Geothermal Collaboration for Use in Clean Power Plan

With the Clean Power Plan (CPP) moving forward, several groups have collaborated to show states how geothermal can be a part of meeting their clean energy needs. The Geothermal Energy Association (GEA), Geothermal Resources Council (GRC), and Geothermal Exchange Organization (GEO) have released the first set of free state-by-state guides that outline the benefits of geothermal energy and three major types of geothermal applications: power generation, direct use and heat pumps.

Geothermal energy is in an ideal position to help states meet emission reductions and their clean energy targets,” said Paul Brophy, GRC President.

Screen Shot 2016-02-05 at 10.56.17 AMThe materials provide state officials, regulators and the public with information about geothermal energy uses in their individual states. The first four guides cover Oregon, Montana, Nevada, Idaho, and Colorado. The state guides find that geothermal power boost jobs and the economy. They also find that for a handful of states with high geothermal power potential, adding one or two geothermal power plants would offset all their emissions reductions required by the CPP.

“Geothermal can be an important part of state clean power plans, particularly when all of the benefits of firm and flexible geothermal provides are taken into account,” said Ben Matek, GEA analyst and research projects manager. “The Guides we are providing today will help overcome a major hurdle for geothermal – lack of recognition,” said Karl Gawell, GEA Executive Director. “We hope the states will recognize geothermal energy is part of the solution, and that each has potential it can tap.”

According to the guides, large-scale geothermal power plants directly employ an estimated 1.17 persons per MW. They account for nearly $6.3 to $11 million dollars in property taxes over the lifetime of the power plant and provide multiple benefits to the environment including lowered emissions and water consumption compared to other forms of baseload generation, and geothermal energy is always available. Click here to access the free guides.

NJR Announces U.S. New Wind Project

NJR Clean Energy Ventures (NJRCEV) has announced its fourth onshore wind project, Ringer Hill Farm. The 39.9 MW project is located along the Pennsylvania-Maryland border in Somerset County, Pennsylvania, approximately 60 miles southeast of Pittsburgh and will consist of 14 GE turbines. The new wind farm is expected to be complete in early 2017.

njr-cleanenergy“Wind is an increasingly important segment of our nation’s energy mix and we are pleased to do our part to bring renewable energy to the marketplace,” said Laurence M. Downes, chairman and CEO of New Jersey Resources. “Our investment in Ringer Hill further diversifies our distributed power portfolio, represents the continuation of our Company’s long-term growth strategy and provides value to our shareowners.”

NJRCEV is investing $84 million dollars in the project and expects the wind farm will qualify for federal production tax credits, which were recently extended. Once the project is completed, it joins wind farms in Alexander Wind Farm in Rush County, Kansas which began operating in December 2015; the Carroll Area Wind Farm, located in Iowa, which came online in February 2015; and, the Montana-based Two Dot Wind Farm, which has been in service since June 2014.

Groundswell Unveils Community Solar Financing Model

Groundswell is changing the way community solar energy is financed. Working with Sustainable Capital Advisors, consumer credit scores will no longer be factored in the financing process, removing an obstacle for consumers across the country. In addition, the program will help the two companies fulfill promises made at the White House Summit last November to create five demonstration projects over the next 18 months as well as launch $25 million of private capital aimed at financing community solar projects located in low and moderate income communities.

“Nearly 50% of Americans aren’t able to switch to solar because they don’t own their roof, don’t have a roof in the right location, or are struggling financially and can’t qualify for financing even if it could help lower their energy bill,” said Michelle Moore, CEO of Groundswell. “We’re grateful to work with Sustainable Capital Advisors to pioneer a program that will work for all families by bringing community organizing together with community solar project finance.”

CommunitySolarCommunity solar programs are designed to help consumers collectively tap into the power of the sun. This model allows families and small businesses the ability to purchase subscriptions to a central solar array located within their utility territory – making it possible to switch to solar without having to install solar panels on the roof. Community solar can also create more distributed generating capacity for America that promotes greater reliability, resiliency, and sustainability across the grid.

