World’s whitest paint could eliminate need for home air conditioning

Author: KRON4 Staff          9/17/2021              KRON4

Xiulin Ruan, a Purdue University professor of mechanical engineering, and his students have created the whitest paint on record.

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. (WANE) — Researchers at Purdue University have created the world’s whitest paint, which in a few years may dramatically reduce or even eliminate the need for air conditioning in your home.

The paint has earned a record in the 2022 edition of Guinness World Records.

According to Purdue, breaking a record for the whitest paint wasn’t a goal for the researchers – limiting global warming was.

“When we started this project about seven years ago, we had saving energy and fighting climate change in mind,” said Xiulin Ruan, a professor of mechanical engineering at Purdue.

Ruan invented the paint with his graduate students. The idea was to create paint that would reflect sunlight away from a building. Making the paint really reflective, however, also made it really white. The formulation that Ruan’s lab created reflects 98.1% of solar radiation at the same time as emitting infrared heat. Because the paint absorbs less heat from the sun than it emits, a surface coated with this paint is cooled below the surrounding temperature without consuming power.

Typical commercial white paint gets warmer rather than cooler. Paints on the market that are designed to reject heat reflect only 80%-90% of sunlight and can’t make surfaces cooler than their surroundings.

Using this new paint formulation to cover a roof area of about 1,000 square feet could result in a cooling power of 10 kilowatts, the researchers showed in a published paper. “That’s more powerful than the air conditioners used by most houses,” Ruan said.

This white paint is the result of research building on attempts going back to the 1970s to develop radiative cooling paint as a feasible alternative to traditional air conditioners. Ruan’s lab considered over 100 different materials, narrowed them down to 10 and tested about 50 different formulations for each material.

Two features make this paint ultra-white: a very high concentration of a chemical compound called barium sulfate – also used in photo paper and cosmetics – and different particle sizes of barium sulfate in the paint. What wavelength of sunlight each particle scatters depends on its size, so a wider range of particle sizes allows the paint to scatter more of the light spectrum from the sun.

There is a little bit of room to make the paint whiter, but not much without compromising the paint.

Rev. Al Sharpton Interview with Michael Regan first Black to Head EPA

 We talk about how the #BuildBackBetter agenda addresses impacts on vulnerable communities.

Climate change is happening now and the people least able to prepare and cope are disproportionately impacted. Watch my full interview with Michael Regan first Black to Head EPA.
EPA Chief: Biden infrastructure agenda is a ‘shot in the arm’ against climate change
Rev. Al Sharpton is joined by EPA Administrator Michael Regan. The environmental agency’s lead discusses the disadvantages communities of color
Michael Regan, U.S. EPA
@EPA Michael Regan

Energy Careers 2021 A Virtual Event from the Center for Energy Workforce Development

Author:  CEWD Staff        Published: 9/15/21      Center for Energy Workforce Development 

Thank you for participating in the energy industry’s virtual career exploration event last year. This year’s program, EnergyCareers 2021, will be held virtually on October 20th and registration for this free event is now open!
Check out the event schedule to learn more about the sessions we have in store, with program tracks for high school students, college students, and work-ready adults. This year, we have sessions on careers in renewables, electric vehicle infrastructure, cyber-security, engineering, entrepreneurship, and more. Ask the Expert sessions will offer suggestions on resumes, networking, and support for veterans looking to transition to energy careers.
Of course, one of the highlights of the event will be the job fair, with exhibitors from coast to coast, ready to talk about internships, jobs available today, and careers for the future. Those interested can upload their resume to get it in the hands of industry recruiters.
If you are exploring career options, join us to learn about careers in energy, an industry known for job stability, strong compensation, excellent career advancement opportunities, important work in the trades, in technical positions, and in business roles.
The Center for Energy Workforce Development

A First-of-its-Kind Study on the Global Cannabis Economy

Author : New Frontier Staff       Published:  9/15/2021       NFD

A First-of-its-Kind Study on the Global Cannabis Economy

 

Our latest report breaks ground as a first-of-its-kind analysis of the global market for high-THC cannabis and the drivers, trends, and opportunities represented by the industry’s growth worldwide. The report also provides an overview of total annual global cannabis demand based on current usage rates, prices, and consumption trends from both legal and illicit sources within all 217 countries considered in the analysis.

Key Report Findings:

  • Cannabis represents a market of global consequence with consumers globally spending $415 billion USD annually.
  • With more than 268 million cannabis consumers globally, further social acceptance and normalization of cannabis use will unveil a massive consumer group with corresponding buying potential.
  • Across legal country markets, sales of high-THC cannabis totaled nearly $24 billion in 2020, with sales forecast to double to over $50 billion by 2025.

On behalf of New Frontier Data, your trusted source of unbiased, vetted cannabis business intelligence, we hope you find this report valuable as you navigate the increasingly nuanced market dynamics shaping the global industry.

Copyright © 2021, New Frontier Data, All rights reserved.

E2: ‘The face of clean energy is predominantly White and male’

Author: Emma Penrod             Published: 9/14/21           Utility Dive

Dive Brief:

  • People of color and women are “vastly underrepresented” in clean energy jobs compared to the U.S. workforce at large, and many underrepresented groups lost ground between 2017 and 2020, according to a report released last week by BW Research Partnership, E2, and a coalition of clean energy industry groups.
  • Underrepresented racial and ethnic groups hold just four in ten clean energy jobs, according to the report. Black workers were the most poorly represented in the sector, composing 8% of clean energy jobs compared to 13% of the U.S. workforce as a whole.
  • With people of color and women now representing the majority of young students in the U.S., clean energy companies could face labor shortages in the future if they fail to recruit more diverse workers, according to Paula Glover, president of the Alliance to Save Energy. “If you’ve done nothing and know nobody, then your roadway is a lot longer than someone who has been at it a long time,” she said.

Smart Cities: the key to Africa’s third revolution

Author: Jean- Michel Huet      Published: 9/14/21    Bearing Point

As Africa faces dramatic demographic development, we ask how technological advances can trigger a digital revolution through the growth of smart cities

IN 30 SECONDS

  • Africa will be home to 2.4 billion people within the next few decades and they will favour cities over rural life
  • Technopoles aim to nurture innovation, create jobs, encourage workforce upskilling, and showcase the country’s strengths – which can help manage demographic challenges
  • Some countries are already seeing the benefits – jobs have been created and IT has become a key element in the economy
  • From technopoles grow smart cities, fully connected to provide the infrastructure inhabitants need

In 2040, a young African scans the glittering skyline of her hometown. Her eyes fix on the central business district where rows of energy-efficient buildings, shaded by native flora, throng with ‘suits’ during the day. Electric vehicles glide by. Distantly, she watches as one car travels toward a dark zone, tracing the city’s outskirts, where LED streetlights have dimmed to conserve energy. It glows stronger as the car approaches.

For a continent more known for wars, famines and chronic poverty, this utopian imagery is not typically associated with Africa – more with scenarios for the West. Yet this is exactly the sort of long-term vision advocates of the ‘African smart city’ propose – and it may not be as far-fetched as you think.

Since the 2000s, Africa has been among the fastest-growing continents in the world (note 1). A decade-long commodity boom, buoyant foreign investment inflows, and relative political stability have quickened the pulse of the region, and it has not gone unnoticed. Today, alongside the traditional, dark narrative of ‘Africa’s plight’ is the narrative of ‘Africa rising’; a story that symbolises not only how far Africa has come, but also how far perceptions have changed.

