Sustainable Development

Siemens Gets World’s Largest Order for Onshore Wind Turbines in Iowa

Back in May, MidAmerican Energy Company had announced their intention to invest $1.9 billion for adding 1,050 megawatts of wind energy generation capacity in Iowa. Now the company has finalized the project by placing the world’s largest order for onshore wind turbines with Siemens.

Siemens Wind Turbines

Siemens Wind Turbines (photo – siemens.com)

Siemens will supply MidAmerican Energy with 448 wind turbines of type SWT-2.3-108.

Each of the turbines will have a nominal rating of 2.3 MW and rotor diameters of around 354 feet. If you line them up end-to-end, they would cover a distance of 44 miles.

These 448 turbines will be installed in five different wind projects across Iowa, including:-

- 500-megawatt Highland wind project;

- 250-megawatt Lundgren wind project;

- 138.6-megawatt Wellsburg wind project;

- 117-megawatt Macksburg wind project; and

- 44-megawatt Vienna II wind project

The five projects combined will produce enough renewable energy to power the equivalent of 317,000 average Iowa households, and the company is not passing on the cost of the investment to its customers.

On the contrary, the huge influx of clean energy will help stabilize electric rates, and they actually expect a rate reduction totaling an annual $10 million by 2017. When the five wind projects become operational in 2015, MidAmerican Energy expects to be able to start off with a $3.3 million rate reduction.

The economic development and job creation resulting from the project is also going to be significant.

For starters, it helps retain the 500 Siemens jobs at the manufacturing facility in Fort Madison, Iowa where the company plans to produce the rotor blades.

Iowa Governor Branstad said in a statement that it is great to have an Iowa-based energy company placing the world’s largest onshore order for wind turbines in a facility that has produced more than 9,000 blades since the plant began operations in 2007.

The nacelles and hubs for the wind turbines will be assembled at the Siemens plant in Hutchinson, Kansas, and this will help retain another 300 jobs.

The project will additionally help create 1,000 construction jobs during the two-year period while the five wind projects are being built, and another 40 permanent MidAmerican jobs subsequently.

Local governments in Iowa will collect an additional $360 million in property tax revenues over the next 30 years, and the landowners themselves will collect an additional $3.2 million per year.

New Sims Recycling Facility in NYC is a Model of Sustainability

Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg and other local officials announced the opening of the Sunset Park Material Recovery Facility that will serve as the principal recycling facility for all the curbside residential plastic, glass and metal recyclables from New York, NY.

Sims recycling facility, NYC

Sims recycling facility, NYC (photo – simsmunicipal.com)

The waterfront facility has the capacity to process 1,000 tons of recyclable material every day.

The recyclable material will be brought in by barge, and the renovated freight rail on the Brooklyn waterfront will be used to ship out the processed recyclables.

This will help eliminate an annual 150,000 truck trips and 240,000 annual miles of Sanitation Department vehicle travel on the City’s streets.

The Sunset Park facility, along with a series of recycling initiatives the City has launched recently, are aimed at increasing the amount of plastics, glass and metal recycled in New York City by 50 percent over the next five years.

Sims Municipal Recycling built the plant on a 11-acre site on the 30th Street Pier in the South Brooklyn Marine Terminal in Sunset Park, Brooklyn over the last three years, and they will also be operating it.

The design and the construction of the Sims facility incorporate several sustainability features that were good enough to help it win the NYC Excellence in Design Award back in 2010.

The buildings are entirely made of recycled steel from American steel plants, and sections of the site have been raised by four feet using mole rock from NYC tunneling projects mixed with recycled glass aggregate (RGA).

This feature of the construction saved the buildings and equipment on the elevated site from Hurricane Sandy, and the site is now proven to be protected from storm surges and sea level rise.

Ponds, bio-swales and other landscaping features manage storm water on-site. Part of the power consumed by the facility is generated by on-site renewable sources, including a 600 kW solar (photovoltaic) installation and a 100 kW wind turbine.

Three reefs have been built by the City at the western end of the pier, providing new habitats for marine life. Also, the Sims recycling facility complex includes a Recycling Education Center that is set to be completed next year and will be open to public and school groups.

New York City Economic Development Corporation (NYCEDC) President Kyle Kimball said the EDC is proud to have helped facilitate the creation of this cutting-edge facility, which he said would strengthen New York’s position as a model of sustainability for other cities and generate both environmental and economic benefits for New Yorkers.

