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Author Topic: A High-Renewables Tomorrow, Today:  (Read 3189 times)

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AGelbert

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Why a Vermont Utility CEO Is Embracing Solar and Net Metering

 Tor 'Solar Fred' Valenza,  UnThink Solar
 May 06, 2014  |  4 Comments 

While many utilities are producing slick commercials that devalue distributed solar, Vermont’s Green Mountain Power is completely  ;D embracing big and small solar with a giant Vermont bear hug. Representing 75 percent of Vermont’s utility customers, GMP recently worked with legislators to nearly quadruple the state’s net metering cap to 15 percent of peak load.

Even before that, GMP was one of the first utilities to support community solar, and it launched one of the first solar FiTs in the U.S. in 2009. And now it’s Mary Powell announced that it wants Rutland, VT to be the solar capital of New England with a goal of 10,000 kW (10 MW).

Given the Edison Electric Institute’s utility death spiral warning, you’d think GMP would be putting up barriers to expanding net metering and residential solar. Nope. In fact, GMP recently received Vote Solar’s 2014 Utility Solar Champion Award in March 2014 and was named Utility of the Year by SEPA in 2013.

To find out why GMP wasn’t afraid of ramping up distributed solar growth, I recently interviewed its CEO, Mary Powell, pictured, after she received the Vote Solar award on behalf of GMP. 

My first question: Unlike other utilities, why is Green Mountain Power embracing solar?

Powell said that GMP understands other utility’s concerns, but that there are two key drivers for why GMP is whole heartedly embracing solar and accelerating adoption in Vermont.

The first driver is that GMP’s leadership team is made up of many people coming from very different industry backgrounds and different perspectives on running a business—not a regulated monopoly. With that business background, Powell says that GMPs leadership team is constantly trying to figure out what GMPs customers want and to create a value stream around those desires. Since around 2005, GMP recognized that their customers increasingly wanted more renewable energy options and to go solar, so instead of fighting it, they worked to help make that happen with solar incentives.

“It’s kind of like trying to design the future,” said Powell. “While we feel like we are evolving and we are trying to play with all the different value propositions we can provide customers, we were really clear that the best way to be a part of that renewable energy future is to be a fast adopter, not an organization that’s resisting the change that’s organically happening.”

All well and good, but what about GMP’s bottom line? Isn’t fast solar adoption going to eat away at GMP’s revenues, as most utilities fear?


Powell responded that GMP was confident that it can both encourage distributed solar and maintain a healthy financially strong utility. “Those are both really important goals. The challenge is for customers—and so too for the developers and utilities—to find that appropriate healthy business relationship and the regulatory means to identify and understand value streams in a DG world.”

Powell emphasizes that if you build a really valuable customer model, then there will be a value steam that comes back in the form of revenues.

“Our investor and our board of directors really like the direction we’re going, and I think they really see this disruptive world and they see it coming, whether or not we embrace it or we don’t. So, we feel like we have a much better shot at creating new and different value streams that come back into the regulated utility infrastructure if we embrace solar. It’s not just a protectionist strategy versus a non-aggressor strategy, but an assertive strategy that’s trying to be a part of the solution.”

As for net metering, Powell says it definitely has a role in Vermont, but she adds…. “Does that mean that we see a future where that structure will always stay the way it is? Maybe, maybe not. But what we do see right now is that it’s an effective way to accelerate value in solar and accelerate the adoption, and we’re very fortunate that we’re working very closely with regulators on how we can do this in a way where you don’t just rapidly disrupt existing utility models. If you do that, then it can have unfortunate unintended consequences for customers, as well.”

Powell likens solar’s disruption to how cell phones disrupted traditional phone lines. The telecommunication companies that thrived were the ones that adapted and embraced cellphones, worked with regulators, and became the leading communication leaders rather than protecting their old business models.

Similarly, GMP is embracing not only solar, but the new technologies that complement solar, such as storage.  They’ve already started an energy storage project in Rutland and are working with a Vermont based storage company about partnerships that can provide value to the utility and all stakeholders.

Storage is just one way Powell and GMP are thinking about changing the traditional utility business model. She also foresees more partnerships for not only storage and solar, but also for energy efficiency, on-bill financing, air source heat pumps, and integrating electric vehicles and smart grid technologies.

