New Energy in 2014 Dominated by Wind Power

According to a new report released this week by the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) Energy Information Administration (EIA), more wind power was added to the grid in 2014 than any other energy resource. The data shows wind power generated 4.4 percent of all the electricity in America in 2014 and maintained its position as the fifth largest electricity source in the U.S. Iowa led the nation by producing 28.5 percent of its electricity from wind power, followed by South Dakota at 25.3 percent and Kansas at 21.7. Wind energy provided more than 15 percent of electricity in a total of seven states, more than 10 percent in a total of nine states, and more than five percent in a total of 19 states.

All renewable energy sources including hydropower now deliver more than 13 percent of the nation’s electricity, with wind energy providing more than one-third of that total.

Screen Shot 2015-03-06 at 1.08.01 PM“The U.S. is blessed with an abundant supply of wind energy. Pairing this homegrown resource with continued technology innovation has made the U.S. the home of the most productive wind turbines in the world,” said Emily Williams, deputy director of industry data and analysis for American Wind Energy Association (AWEA). Analysis released last year found the U.S. is number one in the world in wind energy production.

AWEA cites the wind industry growth as being driven by technological improvements and cost declines that have reduced the cost of wind energy by more than half over the last five years, as documented by Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory.

In 2014, wind provided enough electricity to power the equivalent of 16.7 million homes, or all the residential households in Iowa, Kansas, Minnesota, Nebraska, North Dakota, South Dakota, Colorado, Idaho, Illinois, and Montana. Once recently added U.S. wind projects have had a full year of production, total wind output will likely rise to powering the equivalent of 18 million homes.

Wind has more than tripled since 2008, it can double from where it is today to 10 percent by 2020, then double again to 20 percent by 2030, and become the leading source of electricity in the U.S. by 2050,” said added Kiernan. “However, to get there Congress must provide wind with the same policy certainty it provides to other energy sources by rapidly extending the Production Tax Credit for as long as possible.”

Bi-Fuel Autogas Conversion System Announced

NTEA Work & Truck Show took place this week in Indianapolis, Indiana and several propane announcements were made during the show including a new bi-fuel autogas conversion system. The news was delivered by BSI President Ed Hoffman, and said the Ford Transit 3.7L engine conversion to propane autogas was under development and expected to be submitted to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) for certification this spring.

Hoffman said the bi-fuel s2015 Ford Transit Vanystem conversion on the Transit requires no intake manifold drilling, cutting, or splicing of wiring, and the system provides OEM quality components and engineering with ½ the install time. He also noted with extended range capabilities the bi-fuel system insures a fleet gets where it needs to go.Twenty one gallons of propane will be added to the “tank” to be used in conjunction with traditional fuel. The Transit will be the first “plug & play” conversion to be installed by the Alliance AutoGas.

Replacing the Ford E-Series, the Ford Transit vans and wagons are in several configurations the wagon offers higher fuel economy ratings. The 3.7L Ti-VCT V6 surpasses the E-Series standard 4.6L V8 gas engine in EPA estimated highway mpg by 19 percent.

BioEnergy Bytes

  • http://domesticfuel.com/category/bioenergy-bytes/The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) has announced up to $35 million in funding to advance fuel cell and hydrogen technologies, and enable early adoption of fuel cell applications, such as light-duty fuel cell electric vehicles. This funding opportunity will accelerate U.S. innovation in hydrogen and fuel cell technologies. The program is focused on reducing the costs and increasing technical advancements of critical hydrogen infrastructure, including production, delivery, and storage.
  • A new report “Wind Turbine Composites Material Market,” is available and profiles competitive strategies adopted by top composites wind turbine blade manufacturers. In addition, the report defines driving and restraining factors for the global Wind Turbine Composites Material Market with the analysis of trends, opportunities, burning issues, winning imperatives, and challenges.
  • SunEdison and Solar Grid Storage have announced that SunEdison has acquired the energy storage project origination team, project pipeline, and subject to customary consents and assignments, four operating storage projects from Solar Grid Storage. SunEdison now offers battery storage solutions to complement solar and wind projects worldwide, providing solutions that can benefit utilities, municipalities, businesses, and consumers alike.
  • The U.S. Energy Department and the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association have recognized Tri-State Generation and Transmission Association (Tri-State), which serves Colorado, Nebraska, New Mexico, and Wyoming, and San Isabel Electric Association (San Isabel) of Colorado as the 2014 WINDExchange Wind Cooperatives of the Year. The awards honor electric cooperatives that demonstrate outstanding leadership in advancing U.S. wind power.

