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
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 TED | MBT– What’s the key to using alternative energy, like solar and wind? It seems the answer is storage. This will allow us to have power on tap even when the sun’s not out and the wind’s not blowing. In this TED video, Donald Sadoway takes to the blackboard to show us the future of large-scale batteries that store renewable energy.
By Richard M. Rosenblum, President and CEO of Hawaiian Electric Company | RenewableEnergyWorld: Hawaii is one of the world’s premier travel destinations. However, if visitors look beyond the views of Diamond Head, Waikiki Beach, palm trees and the blue Pacific, they’ll see a renewable energy transformation under way that could be a model for others around the world.
Imported fossil fuel, mostly oil, supplies 90 percent of Hawaii’s energy for transportation and electricity – the highest in the United States. Skyrocketing and volatile oil prices have impacted the cost of electricity. Clearly, Hawaii’s dependence on oil, which powered these islands for nearly a century, is unsustainable.
Hawaiian Electric Company (HECO) is part of a broad public-private partnership to develop a clean energy future for these islands. Our partners include Hawaii’s people, the state and federal governments and the business and academic communities. Virtually everyone in Hawaii has a stake in our efforts and a voice in our course forward. The goal: reduce Hawaii’s dependence on imported fossil fuel, lower and stabilize electricity bills for our customers, and protect our environment.
Whether it’s using “green” biofuels to produce power, leading the drive to adopt electric vehicles, drilling for more geothermal energy, integrating more solar and wind power, or testing the latest smart-grid advances, HECO and its subsidiaries are developing a broad portfolio of solutions to create a clean energy future for Hawaii.
What makes this more than a local “good news” story is that Hawaii is a perfect laboratory for developing new renewable energy technologies and the grid modernization needed to make them all work together.
Although it may not yet be apparent to everyone, our portfolio of renewables is growing. In 2010, the Solar Electric Power Association ranked HECO third in the United States for growth in solar power. Hawaii has more solar watts per customer than all but a few U.S. states. Read more
By Ian Larsenof Sun Star Reporter: Money is power. At the University of Alaska Fairbanks, power is power. In Alaska it’s easy to take the state’s vast resources for granted, but thanks to the newest building on campus, UAF researchers will learn how to maximize those researchers. The Geophysical Institute and the Alaska Center for Energy and Power developed the soon-to-open Energy Technology Facility.
“Alaska has more fossil and renewable energy resources than any other state in the nation,” according to the ACEP website. “Alaska has the potential for long-term sustainable energy production through development of its natural gas, coal, oil, hydropower, tidal, geothermal and wind resources to meet the energy needs of the state and beyond.”
UAF built the facility to use these vast amounts of renewable energy and house the projects.
The ACEP team will celebrate the grand opening of the new Energy Technology Facility with a ribbon cutting at 5:30 p.m. Feb 15. ACEP will introduce researchers and the current energy projects that are in development.
This facility is located across from the Lola Tilly Commons and will allow ACEP to to house many of their projects on campus.
“We have research projects all over the state,” ACEP Director Gwen Holdmann said. “Battery research is done at Golden Valley, we have some wind energy research projects and hydrokinetics projects in rural areas.”
The facility will allow ACEP and other university researchers to easily perform large energy projects such as waste recovery, diesel fuel efficiency, advance-technology batteries, rural-community-scale power and wind-diesel technology. Through this research ACEP will be able to find cheaper and more sustainable ways to power Alaska.
The project broke ground last fall, and in less then a year the building is about to open for research. Read more
By Russel Stigall of Juneau Empire: Since its inception in 2009, Alaska’s Renewable Energy Fund has funneled tens of millions of dollars to renewable energy projects across Alaska. To date, 21 projects have been completed and, with the projects in the pipeline, it is estimated that projects funded by the program could save Alaskans 11.6 million gallons of fuel per year in 2016.
Sponsored by Reps. Thomas, Peggy Wilson, and Millett with Austerman, Edgmon, Herron, Miller and Peterson, House Bill 250 seeks to extend the fund, at $50 million annually, under the management of the Alaska Energy Authority to 2023. The fund is currently set to fold in 2013. Passing the bill this year would allow AEA to continue to manage the fund and renewable energy developers could count on funds to continue to flow uninterrupted.
To identify ways to increase efficiencies in the process used in the program, the Energy Authority has commissioned an independent evaluation by Vermont Energy Investment Company. Selected via a competitive process, Vermont is assisted by the Alaska Center for Energy and Power to provide information and recommendations. More
By Matthew L. Wald of The New York Times: Coda Automotive is supposed to start selling its electric sedan next month. On Friday, its parent company announced that it was also moving into a related line: stationary batteries for electricity storage.
Coda Holdings will make minor modifications to battery packs for its cars, which use Chinese-manufactured lithium iron phosphate cells, and sell them individually or grouped together — both for storing solar power when homeowners’ rooftop panels generate more than they use, and to help businesses reduce their peak loads. Business customers usually pay for electricity on the basis of their highest level of use.
Because the packs are designed for cars, they are already modular and thus easy to scale up or scale down. Coda plans to sell its sedan with a battery pack of 31 kilowatt-hours or 36 kilowatt-hours; both numbers are roughly what a suburban house uses per day. The stationary module will be 40 kilowatt-hours.
The batteries could also pay for themselves in places where peak-hour power costs more than off-peak power, the company says, although very few places have such “time of use” rates today.
