2013 CleanTech Open Winners Announced

The Cleantech Open, the world’s largest clean-technology accelerator, has awarded PowWow Energy of Sunnyvale, California the Grand Prize “Cleanie” award for the Top Cleantech Entrepreneur of the year. PowWow Energy has developed technology that PowWow Energyenables farmers and ranchers to quickly detect water leaks that can destroy an entire crop or cause thousands of dollars of damage. Two runners-up were also selected: HJ3 Composite Technologies and Bio-Adhesive Alliance.

The announcements were made in San Jose at the Cleantech Open Global Forum, the “Academy Awards of Cleantech,” which marked the grand finale of this year’s Cleantech Open Accelerator and the culmination of the 2013 Cleantech Open Global Ideas Competition. San Jose Mayor Chuck Reed, who has played a key role in promoting the vibrant Silicon Valley cleantech industry and has been a vocal supporter of the Cleantech Open, kicked off the awards ceremony.

“Congratulations to the 2013 winners and finalists, which represent the best in early-stage cleantech innovation and viable solutions to some of the world’s toughest challenges,” said Rex Northen, executive director of the Cleantech Open. “I would also like to express our huge appreciation of our sponsors, who make the Cleantech Open possible, and to thank the army of volunteers who power the world’s largest cleantech accelerator.”

Other category finalists included:

  • Argriculture-Water-Waste — Polymer Green, which has developed the first available clean solution to process landfill waste plastic.
  • Energy Generation —Helion Energy, which is dedicated to making practical and affordable fusion energy a reality.
  • Green Building — Bio-Adhesive Alliance, which produces low-cost and durable adhesive from swine manure that can be utilized as a substitute to petroleum-based asphalt.
  • Chemicals and Advanced Materials — HJ3 Composite Technologies, which manufactures, engineers, and installs advanced composite systems that have been used on over 10,000 successful applications worldwide.

The National Sustainability Award went to Garden Fresh Farms, which is building a nationwide network of investor-owned, inner-city indoor hydroponic farms. The runner-up in this category was Grannus, has developed the Eureaka Process, a disruptive innovation in the production of nitrogen fertilizer (urea).

Renewable Energy Project in NC Begins

NC DM 2 - 3 completeA ribbon-cutting ceremony was recently held by Revolution Energy Solutions (RES), a company focused on waste-to-electricity projects, for its inaugural North Carolina anaerobic digestion project, coined NC-1. The project is currently one of the largest and most progressive farm-based biogas projects in the state.

The event included representatives from RES along with farm hosts Murphy Family Ventures, as well as Lloyd Yates, Duke Energy executive vice president of Regulated Utilities. The nexus of energy, agriculture and the environment, RES says NC-1 marks the beginning of a new era in renewable energy production, rural economic development, community-wide environmental benefits and swine industry waste enhancements for North Carolina.

As the second largest pork producing state in the country, North Carolina generates 40 million gallons of swine manure daily. North Carolina has created a Renewable Energy Portfolio Standard (REPS) that establishes the amount of energy demand in the state that must come from renewable sources. The REPS also includes a specific set-aside for swine waste-to-energy projects, which serves as a catalyst for deploying this type of technology and capital in North Carolina, and Duke University estimates that the REPS requirement could be met with as few as 127 state farms.

DM 4 - 3 CHP November 2013“Projects such as NC-1 are a gateway to rural economic development and renewable energy production. Not only are we generating significant electricity and employment opportunities, we are greatly enhancing the farm’s existing waste management system to improve processing and create previously unachievable environmental benefits,” said Alan Tank, co-founder and CEO of Revolution Energy Solutions. “North Carolina already has the requisite quality and quantity of feedstock to sustain these types of projects. We’re confident that additional states will embrace this example and NC-1 will be the first of many such waste-to-energy projects in the United States.”

