Intel Pilots Micro-Turbine Rooftop Wind Power

Intel is participating in a unique pilot wind power project. The company is installing 58 micro-turbines on the roof to help renewably power their building. According to Marty Sedler, director of global utilities & infrastructure for Intel, the project came about due to their ongoing efforts to find more sustainable ways to use technology. This is why, he said, Intel began piloting one of the world’s largest operating rooftop arrays of wind micro-turbines on the roof of its worldwide headquarters in Santa Clara, California.

Rendering of the planned installation of 58 Wind Micro-Turbines on the rooftop of Intel's global headquarters building in Santa Clara, California. The installation is underway and will be complete in May 2015.  IMAGE SOURCE:  JLM Energy, Inc.

Rendering of the planned installation of 58 Wind Micro-Turbines on the rooftop of Intel’s global headquarters building in Santa Clara, California. The installation is underway and will be complete in May 2015. IMAGE SOURCE: JLM Energy, Inc.

Sedler explained that the micro-turbines are a proof-of-concept project, in which Intel hopes to collect data that could help the company better support green power applications and identify ways to continue evolving its sustainability programs. Intel also hopes the project will inspire other companies and electric users to consider creative new options to conserve energy.

Many companies, such as Intel, are not in a position to install full-scale wind turbines on their property. This is why the company partnered with JLM Energy, a Rocklin, California-based company that built and installed the micro-turbines. Sedler said each micro-turbine is between 6 and 7 feet tall and weighs approximately 30 lbs. The model of micro-turbine that Intel is using is the smallest design available for commercial buildings and is considered the most efficient turbine in its size class. Due to their small size, the micro-turbines are versatile in their potential uses and applications, said Sedler.

Each micro-turbine generates approximately 65 kWh. The array was sized to provide the electricity required for the lighting and general operation of Intel’s Executive Briefing Center. Sedler explained that since the micro-turbines need no fuel other than wind, they produce green power at no additional cost. For every kWh of green electricity the micro-turbines produce, Intel will require one fewer kWh of grid power, therefore reducing the need for power sources that produce much higher levels of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. Continue reading

EWEA Calls for RES Targets to be Met

According to a new paper released by the European Wind Energy Association (EWEA), the European Commission needs new controls to ensure the EU meets its 27 percent RES target by 2030. The EU must have benchmarks in place by December 2015 that will provide indications for Member States on reaching the EU-wide target. Member States must set their individual commitments by no later than December 2017. It is of paramount importance that the target is distributed fairly among the Member States, said EWEA.

Kristian Ruby, chief policy officer at EWEA, said, “In the absence of a nationally binding commitment for 2030, it is important that the Commission puts its foot down if Member States fail to deliver on the 27% target. We must not have a situation where some countries take a back seat in the hope that other more ambitious Member States pick up the slack.It is essentiEWEA_vertical_01al that the role of the Commission is reinforced after 2020 to safeguard investor confidence and the regulatory stability needed to take Europe’s renewables rollout through the next phase.”

In the event that national contributions do not meet the overall target, said EWEA, the Commission should broker cooperation between neighboring Member States, particularly with those that have pledged below the Commission’s original benchmark. However, if those countries still fail to make up the shortfall, the EU executive must put in place a program as of January 2020 and require that Member States with low contributions pledge to an EU-wide fund for the development of renewable energies.

Under a 2030 governance system, EWEA is calling for the Commission to make official policy recommendations on national renewable energy action plans every two years. If a Member State were to ignore a policy recommendation, the Commission could issue a warning with the possibility of referral to the European Court of Justice if no action is taken. The EU executive must also have the authority to intervene when Member States make counter-productive changes to domestic renewable energy policies.

Ruby added, “It is imperative that the Commission is able to act. Under a stricter governance system, Member States would need to inform the Commission before making any regulatory changes that might impact the deployment of renewable energies.”

How Renewables Fit in Clean Power Plan

How will the electricity energy mix change with the implementation of the Clean Power Plan? This question was reviewed in the latest Energy Information Administration’s (EIA) Today in Energy. Using the Annual Energy Outlook 2015 (AEO2015) as the baseline, the main compliance strategy to lower emissions rates as the proposed rule comes into effect is to increase natural gas-fired generation to displace and ultimately surpass coal-fired generation. Later, as more wind and solar capacity are added, renewable generation also surpasses coal-fired generation.

Analysis of Impacts of Clean Power Plan - EIAThe analysis finds that changes in the fuel mix play out in different ways across the country, reflecting regional variation in the economics of increases in natural gas generation and renewable capacity. Key determinants include baseline combined-cycle utilization rates and the potential for renewable generation in areas without renewable portfolio standards.

EIA’s analysis also modeled the proposed rule using the High Oil and Gas Resource (HOGR) and High Economic Growth cases from AEO2015 as alternative baselines. The HOGR case reflects a scenario in which more abundant domestic natural gas resources and better technology enhance natural gas supplies, keeping projected annual average spot natural gas prices below $4.50 per million Btu through 2040.

EIA also looked at other cases including several sensitivity cases encompassing different interpretations or implementations of the proposed rule as well as a scenario in which further emissions reductions are required beyond 2030, all of which use the AEO2015 Reference case as their baseline. In addition a case was considered in which new nuclear units not already under construction were brought online.

Ultimately, in all cases renewable energy became a bigger player in the energy mix but whether it played a starring or supporting role was dependent on the level of traditional fuel sources that remained in use.

