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Green Wallah

Energy, Ecosystems and Political Economy

GE Zooms In On Wind, Solar, Tidal Energy Hotspots

Renewable energy sources accounted for nearly half the new electricity generation capacity installed globally in 2014, a dramatic illustration of just how far, and how fast, use of wind, solar and other clean, sustainable energy resources has come. Spurred forward by technological advances, rapidly falling costs and energy policy reform, renewable energy, as well as energy efficiency, have become strategic business lines for the world’s largest industrial engineering, manufacturing and construction businesses, including General Electric (GE).

In an October 12 blog post, the head of GE’s Renewables Sales team Peter Oram zooms in on the world’s renewable energy hotspots – for solar, tidal and wind energy specifically — offering insights into emerging trends and current conditions. Continue reading “GE Zooms In On Wind, Solar, Tidal Energy Hotspots”

RMI: 60% Drop in Costs Obscures 13 Battery Storage Benefits

Sharp declines in the cost of stationary battery storage have led to a surge in installed capacity in the US. Deployment of stationary battery storage has taken off this year, rising 600 percent on a sequential basis in the second quarter as utilities, commercial and industrial (C&I) businesses, schools, hospitals and public and government offices turn to advanced energy storage solutions as part of strategic efforts to reduce energy costs, ecosystems damage and greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions while enhancing the security and resiliency of power supplies.

The sharp fall in installed system costs has obscured the wide variety of benefits the latest generation of intelligent battery storage systems affords utilities, end-users and society, however, according to clean energy and energy efficiency specialists at the Rocky Mountain Institute (RMI).

In ¨The Economics of Battery Energy Storage,¨ RMI lays out 13 distinct services advanced battery storage systems can deliver today. More to the point, the report authors conclude that these systems are economic and cost-effective now. Continue reading “RMI: 60% Drop in Costs Obscures 13 Battery Storage Benefits”

Green Charge to Dispatch Customers’ Unused Stored Energy to California Grid

At the leading, cutting edge of new energy technology, providers of intelligent distributed energy storage systems for the first time are aggregating stored energy from dispersed utility customer sites and dispatching electricity as needed on to the California grid. Santa Clara’s Green Charge Networks on October 8 announced that it and its customers are now participating in the California Independent System Operator grid-power market.

Green Charge is aggregating 13.3 megawatt-hours (Mwh) of energy storage capacity from 61 commercial-grade advanced battery storage systems it has installed ¨behind the meter¨ at utility customer sites throughout the Golden State. Paving the way for Green Charge to tap into the surplus energy dispersed across all those sites, each of those customers has signed ¨shared savings¨ Power Efficiency Agreements with Green Charge. Continue reading “Green Charge to Dispatch Customers’ Unused Stored Energy to California Grid”

Argonne Launches Energy Storage, Nanotech Collaboration Centers

Argonne National Laboratory on October 6 announced it is opening two centers of collaboration that will afford private-sector companies a new, more direct means of contributing to and taking advantage of the latest advances in two critical fields of endeavor for the world’s best scientists and engineers: energy storage and nanotechnology.

As Argonne explains in a press release: ¨Nano Design Works (NDW) and the Argonne Collaborative Center for Energy Storage Science (ACCESS) will provide central points of contact for companies — ranging from large industrial entities to smaller businesses and start-ups, as well as government agencies — to benefit from Argonne’s world-class expertise, scientific tools and facilities.¨ Continue reading “Argonne Launches Energy Storage, Nanotech Collaboration Centers”

Citigroup Follows BoA, Cuts Coal Mining Finance

Citigroup announced it’s cutting financing of coal mining projects, part and parcel of the multinational banking and financial services group instituting an updated Environmental & Social Policy Framework. Citi as recently as 2013 was one of the top providers of financing for coal mining companies and projects that have resulted in extensive, long-lasting environmental and ecosystems destruction and degradation, such as mountaintop removal mining.

19_BeyondCoal_StickersCitigroup’s announcement follows in the wake of a similar, yet more dramatic, move by Bank of America (BoA), the largest US bank group, as well as France’s Credit Agricole, the third-largest in Europe. BoA announced it was cutting off funding for coal mining projects completely this past May.

Cutting back, or eliminating, funding for coal mining projects and companies comes amid public pressure from prominent environmental groups, including the Sierra Club and Rainforest Action Network (RAN). The EPA following through with efforts to institute President Barack Obama’s Clean Power Plan is another principal factor leading banks and other financiers to rethink their lending and investment policies and decisions, particularly with regard to mineral, energy and natural resources more generally.