RES says it brings both the patented, proprietary technology and proven project success to transform these swine waste streams into a meaningful source of energy. By processing waste streams generated by livestock on farms, as well as other organic feedstock materials such as food waste, fats, greases and oils and municipal waste streams, RES projects can create renewable energy, improve the environment and drive local economic development. These projects generate measurable air and water quality benefits, including greenhouse gas emission reductions, pathogen destruction, hydrogen sulfide emission reductions, and enhanced nutrient management and waste stream utilization.

Kawa Completes Purchase of Conergy

Kawa Capital Management has completed the purchase of Conergy. Together with the closing of the transaction, Kawa appointed the new Conergy holding company Management Board. Alexander Gorski remains Chief Operating Officer (COO) and will take Kawa Logo copyover the position of the CEO Europe. Marc Lohoff will continue to be responsible for the Asian and Australian growth markets region as CEO Asia & Pacific. Anthony Fotopoulos, the former President of Conergy Americas was appointed CEO Americas and moves up to the Management Board which will strengthen the leadership team from own ranks. Lando Kravetz joins from the Kawa team and will take over the post of the Global Head of Business Development & Strategy within the Management Board.

“With the closing of the transaction, a new era starts for Conergy and its partners,” said Kawa Partner Andrew de Pass. “Conergy is very well positioned for the challenges of the future solar market with Kawa as the new owner: the company is financially powerful and has a new, strong balance sheet. Conergy will be among the most ‘bankable’ downstream solar players.”

DePass notes that through Conergy’s sales network, the company has a very strong footprint in all important global markets and is a more reliable and stronger partner for their customers than ever. The more so, he said, since Conergy and Kawa will be working on new funding and financing solutions as well as grid parity business models from which their customers will benefit globally. We are convinced we have a successful setup.

Dr. Philip Comberg joins new Board of Directors and will change from the Conergy Management Board and his position as CEO of Conergy AG to the Board of Directors of Conergy logoKawa Solar Holdings as of January 1, 2014. The Board of Directors includes Andrew de Pass (Partner Kawa Capital) and Daniel Ades (Managing Partner Kawa Capital). Alongside with Dr. Philip Comberg, David Nazarian (CEO Nimes Capital) and Albrecht Curt Reuter (Vice Chairman of the Board of Directors of Camargo Correa S.A.) join the board.

“We are very pleased that we managed to establish a very strong Management Board and Board of Directors. We ensure continuity and optimally merge profound knowledge in the photovoltaic industry with strong capabilities in funding and asset management. Kawa and Conergy perfectly match their complementary expertise in both areas,” added de Pass. “I particularly would like to thank Dr. Philip Comberg for his excellent achievements as CEO of Conergy. He navigated Conergy through very difficult times. Moreover, he was the driver of the transaction that we successfully closed now, whereby Conergy is one of the few German solar companies to emerge from insolvency in such a strong position. I am very happy to closely work with Philip in the future on the Board of Directors. Kawa is very thankful for Dr. Comberg’s contribution.”

Conergy will continue to focus on reliable, complete solutions for its international customers. These contain all necessary system components but also all related solar services. The North American region we will focus on both equipment supply and service delivery for their partners across our dealer network as well as project development, design and engineering of turnkey large-scale solar power plants.

Project Aims to Convert Natural Gas to Butanol

From microbe to fuel_large

Using enzyme engineering and other capabilities, Sandia National Laboratories will work to engineer pathways from methanotroph organisms into another microbial host that can generate butanol. Butanol has long been considered one of the best biofuel options for transportation energy. (Photo by Dino Vournas)

A new project spearheaded by researchers at Sandia National Laboratories are using their expertise in protein expression, enzyme engineering and high-throughput assays to develop biocatalyst technologies that can convert natural gas to liquid fuel or methane to butanol for transportation. The $34 million project by the Advanced Research Project Agency Energy (ARPA-E) is one of a set of 15 Reducing Emissions using Methanotrophic Organisms for Transportation Energy or REMOTE, projects. Sandia is a part of a two-year award led by MOgene Green Chemicals, a wholly owned subsidiary of St. Louis-based MOgene, LC.

