Friday, January 18, 2019

The Largest Clean Energy Investment in Nevada History Approved/RNN

Great news and great story.  Good investments getting made in Nevada.  

The Public Utilities Commission of Nevada (PUCN) this month approved NV Energy’s Integrated Resource Plan, which will bring 1,001 megawatts of new renewable energy projects to Nevada, including, for the first time, 100 megawatts of battery storage capacity.
Three of the projects will be located in northern Nevada and three will be located in southern Nevada. All projects are expected to be completed and serving customers by the end of 2021.
“Earlier this year we made a promise to our customers that we would double our renewable energy by 2023 and today’s decision puts us closer to reaching that goal, as well as to our long-term commitment to serve them with 100 percent renewable energy,” said Doug Cannon, NV Energy President. “These six new projects, which represent the largest renewable energy investment in Nevada’s history, will also bring great economic benefits to our state.”
These projects represent a direct investment of more than $2 billion in our state’s economy. Over 1,700 construction workers will be needed, and NV Energy required worksite labor agreements to ensure that union craftsmen will participate. Approximately 80 new long-term, permanent jobs will be created. In addition, the Integrated Resource Plan will benefit customers by reducing costs over the next 30 years when compared to relying on wholesale power markets.
These six projects will be added to NV Energy’s current portfolio of approximately 50 solar, geothermal, hydro, wind, biomass, and supported rooftop solar projects – bringing NV Energy’s total renewable energy portfolio to approximately 3,000 megawatts of renewable energy in Nevada.
Six New Power Purchase Agreements:
  • Battle Mountain Solar Project – 101 megawatt solar photovoltaic project located near Battle Mountain, Nevada.  Includes 25 megawatts of battery energy storage for a four-hour period.  It is being developed by Cypress Creek Renewables, which is a privately held solar developer with more than 3,200 megawatts of solar energy projects developed to date across 12 states, with an operational portfolio of 2,200 megawatts. The Battle Mountainproject’s 25MW of battery capacity will be the nation’s largest DC-coupled combined solar and battery storage system.
  • Dodge Flat Solar Energy Center – 200 megawatt solar photovoltaic project located east of Reno, Nevada. It is being developed by NextEra Energy Resources, LLC.  The Dodge Flat Energy Center will integrate 50 megawatts of battery energy storage for four hours.  NextEra Energy Resources, LLC is the world’s largest operator of renewable energy from the wind and sun and one of the largest wholesale generators of electric power in the U.S., with more than 19,000 megawatts of net generating capacity, primarily in 32 states and Canada as of year-end 2017.
  • Fish Springs Ranch Solar Energy Center – 100 megawatt solar photovoltaic project located north of Reno, Nevada. It is being developed by NextEra Energy Resources, LLC.  The Fish Springs Ranch Solar Energy Center will integrate 25 megawatts of battery energy storage for four hours.  NextEra Energy Resources, LLC is the world’s largest operator of renewable energy from the wind and sun and one of the largest wholesale generators of electric power in the U.S., with more than 19,000 megawatts of net generating capacity, primarily in 32 states and Canada as of year-end 2017.
  • Eagle Shadow Mountain Solar Farm – 300 megawatt solar photovoltaic project located north of Las Vegas on land owned by the Moapa Band of Paiutes. It is being developed by 8minutenergy Renewables, which is the largest privately-held solar and storage developer in the United States. To date, 8minutenergy Renewables has 10,700 megawatts of solar and storage under development in California, the Southwest, Texas, and the Southeast, and has developed over 1,100 megawatts of solar power plants now in operation. The Eagle Shadow Mountain Solar Farm is unique because it is currently the lowest-priced solar project in the nation.
  • Copper Mountain Solar 5 – 250 megawatt solar photovoltaic project in Eldorado Valley, just south of Boulder City, Nevada. It is being developed by CED Southwest Holdings, Inc., a subsidiary of Consolidated Edison, Inc., CED Southwest Holdings, Inc., owns and operates nearly 2,600 megawatts of renewable generating capacity serving 17 states.
  • Techren Solar V – 50 megawatt solar photovoltaic project in Eldorado Valley, just south of Boulder City, Nevada.  It is being developed by Techren Solar LLC and will be adjacent to Techren Solar I, II, III and IV, which currently are in the construction stage.  With the addition of Techren Solar V, the total Techren project size will be 400 megawatts.