2.4bn

people will live in Africa within three decades

Demographic trends and pressures

But headwinds are gathering on the horizon with a looming demographic challenge. Within three decades, the continent will be home to some 2.4 billion people (note 2), more than double today’s population, and the majority will flock to the cities. The proportion of Africans residing in urban areas is set to grow from 40 per cent in 2010 to 60 per cent in 2050 (note 3), representing the highest urbanisation rate globally (note 4), exceeding even that of China.

As elsewhere around the world, the policy challenges of such a rapid influx of migrants to the cities are legion. On the one hand, swelling cities can  perpetuate inequalities and urban poverty, fomenting social unrest and dragging down growth. Africa’s urban slums are evidence of this squalid truth. On the other hand, cities can be an engine of economic development, whilst also driving social justice, environmental sustainability and human development.

The technological promise

Technological advances are seen as the best answer to these challenges. Equally, they might also represent the new frontier of opportunity for an innovative Africa. The prime example is mobile phones, which are ubiquitous (extending even to remote African villages); and internet penetration is estimated to climb to 50 per cent in the coming decade (note 5). The prevalence of low-cost technologies has spurred a wave of innovation amongst home-grown firms as they strive to meet the surging demands of new migrants – such as mobile banking in Kenya, which has brought millions of unbanked individuals into the financial system (note 6).

Whatever the merits of these technological breakthroughs, a technical approach to addressing Africa’s rapid urbanisation by itself may lead to counterproductive outcomes. Instead, African policymakers must pursue a much broader industrial reform agenda, which fully harnesses the best innovations in a ballooning urban landscape.

But what shape will the reform agenda take? It is safe to say that African leaders rummaging in their policy toolkit are unlikely to reach instinctively for ‘smart cities’ as the solution. Arguably, smart cities will find the best staging ground in advanced developed economies, and surely not in a region that still struggles with weak infrastructure, chronic power shortages, and severe deprivations in basic human needs. In any case, they bear scant resemblance to African cityscapes today.

Low-cost technologies has spurred a wave of innovation amongst African firms as they strive to meet the surging demands of new migrants

Yet the reality is smart cities form the most potent and holistic framework available, which can give shape to the overarching development goals of African states whilst staying true to the plural voices of thriving cities. These increasingly connected populations will demand ready access to the global economy – for example, through platform technologies and other digital networks – rather than having to be situated at the confluence of a river and ancient road. Africa is well-placed to embark on the smart city journey, to lay the groundwork for building and evolving smart cities in practice.

Towards the urban dividend: the third revolution

After thousands of years, the vast majority of people will leave the countryside en masse and pour into urban areas in search of work. The profile of Africa’s cities will alter permanently and, in the process, radically challenge policymakers to leverage these forces for sustainable and inclusive growth.

But this is good news. History suggests that population density is essential for economic prosperity, and that urban expansion is a critical precondition for accelerated growth: ‘Long-run growth needs an efficient system of urban
centres that produce industrial goods and high-value services, along with transportation networks to link national economies with regional and global
markets’ (note 7).

Taking the challenges seriously

Compared with developing countries confronting similar pressures, Africa’s institutional development lags far behind, fraught as it is with gross inadequacies. All of its countries require smarter infrastructure and smarter urban management and planning. Key elements – the usual suspects – include more jobs and better workplaces, schools, universities, universal access to power, healthcare facilities, and robust transport networks necessary to link these facilities to the people who need them. Managing this urban network comprises the crux of Africa’s development challenge.

Africa is well-placed to lay the groundwork for building and evolving smart cities in practice

Appreciating the real benefits

For all this, there may in fact be advantages here. Unlike other countries seeking to implement a smart city program, African countries are not burdened by obsolete, legacy infrastructure. They are not encumbered in the same way as western states by having to navigate complex, politicised government programs and systems.

Further, Africa’s own technological progress is yielding solutions that may help forge a path towards a positive future. For instance, mobile phones are pervasive across the continent. This opens up the possibility for the vulnerable and marginalised in society to transmit messages, access political news, health and consumer information, and even search for jobs and engage in mobile banking. Activity of this sort kindles the emergence of social networks (note 8). As the BBC reported, ‘You cannot talk about Africa without talking about mobile. Most innovation involves mobile devices and wireless technology in some way or other’ (note 9).

Beyond these individual benefits, the spoils may be wider still owing to the big data generated from this social activity. By utilising the city’s large data volumes, smart-city designers are in a better position to improve citizen safety, the efficiency of transport and telecommunications networks, optimise energy consumption and waste collection, and even solve thorny problems in public health. The value is immense.

A lack of resources has long blighted Africa’s effort to produce goods and services to scale. Now, low-cost technologies are bequeathing to the region a heightened ability to participate in the global economy, albeit with marked differences between countries. When you couple that with the prospect of a swelling middle class, it is not difficult to see some merit to the claim that Africa is on the brink of a ‘third revolution’.

From technopoles to smart cities

Part of the reason why people are increasingly upbeat about the notion of smart cities in Africa has to do with the region’s experiments with technology parks. Diverse as they are, these parks have acted as  development catalysts: inducing foreign investment, augmenting infrastructure networks and, more recently, fibre-optic connections.

Leading the charge was Egypt, Morocco and Tunisia. Having their early initiatives crowned with success paved the way for industrial hubs to propagate across the continent. These tech clusters hatched innovative businesses, creating thousands sometimes tens of thousands of jobs, and serving to integrate IT throughout their economies (note 10).

10%

ITC growth in Egypt in 2014, catalysed by its SmartVillage technopole

For example, Egypt’s SmartVillage technopole, which debuted in 2001, bolstered ITC growth in the country by 10 per cent in 2014, resulting in upwards of 50,000 people being employed in the sector. In Tunisia, meanwhile, the El Ghazala Technopark in 2015 accommodated some 250 businesses (including 10 multinationals), with almost 3,000 jobs on site and more growth anticipated (note 10). It forms a showcase for the country’s ITC and microelectronics innovations.

WHAT IS A TECHNOPOLE?

A technopole (technology park) is a business area comprising manufacturing and service companies in the high technology sector. Characterised by an intermediate level of technological innovation, the hub brings together a diverse ecosystem of stakeholders drawn from a variety of sectors with the aim of fostering creativity, innovation and, crucially, employment and training, in the digital sector (note 11).
Technopoles may be planned or not; and financed privately, publicly or via public-private partnerships. Today, they are increasingly seen as an important development tool for policymakers.
Typically located on the outskirts of major cities close to research organisations (universities, private laboratories) – Silicon Valley being the most famous example – they began flourishing in the West from the 1980s. More recently, developing countries have tuned into the importance of innovation to their future competitiveness and have been actively developing technopoles. African states have been no different in this regard.

In the next phase, more technopoles will take root and become the seedbeds from which smart cities grow – cities synonymous with supreme connectivity that optimises digital capacities, sustainability and economic growth. These smart cities are digital ecosystems, based as they are upon platform technologies. And they are already springing up in ten of the continent’s 54 countries (note 10). If this trend continues, Africa will leapfrog to the ‘third revolution’ (note 10), vaulting over traditional development phases straight to the high-tech new world of the digital economy.

At present, there is little doubt that North African cities (such as Cairo, Tunis, Algiers and Casablanca) are ahead of the game (for example, Casablanca’s smart city cluster, e-madina), but they are not the only ones to watch. Accra, Lagos, Abidjan and Nairobi are enclaves that are agglomerating urban and periurban areas, which are attracting new investors. Johannesburg and Kigali, too, are benefitting from the emergence of a dynamic and connected middle class (note 10).