“Clean, Secure, American Energy” Campaign Launched

This month marks the 102 anniversary of tax breaks signed into law by President Woodrow Wilson, for the oil industry. They were part of the first income tax code that took effect on March 1, 1913. As America marks this anniversary, Fuels America has launched a new campaign, “Clean, Secure, American Energy,” to highlight the success of the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS). This August will mark the 10th anniversary of the renewable energy legislation, a policy that the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has been dragging their feet on finalizing for 2014 and announcing renewable fuel volumes for 2015.

fuels-americalogoWhile oil companies have been benefiting from hand outs for more than a century, tax credits for corn-based ethanol expired several years ago. Fuels America cites that during the past 10 years, the commonsense, bipartisan RFS has tripled America’s biofuel production and helped lower our the country’s dependence on oil to the lowest level in decades – all while delivering environmental and economic benefits.

According to Fuels America, the “Clean, Secure, American Energy Campaign” is launching this week with a significant digital advertising campaign that will run on RollCall.com. The ads congratulate the oil industry by “Celebrating 102 Years of Oil Spills and Pollution”.

Last week, renewable fuel supporters highlighted the environmental benefits of the RFS by sending a letter to President Obama, urging him to ensure the EPA’s new multiyear rule for the RFS supports growth for existing and new biofuels technologies and lives up to the original intent of the bipartisan law.

“The RFS is working and has resulted in significant environmental gains,” the letter said. The RFS is America’s only fully implemented policy that reduces greenhouse gas emissions and other pollutants.”

Calling Energy Entrepreneurs

Calling student energy entrepreneurs. The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) has announced $2.5 million in funding for the Cleantech University Prize (Cleantech UP), which hopes to inspire the next generation of clean energy gurus. This funding opportunity will support the commercialization of promising technologies for sectors such as solar and wind that reduce carbon pollution and grow the clean energy economy.

According to DOE, the goal of the Cleantech UP is to create a strong national infrastructure focused on collegiate high-tech entrepreneurship that accelerates the rate of clean energy innovWind Turbine in Northern Iowaation in the U.S, while also establishing a national Cleantech UP Hub. The program will support up to eight Cleantech UP Collegiate Competitions.

The Cleantech UP Hub will create a national prize, train student entrepreneurs, and serve as a coordinating body for energy entrepreneurship training, while the Cleantech UP Collegiate Competitions will provide prizes for eight individual university-focused competitions that will equip students with business skills to move clean energy technologies from the discovery phase to the marketplace. Together, the Cleantech UP Hub and Cleantech UP Collegiate Competitions will form a strategic network that increases student entrepreneurs’ participation—both in quantity and quality—in clean energy, and addresses the existing gaps in early-stage commercialization training.

Cleantech UP will build on the success of its precursor, the Energy Department’s National Clean Energy Business Plan Competition. More information can be found here.

AmeriPride Adopts Propane

AmeriPride Services has adopted propane autogas fueled trucks for its fleets after a successful pilot test program. In addition to the five ROUSH CleanTech Ford F-59 delivery trucks in Topeka, Kansas, the uniform and linen company is adding 20 more in Northern California later this year. AmeriPride announced their program expansion plans at the NTEA Work Truck Show in Indianapolis.

“We’ve been extensively testing fuels and vehicles to find the right area and application that gives us the best environmental and economical benefits,” said Banny Allison, fleet services manager for AmeriPride. “Propane autogas reduces greenhouse gas emissions and has easy, cost-efficient fueling infrastructure. Because of our success in Kansas, we are implementing the same propane autogas vehicles in the Sacramento and Fresno areas.”gI_85238_AmeriPrideNew

According to AmeriPride, each of their propane autogas trucks will emit about 95,000 fewer pounds of carbon dioxide emissions over its lifetime. To fuel its vehicles, AmeriPride installed a private autogas station with 1,000-gallon tank at their Topeka facility because infrastructure for propane autogas is less expensive than any other alternative fuel, partly due to fewer requirements from the Environmental Protection Agency.

