Renewable Energy Future Postcard

Hawaii at the Energy CrossroadsThe Institute for Local Self-Reliance (ILSR) has released a new paper, “Hawai’i at the Energy Crossroads“. The report highlights the fight in Hawai’i to control and harness it’s vast renewable energy resources including solar energy. The paper demonstrates the choice between utility-promoted strategies and the distributed energy resources that are gaining ground on their own. The report also provides a “postcard” from the future for how other states can plan for a 100 renewable energy future.

Hawai’i pasted legislation early this year requiring all energy to be produced from renewable resources by 2045.

“More and more customers have easy tools to manage their own energy,” said John Farrell, director of Democratic Energy at ILSR. “Hawai’ians are demanding more opportunities to harvest and store the power of the sun on their own rooftops. Now, mainland leaders are looking toward the island state to decide whether to unlock the same opportunity.”

Ultimately, Hawai’i at the Energy Crossroads shows how outdated utility business plans and corporate takeovers can affect a state’s energy market for years to come.

Will Steger Wilderness Center Renewable Showcase

Will Steger, a globally renowned climate expert, has announced a major milestone toward the completion of the Will Steger Wilderness Center, that will be used as a leadership retreat center. The facility now features a stand-alone, carbon free power system that will provide electricity to buildings and workshops throughout the site located outside of Ely, Minnesota near the protected Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness (BWCAW). The renewable power system is an extension of the Center’s focus on clean energy and the use of renewable materials and sustainable processes throughout its operation.

Photo Credit: John Ratzloff

Photo Credit: John Ratzloff

The island-mode power grid will also serve as a demonstration project intended to be a model for other off-grid power systems in remote locations.  With the completion of Phase I of this power grid, the system is now capable of providing up to 20 kilowatts of power from a combination of solar and battery sources with solar providing more than half of the energy. The system includes automated demand management capability to provide power for mission-critical functions along with a backup diesel genset for emergencies. It is designed to provide power for multiple buildings on the site and power for the construction finalization of the main retreat center building. The first pilot leadership team is expected to use the center by the fall of 2016.

A launch event will take place October 7, 2015 at the Will Steger Wilderness Center and will include a ceremonial flip of the switch to ‘power-on’ the system by key participants who have provided both technical and material resources. Cummins Power Generation provided the genset and helped in the technical design and feasibility study in the early stages of the project. Other partners include Jon Kramer, CEO of Sundial Solar; Dr. Greg Mowry, associate professor in the School of Engineering at the University of St. Thomas; tenKsolar; and BAE Batteries. Participants in the demonstration project have donated the vast majority of the material and labor for the system.

“This is an exciting time for all those who have worked to demonstrate that it is possible to have a community working with modern technology in a remote wilderness area using only self-contained and renewable energy sources,” said Will Steger, executive director of the Will Steger Wilderness Center. “The completion of the power grid is also a leap forward toward our goal of bringing leaders to a fully functioning wilderness retreat center to work on complex issues such as climate change and sustainability. We’re grateful to all of the contributors to this project who are demonstrating that it is possible to live and work on real-world problems using sustainable practices that will not deplete scarce resources.”

In addition to its future purpose as a leadership retreat center, the Will Steger Wilderness Center has been the base for more than a dozen significant expeditions including the 3,471 mile International Trans-Antarctic expedition, the first unsupported dogsled expedition to the North Pole and many other expeditions that have brought back some of the earliest eyewitness accounts of climate change in remote arctic regions.

BNEF: Wind, Solar Competing with Fossil Fuels

According to a new analysis by Bloomberg New Energy Finance (BNEF), this year has seen a shift in the generating cost comparison between renewable energy and fossil fuels. The report, “Levelised Cost of Electricity Update,” for the second half of 2015 based on extensive data and global projects shows that onshore wind and crystalline silicon photovoltaics – the two most widespread technologies- have both seen significantly reduced costs while costs have gone up for gas-fired and coal-fired generation.

The BNEF study shows finds that the global average levelised cost of electricity, or LCOE, for onshore wind nudged downwards from $85 per megawatt-hour (MWh) in the first half of the year, to $83 in the second half of the year, while that for crystalline silicon PV solar fell from $129 to $122.

