The Sustainable Community is where we recognize communities  that are planned, built, or modified to promote sustainable living. This includes sustainability aspects relating to equality, water, transportation, energy, and waste and materials. We focus on environmental sustainability and economic sustainability, which also includes the development of agriculture, and culture and arts. Sustainable communities focus on sustainable urban infrastructure, social equity, and sustainable municipal infrastructure. The compliment of all three areas of sustainability, economy, environment, and equity, are essential to the creations of a sustainable community. Here we celebrate, those communities, and showcase the people behind these communities that are making a difference so that future generations may grow, and enjoy.

GE Renewable Energy to Equip First Commercial U.S. Integrated Solar-Wind Hybrid Project

GE Renewable Energy announced that it has been selected to supply equipment for the first commercial integrated solar-wind hybrid power generation project in the industry. The 4.6MW community based project in Red Lake Falls, Minnesota, developed by Juhl Energy, will use two 2.3-116 wind turbines from GE Renewable Energy’s Onshore Wind business supported by 1MW of solar power conversion equipment provided by GE’s Current business. The project is expected to enter commercial operation in August, 2017.

The project will use GE’s Wind Integrated Solar Energy (WiSE) technology platform – developed through GE’s Global Research Center - to integrate the solar panels through the wind turbine’s converter directly so both wind and solar share all the same balance of plant, increasing system net capacity by 3-4% and annual energy production by up to 10%. The hybrid design gives the project the ability to produce power when it is most needed. Basically, the solar provides summer peak energy, and the wind provides winter peak energy.

Pete McCabe, President & CEO, Onshore Wind, GE Renewable Energy, said, “By leveraging the complementary nature of wind and solar, this unique project shows how GE is driving technology innovation that will help customers deliver more renewable energy in an even more efficient manner.”

Dan Juhl, CEO of Juhl Energy, said, “Most energy experts agree that distributed generation will play a major role in the implementation of renewable energy in the US electrical market in the years to come. Juhl Energy’s package design, with the GE hybrid technology, can economically blend clean, renewable energy into the grid at lower cost, plus add reliability to the system.”

The global market for Hybrid Solar Wind projects could reach USD $1.47 billion by 2024, according to a report by Global Market Insights, Inc. U.S. hybrid solar wind market size was valued at USD $195 million in 2015 and is estimated to reach over USD $300 million by 2024.

GE Renewable Energy has installed more than 57,000 megawatts (MW) of wind power capacity by supplying more than 30,000 GE wind turbines in more than 35 different countries. This new contract demonstrates GE’s ability to provide a full range of technology solutions that help balance the intermittent nature of both wind and solar power.

Largest Wind Power Project in
British Columbia Completed

Pattern Energy Group LP (Pattern Development) announced the completion of its 184.6 megawatt (MW) Meikle Wind power project located in British Columbia, approximately 33 km north of Tumbler Ridge. 

"Meikle Wind is now the largest wind facility in British Columbia, increasing the installed wind power capacity in the province by 37%," said Mike Garland, CEO of Pattern Development. "Located in a mountainous region, this project was unique for its construction, design and weather challenges, as well as for our discovery of rare dinosaur tracks during construction, which we donated to the Tumbler Ridge Museum. Meikle Wind would like to thank the participating First Nations, the communities of Tumbler Ridge and Chetwynd, BC Hydro, as well as the general contractor Borea Construction and turbine supplier GE, for their collaboration on making this project a great success."  

The Meikle Wind facility is utilizing 61 GE wind turbines and has the capacity to generate clean energy for up to 54,000 homes in the province. The facility has a 25-year power purchase agreement with BC Hydro. Meikle Wind utilized more than 500,000 person-hours of labor during construction, with in excess of 30% of the value of contracts awarded to First Nation-affiliated contractors and other regional firms. Going forward, the facility will be managed by 16 operations and maintenance personnel, and will also utilize a variety of local subcontractors.  

The Meikle Wind facility was thoughtfully designed and planned, incorporating input from First Nations, the Tumbler Ridge and Chetwynd communities, and the provincial government. The project's innovative layout, developed in collaboration with GE, incorporates two different turbine models consisting of varying rotor sizes and hub heights. This design was developed to capture the most energy from the ridgelines, accounting for varying wind speeds, wind shear, turbulence and inflow angles. Meikle Wind is located within an area that was significantly impacted by pine beetle kill and previous forestry activity, reducing the overall environmental impact of the project.

 Meikle Wind is generating strong benefits for the province with an estimated $70 million in payments for property taxes, Crown lease payments, wind participation rent, and community benefits over the first 25 years of operations. 

The 184.6 MW Meikle Wind facility expanded British Columbia's total installed wind capacity to 673.6 MW, according to the Canadian Wind Energy Association (CanWEA). 

Affiliate company Pattern Energy Group Inc. (NASDAQ: PEGI) (TSX: PEG) (Pattern Energy) has previously added the Meikle Wind facility to its list of identified Right of First Offer (ROFO) projects.

Developing countries take clean energy lead globally

Photo credit: DFID - UK Department

Developing countries have made unprecedented pledges to consume more clean energy tomorrow even as they are leading the way today with record new wind and solar project completions, the latest edition of Climatescope concludes.

Climatescope, the clean energy country competitiveness index and online tool supported by the UK and US governmentsoffers a compelling portrait of clean energy activity in 58 emerging markets in Africa, Asia and Latin America and the Caribbean. The group includes major developing nations China, India, Egypt, Pakistan, Brazil, Chile, Mexico, Kenya, Tanzania and South Africa, as well as dozens of others.  Visitors to can use the site to learn about clean energy policy and activities in individual nations, download extensive datasets, and compare countries on their performance.

This marks the third year Climatescope has been conducted globally and reflects activity in 2015, a year that culminated with the signing of the Paris Climate Agreement at UN-sponsored talks in December. In the run-up to those negotiations, three quarters of the Climatescope nations submitted or reiterated pledges to cut their future CO2 emissions.  An even higher number are now on record with promises to achieve certain clean energy consumption goals in coming years.

These countries are not waiting to get started on adding renewable capacity, however. Between them, they added 69.8 gigawatts of new wind, solar, geothermal, and other renewable power generating capacity in 2015 – the same as total installed capacity in Australia today. China accounted for the majority of activity in Climatescope countries, but smaller nations also played important roles. By comparison, wealthier Organisation for Economic and Co-operation and Development (OECD) countries built 59.2 gigawatts last year.

Among Climatescope's other key findings:

  • Steep solar equipment cost declines are catalysing build and driving growth. Investment in utility-scale solar in Climatescope nations spiked 43% to $71.8bn in 2015. Tenders held for power-delivery contracts have highlighted that photovoltaics (PV) can now compete against and beat fossil-fuelled projects on price in some nations.

  • Cheap solar, innovative business models, and a new breed of entrepreneurs are revolutionizing how energy access issues are addressed in least developed nations. New players focused on "off-grid" or "mini-grid" solutions are challenging the assumption that only an expanded hub-and-spoke power grid can meet the needs of the world's 1.2bn with inadequate access to power. A slew of these start-ups are privately-funded and between them had raised over $450m cumulatively through year-2015.

  • Developed economies are accelerating funding for clean energy in emerging markets.  Private investors, lenders, and development finance institutions in OECD countries accounted for nearly half of all capital to Climatescope countries (excluding China, where virtually all capital was provided locally). This is up from the roughly one third of capital provided in 2012.

  • Some Climatescope countries with the highest rates of clean energy penetration are beginning to encounter integration challenges. Some have seen projects completed before sufficient transmission could be built. Others have not prioritized clean electrons from wind or solar projects in their grids over those from coal-fired plants.

  • Improving conditions and rising ambitions are reflected in higher scores achieved by the majority of countries surveyed under Climatescope. The project scores countries on a 0-5 basis based on the conditions they create for fostering clean energy development. Across all countries, the average rose from 1.14 last year to 1.35 while the number of countries scoring above 2 jumped from two to 10.  As in the past two years, China once again topped the list of all countries. Chile, Honduras, Kenya, Mexico and Uruguay are the top scorers that recorded the most improvement.

The UK Government Department for International Development (DFID) is focused on promoting economic development opportunities to help developing countries lift themselves out of poverty and, with the US Agency for International Development (USAID), have, commissioned Bloomberg New Energy Finance (BNEF) to analyze and rank development prospects for solar, wind, small hydro, geothermal, biomass, and other zero-carbon emitting technologies (excluding large hydro).In many developing countries a lack of reliable energy inhibits economic growth. The report provides the research needed to drive investment into developing economies and to secure clean, stable energy supplies for millions of the world's poorest people.

A country's ranking depends upon various factors: its clean energy investment policy, its market conditions, the structure of its power sector; the number and makeup of local companies operating in clean energy; and efforts toward reduction of greenhouse gas emissions. The final output is the most comprehensive, one-stop source for decision makers to learn more about the market conditions for clean energy in these regions.

All of the research is easily accessed at, which includes an interactive tool for users to pinpoint specific information, from the most granular country details to specific sector analysis. The website also allows for complete downloads of the Climatescope data in Excel format.

Renewable Life for Chernobyl's Exclusion Zone

Photo credit: Eamonn Butler

GCL System Integration Technology Co., Ltd. (GCL-SI) , (Shenzhen: 002506), a subsidiary of the world's leading energy group GCL, recently announced the cooperation with China National Complete Engineering Corporation (CCEC) in the Chernobyl PV plant project. To help rebuild the "exclusion zone" with solar power thirty years after the Chernobyl accident marks another important move of GCL-SI toward global market.

The 1986 explosion and meltdown in Chernobyl released vast quantities of radiation, contaminating approximately 30 km2 of land with fallout. The Ukrainian government now aims to give a new renewable life to the exclusion zone. In October, the country's Ministry of Environment and Natural Resources claimed the plan to build a PV plant at Chernobyl. "Its cheap land and abundant sunlight constitute a solid foundation for the project. In addition, the remaining electric transmission facilities are ready for reuse," said Ostap Semerak, Ukraine's minister of environment and natural resources.

Two Chinese companies will play significant parts in Chernobyl's revival. Whereas CCEC as the general contractor manages the overall project, GCL-SI offers consultancy and planning service as well as PV facilities to the project. According to GCL-SI, construction of the over 1 GW PV plant is expected to initiate in 2017. Once completed, Chernobyl will re-catch the global attention as a revived site of solar energy.

"There will be remarkable social benefits and economical ones as we try to renovate the once damaged area with green and renewable energy. We are glad that we are making joint efforts with Ukraine to rebuild the community for the local people," said Mr. Shu Hua, Chairman of GCL-SI.

Regarding GCL-SI's overseas strategy, Mr. Shu further commented, "We have been dedicated to providing integrated solar services and will take diverse approaches this year to drive penetration and achieve global presence. The Chernobyl project is also one of our key steps to approach abroad."

Vietnam Promoting Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency in A Big Way

Vietnam sees great business potential for renewables, while at the same time they're embracing the opportunity to build a society that can benefit in more ways than one when it comes to clean energy. And on November 11, they'll be showcasing to the world how they are going about promoting their efforts with the RE & EE VIETNAM 2016 Exhibition.

There are just two months to go until the doors open on Vietnam's leading renewable energy and energy efficiency exhibition -- RE & EE VIETNAM 2016. The exhibition, from 9 to 11 November 2016, is co-located with Vietnam's leading international water supply, sanitation, water resources and purification event, VIETWATER 2016, at the Saigon Exhibition and Convention Center (SECC), Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam.

This is Vietnam's leading renewable energy and energy efficiency trade show and it is organised by UBM Asia and supported by the Vietnam Energy Conservation and Energy Efficiency Association, Vietnam Automation Association, Energy Conservation Center Ho Chi Minh City and the EU-Vietnam Business Network.

RE & EE Vietnam 2016 is a unique showcase welcoming leading exhibitors and international pavilions (the EU, Singapore, Thailand, Taiwan and many others) in different segments of the renewable energy and energy efficiency sectors. It covers a wide range of innovations and solutions using industrial boilers, waste heat recovery, drying process, heat exchange process in power plants and the private consumer as well as breakthrough technologies, including solar panels, electric machines, bioethanol technology and control systems, among others.

Mr. Yoshimasa Kitada, Sales Manager, Mitsubishi Electric Vietnam, one of the leading exhibitors at RE & EE Vietnam 2016, said, "As a leading corporation in the manufacture & provision of electronic equipment for home, commercial and industrial use, we at Mitsubishi Electric believe that VietWater and RE & EE Vietnam 2016 will be a good business platform for energy & water industry players to showcase the best solutions and we are expecting to meet up with the right partners and find more potential customers here."

Running alongside RE & EE Vietnam 2016 is the Conference. The Conference theme this year is "Vietnam Energy Forum: Towards Sustainable Energy Development in Vietnam." Presented by leading industry experts such as Dr. Do Huu Hao, Chairman, Vietnam Energy Conservation and Energy Efficiency Association, and Mr. Huynh Kim Tuoc, Director, Energy Conservation Center Ho Chi Minh, this forum is about sharing information on the Vietnam energy market and trends as well as some recent renewable projects in Vietnam.

In addition, there will be B2B Networking Meetups inside the hall of the RE & EE Vietnam 2016 Exhibition. With the support of the Energy Conservation Center Ho Chi Minh City and the EU-Vietnam Business Network, RE & EE Vietnam 2016 is a business bridge for professionals to meet and connect with their target partners who are interested in their own business.

Renewable Power for Community Emergency Center

The Hartley Nature Center in Duluth, Minn., has installed a Sunverge Solar Integration System (SIS) to provide reliable backup electric power to meet operational needs during power outages. Storing power from the center's solar panels, this installation—the first of its kind in the state—will ensure vital Center operations never miss a beat, even when the grid goes down. The SIS will also allow the Center to serve as a community charging resource during times of disaster, keeping citizens connected with the people they need to contact.

The project is the result of a broad set of partnerships and community support. Funding was provided by the U.S. Department of Energy's SunShot program, the Clean Energy Group, the University of Minnesota-Duluth and the City of Duluth. Other partners include renewable energy non-profit group Ecolibrium3, as well as the University of Minnesota Extension Service, Lake Superior College, the Minnesota Power Foundation, Werner Electric, Innovative Solar Inc., Solar Market Pathways and the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (Chapter 242). The system was installed by Great Northern Solar, a Sunverge Authorized Installer.

"We're thrilled to bring this unique emergency resource to the people of Duluth," said Tom O'Rourke, executive director of Hartley Nature Center. "We are committed to nature and to our community, and being able to call on our solar power via the Sunverge system lets us meet both those commitments."

Sunverge's systems capture excess power generated by the rooftop solar panels installed by homeowners and small businesses. Using sophisticated intelligence that is integral to the system, the SIS will automatically switch from the electric grid to stored renewable power at peak demand times, when energy prices are at their highest. This saves owners money on their monthly power bill and reduces the emissions from traditional power plants.

In many cases, individual SIS units are aggregating into a "Virtual Power Plant" that can help utilities reduce the need to switch on expensive and polluting central power plants at peak times. This connection of the units as a VPP through a flexible cloud-based software platform makes possible the transition to power as a service and allows more intelligent, automatic and efficient management of distributed energy resources, including rooftop solar, energy storage and other distributed energy resources.

"This project is an excellent use case for intelligent energy storage," said Ken Munson, co-founder and CEO of Sunverge Energy. "The Center is providing a valuable service to Duluth residents and demonstrating what's possible when you combine renewable power, intelligent energy storage and forward-thinking customers like Hartley."

Schneider Electric Accelerates

Renewable Energy Transactions

Schneider Electric earlier this summer introduced the New Energy Opportunities (NEO) Network™, a collaborative online platform that helps commercial and industrial companies quickly identify and vet renewable energy, cleantech and energy-efficiency prospects.

The network simplifies and accelerates the buying process by connecting end users to viable projects and technologies.

As a result, companies are able to find the right tools and financial vehicles to meet their sustainability goals — whether it's a power purchase agreement (PPA) for electricity from a wind farm or distributed solar installed on a parking lot coupled with energy storage.

The NEO Network joins sustainability and energy managers at Fortune 1000 companies with technology providers, project developers and affiliates, such as investors and law firms, to bring greater transparency and standardization to transactions. Founding participants include AEG, Allergan, Bloom Energy, Equinix and VF Corporation.