Utilities could also use them as backup in areas where demand for electricity has grown and improvements in distribution lines would otherwise be needed. One reason for such growth is the need for juice for electric cars, which raises the idea that the batteries could be charged up in periods of low demand so that they could later be tapped into by car owners to charge similar batteries in the cars. Read more
Analysis by Tim Bradner for the Alaska Journal of Commerce:Despite its high costs, renewable energy is a good risk-management strategy for Southcentral Alaska electric utilities, which currently depend heavily on natural gas for power generation. The problem is natural gas reserves are running down, and the only near-term guaranteed fall-back is imported liquefied natural gas.< It's not a good position to be in. Renewable energy – wind, hydro and geothermal – can be expensive at the front-end but its key advantage, in the long run is that the fuel is free, Chris Rose, executive director of the Renewable Energy Alaska Project, an advocacy group, told the Anchorage Chamber of Commerce April 25. "Bradley Lake hydro is now the cheapest power in the Railbelt grid but it didn't look that way 20 years ago when the dam was built. At the time it didn't seem to pencil. It was expensive to build and natural gas was still cheap," Rose said.The state and the Railbelt utilities partnered to build the Bradley Lake dam near Homer anyway. Natural gas prices have since doubled from what they were 20 years ago but the cost of Bradley Lake hydro power has been stable and low, Rose said. It didn't come up in the discussion at the chamber, but Cook Inlet Region Inc.'s planned $160 million Fire Island wind project and CIRI's difficulties in securing power sales agreements with local utilities, was clearly on peoples' minds at the chamber lunch. Rose said he didn't want to talk about individual projects, but that his message is that the Railbelt needs a diversified basket of renewables to offset its overreliance on fossil fuels. Read more
A new study by Pew Charitable Trusts shows that private investments in global clean energy projects could top $2.3 Trillion in 10 years. Most investment will be in Asia but policy plays a key role.
From RenewableEnergyWorld.com: Looking into the next decade for clean energy deployment gives perspective on where an industry is headed and if Pew Charitable Trusts’ recently released report on global clean power is correct, the clean energy industry is looking at incredible growth.
Three scenarios were used to determine how much private investment each technology would garner:
* Business-as-usual (BAU): no change from current policies;
* Copenhagen: policies to implement the pledges made at the 2009 international climate negotiations in Copenhagen and;
* Enhanced clean energy: maximized policies designed to stimulate increased investment and capacity additions.
The overall takeaway from the report is that in any case, the global clean power sector will grow, at a huge rate, in any case. Pew found that in the G-20, total attracted clean power project investment is projected to be:
* BAU: $1.7 trillion by 2020
* Copenhagen: $1.8 trillion by 2020
* Enhanced clean energy: $2.3 trillion by 2020
Asia became the top regional destination for clean power finance this year – with China and India leading the way due to strong clean energy policies, said Pew. By 2020, China, India, Japan and South Korea could account for approximately 40 percent of global clean power project investments.
“Strong and consistent policies in Asia have helped double private investment over the past two years. Asia is now the leading region for clean energy investment, and its lead is set to extend in the near future unless Europe and the U.S. make a step change in their support for the sector,” said Michael Liebreich, CEO of Bloomberg New Energy Finance.
Under all three scenarios, China maintains its global leadership position and has the potential to attract cumulative clean energy asset investments of $620 billion over the next decade. Due to its clean energy policies, India moves up to third place by 2020 under all scenarios after being ranked 10th in 2009. India could realize a 763 percent increase in investment under the enhanced scenario, the largest of all G-20 members.
Europe, an early leader in the global clean energy economy thanks to strong clean energy policies and targets could see investments in clean energy projects total $705 billion over the next decade under the Enhanced clean energy scenario. The United Kingdom and Germany, traditional clean energy powers in Europe, rank in the top five globally of attracted clean power project investments under all three scenarios.
The report found that the United States is among those countries with the most to gain from passing strong clean energy policies. For example, the U.S. has the potential to attract $342 billion in clean power project investments over the next 10 years under the Enhanced clean energy scenario, an increase of $97 billion over the BAU scenario. Read more
From the U.S. Department of Energy EERE newsletter: The Philadelphia Eagles recently announced plans to power Lincoln Financial Field with a combination of onsite wind, solar and dual-fuel generated electricity, making it the world’s first major sports stadium to convert to self-generated renewable energy, according to the Eagles.
The franchise has contracted with SolarBlue, a renewable energy and energy conservation company to install the system. The planned design includes approximately eighty 20-foot spiral-shaped wind turbines on the top rim of the stadium; 2,500 solar panels on the stadium’s facade; a 7.6-megawatt (MW) onsite dual-fuel cogeneration plant; and a monitoring and switching technology to operate the system. The completion goal is September 2011.
SolarBlue will invest more than $30 million to build out the project, and will maintain and operate the stadium’s power system for the next 20 years at a fixed percent annual price increase in electricity. The football franchise will save an estimated $60 million in energy costs. The partners also project that Lincoln Financial Field will provide 1.039 billion kilowatt hours of electricity, enabling an estimated four megawatts of excess energy off-peak to be sold back to the local electric grid.
The energy to be generated by on-site renewable sources is comparable to the annual electricity usage of 26,000 homes. Solar Blue estimates that converting the stadium to renewable energy will eliminate CO2 emissions equivalent to that produced by the consumption of 500,000 barrels of oil. That equates to the removal of carbon emissions of 41,000 cars each year. See the SolarBlue press release.