Elon Musk Tells Governors About Solar Power plus US Gigafactories

Speaking to the National Governors Association summer conference in Rhode Island last week, Elon Musk gave the state solons their money’s worth. He told them that it would be possible to supply every electron needed to keep America humming by covering just 100 square miles with solar panels.

“If you wanted to power the entire U.S. with solar panels, it would take a fairly small corner of Nevada or Texas or Utah. You only need about 100 miles by 100 miles of solar panels to power the entire United States.”

July 19th, 2017 by Steve Hanley   Speaking to the National Governors Association summer conference in Rhode Island last week, Elon Musk gave the state solons their money’s worth. He told them that it would be possible to supply every electron needed to keep America humming by covering just 100 square miles with solar panels.  “If you wanted to power the entire U.S. with solar panels, it would take a fairly small corner of Nevada or Texas or Utah. You only need about 100 miles by 100 miles of solar panels to power the entire United States.”
Of course, some grid storage capability would need to be included. Musk has an answer for that, too. “The batteries you need to store the energy, to make sure you have 24/7 power, is 1 mile by 1 mile. One square mile. That’s it.”
For the entire story from CleanTechnica on July 19th, 2017 by Steve Hanley 

Analysis Group report: No evidence that changing power mix endangers electric system reliability

Washington, D.C. — A new report by Analysis Group answers questions asked two months ago by Energy Secretary Rick Perry about the reliability and market rules of the U.S. electric power grid.

Analysis Group finds it is market forces – primarily low-cost natural gas and flat demand for electricity – that are causing some coal and nuclear power plants to retire, and not state and federal policies supporting renewable energy development. The report finds that the changing electricity resource mix poses no threat to reliability of the nation’s power system.

Perry launched a 60-day review of “critical issues” on the grid on April 14. National business groups Advanced Energy Economy (AEE) and American Wind Energy Association (AWEA) commissioned Analysis Group to answer independently the questions Perry raised. The Analysis Group report has now been submitted to the U.S. Department of Energy to inform its review.

“Recently, some have raised concerns that current electric market conditions may be undermining the financial viability of certain conventional power plant technologies (like existing coal and nuclear units) and thus jeopardizing electric system reliability. In addition, some point to federal and state policies supporting renewable energy as a primary cause of such impacts,” states the Analysis Group report. “The evidence does not support this view.”

Recently, some have raised concerns that current electric market conditions may be undermining the financial viability of certain conventional power plant technologies (like existing coal and nuclear units) and thus jeopardizing electric system reliability. In addition, some point to federal and state policies supporting renewable energy as a primary cause of such impacts,” states the Analysis Group report. “The evidence does not support this view.” width=Recently, some have raised concerns that current electric market conditions may be undermining the financial viability of certain conventional power plant technologies (like existing coal and nuclear units) and thus jeopardizing electric system reliability. In addition, some point to federal and state policies supporting renewable energy as a primary cause of such impacts,” states the Analysis Group report. “The evidence does not support this view.solar helps the gridRecently, some have raised concerns that current electric market conditions may be undermining the financial viability of certain conventional power plant technologies (like existing coal and nuclear units) and thus jeopardizing electric system reliability. In addition, some point to federal and state policies supporting renewable energy as a primary cause of such impacts,” states the Analysis Group report. “The evidence does not support this view.
“The transformation now under way in the electric power system is driven primarily by market forces,” said Susan Tierney, senior advisor, Analysis Group, and one of the authors of the report, along with Analysis Group Principal Paul Hibbard.

Low natural gas prices, technology changes, and flat demand for electricity have been putting financial pressure on and leading to the retirement of older, less economic power plants

This is a natural consequence of market competition. The result is a more diverse set of energy resources on the grid that is being capably managed in a way that provides reliable electric power.”

Key findings of the Analysis Group report:

Market forces: Fundamental market forces – flat demand for electricity, low natural gas prices since the mid-2000s and the addition of significant amounts of highly efficient new gas-fired resources since 2000 – are primarily responsible for altering the profitability of many older, merchant generating assets in the parts of the country with organized wholesale competitive markets. These market fundamentals are producing savings for consumers. 

Lesser factors: Factors such as rapid growth in deployment of advanced energy technologies, and state policies supporting such technologies also contribute to reducing the profitability of less economic assets, but such factors are secondary to market fundamentals in causing financial pressure on merchant plants without long-term power contracts.