Schneider Electric will act as the network moderator, building the platform and qualifying the organizations that participate. The company will lend its energy management and sustainability expertise, which includes managing 40 gigawatts of electricity load in more than 100 countries on behalf of clients.

"Solar or biomass? Grid connected or not? PPA or lease? The endless questions and combinations make it difficult for companies to move their sustainability programs forward with speed and confidence," said Steve Wilhite, Senior Vice President of Energy and Sustainability Services at Schneider Electric. "Add in the falling price of renewables and storage, and a mass of new industry players, and the picture gets even more blurred. Our vision is to remove the layers, the complexity, and advance informed decision making and partnerships."

According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, global energy consumption will increase more than 50 percent by 2040, with renewables becoming the fastest growing energy source. In addition, PPAs tied to offsite wind and solar projects more than doubled in the U.S. and Mexico last year. As the need for cleantech grows, along with technology and purchasing options, companies face the challenge of finding an ideal fit to support their climate action and business goals. To address these concerns, the NEO Network allows participants to:

Discover — Participants have access to a knowledge center with whitepapers, research reports and market intelligence covering more than 50 countries and regions.

Connect — Companies create profiles outlining their sustainability objectives, project experience and capabilities and references. Community forums also allow participants to post questions, join in facilitated discussions and share best practices.

Exchange — Participants can collaborate with peers, and search for existing developments based on technology type, project size and location. They can also engage leading cleantech providers to initiate new sustainability projects.

"We recently contracted 330 megawatts of solar and wind energy through three different power purchase agreements, and understand how complicated the process can be," said Sam Kapoor, Chief Global Operations Officer, Equinix, which delivers interconnection and data center services to companies across the globe. "These are long-term contracts and we can't afford to lock into agreements with unknown financial risk. A platform such as the NEO Network will be valuable as we look to achieve our goal of 100 percent clean and renewable energy."

"Climate change is the defining issue of our generation, and we believe that urgent and focused action is needed now," said Letitia Webster, Vice President of Global Corporate Sustainability, VF Corporation. "As we take steps toward our 100 percent renewable energy target, the NEO Network is a tool to help navigate the complexities in the market more efficiently, and gather and share best practices."

City of Grass Valley Reduces City Electricity

 Spending by 50%, Saves $7 Million


The City of Grass Valley, California, announced at its last City Council meeting of June that it has completed the first phase of a successful renewable and energy efficiency program with OpTerra Energy Services. The program is aligned with the City's broader vision to achieve long-term savings through reduced energy and water use and lower maintenance costs, while also addressing aging infrastructure. Grass Valley is set to save nearly $7 million in energy savings as a result of solar and energy efficiency upgrades across 14 City facilities.

Making an Impact with Energy

Starting in the summer of 2013, Grass Valley leaders collaborated with a team of engineers from OpTerra to develop a program that would enhance energy performance across City sites, while improving fiscal stewardship aligned with a local commitment to environmental sustainability goals. City leaders viewed an opportunity to upgrade their energy profile as a way to generate a positive environmental change for the community, while also benefiting citizens through stimulation of the local economy with job creation associated with the project.

At the June 28th City Council meeting, the OpTerra team presented project close-out details on the work done across the City's publicly-facing service and administrative sites, from City Hall to Memorial Park Pool. Improvements across Grass Valley include new solar generation, LED streetlight retrofits across the City, ADA compliance retrofits for all streetlights, upgraded interior and exterior lighting, and installation and replacement of the roof at City Hall.

Generating Sustainable Savings through Solar

Through a comprehensive approach to energy program design, OpTerra worked side by side with the City through the program development and implementation phases, identifying viable grants and incentives to offset the cost of the energy project. As highlighted by team members at the Council meeting, financial risk after implementation was reduced because OpTerra monitors the annual savings and guarantees 80 percent of the savings for 20 years. If energy savings ever fall short during the partnership, OpTerra writes the City a check for the difference.

A large source of energy savings for the City is directly from new solar power. OpTerra built two new solar arrays and a solar hot water heating system at the Memorial Park Pool. A total of 1,700 square feet of solar panels were installed atop an existing shade structure and an extra matching shade structure was built for a heating system at the pool. To save on pumping energy costs for heating and water circulation in the pool, more efficient pumps were installed and the existing pool cover was replaced with a thicker, increased tensile strength cover. These upgrades lowered maintenance costs and provided better thermal insulation to maintain pool heat during non-use hours.

Additionally, a 777 kW ground mounted solar array was installed at the Slate Creek Lift Station and an 86 kW shade canopy PV solar system was installed at the Wastewater Treatment Plant, providing a reliable platform for the City to generate clean, renewable energy for years to come.

Sustainability for the Sierra Foothills

Community members attending the City Council meeting met with OpTerra team members and other local subcontractors who worked on the project prior to learn more about the far-reaching impact of Grass Valley's upgraded sustainability profile. As both members of the public and the City Council celebrated during the Board meeting, Grass Valley's energy technology overhaul has helped bring about more long-term impact as well:

Electricity spending is down by 50%

City roads are safer and more inclusive for all community members, with brighter LED traffic lights and ADA compliant streetlight.

Carbon emissions avoided as a result of the energy upgrades is the equivalent to removing 237 cars from the road annually.

Through this successful partnership, Grass Valley has implemented an integrated suite of energy solutions with assured project lifetime savings of $7 million. As expressed by Mayor Jason Fouyer, "We are proud to have this significant achievement in both energy savings and fiscal stewardship for the Grass Valley community through our energy project. This is a major win for all of us, as a small community committed to protecting the special place we call home through sustainable choices that also empower us to reinvest our savings right back into the community."

U.S. Department of Transportation Announces Columbus as Winner of Unprecedented

$40 Million Smart City Challenge


U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx announced today that Columbus, OH has been selected as the winner of the U.S. Department of Transportation's (U.S. DOT)'s Smart City Challenge. As winner of the Challenge, Columbus will receive up to $40 million from U.S. DOT and up to $10 million from Paul G. Allen's Vulcan Inc. to supplement the $90 million that the city has already raised from other private partners to carry out its plan. Using these resources, Columbus will work to reshape its transportation system to become part of a fully-integrated city that harnesses the power and potential of data, technology, and creativity to reimagine how people and goods move throughout their city.

"Each of the seven finalists put forward an array of thoughtful, intelligent, and innovative ideas that defined a vision for the future of the American city and formed a blueprint to show the world what a fully integrated, forward-looking transportation network looks like," said Secretary Foxx. "The Smart City Challenge required each city to think about transportation as cross-functional, not in silos, but as a transportation ecosystem. The bold initiatives they proposed demonstrated that the future of transportation is not just about using technology to make our systems safer and more efficient – it's about using these advanced tools to make life better for all people, especially those living in underserved communities. While Columbus is the winner of the Challenge, we believe each city has come out of this process with a stronger sense of how to address transportation challenges with technology and innovation."


President and Chief Operating Officer of Vulcan Inc. Barbara Bennett, United States Secretary of Transportation Anthony Foxx and Mayor of Columbus Andrew Ginther announce the Smart City Challenge winner, Columbus, Ohio at the city's Douglas Community Recreation Center.

"We are thrilled to be America's first Smart City. Our collaboration between public, private and nonprofit sectors is the perfect example of how we lift up our residents and connect all communities," said Mayor Andrew Ginther. "Smart Columbus will deliver an unprecedented multimodal transportation system that will not only benefit the people of central Ohio, but potentially all mid-sized cities. I am grateful to President Obama, Secretary Foxx, the U.S. Department of Transportation, all of our partners and especially the Smart Columbus team."

The Smart City Challenge generated a significant amount of excitement and interest amongst cities. U.S. DOT received seventy-eight applications in total – one from nearly every mid-sized city in America. The Challenge called on cities to do more than merely introduce new technologies onto city streets, requiring them to boldly envision new solutions that would change the face of transportation in our cities by closing the gap between rich and poor; capturing the needs of both young and old; and bridging the digital divide through smart design so that the future of transportation meets the needs of all city residents.

The seven finalist cities that were announced at South by Southwest (SXSW) in March – Austin, Columbus, Denver, Kansas City, Pittsburgh, Portland, and San Francisco – rose to the Smart City Challenge in an extraordinary way. They presented innovative concepts, proposing to create new first of a kind corridors for autonomous vehicles to move city residents, to electrify city fleets, and to collectively equip over thirteen thousand buses, taxis, and cars with vehicle-to-vehicle (V2V) communication.

Columbus was selected as the winner because it put forward an impressive, holistic vision for how technology can help all of the city's residents to move more easily and to access opportunity. The city proposed to deploy three electric self-driving shuttles to link a new bus rapid transit center to a retail district, connecting more residents to jobs. Columbus also plans to use data analytics to improve health care access in a neighborhood that currently has an infant mortality rate four times that of the national average, allowing them to provide improved transportation options to those most in need of prenatal care.

Public-private partnerships were essential to the success of the Smart City Challenge. The Department announced partnerships with some of the most innovative folks in the private sector, including launch partner Paul G. Allen's Vulcan Inc., cloud partner Amazon Web Services, NXP® Semiconductors, Mobileye, Autodesk, Alphabet's Sidewalk Labs, AT&T, DC Solar and Continental Automotive.  In addition, these seven cities were able to leverage U.S. DOT's $40 million grant to raise approximately $500 million more in funding – a vast majority of which comes from a diverse group of over 150 partners.  These partnerships illustrated the private-sector enthusiasm to help build an inclusive transportation system of the future.

Wind And Solar Power Helping

Preserve Galapagos Islands


A report on the Galapagos San Cristóbal Island Wind Project states the initiative has been a success, paving the way to further increasing renewable energy capacity in the region.

The Galapagos San Cristóbal Island Wind Project was inspired by an oil tanker incident in 2001 that saw approximately 150,000 gallons of fuel oil and diesel spilled in the pristine waters of the Galapagos Islands; one of the worst environmental disasters in the archipelago’s history.

To reduce reliance on diesel, three 800 kW wind turbines and three small solar panel systems were installed on San Cristóbal Island; which are supplying approximately 30% of the island’s electricity needs.

The renewable energy systems have produced 136,000 kWh of electricity to date; reducing diesel consumption by 2.3 million gallons and avoiding 21,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide emissions.

The  availability of the wind park during eight years of operation was 92%; a good result given the remoteness of its location and available supporting infrastructure of the region. Only two significant events occurred during the period – one incident took a wind turbine offline for 80 days and another where one unit was offline for 23 days.

An important aspect of the project was environmental planning. The Galapagos Islands are home to many species, some of which are critically endangered; such as the Galapagos petrel. Close monitoring has determined that during the whole period of operation of the wind farm, no petrels have been adversely affected.

The project was developed through a partnership between the Government of the Republic of Ecuador and Global Sustainable Electricity Partnership (GSEP). The rollout, which cost an estimated USD $ 10 million, was funded primarily through a grant of funds from member companies of GSEP.

The report states it’s viable to increase renewables on the island to a point where they could economically meet 70% of electricity requirements. This would involve fully automating systems that control the diesel and wind generation, installing more solar panels, adding another wind turbine at the existing wind farm on El Tropezón hill and integrating battery storage.

“…the GSEP is proud that the Galapagos San Cristóbal Island Wind Project has been a pioneer in the use of wind energy resources in the region,” states part of a media release.

” This project is a model for replicability in the Galapagos Islands, Ecuador, South America, and worldwide and will continue to benefit the residents of San Cristóbal Island in the years to come.”

The full report can be viewed here (PDF).

City of Salinas Celebrates

$22 Million in Energy Savings


The City of Salinas, CA, celebrated a major milestone in the implementation of its ongoing energy program with OpTerra Energy Services during a dedication event at their new solar farm on April 26, 2016. Since its inception in 2014, the heart of the comprehensive energy program has been focused on using energy as a platform to revitalize neighborhoods, build regional collaboration, and reduce the City's impact on the environment. As a result of solar, energy efficiency, and other energy conservation technology upgrades across the city, Salinas will save $22 million in energy and maintenance costs over the span of the 25-year life of the program.

Building Capacity for a Brighter City

Although clean energy production has driven the development of the City program, the long term goals are focused on using energy as a foundation to power positive health and sustainability impacts across the Salinas Valley as a whole. A complete retrofit of all the City's existing streetlights to more energy efficient LEDs, for example, reduces budgetary strains associated with maintaining older, less efficient fixtures while brightening roadways to enhance the safety and comfort of residents.

Speakers at the event commended the City for its regional leadership improving aging infrastructure and building capacity. With its focus on reducing financial pressure on the General Fund, the City has been able to redirect energy savings to increase funding for vital, ongoing community services like safety and education outreach. In addition to saving more than $1 million on utility expenses in the first year of the program, new sources of revenue have become available as a result of the City's new, renewable energy generation.

Facilities Modernization Yields Job Creation

At the celebration, City administration and OpTerra personnel highlighted some of the most visible changes resulting from the energy program, including the 6,000 LED streetlight retrofits and 2MW of solar production throughout the community. As a result of enhanced energy improvements across public facilities as diverse as the Permit Center to the Industrial Wastewater Treatment Facility, Steinbeck Public Library, and Municipal Airport, Salinas' energy program has stimulated the local economy by directly creating 50 local jobs in construction and administration associated with the project.

Growing a Sustainable Salinas

Through a tiered implementation timeline that delivered energy efficiency upgrades in tandem with solar generation, OpTerra has helped City leaders demonstrate progress to residents by completing multiple construction projects over a short period of time. In addition to LED streetlights and solar, over 14,000 interior and exterior lights at 23 different City sites were retrofitted to LEDs, with new HVAC equipment and energy management systems installed across City buildings as well. The new equipment supports a significant move toward ongoing improvement of Salinas' environmental impact. As a result of the comprehensive upgrades, the City's carbon emissions will be reduced by 7,266 metric tons by 2040 – the equivalent to removing over 1,530 cars off the road.

OpTerra CEO John Mahoney congratulated City leaders for all their success to date, saying "The OpTerra team applauds the City of Salinas for demonstrating how a public agency like a city can leverage the potential of a public-private partnership with a company like OpTerra to lead the way on sustainability, fiscal responsibility, asset management and energy performance. Their early successes are already proving the long-term impact of using energy as a foundation for progress."

Mayor Joe Gunter celebrated the impact of this far-reaching project with attendees at the dedication event as well. "Through our energy program with OpTerra, the City of Salinas is accomplishing critical, long-held goals, most notably saving millions of public dollars that can be reinvested into boosting public safety services and strengthening the local economy." The successes that the City has generated with solar power and energy efficiency translates into revitalized neighborhoods, stronger regional collaboration across agencies and local business, and an improved sustainability profile throughout the entire Salinas Valley.  

Sin City's Streets Going Solar

EnGoPLANET announced a partnership with the City of Las Vegas. Through the partnership with the city, EnGoPLANET will install their innovative solar-kinetic street lights solution at Boulder Plaza. It will be the first-ever installation in the world of this street lighting technology that combines kinetic and solar energy.

EnGoPLANET is a New York City-based clean tech start-up, and the company aims to become a leader in the off-the-grid street lighting industry. The company 

 plans to partner with Cities, Universities and Large Corporations in deploying this clean solution to light streets. According to their team, there are 300+ million inefficient street lights globally that must be replaced over the next decade.


EnGoPLANET’s Street Light is off-the-grid solution, powered by combining kinetic and solar energy. Kinetic energy is harvested from pedestrians’ footsteps via kinetic energy pads. When someone steps over a kinetic tile, energy is created and goes directly to the battery. The street light solution is also equipped with sensors that collect real-time data. The USB ports and Wireless Charging pad incorporated into the pole are additional useful features of the product.

Petar Mirovic, CEO of EnGoPLANET, said, “No corner of the planet and no sector of the global economy will remain unaffected by climate change in the years ahead. Currently, street lights in the world release more than 100 million tons of CO2 per year. Our generation has the moral responsibility to transform our energy system. EnGoPLANET’s Street Light solution will revolutionize the way we illuminate streets. It will reduce CO2 consumption by using only renewable energy sources, and also lowers maintenance bills. With many new features, these street lights will make cities smarter.”


He added, “If you look at traditional street light poles, you will see that they are useless. They simply hold the lighting. With our solution, we’ve changed that by incorporating useful features into the pole and transforming it into a free service spot where people can rest, charge their portable devices, or connect to WiFi.”