Bloomberg New Energy Finance logoIn the same period, the LCOE for coal-fired generation increased from $66 per MWh to $75 in the Americas, from $68 to $73 in Asia-Pacific, and from $82 to $105 in Europe. The LCOE for combined-cycle gas turbine generation rose from $76 to $82 in the Americas, from $85 to $93 in Asia-Pacific and from $103 to $118 in EMEA.

“Our report shows wind and solar power continuing to get cheaper in 2015, helped by cheaper technology but also by lower finance costs,” said Seb Henbest, head of Europe, Middle East and Africa at Bloomberg New Energy Finance. “Meanwhile, coal and gas have got more expensive on the back of lower utilisation rates, and in Europe, higher carbon price assumptions following passage of the Market Stability Reserve reform.”

Levelised costs take into account not just the cost of generating a marginal MWh of electricity, but also the upfront capital and development expense, the cost of equity and debt finance, and operating and maintenance fees.

Among other low-carbon energy technologies, offshore wind reduced its global average LCOE from $176 per MWh, to $174, but still remains significantly more expensive than wind, solar PV, coal or gas, while biomass incineration saw its levelised cost stay steady at $134 per MWh. Nuclear, like coal and gas, has very different LCOE levels from one region of the world to another, but both the Americas and the Europe, Middle East and Africa region saw increases in levelised costs, to $261 and $158 per MWh respectively.

New York Most Energy Efficient State

Screen Shot 2015-10-05 at 12.14.57 PMOctober is National Energy Awareness Month and a great time for families and businesses to find ways to reduce their energy use. On average, a household spend nearly $2,000 a year on energy bills. To bring awareness of the impact of energy on American’s wallets, WalletHub conducted an in-depth analysis of the 2015’s Most and Least Energy Efficient States with the exception of Alaska and Hawaii.

WalletHub compared the efficiency of car and home energy consumption and hopes that the results will encourage consumers to conserve more.

Most Energy-Efficient States Least Energy-Efficient States
1 New York 39 Virginia
2 Vermont 40 Georgia
3 Minnesota 41 West Virginia
4 Wisconsin 42 North Dakota
5 Utah 43 Tennessee
6 Rhode Island 44 Arkansas
7 Colorado 45 Kentucky
8 California 46 Texas
9 Connecticut 47 Louisiana
10 Nevada 48 South Carolina

Some other interesting findings included: Utah’s weather-adjusted home-energy consumption is twice as efficient as Louisiana’s; and Florida’s car-energy consumption is twice as efficient as North Dakota’s. You can read the full report here as well as see how your state fairs.

BCSE Calls for Passage of Clean Energy Programs

More than 580 companies including the Business Council for Sustainable Energy (BCSE) are calling for the passage of legislation that provides the extension of expired and expiring tax incentives designed to promote the growth of clean energy and clean energy technologies. The groups submitted a letter to Congress stressing to the federal lawmakers that,”Businesses and investors need stable, predictable federal tax policy to create jobs, invest capital, and deploy pollution-reducing energy technologies.”

“Businesses and investors need stable, predictable federal tax policy to create jobs, invest capital, and deploy pollution-reducing energy technologies. Allowing the lapsed clean energy tax provisions to languish undermines investor confidence and jeopardizes continued economic and environmental benefits,” said Lisa Jacobson, BCSE President.

2015FB_1According to the Sustainable Energy in America Factbook published by Bloomberg New Energy Finance and BCSE, the use of lower and zero carbon energy sources has grown rapidly over the past seven years. BCSE says the clean energy tax provisions have a proven track record of helping scale up production and drive down the cost of clean energy technologies, thereby ensuring that market-ready technologies are deployed to their full potential.

Tom Kiernan, CEO of the American Wind Energy Association (AWEA) whose organization was also a signer of the letter, said of the need for these programs to have multi-year extenders, “American wind power is building momentum right now, but Congress has yet to pass these critical tax incentives, and the clock is ticking. The U.S. wind energy industry has rebounded from the loss of 23,000 jobs in 2013 due to policy uncertainty, and we can grow to support 380,000 jobs by 2030 with stable policy. That’s why we join hundreds of other voices in the business community to call on Congress to take action now.”

