CEC Funds Geyser Study

The California Energy Commission (CEC) has awarded a $3 million grant to Calpine Corporation’s subsidiary Geyers Power Company for their “Advancing Utility-Scale Clean Energy” proposal. The grant will be matched by Calpine. The focus of the study is to determine how The Geysers may be modified to improve flexibility and address greater demands on the grid due to intermittent renewables.

“The Geysers is a true treasure of California,” said Joseph Ronan, senior advisor of government and regulatory affairs for The Geyers geothermal power plantCalpine. “In continual operation for over 50 years, this keystone resource will continue to play a major role in helping California meet its renewable energy and climate objectives for years to come.”

The Geysers is the world’s largest geothermal resource developed for electric generation and produces approximately 6 million megawatt hours of electricity equating to more than 15 percent of the delivered renewable energy in California.

Jim Kluesener, vp of geothermal operations for Calpine added, “While The Geysers currently offers a considerable amount of flexibility and shaping to the system, we have been analyzing new ways to operate our facility with even greater responsiveness to changing demand. This grant will enhance our ability to support the reliability needs of the system from this renewable and low-carbon resource. We are appreciative of the support from the CEC and other California energy stakeholders in considering the role of The Geysers in meeting the challenges associated with integrating other renewable technologies into the grid.”

NRG Energy & MGM Install Rooftop Solar System

NRG Energy, Inc. and MGM Resorts International have completed installation of what they believe is the world’s largest rooftop solar array on a convention center. Covering approximately 20 acres atop the Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino, the 6.4 MW photovoltaic array will produce enough electricity to power the equivalent of 1,000 average sized U.S. homes each year and is the first of its kind on the Las Vegas Strip.

“Together, MGM Resorts and NRG are an excellent example of private sector companies working together to develop innovative technologies that protect our planet’s most precious resources,” said Nevada Senator and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid. “I applaud MGM and NRG for leading the way for other businesses to embrace environmental best practices, and demonstrating that it’s good for business.”

Mandalay Bay Solar ArrayMGM Resorts and NRG also announced plans to build an additional 2 MW dc photovoltaic array atop a future expansion of the Mandalay Bay Convention Center, scheduled to begin construction later this year.

“Today marks a major milestone for MGM Resorts, NRG and the entire Las Vegas community,” said Jim Murren, Chairman and CEO of MGM Resorts International. “The completion of this solar array demonstrates our steadfast commitment to the principles of environmental responsibility, and the announcement of the second array reinforces that we’re always looking to do more.”

When the addition is completed, the solar project is projected to provide pricing stability and reduce energy draw from the grid during peak times. Through a Power Purchase Agreement (PPA), Mandalay Bay Resort will purchase all the electricity generated by both solar arrays.

Tom Doyle, President and CEO of NRG Renew added, “As one of the largest providers of renewable energy solutions in North America, we’re delighted to be the chosen partner of MGM Resorts to take this giant leap forward and join their longstanding legacy in environmental stewardship. NRG envisions a thriving, sustainable future powered by renewable energy. We look forward to continuing our partnership with MGM in bringing competitively priced, clean energy to Mandalay Bay through the second solar array of this project; further supporting their commitment to reducing energy costs.”

Ansell Installs Biomass Boiler to Reduce Energy Costs

The Ansell factory complex in Biyagama, Sri Lanka has installed its second biomass boiler as part of company initiatives to be greener. The new boiler has a capacity of 12.5MW and will be the largest hot water boiler in Sri Lanka. Ansell Lanka already has a 10.5MW boiler installed at its premises, which reduced CO2 emissions by 11,000 MT per annum. From 2004 to 2012, CO2 emissions have been reduced by 36 percent across all of Ansell’s manufacturing facilities, with the global CO2 emission rate from 2013 to 2014 alone reduced by 6 percent. The company anticipates the reduction of a further 14,000 MT of CO2 emissions annually as furnace oil consumption will now be reduced to the bare minimum.

Screen Shot 2014-10-23 at 10.26.12 AM“This project represents another step forward in Ansell’s business strategy to conducting business ethically, transparently, and in ways that produce social, environmental, and economic benefits for communities around the world,” said Steve Genzer, senior vice president of global operations at Ansell. “We would like to thank the government of Sri Lanka for its continued support, and the more than 4,000 Ansell employees who are the driving force of implementing these green programs.”

