Scottish Whisky Used to Power Homes

Scottish Whisky is being used to power homes. Well, not exactly the whisky, but the by-products, such as energy, as being used to power communities. The project, The Rothes CoRDe, part-owned by The Combination of Rothes Distillers, is leading the distilleries program.

“A number of whisky companies are part of an industry consortium looking at sustainable ways of processing by-products from our distilleries,” explained Iain Lochhead, Operations Director for John Dewar & Sons Ltd., part of the Bacardi group of companies.  “We believe we are doing our part in protecting the environment of Scotland. Since we use natural ingredients to make our whisky, we want to leave our surroundings in the same pristine condition as we find them.”

draff from whisky production

The plant utilises draff which is a by-product of whisky production. This comes from 17 different distilleries and is mixed 50/50 with wood chips.

The Speyside area of the Scottish Highlands is home to around 50 whisky distilleries. Rothes, in the heart of that region, is the site of a new, blended-biomass plant that generates heat and power for local communities. It works by burning draff (the spent grains used in the distilling process) with woodchips to create steam-generating electricity.

“We generate 8.3 megawatts of electricity every hour of every day. We use some onsite and export the rest – enough for 20,000 people in 8,000 homes,” said Frank Burns, Managing Director, Rothes CoRDe. “We are powering all of the local communities.”

Another innovation is converting pot ale – the residue from copper whisky stills – into organic feedstock that local farmers use for their animals. “By recovering by-products from our distilleries, we turn them into material of purpose and value,” Burns said. “Ultimately, everything we make, whether it’s animal feed – or even the ash from our boiler process – goes back to the land or to the farm.”

David Williamson of the Scotch Whisky Association, added, “In the end, we want to take this industry forward, to invest and grow, but also make sure we preserve the natural environment we rely on to support Scotch whisky for many years to come.”

Comanche Solar Farm Breaks Ground

The 156 MW Comanche Solar project located in Pueblo, Colorado has broken ground. When completed, SunEdison, project owner, said it will be the largest solar power plant east of the Rocky Mountains and the largest in Colorado. The farm will product more than 300 gigawatt-hours of energy per year.

“The Comanche Solar project demonstrates SunEdison’s ability to deliver renewable energy at a price competitive with conventional resources,” said Paul Gaynor, SunEdison executive vice president for EMEA and the Americas. “In addition, the Comanche Solar project will be financed through SunEdison’s $1.5 billion non-recourse, First Reserve Warehouse. This facility is designed to expand as projects move into construction without incremental equity contributions by SunEdison.”

SunEdison Comanche Solar groundbreakingPublic Service Company of Colorado, a subsidiary of Xcel Energy, will purchase electricity generated by the solar power plant under a 25-year power purchase agreement with SunEdison. The power contract was awarded as part of an open solicitation where Comanche Solar was selected as preferred to other forms of energy, including natural gas.

“SunEdison, through the Comanche Solar project, is helping move us in the right direction. It demonstrates that large-scale solar power can play an increasingly larger role in our customers’ energy future at a competitive price point,” added David Eves, president of Public Service Company of Colorado, an Xcel Energy company. “Our participation in this project demonstrates that Xcel Energy is committed to providing customers the clean energy they want, at an affordable price.”

Construction has commenced on the project and will be managed by Renewable Energy Systems Americas Inc. (RES), based in Broomfield, Colo., a leader in the development, engineering, and construction of wind, solar, transmission and energy storage projects.

Vivent Solar & Google Team on Project Sunroof

Vivent Solar is teaming up with Google on “Project Sunroof,” a new online tool created by Google that provides homeowners with custom solar information for their home. It works through high-resolution aerial mapping (Google Earth technology) to help calculate a roof’s solar energy potential.

Project Sunroof computes how much sunlight hits your roof in a year in part using Google Map technology.

Project Sunroof computes how much sunlight hits your roof in a year in part using Google Map technology.

“Vivint Solar teaming up with Google is giving homeowners across the country immediate insight, information and access to rooftop solar power—that’s good for everyone,” said Greg Butterfield, CEO of Vivint Solar.

The new online tool is being tested in the San Francisco Bay Area as well as Fresno, both in California, and greater Boston. The program will tell the homeowner how much sunlight hits their rooftop throughout the year while factoring in roof orientation, shade from trees and nearby buildings, and local weather patterns. A homeowner can also enter their typical electric bill cost for more customized results. The tool will combine the information to estimate the amount a homeowner could potentially save with solar panels, and it can help connect them with local solar providers, like Vivint Solar.

“Vivint Solar has created an incredible product that’s revolutionizing the energy market,” said Dwain Kinghorn, chief strategy and innovations officer at Vivint Solar. “It’s simple. It’s affordable. And together with Google, we’re able to let customers all over the country know that solar power is a lot simpler and more affordable than they might have thought.”

