61st Anniversary of 1st American Solar House

US Census Bureau logoThis week marks the 61st anniversary of the first house in America with solar heating and radiation cooling. Located in Tuscon, Arizona, the house featured a large, slanting slab of steel and glass that coverts sunlight into heat that was ducted into the house. Today, many homes use solar panels to capture the natural heat of the sun and solar is currently the power source for around 83,000 U.S. homes according to the U.S. Census Census Bureau.

While solar accounts for a .7 percent of the power fueling American homes, its growing. However, of the 117 million occupied housing unit, gas remains the most heating fuel, outpacing electricity – about 57 million to 44 million.

The January 17th edition of Profile America focuses on solar power using data gathered as part of the American Community Survey. The program is produced by the Center for New Media and Promotions of the U.S. Census Bureau.

Profile America Looks at Solar

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.”

Effect OSG Unveils “Hybrid” House

The Effect Operational Sales and Systems Group (Effect OSG) has unveiled a “hybrid” house on a private home in Laurentians in Quebec. The home is powered by an Enerdynamic Hybrid Technologies (EHT) wind and solar hybrid system. The systems, coined EnerCubes, consists of eight vertical axis wind turbines featuring an innovative vane design and solar panels fully integrated into an automated battery management and control system.

PaulDionneThe Outback Power management system controls eight 500 watt EnerCubes, 3.8 kilowatt (kW) of solar panels and batteries with 54 kWh energy capacity. According to Effect OSG, the roof mounted EnerCubes has features such as:

  • self-start at wind speeds as low as 1.7 meters per second (3.8 miles or 6.1 kilometers per hour) sustained rotation;
  • low maintenance since the system has no drive shaft, no gear boxes, no brushes, bushings or slip rings;
  • modular design, which allows ‘flat-packed’ shipping to the deployment site with plug and play installation;
  • scalable, since they can be installed either as single functioning units or grouped together for additional power, low vibration, through the use of precision matched bearings, which are the only turbines’ moving parts; and
  • no electromagnetic interference (EMI) since the generator emits a frequency of 14 HZ when operating at its rated output, which is too low to produce EMI.

21892-effect-osg-wind-solar-hybrid-de-300x172President and CEO of Enerdynamic Hybrid Technologies Inc., John Gamble, said, “We are most pleased to deliver an advanced wind and solar hybrid resource with key performance parameters.

Paul Dionne, President Effect OSG, added that, “as a specialist firm in linking client needs to custom fit energy solutions, we felt that introducing this wind generator technology, which turns with much greater ease than traditional turbines, gave our clients a significant edge in using an ultra-efficient wind energy system to be less dependent on electric utilities.”

Other companies involved in the project included O² Globale Énergie, Phase3 Energy and EnShift Power. Other contributors include Gagnon & Zollner Maîtres Artisans, for system installation and building structure; Triacta Power Solutions, for power monitoring system; and Budget Propane, for gas heating systems, as an alternative to further reduce customers’ electrical bills.

Massachusetts Most Energy Efficient US State

Massachuesetts has edged out California as the most energy efficient state in the U.S. according to the ninth annual State Energy Efficiency Scorecard. Several states continue to improve their scores including California, Maryland, Illinois, Texas and Washington D.C. The report is published by the American Council for an Energy Efficient Economy (ACEEE) with support from the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE).

2015-map-640ACEEE Executive Director Steve Nadel said of this year’s findings, “As states move to frame their plans under the federal Clean Power Plan this year marks a tipping point for energy efficiency. State policies are increasingly encouraging utilities to invest in cost-effective efficiency, prompting them to adopt new business models that align their interests with those of customers and policymakers. We can see this taking hold in the 20 states that improved their Scorecard rank in 2015. Utilities across the United States invested more than $7 billion in energy efficiency over the past year alone.”