The announcement is part of the company’s Green Productivity program, focused on energy management, and implemented within manufacturing operations across Ansell. Energy management at Ansell focuses on achieving the most efficient and effective use of energy and simultaneously reducing greenhouse gas emissions. Programs that have been implemented include the installation of equipment to recover energy from flue gas emitted from boiler chimneys as an energy source to heat water, the installation of energy efficient equipment to provide chilled water for manufacturing site cooling systems and the conversion of fossil fuels to renewable energy sources.

“While the forward progress made in the last 10 years has been incredible, this is only the tip of the iceberg in how Ansell will be doing business differently in the years to come,” added Genzer. “Ansell is committed to a number of sustainable and practical initiatives that are designed to make a positive and lasting contribution to the markets it serves and the community in general.”

Study: Leasing Ups Interest in Residential Solar

A national poll by EnviroMedia fins that a large majority of Americans are definately or somewhat interested in new solar leasing programs offering installation for little or no money down and a low monthly fee.

EnviroMedia solar leasing poll“It’s no surprise we found 70 percent of Americans perceived ‘cost’ was a barrier to installing solar panels,” said EnviroMedia president and behavior change expert Kevin Tuerff. “Consumers are probably unaware of the plummeting cost of solar power, and most have never heard of solar leasing.”

The new poll finds 48 percent of American homeowners say they have not considered adding solar panels to their home to offset some of their electricity use. However interest in a solar option spiked when respondents were educated about the benefits of a solar leasing program. About 67 percent said that they were very or somewhat interested in such a program.

The poll also found that only 9 percent of respondents said they currently participate in a renewable energy or green power option with their electricity provider. But 69 percent said they might be interested.

“Americans need basic education about where their electricity comes from and how clean energy works,” added Tuerff. “Unfortunately, only one-third of Americans said they definitely know the fuel source of their electricity, so we’ve got a ways to go.”

Pacific Ag Bales Bundles of Energy

Bill Levy Pacific AgLast week Abengoa’s cellulosic ethanol biorefinery went online and is expected to produce 25 million gallons of advanced ethanol per year as well as 21 MW of bioenergy. But how exactly does the corn and wheat residue get from the fields to the biorefinery in a economical and efficient way? Enter Pacific Ag.

The company was founded by Bill Levy in 1998 and began by baling residue for growers and using the biomass for animal feed both in the U.S. and internationally. It was a natural progression for Pacific Ag to get involved in cellulosic production in the U.S. and to become a major supplier to the industry.

I asked Levy to talk about their residue removal model. He noted that since their inception, they have always focused on having a balanced residue program for growers and they are finding value for those products for them. So taking their successful model from the Northwest and applying it to the Midwest was a good fit. “The fundamentals of having residue removed on a timely basis and in a sustainable way is really the same,” explained Levy. Today they are in California, North Carolina, Iowa, Kansas and he says they have innovated to become “energy balers” because of the new bioenergy market for residue.

There has been talk about the best biomass model for the biofuels industry. I posed this question to Levy and he explained how they have refined their model to be financial feasible. “We have tried to make it easy for growers to be part of the program by taking care of the harvest, we own the machinery, we schedule the harvest or the removal of the residue, or energy crop with the grower and then we provide them with an income stream for that product,” Levy answerPacific Ag Hugoton Kansas teamed. “It’s very important that we have the size that allows us to invest in that equipment and a lot of times it doesn’t make sense financially for a grower to to invest in that harvest equipment just to harvest the residue.” Pacific Ag is the largest purchaser and owner of baling equipment in the world.

“So what growers enjoy is being able to sit back and enjoy a residue removal program and the income from that but not have to put a lot of effort into it,” added Levy.

Pacific Ag is looking for growers of rice, wheat, corn and other biomass crops who are interested in working with them. As cellulosic ethanol plants including Abengoa continue to ramp up to nameplate capacity, more biomass will be needed and Pacific Ag is ready to be the advanced biofuels partner to help make the cellulosic industry and the growers who plant the bioenergy crops, successful.

Learn more about Pacific Ag and how to become involved in the biomass energy revolution by listening to my interview with Bill Levy: Interview with Bill Levy, Pacific Ag

Abengoa Cellulosic Ethanol Plant Grand Opening photo album.