SEIA Report – U.S. Solar Sector Shatters Records in 2013

GTM Research and the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA) released the U.S. Solar Market Insight report for Q3 2013, and it shows that 2013 was a banner year for solar in the U.S. that shattered all kinds of records.

SEIA U.S. solar insight report - 10,250 MW

SEIA U.S. solar insight report – 10,250 MW (photo – seia.org)

For starters, the U.S. installed 930 MW of photovoltaics (PV) in the third quarter, which is a 35 increase above Q3 2012.

This 930 MW also represents the second largest quarter ever in the history of the U.S. solar market. It’s also the largest-ever quarter for residential PV installations, which totaled up to 186 MW.

The total forecast for 2013 is for 4.3 GW of new PV installations, which likely means this is the first time in the last 15 years that the U.S. has installed more solar capacity than Germany, which is invariably the world’s leading country in this regard.

Also this year, the U.S. surpassed the magic 10 GW mark for cumulative solar capacity. As of Q3 2013, the U.S. had 10,250 MW of solar energy. By the end of 2013, more than 400,000 individual solar projects will be operational in the U.S.

That’s enough power for 1.7 million homes, or the equivalent of taking 2.1 million cars off the road. It’s also the equivalent of planting 262.5 million trees, or 10,938 parks the size of Central Park in New York.

Rhone Resch, SEIA president and CEO, said this unprecedented growth is helping create thousands of American jobs, save money for U.S. consumers, and reduce pollution across the nation.

California continues to lead the charge at the state level, and clocked up 455 MW in Q3 2013, followed by Arizona (169 MW) and North Carolina (69 MW).

The solar industry also had a pretty good year from the legislative and policy standpoint at the state level. Net metering decisions favored the industry in Arizona, California, Idaho and Louisiana. New solar deployment programs were initiated by Georgia, Massachusetts, Minnesota and New York.

Shayle Kann, vice president of research at GTM, said that as solar continues its march toward ubiquity, the market will require continued innovation, regulatory clarity and efficiency improvement, but the groundwork for a mainstream solar future has already been laid.

Read the executive summary of the U.S. Solar Market Insight report at seia.org

Largest NYC Solar Installation With 4760 Panels Completed

The Ross Solar Group has completed installation of 4,760 solar panels at the Jetro Cash and Carry’s Restaurant Depot facility in New York City.

Solar panels at Jetro facility in the Bronx

Solar panels at Jetro facility in the Bronx (photo – Ross Solar Group)

This 1.56 Megawatt solar installation, located in the Hunts Point section of the Bronx, is the largest solar project in NYC under New York State’s NY-Sun initiative.

Jetro Vice President Peter Claro said they had been considering a solar project for several years, but wanted to make sure it made financial sense as a company, and that the returns would meet their requirements.

The project is now expected to fulfill 45 percent of the building’s power consumption, leading to annual savings of $220,000.

The key to making a solar project of this size viable was the smart grid technology used, and the successful implementation now opens the way for similar large solar projects.

The PV system used at the Jetro site is the first to be remotely controlled by Con Edison using the supervisory control and data acquisition (SCADA) communications system.

Robert Schimmenti, vice president for Engineering and Planning, Con Edison, said that their smart-grid innovations made it possible for this customer to harness the power of the sun with NYC’s largest solar installation ever. Schimmenti said they believe this technology opens the way for other large solar arrays, and this means a more reliable electrical grid and cleaner air for everyone.

To facilitate the project, Ross Solar was awarded a grant under the NY-Sun Initiative by the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA).

Jetro broke ground on the 200,000-square-foot environment-friendly facility in 2011. The $50 million construction project was facilitated by up to $21 million in tax incentives approved by the New York City IDA. The tax incentives helped create and retain nearly 200 jobs which might otherwise have been relocated to a lower cost location in New Jersey.

New York Governor Andrew M. Cuomo said this project in the Bronx demonstrates that large solar projects are viable in New York City, and added that they hoped to see other businesses follow Jetro Cash and Carry’s lead, now that additional NY-Sun funding was available.

Gov. Cuomo also announced that another $30 million is now available under NY-Sun’s Competitive PV Program for stimulating large-scale solar and biogas projects in NYC and the Hudson Valley.

The Jetro solar project may seem like a big deal, but there’s a much bigger one in the works. Last month, NYC Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg announced that Freshkills Park on Staten Island will house the largest solar energy installation in New York City.

