- Vivint Solar has announced that its Solmetric team will be fully integrated into the Vivint Solar operating structure and be known as Vivint Solar Labs. The new research and development team will focus on proprietary photovoltaic installation instruments and software.
- Oakland Unified School District (OUSD) reported today that SunPower solar power systems at 16 schools are expected to significantly reduce the district’s annual electricity costs over the next 25 years or more. SunPower is bringing the math and science behind the solar technology into the classroom in the form of curriculum that helps prepare students for careers in the clean energy economy. SunPower installed 3.6 megawatts of systems at the 16 schools, using SunPower solar panels installed on building rooftops as well as solar carports in school parking lots.
- The development of a policy that will help address barriers hindering participation of women in energy access in the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) region is underway. The policy is being developed together with a strategy that will guide its implementation across the countries. The process was launched during a workshop that was held on Tuesday, February 24 at the African Development Bank (AfDB) headquarters in Abidjan, Côte d’Ivoire.
- Byogy Renewables, a biofuels producer based in San Jose, California, has executed a strategic partnership agreement with Gen 2 Energy, an alternative energy company from Ames, Iowa, to develop a more cost-effective biofuel production process. New yeast strains developed by Gen 2 Energy, Iowa State University and the USDA, improve the alcohol yield of conventional fermentation from a variety of feedstocks – including agave, a monster energy crop being deployed as part of the Byogy value chain.
The 140 MW Oklaria 1 geothermal plant was recently commissioned in Naivasha, Kenya and Rwanda’s President Paul Kagame was on hand for the event. He is advocating for more investment in renewable energy as Africa struggles with lack of electricity, and said this is a must for the country, and for Africa, to see an economic transformation.
“European countries are producing more electricity than Africa… what are they doing with their electricity that we can’t do?” asked Kagame. “This project that has been opened to start producing electricity is important not only to Kenya, but to Rwanda and East Africa,” Kagame said referring to the Oklaria 1 geothermal facility.
Kagame said it’s time Africa began a debate to address energy challenges on the continent and suggested governments to engage the private sector. “The debate is about having sufficient electricity to power industry, school, homes and the whole economy as it should be… we need to have a conversation between government and business,” he said.
Kenya’s President Uhuru Kenyatta agrees with Kagame’s call to action on reliable electricity as a foundation for economic growth and stability. “I am proud to be associated with President Kagame and others who have demonstrated willingness to the progress of our region.”
Early this year, Rwanda signed an agreement with Kenya to import 30MW as part of adding up to 70MW to be connected to the national grid this year. Infrastructure Minister, James Musoni, said the electricity will be connected to the national grid by October 2015. Rwanda’s current power generation capacity is 160MW. The country targets to have 563MW by 2018.
- A new report from Duke University, The Solar Economy: Widespread Benefits for North Carolina, found that public policies such as North Carolina’s Renewable Energy Portfolio Standard and Investment Tax Credit have made North Carolina first in the south and fourth in the nation for installed solar investment, creating jobs and boosting the economy across the state. Rhone Resch, president and CEO of the Solar Energy Industries Association, applauded the study’s findings.
- The Geothermal Energy Association (GEA) has filed comments (PDF) with the California Energy Commission (CEC) regarding its Draft 2015 Integrated Energy Policy Report Scoping Order. GEA highlighted some of the lesser known economic values geothermal power provides to the State of California, which should be considered as the CEC continues its efforts to study how a 50% RPS can be achieved.
- First Solar and SunPower Corp. are in advanced negotiations to form a joint YieldCo vehicle to which they each expect to contribute a portfolio of selected solar generation assets from their existing portfolio of assets. Upon the execution of a master formation agreement, the parties intend to file a registration statement with the Securities and Exchange Commission for an initial public offering of limited partner interests in the YieldCo.
