Sustainable Development

Shedd Aquarium Unveils Solar Installation With 913 Panels

The Shedd Aquarium in Chicago, Illinois unveiled a large solar panel installation with 913 photovoltaic solar panels on the roof of the aquarium’s marine mammal pavilion.

Shedd Aquarium solar array launch

Shedd Aquarium solar array launch (photo –

The 265-kilowatt project will save Shedd more than $100,000 annually in energy costs, and help them maintain power during blackouts.

It is the biggest such solar array project by any cultural institution in Illinois that is funded through a public-private partnership.

The opening of the solar array, attended by Illinois Gov. pat Quinn, kicks off the first phase of Shedd’s Master Energy Roadmap to cut the 83-year old building’s energy consumption in half by 2020.

The roadmap, launched in Jan 2013, was created by Shedd in partnership with the City of Chicago, the Institute for Sustainable Energy Development, Citizens Utility Board, and the Illinois Science and Technology Coalition.

Karen Weigert, Chief Sustainability Officer for the City of Chicago, worked with the Civic Consulting Alliance and West Monroe Partners to come up a plan.

The experts tasked with creating the roadmap designed a smart building prototype that will make Shedd one of the first clean-powered cultural institutions. Once implemented, the plan will save almost 10 million kilowatt hours annually – equivalent to the power consumption needs of 750 households.

Apart from on-site renewable energy generation, other plan elements in the roadmap include:-

- Advanced intelligence with new sub-meters that will provide real-time information about Shedd’s energy use;

- Reducing energy consumption and improving efficiency by replacing 75 percent of the lights with LEDs;

- Reducing utility bills through automation and control to reduce energy usage during peak periods and take advantage of real-time pricing to use electricity when the price is low; and

- Integrating new energy storage technology.

The total project cost is around $1.1 million, with $250,000 being provided by the State of Illinois.

Governor Quinn said the Shedd Aquarium’s green energy efforts demonstrate how Illinois is paving the way for advancing sustainable energy and next-generation clean technology.

Shedd President and CEO Ted A. Beattie said that preserving and protecting the living world is at the heart of Shedd, and added that they know sustainability and conservation begins at home in the aquarium.

Chris Curtis, president and CEO of Schneider Electric North America which helped Shedd build the photovoltaic panels, said this was an exciting project for them, and also for the City of Chicago and the State of Illinois.

Chicago CSO Karen Weigert said they were thrilled to see Shedd take on significant changes to move towards a complete transition to renewable energy.

Go-Biz, Auto Makers Team Up to Support ZEV Infrastructure in California

The California Governor’s Office of Business and Economic Development (GO-Biz) announced an initiative to facilitate and accelerate the permitting and establishment of hydrogen fueling and electric vehicle charging infrastructure.

California ZEV roadmap

California ZEV roadmap (photo –

The initiative came about after automotive companies including GM, Nissan, Toyota, Honda, Mercedes-Benz and Hyundai approached Go-Biz earlier this year and pointed out the need for more hydrogen and EV charging stations to support their plans for increasing zero emission vehicle (ZEV) fleets.

California accounts for almost 40 percent of the U.S. market for plug-in electric vehicles, and hydrogen fuel cell vehicles are slated for launch in the 2015-17 timeframe.

Jim Pisz, North American business strategy corporate manager for Toyota Motor Sales, USA, Inc., said that when Toyota’s hydrogen fuel cell vehicle comes to the market in 2015, a reliable and convenient fueling infrastructure must be ready for customers.

Pisz said they were excited to be partnering with Go-Biz for ensuring the necessary hydrogen infrastructure is in place for successfully launching fuel cell technology in California.

Under this new initiative, Go-Biz will work not only with the auto makers, but also with federal, state and local agencies, hydrogen station developers and hosts, EV regional planners, installers and station hosts, and other interested parties.

The effort will be spearheaded by a new position created at Go-Biz that is being funded with $300,000 provided by the California Energy Commission.

This new position will engage local and state partners for identifying and eliminating barriers to development. The project manager will report directly to the Deputy Director of Permitting at GO-Biz.

Go-Biz Director Kish Rajan said California is a world leader in zero emission technology, and the state’s infrastructure needs to reflect that dynamism.

Earlier this year, California came up with an action plan that provides a roadmap for achieving the state’s goal of having 1.5 million ZEVs on California roadways by 2025.

Director Rajan said Go-Biz was partnering with automotive companies to ensure that California has the necessary infrastructure for meeting the goal of delivering more hydrogen and electric vehicles to market.


