Tuesday, November 29, 2016

The Asian Super Grid and You

Dave Roos in Seeker has the report about the proposed new Asian energy supergrid. As we know from other studies, a large-scale energy grid is a key part of the transition to renewable energy since it allows areas that are still in daylight to send solar-generated electricity to areas that have moved into darkness.

GEIDCO hopes the Asia Super Grid will become the first piece in a global energy puzzle. The State Grid Corporation of China, one of the chief backers of GEIDCO, predicts that every country will have its own super grid by 2030, and that the global energy "internet" will be completed by 2050 and powered by 80 percent clean energy. 

Link:  Asia's Super Grid to Be Fueled by Clean Energy

Sunday, November 27, 2016

Update: California's Energy Storage Mandate

Randy J. Hill and Elliott J. Williams at Renewable Energy World have the update on California's energy storage mandate. In particular, they look at the effects of AB 2514, which is pushing California utilities to look at technologies beyond pumped storage hydroelectricity.
Although a handful of storage technologies are getting a big boost from that effort, there is little doubt that roughly 75 percent of the state’s energy storage needs in the coming decades will be met by pumped storage hydro, the traditional—and still the most economical—storage solution.

Link:  At the Halfway Point: The Effect of California’s Energy Storage Mandate

U.S. Energy Storage Summit 2016

The second U.S. Energy Storage Summit is happening in San Francisco, December 7th & 8th.

Now in its second year, the U.S. Energy Storage Summit will bring together utilities, financiers, regulators, technology innovators, and storage practitioners for two full days of data-intensive presentations, analyst-led panel sessions with industry leaders, and extensive, high-level networking.

Link: U.S. energy storage summit 2016

Monday, November 21, 2016

Clean Energy Cheaper Than Coal

Coal isn't coming back, no matter what Trump says, according to Lucas Mearian at Computer World. His report has some nice detail about specifically where and how Trump could hurt the transition to renewable energy and how the growing economic strength of renewable energy, particularly solar, might enable it to shrug him off and keep moving forward.
Even with the dissolution of the [Clean Power Plan], the number of coal-fired generators is still expected to be reduced by about one-third through 2030, or by about 60 gigawatts of capacity, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA).

Link:  Trump’s coal revival plan won’t work; clean energy tech is already cheaper

Germany Pushes Past Trump

Perhaps as a reaction to the election of Donald Trump, Germany has presented a new and more detailed plan for how it will achieve a renewable energy economy by 2050. Think about that for a minute; It's only 34 years away. My nieces and nephews will live to see it. Bob Berwyn at InsideClimate News has the story.
The Klimaschutz 2050 plan envisions a carbon-neutral Germany by 2050, a longstanding target. But for the first time, it gets specific. The plan details how much each sector of the economy will reduce emissions to meet the intermediate goal of a 55 percent carbon reduction in the next 15 years. In previous climate plans, there were no goals for transportation and agriculture, but now all major polluters will have to pull their weight, German officials said.

Link: Germany Reasserts Climate Leadership

Saturday, November 19, 2016

Portland Moving Forward on Renewable Energy

Oregon's Portland Tribune has a report from Steve Law on the new plan for renewable energy submitted by Portland Gas and Electric (PGE). Oregon law requires that PGE get 50 percent of its electricity comes from wind, solar and other renewable energy by 2040. The new plan shows how they intend to get there.

The plan seems to lean heavily on energy efficiency, which is a good reminder that conservation technologies stand shoulder to shoulder with solar and wind technology in the building of a renewable energy world.

PGE’s 2016 Integrated Resource Plan  calls for a mix of new energy-efficiency measures, providing ways to reduce demand for power, and acquiring new energy supplies, such as natural gas and renewable energy, among other strategies.

Link:  PGE offers peek at renewable energy future

China Takes the Lead

Emma Rumney at Public Finance International gives details on how China has become the world leader in renewable energy investment.

The country, notorious for its dangerous levels of pollution, invested more than the US ($44.1bn), the UK ($22.2bn) and Japan ($36.2bn), put together, the United Nations Environment Programme’s annual report on global trends in renewable energy found.

Link: China is world’s largest investor in renewable energy

The Policies We Need for Renewable Energy

The Environmental Defense Fund's Lenae Shirley points out the importance of a bigger, smarter electrical grid.

If California’s electric grid were connected to neighboring states, for example, the state could export its excess renewable energy when the sun is shining there, and buy wind from Wyoming when it isn’t. This, again, would make wind and solar go farther.
Link:  These policy solutions can help unleash the full potential of renewable energy

Friday, November 18, 2016

Does Trump Need Renewable Energy to Make Us Energy Independent?