“It’s not just ‘go net metering, go solar,’” says Powell. “We’re kind of making sure we’re innovating at the same time and working with our regulators to try to create a very new and different model for how regulations could have value to customers. … Our dream is to embrace this disruptive future, but in a way where we’ve been smart enough to think of the things that you would actually pay us to do for you.”


Powell was also optimistic about GMP continuing to be a significant energy provider to customers, despite solar and other technology advancements. She predicted that even 15 years from now, the bulk of GMP customers will still want grid-tied power in the same way they have it today.

Asking for any constructive criticism of the solar industry, Powell is also positive, complimenting solar installers for working with GMP and regulators, as well as for cutting their installation prices as solar panels have come down instead of padding their profit margins. “I think that the more we can work together in the most collaborative ways possible, the more we’ll produce the best, most effective outcome for our customers.”

I finished up my conversation with Powell by asking her if she had any words of advice for her fellow utilities. As one of the smallest utilities in the United States, however, she was reluctant;)

She said, “It’s very different when you’re very small and working in a small state, and you have better access to partnering, etc. But I think Jim Rogers, [the former chairman and CEO of Duke Energy] and others have stated it very well, which is that you can either be part of the solution or be part of the problem. So at its core, I think it’s beholden on us to try to figure out how to be part of the solution.” 


Tor Valenza a.k.a. “Solar Fred” is a solar marketing and communications consultant and the author of Solar Fred's Guide to Solar Guerrilla Marketing. Sign up for the Solar Fred Marketing Newsletter, or contact him through UnThink Solar. You can also follow @SolarFred on Twitter.


4 Comments

 

 A. G. Gelbert   
 May 6, 2014 

GMP is my power company. They are thinking properly about HOW to transition to a renewable energy future and still remain profitable. This is SMART! An excellent example of their "getting real" policy about reducing customer electric use (which avoids having to provide a higher minimum baseload and an increase in dirty fuel engine infrastructure investment) is their program to RENT efficient water heaters and Mini-Split Heating and Cooling Systems like the Mitsubishi MSZ-FE18NA/MUZ-FE18NA Mr. Slim H2i Wall Heat Pump Air Conditioner 18,000 BTU heating and cooling Super High Efficiency Mitsubishi Mini-Split Heating and Cooling System (M -Series). It consists of an outdoor unit, an inside air handler and a wireless remote control. This unit is pre-charged with the environment friendly R-410a refrigerant. No additional refrigerant is needed if the line set is 49 feet in length or shorter. It is rated at an incredible 20.2 SEER efficiency!

The customer rents the system for a price that, when added up to their new LOWER electric bill, is LESS than the total blll before getting rid of the fossil fuel fuernace and the inefficient compressor air conditiners. PLUS, the total electricity demand for both base and peak goes DOWN for GMP while they make a profit renting mini-split heat pumps. IT's what I call ENERGY PRUDENCE!

Good for Green Mountain Power! 
http://www.renewableenerg...t-metering#comment-131351
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AGelbert

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Re: A High-Renewables Tomorrow, Today:
« Reply #16 on: May 11, 2014, 02:19:01 pm »
MA Gov. Deval Patrick Calls For ‘Future Free Of Fossil Fuels,’ And Zero Coal In Four Years
By Ryan Koronowski May 11, 2014 at 1:43 pm

Quote
After Patrick’s speech, Craig Altemose, Executive Director of the Better Future Project, told ClimateProgress that “Governor Patrick’s historic acknowledgement that the future can, should, and will be a future free of fossil fuels has set the bar for what climate hawks should expect from their champions.” He said he had not heard of any other governor saying something similar.
http://thinkprogress.org/...il-fuel-free-future-coal/
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Re: A High-Renewables Tomorrow, Today:
« Reply #17 on: May 17, 2014, 01:09:30 am »
May 7, 2014

Jonathan Koehn

Guest Author

Boulder's Bold Ambition

Tackling climate change and energy head-on in a Colorado community

 Climate science has identified the need for a rapid transition to a fossil-fuel-free future, yet Boulder, Colorado, has one of the most carbon-intensive electric portfolios in the nation. Our electric supply accounts for approximately 60 percent of city greenhouse gas emissions. Through the passage of the nation’s first carbon tax in 2006 and ballot measures in 2011 and 2013 asking the City of Boulder to explore options for clean, reliable, low-cost, local energy, Boulder voters have expressed a strong commitment to addressing climate change.

