U.S. Senate Energy Bill Includes Support for Energy Efficiency and Renewables

first_img FacebookTwitterLinkedInEmailPrint分享Coral Davenport for the New York Times:The Senate on Wednesday passed the first broad energy bill since the George W. Bush administration, a bipartisan measure to better align the nation’s oil, gas and electricity systems with the changing ways that power is produced in the United States.The bill, approved 85 to 12, united Republicans and Democrats around a traditionally divisive issue — energy policy — largely by avoiding the hot-button topics of climate change and oil and gas exploration that have thwarted other measures.Its authors, Senators Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, chairwoman of the Senate Energy Committee, and Maria Cantwell of Washington, the panel’s ranking Democrat, purposely stepped away from any sweeping efforts to solve or fundamentally change the nation’s core energy challenges.Still, the measure, known as the Energy Policy Modernization Act, would respond to the rapidly transforming energy landscape. It includes provisions to promote renewable energy, improve the energy efficiency of buildings, and to cut some planet-warming greenhouse gas pollution.Since passage of the last major energy law, the United States has gone from fearing oil and gas shortages to becoming the world’s leading producer of both fuels. The use of wind and solar power is accelerating as those sources become cheaper than fossil fuels in some parts of the country. And President Obama’s environmental regulations are reshaping power systems as electric utilities close coal-fired power plants and replace them with alternative sources.But the nation’s energy infrastructure has not kept pace with those changes.The bill would promote renewable energy by requiring operators of electricity lines, transformers, and other elements of the electrical grid to upgrade the system, with a focus on large-scale storage systems for electricity to better accommodate the expanding production of wind and solar power. The bill would create and strengthen several programs devoted to improving energy efficiency in buildings.It would give a victory to fossil fuel producers by requiring the Energy Department to accelerate approval of permits to build coastal terminals for shipping American natural gas abroad.The bill has drawn support from a wide range of business and environmental groups, including the United States Chamber of Commerce, the Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers, the Alliance to Save Energy and the Pew Charitable Trusts.Full article: Senate Passes Legislation Tailored to a Modern Energy Landscape U.S. Senate Energy Bill Includes Support for Energy Efficiency and Renewableslast_img read more

Push by Tech Industry to Invest in Renewable Energy in Coal Country

first_img FacebookTwitterLinkedInEmailPrint分享David Ferris for E&E:When the news hits that a company has bought into a monster renewable energy project, chances are that company is the likes of Facebook, Microsoft or Google. Now those tech darlings are using a new vehicle to encourage other companies to do the same — especially in places where coal power reigns supreme, like South Carolina or Kentucky.Representatives from these tech firms were headline speakers at a meeting late last week of the Renewable Energy Buyers Alliance (REBA), a new but fast-growing group that intends to make direct purchase of clean power easier for humbler sorts of firms, like hoteliers, clothiers and aluminum manufacturers.The agenda of the meeting, held at Microsoft Corp.’s headquarters here, didn’t specifically encourage companies to locate their projects in utility service territories where the conversation about renewables is uncomfortable. Speakers said that costs matter, as does the public relations value of siting a project nearby.But another message was unmistakable: If companies want their clean-energy purchases to tip the scales against climate change, they ought to use their pocketbooks to sway utilities and states that aren’t much interested.“If you’re trying to change the market,” said Bill Weihl, the director of sustainability for Facebook Inc., to the 280 attendees, “it’s useful to think, ‘How do I change the market there?’” As it plans for a new data center, Microsoft is considering where the renewable energy will come from, said Janous, the company’s chief energy strategist, in an interview. That includes a strategy that speakers were encouraging REBA members to follow — to site renewable projects in regions where renewables aren’t part of the conversation.Janis said that strategy was a key factor in why Microsoft sited its latest renewable project, a 20 MW solar farm, in Virginia, where coal power is a mainstay of electricity generation and where the state’s renewable energy portfolio goal is a mere 7 percent by 2021.Microsoft, which claims it achieved carbon neutrality four years ago, has an obligation to pass its lessons on, Janous said.“If the industry hasn’t changed,” Janous said, “then we’ve failed.”Full article: Tech giants lead campaign to bring renewables to reluctant states Push by Tech Industry to Invest in Renewable Energy in Coal Countrylast_img read more

