World Energy Outlook 2013 Released

According to the International Energy Agency’s (IEA) 2013 edition of the World Energy Outlook (WEO-2013), technology and high prices are opening up new oil resources, but this does not mean the world is on the verge of an era of oil abundance. The report also finds that the Middle East, the only large source of low-cost oil, will take back its role as a key source of oil supply growth beginning in the mid-2020s. Between now and then, America and Brazil will play a key role in providing oil.

WEO_2013_Cover_WEB1The annual report presents a central scenario in which global energy demand rises by one-third in the period to 2035. The shift in global energy demand to Asia gathers speed, but China moves towards a back seat in the 2020s as India and countries in Southeast Asia take the lead in driving consumption higher. The Middle East also moves to center stage as an energy consumer, becoming the world’s second-largest gas consumer by 2020 and third-largest oil consumer by 2030, redefining its role in global energy markets. Brazil, a special focus in WEO-2013, maintains one of the least carbon-intensive energy sectors in the world, despite experiencing an 80 percent increase in energy use to 2035 and moving into the top ranks of global oil producers.

Energy demand in OECD countries barely rises and by 2035 is less than half that of non-OECD countries. Low-carbon energy sources meet around 40 percent of the growth in global energy demand. In some regions, rapid expansion of wind and solar PV raises fundamental questions about the design of power markets and their ability to ensure adequate investment and long-term reliability.

“Major changes are emerging in the energy world in response to shifts in economic growth, efforts at decarbonisation and technological breakthroughs,” said IEA Executive Director Maria van der Hoeven. “We have the tools to deal with such profound market change. Those that anticipate global energy developments successfully can derive an advantage, while those that do not risk taking poor policy and investment decisions.”

The availability and affordability of energy is a critical element of economic well-being and, in many countries, also of industrial competitiveness. In WEO-2013, large variations in energy prices persist through to 2035, affecting company strategies and investment decisions in energy-intensive industries. The United States sees its share of global exports of energy-intensive goods slightly increase to 2035, providing the clearest indication of the link between relatively low energy prices and the industrial outlook. By contrast, the European Union and Japan see their share of global exports decline – a combined loss of around one-third of their current share.

“Lower energy prices in the United States mean that it is well-placed to reap an economic advantage, while higher costs for energy-intensive industries in Europe and Japan are set to be a heavy burden,” said Fatih Birol, IEA Chief Economist. Continue reading

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.

Sustainable Roadmap for Jamaica Released

The Worldwatch Institute has released the report, “Jamaica Sustainable Energy Roadmap: Pathways to an Affordable, Reliable, Low-Emission Electricity System,” that looks at the measures that the Jamaican government can take to transition its electricity sector to one that is socially, environmentally and financially sustainable. The report also analyzes the potential for energy efficiency and renewable energy deployment in Jamaica and discusses the social and economic impacts of alternative energy pathways, concluding that a scenario of high renewable penetration can bring significant savings, greater energy security, gains in competitiveness, and many other important benefits to the country.

Jamaica Sustainable Energy Roadmap“Jamaica is paying a colossal price to import polluting and health-threatening fossil fuels, even when it has the best clean energy resources at its doorstep: wind, solar, hydro, and biomass,” said Alexander Ochs, Director of Climate and Energy at Worldwatch and a co-author of the study. “The Jamaican government has set a nationwide goal of 20 percent renewable energy use by 2030; our Roadmap will help to realize this goal. What’s more, our analysis shows that the bar can and should be set much higher: Jamaica can become a zero-carbon island in a matter of decades, and its people would benefit enormously from such a transition.”

Worldwatch collaborated closely on this project with the Government of Jamaica. “I am very confident that the outcome of this project will enable Jamaica to map, in more precise ways, the additional electricity generation capacity that we seek,” says Jamaican Energy Minister Philip Paulwell. “We intend to use the Roadmap to determine the next phase of new generation capacity, and it will enable us to be far more efficient than we have in the past.”

Jose Maria Figueres, president of the Carbon War Room and former president of Costa Rica, points to the broader benefits of the study and Worldwatch’s Sustainable Energy Roadmap work: “This report provides the practical steps that enable us to fast-forward the deployment of renewable energy. With it, we can boost national economies and improve conditions of well-being. [Jamaica] can become a shining example of what the future is all about.”