Wind Industry Presses Washington for Action

Republican and Democrat governors are pressing U.S. Senate and House leadership in an effort spur action on tax incentives used to grow the country’s wind energy industry. Washington Democrat Gov. Jay Inslee and Iowa Republican Gov. Terry Branstad, Chairman and Vice Chairman respectively of the Governors’ Wind Energy Coalition, co-signed a letter insisting federal policymakers “support timely extensions” of the Production Tax Credit (PTC) and Investment Tax Credit (ITC). The PTC is the primary federal incentive building more new U.S. wind farms while the ITC is the primary incentive attracting private investment developing the nation’s offshore wind energy resources.

“This bipartisan letter is a reminder that the nation’s governors are on the front line of the nation’s Governors Wind Energy Coalition logoenergy future and have a vital role in planning states’ future,” said American Wind Energy Association (AWEA) CEO Tom Kiernan. “They see first-hand how investing in the wind resources in their states benefit local economies and create opportunities for job growth. To them the decision to extend these incentives is more of an economic one than a political one. We look forward to working with all the governors to maximize the benefits of wind power to their states.”

According to AWEA 23,000 jobs were added in 2014 and there are currently $23 billion worth of new wind projects under development. But, cites Kiernan, that momentum is increasingly placed at risk as Congress delays action on passing policy capable of creating long-term market certainty.

“These tax credits have made possible the robust growth of the American wind industry and thousands of renewable energy jobs in recent years, with substantial economic returns to our states and the nation,” the governors’ letter reads. “But these gains are at risk today because ongoing federal policy uncertainty continues to hamper the further development of the nation’s wind industry.” Continue reading

Renewables “Rock” U.S. Energy Growth

The SUN Day Campaign’s Ken Bossong, has noted once again that renewable energy sources are dominating the new energy landscape according to the latest “Energy Infrastructure Update” report from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission’s (FERC) Office of Energy Projects. The reports shows wind and solar accounted for all new generating capacity placed in-service in April. For the month, two “units” of wind (the 300 MW Hereford-2 Wind Farm Project in Deaf Smith County, TX and the 211 MW Mesquite Creek Wind Project in Dawson County, TX) came on line in addition to six new units – totaling 50 MW – of solar.

In addition, wind, solar, geothermal, and hydropower together have provided over 84 percent (84.1%) of the 1,900 MW of new U.S. electrical generating capacity placed into service during the first third of 2015. This includes 1,170 MW of wind (61.5%), 362 MW of solar (19.1%), 45 MW of geothermal steam (2.4%), and 21 MW of hydropower (1.1%). The balance (302 MW) was provided by five units of natural gas.

Hereford Wind ProjectFERC has reported no new capacity for the year-to-date from biomass sources nor any from coal, oil, or nuclear power.

The reports finds the total contribution of geothermal, hydropower, solar, and wind for the first four months of 2015 (1,598 MW) is similar to that for the same period in 2014 (1,611 MW – in addition to 116 MW of biomass). However, for the same period in 2014, natural gas added 1,518 MW of new capacity while coal and nuclear again provided none and oil just 1 MW. Renewable energy sources accounted for half of all new generating capacity added in 2014.

“Members of Congress and state legislators proposing to curb support for renewable energy, such as Renewable Portfolio/Electricity Standards and the federal Production Tax Credit and Investment Tax Credit, are swimming against the tide,” noted Bossong, executive director of the SUN DAY Campaign. “With renewable energy’s clear track record of success and the ever-worsening threat of climate change, now is not the time to pull back from these technologies but rather to greatly expand investments in them.”

Today renewable energy sources now account for 17.05 percent of total installed operating generating capacity in the country: water – 8.55 percent, wind – 5.74 percent, biomass – 1.38 percent, solar – 1.05 percent, and geothermal steam – 0.33 percent (for comparison, renewables were 13.71 percent of capacity in December 2010 – the first month for which FERC issued an “Energy Infrastructure Update”).

For renewable energy supporters, what may be the best news: renewable energy capacity is now greater than that of nuclear (9.14%) and oil (3.92%) combined. In fact, the installed capacity of wind power alone has now surpassed that of oil. In addition, total installed operating generating capacity from solar has now reached and surpassed the one-percent threshold – a ten-fold increase since December 2010.

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.”

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

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

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

Vaisala Launches Nomad 3 for Wind Data

Vaisala has launched the Nomad 3 Data Logger, a flexible and highly portable data management device that makes wind measurement easier and more economical for developers and operators around the globe says the company. With intermittent issues around wind energy, early siting and ongoing investment and operational decisions are based on wind resource data and have a direct link to success of a wind project.

Vaisala wind data loggerAccording to Vaisala, current data loggers on the market are difficult to install and operate. They also cite current data technologies often fall short when it comes to performance in rough, remote locations and cross-compatibility with broad range wind measurement sensors employed throughout the renewable energy industry.

The Nomad 3 Data logger has been widely tested and the company’s first data logger was developed back in 1981. The new device, however, has been completely re-engineered with the current challenges of developers and operators in mind. According to the company, the Nomad 3 offers a Linux operating system, and a smaller, lighter design while remaining incredibly flexible and straightforward to use. It is compatible with all market-leading wind sensors, and is ideally suited for hard to reach regions of emerging markets like South America, Asia, and Africa, since it can be conveniently carried in a backpack to sites without road access.

The Nomad 3 Data logger also features wireless connectivity and Vaisala’s SkyServe wind data management service – a secure web portal that offers a range of fleet management tools. Online operating systems also make it accessible to any web-enabled device, such as a smartphone, tablet, or computer.

A number of partners and government laboratories have already started using the Nomad 3 as beta clients at locations around the world. These include: NIWE (India’s National Institute of Wind Energy formerly known as C-WET), Saiwind, and WISE Information Sentinel.