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  • richardmitnick 3:40 pm on June 10, 2021 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: "Partnerships Amplify Velocity of Offshore Wind Innovation", 80% of all prototypes for offshore wind floating platforms have been designed with the help of NREL open-source analysis tools—which NREL created through collaboration with laboratory partners., Looking for 30 gigawatts of offshore wind by 2030., NREL has a long successful track record of collaboration with partners in industry., NREL- National Renewable Energy Laboratory (US), Over the last 12 years NREL has brought in $1 billion in partnership contracts with more than 900 active partnership agreements and close to 600 unique partners in FY 2020., Renewable Energy, The nation's first commercial-scale offshore wind development was recently cleared for installation by the Department of the Interior (US) off the coast of Massachusetts., The NREL team is working with more than 45 commercial; government; and research organizations on offshore; land-based; and distributed wind research projects in 2021., Wind energy could also support 77000 new jobs.   

    From NREL- National Renewable Energy Laboratory (US) : “Partnerships Amplify Velocity of Offshore Wind Innovation” 

    From NREL- National Renewable Energy Laboratory (US)

    June 9, 2021
    Story by Anya Breitenbach.
    Illustrations and animations by Joshua Bauer

    Collaboration Increases Reach and Impact of NREL R&D

    The Department of Energy (DOE) (US) and the White House have made offshore wind a centerpiece of plans to strengthen the nation’s energy infrastructure, announcing a goal to deploy 30 gigawatts of offshore wind by 2030—a huge leap from the 42 megawatts (MW) currently in operation. Not only could this provide enough electricity to power 10 million American homes and cut carbon dioxide emissions by 78 million metric tons, it could also support as many as 77,000 new jobs.

    The success of this initiative will rely, in large part, on partnerships to accelerate research and development (R&D) and establish new offshore systems in such an ambitious time frame. DOE’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) is certain to be at the center of many of these efforts, contributing expertise in research related to offshore wind as well as building coalitions.

    NREL has a long successful track record of collaboration with partners in industry, agencies at all levels of government, and the research community. Offshore wind project partnerships have given NREL the insight needed to develop innovations that solve real-world problems and become the recognized standards for industry. For example, 80% of all prototypes for offshore wind floating platforms have been designed with the help of NREL open-source analysis tools—which NREL created through collaboration with laboratory partners.


    NREL’s partners have helped the laboratory build a broad, in-depth understanding of the unique challenges of offshore environments. Offshore wind’s remote locations, deep waters, and extreme weather and ocean conditions present additional design, installation, and operation hurdles in the form of efficiency, cost, and durability.

    Offshore wind collaborations bring together the research expertise of NREL staff with the know-how of industry partners, the policymaking perspective of government agencies, and additional support from other laboratories and universities. Researchers work with partners to characterize wind resources, optimize plants and turbines, analyze techno-economic and market factors, and assess potential environmental impacts.

    In particular, partners rely on NREL’s pioneering research to boost the performance and market viability of floating platform technologies needed to capture energy in the deepwater locations that account for nearly 60% of U.S. offshore wind resources. The laboratory’s researchers have most recently turned their attention to the integration of offshore wind energy with land-based utility systems to increase grid reliability, resilience, and efficiency.


    In Fiscal Year (FY) 2021, more than $10 million in funding for NREL offshore wind research projects came from partnerships with industry. The NREL team is working with more than 45 commercial; government; and research organizations on offshore; land-based; and distributed wind research projects in 2021.

    This reflects the overall success of the laboratory in cultivating partnerships. Over the last 12 years NREL has brought in $1 billion in partnership contracts with more than 900 active partnership agreements and close to 600 unique partners in FY 2020.

    With the nation’s first commercial-scale offshore wind development recently cleared for installation by the Department of the Interior (US) off the coast of Massachusetts, the NREL offshore wind team hopes to engage with new partners to grow its collaborative base and make even more meaningful contributions to this burgeoning industry in the coming years.

    Giving Industry the Tools To Compete

    Industry partners know they can bank on the intellectual capital of experienced NREL researchers to develop and refine breakthrough offshore wind technologies and provide the balanced, market-savvy guidance needed for successful deployment. In addition, NREL offers industry partners hands-on research collaboration, technical assistance, deployment guidance, research facility use, and technology licensing.

    “Collaboration with industry is key to making sure our R&D addresses real-world issues and priorities, while helping transfer scientific knowledge from the lab to the marketplace,” said NREL Principal Engineer Jeroen van Dam. “We’re giving offshore developers the tools to establish market parity—and giving the United States resources to join the field of international players.”

    Through collaborations with the primary offshore wind regulators—the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) and the Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement—and in coordination with the Business Network for Offshore Wind and the American Clean Power Association trade organizations, NREL is helping lead the development of industry standards that will define the requirements for utility-scale deployment of offshore wind in the United States. The team also works with individual companies—from startups to established corporations—including system operators, developers, original equipment manufacturers, energy suppliers, and investors. Scores of U.S. companies are currently involved in building, running, or supporting supply chains related to offshore systems.

    The laboratory provides a credible source for objective expertise and validated data, bolstering rather than competing with industry efforts. NREL research focuses on early-stage technologies, where industry investments tend to be lean, while also targeting R&D priorities with potential for future commercialization. This has included collaboration on tools needed for industry to eventually develop larger, more powerful turbines and optimize system performance, efficiency, reliability, and affordability.

    NREL takes broader economic factors into consideration when assessing the potential impact of offshore wind research and development. Offshore wind could trigger more than $12 billion per year in U.S. capital investment in offshore wind projects and spur significant activity and growth for ports, factories, and construction.


    NREL analysts help developers and other industry partners gain crucial, unbiased understanding of the balance among potential offshore wind costs, revenues, and risks within the broader context of technical, legal, regulatory, tax, and policy issues. NREL market reports provide the data needed to support decision-making, including information critical to building the skilled workforce necessary for industry growth.

    Building Coalitions To Spur Innovation

    NREL has provided ongoing leadership to forge collaborative partnerships that bring together top minds from a range of sectors to form a virtual think tank of offshore wind research experts. In this convening role, NREL acts as a catalyst for exchanging information, tackling large research projects, and providing industry and policy decision makers with the body of scientific knowledge needed to champion new approaches.