“The city of Las Vegas is a leader in sustainability, from our commitment to renewable energy to recycling, our alternative-fuel vehicles and streetlights,” said Mayor Carolyn G. Goodman and added:


“We are always interested in exploring new technologies that can help us to preserve our city for future generations."

A Million People Energized by Solar Plant in Morocco

The solar thermal plant at Ouarzazate will harness the Sun's warmth to melt salt, which will hold its heat to power a steam turbine in the evening.

The first phase will generate for three hours after dark; the last stage aims to supply power 20 hours a day.

It is part of Morocco's pledge to get 42% of its electricity from renewables by 2020.

The UN has praised Morocco for the level of its ambition. The UK, a much richer country, is aiming for 30% by the same date.

The Saudi-built Ouarzazate solar thermal plant will be one of the world's biggest when it is complete. The mirrors will cover the same area as the country's capital, Rabat.

Futuristic complex

Paddy Padmanathan of Saudi-owned ACWA Power, which is running the thermal project, said: "Whether you are an engineer or not, any passer-by is simply stunned by it.

"You have 35 soccer fields of huge parabolic mirrors pointed to the sky which are moveable so they will track the Sun throughout the day."

The developers say phase one of the futuristic complex will bring energy to a million people.

The complex stands on the edge of a gritty, flat, rust-red desert, with the snow-clad Atlas mountains towering to the North.

It is part of a vision from Morocco's King Mohammed VI to turn his country into a renewable energy powerhouse.

The country has been 98% dependent on imported fossil fuels, but the king was persuaded of the vast capacity of Atlantic wind, mountain hydro power and scorching Saharan sun.

The king's plans are being enacted by environment minister Hakima el Haite.

She said: "We are convinced that climate change is an opportunity for our country."

As part of its national commitment to the Paris climate conference, Morocco has pledged to decrease CO2 emissions 32% below business-as-usual by 2030, conditional on aid to reach the renewables target.

Currently Morocco imports electricity from Spain, but engineers hope that will not last long.

Paddy Padmanathan predicted: "If Morocco is able to generate electricity at seven, eight cents per kilowatt - very possible - it will have thousands of megawatts excess.

"It's obvious this country should be able to export into Europe and it will. And it will not need to do anything at all… it needs to do is just sit there because Europe will start to need it."

Morocco's previously useless slice of the Sahara is proving a blessing for solar power. Solar thermal technology only works in hot sunny countries. The price is falling, and its growing capacity to store energy is arousing interest.

The cost of solar photovoltaic (PV) panels is falling much faster but the International Energy Agency expects them both to play a part in an energy revolution which is likely to see solar as the dominant source of electricity globally by 2050.

Huge Floating Solar Power System On UK Reservoir

The UK’s United Utilities is building a floating solar farm that will generate 2,700 megawatt-hours of electricity each year.

Godley reservoir in Hyde, Greater Manchester, is the site of the 3MW installation that will see 12,000 solar panels on 30,000 floats installed by the end of this year.

We have a target to generate 35 per cent of our power requirements by 2020 and this project will make a significant contribution to that aim,” said Chris Stubbs, head of renewable energy at United Utilities.

As part of United Utilities’ energy strategy to generate more power, we identified the Godley reservoir as a suitable site to install a floating solar array to provide the water treatment works with approximately 33 per cent of its energy requirements.”

The system will help insulate United Utilities from increased power prices, enabling the company to keep water prices down.

The £3.5m ($5.4m U.S.) project will cover 45,500 square metres of the reservoir.

United says the Godley installation will be far larger than the only other floating solar site in the UK, a 800-panel pilot project in Berkshire. It appears the Godley system will also be the largest of its type in Europe.

The aquatic PV array will be second biggest in the world after a scheme in Japan according to United.

However, both these projects may be dwarfed by an even larger aquatic solar project soon. In March this year, Brazil’s Energy Minister announced plans for a massive 350MW floating solar farm project at the Balbina hydroelectric plant in the Amazon.

Floating solar has been popping up all over the world, including Australia where a facility has been constructed in Jamestown in South Australia’s mid-north region.

Floating solar power stations have some advantages over terrestrial based systems; such as the water below helping to keep the solar panels cool, boosting conversion efficiency. Other benefits floating PV arrays provide include reducing water evaporation and inhibiting the growth of algae – making them an interesting proposition.

Floating solar has also been of special interest in countries where land may be at a premium.

The End of Nuclear Power in Massachusetts

Pilgrim Nuclear Power Station (PNPS) is the only operating  nuclear power plant  in the U.S. state of Massachusetts – and it won’t be operating for much longer.

After having spent hundreds of millions of dollars to improve reliability, safety and security of the Pilgrim Nuclear Power Station, Entergy has announced it would be closing the facility no later than June 2019.

Entergy says the decision was made due to poor market conditions, reduced revenues and increased operational costs. The company states current and forecast power prices have fallen about USD $10 per megawatt hour, meaning an annual loss of more than $40 million in revenues for Pilgrim.

Pilgrim Nuclear Power Station has a 690 MW production capacity and contributes approximately 14% of the electricity generated in Massachusetts.

After shutdown, Pilgrim will transition to decommissioning – another expensive process. The plant site also hosts a dangerous legacy; spent nuclear fuel in an on-site storage pool that is awaiting federal direction on the correct disposal process.

So what will take Pilgrim’s place? While gas fired power generation is a very likely winner; solar and wind power may get more of a look in. With energy storage rapidly evolving, renewables may play a bigger role in the state’s energy mix than previously contemplated.

Massachusetts appears to be a renewable energy friendly state.

Massachusetts’ Renewable Energy Portfolio Standard (RPS) was one of the first programs in the USA requiring a certain percentage of the state’s electricity to come from renewable energy.

A goal to achieve 250 megawatts of solar power installations set by the state was achieved four years early; so an aggressive new goal was set of 1,600 MW by 2020. With regard to wind power, Massachusetts’ goal is to install 2000 megawatts of wind energy by 2020.

The state is also is also interested in energy storage. Massachusetts’ $10 million Energy Storage Initiative (ESI) is designed to advance this particular segment of the state’s clean energy industry.

Nuclear power has been losing support in the USA for some time and the business case for it is looking increasingly weaker. Bloomberg New Energy Finance (BNEF) recently stated the levelised cost of electricity of nuclear-power in the Americas and Europe rose to $261 per megawatt-hour in the second half of this year.

According to the Nuclear Energy Institute, 30 countries are operating 438 nuclear reactors for electricity generation (as at July 2015) and 67 new nuclear plants are under construction in 15 countries.


Scotland Increasing Renewable Energy

According to a WWF Scotland analysis, wind energy capacity in the country generated enough electricity to power all Scottish homes on five out of the 30 days of September.

Based on wind and solar electricity data provided by WeatherEnergy, WWF Scotland says wind turbines generated 563,835MWh of electricity, an increase of 82% compared to September 2014. Wind power alone generated around 28% of Scotland’s electricity needs for the month.

"Given the big jump in renewables output during September it’s very likely we’ll be breaking even more records this year,” said WWF Scotland’s director, Lang Banks.

For homes with solar panels installed, there was enough sunshine to generate an estimated 65- 70% or more of the electricity needs of an average household in some of Scotland’s regions.

Despite being well in to autumn, for the tens of thousands of homes that have installed solar panels to generate electricity or heat water, around three-fifths of their electricity or hot water needs could have been met by the sun during the month. This all helped Scotland to further reduce its reliance on polluting fossil fuels during September,” said Mr. Banks.

WeatherEnergy says as the country moves toward winter, solar output will drop off to a degree, but wind power output will start to ramp up.

In November last year, wind power generated 126% of the electricity needs of every home in Scotland. 2014 was the first time clean energy produced more power in Scotland than nuclear, coal or gas.

Scotland has set a target to generate the equivalent of 100 per cent of  its gross annual electricity demand by 2020 – a goal it appears it will have no problems in reaching. Just in practical offshore renewables resources, the country has an estimated 206 GW capacity potential.

At the end Q3 2014, 7,112 megawatts  of renewable electricity capacity was installed in Scotland, an increase of 10.5%  from the end of the second quarter in 2013.

Last week it was reported Scotland surpassed its target of generating 500 MW of locally and community owned renewable energy five years ahead of schedule.

Scotland’s renewable energy sector is also a major employer, supporting more than 11,000 jobs (January 2014).


Columbia, Maryland Running On

100% Renewable Energy

A new solar power station has enabled Columbia Association to complete its transformation to running facilities and services in Columbia, Maryland on 100 per cent renewable energy.

Columbia is an unincorporated city of nearly 100,000 people thatJames Rouse, Presidential Freedom Award was established in the 1960’s; part of the New Towns Movement in the United States. Its founder, James Rouse, sought to build a complete city that would respect the land and provide for the growth of people as well as making a profit.

Columbia Association (CA) is the nonprofit service corporation that manages Columbia. It operates a vast array of infrastructure, recreational, cultural and community services within the community; including fitness facilities, tennis clubs and dozens of swimming pools.

Columbia Association had been sourcing 75 percent of its energy from wind renewable energy credits. The final 25 percent is now being generated by a newly completed two megawatt solar farm; a project of SunEdison and Bithenergy.

The Nixon Farm solar project is located West Friendship, Maryland. Electricity generated by the plant is provided to Columbia via virtual net metering and under a 20 year power purchase agreement with SunEdison.

With the completion of the Nixon Farm solar power plant, the people of Columbia now enjoy the environmental and cost benefits of getting 100 percent of their electricity from renewable sources,” said Steve Raeder, SunEdison’s general manager of Eastern U.S. commercial and industrial solar.

SunEdison supplied solar panels and financing for the construction of the project. BithEnergy originated the project with Columbia Association, completed the permitting, site work and pre-construction services. SolAmerica built the solar power plant to SunEdison’s specifications. Ongoing operations and maintenance will be carried out by SunEdison Services.

Columbia Association is proud to be a leader in clean energy,” said Jeremy Scharfenberg, Columbia Association’s energy manager. ” By supplementing Nixon Farm’s solar energy with wind-based renewable energy certificates, we’ve been able to achieve our sustainability goals and reduce our carbon footprint by more than half.”

In addition to its renewable energy efforts, Columbia Association has been very active as an Energy Star Partner with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), promoting the benefits of the program to the community as well as carrying out various energy efficiency upgrades within the facilities it operates.


Vietnam’s First Solar Farm

Work has commenced on a 19.2-megawatt solar plant in the central province of Quang Ngai in Vietnam.

The country’s first solar power station, the facility is expected to start generating electricity in July next year.

The solar plant, which will cost around US$36.12 million to build, will export approximately 28,000,000 kWh of clean electricity to the country’s mains grid annually. The plant will use solar panels imported from Thailand.

A groundbreaking ceremony was held on Saturday – attending the event were Vietnam’s Deputy Prime Minister Hoang Trung Hai and many other government officials.

The project is led by Tianjin Co.; which also plans to develop a further 1,000 MW solar power capacity in the country.

The Encyclopedia of Earth states nearly a quarter of Vietnam’s domestic energy consumption comes from oil, with hydropower (10 percent), coal (20 percent), and natural gas (11 percent) making up the remainder.

Solar uptake in Vietnam has been reasonably slow to date and as in other countries where a significant chunk of the population lives in areas without access to reliable electricity, much of it has been in the form of small off-grid solar power system installs. Energypedia states by the end of 2014, there were approximately 15,000 small scale PV off-grid applications with a total capacity of 3,600 kWp throughout the country.

A project mapping solar resources in Vietnam (PDF) shows an average GHI of 4-5 kWh/m2/day in most regions in the southern, central and parts of the north of the country. Some southern regions experience peak irradiation levels of up to 5.5 kWh/m2/day on average.

Vietnam also has significant wind resources. Currently only 54MW is operational, but the country aims to have 1,000 megawatts of wind energy in place by 2020. Earlier this year, construction commenced on a 120-megawatt wind farm in the Central Highlands province of Dak Lak.

Vietnam has set a target of 20% of the country’s electricity being sourced from renewable energy by 2030. The nation is one of the fastest growing economies in the region and electricity demand is expected to see average annual growth between 11% and 16% until 2020.


Papua New Guinea Electrification Goals and Solar

A new report from ANZ encourages Papua New Guinea to ditch diesel power generation in favour of cheaper energy technologies such as solar PV, micro-hydro and biomass.

Currently, PNG’s energy mix is primarily oil (49%), biomass (39%), hydropower and geothermal (10%) and gas (2%).

Powering PNG Into The Asian Century”, prepared for ANZ by Port Jackson Partners, looks at new directions for electricity supply for the country based on its aspirations to provide electricity access to more of its citizens.

Papua New Guinea has set its sights on providing 70% of its population of 8 million access to electricity by 2030; up from around 8% currently. Supply will need to triple by 2030, or 7.2 per cent per year, in order to achieve the goal.

This report is designed to support to a national conversation about that challenge,” says ANZ Chief Executive Officer Papua New Guinea, Mark Baker. “It also forms a practical contribution, comparing different development scenarios against the new technologies and outlining options for the reform of the electricity sector.

The report says shifting away from a reliance on diesel electricity generation and embracing clean power opportunities will save US$5 billion and half emissions between 2015 and 2030.

Solar power really comes into its own in off-grid scenarios and these locations are where the majority of PNG’s population lives.

The report states diesel as being 50 per cent more expensive than a solar + energy storage setup in village settings – and with more than two thirds of new demand likely to be outside the nation’s current or future electricity grid, solar will play a big role in PNG’s energy future.

Done right, the rewards for Papua New Guinea are substantial as all industry is supported by electricity, and cheaper electricity means PNG businesses can be more competitive.

Economic development moves in lock-step with increased power supply. Social development relies on access to clean, affordable and reliable energy,” states the report.

However, the road ahead may not be a smooth one. ANZ says rapid and significant institutional and organisational changes will be needed to deliver these savings and the participation of the private sector will be key.


Manhattan's Solar Powered Underground Park

There’s another city of sorts beneath New York – underground. By harnessing the power of the sun using some clever technology, the world’s first underground park may spring up below the city’s streets.

Opened in 1908, the Williamsburg Bridge Trolley Terminal below Delancey Street on the Lower East Side of Manhattan was abandoned 40 years later. Even though it has been neglected for so long, it is still structurally sound.

The Lowline project aims to reclaim this unused space for public good, in the form of a park.

But in order for plants to survive, they need sunlight. The Lowline team have been tinkering with a system to reflect sunlight from a distributor dish underground and in 2012 built a full scale prototype of the technology in an abandoned warehouse in the Lower East Side.

The concept involves a series of reflective parabolic dishes set on a trackers collecting the sunlight, which is transmitted through a fiber-optic cable to a dome that reflects and distributes the channeled sunlight onto the area below.

The team believes the system has the potential to reflect so much light that many different plant species will be able to survive and  a botanical garden right in the middle of New York City can be created.

The next stage of the project will see the installation of three solar collection systems on the roof of an abandoned former warehouse space. These will be connected to a tube-based distribution system and a 12 metre wide canopy inside the building.

This research will be critical to our understanding of how much light can be gathered and filtered into the actual Lowline,” says the Lowline team. “And since we’ll conduct tests for six months, from September 2015- February 2016, we’ll see how this technology works in the fall and the winter.”

To build the “Lowline Lab”, USD$200,000 is required and a KickStarter crowdfunding project has been set up to raise the cash. At the time of writing, nearly $93,000 had been raised from more than a thousand backers, with 15 days to go in the campaign.

We envision not merely a new public space, but an innovative display of how technology can transform our cities in the 21st century. And along the way, we intend to draw the community into the design process itself, empowering a new generation of Lower East Siders to help build a new bright spot in our dense urban environment.


Renewables Trumped Nuclear

Power Generation In Europe

New figures show the global solar industry continues to achieve extraordinary growth year on year, with a record 40 gigawatts (GW) of PV systems installed in 2014, lifting total capacity worldwide to 178 GW.

According to Global Market Outlook 2015-2019 from SolarPower Europe – the first publication from the former European Photovoltaic Industries Association (EPIA) – price declines of 75 per cent in the cost of solar technology over recent years have propelled solar energy into a broadly recognised source of reliable electricity.

In 2014, the top three solar markets were China (10.6 GW), Japan (9.7 GW) and the USA (6.5 GW). In Europe, capacity grew by 7 GW with the UK for the first time outstripping Germany for most installed solar, adding 2.4 GW – a sign that solar power is a versatile and competitive energy source in any climate, according to SPE President Oliver Schafer.