Around 47 acres on Freshkills Park, formerly the world’s largest landfill, will be leased to SunEdison for setting up a solar project that will generate up to 10 megawatts of power with the help of an estimated 30,000 to 35,000 solar panels. This project is expected to increase New York City’s renewable energy capacity by 50 percent.

Northeast, Mid-Atlantic States Petition EPA Against Upwind States

Eight Mid-Atlantic and Northeastern States have teamed up to petition the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to help reduce pollution carried in by the wind from upwind states.

Ozone Transport Map

Ozone Transport Map (photo – ct.gov)

The downwind states claim they have spent billions to reduce their own emissions and clean up the air pollution, while the upwind states have benefited by offering businesses cheaper power produced by coal plants with no emission limit constraints.

The petition, signed and filed jointly by Connecticut, Delaware, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New York, Rhode Island, and Vermont, asks the EPA to force nine upwind states in the south and west to join the Ozone Transport Region (OTR).

The upwind states named in the petition are Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Ohio, Michigan, North Carolina, Tennessee, Virginia, and West Virginia.

The Ozone Transport Region (OTR) covering the Northeast states was established under the Clean Air Act (CAA) in order to help these states tackle transported air pollution.

The joint petition sent by the eight states asks the EPA to use the authority it has under CAA Section 176A to add one or more states to the OTR if the EPA has sufficient cause to believe that said states are significantly in violation of the ozone standard in the transport region.

If the EPA agrees and one or more of the aforementioned nine states are added to the OTR, they would be forced to take emissions reductions actions to aid the air pollution reduction efforts of downwind states.

The actions that states added to the OTR would be forced to take include enhanced use of control technologies to reduce emissions and improve energy efficiency, and greater use of cleaner fuels for generating power.

Earlier this year in May, the downwind states invited the upwind lot to join the OTR. The upwind states said they were willing to cooperate on technical aspects related to air pollution reduction efforts, but refused to join the OTR voluntarily.

The multi-state petition to the EPA now seeks overdue commitments made by these upwind states to protect the health of downwind residents and level the playing field for businesses.

Connecticut Governor Dannel P. Malloy said in a statement that Connecticut is tired of serving as the tailpipe of America. He said they were paying a steep public health and economic price for the failure of the upwind states to make the investments needed for operating industrial facilities and power plants in a clean and efficient manner.

The EPA now has 18 months to take action on the petition. The petitioners have also requested the EPA to provide for public participation on the petition, including a public notice and a comment period.

Here’s a copy of the letter and the petition sent to the EPA.

GM Investing $24M to Generate Electricity from Landfill Gas

General Motors Co. (NYSE:GM) announced that it will make a $24 million investment on electrical generation equipment that will allow the company to generate its own electricity from landfill gas for use in GM assembly plants in Fort Wayne, Indiana and Orion, Michigan.

GM landfill gas investment in Orion, MI and Fort Wayne, IN

GM landfill gas investment in Orion, MI and Fort Wayne, IN (photo – gm.com)

The investment will be used to build a powerhouse at each facility, and to install electricity generation equipment. This makes GM the first North American automaker to generate its own electricity.

The excess gas flare that would normally escape into the air is instead being redirected back into the facility for creating electricity that will power the manufacturing operations.

Bill Mortimer, GM co-generation project manager, said that with this project in place, GM is converting landfill gas into electricity for their own use, which in essence allows them to act as their own utility.

He added that it not only saves on energy costs, but also limits the amount of greenhouse gases that are released into the atmosphere.

The new equipment will help GM generate more than 14MW of renewable energy, reducing the company’s annual emissions by 89,000 metric tons of CO2 – equivalent to taking 18,542 cars off the road. GM will save $10 million each year in energy costs for both plants combined.

Rob Threlkeld, GM global manager of renewable energy, said GM has made a commitment to increase their use of renewable energy to 125MW by 2020. He noted that this expansion represents more than 10 percent of that goal.

The Orion Assembly Plant has been using landfill gas since 1999. At present, it uses the gas to heat a paint shop. Once the power plant and the other new electricity generation equipment is installed, a full 54 percent of the Orion plant’s energy consumption will be fulfilled by the electricity produced from landfill gas.

The Fort Wayne Assembly Plant has likewise been using landfill gas since 2002. Installation of the new equipment will increase the use of landfill gas at the plant to 40 percent.