ACORE Report: Monitize U.S. Energy Security

dodshieldThe American Council on Renewable Energy (ACORE) has released a new report, “Monetizing Energy Security,” that outlines liabilities fostered by the natural dependence of the Department of Defense (DOD) on energy resources. The paper proposes the DOD should consider the actual, total cost of energy it takes to achieve energy security and assign a dollar value.

“As the largest, most technologically advanced, and geographically dispersed military in the world, DOD has sought to develop a more comprehensive energy strategy to reduce liability on limited energy resources,” said Lesley Hunter, ACORE’s lead researcher and the paper’s editor. “We believe, and our research backs this up, that there’s significant room for improvement in cost-accounting of DOD’s present energy strategy, and that renewable energy and microgrid technologies can add real value in the push for energy security.”

This white paper demonstrates that renewable energy offers greater lifecycle value when compared to fossil or nuclear energy, and provides a more reliable and secure resource that ultimately lowers the actual levelized cost to DOD. acore.jpgFurthermore, the paper asserts that – with improved supply-chain accounting for costs of present installation energy and realignment of some federal processes – private, third-party capital investment in military renewable energy would exponentially grow.

President and CEO of ACORE, Michael Brower, noted the challenges associated with of shifting one of the world’s largest energy consumers to a modern, reliable and diverse system. “This essential matter is very complex and subject to the views of many stakeholders. ACORE is very optimistic that the paradigm is positively shifting as reflected by the joint services’ recent actions.”

The report concludes by noting that energy security and resilience on DOD installations, as well as the reduction of the growing level of costs and uncertainty energy security represents for DOD planners, is increasingly recognized as being essentially intertwined with DOD’s primary mission to protect and defend.

Analysis: EU Can Cut Natural Gas Imports By Half

Ecofys natural gas reportAccording to a new report, ramping up cost-effective investments in renewable energy and energy efficiency can help the European Union cut its dependency on natural gas by half. The analysis also found this measure could reduce carbon emissions by 49 percent or more, or drop emissions below the 1990 level by 2030, more than is currently proposed. The report was released just days before the European Council meets to set new climate change targets.

The study, “Increasing the EU’s Energy Independence: A No-Regrets Strategy for Energy Security and Climate Change,” was authored by international consultants Ecofys as part of the Open Climate Network (OCN). The report finds that natural gas consumption can be halved overall by implementing cost-effective measures that accelerate the use of renewable energy and efficiency improvements in industry, buildings and energy supply.

Relative to current projections, these measures can achieve:

    • 58% reduction in gas consumption from buildings (equal to 23% of all natural gas presently consumed by EU);
    • 20% reduction in gas consumption from industry (equal to 5% of all natural gas presently consumed by EU); and
    • 63% reduction in gas consumption from power generation (equal to 19% of all natural gas presently consumed by EU).

Replacing natural gas imports with clean alternatives will enhance Europe’s stability in energy supply, increasing resilience to possible interruption from unstable suppliers.

“Contrary to popular belief, Europe can be energy independent,” said Jennifer Morgan, Director of the Climate and Energy Program at World Resources Institute. “This analysis shows that the EU can cut natural gas imports in half without raising costs for consumers. This is a win-win approach for the EU, increasing its energy security and raising the bar for climate action.”

DOE’s Moniz Congrats Abengoa on Cellulosic Plant

US Energy Secretary Ernst MonizDepartment of Energy Secretary Ernst Moniz was on hand to help Abengoa Bioenergy celebrate the grand opening of its cellulosic ethanol plant in Hugoton, Kansas. With a beautiful day and a full house, excitement was high as Moniz took the stage to congratulate Abengoa’s achievement.

The $500 million biorefinery was supported, in part, by a DOE loan guarantee. Moniz began his remarks by putting the bioenergy plant in perspective of the larger picture and that is as part of President Obama’s “all of the above” energy strategy.

Moniz said the cellulosic ethanol plant serves three major objectives:

  1. Growing the economy – creating jobs.
  2. Advancing our energy security interests. No only for the United States alone, but also for our allies and friends.
  3. Moving towards the low carbon economy- addressing climate change.