Aging resources: The retirement of aging resources is a natural element of efficient and competitive market forces, and where markets are performing well, these retirements mainly represent the efficient exit of uncompetitive assets.

Reliability benefits: Many advanced energy technologies can and do provide reliability benefits by increasing the diversity of the system and by providing important reliability services to the grid. The addition of newer, technologically advanced, and more efficient natural gas and renewable technologies is rendering the power systems in this country more, rather than less, diverse. 

Baseload” an outdated term: Given the many attributes associated with a reliable electric system, the term “baseload resources” is an outdated term in today’s electric system which depends upon a wide variety of resources to provide essential reliability services and is seeing gas-fired resources and renewable capacity together providing both around-the-clock power and the flexibility to cycle and ramp as needed to meet and sustain bulk power system reliability objectives.

“The electricity system in the United States is stronger than it’s ever been,” said Graham Richard, CEO of AEE. “Thanks to innovation and smart policy, we have a more diverse fuel mix, a more reliable grid, and lower electricity costs. The Analysis Group report highlights how advanced energy technologies are helping to modernize the grid and how grid operators are well equipped to manage this market change. As DOE finalizes its report on reliability, we hope the Department will incorporate these key findings, which reflect the true state of the grid.”

Tom Kiernan, CEO of AWEA, said, “Like DOE, we wholeheartedly agree that reliable and affordable electricity is essential. Analysis Group’s report finds that wind and other advanced energy resources, driven by markets and technological advances, are improving electric reliability and reducing costs. Past dependence on a few fuel sources has given way to a more diverse grid, which is more robust and resilient. We think this analysis will be useful for DOE’s study, and we look forward to working with state and federal policymakers to implement market-based policies that will provide consumers with even more reliable electricity at lower cost.”

BACKGROUND

In a memo dated April 14 to his chief of staff, Brian McCormack, Secretary Perry directed the Department of Energy to conduct a study that would “explore critical issues central to protecting the long-term reliability of the electric grid,” and to analyze “market-distorting effects of federal subsidies that boost one form of energy at the expense of others,” and to report back in 60 days. 

On April 28, business trade groups AEE, AWEA, and SEIA sent a joint letter to Sec. Perry asking that the DOE “initiate a public process,” and that the study “follow standard practice and be conducted in an open and transparent manner,” noting that it is “customary” for agencies developing reports that provide policy recommendations to allow public comment on a draft, prior to the report being finalized. No reply was received. A DOE spokeswoman told Axios on May 5: “The findings will be released to the public (including stakeholders) once the study is completed this summer. The Secretary looks forward to receiving input from all parties once that occurs.”

On May 16, AEE, AWEA, SEIA, and ACORE held a press briefing on documents each submitted to DOE to inform its study of the electric power system and reliability:

AEE: Changing the Power Grid for the Better – shows that today’s electric generation mix is more diverse than ever; low-priced gas is primarily driving the change in resources, followed by flat load growth and competition from renewables; ERCOT and PJM experience shows reliable grid management with high degree of variable renewables and even in extreme conditions.

ACORE: Energy Fact Check – The Impact of Renewables on Electricity Markets and Reliability – ACORE-produced report covering questions around baseload power and economic impact raised in Secretary Perry’s April 14, 2017 memorandum directing a study to explore critical issues central to protecting the long-term reliability of the electric grid.

AWEA: Renewable Energy Builds a More Reliable and Resilient Electricity Mix. Grid operators are already reliably integrating large amounts of wind energy, and their studies show they can go much higher. Integrating renewables on the power grid costs less than integrating baseload sources; modern power electronics enable renewables to provide reliability services as well as or better than conventional power plants; and renewables diversify the energy mix, improving economics and resiliency. Renewables are not the primary factor undermining baseload sources – as can be seen by maps of where each is predominately located, cheap natural gas is the primary factor. AWEA also submitted a literature review of over 30 existing research studies by federal agencies, regional grid operators, the North American Electric Reliability Corp. (NERC), and others.

SEIA: Solar & Renewables Benefit Grid & The U.S. Economy – Solar and renewables provide significant advantages to the national grid in terms of reliability, fuel diversity and national security. This SEIA review highlights multiple studies showing that the existing grid can handle high penetrations of renewable energy to the benefit of ratepayers, grid system operators and system performance.