The broad goal of REMOTE is to have another source of energy in the U.S. that doesn’t have to be imported and could lead to lower carbon monoxide emissions than conventional fossil fuels.

Methanotrophs are microbes that can metabolize methane. Sandia’s Blake Simmons, manager of the labs’ biofuels and biomaterial science and technology group, calls this microbe the “poster child” of organisms that are capable of metabolizing and converting methane. The goal of the project is to engineer pathways from these organisms into another microbial host that can generate butanol. Butanol can be used as a fuel in an internal combustion engine and, along with ethanol, has long been considered one of the best biofuel options for transportation energy.

“The need for hydrocarbons that are nonpetroleum in origin is still growing, including applications such as aviation and diesel engines,” said Simmons. “But in its natural state, you’re not going to readily burn natural gas in those types of engines, and the same goes for some combustion engines.” Natural gas, he explained, requires a special modification to be used effectively as a liquid fuel in vehicles, much like biomass needs to be converted before it can be used as a drop-in fuel.

“With biomass, we are essentially taking something that exists in nature and converting it into a low-cost, low-carbon, domestically-sourced fuel. With this project, we’re using natural gas as the input rather than biomass,” Simmons continued. Natural gas extracted from the ground is not renewable, he pointed out, but it is playing an increasingly important role for the Department of Energy and the nation’s energy supply.

Simmons said MOgene brings a great deal of organism expertise to the table, while Sandia offers enzyme engineering and other capabilities.

Using organisms to convert natural gas into liquid transportation fuels isn’t a new objective for the research community, Simmons said. “There have been plenty of investigations into this in the past, since there are plenty of organisms in nature that thrive and survive and multiply off of natural gas metabolism. The problem, though, is that they exist in unique, tailored environments and are typically very slow at what they do.” Continue reading

Bison Wind Energy Center Wins Award

bison-wind-farmMinnesota Power’s Bison Wind Energy Center in North Dakota was voted the best wind project of the year at the 2013 POWER-GEN International Conference. According to Minnesota Power spokespeople, this award is considered the industry’s top honor for a new wind generation project.

“It’s gratifying to be honored by your peers for conceiving and completing a world-class renewable energy project,” said Al Hodnik, chairman, president and CEO of ALLETE Inc., the parent company of Minnesota Power. “Wind generation is a critical component in achieving our EnergyForward resource strategy of an energy mix that is one-third renewable, one-third coal and one-third natural gas as we help transform the nation’s energy landscape.”

Minnesota Power was honored for phases 2 and 3 of the Bison Project, whose capacity of 292 MW includes 85 state-of-the-art direct-drive Siemens 3MW turbines. The energy is delivered to customers using a repurposed direct current transmission line, originally built in the 1970s to send coal-based power from Center, North Dakota to Duluth, Minn.

On August 1, Minnesota Power announced it was moving ahead with phase 4 of the Bison project pending regulatory approval, a 205MW addition that will make it the largest wind farm in North Dakota at nearly 500 MW of capacity.

‘Operation Free’ on Renewable Energy

Lt. Gen. Norman SeipArizona State University’s Global Institute of Sustainability recently hosted guest speaker and Operation Free representative Lt. Gen Norman Seip (USAF, ret) on the topic of sustainability and national security. The event was part of the Sustainable Speaker lecture series at ASU’s Tempe Campus.

Lt. Gen. Seip retired after 35 years of military service with his last assignment as commander of Davis-Monthan Air Force Base in Tucson, Arizona. The three-star general continues his military support through his work with such non-profit military support organizations as Operation Free and the Truman National Security Project.