    NREL’s Walt Musial and Brent Rice join partners to tour the world’s first floating offshore wind farm off the coast of Peterhead, Scotland. Photo by Brent Rice, NREL.

    A major component of the newly announced U.S. offshore wind initiative announced by the White House calls on the National Offshore Wind R&D Consortium (NOWRDC) to refine the technology needed for deployment at a scale previously unprecedented in this country. The NOWRDC, which is managed by the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA) with contributions from four other states plus Department of Energy (US) , benefits from the technical direction of NREL Offshore Wind Platform Lead Walt Musial, as well as the laboratory’s regular representation on the NOWRDC R&D Advisory Group and leadership of several projects.

    “The developers and states really set the pace,” Musial said. “They’re ultimately the ones who will be responsible for rolling out and operating new offshore systems. Our job is to arm them with the information they need to maximize clean energy production in ways that will work best to help them achieve the lowest cost for their project.”

    The laboratory’s involvement in coalition efforts reaches across the country and around the globe. Many International Energy Agency Wind Technology Collaboration Programme (IEA Wind) research tasks, which engage academia and industry across three continents, are led by NREL research staff. This includes development of a 15-MW reference turbine in partnership with IEA Wind and DOE’s Wind Energy Technologies Office to help design larger, more powerful, next-generation turbines.


    NREL has a long, successful history of partnerships with international and U.S. universities and research institutions, including other national laboratories. The laboratory’s university affiliations encompass professors collaborating on NREL projects, NREL researchers advising graduate students, and projects supported by university funding. Consortia comprising multiple institutions and larger collaborations that involve several different agencies, universities, labs, and private-sector partners bring a range of perspectives to offshore wind solutions.

    Collaborative efforts helmed by other U.S. government agencies, including Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA)(US) (ARPA-E) office and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (US), also rely on NREL research expertise. For example, ARPA-E has funded the Aerodynamic Turbines Lighter and Afloat with Nautical Technologies and Integrated Servo-control (ATLANTIS) program to develop new floating offshore wind turbines by tightly integrating control systems and design. NREL leads three ATLANTIS projects, working with one other national laboratory, four universities, and four industry partners.

    Tapping One-of-a-Kind Offshore Wind Expertise

    So, why do all of these organizations choose to partner with NREL on offshore wind research projects?

    Certain collaborative undertakings rely on NREL’s high-performance Eagle supercomputer and world-class Flatirons Campus research facilities to put innovative offshore wind technologies and strategies through their paces.

    NREL’s high-performance Eagle supercomputer.

    NREL’s Flatirons Campus provides research facilities and resources for wind energy, water power, and grid integration. Photo by Dennis Schroeder.

    NREL software tools make it possible for researchers and partners to build models and simulate performance based on the laboratory’s formidable collections of data.

    But NREL also offers one-of-a-kind expertise from its staff of 150 wind energy scientists, engineers, and analysts, many of whom contribute their multidisciplinary knowledge to offshore projects. With numerous cumulative decades of research experience, the team is able to tap a deep base of knowledge specific to offshore wind, as well as wider-reaching input from experts in related disciplines such as land-based wind power, other areas of clean energy generation, transmission, and integration. This cross-cutting approach has recently led scientists to uncover new efficiencies for converting wind energy to hydrogen that can be readily stored and used for a range of applications.

    In surveys, multiple partners have given NREL high marks for its collaborative approach, distinct technical capabilities, and strong understanding of current needs and priorities.

    “If we want the nation’s ambitious vision for offshore wind to become reality, we all need to pull together,” Musial said.

    “These partnerships with industry, universities, other labs, and government agencies are crucial to developing the right technology, installing it at the right locations, and connecting it to the grid so that we can maximize offshore’s contribution to the country’s affordable clean energy mix.”


    NREL’s R&D will continue to bridge the worlds of scientific research, technology development, and the marketplace—growing the laboratory’s existing relationships and cultivating new partnerships to launch a new era in offshore wind.

    See the full article here.


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    The National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) (US)), located in Golden, Colorado, specializes in renewable energy and energy efficiency research and development. NREL is a government-owned, contractor-operated facility, and is funded through the United States Department of Energy. This arrangement allows a private entity to operate the lab on behalf of the federal government. NREL receives funding from Congress to be applied toward research and development projects. NREL also performs research on photovoltaics (PV) under the National Center for Photovoltaics. NREL has a number of PV research capabilities including research and development, testing, and deployment. NREL’s campus houses several facilities dedicated to PV research.

    NREL’s areas of research and development are renewable electricity, energy productivity, energy storage, systems integration, and sustainable transportation.

  • richardmitnick 9:39 am on December 21, 2020 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: "With campus as a test bed, "With campus as a test bed climate action starts and continues at MIT", , , climate action starts and continues at MIT", , , , , , Renewable Energy   

    From MIT: “With campus as a test bed, climate action starts and continues at MIT” 

    MIT News

    From MIT News

    December 18, 2020
    Nicole Morell | MIT Office of Sustainability

    MIT serves as a laboratory for a multifaceted approach to address the Institute’s own contributions to climate change.

    MIT has reduced campus emissions by 24 percent over the past five years.

    In 2015, MIT set a goal to reduce its annual greenhouse gas emissions by a minimum of 32 percent by the year 2030. Five years later, the Institute has reduced emissions by 24 percent, remaining on track to meet its goal over the next several years.

    These most recent reduction data mark a 6 percent decrease — nearly 11,000 metric tons of greenhouse gas emissions (MTCO2e) — from fiscal year 2019 to fiscal year 2020. This year-over-year reduction was driven in part by gains in building-level energy efficiency investments, operational efficiency of the Central Utilities Plant (CUP), a reduction in carbon intensity of the electricity purchased from the New England power grid, a less-intense heating season, and a temporary de-densification of campus due to Covid-19 resulting in lower energy demand.