The Roadmap also delves into the full societal costs of Jamaica’s current electricity sector to the costs of alternative pathways that are based on high shares of domestic renewable energy. The report concludes that Jamaica will benefit economically, socially, and environmentally if it relies more heavily on renewable energy sources and less on fossil fuels. In addition, based on analysis of Jamaica’s investment environment, the Roadmap suggests regulatory and institutional changes that will be necessary to attract new investments in clean energy solutions.

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.”

Legislation Introduced to Support Renewable Electricity

utility scale solar projectU.S. Senators Tom Udall (D-NM) and Mark Udall (D-CO) have introduced a bill that if passed, would establish a national Renewable Electricity Standard (RES). The bill would require utilities to generate 25 percent of their power from wind, solar and other renewable energy sources by 2025. The first cousins, say the bill would create jobs, reduce pollution, reduce dependence on foreign fossil fuels, hold down utility rates, boost private investments in state economies and save consumers money.

“Clean energy creates jobs, spurs innovation, reduces global warming and makes us more energy independent. This common-sense proposal would extend Colorado’s successful effort to expand the use of renewable energy alongside natural gas and coal to the entire nation,” said Mark Udall. “I was honored to lead the effort to institute a renewable energy standard in Colorado and am proud to join with Sen. Tom Udall to bring this policy to the nation.”

Christopher Mansour, Vice President of Federal Affairs of the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA) applauded the proposed legislation. “Removing market barriers and providing a competitive structure that allows the nation to recognize solar energy’s full potential is a top priority for America’s solar industry. We’ve already seen what well-structured renewable energy standards have meant in states. They’ve opened electricity markets to allow for more competition from renewable sources of energy and ultimately driven down the cost of electricity for consumers.

Mansour noted that the success can be replicated at the national level. “A national standard that successfully deploys solar energy would diversify our energy portfolio, reduce costs for consumers, and create jobs. We look forward to constructively working with policymakers to ensure that all forms of solar energy, including solar heating and cooling technologies, work to meet this goal.”

Wind Farms in Northern Cape Move Forward

Three large-scale wind energy projects in the Northern Cape, South Africa with a total generation capacity of 300 megawatts is moving forward and on track to be fully operational in mid-2014. A consortium led by global wind and solar company Mainstream Renewable Power has been awarded Preferred Bidder by the Department of Energy in South Africa. The award was made under the third round of the South African Government’s Renewable Energy Procurement Programme. The Mainstream consortium was awarded 238 megawatts of wind and solar projects in the first round of the programme back in 2011.

The projects, which represent an investment of approximately ZAR 9 billion, are expected to reach Financial Close by August next year and commence construction shortly thereafter.

Mainstream Renewable PowerCommenting on the announcement, Eddie O’Connor, Chief Executive of Mainstream Renewable Power said, “The team here in Mainstream is delighted with our success today. I understand the quality was very high; there were 93 bids submitted, only 17 were successful today and we won three of those. Mainstream is now the leading developer of renewable energy in South Africa; we have three wind and solar projects due to be operational in the coming months and now a further three large-scale wind farms due to start construction next year. More than five years ago Mainstream identified the future potential of the South African market and we are delighted that the quality of our projects and the experience of our team has been recognised today.”

O’Connor congratulated the South African government for putting in place a “world-class” process and for the “superb manner” in which it has been executed. He noted that the win underpins the company’s long-term commitment to working with partners to bring the benefits of renewable energy, not only to South Africa but to the continent of Africa.

“This marks an extraordinarily successful time for Mainstream globally. This month we closed a €100 million equity investment with Japanese Trading House Marubeni Corporation, we signed a ground-breaking deal with Actis in Chile to build 600 MW of wind and solar projects by 2016; more than 500 private landowners have signed up for our 5,000 MW wind export project in Ireland and IKEA purchased our Carrickeeny wind farm in Ireland,” added O’Connor.

The wind farms awarded under this round are:

  • The 140MW Khobab Wind Farm located in the District Municipality of Namakwa in the Northern Cape.
  • The 140MW Loeriesfontein 2 Wind Farm located in the District Municipality of Namakwa in the Northern Cape
  • The 80MW Noupoort Wind Farm located in the Local Municipality of Umsobomvu in the Northern Cape

Renewable Energy in Mining Industry to Reach $4B

EmergingRenewables_IconAccording to a new report, “Renewable Energy in the Mining Industry” the worldwide market for renewable energy systems in the mining industry will grow from $210.5 million in 2013 to $3.9 billion in 2022. Today, less than 0.1 percent of power consumed by the mining industry is generated from renewable energy; yet, mining operations consume enormous amounts of power- as much as 400 terawatt-hours of electricity per year.

