Related Posts for Energy efficiency

By Kirsten Korosec | SmartPlanet— Alaska utility Kodiak Electric Association has aspirations to double the capacity of its wind farm project, which already provides nearly 10 percent of its power. To do that, KEA has to somehow bring stability to this sporadic source of power. Its answer: a battery farm.

Xtreme Power announced Tuesday an agreement with KEA to install a 3 megawatt battery storage and management system onto the Pillar Mountain Wind Project.  The 4.5 MW wind farm was completed in 2009. The rural utility decided last year to expand Pillar Mountain in an effort to wean itself off diesel-powered generation. But the intermittent nature of wind power on this scale can create grid instability issues, the electric cooperative noted in a release today. Ultimately, the electric cooperative wants 95 percent of its electricity to be generated by renewable energy by 2020.

Xtreme Power’s battery storage system, which has management software designed to control use and smooth out power fluctuations on the grid, is expected to be completed in the fourth quarter of 2012. Read more

The Republic | FAIRBANKS, Alaska — When the drone of a massive air compressor chugged to a halt Friday morning at a construction site near the University of Alaska Fairbanks, Jack Hebert said with a smile that it would be the last time any fossil fuel would be used there.

Hebert, the president of the Cold Climate Housing Research Center, was joking — but not by much. CCHRC and UAF are joining together to build a new student housing complex with the experimental buildings that they believe will function year-round without burning any on-site oil.

Planners for the development, dubbed the Sustainable Village, unveiled designs Friday for four new buildings at the site near UAF’s lower campus. By using super-insulated buildings, solar heat systems and biomass, they hope the project will ultimately help a region struggling with high energy costs.

Planners behind the development are setting expectations high from the start. Hebert thinks the lessons learned from the Sustainable Village development could transform cold-weather home-building techniques.

“We want this to be a worldwide example of what can be done at this latitude, and I think we’ll accomplish that,” Hebert said.

The project is unusual not only for its ambitions, but for how it has developed. CCHRC sought design ideas from UAF students last fall, and the winning five-student team joined planners this winter to come up with a prototype for the development.

The more ambitious elements of the student design, such as a “living machine” that would treat wastewater with plants and micro-organisms, didn’t make it into the buildings that will go up this summer. But the basic layout for the homes — boxy designs with flat roofs, an outside deck and big, south-facing windows — was largely intact from the student blueprints.

They’ll be integrated with a heavily insulated envelope, a solar-hydronic heating system and, most likely, a pellet stove for a mid-winter boost. Two different types of foundations will be used, along with four different types of wall systems. A 14-kilowatt array of solar panels at the site was funded by a UAF sustainability grant. Read more

Alaska Dispatch– Three vessels from Tianchang, China, docked at the Port of Anchorage this week, the first visible step expected to lead to wind turbines on Fire Island contributing to Anchorage’s power grid.

For now, the wind turbines and related equipment will be stored at the port until all the ice is gone. Then a landing craft or barge will haul the equipment to Fire Island, where construction will get underway this summer. A company named Tetra Tech was the successful bidder to deliver 11 windmills for the Cook Inlet Region, Inc. (CIRI) Fire Island Wind Project. The venture is the state’s first major power project owned by an independent power producer. Chugach Electric Association, Alaska’s largest electric utility, will buy the power.

Once construction of the turbines and undersea transmission lines are finished, the wind farm is expected to begin supplying power late this year. The Fire Island project is envisioned to eventually consist of 33 wind turbines able to generate 144,000 megawatts of electricity each year – estimated to be enough to supply 17,000 households. Read more

By Russell Stigall | Morris News Service-Alaska, Juneau Empire:  The state of Alaska has a relatively new law that requires a quarter of public buildings be 15 percent more efficient by 2020.

“Ten to 20 percent is the low hanging fruit,” Jonathan Westeinde, founder of Windmill Development Group Ltd. said. “We should look at 40 to 50 percent improvements.”

Westeinde said the state’s energy goals are a great step forward, but that larger goals could be met easily, he said. “Could we be doing more? Are we missing the opportunity to make more money?” Westeinde said.

The House Energy Committee invited Westeinde to present his “Making the Business Case for Energy Efficiency” talk at a lunch-time learning session, March 27.

Westeinde’s said his goal was to start up the greenest new development firm in Canada.

A current project of Westeinde’s is the highest LEED rated building in the world, he said. “And we’ve been about to do this while still making the same amount of money as anybody else. If anything we can make more money, if done properly.” Read more

By Dave Donaldson | APRN – Juneau, Alaska:  The House also today authorized a five year extension of the Renewable Energy Grant fund. In continuing the program, it also informally agreed to contribute $50-million a year to projects fitting into the Fund’s requirements.