ORGANIC Farming vs Conventional/RNN

We continue our series on recent controversy surrounding the benefits of organic farming:

If the world of sustainability were like a prizefighting league, one of its heavyweight champions would surely be Organic Farming, right? Well, recently a new challenger has stepped into the ring and has questioned the champion’s character and its claim of being truly sustainable. That challenger, to many peoples’ surprise, was “Conventional Farming.” In RNN’s last newsletter we featured an article entitled, “Organic Food Hurting the Climate?” This story was based on an international study provided by the highly respected Chalmers University of Technology, in Sweden, which truly hit organic farming with a big shot.
Well, like any great prize fight there’s always controversy and this article has provided a lot of it. Within three hours of the release of the newsletter, the story, in of itself, had over 500 click throughs, which is extremely good and shows a very high interest for such a short period of time. One of the people who clicked through and contacted RNN directly was Dr. Karen Weber, no stranger to the world of sustainability. Dr. Weber is truly world-renowned for her efforts and knowledge when it comes to going green. She is the Founder and Director of Boston Green Fest, President of Foundation for a Green Future, and has been recognized with more awards than we can list here. Dr. Weber took exception to the article and as a devoted fan to the heavyweight champion, Organic Farming, she came to its defense and wasn’t about to throw the towel in on its future. Rather, she felt a quick and strong counter was just what the doctor ordered against the challenger, “Conventional Farming.” So without further ado, let’s start round two of this battle with Dr. Weber’s response and we’ll let you, our audience, be the judge on whether there’s a winner, loser, or possibly a draw in this match-up.

On Behalf of Organic Farming

By Dr. Karen L. Weber, Executive Director, Foundation for a Green Future, January 4, 2019
The issue should not be whether organic farming is causing increased climate change as pointed out by a recent Swedish study (Stefan Wirsenius).  The issue should be the importance of increasing our research goals to determine the touchpoints and direction that agriculture needs to head in order to satisfy the world’s growing demand in the most sustainable way.  The approach of the researchers at Chalmers University of Technology to highlight the need for greater land use leading to loss of forest is misplacing the emphasis of sustainable/organic agriculture. It also pushes aside any other carbon use, such as the calculation of how much carbon is used in the production and transportation of pesticides and herbicides.
When soil is built up and polyculture is the norm, farming is transformed to a point where food production can be increased in smaller spaces, root systems develop deep into the soil, there is less need for water and carbon is sequestered into the soil.  The Land Institute of Salinas, Kansas is working to “develop an agricultural system featuring perennials with the ecological stability of the prairie and a grain and seed yield comparable to that from annual crops. Through such a system, we can produce ample human food and reduce or eliminate impacts from the disruptions and dependencies of industrial agriculture.” 
It has been found by farmers in Niger that agroforestry can double the yield of conventional farms.  Trees such as Faidherbia albida are grown in the fields with maize.  They fix nitrogen, protect the plants from wind and water erosion, and when their leaves drop they compost important organic matter into the soil (Crews, et al., 2014).  Agriculture should not have to eliminate forests, but work alongside them.
Conventional agriculture has removed trees from across the midwest of the United States, uncountable acres of Amazon rainforest, and far more across the globe. If indeed large scale organic farming is creating issues for our environment, it is not a question of stopping organic farming, or upping conventional farming.  It is a question of finding the appropriate sustainable solutions for feeding our world in a manner that is respectful to our land and water resources while providing healthy food for us. 
There are 10,000 years of agricultural history to rely on and amazing minds in our world today.  We are fully capable of finding answers to our food dilemma using natural means to fight off plant pests, increase yields, and maintain our environmental integrity without falling back on the methods we have been using over the past 60-80 years that strip our soils of their value, pollute our groundwater and impair our health.  Let us turn this discussion on its head and look at a way forward. In the meantime, let us not belittle a form of agriculture that reduces pollutants and strives to put us in a better direction.  Let us work to make organic farming and sustainable agriculture the norm for generations to come.

Wednesday, January 9, 2019

Pollution got worse in 2018 thanks to 2 overlooked sectors/Bloomberg

Surprising we have overlooked segments?  Why?  There's plenty of data out there on all verticals.  Why should these verticals not be closely tracked and see improvement?

Very disappointing way to start year.