“The mining industry has clearly reached a tipping point, with a growing consensus that renewable energy at mine sites, both grid-tied and off-grid, is doable and, in many cases, desirable,” said Kerry-Ann Adamson, research director with Navigant Research, who conducted the study. “This understanding now needs to be coupled with an understanding of how best to deploy these solutions. Renewable energy developers are realizing that mining companies need solutions, not just technology.”

Of the renewable energy technologies in which the mining industry is investing, wind power is the technology nearest to eliciting wide-scale adoption. A number of mines are already utilizing large-scale wind power, but these sites were chosen based on extreme needs and/or ideal wind characteristics. According to the report, over the next 2 to 3 years, mining companies will begin deploying wind power for broader use rather than considering it only on a case by case basis.

“Renewable Energy in the Mining Industry,” analyzes the global market for renewable energy in the mining industry and provides an analysis of developments in the sector from a quantitative and qualitative perspective. Global market forecasts of revenue and capacity, segmented by region, technology, and investment scenario (base and aggressive), extend through 2022. The report also examines market and technology issues related to the adoption of renewable energy in the mining industry and profiles key industry players.

Clarity Needed in Energy Subsidies Debate

Attempts to compare subsidies for different energies in the UK are “apples to oranges” and muddle a skewed debate further, the CEO of the European Wind Energy Association (EWEA) said today. With the European Commission preparing guidance on public intervention in energy markets, EWEA is calling for greater clarity and more transparency on public support.

Print“At a time when everyone is worrying about energy prices and looking for a scapegoat, we need to know exactly how much taxpayer money different energy sources get,” said Thomas Becker, EWEA’s CEO. “It is therefore alarming when the press claims that EU Energy Commissioner Oettinger is attempting to hide such figures.

“Comparing a price for offshore wind in the UK in 2018 (£135/MWh) which lasts 15 years to a different price for nuclear in 2023 (£92.50) which lasts 35 years is comparing apples to oranges,” he added.

Becker notes these prices are calculated assuming that a new nuclear reactor will last 60 years, which he calls “a world first”. He also points out that they don’t take into account the huge public decommissioning costs – £1.9 billion per year for nuclear in the UK. Nor, said Becker, do these numbers take into account the “incalculable risk to public health and safety” that no-one has yet put a figure to.

“The UK government is injecting an old-school technology, which other countries are relegating to the history books, with a double dose of money – a strike price twice the market price – to keep it alive,” concluded Becker.

Turbines Begin Operation at Echo Wind Park

The first 13 wind turbines at DTE Energy’s Echo Wind Park have been commissioned, with the entire facility set to begin commercial operation by the end of November. The 70-turbine Echo Wind Park in Huron County, Michigan will be operational by the end of 2013 and add another 112 megawatts (MW) to the DTE Energy’s renewable energy portfolio. The wind park, primarily in Oliver and Chandler townships, is sited on nearly 16,000 acres. The Echo Wind Park is the third to be owned and operated by DTE Energy.

echo_wind_park_01The 110-MW Thumb Wind Park reached commercial operation in December 2012. In addition, DTE Energy has an ownership stake in the Gratiot County Wind Park. The Gratiot wind park is a 212.8 MW project. Sixty-four of the turbines are owned by DTE Energy, while 69 turbines are owned by Gratiot Wind LLC, an affiliate of Invenergy Wind LLC. DTE Energy purchases the power from Invenergy’s turbines under a 20-year power purchase agreement.

DTE Energy also announced recently it will purchase the energy from the 20-MW Big Turtle Wind Farm, which will cover 2,800 acres in Rubicon Township in Huron County. The Big Turtle Wind Farm, expected to be operational by late 2014, will comprise a minimum of 50 percent Michigan content and feature new technology advanced by Ventower Industries of Monroe and other Michigan suppliers.

The Big Turtle Wind Farm will have 10 2-MW turbines and will be the first wind park in Michigan to incorporate all Ventower towers. The owner, Big Turtle Wind Farm LLC, is a subsidiary of Heritage Sustainable Energy, a Michigan wind energy producer.

