Solar energy contract to save Attleboro schools $100,000 a year in electric costs

Posted on February 16th, 2017 in solar by Spencer R.

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(www.thesunchronicle.com)

Beginning as soon as April, Attleboro schools will be saving up to $100,000 a year in electricity costs thanks to the largest roof-top solar project in the state.

The solar panels are being erected on a large industrial building in West Bridgewater.

The city school system committed to get power from the project, which is being built by Green Street Solar Power of the Bronx, N.Y., and will get an annual credit of approximately $100,000 a year to reduce its electric bills.

Green Street estimates the savings for Attleboro schools could come to about $3.5 million over the next 25 years, but school officials think it could be closer to $2 million as prices change over the years.

Still, the school will be getting a $100,000 annual break in the immediate future.

"That's a pretty good sum," Superintendent David Sawyer said.

Years ago, the schools looked into having their own solar panels placed on schools, but the idea never came to fruition.

Sawyer said when Marc Furtado came back to the Attleboro schools after leaving for another job in Somerset, he made contact with a company he was familiar with which was looking for large entities to commit to solar power.

Reggie Dormeaus, marketing administrator for Green Street, said his firm is erecting 12,000 solar panels on the building in West Bridgewater, making it the largest project of its kind in the state.

The roof space is being leased from a firm called Ajax, which owns the building. Ajax is also involved with the New England Sports Village in Attleboro.

The panels are expected to generate 4.1 megawatts of power, saving money and making for a healthier environment, he said.

He said he expects the project to be completed and the panels to be producing power in April after several months of construction.

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Medicine turns to solar energy

Posted on February 15th, 2017 in solar by Spencer R.

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(www.rutlandherald.com)

Springfield Medical Care Systems is going solar.

The corporate parent of Springfield Hospital and the Springfield Health Center has completed its first solar project, with the installation of four solar panels in front of the entrance of the health center at One Hundred River Street.

Larry Kraft, a hospital spokesman, said the hospital will build a full solar array on land adjacent to the hospital later this year.

Kraft said Friday the two solar systems were different: One would produce hot water for use for the doctors and patients at the health center, and the larger system at the hospital would produce electricity to offset the hospital’s usage.

He said the original intent of the project was to install a system on the rooftop, but the center’s engineers determined the roof was not suitable.

But he said a portion of the building near the river is sheltered and receives what he called “excellent sunlight,” and the panels were installed there.

The four panels were installed before the onset of winter and have already started decreasing the center’s use of fossil fuels, he said.

During the next 10 years, the hot water system will offset the use of 2,500 gallons of propane, which would ordinarily heat the 600,000 gallons of water used annually by staff members, patients and visitors to the health center. He said the total cost of the system was $30,000, and panels were installed by Springfield Heating and Ventilating Co. The system was paid for by donors, including a grant from the Jack and Dorothy Byrne Foundation. Kraft said that while a rooftop installation was originally considered, it was determined that the system would produce more electricity from the ground. He said the solar installation would be built on “unbuildable ground” farther up Ridgewood Road and across the road from the hospital. He said the site is currently wooded.

“We will produce electricity,” he said, with a netmetering project, rather than hot water at the health center system.

Under a net-metering project, the hospital will receive credits for the electricity it generates, and those credits will be used to offset its electric bill.

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Victory: These Two Cities Just Committed to 100% Renewable Energy

Posted on February 15th, 2017 in environment by Spencer R.

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(www.ecowatch.com)

Pueblo, Colorado and Moab, Utah, this week became the 22nd and 23rd cities in the U.S. to commit to transition to 100 percent clean, renewable energy. The Pueblo City Council approved Monday a measure committing to power the community entirely with renewable sources of energy like wind and solar by 2035. The vote was immediately followed on Tuesday by the Moab City Council approving a resolution committing Moab to 100 percent renewable energy by 2032.

"No matter who is in the White House, cities and towns across the country will continue leading the transition to 100 percent clean, renewable energy," Sierra Club Executive Director Michael Brune said. "Pueblo and Moab join a growing movement of communities which are charting a course away from dirty fuels."

Cities like Pueblo and Moab have long suffered the consequences of dirty energy and utility reliance on fossil fuels. Pueblo, for example, has a sizable low-income population that has been suffering from the high cost of electricity due to the local utilities' decision to build new gas infrastructure and saddle the cost with ratepayers. More than 7,000 people in Pueblo have had their electricity shut off due to the high cost of electricity.