Solar now provides seven per cent of the energy needs of three major European markets: Germany, Italy and Greece, and capacity could grow by 80 per cent on the continent by 2020.

“2014 also marks a tipping point in the make-up of our energy market. For the first time ever in Europe, renewables produced more power than nuclear. Solar power was a key in reaching this remarkable achievement,” Shafer said.

Optimistic modeling contained in the report out to 2020 based on current market momentum indicates the global level of solar capacity could reach a staggering 540 GW, with lower-end scenarios placing total solar volumes at 396 GW – roughly double that of today.

Since 2000, the world has seen the level of installed solar power rise by a factor of 100. The European market is experiencing a slowdown that began in 2013 with a transition away from feed-in tariff policies, but is still the global leader for the most solar with 88 GW installed.

Just 7GW of PV capacity was connected in Europe in 2014, compared to 10.5GW in 2013 and 17.7GW in 2012.

Ontario Reaps Renewable Benefits After Ditching Coal

Ontario’s booming clean energy industry continues to attract big investment in solar and wind projects, with the province expected to add some 2,300 MW of new renewable power by mid-2016.

The latest commission is the 270 MW K2 Wind farm, located in the southwest-Ontario township of Ashfield-Colborne-Wawanosh (ACW), which began supplying power this week.

The massive wind farm generates enough power for 100,000 homes and was built by Alberta-based developer Capitol Power, in partnership with Samsung Renewable Energy Inc. and wind power group Pattern Energy.

During its 18-month construction phase, the K2 facility was one of the biggest infrastructure projects carried out in Ontario. All 140 Siemens 2.3 MW turbines were built in local factories. 800 workers in nearby Tillsonburg and Winsor manufactured the 700 turbine sections and 420 blades for the project.

“Along with Samsung and Capital Power, we are proud to develop one of the largest wind facilities in Canada, which was built using local workers and local materials, including turbine blades and towers manufactured in Ontario,” said Mike Garland, CEO of Pattern Energy. “K2 Wind is the result of Ontario’s commitment to green energy, providing the province with a strong new addition to its renewable energy fleet.”

Under a 20-year power-purchase agreement (PPA), K2 Wind will sell power to the grid through an agreement with the Independent Electricity System Operator (IESO), Ontario’s energy regulator and the organisation responsible for control of the province’s Feed-In Tariff regime.

In 2014, Ontario became the first jurisdiction in North America to eliminate coal as a source of electricity, the equivalent of taking seven million cars off the road. The Ontario Energy Ministry took action after an independent 2005 study found the health, environmental and financial cost of coal-fired generation was approximately $4.4 billion per year.

This led to the passing of a Green Energy Act in 2009, which committed the government to fostering growth in a renewable energy economy through proactive funding and by removing policy barriers to investment. It also demanded greater energy efficiency measures and conservation across the public sector, government-funded institutions and the wider community.

These conservation policies have saved Ontario homes and businesses more than 1,900 megawatts of peak demand electricity since 2005 – the equivalent of more than 600,000 homes being taken off the grid.

Tvindkraft Wind Turbine’s 40th Anniversary 

Last week marked the anniversary of the ground-breaking for Tvindkraft, a wind turbine that became somewhat of a poster child for the wind industry – and for the power of community collaboration.

The idea of Tvindkraft was hatched in the schools of Tvind, an international school centre in the small town of Ulfborg in Denmark, during the 1970’s oil crisis. The teachers wanted to supply the schools with cheap, clean and renewable energy. They also wanted to show Denmark’s government that there was an alternative to nuclear power; which was being planned for the country at the time.

Teachers, students and others made up the construction team and on 29th May 1975, 400 people gathered at Tvind with shovels in hand to break ground. While construction may have commenced in 1975, it wasn’t until the 26th of March in 1978 that Tvindkraft started producing power.

Unlike the streamlined processes in place today for erecting wind turbines rapidly, the construction of Tvindkraft was slow and saw its share of challenges. For example, twice as much concrete was needed than what had been originally calculated – and the funds weren’t available to buy the extra concrete from the local mixing plant. The group then decided to buy a very large concrete mixer and do it themselves.

Every challenge was overcome and their efforts produced a wind turbine with an incredibly long lifespan. It has required very little in the way of repairs during its long tenure. A few blade bearings have been replaced, the blades replaced once, yawing and control systems modernised and another frequency converter added to increase capacity.

By the end of last year, Tvindkraft had clocked up 150,540 operational hours and had generated 20,000, 000 kilowatt-hours of electricity.

Tvindcraft has a maximum output capacity of 900kW. Each blade is 54m long and weighs 3.2 tonnes.

The impact Tvindkraft had is evident in Denmark’s current wind capacity. In 2014, Danish wind turbines supplied 39.1% of  the country’s electricity needs.

As for the number of nuclear electricity generation facilities in the country – it’s still zero. In 1985, a law passed by the Danish parliament prohibited power production from nuclear energy in Denmark.

Denmark has set a target of 50 per cent wind power in its energy mix by 2020. The country has also set its sights to be completely free of dependence on fossil fuels by 2050.

Historic Renewable Energy Project for

West Warwick, Rhode Island

Over the last few months, the smallest state in the union has been making some awfully big news when it comes to clean energy initiatives. Back in April of 2015, Rhode Island became home to North America’s first off-shore wind project with Deepwater Wind,which is building five-turbines off of Block Island. Well, now a second major wind project is on its way.

On May 21st, the city of West Warwick held an all-day referendum where voters approved issuing $18 million in bonds to pay for three large wind turbines that would be installed on private land in rural Coventry. The 1.5-megawatt turbines would sell all the energy they generate to the regional power grid, an amount projected to be greater than the total used by the West Warwick Town Hall, the town’s police and fire stations, the library, schools, transfer station and local sewage treatment plant.

Julian Dash of Clean Economy Development conducted an energy analysis for the project the findings indicated that if electric rates increase at about 4.5 percent annually -- a conservative estimate considering seasonal spikes in the last few years -- over the 25-year life of the turbines, West Warwick would save an estimated $44 million in power costs.

According to sources groundbreaking on the project should occur later this year with the system being on-line not too long after.

China’s jaw-dropping progress at

reducing CO2 emissions

Against all odds, China has made tremendous strides in the fight against CO2 emissions. In just four months, it reduced levels to the amount the UK emits in the same period. Experts have been warning China for years of an impending eco catastrophe.

The progress comes on the heels of Chinese promises to shut down the last remaining coal plant in Beijing in 2016 and cut reliance by 160 million tons in a matter of just five years. Very worrying statistics have been coming out of the country, with stark health warnings to people living in or near the industrial regions of the country.

An analysis of its energy production, carried out by Greenpeace and Energydesk China, reveals a drop of eight percent in coal consumption and a reduction in CO2 emission by five percent in as little as four months, since the start of this year. In comparison to last year, the pace of weaning itself off coal is gathering steam.

To achieve these reductions, China has had to close more than 1,000 coal plants (it leads the world in coal consumption and greenhouse gas emissions). It managed to get levels down to the same amount the UK has emitted in the last four months.

It’s a good time to get results, as the UN Paris summit on climate change is coming up in just six months, with all hopes pinned on reaching a global consensus on policy matters.

But China, historically, has been very resistant to others telling it what to do, due to a huge reliance on outdated methods of energy generation. This appears to be changing, with President Xi Jinping’s and Indian Prime Minister Nadendra Modi’s public calls for developing countries to commit to cutting carbon emissions and a pledge to help others to do so.

The two nations have just signed a record $22 billion in deals.

Off Grid Solar For 100,000 Households In Ghana

Affordable, pay-as-you-go solar power will be supplied to 100,000 off-grid homes in Ghana over the next 2 years.

Announced at the recent Solar & Off-Grid Renewables West Africa Event; Azuri Technologies has partnered with Oasis African Resources for the program that will focus on cocoa farming regions in the country. An estimated 5 million people in rural Ghana are without access to mains grid power.

“This initiative supports the Government’s commitment to fully incorporate renewable energy into our energy supply mix, as outlined by the President during his State of the Nation’s Address,” said Ghana’s Minister for Power, Dr. Kwabena Donkor.

” The Ministry of Power is pleased to support this project for rural households, and will also explore other avenues with Oasis, Azuri and other renewable energy partners to establish solar as a significant and reliable power source for micro enterprises in both rural and urban communities.”

Households will be supplied with Azuri Technologies’ Quad product; which consists of a 10W solar panel, 4 LED lamps, a USB port and connectors for charging cell phones, a radio/MP3 player and digital switching. 

The lamps were designed in partnership with Philips Lighting to provide optimal output for at least 15,000 hours, or 2,500 days based on 6 hours of use each night.

Customers will pay for the system incrementally by the regular purchase of top-up credit, which Azuri says will usually cost less than the lighting costs and phone charging fees being replaced. The purchase of top-ups allows the system to be paid off over approximately 18 months.

The roll-out will build on previous successful pilot deployments in Ghana that have occurred over the last 18 months.

In 2013, Azuri Technologies was a winner of the International Ashden Award for its ‘Indigo Duo’ starter solar home systems consisting of two lights and equipment for cell phone charging. Also a pay-as-you-go system, it enabled customers to pay for their energy and equipment with scratchcards over a period of time.

Azuri Technologies is based in Cambridge, United Kingdom, with staff in Uganda, Ghana and Ethiopia and a presence in 10 countries across sub Saharan Africa. Azuri says it has the widest reach of any pay-as-you-go solar service in sub Saharan Africa.

Ghana is becoming a hotbed of activity for solar; spurred on by the nation’s deepening energy crisis. Earlier this week, Samsung Electronics Africa launched a Digital Village at the Volo community in the country’s Volta Region.

Ghana has a non-hydro renewables target of 10% by 2020. This could be exceeded with just two major projects; the 225 megawatt Ayitepa wind farm and the 155-megawatt Nzema solar PV project.

China Gifts Pakistan’s Parliament with Solar

Pakistan’s parliament has received an interesting gift from China – a solar power system.

According to Pakistan Today, the President of the People’s Republic of China, Xi Jinping, and Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif inaugurated the 1.2MW project on Tuesday, which will supply power to the parliament building

Prime Minister Muhammad Nawaz Sharif  said President Xi Jinping’s visit, the first since he assumed office in 2013, would usher in a new era of development in Pakistan and start a new chapter in the friendship between the two countries.

Part of that friendship involves renewable energy.

The countries concluded a number of documents, agreements/MoUs relating to energy, including:

  •  Term Sheet of the facility for Zonergy 9×100 MW solar project in Punjab between China Development Bank Corporation, EXIM Bank of China and Zonergy Company limited.

  •     Drawdown Agreement on Jhimpir wind Power project between UEP Wind power (Private) Limited as Borrower and China Development Bank Corporation as lender

  •     Facility operating Agreement for Dawood Wind Power project between ICBC and PCC of China and HDPPL.

The two leaders also inaugurated the energising of a 100 MW solar power plant at Quad-i-Azam solar park, Bahawalpur by unveiling a plaque.

Ground breaking of a number of other renewables projects was also jointly performed by Prime Minister and President  via video link:

  •     Karot 720 MW Hydropower project.
  •     Dawood 50 MW Wind-power project.
  •     Sachal 50 MW Wind-power project
  •     Zonergy 900 MW solar project
  •     Jhimpir 100 MW Wind-power project

Another country’s parliament building that recently started harvesting power from the sun is Israel’s Knesset. 1,500 solar panels were recently installed on the Knesset’s rooftops. The 450kW system is expected to supply around 10% of the building’s electricity.

Other energy saving measures, such as the installation of thousands of LED lights, combined with the solar electricity are expected to reduce the Knesset’s mains grid energy use by a third.

At the unveiling in March, Israel declared its solar PV array to be the “largest solar field in any parliament in the world,” but it’s a title it appears to have lost to Pakistan after just a few weeks.

350MW Floating Solar Farm For Brazil

Brazil’s Energy Minister, Eduardo Braga, has announced a massive floating solar farm project at the Balbina hydroelectric plant in the Amazon.

At a news conference late last week at the Federation of Industries of Rio de Janeiro (Firjan), Minister Braga said the Ministry of Mines and Energy intends commencing pilot tests of solar power generation in hydroelectric dams within four months.

Far from just dabbling in floating solar technology, the first floating PV power station will be huge – 350MW capacity. Electricity produced by the facility is expected to cost between approximately US $69 and $77 per megawatt hour.

Built between 1985 and 1989 to provide a renewable electricity supply to the city of Manaus, the Balbina hydroelectric plant has been a controversial project. In addition to the loss of habitat that occurred with its construction, it’s claimed that methane released from the massive reservoir, which covers 2,360 square kilometres, means the facility emits more greenhouse gases than most coal plants. The hydroelectric capacity of Balbina is 250MW.

Brazil is no slouch when it comes to renewable energy. Spurred on by the oil shocks of the 1970’s, the nation turned to alternative energy; primarily from hydro and sugarcane ethanol. Renewables accounted for more than 85.4% of the domestically produced electricity used in Brazil by 2009.

According to the International Energy Agency (IEA), Brazil has set the following renewable energy targets out to 2019

    • Hydro: from 83.1 GW in 2010 to 116.7 GW by 2019.
    • Small hydro: from 4 GW in 2010 to 7GW by 2019.
    • Biomass: from 5.4 GW in 2010 to 8.5 GW by 2019.
    • Wind: 1.4 in 2010 to 6 GW by 2019

The IEA says Brazil’s 10-year plan foresees an investment package of BRL 952 billion (approximately US $295.39 billion at current exchange rates).

Floating solar farms have been rapidly gaining popularity around the world – they solve issues relating to land usage, reduce water evaporation and the growth of algae. The water also helps to keep the solar panels cool, boosting conversion efficiency.

100% Renewable Energy Powered

Georgetown, Texas

 SunEdison, Inc. (NYSE: SUNE), has announced it will build new solar power generation facilities in West Texas to enable the City of Georgetown to go 100% renewable.

Georgetown, located 42 km north of Austin’s Central Business District, is a city with a population of approximately 47,400 and home to Southwestern University, the oldest university in Texas.

The 150MW of SunEdison solar plants will generate more than 9,500 gigawatt-hours of clean electricity to Georgetown through 2041, enough to power more than 24,000 households.

The projects  will create close to 800 jobs during construction and will be interconnected in 2016. Upon completion, SunEdison says it expects to offer the Georgetown project for investment to TerraForm Power, Inc. (NASDAQ: TERP), SunEdison’s yieldco.

“Georgetown is an exceptional city, and by going 100% renewable they will cut down on pollution, save water, and enjoy stable energy prices,” said Paul Gaynor, Executive Vice President of North America Utility and Global Wind at SunEdison.

They’re able to accomplish all of this without spending a penny up front with SunEdison’s power purchase agreement. Georgetown is a model for other cities that hope to become powered by clean renewable energy.”

SunEdison was the first solar energy provider in the world to offer a solar Power Purchase Agreement, also known as a solar PPA. The Georgetown project represents the largest utility scale solar agreement in Texas for the company to date.

According to Jim Briggs, interim city manager for Georgetown and general manager for utilities, the solar PPA along with a 144 megawatt wind power agreement finalized in 2014 will make Georgetown Utility Systems one of the largest municipal utilities in the USA to be 100% renewable powered.

Shared Solar Projects Powering Households Throughout America with Energy Department’s SunShot Initiative

For decades, typically only homeowners with enough rooftop space, the proper roof tilt, and just the right orientation to the Sun had the option to power their homes with solar. The average cost of solar panels has dropped precipitously over the last decade, making solar a rapidly growing and affordable source of clean, renewable power for U.S. consumers. About 360,000 U.S. households have installed solar energy systems to date.  However, many Americans face challenges adopting solar. Perhaps they rent instead of own, or share a roof with neighbors in a condominium building. Maybe their homes have north-facing roofs or too much shade.  

There’s good news for people in this predicament: an innovative model for solar deployment, called shared solar, can help Americans take advantage of solar energy’s many benefits regardless of their housing situation. Participants in a shared solar program contribute directly to the deployment of a solar energy system, typically by owning or leasing a portion of the system or purchasing some of its energy output. In turn, they can slash their electricity bills.

