Renewable Energy Continues to Gain

Renewable energy continues to gain as for the month of July all new U.S. electrical generating capacity put into service was from renewable sources according to the latest “Energy Infrastructure Update“. The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission’s Office of Energy Project’s report fond that there was 379 MW of wind installed, 21 MW of solar and 5 MW of hydropower.

Office of Energy Projects July 2014 Energy Infrastructure UpdateFor the first seven months of 2014, renewable energy has accounted for more than half (53.8%) of the 4,758 MW of new U.S. electrical capacity that has come on line with solar (25.8%) and wind (25.1%) each accounting for more than a quarter of the total. In addition, biomass provided 1.8 percent, geothermal 0.7 percent, and hydropower 0.4 percent. As for the balance, natural gas accounted for 45.9 percent while a small fraction (0.3 percent) came from oil and “other” combined. There has been no new electrical generating capacity from either coal or nuclear thus far in 2014.

Renewable energy sources now account for 16.3 percent of total installed operating generating capacity in the U.S.:

  • Water – 8.57%
  • Wind – 5.26%
  • Biomass – 1.37%
  • Solar – 0.75%
  • Geothermal steam – 0.33%

“This is not the first time in recent years that all new electrical generating capacity for a given month has come from renewable energy sources,” noted Ken Bossong, Executive Director of the SUN DAY Campaign. “And it is likely to become an ever more frequent occurrence in the months and years ahead.”

Renewable Energy Provides 56% of Electrical Generation

According to the latest “Energy Infrastructure Update” report from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission’s Office of Energy Projects, solar, wind, biomass, geothermal, and hydropower provided 55.7% (1,965 MW of the 3,529 MW total installed) of new installed U.S. electrical generating capacity during the first half of 2014.

  • Solar provided 32.1% (1,131 MW)
  • Wind provided 19.8% (699 MW)
  • Biomass provided 2.5% (87 MW)
  • Geothermal provided 0.9% (32 MW)
  • Hydropower provided 0.5% (16 MW)
  • Most of the balance (1,555 MW – 44.1%) of the new generating capacity was provided by natural gas while no new coal or nuclear power capacity was reported

solar installationAccording to the SUN DAY Campaign, the dominant role being played by renewables in providing new electrical generating capacity in 2014 is continuing a trend now several years in the making. Over the past 30 months (i.e., since January 1, 2012), renewable energy sources have accounted for almost half (48.0%) or 22,774 MW of the 47,446 MW of new electrical generating capacity.

If calendar year 2011 is also factored in, then renewables have accounted for approximately 45% of all new electrical generating capacity over the past 3 1/2 years. In fact, since January 1, 2011 renewables have provided more new electrical generating capacity than natural gas (31,345 MW vs. 29,176 MW) and nearly four times that from coal (8,235 MW)

Renewable energy sources now account for 16.28% of total installed U.S. operating generating capacity: water – 8.57%, wind – 5.26%, biomass – 1.37%, solar – 0.75%, and geothermal steam – 0.33%. This is up from 14.76% two years earlier (i.e., June 30, 2012) and is now more than nuclear (9.24%) and oil (4.03%) combined.

“A new report from the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) is projecting that renewable energy sources will account for only 24% of new capacity additions between now and 2040,” Ken Bossong, Executive Director of the SUN DAY Campaign, noted. “However, the latest FERC data coupled with that published during the past several years indicate that EIA’s numbers are once again low-balling the likely share – and probably dominant share – of renewables in the nation’s future energy mix.”

EIA: Plenty of Potential, But Hydro Limited by Economics

A new study by the Department of energy shows there’s great potential for hydroelectric power in the U.S., but the economics of the situation keeps more power from being added. This report from the U.S. Energy Information Agency (EIA) cites work by Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) that shows there are 61 gigawatts (GW) of hydroelectric power potential in waterways without existing dams or diversion facilities. However, the projected capacity to be added is only 2 GW through 2040.
eiajuly10report1
The report quantified the technical resource capacity available at more than three million U.S. streams, qualifying its findings by saying “the methodology alone does not produce estimates of generation, cost, or potential impacts of sufficient accuracy to determine project-specific feasibility or to justify investments.”

