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Wednesday, September 20, 2017

The Art of Sustainability/RNN Radio

Don't forget we are live today at 1p, ET.  In the meantime check out these two great segments on our main site:

Allison Newsome, today’s guest, is an amazing artist.  From her early days, inspired by the CA redwoods, Allison has captured and reused nature to create beautiful and functional pieces of work.
Recently that manifested in her designs for ceramic rain capture that now grace parks in New England.  She is designing extraordinary rain capture cisterns into classic buildings.  Her designs marry the old with the new.  She showcases old pieces with modern uses.  The story of reinventing history is a remarkable part of this interview.
Allison Newsome is an educator, renowned artist, friend to the environment, world traveler sharing her work and blends unique talents around architecture and art into pragmatic solutions to some of our eco challenges.  Allison imagines, and then shows us through her pieces, a lot about our interaction with the world around us.  Her work inspires our spirits and souls.  As always one person’s creativity takes us to unimagined places

RI’s Infrastructure Bank, Financing Sustainability and Beyond

At RNN we talk a lot about good policy. Sometimes that is government initiated; sometimes it is on a public/private front. Either way, as we’ve seen many times, good policy will become a platform for collaboration, investment, and growth.
Today’s guest, Jeffrey Diehl, Executive Director and CEO of Rhode Island Infrastructure Bank, and his organization thrive under the umbrella of regulatory innovation. Starting off in RI as the Clean Water Finance Agency, the RIIB has grown from a micro concentration on water improvements to helping fund tremendous overall success in the State. Jeff and his team now finance efficiency gains, renewables, restoring brown fields into economic centers and they offer valuable financing to cities and towns to rebuild their core.
Money breathes life into projects. Those projects reinvigorate commercial markets and entire communities. From the core of recycling gray water, into better bridges, roads, waste-to-energy facilities to great programs around helping companies cut costs and reinvest capital, these are the building blocks of smart commerce. All of this progress, of course, takes hard work, collaboration…such as you will hear from Jeff, a relationship with EPA–great design and quick, not painstaking, execution. Jeff’s background as a global investment banker fits perfectly with an agency entrusted with public debt and equity funds. His skill of evaluating good projects and getting them the seeds to make it work is a skill we all need. Even on a personal level.
This story and interview excites us. Here are the fundamentals, the foundation, of radically scripting a new world of the living and working. A financial world that benefits all, including the planet. RIIB has delivered to the State of RI and its people huge returns on better facilities, resources, jobs and a bright future for maintaining momentum. How will you, your company, your community diversify and expand? Here’s one very proven formula.

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Electric cars dominate the buzz at Frankfurt auto show

This is very timely in relationship to the update we just gave you on energy storage advances.  Think about how EV technology has already changed the auto industry, and how other verticals--including hybrid buildings--are learning and using the same improvements.

Getting buzz is a good thing.  Garnering attention around a new, smarter, cleaner way to drive will, in fact, lead directly to higher consumer awareness, acceptance and sales.  This is a very big step in that direction.  It is possible, as we know, that within a few years, EV's and hybrids could represent 50% of the available models on lots.  That is when you know they have arrived.

Electric cars dominate the buzz at Frankfurt auto show

September 12, 2017 by David Mchugh 
Carmakers at the Frankfurt auto show are unveiling the low-emissions vehicles and technology strategies they hope will let them profit from the sweeping changes expected to hit the auto industry in the next few years. 

Daimler AG's Mercedes-Benz on Tuesday unveiled a compact electric vehicle under its EQ sub-brand that showcases its efforts to make connected, electric, shared and autonomous vehicles. The EQA has two electric motors that can give it different driving characteristics depending on which mode the driver chooses.

The Stuttgart-based automaker also had the GLC F-Cell, a "pre-production" model of a battery-fuel cell hybrid SUV that can run on hydrogen and emits only water vapor.
BMW AG is showing off the four-door i Vision Dynamics electric concept vehicle to join its i3 and i8 electric models. The company says the i Vision Dynamics can hit 200 kph (124 mph) and accelerate to 100 kph (62 mph) in a quick 4.0 seconds.