    Cumulative efforts to reduce emissions

    The net 24 percent reduction over five years accounts for a decrease of over 50,000 MTCO2e annually since the launch of the Plan for Action on Climate Change in 2015. The plan is guided by five pillars to address the global challenge of climate change through research, technology, education, and outreach, as well as calling on MIT to use its campus operations and community as a test bed for change.

    This campus-as-a-test bed methodology empowers MIT to leverage faculty, students, and staff to test and demonstrate strategies for mitigating its own emissions. Strategies have focused on minimizing emissions through reducing the overall energy use, reducing the use of fossil fuels in campus buildings and vehicles, increasing the use of renewable energy sources, and minimizing the release of fugitive gases from campus operation. Marked improvement and investment has been seen in these areas over the past five years — from the CUP renewal to energy standards for an increasingly LEED-certified campus. Along with these efforts, research and coursework supports new cohorts of sustainability thinkers and doers making an impact on campus while working alongside staff, and priming MIT for an eventual goal of carbon neutrality.

    This unique research-staff partnership has enabled MIT to make significant progress in reducing its emissions, explains Joe Higgins, vice president for campus services and stewardship: “We are fortunate to have so many dedicated and creative operational staff engaged in achieving our carbon reduction goal,” he says. “They continuously seek opportunities to collaborate with students, faculty and researchers who are tackling the climate challenges of our world.”

    Mitigating campus emissions

    MIT’s buildings account for the largest source of greenhouse gas emissions on campus, comprising 97 percent of all emissions tracked. To lessen the emissions of existing campus buildings, the Institute prioritized deep energy audits to identify those spaces that have high levels of energy consumption and the greatest potential for emissions reductions. These efforts, led by the Department of Facilities and supported by the Office of Campus Planning; Environment, Health, and Safety; and the the Office of Sustainability (MITOS), follow a process of study, design, and implementation of retrofits with features such as heat recovery, lighting upgrades, and enhanced building systems controls to reduce energy use and associated emissions — a process that is ongoing. “As buildings are regularly identified for these audits, energy enhancements and energy reductions are continually being realized across campus,” explains Carlo Fanone, director of facilities engineering. “These reductions are often not fully realized until one to two fiscal years after completing a project, so we remain on a cycle of launching new projects and seeing the impact completed projects have on reduced emissions.”

    To mitigate the emissions impact of new buildings, the Institute adopted guidelines in 2016 that required all newly constructed campus buildings to achieve a minimum of LEED Gold certification (version 4). To date, more than 18 buildings and spaces at MIT are LEED certified, with two LEED Platinum buildings — the highest possible rating offered by the U.S. Green Building Council, which certifies LEED projects. Additional reductions on campus have been achieved through eliminating the use of fuel oil in the existing power plant, as well as investments in its operational efficiency. With the significant capital renewal of the CUP coming online in 2021, its increased capacity and efficiency is expected to further reduce greenhouse gas emissions by approximately 10 percent.

    As ongoing campus efforts in a dense urban environment contribute to incremental emissions reductions, Institute leaders recognize the need for rapid global mitigation efforts that deploy strategies both on and off campus. To advance this, MIT entered into a power purchase agreement, or PPA, in 2016 that enabled the construction of Summit Farms, a 650-acre, 60-megawatt solar farm in North Carolina. Since then, MIT has benefited annually from the Institute’s 25-year commitment to purchase electricity generated through the PPA and in 2020 alone purchased 87,320 megawatt-hours of solar power, which offset over 28,000 metric tons of greenhouse gas emissions from on-campus operations.

    Future forward

    In utilizing the campus to test innovative ideas for local climate action, operational staff, researchers, students, and faculty all play a role. Through teaching 11.S938 / 2.S999 (Solving for Carbon Neutrality at MIT) and 11.S196 / 11.S946 (Exploring Sustainability at Different Scales) Director of Sustainability Julie Newman and mechanical engineering Professor Tim Gutowski have guided classes of graduate and undergraduate students in developing solutions for real-world sustainability challenges that tie back to campus. “This coursework has allowed us to engage students in thinking about climate change solutions through the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals — addressing a truly global challenge — and then taking that thinking and problem-solving approach to challenges and opportunities in our own backyard at MIT,” explains Newman, who also serves as a lecturer with the Department of Urban Studies and Planning. “Students start to think about climate action and carbon neutrality at different scales, which is the model we follow in the Office of Sustainability.”

    Research solutions to campus challenges are also supported through the Campus Sustainability Incubator Fund — administered by MITOS — which has enabled more than a dozen MIT community members to use the campus itself for research in sustainable operations, management, and design. Past funded projects include on-site renewable energy storage systems, water capture and reuse at the CUP, and life-cycle impacts on building designs on campus. Currently, a team of researchers supported by the fund is focused on short- and long-term sustainable procurement, sourcing, and disposal strategies for personal protective equipment at MIT, with a focus on solutions scalable beyond campus.

    Data and future work

    As MIT looks to meet its reduction goal, data collection and analysis remain key to measuring and mitigating emissions. MIT continually works to collect the full picture of this impact and in 2019 began developing a preliminary analysis of the Institute’s Scope 3, or indirect, greenhouse gas emissions. This is done to inform MIT’s total greenhouse gas emissions activities — in addition to Scopes 1 and 2 — and explore where strategic opportunities may exist to reduce emissions beyond what MIT is currently tracking. Through this effort, MIT has been collecting available emissions data, including those of purchased goods and services, MIT-sponsored travel, commuting, and capital goods (furniture, fixtures, tools, etc.) using the World Resources Institute/ World Business Council for Sustainable Development GHG Protocol for Scope 3 framework.

    The effort to capture a complete emissions picture reflects the ongoing work of MIT to rapidly understand and address its own contributions to climate change. As MIT looks to 2030 and its continued climate action work, Vice President for Research Maria Zuber says the MIT community will remain an important part of the work and envisioning the future, which includes a new climate action plan. “MIT is ahead of the schedule we set for ourselves to reduce net carbon emissions,” says Zuber, who oversees MIT’s Plan for Action on Climate Change. “But the climate crisis demands that we make even faster progress. Our new climate plan will set a more ambitious goal that everyone in our community will have a role in meeting.”