Existing shared solar programs managed by utilities, entrepreneurial communities, and innovative solar developers are reaching a largely untapped market and realizing the financial benefits of the purchasing power of larger groups.  Such programs have many siting options for solar energy systems, including municipal buildings, school and church rooftops, and reclaimed lands (  like landfills. Apartment residents can participate in offsite programs or join forces with neighbors by using their own shared rooftop. Additionally, the President’s Climate Action Plan directs agencies to achieve a goal of installing 100 megawatts of renewable energy on federally-subsidized housing by 2020- approximately a five-fold increase from today- and these units represent a prime opportunity to utilize shared solar.

The Energy Department’s SunShot Initiative supports innovative approaches to solar deployment, including shared solar, to help make solar energy fully cost-competitive with other forms of electricity by the end of the decade.  These efforts include early community solar group purchasing models and SunShot’s shared solar guidebook. Most recently, SunShot hosted a workshop that brought together stakeholders from the solar industry, utilities, nonprofit and community organizations, federal, state, and local government, and the legal and finance fields to discuss opportunities for spreading shared solar beyond the approximately 50 megawatts deployed today.

As with any emerging class of business models, challenges remain, but shared solar holds the promise—and significant market opportunity—to help make solar energy accessible to all.

Interested in finding out more about how you can get involved in a shared solar project? Contact your local utility to see what types of solar programs are offered. For more information about shared renewables, check out the SunShot Initiative’s Guide  to Community Shared Solar and the Shared Renewables Headquarters website . For more information on how to design a shared solar program, check out Model Rules for Shared Renewable.

1 Million Solar Power Jobs Potential For India

Indian Prime Minister Modi's 100 gigawatt solar energy goal by 2022 could create as many as one million jobs says the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) and the Council on Energy, Environment and Water (CEEW).

Additionally, a proposed target of 60GW of wind energy could generate another 180,000 jobs in the country.

New analysis recently released by the two organizations says the 1 million jobs could be created within a decade and doesn't include employment generated in the manufacturing sector.

"Prime Minister Modi's clean energy plan creates enormous potential for India's booming population. It provides job opportunities and access to electricity that will power rapidly growing cities and villages," said Anjali Jaiswal, Director of NRDC's India Initiative.

The analysis states the jobs will be spread throughout the country, creating positive ripple effects on local economies across India.  Patchy data indicates grid-connected solar and wind energy combined are estimated to have created nearly 70,000 full-time jobs so far.

If India’s solar goals are realised, the nation will become the world’s biggest solar electricity powerhouse. It’s only taken 4 years for India’s solar market to have grown more than a hundredfold – the country currently has around 3 GW of installed solar capacity.

India is currently the world’s fifth largest wind energy producer, with 22 GW of installed capacity.

NRDC and CEEW’s analysis looks at different scenarios based on how solar projects might be split up between large and small scale, and the effect on employment opportunities.

Of the three scenarios presented, a split of 60GW rooftop and 40GW large-scale could generate the most jobs given the labor-intensive nature of rooftop solar.

“This scenario could create a potential 1,000,000 short-term FTE and 310,000 long-term FTE jobs, totaling more than 1,310,000 FTE jobs by 2022,” states the analysis.

The full report can be viewed here: Clean Energy Powers Local Job Growth in India (PDF).

Local and international solar companies are quickly gearing up to assist India in reaching its goals. US-based SunEdison has strong ties to India and among its upcoming local projects is 5GW of mega-scale grid-connected solar plants in Rajasthan, plus 5 other solar PV projects around the nation totaling 150 megawatts capacity. Another important initiative is SunEdison’s “Eradication Of Darkness” program that brings off-grid solar to impoverished communities.

UK Wind Power Sets New

Electricity Generation Records

Clean power lobby group RenewableUK is celebrating new statistics released by the National Grid showing January blew away all previous records for monthly, weekly and half-hour wind power production in Britain.

Last month, wind energy generated 14 per cent of Britain’s electricity requirements, 4.13 terawatt hours – the most productive month ever for wind power in the UK. In addition, January saw the weekly record broken with 1,119 gigawatt hours generated, and on January 2nd the half-hourly record was surpassed when gale-force winds spiked production to 31 per cent of the nation’s electricity demand.

The figures come on the back of more good news from energy provider National Grid that reveal 2014 was also record buster for wind energy generation in Britain, producing enough electricity to power over a quarter of UK homes.

New wind capacity in 2014 provided energy for an additional 6.7 million British households. The amount of electricity generated by new wind farms and smaller turbine sites dotted around the country rose from 24.5 terawatt hours in 2013 to 28.1 terawatt hours in 2014.

According to National Grid, this equates to a rise of 9.3 per cent of Britain’s overall energy needs – 25 per cent of annual household requirements – eclipsing 2013’s record of 7.8 per cent.

RenewableUK chief Maf Smith said the results were hugely significant for the sector as the UK enters an election year and called on all parties to heed the statistics.

“We’re now into a General Election year so we know that the political temperature is set to carry on rising over the next few months. The cost of energy has become an important political issue, so now would be a good time for voters, prospective parliamentary candidates and MPs to take account of the fact that onshore wind is the cheapest form of renewable energy we have at our fingertips.”

With the UK expecting 3GW of wind projects to be brought online in 2015, Smith expects the 10 per cent-plus generation figure to become the “new norm” in the UK, and that wind will become the biggest contributor to the nation’s goal of renewable energy providing 30 per cent power needs by 2020.

“It’s great to start 2015 with some good news about the massive quantities of clean electricity we’re now generating from wind, with new records being set month after month, quarter after quarter, and year on year, as we increase our capacity to harness one of Britain’s best natural resources.”

Renewables Competitive With Fossil Fuels : IRENA


The International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) says the cost of generating power from some renewable energy sources has reached parity or is cheaper than cost of fossil fuels.

The Renewable Power Generation Costs in 2014 report states biomass, hydro, geothermal and onshore wind are all competitive with or cheaper than coal, oil and gas-fired power stations – and that’s even without subsidies.

Individual wind projects are consistently generating electricity for USD 0.05 per kilowatt-hour without financial support, compared to  USD 0.045 to 0.14/kWh for fossil-fuel power plants.

Solar PV is rapidly closing the gap; with solar panel costs falling 75 per cent since the end of 2009 and utility-scale solar PV electricity generation costs plummeting 50 per cent since 2010.

IRENA notes a recent utility scale PV tender in Dubai was costed at just just 0.06USD/kWh.

Residential solar power systems are now as much as 70% cheaper than in 2008.

Between 2010 and 2014, the average LCOE (levelized cost of electricity) of residential systems in Australia declined by 52% and residential electricity price parity has been reached in parts of the nation. The report states the LCOE of solar PV in Australia is highly competitive due to the country’s excellent solar resources.

“Now is the time for a step-change in deployment for renewables,” said Adnan Z. Amin, Director-General of IRENA. “It has never been cheaper to avoid dangerous climate change, create jobs, reduce fuel import bills and future-proof our energy system with renewables. This requires public acknowledgement of the low price of renewables, an end to subsidies for fossil fuels, and regulations and infrastructure to support the global energy transition.”

The report says there are no technical barriers to the increased integration of variable renewable resources.

” At low levels of penetration, the grid integration costs will be negative or modest, but can rise as penetration increases. Even so, when the local and global environmental costs of fossil fuels are taken into account, grid integration costs look considerably less daunting, even with variable renewable sources providing 40% of the power supply. In other words, with a level playing field and all externalities considered, renewables remain fundamentally competitive.”

In terms of small scale off-grid and remote power, renewables now offer the best economic solution compared to diesel-fired generation – and this is  despite the reduction in oil prices at the end of last year and the beginning of 2015.

The International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) is the global hub for renewable energy cooperation and information exchange. It consists of 138 members (137 States and the European Union), including Australia.

India Making Solar Rooftops Mandatory


The government of Haryana, a state in north India, has announced all buildings occupying 418 square metres or more must install rooftop solar power systems by September 2015.

According to Times Of India  , any building of any age that meets the plot size criteria must install a minimum 1kW of solar panels; depending on the nature of the building.

A policy published in September states all qualifying residential buildings must install 1kW or 5% of connected load; whichever is greater.  Connected load is the sum of ratings of all electrical equipment connected at a supply point; regardless of whether the equipment is being used or not.

Privately owned educational institutions will be required to install a minimum 5kW peak of solar, or 5% of connected load. Government buildings and government run educational institutions with a connected load of 30kW or more must install 2kW peak or 5% of connected load.

Hospitals, nursing homes, factories, businesses, accommodation facilities and tourism complexes with 50 kW to 1000 kW connected load will be required to install a minimum 10kW solar power system or 5% of connected load. These establishments with above 1000 kW connected load will need to install a minimum 50kW system, or 3% of connected load – whichever is higher.

Solar companies in Haryana are about to get very busy, very quickly. To add to the sense of urgency for those affected, a government subsidy of 30% now available appears to have limited funds; so it will be a case of first in, best dressed.

Those who don’t install solar in time face fines.

India’s solar industry looks set for a massive year generally. Reuters  recently reported  Prime Minister Narendra Modi has ramped up solar energy targets; which would see India’s solar energy capacity increase by 33 times to 100,000 megawatts MW in 7 years. The Prime Minister is looking to companies from China, Japan, Germany and the United States to lead investments of USD $100 billion for this solar revolution.

Among the US companies with a solid presence in India is SunEdison. In October, SunEdison announced it had signed an official Memorandum of Understanding with the Rajasthan government to build 5GW of mega-scale grid-connected solar plants in the state. In November, SunEdison was awarded 5 solar PV projects in India totaling 150 megawatts capacity.

Other big projects in India include a 750 MW solar park planned for Banaskantha in Gujarat and a USD $158 million initiative to subsidise state-run companies to build 1 GW of grid-connected solar PV projects around the nation over the next three years.

Vermont Ends Nuclear Power

Current Vermont Governor Peter Shumlin is happy to see the end of nuclear energy in his state.

“The closure of Vermont Yankee marks the end of years of controversy over operation of a nuclear plant in our state. I have long advocated for the closing of this plant at the end of its original license, and I believe the ceasing of operations today after nearly 43 years represents a positive step for our state and our energy future,” said Governor Shumlin.

” Today, thanks to investments in renewable energy such as solar, Vermont’s energy future is on a different, more sustainable path that is creating jobs, reducing energy costs for Vermonters and slowing climate change.”

Vermont Yankee was a significant employer and the Governor says his administration will continue working with local communities to ensure that jobs and opportunities in the region grow as operations wind down at the plant.

Entergy VY, owner of Vermont Yankee, will provide $10 million in economic development for Windham County over five years and $5.2 million in clean energy development support for Windham County and elsewhere.

Decommissioning the plant isn’t just a case of the last one leaving not forgetting to turn out the lights. According to the Toledo Blade:

“The plant will sit for decades while its radioactive components cool and its decommissioning fund grows. It’s expected to cost nearly $1.25 billion to dismantle the plant, which likely won’t occur until the 2040s or later.”

The USA Energy Information Administration states there are currently 62 commercially operating nuclear power plants with 100 nuclear reactors in 31 states in the USA. Thirty-five of these plants have two or more reactors.

Approximately 17 million Americans live within 30 kilometres of a nuclear plant – an area the size of the Fukushima evacuation zone.

Japan's Sustainable Smart Town Opened

The grand opening of a “smart town” in Fujisawa City, Japan that will support 1,000 solar powered households occurred last week.

Covering 19 hectares and located on the outskirts of Tokyo, Fujisawa Sustainable Smart Town (Fujisawa SST)  is being built on the concept of a smart community lifestyle taking into account such aspects as energy, security, mobility, and healthcare.

Aiming for over 30% renewable energy usage, the town will also be water-friendly; with a 30% reduction in water usage compared with facilities and equipment used in small communities in 2006. The goal is to create a community with 70% less carbon impact compared to 1990.

In addition to solar panels being a common sight across the town, energy storage systems will also be used in each semi-detached house. In the south of the town, a community solar farm has been constructed and modules also line approximately 400m of the prefectural highway.

Japan is no stranger to natural disasters and Fujisawa SST is being built with this in mind. In the event of mains grid interruption, the town will not only have enough power through its own grid to keep functioning, but will be able to supply some surrounding areas.

Fujisawa SST consists of several zones and incorporates residential, community, commercial and health facilities.

Homes in the town are being constructed by PanaHome, Panasonic Group’s house builder, which is developing eco-friendly towns across Japan.

The town’s transport system includes eco-car sharing and rent-a-car services, freeing residents of the burden of owning a car.

The town is expected to be completed by 2018, at a total project cost of 60 billion yen.

Fujisawa Sustainable Smart Town is a project promoted by the Fujisawa SST Council and involves 18 companies; led by Panasonic Corporation. The Council hopes Fujisawa SST will act as a model for similar communities around the world.

Fossil Fuels Need To Be Out By 2100

The unrestricted use of fossil fuels should be phased out by 2100 if the world is to avoid dangerous climate change, a UN-backed expert panel says.

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change says in a stark report that most of the world's electricity can - and must - be produced from low-carbon sources by 2050.

If not, the world faces "severe, pervasive and irreversible" damage.

The UN said inaction would cost "much more" than taking the necessary action.

The IPCC's Synthesis Report was published on Sunday in Copenhagen , after a week of intense debate between scientists and government officials.

It is intended to inform politicians engaged in attempts to deliver a new global treaty on climate by the end of 2015.

The report says that reducing emissions is crucial if global warming is to be limited to 2C - a target acknowledged in 2009 as the threshold of dangerous climate change.

The report suggests renewables will have to grow from their current 30% share to 80% of the power sector by 2050.

In the longer term, the report states that fossil fuel power generation without carbon capture and storage (CCS) technology would need to be "phased out almost entirely by 2100". 'Science has spoken'

The Synthesis Report summarises three previous reports from the IPCC, which outlined the causes, the impacts and the potential solutions to climate change.

It re-states many familiar positions:

  •     Warming is "unequivocal" and the human influence on climate is clear

  •     The period from 1983 to 2012, it says, was likely the warmest 30 year period of the last 1,400 years

  •     Warming impacts are already being seen around the globe, in the acidification of the oceans, the melting of arctic ice and poorer crop yields in many parts

  •     Without concerted action on carbon, temperatures will increase over the coming decades and could be almost 5C above pre-industrial levels by the end of this century

  • "Science has spoken," UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said. "There is no ambiguity in their message. Leaders must act. Time is not on our side."

Ban Ki-moon: Inaction on climate change "will cost heavily"

"There is a myth that climate action will cost heavily," said Mr Ban, "but inaction will cost much more."

The US Secretary of State, John Kerry, described the report as "another canary in the coal mine".

"Those who choose to ignore or dispute the science so clearly laid out in this report do so at great risk for all of us and for our kids and grandkids," Mr Kerry said in a statement.

The Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change Ed Davey described the report as the "most comprehensive, thorough and robust assessment of climate change ever produced".

"It sends a clear message that should be heard across the world - we must act on climate change now. It's now up to the politicians - we must safeguard the world for future generations by striking a new climate deal in Paris next year," he said.

"The UK has been leading the world and bringing the world with us. The historic agreement to cut carbon emissions in Europe by at least 40 per cent by 2030 effectively means our Climate Change Act is being replicated across Europe, just as it's being copied in countries across the world as they seek to cap and cut their own emissions."

Blunt language

Prof Myles Allen from Oxford University, a member of the IPCC core writing team, said: "We can't afford to burn all the fossil fuels we have without dealing with the waste product which is CO2 and without dumping it in the atmosphere."

"If we can't develop carbon capture we will have to stop using fossil fuels if we want to stop dangerous climate change."

We Love LA Sustainability!

As Randy Newman likes to say, "I Love LA." Well ReNewable Now likes to say "We Love LA Sustainability!" It might not become a hit song, but it is sure a big hit for the environment, and for all around better living.  

We spent an entire week in Los Angeles and over the next month we will be releasing featured stories, videos, and radio programs that will showcase what this great city, its people, and businesses are doing when it comes to growing their sustainability. If you've followed ReNewable Now you know we always say that sustainability starts with the individual- from lifestyle choices, to philosophies, education, all the way to building better businesses and communities. And for many around the world, Los Angeles is a city they turn towards when it comes to finding examples and inspiration for how they can build or improve their growth when it comes to sustainability. And that is no different for us here at ReNewable Now, we wanted to find great examples coming out of California that we could profile and share with our audience to help inspire and educate when it comes to moving in a positive direction.

