Gates Launches Breakthrough Energy Coalition @ #COP21

In Paris this past weekend, leading up to COP21 and the World Climate Summit, Bill Gates and Mark Zuckerberg of Facebook fame, launched a new clean energy initiative, The Breakthrough Energy Coalition. Gates announced the news on his blog, “Gates Notes,” where he wrote that a global group of investors are taking innovative clean-energy ideas out of the lab and into the marketplace. The primary goal of the Breakthrough Energy Coalition, says Gates, is as much to accelerate progress on clean energy as it is to make a profit.

The Principles of the Organization:

Technology will help solve our energy issues. The urgency of climate change and the energy needs in the poorest parts of the world require an aggressive global program for zero-emission energy innovation. The new model will be a public-private partnership between governments, research institutions, and investors. Scientists, engineers, and entrepreneurs can invent and scale the innovative technologies that will limit the impact of climate change while providing affordable and reliable energy to everyone. The existing system of basic research, clean energy investment, regulatory frameworks, and subsidies fails to sufficiently mobilize investment in truly transformative energy solutions for the future. We can’t wait for the system to change through normal cycles.

The foundation of this program must be large funding commitments for basic and applied research, and here governments play the key role. Only our governments have the mandate to protect the public interest as well as the resources and mechanisms to do this. We know government investment in research can lead to the creation of industries that advance the common good and are driven by private capital. We have seen big successes before with government-funded research programs in space, defense, technology, and medical research, seeding private creativity which has produced many of the innovations that define our current way of life. The political will is emerging to do this again, through aggressive increases in government funding for basic and applied energy research, which can lead to breakthrough technologies for our energy future. However, current governmental funding levels for clean energy are simply insufficient to meet the challenges before us.

Gates writes that the Coalition will focus on early state companies that have the potential of energy future that produces near zero carbon emissions while providing everyone with affordable, reliable energy. He also announced the Breakthrough Energy Coalition will work in conjunction with Mission Innovation, a commitment by more than ten countries to invest more in research on clean energy that was also announced this weekend.

Watch Bill Gates’ video to learn more about why these global tech leaders launched Breakthrough Energy Coalition.

Emerging Nations Hit Record Clean Energy Investments

According to the new report Climatescope, developing nations have surpassed the world’s wealthiest countries in securing more renewable energy investments. Climatescope is a clean energy country competitiveness index, interactive report and online tool supported by the U.S., U.K. and Inter-American Development Bank Group. The report unveils a portrait of clean energy activity in 55 emerging markets in Africa, Asia and Latin America Climatescope2015and the Caribbean. The group includes major developing nations China, India, Pakistan, Brazil, Chile, Mexico, Kenya, Tanzania and South Africa, as well as dozens of others. Energy solutions reviewed included solar, wind, small hydro, geothermal, biomass, and other zero-carbon emitting technologies (excluding large hydro).

The news came shortly before a round of UN-organized climate negotiations kicked off in Paris prior to the start of COP21. Bloomberg New Energy Finance, which released the report, says these talks often focus on the question of how much capital wealthier countries should make available to lesser developed countries to address the climate challenge.

Climatescope’s key findings include:

  • For the first time ever, over half of all new annual investment into clean energy power generating projects globally went toward projects in emerging markets, rather than toward wealthier countries.
  • New investment in renewables soared in 2014 in the 55 Climatescope countries assessed to hit a record annual high of $126bn – up $35.5bn, or 39%, from 2013 levels.
  • The results were substantially bolstered by the remarkable growth in China, which added 35GW of new renewable power generating capacity all on its own – more than the 2014 clean energy build in the US, UK, and France combined.
  • Meanwhile, “South-South” investment (funds deployed in Climatescope nations from banks or other financial institutions based in those countries) surged to $79bn in 2014 from $53bn the year prior.
  • Continuing declines in clean energy costs appear to be driving growth. Costs associated with solar photovoltaic power have ticked down 15% year-on-year globally. Solar is particularly competitive in emerging markets which often suffer from very high power prices from fossil generation while also enjoying very sunny conditions.
  • A total of 50.4 gigawatts (GW) of new clean capacity was built in Climatescope countries, marking a 21% uptick from the prior year. In another first, renewables capacity deployed in emerging markets topped that in wealthier Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) nations.
  • On a percentage basis, clean energy capacity is growing twice as quickly in Climatescope nations compared to OECD ones.