Carmakers are spending heavily to develop and improve electric cars to meet increasingly tough government regulations limiting air pollution. That is even though current electric models do not enjoy high sales because of limited range, higher price, and a lack of fast-charging stations. Analysts think that as batteries get better and costs come down, electric sales may eventually take off.

According to research and analytics firm IHS Markit, battery-only cars were 0.57 percent of global production in 2016 and will increase to 0.86 percent in 2017.
Visitors stand next to a Smart 'Vision EQ' on the first press day of the Frankfurt International Motor Show IAA in Frankfurt, Germany, Tuesday, Sept. 12, 2017. (Uwe Anspach/dpa via AP)
Britain and France have proposed eliminating internal-combustion cars by 2040. China's industry ministry is developing a timetable to end production and sale of traditional fuel cars and will promote development of electric technology, state media reported Sunday.

Volkswagen AG showed off a revised version of its electric ID Crozz crossover SUV concept vehicle as it announced a long-term electrification campaign, saying its brands would introduce 80 new electric vehicles by 2025. The company plans to invest 20 billion euros ($24 billion) in upgrading plants, creating two new electric car platforms and training workers.

The company said that depending on market developments it could sell 3 million battery-only vehicles a year in 2025.

"Now the big question that everyone is asking is, 'When will we see (electric cars) in mass volume?'" Volkswagen CEO Matthias Mueller said Monday ahead of the show. "But it is not just a matter of what is being offered from manufacturers but also the electric charging infrastructure. That's why it is important to have a fact-based conversation about the urgent problems with electric mobility and how they can be solved. This needs to be discussed jointly, with electricity companies, with states, with local authorities."

The arrival of battery-powered cars is just one anticipated change. Automakers are also searching for ways to adapt to a future in which people find ways of getting from one place to another without necessarily owning a car, such as car-sharing or ride-hailing through smartphone apps. They are also working on developing autonomous vehicles that could drive themselves—under limited circumstances such as corporate campuses or limited access freeways at first, and possibly more widely later.

The three German luxury carmakers were the home team and showed it with large display areas. Some other carmakers are skipping the Frankfurt show this year because of costs, the ability to display cars in other ways, like livestreams, and less focus on Germany and Europe as a market. No-shows include Fiat Chrysler's namesake Fiat and its Jeep and Alfa Romeo brands, Peugeot and its DS luxury division, plus Nissan, Infiniti and Volvo. General Motors, which sold its European subsidiary to PSA Group, is also not attending.

Even Porsche, part of Volkswagen, didn't wait for the show but showed off its new Cayenne SUV on Aug. 29 with an elaborate streamed event from its base in Stuttgart, Germany.

Small SUVs are also a theme at the show as manufacturers crowd into a segment that has proven a winner with consumers. New offerings of SUV or SUV-like body stylings on compact car platforms include: Volkswagen's T-Roc, the SEAT Arona, Jaguars E-Pace, Kia Stonic, Citroen C3 Aircross and the Skoda Karoq.

And high-end cars remain a fixture as before. Daimler unveiled its Mercedes-Benz-AMG Project ONE, a low-slung, race-car like two-seat hybrid with an overhead air scoop and a long carbon-fiber tail fin. It generates 1,000 horsepower for a top speed of 350 kph (217 mph).

Drax plans world’s largest battery storage facility/PEI

Do yo think we are on our way to massive amounts of energy storage?  As we drive towards this ambitious goal, think about the industrial, commercial and residential changes this will open up?  The potential of this new technology is unlimited.  It will, by itself, reshape our economy and world.  
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UK power giant Drax has submitted planning permission for what would be the world’s largest battery storage facility, and an equally ambitious gas-fired power plantfacility, as it continues its retreat from coal-fired power.

The company wants has already converted three of its six coal-fired units in North Yorkshire to biomass, in its attempts to adapt to the UK’s phase out of coal by 2025.

