Renewable Energy Continues to Beat Fossil Fuels

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



 Clean energy grew at a record pace as the United States added 22GW of capacity — the equivalent of 11 Hoover Dams — to the grid from renewable sources last year, significantly trumping new fossil fuel additions, according to a new report.

The report from Bloomberg New Energy Finance (BNEF) and the Business Council for Sustainable Energy (BCSE) cites the declining cost of wind and solar power, largely due to advances in technology, as prime reasons for the rapid adoption of renewables. The cost of building large utility-scale solar photovoltaic power plants for example has been fallen by 50% in just five years.

Renewable energy companies have also benefited from the quick decline in coal power that has resulted from a combination of factors including stiff competition from cheap natural gas and environmental regulation. Coal-fired power plants now provide only 30% of the country's electricity compared with nearly half of the supply in 2008.

"The contributions of sustainable energy to the country’s economic competitiveness are direct, dramatic and dynamic,” says Lisa Jacobson,

president of the Business Council for Sustainable Energy, a non-profit that promotes market solutions to environmental issues, in a press release.

Cheap natural gas prices and increased use of low-cost renewables has ultimately benefited consumers, according to the report. Electricity costs have fallen more than 2% in real terms between 2015 and 2016 and American consumers spent less than 4% of their household spending on energy for the first time ever.

Climate change-causing greenhouse gas emissions declined to their lowest level in a quarter century even as the economy continued to grow, according to the report. The finding is the latest evidence answering the question policymakers long-debated about whether economic growth can be decoupled from carbon dioxide emissions.


UC Riverside Conference to Focus on Solar Energy

Posted on February 8th, 2017 in solar by Spencer R.



California leads the nation in solar energy, with more than 580,000 projects and 4,500 megawatts installed statewide. To achieve even higher penetration, researchers, the solar industry, and government leaders are turning their attention to new technologies that will improve the performance of solar energy projects and lower their costs.

The latest breakthroughs and how they can be leveraged in the Inland Empire will be discussed at UC Riverside’s third annual solar conference, “Solar Energy Directions for Inland Southern California: Where is it Going?,” which is set for 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Thursday, Feb. 23 at the Bourns Technology Center, 1200 Columbia Ave., Riverside, 92507. The conference is designed for government leaders, planners, council members, businesses, utilities, and the general public. The cost is $85 for non-students, $40 for non-UCR students, and $25 for UCR students. Those planning to attend should complete the online registration form.

Andrew McAllister, commissioner of the California Energy Commission, and V. John White, executive director of the Center for Energy Efficiency and Renewable Technologies, will be among the speakers. Panel sessions throughout the day will explore challenges and opportunities for incorporating solar energy, including how the marketplace works, local policies, and the latest breakthroughs. This year, the conference will have a panel dedicated to solar-related research being done at the University of California. A full agenda is available online.

UCR’s Alfredo Martinez-Morales, managing director of the Southern California Research Initiative for Solar Energy (SC-RISE) and one of the conference organizers, said the event will highlight some of the most successful initiatives already in place, with a look to further increasing solar energy generation across Southern California.

“As the interest in solar energy continues to grow, this conference is a resource that can help government agencies, utility companies, end-users, and the technology community make the right decisions about how to apply solar power economically and efficiently,” Martinez-Morales said.

This event is hosted by UCR’s College of Engineering-Center for Environmental Research & Technology(CE-CERT), the UCR School of Public Policy’s Center for Sustainable Suburban Development, andSouthern California Research Initiative for Solar Energy, and co-sponsored by SolarMax Technology, Inc., SunPower, Riverside Public Utilities, Western Riverside Council of Governments, City of Corona, and First Solar.



Women’s mosque goes solar in India clean energy push

Posted on February 8th, 2017 in solar by Spencer R.



Set up 20 years ago in a remote corner of Lucknow, Ambar Mosque is known for promoting women’s rights and putting up visitors to a nearby hospital.

Now the female-led faith centre – where women pray alongside men – is installing solar panels to set an example of clean energy in Uttar Pradesh, a state lagging behind its targets.

At 1kW, the system generates a fraction the electricity of the coal plants that dominate India’s power mix. But it is expected to meet three quarters of the mosque’s modest lighting and cooling needs – and its founder hopes to inspire others.

“Over the last few years, air quality in the city has become worse while rural areas of Uttar Pradesh have been suffering frequent power cuts,” said Shaista Ambar.

“We must all do our bit… If everyone starts using solar energy then Lucknow’s air quality will start to improve as well as reduce power cuts.”