Although resource potential quantifies maximum feasible capacity additions, EIA’s AEO2014 Reference case also considers market and policy hurdles that can limit actual development of a new hydroelectric power plant. These include economic factors, performance characteristics, federal regulations, electricity demand, and the cost of competing sources for new generation. Because hydropower is a mature technology, most of the technically and economically superior sites have already been developed.

The report does provide new information to assess the technical potential of hydropower and improve the understanding of resources that can take advantage of new technologies such as in-stream turbines.

Battery Bat Houses for Hydroelectric Projects

Bat Houses from scrap volt battery casesEagle Scout Matthew Netherland has developed a creative way to help bats who live near hydroelectric projects. Using discarded scrap Volt battery covers donated by GM, Netherland built 22 bat houses for Consumers Energy to install in their energy properties.

“This project connects a lot of environmental dots,” said Rich Castle, Consumers Energy’s natural resource manager for hydro generation. “Hydro dams generate clean electricity, and cars that run on electricity are a cleaner form of transportation. The battery covers from the electric-powered vehicles are being kept out of landfills, and by being utilized as bat homes they allow biodiversity to thrive along the river habitats that produce renewable energy.”

About 100 or more bats can live in each bat box, which includes five chambers. Netherland, a friend and two adult mentors helped build the bat boxes in about two months that will be installed by Consumers Energy.

“I’m thankful that GM had the perfect shell for the bat box plans, and that Consumers Energy has great locations to place the boxes,” said Netherland from Boy Scout Troop 185 from Clarkston, Michigan. “Both companies have been great to work with, very encouraging and generous.”

Emily McDonald, environmental engineer for GM who coordinated with Netherland on his project, added, “I’m so impressed by Matthew’s energy and dedication to this project. We’ve worked with renowned bat experts on our bat house design and are grateful that we can partner with others who share our passion for conservation and will help us make a lasting impact. The Volt covers are made with durable material and will result in wildlife nesting opportunities for a long time.”

DOE Allocates $4B in Loan Guarantees

The Department of Energy (DOE) has issued a loan guarantee solicitation making as much as $4 billion in loan guarantees available for innovative renewable energy and energy efficiency projects located in the U.S. that avoid, reduce, or sequester greenhouse gases.

DOE_logo1“As the President emphasized in his Climate Action Plan, it is critical that we take an all-of-the above approach to energy in order to cut carbon pollution, help address the effects of climate change and protect our children’s future,” said Secretary Ernest Moniz. “Investments in clean, low-carbon energy also provide an economic opportunity. Through previous loan guarantees and other investments, the Department is already helping launch or jumpstart entire industries in the U.S., from utility-scale wind and solar to nuclear and lower-carbon fossil energy. Today’s announcement will help build on and accelerate that success.”

The Renewable Energy and Efficient Energy Projects Loan Guarantee Solicitation is intended to support technologies that are catalytic, replicable, and market-ready. Within the solicitation, the Department has included a sample list illustrative of potential technologies for consideration. While any project that meets the appropriate requirements is eligible to apply, the Department has identified five key technology areas of interest: advanced grid integration and storage; drop-in biofuels; waste-to-energy; enhancement of existing facilities including micro-hydro or hydro updates to existing non-powered dams; and efficiency improvements.

Renewables Make Up Nearly 90% of New Power in May

FERCA new report shows that renewable energy sources made up nearly 90 percent of all new electrical generating capacity in the U.S. in May and more than half the new capacity this year so far. A news release from the SUN DAY Campaign, a non-profit research and educational organization that promotes sustainable energy technologies as cost-effective alternatives to nuclear power and fossil fuels, says that a new “Energy Infrastructure Update” report from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission’s Office of Energy Projects shows that wind, solar, biomass, and hydropower provided 88.2 percent of new installed U.S. electrical generating capacity for the month of May, and for the first five months of 2014, renewable energy sources accounted for 54.1 percent of the 3,136 MW of new domestic electrical generating installed.