- In a few years, solar energy plants will deliver the most inexpensive power available in many parts of the world. By 2025, the cost of producing power in the U.S. will have declined to between 4.5 and 11 cents (USD) per kilowatt hour, and by 2050 to as low as 2.1 to 7.8 cents, according to a study by the Fraunhofer Institute for Solar Energy Systems commissioned by Agora Energiewende.
With the increase of electric vehicles (EVs) on the road, aka the burgeoning of the “Electric Highway,” unified standards for public EV charging are needed. In many states, this will fall on the weights and measures officials. As more plug-in EVS hits U.S. roads, charging stations will require inspection and testing for accuracy, just like a gas station today. As the infrastructure rolls out, accruacy, labeling and advertising requirements will need to be addressed.
The National Conference on Weights and Measures (NCWM) established the kilowatt hour as the appropriate method of sale of electricity for electric automobiles, effective January 1, 2014. This was at the recommendation of a U.S. National Working Group established by the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST). By establishing the measured units of sale, consumers are now able to make price comparisons just as they do for gasoline.
At its 100th Annual Meeting in July 2015 in Philadelphia, NCWM will vote on additional recommendations from the NIST work group that would establish standards for recharging stations including accuracy requirements, testing procedures by weights and measures officials and design and installation requirements such as indications, labeling and security from tampering. All of this will enable the same level of regulatory oversight that already exists for gas pumps. If adopted by NCWM in July, those model standards will be published in NIST Handbook 44 and enforceable effective January 1, 2016.
Carol Hockert, chief of the NIST Office of Weights and Measures (OWM) noted, “NCWM and NIST have worked in partnership since 1905 to develop standards covering commercial weighing and measuring practices. It is a never-ending task as manufacturing, marketing and new technologies rapidly evolve.”
She also explained that OWM personnel at NIST serve as technical advisors on NCWM Committees and serve as liaisons between NCWM and federal agencies. These two organizations are devoted to a common cause: strengthening the nation’s weights and measures infrastructure and in doing so, protecting consumers and giving business owners a level playing field through fair competition.
- Debi Durham, director of the Iowa Economic Development Authority, is a featured speaker at the March 13th Business Breakfast hosted by EcoEngineers. The event is taking place Friday March 13, 2015 from 7:30 am to 9:30 am CDT in Des Moines, IA. Durham will speak about the renewable biochemical tax credit, the angel investor tax credit, and the importance of diversification and infrastructure investments in Iowa’s bio-science and renewable energy clusters.
- Ocean Energy Europe’s Board of Directors has elected Rob Stevenson as its new President. Stevenson is Vice-President of Alstom’s Ocean Energy Business. His appointment follows the election of six new Directors on Ocean Energy Europe’s Board.
- Several California schools have contracted with Green Charge Networks under a Power Efficiency Agreement for the installation of over 1,500 kWhs of intelligent energy storage capacity to be used to reduce the ongoing costs of demand charges on their electricity bill. These schools and colleges can expect to save up to 50 percent off their demand charges. As an added benefit, Green Charge has coupled electric vehicle charging stations with each of these systems to mitigate increased demand charges while promoting the use of electric vehicles with students, faculty, and staff.
- Registration is still open for the India-Sri Lanka Renewable Energy Growth Forum taking place on March 11, 2015 at the Galadari Hotel, Columbo. The Forum aims to accelerate growth of the renewable energy sector in Sri Lanka by offering suitable development opportunities to Indian businesses in this industry. Leading industry experts, product manufacturers, system integrators will throw light on the prospects for both countries to work together in this area, for end-use applications and execute projects to achieve new standards and benchmarks of business synergy.
Kenya continues to rise as one of the leading countries tapping into geothermal energy. The Kenya Electricity Generating Company (KenGen) has inaugurated the 140 MW Oklaria 1 power plant, the last phase of the 280 MW geothermal facility. KenGen believes the additional electricity produced will help further stabilize volatile electricity costs throughout the country.