Google Invests $103M In California Solar Power Project

Silver Ridge Power, LLC and Google Inc. (NASDAQ:GOOG) announced that Google is investing $103 million in the Mount Signal Solar project in Imperial County, California.

Mount Signal Solar project

Mount Signal Solar project (photo –

The 265.7 MW, also known as Imperial Valley Solar 1, is a giant utility-scale solar power generation project that is currently under construction on a 1,963-acre site.

This project is credited with creating 900 construction jobs in a part of the state that has high unemployment.

Once operational in 2014, the project will produce enough clean renewable energy to power more than 80,000 homes in California.

The renewable energy produced by Mount Signal Solar will be sold to the San Diego Gas & Electric Company, which has signed a 25-year power purchase agreement with Silver Ridge Power.

This $103 million is Google’s 13th renewable energy investment. One of the other projects is a $178 million investment in BrightSource Energy’s 377 MW utility-scale solar project called Ivanpah located in the Mojave Desert in California.

Another $157 million was pumped by Google into two projects adding up to a combined 270 MW at the Alta Wind Energy Center (AWEC) in the Tehachapi Mountains in Kern County, CA.

Four Recurrent Energy solar photovoltaic (PV) projects near Sacramento, CA also got $94 million from Google. These four projects together have a capacity of 88 MW, enough to power more than 13,000 homes.

All put together, Google has invested more than $1 billion on renewable energy projects in California, Texas, Iowa, Oregon, Germany and South Africa that together represent a power generation capacity of more than 2GW – enough power for more than 500,000 homes.

Kojo Ako-Asare, Head of Corporate Finance, Google, said the Mount Signal Solar investment is a reflection of Google’s commitment towards the renewable energy sector, and their strong belief that renewable energy investments make business sense.

He added that this was the first time Silver Ridge Power had partnered with a tech company, and said they appreciate Silver Ridge Power’s innovative approach and hoped for more such partnerships in future.

Silver Ridge Power is a joint venture between Riverstone Holdings, LLC and The AES Corporation (NYSE:AES). It was formed specifically to develop, own and operate a portfolio of utility-scale solar power plants.

The Imperial Valley Solar 1 project, developed by 8minutenergy Renewables and taken up for construction by AES, accounts for more than half of Silver Ridge Power’s total capacity of 522 MW in the U.S. and six other countries.

Silver Ridge Power CEO Robert Hemphill said they were pleased to have a world-class partner such as Google for their flagship Mount Signal Solar project.

Siemens Canada To Supply Turbines for Grand Renewable Wind Project

Siemens Canada announced that it has received an order for 67 wind turbines for the Grand Renewable Wind Project in the County of Haldimand in southern Ontario.

Siemens wind turbines

Siemens wind turbines (photo –

The Grand Renewable Wind Project is part of the Grand Renewable Energy Park, a joint venture between Samsung Renewable Energy, Inc. and Pattern Energy Group LP to produce 100 MW of solar power and 150 MW of wind power.

The 161-foot blades for the 67 SWT-2.3-101 turbines that Siemens has to deliver and commission will be manufactured at a Siemens facility in Tillsonburg, Ontario.

This facility has 275 employees and is already producing at near full capacity. As part of a commitment to Ontario’s green energy economy, Siemens will source steel and towers for the turbines from Essar in Sault Ste. Marie and from CS Wind in Windsor.

Ontario Minister of Energy Bob Chiarelli said this project was part of their commitment towards building a modern, reliable and clean electricity system while supporting good renewable energy sector jobs.

Mike Garland, CEO of Pattern Development, said they were proud to be using turbines that were made in Ontario by Siemens. He said this was one of four wind projects they are building with locally-made turbines. He said these projects were bringing many benefits to the Province, including tax revenue, new jobs, clean power and economic stimulus.

Ki-Jung Kim, executive vice president for Samsung C&T, said the company believes that renewable energy was an important part of protecting the air we breathe and eliminating dependence on dirty coal production. He added they were pleased with investments made so far that are helping create more than 9,000 jobs across Ontario in communities that were hit hard by the recession.

This project comes under the Green Energy Investment Agreement (GEIA) between the Government of Ontario and Samsung C&T.

As per the agreement, Samsung and its partners have committed to investing $5 billion CAD for developing 1,369 megawatts of renewable energy capacity in Ontario by 2016.

If successfully implemented, GEIA will create the world’s largest wind and solar power cluster.¬†Projects undertaken under GEIA are already adding enough renewable energy capacity each year to power 260,000 homes.

