Sustainable Development

Davos World Economic Forum Focuses on Sustainable Development

The 2014 World Economic Forum (WEF) will be held in Davos-Klosters, Switzerland from Jan 22-25, 2014.

Davos World Economic Forum

Photo – World Economic Forum/swiss-image.ch

The theme for this year Р“The Reshaping of the World: Consequences for Society, Politics and Business,” has a heavy focus on sustainable development.

Davos typically attracts a lot of attention every year because of the star power of the large number of world leaders and personalities the WEF attracts.

The WEF program this year also has a lot of time set aside for sustainability issues and trends. One session on the “The Reshaping of Globalization” will look at it from three angles including regulatory reforms, regionalism and the sustainability imperative.

Another one on the “Future of Extractives” looks at how the resource industry can drive growth despite rising concerns about environmental deprivation and scarcity. A climate change session looks at the environmental, social and economic impact of a four degree celsius change in temperature.

Another session on “Rethinking our Sustainable Future” will feature experts in urban design, advanced manufacturing and climate science debating and discussing how technology, science and design are moving us towards a utopian world.

One session has three “Young Global Leaders” giving short talks about building smart eco-cities. Participants will learn about building a city from scratch, running a sustainable city, and about green energy and entrepreneurship.

Attendees at a session called “The DNA of Sustainable Business” will find out what it takes to be a high-performance, environmentally sustainable company. Another one looks at the “Civic Role of Business” to find out how the private sector helps stabilize societies undergoing economic transitions.

A session developed in partnership with the Associated Press looks at carrying the post-2015 development goals from vision to action, with a focus on ending extreme poverty, transforming economies with inclusive growth and jobs, and putting sustainable development at the core.

The point persons for the United States at Davos are likely to be EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy and Treasury Secretary Jacob J. Lew.

Administrator McCarthy will discuss the steps the U.S. is taking to reduce carbon pollution, and the potential market opportunities, job creation and innovation that climate change action can trigger. Secretary Lew will meet with international counterparts and discuss economic developments and policies to boost U.S. and global growth.

Pew Report – U.S. Military’s Clean Energy Power Surge

A new report released by The Pew Charitable Trusts examines how the U.S. military is making use of innovative financing and private sector capabilities to install advanced energy systems.

Pew report on military clean energy projects

Pew report on military clean energy projects (photo – pewtrusts.org)

The report, titled “Power Surge,” says the deployment of energy technologies is accelerating across the Department of Defense operated military installations.

As per the study, the number of energy efficiency and savings projects at military installations doubled from 630 in FY 2010 to 1,339 in FY 2012. During the same period, the number of renewable energy projects increased from 454 to 700.

Phyllis Cuttino, who directs Pew’s project on national security, energy, and climate, said these improvements were possible even as the Pentagon’s budget is shrinking because the armed forces are harnessing private-sector expertise and resources.

The Department of Defense has 550,000 buildings and structures that add up to an estimated 2.3 billion square feet. The annual energy bill for lighting, heating and cooling, computers, communications and other advanced equipment operation works out to $4 billion.

In order to comply with laws enacted by Congress, the DOD is required to look for three percent worth of annual reductions in facility energy intensity (energy used per gross square foot). They also need to ensure that 25 percent of their energy production or procurement is from renewable sources by 2025.

The Army, Navy, Air Force and Marine Corps have therefore initiated various measures and policies to ensure clean energy installations continue to progress. This includes widespread use of third-party financing where the project developer bears the costs and takes responsibility for maintenance.

The military bears little or no upfront costs for the project, and gets power from a clean energy source at a lower rate than before. The developer gets a long-term power purchase agreement (PPA), and is able to generate additional revenues by selling Renewable Energy Certificates (RECs).

The Pew report says an estimated 80 percent of future Defense Department renewable energy projects will be financed in this way through PPAs with private developers.

Cuttino added that this is a win-win-win proposition where the military gets better energy infrastructure, taxpayer dollars are saved, and the clean energy industry is finding new market opportunities.

The Pentagon had 384 megawatts of installed renewable energy capacity as of mid-2013. By the end of 2018, this could increase more than five-fold to 2.1 GW. This would put the military on track to meet its target of 3 GW of renewable energy capacity by 2025 – equivalent to power for 750,000 homes.

Read the full Pew “Power Surge” report – Download (pdf)

Stonehill College Installing Solar Field With 9000 Panels

Stonehill College in Easton, Massachusetts is installing a 15-acre solar field with 9,000 panels that will make it the single largest college campus solar installation in New England, and the 11th largest nationwide.

Stonehill College solar project in Easton, MA

Stonehill College solar project in Easton, MA (photo – stonehill.edu)

The 2.7 MW solar project is being built on an unused parcel of farm land near the main campus, and is expected to be completed shortly.

Once operational, the project will fulfill around 20 percent of Stonehill’s electricity usage.