Finance Co-Chair Bill Thomas (R-Haines) told members that the Fund has distributed $176.6-million since it was first set up in 2008. And twenty one projects have been completed. He cited the Gustavus Hydro for saving twenty seven cents a kilowatt hour, Cordova Humpback Creek hydro for saving more than ten cents a kilowatt hour, and Kodiak Pillar Mountain for saving more than fourteen cents – reducing the sale of diesel fuel by some ten million gallons statewide last year.

Anchorage Republican Charisse Millet was the Energy Committee co-chair when the program was restructured in 2010. She says Renewable Energy has had phenomenal success in rural Alaska.

Sometimes we talk about if this program’s going to last or if we can sustain that program.   This is one that we should continue to fund.  It has done great things for communities all over.  And I think, really emphasizing displacing diesel is the key because that’s what we really started this bill to do back when we started the conversation.

Anchorage Democrat Les Gara said Alaska stands far above other states with energy conservation – saying the Grant Program benefits urban and rural residents.

We know the price of fossil fuels is getting more and more expensive.  No matter which one of us has the most brilliant idea on bringing oil and gas at cheaper rates to our consumers, those prices are likely rising. Renewable energy stays the same price forever in most cases.  It might start a little high, but ten years from now it’s the same price.  And twenty years from now it’s the same price.  Because wind doesn’t get more expensive.  Read more

The Oregonian: Under overcast skies, Patti Jarrett learned she had a nearly ideal roof for the 3.29-kilowatt solar energy system she planned to lease. South facing. Good tilt. Little shade. An hour later, she wrote Sunlight Solar a check to install panels she contends will provide significant energy savings over the next 20 years.

Jarrett, 72, sits on the Growing Solar Clackamas County steering committee and is determined to persuade as many of her neighbors as possible to sign up for solar by April 15. “Energy conservation is really critical,” she said. “We have declining resources and this is such a wonderful resource.”

And it’s a good time to buy. Imported Chinese panels and cells have driven down prices. And while that’s also led to a drop in Energy Trust of Oregon cash incentives for solar, those incentives and state and federal tax credits still help lower the cost considerably. Community-based campaigns like the one in Clackamas make it even less expensive.

These campaigns, where neighbors buy or lease discounted solar energy systems in bulk as part of a limited-time offer, are lighting up the state from Portland to Pendleton. Beaverton just put solar on more than 250 homes. West Linn and Lake Oswego will soon launch a joint campaign. Gresham is gearing up for one, as is Eugene. Northeast Portland is in the midst of its second.

Oregon’s first community-initiated “solarize” model started in Portland in 2009 with the Southeast Uplift Neighborhood Coalition and Energy Trust of Oregon. Later, Portland took the program on, winning a two-year, $400,000 U.S. Department of Energy grant that expires in June. Additional campaigns in the city’s Southeast, Southwest, Northwest, Northeast and North sections helped Portland install a total of 1.5 megawatts of solar — enough to power 125 homes.

Communities from across the state and nation (including Boston, New York, Minneapolis, Seattle and San Jose) called Portland to learn about replicating the campaigns, prompting the city to create The Solarize Guidebook, a free online resource. Portland also decided to share its federal money, giving seed funding to Growing Solar Clackamas County and Solarize West Linn-Lake Oswego as well as some community organizations in Union County and in the Rogue and Willamette valleys.  Read more

Yoni Cohen | Greentech: “I was involved in the planning for OIF-1 [Operation Iraqi Freedom-1], going across the berm into Iraq,” said Lieutenant General Raymond Mason, the Army’s Deputy Chief of Staff for logistics. “There were a number of decision points. Two decision points that the CENTCOM [U.S. Central Command] commander had were: [1] he wanted to make sure that he had 60 days of fuel on the ground before he crossed the berm … and [2] he wanted to have a 60-day supply of batteries. The four-star commander was worried about fuel and batteries. I would prefer he doesn’t have to worry about [either] in the future.”

Toward that end, and now more than ever, the U.S. military is committed to funding and deploying disruptive energy technologies.

“The U.S. military, across the board, has decided that energy is a strategic issue that affects their operations and budget in profound ways,” said former Secretary of Defense Bill Perry.  “When oil goes from $60 to $100 a barrel, the amount that the Air Force and the Navy have to spend on fuel goes up dramatically. [...] A spike in the price of oil means fewer airplanes they can buy.” He added, “From an operational point of view, getting fuel to a site in Afghanistan is very expensive.”

In the interest of national security, the military is pursuing advanced batteries and novel biofuels for the battlefield and energy-efficient buildings and energy-independent bases for the home front. The Armed Forces are investing and enabling green technologies independently, through its own research (e.g., DARPA) and procurement (e.g., the Army’s new Energy Initiatives Office) processes, as well is in cooperation with the Department of Energy.