Samsung’s partnerships under this agreement with Siemens, CS Wind, SMA and Canadian Solar are expected to create 900 new jobs at these providers’ facilities, and the projects undertaken are expected to create 9,000 high-skilled jobs overall in Ontario.

Organic Transit Opens Vehicle Production Facility in San Jose, CA

Durham, North Carolina-based Organic Transit announced that it is expanding its operations in Durham to a bigger facility, and also opening a new production facility to assemble their ELF pedal plus electric vehicle in San Jose, California.

Organic Transit's ELF at Good Karma Bikes in San Jose, CA

Organic Transit’s ELF at Good Karma Bikes in San Jose, CA (photo –

Organic Transit was launched in 2011, and got its initial boost using a Kickstarter crowdfunding campaign through which it got $225,789 and 51 orders to start producing the ELF.

The company has since sold more than 200 vehicles through their website.

The three-wheel ELF is technically and legally a bicycle which can be driven on bike paths and sidewalks, and does not need a driving license.

You may use the pedals to generate electricity, but it also has solar panels for charging the battery, which has a 30-mile range. The vehicle is currently priced at $5,000.

Every ELF vehicle is made of recycled and recyclable material, gives the equivalent of 1,800 mpg, and reduces Co2 emissions by as much as six tons per year.

Their old headquarters in Durham is located in a retail furniture store which the company has now outgrown.

The new location they are moving into in downtown Durham is bigger at 7,500 square feet, and Organic Transit is planning to make use of sustainable design for the building renovations.

Rob Cotter, founder and CEO of Organic Transit, said they were planning to use recycled and upcycled material for the buildout, and the building was being renovated to include LED lighting and skylights, green walls, bee hives and edible gardens.

The second part of the announcement is that Organic Transit has opened a new manufacturing facility in San Jose, CA in partnership with non-profit Good Karma Bikes (GKB).

GKB provides low-income and homeless people with bicycles so that they get the freedom and benefits of being able to travel and move around easily. GKB also provides those interested with training on how to be a bicycle mechanic. It’s actually a proper course with certification that helps those trained in getting jobs.

Organic Transit is leasing space from GKB in San Jose. The company hopes to produce more vehicles per day with the establishment of the new production space in San Jose.

Cotter says interest in the ELF has been huge on the West Coast, and their partnership with GKB will help the company service customers in California and other western states.

Duke Energy Announces Two Wind Power Projects in South Texas

Duke Energy Renewables announced that it is undertaking two new large-scale wind power projects – Los Vientos III and Los Vientos IV, in South Texas.

Vestas wind turbines

Vestas wind turbines (photo –

Each of these projects will be capable of producing 200 megawatts of clean electricity with no emissions. Together, they can provide power for around 120,000 homes.

The company is planning to build, own and operate these two projects, which are to be located near Rio Grande City, about 100 miles due west of Brownsville.

Duke Energy Renewables President Greg Wolf said they were pleased to be bringing economic development, jobs and affordable clean electricity to Texas.

Austin Energy, the Texas capital’s municipally owned electric utility, will buy the output from both projects, and has entered into two 25-year power purchase agreements with Duke Energy Renewables.

The utility already gets renewable power from Duke Energy’s earlier Los Vientos II Windpower Project. Power from Los Vientos I goes to CPS Energy, San Antonio’s municipally owned utility.

Austin Energy General Manager Larry Weis said these new projects with Duke Energy will help Austin Energy meet its goal of 35 percent renewable energy a full four years ahead of schedule.

The turbines for these projects will be supplied by Vestas. The order for 200 2.0MW turbines that Duke Energy Renewables has placed with Vestas is the largest order for turbines the company has received since 2010.

The turbine blades, towers and nacelles for the Duke Energy turbines will be produced by Vestas manufacturing facilities in Colorado.

Chris Brown, president of Vestas’ sales and service division in the United States and Canada, said they won this deal through a very competitive process. He said the order would keep their U.S. factories busy, and would create jobs for Vistas service technicians.

The V110-2.0 MW turbines that Duke Energy has ordered from Vestas are capable of producing 13 percent more energy as compared to the company’s previous V100-1.8 MW turbine.

Vestas will begin delivering the new turbines in mid-2014, with commissioning slated to begin in 2015 and continue through 2016.

Once both wind farms are fully operational, Duke Energy Renewable’s overall wind power capacity will be in excess of 2,000MW, which puts the company among the top 10 wind energy producers in the U.S.

Apart from the two existing and two planned Los Vientos projects, Duke Energy has five other renewable power projects in Texas. All put together, they have 15 wind farms and 15 solar farms already operational in 12 states.