Sustainable Capital Advisors Founder and CEO Trenton Allen added that the company works to create innovative financing solutions for sustainable infrastructure that broadens the pool of participants while being replicable and scalable. “We’re committed to working with Groundswell to create economic opportunities in clean energy for low and moderate income communities that haven’t been able to participate before.”

According to a press release, while solar power adoption grows across the country, affordable clean energy remains out of reach for more than 90 million Americans including families that rent their homes and people with credit scores under 650. Overall, the National Renewable Energy Lab estimates that 49 percent. of households and businesses can’t access rooftop solar. Community solar is an emerging solution, and is currently a modest but growing part of America’s energy mix. In total, fewer than 150 projects have been implemented across the United States, including more than 40 located in Colorado alone. However, the market is projected to grow rapidly over the next five years. The hope is that this new financing program will enable more consumers to join the solar revolution.

Armow Wind Farm Powers Up

The 180 MW Armow Wind power facility in Ontario has powered up. The Samsung Renewable Energy and Pattern Energy Group project used Ontario-made products. Towers for the 91 Siemens 2.3 MW wind turbines were made in Windsor and the 273 blades were manufactured in Tillsonburg.

armow wind project“Samsung is proud to complete our fourth wind project under our Green Energy Investment Agreement with the government of Ontario,” said Steve Cho, Vice President, Samsung C&T. “Armow Wind created more than 350 jobs during peak construction and supported over 750 workers from our Ontario manufacturing facilities. Samsung and its partners are creating jobs and investing in the community which is benefiting real people in Kincardine and across the province.”

According to a press statement, Armow Wind is also bringing strong economic benefits to the Kincardine community, including more than $75 million over 20 years in property taxes, landowner lease royalties and community benefits. As part of a long-term Community Benefit Program, Armow Wind committed $13.6 million dollars to the Municipality of Kincardine. The program supports education and other initiatives.

“Armow Wind is a great example of how Ontario is changing the future of electricity. Armow Wind is a project that produces clean, renewable energy and that was built by Ontario workers with Ontario-made wind turbine components,” added Mike Garland, CEO of Pattern Development. “Armow Wind is now generating millions of dollars in local lease payments and property taxes, updating the local airport, and improving the community of Kincardine through our community benefits program. We want to thank the landowners, other community members and the municipality for their hard work and collaboration on this project. We are honored to become a part of this great community.”

The Armow Wind power facility operates under a 20-year power purchase agreement with the Independent Electricity System Operator (IESO).

U.S. Wind Industry Celebrates Great Q4

The U.S. wind industry continues to gain power with 5,001 MW installed during the 4th quarter of 2015 – more installations than all of 2014. In 2015 there was 8,598 MW was installed, a 77 percent increase over 2014. U.S. Wind Industry Fourth Quarter 2015 Market Report, published by the American Wind Energy Association (AWEA), finds strong market activity is expected to continue. Going in to 2016, 9,400 MW were under construction.

AWEA_jan report graphics“The data released today show 2016 presents an extraordinary opportunity for American wind power,” said Tom Kiernan, CEO of the American Wind Energy Association (AWEA). “The time has never been better for states and utilities to lock in low-cost, stably-priced wind energy to achieve their Clean Power Plan carbon reductions. Wind energy is on track to supplying 20 percent of the country’s electricity by 2030.”

Wind installations during the fourth quarter of 2015 represent the second strongest quarter ever recorded with total installations across 2015 trailing only 2009 and 2012. Combined there is now 74,472 MW of installed wind capacity in the U.S. and more than 52,000 operating wind turbines.

“Low-cost, stably-priced wind energy is a ‘no-regrets’ solution for states and utilities looking for the best way to meet the Clean Power Plan,” added Kiernan. “Texas ranchers and Iowa farmers know wind power costs one-third as much as it did six years ago. Analysis by the Energy Information Administration confirms that wind energy will make up the majority of states’ lowest-cost Clean Power Plan strategy.”