It said on Wednesday that it was considering building up to 200 MW of battery storage at the site, double the size of the current largest, the under-construction 100 MW Tesla facility in Australia. 

In addition, the company wants to convert two of its remaining three coal units to gas. It would create up to 3.6 GW of gas power capacity, making it comfortably the largest gas plant in Britain, ahead of the 2.2 GW gas plant in Pembrokeshire.

Drax is now seeking a “development consent order” from the UK’s Planning Inspectorate, a process it believes could take up to two years. A decision to go ahead with the project would then rely on the company winning a 15-year subsidy contract with the government. If it did decide to proceed, it envisages both facilities could be up and running by 2023. 

A spokeswoman for the group told the Financial Times that both the gas and battery storage capacity figures in the planning application were a maximum size and the projects could turn out to be smaller. 

Drax said its plans would provide the sort of “flexible generation and grid support services Britain’s electricity system will need” as coal and ageing nuclear plants are decommissioned.

Monday, September 18, 2017

Garbage From Irma Will Fuel Florida’s Power Grid/Bloomberg

Can we turn waste-to-gold?  How can we turn lemons into lemonade?   Once we get through a natural disaster, is there a smarter way to rebuild?

Here's a prime example of how the world is changing.  Before we'd spend millions disposing of debris from storms.  Now we can turn this liability into an asset and use it to create electricity; perhaps covering our costs of clean up.  We've done many shows on this.  Now waste-to-energy plays a big role in the FL restoration.

As long as they’re throwing stuff away, many counties find, they may as well make electricity out of it.

Reference of future power prices in Brazi/Interact

Though this is a specific discussion and forecast of energy prices for Brazil, it is meaningful, and necessary, for the rest of us to have this same discussion.  One of the great advantages of efficiency and renewables is to fix costs and predict power needs and prices.  All of the latest technology--hybrid-electric buildings, micro-grids, simple energy management systems combined with battery storage, look to match up needs and less-cost supplies.

Doing this on a national level, as Brazil is here, is complicated.  Yet, so much of our future, and the future on nations, is driven by energy, waste and smart tech.  If Brazil can get a good handle on powering their nation efficiently going forward, they will be have way there to a better financial performance.

Contracting energy and solutions involving its use – such as energy efficiency projects, portfolio of energy sources and distributed generation require – necessarily – the use of price references – otherwise how to come up with feasibility calculations?
With so many variables and uncertainties on the horizon of the Brazilian power sector, such as the changes in its rules under discussion, future power prices and rates are a big question mark.
But until a new “regulatory framework” is not reached, life goes on and companies and institutions must make decisions. The range of alternatives can be quite broad. From taking a defensive attitude of “wait and see” to betting on scenarios, considering the associated risks of each of them.
Perhaps we are in one of the most delicate moments of the Brazilian electric power sector in many decades. That is exactly why it makes sense to identify what is happening, to draw scenarios for good, consistent and auditable decisions.

Friday, September 15, 2017

The Shifting Role of the Solar EPC

Maturity of an industry does not very often mean life gets any easier.  Here we see a shift in the solar playing field, and uncertainty that this part of the renewable puzzle will continue to lead us cleaner energy.

A lot goes into every project  We know there's many pieces to fit together.  Two important elements that must fit in quickly is capitol and risk--who takes most of it?

Here the playing field is favoring EPC contractors.  Is that good?  We shall see.

The Shifting Role of the Solar EPC and How the Solar Trade Case Could Change Everything

Just five years ago, solar engineering, procurement and construction companies (EPCs) were willing to be a lot more flexible when signing contracts to build solar projects than they are today.  According to Robert Lydan, CEO and Managing Director at Phoventus, it’s about who takes on the majority of project risk. It used to fall on the shoulders of the EPCs but today they are increasingly risk-averse.

“The EPC business has grown from a market where clients were able to acquire EPC service with really extensive wraps around the liabilities and energy production estimates and all of the variables of the project,” he explained in an interview.