So as we embarked on our trip to Los Angeles, we had four areas we wanted to focus on.

First we wanted to engage on the government and municipality level of how a city like Los Angeles manages their sustainability efforts. To that end we were very fortunate to sit down and spend some time with Matt Petersen, the City's first ever Chief Sustainability Officer. Matt spoke about the challenges and complexities of managing a city the size Los Angeles, and how certain unique occurrences, such as potential earthquakes, make LA not your average city when planning long term sustainability.

Our second objective was to reach out to the business side of green and get a sense of the level of   success that is being enjoyed when it comes to building a company whose core mission is  sustainability. Well, we couldn't have been more fortunate to have spent a day with the CEO of Earth Friendly Products Kelly Vlahakis-Hanks. Sustainability has a lot to do with resilience, creativity, and the belief in one's self. When you hear the story of this great family-owned company that was started by Kelly's father back in 1967 out of a garage in Chicago, way before sustainability was in vogue, you can't help but become inspired. And when you learn about how Earth Friendly manages and operates their company it almost becomes a road map for success, from happy and well cared for employees, all the way to managing their consumption of energy. Earth Friendly is a living example coming full circle and we can't wait to share the story.

Our third area that we wanted to focus on was education, we wanted to get a sense of what institutions, colleges, and universities in the Los Angeles area were up to when it came to sustainability. Education and institutions play a vital role in the overall future of sustainability, and it is in three ways. First and foremost is preparing students for their futures and letting them understand the importance of sustainability. Second is managing resources on campus and working among different departments to make the campus more efficient, which in turn saves money, and makes for a healthier environment. Third is the important role institutions play within their communities and literally helping to bring everything together so that it manifests and literally grows from the ground up. So what better place to look at education role in Los Angeles than UCLA?  We caught up with Nurit Katz Chief Sustainability Officer for UCLA. Nurit shares with us how a university the size of UCLA with over 40,000 students, it's own hospital, and sits on over 400 acres incorporates their sustainability initiatives in a way that produces results.

The fourth area we wanted to focus on was fostering innovation, and entrepreneurship, which is truly where we begin to see the birth of the business side of green. We were pleasantly surprised with what we discovered, especially with one particular entrepreneur by the name of Spencer Brown, the founder and as he likes to be called "Chief Tree Hugger," of Rent-A-Green Box. Now we have to say right away that his company's name really doesn't speak about all the initiatives this young man has going on, for us he is a cross between Ron Popeil, Andy Warhol, and Euel Gibbons. What a combination you may think. But his energy for marketing and sales, combined with creativity, and concern for the environment really makes him the complete package when it comes to green entrepreneurs.

These four stories will help you see why Los Angeles is a mecca for sustainability, and will have you cheering, along with ReNewable Now, "We Love LA Sustainability."
So be on the look out as we will feature a new story every week on ReNewable Now.

ReNewable Now On Location with

The Climate March New York

ReNewable Now is pleased to have a corespondent to our team, Catherine Caldwell, who provides us first hand coverage of the recent historic climate march.

On September 21st at 12:58AM in the middle of Times Square, participants of the Climate Change March raised their fists in unison, bringing upon silence to the always noisy Seventh Avenue. At 1:00PM, the crowd of 310,000 erupted in cheers, chanting, with band music in celebration of the broken silence for the fight on climate change.

The route of the walk began in the Upper West Side on 59th street at Columbus Circle and made its way along Central Park. It then took a turn on 6th Avenue and went by Rockefeller Center. Another corner was turned on 42nd Street taking the March on to Times Square. The march ended at the Hudson River on 11th Avenue where there were different activists’ stands set up raising awareness on particular environmental causes.

Holding the colorful banners, signs and instruments were youth groups, activist organizations, young families, young adults, the elderly, political scene and celebrity. Many came from all over the country and places around the world. Some of the organizations in attendance include the Sierra club, Don’t Frack With NY Campaign, who held up “Don’t Frack With U.S.” signs, scientists calling themselves the “Geek parade,” and frontline communities who feel the effects firsthand of climate change. Aside from the various organizations and individuals, Hollywood stars and politicians marched the two miles, capturing the media as well. Leonardo DiCaprio, Mark Ruffalo, Jennifer Connelly and Al Gore all “walked the walk” toward environmental justice.

Aside from the marchers, people gathered on sidewalks, side streets and in the buildings bringing their support. Along the route, businesses and residencies opened their windows to wave and cheer, or to hang giant signs in light of the environmental justice movement.

The Climate Change March, nicknamed the People’s Climate March, is being called the largest march of the 21st century by USA Today. The march was a success with no complications – a hard thing to accomplish with 310,000 persons. A part of the passivity is because the movement does not discriminate and will ultimately affect every living thing on the planet if no action is taken. The march demonstrated a peaceful way of making demanding action for environmental justice.

India's Roadmap To Solar Superpower

A new roadmap from India’s largest provider of solar solutions shows how the nation could become a global solar superpower within ten years, adding 145 GW of solar capacity through a network of residential, commercial, utility and ultra-mega-scale solar power systems.
The joint report, “How should India drive its solar transformation? Beehives or Elephants,” released by Tata Power Solar and consulting firm Bridge to India, examines the pros and cons of rolling out four different types of solar power generation – residential rooftop, 1-5 KW (solar bees); commercial rooftop, 10-500KW (solar pigeons); utility-scale, 5-50MW (solar horses); and ultra-mega projects, 1-3GW (solar elephants).
Although solar now accounts for just one per cent of India’s installed capacity, Bridge to India Director, Dr Tobias Engelmeier, says falling PV prices have changed the fundamentals of domestic energy supply since 2010, when India’s National Solar Mission set a target of installing 20 GW of grid-connected solar power by 2022.
“The realisable potential for solar power generation in India is between 110 GW to 145GW across different types of systems. The four scenarios together could easily create over 675,000 solar jobs in India in the next 10 years. But, the real issue is to choose the best way for India to go solar which entails a fair choice between millions of small systems (“bees”) on one end of a spectrum and a few very large systems (“elephants”) on the other, the former creating a consumer market and the latter an infrastructure market."
Importantly, the report analyses each scenario not only in terms of the levelised cost of energy (LCOE) – the cost of building the systems - but also the landed cost of power (LCOP) which is the cost to the consumer at the point of consumption, rather than generation. The report argues that LCOP costs can be as much as 30 per cent higher than LCOE, and is therefore a more accurate way to measure the economic viability of energy systems.
The cheapest immediate option is the solar elephant, mega-scale plants of 1-3 GW capacity. Already on par with coal-fired power, they have a LCOE of INR 6.6/kWh (AUD 0.12/kWh) and a landed cost of INR 8.4/kWh (AUD 0.15/kWh). But with coal import costs expected to soar over the next three years, the report finds all other scenarios –the horses, pigeons and bees will soon also reach price parity with coal.
"In the long term, large rooftop systems will be the cheapest option for Indian with a levelised generation cost of INR 6.6/kWh (AUD 0.12/kWh and a landed cost of INR 6.7/kWh (AUD 0.12/kWh) by 2024," the report states.
"India has the potential to become one of the largest transformative solar markets in the world, free of subsidies and with a thriving solar value creation ecosystem. However, it must strike a balance among the various ramp-up opportunities it has – both via central and distributed generation. Thus, the report recommends specific actions in each of these areas."

Air Toxins decreasing across US Cities

More and more people are living in our cities. They are great places to live, exciting, good jobs, great night life, but also sometimes congestion and unhealthy air quality. The latter problems are improving, however. Efforts to make cities livable without driving are paying off. Bike lanes, bike sharing, and efforts to reduce auto traffic and congestion are helping to improve the air quality in our cities.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) this week released its Second Integrated Urban Air Toxics Report to Congress  - the final of two reports required under the Clean Air Act (CAA) to inform Congress of progress in reducing public health risks from urban air toxics.

"This report gives everyone fighting for clean air a lot to be proud of because for more than 40 years we have been protecting Americans — preventing illness and improving our quality of life by cutting air pollution - all while the economy has more than tripled," said EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy. "But we know our work is not done yet. At the core of EPA's mission is the pursuit of environmental justice - striving for clean air, water and healthy land for every American; and we are committed to reducing remaining pollution, especially in low-income neighborhoods."

Using national emissions and air quality data, the Urban Air Toxics Report shows the substantial progress that has been made to reduce air toxics across the country since the Clean Air Act Amendments of 1990.

- A 66 percent reduction in benzene;

- A nearly 60 percent reduction in mercury from man-made sources like coal-fired power plants;

- An 84 percent decrease of lead in outdoor air, which slows brain development in children;

- The removal of an estimated 1.5 million tons per year of air toxics like arsenic, benzene, lead and nickel from stationary sources and another 1.5 million tons per year (about 50 percent) of air toxics from mobile sources. This is significant because air toxics (also referred to as hazardous air pollutants or HAPs) are known or suspected of causing cancer and can damage the immune, respiratory, neurological, reproductive and developmental systems;

- And, approximately 3 million tons per year of criteria pollutants, like particulate matter and sulfur dioxide, have been reduced as co-benefits of air toxics reductions.

"Reducing toxics is a top priority for EPA, and even with this progress, we continue to improve our understanding of them, so we can effectively reduce remaining risks, particularly in overburdened communities. EPA’s Plan EJ 2014, is making sure environmental justice is addressed in programs and policies across the agency. EPA is working closely with state, local and tribal agencies to promote area-wide and regional strategies to address air toxics and support a number of community-based programs that help communities understand, prioritize and reduce exposures to toxic pollutants in their local environment. For example, in Indianapolis, we are working with partners on the ground through an EPA grant for the "Building Lead Safe Communities" Project in the Martindale-Brightwood and Nearwest neighborhoods. We're addressing the risk of toxic lead exposure in children through outreach efforts and compiling block level soil lead data, identifying hotspots utilizing air sampling and developing synergistic local solutions."

USA's 1st Micro-Grid Powered
By Solar And Battery Back-up

The Stafford Hill Solar Farm is the USA's first project to build a micro-grid powered by solar and battery back-up, with no other fuel source.
Green Mountain Power (GMP) began construction on Stafford Hill earlier this week. The facility will incorporate 7,700 solar panels with a total of 2 MW capacity - enough to power hundreds of homes.
The solar farm's stand-out feature is 4MWh of battery storage. The project will be developed in such a way that it can be entirely disconnected from the mains grid and providing critical power for an emergency shelter at the high school.
"As part of our commitment to provide reliable, clean and cost-effective power to customers, GMP recognizes how important it is to power critical infrastructure such as schools and shelters in an emergency,"  said Green Mountain Power President and CEO Mary Powell. "With the frequency of major storms growing, this project is critical and demonstrates how GMP is continuing to lead the way with innovative energy solutions to meet everyday challenges."
A major ice storm in December last year caused millions of dollars of damage in seven northern Vermont counties. Up to an inch of ice accumulated in the region and blackouts were common - a particularly life threatening situation given the temperatures.  In 2011, Tropical Storm Irene also caused substantial damages and power outages.
Governor Peter Shumlin attended an event for the launch of construction.
"With this project, Vermont remains on the cutting edge of the renewable energy front," Governor Shumlin said. "The clean energy industry creates jobs and is good for the environment. Storing renewable power has always been a challenge, and I'm proud that we're here today to take that next step forward. It's projects like these that continue to make Vermont the leader in green jobs."
The Stafford Hill Solar Farm will also be making use of  "brownfield" (contaminated) land - it will be sited at what was previously the Rutland City landfill.
The $10 million project is expected to be complete in mid-December.
Green Mountain Power serves more than 250,000 electricity customers in Vermont and has a special focus on renewable energy. The company was named  2014 Solar Champion by Vote Solar.

Beijing BANS COAL!

The use and sale of coal in Beijing's six main districts and other regions will be banned by the end 2020.
According to Xinhua News Agency, the Beijing Municipal Environmental Protection Bureau will end coal's reign of choking terror in the districts of Dongcheng, Xicheng, Chaoyang, Haidian, Fengtai and Shijingshan in an effort to reduce air pollution.
Accounting for 25.4 percent of Beijing's energy consumption in 2012; coal's share is expected to drop rapidly - to less than 10 percent by 2017.
The coal industry has received a number of black eyes recently. India, a major destination for United State's coal, recently announced plans to double its tax on coal to finance renewable energy projects.
The price of coal is decreasing, but so too are the share values of the companies digging it up. To add to the industry's woes, some high profile investors such as
Stanford University have announced they will divest of any current direct holdings in companies with a primary function of coal extraction.
The writing has been on the wall for quite some time and earlier this year, the Institute for Energy Economics and Financial Analysis (IEEFA) said major coal projects relying on new export markets such as India are a huge financial risk .
While the future of coal in India and China - may be uncertain, the solar industry in both nations will continue to boom. India has set a target of deploying 20,000 MW of grid connected solar power by 2022 - more than 6 times greater then Australia's current solar capacity.
According to People's Daily Online, China's central energy authority has announced a goal of installing 13 gigawatts of new PV power capacity this year.
The news from China saw the share value of Yingli Green Energy (NYSE: YGE); parent of the world's largest solar panel manufacturer, rise 4.4% and Daqo New Energy (NYSE: DQ) also experienced a boost.

India To Double Tax On Coal

(India's Finance Minister Arun Jaitley)

India's Finance Minister recently announced plans to substantially increase the nation's tax on coal in order to help finance renewable energy projects.
"Clean Energy Cess" is presently levied on coal, peat and lignite for the purposes of financing and promoting clean energy initiatives and funding research in the area of clean energy," said Minister Arun Jaitley.
"I propose to expand the scope of purposes of levying the said cess to include financing and promoting clean environment initiatives and funding research in the area of clean environment. To finance these additional initiatives, I propose to increase the Clean Energy Cess from '50 per tonne to '100 per tonne."
100 rupees is around AUD $1.76. India's total coal consumption in 2012 was 298.3 million tons.
The news would compliment  President Obama's carbon reduction campaign, which in turn will end up assisting companies exporting coal from United States.
A report published earlier this year warned international coal projects that rely on new export markets such as
India face major financial risks
India's new Prime Minister, Narendra Modi, has been described as a
"champion of solar" and already had a solid track record for establishing renewables projects prior to his ascendancy to Prime Minister.
The recent budget announcements also included plans for four mega solar farms, 100,000 solar powered water pumps and a series of 1 MW solar parks on the banks of canals.
All told, Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government's first budget seeks to spend USD $250 million on initiatives to increase solar power uptake and reform electricity supply to farmers in order to end blackouts that plague India.
The bigger picture for India is the
Jawaharlal Nehru National Solar Mission . Launched on 11th January, 2010 by then Prime Minister Dr. Manmohan Singh;  the Mission has a target of deploying 20,000 MW of grid connected solar power by 2022.

   Carbon Tax goes DOWN Under.
Major Set Back For Australia

Some Australians are calling this a "perfect storm of stupidity," while others, like Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry head Kate Carnel are saying, "The carbon tax was a dead weight on the Australian economy and abolishing it is a win for consumers, a win for energy users and a win for business."

Well, for Australians the carbon tax may be dead; but they don't expect to see a major difference in power bills - or for too long.
It doesn't matter that many households were compensated for any impact of the scheme under the Household Assistance Package, or that the carbon tax prevented 11 to 17 million tonnes of carbon emissions.
Nor does it matter higher it resulted in some filthy brown-coal fired power stations being mothballed.
Like it or loathe it, it's kaput. Spin bettered substance and Thursday's passing of the repeal turned Australia from a leader to laggard.
"The repeal of Australia’s carbon price is a tragedy, not a triumph," said Michael Raupach, Director, Climate Change Institute, Australian National University.
"It flies in the face of three giant realities: human-induced climate change, the proper role of government as a defender of the common good, and the emerging quiet energy-carbon revolution".
According to the ABC, consumers can expect to save between 20 and 50 cents each day on their electricity bills now the carbon tax has been repealed.
However, any financial benefit relating to power bills could quickly be eaten up by increases in other charges.
For example, in New South Wales, Ausgrid wants increases of around 2 per cent a year over the next five years and TransGrid wants to raise prices by almost 4 per cent - this is just in relation to network charges.
Other states including South Australia have just implemented more electricity price rises. The average South Australian household will pay around $85 a year more.
In Queensland, households were recently hit with a 13.6 per cent increase, expected to cost the average household an extra $190 a year.