In Utah, Canyonlands National Park has been marred by haze pollution from two neighboring coal plants, which threatens the local Moab tourism industry—the economic lifeblood of the community. With this week's announcements, both communities are poised to confront these threats by transitioning away from fossil fuels to clean, renewable energy.

"The climate crisis is a global challenge, but many of our strongest leaders are at the local level," Ken Berlin, CEO of The Climate Reality Project, said. "We have a lot of hard work ahead, but it is encouraging to see more and more communities, businesses and universities understand that renewable energy is not only the right moral choice, but also the right economic choice."

 

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Nigerian, American Firms to Power 25 Communities With Solar Energy

Posted on February 14th, 2017 in solar by Spencer R.

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(www.allafrica.com)

Two firms have signed an agreement to provide power to 25 communities across Nigeria using solar energy.

The communities are in Bayelsa, Ondo, Ogun and Osun states.

A Nigerian firm, Community Energy Social Enterprises Limited, CESEL, and its American counterpart, Renewvia Energy Corporation, signed a $767,512 agreement to provide solar energy for the communities on 'pay-as- you-go' basis.

The CESEL Managing Director, Patrick Tolani, signed the agreement on behalf of his company while Clay Taber, Managing Director of Renewvia, signed for his firm, at the Power Africa office in Abuja.

The MoU signing was witnessed by Power Africa Coordinator, Andrew Herscowitz, and the United States Agency for International Development mission director in Nigeria, Michael Harvey.

Mr. Tolani said the benefitting communities were those that had no access to electricity for more than 10 years, including Brass in Bayelsa and Magboro in Ogun State.

Others, he said, include Ilajera and Gbokoda in Ondo State and a community which was completely cut off the grid because of isolation in Osun State.

Mr. Taber in his remarks said Renewvia would install and operate micro-grid systems with solar photo-voltaic generation capacity and battery storage in the 25 benefiting communities.

According to him, the design of the micro-grids for the project will include PV panels, string inverters, aluminium racking and energy storage backup power.

He said, "Renewvia and CESEL would sell micro-grid customers electricity by Kilowatts through a 'pay as you go' structure.

"The competitiveness of the system helps to ensure payment, as the project would provide consistent and reliable power at a less expensive price than current rural power generation by diesel."

He added that Renewvia and CESEL also planned to facilitate the transaction through mobile payments, noting that the project would employ local and remote resources to support the needs of the power plant for each micro-grid.

The project was supported by Power Africa, a U.S. energy project initiated in 2013 to assist African countries in accessing energy.

It is expected that the project would provide up to 10 megawatts and connect over 10, 000 households, according to a study by Renewvia.

The project is also expected to be completed in one year.

CESEL is a private Nigerian company that has led the community engagement for six operational micro-grid projects in Nigeria. These micro-grids received funding through the Nigeria Bank of Industry and United Nations Development Programme.

Renewvia is a private U.S renewable energy developer and solar power plant operator established in 2009. Renewvia specialises in providing mini-grid and solar energy solutions for residential, commercial and utility-scale applications.

Micro-grid is a small network of electricity users with a local source of supply that is usually attached to a centralised national grid but is able to function independently.

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Firm would use CO2 to power geothermal energy system

Posted on February 14th, 2017 in environment by Spencer R.

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(www.providencejournal.com)

Harnessing this cheap form of power would be a huge advance. Minneapolis-based TerraCOH intends to fire up a small-scale commercial version of its power system this year.

MINNEAPOLIS — TerraCOH's vision is grand. The fledgling firm would use carbon dioxide emissions — a nemesis to the planet — to power a geothermal energy system, which would in turn produce low-cost, clean electricity.

And TerraCOH's patented geothermal technology could serve as a big underground battery, effectively storing renewable — but intermittent — wind and solar energy.

Now, the Minneapolis-based company just needs money to turn its plans — about eight years in the making — into reality.

The good news: TerraCOH believes it will fire up a small-scale commercial version of its power system this year. "We are ready to build the power plant," said Jimmy Randolph, TerraCOH's chief technical officer. "And we're trying to raise the money to do that," chimed in Chief Executive John Griffin.

