Renewable Energy News

India’s rooftop solar capacity grew 517% year-over-year

Renewable Energy - Tue, 2021-09-21 09:45

India's rooftop solar market is booming.

India added 521 MW of rooftop solar capacity in the second quarter of 2021, representing an increase of 53% from the previous quarter and 517% year-over-year growth.

That's the latest from Mercom's India Rooftop Solar Market Report Q2 2021-- India's best quarter for rooftop solar ever.

“The rooftop solar segment had a strong quarter, and demand is up," Mercom CEO Raj Prabhu said in a statement. "Finalizing the net metering cap at 500 kW has removed uncertainty for installers and paved the way for future growth."

In the first half of 2021, 862 MW of rooftop solar capacity was added in India-- more than the total installed capacity in all of 2020. Much of the demand came from corporate and industrial customers. Cumulative rooftop solar capacity reached 6.1 GW by the end of Q2 2021, according to the report.

The Mercom report warns that "haphazard" rooftop solar policies across states are holding the sector back. Increasing system costs also threaten the industry's growth.

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Categories: Renewable Energy

Demand for renewable energy, supply chain pressures send PPA prices higher

Renewable Energy - Tue, 2021-09-21 05:13

While PPA prices are trending upward, LevelTen doesn't expect demand to soften. According to a survey by the firm, only 12% of solar developers are responding to supply chain pressures by delaying projects.

The price of solar and wind power purchase agreements in North America increased 4.3% in the second quarter of 2021, and is up 14.4% year-over-year, according to an analysis by LevelTen Energy.

Demand for renewable energy by public and corporate groups, coupled with global supply chain constraints, are likely causing the pricing pressure, analysts wrote.

“Much like we’re seeing supply constraints in other areas of the economy, the most desirable wind and solar projects are going fast," said Rob Collier, vice president of developer services at LevelTen Energy. "The key takeaway for organizations with fast-approaching emissions reductions targets is to act now to capture high-value PPAs."

Solar prices increased quarter-over-quarter and year-over-year in Q2 2021 for the first time since Wood Mackenzie began modeling solar market prices in 2014.

Important trend to watch. My explanation:

1) wind/solar PPAs are growing in popularity

2) global supply chains are still messed up

3) might be that some of the easiest places to build have already been snagged, so less desirable locations/resource are now being exploited https://t.co/c1prKUnGXQ

— Michael E. Webber (@MichaelEWebber) September 20, 2021

Trade issues, meanwhile, threaten President Biden's goal of generating 45% of electricity from solar energy by 2050. The U.S. government's enforcement of the Withhold Release Order (WRO) on metallurgical-grade silicon (MGS) from companies with facilities in China's Xinjiang region, as well as the possible extension of the Section 201 tariffs on imported solar modules, have added to the uncertainty. Additional tariffs could come, too, from the Antidumping and Countervailing Duties (AD/CVD) case involving companies from Malaysia, Thailand, and Vietnam.

While PPA prices are trending upward, LevelTen doesn't expect demand to soften. According to a survey by the firm, only 12% of solar developers are responding to supply chain pressures by delaying projects.

“ERCOT solar prices have increased by nearly 10% since Q2 2020, driven by steady quarterly increases in pricing at ERCOT’s North, South, and Houston settlement hubs,” Collier said. “Still, ERCOT continues to be the most competitive solar market in the U.S., as abundant land, a unique market structure, and high insolation provide a favorable environment for solar development."

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Categories: Renewable Energy

Massive infrastructure projects selected to deliver clean energy to New York City

Renewable Energy - Tue, 2021-09-21 04:30

The projects are expected to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 77 million metric tons over the next 15 years.

New York Gov. Kathy Hochul kicked off Climate Week by announcing the selection of two massive transmission and renewable energy infrastructure projects that will deliver clean energy to New York City.

Together, the Clean Path NY and Champlain Hudson Power Express projects will add 3,400 megawatts of new solar and wind power generation and establish two new high-voltage direct current transmission lines to deliver 18 million MWh of clean solar, wind, and hydropower to New York City every year, enough to power 2.5 million homes.

Hochul said the projects, if finalized by state authorities, will allow New York City to exceed its goal of 70% renewable energy by 2030.

"New York's communities are repeatedly facing serious consequences as a result of the devastation caused by the global climate crisis, and the stakes have never been higher as we deal with the economic and environmental destruction these extreme weather events leave behind," Hochul said in a statement "These transformative projects are a win-win—delivering thousands of new good-paying jobs throughout the state and attracting billions of dollars in private investment."

Clean Path NY project overview

The $11 billion Clean Path NY project will add 1,400 MW of new solar and 2,000 MW of new on-shore wind power generation, delivered to New York City from Upstate and Western New York by a 174-mile underground HVDC transmission line. Forward Power and the New York Power Authority will develop the project, which is expected to be operational in 2027.

Champlain Hudson Power Express project route

The Champlain Hudson Power Express, developed by Transmission Developers, Inc and Hydro-Québec, is a 339-mile underground HVDC transmission line that will deliver 1,250 MW of hydropower from Canada to New York City. The project is permitted to begin construction this year and will be operational in 2025.

The projects were selected for contract negotiation as part of the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority's (NYSERDA) Tier 4 renewable energy solicitation issued in January. Once finalized, NYSERDA will submit the negotiated contracts for these awarded projects to New York's Public Service Commission for consideration and approval.

"This is a transformative moment for New York City's fight against climate change," said New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio. "Two new transmission lines connecting New York City to electricity from water, the wind, and solar will create thousands of good union jobs, improve the resilience and reliability of our power supply, and dramatically reduce our reliance on oil and gas electricity that dirties the air in our neighborhoods and endangers our planet."

The projects are expected to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 77 million metric tons over the next 15 years.

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Categories: Renewable Energy

bp joins multi-billion-dollar hydrogen effort in UK, UAE

Renewable Energy - Tue, 2021-09-21 03:00

bp has partnered with Abu Dhabi energy firms ADNOC and Masdar to decarbonize the UK and United Arab Emirates’ energy and transportation systems.