Reports released this year by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change indicate that climate change is happening faster than anticipated. As a result, the panel has made the unprecedented call for a rapid and systematic disinvestment from all fossil-fuel-based energy infrastructures. The rise in extreme weather events around the world underscores both the immediacy and urgency of this mandate.

We’ve felt the immediacy and urgency of this mandate acutely in and around our community. The four most destructive fires in Colorado history all occurred within the last five years. Meanwhile, the devastating September 2013 floods resulting from what meteorologists called a 1,000-year storm caused damages potentially surpassing $2 billion.

That’s why City of Boulder staff are proposing an approach that addresses both the causes of climate change (climate mitigation) and prepares Boulder for the likely continuation of impacts (climate resilience).

Questions and challenges

The process of creating the “utility of the future,” while worthwhile, is neither simple nor easy. The City of Boulder was thus delighted when RMI invited it to send a team to this year’s eLab Accelerator. The theme was “A Boot Camp for Electricity Innovation,” a perfect match for the city’s ongoing research and projects.

The event provided an opportunity to explore questions such as:
•What are emerging best practices for rate design and utility services?
•What are customers’ expectations for energy supply and energy needs?
•What opportunities exist and what challenges must be overcome?
•How can the city, the community, and other stakeholders effectively partner on next steps?

By bringing together a diverse team, the city was able to broach these questions and design four guiding principles:


1. Ensure safe, reliable, and secure energy—The first priority of Boulder’s approach will be to ensure the community has access to safe, clean, reliable, and secure energy. This includes investments and system enhancements so that energy services can withstand local and regional disruptions and provide increased opportunities for individuals, businesses, and institutions to develop additional reliability and resilience through technologies such as microgrids and on-site energy generation and storage.

2. Prioritize a rapid transition from fossil fuels—The only way to achieve the scale of emission reductions necessary to stabilize the climate must involve a rapid transition from fossil fuels. This transition also protects and restores the environmental health on which our outdoor-oriented community depends.

3. Invest in our local economy—A fundamental objective is to direct substantial revenues back to the local economy, supporting existing businesses, creating new jobs, and expanding business opportunities.

4. Design a marketplace for innovation—Central to achieving these principles is the creation of a new energy services marketplace to foster innovation and the development of new energy products and services that serve local needs and can then be applied in regional, national, and international settings.

Breakthrough concept: an energy innovation marketplace

A major breakthrough the team realized at Accelerator was the potential for the utility to provide a platform for innovation, allowing the private sector to engage in entrepreneurial actions resulting in an “energy services market.” The graphic below, developed at Accelerator, illustrates a new relationship between the utility and the private sector, similar to smartphone companies providing a platform for innovation by application developers:

Sharing outcomes with the City of Boulder and residents


The Accelerator experience and resulting outcomes were tremendously valuable to the Boulder team. The ideas generated at Accelerator were first shared with colleagues in the City’s Energy Strategy and Electric Utility Development department and subsequently with Boulder City Council and the community through a council briefing. The work at Accelerator helped inform the structure and content of a council memo integrating work across several city departments and many projects.

We have already seen significant excitement around the concept of an energy innovation marketplace in local media and through conversations, emails, and phone calls with engaged residents. A new grant program, the Boulder Energy Challenge, has additional significance within the conceptual framework of an energy marketplace; each of the project submissions could potentially be scaled up and more broadly deployed if successful in generating significant improvements in greenhouse gas reductions.

Transitioning to a low-carbon economy will not be easy. However, Boulder has already begun building a foundation for a new energy economy that will position the community for economic, environmental, and social benefits. The growing cleantech and clean energy sectors employ a significant local workforce and generate an increasing share of the local economy. This could grow with more community-based energy infrastructure. Increasingly clean local energy will also reduce local pollution and improve air and water quality for human and wildland communities. By creating an energy system that supports local generation and intelligent application of energy efficiency, Boulder can also create an energy marketplace that opens the door to new entrepreneurial ideas for energy goods and services. The extensive analyses conducted to date have demonstrated that Boulder can create the utility of the future, which will provide stable, safe, and reliable energy while leading a transition to a dynamic, prosperous, and healthy way of life.

There is a sea change underway in the electric utility market and, in collaboration with RMI, the City of Boulder intends to ride the wave to a clean energy future.
   