Moniz also noted the importance of the innovation chain, “…and what we’re seeing to today is part of that…But if we’re going to kick start this, we have to work with the private sector with state and local governments with our research institutions and laboratories to get these technologies deployed and drive those costs down to be competitive continued Moniz. So this plant shows all of these features.”

He said that while there will be a few rough spots along the road, what the country is seeing today is the beginning of a new industry.

Listen to Energy Secretary Moniz’s complete comments here:

Listen to Energy Secretary Moniz’s remarks: Energy Secretary Moniz Remarks

Check out the Abengoa Cellulosic Ethanol Plant Grand Opening photo album.

Abengoa Celebrates Cellulosic Ethanol Achievement

Abengoa Cellulosic Ethanol Goes Into ProductionSpanish-based Abengoa celebrated its cellulosic ethanol achievement today with a celebration of the plant’s grand opening. Thousands of people attended the event with dozens of high profile guests on hand ranging from former and current Senators to governors to the town mayor, to Interior Secretary and Energy Secretary Ernst Moniz who gave the keynote speech.

The bioenergy plant is based in Hugoton, Kansas and when at full scale will produce 25 million gallons of cellulosic ethanol from biomass per year as well as 21 MW of electricity. The plant will use no power from the grid, in fact, it will sell its excess power – a model common in Europe and Brazil.

Javier Garoz Neira Abengoa BioenergyAbengoa announced the plant would be located in Hugoton in 2007 and a lot of has happened since then as Javier Garoz Neira, CEO of Abengoa Bioenergy, said in his remarks. That same year they produced cellulosic ethanol from wheat straw in their pilot facility located in York, Nebraska. In 2009 they built a larger cellulosic demonstration plant in central Spain. In 2011, working with the Department of Energy (DOE) Abengoa was able to secure a loan guarantee to build the plant in Hugoton, Kansas and today the plant is gearing up to produce cellulosic ethanol from corn and what residues at commercial scale.

“It is without a question a major achievement. And we believe it will revolutionize the biofuels industry and our future,” said Neira.

Listen to Javier Garoz Neira’s remarks: Javier Garoz Neira Remarks

Manuel Sanchez Ortega AgengoaManuel Sanchez Ortega began his remarks by noting how important today is for everyone in the room. He also addressed the role of the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) in providing a platform for the development of second generation biofuels. “Without the RFS, there was no way we would have decided to invest more than $500 million dollars in a project full of risks from both technology and financial without the existence of a solid framework of the RFS.”

Ortega stressed that the role that advanced biofuels will play around the world is not illusive. “The promise of a sustainable and domestic energy is not illusive or imaginary, not anymore. It is right here in front of us. Progress has always come from innovation. And we at Abengoa believe that only through innovation we make make Earth a better place to live.”

Listen to Manuel Sanchez Ortega’s remarks: Manuel Sanchez Ortega Remarks

Check out the Abengoa Cellulosic Ethanol Plant Grand Opening photo album.

East Kansas’ Jeff Oestmann Featured on Car Clinic

Bobby Likis Car ClinicThe ethanol industry was well represented on the nationally syndicated car-talk program “Bobby Likis Car Clinic” when Bobby Likis spoke with East Kansas Agri-Energy’s President and CEO Jeff Oestmann. The show aired Saturday, October 11, 2014 and the two ethanol advocates chatted about local, regional and national issues surrounding ethanol production.

Oestmann, whose career spans 20 years in the bioenergy and grain processing industries, currently serves on the Board of Directors of both the Renewable Fuels Association (RFA) & Kansas Association of Ethanol Producers. During the program, Oestmann discussed the consumer benefits of ethanol production and its impact on local communities and the U.S. economy. Oestmann is a non-commissioned officer who served in the U.S. Marine Corps for 11 years, including service in the USMC’s elite Embassy Guard.

Jeff Oestmann East Kansas Agri-Energy“I have a question slate lined up for Jeff that addresses ethanol and the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS), the U.S economy, engine performance and national security. Consumers – and American citizens – need to hear the message,” said Likis.

Oestmann shared many facts during the program. “We use cutting edge technology at East Kansas Agri-Energy to produce high-quality ethanol that helps consumers save an average of $1.00 per gallon at the gas station and also benefits our environment by reducing greenhouse gas emissions. We put a high priority on innovation, and the biofuels we produce – including next generation renewable diesel – help reduce America’s dependence on foreign oil, which in turn bolsters America’s national security.”