The three companies will invest in clean energy and low-carbon energy across the UK and the United Arab Emirates (UAE). Three agreements signed by the companies will enable billions of dollars to be invested to create low-carbon hydrogen hubs, green jobs and help the two countries move closer to decarbonization goals.

The first project to be deployed as part of the agreement will be the development of 2GW of green hydrogen capacity across hubs in the UK and UAE.

This will enable the decarbonization of hard-to-abate industries and help the UK achieve its goal to develop 5GW of low-carbon hydrogen by 2030.

The project could also enable the first international investment to be made in H2Teesside, a project by bp that aims to produce 1GW of blue hydrogen by 2030. The project is expected to start operations in 2027 and is claimed to be the UK’s largest blue hydrogen project.

bp has partnered with Abu Dhabi energy firms ADNOC and Masdar to decarbonize the UK and United Arab Emirates’ energy and transportation systems. The project could also enable the first international investment to be made in H2Teesside, a project by bp that aims to produce 1GW of blue hydrogen by 2030.

Boris Johnson, UK Prime Minister, said: “This is a fantastic investment in the industries of the future, creating high-value jobs across the UK as we build back better and greener.”

The three companies plan to decarbonize air corridors between the UK and UAE – one of the busiest global air travel routes.

They will explore opportunities to develop, build and operate sustainable energy and mobility solutions for UK and UAE cities. The first projects will focus on energy efficiency and storage, cleaner fuels, and distributed renewables generation.

bp and ADNOC will expand their partnership in decarbonizing oil and gas operations in Abu Dhabi. They plan to develop carbon capture use and storage facilities and leverage advanced methane emission detection and reduction technologies. Smart Decision Centres will be established in the UAE, where digital and AI technology will accelerate operational efficiency. 

The UK Prime Minister added: “It is a clear indication that businesses in the energy sector are taking the transition to cleaner solutions seriously, and a major boost to the UK’s own ambitious net-zero goals. Our Global Investment Summit later this year will attract more exciting investment like this to the UK, demonstrating that economic growth, technological advancement, and fighting climate change go hand-in-hand.”

The partnership is also expected to help the three companies to achieve their sustainability goals and aid the UK government to realise its 10-point plan for the green industrial revolution and the UAE government its ‘Principles for 50; strategy. 

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Categories: Renewable Energy

New Jersey coal plant to be repurposed as clean energy hub

Renewable Energy - Tue, 2021-09-21 03:00

A renewable energy developer has acquired the site of a retired New Jersey coal-fired power plant in hopes of converting it into an interconnection hub for offshore wind turbine energy delivered to onshore customers.

Rise Light & Power has announced plans to build a project called the Outerbridge Renewable Connector in South Amboy, N.J. Once operational, Outerbridge would receive the electricity generated by offshore wind turbines via underground cables, then deliver that to the Deans Substation for movement onto the grid.

A wholly-owned subsidiary of the LS Power Group, Rise Light & Power will locate the proposed clean energy hub where the onetime E.H. Werner coal-fired power station generated electricity. Jersey Central Power & Light operated the Werner plant until its retirement six years ago.

“Rise Light & Power is committed to helping New Jersey achieve its ambitious clean energy goals,” said Clint Plummer, CEO of Rise Light & Power. “The state’s bold vision calls for a responsible, affordable solution to delivering offshore wind energy to the state electric grid. Outerbridge solves the challenge of finding appropriate and acceptable cable landing sites by using existing infrastructure that avoids siting transmission lines in sensitive areas like residential neighborhoods and recreational beaches.”

The Werner site on Raritan Bay features an existing substation and switchyard, rail and highway access, a pier with expansion potential and unobstructed access to the Atlantic Ocean with 24 acres of submerged lands.

The Outerbridge Renewable Connector is the only project in our state that can deliver clean offshore wind to our residents without the controversy of disturbing beaches and communities,” South Amboy Mayor Fred Henry said in a statement.

New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy has stated a goal of his state getting to 100 percent clean energy by 2050. The state is committing to investing more than $150 billion to produce 7,500 MW of offshore wind power capacity by 2035.

New Jersey-based utility Public Service Enterprise Group recently signed a multi-decade lease for another coastal site which is also planned as a major manufacturing and assembly port to support the offshore wind industry. It would be home to the New Jersey Wind Port, providing a site for staging, assembly and manufacturing work related to offshore wind development along the East Coast.

PSEG broke ground on the site along the Delaware River last week. The New Jersey Wind Port construction is expected to be completed sometime in 2023.

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Categories: Renewable Energy

227MW solar farm completed in Alabama to support Facebook data center

Renewable Energy - Mon, 2021-09-20 06:48

The 227-megawatt Muscle Shoals solar farm has been completed in Alabama.

The utility-scale solar farm was developed through a partnership between Ørsted and the Tennessee Valley Authority. The project will support the sustainability goals of Facebook's data center in Huntsville.

"We're very excited to add to our high-quality, diverse customer base through this long-term partnership with TVA and Facebook," says Vishal Kapadia, Chief Commercial Officer of Ørsted's Onshore business, adding: "The acquisition and completion of Muscle Shoals represents the continued successful execution of our expansion strategy in which we seek to complement our core market greenfield development activities with opportunistic acquisitions in new markets to diversify our portfolio."

Ørsted's operational solar PV portfolio grows to 647 MW with the completion of the Muscle Shoals solar project. Ørsted acquired the project from Longroad Energy last year.

TVA aims to achieve net-zero emissions generation by 2050. The utility has already reduced emissions by 63% since 2005.

"This solar farm is a historic moment in TVA history," said Doug Perry, Senior Vice President, TVA Commercial Energy Solutions, adding: "It's the first Green Invest project to come online, and it demonstrates the value of TVA's focus on cleaner energy. Green Invest is helping us build the clean, low-cost energy system of the future that's essential to achieving our environmental goals and competing for jobs in the new clean economy."