In their letter transmitting these materials to DOE, the groups concluded: “We believe that, taken together, these reports demonstrate that the U.S. electric power system is more diverse in its energy sources than ever before, and due to the flexible way these resources are now managed, becoming more reliable and resilient as a result.”

Sources: Advanced Energy Economy at American Wind Energy Association, June 20, 2017

Urban Solar awarded contract by City of Tempe for solar lighting installations

BEAVERTON, OR – Urban Solar is pleased to announce the award of a contract to supply solar powered LED lighting systems to the City of Tempe, Arizona. The 5-year contract provides increased safety for Tempe residents and transit users, with reliable solar lighting systems including a stop recognition feature.

Tempe City Council passed a master plan in 2015 to enhance safety, quality of life, and technology in its transportation systems, and selected Urban Solar to provide enhanced safety with its transit shelter lighting systems. Urban Solar won top pick for its reliable, high performance solar lighting solutions designed for the transportation industry.

Tempe City Council passed a master plan in 2015 to enhance safety, quality of life, and technology in its transportation systems, and selected Urban Solar to provide enhanced safety with its transit shelter lighting systems. Urban Solar won top pick for its reliable, high performance solar lighting solutions designed for the transportation industry.
Urban Solar’s roots are in transit-specific design, particularly with bus stops and shelters. Urban Solar provides autonomous, stand-alone off-grid systems, which reduce the need for disruptive and expensive trenching to utility poles. Urban Solar lighting products have an industry-leading warranty and are tested, listed, and audited by Underwriters Laboratories (UL); the most prestigious nationally recognized testing laboratory (NRTL) worldwide.

“Tempe, Arizona, is an extremely challenging environment,” says Urban Solar VP of Engineering and Operations, Garnet Luick. “This competitive award provides further evidence of Urban Solar’s dedication to, and understanding of, high performance and reliability in engineering solar powered LED lighting solutions.”

Sources: Tempe Transit and Urban Solar

My Huffington Post Test Drive Review of 2017 Prius Prime

What a fun car! No seriously. What a fun car!

Here’s an excerpt from my Huffington Post piece on it. 

The 2017 Toyota Prius Prime is certainly one to four steps up from the original plugin Prius. Besides the doubling of EV miles, the carbon fibers to make it lighter or the redux on the interior and front grille. However, I had heard this is one of the most efficient electric motors on the block hands down. With a combined MPG of 96 on average in ECO mode and plugging in every night; I drove close to 900 miles and put an extra $5.00 in the car for my week. 

Yet, as Car and Driver reported, the Prius Prime has a carbon-fiber hatchback made at Toyota’s Motomachi plant in Japan where the carbon-fiber Lexus LFA supercar came together. Also, compared with the previous plug-in Prius, the Prime gets double the battery capacity. The new 95-cell, 8.8-kWh battery pack accounts for 265 pounds of the claimed 285-to-365-pound weight gain over the regular Prius as well as a reduction in cargo capacity of roughly 5 or 8 cubic feet, depending on the liftback in question. But it allows up to 25 miles of electric-only driving, 10 more than the previous plug-in and 25 more than the liftback that essentially runs only as a gas-electric hybrid. A smaller, yet higher-powered, onboard charger replenishes the battery more quickly than in the old PHEV, or in 5.5 hours on household 120-volt power or two hours and 10 minutes when fed 240 volts.

For the entire review



Interior Toyota Prius Prime, Besides the doubling of EV miles, the carbon fibers to make it lighter or the redux on the interior and front grille. However, I had heard this is one of the most efficient electric motors on the block hands down. With a combined MPG of 96 on average in ECO mode and plugging in every night; I drove close to 900 miles and put an extra $5.00 in the car for my week.Toyota Prius Prime Plugin hybrid electric car test. Over 900 miles. $5.00 in the car for my week.Besides the doubling of EV miles, the carbon fibers to make it lighter or the redux on the interior and front grille. However, I had heard this is one of the most efficient electric motors on the block hands down. With a combined MPG of 96 on average in ECO mode and plugging in every night; I drove close to 900 miles and put an extra $5.00 in the car for my week. Besides the doubling of EV miles, the carbon fibers to make it lighter or the redux on the interior and front grille. However, I had heard this is one of the most efficient electric motors on the block hands down. With a combined MPG of 96 on average in ECO mode and plugging in every night; I drove close to 900 miles and put an extra $5.00 in the car for my week. Besides the doubling of EV miles, the carbon fibers to make it lighter or the redux on the interior and front grille. However, I had heard this is one of the most efficient electric motors on the block hands down. With a combined MPG of 96 on average in ECO mode and plugging in every night; I drove close to 900 miles and put an extra $5.00 in the car for my week. Back seat middle armrest room inside