Narendra Modi’s government aims to install 100GW of solar panels across India by 2022, to light up more homes and reduce reliance on polluting coal.

The technology can increasingly compete on cost with new coal plants, albeit on a smaller scale, where the policy, network and financing conditions are right.

But policy from Delhi is unevenly applied at state level, Arjun Srihari, head of marketing for solar company 8minutes told Climate Home: “Effective policy implementation is a major, major stumbling block.”

Uttar Pradesh, India’s most populous state, is only 13% of the way to an interim goal of 1.8GW solar capacity by March 2017, according to analysis firm Equatorials.

Energy access tops the list of concerns for UP voters, with 38% experiencing daily power cuts, a poll this month by FourthLion shows. The same survey found 87% were willing to use energy from the sun if it would curb air pollution.

Lack of information is another barrier to take-up. 8minutes gifted the 79,000 rupees (US$1,200) solar package to Ambar Mosque in a bid to spread awareness.

“We are trying to incentivise people to switch to solar and we wanted to use this case as a model for the community,” said Srihari.


UPS to spend $18 million on solar panels

Posted on February 8th, 2017 in solar by Spencer R.



Global parcel delivery giant UPS Inc. will spend $18 million on solar energy panels, allowing each building in the initiative to produce half of its daily energy requirement from the sun, the company said Tuesday.

Atlanta-based UPS currently collects power from panels mounted on its buildings in Palm Springs, Calif., and in Lakewood, Parsippany, and Secaucus, N.J. The company will now purchase more than 26,000 additional solar panels, leading to a nearly fivefold increase in the amount of power generated from solar at UPS facilities today.

The initiative will expand UPS' total solar power generating capacity by almost 10 megawatts—enough electricity to power 1,200 homes annually, and enough to offset 8,200 metric tons per year of carbon emissions produced through electricity generated at fossil fuel-powered plants.

The company also said it would roll out additional solar deployments over the next several years as it identifies the most efficient sites among the 2,580 facilities it operates worldwide.

"Solar technology is a proven way to effectively and efficiently provide long-term power to our facilities," Bill Moir, director of facilities procurement at UPS, said in a release. "We have a significant number of facilities that are well positioned to deploy solar at scale and increase our sustainable energy options for our buildings and electric vehicles."



Solar Panels to Help Cornell Achieve 2035 Carbon Neutrality Goal

Posted on February 7th, 2017 in solar by Spencer R.



 Solar energy now powers seven percent of Cornell’s energy consumption due to the addition of three new solar panel plants in December, according to Cornell’s Campus Sustainability Office.

Sarah Brylinsky, sustainability communications and integration manager at the Campus Sustainability Office, said that this solar energy change puts Cornell on track to achieve its carbon neutral campus initiative by 2035.

“Wind and solar power technology is currently available to meet the goal,” said Sarah Zemanick, director of the Campus Sustainability Office. “They are competitive financially with fossil fuel power sources, but upfront investments in both energy supply projects and grid modernization are required to create and move the new renewable energy needed.”

When asked what obstacles Sustainable Cornell might face, Zemanick said that progress could be impeded as the University transitions from old to new energy systems.

“Cornell University embraces the challenges of innovation,” she said. “There will be challenges with transitioning from our current energy systems to new ways of producing, operating and managing, but as a University we are uniquely positioned to use these challenges as educational and research opportunities, and share our progress and successes with the world.”

“Cornell Big Red Bikes will re-launch this spring, providing a bike sharing opportunity for students as well as faculty and staff,” she said.
Zemanick also expressed enthusiasm for a “Recyclemania” Steering Committee, which had its kickoff event at the Cornell basketball game against Yale Saturday.

“Last year, Cornell was the nationwide winner afor the Green Game competition, and we hope to beat rivals Princeton, Harvard and others in the total waste reduction this year,” she said.

In order to achieve a sustainable shift the University needs to foster support from the entire Cornell community, according to Brylinsky.

“Our bold ideas and willingness to embrace the challenge will bring us together as a community, and allow us to explore courageous ways of creating a future that is good for the planet, our long-term prosperity and all people,” she said. “Each small step — reducing paper use in one office, or introducing local foods at an event series — displays the power of a community to come together and create real change.”


China is now the world’s largest solar power producer

Posted on February 7th, 2017 in solar by Spencer R.



Not only is it the world’s most populous country, it’s now also the world’s biggest producer of solar energy. On Saturday, the National Energy Administration (NEA) noted that the nation officially claimed the title after doubling its installed photovoltaic (PV) capacity last year. By the end of 2016, China’s capacity hit 77.42 gigawatts, and while this is great in terms of raw numbers, it’s a lot less impressive relative to the country’s massive population.