TerraCOH, which has its roots at the University of Minnesota, so far has been financed with more than $5 million in grants from the National Science Foundation and the U.S. Department of Energy. Last year, the company began soliciting private investors to commercialize its ideas, with Griffin leading the way.

Griffin is a mechanical engineer with an MBA from the University of Minnesota who has worked with technology companies large and small over the past 30 years. Randolph graduated summa cum laude in physics and math from St. Olaf College, and then got a Ph.D. in geophysics in 2011 from Minnesota, where he's currently a senior research associate.

Randolph's adviser at Minnesota was Martin Saar, a professor of earth sciences. The pair, along with Thomas Kuehn, a mechanical engineering professor, invented a renewable energy technology called CO2 Plume Geothermal. The university holds the patent and would split royalties with the three researchers if the technology becomes a hit.

TerraCOH has also worked on its technology with researchers at Ohio State University and Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory in California.

Geothermal is the cheapest form of energy, according to data from the U.S. Energy Information Administration, but it's not widely deployed. Traditional geothermal energy projects must be near places where the earth is hot relatively close to the surface. These hot spots, though, are limited geographically.

The deeper you go, the hotter the earth gets. So, Randolph and his co-inventors developed a method to tap geothermal heat that is 1 to 3 miles below the earth's surface. This deep heat resource is much more widespread, but mining it in a cost effective manner is difficult.

TerraCOH's technology uses "supercritical" CO2 to efficiently unlock that thermal energy. Supercritical is a chemical state somewhere between a gas and a liquid. It's dense and has a lower viscosity than water, so it flows easy. Oil companies use compressed CO2 to scour the last bits of petroleum from conventional wells.

In TerraCOH's system, supercritical CO2 heats up as it's pumped lower into the earth and is stored in porous sedimentary rock. The hot CO2 can then be drawn back up to the earth's surface — without costly pumping — where it spins a turbine to create electricity. It's an energy loop, basically.

The equipment needed for this process has become viable over the past year, Griffin said. TerraCOH needs to raise $2 million to build two small power plants with 100 to 200 kilowatts of generating capacity. By contrast, a good-size wind farm can pump out 200 megawatts.

TerraCOH is eyeing existing oil and gas fields for its early projects, since they've already been drilled.

The company is planning a small power plant at a conventional oil well in northwest North Dakota that will produce electricity for that site. For this project, TerraCOH will harness the geothermal energy provided by oil and gases coming up the well, heating CO2 in an above-ground tank, which will then power a turbine.

But the long-term goal is to place TerraCOH Plume Geothermal systems near coal-fired or gas-fired power plants, directly capturing CO2 emissions, pumping them into the ground for eventual use in bigger CO2 fired-power plants. These plants would initially generate up to 15 megawatts, but could eventually be up to 300 megawatts.

Another goal is to use the geothermal system as a "battery" for solar and wind power. The drawback to renewables is that they are intermittent, only producing when the weather is sunny or windy. Currently, chemical batteries are too expensive to store large amounts of renewable energy.

But excess wind and solar power could be transmitted to a TerraCOH plant, powering pumps that would inject CO2 into the earth, from where it could eventually be turned back into electricity when needed. Plume Geothermal "is not intermittent," Randolph said. "It's 24/7. You can run it on demand."

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Geothermal energy helps cut down CO2 at plant for car maker Audi in Hungary

Posted on February 10th, 2017 by Spencer R.

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(www.thinkgeoenergy.com)

 In a release, by Hungarian PannErgy it is reported that Audi Hungaria, the Hungarian subsidiary of German car maker Audi is the largest industrial user of geothermal energy in Hungary.

Since the installments of geothermal heating, Audi Hungaria has been able to grow the volume of the company’s geothermal energy consumption to 100 GWh, which so far has reduced carbon dioxide emission by 20,170 tons.

“Sustainability and efficiency is a dominant element of Audi Hungaria’s efficiency, and therefore we put great emphasis on their encouragement in day-to-day operations, as well as manufacturing processes”, said Axel Schifferer, Audi Hungaria’s Managing Director for Finance.

“Its reliance on geothermal energy ensures the company’s environmentally sparing operations in the long term, because this way we can cover nearly 70% of our heat energy demand in a carbon-neutral manner.”