The project is expected to help the college save $185,000 annually, adding up to an estimated $3.2 million over the duration of the 15-year power purchase agreement (PPA) the college has signed with New Jersey-based Marina Energy.

Marina Energy, which owns the solar project, is leasing the land from Stonehill. Marina will be getting federal tax incentives as a renewable power generator, and will also be able to sell Solar Renewable Energy Certificates (SRECs) to buyers.

All the electricity generated will be sold to Stonehill at a discounted rate that will enable the College to save $3.2 million during the 15-year contract period.

Steve Poniatowicz, senior vice president and chief operating officer of Marina Energy, said they credit Stonehill for its forward-thinking strategies, which he said will put the College in a strong position to lead others in New England towards a more sustainable future.

Stonehill is a Catholic non-profit liberal arts college. Rev. James Lies, C.S.C., the College’s vice president for mission, says the solar field is an extension of their Catholic commitment to care for creation and sustainability.

The solar farm is part of the college’s “Stonehill Goes Green” initiative. Another project undertaken as a part of this initiative was retrofits to the buildings with installation of energy-efficient lighting controlled by motion-sensors.

They have phased out bottled water usage, and created a farm which produces organic fruits and vegetables which are used by local food banks and soup kitchens.

The college has also implemented water conservation practices, along with composting of cafeteria waste, car-sharing through Zip Car, and single-stream recycling. They hand out Green Kits to new students encouraging them to adopt a sustainable lifestyle.

Dominion Kicks Off Commercial Operations at CT Renewable Energy Facilities

Dominion (NYSE: D) has begun commercial operations at two new renewable energy facilities in Connecticut that will together produce power for about 20,000 homes.

Dominion Fuel Cell facility in Bridgeport, CT

Dominion Fuel Cell facility in Bridgeport, CT (photo – dom.com)

The Dominion Bridgeport Fuel Cell facility located in Bridgeport, CT cleanly converts natural gas into electricity.

The Dominion Somers Solar Center located in Somers, CT generates power from 23,150 solar panels.

Dominion Generation CEO David A. Christian said these two facilities add 20 MW of renewable energy to Dominion’s existing 2,100 MW of carbon-free power in Connecticut that flows from the Millstone Power Station. He said these stations are generating clean and reliable electricity for Connecticut.

The Bridgeport Fuel Cell facility will produce 14.9 MW of clean energy, which will be sold to Connecticut Light & Power under a long-term PPA (power purchase agreement).

The facility will be operated and maintained by FuelCell Energy Inc. (FCE) under a services contract with Dominion. Apart from the five stationary fuel cell power plants, FCE is also using an organic rankine turbine at the facility to convert waste heat given off by the fuel cells into additional electricity.

The Bridgeport Fuel Cell facility was established under the state’s Project 150 program, with support provided by the Clean Energy Finance and Investment Authority (CEFIA).

Project 150 aims to increase the installed renewable energy capacity in Connecticut by at least 150 MW. CEFIA is the first full-scale clean energy finance authority in the nation that leverages public and private funds to drive investment into clean energy projects and scale up clean energy capacity in Connecticut.

The Somers Solar Center was built by Kyocera (NYSE: KYO) and San Francisco-based clean energy company CleanPath. Dominion acquired the project in Oct 2013.

At that time, Connecticut Governor Dannel P. Malloy said in a statement that continued support of one of the largest solar installations in the state by Dominion will ensure an overall commitment to closing the gap between the cost of renewable energy and power generated from fossil fuels.

The Somers Solar Center project with 23,150 solar panels created around 80 construction jobs at the peak of the installation period. It will produce about 5 MW of power, also to be sold under a PPA to Connecticut Light & Power.

Wisconsin Land and Water Conservation Success Stories

Wisconsin‘s annual Land and Water Conservation Report was presented to the state‚Äôs Land and Water Conservation Board at the group‚Äôs December meeting.

WI Land and Water Conservation Report

WI Land and Water Conservation Report

The report details the work done last year by state and federal agencies in partnership with local governments and landowners to keep Wisconsin’s soil in place and the water clean.

For the first time, this report includes success stories aka individual projects undertaken that not only helped protect the state’s land and water, but also fostered economic development.

These are projects funded through $26 million provided by the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Natural Resource Conservation Service (NRCS); $11 million from the WI Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection (DATCP); and $9.1 million in grants awarded by the WI Department of Natural Resources (DNR), which also provided reimbursements worth $4.6 million.

These state and federal funds added to the funding provided to the projects locally by counties, towns and municipalities.

The Egan Dairy Farm in the Town of Lebanon, WI is one of the projects highlighted in the report. With 600 milking cows and 600 replacement heifers, the farm has a huge impact on the surrounding environment and the nearby Wolf River.

The Egan brothers have been working with the Waupaca County Land Water Conservation Department (LWCD) since the early 1990s to conserve resources and minimize their impact.

When they decided to expand, the farm was awarded a cost-sharing grant for setting up a clean water diversion, manure storage system, and a storm water sediment basin, followed by more upgrades over the years.

