AWEA: Prez Candidates Must Back Wind

During WINDPOWER 2015 this week, new American Wind Energy Association (AWEA) Board Chair Mike Garland declared that it is time for the wind industry to start flexing its muscle.

“From the smallest companies to the largest, we have a shared responsibility to make this vision a reality,” said Garland, president and CEO of Pattern Energy. “Everyone in this industry needs to demand a five-year PTC.” The Production Tax Credit (PTC) is the primary federal incentive for building more new wind farms.

windpower-2015-logoAccording to AWEA, the cost of wind power has declined over 58 percent in just five years, but to meet the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) Wind Vision will require a long-term stable policy environment that allows for a continued downward trajectory of wind’s costs.

Garland noted that Jeb Bush, former governor of Florida and potential presidential candidate, has already come out in favor of a multi-year extension of the PTC, and that “it’s the industry’s job to make sure other candidates do the same”.

“What we do now will determine our success for years to come,” said Garland. “Let’s do our part and remind everyone that wind energy helps everyone, that wind is American’s clean, domestic and cheap fuel.”

Garland called on companies big and small to help the industry stay on track to meet the scenarios laid out in the DOE Wind Vision report released earlier this year. That starts with American wind power doubling from where it is today to 10 percent of the U.S. electricity mix by 2020, 20 percent by 2030 and become one of the leading sources of electricity by 2050.

Expanding on Garland’s comments were six other leading wind industry executives, including Chris Brown, president of Vestas. “For us, it’s pretty simple. We want to be the undisputed global wind leader. Full stop. It’s about one thing. Least cost of energy. We’re economic against a lot of forms of energy in most of the parts of the country. If we continue to drive that, we don’t become a political story, we become an economic story.”

GEA Tells Senate: Geothermal Yes

The Geothermal Energy Association (GEA) is vocally supporting a bi-partisan legislation package that they say “would help expand geothermal power by addressing some of the most important barriers to geothermal development in the U.S.” according to Karl Gawell, Executive Director of the Geothermal Energy Association, GEA. The association singled out 562, S. 1057. (Note S. 822 is included as a provision of S. 1057.)

GEA logoS.562, Sponsored by Senator Heller (R-NV) and co-sponsored by Senator Risch (R-ID) would provide help for new geothermal projects to shorten delays at one of the most critical and risky phases of development – exploration, GEA explained. “Given the multiple NEPA processes required for geothermal development, and the inclusion of a restriction for lands involving extraordinary circumstances, we believe this process improvement can be made without risk to the environment,” GEA said. This legislation would provide geothermal exploration the same treatment afforded oil and gas exploration under the 2005 Energy Policy Act – a limited categorical exclusion — with the additional restriction for lands or resources viewed as involving extraordinary circumstance.

S. 1057, Sponsored by Senator Wyden (D-OR) and co-sponsored by Senator ester (D-MT) proposes several initiatives that GEA supported. It would:

  • set a 50,000MW National Geothermal Goal;
  • direct federal agencies to identify priority areas for development;
  • allow federal oil and gas lease holders to obtain a non-competitive geothermal lease to facilitate coproduction of geothermal from their wells — today 25 billion barrels of hot water is produced annually from oil and gas wells within the United States that is wasted;
  • authorize cost shared exploration of geothermal energy resources;
  • re-authorize the use of geothermal lease revenues to support the expansion of our knowledge of the resource base; and
  • facilitate new discoveries, by allowing the limited non-competitive leasing of adjacent lands where a new discovery has been made.

According to GEA, the Wyden bill would “help spur the discovery and development of the substantial untapped geothermal energy resources here in the U.S. The clean baseload geothermal energy produced as a result of these important measures will help the nation achieve a more diverse and reliable electricity supply, even as it reduces emissions, helps state and local economies, and creates jobs in both the oil and gas, and the renewable sectors.”

Advanced Wind Turbines to Soar Higher

U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) Secretary Ernest Moniz gave an engaging presentation during the WINDPOWER 2015 Conference and Exhibition taking place in Orlando, Florida. He noted that new wind resource maps are showing the ability for advanced wind turbines to reach stronger winds higher above the ground, unlocking a previously untapped wind resource area that the DOE believes could eventually bring wind energy development to every state in America.

Moniz delivered highlights from the new report “Enabling Wind Power NationwideEnabling-Wind-Power-Nationwide-Cover,” which explains how new wind turbine designs are putting one of America’s largest domestic energy resources to use – the strong, consistent winds that can be found high above the ground in nearly all parts of the country.