Duke Energy Renewables is a commercial business unit of Charlotte, North Carolina-based Duke Energy.


EPA Proposes Carbon Pollution Standards for New Power Plants

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has proposed standards for cutting carbon pollution caused by new power plants.

Cleaner Power Plants

Cleaner Power Plants (photo –

Under the new standards, coal and natural-gas fired plants would get separate treatment.

Large natural-gas fired turbines will have to conform to a limit of 1,000 pounds of CO2 per megawatt-hour, while the small ones would have a limit of 1,100 pounds.

Coal-fired would need to meet a limit of 1,100 pounds, with the additional option of a tighter limit if they want to average the allowed emissions over several years, which would give these coal-fired plants more flexibility in how much emissions are allowed in a single year.

These standards requirements would ensure that new power plants are built using the latest clean technologies for limiting carbon pollution and use cleaner sources such as natural gas, and more renewable energy sources including wind and solar.

EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy said that climate change was among the most significant challenges for public health today. McCarthy said that by taking commonsense action for limiting pollution from new power plants, climate change effects can be slowed down and the obligation to ensure a healthy and safe environment for our children can be fulfilled.

McCarthy also noted that the proposed standards would spark innovation required for building the next generation of power plants and growing a sustainable clean energy economy.

In a statement supporting the proposed standards, Connecticut Gov. Dannel P. Malloy said that power plants were the largest source of power pollution in the nation, and the new standards would help ensure that new power plants were more efficient and cleaner.

Gov. Malloy added that by driving demand for clean sources of energy, the rule would help in realizing in the clean energy sector’s enormous economic opportunities.

In April 2012, the EPA had proposed a different set of new power plant standards, and got 2.5 million comments, including from the power sector and environmental groups.

This huge amount of feedback led to the earlier set of proposed standards being dropped, and helped the EPA come up with the new ones that have just been announced. The EPA is now seeking comments on the new proposed standards, and will hold a public hearing.

The comment period will be open for 60 days after the standards are published in the Federal Register. You can see the full set of proposed standards here (pdf), and add your own comment here. The feedback will be taken into consideration before the rulemaking process is completed.

Unilever Makes $109M Investment for Sustainable Ice Cream Production

Unilever [NYSE: UN, UL] is planning to expand its ice cream production unit in Covington, Tennessee. The Covington factory produces ice cream under brands such as Popsicle, Klondike, Breyers, Fruttare and Good Humor.

Unilever sustainable development

Unilever sustainable development (photo –

The $108.7 million project includes the addition of a 90,000-square-foot parking lot and an 11,000-square-foot engine room expansion to the existing 800,000-square-foot facility.

A large part of Unilever’s investment will go towards equipment purchase for upgrades that add production capacity and optimize the benefits of the plant’s location for sustainably producing ice cream novelty and frozen desserts.

Kees Kruythoff, president of Unilever North America, said that sustainable manufacturing was an important aspect of the company’s strategy of investing back for growth in America.

He said the upgrade and expansion in Covington would turn it into a state-of-the-art manufacturing facility that would enable Unilever to grow the ice cream business responsibly and sustainably.

Unilever has a stated environmental goal of cutting the footprint of its products by 50 percent, and sustainably sourcing 100 percent of the agricultural raw materials it needs.

Last year, Unilever had announced that the Covington facility had reduced annual water abstraction by 75 percent, even though production volume had increased.

Earlier this year, Unilever said they had reduction the company’s overall Co2 emissions by more one million metric tons in manufacturing and logistics operations, as compared to emission levels in 2008 ‚Äì the equivalent to taking 250,000 cars off the road.

As part of this new expansion, Unilever plans to add 428 new jobs over the next four years, which will push the facility workforce up to nearly 1,000.

Covington City Mayor David Gordon said he was extremely pleased that Unilever had chosen to expand in Covington. Mayor Gordon said the new jobs would provide an economic boost to the area, and he looked forward to many more years of mutual success for Unilever and Covington.

Tipton County Executive Jeff Huffman said that Unilever’s investment provides further evidence of the company’s confidence in the strong business environment of Covington and Tipton County.

Tennessee Department of Economic and Community Development Commissioner Bill Hagerty said Unilever has played a key role in West Tennessee’s corporate landscape for over a decade, and he was pleased with their plans to expand.

Unilever USA, based in Englewood Cliffs, New Jersey, employs more than 10,000 people in the United States and generated sales of more than $9 billion last year.

Unilever’s world headquarters are in London, United Kingdom and Rotterdam, the Netherlands, with more than 173,000 employees around the world. Unilever’s products are used in seven out of ten homes globally, and used by two billion people on a daily basis.