The Egans invested more than $1 million on the projects, with the county spending $47,000 on cost-sharing and county employees putting in hundreds of hours of service on the Egan projects. The farm added four new employees, in addition to hiring professional consultants.

The environmental stewardship protected the Wolf River, which draws a lot of tourists to Waupaca County for fishing, tubing and other recreational activities.

In the report, County conservationist Brian Haase who worked on the Egan projects says that over the years, they’ve realized the impact a farm the size of the Egan Dairy Farm can have. He says that when time is invested helping dairies grow properly, there is a tremendous benefit to the local economy.

Haase says that it’s not about the cost-sharing, but more about building a relationship with the farm, which he says is the best way to make conservation happen. He adds that if they don’t trust you, nothing is going to get done.

Read the full Wisconsin Land and Water Conservation Report – Download (pdf)

Cape Wind Signs Contract For First Offshore Utility Wind Farm in US

With a few days left to go before available tax incentives for wind energy producers expire, Cape Wind has signed a contract with Siemens to deliver and install offshore wind turbines for the Cape Wind project in Nantucket Sound, Massachusetts.

Cape Wind eco tour

Cape Wind eco tour (photo – capewind.org)

The $2.6 billion project calls for 130 turbines, each with a capacity of 3.6 MW and 400 feet tall, to be installed on Horseshoe Shoal in Nantucket Sound, located 15.8 miles offshore from Nantucket.

The wind farm will produce up to 420 MW of clean, renewable energy – enough power to fulfill three quarters of the electricity needs of the Cape and Islands. This will reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 734,000 tons per year.

The Cape Wind project has been in the planning stages for more than a decade. The application was first approved by the Massachusetts Energy Facilities Siting Board (MEFSB) in 2005. After plenty of legal challenges, the project finally secured state and local approvals in 2009, followed by federal approval in 2010.

An economic impact study for the project shows it will create between 600 to 1,000 jobs in the region, along with significant new tax revenues. Cape Wind has also teamed up with Hy-Line Cruises on a plan to offer eco tours of the turbines for visitors.

The contract Cape Wind just signed with Siemens includes the 3.6-megawatt offshore wind turbines, along with an offshore Electric Service Platform (ESP) and a long-term service agreement.

The turbines will be made in Denmark, but the ESP will be constructed in Brewer, Maine by Cianbro Corp., which has received a $100 million contract from Siemens for this project.

Michael S√º√ü, CEO of Siemens’ Energy Sector, said that after the biggest onshore wind order ever followed by a flexible gas-fired combined cycle power plant in Pennsylvania, they have now signed to provide wind turbines and service for the first commercial offshore wind farm in the U.S.

Süß said this shows that natural gas and wind power do not stand opposed, and are the perfect fit for a sustainable energy system.

Installation and commissioning of the 3.6 MW turbines for Cape Wind is expected to be done in 2016.

However, getting the project started before the end of this year means that Cape Wind will qualify for the production tax credit (PTC) that expires on Dec 31, 2013. Projects that begin construction before Jan 1, 2014 will still qualify for the tax credit.

NY Green Bank Gets $210M in Initial Funding

The NY Green Bank, a billion dollar initiative launched by New York Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo earlier this year in September, has received approval for $210 million in initial funding.

NY Green Bank

NY Green Bank (photo – .ny.gov)

The Public Service Commission (PSC) approved $165 million to be diverted from other programs, and another $45 million is coming from the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI).

Governor Cuomo said in a statement that working hand-in-hand with the private sector, the NY Green Bank will promote job growth, improve air quality and provide New Yorkers greater choice and value for their money.

The NY Green Bank, which is a part of the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA), will be ready to offer its first financial products early next year.

They are not going to be investing directly into operating businesses. Instead, the Green bank will partner with private institutions and provide products such as credit enhancement, loan loss reserves and loan bundling for supporting securitization and building secondary markets.

These products will support projects involving clean energy that are economically viable but are unable to access financing due to market barriers such as insufficient performance data, federal policy uncertainty, and the lack of publicly traded capital markets.

Richard Kauffman, Chairman of Energy and Finance for New York State, said that given these obstacles in financing, merely setting up a competitive market that offers the promise of choice offers just that – a promise unrealized if projects are unable to obtain financing.

Kauffman said the Green bank was one of the components of the state’s new chapter on energy policy focused on self-sustaining private markets and reducing dependence on subsidies.

The ultimate goal of the Green Bank is to enable a private sector financing market that functions without government support.

For the near term, initial models suggest that the Green Bank will be able to double the amount of private capital available to grow clean energy markets over the next five years. Over a 20-year period, the Green Bank has the potential to drive nearly 10 times more private capital into the system.

For its part, the Green Bank itself will be able to sustain funding by preserving, recycling and growing its capital base. When fully capitalized, the bank is expected to have a $1 billion balance sheet.

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

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