“Wind generation has more than tripled in the United States in just six years, exceeding 4.5 percent of total generation, and we are focused on expanding its clean power potential to every state in the country,” said Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz. “By producing the next generation of larger and more efficient wind turbines, we can create thousands of new jobs and reduce greenhouse gas emissions, as we fully unlock wind power as a critical national resource.”

The Enabling Wind Power Nationwide report builds upon the DOE’s Wind Vision: A New Era for Wind Power report released this past March, which shows wind energy can become one of America’s top electricity sources, and save consumers money while doing so.

American Wind Energy Association (AWEA) CEO Tom Kiernan was quick to applaud the Secretary’s remarks, pointing out just a few of the ways Americans stand to benefit. “This report is great news for consumers, job-seekers, rural communities and many others in these states that have yet to fully benefit from American wind power,” said Kiernan. “Wind turbine technology has advanced in just a few decades from the Model T era to more like that of a Tesla Model S. Advanced towers, blades and improved electronics to operate and maintain the turbines are all part of this revolution.” Continue reading

EIA Unveils Updated Global Energy Portal

EIA International Energy PortalThe U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) has gone live with its updated International Energy Portal to improve access for people seeking information on international energy data and trends.

“With most of the future growth in energy consumption expected to occur outside of the United States and with increasingly interconnected world energy markets, a clear perspective on the international energy landscape is critically important, and EIA’s redesigned International Energy Portal makes it easier to gain insight into global energy developments,” said EIA Administrator Adam Sieminski.

According to EIA, the expanded International Energy Portal provides:

  • Increased access to data. The International Energy Portal includes a powerful new data browser that includes historical information on country-level energy use dating back, in many cases, more than 30 years.
  • New user-driven customization. The International Energy Portal introduces many features that enable users to customize their experience with EIA’s international data.
  • New data visualization features. These features include summary graphics of the world’s top energy producers and consumers broken down by energy source. Users can also generate a variety of data visualizations to quickly see how energy production, consumption, reserves, imports, exports, and carbon dioxide emissions have changed over time.
  • Improved access to international analysis. The International Energy Portal links to EIA’s international forecasts and projections such as EIA’s Short-Term Energy Outlook and International Energy Outlook. It also provides access to EIA’s entire library of international reports and analysis.
  • Enhanced data downloads. The International Energy Portal incorporates a complete application programming interface (API) that provides access to EIA’s historical international data.

Georgia Power Begins 3×30 Solar Project

Several military bases and soon to be energized by solar power. This week, Georgia Power has begun construction on new solar projects at Georgia Army bases Fort Gordon near Augusta and Fort Stewart near Savannah. At groundbreaking events at the bases last Thursday and Friday, leadership from the company, the Georgia Public Service Commission (PSC), the U.S. Army, the U.S. Army Office of Energy Initiatives (OEI) and the General Services Administration (GSA) gathered with community leaders and others to tour the site and mark the beginning of development.

Leaders from Georgia Power, the Georgia Public Service Commission, the U.S. Army, the U.S. Army Office of Energy Initiatives and the General Services Administration break ground on the Georgia 3x30 solar project at Fort Gordon near Augusta, Ga. (PRNewsFoto/Georgia Power)

Leaders from Georgia Power, the Georgia Public Service Commission, the U.S. Army, the U.S. Army Office of Energy Initiatives and the General Services Administration break ground on the Georgia 3×30 solar project at Fort Gordon near Augusta, Ga. (PRNewsFoto/Georgia Power)

Georgia Power and the U.S. Army first announced the Georgia 3×30 solar project in 2014. The project includes the development of three 30 MW solar generation facilities at three separate Army bases throughout the state. The projects, each of which may cover more than 200 acres, are scheduled to be completed and begin delivering power to the state’s electric grid by the end of 2016.

“These solar projects support the Army and their mission to not only strengthen local Georgia bases as economic and community engines, but also their efforts to further the development of renewable energy and enhance national security,” said Kenny Coleman, senior vice president of marketing for Georgia Power during the groundbreaking event. “We’re committed to assisting our customers with all of their energy needs, including providing information and expert advice to help them make informed choices about adding solar – on an Army base or a home rooftop.”

Georgia PSC Commissioners Chuck Eaton and Stan Wise attended the events and noted the combined efforts to bring the solar projects to Georgia and keep rates low for customers. Georgia Power notes that large-scale renewable projects like Georgia 3×30 are adding to Georgia Power’s diverse generation portfolio and fueling the state’s momentum as one of the fastest growing solar markets in the nation.