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Categories: Renewable Energy

Biden climate plans would cut emissions by 1 billion tons, study finds

Renewable Energy - Mon, 2021-09-20 05:39

Rhodium Group estimates that the initial policies outlined in the infrastructure and reconciliation plans, though subject to change, would be equivalent to removing the annual emissions from all light-duty vehicles in America or zeroing out net annual emissions from Texas and Florida combined.

President Biden's signature climate initiatives would cut greenhouse gas emissions by nearly a billion tons in 2030, according to a report on key pieces of the legislative proposals.

Rhodium Group analyzed several of the most significant provisions within the $1 trillion bipartisan infrastructure package and the "Build Back Better" plan within the $3.5 trillion budget reconciliation bill, which are both still working through the US Congress.

The report finds that the proposals -- long-term clean energy tax credits, a Clean Electricity Performance Program, funding for rural electric cooperatives to decarbonize, new electric vehicle tax credits, fees on methane emissions, and boosted funding for agricultural and forestry programs that achieve carbon removal -- can cut US emissions by 830-936 million tons in 2030 compared to current policy.

Beginning in 2023, the Clean Electricity Performance Program would reward utilities that increase their share of clean energy by 4% per year with grants and punish utilities that fall short by imposing fees.

In August, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer told colleagues in a letter that President Biden's goal of cutting greenhouse gas emissions by 50% compared to 2005 levels is within reach, in large part due to the proposed CEEP. Analysis of the program found that it would create nearly 8 million jobs by 2031.

"The biggest share of reductions comes from the electric power sector, where the combination of clean energy tax credits, CEPP, and rural cooperative programs cut emissions by up to 715 million tons," the authors wrote. "Depending on energy market and technology cost assumptions, the CEPP delivers the majority of these reductions."

The report estimates that long-term EV tax credit enhancements in the "Build Back Better" plan would lead EVs to make up as much as 61% of total vehicle sales in 2030, even more than President Biden's goal of 50%.

Rhodium Group estimates that the initial policies outlined in the infrastructure and reconciliation plans, though subject to change, would be equivalent to removing the annual emissions from all light-duty vehicles in America or zeroing out net annual emissions from Texas and Florida combined.

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Ørsted lands 100MW power purchase agreement for future German offshore wind farm

Renewable Energy - Mon, 2021-09-20 04:10

Ørsted has reached a 10-year, 100-megawatt power purchase agreement with European retail giant REWE Group for renewable energy from a future German offshore wind farm.

The agreement will produce enough green power to equal the power consumption of 1,500 REWE stores, the companies said. The Borkum Riffgrund 3 offshore wind farm in the North Sea is expected to become operational in 2025 with an export capacity of 900 MW.

"The world urgently needs to shift to renewable energy to reduce carbon emissions. To achieve this systemic change, action is needed from governments, energy providers, and corporate energy customers," said Rasmus Errboe, Head of Region Continental Europe at Ørsted. "REWE Group has a long tradition of buying sustainable power, and by purchasing power from Borkum Riffgrund 3, they're supporting the build-out of affordable new renewable energy at industrial scale."

Borkum Riffgrund 3 offshore wind farm is located in the German North Sea near Ørsted's existing offshore wind farms Borkum Riffgrund 1 and Borkum Riffgrund 2.

By 2030, Ørsted aims to install 50 GW of renewable energy capacity worldwide, including 30 GW of offshore wind and 17.5 GW onshore wind and solar PV.

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Categories: Renewable Energy

Lightsource bp targets 25 GW solar developments by 2025

Renewable Energy - Mon, 2021-09-20 03:53

Lightsource bp, the largest solar developer in Europe, has secured $1.8 billion in financing and is targeting 25 gigawatts of solar by 2025, the company announced.

The funding will be used to boost Lightsource bp's current 20 GW pipeline to 25 GW by 2025. Lightsource bp is developing an additional 9 GW solar portfolio for bp.

“Globally, renewable energy is shifting from a mindset of gigawatts to terawatts," Nick Boyle, group chief executive for Lightsource bp, said. “If we’re going to meet the commitments of the Paris Agreement — business as usual isn’t going to cut it. Our industry-leading 25GW by 2025 target and the finance package are further proof that Lightsource bp has left business as usual far behind."

Lightsource bp has developed more than 30 projects that deliver 8-10% returns to investors, Dev Sanyal, bp's executive vice president of gas and low carbon, said in a statement.

Last week, Chevron Mike Wirth infamously said his company will not invest in wind and solar because of the low return to investors, suggesting investors can plant trees on their own with dividends released by the company.

"So when people ask if we really have the capability to deliver the returns we talk about, the answer couldn’t be clearer – yes, we can because we are. Lightsource bp continues to deliver and it continues to grow. And quite frankly we love it – because it works," Sanyal said.

Lightsource bp has a U.S. portfolio of nearly 10 GW, including 2 GW entering into operations or construction in the last 18 months.

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Boise, Idaho to reach 100% clean electricity goal by 2023

Renewable Energy - Mon, 2021-09-20 03:00

Boise, Idaho will reach its goal of 100% clean electricity by 2033, years ahead of the target, according to Mayor Laren McLean. President Biden visited Boise this week to highlight the urgent need to address climate change.

Days after President Biden visited Boise, Idaho to highlight the need for action on climate change, the city's mayor announced that the city will reach its 100% clean electricity goal by 2023, years ahead of schedule.

Boise Mayor Laren McLean said on Twitter that the city will reach its goal seven years early. Boise's Energy Plan, approved by the city council in 2019, called for 100% of the electricity used by the city's residents and businesses to be clean by 2035.

"The City’s announcement that they will achieve their 100% clean electricity goal seven years earlier than their original commitment date demonstrates how workable clean energy is for Idaho communities,” Conservation Voters for Idaho program coordinator Ryan McGoldrick told IdahoNews. “Three out of four Idahoans are now living in communities that benefit from city, county, or utility clean energy commitments."