As it stands, solar energy represents only one percent of the country’s energy output. But this may soon change as China devotes more and more of its attention towards clean energy. The NEA says that China will seek to add more than 110 gigawatts within the next three years, which could help the nation up the proportion of its renewable energy use to 20 percent by 2030. Today, it stands at 11 percent.



China’s geography certainly lends itself to large solar energy farms. Last year, Shandong, Xinjiang, and Henan provinces enjoyed the greatest increase in their solar capacity, whereas Xinjiang, Gansu, Qinghai, and Inner Mongolia ended up with the most overall capacity at the end of 2016.

Weaning itself off of fossil fuels will require quite a hefty investment; one that China appears ready to make. As per a Reuters report, the nation will be pouring some 2.5 trillion yuan ($364 billion) into renewable power generation by the end of the decade.


This dedication to environmentally friendly energy sources could put pressure on other nations around the world to do the same. Already, Ireland has passed a bill that would make it the first country to divest from fossil fuels. And some countries are finding increasingly creative ways of moving away from fossil fuels — Iceland, for example, is drilling the world’s largest well for geothermal energy.



Home of Cricket to run on 100% renewable energy

Posted on February 7th, 2017 in environment by Spencer R.



Lord’s cricket ground – otherwise known as England’s Home of Cricket – has become the first cricket ground in the country to run on 100% renewable energy.

Marylebone Cricket Club (MCC), which owns and maintains the ground in London’s Marylebone, said it signed up to EDF’s renewables tariff after new figures compiled by the England & Wales Cricket Board (ECB) revealed the extent to which extreme weather had impacted the sport.

The statistics stated that extreme weather in December 2015 caused more than £3.5 million worth of damage to 57 cricket clubs in the UK, while significant rainfall had continued to plague both the professional and recreational cricket calendars.

The ECB handed out more than £1 million in emergency funding in 2016 and has earmarked a further £1.6 million for this year and Derek Brewer, chief executive and secretary at MCC, said the figures “illustrate the effect” changing weather patterns can have on sport.

"It is important that all organisations embrace sustainability and I’m very pleased that Lord’s has become the first cricket ground in the country to run on 100% renewable energy,” Brewer added.

Lord’s is also edging closer to completing its redevelopment of the Warner Stand, which the club said would become “symbolic” of its new sustainability drive.

Solar PV panels have been incorporated into the stand’s roof design and a water collection and recycling system has also been incorporated.

MCC’s broader sustainability programme has so far resulted in a 7% reduction in overall energy usage compared to 2010 levels.

While not usually a primary thought for professional sports clubs, a large number have embraced greater sustainability and energy efficiency in recent months.

Last summer Bristol City incorporated a rooftop solar installation in its own stadium redevelopment, while Arsenal Football Club signed a deal with new energy supplier Octopus Energy to sign up to its renewables tariff, which is sourced predominantly from the group’s extensive UK solar assets.

But last month it was revealed that Chelsea had failed to meet a 30% energy efficiency targetwith its plans to redevelop its Stamford Bridge home, and would instead be forced to financially support other sustainability drives in the local area. 


Renewable Energy Will Power The Super Bowl

Posted on February 6th, 2017 in environment by Spencer R.



As the New England Patriots and Atlanta Falcons battle it out on the field this Sunday, renewable energy will power Super Bowl LI.

NRG Energy Inc. and subsidiary Reliant, a retail electricity provider in Texas, have teamed up with the National Football League (NFL) to provide 100% Green-e certified renewable energy to NRG Stadium, site of Super Bowl LI, and the George R. Brown Convention Center, location of the NFL Experience and other NFL celebrations in Houston.

“Reducing the environmental impact of our events is something we have worked toward for more than 20 years,” says Jack Groh, director of the NFL Environmental Program. “Using clean energy at our largest events, we can minimize the climate impact of our activities. This is something that’s good for business and good for our fans and the communities where we live.”

“As the official electricity company of NRG Stadium, we are proud to support the NFL and Houston by powering the largest U.S. sporting event with renewable energy certificates together with the on-site efficiency and renewable energy solutions,” adds Bruno Sarda, NRG’s vice president of sustainability. “At NRG, we want fans to benefit from sustainable solutions, and together with the NFL, we can demonstrate that even a huge event like the Super Bowl can significantly reduce its energy usage.”