Besides the doubling of EV miles, the carbon fibers to make it lighter or the redux on the interior and front grille. However, I had heard this is one of the most efficient electric motors on the block hands down. With a combined MPG of 96 on average in ECO mode and plugging in every night; I drove close to 900 miles and put an extra $5.00 in the car for my week. Two toned
Loved the Two Tones on the seat

Besides the doubling of EV miles, the carbon fibers to make it lighter or the redux on the interior and front grille. However, I had heard this is one of the most efficient electric motors on the block hands down. With a combined MPG of 96 on average in ECO mode and plugging in every night; I drove close to 900 miles and put an extra $5.00 in the car for my week.

Digital dash Besides the doubling of EV miles, the carbon fibers to make it lighter or the redux on the interior and front grille. However, I had heard this is one of the most efficient electric motors on the block hands down. With a combined MPG of 96 on average in ECO mode and plugging in every night; I drove close to 900 miles and put an extra $5.00 in the car for my week.
Digital dash

2017 Toyota Prius Prime Advanced (viewing the newly shaped air vents on side by driver)


The Economic Benefits To Green Lighting

The most common complaints we hear about green lighting are that the technology is too expensive and simply “not feasible.” In our experience, though, no lighting retrofit has ever cost more than the long-term savings it provides. Note that this isn’t necessarily true with some environmentally friendly technologies, such as some advanced alternative-energy projects. In addition to slashing energy costs, switching to greener lighting can provide numerous other benefits, including the following.

IMG_0390

Better Overall Economic Health

It’s no surprise that an efficiently run household is often a productive and comfortable place, and the same holds true for larger organizations. This is perhaps why a 2002 analysis by Innovest Strategic Value Advisors linked improving energy efficiency of companies to better stock market performance. It seems that analysts and investors are starting to recognize that management teams that are adept at trimming energy expenses also tend to be good at steering the rest of the business. Plus, more and more businesses are being asked to disclose environmental and energy- performance data as part of their annual reports. Showing improvement can help them to win business from government agencies and other organizations that are increasingly interested in environmental responsibility.

Efficiency upgrades can help a company to get on the radar of socially responsible investing (SRI) mutual funds and analysts, thus opening up new avenues of business. SRI funds screen out companies that managers deem unsavory and invest in firms that are leading the way in sustainability and social values. Moreover, the positive karma—and publicity—organizations earn for doing better by the environment can be invaluable. Improving lighting efficiency typically is the lowest-hanging fruit and often yields the quickest payoff.

Improved Property Values

An increasing number of home builders and real estate agents are discovering that they can get a leg up in the marketplace by advertising that a property has green features—and once again, green lighting is often the easiest place to start. Walter Molony, a spokesperson for the National Association of Realtors, told The Daily Green, “People definitely value energy efficiency. As utility costs continue to rise, it becomes greater value in people’s minds. 

The number of homes that were built according to voluntary green building standards ballooned by 50 percent between 2004 and 2007, reports the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB). Al- though new home starts have dropped dramatically in the wake of the housing market crash and global recession, interest in greener features remains high. More than half the NAHB’s 235,000 members (representing about 80 percent of U.S. home builders) reported in 2007 that they were starting to use at least some green building practices.

Further, real estate professionals are starting to notice that owners of green homes tend to be happier than when they live in more conventional digs, as reported by a recent NAHB/McGraw-Hill Construction survey. It’s worth noting that almost 40 percent of Americans who recently renovated their dwellings did so with at least some green products.

In a troubled market, being able to concretely show potential buyers that they will save money on their utility bills, as well as live smarter and more comfortably, can help to make your property more attractive than the competition. When the market is hot, having green features is like icing on the cake, and it can help you to access the growing segment of consumers who are deeply concerned about environmental issues.

The same holds true on the commercial side. In fact, a study by the Institute for Market Transformation found that $1 invested in energy efficiency with a 20 percent ROI could increase commercial property value by $2.