Since January 1, 2012, renewable energy sources have accounted for nearly half (47.83%) of all new installed U.S. electrical generating capacity followed by natural gas (38.34%) and coal (13.40%) with oil, waste heat, and “other” accounting for the balance.

Renewable energy sources, including hydropower, now account for 16.28% of total installed U.S. operating generating capacity: water – 8.57%, wind – 5.26%, biomass – 1.37%, solar – 0.75%, and geothermal steam – 0.33%. This is more than nuclear (9.24%) and oil (4.03%) combined. *

“Some are questioning whether it’s possible to satisfy the U.S. EPA’s new CO2 reduction goals with renewable energy sources and improved energy efficiency,” noted Ken Bossong, Executive Director of the SUN DAY Campaign.”The latest FERC data and the explosion of new renewable energy generating capacity during the past several years unequivocally confirm that it can be done.”

You can read the full report here.

Kansans Skeptical Over State’s Hydropower Potential

kansas-flag.gifThe federal government says there’s a lot of untapped hydropower in Kansas, in fact enough to power the entire state. But this article from the Topeka Capital-Journal says local residents of the fairly flat state are skeptical of the findings from the U.S. Department of Energy.

A study from Oak Ridge National Laboratory showed Kansas has about 2.4 gigawatts of potential hydropower that isn’t being used. A gigawatt is equal to 1 million kilowatts, a more familiar metric for residential electricity users…

David Barfield, chief engineer with the Kansas Department of Agriculture’s Division of Water Resources, said the report doesn’t go into detail about the technology that might allow new hydropower development in Kansas, but adding turbines to existing dams might be the best bet.

“I think that’s realistic and something that’s being examined,” he said.

The Kansas River doesn’t have much potential for additional hydropower, Barfield said. The Missouri River is more promising. The report also showed high potential for hydropower growth in the Arkansas River, but that doesn’t seem likely because the area is flat and the river often doesn’t flow above ground, he said.

“I’m not trying to downplay the value of looking at hydropower, but I’m puzzling over the numbers,” he said.

Kansas officials also point out the permitting issues of building new dams, especially on the Missouri River, where owners would need permits from two states. In addition, previous proposed projects have not been cost competitive.

2012 Ag Census Includes Renewable Energy

2012-censusThe 2012 Census of Agriculture shows a doubling of on-farm renewable energy production since 2007.

According to the census data released by USDA today, there were 57,299 farms that produced on-farm renewable energy in 2012, more than double the 23,451 in 2007. By far the biggest was solar panels, used on over 36,000 farms. Geoexchange systems and wind turbines each were used on more than 9,000 farms.

For renewable fuels, biodiesel was produced on 4,099 farms and ethanol on 2,397. Small hydro systems were used on about 1300 farms and methane digesters on 537.

The census reveals there are now 3.28 million farmers operating 2.1 million farms on 914.5 million acres of farmland across the United States. Those numbers are all lower than 2007 when the census reported 3.18 million farmers, 2.2 million farms and 922 million acres. The top 5 states for agricultural sales were California ($42.6 billion); Iowa ($30.8 billion); Texas ($25.4 billion); Nebraska ($23.1 billion); and Minnesota ($21.3 billion). Corn and soybean acres topped 50 percent of all harvested acres for the first time.

Census data is available from USDA online and a recording of the webcast release of the census data is here: USDA Releases 2012 Census Data

DOE Finds Hydropower Has Great Potential

Oak Ridge National Laboratory has released a renewable energy resource assessment that finds that hydropower has great potential to produce renewable electricity. The report estimates over 65 gigawatts (GW) of potential new hydropower development across more than three million U.S. rivers and streams. This is nearly the amount currently produced by the industry.