OVERALL POLLUTION in the U.S. increased 3.4 percent year over year in 2018, the second-biggest year-over-year increase in the past 20 years. / BLOOMBERG NEWS FILE PHOTO/ROBYN BECK
OVERALL POLLUTION in the U.S. increased 3.4 percent year over year in 2018, the second-biggest year-over-year increase in the past 20 years. / BLOOMBERG NEWS FILE PHOTO/ROBYN BECK

NEW YORK – In the debate over climate change, the heaviest polluters – think: power plants, trucks and cars – get the most attention from policy makers. New research suggests a broader view might be called for.
A pair of often-overlooked sectors posted the largest rises in carbon dioxide pollution in the United States in 2018. Emissions generated by industrial manufacturing jumped 5.7 percent, according to research firm Rhodium Group. Commercial and residential buildings generated ten percent more emissions.
Those increases drove the 3.4 percent rise in overall pollution, the second-biggest year-over-year increase in the past 20 years. Transportation, which remains the U.S. economy’s largest source of carbon-dioxide, rose about 1 percent.
The increase in pollution from buildings highlights a particular problem for policy makers. It’s strongly related to the weather – a warmer winter in 2017 suppressed demand for heating fuel and makes the return to normal in 2018 look like a spike. And while regulators can raise efficiency standards and change building codes for new construction, there’s not much they can do to control energy use in existing homes and offices.
Manufacturing production increased last year, buoyed by a generally robust economy. But great news for factories can be a headache for carbon-cutters. “The industrial sector is still almost entirely ignored” by climate policy makers, the Rhodium authors write.
These “forgotten sectors,” as the Rhodium authors call them, together make up about a third of U.S. carbon dioxide, with industrial sources contributing 22 percent and buildings 11 percent in 2016, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.
Eric Roston is a reporter for Bloomberg News.

Monday, January 7, 2019

Newport council poised to join Middletown in renewable energy plan/

Another great example of communities coming together to make solid, long-term decisions around energy.

Newport council poised to join Middletown in renewable energy plan

NEWPORT — The city is proposing to join forces with Middletown to purchase renewable electricity that would result in significant savings for both communities.
The city of Newport now uses a total of about 13.93 million kilowatts of electricity per year while Middletown uses almost 5 million kilowatts of electricity each year. Both communities are planning to cover 50 percent of their electricity needs through credits received through the use of solar energy.
The City Council will take up on Wednesday the award of a 20-year contract to NRG Energy of San Francisco to receive “fixed net-metered credits” that would represent approximately a 35 percent discount on today’s National Grid electric rates.
The Middletown Town Council approved the contract with NRG last September.
Under the agreement, NRG Energy will develop a solar farm in Warwick whose energy will feed into National Grid’s electric grid. National Grid would give the city and town bill credits based on the amount of kilowatt hours produced, and the town will pay NRG for the credits it receives.
Under the agreement, Newport is expected to receive $381,000 in savings during the first year of the project, savings of $2.07 million after five years, and savings of $14.87 million during the life of the contract.
Middletown would achieve savings of $152,000 during the first year of the project, savings of $835,000 after five years and about $4.4 million during the life of the contract.
The projected savings from the communities represent both municipal and school department facilities. These projections assume a 1.73 percent increase in rates over the next 20 years and some degradation in the solar production.
Public entities are allowed to enter into virtual net metering arrangements with renewable energy developers.
“I would characterize the virtual arrangement as receiving all of the benefits in this case of owning our own solar array energy project without having to own the project nor build it or finance its construction,” City Manager Joseph R. Nicholson Jr. wrote in a memorandum to City Council members.
The project and the terms of the contract were presented to City Council members Thursday night by Julian Dash, managing partner of Clean Economy Development, LLC, of Providence.
Newport and Middletown hired the company as a consultant at the end of 2017 to explore net metering energy opportunities to achieve savings on utility bills. Net metering allows customers with eligible renewal energy systems like solar power and wind power to receive credits on their electricity bills.
Clean Economy put out a request for proposals in early 2018 that eight firms responded to. Besides NRG Energy, they included Energy Development Partners of Providence; Green Energy Development of North Kingstown; NuGen Capital of Bristol; Southern Sky Renewables of Warwick; Nexamp, Inc., of Boston, Massachusetts; Sol Systems, LLC, of Washington, D.C.; and Turning Point Energy of Denver, Colorado.
NRG was deemed to provide the best value to the communities, since it will pay all capital and development costs to bring the project online and will be responsible for the ongoing operating, maintenance and system performance.
So, during the first year of the contract, NRG Energy will have a contract volume of 6.96 million kilowatts provided to the city by National Grid, according to Dash’s presentation. The net meter credit rate set by the state Public Utilities Commission is 15.47 cents per kilowatt.
The value of the bill credits on the city’s electric bills in the first year would be $1.08 million. The city would pay NRG $696,688 for those credits it received. Thus, the city’s savings would be $381,005 for the first year.
Newport and Middletown could have sought to cover a greater percentage of their electricity needs under the contract, but agreeing to 50 percent gives the communities flexibility if they want to enter a second agreement with another company in the future, Dash said.
The name on the contract and supporting documents is NRG Energy, but Dash pointed out the company recently sold its renewable energy business, assets and obligations to Clearway Energy Partners. This new company will retain NRG Renewables President Craig Cornelius as CEO at its headquarters in San Francisco, California, according to online reports.