“Our nation’s dependence on unstable and unsustainable forms of fuel is a strategic vulnerability,” remarked Lt. Gen. Seip. “The military is moving out rapidly to combat this vulnerability. The Navy and Air Force are using advanced fuels to power its fleets and aircraft. At the 2012 RIMPAC exercise, which is the world’s largest international maritime warfare exercise, the Navy powered an entire Carrier Strike Group fueled by alternative sources of energy. Pilots flew the world’s most advanced combat aircraft up to twice the speed of sound, powered by an American-made biofuel blend made from algae and recycled cooking oil.”

Also in attendance at the lecture was 33-year veteran of the Army and Army National Guard, Lt. Col. Joseph Knott, who was one of 12 veterans recognized during a Nov. 5 ceremony at the White House for their work advancing clean energy and climate security. Lt. Col. Knott is a PhD student at ASU’s School of Sustainability, and a supporter of Operation Free.

operation free logo“I spent my career making our military more sustainable and more combat effective and Arizona’s military installations are leading the way,” shared Knott. “Davis Monthan and Luke Air Force bases installed a combined 30 MW of solar. The Army is moving forward to acquire up to 20 MW of solar power for Fort Huachuca, located in Cochise County. And the Arizona National Guard is also leading the way, already having installed over 800 KW of photovoltaic renewable energy generation operating at Guard facilities across Arizona. They have plans to increase their use of renewable energy to support the military readiness of the Arizona National Guard.”

Following today’s event, Operation Free representative and Afghanistan veteran, 1st Lt. Aaron Marquez shared his enthusiasm for the advancements in military sustainability. “I have seen it on the ground in Afghanistan and right here at home. A more sustainable military is a more effective fighting force. Our national security depends on our ability to adapt to the world’s evolving energy environment and innovate new solutions to our energy footprint. It is exciting to see this work taking place at the Pentagon, at Luke Air Force Base and right here at ASU where the School of Sustainability is actively engaging on military sustainability.”

Wisconsin Biomass-Fueled Power Plant Goes Online

We Energies has brought its biomass-fueled power plant located on the site of Domtar Corporation’s Rothschild, Wisconsin, paper mill into commercial operation Friday, Nov. 8, 2013 after testing and commissioning activities were successfully completed. Wood, waste wood and sawdust are being used to produce up to 50 megawatts (MW) of We-Energies-biomass-power-plantelectricity; steam provided by the plant is also supporting Domtar’s sustainable papermaking operations. In addition, Domtar’s use of the steam produced by the plant will help improve the paper mill’s energy efficiency and reduce overall emissions at the site by more than 30 percent.

“The addition of the biomass plant enables us to produce renewable energy on demand,” said Gale Klappa, We Energies chairman, president and chief executive officer. “That benefit is simply not available with solar or wind generation.”

The company’s renewable energy portfolio includes the state’s two largest wind developments – the 145-MW Blue Sky Green Field Wind Energy Center in Fond du Lac County and the 162-MW Glacier Hills Wind Park in Columbia County. Together, these three projects are capable of delivering nearly 360 MW of renewable energy, enough to supply approximately 120,000 homes.

“These renewable energy projects, fueled by Wisconsin resources, were developed largely through the talents of Wisconsin companies and Wisconsin labor,” added Klappa.

More than 400 workers contributed to the construction of the biomass plant, which also will support approximately 150 permanent jobs in the region, including independent wood suppliers and haulers from northern and central Wisconsin who will secure waste wood for the project.

Xcel Continues to Attack Rooftop Solar

Xcel energy has been fighting the loss of market share through its efforts to curb rooftop solar in areas in Colorado. The Alliance for Solar Choice is striking out against the utility for disregarding consumer choice in what they call “an attempt to protect its monopoly status and inflated profit margins.” This would occur if Xcel were able to eliminate the fair credit customers with rooftop solar receive for delivering their excess solar energy to the grid.

Last week’s election results show that Xcel faces an uphill battle in trying to stifle rooftop solar and consumer demands for choice and independence on energy matters. On two separate votes related to Boulder’s effort to create its own utility, pro-municipalization positions outpolled pro-Xcel positions 2:1. Meanwhile Lafayette, Boulder, and Fort Collins all passed restrictions on hydraulic fracking.