Depending what end of the scale of carbon tax savings are to be had, any relief may have already been gobbled up before many will receive their post-carbon tax bill.
Anyone planning to do something other than pay power bills with the perceived windfall may need to re-evaluate those plans.


World's 1st Community Tidal  Turbine Starts Producing Power

The world's first community-owned tidal power turbine has started exporting electricity to the local grid, the Scottish Government has announced.

The Nova Innovation turbine will power up to 30 homes, a locally owned ice plant and Cullivoe Harbour Industrial Estate on North Yell, Shetland.

The 30KW turbine sits on the seabed in the Bluemull Sound at a depth of over 100ft and consists of a propeller that is spun by the power of the tide as it flows past. The rotating propeller drives a generator that produces electricity, which is transmitted onshore through a 1km subsea cable.

The project, developed by Leith-based tidal energy company Nova Innovation in partnership with North Yell Development Council, has been funded by the Scottish Government’s Community and Renewable Energy Scheme (CARES), Shetland Islands Council and North Yell Development Council.

In Aberdeen, attending the All-Energy Conference, the Scottish Government’s Energy Minister Fergus Ewing said: “For the first time, anywhere in the world, a community owned tidal turbine is generating electricity. It will have a positive impact on the North Yell community and economy.

“Scotland is recognised as world leader in wave and tidal energy, with a quarter of Europe's tidal stream and a tenth of its wave-energy potential.

“We must tackle climate change and reduce our reliance on fossil fuels through better and more efficient uses of energy. That is why Scotland generated a record amount of electricity from green energy sources last year.”

Robert Henderson, Shetland Islands Council Cllr and Chairman of North Yell Development Council, said: “This is a tremendous moment for North Yell. For the first time anywhere in the world, electricity is being generated from a community owned tidal turbine.

“Having used as much local expertise as possible we're keen to see Shetland taking a leading role in marine renewables."

Simon Forrest, Managing Director of Nova Innovation, said: “We are delighted to announce that the Nova 30 tidal turbine has been successfully deployed and is generating electricity to the grid. It marks a major achievement for the wider Scottish tidal industry with over 80 per cent of Nova’s supply chain Scottish based.

“By working in close partnership with the North Yell community and our suppliers, we believe that this project demonstrates the growing confidence in the marine sector and strengthens Nova Innovation’s leading position in the emerging global marine energy industry.”

Seonaid Vass, director of renewables & low carbon technologies at Scottish Enterprise, which has worked closely with Nova to help it realise its growth ambitions said: “With more wave and tidal devices being tested in our waters than anywhere else in the world, Scotland is recognised as a global leader in the marine energy sector.

“The successful deployment of this device is an important step in the development of technologies in the tidal industry, and we look forward to continuing to work with the company to supports its growth plans.”

Welcoming the announcement, WWF Scotland’s Climate and Energy Policy Officer Gina Hanrahan said: “It’s great to see yet another first for Scottish tidal power. With some of the most powerful tides in Europe, Scotland is well placed to lead in developing this promising technology, which will help to cut climate emissions and create skilled, green jobs.

“It’s important that island communities like North Yell get a slice of the action and share in the benefits of Scotland’s transition to a renewable future.”

Carter vs Reagan "What History Can Teach Us"

ReNewable Now doesn't choose sides when it comes to politics, but we have to ask ourselves what was Ronald Reagan thinking when he removed the solar panels from the White House? We can only imagine where the United States would be today if he had embraced the technology and the business side of green.

Jimmy Carter, on the other hand, will go done in history as a visionary, the President who embraced renewable energy. They say that the seeds we plant today take time to bear fruit. Well, President Carter's seeds have not been forgotten as he continues to inspire and provide wisdom.  President Carter is a highly sought after speaker and will be one of the keynote speakers at 11th annual American Renewable Energy Day (AREDAY) Summit; held by the American Renewable Energy Institute (AREI)  August 10 to 13, 2014 at the Hotel Jerome in Aspen, Colorado.
President Carter played an important role in raising awareness of solar energy in the 1970's when he arranged for the installation of a solar hot water system on the rooftop of the White House.
At the unveiling of the system, President Carter commented:
“...a generation from now, this solar heater can either be a curiosity, a museum piece, an example of a road not taken, or it can be a small part of one of the greatest and most exciting adventures ever undertaken by the American people; harnessing the power of the Sun to enrich our lives as we move away from our crippling dependence on foreign oil.”
Unfortunately, the American people - or more accurately, the subsequent administration - didn't share in President Carter's vision.
The system was removed in 1986 by President Ronald Reagan who believed the installation "didn't befit a super-power."
We'll never know how much further the world would be along the clean energy path if President Reagan and some of his immediate successors embraced and supported solar to the degree of Carter.
However, the renewable energy revolution is certainly now under way and thanks in part to President Carter.
"President Carter’s work was undeniably key in laying the groundwork for the Great Transition,” said Chip Comins, chairman and CEO of the American Renewable Energy Institute (AREI). “As a country we’ve survived both the Great Depression and the Great Recession, and are now welcoming the Great Transition, in which we must take the critical steps toward an environmentally and economically sound future.”

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Chile Becoming A Solar PV Powerhouse

Chile installed 150MW of solar panels in the first quarter of this year and has a further 380MW of PV under construction.
According to GTM Research's Latin America PV Playbook, Q2 2014; the 150MW tally is triple the amount that any Latin American country has ever installed in a single quarter.
A major contributor to the impressive first quarter total was SunEdison's 50.7 MW San Andres solar farm; the largest merchant solar plant in Latin America to date. SunEdison recently announced it has sold a majority stake in the facility to a group of investors.
GTM Research forecasts Chile will install 244 megawatts of PV this year; some of which support the nation's energy-hungry mining industry. Last year, Chile’s renewable energy capacity jumped 40 percent to just over one gigawatt. The nation's renewable energy target demands utilities source 20 percent of their power from renewable sources - excluding hydro - by 2025.
GTM Research considers Latin America to be the "global frontier" for unsubsidized solar markets.
"With high insolation levels and growing demand, it is positioned to be one of the most attractive regions on the planet for solar development."

Chile has a population of more than 17 million. According to Wikipedia, its electricity generation sector relies mainly on hydro-electric power (33% of installed capacity as of May, 2012), oil (13%), gas (30%) and coal (20%). Much of its fossil fuel is imported.
The nation's newly elected president, Michelle Bachelet, this week announced a proposed carbon tax. Under the proposal, thermal power plants with a generation capacity of at least 50 megawatts will pay a tax of $5 per metric tonne of carbon dioxide emitted. The carbon tax would be the first to be implemented in South America.

It's Official: Efficiency, Clean Energy to Help Fill California's Nuclear

California took another major and symbolic step today with its decision to rely significantly on energy efficiency and other clean energy resources to help replace electricity once generated by the San Onofre Nuclear Generation Station (SONGS) serving San Diego and the greater Los Angeles area.

The California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) made official its strategy to address the loss of the huge nuclear plant, which had been offline since January 2012 and was officially retired last year. Fortunately, it closely resembles its proposal released last month.

The final plan uses efficiency and other “preferred resources”—those resources with lower environmental impacts—like demand response (ways customers can consume less energy at key times during the day) and renewable energy such as wind and solar, as well as some upgrades to the electric system, to replace the vast majority of the lost SONGS generation. Instead of turning to dirty gas-fired power to replace SONGS, this decision fills the gap left by SONGS with at least two-thirds of clean energy resources, and up to 100% clean energy.

SONGS Nuclear Plant

This groundbreaking step puts California on a better course for the long term, avoiding a significant number of fossil-fueled power plants, and those power plants' emissions that Californians are all too familiar with. As the state gears up for the summer strain on the grid this year, two of California’s largest metropolitan areas -- Los Angeles and San Diego -- begin to dread their often daily dose of smog and its related quality-of-life and even medical issues.

Positive Steps Forward

We applaud the commission for moving in the right direction and, especially for its significant reliance on the contribution of “preferred resources”—resources that are critical to the health and well-being of Californians.

In addition, it’s notable that the commission authorized no additional mandatory gas-fired power sources (which create emissions) because previously, the commission did enact mandatory gas requirements in its 2013 decision. This frees the utilities to appreciably, if not entirely, rely on clean energy resources to replace SONGS.

California has embraced efficiency – getting the same or more work from less electricity – as the cleanest, simplest and most cost-effective energy resource. Not only does efficiency lead to lower utility bills, it reduces the amount of electricity that must be generated from dirty energy that pollutes our air and harms our health.

The fear had been that the replacement of SONGS, a mammoth 2,200-megawatt power plant (equivalent to about four regular large-sized power plants) around which much of the California transmission grid was built, and which left an over 2,500 MW hole in the grid (due in part to its electrical location and characteristics), would be met with the least creative response—the excessive use of more fossil-fueled power plants.

LED BulbIn June 2012, for example, a retired 50-year-old gas-fired generator at Huntington Beach was brought online to help address the loss of SONGS, but not so much for energy but rather to maintain voltage levels—a complex demand-and-supply balancing act. Fortunately, with this long term decision, the state is definitively not going to make excessive reliance on gas-fired power plants its long term solution.

The Plan

With today’s decision, which affirms that clean energy is the pillar of replacing California’s retired nuclear plant, the state will:

    Rely on the supply of energy from what amounts to two medium-sized fossil-fuel power plants (600 megawatts of power) from “preferred sources”—those that have lower environmental impacts and lower public health costs—like efficiency, reducing energy consumption at peak times, wind, solar, and energy storage.

    Use 400-900 megawatts of power from new resources, meaning any type of energy resource as needed. This historically has meant gas-fired power generation because many preferred resources were competing on a non-level playing field, but new language requests more fairness in competition for cleaner sources such as efficiency, demand response, solar, and wind.

These sources will account for between 1,000 and 1,500 megawatts of power to replace the over 2,500 megawatt hole in the grid left by SONGS. Fortunately, the remainder is made up by additional solutions that are not fossil-fueled power plants, such as reducing the demand through energy efficiency and making improvements to transmission networks. This diverse portfolio of resources will meet the extensive voltage support, energy, and power needs that were originally provided by SONGS.

As a result, today’s move is good news for Californians and the air we breathe.

Room For Improvement

While the plan is well-balanced, NRDC is concerned that the plan failed to explicitly rely on all reasonably-expected-to-occur energy efficiency. As NRDC demonstrated in the proceeding, the model results that used the best resource estimates available showed there was no clear need to authorize any additional gas-fired generation at this time (beyond the 1,500 MW of gas-fired generation already authorized in 2013) to replace SONGS. These estimates explicitly rely on a conservative 733 MW of savings from building efficiency standards, appliance efficiency standards, and utility efficiency programs. We know the efficiency estimates should have been even higher – because the 733 MW estimate didn’t account for the recently-adopted federal appliance efficiency standards, like efficiency standards for microwaves and commercial refrigerators.

The plan also underestimated other preferred resources and transmission solutions, discounting those resources by up to 90%. We called for improving the accounting of these preferred resources because an assumption that their contributions are only worth 10% was not backed by the record.

While it has its shortcomings, today’s replacement strategy significantly avoids the construction of many fossil-fueled power plants and is a critical step forward for California’s clean energy future. For Californians within the greater Los Angeles region and in San Diego region, their health and environment will be directly affected by today’s decision. And for the entire state of California, this decision will have a major impact on future long term energy planning because it demonstrates that we can replace an enormous nuclear power plant with largely clean energy and transmission solutions.

Illinois -The Quiet Renewable
Energy Achiever

Since 2013, more than 90 Illinois towns and cities - representing 1.7 million people - have made the switch to 100% renewable electricity using Community Choice Aggregation (CCA).
Established in the state in 2009, CCA works a little like some of the recent electricity switching initiatives in Australia; helping local communities to pool their electricity purchasing power. This allows areas to then choose an electricity supplier; not only driving down the price of power, but also the type of energy supplied.
The Illinois experience has seen demand for energy sources such as wind and solar increase by over 6 terawatt hours (TWh) - enough to take 250,000 homes entirely off fossil fuel generated electricity.
"Illinois is showing what can happen when change at the local level is harnessed to create a collective movement, and I hope other states take notice," said Senator Dick Durbin.

According to a new report released by WWF and partners, cities in five other states - California, Massachusetts, New Jersey, Ohio and Rhode Island - are also using this tool to boost renewable energy use.
"Without fanfare, 91 local governments in Illinois have decided that renewable electricity is the best option," said WWF's Keya Chatterjee. "No one knew this was happening, and I doubt anyone would have guessed. America’s green energy revolution is here; and it starts in Illinois."
Leading from the Middle: How Illinois
Communities Unleashed Renewable Energy can be downloaded here .
The report shows how communities can use CCAs to not only purchase RECs, but also invest in new renewable energy projects that create jobs and focus the social and environmental benefits in the local community.

Sir Richard Branson's Sustainable Island, It's No Fantasy Island

When we look at ambitious projects, such as the one Sir Richard Branson is perusing in the Caribbean's with Necker Island, ReNewable Now wonders if this is a model that could possibly replicated on island towns in New England. Such as Block Island, Martha's Vineyard, or Nantucket? Can a municipality work like a visionary entepeneaur?

Necker Island is a 74-acre island in the British Virgin Islands, just north of Virgin Gorda. Sir Branson scooped up the island for a song in the 1970's - just USD$180,000. Uninhabited at the time, a resort was built on Necker Island soon after the purchase that is now managed by Virgin Limited Edition.
The USA's NRG Energy will develop a renewables based micro-grid for the entire island; with at least 75% of the power sourced from solar, wind and energy storage technologies.
"With oil setting the marginal price of electricity, retail electricity prices in the Caribbean are among the highest in the world, hindering economic development, job creation and quality of life,” said David Crane, CEO of NRG.
"By tapping into each island’s specific, readily available and ample renewable energy resources, we can achieve an immediate and significant reduction of operating expenses, imported fuel cost, carbon footprint and other air emissions and noise pollution."
Mr Crane says the "Demo Island" project will  provide a scalable solution relevant to other island nations of the Caribbean that can reduce and ultimately eliminate their dependence on fossil fuels for electricity.
The agreement was signed and announced at the Creating Climate Wealth Summit. The project going ahead is subject to regulatory approval in the British Virgin Islands.
"While small compared to island nations, Necker is an ideal ‘guinea pig’ for the Carbon War Room’s Ten Island Challenge and will be able to show the potential of ‘state-of-the-art’ technologies in renewable energy," said Sir Branson, Founder of Virgin Group.
The Ten Island Challenge works with pioneering island economies to reduce dependency on fossil fuels through promoting commercial opportunities, attracting expert engineering firms and investment.

International Society of Sustainability Professionals Welcomes Maureen Hart As New Executive Director

Maureen Hart has been chosen by the Board of Directors of the International Society of Sustainability Professionals (ISSP) as the group's new Executive Director. Hart replaces Marsha Willard, who has served as ISSP's Executive Director since 2008. Marsha will remain active with the group as a board member and Executive Director Emeritus of the group she helped to establish in 2007.

With more than 20 years in the field, Hart brings a wealth of experience and sustainability knowledge to her new position. She is an expert in sustainability indicators and author of the Guide to Sustainable Community Indicators. As founder and owner of Sustainable Measures, a private consulting firm based in West Hartford, Connecticut, she has assisted a wide variety of large and small for-profit and not-for-profit organizations understand and develop more sustainable practices.

“A large pool of strong candidates applied for the executive director job,” said Dorothy Atwood, president of the ISSP Board of Directors. “Maureen rose to the top of that process. We are confident that she will provide the inspiration and drive that we want at the helm to take ISSP to the next level.

“I would also like to thank Marsha Willard for her inspired leadership of ISSP, from its conception under the wings of Zero Waste Alliance to where we are today, as the premier membership organization for sustainability professionals,” Atwood continued. “She has guided us to a great spot for a new executive director to pick up the reins and take us into our next phase of development.”

Commenting on her selection as ISSP's new Executive Director, Hart said, “Marsha will be a hard act to follow but I am thrilled to have been selected to take her place and lead the organization through its next stage of development. 2014 will be a very exciting year for ISSP. More local chapters are being formed, the sustainability professional certification process is underway, new on-line and in person educational opportunities are being planned, and the ISSP Conference 2014 in Denver this November will be ISSP's largest face-to-face gathering to date. I look forward to partnering with ISSP members and other members of the sustainability community as, together, we work to take sustainability to the next level and make it standard practice in all organizations.”

