Clinton Voices Support for Renewable Energy

clinton-iowaWith a John Deere tractor as a backdrop, Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton voiced her strong support for the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS), solar and wind energy during a visit to Iowa this week.

“We need to capitalize on rural America’s strength as a producer of clean, renewable energy,” said Mrs. Clinton during a speech in Ankeny, adding that she has two main goals in that area. “Half a billion solar panels within four years and enough energy production from renewables to power every home in America within 10 years.”

Noting that Iowa produces a third of its total energy from renewables, especially wind and biofuels. “If Iowa can do it…so can the rest of America,” she said.

“We need to strengthen the Renewable Fuel Standard,” Mrs. Clinton continued to applause. “So that it drives the development of advanced biofuels and expand the overall contribution that renewable fuels make to our overall fuel supply.”

Introduced by former Iowa governor and current Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack, Clinton discussed her plan to support rural America which includes investments in rural areas and rural transportation, making the production of agricultural products more profitable for farmers, and promoting the use of clean energy and renewable energy sources.

Listen to Vilsack’s introduction and Clinton’s speech here: Hillary Clinton on Ag in Iowa

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.”

The Quest for a Sustainable Highway

The Mission Zero Corridor Project in Troup County West Georgia is trying to build a ‘green highway’. The travel corridor would, according to Innovia Technology, who has been commissioned for the project, rethink the purpose and function of infrastructure to generate social, environmental and economic value.

Ray-C-Anderson-Memorial-Highway-Exit-14-artist-impressionSome of the technologies being looked at for the project include algae biodiesel gas stations, smart solar-powered roads, moon-cycle adjusting lights, wildlife bridges, driverless cars, electric-car charging lanes and cultural greenways.

“Worldwide the highway infrastructure is continuously maintained, rebuilt and expanded at considerable economic and environmental cost. The Mission Zero Corridor Project is proposing an alternative future where highways have a positive impact on our communities. It’s very exciting to be involved in making this vision a reality,” said Alastair MacGregor, CEO of Innovia Technology, of the challenge ahead.

The late Ray C. Anderson, founder of Interface, Inc. developed the Mission Zero framework to eliminate Interface’s environmental impact while maintaining productivity and still turning a profit. The aim was a promise to “eliminate any negative impacts the company may have on the environment by 2020” and the framework created a blueprint for business sustainability. As a memorial, the Ray C Anderson Foundation is using a 16 mile stretch of Interstate 85 as the living experiment of the “regenerative, restorative and sustainable highway”.

To get the project started the Foundation and Interface funded a vision study through The Georgia Conservancy’s Blueprints for Successful Communities program. Using Interface’s Mission Zero framework as a roadmap, graduate students in the School of Architecture at the Georgia Institute of Technology, with studio instruction from a team of architects from Perkins+Will in Atlanta, explored how a highway could be a tool of change. The outcome was an inspirational report that identifies a broad range of potential technologies and opportunities. Innovia’s role is to provide a creative exploration of new opportunities, evaluate the technologies for viability and scalability, and to propose a strategy to bring the vision to life.

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.”

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.”

PG&E Donates Solar to Habitat Homes

Pacific Gas and Electric Company (PG&E) has donated $1 million to support the installation of rooftop solar on 79 homes with 18 different Habitat for Humanity local affiliates throughout Northern and Central California. The company said its Solar Habitat Program, in partnership with Habitat for Humanity, is making affordable housing and solar energy a reality for deserving families, particularly in neighborhoods that have been historically underserved and overlooked.

PG&E is proud to support Habitat for Humanity’s mission of making homeownership a reality for deserving families. Our sustained collaboration on the Solar Habitat Program allows these homes to be both financially and environmentally sustainable. Together, we’re building a cleaner, brighter future for the people of California,” said PG&E Corporation Chairman, CEO and President Tony Earley.

PG&E employee volunteers help to put in landscaping on a Habitat home equipped with solar panels in San Luis Obispo, Calif.

PG&E employee volunteers help to put in landscaping on a Habitat home equipped with solar panels in San Luis Obispo, Calif.

The company has been supporting the housing program for more than 10 years. Today, they are the exclusive solar partner for Habitat for Humanity and to date, more than 660 new homes have been built with solar energy.

“Thanks to our partnership with PG&E and the Solar Habitat program, Habitat homeowners spend less on electricity and that helps us keep the overall cost of homeownership low. This is a critical piece of the overall affordability of Habitat homes,” said Phillip Kilbridge, CEO of Habitat for Humanity Greater San Francisco.

The PG&E’s said their Solar Habitat program lowers the electricity bill of an average household by $500 per year. Each solar panel generates nearly 300 kilowatt-hours of clean, renewable energy from sunlight per month, avoiding the release of more than 132,000 pounds of carbon dioxide to the atmosphere over the 30-year life of the system. In total, Habitat families have saved $9 million in energy costs through this partnership.

Earlier this year, the company and the non-profit celebrated their decade-long solar partnership by hosting the Brown Bag Build at Justin Herman Plaza in San Francisco. Community members contributed over 200 volunteer hours to Habitat for Humanity to safely construct 60 doors and window frames in 30-minute shifts during their lunch breaks for the Habitat Terrace development in San Francisco’s Ocean View neighborhood.