Two years ago, the company placed its energy supply on brand new foundations, and since November 2015 renewable geothermal energy has been supplied by the Heating Center of Böny. Within the framework of the Geothermal Project of Gyor, Audi Hungaria has entered into a long-term heat energy supply agreement for the provision of geothermal energy to the company’s Gyor site with PannErgy Plc’s subsidiary, DD Energy Ltd. This cooperation has been forged for 17 years, and can be optionally extended for an additional period of 15 years.

The Györ based AUDI HUNGARIA Ltd is an entity of the AUDI Group, the key engine supplier of the Audi and Volkswagen Group. The Györ site manufactures the Audi A3 Limousine, A3 Cabriolet, as well as Audi TT Coupé and Audi TT Roadster models. Since 2006, Audi Hungaria has been delivering a number of aluminium car body elements for various brands belonging to the Volkswagen Group. For years, Audi Hungaria has been Hungary’s top-ranking company in terms of sales revenues, and is one of the country’s largest exporters. Audi Hungaria employs approximately 11,500 people in Gyor.

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New Job Numbers Show Bright Future For Solar Energy

Posted on February 10th, 2017 in solar by Spencer R.

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(www.forbes.com)

Trump promised to create jobs and revive America’s struggling coal industry throughout his campaign. The decline in coal plants and the rise of natural gas and solar power makes that unlikely. New jobs data suggests that the real growth in energy jobs is coming from the sky, not the ground.

The solar power industry now employs twice as many people as coal does, according to the 2017 Employment and Energy report from the Department of Energy. A jobs census by the Solar Foundation calculated that the industry added 73,615 jobs in 2016 -- more jobs than oil, natural gas and coal combined. The foundation itself uses a stricter definition of solar jobs, according to which the industry added 51,000 roles. What's more, solar accounted for two percent of all new jobs created in 2016 and is hiring faster than its competitors.

Solar workers can make respectable wages, too. The median national hourly wage is $45 for sales jobs and $26 for installers, according to the Solar Foundation. Construction workers who pursue training in solar technology can expect to move on to jobs paying $20 or $22 an hour after a year, according to a 2015 report on Maryland solar jobs by the foundation.

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Iran Approves $3 Billion Worth Of Foreign Renewable Energy Investments

Posted on February 10th, 2017 in environment by Spencer R.

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(www.cleantechnica.com)

 Iran’s Energy Minister Hamid Chitchian said earlier this week that the Finance Ministry had approved foreign investments in the country’s renewable energy industry worth $3 billion.

“Iran intends to launch a large-scale project to construct renewable energy power plants over the sixth Five-Year Development Plan to generate five thousand megawatts [5 GW] of energy in the country,” explained Hamid Chitchian.

Speaking at the inauguration of a second 7 megawatt (MW) solar plant at the Shahid Mofatteh Power Plant in Hamedan on Saturday, Minister Chitchian added that so far foreign developers had applied to develop up to 1.5 gigawatts (GW) worth of of renewable energy in the country. Minister Chitchian also announced three more 7 MW of solar at Hamedan.

“But today, two 7-megawatt power plants have been launched in Hamedan and the construction of three more have been started,” Chitchian said.

Iran has set itself a target of increasing its renewable energy capacity to 7.5 GW by 2030. Some reports appear to be suggesting that the new announcement of $3 billion in investments is worth 5 GW, however the reports from the Islamic Republic News Agency only says the investments are worth 1.5 GW.

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Stanford engineers create a low-cost battery for storing renewable energy

Posted on February 9th, 2017 in environment by Spencer R.

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(www.news.stanford.edu)

A battery made with urea, commonly found in fertilizers and mammal urine, could provide a low-cost way of storing energy produced through solar power or other forms of renewable energy for consumption during off hours.

Developed by Stanford chemistry Professor Hongjie Dai and doctoral candidate Michael Angell, the battery is nonflammable and contains electrodes made from abundant aluminum and graphite. Its electrolyte’s main ingredient, urea, is already industrially produced by the ton for plant fertilizers.

“So essentially, what you have is a battery made with some of the cheapest and most abundant materials you can find on Earth. And it actually has good performance,” said Dai. “Who would have thought you could take graphite, aluminum, urea, and actually make a battery that can cycle for a pretty long time?”