According to KenGen, who says the plant has been supplying power to the national grid since December 2014, the Fuel Cost Component (FCC), the single biggest item on the bills, fell to to a low of KShs/kWh 2.51 in February 2015. This represents a 65 percent drop in the FCC. As a result, it has led to a decline in the overall cost of power to consumers. The addition of geothermal power has also helped to mitigate dependence on hydro power; in recent months, Kenya has had no rainfall and as a result, there has been below average inflow of water into hydro dams.
“KenGen is proud to be on the lead in moving the country towards self sufficiency of reliable and affordable and renewable source of energy, which is also available almost 24/7,” said Managing Director and CEO Eng. Albert Mugo.
Today, KenGen is adding 1575 MW of power geothermal power to the national grid, surpassing hydro for the fourth month in a row. At U.S. 7.2 cents per kilowatt hour, geothermal energy is among the cheapest renewable sources of electricity in the country and the world.
“The country has not experienced power rationing despite low water levels in the hydro generation dams on the Tana Cascade. “This is because the 280 MW project has helped to bridge the power deficit,” concluded Mugo.
Solar supporters from across the country are calling on West Virginia Governor Earl Ray Tomblin to veto House Bill 2201 – a bill that could jeopardize the future of rooftop solar in the state by rewriting net metering policies.
Solar advocates from Tell Utilities Solar Won’t Be Killed (TUSK) claim that utilities, such as American Electric Power (AEP) and FirstEnergy, are deceiving legislators about the language in HB 2201. Should the Gov sign the bill, TUSK said he would “saddle” hundreds of West Virginia families, churches and businesses, that have invested private funds in rooftop solar with new fees. This is happening, said TUSK, at the same time as two utilities – Mon Power and Potomac Edison – are raising rates.
“The utilities are fighting tooth and nail to eliminate competition while also raising rates for their customers,” said Barry Goldwater Jr., spokesperson for TUSK. “When will it be enough? These monopolies are hurting consumers and West Virginia’s economy by increasing rates and pushing new fees through HB 2201.”
The net metering fight has been underway for some time and TUSK said that to date, hundreds of consumers have written to their legislators in support of rooftop solar. TUSK said this particular “attack” uses deceptive language in HB 2201 to impose punitive fees – retroactively and going forward – on West Virginians. The organizations said thousands of West Virginia voters continue to stand strong for choice and competition in the energy market and continue to flood the Governor’s office with letters asking him to preserve net metering and energy choice..
“SEIA doesn’t object to investigating the costs and benefits of net energy metering, but we do object to the assumption that any potential cost shift from a net metering customer to other customers is unjustified,” adds Rhone Resch, Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA) president and CEO, who notes that the legislation needs to be revised before becoming law. Continue reading
- Registration is open for the 10th annual Ethanol 2015: Emerging Issues Forum taking place April 16-17, 2015 in Omaha, Nebraska at the Magnolia Hotel. Confirmed speakers include Jessica Hoffmann, RPMG; Dr. Kurt Rosentrater, Distillers Grain Technology Council; Ernie Shea, 25x’25 and more.
- Florida Power & Light Company (FPL) and Daytona International Speedway have announced plans to install commercial-scale distributed solar power at the “World Center of Racing”. The plan comprises the installation of more than 5,000 solar panels on multiple canopy-like structures that will offer areas of shade for race fans while generating zero-emissions energy. The solar panels will be located outside the frontstretch, in the Sprint FANZONE and in one of the Speedway’s parking lots.
- Pattern Energy Group Inc. has announced that its parent company, Pattern Development has signed a joint venture agreement with CEMEX Energia, a subsidiary of CEMEX, S.A.B. de C.V. The CEMEX Energia/Pattern Development JV will jointly develop renewable energy projects throughout Mexico.
- RGS Energy has announced that it commenced a public offering of up to $3.5 million units consisting of its Class A common stock and Series A, B, C, D and E common stock warrants. WestPark Capital, Inc. served as exclusive placement agent in the offering on a “best efforts” basis.
