Green Energy Success Stories From Hurricane Irma and Beyond

Noya Fields / CC BY-SA 2.0

By: Juan Cole

After Hurricane Irma in Florida, millions have been without electricity. But those Floridians who had solar panels plus an inverter or a Tesla powerwall were able to recover electricity immediately. Likewise, cities used solar to power traffic lights and other essential services after the huge storm had blown past.

Likewise, solar panels kept the lights on in India during the horrific storms and floods of monsoon this year.

The CEO of REC, Steve O’Neil which makes solar panels, reveals some amazing progress on green energy:

In 2010, there were 50 gigawatts of solar power in the world. Today it is 305 gigawatts.

Globally, solar installations increased by 50% in 2016 alone.

The average cost of solar-generated electricity worldwide is currently 8 cents a kilowatt hour. That is down 70% since 2010!

But, US solar power arrays are at an average of 6 cents a kilowatt hour. That is competitive with coal and gas, and you haven’t seen anything yet. Prices will come on down to 2 cents a kilowatt hour in only a few years.

India, a country of 1.2 billion people, has the seventh largest gross domestic product in the world (ahead of Italy and Brazil and just behind France).

India has gone from having 2.65 gigawatts of solar in 2014 to having 13 gigawatts of solar capacity in 2017.

India’s federal and many state governments strongly back solar, so that it is expected to take off during the next decade. India added 5.525 gigawatts of solar capacity in 2016-2017 alone.

And in Asia it isn’t just India. China will add some 8-10 gigawatts of solar capacity to its present 80 gigawatts this month.


Solar Farm Report Card From a Cowichan Carbon Buster

Peter Nix stands with his retirement investment: a solar farm he’s installed on his property in Maple Bay. (Peter Nix photo)

“My solar farm demonstrates the new economics of renewable vs. fossil fuel energy”.

By: Peter Nix

My solar farm demonstrates the new economics of renewable vs. fossil fuel energy.

Spend or invest in renewable energy — and make money. Spend on gas cars or appliances and/or heating systems that use fossil fuels — and lose money.

I sell clean renewable energy to BC Hydro for about 10 cents per kilowatt hour from 192 solar panels in Maple Bay. In 2016, I made a taxable return on investment of three per cent.

But the real financial return was likely four or five per cent because I ripped out my oil furnace and use only electric heating. No more home heating oil needed — a big saving my accountant does not see.

And if BC Hydro ever pays off its massive debt, hydro rates will surely increase, while I make more profit. I sell electricity.

Mid-east countries are building solar farms that will sell electricity at five cents per kwh — equal to $10 per barrel of oil. No oil company can compete with solar at those prices.

My solar panels will work with little maintenance for over 25 years, capturing free photons of energy from the sun. So my solar pension dividend of three to four per cent looks like a secure, long-term, investment. But it’s not all about money.

As a retired environmental consultant, I understand the huge misery and destruction that the climate change storm is bringing us. So as a motivated carbon buster, there are social and environmental issues in my accounting.

My solar panels produce energy at less cost than will the Site C dam project, operate with infinitely less environmental damage than will the Kinder Morgan oil sands pipeline expansion project, and emit massively less greenhouse gases than burning any fossil fuel.

Most know that a do-nothing behaviour about climate change is a serious threat to our planet’s future. But perhaps you feel helpless. I understand.

Not everyone has my opportunity to invest their pension money in a solar farm. But you can consider renewable energy every time you buy something: an electric car or heat pump, a bicycle, more vegetables and less meat — anything or any activity that burns less fossil fuel.

For example, on journeys in my e-car, I drive right past gas stations. And when I return home, that great car sucks back some of my solar farm’s electricity from BC Hydro’s grid to power up for the next trip.

So I buy no gas, and save money. I sell electricity, and make money. How great is that?

If you have a small amount of money to invest, SolShare Energy is a community-owned renewable energy project in Vancouver that pays dividends.

