Indiana University wants to improve its sustainability – and it’s turning to a novel way of recycling to do so. The school’s main campus will turn its greenhouse gas emissions into plant fertilizer with the help of a photobioreactor. The machine is made out of PVC pipe and will sit on top of the university’s central heating plant. There, it will capture plant emissions, which will be used to feed algae, which project co-leader Chip Glaholt says will be turned into plant fertilizer.“Our goal is just to reduce waste on campus, and see that as a great achievement in itself,” he says.The system will be built with the help of a $50,000 grant from Duke Energy. It will conserve 200 pounds of carbon and $4,000 worth of fertilizer – not a tremendous amount in the grand scheme of things, Glaholt says. But, he adds, the system is sustainable and can be doubled in size for only $2,000.
Last week, Illinois was again awarded top marks in a national assessment of how states are modernizing electricity transmission and distribution systems, even as local energy advocates say there is much more work to be done in the state. The Grid Modernization Index ranked Illinois second in the nation overall, after California. It was the fourth such assessment produced by GridWise Alliance, a national organization representing grid operators, designers, and other energy stakeholders.The group applauded Illinois for its NextGrid initiative, a statewide program aimed at building agreement around a pathway to modernize the Illinois electricity system. The state “began aggressively planning in early 2017 for the utility of the future by initiating the NextGrid initiative, which aims to examine the use of new technologies to improve the state’s electric grid while minimizing energy costs to consumers.”
Two years ago, Gov. Jerry Brown signed an ambitious law ordering California utility companies to get 50 percent of their electricity from renewable sources by 2030.It looks like they may hit that goal a decade ahead of schedule.
After months of debate, the public was expecting a vote at Wednesday night's Crisfield City Council meeting. But that won't happen now until January 2018. People in Crisfield have been adamant about their rejection to the Carvel Hall project. The city must make a decision to lift the existing ordinance that keeps Clean Bay Renewables from opening a chicken manure energy plant in Crisfield. Neighbors have concerns like odor, noise, traffic and pollution. John Davey Wilson lives next door to the old Carvel Hall building where the plant could potentially set up shop. He says the idea keeps him up at night.
Though no longer an adviser to President Donald Trump, billionaire energy investor Carl Icahn may now be the subject of a federal investigation related to his involvement with the Renewable Fuel Standard. The U.S. Attorney's office for the Southern District of New York has subpoenaed Icahn's company, Icahn Enterprises LP, for information on Icahn's work with the president on the RFS, according to a filing with the U.S. Securities Exchange Commission on Nov. 3."The U.S. Attorney's office for the Southern District of New York recently contacted Icahn Enterprises L.P. seeking production of information pertaining to our and Mr. Icahn's activities relating to the Renewable Fuels Standard and Mr. Icahn's role as an adviser to the president," the SEC filing said.
Opponents referred to a package of bills to benefit Texas-based energy company Dynegy Inc. as a "multimillion-dollar state of Illinois bailout" and urged Illinois lawmakers to act cautiously on the proposals. Meeting jointly Tuesday, the Senate and House energy committees took no votes on the bills drafted to benefit Dynegy, which operates eight coal-fired power plants in central and southern Illinois. The company has warned lawmakers that under downstate Illinois' current electricity-distribution system, it may have to close at least four of its power plants by 2021 and possibly sooner."These closures would cause the loss of almost 550 well-paying union jobs and threaten approximately 4,000 indirect jobs," Dynegy said in a statement.The appeal from Dynegy is similar to one advanced successfully last year by Exelon Corp., which got state help to continue the operation of two downstate nuclear plants, including one at Clinton.But some of the groups that supported Exelon's plan now oppose Dynegy's. In fact, nearly all of the testimony, including from the attorney general's office, consumer groups and others, was in opposition.
With the declining costs of solar energy and Michigan’s increased renewable portfolio standard, small townships throughout the state are confronting challenging land-use questions amid the increase in large-scale solar proposals. Reactions have varied from blocking utility-scale solar projects until local zoning rules are adopted to accommodating developers as they amass land for projects that require hundreds of acres.But in most of these cases, there were no local regulations permitting large-scale solar projects when developers came. Local planners are now revisiting their zoning rules and figuring out where large-scale solar projects could be located. It is similar to the way communities first responded to wind development here roughly 10 years ago, though solar brings a unique set of land-use questions.
The advantages of solar power and other renewable energy sources are colossal, and arguably necessary for our survival. On solar, the electric grid becomes more efficient and resilient to natural disasters (including hail) and disruptions — not to mention scalable to the 1.3 billion people on our planet living without electricity. On solar, power becomes cleaner, moving us that much closer toward the net zero goal advocated by climate researchers. But the benefits don’t stop there. Solar costs are falling. In fact, the installed price for residential solar systems is less than half of what it was in 2009 (due in large part to technological and manufacturing advances from cleantech leaders like Tesla, SolarCity, and SunEdison). After installing an 8kW (8,000-watt) solar system, the average American stands to save over $23,000 on electricity in 25 years, which is the average, ever-increasing lifespan of a residential solar system.
Two decades ago, BP set out to transcend oil, adopting a sunburst logo to convey its plans to pour $8 billion over a decade into renewable technologies, even promising to power its gas stations with the sun. That transformation - marketed as “Beyond Petroleum” - led to manufacturing solar panels in Australia, Spain and the United States and erecting wind farms in the United States and the Netherlands. Today, BP might be more aptly branded “Back to Petroleum” after exiting or scaling back its renewable energy investments. Lower-cost Chinese components upended its solar panel business, which the firm shed in 2011. A year later, BP tried to sell its U.S. wind power business but couldn’t get a buyer.Even as governments and environmentalists forecast a peak in oil demand within a generation - and China and India say they may eventually ban gasoline and diesel vehicles - leaders of the world’s biggest oil firms are not buying the argument that their traditional business faces any imminent threat.
As the island rebuilds from Hurricane Maria, renewable energy storage companies like Sonnen and Tesla are constructing microgrids on the island to create a more resilient system before the next storm strikes. In the small Puerto Rican town of Loíza, after Hurricane Maria took out the power grid, residents started washing clothes in a local river–filled with bacteria that then made many people sick. But at a local church, a new solar microgrid now powers donated laundry machines, along with a refrigerator for food and medicine and outlets for charging phones.The microgrid–a combination of solar panels, battery storage, and other equipment, completed last week–is one of 15 that the battery-storage company Sonnen is rapidly deploying with partners over the next several weeks to respond to the disaster on the island, which is still mostly without power more than a month after the hurricane. Like another microgrid that Tesla is building next to a children’s hospital in San Juan, it’s a renewable alternative to the diesel generators that are also in use. But it’s also one piece of what could become a much more renewably powered grid for the entire island.The case for a shift to more renewables seems clear. Sunshine is more abundant in the Caribbean than in California or Spain. The amount of wind is competitive with states like Texas, which leads the U.S. in wind energy production. New renewable energy is affordable to build, and could help cut electric bills in a place where residents have been paying twice as much as Americans who live on the mainland.