For a period leading up to, during and following the Big Game, for every megawatt-hour of electricity used to power these events, NRG and Reliant will purchase and retire one renewable energy certificate (REC) on behalf of Super Bowl LI. The RECs account for the electricity used at NRG Stadium and the George R. Brown Convention Center, supporting renewable energy and the over 100,000 fans visiting Houston to celebrate the Super Bowl.

Green-e Energy, a program of the Center for Resource Solutions, is a third-party certification program that guarantees RECs are generated from new renewable facilities and marketed with transparency and accuracy. A REC represents the environmental attributes of power produced from renewable energy projects, such as solar and wind farms.


Wind energy to be created using lamp-posts

Posted on February 6th, 2017 in wind by Spencer R.



An IT company has joined forces with a green technology firm to develop wind turbines which attach to lamp-posts.

The NVT Group's partnership with Own Energy Solutions is set to create 25 jobs over the next 12 months which it hopes will rise to about 300 within three years.

The scheme harvests wind using a small wind turbine and inverter system.

As a result, metered, clean energy could be fed directly into the National Grid.

The company said that as a result, each suitable lamp-post conversion would save half a ton of carbon being released into the atmosphere.

As part of the deal, which is worth about £3.5m over the next 15 years, Own Energy is relocating from Glasgow to NVT's headquarters in Bellshill, North Lanarkshire.

Stephen Park Brown, managing director of NVT Group, said: "We have a great record of working with winning teams and this new venture has every prospect of eclipsing our recent commissions. We believe that Own Energy can become a significant player in the renewables market both in the UK and beyond."

'Huge export potential'

David Gordon, chief executive of Own Energy, said: "We chose to partner with NVT Group based on its extraordinary performance in recent years, particularly in the delivery of the technology for world-class sporting events such as the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow - which of course was widely regarded as the most successful in history - and The Ryder Cup.

"Our business is likely to scale up quickly and we know that NVT Group will be able to accommodate such growth based on its past experience. There are around 10 million lamp-posts in the UK and upwards of 20% of these are suitable for conversion which makes this a very scalable business opportunity with huge export potential.

"We have already had positive preliminary discussions with UK public and private bodies and have had indications of interest from the USA, Canada, Mexico, Ireland and South Africa. We believe this business has the potential to achieve an annual UK turnover of over £400m within five years."

Local MSP Richard Lyle said: "This is marvellous news and I know from colleagues across the political divide that this project is really firing the imagination.

"It chimes with the policies of the major political parties in Scotland and can deliver both clean green energy as well as meaningful financial benefits for hosts such as local government and private owners alike. Bringing jobs to Bellshill is also to be welcomed."

North Lanarkshire Council leader Jim Logue said: "I very much welcome this news. New jobs, technology and innovation are a healthy mix of ingredients which will, we hope, pay dividends for North Lanarkshire and beyond."


35 MW Platanares geothermal plant in Honduras to start operation in 2017

Posted on February 6th, 2017 in environment by Spencer R.




As reported from Honduras this week, the construction for the Platanares geothermal power plant in Honduras has reached an advanced stage.

This was announced by the advisor to the Honduran Council of Private Enterprise (COHEP ), Solomon Ordonez, and as reported by Honduran newspaper La Tribuna.

The Platanares geothermal power plant will be the country’s first geothermal plant and is expected to start operation in 2017.  The $200 million geothermal project, funded by Honduran and foreign investment, is lcoated in the municipality of La Union, department of Copán, in western Honduras.

Ormat Technology confirmed last year having started the construction of the geothermal project, as we reported. The BOT (build, own and transfer) conract was signed in 2013 between Ormat and Electricidad de Cortes (Elcosa), a privately-owned Honduras energy company.

The 15 year contract will go into effect from the date of commencement of commercial operation. In December 2015, Ormat concluded the drilling activity, and the evidence supporting the project’s decision.

The energy generated by Platanares will be marketed under the 30-year energy purchase agreements signed with the national electricity company of Honduras, the National Electric Energy Company (ENEE).

The Platanares geothermal project is regulated by the Law for the Promotion of the Generation of Electric Power by Renewable Resources, which was enacted in 2007, according to which it can benefit from a tax exemption during the first 10 years of operation.

The company expects to reach commercial operation by the end of 2017 and generate annual revenues of approximately $ 33 million.

Geothermal development in Latin American and the Caribbean will be discussed extensively at the Geothermal Conference for Latin America and the Caribbean (GeoLAC) in Mexico City, Mexico April 25-26, 2017. ThinkGeoEnergy and PiensaGeotermia will report from the conference.