Will solar energy take off in Virginia? According to Dominion Virginia Power, the commonwealth’s largest electricity provider, it plans to add 220 megawatts (MW) of solar power, beginning in 2017. On average in the United States, one MW of solar energy can provide power for 164 homes, according to the Solar Energy Industries Association. Virginia…Read More
Jenny Xie over at Atlantic Cities has a cool story about solar roads – literally just that, solar panels installed directly onto pavement. The project’s designers say that they are satisfied that the technology works, and are working to raise capital to begin manufacturing. They have a prototype parking lot built with support from the…Read More
EnergyTrends.org’s latest renewable energy trends grades are in and Vermont has earned the highest state score for the first time. Vermont has been a consistent leader over the last several years, but with gains in cost-effective energy efficiency programs and policies, it has surpassed the previous year’s leader, California.
Even as the nation’s leader in renewable energy polices and use, Vermont was still only assigned a grade of B+, an indication that all states still have much room for improvement where renewables are concerned.
EnergyTrends.org’s renewable energy grades are based on the following factors: renewable energy generation, growth in renewable energy generation, incremental electric savings, major state incentive programs, and third-party expert evaluations all for a possible value of 90 points. Moreover, each state can earn a maximum of 20 bonus points from: government sector renewable use, electric vehicles, net metering, grid connected installations (including storage), renewable friendly smart grid initiatives, and renewables incentives.Read More
The SunZia project recently reported that it has signed its first anchor tenant for its new energy transmission lines stretching 515 miles between New Mexico and Arizona. SunZia seeks to provide reliable extra-high voltage transmission lines in southern Arizona and southern New Mexico, which should improve power transfer across the Desert Southwest electricity grid and increase the availability of renewable energy. Currently they are waiting on the federal Bureau of Land Management (BLM) to give final approval to their proposed route, of which they are very optimistic, but the road has been bumpy.
According to a study by the Sonoran Institute, the grid reliability and congestion in the southwest is among the worst in the country. Both proponents of the lines and the BLM believe that SunZia could meet a real need. In addition, a 2009, Department of Energy study identified regions rich in renewable energy resources, but that did not have the current transmission capacity to make it worthwhile. Both Arizona and New Mexico were on that list.Read More
A new study from the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) has recognized the western states with the most potential for renewable energy projects. With states’ renewable portfolio standard (RPS) requirements all reaching maturity by 2025 it looks beyond and predicts who will be the renewable energy leaders to come.
The primary renewable energy resources that were investigated were wind power, solar and geothermal. Not surprisingly, Wyoming was listed as one of the top producers of wind power especially when you consider their new wind energy project. Additionally, New Mexico was highlighted as a wind power giant. According to Thomas Stackpole, “By 2025, New Mexico could be producing twice the amount of renewable energy as its required to, meaning it could start selling it to other states.”Read More
The Department of Energy claims that you can reduce your electricity bills by 50%-90% by installing a small wind power system. 50%, let alone anything more, is enough to get most people’s attention. So what are small wind power systems and will they be the next revolution in home energy conservation?
According to the American Wind Energy Association (AWEA) small wind power systems are small wind turbines that act as electric generators by using the energy of the wind to produce clean, emission-free power for individual homes, farms and small businesses. The small wind power systems produced today typically consist of two or three fiberglass blades with the frame providing the structure for the rotor, generator and tail. The turbine is then mounted on a tower, which averages a height of 80 feet, but can range in heights of 30-140 feet since experts recommend the tower reach at least 30 feet above nearby obstructions in order to have top performance.
Of course, it would seem this could be a problem in urban or even suburban settings where neighbors would be more averse to having a large tower obstructing their view or creating congestion.Read More
Wind energy and other renewable energy sources are continuing to expand and make developmental improvements as written about previously. But along with these advancements, there are formidable challenges standing in the way of utility companies embracing renewable power. One of the biggest of these is the intermittency of renewable power and absence of cost-effective ways to store excess generated electricity.
Case in point – the Kingdom Community Wind farm on Lowell Mountain in Vermont. The recently opened farm boasts 21 turbines and has a generating capacity of 63 MW. However, on several instances it has been held at as low as one-third of its capacity by the grid system operators simply because the current grid cannot handle the amount of electricity being produced. This process of holding off excess power, called curtailment,Read More
A renovated building in Arizona has been certified as the largest building in the world to achieve the highly regarded “net zero energy building” certification by the International Living Future Institute (ILFI). According to ILFI, a “Net zero energy building” refers to a building that generates all of its needed energy through on-site renewable energy sources. Designed by SmithGroupJJR, DPR Construction built its regional office on the corner of a declining area in Phoenix using an existing structure – a windowless concrete, 16,533 square foot building – that had been vacant for three years.
The renovation took approximately 10 months to complete and is now a modern office building with ultra-energy efficiency. It includes a solar chimney that stands 87 feet tall, 90 windows which work in tandem with a system to open and close based on outside temperatures, solar optical tubes that bring light from outside into the building, eight feetRead More
The city of Palo Alto, California announced this week that the city will use 100 percent clean, renewable sources for electricity effective immediately. According to the city, the move towards 100 percent clean energy will cost less than $3 per year to the average Palo Alto resident’s energy bill.
Palo Alto owns all of its utilities, which makes it much easier to control where the city’s energy is coming from. Currently, Palo Alto gets approximately 50 percent of its power from hydro-electric dams. It also buys wind and solar and uses methane gas captured from landfills. In the event that the energy needs of the city cannot be met with renewable sources, the city plans to use renewable energy certificates to purchase non-renewable power.
In a press release, City Manager James Keene said, “As a City, we’ve had cheaper, greener power for our citizens for decades, and being able to make this recent move to 100% carbon-free electricity is just another example of how owning our own utilities pays off.”
With the 2013 hurricane season in its second month, the impacted areas of New York and New Jersey have continued to make remarkable progress in their rebuilding and recovery efforts from Hurricane Sandy. Now a number of initiatives are underway that are hoped to improve the power grid’s resilience, and also limit the damage from power loss for any future major weather events. But the costs utilities are asking customers to shoulder for the modernizations and upgrades have become a significant issue in approval proceedings.
New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg announced a new series of collaborations, including between local authorities and utilities to address more resilient electric transmission systems. Utility ConEdison has a program underway in Westchester County that includes installing hundreds of “smart switches” and thousands of isolation devices to limit power loss, burying some 30 miles of overhead power lines underground, and installing hundreds of new network transformers.
Flooding of substations during Sandy was a major reason for the extended power outagesRead More