Santorum, Sanders Miss Energy Boat, Chafee Pro Hydro

There are a lot of candidates vying to be the next president of the United States floating around the Iowa State Fair, but for being in Iowa, many are missing the boat on two very important issues to the state – energy and agriculture. This weekend, presidential candidates Rick Santorum, former U.S. Senator of Pennsylvania (Republican); Lincoln Chafee, former Governor of Rhode Island (Democrat); and Bernie Sanders, U.S. Senator from Vermont (Independent running for the Democratic nomination) all pushed their economic and military agendas as part of the Des Moines Register Soapbox series while laying low on other major issues. Let’s recap their remarks.

Rick SantorumRick Santorum touted his military expertise by noting that “no one in this race has the record I do on national security”. If elected, he will defeat ISIS and how he will do this is being explained in his 2020 Perfect Vision for the Future. Like George Pataki (R-NY) he wants to cut corporate taxes. Santorum was silent on renewable energy, agriculture and climate change.

Listen to why Rick Santorum wants to be president here:Rick Santorum at the Iowa State Fair

Bernie SandersBernie Sanders had quite the crowd and has set himself apart as being the only candidate to speak on the soapbox so far who wants to expand social security. He plans on doing this by lifting the cap on taxable income. Several other hot button issues: make all higher education free; overhaul campaign finance; end racism by bringing about major reform in the criminal justice system; equity pay for women in the workforce; and economy – “We need an economy that works for working people”.

And, climate change is real. He said, “When we talk about our responsibilities, as adults, as parents, as citizens of this Earth, we have a moral responsibility to make certain that we leave this planet in a way that is habitable for our kids and grandchildren. The debate is over. Climate change is real. Climate change is caused by human activity. Climate change is already causing devastating problems in our country and around the world. What the United State must do, and I will do as president, is lead the world in working with other countries to transform our energy system.”

Listen to why Bernie Sanders wants to be president here:Bernie Sanders at the Iowa State Fair

Lincoln ChafeeLincoln Chafee believes that when electing legislators, voters need to look at past performance, character and vision. He told the crowd that while he was governor, he worked to curb climate change; fought for marriage equality; made investments in education a priority; and helped to lead the nation in the rollout of Obama Care. In terms of national security, he will work hard to end wars if elected saying, “Prosperity comes with peace”.

While he didn’t address renewable energy during his remarks, he did answer the question on his stance on renewable power for rural America. His answer: hydropower. He was part of a group who worked with Canada to bring hydropwer down to the northeast. He stressed that it is reliable, affordable and clean and needs to have a more prominent position in the energy discussion. He also supports other forms of renewable energy including geothermal, wind and solar.

Listen to why Lincoln Chafee wants to be president here:Lincoln Chafee at the Iowa State Fair

None of the candidates specifically addressed the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) this time around. But at some point all candidates in the race will have to discuss their position to win the state’s nomination- Iowa is the leader in biofuels production including ethanol and biodiesel and has been leading several campaigns to save the RFS.

Click here to read our coverage of the Des Moines Register Presidential Soapbox series at the Iowa State Fair.

Tigo Powers Solar-Battery, Off-Grid Home

Tigo Energy along with PV installer Renewable Energy Services (RES) has developed one of the largest residential solar microgrid installations in the world located on the Bakkan Hale property in Hawaii. Earl Bakken, inventor of the first battery-powered pacemaker and founder of Medtronic, is behind the solar-battery project that will be equipped with 176kW ground mounted PV moduels powered by Tigo. The system will be capable of generating 350Mwh per year.

“I want to demonstrate using a solar and battery-powered microgrid is the best solution because it allows us to meet all of our power needs day and night.” said Bakken. “We are attracted to Tigo’s platform in particular because their technology is of the highest quality, which will enable us to generate solar power at the optimal level for many years into the future.”

Tigo powers Bakken Hale ground mounted system (Photo: Business Wire)

Tigo powers Bakken Hale ground mounted system (Photo: Business Wire)

Bakken Hale utilizes Tigo’s Smart optimization product, that according to the company, enables customers to monitor their systems at the module-level, deactivate high voltage with a push of a button, and allow for the greatest design flexibility on systems of any size. The technology performs data acquisition via a cloud-connected data logger across new systems and retrofits of all sizes. Tigo-optimized modules work efficiently with battery backup systems, charging from the sun during the day, then discharging during the night.

“We are proud to be the only company capable of servicing a range of inverters and charge controllers for off-grid PV systems,” said Tigo’s chairman and CEO Zvi Alon. “We look forward to continue to increase the number of hybrid PV+Battery systems and working on similar solar-battery projects worldwide.”