Smart cities are springing up in many parts of Africa. If this trend continues, Africa may leapfrog to the ‘third revolution’

Due to the geographical, historical and cultural variations across Africa, there is no one-size-fits-all model for any city in Africa. Each country is at a different phase of development and there are widely varying levels of political and economic stability. Further, when projecting forwards and considering the evolution of smart cities in Africa, in response to rapid urbanisation and emerging technologies, smart cities will establish and take full advantage of these resources.

WHAT IS A ‘SMART CITY’?

A smart city is a digital ecosystem within the city that enhances its liveability, workability and sustainability.
Smart cities are zones within a territory where technology and connectivity play a central part in infrastructure. They address issues of urbanisation, economic development, and the technological needs of its inhabitants and visitors. They offer a place to live, learn and work; a space to develop innovative businesses and entrepreneurial activity in the digital arena, while also providing healthcare – a crucial issue in Africa. Equally crucial, smart cities are built upon sustainable energy infrastructure. Indeed, one could argue that smart cities will be a crucial means by which Africa may avoid a demographic, political and human disaster over the next three decades (note 10).

 Practical steps to consider for a potential smart city project

The cascade of interest in Africa’s growing metropoles drives home a larger truth. The continent is at a crossroads, and much will depend on the decisions taken by policymakers today. Most countries recognise the reform imperative (note 12), but the development strategies required to address the mounting challenges of urbanisation and footloose international investors are not quickly solved with traditional policy instruments.

Nurturing the smart cities of the future is a viable way forward. It builds upon Africa’s already pronounced leaning toward digital technologies, and
broadens this to harness the innovative ideas of the city.

So, what are some realistic steps policymakers can take when thinking about a possible smart-city project? Here are a few:

1

Define clearly the purpose of the smart city and obtain alignment

  • Anchor the smart-city project in the strategic vision and development objectives of the country, but also align with the city’s constituency.
  • Clarify its commercial and environmental sustainability objectives, which will inform the design and implementation of all smart-city initiatives (university, R&D, technologies, business, etc.).
  • To succeed with the ‘third revolution’ after the failure with the first and second revolutions.
  • Obtain alignment with leading city decision-makers and stakeholders on the goals

2

Anticipate the future business model and the ecosystem of partners

  • Show the value created by smart cities through economic modelling.
  • Think about the model for finance so as to operationalise the smart city proposal.
  • Consider the ecosystem of players: with the digital revolution, smart cities should be built with the digital ecosystem partners in mind.

3

Smart city ecosystems need an IT platform

  • In order to orchestrate and monetise smart city initiatives, traditional IT will not cut it. A proper platform IT solution is required, such as ‘digital ecosystem management’ (DEM).
  • Invest in a scalable platform so that cities can collaborate with partners and embrace future technology.
  • Employ an agile approach. To seize the advantage of digitalisation, smart cities must be more adaptable, open to change and act fast, whilst maintaining trust with citizens.
  • Utilise lean start-up methods (iteratively build products and services etc.), not traditional IT project approaches, to fast track to a good result.

4

Quick wins to solve short-term problems as well as longer-term growth

  • Identify some quick win projects to build confidence and momentum around the smart-city agenda.
  • Start by experimenting with some simple service bundles.

5

Don’t forget the rural space

  • For the smart city vision, depicted in the introduction, to eventuate, African leaders need to explore how to build upon the fabric of technopoles to create smart cities. However, none of this is to say that smart cities are the whole answer to Africa’s future development. After all, agriculture still comprises 60 per cent of the workforce in Africa (note 13).
  • The issue of how to integrate the smart-city project in national development plans, which is in keeping with the state’s regional and global economic strategy, must be thought through.

The world currently wants access to Africa’s commodities, and they are investing in Africa’s services (note 14). But in the future it will want to source tertiary services from Africa’s smart cities. The question for all stakeholders today is whether to support and channel this development or to sit back and observe.

KEY TAKEAWAYS

  • Africa will be home to some 2.4 billion people within the next few decades, and people will increasingl move to cities, leaving rural areas behind
  • Fast-growing cities present policy challenges, particularly in Africa where the typical problems associated with urbanisation – overcrowding, access to public services, jobs, crime etc. – are often more severe
  • Fast-growing cities also present opportunities: cities are the world’s ‘engines of growth’
  • Technology is playing a leading role in building cities that can cope with growing numbers of inhabitants
  • Key to this are technopoles – technological hubs that create jobs, encourage education and training, and provide a showcase for a country’s innovation
  • Pioneering technopoles have been developed in Egypt, Morocco and Tunisia. Innovative businesses have been established, creating jobs and integrating IT into economies
  • The next step from technopoles are smart cities, fully connected and making effective use of technology to analyse citizen data, which in turn enables infrastructure improvements
  • A technological revolution spreading across Africa is making connectivity a reality. Investment here is not without its challenges, and there are vast inter-country differences, but the opportunities are too compelling to ignore
  • To be successful, smart city ecosystems need a monetisation and orchestration platform that’s scalable so cities can collaborate with partners and embrace future technology

Report: Solar could power 40% of US electricity by 2035

Author:  Matthew Daly          Published: 9/8/21          AP NEWS

FILE - In this June 29, 2021 file photo, Secretary of Energy Jennifer Granholm speaks during a roundtable discussion at the Service Employees International Union 32BJ, in New York. A new federal report say solar energy has the potential to power up to 40% of the nation’s electricity within 15 years — a 10-fold increase over current solar output that would require massive changes in U.S. policy and billions of dollars in federal investment to modernize the nation’s electric grid.  (AP Photo/Mary Altaffer)
WASHINGTON (AP) — Solar energy has the potential to supply up to 40% of the nation’s electricity within 15 years — a 10-fold increase over current solar output, but one that would require massive changes in U.S. policy and billions of dollars in federal investment to modernize the nation’s electric grid, a new federal report says.

The report by the Energy Department’s Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy says the United States would need to quadruple its annual solar capacity — and continue to increase it year by year — as it shifts to a renewable-dominant grid in order to address the existential threat posed by climate change.

The report released Wednesday is not intended as a policy statement or administration goal, officials said. Instead, it is “designed to guide and inspire the next decade of solar innovation by helping us answer questions like: How fast does solar need to increase capacity and to what level?″ said Becca Jones-Albertus, director of the Energy Department’s solar energy technologies office.

Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm said in a statement that the study “illuminates the fact that solar, our cheapest and fastest-growing source of clean energy, could produce enough electricity to power all of the homes in the U.S. by 2035 and employ as many as 1.5 million people in the process.”

The report comes after President Joe Biden declared climate change has become “everybody’s crisis ” during a visit to neighborhoods flooded by the remnants of Hurricane Ida. Biden warned Tuesday that it’s time for America to get serious about the “code red” danger posed by climate change or face increasing loss of life and property.

“We can’t turn it back very much, but we can prevent it from getting worse,” Biden said before touring a New Jersey neighborhood ravaged by severe flooding caused by Ida. “We don’t have any more time.”

The natural disaster has given Biden an opening to push Congress to approve his plan to spend $1 trillion to fortify infrastructure nationwide, including electrical grids, water and sewer systems, to better defend against extreme weather. The legislation has cleared the Senate and awaits a House vote.

The U.S. installed a record 15 gigawatts of solar generating capacity in 2020, and solar now represents just over 3% of the current electricity supply, the Energy Department said.

The “Solar Futures Study,” prepared by DOE’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory, shows that, by 2035, the country would need to quadruple its yearly solar capacity additions and provide 1,000 gigawatts of power to a renewable-dominant grid. By 2050, solar energy could provide 1,600 gigawatts on a zero-carbon grid — producing more electricity than consumed in all residential and commercial buildings in the country today, the report said. Decarbonizing the entire energy system could result in as much as 3,000 gigawatts of solar by 2050 due to increased electrification in the transportation, buildings, and industrial sectors, the report said.