    See the full article here .

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    The mission of MIT is to advance knowledge and educate students in science, technology, and other areas of scholarship that will best serve the nation and the world in the twenty-first century. We seek to develop in each member of the MIT community the ability and passion to work wisely, creatively, and effectively for the betterment of humankind.

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  • richardmitnick 10:43 am on December 14, 2020 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: "Foundations for the energy system of tomorrow", , , , ReMaP-Renewable Management and Real-​Time Control Platform, Renewable Energy   

    From ETH Zürich (CH): “Foundations for the energy system of tomorrow” 

    From ETH Zürich (CH)

    Leo Herrmann

    One major challenge: the increased use of solar and wind energy. Credit: Adobestock.

    On the road to a sustainable energy system, technologies for the flexible conversion and efficient storage of energy are becoming increasingly important. To investigate these pressing issues in a realistic way, ETH Zürich, Empa and the Paul Scherrer Institute have been developing ReMaP, a new type of research platform, since 2019. Their initial findings are now available.

    Switzerland’s current energy system is based on imported fossil fuels – gas, petrol and crude oil – but also on a relatively small number of large nuclear and hydroelectric power plants. The electricity these power plants generate reaches consumers via the transmission and distribution grid. Storage lakes, pumped storage and electricity trading with other countries compensate for demand fluctuations, for example between day and night. This system is likely to change fundamentally in the coming decades. The Energy Act, which came into force in 2018, provides for Switzerland to gradually abandon nuclear energy and make greater use of renewable energy sources. It also calls for buildings, industry and mobility to become more energy-​efficient and for net CO2 emissions to fall to zero in 2050. All this could drive demand for electricity even higher, for example through increased use of electric vehicles or heat pumps.

    One challenge is to supplant the share of nuclear energy in the Swiss electricity mix (currently around 35 percent) with renewable energy. Photovoltaics will play a major role, while wind power will play a comparatively smaller role. Both are volatile energy sources because they produce different amounts of power seasonally and depending on the weather. To balance production and demand, technologies are needed that can convert energy into different forms, store it efficiently and then make it available again in the required form. This would allow surplus solar energy in summer to meet increased demand in winter. Flexible conversion and storage technologies, together with digital solutions, would pave the way for more of what is known as sector coupling. For example, hydrogen could then be produced with cheap electricity from photovoltaic systems and used to refuel trucks. The power grid of the future will be more decentralised, flexible and connected.

    An ecosystem for energy research

    The same must apply to the research on which that grid is built. “Anyone who researches a single technology in isolation can draw only limited conclusions,” says John Lygeros, Professor in the Automatic Control Laboratory at ETH Zürich. “There needs to be a connected ecosystem at the research stage to test all kinds of technologies in interaction with each other.” Lygeros is leading one of the ten research projects under the umbrella of ReMaP (Renewable Management and Real-​Time Control Platform), which was presented to the public in June 2019 by ETH Zürich, Empa and the Paul Scherrer Institute (PSI). These institutions boast a wide range of research infrastructure, which the ReMaP project seeks to connect and expand. At present, this infrastructure comprises PSI’s ESI platform and Empa’s ehub platform. While ESI offers, among other things, various technologies for converting electricity into gases, ehub offers the opportunity to study energy flows in the residential, work and mobility sectors. It uses two demonstrators: NEST, a vibrant “vertical neighbourhood” for sustainable construction; and move, a filling station for fuels made from renewable energy.

    At the core of ReMaP lie the control framework and the simulation framework. These enable users to design experiments that establish real-​time connections between any number of physical devices in different locations as well as digital models of devices and then investigate their interactions. Data from the experiments is stored in a central database. Two industrial partners are also involved in developing the necessary software: the company smart grid solutions and the ETH spin-​off Adaptricity. Andreas Haselbacher, a lecturer at the Department of Mechanical and Process Engineering at ETH Zürich and a leader of the ReMaP project, says: “At present, there’s no comparable research platform anywhere in the world that lets us understand both the hardware and software for a range of energy systems at the neighbourhood level.”

    Flexibility as the main objective

    For example, Lygeros and his doctoral student Marta Fochesato, both based at ETH, can use both an electrolyser at PSI and a hydrogen filling station at Empa. In the electrolyser, electricity splits water into hydrogen and oxygen. The two scientists want to optimise the storage of energy in the form of hydrogen. Among other things, they are investigating how to meet a given demand for hydrogen as cost-​effectively as possible. Based on the electrolyser’s efficiency, thermal dynamics and control behaviour, they developed an ideal digital controller: an algorithm that decides minute by minute on the basis of the current electricity price at what the output it should run the electrolyser. Whenever electricity is expensive, hydrogen is produced only if there is an acute need – for example, when a car needs to fill up with hydrogen. When electricity is cheap, the unit produces hydrogen for later use. This keeps the overall electricity costs lower than if the electrolyser sprang into action only to meet demand at any given time. The decisive factor in the experiment is to make the flexible conversion and storage of energy as efficient as possible – which would go a long way towards overcoming the as yet unsolved problem of how to store solar or wind energy across seasons in an economical way. “Integrating infrastructure from different institutions into the same experiment is challenging. ReMaP is unique in its ability to enable collaboration on the scale we see here between ETH, Empa and PSI,” Lygeros says.

    Another ReMaP project focuses on combined heat and power plants. These often consist of a combustion engine and a generator that produces electricity. Whenever they generate a surplus, this can be fed back into the system. Their waste heat from combustion is also put to use, for example to heat buildings. This heat can be made available at up to 750 °C, but the temperature used to heat a building is around 80 °C. This results in a considerable loss of potential, as higher temperatures can be used more flexibly and effectively. Konstantinos Boulouchos and Christian Schürch, from the Aerothermochemistry and Combustion Systems Laboratory at ETH Zürich, are pursuing the approach of using part of the waste heat not for heating, but to drive a chemical reaction in a steam reformer and produce what is known as syngas – a mixture of hydrogen, methane and carbon dioxide. Although this reduces the cogeneration unit’s heat output, it lets the power plant generate a higher-​quality and more flexible form of energy: the syngas produced can serve as seasonal thermal energy storage. The two researchers are now looking to determine the best operating concept for such power plants. The combined heat and power plant they are using for their experiment is located in the ML building on the ETH Zentrum campus, but is connected to the Empa network – and all data is processed there.