Mid-Year Renewable Energy Check-Up

Heading in to the second half of 2015, renewable energy accounted for nearly 70 percent of new electrical generation for the firs six months as reported by the latest “Energy Infrastructure Update” report from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission’s (FERC) Office of Energy Projects. The report finds wind accounts for more than half (50.64%) of the 1,969 MW of new installed capacity. Solar accounted for 549 MW, bimomass with 128 MW, geothermal with 45 MW and hydropower with 21 MW. The rest of the new capacity was added using natural gas (1,173 MW).

© Metalmaster | Dreamstime.com - Solar Panels Photo

© Metalmaster | Dreamstime.com – Solar Panels Photo

FERC reported no new capacity for the year-to-date from oil or nuclear power and just 3 MW from one unit of coal. Thus, as calculated by the SUN DAY Campaign, new capacity from renewable energy sources during the first half of 2015 is 904 times greater than that from coal and more than double that from natural gas. For June alone, wind (320 MW), biomass (95 MW), and solar (62 MW) provided 97 percent of new capacity with natural gas providing the balance (15 MW).

Renewable energy sources now account for 17.27 percent of total installed operating generating capacity in the U.S.: water – 8.61 percent, wind – 5.84 percent, biomass – 1.40 percent, solar – 1.08 percent, and geothermal steam – 0.34 percent (for comparison, renewables were 16.28 percent of capacity in June 2014 and 15.81% in June 2013).

Renewable electrical capacity is now greater than that of nuclear (9.20%) and oil (3.87%) combined. In fact, the installed capacity of wind power alone has now surpassed that of oil. On the other hand, sources the SUN DAY Campaign, generating capacity from coal has declined from 28.96 percent in mid-2013 to 26.83 percent today.

“With Congress now debating whether to extend the federal tax incentives for renewable energy sources, it is reasonable to ask whether the American public has gotten a good return on these investments to date,” noted Ken Bossong, executive eirector of the SUN DAY Campaign. “The latest FERC data confirms that the answer is a resounding ‘Yes!’.”

Canadian Solar Connects 3 Japanese Solar Projects

Canadian Solar has grid connected three solar photovoltaic (PV) power plants in Japan with a total of approximately 5.2 MWp.

Canadian Solar logoThe 2.2 MWp Tsukuba Stones Solar Power Plant was connected to the grid on June 26, 2015. Powered by 8,448 Canadian Solar CS6P-260P modules, it will generate approximately 2,474 MWh of clean, emission-less solar electricity every year and the electricity generated from this project will be purchased by Tokyo Electric Power Co., Ltd. under a 20 year feed-in-tariff contract at the rate of JPY40.00 ($0.33) per kWh.

The 2.0 MWp Tomigaoka Solar Power Plant was connected to the grid on June 29, 2015.  Powered by 7,920 Canadian Solar CS6P-255P modules, it will generate approximately 2,415 MWh of clean, emission-less solar electricity every year and the electricity generated from the project will be purchased by Kyushu Electric Power Co., Inc. under a 20 year feed-in-tariff contract at the rate of JPY36.00 ($0.30) per kWh.

The 1.0 MWp Isa City Solar Power Plant was connected to the grid on June 9, 2015. Powered by 3,654 Canadian Solar CS6P-255P modules, it will generate approximately 1,175 MWh of clean, emission-less solar electricity every year and the electricity generated from the project will also be purchased by Kyushu Electric Power Co., Inc. under a 20 year feed-in-tariff contract at the rate of JPY40.00 ($0.30) per kWh.

“We are very pleased to announce the successful completion and grid connection of these three projects, which well demonstrates the execution ability of our local project development and EPC teams in Japan,” said Dr. Shawn Qu, Chairman and CEO of Canadian Solar Inc., “We are well on track to complete more projects in the quarters ahead in this important market that is expected to make an important contribution to our planned YieldCo.”

Colorado’s RPS Going Forward

Colorado’s Renewable Portfolio Standard (RPS) is going forward. The Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals has upheld the constitutionality of the legislation stating the RPS does not impose unlawful regulations on out-of-state companies. In their written opinion, the judges determined that Colorado’s RPS would not harm interstate commerce.

Current state law requires electric generators to ensure that a percentage of the electricity they sell to Colorado consumers comes from renewable sources. That prompted the Energy and Environment Legal Institute (EELI), which has longtime ties to the coal industry according to the renewable energy industry to file suit in federal court – arguing that out-of-state companies wereScreen Shot 2015-07-14 at 10.14.43 AM unfairly and adversely impacted.

The Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA) and the Interwest Energy Alliance (a regional partner of the American Wind Energy Association (AWEA)) were two of several organizations to intervene on behalf of the Colorado Public Utilities Commission and in support of the state’s RPS.

“Because electricity can go anywhere on the grid and come from anywhere on the grid, and because Colorado is a net importer of electricity, Colorado’s renewable energy mandate became a ‘target’ for people and groups hoping to freeze or rollback RPS programs – not only in Colorado, but also in other states around the nation,” said SEIA President and CEO Rhone Resch. “By ruling on the substance of the issue, we believe the Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals decision sends a clear signal that renewable energy standards are, in fact, legal under the Constitution’s dormant commerce clause. We applaud the court for its clear guidance.”

Colorado was the first state in the U.S. to adopt a renewable energy standard by a popular vote. The renewable energy industry said the law has widely benefited the state as wind power supports up to 7,000 well-paying jobs, including manufacturing jobs at 22 facilities around the state and wind has attracted $7.8 billion in capital investment to the state’s economy. Continue reading