The report assumes that clean-energy policies currently being debated in Congress will drive a 95% reduction from 2005 levels in the grid’s carbon dioxide emissions by 2035, and a 100% reduction by 2050.

But even without aggressive action from Congress — an outcome that is far from certain in an evenly divided House and Senate — installed solar capacity could still see a seven-fold increase by 2050, relative to 2005, the report said.

“Even without a concerted policy effort, market forces and technology advances will drive significant deployment of solar and other clean energy technologies as well as substantial decarbonization,″ the report said, citing falling costs for solar panels and other factors.

To achieve 40% solar power by 2035, the U.S. must install an average of 30 gigawatts of solar capacity per year between now and 2025 — double its current rate — and 60 gigawatts per year from 2025 to 2030, the report said.

Those goals far exceed what even the solar industry has been pushing for as the Biden administration and Congress debate climate and clean-energy legislation. The Solar Energy Industries Association has urged a framework for solar to achieve 20% of U.S. electricity generation by 2030.

Abigail Ross Hopper, the group’s president and CEO, said the DOE study “makes it clear that we will not achieve the levels of decarbonization that we need without significant policy advances.″

The solar group sent a letter to Congress Wednesday from nearly 750 companies spelling out recommended policy changes. “We believe with those policies and a determined private sector, the Biden administration’s goals are definitely achievable,″ Hopper said.

House panel puts forth solar, environmental justice tax credits

Author: Zack Budryk       Published: 9/11/21         THE HILL

House panel puts forth solar, environmental justice tax credits

The House Ways and Means Committee’s portion of Democrats’ $3.5 trillion spending package includes increased tax incentives for clean energy and the creation of new tax credits for electric-vehicle owners, according to text released by Chairman Richard Neal (D-Mass.) late Friday night.

The committee’s portion would increase the production tax credit rate for wind and solar power to the full applicable rate through the end of 2031, which would then phase down to 80 percent in 2032 and 60 percent in 2033.

It would also increase the energy credit for solar energy facilities built in low-income communities, the rate of which would be based on a combination of health and economic benefits for those communities as well as job opportunities and engagement.

The Biden administration has made incentives for use of solar energy a major priority, announcing a roadmap last week in which it comprises 40 percent of U.S. electricity generated by 2035.

The bill would also provide a $2,500 tax credit for energy-efficient, single-family new homes, as well as credits for energy-efficient, multi-family homes. It would triple the credit for installation of nonbusiness energy efficiency improvements to 30 percent and substitute a $1,200 annual lifetime cap on such credits.

Separately, it would create a new tax credit for the production of renewable hydrogen, with the percentage based on the reduction to lifecyle greenhouse gas emissions. Although some renewable energy advocates have touted major potential in hydrogen, environmental groups like Earthjustice have warned it would present a “false solution” if it is derived from fossil fuels.

“Our proposals allow us to both address our perilously changing climate and create new, good jobs, all while strengthening the economy and reinvigorating local communities,” Neal said in a statement. “Taken together, these proposals expand opportunity for the American people and support our efforts to build a healthier, more prosperous future for the country.”

The House is set to continue its markup of the measure Tuesday.

Updated: 9:01 a.m.

Energy Department Releases Two Requests for Information on Solar

Author: US DOE Staff     Published: 9/13/2021      SETO

 

Energy dot gov Office of Energy Efficiency and renewable energy

DEPARTMENT OF ENERGY RELEASES TWO REQUESTS FOR INFORMATION ON SOLAR

The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) today released two requests for information (RFI) seeking input on pathways to use solar energy to decarbonize industrial processes and impacts of large-scale solar plants on wildlife and ecosystems. Both topics were identified in DOE’s Solar Futures Study, which examines solar energy’s role in a decarbonized grid and lays out a blueprint where solar would contribute 40-45% of our country’s electrical supply by 2050 and contribute to the electrification of buildings, transportation, and industry.

Decarbonizing Industrial Processes with Solar Thermal RFI

Concentrating solar-thermal (CST) technologies have great potential to decarbonize the industrial sector because they can directly produce steam and other high-temperature fluids for integration with thermally driven industrial process, including steel, cement, and bulk chemicals. These three industries represent 15% of the total fossil consumption by the industrial sector and 5% of total fossil fuel consumed, which is nearly 10% of all carbon dioxide emitted in the United States.

The RFI seeks information from industry and researchers on opportunities to develop solar thermal industrial process technologies for high temperatures above 400°C that are capable of being rapidly advanced to industrial-scale demonstrations. Additionally, the RFI is interested in the production of fuels, including hydrogen, that can be generated using CST energy for simplified transportation and storage of renewable heat.

The responses will help DOE better understand the capabilities of CST technologies for use in industrial processes. DOE Solar Energy Technologies Office (SETO) has previously funded CST projects that use lower-temperature heat in food processing, waste management, and water desalination.

RFI submissions are due on October 13, 2021 at 5 p.m. ETVisit SETO’s website to download the full RFI and learn more about how to submit responses.

Solar Impacts on Wildlife and Ecosystems RFI

The Solar Futures Study estimates that, to meet the Biden administration’s decarbonization goals, the country would need 1 terawatt (TW) of solar capacity by 2035. This would require about 5.7 million acres of land for utility-scale solar installations. Although the land requirements are less than 0.3% of the land in the contiguous United States, minimizing the impacts on wildlife and wildlife habitat—as well as maximizing the benefits—will be critical to meeting these climate goals in partnership with local communities.

Understanding these impacts will also be key to ensuring that the transition to a decarbonized electrical grid is managed in a way that is conducive to energy justice and in collaboration with local communities.

The RFI seeks information on the current practices related to siting large-scale solar energy plants and how stakeholders evaluate the impacts and potential benefits these plants may have on the surrounding environment, especially on wildlife.

Industry, government agencies, non-profits, academia, research laboratories, and other stakeholders are encouraged to respond. The Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy is specifically interested in information on current practices and trends as well as identifying what data or resources would enable greater confidence in solar energy impact assessments.

RFI submissions are due on September 30, 2021 at 5 p.m. ETCheck out SETO’s website to download the full RFI and learn more about how to submit responses.

President Biden Announces Intent to Appoint Dr. Tony Allen as Chair of the President’s Board of Advisors on Historically Black Colleges and Universities

Author: US Dep. of Edu.       Published: 9/8/2021        US Dep. of Edu.

STATEMENTS AND RELEASES

WASHINGTON — Today, President Biden announced his intent to appoint Dr. Tony Allen as the Chair of the President’s Board of Advisors on Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs).

The Board will advance the goal of the HBCU Initiative, established by the Carter Administration, to increase the capacity of HBCUs to provide the highest-quality education to its students and continue serving as engines of opportunity.

The Biden-Harris Administration is committed to supporting the vital mission of HBCUs.  Through the American Rescue Plan and by forgiving capital improvement debt of many these institutions, the Biden-Harris Administration has already committed more than $4 billion in support.  Reestablishing the White House HBCU Initiative – and placing strong leadership at the head of the Board – will allow the administration to build on that financial commitment with continued institutional support.

Dr. Tony Allen, Chair, President’s Board of Advisors on Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs)

Tony Allen became President of Delaware State University in January 2020, after serving as Provost and Executive Vice President since July 2017.   Prior to joining the university, he brought a diverse background in the private and nonprofit sectors.   He was the Managing Director of Corporate Reputation at Bank of America; co-founded the Metropolitan Wilmington Urban League and Public Allies Delaware; and led Delaware’s K12 public education reform effort from 2014 – 2019.