    Open for further partners

    ReMaP is still in the process of being set up. These experiments show that there is nothing to prevent other physical systems, such as biogas plants or hydroelectric power plants, from being integrated into the platform even if they are not located at any of the three sites. Project leader Haselbacher looks to the future: “We’re very keen to involve further partners, be they universities, colleges or players from industry.” ReMaP’s stated aim is not only research and development, but also education and communication: the platform is intended to help train the next generation of researchers and specialists, while at the same time offering insights into the energy system of the future to society at large and to decision-​makers in politics and business. Detlef Günther, Vice-​President for Research at ETH Zürich, is pleased: “To make faster progress in research and ultimately make a success of the energy turnaround, we need to work in a connected and interdisciplinary way and involve industry as well as politics and the public. ReMaP is a good example of how the ETH Domain is moving forward on these issues.”

    See the full article here .


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    ETH Zurich campus
    ETH Zürich (CH) is one of the leading international universities for technology and the natural sciences. It is well known for its excellent education, ground-breaking fundamental research and for implementing its results directly into practice.

    Founded in 1855, ETH Zürich (CH) today has more than 18,500 students from over 110 countries, including 4,000 doctoral students. To researchers, it offers an inspiring working environment, to students, a comprehensive education.

    Twenty-one Nobel Laureates have studied, taught or conducted research at ETH Zürich (CH), underlining the excellent reputation of the university.

  • richardmitnick 10:20 am on June 8, 2020 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: "Transparent graphene electrodes might lead to new generation of solar cells", , , , , , , Renewable Energy   

    From MIT News: “Transparent graphene electrodes might lead to new generation of solar cells” 

    MIT News

    From MIT News

    June 5, 2020
    David L. Chandler

    New roll-to-roll production method could enable lightweight, flexible solar devices and a new generation of display screens.

    A new manufacturing process for graphene is based on using an intermediate carrier layer of material after the graphene is laid down through a vapor deposition process. The carrier allows the ultrathin graphene sheet, less than a nanometer (billionth of a meter) thick, to be easily lifted off from a substrate, allowing for rapid roll-to-roll manufacturing. These figures show this process for making graphene sheets, along with a photo of the proof-of-concept device used (b). Courtesy of the researchers.

    A new way of making large sheets of high-quality, atomically thin graphene could lead to ultra-lightweight, flexible solar cells, and to new classes of light-emitting devices and other thin-film electronics.

    The new manufacturing process, which was developed at MIT and should be relatively easy to scale up for industrial production, involves an intermediate “buffer” layer of material that is key to the technique’s success. The buffer allows the ultrathin graphene sheet, less than a nanometer (billionth of a meter) thick, to be easily lifted off from its substrate, allowing for rapid roll-to-roll manufacturing.

    The process is detailed in a paper published yesterday in Advanced Functional Materials, by MIT postdocs Giovanni Azzellino and Mahdi Tavakoli; professors Jing Kong, Tomas Palacios, and Markus Buehler; and five others at MIT.

    Finding a way to make thin, large-area, transparent electrodes that are stable in open air has been a major quest in thin-film electronics in recent years, for a variety of applications in optoelectronic devices — things that either emit light, like computer and smartphone screens, or harvest it, like solar cells. Today’s standard for such applications is indium tin oxide (ITO), a material based on rare and expensive chemical elements.

    Many research groups have worked on finding a replacement for ITO, focusing on both organic and inorganic candidate materials. Graphene, a form of pure carbon whose atoms are arranged in a flat hexagonal array, has extremely good electrical and mechanical properties, yet it is vanishingly thin, physically flexible, and made from an abundant, inexpensive material. Furthermore, it can be easily grown in the form of large sheets by chemical vapor deposition (CVD), using copper as a seed layer, as Kong’s group has demonstrated. However, for device applications, the trickiest part has been finding ways to release the CVD-grown graphene from its native copper substrate.

    This release, known as graphene transfer process, tends to result in a web of tears, wrinkles, and defects in the sheets, which disrupts the film continuity and therefore drastically reduces their electrical conductivity. But with the new technology, Azzellino says, “now we are able to reliably manufacture large-area graphene sheets, transfer them onto whatever substrate we want, and the way we transfer them does not affect the electrical and mechanical properties of the pristine graphene.”

    The key is the buffer layer, made of a polymer material called parylene, that conforms at the atomic level to the graphene sheets on which it is deployed. Like graphene, parylene is produced by CVD, which simplifies the manufacturing process and scalability.

    As a demonstration of this technology, the team made proof-of-concept solar cells, adopting a thin-film polymeric solar cell material, along with the newly formed graphene layer for one of the cell’s two electrodes, and a parylene layer that also serves as a device substrate. They measured an optical transmittance close to 90 percent for the graphene film under visible light.

    The prototyped graphene-based solar cell improves by roughly 36 times the delivered power per weight, compared to ITO-based state-of-the-art devices. It also uses 1/200 the amount of material per unit area for the transparent electrode. And, there is a further fundamental advantage compared to ITO: “Graphene comes for almost free,” Azzellino says.

    “Ultra-lightweight graphene-based devices can pave the way to a new generation of applications,” he says. “So if you think about portable devices, the power per weight becomes a very important figure of merit. What if we could deploy a transparent solar cell on your tablet that is able to power up the tablet itself?” Though some further development would be needed, such applications should ultimately be feasible with this new method, he says.

    The buffer material, parylene, is widely used in the microelectronics industry, usually to encapsulate and protect electronic devices. So the supply chains and equipment for using the material already are widespread, Azzellino says. Of the three existing types of parylene, the team’s tests showed that one of them, which contains more chlorine atoms, was by far the most effective for this application.

    The atomic proximity of chlorine-rich parylene to the underlying graphene as the layers are sandwiched together provides a further advantage, by offering a kind of “doping” for graphene, finally providing a more reliable and nondestructive approach for conductivity improvement of large-area graphene, unlike many others that have been tested and reported so far.