In addition to Hart assuming the Executive Director role, the ISSP Leadership Team has been enhanced with the appointments of Christy Nordstrom and Ray Berardinelli to the positions of Education Program Director and Marketing Director respectively. Nordstrom has been serving in the role of ISSP's Education Program Manager since 2010{C} and Berardinelli has been ISSP's Marketing Manager since 2011. Their appointments to Director level positions reflect their contributions to the development of ISSP into the world's leading professional association for sustainability professionals.

Seattle Buildings on Track for

Major Energy Savings
New Report Reveals Findings from City Energy Benchmarking  Law

Seattle joined the growing list of U.S. cities that are publishing detailed reports on building energy use in an effort to motivate property owners to make buildings more efficient, and ultimately save energy and money.


This is the first time that the energy use of Seattle’s private building stock has been analyzed in aggregate. The report reveals the various energy use intensities of different classes of buildings in the city. It also predicts the money savings in store for owners that help make their buildings more efficient – up to $90 million/year total!


Savings are already springing up at the Horizon House retirement community in downtown Seattle. Residents there saved more than $30K last year and $50K in 2012 thanks to energy-saving measures undertaken after property managers benchmarked the building.


The study was done as a result of the city’s building energy benchmarking and reporting ordinance, which requires owners to annually measure and report building energy use to the city.  Seattle is one of 9 U.S. cities with similar policies, including Minneapolis and San Francisco, which recently published reports on public building energy use.



A new report and infographic released today by the Seattle Office of Sustainability and Environment on building energy use reveals that Seattle building owners are poised to save tens of millions of dollars on energy annually by improving their building’s energy efficiency. Seattle also recently released its Resource Conservation Management Plan, which sets guidelines for reducing energy use in City-owned buildings 20% by 2020.


“Seattle has the right experience, local talent and programs in place to make all our buildings more energy efficient,” said Sustainability and Environment Director Jill Simmons. “Improving building energy efficiency benefits the entire city by lowering energy costs, reducing carbon emissions and making Seattle an even more attractive place to live and work.”


The report, “Seattle 2011/2012 Building Energy Benchmarking Analysis” summarizes the benchmarking results of more than 2,600 private-sector buildings representing nearly 228 million sq. ft., including offices, hotels, apartment buildings, retail stores, religious and educational institutions and more. Building owners provided energy use information to the City as required under the City of Seattle’s Building Energy Benchmarking and Reporting Ordinance.

The analysis of the data found that:

Peer-to-peer comparisons help show where buildings stand

To help Seattle owners see how their building’s energy use stacks up to their peers, the analysis established performance ranges for 13 different building types based on their reported 2012 energy use. For example:

  • An office building reporting an energy use intensity (EUI or energy use per square foot annually) of 60 kbtu/sf is about average for Seattle.
  • Multifamily (apartment and condo) buildings, which tend to use less energy than offices, had an average EUI of about 32 kbtu/sf.

Seattle buildings have high energy and money savings potential

  • If all the highest energy users improved to the average level of efficiency for their building type, owners would save a combined $55 million on utility bills each year and lower annual energy use by an average of 25% across all buildings.
  • If these same buildings improved to match the energy efficiency levels of the best performing buildings in their class, utility bill savings would surpass $90 million each year and annual energy use would decline by an average of 42%.

Many Seattle buildings are more energy efficient than buildings nationally .
  • The average score for all buildings was 68, meaning that overall, Seattle buildings performed 18% better than the national median.
  • 41% had a score of 75 or greater, making them eligible to earn ENERGY STAR certification.

Seattle’s oldest buildings are not necessarily high energy users

  • Office buildings constructed before 1950 and since 2000 used the least energy. Those built between 1960 and 1980 used the most energy.

With the publication of this report, Seattle building owners can see for the first time how energy use in their building stacks up against other buildings in the city and nation. The report will also help buyers, tenants and lenders see how the energy use of buildings they are considering buying, renting or financing compares to other buildings.


To date about 93% of buildings have had 2012 data reported to the City—the highest compliance rate in the nation for benchmarking laws. Seattle is one of nine U.S. cities with benchmarking ordinances.


"Thanks to the Seattle benchmarking program, we are now regularly tracking our energy use and finding new ways to save energy and money,” said Bob Anderson, CEO of Seattle’s Horizon House retirement community.


After benchmarking its buildings, Horizon House staff and residents went on to make energy-saving improvements to the complex, which have saved them $80,000 on utility bills over the last two years.

Mark Ruffalo, A Superhero for The Environment. He wants You to Imagine a
100 Percent Clean Energy Future

For Mark Ruffalo, environmental activism started out with something to oppose, to be against: fracking. It all began when the actor, perhaps best known for his role as Bruce Banner (The Hulk) in Marvel’s The Avengers, was raising his three small children in the town of Callicoon, in upstate New York. At that time, the Marcellus Shale fracking boom was coming on strong and was poised to expand into New York, even as the area also saw a series of staggering floods, each one seemingly more unprecedented than the last.

“That was alarming,” remembers Ruffalo. “Not only alarming to me, but also alarming to all the farmers who used to make fun of me for talking about climate change and global warming.”

In response, Ruffalo launched Water Defense, a nonprofit that takes on fracking and extreme or unconventional energy extraction in general (from mountaintop-removal mining to deep-sea drilling), and does so with a focus on grassroots activism. In the process, Ruffalo has become quite the visible spokesman: He even unleashed some Hulk-style anger toward the energy industry on the Colbert Report. But if you think Ruffalo is just another celeb with an anti-corporate tilt, you’re missing the real story. His true passion is promoting a clean energy solution to our climate and water problems, and demonstrating how feasible it is. Today. Like, now.

“For the first time in human history, we’re actually at a place, technologically speaking, where we can make this transition,” explains Ruffalo. “And the amount of money, and resources, that we pour into this fossil fuel infrastructure, which has been an appendage to us, like a third leg that we’re dragging around, will be freed up, and no longer will we be worrying about having to extract energy. We’ll be just harvesting what’s already pouring on us every single day.”

Ruffalo’s shift toward clean energy advocacy was a natural evolution from the fracking fight. “What I started to feel was, you can’t credibly say ‘no’ to something unless you can come up with an alternative that is equal to or better than what is being offered,” he says.

And for that alternative, he naturally turned to scientists.

Ruffalo had come across research by Mark Jacobson, a professor of civil and environmental engineering at Stanford, on the potential for the U.S. to move to 100 percent renewable energy in the coming decades. “So I went to him and I said, ‘Hey Mark, could you make a plan for New York state based on this broad concept that the United States could actually do it, and do it in my lifetime hopefully, and definitely in my kids’ lifetime?”

Jacobson initially demurred, saying he didn’t have time to write down much more than a few paragraphs. But he didn’t hold out for long. “The next day in my email inbox I had 40 pages of what is now a feasibility study on moving New York state from fossil fuels to renewable energy by 2030,” laughs Ruffalo. That study is here; it describes a state drawing 50 percent of its power from wind (10 percent onshore and 40 percent offshore), 38 percent from various forms of solar power, and the remainder from sources like geothermal and hydroelectric power — all while saving money, producing more jobs, and even saving lives (thanks to cleaner air).

Notably, the New York state plan doesn’t just eliminate oil and coal; it also avoids nuclear power and natural gas. Here’s a figure from Jacobson’s paper, showing how much of New York’s total area would have to be devoted to clean energy projects to pull it off:

Area required to implement a 100 percent clean energy plan for New York based on wind, water, and solar ("WWS").

To be sure, critics have questioned the feasibility of such a swift and absolute energy transformation. But Ruffalo isn’t deterred; the New York state study was just the beginning. “In the next few months, we will be dropping 50 plans for 50 states,” he says. The draft plans for California and Washington are already available. Meanwhile, Jacobson, Ruffalo, banker Marco Krapels, and documentary filmmaker Josh Fox have formed a new organization called the Solutions Project, which declares that “it’s not enough to simply be against something”; rather, the organization wants to use “science + business + culture to accelerate the transition to 100% renewable energy.”

So is all of this just crazy and unrealistic? Consider some facts about the impressive growth of solar energy of late:

  • A solar energy system is now installed every four minutes in the U.S., according to GTM Research. By 2016, that’s projected to be down to 83 seconds.
  • According to the Solar Energy Industry Organization, the price of a solar panel has declined 60 percent just since 2011.
  • Walmart is now producing more solar power at its stores than 38 U.S. states.

But the most impressive statistics about solar power involve its abundant supply and stunning potential. According to one estimate, the amount of solar energy reaching the Earth’s surface in one and a half hours exceeds the entire world energy consumption in the year 2001.

Such are the facts, but grasping what they really mean is another matter. And to hear Ruffalo talk about clean energy is to encounter a degree of optimism that is as infectious as it is rare. “We’re not getting the messaging about how wonderful a world we’re going to be living in when we make this change,” he says. People don’t know, Ruffalo continues, “what it will look like to go outside and see no smog. What it will look like to have cars that don’t make any noise, or have any exhaust come out of them.”

To help in that visualization, Ruffalo is teaming up with the filmmaker and TV personality Jason Silva to make short-subject videos about “this beautiful concept of the abundance that will be manifested to us once we move to renewable energy.” And he has partnered with Mosaic, a company that helps to crowd-fund solar projects, in a “Put Solar on It” campaign to rapidly increase the number of U.S. solar installations in 2014 (while making money for investors along the way). Just last week on the Fox Business Network, Ruffalo could be found promoting the Mosaic project to an audience of not-exactly-lefty investors.

So will Ruffalo ever act in or produce a clean energy or global warming movie? He’s “mulling it over,” he says. “An issue has got to mature to a place that that story can be told without it smacking as a polemic,” he adds. You have to hit a kind of cultural sweet spot, sort of like what happened with Ruffalo’s influential 2010 film The Kids Are All Right, about same-sex parenting.

This story was produced as part of the Climate Desk collaboration.

SOLAR SISTERS, Inspiration with Spirituality

Having just come off covering our series at the Sustainable School Summit at Salve Regina and hearing David Orr speak about the importance of spirituality and connecting back to nature, and then over the next two weeks to see institutions of faith not only practicing what he spoke about, but actually providing leadership in sustainability, was truly amazing. Can you call this just a coincidence, or is there something greater at work? What ever you may think, there is no doubting the faith and energy of the Cistercian Nuns of Mount Saint Mary's Abbey, in Wretham, MA, and the Brothers of La Salette Shrine in Attleboro, MA.

Our first profile this week takes us to the beautiful countryside of Wrentham, Massachusetts, a small New England town that could have been the inspiration for a number of Norman Rockwell paintings. Myself having grown up one town over in Cumberland, on the Wrentham line, I had the good fortune of being able to spend many of my childhood summers playing, fishing, and visiting Wrentham. One place that was a regular stop was the Big Apple orchard. One day after picking apples and blueberries, my mom drove up the road a bit to explore, and to our surprise we discovered Saint Mary's Abbey. We had no idea that this beautiful and tranquil monastery even existed, and back then in the 70s, the days before internet, or cable TV, it was a very unique find.

As the years passed, and having moved away from Cumberland, I tried making it a point to return at least once a year to the monastery and to reflect a bit on how things have changed. I can happily say things have remained almost the same as they were back in the 70s- the Big Apple is still there, and the Cistercian Nuns are still at the monastery, with one exception. The monastery has become a Triple-Threat when it comes to battling fossil fuels and putting clean energy to good use. In all our years of reporting on businesses, institutions, and government agencies, we have yet to see any of them applying three of the major disciplines when it comes to sustainability.

The Cistercian Nuns have, whether they realize it or not, become leaders when it comes to sustainable energy. They have first installed a Wind Turbine back in 2009, followed by a geothermal pump to power heating and cooling for their candy factory. And on December 7th, 2013, they officially cut the ribbon on their first of two Solar Field farms. The first to be launched is a 3.8 megawatt solar field, and the second, which is yet to be launched, is a 4.8 megawatt solar field.

We hope you enjoy the video coverage of the St. Mary's Abbey Solar Field Ribbon Cutting ceremony as we caught up with Mother Maureen, Sister Alice, Project Manager Andrew Bernstein of Kearsarge Energy, and many others who shared their thoughts on the project, while also giving us a bit of history on the origins of Cistercian Nuns, and the abbey here in Wrentham.

LaSalette Shrine Celebration of Festival of Lights Cuts Energy Costs by Half!

For over sixty years, La Salette Shrine has been helping to bring in the holidays with a spectacular light display and musical light show.

Every year beginning on Thanksgiving eve, the spectacular display of lights begins and runs through January 3rd, where over 250,000 people from all over world travel to Attleboro, Massachusetts to visit La Salette Shrine and lift up their spirits. During the weeks of celebration ,visitors are also treated to masses throughout the day, craft-shows and a bizarre, hayrides, and all sorts of food and warm drinks.

From ReNewable Now's perspective, we enjoy seeing families and people celebrating together and just taking some time out of their hectic lives. But what got us even more excited was when we caught up with Brother David, who not only gave us a bit of history on La Salette Shrine, but also told us how they have been able to cut their electrical bill in half! Check out the videos, and see why you need to put La Salette Shrine and The Celebration of Festival of Lights on your "holiday to do list."

Senator Whitehouse and R.I. Lt. Governor Rich Licht Tour the East Providence Solar Field

What was once a useless brownfield in the city of East Providence has now become a model of clean efficiency along with an economic plus for the city.

 For years the city of East Providence had been wrestling on what to do with the 220 acres of land, part of which was used as a municipal landfill. From golf courses and soccer fields to playgrounds, all were considered, but the capping costs and drainage issues just didn't make sense financially, or for the residents. But then in 2010, the bright idea, no pun intended, of putting a solar field was considered, and approved.

It has been almost three years in the making and now the solar field project in East Providence is coming close to going on-line and providing real clean energy for the citizens of East Providence, while at the same time providing a new revenue source for the city.

On November 26th, U.S. Senator Sheldon Whithouse and Rhode Island Lt. Governor Richard Licht were given a personal tour of the site along with a progress report. Both gentleman were not only impressed with what they saw, but also were excited about this particular project as being a model that they hope to see other cities and towns around Rhode Island emulate.

Next week we begin our four part video series on the East Providence Solar project where we hear from Senator Whitehouse, and we get our own private behind the scenes tour of the facility as Rhode Island takes another step in becoming a leader in clean energy.

Green Building is Now the Law in Dallas

Dallas has now accepted the first building permit applications under its green building ordinance. Dallas is one of the first major cities in the nation to implement comprehensive mandatory green building standards for both all new residential and commercial construction.

By Resolution 08-1070 adopted unanimously on April 9, 2008 Phase 1 of the law was effective in 2009 and Phase 2 (originally to be effective October 1, 2011) was fully implemented October 1, 2013.

All new projects must either: meet the minimum requirements of the Dallas Green Construction Code or be LEED certifiable or be Green Built Texas certifiable or be certifiable under an equivalent green building standard. Projects need only be "certifiable" and not LEED certified nor Green Built Texas certified.

Expedited review is available for projects that are at a minimum Dallas Green Construction Code compliant, LEED Silver certifiable or ASHRAE 189.1-2011 certifiable.
Projects must reduce water usage by 20%. LEED projects may achieve 1 point under the Water Use Reduction (20% Reduction) Credit or projects may use 20% less water than the baseline under the Plumbing Code.

Single family residential may also meet the minimum requirements of ICC 700. Lots must be designed so that at least 70% of the built environment is permeable. Projects must utilize drip irrigation for all "bedding areas" of landscaping.

Significantly, as one of the optional compliance paths a project may comply with the Dallas Green Construction Code, which is an enactment of the International Green Construction Code with local amendments. Many have noted Dallas deleted Chapter 6 of the IgCC, the energy conservation provision, and elected instead to keep existing energy code requirements. Also deleted are the chapters for commissioning and causing the code to apply to alterations of existing buildings.

Dallas also accepts approved third party plan review and inspection for its green building program.

The successful implementation of green building standards in Dallas has been widely heralded across the environmental industrial complex, including on the USGBC website. Although there are some minor rumblings that LEED certifiable versus actually submitting a project for LEED certification violates the terms of usage of the USGBC rating system.

Calvert Green