Allen’s tenure has largely been through the pandemic, but he and his team have built a strong portfolio of accomplishments focused on student success.  The university has seen its elevation to the #3 public HBCU in America (US News), an R2 “high research activity” designation, and the historic acquisition of nearby Wesley College. The university’s “Together” COVID-19 plan has been touted as a national example of campus safety strategy, and a year into the pandemic enrollment has shattered all previous records.

Allen has drawn national attention to Delaware State University through successful fundraising ($40 million in 2020) and national appearances on major media platforms including ABC World News Tonight, CNN, the Black News Channel, and many others.  He also served as the chief executive officer of the 59th Presidential Inaugural Ceremonies.

He is Chairman Emeritus of the National Urban Fellows and a Whitney Young Awardee for Advancing Racial Equality, the National Urban League’s highest honor.  Currently, he serves on the boards of Graham Holdings and Pepco Holdings and on the Economic and Community Advisory Council for the Philadelphia Federal Reserve.

Allen holds a Ph.D. in Public Policy from the University of Delaware.

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Energy Department Releases Solar Futures Study Providing the Blueprint for a Zero-Carbon Grid DOE Solar Energy Technologies Office

Author: SETO Staff      Published: 9/8/2021            SETO

Energy dot gov Office of Energy Efficiency and renewable energy

New Report Shows Solar Energy Rapidly Expands, Generating More Electricity in 2035 than All Homes Consume Today and Creating Economic Opportunities Across America

Washington, D.C. — The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) today released the Solar Futures Study detailing the significant role solar will play in decarbonizing the nation’s power grid. The study shows that by 2035, solar energy has the potential to power 40% of the nation’s electricity, drive deep decarbonization of the grid, and employ as many as 1.5 million people—without raising electricity prices. The study’s findings call for massive and equitable deployment of clean energy sources, underscoring the Biden Administration’s efforts to tackle the climate crisis and rapidly increase access to renewable power throughout the country.

“The study illuminates the fact that solar, our cheapest and fastest-growing source of clean energy, could produce enough electricity to power all of the homes in the U.S. by 2035 and employ as many as 1.5 million people in the process,” said Secretary of Energy Jennifer M. Granholm. “Achieving this bright future requires a massive and equitable deployment of renewable energy and strong decarbonization polices—exactly what is laid out in the bipartisan Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act and President Biden’s Build Back Better agenda.”

Solar Futures Study image

In 2020, the U.S. installed a record amount of solar—15 gigawatts (GWac)—to total 76 GW, representing 3% of the current electricity supply. The Solar Futures Study, prepared by DOE’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory, shows that, by 2035, the United States would need to quadruple its yearly solar capacity additions and provide 1,000 GW of power to a renewable-dominant grid. By 2050, solar energy could provide 1,600 GW on a zero-carbon grid—producing more electricity than consumed in all residential and commercial buildings in the country today. Decarbonizing the entire energy system could result in as much as 3,000 GW of solar by 2050 due to increased electrification in the transportation, buildings, and industrial sectors.

The study lays out the blueprint for achieving this milestone, which requires strong decarbonization polices coupled with a massive deployment of renewable energy sources, large-scale electrification, and grid modernization. The study’s key findings include:

  • A clean grid requires massive, equitable deployment of diverse, sustainable energy sources – The U.S. must install an average of 30 GW of solar capacity per year between now and 2025 and 60 GW per year from 2025-2030. The study’s modeling further shows the remainder of a carbon-free grid largely supplied by wind (36%), nuclear (11%-13%), hydroelectric (5%-6%) and biopower/geothermal (1%).
  • A decarbonized power sector will create millions of cross-sector jobs – The study modeling shows that solar will employ 500,000 to 1.5 million people across the country by 2035. And overall, the clean energy transition will generate around 3 million jobs across technologies.
  • New tools that increase grid flexibility, like storage and advanced inverters, as well as transmission expansion, will help to move solar energy to all pockets of America – Wind and solar combined will provide 75% of electricity by 2035 and 90% by 2050,  transforming the electricity system. The deployment of storage enables more flexibility and resilience, growing from 30 GW to nearly 400 GW in 2035 and 1,700 GW in 2050. Advanced tools like grid-forming inverters, forecasting, and microgrids will play a role in maintaining the reliability and performance a renewable-dominant grid.
  • A renewable-based grid will create significant health and cost savings – Reduced carbon emissions and improved air quality result in savings of $1.1 trillion to $1.7 trillion, far outweighing the additional costs incurred from transitioning to clean energy. The projected price of electricity for consumers does not rise by 2035, because the costs are fully offset by savings from technological improvements.
  • Supportive decarbonization policies and advanced technologies are needed to further reduce the cost of solar energy – Without some combination of limits on carbon emissions and mechanisms to incentivize clean energy, the U.S. cannot fully decarbonize the grid—models show that grid emissions fall only 60% without policy. Continued technological advances that lower the cost of solar energy are also necessary to enable widespread solar deployment.

DIG IN: Interactive data viewer and full report.

Learn more about DOE solar energy research.

Executive Order on White House Initiative on Advancing Educational Equity, Excellence, and Economic Opportunity through Historically Black Colleges and Universities

Author: U S Department of Edu. Staff       Published: 9/3/2021      U S  Department of Edu.

RESIDENTIAL ACTIONS

By the authority vested in me as President by the Constitution and the laws of the United States of America, and in order to advance equity in economic and educational opportunities for all Americans, including Black Americans, strengthen the capacity of Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) to provide the highest-quality education, increase opportunities for these institutions to participate in and benefit from Federal programs, and ensure that HBCUs can continue to be engines of opportunity, it is hereby ordered as follows:

Section 1.  Policy.  HBCUs have a proud history and legacy of achievement.  In the face of discrimination against Black Americans by many institutions of higher education, HBCUs created pathways to opportunity and educational excellence for Black students throughout our Nation.  That legacy continues.  Today, more than 100 HBCUs, located in 19 States, the District of Columbia, and the U.S. Virgin Islands, serve nearly 300,000 students annually.  HBCUs vary in size and academic focus and serve a range of diverse students and communities in urban, rural, and suburban settings.

HBCUs play a vital role in providing educational opportunities, scholarly growth, and a sense of community for students.  HBCU graduates are barrier-breaking public servants, scientists, artists, lawyers, engineers, educators, business owners, and leaders.  For generations, HBCUs have been advancing intergenerational economic mobility for Black families and communities, developing vital academic research, and making our country more prosperous and equitable.  HBCUs are proven means of advancement for people of all ethnic, racial, and economic backgrounds, especially Black Americans.  HBCUs produce nearly 20 percent of all Black college graduates and 25 percent of Black graduates who earn degrees in the disciplines of science, technology, engineering, and math.

HBCUs’ successes have come despite many systemic barriers to accessing resources and opportunities.  For example, compared to other higher education institutions, on average HBCUs educate a greater percentage of lower-income, Pell-grant eligible students, while receiving less revenue from tuition and possessing much smaller endowments.  Disparities in resources and opportunities for HBCUs and their students remain, and the COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted continuing and new challenges.  These challenges include addressing the need for enhanced physical and digital infrastructure in HBCU communities and ensuring equitable funding for HBCUs as compared to other institutions of higher education.  The Federal Government must promote a variety of modern solutions for HBCUs, recognizing that HBCUs are not a monolith, and that the opportunities and challenges relevant to HBCUs are as diverse as the institutions themselves and the communities they serve.