Green Mountain Power: Residential batteries saved customers $500,000 during heat wave

first_imgGreen Mountain Power: Residential batteries saved customers $500,000 during heat wave FacebookTwitterLinkedInEmailPrint分享WCAX:While other power companies were telling customers to reduce how much energy they used during the recent heat wave, Green Mountain Power was focused on a different tactic.For years, GMP has worked on creating a system of stored energy to rely on during peak energy days, and GMP Vice President Josh Castonguay says it worked like planned. Castonguay says to save money in Vermont, power was pulled from 500 Tesla Powerwalls, as well as energy storage facilities in Rutland and Panton.Think of it like a game. GMP waits until the moment of peak usage and then sends out all their stored energy to the grid. That reduces the need for dirty and expensive backup generators to be brought online.Castonguay says the battery strategy paid off. “All three of those combined, during that peak hour that’s happened this summer, are the equivalent of that, basically worth up to half a million dollars for customers and it’s about the equivalent of taking 5,000 homes off the grid during that one hour of the peak,” he said.“When New England hits that peak, every state has to share in the cost of the bulk system. So everything, each state, each utility, can do to lower the peak during that time is what saves that money,” said Castonguay.So far, 500 Tesla Powerwalls are installed around Vermont with 1,500 more expected to go out. Castonguay says they’ll be ready if another big peak pops up this summer. “We’re installing more Powerwalls every day, so we’ll have more to use if something else comes up this summer,” he said.More: GMP credits big batteries for saving money during heat wavelast_img read more

New Zealand grid operator sees big potential for rooftop solar

first_img FacebookTwitterLinkedInEmailPrint分享PV Magazine:Transpower, New Zealand’s state-owned transmission grid operator, says falling solar and storage costs have sparked interest in PV for a market already well served by wind and hydro power.The nation already uses renewable energy for almost 90% of its electricity demand, according to live transmission data on Transpower’s website, but PV is not even listed among the clean energy technologies in operation.According to the grid operator, there are bigger investment opportunities ahead as New Zealand’s electricity demand is set to rise, due to increasing electrification industrial processes and mobility, in line with the country’s Paris Agreement obligations. In its new Te Mauri Hiko Energy Futures report, the grid operator forecasts electricity generation will almost double between now and 2050.New Zealand has installed 85 MW of solar to date, nearly half of which has been added in the last two years in more densely populated areas, such as Auckland and Canterbury.The report stresses the potential for residential solar – being adopted at a rapid rate in neighboring Australia – is huge. With 1.8 million residential households and 300,000 businesses, the authors claim 11 GW of new PV could be installed. That number would only grow over time, as there is a need for new homes in New Zealand, and solar equipment is making efficiency advances. By 2050, the report’s authors say, the potential for rooftop PV could be around 27 GW.More: New Zealand identifies 11 GW solar potential New Zealand grid operator sees big potential for rooftop solarlast_img read more

IRENA reports 140GW of new solar and wind capacity were installed in 2018

first_imgIRENA reports 140GW of new solar and wind capacity were installed in 2018 FacebookTwitterLinkedInEmailPrint分享Greentech Media:More than 140 gigawatts of solar and wind generation capacity were added globally last year as solar PV consolidated its role as the growth engine of the renewables market, new figures from the International Renewable Energy Agency show.Among renewable technologies, wind remains second only to hydropower in its installed base, with 564 gigawatts in operation compared to solar’s 480 gigawatts, IRENA said.But the solar market is now regularly lapping wind on the global stage, with solar installations hitting a record 94 gigawatts last year, IRENA said, in spite of a policy-induced slowdown in the critical Chinese market.The global wind market has been flat in recent years, holding steady around 50 gigawatts of new installations in 2018. However, growth is expected in the years ahead, and many corners of the global wind market are vibrant. Onshore wind has proven itself the lowest-cost option for new power generation in a growing number of markets around the world, including much of the central U.S., and developers are increasingly finding ways to build projects without subsidies.But the biggest renewables market by far these days is solar. Analysts at Wood Mackenzie Power & Renewables believe the global solar market will crack the 100-gigawatt mark for the first time this year — a level the wind market has never come close to achieving. Costs continue to fall rapidly across the solar industry, setting the global market up for a rhythm of annual installations in the 115- to 120-gigawatt range in the early 2020s, Wood Mackenzie forecasts.Wind and solar’s faster growth means that renewables are eating up a larger and larger share of the global market for new power plants, going from 25 percent of new capacity brought online in 2001 to 63 percent last year, a new record.More: IRENA: 140 gigawatts of solar and wind capacity installed globally in 2018last_img read more