Improved Comfort, Employee Attendance, and Tenant Retention

It is perhaps not surprising that most energy-efficiency measures also improve the comfort and attractiveness of the indoor environment. Well-designed lighting retrofits, while reducing energy consumption, also improve visual acuity—the ability to see details well. Better vision, in turn, helps workers to complete tasks faster and reduces eye and mental strain. Better mood lighting helps to foster a pleasant environment that can bring out the best in staff and visitors.

A study by the Rocky Mountain Institute, a progressive energy think tank in Colorado, found that high-efficiency lighting with improved light quality, intensity, and color dramatically reduced worker eye strain, vision-related errors, and even absenteeism.

A number of occupational analysts have pointed out that workers who get fatigued less quickly are less likely to call in sick or get in on-site accidents. And those who are more comfortable in their workplace are more likely to stay with the company (Figure 1-8).

For income-generating properties, better lighting can help improve tenant recruitment and retention. For home owners, better lighting means more personal comfort and better utility from being inside, which is significant because studies show that we are indoors for up to 90 percent of our time these days. Don’t underestimate how much interior lighting affects the way we feel and the way we work and live.

Lockheed Martin Space Systems recently built 33,000 square feet of facilities in Sunnyvale, California, that meet the rigorous LEED standards maintained by the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC). The many green features include efficient lighting, full-cutoff fixtures to reduce light pollution outside, and promotion of daylighting through windows and sloped ceilings. Managers told the USGBC that after they moved into the new site, they saw a 15 percent drop in employee absenteeism. This resulted in savings that they said made up for the building’s green cost premium in the first year alone. Incidentally, that additional cost for installing green features was only 1.5 percent above conventional construction, according to Lockheed, further dispelling the belief that going green has to cost a lot of money.

“When they’re designed well, green buildings are very competitive on initial cost, and they have lower operating costs by using less energy and water,” Kaushik Amruthur, a Lockheed senior facilities engineer, explained.

Increased Productivity

A number of studies from the Rocky Mountain Institute and others have correlated increased worker productivity with better and more efficient lighting. Nationally, improvements to indoor environmental conditions are estimated to have generated $20 billion to $160 billion from greater workforce productivity, according to a report in the July-August 2002 Annual Review of Energy and the Environment. 

In a 1986 effort that is often cited by supporters of green building, the Main Post Office in Reno, Nevada, installed an efficient lighting system and lowered the ceiling, which made the room easier to heat and cool. Harsh direct downlighting was replaced with indirect lighting using long-lasting bulbs. After 40 weeks, worker productivity reportedly had increased by more than eight percent.

In some cases, improving the lighting of physical work environments also may help to attract the best and the brightest workers. This can lead to significant increases in business, and it is money up for grabs. As Kaushik Amruthur of Lockheed put it, today’s employees are more discriminating about the environmental qualities of the buildings in which they work. If workers slave away in dark and dingy conditions, they are more likely to feel undervalued by their employers and therefore less interested in going the extra mile.

These benefits also extend to schools, although an estimated 40 percent of American schools suffer from poor environmental conditions that can compromise the health and learning of students, ac- cording to the USGBC. However, a 2005 study in Washington State by Paladino & Company found a 15 percent reduction in student absenteeism at green schools (Figure 1-9). A 2006 Capital E review of 30 green schools across the country concluded that “based on a very substantial data set on productivity and test performance of healthier, more comfortable study and learning environments, a three to five percent improvement in learning ability and test scores in green schools appears reasonable and conservative.”

Boosting Sales

It is perhaps common sense that well-lit stores see more foot traffic and better sales than dim shops. Lighting makes a difference. At a recent visit to the Consumers Union Laboratories in New York state, the tech reviewers for Consumer Reports magazine explained that TV showrooms jack up the brightness and contrast on sets in order to catch the eyes of shoppers and move more units. Better news for greens is that daylighting can also raise sales. In 1999, the Heschong Mahone Group surveyed 108 outlet stores operated by the same chain, and found that sales increased by 40 percent in stores that had installed skylights.

Michael A. Steele, chief operating officer (COO) of Equity Office Properties, told Innovest Strategic Value Advisors that “having an energy-efficient building gives the owner an opportunity to win over the customer, especially when that is the difference between otherwise similar buildings.”

This is an excerpt from my book Green Lighting.