Currently the company pays $1.55 per gallon for propane autogas that, historically, has cost up to 50 percent less than diesel.

“AmeriPride has long been a champion for supporting the environment and the communities they serve,” said Todd Mouw, vice president of sales and marketing for ROUSH CleanTech, who is Ford’s only Qualified Vehicle Modifier for propane autogas. “Emissions-reducing, domestically produced propane autogas has met their criteria and now they are ready to expand into different markets with reliable Ford F-59 workhorses.”

BioEnergy Bytes

  • http://domesticfuel.com/category/bioenergy-bytes/The Maryland Clean Energy Center (MCEC) has added Joanne Ivancic, Executive Director, Advanced Biofuels USA to the MCEC 2015 Advisory Council. Advanced Biofuels USA , a nonprofit educational organization headquartered in Frederick, Maryland, advocates for the adoption of advanced biofuels as an energy security, economic development, military flexibility and climate change/pollution control solution.
  • Clean Focus has announced the completion of a new 3.75 MW solar project in the City of Adelanto, CA. The ground-mounted system, interconnected in late January, received its certificate of occupancy earlier this week. Construction financing was provided by Seminole Financial Services; Sol Construction led building efforts; and MPE Consulting served as lead engineer. The Adelanto project, sited on 20 acres will generate 7,156,000 kW hours of clean electricity a year.
  • A week ahead of the fourth anniversary of the Fukushima reactor disaster, five leading organizations fighting for America’s clean-energy future – Friends of the Earth, Greenpeace, the Nuclear Information and Resource Service, Public Citizen, and the Sierra Club – are unveiling an interactive online video, “Our Epic Future: Create It With Clean Energy.” The entertaining, fact-filled video allows visitors to explore three scenarios in the “Epic Energy Labs” with very different future outcomes: one dominated by fossil fuels, another in which nuclear power is the focus, and a third relying on renewable energy.
  • Terra Motors Corporation, Japanese innovator of electric two- and three-wheelers, is establishing a joint venture to deal with the manufacturing and sales of electric vehicle in Dhaka with Runner group of companies, the most famous motorbike manufactures in Bangladesh, on February 18, 2015. The name of our joint venture is “Runner Terra EV ltd.”

Southwest Research Institute Award $4.9M

The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) has awarded Southwest Research Institute (SwRI) $4.9 million as part of a $9.9 million continuation contract to manufacture and test a high-efficiency supercritical CO2 (sCO2) hot gas turbo-expander and compact heat exchangers for concentrating solar power (CSP) plants. Dr. Klaus Brun, program director of the Machinery Program in SwRI’s Mechanical Engineering Division says this project is one of eight DOE-funded sCO2 power cycle projects currently in progress.

10 MW sCO2 Expander Turbine for DOE SunShot ProgramThe award was given through DOE’s SunShot Initiative and continues a previous DOE project to design the sCO2 expander. SwRI will lead a team of industry collaborators that includes Aramco Services Company, Bechtel Marine Propulsion Corporation, Electric Power Research Institute (EPRI), General Electric, and Thar Energy.

According to SwRI the highly cyclical nature of CSP plant operation requires an sCO2 hot gas turbo-expander to operate at high temperatures and pressures over a wide range of load conditions while maintaining high efficiency, handling rapid transient heat input swings, and offering very fast start-up to optimize the plant’s online availability. Similar sCO2 expanders also have the potential to significantly improve the efficiency of waste heat recovery, nuclear and fossil-fueled power plants.

“Over the last two years, SwRI and its industry collaborators have developed a highly efficient, multi-stage axial flow sCO2 hot gas turbo-expander that advances the state of the art from laboratory size to a full mega-watt scale prototype,” says Dr. Jeff Moore, manager of the Rotating Machinery Dynamics Section in SwRI’s Mechanical Engineering Division, and principal investigator of the project.