Geoffrey Smith at Fortune looks at a report from the International Energy Agency and reports that Trump may not reach U.S. energy independence in his lifetime if he doesn't boost renewable energy.
It could happen sooner, but that would require Trump to really embrace the kind of transformation of the energy sector called for by the Paris Accord on climate change–promoting renewables, encouraging energy efficiency, and migrating the transport sector to electric motors. That’s kind of awkward, given that Trump has pledged to pull out of the accord and revive the coal industry instead.

Link: Trump Can Make the U.S. Energy-Independent—If He Goes Green

Solar Cookers That Work at Night

Rob Goodier at Engineering for Change reports on progress in solar cookers for rural areas in the Third World. At least that's where they were originally intended for. Now in the Age of Trump, all bets are off.

H. S. Udaykumar, a mechanical engineering professor at the University of Iowa, explains the challenge like this: “First, the cooker should operate in the early morning and late evening when the sun is not at peak. They should be able to cook indoors, sitting down. They cook for two hours each time. The stove top temperature should be about 200C, with heat delivered at approximately 1 KW to the cook surface.
Link: 10 Solar Cookers That Work at Night

Renewable Energy in Rural America

The topic of the hour seems to be whether or not renewable energy has enough momentum to survive, or even make progress, during a Trump administration. Dave Roberts at Vox weights in, recognizing the fact that renewable energy seems to be taking root in rural communities that don't necessarily believe in climate change and which may well have voted for Trump.
What’s more, unlike the abstractions involved in climate, clean energy is real, tangible, and — perhaps most important of all — commercially viable. There are many things that divide Americans, but they are generally united on the benefits of making money.

Link: Renewable energy is seeping into small-town America

Thursday, November 17, 2016

The Green Tea Party?

Back in April, Carl Lindemann and Jared Goyette at PRI (Public Radio International) gave a brief account of an active, pro-renewable energy faction of the Tea Party. Given as how the right-wing has now demonstrated its political muscle again I thought I'd present it. Speaking as a liberal, I've always resented the fact that renewable energy is generally presented as a liberal cause. Any way that we can recruit some of the conservatives to help with this would be great.
It's now clear that Dooley was on to something. Solar energy can allow a family to transform their home into a self-sufficient power plant with the addition of a few panels on the roof. This appeals to conservative ideals of self-reliance, free from interference from Big Government or even Big Corporations.
Link: The 'green' Tea Party fights for a more environmentally friendly GOP

Monday, November 14, 2016

Renewable Energy Will Survive the Trump Administration

Saulius Mikalonis at Crain's Detroit Business argues that the renewable energy industry is now sufficiently robust and entrenched to survive the disapproval of Donald Trump and a Republican Congress.

With new technological developments and greater demand, the costs will only continue to go down, which creates an economic incentive for the use of these technologies. This holds true even in places where coal is cheap and plentiful, like Texas. In Michigan, coal-fired plants are closing, mainly because they have outlived their useful lives and are expensive to run. They are not being replaced by other coal plants, but by natural gas and renewables. The economic case for renewables will keep the market for it healthy and vibrant no matter what the new administration does.

Link: Renewable energy poised to thrive under any White House

Saturday, November 12, 2016

Faster Approvals for Renewable Energy Projects on Federal Lands

It looks like the Obama administration is trying to hurry to put in place a streamlined process for approving proposed renewable energy projects.
Under the current system, it can take up to 18 months to two years to permit a renewable energy project on federal lands. The new rule, finalized on Thursday, could cut that time in half in the areas designated as most suitable for development

Link: U.S. Takes Major Step Toward Wind and Solar Development

A New Model of a Renewable Energy World

Alexander McNamara at the BBC's Science Focus brings news of a new study out of Finland that illustrates precisely how a global renewable energy system would operate.

The model looks at the world in 2030 separated into 145 regions, showing how the energy can be distributed across the planet to meet demand at any hour of the day, all year long, as well showing from which renewable source it comes from.

Link:  New simulation shows 100 per cent renewable energy future

Thursday, November 10, 2016

Texas Army Base Builds Solar Plant

Abbey Sinclair at the Fort Hood Herald reports on the progress being made on a concentrated solar array for Fort Hood in Texas.

“Fort Hood, the Army’s largest installation, will be an enduring installation for training soldiers in the years to come, and we are investing in that,” he added, explaining that energy derived from the solar farm will be about 15 megawatts. Combined with about 50 megawatts from the wind farm, the energy available will be about 65 megawatts, or almost half of Fort Hood’s daily need.

