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jpak

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Member since: 2002
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How Big Box Going Solar Could Impact Utiliies

http://www.earthtechling.com/2013/08/how-big-box-going-solar-could-impact-utiliies/

The electric utility industry faces the risk of declining revenues as more customers install solar panels on their homes and businesses. Solar power currently supplies 2% of the country’s electricity needs, and is projected to grow to 16% by 2020. In 2013, solar panel prices for commercial installations fell 15.6%, from $4.64/watt to $3.92/watt. To protect their revenues, some utilities are raising electricity costs for solar panel owners – but with mixed results. Credit ratings agencies are also expressing concern. Is there real cause for alarm or are these companies crying wolf? Judging by one customer segment – big-box retailers – the threat is real.


Part of Walmart’s rooftop solar in Kapolei, Hawaii. (image via Walmart)

The Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA) ranks U.S. companies based on their solar energy capacity, and the top five companies on the list are big-box retailers:

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Walmart tops SEIA’s list with 65,000 kW of solar power, which is enough to supply the annual energy needs of over 10,000 homes. They recently installed ten new solar rooftop systems in Maryland, totaling more than 13,000 panels. Walmart is the largest retailer in the U.S. and in the world by revenue, with 4,423 U.S. stores and over 10,000 stores worldwide. Walmart and EDF have been working together since 2004 to reduce the Walmart’s environmental footprint. With more than 200 solar installations across the country, Walmart plans to have 1,000 solar installations by 2020. Walmart’s goal is to eventually supply 100% of its energy needs with renewable energy.

Costco ranks second on the list with 38,900 kW of solar power. Costco is the fifth largest U.S. retailer and seventh largest in the world, with 425 stores in the U.S. Costco has installed solar panels in approximately 60 stores, with an average size of 500 kW per store. Solar power supplies about 22% of each store’s energy needs.

In third place on SEIA’s list is Kohl’s, with 36,474 kW of solar power. Kohl’s is the 20th largest retailer in the U.S. and the 44th largest retailer in the world, with 1,127 U.S. stores. Kohl’s has solar panels installed at 139 of its stores, and will have solar panels at 200 stores by 2015.

IKEA is fourth with 21,495 kW of solar power. IKEA only has 38 U.S. stores, but its buildings can accommodate larger solar installations. By 2020, the company plans to meet 100% of its energy needs with renewable energy.

Macy’s ranks fifth on SEIA’s list with 16,163 kW of solar power. Macy’s is the 16th largest retailer in the U.S. and the 36th largest retailer in the world, with 840 stores. The company is increasing its solar installations by 25-35%.

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White House solar panels being installed this week

http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/post-politics/wp/2013/08/15/white-house-solar-panels-finally-being-installed/

After nearly three years, the White House began installing solar panels on the First Family’s residence this week, a White House official confirmed Thursday.

The Obama administration had pledged in October 2010 to put solar panels on the White House as a sign of the president’s commitment to renewable energy.

The White House official, who asked not to be identified because the installation is in process, wrote in an e-mail the project is “a part of an energy retrofit that will improve the overall energy efficiency of the building.”

At the time of the 2010 announcement, then-Energy Secretary Steven Chu and White House Council on Environmental Quality chair Nancy Sutley said the administration would conduct a competitive bidding process to buy between 20 and 50 solar panels. The officials did not identify the supplier or cost of the project, but wrote the White House “has begun installing American-made solar panels” and the initiative, “which will help demonstrate that historic buildings can incorporate solar energy and energy efficiency upgrades, is estimated to pay for itself in energy savings over the next eight years.”

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World’s highest wind farm completed in Tibet

http://www.rtcc.org/2013/08/13/worlds-highest-wind-farm-completed-in-tibet/

China’s Longyuan Power has announced the installation of the world’s highest wind farm, located in Tibet.

The company has installed five turbines on a wind farm about 4,900 meters above sea level and plans to install a further 28 wind turbines located in Naqu Prefecture in southwest China’s Tibet Autonomous Region.

Once fully complete, the farm will generate 15MW of energy, enough to power 13,500 homes.

Tibet, because of its harsh natural environment, and Macau are the last two Chinese regions without wind farms. To date, Tibet’s annual wind energy reserves amount to 93 billion/kWh, the seventh largest in China.

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World’s second largest offshore wind farm opens off Suffolk coast (UK)

http://www.uswitch.com/gas-electricity/news/2013/08/13/worlds-second-largest-offshore-wind-farm-opens-off-suffolk-coast/

The world’s second largest offshore wind farm has been opened by energy and business minister Michael Fallon off the coast of Suffolk.