Some key finding of the 2015 State Scorecard include:

  • The top 10 states for energy efficiency are Massachusetts, California, Vermont, Rhode Island, Oregon, Connecticut, Maryland, Washington, and New York, with Minnesota and Illinois tied for 10th place. Massachusetts retains the top spot for the fifth consecutive year based on a strong commitment to energy efficiency under its Green Communities Act.
  • A solid 20 states rose in the State Scorecard rankings. California, a leading state, is also one of the most improved states this year. Maryland, Illinois, the District of Columbia, and Texas also deserve recognition for improvement over the past year.
  • Overall, 16 states fell in the rankings this year, due to such factors as policy or program rollbacks or failure to keep pace as other states expanded efficiency efforts. The five states most in need of improvement (starting with dead last) are: North Dakota, Wyoming, South Dakota, Louisiana, and Mississippi, although new efficiency programs in Louisiana and Mississippi mean these states may not be in the bottom for much longer. While not in the bottom five states, New Mexico dropped the farthest in 2015, losing four points and falling six positions from 25th to 31st in the rankings. This is due in part to the state’s failure to adopt energy building codes beyond the 2009 requirements.

Another key finding: Savings from electricity efficiency programs in 2014 totaled approximately 25.7 million megawatt-hours (MWh), a 5.8% increase over last year. These savings are equivalent to about 0.7% of total retail electricity sales across the nation in 2014. Gas savings for 2014 were reported at 374 million therms (MMTherms), a 35% increase over 2013. Click here to read the full report.

NRDC Report: U.S. Energy Economy Healthy

America’s energy economy has never been better according to a new report, “A Tectonic Shift in America’s Energy Landscape,” from the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC). One key finding is that innovative energy saving techniques have enabled the country to more than double its economic productivity from oil, natural gas and electricity over the past 40 years. This means, finds the report, that energy efficiency has contributed more to meeting the country’s needs than all other resources combined.

Screen Shot 2015-10-13 at 11.00.06 AM“Although the nation’s energy news has trended from bad to worse for decades, we’ve seen a remarkable turnaround, much of it due to the huge and inexpensive resource of energy efficiency — getting more out of every energy dollar,” said Ralph Cavanagh, NRDC co-director of the energy program. “But you’d never know it from those who want to build the massive KXL pipeline, ratchet up oil and gas drilling, launch a nuclear renaissance or embrace an ‘all of the above’ energy policy.”

NRDC’s First Annual Energy and Environment Report, America’s (Amazingly) Good Energy News, is the product of a detailed, extensive analysis of recent government data that shows total U.S. energy use in 2012 was below the 1999 level even though the economy grew by more than 25 percent (adjusted for inflation) during that period. This result, shows the report, is that factories and businesses are producing substantially more products and value with less energy, the amount of gasoline per mile driven is down, and the cost of all energy services (from lighting to refrigeration) also has decreased.

“These energy reductions are saving hundreds of billions of dollars every year, helping U.S. workers and companies compete worldwide, and making our country more secure,” added Cavanagh.

The report notes that the amount of climate-warming carbon dioxide pollution also is down, putting the nation on track to meet President Obama’s emissions reduction target of 17 percent over the next seven years, though much more must be done, says NRDC, to avoid the worst effects of climate change.

Here is a snapshot of several of the report’s major findings: Continue reading

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.

GWU Education Partnership Launched

Delegates taking the exam for the Galileo Master Certificate

Delegates taking the exam for the Galileo Master Certificate

The School of Engineering and Applied Science at the George Washington University (GWU) is partnering with the European Energy Centre to offer renewable energy and energy efficiency educational opportunities. The Centre works closely with the United Nations Environment Programme.

This October short course educational seminars will be launched for current professionals who want to up-skill their expertise in the renewable energy industry. The classes will be taught by leading experts who have more than 20 years theoretical and practical experience. Seminars are open to all professionals and students regardless of experience. Class sizes are set in order to encourage Q&A consultancy sessions during the courses, both between the delegates and lecturer and also to provide an opportunity for the delegates themselves to network.

Training materials are developed by industry experts and are required to maintain the standards set by a team of Quality Assessors at an Independent Body, which has provided training seminars for the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) for participants from the Americas, Europe, Africa and Asia.

“It is clear that the renewable energy industry must further expand worldwide to drive forward the growth expected from upcoming UN climate talks. Our experience tells us that employees pursuing careers within the Renewable Energy sector require support to continue their professional development and keep pace with technological innovations within the industry,” said Paolo Buoni, Director, the European Energy Centre. “Therefore, education and training must remain a priority for all individuals working within and affiliated with the renewable energy sector, and so we are very pleased to announce this collaborative Partnership with The George Washington University.”

Click here to learn more and to register for classes.

DOE Releases Energy Productivity Roadmap

U.S. Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz recently released a new roadmap to increase energy productivity.  “Accelerate Energy Productivity 2030: A Strategic Roadmap for American Energy Innovation, Economic Growth, and Competitiveness,” reviews proven and effective strategies and actions to advance energy efficiency.