DOE 2014 Hydropower Report“The United States has tremendous untapped clean energy resources and responsible development will help pave the way to a cleaner, more sustainable and diverse energy portfolio,” said Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz. “As the Energy Department works with industry, universities and state and local governments to advance innovative hydropower technologies, the resource assessment released today provides unparalleled insight into new hydropower opportunities throughout the country.”

Hydropower makes up seven percent of total U.S. electricity generation and continues to be the United States’ largest source of renewable electricity, avoiding over 200 million metric tons of carbon emissions each year, finds the report. Hydropower also provides reliable baseload power day and night – providing greater flexibility and diversity to the electric grid and allowing utilities to integrate other renewable sources such as wind and solar power.

The New Stream-reach Development Assessment released capitalizes on recent advancements in geospatial datasets and represents the most detailed evaluation of U.S. hydropower potential at undeveloped streams and rivers to date. The greatest hydropower potential was found in western U.S. states, including Alaska, California, Colorado, Idaho, Montana, Oregon and Washington. Kansas, Missouri, Pennsylvania and Wyoming led the rest of the country in new stream-reach hydropower potential.

The hydropower resource assessment also analyzed technical, socioeconomic and environmental characteristics that will help energy developers, policymakers and local communities identify the most promising locations for sustainable hydropower facilities. The assessment includes stream- and river-specific information on local wildlife habitats, protected lands, water use and quality and fishing access areas. The report builds on a 2012 DOE report and ultimately finds there are many untapped hydropower opportunities.

Renewable Electricity Could Reach 16% In Five Years

According to an early release review of the Annual Energy Outlook 2014 (the final report is slated for release on April 30th) published by the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA), renewable energy could hit 16 percent of the net U.S. electrical generation by the year 2040. This includes biomass, geothermal, hydropower, solar and wind. But the SUN DAY Campaign challenges these predictions by asserting this could happen in the next five years.

When reviewing EIA’s own published data for the 11-year period January 1, 2003 through December 31, 2013 revealed that the percentage of the nation’s net electrical generation Biomass pelletsrepresented by renewable energy has expanded from less than 9 percent in 2004 to nearly 13 percent in 2013. Given the relatively consistent growth trends of the past decade or longer for most renewable energy sources and their rapidly declining costs, it seems improbable that it will require another 27 years to grow from 13 percent to 16 percent according to SUN DAY Campaign. Thus, EIA’s forecast is not just unduly conservative; almost certainly, it is simply wrong.

If the trends reflected in EIA data from the past decade continue, cite the SUN DAY campaign, renewable energy sources could increase to as much as 13.5 percent of net U.S. electrical generation in 2014, to 14.4 percent in 2015, to 15.3 percent in 2016, and reach or exceed 16.0 percent no later than 2018 — i.e., within five years and not the 27 years forecast by EIA. At worst, they would reach 16 percent by 2020.

“Inasmuch as policy makers in both the public and private sectors – as well as the media and others – rely heavily upon EIA data when making legislative, regulatory, investment, and other decisions, underestimation can have multiple adverse impacts on the renewable energy industry and, more broadly, on the nation’s environmental and energy future,” noted Ken Bossong, executive director of the SUN DAY Campaign. “Consequently, EIA is doing a serious disservice to the public by publishing analyses that are inherently inconsistent with its own historical data and near-term projections.”

The SUN DAY Campaign has published its own full 32-page report that includes the assumptions and projections made, on a technology-by-technology basis, using EIA data. In addition, following the projections provided for each technology is a listing of recent studies and news reports that offer alternative or complementary scenarios – many of which are more aggressive than those provided by the SUN DAY Campaign. These additional studies suggest that even SUN DAY’s analysis may prove to be unduly conservative.

Unlike Diamonds, Fossil Fuels Are Not Forever

what happens when fossil fuels run outPlymouth Rock Energy has released an interesting graphic with the theme, “unlike diamonds, fossil fuels are not forever”. The infographic describes the acceleration of fossil fuels consumption and its ultimate depletion as a viable energy resource. It further states the potentially catastrophic outcomes for contemporary society while, at the same time, offers optimism for charting a new energy conservation course.