Click here to listen to Oestmann’s interview.

Abengoa Yield’s Solana Solar Project Wins Award

Abengoa Yield has announced that Solana, its Arizona-based solar power plant, received the Energy Storage North America (ESNA) Innovation Award in the Utility-Scale category. WinnersAbengoa Yield Solana solar field were announced on October 1st, 2014, at the ESNA Innovation Awards ceremony in San Jose, California. Winners were chosen by the ESNA Advisory Board and votes on social media.

According to the company, Solana is the largest solar parabolic trough plant in the world. Located near Gila Bend, Arizona, it has a total installed capacity of 280 megawatts. With a six-hour molten-salt thermal energy storage capacity, it supplies clean energy to Arizona Public Service (APS), Arizona’s largest utility, meeting peaks of demand before dawn and after dusk.

Intermittency issues are a signficant hurdle with renewable energy such as solar. Using solar thermal energy coupled with molten salt elimates this issue according to the company. The storage component also increases dispatchability in
the power generation process, creating systems which can operate flexibly both with and without solar radiation.

The company explains that Solana’s parabolic trough collectors track the sun and concentrate sunlight onto receiver tubes located at a focal point of each collector. A heat transfer fluid (HTF) is heated as it circulates inside the tubes and is then circulated back to a central power plant. The HTF then passes through a series of heat exchangers to produce superheated steam that is used to generate clean electricity in a conventional steam turbine generator.

Martifer Solar Closes Contracts

Martifer Solar, a subsidiary of Martifer SGPS, has added close to 90 MW of new third party O&M contracts throughout Italy. According to the company, they have been able to distinguish its O&M Service capabilities in Italy by leveraging a resourceful and qualified local O&M staff, the company´s high quality processes and systems integration, such as its award-winning Operation Management System, and its global industry expertise.

Henrique Rodrigues, CEO of Martifer Solar, said, “We are proud when Clients such as DIF and Eland rely on our O&M team to complement their Asset Management services as it demonstrates that the market is recognizing our strength and reliability as a global O&M Service provider.”

MTS_OM_Italy_PR_1With this recent achievement from the Italian team, Martifer Solar´s global solar O&M portfolio has grown to more than 550 MW of plants under supervision across Europe, Asia and the Americas. The portfolio is comprised of both plants completed by third parties and those built by Martifer Solar.

David Lau, Associate Director of DIF who has contracted with Martifer Solar, said, “As our strategy is focused on targeting investments that generate predictable, long-term and stable cash flows, we need to count on a credible and trusted partner like Martifer Solar to provide operation and maintenance services for our assets.”

The recent addition to the Italian portfolio will strengthen Martifer Solar´s pace as the third largest vertically-integrated O&M player in Europe, as named by recognized research firm, Greentech Media Research. “As we have done here in Italy, as well as other European markets such as Spain, France and the UK, we expect to double the capacity of our O&M portfolio in the near future,” added Rodrigues.

UK Supports Ocean Energy Development

Leaders in Europe (UK) are supporting ocean renewable energy and announced their commitment to accelerate the development during the Ocean Energy Europe 2014 that took place in Paris, France this week. Ministers from France, the UK, Ireland, Portugal and Greece all highlighted European collaboration as the key to commercialization. Industrial heavyweights such as DCNS, GDF SUEZ, Alstom and Siemens also fielded senior representatives to outline their plans for ocean energy deployments.

Speaking at the event, Dr Sian George, CEO of Ocean Energy Europe, said: “Ocean energy will play a big role in decarbonising and securing Europe’s energy supply. Today showed that European political and industrial leaders will do whatever it takes to turn ocean energy into a fully-fledged commercial sector. The industry will work with the EU and its Member States to get as much kit in the water as possible before 2020, with full commercial roll-out following after.”