Roland Shackelford, Vice President of RES added, “This project was done with the highest level of workmanship and components selected from every nut and bolt, to the use of Tigo. Tigo’s reliability and ability to get the maximum power output from each module is exactly what we were looking for. The per-module monitoring and performance notification capabilities are benefits that ensure that the system is working optimally in the years to come.”

Officials Highlight Need for Stable Energy Policy

The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) has released new data showing the cost of wind energy has declined by nearly two-thirds over the last six years according to the report 2014 Wind Technologies Market Report. DOE Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz noted, however, that to keep the momentum going there must be stable energy policy.

64522_WindTechMrktRprt_cover“With declining costs and continued technological development, these reports demonstrate that wind power is a reliable source of clean, renewable energy for American homes and businesses,” Secretary Moniz said in a statement. “Through continued investments and the help of stable policies, we’re confident that wind power will keep playing a major role in creating jobs and shaping America’s clean energy future.”

In reaction to the report, the American Wind Energy Association (AWEA) said this success has been driven by performance-based renewable energy tax incentives that drive U.S. manufacturing and American ingenuity. The report finds that since 2009, costs have fallen 65.5 percent. This makes the U.S. the global leader in total wind energy production.

“While this report is good news, extending the Production Tax Credit and Investment Tax Credit remains critical for keeping Americans at work, reducing the cost of wind energy and continuing to scale up this homegrown resource through the end of this decade,” said Tom Kiernan, CEO AWEA. “Wind energy is increasingly cost-competitive in several parts of the U.S., but we need stable, predictable policy to continue bringing this consumer benefit to every corner of the country. Policy stability will keep this American economic success story going.”

There must be, called Kiernan, an extension of the Production Tax Credit (PTC) and Investment Tax Credit (ITC) and said the near-uncertainty in these credits puts investments at risk. The last time the credits were not expanded the U.S. wind energy industry lost nearly 30,000 jobs and caused wind installations to drop 92 percent the following year. Kiernan concludes by noting that Federal policy plays a critical role in the wind industry’s decisions to make long-term investments in U.S. manufacturing facilities, research and development, and worker training to create the modern American wind industry, and thus, the credits must stay in place.

Battleground States Support Clean Energy

According to new poll results in eight battleground states, there is widespread support for the Clean Power Plan. This week the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) released final rules. Overall, 58 percent support the plan while 40 percent oppose it after hearing arguments for and against the plan. States polled included Virginia, Florida, Ohio, New Hampshire, Colorado, Nevada, Minnesota, and Pennsylvania.

AUFCLogoWideWebDuring a press conference releasing the poll results held by Americans United for Change who commissioned the research, climate advocates called on Republican Attorney Generals preparing to sue the EPA over the new public health standards and the “do-nothing Republicans in Congress” to stop putting polluters over people and act on climate change.

Among the findings by Tom Jensen, Director of Public Policy Polling, in his summary memo include:

  • There is widespread support for the EPA’s new plan to limit carbon pollution from power plants. Voters in all states, age groups, Democrats and Independents support the Clean Power Plan. Overall, 58% support the plan, while 40% oppose it after hearing arguments for and against the plan.
  • Voters across all 8 swing states and in all age groups consider climate change a serious problem. Democrats (77/22) are very concerned about climate change, with independents (55/44) in agreement. 37% of Republicans consider it serious while 62% don’t. There are more Republicans concerned about climate change than Democrats who are unconcerned.
  • When asked if they agree with Mitch McConnell’s urging the states to ignore the EPA and not develop a plan to cut carbon pollution, the answer was a resounding no: only 31% think states should drag their feet on implementation of new clean power plans; 59% say states should move forward and develop a plan to reduce carbon pollution from power plants.
  • Supporting climate change measures isn’t a particularly risky move for members of Congress. 63% say they would either be more likely to support their member or it would make no difference if they supported the EPA’s Clean Power Plan. This holds true in each state surveyed. Even Republicans say they would either be more likely to support their members in the future or it would make no difference: 47% total compared to 43% who would be more likely to oppose.

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S2E Flips Switch on Solar Farm

S2E Technologies Inc. (S2E) has completed what they call the largest contiguous solar farm in Canada.  The 100 MW solar farm is located in the county of Haldimand, Ontario and will produce enough electricity to power nearly 17,000 homes in the Province. S2E said they played a crucial role in facilitating an agreement between major shareholders in the project, Samsung Renewable Energy Inc., Conner, Clark & Lunn Infrastructure, and Six Nations of the Grand River and the engineering, procurement and construction provider, Canadian Solar Inc.