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

Wind Power Gains Speed in Canada

Wind power is gaining speed in Canada. At the end of 2015, the country was the seventh largest in the world for total installed energy capacity with 11,205 MW and sixth in the world for the amount of capacity added in 2015 according to the Canadian Wind Energy Association (CanWEA). In total for 2015, Canada added 1,506 MW of new wind capacity through the commissioning of 36 projects, 23 of which involved Aboriginal Peoples, municipal or local ownership. Wind energy supplied nearly 5 percent of the country’s electricity demand.

“Not only has the wind energy industry continued its five year trend as the largest source of new electricity generation in Canada,” said CanWEA President Robert Hornung, “the industry in Canada has demonstrated a five year annual average growth rate of 23 per cent per year (an average of 1,438 MW per year).”

20160112_C2542_PHOTO_EN_596921Ontario lead the way again in 2015 in market size and growth, adding 871 MW of installed capacity in 2015 for a new total of 4,361 MW. Between contracts signed and planned new purchases through the province’s new Large Renewable Procurement process, there remains more than 2,000 MW of wind slated to be built in Ontario in the next few years.

Quebec, Canada’s second largest wind energy market, was also the second largest contributor of new installed capacity in 2015, adding 397 MW for a total of 3,262 MW. This included the largest multi-phase project commissioned in Canada to date – the 350 MW wind farm in Riviere du Moulin. The first phase with 150 MW was commissioned in 2014 and the remaining 200 MW was commissioned in 2015. The province has another 700 MW due to come online in the next two years.

Six wind turbine manufacturers (OEMs), all CanWEA members, supplied the technology for the new wind capacity commissioned in 2015 in Canada. Siemens Canada Limited led installations with close to 50 percent, followed by Senvion Canada Inc., GE Renewable Energy, ENERCON, Acciona Wind Energy Canada and Vestas Canada. Continue reading

Missouri Can Meet Clean Power Plan with Policies, Efficiency

Missouri can meet targets under the Clean Power Plan (CPP) through clean energy policies and better power plant efficiency according to an analysis from World Resources Institute. Under the CPP, the state has a mass-based emissions reduction target of 29 percent below 2012 levels by 2030. The analysis shows that if Missouri achieves its MO_fig_1current energy efficiency and renewable energy goals and makes more efficient use of its natural gas and coal fleet, the state can get 90 percent of the way towards its target. However, if Missouri expands its renewable energy standard, the state can exceed its target, achieving 34 percent reductions below 2012 levels by 2030.

“Missouri has already taken steps toward meeting its Clean Power Plan goals,” said Sam Adams, director, U.S. Climate Initiative, WRI. “Missouri’s energy efficiency and renewable energy policies are creating jobs and spurring in-state investment. If Missouri expands on the progress it’s already making on energy efficiency and renewable energy it can seize important economic opportunities while complying with the Clean Power Plan.”

The analysis finds that Missouri’s energy efficiency and renewable energy policies already benefit the state. For example:

  • In 2014, the energy efficiency sector in Missouri employed 32,000 people, a number expected to grow if efficiency programs are expanded;
  • According to the American Wind Energy Association, Missouri’s wind industry has generated $1.4 million in annual land lease payments and $1 billion in total capital investment as of 2014, in addition to employing 6,000 workers that year;
  • Meeting the existing renewable energy standards could create 30,000 new jobs by 2021 and provide over $1 billion in new income to residents;
  • According to analysis by the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy, new energy efficiency initiatives in Missouri, including utility programs and building codes, could save consumers $6.1 billion and create 8,500 new jobs.
  • Currently, Missouri spends about $1.3 billion per year on importing coal from other states. By investing in efficiency and renewables, Missouri can reduce its imported coal consumption and keep more of its energy investments in-state.

“Missouri can come close to its Clean Power Plan emissions reductions target by following through on its renewable energy standard and voluntary energy efficiency goals and making smarter, more efficient use of fossil fuel power plants. And by expanding its renewable energy standard, the state can go even further,” said Rebecca Gasper, research analyst, WRI. “Missouri can use its existing clean energy policies to ensure the state continues toward a low carbon future while bringing economic benefits to its residents and businesses.”