As of 2017, nearly 50% of Idaho Power's electricity was delivered to customers from hydroelectric generation. An additional 19% came from other renewable energy sources, such as solar, geothermal, biomass, and wind, though the utility was required to sell renewable energy credits to reduce customer rates.

Categories: Renewable Energy

5 conditions that can lead to higher energy storage deployment in South Asia

Renewable Energy - Mon, 2021-09-20 03:00

The National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL), a US Department of Energy national lab, has released a new report discussing the five conditions that can lead to an increase in energy storage deployment across South Asia.

The conditions include:

  • Low solar energy and battery energy storage system costs – A decrease in both solar energy and battery energy storage technologies could enable an increase in the solar capacity installation by 55% and storage capacity deployment by 79%.
  • Low battery cost – This would result in a 28% increase in solar capacity and 44% in energy storage capacity.
  • Low solar PV cost – A 28% increase in solar capacity is likely to result, whilst energy storage deployment will increase by 32%
  • No new fossil fuel – In addition to reducing carbon emissions, this would expand energy storage capacity rollout by 52%.
  • Low Pumped storage hydropower would result in a 1% increase in solar capacity additions and a 26% increase in energy storage deployment.

On the other hand, factors including high battery costs, no gas power additions, no energy storage operating reserves, no energy storage time-shifting value, and no energy storage capacity credit will result in decreases in energy storage deployment, according to the study.

The launch of the report comes at a time energy storage rollout has become critical for utilities to be able to expand their portfolio of renewables for decarbonization. For instance, the Indian government set a target 175 GW of solar and wind energy capacity by 2022, which can be achieved if energy storage deployment is intensified.

In addition, energy storage would enable:

  1. Energy time-shifting throughout the day to reduce curtailment of renewable energy and reduce the cost of electricity during peak demand
  2. Provision of reliable capacity for long-term system reliability, helping offset the need for new coal-fired power plants
  3. Provision of on-call operating reserves needed to manage grid frequency.

However, supporting regulation is needed to ensure an increased deployment of energy storage, an essential standard for optimal grid operations in the future.

In all the scenarios studied by NREL, storage rollout will increase from current levels in India through 2030 and 2050, thereby showing the critical role the technology will play in future energy business cases.

In Bangladesh, energy storage is expected to help reduce reliance on expensive, high-polluting diesel- and fuel-oil-fired power plants to manage demand and provide peaking power.

In Bhutan and Nepal, which mainly rely on hydropower, energy storage can be used to optimize the domestic use of hydropower and increase energy exported to India, a development that could help increase foreign currency earnings.

Ilya Chernyakhovskiy, researcher 111-decision support analysis at NREL, said: “This study shows how a level playing field for energy storage to compete with conventional technologies can lead to an increase in renewable energy deployment, reduced air emissions from the power sector, and lower costs for electricity.

“While we didn’t evaluate energy storage versus other emerging technologies, such as demand response, electric vehicles, or distributed energy resources, the results of this study make clear that cost-effective energy storage in South Asia is right around the corner.”

Find out more about the study.

Categories: Renewable Energy

EVs to increase Britain’s electricity demand by 31 times by 2040

Renewable Energy - Mon, 2021-09-20 03:00

As a result of an increase in electric vehicle use across Britain, electricity demand from the transport sector will increase by 31 times by 2040 from the current levels, according to a new report released by research firm Cornwall Insights.

The Benchmark power curve report states that electric vehicles will contribute an additional 71.6TWh of energy capacity by 2040. This is a 25% increase of current annual demand which stands at 299TWh (excluding losses).

The electrification of the economy (electric vehicles & heat pumps) and use of green hydrogen as an energy carrier, all increase demand from 298TWh in 2021-22 to 628.4TWh in the Central Scenario (see figure 1) by 2040 and up to 668.2TWh in the High Scenario, according to the study.

Tom Edwards, a senior modeler at Cornwall Insightsaid: “EVs are widely seen as crucial in reducing emissions to meet net-zero. However, the magnitude of the impact that the technology will have on the electricity system should not be underestimated. If EVs increase according to the National Grid’s Future Energy Scenarios (FES) Leading the Way scenario, the increase in demand for electricity will be substantial.

“However, EVs have the potential to offer the system considerable flexible vehicle-to-grid (V2G) discharging and smart charging, which reduces the level of investment needed inflexible power supply.

“At the same time, greater flexibility may be needed if consumers were to charge whenever it is convenient, and with the wide deployment of EVs needed to meet net-zero, it is clear that this would currently not be possible.

“The electrification of transport remains a significant challenge, particularly if the current market design remains the same. However, to sustain such a growth in demand, it is likely that the market design will need to change to better support the net-zero objectives.”

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Categories: Renewable Energy

10 clean energy stocks performance chart

Renewable Energy - Sun, 2021-09-19 03:00

By Tom Konrad, AltEnergyStocks.com

Here’s the performance through August for the 10 Clean Energy Stocks for 2021 model portfolio…  The market has turned down a bit since then but the relative performance has not changed significantly.  The model portfolio is still well ahead of its benchmarks, both clean energy (RNRG) and broad market (SDY). I don’t know if this recent downturn is just a blip or the start of the possible larger decline I’ve been worrying about.  But I’m prepared if it’s the latter.

DISCLOSURE: Long positions all the stocks in the model portfolio.

DISCLAIMER: Past performance is not a guarantee or a reliable indicator of future results.  This article contains the current opinions of the author and such opinions are subject to change without notice.  This article has been distributed for informational purposes only. Forecasts, estimates, and certain information contained herein should not be considered as investment advice or a recommendation of any particular security, strategy or investment product.  Information contained herein has been obtained from sources believed to be reliable, but not guaranteed.