Sungevity has launched a new solution for homeowners to own their own rooftop solar systems in North Carolina. Whereas in other states solar leasing is an option, North Carolina law requires homeowners to own the source of renewable energy on their property.
In an effort to equip North Carolina residents with the ease and affordability of the Sungevity solar experience, the company has partnered with solar energy investment platform Mosaic to create a loan product specifically designed for state residents. The 20-year loan is structured to help residents take advantage of both the 35 percent state income tax credit and the 30 percent federal renewable tax credit for solar customers. The entire process is facilitated via Sungevity’s online platform, where North Carolina homeowners can access estimated energy savings specific to their homes via the company’s proprietary iQuote technology.
“Sungevity has always focused on making the solar experience simple and satisfying for our customers. That’s why we crafted a solution that allows North Carolina homeowners to experience the benefits of solar without the hassle or a high upfront payment,” said Andrew Birch, Sungevity’s chief executive officer. “Sungevity is proud to serve North Carolina as we continue to expand across the country to give more people a better choice in how they power their homes.”
According to Sungevity, its entry into the state also extends the company’s long-time partnership with North Carolina-based Lowe’s — where Sungevity solar solutions will be available to residents throughout Raleigh, Durham and Chapel Hill. Sungevity is also partnering with Sierra Club and CREDO in North Carolina, and for every installation purchased through these partners, Sungevity will also provide $750 to the respective organization as part of Sungevity.org, the company’s cause marketing initiative.
SunEdison and its SunEdison Foundation has announced a $5 million solar/funding contribution to GRID Alternatives to launch a two-year initiative called RISE to connect the solar industry’s demand for skilled workers with communities that need jobs. Building on the successful 2014 SunEdison and GRID Alternatives partnership to bring more women into the solar industry, the RISE initiative will provide underserved communities with solar job training and job placement through GRID Alternatives’ workforce development program.
“This partnership is making solar more accessible for everyone in America. For lower income families, that means lower electricity bills, more money for necessities, and the opportunity to receive valuable job training,” said Ahmad Chatila, president and chief executive officer of SunEdison. “I’m very proud that with this contribution, SunEdison is truly helping the people who need it most.”
The RISE initiative will provide hands-on training and real-world solar installation experience to over 4,000 people across the country. In addition, the initiative will connect job trainees with solar companies looking for skilled workers. As part of the initiative, GRID Alternatives through its SolarCorps program will provide 40 individuals with one-year paid fellowships in GRID Alternatives’ offices around the country. In addition, SunEdison employees will donate over 2,000 hours of their time installing solar systems for low-income families and supporting job-readiness for trainees.
“The solar industry is adding jobs at a rate of more than 20% year over year,” added Erica Mackie, co-founder and Chief Executive Officer of GRID Alternatives. “This is an incredible opportunity to connect an industry that needs good people with people that need good jobs, and that’s just what this partnership is doing.”
SunEdison and GRID Alternatives will also be working with the White House to help President Obama meet his goal of installing 100 megawatts of solar capacity on federally assisted housing in a way that provides job training opportunities to the residents of those communities.
- The Geothermal Energy Association (GEA) has announced the keynote speaker for the State of the Geothermal Industry Briefing. Senator Dean Heller, Republican from Nevada, will address attendees at the Hyatt Regency on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C. on Tuesday, February 24, 2015. The one-day program will feature the roll out of GEA’s 2015 Global and US Geothermal Industry Update that details the status of geothermal projects and developments around the world.
- The Interstate Turbine Advisory Council (ITAC), a project of the Clean Energy States Alliance (CESA), has added the Pika T701 turbine to its Unified List of wind turbines. The turbine joins several others on ITAC’s small wind turbine list; these turbines meet ITAC’s listing requirements, a unique set of eligibility criteria that address both the business practices of manufacturers and the performance and reliability of turbines with a rotor swept area of less than 200m2.