Ocean waves crash along an icy winter shoreline Photo @RedkingScottish Energy Minister Fergus Ewing added of the effort: “Scotland is blessed with a wealth of natural resources and is at the forefront of developing marine energy technology thanks to an abundance of ocean resource and world-leading test facilities at the European Marine Energy Centre. However, to make wave and tidal stream technologies viable and cost effective is going to take the best engineers and the best brains from across Europe. We see a collaborative model as the way forward and the time has come for this industry to unite. The Scottish Government is committed to working with its partners from across the European Union to support the development and commercialisation of the ocean energy industry and allow Europe’s ocean energy sector to stay ahead in the race.”

Next year’s event will be held in Dublin, Ireland as announced by the Irish Energy Minister Alex White. “I very much welcome the opportunity that this Ocean Energy Annual Conference has given for so many key stakeholders to come together. International collaboration is key to understanding and overcoming the challenges the ocean energy sector faces to realising its commercial potential. To that end I am delighted to announce that Ireland will be hosting the 2015 Annual Ocean Energy Europe Conference in Dublin.”

Renewables Outpacing Nuclear

According to a recent Vital Signs, renewable energy is outpacing nuclear electricity expansion even though renewables still have a long way to go to catch up with fossil fuel power plants. Michael Renner, senior researcher with Worldwatch Institute writes that nuclear energy’s share of global power production has declined steadily from a peak of 17.6 percent in 1996 to 10.8 percent in 2013. Renewables increased their share from 18.7 percent in 2000 to 22.7 percent in 2012.

According to the International Atomic Energy Agency, following a rapid rise from its beginnings in the mid-1950s, global nuclear power generating capacity peaked at 375.3 gigawatts (GW) in 2010. Capacity has since declined to 371.8 GW in 2013. Adverse economics, concern about reactor safety and proliferation and the unresolved question of what to do with nuclear waste have put the brakes on the industry according to Renner.

Vital Signs - NuclearIn contrast, wind and solar power generating capacities are now on the same soaring trajectory that nuclear power was on in the 1970s and 1980s. Wind capacity of 320 GW in 2013 is equivalent to nuclear capacity in 1990. The 140 GW in solar photovoltaic (PV) capacity is still considerably smaller, but growing rapidly.

In recent years, renewable energy has attracted far greater investments than nuclear power. According to estimates by the International Energy Agency (IEA), nuclear investments averaged US$8 billion per year between 2000 and 2013, compared with $37 billion for solar PV and $43 billion for wind. Individual countries, of course, set diverging priorities, but nowhere did nuclear have a major role in power generation investments.

In contrast with investment priorities, research budgets still favor nuclear technologies. Nuclear energy attracted $295 billion, or 51 percent, of total energy R&D spending between 1974 and 2012. But this number has declined over time, from a high of 73.6 percent in 1974 to 26 percent today. Renewable energy received a cumulative total of $59 billion during the same period (10.2 percent), but its share has risen year after year. Because wind and solar power can be deployed at variable scales, and their facilities constructed in less time, these technologies are far more practical and affordable for most countries than nuclear power reactors. Worldwide, 31 countries are operating nuclear reactors on their territories. This compares to at least 85 countries that have commercial wind turbine installations.

The chances of a nuclear revival seem slim writes Renner. Renewable energy, by contrast, appears to be on the right track. But it is clear that renewables have a long way to go before they can hope to supplant fossil fuels as the planet’s principal electricity source.

Largest Vermont Solar Farm Completed

AllEarth Renewables and Claire Solar Partners have announced the completion of a 2.2MW solar tracker farm in South Burlington, Vt. According to the companies, it’s the largest solar project in North America to feature distributed inverters and dual-axis trackers to maximize production.

AllSun TrackersJA Solar provided multi-crystalline 260 watt PID resistant modules for the project. Claire Solar utilized 366 AllSun Trackers and highly efficient modules from JA Solar, to further maximize the farm’s output. The ground-mounted pre-engineered solar trackers, which track the sun throughout the day, produce up to 30 percent more energy than fix ground-mounted systems per JA Solar. The company also says its multi-crystalline 260 watt modules outperform the peers’ modules by 5-10 watts in terms of power rating.

The project was constructed under Vermont’s Sustainably Priced Energy Enterprise Development (SPEED) standard-offer program and will produce over 3 million kilowatt hours of emissions-free energy a year. AllEarth Renewables also served as the EPC for the project. In 2011, AllEarth Renewables utilized their solar trackers for a 2.1MW solar farm across the road from the Claire Solar site.