A second objective of the project, according to SwRI, is to optimize novel compact heat exchangers for sCO2 applications to drastically reduce manufacturing costs. The scalable sCO2 expander design and improved heat exchanger will close two critical technology gaps and potentially provide a major pathway to achieve power at $0.06 per kilowatt hour, increasing energy conversion efficiency to more than 50 percent, and potentially reducing total power block cost to below $1,200 per kilowatt installed. Conventional steam-based CSP systems typically operate at less than 35 percent efficiency. These efficiencies also will allow solar plants to be competitive with conventional fossil-fueled power plants.

PACE Calls for Fair Solar in Louisiana

The Louisiana Public Service Commission has released a draft report that the Partnership for Affordable Clean Energy (PACE) says sheds “significant light” on the inequities caused by the state’s treatment of distributed solar generation. The report finds that the state’s current public subsidy for solar power is unsustainable but also that the net metering requirement for utilities is shifting considerable grid costs from solar customers to non-solar customers.

PACE is calling this “unfair” and wants the state to change its treatment of distributed solar. They cite several important conclusions found in the report:

  • More than $2 million in grid costs are being shifted to non-solar customers in Louisiana. This could grow to $31.4 million by 2020.
  • Costs associated with net metering in Louisiana far outweigh the benefits. The negative cost is already $89 million and is estimated to rise to between $125 million and $488 million.
  • Net metering customers have incomes on average 35% higher than non-solar customers, meaning the state’s net metering policy is shifting grid costs from those with more money to those with less.
  • Louisiana’s net metering policy could cause power customers to pay as much as $809 million more if it is left unchanged.
  • Louisiana’s taxpayer subsidy to solar customers has grown from an originally estimated half a million dollars annually to $42 million per year, making it one of the most generous in the nation.

PACE logoIn Louisiana, as in many other states, regulatory policy allows a small group of customers to use the power grid as a battery backup when they are unable to rely on their solar rooftop systems. However, PACE notes that these customers are unwilling to help pay for the cost of maintaining a reliable electricity grid in Louisiana. While solar is a valuable resource, says PACE, everyone should pay their fair share for the use of the power grid. Right now, as the report clearly shows, those costs are being shifted to less affluent non-solar customers, which is both unfair and unsustainable.

How to incorporate solar energy in way that is fair and benefits all electricity consumers is becoming a hot button issue around the country. For example, Arizona and New Mexico, fees for solar users have been viewed as solutions to this issue while Hawaii has recently lowered net metering rates. PACE is calling on Louisiana to review other states’ policies as a guide to create fairness.

BioEnergy Bytes

  • http://domesticfuel.com/category/bioenergy-bytes/Berlin (gtai) Wind turbines fed over 10,000 gigawatt-hours (GWh) of electricity into Germany’s grid in the first month of the year, setting a new record, the BDEW German Association of Energy and Water Industries and ZSW Centre for Solar Energy and Hydrogen Research reported this morning. That is approximately one fifth of the annual production from wind in 2014.
  • U.S. prices for Chinese-produced Tier-1 modules were higher than those of any other market tracked in GTM Research’s latest report, Global PV Pricing Outlook 2015. Driven up on a year-over-year basis by the ongoing trade case against Chinese- and Taiwanese-produced modules, U.S. prices averaged around 72 cents per watt in the fourth quarter of 2014, compared to just 56 cents per watt for the same modules in Chile, the least expensive module market tracked in the new report.
  • Hennessy Capital Acquisition Corp. has announced the completion of its previously announced acquisition of School Bus Holdings, Inc., which, through its subsidiaries, conducts its business under the “Blue Bird” name, from The Traxis Group B.V., which is majority owned by funds affiliated with Cerberus Capital Management, L.P. As part of the transaction, Hennessy changed its name to Blue Bird Corporation. Effective Wednesday, February 25, 2015, Blue Bird will be publicly traded on NASDAQ under common stock ticker symbol BLBD.
  • Alstom was awarded by the Chinese company Sinohydro a contract worth about €58 million to provide electro-mechanical equipment and technical services for Karuma Hydropower Project, Uganda’s largest electricity plant. Alstom will provide six 100MW Francis turbine-generator sets and related equipment for this project. Alstom Hydro China (AHC) is responsible for the equipment design, manufacturing, supervision to the installation, commissioning, testing as well as site services.