Canon Gloucester Facility Gets Virginia’s Largest Rooftop Solar Project

Dominion Virginia Power, a subsidiary of Dominion (NYSE: D), announced that it will install more than 2,000 solar panels on the rooftop of a Canon Virginia Inc. facility in Gloucester, VA.

Canon Virginia IRT solar rooftop array in Gloucester, VA

Rendering of Canon Virginia IRT solar rooftop array in Gloucester, VA

The $2 million project will produce more than 500 kilowatts of electricity, and will be the largest rooftop solar project in Virginia.

All of the electricity generated from the project will flow to nearby Dominion Virginia Power customers, and will fulfill the power consumption needs of around 125 homes.

The facility in question is Canon’s Industrial Resource Technologies (IRT) unit.

Toru Nishizawa, president and CEO of Canon Virginia and IRT, said their mission was not only to grow Canon’s product recycling efforts, but also to embrace green technologies, foster a recycling-oriented society, and reduce the company’s environmental impact through greater management efficiency.

The Canon project is part of the Solar Partnership Program, under which Dominion Virginia is leasing rooftop or ground-level space at public, industrial and commercial facilities for installing solar panels.

Dominion Virginia has set a target of reaching 30MW of renewable energy capacity through solar facilities on leased space under this program. This means they will be generating enough power under this program for around 7,500 homes.

Kenneth D. Barker, vice president of Customer Solutions and Energy Conservation, Dominion Virginia Power, said the Solar Partnership Program was designed to expand the company’s understanding of community-based solar energy through a study of its impact and assessment of the benefits.

He said the Canon project was their largest installation to-date, and would enable them to evaluate the benefits of distributed generation on the Dominion Virginia Power system.

The Gloucester Economic Development Authority (EDA) owns the building in which the Canon IRT facility is housed. The EDA worked closely on this project with Canon Virginia, Dominion Virginia Power and Branch Banking and Trust.

Gloucester EDA Chairman David N. Meeker said they were always on the lookout for ways to help businesses work more effectively and produce benefits for Gloucester residents. He said the EDA endeavors to assist all businesses in the county to grow and adopt new processes and technologies that help them be successful.

Construction on the project will begin this month, and the solar panels are expected to be installed and operational early next year.

Duke Energy Kicks Off Solar Projects in Eastern NC

Duke Energy Renewables announced that they have started construction on three utility-scale solar projects in Eastern North Carolina.

Duke Energy Renewables solar project in North Carolina

Duke Energy Renewables solar project in North Carolina (photo – sunenergy1.com)

The three projects add up to a combined capacity of 30MW, enough to power about 6,000 homes.

The biggest of the three projects is the 20MW Dogwood Solar Power Project near Scotland Neck, in Halifax County.

The other two are 5MW projects. One is the Windsor Cooper Hill Solar Project near Windsor, Bertie County. The other one is Bethel Price Solar near Bethel, Pitt County.

The combined investment on the projects will create hundreds of construction jobs and a permanent tax base that will have a lasting impact on a large part of Eastern North Carolina. Duke Energy already owns six 1MW solar facilities in the state’s western part.

Duke Energy Renewables President Greg Wolf said they were pleased to be expanding in this part of the state and bringing significant community development benefits to these counties. He said the projects would generate valuable tax revenue, along with supplemental income for the land owners, and clean, renewable energy for the state.

The photovoltaic (PV) projects, expected to be complete by the end of the year, are being built by Mooresville, NC-based solar engineering, design and construction firm SunEnergy1.

Kenny Habul, CEO of SunEnergy1, said they were proud to be partnering on these projects with Duke Energy. Habul applauded Duke Energy’s continued commitment towards bringing economic growth and renewable solar power for these counties, which he said stand to reap tangible benefits from these projects.

The 140,000 high efficiency PV modules that will be used in the three new projects are being supplied by ReneSola (NYSE:SOL).

Renesola President Kevin Chen said their company had forged a solid long-term relationship with Duke Energy Renewables and SunEnergy1, and was looking forward to working with both companies in 2014 and beyond.

Duke Energy Renewables is a commercial business unit of Charlotte, North Carolina-based Duke Energy (NYSE: DUK). The company’s portfolio of commercial renewable assets includes 17 solar projects and 15 wind farms in operation in 12 states, adding up to more than 1,700MW of capacity.

The three new solar projects will bring the number of commercial solar farms wholly owned by Duke Energy Renewables in the U.S. to 20.

NY Awards $4.8M For Energy Efficient Buildings Research Projects

New York State announced another round of funding under the NYSERDA Advanced Buildings Program for research on making buildings in New York more energy efficient.