    “The graphene and the parylene films are always face-to-face,” Azzellino says. “So basically, the doping action is always there, and therefore the advantage is permanent.”

    The research team also included Marek Hempel, Ang-Yu Lu, Francisco Martin-Martinez, Jiayuan Zhao and Jingjie Yeo, all at MIT. The work was supported by Eni SpA through the MIT Energy Initiative, the U.S. Army Research Office through the Institute for Soldier Nanotechnologies, and the Office of Naval Research.

    See the full article here .

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  • richardmitnick 7:22 am on August 14, 2019 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: "New type of electrolyte could enhance supercapacitor performance", , , Ionic liquids, , , Renewable Energy, SAILs- Surface-active ionic liquids   

    From MIT News: “New type of electrolyte could enhance supercapacitor performance” 

    MIT News

    From MIT News

    August 12, 2019
    David L. Chandler

    Large anions with long tails (blue) in ionic liquids can make them self-assemble into sandwich-like bilayer structures on electrode surfaces. Ionic liquids with such structures have much improved energy storage capabilities. Image: Xianwen Mao, MIT

    Novel class of “ionic liquids” may store more energy than conventional electrolytes — with less risk of catching fire.

    Supercapacitors, electrical devices that store and release energy, need a layer of electrolyte — an electrically conductive material that can be solid, liquid, or somewhere in between. Now, researchers at MIT and several other institutions have developed a novel class of liquids that may open up new possibilities for improving the efficiency and stability of such devices while reducing their flammability.

    “This proof-of-concept work represents a new paradigm for electrochemical energy storage,” the researchers say in their paper describing the finding, which appears today in the journal Nature Materials.

    For decades, researchers have been aware of a class of materials known as ionic liquids — essentially, liquid salts — but this team has now added to these liquids a compound that is similar to a surfactant, like those used to disperse oil spills. With the addition of this material, the ionic liquids “have very new and strange properties,” including becoming highly viscous, says MIT postdoc Xianwen Mao PhD ’14, the lead author of the paper.

    “It’s hard to imagine that this viscous liquid could be used for energy storage,” Mao says, “but what we find is that once we raise the temperature, it can store more energy, and more than many other electrolytes.”

    That’s not entirely surprising, he says, since with other ionic liquids, as temperature increases, “the viscosity decreases and the energy-storage capacity increases.” But in this case, although the viscosity stays higher than that of other known electrolytes, the capacity increases very quickly with increasing temperature. That ends up giving the material an overall energy density — a measure of its ability to store electricity in a given volume — that exceeds those of many conventional electrolytes, and with greater stability and safety.

    The key to its effectiveness is the way the molecules within the liquid automatically line themselves up, ending up in a layered configuration on the metal electrode surface. The molecules, which have a kind of tail on one end, line up with the heads facing outward toward the electrode or away from it, and the tails all cluster in the middle, forming a kind of sandwich. This is described as a self-assembled nanostructure.

    “The reason why it’s behaving so differently” from conventional electrolytes is because of the way the molecules intrinsically assemble themselves into an ordered, layered structure where they come in contact with another material, such as the electrode inside a supercapacitor, says T. Alan Hatton, a professor of chemical engineering at MIT and the paper’s senior author. “It forms a very interesting, sandwich-like, double-layer structure.”

    This highly ordered structure helps to prevent a phenomenon called “overscreening” that can occur with other ionic liquids, in which the first layer of ions (electrically charged atoms or molecules) that collect on an electrode surface contains more ions than there are corresponding charges on the surface. This can cause a more scattered distribution of ions, or a thicker ion multilayer, and thus a loss of efficiency in energy storage; “whereas with our case, because of the way everything is structured, charges are concentrated within the surface layer,” Hatton says.

    The new class of materials, which the researchers call SAILs, for surface-active ionic liquids, could have a variety of applications for high-temperature energy storage, for example for use in hot environments such as in oil drilling or in chemical plants, according to Mao. “Our electrolyte is very safe at high temperatures, and even performs better,” he says. In contrast, some electrolytes used in lithium-ion batteries are quite flammable.

    The material could help to improve performance of supercapacitors, Mao says. Such devices can be used to store electrical charge and are sometimes used to supplement battery systems in electric vehicles to provide an extra boost of power. Using the new material instead of a conventional electrolyte in a supercapacitor could increase its energy density by a factor of four or five, Mao says. Using the new electrolyte, future supercapacitors may even be able to store more energy than batteries, he says, potentially even replacing batteries in applications such as electric vehicles, personal electronics, or grid-level energy storage facilities.

    The material could also be useful for a variety of emerging separation processes, Mao says. “A lot of newly developed separation processes require electrical control,” in various chemical processing and refining applications and in carbon dioxide capture, for example, as well as resource recovery from waste streams. These ionic liquids, being highly conductive, could be well-suited to many such applications, he says.

    The material they initially developed is just an example of a variety of possible SAIL compounds. “The possibilities are almost unlimited,” Mao says. The team will continue to work on different variations and on optimizing its parameters for particular uses. “It might take a few months or years,” he says, “but working on a new class of materials is very exciting to do. There are many possibilities for further optimization.”

    The research team included Paul Brown, Yinying Ren, Agilio Padua, and Margarida Costa Gomes at MIT; Ctirad Cervinka at École Normale Supérieure de Lyon, in France; Gavin Hazell and Julian Eastoe at the University of Bristol, in the U.K.; Hua Li and Rob Atkin at the University of Western Australia; and Isabelle Grillo at the Institut Max-von-Laue-Paul-Langevin in Grenoble, France. The researchers dedicate their paper to the memory of Grillo, who recently passed away.

    “It is a very exciting result that surface-active ionic liquids (SAILs) with amphiphilic structures can self-assemble on electrode surfaces and enhance charge storage performance at electrified surfaces,” says Yi Cui, a professor of materials science and engineering at Stanford University, who was not associated with this research. “The authors have studied and understood the mechanism. The work here might have a great impact on the design of high energy density supercapacitors, and could also help improve battery performance,” he says.