“These results demonstrate a clear public desire for more choice, local control and more renewable energy,” said Meghan Nutting, Colorado resident and representative of The Alliance for Solar Choice. “Coloradans know last century’s fossil fuel status quo and a centralized monopoly doesn’t work for a 21st Century Colorado.”

According to The Alliance for Solar Choice in 2011 and 2013, Xcel spent more than $2 million telling the citizens of Boulder that the utility knows better than the community; yet they say, consumers are not buying it. Xcel is currently asking the Public Utilities Commission for permission to pay rates below market value to rooftop solar customers who feed electricity back into the grid. Xcel’s proposal would undermine a policy called net metering and prevent consumers from receiving fair credit for the rooftop solar power they produce. Net metering is in place in 43 states.

“We all should have the choice to produce our own power from the sun without being penalized,” said Nutting. “But Xcel wants to increase their monopoly over our power sources and eliminate this freedom.”

Xcel’s attempts to end net metering and rooftop solar align with a national playbook outlined by the utility’s own trade association Edison Election Institute (EEI) said The Alliance for Solar Choice. EEI’s January 2013 report “Disruptive Challenges” warns that increased consumer adoption of distributed solar will lead to “declining utility revenues, increasing costs, and lower profitability potential, particularly over the long-term,” and proposes efforts to eliminate or counter net metering. Utility monopolies across the country have responded with political force. Just this month, EEI disclosed that it spent more than half a million dollars over a ten-day period on anti-rooftop solar advertising in Arizona.

Largest Solar Plant in Japan Launched

A 70 megawatt (MW) solar power plant in Kagoshima Prefecture, southern Japan has come online. The Kagoshima Nanatsujima Mega Solar Power Plant went online officially on November 1, 2013 and is being operated by a special purpose company established by Kyocera Corporation and six other companies to sell the electricity to a local utility under Japan’s feed-in-tariff (FIT) program. An inauguration ceremony was held recently to celebrate the country’s largest utility-scale solar power plant.

70MW Solar Power Generating System 1Following the Great East Japan Earthquake in March of 2011, interest in solar energy has risen as a viable way to resolve power supply issues. To help promote the use of renewable energy, the Japanese government launched a restructured FIT program in July 2012 which mandates that local utilities are required to purchase 100 percent of the power generated from solar installations of more than 10 kilowatts (kW) for a period of 20 years.

Kagoshima Mega Solar Power Corporation was established by Kyocera and six other companies in July 2012 to explore a new business model for utility-scale solar power generation. Under a financing plan devised by Mizuho Corporate Bank, the new company was tasked to develop and operate the 70MW solar power plant on land owned by IHI Corporation with the power generated to be purchased by Kyushu Electric Power Co. based on the FIT program. As the largest shareholder of the new company, the Kyocera Group was responsible for the supply of solar modules as well as part of the construction, and will also undertake maintenance of the system with Kyudenko Corporation.

In addition, a tour facility has been built adjacent to the 70MW plant that is open to the public and features a circular viewing room where visitors can observe the 290,000 solar panels from an elevated vantage point and enjoy the view of the ocean bay and grand Sakurajima volcano in the background. Display zones for visitors such as students and tourists provide information about environmental issues and the science behind photovoltaic energy generation.

U.S. Electricity Mix is Changing

According to the most recent Today in Energy published by the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA), the mix of fuels used to generate the electricity in homes, factories and businesses across the U.S. has changed over the past few years. While coal remains in the lead, with all the grassroots efforts around ending coal use and as a result the decommissioning of coal plants across the country, the fossil fuel has lost share to other players including natural gas and non-hydroelectric renewables such as wind and solar.

Regional Electricity Use mapThe report show that the generation mix is not uniform across the country and varies significantly by region (EIA has divided the country into seven regions) depending on available resources and regional market prices. There are several factors that affect fuel mix in any given month including the region’s capacity, the delivered costs of fuels and system constraints.

