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jpak

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Is Georgia the next frontier for solar development?

http://www.greenbiz.com/blog/2013/07/24/georgia-next-frontier-solar-development-0

What do you get when you mix Georgia Tea Party activists, solar energy developers and an eager regulator? The result of this rare coalition recently emerged as an aggressive state policy that will hedge electricity rate increases for consumers, secure environmental benefits and kick-start a regional solar industry. By 2016 Georgia is set to increase the amount of solar within its borders 18-fold.

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First, prices historically have fluctuated. This probably will not change. In fact, it may get worse. Next, it’s unlikely that prices will decrease in the future. Old, inadequately controlled coal plants will need to make capital expenditures in order to meet new federal air pollution standards. This could lead to rate increases.

As one of the commissioners put it (PDF), “Commissioner McDonald's motion adding 525 megawatts of solar to our 20-year energy plan is a hedge against more coal regulation and natural gas price volatility. When the president finishes his war on coal, he'll come after fracking, and gas prices will surely go up. We have to be ready."

McDonald echoed that sentiment: "We don't know what tomorrow is going to be with coal. We don't know what tomorrow is going to be with natural gas...but we know the sun will be shining."

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Wow - The Tea Party and Obama Derangement Syndrome is driving the development of solar energy in GA.

What strange times we live in...

Virginia’s Coastline Could Soon Be Home To 2GW Of Offshore Wind

http://cleantechnica.com/2013/07/24/virginia-coastline-could-soon-be-generating-2gw-of-offshore-wind/

DOI announced this week it will hold America’s second-ever competitive lease sale for offshore wind on the U.S. Outer Continental Shelf (OCS) September 4th, for 112,800 acres in a prime development zone 23.5 miles from Virginia Beach.

The announcement comes one week before DOI’s first competitive offshore wind lease auction is held for 164,750 acres for development off the coasts of Massachusetts and Rhode Island on July 31st, an event Interior Secretary Jewell has said could set the pace for future auctions.

“The competitive lease sale offshore Virginia will mark an important transition from planning to action when it comes to capturing the enormous clean energy potential offered by Atlantic wind,” said Secretary Jewell. “Responsible commercial wind energy development has the potential to create jobs, increase our energy security, and strengthen our nation’s competitiveness.”

America’s coastal waters hold enormous wind energy potential – roughly 1,300 gigawatts (GW), according to a 2012 estimate. Even harnessing a realistic fraction of this potential could generate 52GW of clean electricity, while creating 300,000 green jobs and $200 billion in economic activity.

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Daily Report: Batteries May Provide Relief From Summer Blackouts

http://bits.blogs.nytimes.com/2013/07/17/daily-report-batteries-may-provide-relief-from-summer-blackouts/

Air-conditioner use during recent hot weather has strained the capacity of power companies across the Northeast and Midwest. Several utilities, including Con Edison, National Grid and the large European utilities Enel and GDF SUEZ, have signed up to fine-tune and test what they hope could lead to an answer — a battery half the size of a refrigerator from Eos Energy Storage, the company said Tuesday. If the testing goes well, the batteries hold the promise of providing storage that until now has been unaffordable on a large scale, Diane Cardwell reports in The New York Times.

“Energy storage is no longer an idea and a theory — it’s actually a practical reality,” said Steve Hellman, Eos’s president. “You’re seeing a lot of commercial activity in the energy storage sector.”

Part of the appeal is economic: utilities could buy power from centralized plants during off-peak hours, when it is cheaper, and use it to feed the grid at peak hours when it is typically more expensive. That could also relieve congestion on some transmission lines, reducing strain and the need to spend money upgrading or repairing them. In addition, batteries could help integrate more renewable sources like solar and wind into the power grid, smoothing out their intermittent production.

“Energy storage in general has been kind of a holy grail for utilities — a lot of the generation and demand is instantaneous,” said Joseph Carbonara, project manager in research and development at Con Edison, who is managing the Eos program. “The utilities have always been looking to buffer that.”

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FERC’s Energy Storage Ruling Could Jump-Start Big Batteries

http://www.greentechmedia.com/articles/read/FERCs-Energy-Storage-Ruling-Could-Jump-Start-Big-Batteries

If the price of grid-scale energy storage fell to zero dollars per megawatt-hour, regulators and utilities would still be puzzled in how to deploy the boon of energy storage.

That's because storage doesn't fit neatly into the electrical utility's regulatory universe of generation, distribution, and load -- or into the utility rate recovery structure.

But that regulatory uncertainty is starting to clear.

It started with FERC Order 755, enacted in 2011, a ruling from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) that increased the pay for “fast” responding sources like batteries or flywheels that are bidding into frequency regulation service markets. Flywheel energy storage operator, Beacon, sells into this market.

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MIT Explains Why Toyota and GM are Pushing Hydrogen

http://gas2.org/2013/07/17/mit-explains-why-toyota-and-gm-are-pushing-hydrogen/

In recent months, GM, Toyota, and Honda have all made big public commitments to put hydrogen fuel cell equipped cars on the road by 2016. Some of their moves can be explained by President Obama’s expected hydrogen push and pressure from oil companies and gas-station owners to keep their infrastructure relevant in a non-petroleum economy.

Hydrogen fueled cars’ primary emissions are, of course, water vapor – so they’re vastly cleaner than petroleum fueled cars at first glance. They also have the potential to be convenient, since they can be refueled in about the same time it takes to fill a liquid fuel tank. Still, despite gas station owners’ vested interest in a liquid-fuel model, they’ve been surprisingly resistant to investing in the technology. Last year, for example, only 27 hydrogen filling stations were added to America’s infrastructure. That’s surprising for a technology that was once “the darling of the Bush administration” (Bush called for $1.2 billion in gov’t funding to develop fuel-cell technology in his 2003 State of the Union address).