It is the policy of my Administration to advance educational equity, excellence, and economic opportunity in partnership with HBCUs, and to ensure that these vital institutions of higher learning have the resources and support to continue to thrive for generations to come.

Sec. 2.  White House Initiative on Advancing Educational Equity, Excellence, and Economic Opportunity through Historically Black Colleges and Universities. (a)  In furtherance of the policy set out in section 1 of this order, there is established in the Department of Education (Department), the White House Initiative on Advancing Educational Equity, Excellence, and Economic Opportunity through Historically Black Colleges and Universities (Initiative), led by an Executive Director designated by the President and appointed consistent with applicable law.  The Executive Director shall manage the day‑to‑day operations of the Initiative, in consultation with the Assistant to the President and Director of the White House Office of Public Engagement as appropriate, and coordinate with senior officials across the Executive Office of the President, who shall lend their expertise and advice to the Initiative.

(b)  The Initiative, in coordination with senior officials across the Executive Office of the President, shall provide advice to the President on advancing equity, excellence, and opportunity at HBCUs and for the communities they principally serve by coordinating a Government-wide policymaking effort to eliminate barriers HBCUs face in providing the highest-quality education to a growing number of students.  The Initiative’s recommendations shall include advice on advancing policies, programs, and initiatives that further the policy set out in section 1 of this order.

(i)   To support implementation of this Government-wide approach to breaking down systemic barriers for HBCU participation in Federal Government programs, the Director of the Office of Management and Budget and the Assistant to the President for Domestic Policy shall coordinate closely with the Secretary of Education (Secretary), the Assistant to the President and Director of the White House Office of Public Engagement, the Executive Director, and the Chair of the President’s Board of Advisors on HBCUs (as established in section 3 of this order) to ensure that the needs and voices of HBCUs, their faculty, staff, students, alumni, and the communities they principally serve are considered in the efforts of my Administration to advance educational equity, excellence, and opportunity.

(ii)  The Initiative shall also perform the following specific functions:

(A)  supporting implementation of the HBCU Propelling Agency Relationships Towards a New Era of Results for Students Act (Public Law 116-270) (PARTNERS Act);

(B)  working closely with the Executive Office of the President on key Administration priorities related to advancing educational equity, excellence, and economic opportunity through HBCUs, in partnership with HBCU leaders, representatives, students, and alumni;

(C)  working to break down barriers and expand pathways for HBCUs to access Federal funding and programs, particularly in areas of research and development, innovation, and financial and other support to students;

(D)  strengthening the capacity of HBCUs to participate in Federal programs, access Federal resources, including grants and procurement opportunities, and partner with Federal agencies;

(E)  advancing and coordinating efforts to ensure that HBCUs can respond to and recover from the COVID-19 pandemic and thoroughly support students’ holistic recovery, from academic engagement to social and emotional wellbeing;

(F)  developing new and expanding pre-existing national networks of individuals, organizations, and communities to share and implement administrative and programmatic best practices related to advancing educational equity, excellence, and opportunity at HBCUs;

(G)  fostering sustainable public-private and philanthropic partnerships as well as private-sector initiatives to promote centers of academic research and program excellence at HBCUs;

(H)  strengthening capacity to improve the availability, dissemination, and quality of information about HBCUs and HBCU students for the American public;

(I)  partnering with private entities, elementary and secondary education providers, and other stakeholders to build a pipeline for students that may be interested in attending HBCUs, facilitate HBCU modernization, address college affordability, and promote degree attainment;

(J)  addressing efforts to promote student success and retention, including college affordability, degree attainment, campus modernization and infrastructure improvements, and the development of a student recognition program for high-achieving HBCU students;

(K)  encouraging the development of highly qualified, diverse, culturally responsive educators and administrators reflective of a variety of communities and backgrounds in order to ensure that students have access to educators and administrators who celebrate, cultivate, and comprehend the lived experiences of HBCU students and effectively meet their learning, social, and emotional needs;

(L)  establishing clear plans to strengthen Federal recruitment activities at HBCUs to build accessible and equitable pathways into Federal service and talent programs;

(M)  meeting regularly with HBCU students, leaders, and representatives to address matters related to the Initiative’s mission and functions; and

(N)  hosting the National HBCU Week Conference, for HBCU executive leaders, faculty, students, alumni, supporters, and other stakeholders to share information, innovative educational tools and resources, student success models, and ideas for Federal engagement.

(c)  The head of each “applicable agency,” as defined in section 3(1) of the PARTNERS Act, shall submit to the Secretary, the Executive Director, the Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions of the Senate, the Committee on Education and Labor of the House of Representatives, and the President’s Board of Advisors on HBCUs (as established in section 3 of this order) an Agency Plan, not later than February 1 of each year, describing efforts to strengthen the capacity of HBCUs to participate or be eligible to participate in the programs and initiatives under the jurisdiction of such applicable agency.  The Agency Plans shall meet the requirements established in section 4(d) of the PARTNERS Act.

(i)   In addition, the Agency Plan shall specifically address any changes to agency policies and practices that the agency deems necessary or appropriate to ensure that barriers to participation are addressed and removed.  Each Agency Plan shall include details on grant and contract funding provided to HBCUs and, where the agency deems necessary or appropriate, describe plans to address disparities in furtherance of the objectives of this order.

(ii)  The Executive Director shall monitor and evaluate each agency’s progress towards the goals established in its Agency Plan and shall coordinate with each agency to ensure that its Agency Plan includes measurable and action-oriented goals.

(d)  There is established an Interagency Working Group, which shall be chaired by the Executive Director and composed of liaisons and representatives designated by the heads of each applicable agency as defined in the PARTNERS Act to help advance and coordinate the work required by this order.  Additional members of the Interagency Working Group shall include senior officials from the Office of the Vice President, the White House Domestic Policy Council, the White House Gender Policy Council, the Office of Management and Budget, the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy, the White House Office of Public Engagement, and representatives of other components of the Executive Office of the President, as the Executive Director, in consultation with the Secretary and the Assistant to the President and Director of the White House Office of Public Engagement, considers appropriate.  The Interagency Working Group shall collaborate regarding resources and opportunities available across the Federal Government to increase educational equity and opportunities for HBCUs.  The Executive Director may establish subgroups of the Interagency Working Group.

(e)  The Department shall provide funding and administrative support for the Initiative and the Interagency Working Group, to the extent permitted by law and within existing appropriations.  To the extent permitted by law, including the Economy Act (31 U.S.C. 1535), and subject to the availability of appropriations, other agencies and offices represented on the Interagency Working Group may detail personnel to the Initiative, to assist the Department in meeting the objectives of this order.

(f)  To advance shared priorities and policies that advance equity and economic opportunity for underserved communities, the Initiative shall collaborate and coordinate with other White House Initiatives related to equity and economic opportunity.

(g)  On an annual basis, the Executive Director shall report to the President through the Secretary, with the support and consultation of the Assistant to the President and Director of the White House Office of Public Engagement as appropriate, on the Initiative’s progress in carrying out its mission and function under this order.

Sec. 3.  President’s Board of Advisors on Historically Black Colleges and Universities.  (a)  There is established in the Department the President’s Board of Advisors on Historically Black Colleges and Universities (Board).  The Board shall fulfill the mission and functions established in section 5(c) of the PARTNERS Act.  The Board shall include sitting HBCU presidents as well as leaders from a variety of sectors, including education, philanthropy, business, finance, entrepreneurship, innovation, science and technology, and private foundations.

(b)  The President shall designate one member of the Board to serve as its Chair, and may designate another member of the Board to serve as Vice Chair.  The Department shall provide funding and administrative support for the Board to the extent permitted by law and within existing appropriations.