Natural gas has gained market share from coal in much of the country, find the report, but this is less true in markets closer to the cheaper Powder River Basin coal in the West. Renewable sources are generally growing, especially in Texas and the West. Petroleum-fired electricity generation has been declining for several decades, but it can continue play an important role at rare times when other alternatives are not available.

EIA is planning on publishing a series of articles focused on each region and its electricity generation mix over the coming weeks.

National Grid Salutes Veterans

Today is Veterans Day in the United States where the country comes together to thank those Americans who have risked or given their lives to keep the country safe. In recognition of this day, National Grid is highlighting its programs to attract and retain veteran employees including it participation in Troops to Energy Jobs. The program is an initiative in which National Grid has partnered with five other energy companies across the country, and the Center for Energy Workforce Development, to develop an accelerated process for bringing military veterans into the energy industry workforce nationwide.

National Grid’s pilot program for Troops to Energy Jobs took place in Massachusetts, and employing veterans in the state remains a top priority for the company.

Troops-to-Energy-Jobs-logo“National Grid, along with other electric and gas companies, recognizes that veterans have spent their military careers protecting national security and are, among many things, battle-tested, self-motivated and safety-conscious—traits that translate well into a second career in the utility industry,” said Marcy Reed, president of National Grid in Massachusetts. “By hiring veterans into the company, we are ensuring the continued production and delivery of safe, reliable power to Massachusetts homes and businesses, and that service members are continuing to protect national security as they work to deliver a product that fuels our lives and powers our economy.”

In recent years National Grid said it has taken several steps to improve its opportunity for veteran outreach, including creating a dedicated veterans outreach specialist role within the company. This integrated specialist is responsible for veteran recruiting efforts and assists veterans as they transition into civilian positions within the energy field.

“Hiring veterans is a smart business decision. But, beyond that, it’s about pride and opportunity,” said Steven Spaeth, veterans outreach specialist for National Grid who is also a veteran himself. “Our industry has a role to play that is bigger than just hiring—we can help to pave the way for transitioning veterans into civilian jobs. Recognizing and supporting veterans once they are hired is critical to achieving a successful transition as we move our dedicated service members from the front lines to the power lines.”

National Grid also has its own Veterans Employee Resource Group (VERG) to help implement the Troops to Energy Jobs national template in all its service territories. This group of 185 members is strongly involved with recruitment and outreach efforts that encompass National Grid’s Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Upstate NY and Downstate NY businesses. The company’s VERG provides ongoing support to veteran employees, assists the Human Resources Department by reviewing resumes for candidates who are veterans, and maintains a visible presence in local communities, including attending career fairs to recruit other veterans.

National Grid works with the Department of Labor in Massachusetts as well as at local One-Stops in its efforts to recruit veterans. The company also works closely with veterans organizations such as the Office of Veterans Affairs, directing candidates to the Troops to Energy Jobs website for assistance in translating military skills to those needed in energy jobs. The company will often tweet job openings and veteran-themed resources as part of its effort to reach as many veterans in as many different ways as possible.

Primus Green Energy Achieves Production Milestone

Primus Green Energy, an alternative fuel company that converts natural gas and other feedstocks directly into drop-in transportation fuels, has announced that its natural gas-to-gasoline demonstration plant has achieved 720 hours of continuous operation, a milestone, they say, that confirms the reliability and stability of its STG+ technology. In addition, Primus has received independent verification of gasoline quality, process Primus Green Energy Demo plantefficiency and system economics. As verified by Bureau Veritas, an independent, multinational inspection, sampling and testing company, Primus’ gasoline was found to meet or exceed all ASTM specifications, the gold standard used to measure gasoline quality.

An independent engineer’s report prepared by E3 Consulting, LLC, concluded that STG+ system and catalyst performance exceeded expectations during plant operation. The report noted that the demo plant has substantially met the goal of fully integrated operations; is a successful demonstration of scalability of the technology; and the gasoline quality consistently met or exceeded industry standards.