“I've seen a very significant degradation of that.”
Lydan said that five years ago in an effort to build markeshare in what all EPCs understood to be a growing solar market, EPCs were willing to take on a much higher level or project liability.
“There was a time during which people's desire to penetrate into a new market meant that they would do extraordinary things to do so,” he said.

Today, Lydan sees the solar EPC space as similar to other construction market.
“It’s very similar to the terms and conditions that you would find in any type of construction project.”

More Change Rights, Different Offtakers
Lydan pointed to change rights as an example of area that has shifted in favor of the EPC. In the past, they were willing to take on projects with limited change rights but “today EPC contractors have full change rights,” he said.

The offtaker has also shifted. In the past, developers would only be able secure financing for projects that had signed PPAs (power purchase agreements) with utilities, municipalities or other highly credit-worthy entities. Today Lydan said he’s seeing a lot more synthetic PPAs “that are built up out of either SRECs or community solar payments or else other types of revenue such as grid services.”
Developers themselves are taking up the slack.

“Because the market is so hungry for solar projects you see an acceptance of these types of PPAs and you see the developers taking on more construction liability and having to allow for more contingency when doing construction,” he explained.

A Cataclysmic Event
Lydan was clear that the looming potential solar tariffs would be a death knoll for the solar industry should the International Trade Commission in the U.S. rule in favor of the plaintiffs Suniva and SolarWorld.

“I'm nervous,” he said, recalling a time when he worked in a raw material industry.
“I saw the entire magnesium industry get turned on its head because one factory with 45 guys in it filed a trade case, he said, adding, “there is precedent for getting a negative ruling.”

He worries that solar module prices at US $0.33 — prices that the industry is counting on — will become a thing of the past.

“Look if you have modules going for 72 cents you would have a cataclysmic event because developers have entered into projects that require modules to be at the prices they are now and so they would have to abandon those projects,” he said.

Habitat for Humanity Expands its Hurricane Response to Hurricane Irma/RNN

Too often we forget about victims and needy as soon as storm headlines fade.  Let's not let that happen in Houston and FL.  People there have real needs--tremendous needs.  Let's help rebuild their homes and lives.

Our company, Arpin Van Lines, is right now running trailers of supplies into Houston.  God bless you all for your help.  

Four organizations will serve as keystone partners of Habitat for Humanity’s response to Hurricanes Harvey and Irma, each making contributions of $1 million or more to support the Habitat Hammers Back initiative. The gifts from the Dow Chemical Company, General Motors, Thrivent Financial and a group of American wind energy companies will support on-the-ground responses to the hurricanes in Texas, Florida and other affected areas.
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“These generous partners share our commitment to helping families recover from Hurricanes Harvey and Irma,” said Habitat for Humanity International CEO Jonathan Reckford. “Dow, GM and Thrivent share a long history of supporting our work, and we are pleased to welcome the support of representatives from the wind industry. Their contributions allow us to be on the ground to respond to the storms without delay.”
As Hurricane Irma begins to hit Florida, Habitat for Humanity—already at work in storm-ravaged southeast Texas—is expanding its hurricane recovery response. Through the Habitat Hammers Back initiative, Habitat for Humanity is working with its local offices along Irma’s path to respond to the storm with pre-positioned response equipment.
“Harvey and Irma have wrought unprecedented levels of damage, particularly to peoples’ homes,” Reckford added. “We need additional support to match this enormous challenge. We ask for anyone who can to join Habitat Hammers Backby visiting today.”
As part of Thrivent’s mission to help Christians be wise with money and live generously, the organization has committed monetary and hands-on support in the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey—allowing neighbors to help neighbors and communities to help communities. Building on a more than 10-year partnership with Habitat, Thrivent is making an initial $1 million contribution and committing an additional $2 million to support Thrivent members and others to travel to Harvey and Irma affected areas and volunteer with Habitat for Humanity alongside families who need assistance. Thrivent is also offering to match up to $3 million in personal donations made through their website to Habitat for Humanity....