Categories: Renewable Energy

Connecticut losing ground on building emissions despite efficiency programs

Renewable Energy - Sat, 2021-09-18 03:00

By Lisa Prevost, Energy News Network

Climate activists say the state’s progress on reducing building emissions has been far too slow given the pace of the climate crisis, and that it needs to end incentives for energy-efficient natural gas heating.

Greenhouse gas emissions from heating and cooling buildings continue to rise in Connecticut despite the state’s efforts to improve energy efficiency.

An annual greenhouse gas inventory released last week for 2018 — the latest available data — showed vehicle exhaust remains the state’s largest problem, but the sharpest year-over-year increase came in the residential sector. Commercial building emissions were also higher.

The report attributes the increases to greater cold-weather heating demand, but climate activists underscore the state’s lack of progress on building emissions, which are roughly the same as they were a decade ago. They say the state lags on the adoption of electric heat pumps relative to the rest of New England, continues to expand its natural gas infrastructure, and doesn’t allow municipalities to adopt more stringent efficiency standards for new buildings. 

Just one day after the emissions report was released, the state’s Energy Efficiency Board approved the next round of ratepayer-funded energy efficiency incentives, and despite pleas not to do so, included subsidies to entice homeowners to switch from oil heating to high-efficiency natural gas furnaces. Activists met the news with incredulity.

“Continuing to subsidize polluting fossil fuels defies logic,” said Shannon Laun, a staff attorney for the Conservation Law Foundation, in a statement. “If Connecticut continues subsidizing gas heating, the state will not meet its climate goals and our communities will suffer.”

Connecticut’s Global Warming Solutions Act calls for a 45% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions by 2030, and 80% by 2050. While the state has made progress in reducing emissions from the electricity sector, last week’s report from the state Department of Energy and Environmental Protection concluded that the overall 42.2 million metric tons of carbon dioxide equivalent emitted in Connecticut in 2018 was up 2.7% from 2017. 

The transportation sector represents the largest share of emissions, at 15.8 metric tons. Between 2014 and 2018, transportation emissions rose by 3%, the report said. 

While building emissions represented a lower overall share, the residential sector saw an 18% rise in emissions from fuel oil and a 9.8% rise in emissions from natural gas. 

Commercial building emissions rose 10.8% for natural gas and 6.6% for fuel oil. https://datawrapper.dwcdn.net/4gvwU/1/#amp=1

The findings suggest the state is going to have to amp up its efforts in these areas if it is to meet its greenhouse gas reduction goals, including implementing the Transportation and Climate Initiative and authorizing municipalities to adopt energy “stretch” codes for large buildings, the agency said. Both of those measures failed to make it through the last legislative session.

While there are some signs of progress in reducing building emissions, especially around improving energy efficiency in affordable housing, advocates say it’s far too slow in coming given the pace of the climate crisis.

“I’m not seeing very much in the way of a change in the standard way of doing business in Connecticut, which is just continuing to do things the way they’ve been done for the last several decades,” said Bruce Becker, a Westport-based developer who specializes in highly efficient building projects and is converting a former office building in New Haven into what could be the country’s first net-zero-energy hotel. “Public utilities are still sending out mailers to get people to convert to natural gas, which is not helping.”

‘It’s complicated’

The energy efficiency plan just approved by the oversight board — officially known as the Conservation and Load Management Plan — is the latest iteration of Energize Connecticut, the utility-run program that offers an array of rebates and incentives aimed at driving greater building efficiency.

It still awaits a sign-off from Department of Energy and Environmental Protection Commissioner Katie Dykes. Activists representing about 20 environmental and clean energy groups submitted a letter to Dykes last month calling on her to remove all fossil fuel subsidies from the plan. 

“There was a lot more public participation and scrutiny of the plan this time than in years past,” said Charles Rothenberger, climate and energy attorney for Save the Sound. “There was also a much more concerted effort on the part of the advocacy community to draw attention to the proceedings.”

Amy McLean, the Connecticut director for the Acadia Center, sits on the Energy Efficiency Board. While she said she agrees that fossil fuel incentives should be removed, “it’s complicated.” Putting a “hard stop” on incentives for high-efficiency gas furnaces right now would mean more people would simply purchase less efficient equipment. And the incentives for electric heat pumps are not high enough to make them affordable for most people.

“All ratepayers pay into this program — they have to get something back,” she said.

One change she does think could be made immediately is removing incentives for gas equipment in new construction.

“New construction should not be incentivizing anything but electrification,” McLean said. 

Activists want more resources put into switching customers over to heat pumps, which can be used for heating and cooling. The plan does say that the companies will “prioritize transitioning customers” to air-source heat pumps and ground-source heat pumps, and will do more educational outreach. But Rothenberger is skeptical. 

“We know what the practice has been,” he said. “The language is all very aspirational and vague.” 

Connecticut has a lot of catching up to do compared to other New England states, said Bernie Pelletier, vice president of People’s Action for Clean Energy. He cited figures from the 2021 heating electrification forecast by ISO New England, the regional grid operator. The report projects that roughly 4% of Connecticut households will have air-source heat pumps by 2030, compared to 11% in Rhode Island and 23% in Massachusetts.

But Will Healey, a spokesperson for the Department of Energy and Environmental Protection, said the numbers the agency provided to ISO for that forecast did not factor in the impact of increased heat pump incentives over the last couple of years and additional educational outreach efforts. 

The department “will be further developing approaches to thermal decarbonization, including rapid deployment of efficient electric heat pumps,” he said.

Efficiency success stories

On the positive side, Connecticut is making progress in improving efficiency in affordable housing, said Melissa Kops, an architect and a board member of the Connecticut Green Building Council. The state agency that provides financing for affordable housing developments just revised its review process to give more weight to applications for highly sustainable projects, she said. 

And last session, lawmakers approved a bill establishing a grant fund to pay for energy efficiency upgrades, including solar panels, and weatherization in affordable housing and other landlord-owned housing units. The funds can also be used to mitigate health and safety barriers, like mold and asbestos, that impede efficiency work from being done.