Jonathan Koehn is the regional sustainability coordinator for the City of Boulder, where he works to implement the city’s sustainability agenda, specifically in relation to climate action and energy. He was a city staff member of the City of Boulder team for the 2014 Accelerator. Koehn has over 10 years of experience working with state, regional, and local governments and their constituencies domestically and internationally to develop strategic and tactical solutions to energy, economic, and climate challenges.

http://blog.rmi.org/blog_...climate_change_and_energy
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Re: A High-Renewables Tomorrow, Today:
« Reply #18 on: May 19, 2014, 12:37:34 am »
Renewables Surged to 74% of German Demand Last Sunday ;D
Renewables accounted for nearly three-quarters of peak demand in Germany on Sunday; overall renewables share reached 27% in the first quarter of 2014.
http://www.greentechmedia...German-Demand-Last-Sunday
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Re: A High-Renewables Tomorrow, Today:
« Reply #19 on: September 30, 2014, 12:08:45 am »
Tiny Spanish Island Nears Its Goal: 100 Percent Renewable Energy  ;D




Quote
.. machinery attached to the wind and water turbines, isn't new or revolutionary. But the island combined the water and wind power in an innovative way, insuring an uninterrupted energy supply for the island's residents.



"The wind machines, we basically ordered out of catalog; we didn't invent the technology. Same with the water turbines," Quintero says. "The innovation we made is hooking up the two systems together." 


Full article here:
http://www.npr.org/blogs/...-percent-renewable-energy
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Re: A High-Renewables Tomorrow, Today:
« Reply #20 on: October 23, 2014, 03:39:43 pm »
Vermont’s Largest Municipal Utility Goes 100-Percent Renewable

Burlington, Vermont thumbs its nose at fossil fuels!

    




http://blog.rmi.org/blog_...oes_100_percent_renewable
« Last Edit: October 23, 2014, 06:06:54 pm by AGelbert »
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Re: A High-Renewables Tomorrow, Today:
« Reply #21 on: October 26, 2014, 06:46:12 pm »
Gaviotas - Sustainable Village

100% Renewable Energy Goal Achieved:

100% Renewable Energy and Self Sufficiency
 

Location:

Las Gaviotas, Colombia


Reforestation in Las Gaviotas

Summary:

In 1971, Paolo Lugari gathered a group of visionary scientists, artists, and former street kids to see if they could create a sustainable village in the middle of the environmentally and politically harsh desert of Llanos Colombia.

Home schooled in South America, Lugari had a vision as he flew over the region as a young man that the lushness of the Amazon region had once been present in the vast Llanos, but was interrupted by geological events. Later, he set out to prove that he was right. His philosophy was that if it could be done there, it could be done anywhere.

The group he brought to create Gaviotas experimented,  innovated, and ultimately recreated a thriving ecosystem and eco-village of 200 people that resisted drug wars and violence (the village has a no guns rule and remains apolitical) and that became a UN model for ecological development. Gaviotan energy is drawn from varied renewable sources, including solar panels, wind turbines, and a water pump powered by children on a seesaw. They grow their own food and have seen a return of wildlife that had not inhabited the area for many generations.   ;D

When funding began to dwindle in the 1990s, the villagers figured out that their pine trees were producers of valuable resin, which they could export along with other goods they had created like clean water.

While some may call Gaviotas a utopia, Lugari prefers "topia" because "u" in Greek means "no," so utopia literally translates to "no place." Gaviotas, however, is an actual place, where dreams became real
 

Links:
www.friendsofgaviotas.org/Friends_of_Gaviotas/Home.html 

www.nytimes.com/2009/10/16/world/americas/16gaviotas.html 

www.chelseagreen.com/bookstore/item/gaviotas:paperback%20-%20revised%20edition  www.dharma-haven.org/five-havens/weisman.htm

http://www.go100percent.org/cms/index.php
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Re: A High-Renewables Tomorrow, Today:
« Reply #22 on: October 26, 2014, 06:55:35 pm »
City of Ithaca, NY

100% Renewable Energy Goal Achieved:
 

Municipality of Ithaca Purchases 100% Renewable Electricity Using Credit System


Location:  Ithaca, NY



Summary: 

Beginning in January 2012, the City of Ithaca, NY made a commitment to cover all the electricity consumption of its municipal buildings, street lights and traffic lights with renewable electricity. To accomplish this, the city is purchasing third party Green-e Energy  certified renewable energy certificates (RECs) that represent the total of its electricity usage. The REC purchase was conducted through Municipal Electric and Gas Alliance Inc., or MEGA , a non-profit aggregator of gas and electricity in which Ithaca participates. Energy aggregators like MEGA bundle participants in order to be able to build buying power and bid for lower prices.