Continue reading “Citigroup Follows BoA, Cuts Coal Mining Finance”

$68 Billion of Untapped Solar Power Potential in the Northeast

There’s lots in the way of untapped solar power potential in the Northeast US, and a convergence of factors is coming together that leads distributed solar energy investment specialist Wiser Capital to conclude that regional solar power investment and new generation capacity is primed to boom.

Some 274,637 commercial buildings across the Northeast are suitable for solar PV systems, Santa Barbara, CA-based Wiser Capital says in its ¨2015 Solar Economic Barometr.¨ Collectively, installing solar PV systems at these sites could produce some 94,733MW (megawatts) of clean, renewable electricity for on-site use and grid distribution.

*Note: This article originally appeared Sept. 29 on Global Warming is Real Continue reading “$68 Billion of Untapped Solar Power Potential in the Northeast”

Agribusiness Giant Bunge Adopts ¨Zero Deforestation¨ Policy

Another clear, significant sign of a ¨sea change¨ taking place regarding the strategies, business models, practices and values that underlie, inform and guide the running of the world’s largest, leading multinational business organizations, Bunge Limited on September 21 announced it is instituting a broad, sweeping policy that is to see the giant agricultural commodities concern eliminate the production and purchasing of grains, oilseeds and other agricultural and food products that result from deforestation.

Pressure from shareholders led by Green Century Capital Management was instrumental in bringing about Bunge’s new ¨zero deforestation¨ policy. Last spring Green Century called on Bunge management to adopt a policy of eliminating deforestation throughout its supply chain, which encompasses worldwide production and distribution of staple agricultural commodities such as soy, sugar and corn.

It’s anticipated that curbing deforestation across Bunge’s vast agricultural holdings and supply chain will make a substantial contribution to reducing carbon dioxide (CO2) and methane emissions and thereby help avoid the risks and effects of rapid climate change. Much more in the way of benefits – social, environmental and economic – is expected, however. Continue reading “Agribusiness Giant Bunge Adopts ¨Zero Deforestation¨ Policy”

Sustainable Land Use Could Avert Crises, Add $76 Billion to World Income

At a time when environmental degradation and climate change challenge the fundamental basis for societies and economies worldwide, researchers around the world have been working diligently to put a monetary value on all the services ecosystems provide.

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Aiming to better inform policymakers and the public regarding the trade-offs inherent in choosing alternative land use and development paths and allocating capital among investments, researchers working under the umbrella of The Economics of Land Degradation Initiative (ELD) have determined that improving the way we develop and use land and soils could add as much as $75.6 billion a year to worldwide income.

Not only that, effectively addressing the issue of land and soil degradation would go a long way towards avoiding humanitarian crises that would have destabilizing impacts on many nations, particularly those such as the US and EU where floods of immigrants have sparked public outcry, demonstrations and conflict.  Continue reading “Sustainable Land Use Could Avert Crises, Add $76 Billion to World Income”

DONG Gets Creative in Financing, Building Offshore Wind Assets

Denmark’s DONG Energy on September 10 announced it is divesting 50 percent of the 330MW Gode Wind 1 offshore wind farm in German North Sea waters to Global Infrastructure Partners (GIP). DONG will rake in some 780 million euros ($884.5 million) as a result, the total amount to be received over the course of 2015-2016, management states in a press release.

Gode Wind Farm construction
Gode Wind Farm construction

Off- or onshore, wind power is a key, core element of Germany’s Energiewende, the strategic new energy plan that is guiding Western Europe’s most populous nation and largest economy as it phases out nuclear, and eventually fossil-fuel, energy and forges a ¨green,¨ low-carbon economy and society. Germany’s installed offshore wind power capacity accounted for nearly 36 percent of the EU’s 8.045 gigawatts (GW) total as of year-end 2014, second only to the UK, which accounted for 54.8 percent, according to the European Wind Energy Association (EWEA).

Government austerity, bank bailouts, ongoing economic travails and the scaling back, if not elimination, of EU member nations’ renewable energy incentives add to the barriers holding back more rapid deployment of wind and other renewable energy assets. They compound the high capital costs and technical challenges associated with bringing wind and other utility-scale renewable power generation and distribution capacity online. Consequently, DONG has been getting creative as it continues to add to its project pipeline and restructure its portfolio. Continue reading “DONG Gets Creative in Financing, Building Offshore Wind Assets”

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