“We think that gas-to-liquids processes like Primus’ will be instrumental in using low-cost natural gas to create a new supply of domestically produced clean liquid fuels like drop-in gasoline, jet fuel and diesel without spending billions of dollars on engine modifications and new infrastructure,” said Yom Tov Samia, chairman of Primus Green Energy and CEO of IC Green Energy, Primus’ main shareholder. “The success of the demonstration plant not only validates the scalability of the technology, but also Primus’ leading position in an important emerging industry of great geopolitical importance.”

According to Primus’ their demonstration plant is designed as a “scaled-down” version of the first commercial plant. Primus worked with top-tier engineering firms to optimize the design of the demonstration plant to eliminate the technology risks of scale-up, which in the past have been a major obstacle for competitors in the alternative fuels space.

“The independent engineers’ report provides critical validation of our technology and of our value proposition, and the data suggests that our technology is more economical than competing gas-to-liquids processes available today,” said Robert Johnsen, CEO of Primus Green Energy. “We can now focus on optimizing our process even further and on working toward construction of our first commercial plant, which like the demonstration plant will use natural gas as a feedstock for the production of drop-in transportation fuels.”

Paul Plath, President at E3 Consulting added, “The data resulting from the initial 720-hour continuous operation of Primus’ natural gas-to-gasoline demonstration plant has exceeded initial expectations. The data shows that Primus’ STG+ technology, when applied at commercial scale, can be expected to be efficient, cost-effective and able to produce a premium transportation fuel product.”

New Report Highlights the Power of Geothermal

The Geothermal Energy Association (GEA) and Geothermal Resources Council (GRC) have released a new joint report, “The Values of Geothermal Energy: A Discussion of the Benefits of Geothermal Power Provides to the Future of U.S. Power System“. The report addresses the role geothermal energy can play in states with Renewable Portfolio Standards (RPS) or Renewable Electricity Standards (RES) who are considering the full value of the power sources they use.

The Value of Geothermal ReportThe report was prepared by Ben Matek, GEA’s Industry Analyst, and Brian Schmidt, Librarian, GRC, and documents the many benefits of geothermal power.

“Geothermal power offers both firm and flexible solutions to the changing U.S. power system by providing a range of services including but not limited to baseload, regulation, load following or energy imbalance, spinning reserve, non-spinning reserve, and replacement or supplemental reserve,” the report begins.

Looking beyond the benefits to the power system, the report also summarizes other key benefits of geothermal power including economic and environmental benefits. “We are often asked about the full range of services and benefits available from geothermal,” Matek said. “So, we decided to join with GRC and put out a white paper that addresses these questions.”

“This is a timely report,” added Karl Gawell, GEA’s Executive Director. “The California PUC recently noted active questions before policy makers in California and elsewhere, specifically: ‘how increasing amounts of intermittent generation are impacting grid reliability, quantifying the impact and benefits of various resources to integrate intermittent generation, and what new policies should be adopted to manage the changing electric grid.’”

As the report indicates, these questions are gaining in importance as the United States expands its renewable power production, which today means “generating approximately 14% of the electricity” nationwide. Much of this is coming from wind and solar photovoltaic technologies that rely heavily on the prevailing weather conditions in order to generate power. However, the report note that “Geothermal energy is a renewable power source that can provide baseload and flexible power, quickly adjusting to fit the needs set by variable renewable energy technologies.

DOE Announces Rooftop Solar Challenge

DOE Rooftop Solar ChallengeThe U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) has announced eight teams that have been selected to participate in the Rooftop Solar Challenge. The teams will receive a combined $12 million, matched by more than $4 million in outside funding. The groups are tasked with moving the solar rooftop industry forward through cutting the red tape surrounding residential and small commercial solar rooftop projects. The teams will work to streamline and standardize solar permitting, zoning, metering and connection processes.