What is interesting about Plymouth Rock Energy, is that the company was founded nearly 60 years ago to supply electricity from coal and natural gas. Yet the company’s infographic cites peak fossil fuel production sometime between 2010 and 2020. The company cites experts who suggest that the world will see soaring gas prices due to shortages, a decline in global development and environmental destruction if business continues without chaBuilding a Better Roadnge.

The graphic provides some “better way” solutions including energy conservation through the development of alternative fuel sources and the reduction of carbon dioxide pollution curbing what they term “man-made global warming”.

Plymouth Rock Energy says they believe that utilizing sustainable resources such as natural gas, hydropower, wind, and solar energy production can provide long term solutions. Adding to energy conservation efforts are the use of ethanol fuel blends, readily available natural gas deposits, electricity, and hydrogen fuel cells.

Voith Hydro Completes Fish Friendly Facility

Voith Hydro has completed its PPL Generation expansion project of the Holtwood Hydroelectric facility on the Susquehanna River in Pennsylvania. The company supplied the turbines, VOITH HYDRO KAPLAN TURBINEgenerators, and automation components for the project, which more than doubled the century-old plant’s electricity generating capacity. The $440 million expansion will provide power to approximately 100,000 households, and has been noted for its environmental enhancements, including improving both upstream and downstream fish passage.

“Holtwood is a terrific example of how hydropower development can not only provide jobs and clean energy, but improve the environment and surrounding habitats at locks and dams that have existed for decades,” said Voith Hydro President and CEO Kevin Frank. “We are proud to have provided the fish-friendly turbines, generators, and automation equipment for this historic expansion of an iconic hydroelectric facility.”

Victor Lopiano, senior vice president of Fossil & Hydro Generation for PPL, noted, “This project, one of the largest expansions of its kind in the U.S., represents a major investment in clean, reliable, renewable energy. This project highlights the potential to upgrade existing hydroelectric facilities and expand capacity without the need to build new dams.”

The new hydro powerhouse was built on the site of a previously retired coal-fired power plant. In addition to the increased capacity, PPL worked with local, state, and federal stakeholders to improve migratory fish passage, including numerous enhancements to the facility’s fish lift system. The state-of-the-art Kaplan turbines that Voith supplied for Holtwood will enhance downstream fish passage as well.

“From the electricity users who will benefit from an increase in clean energy, to the workers who built the powerhouse and the turbines, to the surrounding environment and habitats, the benefits of expanding facilities like Holtwood are immense,” Frank added. “Voith looks forward to its continued leadership in hydropower innovation.”

Ohioans Support Clean Energy

Ohio is voting “yes” for clean energy according to a new poll conducted by Yes for Ohio’s Energy Future. The survey found that Ohioans support the Ohio Jobs Initiative, the Ohio Clean Energy Initiative by a margin of 35 percent (64 percent likely to vote in favor versus 29 percent unlikely). The poll was conducted by Public Policy Polling (PPP), who found during the survey that 55 percent of respondents were not aware of the Jobs Initiative. The proposed policy needs 385,247 signatures by July 4, 2014 to be on the November 2014 ballot to enable Ohioans to vote on the bill.

According to Yes for Ohio’s Energy Future, who backs the initiative, the Jobs Initiative enacts an amendment that would provide $1.3 billion a year for 10 years from state general obligation bond funding in a comprehensive array of areas, including clean energy YES FOR OHIO'S ENERGY FUTURE CLEAN ENERGYindustries and energy-related public infrastructure projects in the areas of solar, wind, hydro, geothermal, biomass, smart grid, along with other technologies. Funding includes research and development, academic and educational development as well as vocational training support.

Beginning in January 2014, the Ohio Energy Initiative Commission (OEIC) will begin accepting a limited number of early project proposals as part of the Fast Start Program; however, funding is limited to one quarter of the annual budget. Early project proposals may be placed on a prioritized list for funding, which is contingent on passage of the Initiative. Eligible categories of applicants include individuals, companies, non-profits, municipalities, and state agencies.