In addition, the state’s first net-zero energy schools are under construction in Mansfield and Manchester. And then there is the emergence of cutting-edge commercial building projects like Becker’s Hotel Marcel, scheduled for completion early next year, and in Norwalk, a new flooring company headquarters being touted as the greenest building in Connecticut. 

HMTX Industries, a family of companies that specialize in luxury vinyl tile and plank flooring, is building a 24,000-square-foot structure designed to be net-positive for the environment. On the energy side, it will produce all the energy it needs from solar panels, use about 60% less energy than similar buildings due to an ultra-efficient envelope, and maximize natural daylighting and passive cooling. 

A major supplier to Home Depot, the company’s warehouse and operations facilities in Georgia are also built to highly efficient standards. 

“We take pride in being a successful leader in sustainability in the industry,” said CEO Harlan Stone. 

Energize Connecticut offers technical expertise and financial incentives for net-zero-energy commercial building projects. Eversource, the state’s largest electric distribution company, has eight projects currently participating, compared to just two in 2019, said Ron Araujo, director of energy efficiency implementation.

In their new construction incentive program, “we are seeing many commercial buildings come through and aim to become much more efficient than the current building code.”

The company’s annual conference on net-zero commercial buildings, scheduled for Sept. 23, has more than 200 participants registered this year, almost five times as many as when it started in 2017, he said.T

Categories: Renewable Energy

Solar project helps to reclaim site of notorious Boston-area toxic waste case

Renewable Energy - Sat, 2021-09-18 03:00

By Sarah Shemkus, Energy News Network

A cluster of cancer cases in Woburn, Massachusetts, in the 1980s prompted a major pollution lawsuit that eventually inspired a book and subsequent movie. Now, a community solar project is bringing “new, positive life” to the site.

A community solar installation generating power for low-income residents and homeless shelters has come online at a suburban Boston property previously best known for its role in a notorious toxic waste case in the 1980s.

“It’s taking a spot that had so much controversy and so much negativity around it and gives a new, positive life to it,” said Leanna Rybacki, project development associate at Sunwealth, the Boston-based clean energy investment firm that owns the project.

Supporters expect the project to produce financial, social, and environmental benefits.

The 362-kilowatt installation is located at a site owned by uniform manufacturer UniFirst, which will receive lease payments for use of the site. Sunwealth’s investors will earn a return on their money. And the project is expected to save housing nonprofit Heading Home and other low-income Boston-area residents thousands of dollars on energy costs each year, while also helping spread the message that clean energy is for everyone — regardless of income. 

“To know that we’re able to partner with an organization that helps folks like our clients access benefits that historically have been reserved for more affluent communities is a huge statement about equity,” said Suzanne Picher, chief development officer at Heading Home. “For us, that is a really big deal.”

UniFirst came to public attention nearly 40 years ago as part of the pollution case that was eventually featured in the book and movie “A Civil Action.” After residents in Woburn, Massachusetts noticed a cluster of cancer cases in one area, they accused three local companies, including UniFirst, of dumping toxic waste and polluting the groundwater. UniFirst agreed to settle out of court for just over $1 million, while the other two went to trial. 

Since then, the land, in a largely industrial neighborhood of Woburn, has lain mostly dormant, though UniFirst has built a storage facility there. 

The community solar project began when Green Earth Roofing Solutions, a solar developer from western Massachusetts, leased the roof of the storage building with a plan to install photovoltaic panels. Green Earth then reached out to Sunwealth to see if the investment company would be interested in acquiring the development.

Sunwealth, which creates investment portfolios that combine market-rate solar projects and installations serving low-income customers, agreed to buy the development and to find low-income customers to sell the power to at a 25% discount. The UniFirst installation is bundled with about a dozen other projects, including solar on affordable housing in New York City and developments on commercial properties in Boston. 

Grouping a range of project types together helps mitigate the investment risk that any single development can pose. Further, all the individual projects are very carefully assessed, Sunwealth’s Chief Executive Jonathan Abe said.

“We’re really prudent about how we structure our low-income community solar projects and make sure we manage credit risk accordingly,” he said. “They’re all going to perform; they all meet our minimum criteria.”

Heading Home will buy half the power generated by the project to help reduce its electricity costs at the emergency shelters and transitional housing it operates for individuals and families facing homelessness. The arrangement will also help educate both clients and staff about the possibilities offered by clean energy, Picher said.

In addition, Heading Home will be able to transfer some of the solar energy credits to clients — more than 80% of whom are people of color — as they start to get back on their feet and move into their own housing. 

“It’s another piece in their fiscal arsenal to be independent and achieve some form of economic mobility,” Picher said. 

The other half of the power will be sold to individual low-income families throughout eastern Massachusetts. 

The development will also help spread a message about the viability of rooftop solar installations at a time when there is an ongoing debate about siting solar projects in Massachusetts. Some larger solar developers are pursuing projects that would take over farmland or require cutting acres of trees, arguing that these kinds of locations are the only places commercial-scale solar is feasible. Some in the conservation community, however, contend that cutting trees and transforming farmland does more harm than good. 

This project demonstrates the scale of good that can be achieved by rooftop projects, said Todd Scyocurka, director of roofing and environmental operations at Green Earth.

“We have a lot of roofs in this country and we’ve got a lot of commercial roofs in New England,” he said. “We should be doing solar on those roofs.”

Together, the benefits of the project combine to help the once toxic site contribute positively into the future, Abe said. 

“No one is going to be able to completely correct the wrongs associated with that brownfield,” he said. “As we look at solar being more inclusive, we feel that this is just an example of a community investment that’s fully additive.”

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Categories: Renewable Energy

Dominion Energy proposes its largest expansion of solar and energy storage

Renewable Energy - Fri, 2021-09-17 04:24

Dominion Energy has informed Virginia regulators of its plan to add 11 utility-scale solar projects, two small-scale distributed solar projects, one solar+storage project, and one stand-alone energy storage project.