The city also has  a two year power purchase agreement - that is, a contract that sets a fixed price for renewable electricity - with Integrys Energy Services of New York Inc.

Ithaca's efforts to purchase renewable energy are helping the city to achieve its  carbon reduction target of 20 percent below 2001 levels by 2016. The city reports that the benefit of its renewable energy purchases is comparable to not driving 12,000,000 miles in a car or planting more than 14,000 acres of trees.   ;D

http://www.go100percent.o...5BstartLon%5D=-96.9421388
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Re: A High-Renewables Tomorrow, Today:
« Reply #23 on: October 26, 2014, 08:27:16 pm »
http://www.youtube.com/wa...p;feature=player_embedded
Kansas Town combines Wind, Solar and Geothermal Renewable Energy to go 100%!
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Re: A High-Renewables Tomorrow, Today:
« Reply #24 on: October 31, 2014, 01:44:03 pm »
10/29/2014 02:38 PM   
University Celebrates Shut Down of Coal Plant, Transitions to Geothermal  ;D

SustainableBusiness.com News

Another university is shutting down its coal plant because it's shifting to geothermal energy - West Chester University in Pennsylvania.

 At this year's "Sustainability Day," on October 22 (which is apparently observed at universities across the US), they celebrated the decommissioning of the university's coal-fired power plant. Yea!

 Geothermal heats, cools and provides hot water for 15 campus buildings, including apartments and residence halls, and the 10-year plan is to reach 25 buildings. Besides eliminating about 40 million pounds of annual emissions, the university will save $1 million a year on electric bills.   


"We are committed to geothermal energy for both new  construction and renovation of existing buildings," says Greg Cuprak, Executive  Director of Facilities Management.  ;D

When the entire district system is completed, there will be 1200 wells - mostly under parking lots - and 20,000 feet of pipe that distribute clean energy throughout the campus. The goal is to shut down the central heating plant, which will eliminate all coal (7000 tons a year) and most fuel oil (200,000 gallons a year) burned on campus.

Geothermal West Chester University

Like so many universities today, this is just one element of West Chester's Climate Action Plan. Sustainable practices are being implemented into every aspect of university life, including curriculum, purchasing and buildings. Green roofs are sprouting on rooftops in addition to protecting land around campus.

Read Indiana's Ball State University is converting from coal to the nation's biggest geothermal system.
http://www.sustainablebus.../go/news.display/id/23484

Read our article, Chevy Does It Right! Supports Clean Energy at Colleges, Retires Carbon Credits.

Learn about the sustainability efforts on campus:

 
Website: www.wcupa.edu/sustainability/greenefforts.asp

http://www.sustainablebus.../go/news.display/id/25979



As part of being responsible, caring human beings, we have to pressure our government to take major action to stop the degradation of the biosphere from climate change. This is causing death and disease to both domestic animals and wildlife, all of which have done nothing to deserve such a horrible fate at our hands. It's time to eliminate the excuse our fossil fuel loving oligarchy uses for "resources" wars for oil that bring nothing but misery to us and profits for them.

I started a petition on Care2: Demand Liberty From Fossil Fuels Through 100% Renewable Energy WWII Style Effort. I'm hoping that if enough people sign my petition, we can make a difference. I have over 370 signatures. Once I reach 500, Care2 will publicize it more. Will you help me collect more by adding your name?

Here's a link to the petition (You can sign anonymously if you have privacy concerns):  http://www.thepetitionsit...energy-wwii-style-effort/

Thank you and please pass it on. The biosphere you save may be your own.

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Re: A High-Renewables Tomorrow, Today:
« Reply #25 on: November 08, 2014, 03:52:36 pm »
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Re: A High-Renewables Tomorrow, Today:
« Reply #26 on: November 16, 2014, 05:13:25 pm »
The State of U.S. Renewable Energy in Vermont 

 The Green Mountain State is indeed very green, so much so the EPA has excused it altogether from the Clean Power Plan since the state has no reliance on fossil fuel power plants.  ;D Check out our interactive map to learn more about how Vermont stacks up in the clean energy revolution.