Link: Progress continues on Fort Hood’s $100 million renewable energy farm

Trump Already Hurting Wind Power

Ben Chapman at The Independent describes how Trump's victory is already weakening the financial position of the wind power industry.
Wind turbines are given generous subsidies in the US, as the world’s biggest per-capita polluter attempts to reduce its carbon output. However, Mr Trump’s aggressively pro-business, anti-government stance puts any government assistance under threat.

Link: Donald Trump wins: Shares plummet for biggest wind turbine company as result throws renewable energy future into doubt

Tuesday, November 8, 2016

It Came From Outer Space (electricity, that is)

Michelle Z. Donahue at Smithsonian.com has a very interesting article about the latest efforts to put solar collectors into space. Frankly this idea rings my sci-fi loving bell, and rings it hard. I really hope these people are on to something.

Mankins and others estimate the total cost for developing, building, launching and assembling all the components of a space-based solar power plant is on the order of $4 to $5 billion—a fraction of the $28 billion price tag on China’s Three Gorges Dam. Mankins estimates a working scale model with full-sized components could be had for $100 million. By comparison, the Tennessee Valley Authority’s recently completed Watts Bar nuclear plant took 43 years to build, from start to stuttering finish, and cost $4.7 billion all told.

Link: What's Next For Solar Energy? How About Space

Monday, November 7, 2016

Electricity From Your Floor

Apparently a journey of a thousand miles really might start with a single step.

Floorboards might not be the first form of renewable energy that springs to mind, but they could soon be taking their place alongside solar and wind power – because scientists have figured out a way to produce electricity from wood pulp.

Link: Researchers just found a new source of renewable energy in wood pulp waste

Sunday, November 6, 2016

Utility Pole Solar

Mireya Navarro at the New York Times has a story about solar NIMBYism in New Jersey. Some people in the state are upset about a new program by the Public Service Electric and Gas Company that mounts solar panels to existing utility poles. This is a very creative effort (in my opinion) to retrofit solar panels into a community. But the solar panels are a visual blight, according to the critics. The story in the Times has a picture of them and I don't see it, but the critics may be more sensitive, aesthetically speaking, than I am.

When complete, the panels on the poles are expected to provide half of the 80 megawatts of electricity generated by the utility's overall $515 million solar investment — enough to power 6,500 homes.

Link: Solar Panels Rise Pole by Pole, Followed by Gasps of ‘Eyesore’

Thursday, November 3, 2016

How the Energy Revolution Came to Germany

Robert Kunzig at National Geographic has an interesting article tracing the evolution of Germany's "energiewende" or energy revolution. Kunzig looks at cultural and historical factors that may have made Germans more receptive to an undertaking like the energiewende.

The German revolution has come from the grass roots: Individual citizens and energy genossenschaften—local citizens associations—have made half the investment in renewables. ... German politicians sometimes compare the energiewende to the Apollo moon landing. But that feat took less than a decade, and most Americans just watched it on TV. The energiewende will take much longer and will involve every single German—more than 1.5 million of them, nearly 2 percent of the population, are selling electricity to the grid right now.

Link: Germany Could Be a Model for How We’ll Get Power in the Future

The Revolution is in the Northeast

Really interesting story from Marlene Cimons at NexusMedia and Think Progress about the progress towards renewable energy being made in the Northeast.

The article highlights the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI), which has established a carbon emissions market among nine states in the Northeast. When we talk about innovations in renewable energy we can never forget the innovations we have to adopt in financing renewable energy and in putting a price on putting carbon in the atmosphere. If putting carbon in the atmosphere is free, despite the damage it causes, then it's just that much harder for renewable energy to compete.

But the RGGI states have put a price on carbon, and people are responding by embracing renewable energy. It's a good article. You should read it.

Between 2005 and 2015, coal-fired generation declined more than 80 percent in New England and New York, and more coal plants are scheduled to close. Meanwhile, solar power in New York State has grown 750 percent in the past five years.

Link:  Forget California: The Northeast is emerging as a clean energy leader

Wednesday, November 2, 2016

Animated History of Electric Cars

A guide to how far electric cars have come, for those of you who are more visually oriented. Courtesy of Gearheads.org and EV World.

By the early 1900's, a third of all the automobiles on the planet were electric

Link: The EV-olution of Electric Vehicles

Doies the World Need Solar Powered E-Bike Rentals?

Derek Markham at Treehugger reports on a new venture that rents e-bikes to tourists from cruise ships. The whole business is entirely solar-powered and operates out of a slightly modified shipping container so that it's mobile. Very clever idea, good execution, and they've identified a perfect market for their service. I hope they make a lot of money.

Moore told Silicon Prairie News that the system worked so well in Omaha over the summer that its biggest problem was just "keeping the tires inflated,

Link:  Quikbyke is a solar-powered e-bike rental shop & charging station in a shipping container