The New NY Works for Energy

The New NY Works for Energy (photo – ny.gov)

This $4.8 million in funding is the second of six rounds meant to distribute a total of $25 million under the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority’s (NYSERDA) Advanced Buildings Program.

The awardees are chosen through a competitive process that is open to energy efficiency-related advanced technology projects in all phases from the concept stage to commercialization of the project, field installation and evaluation.

The projects being funded in this round range from those doing research on construction materials and strategies to others that are working on solid-state lighting, demand response and smart buildings, and heating and cooling systems.

Pulaski, NY-based Fulton, which specializes in industrial and commercial heating systems, won $600,000 for two projects.

Fulton received $500,000 for constructing a dual-fuel gas/oil boiler in collaboration with Synex Controls. This project increases the efficiency of gas-oil boilers and provides more energy savings.

Fulton was also awarded another $100,000 for developing a low-cost and corrosion-resistant heat exchanger to be used in a high-efficiency steam boiler. This exchanger will capture heat that is currently lost in boilers, thus increasing the efficiency of steam systems and providing more energy savings.

Another big winner in this round was the Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in Troy, NY which was awarded a total of $509,000 for four different projects.

Their project to create the OLED Application Innovation Center, a technical and education center for organic light emitting diodes (OLEDs), received $210,000 under the Lighting category.

Another Rensselaer project to improve the performance of rooftop wind turbines received $100,000 under the construction materials and strategies category. A third project to use luminescent solar concentrators (LSCs) for concentrating sunlight on photovoltaic (PV) cells also got $100,000 in this same category.

A fourth Rensselaer project in the smart buildings category won $99,000. This project is working on demonstrating a silicon-based microelectronic vibration energy harvester for wireless sensors. If successful, it will eliminate the need for batteries to power the wireless network activity of building automation systems.

NYSERDA President and CEO John B. Rhodes said building research and development programs are critical in the innovation pipeline because it looks at new technologies that will help homeowners and businesses in achieving greater savings through energy efficiency.

New York Governor Andrew M. Cuomo noted that these public-private partnerships will assist businesses and homeowners in saving money by reducing their energy footprint. Gov. Cuomo said the state’s investment will help grow the clean energy economy while at the same time protecting the environment.

Detroit Renewable Energy To Supply Waste Recycled Energy For GM PLant

General Motors Co. (NYSE:GM)and Detroit Renewable Energy are teaming up for a renewable energy project to turn municipal waste in Detroit, Michigan into steam that will be used to heat and cool the GM Detroit-Hamtramck assembly plant.

GM Detroit-Hamtramck Steam Project

DRE, GM Detroit-Hamtramck Steam Project (photo – gm.com)

Once the project is operational, 58 percent of the plant’s energy requirements will be fulfilled from renewable energy sources.

This will make the Detroit-Hamtramck plant the biggest user (by percentage) of renewable energy among all GM facilities worldwide.

The steam pipe will provide 15.8MW of renewable energy. GM has an overall goal of putting 125MW of renewable energy into its portfolio by 2020.

The steam generated at Detroit Renewable Power’s waste recycling plant will travel through 8,300 feet of pipe before reaching the GM plant.

The cost of the project was not disclosed, but the construction of the steam pipeline and the associated energy infrastructure is set to begin this month. The project will be operational and will start providing renewable energy to Detroit-Hamtramck by next spring.

Rob Threlkeld, GM’s global manager of renewable energy, said General Motors has 107 landfill-free facilities around the world that reuse or recycle their waste, and some of it gets converted into energy.

Threlkeld said it made sense for them to pursue this project with DRE at the Detroit-Hamtramck plant since DRE’s quality work is already helping GM manage energy use at other plants.

Hamtramck Energy Services, which is a part of Detroit Renewable Energy LLC, operates private industrial steam plants and waste water treatment plants at seven GM facilities.

The Greater Detroit Resource Recovery Authority (GDRRA) supplies Detroit Renewable Power LLC with the municipal waste from Metro Detroit that goes into the energy-from-waste plant.

DRE Chairman and CEO Steven White said they have a have a long history working with GM, providing energy for the company’s assembly plants. He said incorporating a renewable and sustainable energy source into Detroit-Hamtramck makes for a significant addition to the value chain.

Detroit Renewable processes more than a million tons of municipal solid waste into steam and electric power, and also annually recycles about 40,000 tons of metal.

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