Sen Udall & Friends Unveil National RES Bill

U.S. Senators Tom Udall (D-NM) and friends, Edward Markey (D-MA), Martin Heinrich (D-NM), Michael Bennet (D-CO), Jeff Merkley (D-OR), Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) and Mazie K. Hirono (D-Hawaii) has introduced a national Renewable Electricity Standard (RES) they say will pump nearly $300 billion into the economy while combating climate change. The bill would require utilities to generate 30 percent of their electricity from renewable energy sources by 2030.

New Mexico Senator Tom Udall“A national Renewable Electricity Standard will help slow utility rate increases and boost private investment in states like New Mexico – all while combating climate change,” said Udall, who helped pass RES legislation through the U.S. House of Representatives and has continued to champion the issue as senator. “Investing in homegrown clean energy jobs just makes sense, and that’s why I’m continuing my fight for a national RES. More than half the states – including New Mexico – have widely successful RES policies, and it’s time to go all in. I’ve long pushed for a ‘do it all, do it right’ energy policy, and a RES will help us get there.”

If passed, the federal legislation would create the first national threshold for utilities to provide a certain percentage of their electricity from renewable resources, including wind, solar, biomass and others. It would set an 8 percent requirement by 2016, followed by gradual increases to meet the 30 percent by 2030 goal. More than half of the states already have renewable generation standards with specific timelines and target standards, and the legislation would not preempt stronger standards already implemented by states.

“Our record droughts, burning forests, dying fish, and melting icecaps all point to the urgency of taking on climate change,” said Merkley. “The only answer is burning less fossil fuel and moving toward renewable energy. Senator Udall’s bill would accelerate that transition and is a key to saving both our economy and our environment from the ravages of climate change.” Continue reading

Solar Implementation Library Updated

DCE Solar has released the third installment in its Solar Implementation Library. The new report focuses on the unique installation challenges and opportunities present with landfills, also known as “brown fields,” and other locations where standard beam-driven rack mounts would be inappropriate or impossible.

“Land that is otherwise unusable for development or building holds tremendous potential for solar energy collection,” said Bill Taylor, CEO of DCE Solar. “By adding a new source of Screen Shot 2015-05-15 at 11.03.21 AMrevenue generation for these properties, property owners can optimize their return on investment for a wide variety of real estate assets.”

In addition to presenting additional streams of income for property owners, DCE Solar’s report also highlights excellent earning potential for installers. The report states, “Ballasted ground-mount arrays are often another opportunity for developers to utilize low cost available land to create a nice ROI. This report is a guide that will assist those professionals in obtaining the results they expect.”

Common challenges such as corrosion prevention, anchoring and slippage, and streamlined assembly are also highlighted in the report. As well, considerations such as materials used in composition, the ability to pre-assemble off-site, and methodologies for minimizing maintenance are discussed. Like other instalments in the library, the report outlines a best-practices approach for the various sites that require zero-penetration applications.

“One of our goals for this report in particular is that it will attract additional opportunities for the solar energy industry,” added Taylor. “By reducing the cost, we expect to see continued expansion of the solar market.”

Yellowstone Distributed Energy Project Powers Up

Old hybrid batteries have a new home on the range. Toyota has flipped the switch on a project that is reusing 200 old battery packs from Toyota Camry hybirds. The Lamar Buffalo Ranch field campus in Yellowstone National Park, now not only features buffalo, but an innovative distributed energy system that combines solar power generation with re-used Camry Hybrid battery packs. The result according to Toyota: reliable, sustainable, zero emission power to the ranger station and education center for the first time since it was founded in 1907. Solar panels generate the renewable electricity stored within the 208 used Camry Hybrid nickel-metal hydride battery packs, recovered from Toyota dealers across the United States.

Announced in June 2014, the partnership among Toyota, Indy Power Systems, Sharp USA SolarWorld, Patriot Solar, National Park Service and Yellowstone Park Foundation is an innovative effort to extend the useful life of hybrid vehicle batteries while providing sustainable power generation for one of the most remote, pristine areas in the United States.

Toyota_Yellowstone_Battery_001“Through our long-standing partnership with Yellowstone National Park and the Yellowstone Park Foundation, Toyota has helped preserve Yellowstone for future generations,” said Jim Lentz, chief executive officer, Toyota North America. “Today, our relationship with Yellowstone continues, as more than 200 battery packs that once powered Toyota Camry hybrids have found a new home on the range.”