Dominion Energy, the utility committed to achieving net-zero carbon dioxide and methane emissions by 2050, has announced its largest proposed expansion of solar and energy storage projects.

Dominion Energy submitted the plan to the Virginia State Corporation Commission, which includes 11 utility-scale solar projects, two small-scale distributed solar projects, one solar+storage project, and one stand-alone energy storage project. In combination with power purchase agreements from 32 third-party solar and energy storage projects, the proposal will provide 1,000 megawatts of clean electricity, enough to power 250,000 homes.

"Every day, the clean energy economy is becoming more of a reality in Virginia," said Ed Baine, president of Dominion Energy Virginia. "This is the largest expansion of solar and energy storage in Virginia history and a major leap forward in delivering clean energy to our customers. As we expand renewables across Virginia, we remain laser-focused on keeping our service affordable and reliable. These projects live up to that promise."

The distributed solar projects and stand-alone energy storage project are expected to be completed in 2022, while the remaining projects should be completed the following year.

Virginia-based East Point Energy sold the 20 MW/80 MWh Dry Bridge Energy Storage project to Dominion Energy, which is expected to become the largest battery energy storage project in the Commonwealth of Virginia when it becomes operational.

The projects are in line with the goals of the Virginia Clean Economy Act, which requires 100% electricity sales to come from clean sources by 2045.

Categories: Renewable Energy

Solar, storage lead MISO’s record-setting interconnection queue

Renewable Energy - Fri, 2021-09-17 03:40

The Midcontinent Independent System Operator (MISO) has received a record 487 applications for interconnection this year, with renewable energy representing 64 gigawatts, or 83%, of the proposed new generating capacity.

The 77 GW of submissions in 2021 topped the 2020 total of 52 GW by nearly 50 percent, MISO said. Solar led yet again with 44 GW, followed by 12 GW in energy storage projects. Energy storage projects surpassed wind projects for the first time in 2021, totaling 9.1 GW.

“The majority of the GIQ applicants are trending in line with meeting future clean energy goals set by our members and stakeholders,” said Andy Witmeier, director – resource utilization at MISO. “As intermittent resources become more prevalent, the need for our Long-Range Transmission Planning (LRTP) efforts is reinforced to address potential operational challenges in the future and leverage our large regional footprint and resource diversity. The LRTP work is a key component of MISO’s Response to the Reliability Imperative which defines the critical areas requiring urgent action to ensure reliability in the future.”

There are now 980 projects totaling 153 GW in the MISO queue, 63% of which is solar. MISO is currently managing 15 ongoing queue cycles.

“Our planning efforts included developing the MISO Futures report which highlights the impact of the rapid renewables growth on the electric grid and the transmission system,” said Witmeier. “We anticipated this shift towards more renewable technologies as a replacement for retiring conventional generation across the footprint, and we expect it to accelerate in the future.” 

MISO will share details about the 2021 GIQ cycle at the monthly Interconnection Process Working Group meeting on Tuesday, September 21 at 10am ET.

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Categories: Renewable Energy

France to add 3.7GW of solar capacity with €5.7bn aid

Renewable Energy - Fri, 2021-09-17 03:00

France is set to expand its portfolio of renewable energy capacity with an additional 3,700MW of solar energy using €5.7 billion ($6.7 billion) in funding approved by the European Commission.

The aid will help France to achieve its 2030 carbon emissions reduction target by expanding the rollout of small-scale solar energy buildings.

Margrethe Vestager, European Commissioner for Competition, said: “This €5.7 billion support scheme will further help France in its transition to an environmentally sustainable energy supply.

“The measure, which will support the production of renewable energy from small solar installations, complements another €30.5 billion French scheme to support the production of electricity from renewable energy sources that the Commission has approved last month. It will further stimulate the development of renewable energy sources while ensuring a level playing field in the French energy market.”

France has a target to produce 33% of its total energy from renewables by 2030 on a path to climate neutrality by 2050, and small-scale solar energy installations are expected to help drive the transition and increase consumer participation in climate mitigation and the energy transition.

Projects planning to install up to 500KW of solar capacity on buildings are eligible to receive funding up till 2026. Support will be issued in the form of a feed-in tariff (i.e., a guaranteed price for the electricity produced) over twenty years, according to a statement.

The financial support will be provided to project developers without a tender process.

The Commission will grant the aid as part of the 2014 Guidelines on State aid for environmental protection and energy, which stipulates that countries should expand their renewables portfolio at the lowest cost to taxpayers.

Without aid and public support, France is struggling to expand its portfolio of renewable energy resources, according to the European Commission. Providing such funding will help the bloc achieve its Green Deal and Fit for 55 climate action targets which include reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 55% by 2030 and producing 40% of energy from renewables.

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Categories: Renewable Energy

Europe and North America to connect 7.9 million EV chargers by 2025

Renewable Energy - Fri, 2021-09-17 03:00

Europe and North America will increase the number of connected electric vehicle (EV) chargers by 38% between 2020 and 2025, according to a new report released by research firm Berg Insight.

This means the number of connected EV chargers in Europe and North America will reach 7.9 million by 2025 from 1.6 million in 2020.

Caspar Jansson, IoT Analyst, Berg Insight, said: “The number of connected charging points has grown significantly in spite of the COVID-19 pandemic.”

Of the 1.6 million connected EV chargers in the two regions in 2020, Europe accounted for a lion’s share of 1.3 million whilst North America had 0.3 million units, according to the study.

The increase in the number of connected EV chargers is a result of efforts to ensure there are enough charging stations as the electrification of the transport sector intensifies.

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Jansson, added: “As long as the electric vehicle fleet continues to grow rapidly, the demand for connected charging stations will continue to grow as well.”

Governments in Europe and North America continue to set ambitious targets to electrify their transport networks to reduce carbon emissions and mitigate climate change. For instance, the Joe Biden Administration set a goal to have 50% of new vehicle sales to be electric by 2050.