Australia’s Northern Territory government backs massive solar-plus-storage project

first_imgAustralia’s Northern Territory government backs massive solar-plus-storage project FacebookTwitterLinkedInEmailPrint分享Renew Economy:Plans to build the world’s largest solar plant in the Australia desert, and use it to help power Singapore, have taken a significant step forward after winning Major Project Status from the Northern Territory government.NT chief minister Michael Gunner said on Saturday that his government would begin negotiations on a Project Development Agreement with developer Sun Cable, to kickstart development of the proposed 10GW solar farm and 20-30GWh storage facility near Tennant Creek.Gunner said the PDA would provide the framework for Sun Cable and the NT government to progress the $20 billion Australia-Singapore Power Link through the required approvals processes – starting with an Environmental Impact Statement and a Territory Benefit Plan.As we have reported, the ASPL aims to supply renewable electricity to Darwin and Singapore via a high voltage direct current transmission – a plan first outlined by Beyond Zero Emissions last month, and which quickly attracted the attention of investment heavyweights including Mike Cannon-Brookes’ Grok Ventures.The NT government says integrating the huge solar farm into the developing ASEAN power grid will also be assessed in the detail during the development phase. There are also hopes that the resource can underpin local manufacturing and industry.More: NT government backs 10GW solar and storage plant, biggest in worldlast_img read more

BlackRock unit sees growing investment opportunity in energy storage market

first_img FacebookTwitterLinkedInEmailPrint分享Greentech Media:The world’s largest asset manager has a new multibillion-dollar renewable energy fund in the works, and a good chunk of it may go to batteries.Looking out over the next few years, energy storage is one market “where we’ll see the opportunity set expand,” said Martin Torres, head of the Americas at the renewables group within BlackRock Real Assets.BlackRock shook the financial universe this month when CEO Larry Fink said the company will put sustainability at the “center” of its investment approach. Exactly what Fink’s announcement will mean for BlackRock’s fossil fuel investments remains to be seen. But in the realm of renewables, at least, BlackRock’s green bona fides need little burnishing.Since 2011, BlackRock claims to have channeled $5.5 billion into more than 250 wind and solar projects around the world, a fleet that generates enough power to keep the lights on in Spain. And its appetite for renewables investment keeps growing.BlackRock’s first renewables private-equity fund drew around $600 million of commitments from big investors. The second, launched a few years later, brought in $1.65 billion. With its third “vintage,” known as the Global Renewable Power III fund (GRP III), BlackRock is targeting $2.5 billion of commitments; in December it announced a record $1 billion “first close,” meaning the fund can begin making investments even as it continues to bring in more capital.Onshore wind and utility-scale solar will remain core investments for GRP III, with a growing focus on repowering aging wind projects. But BlackRock is also keeping a close eye on the rapidly expanding U.S. energy storage market, Torres said.  “As we think about the opportunity set for GRP III, we see more and more opportunity for battery storage,” Torres said. That means distributed or utility-scale storage projects, and both standalone facilities or those coupled with wind or solar farms.[Karl-Erik Stromsta]More: BlackRock targets storage with new multibillion-dollar renewables fund BlackRock unit sees growing investment opportunity in energy storage marketlast_img read more

Credit Suisse plans $328 billion of sustainable financing, tightens fossil fuel lending rules

first_img FacebookTwitterLinkedInEmailPrint分享Reuters:Credit Suisse plans to provide at least 300 billion Swiss francs ($328.41 billion) in sustainable financing over the next decade in areas such as renewable energy and Green Bonds.The move is the latest in a string of announcements by banks looking to display their green credentials and capture demand for cash from companies to help a shift to a low-carbon economy. Governments around the world are tightening rules on industry to try to meet the terms of the 2015 Paris climate agreement.Credit Suisse also said it would cut exposure to the oil and gas sector, including restricting lending and capital markets underwriting to companies operating in thermal coal extraction, coal-fired power generation and Arctic drilling.Specifically, the bank said it would stop financing any onshore or offshore oil and gas projects in the Arctic, and stop lending to companies making more than 25% of their revenue from thermal coal mining or coal power.Credit Suisse also said it would also give “enhanced consideration” to biodiversity in both its lending and capital markets business, without giving details.[Simon Jessop and Brenna Hughes-Neghaiwi]More: Credit Suisse earmarks more than $300 billion for sustainable finance Credit Suisse plans $328 billion of sustainable financing, tightens fossil fuel lending ruleslast_img read more