Kelly Speakes-Backman, Senior Vice President of Policy and Research at the Alliance to Save Energy and also a letter signer added, “Extension of the clean energy tax incentives is a bipartisan issue. This extension will bring stability to a growing private industry, while reducing pollution from the energy sector. The Alliance endorses this business-oriented approach to strengthen our economy and encourage energy efficiency and clean technology investments.”

ConEdison Assists “Renewable” Waste Treatment

The Port Richmond Wastewater Treatment Plant located on Staten Island has been updated to include “renewable” energy to help power the waste treatment facility. Three new boilers – a combination of biogas and natural gas – along with a new exhaust system and a rootfop solar array. Biogas is a byproduct of the wastewater treatment process and is now being captured and used to replace equipment from the 1970s that ran on heating oil. The solar array, installed by ConEdison Solutions, is expected to produce 1.6 million kilowatt hours, approximately 10 percent of the plant’s power needs. The project is part of OneNYC’s initiative to achieve net-zero energy use at the City’s wastewater treatment plants by 2050.

21218149303_ee1802d0ae_z“This $30 million investment in new technology at the Port Richmond Wastewater Treatment Plant will significantly reduce pollution and result in cleaner air for New York City,” said New York City Department of Environmental Protection Commissioner Emily Lloyd. “Our wastewater treatment plants require a tremendous amount of electricity in order to protect public health and the environment, and we’re focused on not only reducing their demand for electricity, but also capturing and maximizing their potential for energy production.”

In September 2014, New York City committed to the goal of achieving an 80 percent reduction in greenhouse gas emissions from 2005 levels by 2050 (80×50). With buildings comprising nearly three-quarters of New York City’s overall emissions, the City has implemented an initiative to retrofit all public buildings with any significant energy use by 2025, and supporting many private buildings to do the same. In addition, in order to reduce emissions from City government operations, an program was put in place to achieve net-zero energy use at the City’s wastewater treatment plants by 2050.

“ConEdison Solutions is proud to help the New York City Department of Environmental Protection promote sustainability through this ambitious solar installation,” added Michael N. Perna of ConEdison Solutions. “Throughout New York City, both public-sector and private-sector entities are learning how to utilize renewable power as a money-saving and energy-saving asset. With these significant improvements at the Port Richmond Wastewater Treatment Plant, DEP is setting an outstanding example for other facilities throughout the region.”

EV Connect Launches EV CaaS

EV Connect has launched what they call the first-ever “EV Charging-as-a-Service” or “EV CaaS,” to reduce up-front costs and simplify the process for purchasing and installing EV charging station infrastructure by turning the purchase decision from a capital expenditure to an operating expense. The new program was developed in collaboration with GE and SparkFund.

EV-Connect-LogoEach EV charge station comes with GE’s WattStation and DuraStation as well as EV Connect’s base management software and service. Starting at $99 per month per charge station, the EV CaaS, says EV Connect, offers businesses and government entities a full-service resource to assist with financing, deployment and management.

“The single biggest hesitation facility owners have when considering EV charging station installation is up-front cost,” said Jordan Ramer, EV Connect President. “The EV CaaS program, in collaboration with SparkFund and GE, offers a pay-as-you-go alternative to capital purchases and greatly simplifies the decision-making process.”

EV Connect says they are the first provider to offer this type of program. In addition to overseeing procurement, permitting and installation, they manage all aspects of the charging station including service, driver support, station management and usage.

“Welcome to a new world of financing for EV charging infrastructure,” added Pier LaFarge, SparkFund Co-founder and CEO. “EV CaaS puts EV charging within reach of any facility by shifting financing from an upfront capital expenditure to a pay-over-time operating expense.”

Constellation Launches EME With ChargePoint

Constellation is offering customers a new electric vehicle charging program through the new Efficiency Made Easy (EME) program in partnership with ChargePoint. The program enables customers to help fund new EV charging stations and business may be eligible to purchase ChargePoint EV charging stations (including installation, serve and warranties) through their electricty or gas supply agreement.

logos“Constellation is always looking for new and innovative energy solutions for our customers,” said Divesh Gupta, manager, energy solutions for Constellation. “Efficiency Made Easy allows customers to implement technology such as ChargePoint’s EV charging stations to better manage their energy use and support their environmental goals – without an upfront investment.”

