the Texas Department of Transportation, Dallas County Schools, the City of Fort Worth, and other fleet managers on new vehicle purchases and training.
  • Virginia Clean Cities manages a Recovery Act grant to convert more than 1,200 vehicles to propane autogas. The coalition created a propane subcommittee and hosts frequent webinars and events promoting propane autogas.