Bike Polo, Anyone?

first_imgBikes and wooden mallets may sound like odd bedfellows, but the sport of bike polo is gaining popularity across the U.S. and beyond. There’s even an international federation for bike polo (Pakistan is a member) that’s pushing to get the hybrid sport into the 2012 Olympics—surprising, since most Americans have never even heard of the sport.Imagine the bourgeois game of polo—horses, mallets, striped jerseys, and white pants. Now substitute bikes for horses and chamois for riding pants, and you get bike polo. In spite of its unfamiliarity to most Americans, bike polo has been played in some form or another for more than 100 years. The British army used to play the Indian Maharajas in the early 1900s. The first international bike polo competition was held in 1901 (Ireland beat England 10 to 5). And yet, as a sport, it has managed to stay on the fringe, particularly here in the U.S.“Bike polo is not very organized,” says Bill Matheson, a world champion bike polo player from Aiken, S.C. and the vice president of the Bicycle Polo Association of America. “Equestrian polo players sign up with the polo association and play by the official association rules. With bike polo, it’s different. Everyone who starts a bike polo club makes up their own rules.”Fledgling bike polo leagues are popping up all over the Southeast. Richmond, Va. has a bike polo scene. So do Slatyfork, W.Va., and Asheville, N.C. Bike polo matches have even been known to break out on the lawn of the D.C. Mall.“More people are gravitating towards bikes,” says Minya James, founder of a new bike polo league in Chattanooga, Tenn. “This is another way to reinforce that choice. You’re riding your bike and playing a game. Everyone loves games.”DO IT YOURSELFFive things you need to know to start your own bike polo club:Any bike will work for bike polo, but most players ride singlespeed or fixed gear bikes.Bike polo is a non-contact sport. Right-of-way rules are established to keep the collisions to a minimum.The game is traditionally played on grass, but hardcourt (tennis and basketball courts) is the fastest growing version of the sport.Bike polo is played with four people on a team, moving the ball up and down the field. Each player is allowed three taps of the ball before he/she has to pass or shoot.You score by knocking the ball through the opposing team’s goal posts. There are no goalies, so games are high scoring.Learn more at bikepolo.comlast_img read more

How To Disc Golf

first_img Photo: PDGA Media Innova Champion Disc Aero center_img Photo: PDGA Media Photo: PDGA MediaNice Grass Disc golf courses are scattered all over the Southern Appalachians, offering a mix of terrain, from tight technical wooded holes to wide open fairways. Courses range from nine to 18 holes, and hole length varies, but come in about 400 feet on average. Here are three of the best courses in the South.Winthrop University Lake Front, Rock Hill, S.C. This country-club style course hosts the U.S. Disc Golf Championship every year. The 19-hole course surrounds a lake on a college campus and has fairways as manicured as anything you’ll see in the PGA.The International Disc Golf Center, Appling, Ga. More than just a sweet course, the IDGC has a museum with the first polehole and disc golf prototypes, a training center, practice putting greens, and three different championship caliber courses.The Grange, Spotsylvania, Va. This private club ($5 per round) has two manicured courses with a variety of holes. The club hosts night time glow golf, weekend tournaments, and the Grange Open (formerly the Virginia Open) which attracts the pros. Ask the Expert Jason Allind is superintendent of the International Disc Golf Center in Georgia.What do you look for in a good disc golf course? You’re looking for varying terrain with hills, elevation change, and hazards like water and canyons. Different lengths of holes are nice too.Are the rules the same in disc golf as traditional golf? It’s the same rules and etiquette as traditional golf. We essentially borrowed everything from the PGA rule book.Can you actually make money playing disc golf? Most people just play recreationally. Our biggest growth is still in college towns. But there’s a serious tournament side to disc golf as well. We manage 1,300 events across the world, including a national tour with three major championships. It’s even possible to make a living by playing disc golf. Last year, the top money earner on the tour made a little over $46,000 just in tournament prize money.Do I need a full set of discs to get started? There are three types of discs. Driver, mid-range and putter. You don’t need all of those to play. In fact, I recommend you only buy one disc. Get a single mid-range disc, which serves as a multipurpose disc, and learn how to throw that well before buying more.Are the mechanics of a disc golf throw the same as throwing a Frisbee? No. The motion is different. It’s more of a full body movement. Throwing a Frisbee is all in the wrist, but in disc golf, some players will include a ‘run up’ and get their whole body into the mechanics. 1 2last_img read more