EME enables its commercial and industrial supply customers to implement energy efficiency and other solutions without up-front capital expenditures. The costs of these solutions are included over the term of a customer’s supply agreement. In cases where customers are utilizing EME for efficiency measures, they may realize immediate savings on energy costs from reduced energy use according to Constellation.

Pasquale Romano, CEO of ChargePoint, added, “By offering charging stations, installation, service, and warranty with no upfront capital, this channel partnership is a great example of how energy companies can help to spur EV growth the right way. Minimizing the upfront cost to buy and install charging stations and providing customer choice, makes it possible for even more businesses to offer EV charging to their employees and customers.”

Senvion Canada Produces Longest Turbine Blade

Senvion Canada has begun the production of the longest blade in Canada: the 55.8 metre blade that is destined for the Senvion 3.2M114 Cold Climate Version (CCV) 3 MW turbine. LM Wind Power will produce 45 sets of blades all equipped with Senvion’s anti-icing system, adapted for harsh winter climates, such as that in Quebec.

csm_2012_32M114_StMichaelisdonn_397_7a1085d078All blades will be delivered to the the Mesgi’g Ugju’s’n (MU) wind farm, a project that involves a 50-50 partnership of the three Mi’gmaq Nations of Quebec (Gesgapegiag, Gespeg et Listuguj) and developer Innergex. The project includes installation of 150 MW of the 3.2M114 type turbine with 100 metre towers. Official construction of the project has begun, and the wind farm will be operational by December 2016.

At the occasion of the inaugural ceremony, Helmut Herold, CEO of Senvion in North America said, “For me, it is always impressive to see this technology up close. The serial production of the 55.8 metre blade with the anti-icing hot air system, is of tremendous significance for the advancement of turbine technology in Quebec’s wind industry. Not only are we seeing shifts in the cost competitiveness of wind, in comparison to any new hydro installation in the province, but with such a shift comes the ability to technologically innovate,”

“Furthermore, said Herold, “blades with the anti-icing system are perfect for communities, such as the three Mi’gmaq Nations, who want to benefit from wind energy but have to work through Quebec’s cold climate. In short, what we are producing here is community friendly technology.”

Troy Jerome, the executive director of the Mi’gmawei Maiwomi Business Corporation added, “The Mesgi’g Ugju’s’n Wind Farm project is a testament of how the Mi’gmaq people and our Mi’gmaq government can contribute to the greater Quebec economy and more specifically to the economy of the Gaspésie region. Through our partnership with Innergex and Senvion, we are pleased that LM Wind Power can deliver on the latest technology required to meet the extreme weather conditions of the Gaspésie region. This project is one great historic achievement, both for being able to achieve an agreement with the Quebec government on a large energy project and also for bringing together our Nation, the people of Gaspésie, German technology and of course LM Wind Power with this huge sweeping blade which will help us create beautiful clean green energy.”

Germany Drives Demands for Renewable Electricity

Renewable electricity demand in Europe is on the rise with businesses and consumers voluntarily purchasing renewable electricity with Guarantees of Origin. According to data published by the Association of Issuing Bodies (AIB), the European market is expected to reach a total market volume of 400 Terrawatt hour (TWh) in 2015 with Germany playing a dominating role.

In 2014 Germany reached a volume of 80 TWh, and is on track to reach a volume of 100 TWh in 2015, accounting for 25 percent of the European volume. The German figures as of Q2 in 2015 already Market demand for renewable electricity in Europeshow a market demand of 69 TWh, an increase of 11 TWh, 19 percent higher than the 2nd quarter last year. Germany, with a total power consumption of 580 TWh, is now close to having 20 percent of all consumption documented as renewable.

For Europe in total, the 2015 2nd quarter numbers show an increase of 25 TWh compared to Q2 in 2014 – an increase of 11 percent. The total demand for Q2 reached a record volume of 255 TWh.

The development in 2015 follows a record-breaking 2014, during which the market experienced a 27.6 percent growth and an all-time high of 314 TWh in renewable electricity demand. Moreover, for the first time since 2011, there was a real balance between supply and demand.

The European demand for renewable electricity documented by Guarantees of Origin now constitute more than 10 percent of all electricity consumption in Europe (ca. 3,300 TWh) and more than one third of all electricity from renewable sources in Europe (ca. 900 TWh).