Since then, of course, we’ve all learned that there are a lot of questions about just how environmentally friendly hydrogen fuel-cell vehicles actually are when the hydrogen that fuels them comes from natural gas, a fossil fuel that’s produced through highly controversial “fracking” processes that releases huge amounts of carbon dioxide (at best).

So, what’s really going on here? Why the sudden spark of interest? Kevin Bullis, of MIT’s Technology Review magazine, explains that, sometimes, “miracles do happen”.

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The Solar Industry Responds to Utility Attacks on Net Metering

http://www.greentechmedia.com/articles/read/The-Solar-Industry-Responds-to-Utility-Attacks-on-Net-Metering

A recently published primer on net energy metering (NEM) from the solar industry explains why it is under attack by utilities across the country -- and explores how the two opposing sides might come to terms.

“As the penetration of distributed solar generation increases, the debate on NEM policies and impacts is intensifying,” concluded the authors of a new report, Ratemaking, Solar Value and Solar Net Energy Metering: A Primer, from the Solar Electric Power Association (SEPA). “Utilities in some regions have observed distributed solar adoption at rates not previously forecast and are now seeing significant amounts of grid-tied solar on their systems.”

“Between 2011 and 2012, the number of newly installed solar NEM systems increased from 61,400 to 89,620 -- a 46 percent annual growth rate -- bringing the cumulative total to 302,380 NEM systems,” the SEPA study reported. “By year end 2012, U.S. solar generation under net metering totaled more than 3,500 megawatts-AC. It is striking to consider that in 2005, when EPACT passed, total grid-connected solar capacity nationwide was only about 200 megawatts-AC.”

The utility industry is starting to think about these disruptive changes. As a recent report from the Edison Electric Institute concluded, "Disruptive forces, if not actively addressed, threaten the viability of old-line exposed industries.”

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Solar to Reduce Utility Profits in Five Years, Fitch Says

http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2013-07-18/solar-to-reduce-utility-profits-in-five-years-fitch-says.html

Rooftop solar power and energy-efficiency programs will eat into utility revenue and profit margins and discourage investment in new transmission projects within five years, a Fitch Ratings analyst said.

Utilities in stagnant or low-growth markets in the Midwest and Northeast face the biggest losses as more businesses and homeowners install their own generation systems and upgrade to more efficient appliances, said Glen Grabelsky, Fitch’s managing director of utilities, power & gas. Retirees flocking to southern states may offset some losses for local utilities.

Utility revenue is increasingly threatened by technology that’s reducing demand for electricity from the grid, including solar panels, smart meters and software that shuts down operations when power prices spike. As some customers’ bills fall, state regulators will let utilities shift some of their fixed costs to other customers who don’t use solar panels, Grabelsky said today from New York.

“You can only burden the other customers to a certain degree,” Grabelsky said today in an interview. “For now it’s fairly negligible but in five years it will become noticeable. Each year the disparity will grow.”

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Letter: Facts point to success of higher wind energy standards

http://www.coloradoan.com/article/20130711/OPINION03/307110033/Letter-Facts-point-success-higher-wind-energy-standards

Carl Langner’s July 7 letter on wind power and Senate Bill 252 (“Rural energy standard is unachievable”) contains a number of errors.

Wind energy reduces electricity prices by displacing output from the most expensive and least efficient power plants. According to the Colorado Public Utilities Commission, a single wind energy purchase in the state “will save ratepayers $100 million” and allow them to “lock in a price for 25 years.”

In 2012, wind energy provided more than 20 percent of the electricity in Iowa and South Dakota, and more than 10 percent in seven other states, while European countries are even higher. Langner’s claim that wind energy cannot provide more than 8 percent of the electricity on the power system is therefore demonstrably untrue.

Changes in wind energy output occur slowly and predictably. As a result, utility system operators can reliably accommodate large amounts of energy with only minimal increases in the use of the reserves they have always used to accommodate changes in electricity supply and demand.

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Wind to Double and Solar to Triple in 6 Years (IEA)

http://news.discovery.com/earth/global-warming/wind-and-solar-energy-rush-goes-global-130712.htm

Renewable electricity generation is expected to double or triple in the next six years and outpace natural gas and nuclear power as a global source for electricity as early as 2016, according to a report by the International Energy Agency (IEA). If that happens, renewables will be second only to coal for electricity generation.

“Globally, renewable generation is estimated to rise to 25% of gross power generation in 2018, up from 20% in 2011 and 19% in 2006,” the IEA reports. That growth is being driven mostly by the expansion of wind and solar photovoltaics (PV) generation.

As hyperbolic as that might sound, it’s probably an understatement, say some energy watchers.

“It’s a remarkably bullish outlook compared to most forecasts,” commented greentechmedia energy analyst Chris Nelder in a thorough post about the new report. “It’s particularly remarkable for the IEA, whose conservative outlook on renewables has historically lagged behind reality.”

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Wind farm takes shape off Fukushima as Japan seeks non-nuclear energy

http://www.euronews.com/2013/07/12/wind-farm-takes-shape-off-fukushima-as-japan-seeks-non-nuclear-energy/

The first phase is complete of a plan to build the world’s largest offshore wind farm near the Fukushima nuclear plant that was crippled by an earthquake and tsunami in March 2011.

The first turbine has been delivered to the area and the facility is due to become operational in October.

It is part of plans by Fukushima Prefecture to ditch nuclear energy and move towards total reliance on renewable sources over the next 25 years.

By 2020 scores of giant turbines 200 metres high should produce twice as much power as the world’s current biggest offshore windfarm at Greater Gabbard off the UK’s Suffolk coast.

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