(c)  The Board shall be composed of not more than 21 members appointed by the President.  The Secretary of Education and Executive Director of the Initiative or their designees shall serve as ex officio members.

(d)  Insofar as the Federal Advisory Committee Act, as amended (5 U.S.C. App.), may apply to the Board, any functions of the President under that Act, except that of reporting to the Congress, shall be performed by the Chair, in accordance with guidelines issued by the Administrator of General Services.

(e)  Members of the Board shall serve without compensation, but may receive travel expenses, including per diem in lieu of subsistence, as authorized by law for persons serving intermittently in the Government service (5 U.S.C. 5701-5707).

Sec. 4.  Administrative Provisions.  (a)  This order supersedes Executive Order 13779 of February 28, 2017 (White House Initiative To Promote Excellence and Innovation at Historically Black Colleges and Universities), which is hereby revoked.  To the extent that there are other Executive Orders that may conflict with or overlap with the provisions in this order, the provisions in this order supersede those prior Executive Orders on these subjects.

(b)  As used in this order, the terms “Historically Black Colleges and Universities” and “HBCUs” shall mean those institutions listed in 34 C.F.R. 608.2.

(c)  The heads of executive departments and agencies shall assist and provide information to the Initiative and Board established in this order, consistent with applicable law, as may be necessary to carry out the functions of the Initiative and the Board.

(d)  Each executive department and agency shall bear its own expenses of participating in the Initiative established in this order.

Sec. 5.  General Provisions.  (a)  Nothing in this order shall be construed to impair or otherwise affect:

(i)   the authority granted by law to an executive department or agency, or the head thereof; or

(ii)  the functions of the Director of the Office of Management and Budget relating to budgetary, administrative, or legislative proposals.

(b)  This order shall be implemented consistent with applicable law and subject to the availability of appropriations.

(c)  This order is not intended to, and does not, create any right or benefit, substantive or procedural, enforceable at law or in equity by any party against the United States, its departments, agencies, or entities, its officers, employees, or agents, or any other person.

                               JOSEPH R. BIDEN JR.

THE WHITE HOUSE,

    September 3, 2021.

DCSUE Contract Info Session

Author: DCSEU Staff          Published: 9/8/2021           DCSEU

Why Minnesota’s Community Solar Program is the Best

Author:  John Farrell and Maria McCoy     Published: 9/2/2021       ILSR

Updated monthly

Updates

Minnesota’s community solar program grew to 811 megawatts of operational capacity in August 2021. The chart above shows the progress of projects through the program since August 2015, and the nearly two-year lag between the program launch in December 2014 and the successful ignition of multiple megawatts of capacity in January 2017. Note: the megawatt sum of projects in the application stage reported by Xcel Energy is a minimum, hence the plus symbol.

The benefits of the program are substantial. Data from Xcel Energy shows that bill credits for all customers totaled more than $2.2 million in February 2018, for 17.3 million kilowatt-hours. Based on the 2018 approved value of solar, the energy was worth at least $2.2 million. According to ILSR’s analysis, all customers (subscribers or not) are seeing financial benefits from community solar. The $2.2 million figure does not include factoring in the distribution capacity value of solar nor the potential volatility of gas prices that are avoided, nor does it include the benefits of shifting wealth from power generation ownership away from a private monopoly and to a broad set of subscribers across the state.


Compare Minnesota’s community solar growth to the other top state programs in our National Community Solar Programs Tracker and click here to find more state community solar program pages.


Though Minnesota’s community solar program is the best in its impressive installed capacity, the policy itself lacks consideration for specific groups that have traditionally been left out of the solar energy transition. These include low-income residential subscribers and historically burdened or frontline communities. Minnesota could address these disparities in many different ways. One option, a part of the Illinois community solar policy, is to carve out a portion of program capacity for environmental justice communities.


Read our report on Designing Community Solar Programs that Promote Racial and Economic Equity.


Minnesota’s program could also serve residential subscribers more effectively. Half of U.S. households do not have access to a sunny rooftop. Community solar theoretically provides these households access to the benefits of solar, and yet, it is still out of reach to so many. The Minnesota community solar program could better serve residential subscribers by carving out a portion of the overall program for them, providing resources for project development and technical assistance, or by compensating gardens that serve residential subscribers to offset the higher costs of reaching numerous subscribers.

The Minnesota Public Utilities Commission first introduced the Residential Adder in 2018. The adder boosted compensation rates for residential subscribers by 1.5 cents per kilowatt-hour for projects started in 2019 or 2020. Given the devastating interconnection delays during this same time period, it’s hard to say whether or not the residential adder made much of a difference. The Commission charged Xcel a million dollar fine for the delays and is now considering whether or not to extend the residential adder beyond its two year trial period.


Read ILSR’s 2021 commentary on the Residential Adder, submitted to the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission.


In April 2019, Xcel Energy proposed changes to how it is required to report community solar program information through a new online dashboard that the utility would make available on its website. ILSR signed on to comments to the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission in support of this proposed reporting change, which could help increase transparency and accessibility of community solar data. In addition, such a tool would provide a useful model as a growing number of states pass policies to expand shared renewable programs across the country.

Below is a simplified version of the chart above, showing just projects in the design/construction phase or in operation.

As Xcel Energy publishes data on the mix of subscribers, we can report that more than 20,332 residential customers (84% of all subscriptions) are saving money with a shared solar subscription.

While most of the program’s total capacity continues to serve commercial customers (82%), much of that total capacity notably serves public entities (up from one-third or about 100 megawatts of the total program capacity in March 2018). These public entities include schools, colleges, hospitals, and county and local governments, as outlined in Xcel Energy’s 2018 Annual Operations Report (April 2019).

In other words, community solar helps broaden those who benefit from solar by enabling individuals and public institutions to save money with solar! We’ll continue providing these subscriber spreads annually if Xcel keeps reporting them.

Original post

I’ve been asked a lot of questions about Minnesota’s community solar program over the past couple years and it’s time to make one thing clear: Minnesota’s program is the best in the country.

Why? Because there 10 times more community solar projects in the queue—400 megawatts—in Minnesota than have been built in the history of community solar in the United States (40 megawatts).

Minnesota’s program (see infographic) is a comprehensive approach that makes developing community solar projects economically viable and—most importantly—that does not cap the development of community solar projects. The latter is the key.

Colorado’s landmark community solar legislation, for example, caps the program at 6.5 megawatts per utility per year (although there’s hope it may increase in the future). Massachusetts has just revamped their solar renewable energy credit program to make community solar a better investment. No other state has had significant community solar development, despite 11 states that have some form of virtual net metering that allows for sharing electricity output from an off-site solar energy project.

How big is Minnesota’s projected success?

Xcel Energy’s queue for community solar already has 20 times more solar in it than the state had installed at the end of 2014. If it all gets built, it would be enough to rank second in the country in annual solar installations in 2014.

I recently wrote that a state’s solar market can’t really launch without third party ownership—leasing or power purchase agreements that allow home and business owners to install solar with zero upfront cost, hand off maintenance concerns, and save money from day one. Indiana was the only potential exception, due to a (now defunct) feed-in tariff program operated by Indianapolis Power and Light. Minnesota may be the second.

I’m no stranger to community solar programs. I worked closely with advocates in Minnesota on the legislation, as part of a suite of pro-solar policies that passed in 2013. I’ve written extensively on community solar policies, from a 2010 report on the obstacles and opportunities to podcasts with leaders in the community solar movement. I’ve testified on community solar proposals in California and Maryland, and lent my advice in other states.