    Nicholas Abbott, the Tisch University Professor at Cornell University, who also was not involved in this work, says “The paper describes a very clever advance in interfacial charge storage, elegantly demonstrating how knowledge of molecular self-assembly at interfaces can be leveraged to address a contemporary technological challenge.”

    See the full article here .

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    The mission of MIT is to advance knowledge and educate students in science, technology, and other areas of scholarship that will best serve the nation and the world in the twenty-first century. We seek to develop in each member of the MIT community the ability and passion to work wisely, creatively, and effectively for the betterment of humankind.

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  • richardmitnick 10:35 am on August 1, 2019 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , At times renewable energy sources can produce more power than what is needed leaving some solar or wind energy to go to waste., , , , Investing in batteries and other energy storage technologies to capture the excess can be economically viable with proper policy support., Renewable Energy,   

    From University of Michigan: “Investing in energy storage for solar, wind power could greatly reduce greenhouse gas emissions” 

    U Michigan bloc

    From University of Michigan

    July 30, 2019
    Jim Erickson

    Written by Wendy Bowyer


    Drive through nearly any corner of America long enough and giant solar farms or rows of wind turbines come into view, all with the goal of increasing the country’s renewable energy use and reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

    But what some may not realize is at times these renewable energy sources can produce more power than what is needed, leaving some solar or wind energy to, in a sense, go to waste. This oversupply condition is a lost opportunity for these clean energy resources to displace pollution from fossil fuel-powered plants.

    But by creating complex models analyzing power systems in California and Texas, University of Michigan scientists show in a study scheduled for online publication July 30 in Nature Communications, that investing in batteries and other energy storage technologies can be economically viable with proper policy support.

    That, in turn, could radically reduce the emissions of greenhouse gases—by up to 90% in one scenario examined by the researchers—and increase the use of solar and wind energy at a time when climate change takes on greater urgency.

    “The cost of energy storage is very important,” said study co-author Maryam Arbabzadeh, a postdoctoral fellow at U-M’s School for Environment and Sustainability. “But there are some incentives we could use to make it attractive economically, one being an emissions tax.”

    Arbabzadeh led the research in collaboration with colleagues at Ohio State University and North Carolina State University. Gregory Keoleian, director of U-M’s Center for Sustainable Systems, served as her adviser and one of the co-authors of the study.

    “Electricity generation accounts for 28% of the greenhouse gas emissions in the United States, and given the urgency of climate change it is critical to accelerate the deployment of renewable sources such as wind and solar,” said Keoleian, a professor of environment and sustainability and civil and environmental engineering.

    “This research clearly demonstrates how energy storage technologies can play an important role in reducing renewable curtailment and greenhouse gas emissions from fossil fuel power plants.”

    Arbabzadeh and her fellow researchers created complex models analyzing nine different energy storage technologies. They looked at the environmental effects of renewable curtailment, which is the amount of renewable energy generated but unable to be delivered to meet demand for a variety of reasons.

    They also modeled what would happen if each state would add up to 20 gigawatts of wind and 40 gigawatts of solar capacity, and how all of this would be impacted economically by a carbon dioxide tax of up to $200 per ton.

    What they found was striking.

    Adding 60 gigawatts of renewable energy to California could achieve a 72% carbon dioxide reduction. Then, by adding some energy storage technologies on top of that in California could allow a 90% carbon dioxide reduction. In Texas, energy storage could allow a 57% emissions reduction.

    But for all of this to happen, utility companies would need a reason to invest in energy storage systems, which require large amounts of capital investment. That is where the use of a carbon tax could be helpful, Arbabzadeh said.

    All nine of the energy storage technologies studied, including high-tech batteries, require a significant capital investment and all had different pros and cons. Also adding to the complexity of the research is the different type of generation mix in Texas and California.

    Texas uses some coal and natural gas-fired units. California uses more inflexible resources, like nuclear, geothermal, biomass and hydroelectric energy units, which make its renewable curtailment rates much higher than Texas.

    The work was supported by the National Science Foundation, the Dow Sustainability Fellows Program and the Rackham Predoctoral Fellowship Program.

    See the full article here .


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    The University of Michigan (U-M, UM, UMich, or U of M), frequently referred to simply as Michigan, is a public research university located in Ann Arbor, Michigan, United States. Originally, founded in 1817 in Detroit as the Catholepistemiad, or University of Michigania, 20 years before the Michigan Territory officially became a state, the University of Michigan is the state’s oldest university. The university moved to Ann Arbor in 1837 onto 40 acres (16 ha) of what is now known as Central Campus. Since its establishment in Ann Arbor, the university campus has expanded to include more than 584 major buildings with a combined area of more than 34 million gross square feet (781 acres or 3.16 km²), and has two satellite campuses located in Flint and Dearborn. The University was one of the founding members of the Association of American Universities.

    Considered one of the foremost research universities in the United States,[7] the university has very high research activity and its comprehensive graduate program offers doctoral degrees in the humanities, social sciences, and STEM fields (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) as well as professional degrees in business, medicine, law, pharmacy, nursing, social work and dentistry. Michigan’s body of living alumni (as of 2012) comprises more than 500,000. Besides academic life, Michigan’s athletic teams compete in Division I of the NCAA and are collectively known as the Wolverines. They are members of the Big Ten Conference.

  • richardmitnick 1:20 pm on March 4, 2019 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , Completely doing away with wind variability is next to impossible, , , Google claims that Machine Learning and AI would indeed make wind power more predictable and hence more useful, Google has announced in its official blog post that it has enhanced the feasibility of wind energy by using AI software created by its UK subsidiary DeepMind, Google is working to make the algorithm more refined so that any discrepancy that might occur could be nullified, , Renewable Energy, Unpredictability in delivering power at set time frame continues to remain a daunting challenge before the sector   

    From Geospatial World: “Google and DeepMind predict wind energy output using AI” 

    From Geospatial World

    Aditya Chaturvedi

    Image Courtesy: Unsplash

    Google has announced in its official blog post that it has enhanced the feasibility of wind energy by using AI software created by its UK subsidiary DeepMind.