The majority of the connected EV chargers are in the public or semi-public sector. Installation in homes is relatively low but is anticipated to increase as more EV owners adopt home charging and as more households deploy smart home capabilities, according to the study.

The connected EV charging station market is served by a variety of players including ENGIE’s EVBox, Shell Group‘s NewMotion and Greenlots, Tesla, Innogy, Vattenfall, and Allego.

Jansson, reiterated: “The integration of communications equipment in EV charging stations can improve operations and the delivered service noticeably in several ways.

“Charging stations can be equipped with load balancing functions to reduce strain on local grids, while charge point operators can monitor and manage their charging stations remotely. Electric vehicle drivers, in turn, can locate chargers, monitor charging availability, book chargers and manage payments using a smartphone app.

Categories: Renewable Energy

Seeking solar power for all Puerto Rican homes

Renewable Energy - Fri, 2021-09-17 03:00

Originally published on ILSR.org

Residents of Puerto Rico are ready for energy democracy. Specifically, a resilient, renewable electricity system with equitably shared benefits. Is this vision possible for the island, whose democratic power is limited to begin with?

For this episode of the Local Energy Rules Podcast, host John Farrell speaks with guest Ingrid Vila, environmental engineer and founder of non-profit Cambio. After Puerto Rico’s many catastrophic grid failures, Vila and Cambio have re-envisioned the island’s energy future in a proposal called ‘Queremos Sol.’ Vila explains why rooftop solar should power every home in Puerto Rico, reducing residential electricity rates and covering basic needs during future crises.

Listen to the full episode and explore more resources below — including a transcript and summary of the conversation.

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Promoting sustainable and responsible actions

Ingrid Vila came to work in renewable energy advocacy by way of environmental engineering. She specialized in water, but through her service in Puerto Rico’s government, began working with renewable energy as well. In 2015, Vila left her role in the government and founded Cambio, a non-profit organization based in San Juan, Puerto Rico. Her new mission? To work with communities on sustainable solutions in the solid waste, water, environmental justice, governance, and energy fields.

Vila describes Cambio’s overarching mission as establishing an equitable society with greater opportunities. The organization’s efforts are spent researching, designing, and implementing socially responsible policies. Vila refers to Cambio as an “actionable think tank.”

Turmoil after Hurricane Maria

Hurricane Maria struck Puerto Rico in September 2017 and in its wake, more than a million Puerto Ricans were left without power for months. It took the local utility, Puerto Rico Electric Power Authority, nearly a year to restore power to every person affected by the blackout. The vulnerability of the island’s electric grid became the overriding topic of discussion in Puerto Rico and captured audiences around the world. Vila describes this as a “tipping point” for her, as she turned her attention to renewable energy solutions.

The impact those events had on our grid were incredibly severe and exposed the vulnerability of our current electrical system… we couldn’t just rebuild that because it obviously was not working adequately given the current challenges and realities of climate change.

Despite Puerto Rico’s 100% Renewable Portfolio Standard, leaders are looking to rebuild the vulnerable old system and reinforce dependence on fossil fuels. The government first signed a 15-year contract to privatize the electric transmission and distribution system. Now, Puerto Rico’s Governor is suggesting that they privatize the generation system as well.

They’re here pretty much to continue to administer the status quo… this is a contract that pretty much just took the failed public monopoly and passed it on to a private hand. We want sun – The ‘Queremos Sol’ campaign

In the summer of 2018, Vila and Cambio presented ‘Queremos Sol’ as an alternative to reinforcing the status quo. Queremos Sol outlines how Puerto Rico could install solar-plus-storage on nearly all homes, powering the island with 50 percent renewable energy by 2035 and 100 percent by 2050.

Along with a rigorous public education campaign, Cambio studied how Queremos Sol would affect Puerto Rico’s electric grid through an in-depth model. In the model, they found that solar could provide 75 percent of the island’s electricity demand by 2035 and found no need to add fossil gas generation to the grid. Outage events would have less of an impact, as every home would have enough electric power to meet basic needs.

One of the greatest results from that study is being able to demonstrate that Puerto Rico’s resiliency, and individual home and community level resiliency, could be quite different if money were put and focus were put on transforming the grid via renewable energy.

In the 30 Million Solar Homes Impact report, we found that putting solar on just 1 in 4 homes in Puerto Rico would create 45,000 jobs.

Puerto Rico has 14 billion dollars of federal funds to use in repairing its energy sector. Using 9.6 billion of that sum, says Vila, Puerto Rico could install solar on 100% of homes and reduce electric rates by nearly 30 percent.

We’re not just talking about infrastructure, and cables, and things like that. We’re talking about something that is essential for human lives. Lessons on advancing energy democracy

Vila describes the road to energy democracy as “a battleground;” those holding the power won’t let it go willingly. Her best advice is to articulate the alternative in the same language as the opposition: data and evidence.

How can listeners support Puerto Rico? Vila asks that renewable energy advocates apply federal pressure. She hopes that the U.S. will create clear guidelines for federal funds and prohibit FEMA funding of fossil fuel investments.

Energy democracy means taking all that power, and that wealth… and redistributing among a wider population. So the resistance is incredible to be able to move towards that and implies understanding energy as a common good and as a human right, and not as a commodity left to the market forces. Episode Notes

See these resources for more behind the story:

This is the 138th episode of Local Energy Rules, an ILSR podcast with Energy Democracy Director John Farrell, which shares powerful stories of successful local renewable energy and exposes the policy and practical barriers to its expansion.

Local Energy Rules is Produced by ILSR’s John Farrell and Maria McCoy. Audio engineering by Drew Birschbach.

This article originally posted at ilsr.org. For timely updates, follow John Farrell on Twitter, our energy work on Facebook, or sign up to get the Energy Democracy weekly update

Featured Photo Credit: Dept. of Energy Solar Decathlon via flickr (CC BY-ND 2.0)

Categories: Renewable Energy

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