The Big Turtle contract is part of DTE Energy’s efforts to expand the company’s renewable energy resources and meet the state’s renewable energy goals. DTE Energy expects to add more than 900 MW, or 10 percent of its power, by 2015. The Big Turtle contract will bring DTE Energy’s renewable energy portfolio, with contracts signed or projects in operation, to 9.8 percent.

WW2 Air Raid Bunker Converted to “Energy Bunker”

A former air raid bunker has been transformed into an “Energy Bunker” in the district of Wilhelmsburg, located in Hamburg, Germany. The project was part of the 2013 International Building Exhibition Hamburg (IBA) that kicked off this week. The massive building had been derelict for several decades but is now the host of a regenerative power plant supplying the surrounding community with green energy.

Former WW2 Air Raid Bunker Converted Into an "Energy Bunker" in Hamburg, GermanyThe project is part of the “Renewable Wilhelmsburg” climate protection scheme, which aims to provide the 50,000 Wilhelmsburg residents with CO2-neutral electricity by 2025 and with climate-neutral heating by 2050.

The surrounding neighborhood’s household energy is generated by a combination of energy sources: besides solar energy and biogas, the bunker also uses wood chips and waste heat from a nearby industrial plant, supplying heating energy to local households. What might be the project’s most innovative feature is its large-scale buffer storage facility with its 2 million litre capacity that integrates different eco-friendly heat and power units. The Energy Bunker also feeds the renewable power generated by its solar panels into Hamburg’s electricity grid, thereby supplying 3,000 households with heat and 1,000 households with electricity.

Another landmark project of the climate protection scheme is the “Energy Hill”, a former toxic landfill site that has been transformed into a renewable energy hill that, using solar energy and wind power, supplies 4,000 households with electricity.

Other pioneering projects include the “Energy Network Wilhelmsburg Central,” which integrates energy-generating facilities from various buildings into one large “virtual” power plant, and the BIQ House, which is setting new standards as the world’s first building to have a bioreactor façade. Microalgae are cultivated in the glass elements that make up the BIQ House’s “bio skin”. The house is part of the IBA “Building Exhibition within the Building Exhibition” project, which gives us a glimpse into urban life in the future.

Announcing National KidWind Challenge

Due to the continued success of the KidWind Challenge events, KidWind, a leader in clean energy education, has announced the inaugural National KidWind Challenge. The event will take place at the USA Science & Engineering Festival, on Saturday, April 26, 2014 in Washington D.C. The KidWind National Challenge will bring together student teams to compete for the National KidWind Challenge title by showcasing their hand-crafted wind turbines in front of wind industry experts.

gI_96523_KidWind logo“By launching the National KidWind Challenge, we are creating excitement around clean energy,” said Michael Arquin, Founder of KidWind. “KidWind Challenges over the past few years have shown students how important it is to think critically about alternative energy as they prepare for careers in science and engineering. During the National KidWind Challenge, wind energy industry leaders will be on site to witness our leading teams demonstrate their knowledge of wind energy and engineering.”

Teams of students in grades 4-12 can qualify for the National KidWind Challenge by participating in one of two ways — by winning a KidWind Challenge Event in their local area or by winning a monthly KidWind Challenge Online. Teams’ entries will be tested on efficiency and design of their wind turbines in the high-speed KidWind Wind Tunnel and be judged by wind industry experts. In addition, the KidWind Challenge Online allows students across the world to build wind turbines, calculate their own energy output and upload pictures and results to the KidWind website for judging.

“KidWind is a fantastic resource and partner for helping teachers engage students in science and technology projects that matter,” said Andy Lueth, 7th grade science teacher from Buffalo, New York and a KidWind WindSenator, a trained advocate of renewable energy. “KidWind puts tinkering and discovery back in the classroom – where it belongs.”

The three top-performing teams from each KidWind Challenge Event and all monthly KidWind Challenge Online winners are invited to showcase their winning wind turbines at the National KidWind Challenge in Washington D.C. To qualify for the National KidWind Challenge, teams must register between now and March 1, 2014 for their local KidWind Challenge Event or the KidWind Challenge Online.

“The KidWind Challenge is one of the most effective programs we have seen for K-12 education, in terms of reach and content,” said Darlene Snow, executive director of the Wind Energy Foundation. “The KidWind Challenge educates and excites thousands of our future scientists, engineers, technicians, and business and community leaders every year.”