Project proposals for funding will be reviewed by independent reviewers at the OEIC through a simple open, transparent, and publicly-published process that evaluates the technical, economic, financial and environmental merits of each proposal.

Yes for Ohio’s Clean Energy future says the Ohio Clean Energy Initiative mirrors the enormously successful bi-partisan jobs initiative, Ohio Third Frontier, which began in 2002 under Republican Governor Bob Taft and continued under Democratic Governor Ted Strickland. The program is credited with producing 55,000 jobs at an average salary of $65,000 per year and at an overall Return on Investment of 9:1.

DOE Announces $150M in Clean Energy Tax Credits

The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) has announced $150 million in clean energy tax credits to build U.S. capabilities in clean energy manufacturing. The credits will go towards investments in domestic manufacturing equipment by 12 businesses. Through the Advanced Energy Manufacturing Tax Credit program (48C Program), DOE says these awards will help create thousands of jobs across the country and increase U.S. competitiveness in the global clean energy market.

DOE Energy Secretary Ernest MonizU.S. Secretary of Energy Ernest Moniz announced the 48C Program awards during the Energy Department’s American Energy and Manufacturing Competitiveness Summit, jointly sponsored by the Council on Competitiveness. As part of the Department’s broader Clean Energy Manufacturing Initiative, this summit brings together industry, government, academia and the Department’s national laboratories to address national challenges in manufacturing and energy.

“Cost-effective, efficient manufacturing plays a critical role in continuing U.S. leadership in clean energy innovation, and the tax credits announced today will help reduce carbon pollution from our vehicles and buildings; create new jobs and supply more clean energy projects in the United States and abroad with equipment made in America,” said Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz.

The Departments of Energy and the Treasury worked in partnership to develop, launch, and award the funds for this program. The Advanced Energy Manufacturing Tax Credit authorized Treasury to provide developers with an investment tax credit of 30 percent for the manufacture of particular types of energy equipment. Funded at $2.3 billion, the tax credit was made available to 183 domestic clean energy manufacturing facilities during Phase I of the program. Today’s awards, or Phase II, were launched to utilize $150 million in tax credits that were not used by the previous awardees and support projects that must be placed in service by 2017.

Today’s awards include domestic manufacturing of a wide range of renewable energy and energy efficiency products – from hydropower and wind energy to smart grid technologies to fuel efficient vehicles – and will support thousands of new manufacturing jobs in nine states and dozens of supply chains throughout the United States.

Hydro-PV Hybrid Project in China Connects to Grid

What is believed to be the world’s largest hydro and PV hybrid project has been connected to the grid and is now supplying power from the Longyangxia Dam in Qinghai Province, China. Yingli Green Energy Holding Company, who supplied 15 MW YGE series photovoltaic (PV) modules for the project congratulated the project team for its successful efforts.

Longyangxia DamWith a total capacity of 320 MW, the project began construction in March 2013 and started grid connection and commissioning last week. During its 25 years lifetime, the hyrdo-solar project is expected to deliver 498 million kWh of electricity per year to the grid.

“We feel delighted about the successful grid connection of world’s largest hydro and PV hybrid project,” said Liansheng Miao, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Yingli Green Energy. “In addition to this hydro and PV hybrid project, the company has also been acting proactively in integrating PV with architecture, agricultural, and other fields. For example, the Power Valley International Hotel – world’s first five star hotel with BIPV application applied our curtain wall Series PV modules, integrating solar power generation into the overall design and making the building more environmental friendly.”

Miao added, “The Company also focuses on the innovative applications of PV modules with traditional agriculture, promoting the development of eco-agriculture. Besides, we installed more than 20 MW PV modules on our factories, parking lots, and other facilities, which will provide approximate 23 million kWh solar electricity per year for the company’s production and operation. This will help the company to reduce CO2 emission and increase renewable energy consumption.”