How to Deflate Range Anxiety

Millions of people could be suffering from “range anxiety” a condition that keeps consumers from purchasing electric vehicles for fear of becoming stranded with an empty battery. A new study published in Human Factors addresses range anxiety and aims to explain what it is, and determine whether putting a consumer in a battery electric vehicle (BEV) to drive would reduce or eliminate the fear.

In “Understanding the Impact of Electric Vehicle Driving Experience on Range Anxiety,” Rauh and fellow researchers Thomas Franke and Josef Krems asked 24 experienced and inexperienced BEV users to drive a test route through country roads, in villages, and on the German Autobahn. To increase range stress, participants were told that because of an unexpected technical problem, the BEV was not fully charged.

Chevy Volt Photo Joanna Schroeder“Range anxiety is a popular topic in the field of electric vehicles, and is frequently named as a key barrier for widespread adoption of BEVs,” said coauthor Nadine Rauh, a research assistant in the Department of Cognitive and Engineering Psychology at Germany’s Technische Universität Chemnitz. “We strongly believe that a better understanding of the phenomenon of range anxiety can help us to find ways of enhancing user experience in BEV driving, thereby increasing acceptance of this type of alternative vehicle.”

The authors found when the vehicle’s display showed that the remaining range was less than the anticipated trip length, experienced BEV drivers exhibited significantly less anxiety than did those who were unfamiliar with electric cars. The researchers caution that further study is needed to determine what other variables play a role in decreasing range anxiety.

“Drivers who are new to BEVs can experience a lot of stress, but as time goes by they will become more confident in both the BEV’s range and in their own abilities to manage any situations that may arise,” added Franke, a postdoctoral researcher at Technische Universität Chemnitz. “Despite advances in technology that will allow for a longer range, human factors research will remain an important tool for helping to design sustainable and user-friendly electric mobility systems.”

RES Americas’ Keechi Wind Project Online

Screen Shot 2015-03-04 at 8.00.25 AMThe Keechi Wind Project in Jack County, Texas is now producing wind power. The 110 MW project was completed by RES Americas and consists of 55 Vestas V100-2.0 MW turbines. The Keechi Wind Project will deliver electricity into the Electric Reliability Council of Texas, Inc. (ERCOT) market, under a 20-year Power Purchase Agreement with Microsoft Corporation.

“The successful completion of the Keechi wind project included RES Americas self-performing the installation of 55 wind turbines,” said Andrew Fowler, chief operating officer of RES Americas. “It was also extremely important to us to work closely with the local community in sourcing labor and materials to construct the project.”

Keechi Wind was developed by RES Americas and constructed under a fixed-price, engineering, procurement, and construction agreement and was RES Americas’ first project in which it self-performed the turbine installation. The project, which is owned by Enbridge, connects to Brazos Electric’s Joplin substation via a 12-mile generation tie line. Vestas will provide turbine operations and maintenance services for the first five years of the project.

San Fran No 1 Electric Vehicle City

ChargePoint_Infographic_EV_GrowthChargePoint has released a list of the top 10 friendliest metropolitan areas for EV drivers. The San Francisco Bay Area (including San Francisco, Oakland and San Jose) led the nation, followed by Los Angeles, Seattle, San Diego and Honolulu. The company scored the cities based on the number of EVs on the road and the number of charging stations available on the their network as of December 31, 2014 while adjusting for population differences.

ChargePoint’s Top 10 EV-Friendly Metropolitan Areas:

  1. San Francisco Bay Area, CA
  2. Los Angeles, CA
  3. Seattle, WA
  4. San Diego, CA
  5. Honolulu, HI
  6. Austin, TX
  7. Detroit, MI
  8. Atlanta, GA
  9. Denver, CO
  10. Portland, OR

“Although the West Coast continues to lead the nation in EV friendliness, the fact that cities like Atlanta and Denver broke into the top 10 demonstrates that this is not regional trend, but that our nation is quickly transitioning from gas powered cars to EVs.” said ChargePoint CEO Pasquale Romano. “In cities across the country, it’s becoming easier than ever to drive an EV – and that’s good news for our industry and for our environment.”

Although Los Angeles leads the nation in terms of registered EVs (nearly 57,000), the San Francisco Bay Area takes top billing after accounting for population differences (more than 48,000 EVs). Austin fell to the number-six ranking after having held the number-four spot on the 2013 list; Washington, DC and Boston, MA fell from the ninth and tenth spots, respectively, while EV infrastructure growth and registrations propelled Atlanta and Denver into the top 10.