The report found that progress was achieved during 2014 despite a number of countries in the survey seeing economic growth rates slow. Average gross domestic product growth across Climatescope nations slipped to 5.7 percent in 2014 from 6.4 percent in 2013 with the slow-down most apparent in major nations, Brazil, South Africa, and China. Despite the pullback, these three countries attracted a total of $103bn in new clean energy investment in 2014.

Canada Commits to Greater Wind Energy Use

The Alberta government has made a commitment to use renewable energy to replace two-thirds of the electricity currently produced by coal-fired electricity generation. As part of this plan, the government has indicated that wind energy will be the primary source of this new energy mix. The Canadian Wind Energy Association (CanWEA) applauded the news.

Photo Credit: Canadian Wind Energy Association

Photo Credit: Canadian Wind Energy Association

Wind energy is one of the most cost-competitive ways to generate new electricity in Alberta and Alberta is wise to draw on its tremendous wind energy resources to help replace coal-fired electricity in the province,” said CanWEA President Robert Hornung. “Wind energy can also ensure that greenhouse gas emission reductions in electricity generation are sustainable and long-term and can contribute to the creation of a low carbon electricity grid that can ultimately help reduce emissions in other sectors of the economy.”

CanWEA cites that while the new renewable energy targets are ambitious, they are achievable without negatively affecting the electricity grid. Today, wind energy supplies 4 percent of power needs but the organization says more than 10 countries and U.S. states have already seen wind energy contribute more than 15 percent and they believe Alberta’s ability will be no different.

“Alberta has said it will use an auction process to bring new renewable energy on-line and such competitive processes have been used successfully in many Canadian jurisdictions,” said Hornung. “Experience has shown that these processes are intensively competitive and ensure that ratepayers receive the lowest cost power.”

CanWEA looks forward to working with the Government of Alberta and key stakeholders on the detailed design and implementation of policy measures that will facilitate the deployment of high quality and cost-competitive new wind energy projects in the province.

Hornung added, “Alberta’s decision to move away from coal-fired electricity generation and dramatically increase its use of renewable energy reflects a trend happening in countries all over the world. More renewable energy in Alberta will reduce greenhouse gas emissions, clean the air, and produce significant new investment and jobs – particularly in rural areas of the province.”

Pilot Hill Wind Project Goes Online

The Pilot Hill Wind Project, a 175 MW wind farm located in Illinois, has begun commercial operations. The EDF Renewable Energy project was made possible through Microsoft Corporation’s commitment to purchase the power under a 20-year purchase power agreement. Pilot Hill will provide 100 percent of the energy needs of Microsoft’s data center.


Pilot Hill Wind Project in Illinois generating 175 MW.

EDF Renewable Energy is proud to partner with Microsoft to power its Illinois data center with 100% renewable energy, through the Pilot Hill Wind Project,” said Ryan Pfaff, executive vice president of EDF Renewable Energy. “Corporate America is increasingly turning to renewable energy to power its business operations, based both on consumer preferences and because renewable energy simply makes good business sense from a cost standpoint. Technology companies like Microsoft have been leading the way in this regard, and many other industries are beginning to follow suit.”

Located 60 miles southwest of Chicago in Kankakee and Iroquois counties, Pilot Hill commenced construction of its 103 General Electric (GE) wind turbines in September 2014. The facility will generate enough electricity to power the equivalent of 60,000 homes, according to U.S. Energy Information Administration.

Rob Bernard, chief environmental strategist at Microsoft, added, “Microsoft is excited to see renewable energy from Pilot Hill coming on line. We are strong supporters of green power, and projects like Pilot Hill are one way we are meeting our commitment to powering our data centers and operations with renewable energy.”

EDF Renewable Services will provide balance-of-plant operations and maintenance for the facility including 24/7 remote monitoring from its NERC compliant Operations Control Center (OCC).