On an annual basis, the solar system will generates enough electricity to power six average U.S. households for a year, or plenty of power for the five buildings on the Ranch campus. The hybrid batteries provide 85kWh of energy storage to ensure continuous power, as the system charges and discharges. Onsite micro-hydro turbine systems, capturing energy from a neighboring stream, are scheduled to join the power mix in 2016.

The Yellowstone system is the first of its kind to use recovered hybrid vehicle batteries for commercial energy storage. Each battery pack has been disassembled and tested, and every piece that could be was repurposed. New components were also designed and built by Indy Power Systems specifically for this application, including an onboard battery management system for each battery pack. The battery management system is designed to maximize battery life and will also provide important insights into real-world performance. These insights will help Toyota design future battery performance and durability improvements.

“Toyota’s innovative response to solve a difficult problem has helped Yellowstone move closer to its goal of becoming the greenest park in the world,” added Steve Iobst, acting superintendent of Yellowstone.

Book Review: The Power Surge

As I write about energy each day, I often wonder what the trade-offs or consequences will be if a technology takes off, or even if it fails. How will it, if at all, alter America’s energy landscape? From my point of view, we are a country in fear of change and in fear of taking The Power Surgeaction. We are a country that spends more time worrying about what celebrities wore to an award show and when the next iPhone will be hit the streets, then worrying about the underlying causes of recessions (many economists blame oil prices) and what the consequences are of the decisions made, or more often than not, not made, by our elected officials.

So I was very excited when I read, “The Power Surge: Energy, Opportunity, and the Battle for America’s Future,” by Michael Levi who is the Senior Fellow for Energy and Environment and Director, Center for Geoeconomic Studies and Council on Foreign Relations. I have never read a book that does a better job of presenting various energy scenarios and the intended and unintended consequences of them and written and presented in a way based on research, economics and trends and not based on emotions.

There is no argument that there is a battle afoot over America’s, and quite frankly, the world’s energy future.

Our entire life is dependent on energy. We as a society can not function in our current “lifestyle” without energy. Period.

And despite what you personally believe, there are economic, security and environmental consequences and/or benefits to all decisions made and not made as eloquently demonstrated by Levi (and this includes those who believe climate change is a hoax). Levi begins the book with a three very probative and questions and one that he uses against all scenarios he presents in the book. In other words, how does the technology, legislation, or action fare against these three pillars?

  1. Does each energy source that has recently thrived offer important opportunities to improve the U.S. economy, strengthen national security or mitigate climate change while not causing intolerable damages on any of those fronts?
  2. Is is possible to seize those opportunities simultaneously- or would pursuing some of them severely undermine others?
  3. And can the United States take advantage of these opportunities without fundamentally altering the role of government in America?

The book begins with an in-depth discussion of all things oil and touches upon renewable energy sources such as biofuels. He also covers electricity and the role of natural gas in our current and energy future as well as technologies like wind and solar. He also points out that all sides of the issue overstate some of their claims and it was refreshing to see someone who doesn’t only call out claims on the side he/she is against. He writes, Continue reading

Hawaii to Become 100% Renewable by 2045

Hawaii is the first state in the U.S. to pass legislation that will require 100 percent of all energy to sourced from renewable energy by 2045. Lawmakers voted 74-2 in favor of House Bill 623 requiring all electricity to be generated from clean sources such as wind, solar, and geothermal.

gI_59670_100 percent trend chart May15 sz800The measure, if enacted by Governor David Ige, would make Hawaii the first state in the nation with such a 100 percent renewable energy standard. Blue Planet Foundation, whose mission is to clear the path for 100% renewable energy, praised the move.

“As the first state to move toward 100% renewable energy, Hawaii is raising the bar for the rest of the country,” said Rep. Chris Lee, the Chairman of the House Energy and Environmental Protection Committee and introducer of HB 623. “Local renewable projects are already cheaper than liquid natural gas and oil, and our progress toward meeting our renewable energy standards has already saved local residents hundreds of millions on their electric bills. Moving to 100% renewable energy will do more to reduce energy prices for local residents in the long term than almost anything else we could do.”

Senator Gabbard, Chair of the Senate Energy and Environment Committee and a champion of the measure in the Senate, shares the sentiment. “With this bill, we’ll now be the most populated set of islands in the world with an independent grid to establish a 100% renewable electricity goal,” said Sen. Gabbard. “Through this process of transformation Hawaii can be the model that other states and even nations follow. And we’ll achieve the biggest energy turnaround in the country, going from 90% dependence on fossil fuels to 100% clean energy.”

House Bill 623 also increases the interim requirement to 30 percent renewable by 2020. Last year, Hawaii generated about 22 percent of its electricity from renewable resources. Continue reading