Chapter Three of A Climate Solution Within Reach

Coming Clean:
The State of U.S. Renewable Energy


Clickable map HERE: http://earthjustice.org/f...clean-state-of-u-s-energy


http://earthjustice.org/f...clean-state-of-u-s-energy

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Re: A High-Renewables Tomorrow, Today:
« Reply #27 on: January 05, 2015, 05:56:53 pm »
01/05/2015 11:48 AM     
Scotland: On Track to 100% Renewable Energy 

SustainableBusiness.com News

Let's start the year off with some good news. At least one country is on track to getting all its electricity from renewables, and that's Scotland.

 In December, the country's wind farms produced 107% of its electricity, according to utility National Grid. And World Wildlife Fund (WWF) released a study showing Scotland's electricity can be entirely fossil-free by 2020, meeting its ambitious target.

Throughout the year, wind provided all the power for 98% of households  , and renewables matched fossil fuels for the first time  ;D. Renewables supplied 32% of all electricity, equal to oil, coal and gas, and coming close to nuclear (34.9%) - the top electricity source in Scotland  :P.

In October, renewable energy quietly kept the lights on while nuclear reactors were closed because of cracks  ;D. And the government approved four huge offshore wind farms that will generate another 2.2 gigawatts of power for 1.4 million homes   .

Even without strong solar resources, there's enough to meet demand for most households during June and July, and for 60%-plus in March, April, May, August and September, according to WWF's report.

"Scotland has plenty of renewables in the pipeline to cut the carbon from its power supply by 2030, particularly if we see progress on reducing electricity demand. And crucially, Scotland can continue to be an electricity exporting nation," notes lead author Paul Gardner. "There is no technical reason requiring conventional fossil and nuclear generation in Scotland."

 Wind is breaking records across the UK, growing 15% in 2014. It supplies 9.3% of all electricity, up from 7.8% in 2013. In December, wind hit a record 14% of total electricity.

 All this comes when Prime Minister Cameron  has said "enough with onshore wind," promising to block further development if Conservatives win in May's election, as he promotes fracking. 
 
Globally, offshore wind is expected to grow fivefold by 2020, to 40 gigawatts, up from 7.1 GW in 2013, according to GlobalData, largely in the UK, Germany and China.


Read our articles, UK Approves 5 Offshore Wind Projects, Powering 3 Million Homes and Wind Can Supply Half the World's Power.

Marine Energy

This month, the world's largest tidal energy project breaks ground in Scotland, with 400 megawatts of energy eventually supplying 175,000 homes. About 60 of 269 turbines in the MayGen project will be running by 2020, says developer Atlantis Resources.

That's even while marine energy is experiencing growing pains, with leaders like Scotland's Pelamis Wave Power bankrupt after running out of money, and Siemens exiting the industry for faster developing sectors. Most marine energy companies are struggling. :(

http://www.sustainablebus.../go/news.display/id/26073
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Re: A High-Renewables Tomorrow, Today:
« Reply #28 on: January 08, 2015, 11:38:38 pm »
A Caribbean Island Says Goodbye Diesel and Hello 100% Renewable Electricity
 

Jan 7, 2015

Bonaire (pop. 14,500), a small island off the coast of Venezuela, is famous for its beautiful marine reefs, which are visited by 70,000 tourists every year. What many of the tourists don’t realize is that the majority of the electricity powering their needs comes from renewable energy. Yet for the residents of Bonaire, the switch from fossil-fueled to renewable energy systems has made a world of difference.



Like many Caribbean islands, Bonaire originally relied on diesel fuel to generate electricity for residents, with a peak demand of 11 MW. This fuel had to be shipped in from other nations, resulting in high electricity prices for Bonaire residents, along with uncertainty about when and how much prices might increase with changing fuel costs.

In 2004, everything changed when a fire destroyed the existing diesel power plant. Although tragic, the situation provided an opportunity for Bonaire to consider what kind of new electricity system to build. Temporary diesel generators were rented to provide power for the short term. Meanwhile, the government and local utility began working together to create a plan that would allow Bonaire to reach a goal of generating 100 percent of its electricity from renewable sources.