DOE Releases 2015 Revolution…Now Report

The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) recently released the 2015 Revolution…Now report, which details the state of multiple clean energy technologies in the U.S. that have the ability to provide climate change solutions. The report builds upon past versions that demonstrate an increase in deployment and a decrease in cost for transformational technologies including: wind turbines, solar technologies, electric vehicles (EVs) and light-emitting diodes (LEDs).

revolution-now-infographic“We are experiencing a clean energy revolution in the United States, and this report confirms it,” Secretary Moniz said. “Today, clean energy technologies are providing real-world solutions – not only to reduce carbon dioxide emissions that cause global warming, but they also drive a domestic, low-carbon economy with technologies that are increasingly cost-competitive with conventional technologies. We have the tools for a cleaner and more secure energy future.”

The 2015 update finds that dramatic cost reductions are continuing to drive the adoption of clean energy technologies. The report reviews the rapid growth of photovoltaic (PV) solar modules for both large, utility-scale PV plants, and smaller, rooftop and distributed PV systems. DOE continues to invest in research and development for these technologies in addition to reducing market barriers in order to make these clean energy technologies even more cost-effective and widely available across the United States.

Between 2008 and 2014, land-based wind accounted for 31 percent of all new generation capacity installed in the U.S. The DOE says this is in part due to early investments from DOE that helped drive technology innovation.

U.S. Toyota Makes Cars with ‘Green’ Gas

Toyota will soon be manufacturing cars with “green” gas. The company announced its efforts to nearly eliminate all CO2 emissions from its factories and vehicles and will achieve this, in part, with electricity produced from methane. The “green” gas, also known in some instances as renewable natural gas, is a byproduct of trash decomposition from the nearby Central Kentucky Landfill.

Screen Shot 2015-11-18 at 12.26.51 AM“We will generate one megawatt (1 million watts) per hour at the site,” said Toyota’s environmental strategies manager Dave Absher. “That’s enough annual energy generation to produce approximately 10,000 vehicles. The system can eventually be scaled up to 10 megawatts per hour.”

Toyota has announced aggressive global emission reduction goals for all of its production plants as well as for the cars they produce. This year the company launched the Mirai hydrogen fuel cell vehicle and has made the technology available for use by other automakers. In addition, they are developing manufacturing technologies that also use hydrogen as a power source within their plants. The company has also integrated other renewable energy power sources including wind, solar and locally produced renewable energy. Toyota hopes to reach its zero emissions goal by 2050.

“The landfill gas generator represents the kind of thinking that our company is asking us to do to reduce our carbon footprint over the next 35 years,” said Kevin Butt, Toyota’s general manager for environment strategies. “It’s a small step, but a significant one. These types of changes to our manufacturing operations coupled with other global initiatives will help us reach this very aggressive goal.” Continue reading

Wind Energy Can Lead Europe in 2030

According to a new report from the European Wind Energy Association (EWEA), wind power can exceed gas, coal and other forms of energy by 2030 if European member states follow the ambitious policy framework put in place through 2030.

EWEA Report - Aiming HighThe report finds total wind installations in Europe could reach 392GW with 294GW of onshore and 98GW of offshore wind. Today, Europe’s 128.8GW can meet 10 percent of European power consumption in a normal wind year. Giles Dickson, CEO of the European Wind Energy Association, noted wind power can be the foundation of the European energy system within the next 15 years.

The report outlines a number of policy priorities that need to be addressed including the development of national renewable energy action plans for member states; streamlining national permitting procedures; proposing legislation for well-functioning energy markets and driving reform of the Emissions Trading System. Should these policies be implemented the report finds the measures will result in a net gain of EUR13 billion, the equivalent of the EU’s funding for transport infrastructure over the next 5 years. The wind industry would also support up to 366,000 direct and indirect jobs.

“Wind power makes economic sense. But policymakers must demonstrate more determination than is on show today,” said Dickson. “Wind power can deliver economic growth in Europe by boosting investments, creating jobs and reducing electricity bills. A new market design, a reformed ETS and rigorous accountability on 2030 targets are essential if these goals are to be achieved.”