Canada to Create Wind Energy Growth Plan

CANADIAN WIND ENERGY ASSOCIATION - Emerging Provincial PolicyDuring the Wind Energy Across Canada meeting this week, the Industry Leaders Panel during the plenary session agreed that the country’s wind energy industry is well positioned to build on its rapid growth to date and strong prospects for the next few years. However, for this to happen, there is a need to define the policy framework that will inform new electricity supply choices for the next decade.

While wind energy is expected to see strong and steady growth through 2016 across Canada, the country’s four largest wind energy markets (BC, Alberta, Ontario and Quebec) all have long-term planning processes underway that will determine how future wind energy development unfolds after 2016.

“There is little doubt that wind energy has become a significant and mainstream electricity source in all regions of Canada with another record year for installations expected in 2013,” said Canadian Wind Energy Association (CanWEA) President, Robert Hornung. “This does not mean, however, that our long-term future is guaranteed.”

Given provincial targets and pipeline projects already contracted to be built, Canada will see an average of 1,500 MW of new wind energy projects commissioned annually over the next three years.

Provincial governments across Canada are now engaged in processes to review future electricity demand and assess potential new supplies of electricity against some key criteria, including cost-effectiveness, environmental impact and economic benefits. By any objective measure, wind is well-positioned to meet all of these requirements. Wind is cost-competitive with almost any other generating technology, is one of the most environmentally sustainable sources of electricity available, and brings new jobs and investment to rural economies.

Pennsylvania Says No to Renewable Energy as Climate Solution

Earlier this week, the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) announced that it would not recommend the state’s Climate Change Advisory Committee (CCAC) debate or vote on a plan that considers increasing the state’s renewable energy law, the Alternative Energy Portfolio Standard (AEPS). The DEP also said that it would not be including information in Pennsylvania’s next Climate Action Plan about how the existing AEPS law reduces electricity prices for consumers.

“While other states in the region and around the country recognize the multiple benefits of renewable energy and have increased the requirements in their state portfolios, DEP is telling us upfront that they won’t consider the idea of increasing renewable energy in Pennsylvania,” said Christina Simeone, director of the PennFuture Energy Center and Chair of the CCAC. “This administration chooses to ignore the benefits renewable energy offers, including greenhouse gas reductions, cost reductions for electricity customers, and economic development opportunities. The administration claims they have an all-of-the-above policy yet their actions prove contrary.”

CITIZENS FOR PENNSYLVANIA'S FUTURE LOGOSimoene notes that increasing zero carbon renewable energy, such as wind and solar, are typically key elements of any strategy to address climate change. Not only do these technologies benefit the environment, she says, they create jobs and drive economic growth. In 2012, Pennsylvania added approximately 550 MW of wind, a significant portion of that total developed by Pennsylvania companies using turbines manufactured in the state.

The CCAC was established by law in 2008 and is charged with making recommendations to DEP on greenhouse gas reduction strategies and other actions to address climate change in Pennsylvania. Earlier this year, DEP staff introduced a plan to the CCAC that considered a modest increase in renewable energy from the existing 8 percent standard to a 10.5 percent standard. DEP later withdrew the plan for internal review and informed the CCAC they would not be re-introducing it. The Department also removed a detailed “price suppression” analysis describing how existing renewable energy requirements can reduce electricity prices for consumers.

“An August 2013 study from the Ohio Public Utility Commission found that existing and planned renewable energy projects would save customers $28.5 million by suppressing wholesale electricity market prices. Similar studies covering Pennsylvania have confirmed this cost saving phenomenon, yet DEP doesn’t want to include the information,” said Simeone.

Chicago Midway Airport Flies with Solar

The Solar Power International 2013 tradeshow is kicking off October 21-24, 2013 and as solar companies gear up to showcase their technologies, Kyocera Solar is showcasing their latest solar project at the Chicago Midway Airport. Twenty-five kilowatts (kW) of Kyocera photovoltaic modules now help power Chicago’s Midway Airport’s new 20130218_105741environmentally friendly consolidated rental car facility. Installed by Green Power Solutions, the PV system is on the roof of the Quick-Turn Around (QTA) facility, where hundreds of rental cars are washed and refueled daily.