Strategies include:

  • states securing energy productivity through setting and updating vehicle and product codes and standards, and providing energy performance information to consumers;
  • utilities and regulators designing rates and related policies that more effectively align energy efficiency with utility business models; and
  • businesses reinvesting avoided energy costs.

Accelerate Energy Productivity 2030Moniz says by doubling energy productivity, American families will be able to power their homes and vehicles using less energy, while American businesses will be able to manufacture more while spending less and cutting harmful carbon emissions.

“Cutting energy waste and doubling energy productivity will help American families save money on their energy bills, enable businesses to produce more while using less energy and strengthen the U.S. clean energy economy,” said Moniz. “This roadmap provides a path for families, businesses and governments, among others, to follow. By taking steps to increase efficiency and cut waste, the U.S. will be more competitive globally and will see direct and long-lasting benefits for decades to come.”

The Roadmap focuses on scalable actions that have the potential to reduce energy consumption and support economic growth. The federal government, many state and local governments and a number of organizations in the private sector are already deploying energy productivity strategies, including some that are featured in the report, demonstrating that the goal of doubling energy productivity can be achieved. While energy productivity strategies often involve multiple economic sectors and levels of government, the strategies laid out in this report demonstrate that any organization or individual can take steps to double national energy productivity by 2030. The report provides a foundation for scaling up these efforts nationwide, while allowing for flexible and tailored solutions.

U.S. Energy Efficiency Increasing

Energy efficiency is improving in America. A new report find the country’s energy intensity, the measurement of energy used per dollar of gross domestic product, is down from 12.1 thousand Btus per dollar in 1980 to 6.1 thousand Btus per dollar in 2014. The report, Energy Efficiency in the United States: 35 Years and Counting, was released by the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy (ACEEE).

ACEEE energy reduction report infographicThe report found that nearly 60 percent of the improvement in energy intensity was due to energy efficiency and about 40 percent to major structural changes in the economy. The bottom line according to ACEEE:  Just the energy efficiency portion saved U.S. consumers and businesses about $800 billion in 2014, roughly $2,500 per capita. Even though U.S. energy use edged up by 26 percent from 1980 to 2014, the U.S. gross domestic product (GDP) increased by 149 percent.

The report concludes that “while much progress has been made, there are large and cost effective energy efficiency opportunities that, by 2050, can collectively reduce energy use by 40-60 percent relative to current forecasts.”

Report co-author and ACEEE Executive Director Steven Nadel said: “Energy efficiency has made great strides in the past 35 years, and we have learned many important lessons on how markets and policies can work together to advance it. Looking forward, we find opportunities to reduce 2050 energy use by half relative to a business-as-usual reference case. In order to harvest these large efficiency opportunities, we need to take our efforts to a higher level. The challenges are many, but so are the benefits in terms of lower energy bills, a stronger economy, improved energy security, and a cleaner environment. The past has shown us what efficiency can do and it can guide us to even greater success in the future.”

In addition to highlighting the areas that have achieved most significant energy reduction, the report also recommends tactics to be taken to further improve energy efficiency.

USDA Funds 544 REAP Projects

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) has awarded 544 renewable energy and energy efficiency projects more than $6.7 million as part of the Rural Energy for America Program (REAP). USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack made the announcement at the Snake River Brewing Company, in Jackson, Wyoming. The company received a $13,810 REAP grant to install a solar panel to generate energy for the business.

srb-logo-3dThese grants will help farmers, ranchers and small business owners use more renewable energy, which cuts carbon pollution, reduces our dependence on foreign oil, saves businesses money on their energy bills and creates American jobs,” Vilsack said. “All of these are crucial components to developing healthier, more economically vibrant rural communities.”

REAP was created by the 2002 Farm Bill and was reauthorized by the 2014 Farm Bill. REAP funding has helped farmers expand renewable energy use in recent years. The new Census of Agriculture shows the number of farms utilizing renewable energy production has doubled in the last five years. Since 2009, USDA has awarded $545 million to support more than 8,800 REAP projects nationwide.

Eligible agricultural producers and rural small businesses may use REAP funds to make energy efficiency improvements or install renewable energy systems, including solar, wind, renewable biomass (including anaerobic digesters), small hydroelectric, ocean energy, hydrogen and geothermal.