“Already onshore wind is cheaper than any form of new power generation. Last year wind power installed more than gas and coal combined in the EU. Europe’s energy and economic transition is underway.” Dickson added, “Now politicians must decide whether to accelerate this transition or drag their heels, which would damage investments and job creation.”

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.

10K New U.S. Clean Energy Jobs in Q3

According to the latest Clean Energy Jobs report from Environmental Entrepreneurs (E2), there were almost 10,000 new clean energy jobs announced during the third quarter (Q3) this year. The top three states for the quarter were: Utah (2,950 jobs announced), California (1,916) and Colorado (850). Texas, Arizona, Georgia, Maine, Nebraska, Mississippi and North Dakota rounded out the top 10. So far this year, about 30,000 clean energy jobs have been announced.

E2 3rd Quarter Clean Jobs ReportThe top clean energy sector was solar with nearly 7,000 jobs at 23 projects in power generation or manufacturing. The wind energy industry came next with approximately 2,500 jobs across 11 projects.

Clean energy continues to put more Americans to work every day all across our country,” said Bob Keefe, E2’s executive director. “We can keep that growth going – but only if our state and federal lawmakers take action on the clean energy policies now before them.”

Keefe said the report suggests Congress could stimulate even more economic activity in clean energy through the passage of long-term federal tax incentives. These incentives assist in putting clean energy industries along with energy efficiency at a more level playing field with fossil fuel industries.

In addition, Keefe said the report highlights a how states can send a clear market signal to the private sector to increase investments, and create more jobs, by implementing the Clean Power Plan (CPP). The report notes that smart implementation of the Clean Power Plan by states – along with strong “subnational” clean energy policies in states like California – will help the U.S. meet its climate goals and show leadership as nearly 200 countries prepare to convene at the United Nations Conference on Climate Change (COP 21) in Paris next month.

“Here at home, the Clean Power Plan gives us a clear roadmap for creating good clean energy jobs,” said RJ Harrington, president and CEO of Sustainable Action Consulting near Denver. “Overseas, it solidifies America’s reputation as the global hub of innovative, entrepreneurial clean energy business activity.”

Poll Shows African Americans Back Climate Action

According to a new poll released today by the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) and GREEN FOR ALL, two-thirds of African Americans believe global warming is a serious program and want more action to curb its effects. This group also supports the Clean Power Plan (CPP), finalized in August, as a tool to address the climate crisis while 83 percent of respondents back setting the first-ever limits on carbon pollution from coal-and gas-fired power plants under the CPP. In addition, a strong majority of African Americans believe that as the nation drives down dangerous carbon pollution it can drive up the use of clean energy including wind and solar energy.

African American Climate PollThe survey also found that the move to clean energy will create new jobs – six times the proportion that believes it will results in job losses- and 57 percent believe the expansion will reduce their energy costs.

Mark Davis, CEO of minority-owned WDC Solar, said this morning during a conference call releasing the poll results, “I am a Green For All Climate Champion, and renewable energy and energy efficiency are two pillars of our plan for low-income communities to lower the cost of energy, create green jobs for low-income residents, and improve the environment. The Clean Power Plan can accelerate an increase we’ve already seen in African American participation in clean energy and can enhance economic empowerment in low-income communities.”

Davis was joined on the call with Adrianna Quintero, director of Partner Engagement at NRDC; Vien Truong, national director, GREEN FOR ALL; and Rev. Stacey Edwards-Dunn of Chicago’s Trinity United Church of Christ. The speakers stressed that the African American community has been directly affected by the effects of climate change. Rates of childhood asthma have increased 50 percent between 2001-2009 and 68 percent live within 30 miles of a coal-fired power plant.

“The African American community has been hard hit by injustice, from violence against young people to disproportionate environmental harms from pollution, so it’s no surprise the community wants action. It’s time to hold polluters accountable and fight the pollution that causes climate change,” said Quintero.

Listen to the poll release press conference here: African American Climate, Clean Energy, Poll Presser

Here are some key energy findings of the report: Continue reading