As planes taxi and land, passengers now enjoy a view of the rooftop PV system, which supplies about 30 percent of the QTA’s power needs and provides a strong visual reminder of Midway Airport’s green initiatives. The QTA facility includes nine car wash bays, nine fueling islands, 36 fuel pumps and two 20,000 gallon underground fuel tanks. Water used to wash the rental cars is recycled.

“We’re excited to be a part of Midway Airport’s ‘greening,’ and hope this installation serves as a high-profile reminder that solar power is the smart choice for our nation’s future,” said Steve Hill, president, Kyocera Solar Inc. “With 38 years of solar industry experience, Kyocera is committed to providing reliable products that will help our nation’s municipalities leverage the clean, renewable energy of the sun for decades to come.”

MidwayWorking together, Kyocera and Green Power Solutions were able to overcome a structural challenge with the installation, which sits on a split-seam metal roof, by modifying a special clamp on the racking system to secure the system in place. Green Power Solutions also installed nine wind turbines in conjunction with Midway Airport’s green initiative. The Chicago Department of Aviation (CDA) is pursuing LEED certification for the project, which receives three “green airplanes” for design and four green airplanes for construction, as rated by the CDA’s Sustainable Airport Manual.

“We chose Kyocera because of its high-quality, reliable solar modules in addition to the strong engineering support they provided, which helped streamline the installation,” added Steve Arwady of Green Power Solutions. “We received expert, hands-on solutions from Kyocera, which tipped the balance when we compared panel for panel at almost the same price. We chose Kyocera, the company that gave us the best service. We intend to partner with them on future projects.”

In addition to the Midway airport project, Tucson International Airport recently wrapped up the first phase of a 2.5 megawatt (MW) solar canopy installation using Kyocera polycrystalline silicon modules above the main public parking lot. Completed in August, the 1MW section powers about a third of the terminal complex’s power needs.

NREL Calculates Emissions, Cost of Wind & Solar

According to new research from the Energy Department’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL), found that carbon emissions induced by more frequent cycling are negligible (<0.2%) when compared with the carbon reductions achieved through wind and solar power generation. Cycling occurs when a utility, to accommodate higher amounts of wind and solar power on the electric grid, must ramp down and ramp up or stop and start conventional generators more frequently to provide reliable power.

In addition, the study found sulfur dioxide (SO2) emissions reductions from wind and solar are 5 percent less than expected because of cycling of fossil-fueled generators. Emissions Emission Impacts of Cycling1of nitrogen oxides (NOX) are reduced 2 percent more than expected. The study also finds that high levels of wind and solar power would reduce fossil fuel costs by approximately $7 billion per year across the West, while incurring cycling costs of $35 million to $157 million per year. For the average fossil-fueled plant, this results in an increase in operations and maintenance costs of $0.47 to $1.28 per megawatt-hour (MWh) of generation.

“Grid operators have always cycled power plants to accommodate fluctuations in electricity demand as well as abrupt outages at conventional power plants, and grid operators use the same tool to accommodate high levels of wind and solar generation,” said Debra Lew, NREL project manager for the study. “Increased cycling to accommodate high levels of wind and solar generation increases operating costs by 2% to 5% for the average fossil-fueled plant. However, our simulations show that from a system perspective, avoided fuel costs are far greater than the increased cycling costs for fossil-fueled plants.”

Phase 2 of the Western Wind and Solar Integration Study (WWSIS-2) is a follow up to the WWSIS released in May 2010, which examined the viability, benefits, and challenges of integrating high concentrations of wind and solar power into the western electricity grid. WWSIS found it to be technically feasible if certain operational changes could be made, but the first study raised questions about the impact of cycling on wear-and-tear costs and emissions.

To calculate wear-and-tear costs and emissions impacts for the new study, NREL designed five hypothetical scenarios to examine generating up to 33 percent wind and solar energy on the U.S. portion of the Western Interconnection power system for the year 2020. This is equivalent to a quarter of the power in the Western Interconnection (including Canada and Mexico) coming from wind and solar energy on an annual basis. The study models cycling impacts representing a range of wind and solar concentrations between none and 33 percent, and is not an endorsement of any particular level.

The study assumes a future average natural gas price of $4.60/MMBtu, significant cooperation between balancing authorities, and optimal usage of transmission capacity (i.e., not reserving transmission for contractual obligations). Continue reading