Bonaire’s Electricity System Transformation

The result is a transformed electricity system on Bonaire. The island is now home to 12 wind turbines with a total of 11 MW of wind power capacity, which contribute up to 90 percent of the island’s electricity at times of peak wind, and 40–45 percent of its annual electricity on average. Battery storage (6 MWh) is included in order to take advantage of available power in times of excess wind, and provide that stored electricity in times of low wind. The battery also boosts the reliability of the overall system—it is capable of providing 3 MW for over two minutes, allowing time for additional generation to be started when there is a sudden drop in wind.

The Bonaire system also includes 14 MW of diesel generation, five total generators, which provide the necessary power to meet the load when there is not enough wind power available. The generators are equipped to run on both traditional diesel as well as biodiesel.   

The next steps in the island’s energy transformation involve using local algae resources, grown in the large salt flats on the island, to create biofuel, which can then be used in the existing generators. This will allow Bonaire to operate a 100 percent renewable electricity system—with on average 40–45 percent from wind and 55–60 percent from biodiesel.

The new electricity system led to more reliable electricity, more employment opportunities, reduced dependence on oil (and its fluctuating prices), and a reduction in electricity bills. Bonaire residents currently pay $0.22/kWh for electricity, much lower than prices on other nearby Caribbean islands, which are often $0.36/kWh or above. When oil prices spiked in 2008, while Bonaire was still using temporary diesel generators before making its transition to renewables, electricity prices on the island reached $0.50/kWh. The new electricity system also created jobs for the construction and ongoing operation of the wind farm, and for research and development of algae production capabilities and conversion to biofuel. Additional employment opportunities will be created for continuing algae production and operation of the biodiesel plant.

The success of the updated electricity system on Bonaire provides an important example to other nearby islands of the opportunity to achieve high levels of renewable energy penetration.

Why Did Bonaire Make the Switch to Renewables?

Two aspects unique to Bonaire’s situation may have contributed to the decision to switch to a 100 percent renewable electricity system. One driver may have been Bonaire’s status as a special municipality within the Kingdom of the Netherlands. This provides a connection with the Netherlands and Europe in general, where many countries have incorporated large amounts of wind and other renewable sources of electricity. Nearby Aruba, also a Dutch Caribbean island, has a wind farm as well, which provides up to 20 percent of the island’s electricity. There may be a common theme of islands with ties to European countries moving to renewables more quickly than others. In the case of Bonaire, the consortium that is developing the project, Ecopower Bonaire BV, is made up of Dutch and German companies.

Secondly, Bonaire’s government and local electricity provider were presented with an opportunity to build a new renewable electricity system since they needed to replace the plant that was damaged. Many other Caribbean islands still have existing diesel resources that are not at the end of their lifetime. These existing generators may remain a part of the electricity system, especially as renewables are incrementally added to the system, and may even remain as backup power for a transformed system that operates mostly with renewables. However, if some or all of the existing diesel resources on an island are completely shut down before the end of their available lifetime, that island will need to consider the sunk costs involved and incorporate that into their overall energy transformation plan.

Bonaire as Inspiration for the Caribbean 

RMI and Carbon War Room’s ongoing Ten Island Challenge works with Caribbean islands to utilize their local renewable resource potential to transform electricity systems and provide a renewable, reliable, secure, and affordable energy supply for their citizens. One of the participating islands is Aruba, which neighbors Bonaire and forms part of the ABC islands in the Netherlands Antilles, along with Curacao. Although the shift to renewables on Bonaire is not part of the Ten Island Challenge, RMI and CWR’s ongoing work in the area will strive to spread the success that Bonaire has achieved to the rest of the region, so that more Caribbean islands can take advantage of efficient and renewable .

http://blog.rmi.org/blog_...ys_goodbye_to_diesel_fuel

Leges         Sine    Moribus     Vanae   
Faith,
if it has not works, is dead, being alone.

AGelbert

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Re: A High-Renewables Tomorrow, Today:
« Reply #29 on: January 09, 2015, 04:26:16 pm »
Very interesting info. My first thought was it'll blow away, but Bonaire, along with Curacao and some other "down island" locations are fairly unlikely for that to happen.

I don't think PV would be great for USVI and nearby, due to storms. It's not like they happen all that often, but when they do it's so intense that not a leaf is left on a tree, and hardly any rooftops (other than the newer high-tech concrete roofs) are spared.

Bonaire just moved up on my sustain-o-meter, though.

Leges         Sine    Moribus     Vanae   
Faith,
if it has not works, is dead, being alone.

 

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