FPL to Power Miami ePrix

Florida Power & Light Company (FPL) will be powering the electric vehicles (EVs) racing for first place with solar power. The inaugural event will take place in downtown Miami on March 14, 2015. Formula E is a new FIA single-seater championship and the first fully-electric race car series. It kicked off in Bejing last September and ends this June featuring 10 teams, each with two drivers, racing on city streets. The racing series was developed to showcase R&D and excitement around EVs and the Miami ePrix marks the first U.S. appearance of the series.

“Our partnership with Formula E and the Miami ePrix is another example of our commitment to advancing zero-emissions solar energy and the use of electric vehicles in Florida,” said Eric Silagy, president and CEO of FPL. “By the end of 2016 we Formula E racing series in Buenos Aireswill triple the energy we are able to produce from the sun, furthering our mission to provide low-cost, reliable and clean energy to our 4.7 million customers.”

“It’s an honor for us to have been selected as one of the 10 founding Formula E teams for the inaugural season,” said Michael Andretti, chairman and CEO of Andretti Sports Marketing who participated in the announcement. “I look forward to bringing this exciting series to North America and joining an impressive field of competitors at the upcoming race in Miami.”

During the announcement, electric race cars were charged with power generated from the Martin Next Generation Solar Energy Center, one of three solar power plants operated by FPL. Earlier this year, FPL announced plans to install more than 1 million solar panels at three additional solar power plants by the end of 2016. When combined with other community projects, FPL will triple its solar capacity, which currently totals approximately 110 megawatts.

“The Formula E Miami ePrix is all about sharing our passion for electric vehicles,” added Alejandro Agag, CEO of Formula E Holdings. “The race series is exciting, it’s entertaining, and we hope it will turn the world’s attention to the potential electric vehicles have to change the way we power transportation. We are pleased to partner with FPL – a company that shares our vision for powering the future with affordable, clean energy.”

Solar Plant Opens in Northern Cape Province

Abengoa and state-owned financier, the Industrial Development Corporation (IDC), together with KaXu Community Trust have launched a 100 MW solar plant – KaXu Solar One – near the town of Pofadder (Northern Cape Province). The new solar facility will power 80,000 homes in South Africa. The Department of Energy of South Africa awarded Abengoa the project. The power will be sold to the utility Eskom under a 20-year power purchase agreement.

Representatives of the South African government, IDC and Abengoa during the grand opening of Kaxu Solar One.

Representatives of the South African government, IDC and Abengoa during the grand opening of Kaxu Solar One.

Minister of Economic Development, Mr Ebrahim Patel, officially inaugurated the solar power plant. He was accompanied by Deputy Minister of Public Enterprises, Mr. Bulelani Magwanishe, Premier of the Northern Cape, Silvia Lucas, executives of Abengoa and IDC and representatives of the local community.

Manuel Sanchez Ortega, Vice President and CEO of Abengoa, said of the project, “We are proud of the role we are playing to help South Africa meet its ongoing energy demands. This project will leave a legacy that will benefit the community of Pofadder, Northern Cape and the entire country. This would not have been possible without the leadership of the South African Department of Energy.”

KaXu Solar One, the first Solar Thermal Electricity (STE) power plant in South Africa, incorporates a storage system that enables production of 100 MW for 2.5 hours after sunset or before dawn. The project will result in approximately USD 891 million direct and indirect investment inflows to South Africa, generate approximately USD 516 million in taxes over the next 20 years.

Fadiel Farao, the Chairperson of the KaXu Community Trust, said KaXu Solar One will be a catalyst for economic development in the Khai Ma municipality in the Northern Cape. “The project has stimulated the local economy and will go a long way toward helping to generate much-needed economic opportunities for people in this area.” KaXu Community Trust is comprised of members of the local community.

Abengoa is building in the region Khi Solar One, a 50MW solar plant using tower technology and has already started the construction of a third project, Xina Solar One, a 100 MW parabolic trough plant. Xina Solar One will shape with KaXu Solar One the largest solar platform in sub-Saharan Africa.