If the projects develop as expected in Minnesota, there will be no contest. To say it like a local, “Minnesota’s community solar program is not too bad.”

FEMA National COVID-19 Funeral Assistance

Funeral Assistance

The COVID-19 pandemic has brought overwhelming grief to many District families. Under the Coronavirus Response and Relief Supplemental Appropriations Act of 2021 and the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021, FEMA is providing financial assistance for COVID-19 related funeral expenses incurred after January 20, 2020.

The Bowser Administration and FEMA partnered on a webinar to explain the COVID-19 Funeral Assistance program. Watch now to learn how your family can seek financial assistance for COVID-19 related funeral expenses.

LA approves 100% clean energy by 2035 target, a decade ahead of prior goal

Author: Jason Plautz         Published:  9/2/2021        Utility Dive 

 

Dive Brief:

  • The Los Angeles City Council voted Wednesday to transition to 100% clean energy by 2035, in line with President Biden’s national goals and a decade earlier than the city originally planned.
  • The LA100 plan would see the city replace its natural gas electricity generation with wind, solar and battery storage, while also improving energy efficiency and transmission. It was approved by the city council in a 12-0 vote.
  • The council also approved an equitable hiring plan, which instructs the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power (LADWP) to increase hiring from environmentally and economically disadvantaged neighborhoods and focus on “ensuring project labor agreements, prevailing wage and targeted hiring requirements” for clean energy jobs. The city anticipates creating some 9,500 new jobs as part of the transition.

Dive Insight:

The goal now puts LADWP, the nation’s largest public utility, on track for an aggressive transition that backers said would present a model for the nation. Coming as California fights the Dixie and Caldor fires and just weeks after the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change issued what authors called a “code red for humanity,” councilmember Mitch O’Farrell said the aggressive 2035 goal was a necessity.

“LA100 is not a utopian gesture. It is a work plan for a world in trouble,” said O’Farrell, who introduced the 2035 measure along with councilman Paul Krekorian.

In March, the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) released a report commissioned by the city showing that Los Angeles could achieve 98% clean energy within a decade and 100% clean energy by 2035 without blackouts or disruptions to the economy. In fact, the report used an economy-wide model to show that any economic disruption would be “small in relationship to the 3.9 million jobs and $200 billion in annual output in the LA economy as a whole,” with the potential to create thousands of new jobs in the clean energy industry.

However, meeting that goal will require a massive expansion of wind and solar resources, coupled with energy efficiency measures to cut demand. The NREL study laid out several pathways for Los Angeles to meet its 100% clean energy goal, but all involved shutting down its local gas power plants, including the Valley Generating Station. On average, Los Angeles would need to deploy between 470-730 MW of wind, solar and batteries per year between 2021 and 2045, the timeline of the study. The study modeled everything through 2045 and expects that the city would continue to add renewables even beyond 2035. The study especially emphasized the role that rooftop solar on single-family and multi-unit dwellings could play in reducing electricity rates and generating renewable energy.

In a presentation to the city council Wednesday, LADWP general manager and chief engineer Martin Adams said the utility plans to provide twice the amount of electricity that it currently does by 2035 to account for electrification of buildings and transportation. The NREL report also said LADWP will need some reliable new generation in and around the city itself. Adams said that green hydrogen presents an opportunity to meet those needs, with hydrogen-powered turbine plants acting as long-term storage and dispatching power when needed. LADWP is planning to pilot a hydrogen system at the Intermountain Power Plant in Utah, which currently provides a fifth of the city’s power.

In a statement, Southern California Gas Company, the nation’s largest natural gas distribution utility, said “clean fuels like hydrogen and renewable natural gas will be essential in a net zero future to support a reliable electric grid and to eliminate emissions from hard to electrify sectors of the economy like transportation and industry” and pointed to work in the European Union to advance clean hydrogen. The Sempra subsidiary pledged this spring to achieve net zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2045.

Adams added that although the transition in Los Angeles could cost tens of billions of dollars (the NREL report estimated costs between $57 billion and $87 billion), much of the work could be “overlaid” with existing infrastructure repairs. Democrats in the U.S. Congress are working to pass a $1 trillion infrastructure bill with $73 billion for grid improvements as well as a $3.5 trillion budget reconciliation bill that could help fund the expensive transmission work necessary for the move.

Jasmin Vargas, a senior organizer with Food & Water Watch who participated in advisory panels for the NREL report, said the passage of the goal is “exciting,” but emphasized that LADWP needed to reach out to communities “that are on the front lines and the fence lines of polluting projects.” LADWP last month launched a two-year equity strategy process and has a separate long-term resource plan process that includes stakeholder outreach.

Vargas said that engaging “a broad and wide swath of diverse community leaders and voices” can ensure that the benefits of the clean energy transition are felt across the city, especially in communities that have been most affected by fossil fuel pollution. “The inequality is what we’re trying to fix, that’s more than just how many clean energy megawatts you put on the grid,” she said.

Tesla Energy, Brookfield, and Dacra Create the First Tesla Solar Neighborhood in Austin

Author: Lalorek           Published: 7/11/2021    Siliconshills

The installation of solar panels on a residential roof at the first Tesla Solar neighborhood, located in EastAustin,

Not only is Tesla building a $1.1 billion Gigafactory in Austin to make trucks and other vehicles, but Tesla Energy is also creating a solar-powered local neighborhood.

Last week, Tesla Energy announced the first Tesla Solar neighborhood called SunHouse at Easton Park, 12 miles east of downtown Austin. Tesla is working with Brookfield Asset Management and Dacra.

“Neighborhood solar installations across all housing types will reshape how people live,” Elon Musk, CEO of Tesla, said in a news statement. “The feedback we get from the solar and battery products used in the community will impact how we develop and launch new products.”

Installation of Tesla V3 solar roof tiles and Powerwall 2 battery storage began in June at select homes in the SunHouse community on land in Brookfield Residential’s Easton Park master-planned residential community.

The houses, being built by various homebuilders, start in the low $300,000s and go up from there.

“This initiative brings together multiple parts of our organization with innovative and forward-thinking partners that share a commitment to advance the development of sustainable communities,” Brian Kingston, CEO of Brookfield’s Real Estate business. “As consumers increasingly seek out energy security alongside sustainable places to live, combining Tesla’s solar technology together with Brookfield’s real estate and renewables development capabilities will help us meet demand for environmentally responsible communities of the future.”

“Our goal is to establish that fully sustainable neighborhoods are not only viable, but the best practical and economical choice,” Craig Robins, CEO of Dacra, said in a news release. “Together with Brookfield and Tesla, we are trying to change the world by creating technology-driven, energy-independent communities that make the world a better place.”

The master-planned community ofhomes seeks to become an energy-neutral, sustainable community and a model for the design and construction of sustainable large-scale housing projects around the world. The community also expects to produce enough energy to supply daily needs and reduce the daily demand on the electric grid. They will also have backup power and they will have the ability to sell excess energy back to the energy grid.

Tesla Solar will provide ongoing oversight of the homes’ energy systems, and Brookfield’srenewable power business will integrate a community-wide solar program to serve broader public use needs and surrounding neighborhoods. Brookfield Residential will also incorporate a suite of technology features, including electric vehicle charging stations in each home and throughout the community.

The City of Austin and Travis County have both announced commitments to sustainable development.

“The City of Austin is excited for the arrival of these affordable options to housing powered by renewable energy,”Mayor Steve Adler said in a news release. “I am excited for the Tesla, Brookfield, and Dacra partnership’s approach to sustainable energy and housing as an example of the out-of-box thinking that continues to make our community a beacon of innovation for the rest of the country and world.”