“Responsible development of all of America’s rich energy resources is an important part of President Obama’s Climate Action Plan and will help ensure America’s continued leadership in clean energy,” said Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz. “Today, solar modules cost about one percent of what they did 35 years ago, and permitting and interconnection are an increasingly large portion of overall solar system costs. Through the Rooftop Solar Challenge, the Energy Department is helping to make the deployment of solar power in communities across the country faster, easier and cheaper – saving money and time for local governments, homeowners and businesses.”

The Energy Department’s Rooftop Solar Challenge is a part of a larger effort to make solar energy more accessible and affordable and position the U.S. as a leader in the quickly growing global solar market. Non-hardware, or “soft,” costs like permitting, installation, design and maintenance now account for more than 60 percent of the total cost of installed rooftop photovoltaic (PV) systems in the United States. Across the nation, there are more than 18,000 local jurisdictions with their own PV permitting requirements as well as more than 5,000 utilities that set rules for connecting to the power grid.

DOE Rooftop Solar Challenge TeamsThe Rooftop Solar Challenge brings together city, county and state officials, regulatory entities, private industry, universities, local utilities and other regional stakeholders to address differing and expensive processes required to install and finance residential and small business solar systems. During the Challenge’s first round, 22 regional teams worked to dramatically reduce the soft costs of solar – serving as models for other communities across the country. These efforts helped cut permitting time by 40 percent and reduce fees by over 10 percent – making it faster and easier for more than 47 million Americans to install solar.

Building on the Challenge’s first round, the eight teams announced for the next phase will help further expand the reach of innovative strategies that are making it easier, faster and cheaper for more homeowners and businesses to finance and install solar systems. These awardees will develop and replicate creative solutions that help standardize complicated permitting and interconnection processes that often vary from jurisdiction to jurisdiction; facilitate easy, cheaper bulk purchasing; and support user-friendly, fast online applications. See a full list of the Rooftop Solar Challenge teams and their projects.

Energy Title “Vital” in Farm Bill

More than 40 bipartisan House and Senate members including Senators Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) and Roy Blunt (R-MO) and Representatives Dave Loebsack (D-2-IA) and Aaron Schock (R-18-IL), sent “Dear Colleague” letters to Farm Bill Conference leaders stressing the vital importance of the energy title (Title IX). In response, the Agriculture Energy Coalition (AgEC) praised the legislator’s letter of support.

Farm in Wisconsin“The energy title is critically important to helping rural areas move towards diverse renewable energy and energy efficiency opportunities including wind, solar, biomass, biogas, efficiency upgrades, and hydro in all 50 states,” said Congressman Dave Loebsack on the Farm Bill’s Energy Title. “These programs are also helping our agricultural producers and rural economies be more efficient and adding value to things like farm waste for energy production. They also are critically important to continue to develop cutting edge advanced biofuels that will create jobs here at home and help our nation become more energy secure for use in everything from cars and trucks, to planes and our military.”

The letters continued by saying “REAP, BCAP and BAP are just three examples of energy title programs that are helping our nation utilize our rich agricultural capacity to produce reliable domestic energy. American farmers have long led the world in food crop production, but as we seek to become more energy independent and less reliant on foreign sources of energy to power our economy, ag-based energy products are increasingly important; energy title programs significantly enhance the development of our nation’s clean energy and agriculture economy.”

Lloyd Ritter, co-director of the Agriculture Energy Coalition (AgEC), said of the letters of support, “We would like to extend thanks to the more than 40 Senators and Representatives who expressed their support for vital Farm Bill Energy programs. We especially thank Senators Klobuchar and Blunt, along with Representatives Loebsack and Shock, for their leadership. These Farm Bill energy programs have supported renewable energy development and energy efficiency in rural communities and have helped create or save thousands of good paying jobs. The continued success of these programs requires the long term sustainability of a five year Farm Bill and the necessary investment to maintain healthy programs.”