Despite already holding the title of second largest offshore wind farm, with its 140 turbines, the development is set to double in size in 2017, when the Galloper wind farm extension is completed.

It is hoped that offshore wind will provide enough clean energy to power 11 million homes in the UK by the end of the decade. This would see the creation of 30,000 jobs, and should add £7 billion to the economy.

The Greater Gabbard wind farm cost £1.3 billion to build.

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More of America’s wind turbines are actually being built in America

http://grist.org/news/more-of-americas-wind-turbines-are-actually-being-built-in-america/

The equipment that’s powering America’s wind energy boom is increasingly being made right at home.

In 2007, just 25 percent of turbine components used in new wind farms in the U.S. were produced domestically. By last year, that figure had risen to 72 percent, according to a new report from the U.S. Department of Energy. And exports of such equipment rose to $388 million last year, up from $16 million in 2007.

This happened even as the U.S. was installing a whole lot of turbines. More than 13.1 gigawatts of new wind power capacity was added to the U.S. grid in 2012, representing $25 billion of investment. That made wind the nation’s fastest-growing electricity source last year, faster even than natural gas–fueled power.

Unfortunately, there were job losses in the sector last year, with the number of wind industry manufacturing jobs falling to 25,500 from 30,000 the year before. That’s because there was a lull and some factory closures after a mad scramble to fulfill orders placed before a federal tax credit expired. (It was renewed for this year, but its future is still up in the air.)

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Iowa Will Add 1.05GW New Wind Energy Capacity By 2015

http://cleantechnica.com/2013/08/14/iowa-will-add-1-06gw-new-wind-energy-capacity-by-2015/

Iowa will add 1.05 gigawatts of new wind energy capacity by 2015, thanks to the Iowa Utilities Board’s approval of a $1.9 billion proposal from MidAmerican Energy.

Regulatory approval of the Wind VII project paves the way for construction to start as soon as September 2013. The wind farm sites have already secured development and grid interconnection rights, and will bring hundreds of green jobs and millions in revenue to landowners and the government.

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In fact, the economic benefits of Wind VII may actually outweigh the environmental aspects. The project will create 460 construction jobs and an estimated payroll of $30 million over two years. Once built, the turbines will support 48 permanent green jobs and an estimated $2.4 million payroll.

With time, Wind VII will cut electricity bills for MidAmerican ratepayers. The utility is Iowa’s largest, with roughly 734,000 electric service customers, and the expansion will be built at no net cost to customers. After the first 350 megawatts of new generation capacity are installed, a $3.3 million rate reduction will take effect. By 2017, the rate reduction will increase to $10 million per year.

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Read more at http://cleantechnica.com/2013/08/14/iowa-will-add-1-06gw-new-wind-energy-capacity-by-2015/#AFYlTBF1rmDHuaOd.99

A grand solar minimum would barely make a dent in human-caused global warming

http://www.theguardian.com/environment/climate-consensus-97-per-cent/2013/aug/14/global-warming-solar-minimum-barely-dent

Recent articles in the Danish newspaper Jyllands-Posten (translation available here) and in the Irish Times both ran headlines claiming that another grand solar minimum could potentially trigger an "ice age" or "mini ice age" this century. These articles actually refer to the Little Ice Age (LIA) – a period about 500 to 150 years ago when global surface temperatures were approximately 1°C colder than they are today. This is quite different from an ice age, which are more like 5°C colder than today. The LIA was not actually very cold on a global scale.

So, in order to trigger another LIA, a new grand solar minimum would have to cause about 1°C cooling, plus it would have to offset the continued human-caused global warming of 1 to 5°C by 2100, depending on how our greenhouse gas emissions change over the next century.

In the Jyllands-Posten article, Henrik Svensmark (the main scientist behind the hypothesis that the sun has a significant indirect impact on global climate via galactic cosmic rays) was a bit more measured, suggesting,

"I can imagine that it will become 0.2°C colder. I would be surprised if it became 1–2°C"

So these two articles are suggesting that a grand solar minimum could have a net cooling effect in the ballpark of 1 to 6°C, depending on how human greenhouse gas emissions change over the next century. Is it plausible that a grand solar minimum could make that happen?

The short answer is, 'No.'

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denier fail

yup

Effects Of Climate Change Growing Drastically

http://www.canyon-news.com/artman2/publish/State_News_1184/Effects_of_Climate_Change_Growing_Drastically.php

CALIFORNIA—State environmental organizations have released the findings of a comprehensive report on the effects of climate change on the state on August 8, stressing the drastic growth of alterations to the state's environment.