If you have more money, install solar panels on your roof at a cost of $10 to $15,000; that money will be returned to you over the long-term through lower Hydro bills.

My solar farm’s triple bottom line: financially, it makes money; environmentally, it reduces the impact of climate change; and socially, it contributes to a sustainable future for my kids.

Sure it’s a long-term investment; but so is raising a family.

Peter Nix is a self-described Cowichan carbon buster who lives in Maple Bay.


Renewable Energy Celebrated at Darlington Raceway

By: Matt Bise

Dusk at Darlington Raceway during Bojangle’s Southern 500 Matt Bise

As the promotion to highlight NASCAR’s bygone era unfolded on the track so did the plan to make the sport more environmentally friendly for the future, with the help of Santee Cooper.

Using renewable energy is not new at Darlington Raceway but this year the well-known Darlington Stripe has a little green included. The notorious turn four was painted green to honor the renewable energy effort during the sport’s throwback campaign weekend.

“We are proud the say that our Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series, Bojangles’ Southern 500 race weekend will be 100 percent powered by green energy thanks to Pee Dee Electric Cooperative and Santee Cooper,” said track president Kerry Tharp. “Darlington Raceway takes great pride in being a facility that is powered by green energy.”

In comes Santee Cooper headquartered in Berkeley where the old saying “One man’s trash is another man’s treasure,” certainly fits.

“Santee Cooper is really the leader in green power production in South Carolina,” said Willard Strong from the Corporate Communications Department with Santee Cooper. “We take methane gas from decaying refuse or garbage and we make electricity out of it.”

And it is certainly enough to power the track for the entire Labor Day race weekend. Santee Cooper has 25 megawatts of clean renewable green power sources which includes six landfill methane gas generating stations, six solar arrays and one wind turbine.

“We offer it [methane gas] to our customers for three dollars per 100 kilowatt hour,” said Strong.

So how much was used over the weekend during both the NASCAR XFFINITY Series Sport Clips Haircuts, VFW 200 on Saturday and Sunday’s BoJangles’ 500? “Over Saturday and Sunday 1.3 megawatts of power is going to be consumed,” Strong said. “It will be that amount of green power that is sold through Pee Dee electric cooperative which gets its power from Santee Cooper.”

Denny Hamlin won both races over the weekend.


Almost Every Country in the World Can Power Itself with Renewable Energy

The planet is pretty much ready to go 100 percent renewable by 2050.

UK and China Announce Deal to Work on the ‘Next Generation’ of Renewable Energy Tech

By: Anmar Frangoul

Matt Cardy | Getty Images

U.K. and Chinese researchers will work together on five projects to develop the “next generation” of offshore renewable energy (ORE) technologies.

In an announcement on Thursday, the U.K.’s Natural Environment Research Council (NERC) said that the three-year projects would use environmental science, engineering and technology to tackle “key challenges affecting the development of ORE systems, such as offshore wind, wave and tide facilities.”

The projects – which have been funded as part of the Joint U.K.-China Offshore Renewable Energy program – would also look to maximise the environmental and socio-economic benefits of ORE systems.

In addition the NERC said that the projects would, among other things, demonstrate the potential of ORE technologies to provide island and coastal communities with a stable power supply.

The projects are supported with nearly £4 million ($5.26 million) in funding from the Engineering & Physical Sciences Research Council and the NERC. The National Natural Science Foundation of China (NSFC) is also providing support.

“The U.K. is a world leader in offshore wind, which helps us meet our climate commitments while we grow the economy and create jobs,” Richard Harrington, the U.K.’s minister for energy and industry, said in a statement.

“This £4 million investment will support collaborative research into the next generation of offshore technologies with one of our largest global trading partners, unlocking further opportunities for projects across the UK and the rest of the world,” Harrington added.

The NSFC’s president, Yang Wei, said that further advancing China’s renewable energy sector was a crucial part of its 13th five-year plan and would help to “drive future economic growth and advance the cause of low-carbon development.”