Pratt Paper Announces $260M Recycled Paper Facility in Valparaiso, IN

Conyers, Georgia-based recycled paper and packaging company Pratt Paper aka Pratt Industries announced plans to build a new paper mill in Valparaiso, Indiana.

Pratt Paper

Pratt Paper (photo –

The $260 million project will provide the company with a 100 percent recycled paper production facility adjacent to their existing box production plant.

Pratt will create 137 new jobs by 2018 as part of the expansion. The company already has more than 310 employees in Valparaiso, and more than 4,000 across North America.

The new paper production facility being built on a 50-acre site includes a 250,000 square-foot building, along with road improvements and a pre-treatment facility for wastewater.

After it is completed in July 2015, the facility will have an annual production capacity of 360,000 tons of recycled paper.

Pratt is already the largest among the world’s privately held companies producing 100 percent recycled paper and packaging products. Pratt produces 1.15 million tons of recycled paper every year, saving the equivalent of more than 50,000 trees every day.

Anthony Pratt, owner and chairman of Pratt, said the new facility would allow the company to better service the needs of their expanding customer base not just in the MIdwest, but also throughout the U.S.

He added that Indiana was a perfect fit for them because they had been a part of the business community for years, and knew there was a skilled workforce available. Pratt also thanked the state’s “dedicated public officials” who he said realize the importance of attracting well-paying manufacturing jobs.

The Indiana Economic Development Corporation (IEDC) offered Pratt Paper (Indiana), LLC conditional tax credits worth up to $1.2 million. Pratt will also get training grants of up to $200,000 based on their job creation plans.

The Northwest Indiana Regional Development Authority is providing additional incentives through its deal closing fund. As a utility supporting local economic development efforts, NIPSCO pitched in by offering Pratt around $15 million worth of energy and infrastructure improvements as incentives for the project.

The City of Valparaiso is offering local incentives in the form of a tax abatement and TIF funding. The City has also worked out a conduit financing arrangement of $200 million in industrial revenue bonds for the construction of the new paper mill building and for equipment purchase.

Valparaiso Mayor Jon Costas said that Pratt’s new paper mill is the largest-ever private taxpaying investment in Valparaiso, and will bring profound benefits for the community.

FAA Awards $40M for New Air Transportation Center of Excellence

The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) announced the selection of a coalition of 16 universities and 26 industry and federal partners and stakeholders for a new Air Transportation Center of Excellence (COE) for pursuing R&D on sustainable jet biofuels.

Aviation Biofuel

Aviation Biofuel (photo –

The team, led by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and Washington State University (WSU), will be headquartered at WSU Tri-Cities in Richland, WA.

The Air Transportation COE R&D projects will be focused on coming up with ways to meet certain NextGen goals associated with the environment and sustainability.

NextGen is the Next Generation Air Transportation System Рthe FAA’s new satellite-based air traffic control system which is being phased in to replace the current ground-based system.

The research efforts for the COE team will be focused on ways to achieve the NextGen air quality, noise, energy and climate change goals. This includes new technologies for aircraft as well as sustainable alternative aviation jet fuels.

The FAA is providing $4 million per year to COE, and will do so for the entire 10-year period of the program. The rest of the funding for COE will come through a 1-1 match from industry partners.

Research projects will be undertaken by teams of scientists from the universities, each of which has environmental and aviation-related educational programs.

The FAA has previously established similar Air Transportation COEs for nine other topic areas involving a total of more than 75 universities. Research conducted by the COEs has resulted in improvements and innovations such as remote airport lighting and a reduction of 10-20 percent in approach fuel burn, among other things.

These COEs were authorized by Congress under the FAA Research, Engineering and Development Authorization Act of 1990. The act allowed the FAA to work with academia and industry partners for research in airspace and airport design and planning, aviation safety, environmental issues, and other activities that contribute towards a safer and more efficient air transportation system.

This new COE headquartered at WSU was created through language included in the FAA reauthorization bill of 2012.

Apart from WSU, other COE members from Washington included in the coalition are Boeing, Alaska Airlines, Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, the Port of Seattle, Spokane International Airport, Weyerhaeuser, InnovaTek and Imperium Renewables.

Mike Bair, vice president of Marketing and Business Development for Boeing Commercial Airplanes, said it was a terrific win for WSU and the Pacific Northwest, and further validates the region’s leadership in the development of sustainable aviation biofuels.

WSU President Elson S. Floyd likewise said that competing for and winning the COE reaffirms WSU and Washington State as international leaders in aviation and alternative jet fuels development.

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