Friday, January 4, 2019

The massive floating device created to clean up plastic in the ocean has broken

The massive floating device created to clean up plastic in the ocean has broken

(CNN)A 2,000-foot-long system created to clean up plastic pollution in the Pacific Ocean is broken and being towed back to port for repair.
The Ocean Cleanup System 001, a U-shaped floating barrier created by the organization The Ocean Cleanup, arrived in the Great Pacific Garbage Patch in October.
Ocean garbage patches are formed by rotating ocean currents called "gyres" that pull marine debris (litter, fishing gear, and plastic) into one location, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. The are several of these patches in the ocean, including two in the Pacific. The one known as the Great Pacific Garbage Patch is located between Hawaii and California, and it's about double the size of Texas, or three times the size of France.
After several months at sea, it was determined the system failed to retain plastic, the organization announced earlier in December.
Now, a 60-foot section of the device has broken free from the system, the organization announced December 29. The entire floating system, along with over 4,400 pounds of plastic it has recovered, is being brought back to shore.
"We are, of course, quite bummed about this as 1) we hoped to stay out for a bit longer to collect more data on plastic-system interaction, and 2) it introduces an additional challenge to be solved," Boyan Slat, Ocean Cleanup's CEO, said in a blog post. "At the same time, we also realize that setbacks like this are inevitable when pioneering new technology at a rapid pace."

The device is 2,000 feet long with a 10-foot skirt that hangs below it, under the water. It set sail from San Francisco in September, with the goal of cleaning half of the Great Pacific Garbage Patch in five years.

Slat told CNN earlier this year that the patch contained an estimated 1.8 trillion pieces of plastic, weighing 80,000 metric tons.

Joost Dubois, head of communications at The Ocean Cleanup, told CNN in September the system was expected to be able to recover 50 tons of plastic from the ocean each year.
During a regular inspection on December 29, an Ocean Cleanup team found that part of the system had detached.

"It's important to note that both the 580-meter main section and the 18-meter end section are both completely stable; all bulkheads are intact, and the end section has two stabilizers affixed to it, so rollover is not possible," Slat said in the blog post. "Also, because no material was lost, there have been no safety risks for the crew, environment or passing marine traffic."

The company is investigating the cause of the break and believes the system will be back in operation this year.

Issues with plastic collection

Earlier in December, the organization said the system is concentrating the plastic, but it's not able to hold on to it.

"Eventually, the only way to truly see how the system would perform was to put in the environment it has been designed for," the organization said.
Plastic waste harming world's oceans 05:01

The organization says it is working to identify the cause. One of the possible problems is that the system is not moving fast enough.

"It appears that the system occasionally travels slower than the plastic, which provides the caught plastic with the opportunity to leave the system again."
The organization also said the system, which they have named Wilson, is creating an effect on the current as it interacts with water, resulting in small patches of plastic moving and accumulating around the system.
The organization has also observed that the system creates waves, possibly preventing plastic from entering the mouth of the device.

"We will continue testing and monitoring the system until we feel confident to make any modifications, if necessary, which will then be applied in a later shift," the organization said. "We are confident these tests will teach us more about the current status of Wilson, which will hopefully allow us to soon make the cleanup system fully operational."

Some critics questioned the ambitious ocean cleanup system even before it reached the Great Pacific Garbage Patch. Miriam Goldstein, the director of ocean policy at the Center for American Progress, said deploying a device of that size will create its own environment, and sea life will grow on it or underneath it.
Goldstein also questioned the efforts to collect plastic in the middle of the ocean instead of focusing on stopping waste from reaching the ocean in the first place.