In 2015, Dai’s lab was the first to make a rechargeable aluminum battery. This system charged in less than a minute and lasted thousands of charge-discharge cycles. The lab collaborated with Taiwan’s Industrial Technology Research Institute (ITRI) to power a motorbike with this older version, earning Dai’s group and ITRI a 2016 R&D 100 Award. However, that version of the battery had one major drawback: it involved an expensive electrolyte.

The newest version includes a urea-based electrolyte and is about 100 times cheaper than the 2015 model, with higher efficiency and a charging time of 45 minutes. It’s the first time urea has been used in a battery. According to Dai, the cost difference between the two batteries is “like night and day.” The team recently reported its work in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Renewable energy storage

Unlike energy derived from fossil fuels, solar energy can essentially be harnessed only when the sun is shining. A solar panel pumps energy into the electrical grid during daylight hours. If that energy isn’t consumed right away, it is lost as heat. As the demand for renewable technologies grows, so does the need for cheap, efficient batteries to store the energy for release at night. Today’s batteries, like lithium-ion or lead acid batteries, are costly and have limited lifespans.

Dai and Angell’s battery could provide a solution to the grid’s storage problem.

“It’s cheap. It’s efficient. Grid storage is the main goal,” Angell said.

According to Angell, grid storage is also the most realistic goal, because of the battery’s low cost, high efficiency and long cycle life. One kind of efficiency, called Coulombic efficiency, is a measurement of how much charge exits the battery per unit of charge that it takes in during charging. The Coulombic efficiency for this battery is high – 99.7 percent.

Though also efficient, lithium-ion batteries commonly found in small electronics and other devices can be flammable. By contrast, Dai’s urea battery is not flammable and therefore less risky.

“I would feel safe if my backup battery in my house is made of urea with little chance of causing fire,” Dai said.

The group has licensed the battery patents to AB Systems, founded by Dai. A commercial version of the battery is currently in development.

Future directions

To meet the demands of grid storage, a commercial battery will need to last at least ten years. By investigating the chemical processes inside the battery, Angell hopes to extend its lifetime. The outlook is promising. In the lab, these urea-based aluminum ion batteries can go through about 1,500 charge cycles with a 45-minute charging time.

According to Dai, there is plenty of demand for a grid-suitable battery; he receives numerous emails from firms or individuals interested in developing aluminum batteries. And with the battery now in development, its success rests on the interest of companies and consumers.

“With this battery, the dream is for solar energy to be stored in every building and every home,” Dai said. “Maybe it will change everyday life. We don’t know.”

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Carter: Renewable energy can help Trump create jobs

Posted on February 9th, 2017 in environment by Spencer R.

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(www.foxnews.com)

Former President Jimmy Carter said Wednesday millions of jobs could be created in the United States if President Donald Trump embraced renewable energy sources such as geothermal, solar and wind power.

Carter, a Democrat who was the first U.S. president to install solar panels at the White House, said he hoped the Republican Trump would give it "deep consideration."

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"Sometimes there's a philosophical objection to this by some — I'll say right-wing Republicans — but he has a high priority of job creation," Carter said in an interview with The Associated Press. "If they just remember the tremendous potential of creating millions of jobs in America just from renewable energy sources, that would be a very good counter-argument to those who oppose the concept of global warming being caused by human activity."

Trump has sent mixed signals on whether he will try to slow Earth's warming temperatures and rising sea levels. During the transition, Trump met with prominent climate activists Al Gore and Leonardo DiCaprio, but he has also appointed oil industry champions who want to reverse President Barack Obama's efforts to rein in emissions.

The vast majority of peer-reviewed studies and climate scientists agree the planet is warming, mostly due to man-made sources. Under Obama, the U.S. dramatically ramped up production of renewable energy from sources such as solar, in part through Energy Department grants.

Carter, a former peanut farmer from southwest Georgia, on Wednesday celebrated the installation of solar panels on 10 acres of farmland he owns in Plains, where he and former first lady Rosalynn Carter grew up and still have a home.

Carter, who is 92, leased the land to Atlanta-based SolAmerica Energy, which owns, operates, and sells power generated from solar cells. The company estimates the project will provide more than half of the power needed in the town of 755 people.

"It shows what a small town can do, what one farmer can do," said Carter. "It's also a very good source of income for farmers who can get as much as $500 per acre per year by allocating some of their land to solar panels."

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