- Citi has announced a commitment to lend, invest and facilitate a total of $100 billion within the next 10 years to finance activities that reduce the impacts of climate change and create environmental solutions that benefit people and communities. With this $100 billion initiative, Citi will build on its leadership in renewable energy and energy efficiency financing to engage with clients to identify opportunities to finance greenhouse gas (GHG) reductions and resource efficiency in other sectors, such as sustainable transportation.
- Southern Company subsidiary Southern Power has announced the acquisition of two photovoltaic (PV) solar projects totaling 99 megawatts in Georgia – the 80 MW Decatur Parkway Solar Project and the 19 MW Decatur County Solar Project – from Tradewind Energy, Inc. The electricity and associated renewable energy credits generated by the 80 MW facility will be sold under a 25-year power purchase agreement (PPA) with Georgia Power. Construction of the 80 MW facility is currently scheduled to begin this month.
The second study in a few days has been released that finds that implementing the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Clean Power Plan will not negatively affect grid reliability. Analysis Group’s report, “Electric System Reliability and EPA’s Clean Power Plan: Tools and Practices,” addresses the impact of ongoing changes in the energy industry for stakeholders and offers recommendations to ensure reliability.
The report shows that “the industry, its reliability regulators, and the States have a wide variety of existing and modified tools at their disposal to help as they develop, formalize, and implement their respective State Plans.” In particular, it notes that, “These two responsibilities – assuring electric system reliability while taking the actions required under law to reduce CO2 emissions from existing power plants – are compatible, and need not be in tension with each other as long as parties act in timely ways.”
The report was a response to concern raised around the Clean Power Plan specific to grid reliability, or that adding more renewable energy such as wind and solar to the electric grid would create energy output issues especially during peak times. With this is mind, the report authors note “[A] recent survey of more than 400 utility executives nationwide found that more than 60 percent felt optimistic about the Clean Power Plan and felt that EPA should either hold to its current emissions reduction targets or make them more aggressive.”
To date, more than 4 million comments have been submitted to the EPA, many around reliability concerns. Groups have begun studying potential impacts of the U.S. grid should the Clean Power Plan be implemented as proposed. This report, along with others, have found that the energy industry’s past experience and ongoing efforts should address concerns.
However, the report highlights what should be a concern, that has historically been ignored, and that is the “reality” of public policy and industry action” “many of these comments tend to assume inflexible implementation and present worst case scenarios, with an exaggerated cause-and-effect relationship. Moreover, many comments … tend to assume that policy makers, regulators, and market participants will stand on the sidelines until it is too late to act. The history of the electric system and its ability to respond to previous challenges including industry deregulation and previous Clean Air Act regulations … prove that this is highly unlikely.”
Analysis Group previously released two other reports examining the ability of states to implement the EPA’s Clean Power Plan and implications for electric reliability: “EPA’s Clean Power Plan: States’ Tools for Reducing Costs and Increasing Benefits to Consumers,” and “Greenhouse Gas Emission Reductions From Existing Power Plants: Options to Ensure Electric System Reliability.”
- Kaiser Permanente has announced it will purchase enough renewable energy to provide half of the electricity it uses in California and reduce its greenhouse gas emissions nationwide by 30 percent. As part of the commitment, Kaiser Permanente has agreed to support the construction and operation of three new renewable energy projects that will come online in 2016 and generate 590 million kilowatt hours of power a year.
- PSEG Solar Source joined with El Paso Electric (EPE) and juwi solar, Inc. to formally dedicate the PSEG El Paso Solar Center. The 13-megawatt (dc) facility is El Paso’s largest. The plant is located on 100-acre site adjacent to the existing El Paso Electric Newman Generating Station in Northeast El Paso. EPE will purchase the electricity produced by the solar facility through a 30-year power purchase agreement.