S2E Technologies Inc. (S2E) announced completion of the largest contiguous Solar Farm in Canada (CNW Group/s2e Technologies Inc)

S2E Technologies Inc. (S2E) announced completion of the largest contiguous Solar Farm in Canada (CNW Group/s2e Technologies Inc)

“We are proud of our role and to be able to take a long term minority stake in the project,” said Milfred Hammerbacher, CEO of S2E.  “Building teams and providing sustainable solutions is our passion.  We believe projects like these will make a positive difference for our communities and future generations.”

Carlos Fernandez, President of S2E added, “This project has already lead to S2E partnering with Sifton Properties Ltd, a London based real estate developer, on an exciting new Smart Community in London Ontario, which could be one of the largest Net Zero Energy communities in the world.”

EPA Releases Final Clean Power Plan Rules

Final rules for the Clean Power Plan have been released by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) as announced by President Obama. The plan calls for carbon reduction from the power sector (aka utilities) by 32 percent below 2005 levels in 2030. According to the EPA, power plants are the largest drivers of climate change in the U.S. emitting nearly one-third of all carbon emissions. This legislation is the first of its kind to set limits on carbon emissions for this sector.

During the announcement, the President said, “There is such a thing as being too late when it comes to climate change.”

The goal of the Clean Power Plan, and coupled with other pieces of legislation such as the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) is to reduce not only carbon emissions, but toxic emissions, from the two largest polluting sectors – power and transportation. By 2030, emissions of sulfur dioxide from power plants will be 90 percent lower and emissions of nitrogen oxides will be 72 percent lower, compared to 2005 levels. EPA said Americans will avoid up to 90,000 asthma attacks and spend up to 300,000 more days in the office or the classroom, instead of sick at home. And up to 3,600 families will be spared the grief of losing a loved one too soon. These statistics will be even better with the reductions from the transportation sector.

CCP infograph“We’re proud to finalize our historic Clean Power Plan. It will give our kids and grandkids the cleaner, safer future they deserve. The United States is leading by example today, showing the world that climate action is an incredible economic opportunity to build a stronger foundation for growth,” said EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy. “The valuable feedback we received means the final Clean Power Plan is more ambitious yet more achievable, so states can customize plans to achieve their goals in ways that make sense for their communities, businesses and utilities.”

EPA said they received and reviewed more than 4.3 million public comments on the proposal, and participated in hundreds of meetings with stakeholders. The plan, according to the EPA, works by building on strategies states and businesses are already using. Today, the U.S. uses three times more wind and 20 times more solar energy than it did in 2009, and the solar industry added jobs 10 times faster than the rest of the economy. It safeguards energy reliability by setting common-sense, achievable state-by-state goals that build on a rapidly growing clean energy economy and gives states and utilities the time and flexibility they need to meet their goals.

The final rule establishes guidelines for states to follow in developing and implementing their plans, including requirements that vulnerable communities have a seat at the table with other stakeholders. EPA said it is proposing a model rule states can adopt, as well as a federal plan that they will put in place if a state fails to submit an adequate plan. Both the proposed model rule and federal plan focus on emissions trading mechanisms to make sure utilities have broad flexibility to reach their carbon pollution reduction goals. EPA also finalized standards to limit carbon pollution from new, modified and reconstructed power plants.

There were mixed emotions on the plan but general praise from environmental, health and the renewable energy industries that this was a bold move in a forward direction. Click here to read more about the Clean Power Plan from the White House perspective.

Arcadia Power Receives Green-e Energy Cert

Arcadia Power’s new wind energy renewable energy project is now certified by Green-e Energy, a certification by the Center for Resource Solutions (CRS) that validates renewable energy sold on the retail market, is in fact renewable energy.

Based in Washington, D.C., Arcadia Power offers its wind energy customers renewable energy certificates (RECs) sourced from wind energy facilities located across the U.S. By offering RECs Arcadia-Logofrom wind facilities, Arcadia Power said its customers have the ability to reduce the environmental impact of their electricity use while helping provide wind facilities an additional income stream, stimulating growth in the U.S. renewable energy.

“By offering its residential and business customers access to renewable energy generated across the U.S., Arcadia Power is helping build the market for renewable energy while giving its customers the option to green their power with Green-e certified renewable energy,” said CRS Communications Director Jeff Swenerton.

Ryan Nesbitt, co-founder and President of Arcadia Power added, “We’re excited to be working with CRS and Green-e to ensure that our customers are getting 100% certified Wind Energy as part of our mission to change the way America consumes energy.”

Green-e Energy is a leading renewable energy certification and verification program in North America. In 2013 nearly 717,000 total retail customers purchased 33.5 million megawatt-hours, enough to power over a quarter of U.S. households for a month.