“We in Defense must innovate to protect the country. Our technology is second only to the quality of the people we have in uniform in what makes our military the best in the world,” said Deputy Secretary of Defense Ashton Carter. “We’re all in with the Department of Energy (DOE). It makes sense and it is good for the taxpayer. We’re all in with ARPA-E. We look forward to working with [the DOE] well into the future. Just like DARPA has been around for 50 years, I dare say ARPA-E will be around for decades as well.”

Better Batteries

The wars in Iraq and Afghanistan have demonstrated the military’s pressing need for more efficient batteries for hand-held electronics.

“When I was a young lieutenant, the only batteries I had to worry about were the ones in my flashlight. If I had two AA batteries, I was good to go,” said Mason. “But if you look at what we put on a soldier today, the amount of batteries is absolutely incredible because of the power needed for the GPS, headset displays, weapons systems, radios and on and on.” Read more

By Ed Schoenfeld of CoastAlaska News: Backers of biomass energy pitched wood-pellet heat as a money-saver during a legislative hearing today (Feb. 21st).  Alaska Energy Authority staff and others talked to the House Committee on Economic Development about the Southeast Alaska Integrated Resource Plan. The document recommends developing more pellet and other wood heat, as well as some expanded hydroelectric generation.

AEA Biomass Program Manager Devany Plentovich said high fuel prices have driven many residents to heat with electricity instead of oil.  “Unfortunately, as we’ve switched so much to the space heating, we’ve seen the reserve hydro just disappear to a remarkable rate. It’s at the point where our utilities are having to supplement the hydro during the winter season with diesel generation.  And that’s very high-cost diesel generation,” she said.

Southeast lawmakers and other officials have called for more hydroprojects with more connections to more communities.  But the resource plan calls for a larger focus on wood heat, in businesses, offices and schools.  And some are already making the switch.  Plentovich said wood-pellet heat costs less than oil-powered systems, and has about the same price tag as electric ones. And, she said, boiler conversions are short-term investments.

“The Sealaska building, that’s going to pay back in about four and a half years. The Kake school, if that gets funded through the renewable energy fund, that’s got about a six- to seven-year payback. The Coast Guard in Sitka is looking at about a five-year payback. So these projects have a great economic story,” she said.  Read more

By Ucilia Wang of RenewableEnergyWorld.com: Given the low interest rates and plummeting prices for solar energy equipment, it would seem a good time for investing in solar power generation. GE Energy Financial Services, for one, has been pursuing solar deals actively and on Wednesday it announced a $100 million equity investment in a solar power plant in Arizona.

The investment helps close the financing of the $550 million, 127-megawatt project being developed by LS Power, which also lined up debt financing from Prudential Capital Group, Banco Santander and others, GE said. LS Power has hired Fluor Corp. as a general contractor and operator of the project, which is set for completion in 2013 and will supply power to San Diego Gas & Electric under a long-term agreement. The project, called Arlington Valley Solar II, will rise about 40 miles west of Phoenix.

GE not only announced the deal in the Arlington Valley project, it also took the opportunity to tout its investments in solar over the past year. It called 2011 a record year and said it put up $1.4 billion in 48 – or 1 gigawatt’s worth – of solar power projects worldwide, including those in Canada, Australia, Portugal, Spain and Italy.

Solar power plant investments have taken off in the United States over the past three years as developers successfully secured permits and the federal and state governments provided policy and financial support to meet their clean energy and job creation goals. Read more

By Leslie Guevarra of GreenBiz.com: Savvy investments in energy efficiency retrofits for buildings could yield more than three times their value, mounting to about $1 trillion in energy savings in a decade, says new research from Deutsche Bank and The Rockefeller Foundation.

The study released today said that yield would be just one of the returns if $279 billion were spent for retrofits of residential, commercial and institutional buildings in the United States.

In addition to saving about 30 percent of the United States’ entire energy spend during the course of a year, completion of the energy efficiency retrofits could reduce greenhouse gas emissions in the country by 10 percent and create 3.3 million job years — which means the projects could create an estimated 3.3 million cumulative years of employment — the study said.

Researchers in the building and sustainability fields have been touting the robust returns and benefits produced by energy efficiency retrofits for several years. In 2010, a study forecast that such projects could result in savings of as much as $41 billion a year in the U.S. And market leaders in business and real estate have made a point of spotlighting their successes, one of the most prominent being the Empire State Building retrofit. The New York City icon also serves as an example of green leasing program, a further strategy to achieve energy efficiency in commercial property. Read more

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