- The new phase of the advertising campaign “Ethanol, the Completão fuel”, created for the Brazilian Sugarcane Industry Association (UNICA) by Borghi / Lowe advertising agency has boosted sales of hydrous ethanol in 4th Quarter 2014. According to data from the National Agency of Petroleum, Natural Gas and Biofuels (ANP) and evaluated by UNICA, monthly use of ethanol was 32% in the first nine months of 2014; 34.3% in October; 36.2% in November; and 36.5% in December.
- Ecotech Institute has named Donald Smith as the new program director of Both Electrical Engineering Technology and Power Utility Technician programs. In this position, Smith is responsible for assuring all his students gain the most hands-on and applicable knowledge possible while preparing to enter the renewable energy job force.
Four years of testing has been completed on Gevo’s isobutanol and it meets marine performance standards. A consortium of recreational marine industry organizations conducted thousands of hours of testing and determined that isobutanol blends of up to 16.1 percent can be used in marine engines without deterioration of engine or boat performance. The tests were performed in collaboration with the National Marine Manufacturers Association (NMMA), the American Boat and Yacht Council (ABYC) and several engine and boat manufacturers across the industry. The testing was also supported by The US Department of Energy (DOE), Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE), and Argonne National Laboratory (ANL).
Tests were conducted on various engine technologies from several engine and boat manufacturers, and included measurements of gaseous and particulate engine exhaust emissions, combustion analysis, cold start, run ability, durability and more. No engine exhaust emissions failures, durability issues or run ability issues were experienced during the multi-year test program.
“This data reconfirms that the properties of isobutanol make it an excellent renewable blendstock for the marine market. We are excited to supply renewable isobutanol for marine and off-road applications and we look forward to growing this market with many of the participants from the consortium,” said Dr. Patrick Gruber, Gevo’s chief executive officer.
During the Miami Boat Show, Bombardier Recreational Products (BRP) reported results of their tests and offered media and consumers test rides on a 25 Bay Boat by Crevalle Boats powered by an Evinrude E-TEC G2 300 HP engine. The fuel is a blend of 16.1 percent of Gevo’s isobutanol with gasoline.
“Boaters have the opportunity to test how the fuel works first hand at the show, and that’s definitely part of the equation in creating interest and demand for this next-generation bio-fuel,” said Jeff Wasil, engineering manager in Emissions Testing, Certification and Regulatory Development for BRP-Evinrude. “All engines performed very well throughout the testing program. It’s great to have a biofuel that is so transparent to engine and boat performance all the while minimizing fuel related issues such as phase separation of water and corrosion.”
- Clean Energy Powers Local Job Growth in India, an analysis released during the RE-Invest conference that took place in New Delhi, India shows that achieving Prime Minister Modi’s recently announced 100 gigawatt (GW) solar energy goal by 2022 could create as many as one million jobs, while greatly improving energy access for Indian citizens and fighting climate change. Achieving India’s proposed target of 60 GW of wind energy by 2022 would also generate at least 180,000 additional jobs. The analysis finds that the project planning, construction, and installation and operations required to meet this solar goal could generate as many as 1,000,000 jobs in less than a decade.
- The World Energy Council has welcomed Abengoa as the newest member of its Global Partner program. Abengoa will contribute its experience as a leading player in both renewable energy and efficient conventional generation, as well as power transmission and distribution. The company will join the Council’s partner organizations who support the Council’s work programs in addressing essential issues such as the energy trilemma, scenarios and resources.
- Clariant’s sunliquid technology, which converts agricultural residue such as wheat straw into economic and sustainable cellulosic ethanol, has been nominated for the GreenTec Awards 2015 in the category of car mobility. The GreenTec Award is an European environmental and business award that honors innovative projects that lead the way to a sustainable future. On May 29, 2015 the award ceremony will take place in Berlin where the winners will be announced.
- EDF Renewable Services has announced that Kansas City Power & Light Company has extended an operations and maintenance agreement for the Spearville Wind Project (100.5 MW) and Spearville II Wind Project (48 MW) located in Kansas totaling 148.5 megawatts (MW) of General Electric turbines.