In a joint press release, the California Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment (OEHHA) and the California Environmental Protection Agency (Cal/EPA) wrote that “climate change is having a significant and measurable impact on California's environment.” The over 200 page report, titled “Indicators of Climate Change in California,” compiled the findings of extensive studies on changes to the state's climate and its causes and effects on the state's environment. State environmental agencies say the report is helpful in demonstrating the fragile and evolving interrelationship between the state's climate and environment, and it further illustrates the strong commitment in addressing environmental threats pledged by Governor Brown and numerous global scientists, exemplified by the consensus statement signed by the aforementioned parties in May.

Among the findings are increasing rates of climate warming, which is attributed to higher levels of temperature across the state's measuring spectrum. For example, low temperatures have increased almost twice as fast as high temperatures. Furthermore, seasonal heat has incrementally increased in duration and frequency, and winters now face a decreasing “winter chill” trend, which drastically affects fruit production.

The growing temperature change is also gradually affecting the number of wildfires in the state. According to the report, the last ten years bore witness to the three largest fire years on record in California. As glacier shrinkage occurs in parts of the state, often times ranging from a 20 to 70 percent loss, sea level along the California coast have risen on average by seven inches. These factors and others have not only altered the habitat foundations of certain species, forcing some to migrate, but also contributed greatly to environmental harms not present before to species.

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Europe's "biggest battery" to regulate UK renewable energy

http://www.gizmag.com/europes-biggest-battery/28496/

Europe's largest battery is to undergo testing in the UK, where it will be used to store and regulate energy generated from renewable sources such as wind and solar power, The Guardian reports. The lithium manganese battery, developed by S&C Electric Europe, Samsung SDI and Younicos, will be capable of storing up to 10 MWh of energy.

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In an email to Gizmag, S&C's Steve Jones described the battery as "6 MW/10 MWh," so it sounds as if the battery will be capable of storing 10 MWh (36 gigajoules) of energy, while we're laboring under the assumption that 6 MW is its maximum possible power output. That being the case, the battery would last for an hour and 40 minutes operating at maximum demand.

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The Guardian reports that £13.2 million (US$20.2 million) of the project's £18.7 million ($28.7 million) budget has been met by the government. Though a 10 MWh battery is a drop in the proverbial ocean when it comes to the UK's energy demand, The Guardian cites Imperial College research that claims electrical storage technology could save £3 billion every year during the 2020s.

A 10 MWh is a comparative tiddler next to the 60-MWh monster announced by the Japanese government back in April. The ¥20 billion ($200 million) project is being designed to regulate solar power from the northern island of Hokkaido. It is due to be up and running by 2015.

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Intermittency Of Renewables?… Not So Much

http://cleantechnica.com/2013/07/21/intermittency-of-renewable-energy/

Below was a great summary (if a bit simplified in parts) comment from one of our readers on one of our posts last week. I thought it deserved a few more eyes. Also, I happened to go back to a roundtable discussion of utility CEOs today that supports the overall “the ‘intermittency’ of renewable energy issue is overhyped” argument. More on that below the reader comment.

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First, the then CEO and President of Florida Power & Light, Armando Olivera, chimed in. “I spent a lot of time in operations in our company. Of all the things that I worry about, regulating using solar, or renewables, really doesn’t worry me. I think you gotta be at a really huge scale of solar before that becomes an issue. And in the meantime, we’ve got a lot of enabling technology going into these grids… about half of the meters at FPL are already automated devices. We are learning a huge… we’re seeing benefits that we didn’t fully anticipate in terms of managing the grid. We’re also putting in a lot of smart technology that can adjust at a very local level whenever there’s a problem. So, you know, I think there’s a huge foundation that’s being laid out today that will facilitate all of these technologies….”

Doyle Beneby, President & CEO of CPS Energy, backed him up. ”Yeah, I would agree with Armando, I don’t worry about that at all…. Generally, if you’ve got automated meters, if you’ve got the means for a home area network, I think you can easily reduce demand to follow — I call it load-following — for solar. What we found, also, is that there are a very discreet set of customers out there who would volunteer to have their load reduced to follow the drop in output for solar…. So I think that’s a big opportunity out (there) for us. I really think concerns about the grid, so to speak, and even to a degree intermittency, should not at all impede the progress of solar.”

Robert Powers, President of AEP Utilities, also chimed in and said, “I agree with my colleague that near-term there’s no, no issue with grid stability with deploying solar.”

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