    Renewable energy is the way towards lowering carbon emissions and sustainability, so it is imperative that we focus on yielding optimum energy outputs from renewable energy.

    Renewable technologies will be at the forefront of climate change mitigation and addressing global warming, however, the complete potential is yet to be harnessed owing to a slew of obstructions. Wind energy has emerged as a crucial source of renewable energy in the past decade due to a decline in the cost of turbines that has led to the gradual mainstreaming of wind power. Though, unpredictability in delivering power at set time frame continues to remain a daunting challenge before the sector.

    Google and DeepMind project will change this forever by overcoming this limitation that has hobbled wind energy adoption.

    With the help of DeepMind’s Machine Learning algorithms, Google has been able to predict the wind energy output of the farms that it uses for its Green Energy initiatives.

    “DeepMind and Google started applying machine learning algorithms to 700 megawatts of wind power capacity in the central United States. These wind farms—part of Google’s global fleet of renewable energy projects—collectively generate as much electricity as is needed by a medium-sized city”, the blog says.

    Google is optimistic that it can accurately predict and schedule energy output, which certainly would have an upper hand over non-time based deliveries.

    Image Courtesy: Google/ DeepMind

    Taking a neural network that makes uses of weather forecasts and turbine data history, DeepMind system has been configured to predict wind power output 36 hours in advance.

    Taking a cue from these predictions, the advanced model recommends the best possible method to fulfill, and even exceed, delivery commitments 24 hrs in advance. Its importance can be estimated from the fact that energy sources that deliver a particular amount of power over a defined period of time are usually more vulnerable to the grid.

    Google is working to make the algorithm more refined so that any discrepancy that might occur could be nullified. Till date, Google claims that Machine Learning algorithms have boosted wind energy generated by 20%, ‘compared to the to the baseline scenario of no time-based commitments to the grid’, the blog says.

    Image Courtesy: Google

    Completely doing away with wind variability is next to impossible, but Google claims that Machine Learning and AI would indeed make wind power more predictable and hence more useful.

    This unique approach would surely open up new avenues and make wind farm data more reliable and precise. When the productivity of wind power farms in greatly increased and their output can be predicted as well as calculated, wind will have the capability to match conventional electricity sources.

    Google is hopeful that the power of Machine Learning and AI would boost the mass adoption of wind power and turn it into a popular alternative to traditional sources of electricity over the years.

    See the full article here .


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  • richardmitnick 1:40 pm on August 16, 2017 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , Renewable Energy, , World's Biggest Solar Thermal Power Plant Just Got Approved in Australia   

    From Science Alert: “World’s Biggest Solar Thermal Power Plant Just Got Approved in Australia” 


    Science Alert

    16 AUG 2017

    Crescent Dunes near Las Vegas, the blueprint for the new plant. Credit: Solar Reserve.

    The onward march of renewables continues: an Australian state government has greenlit the biggest solar thermal power plant of its kind in the world, a 150-megawatt structure set to be built in Port Augusta in South Australia.

    As well as providing around 650 construction jobs for local workers, the plant will provide all the electricity needs for the state government, with some to spare – and it should help to make solar energy even more affordable in the future.

    Work on the AU$650 million (US$510 million) plant is getting underway next year and is slated to be completed in 2020, adding to Australia’s growing list of impressive renewable energy projects that already cover solar and tidal.

    “The significance of solar thermal generation lies in its ability to provide energy virtually on demand through the use of thermal energy storage to store heat for running the power turbines,” says sustainable energy engineering professor Wasim Saman, from the University of South Australia.

    “This is a substantially more economical way of storing energy than using batteries.”

    Solar photovoltaic plants convert sunlight directly into electricity, so they need batteries to store excess power for when the Sun isn’t shining; solar thermal plants, meanwhile, use mirrors to concentrate the sunlight into a heating system.

    A variety of heating systems are in use, but In this case, molten salt will be heated up – a more economical storage option than batteries – which is then used to boil water, spin a steam turbine, and generate electricity when required.

    The developers of the Port Augusta plant say it can continue to generate power at full load for up to 8 hours after the Sun’s gone down.

    The Crescent Dunes plant in Nevada will act as the blueprint for the one in Port Augusta, as it was built by the same contractor, Solar Reserve. That site has a 110-megawatt capacity.

    Renewable energy sources now account for more than 40 percent of the electricity generated in South Australia, and as solar becomes a more stable and reliable provider of energy, that in turn pushes prices lower.

    Importantly, the cost of the new plant is well below the estimated cost of a new coal-fired power station, giving the government another reason to back renewables. The cost-per-megawatt of the new plant works out about the same as wind power and solar photovoltaic plants.

    But engineering researcher Fellow Matthew Stocks, from the Australian National University, says we still have “lots to learn” about how solar thermal technologies can fit into an electric grid system.

    “One of the big challenges for solar thermal as a storage tool is that it can only store heat,” says Stocks. “If there is an excess of electricity in the system because the wind is blowing strong, it cannot efficiently use it to store electrical power to shift the energy to times of shortage, unlike batteries and pumped hydro.”

    Authorities say 50 full-time workers will be required to operate the plant, using similar skills to those needed to run a coal or gas station. That will encourage workers laid off after the region’s coal-fired power station was closed down last year.

    Solar thermal has been backed to the tune of AU$110m ($86m) of equity provided by the federal government.

    And as renewables become more and more important to our power grids, expect to see this huge solar thermal plant eventually get eclipsed by a bigger one.

    “This is first large scale application of solar thermal generation in Australia which has been operating successfully in Europe, USA and Africa,” says Saman.

    “While this technology is perhaps a decade behind solar PV generation, many future world energy forecasts include a considerable proportion of this technology in tomorrow’s energy mix.”

    See the full article here .

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  • richardmitnick 2:55 pm on August 5, 2017 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , Climate policies study shows Inland Empire economic boon, , Renewable Energy,   

    From UC Berkeley: “Climate policies study shows Inland Empire economic boon” 

    UC Berkeley

    UC Berkeley

    August 3, 2017
    Jacqueline Sullivan

    UC Berkeley researchers found that the proliferation of renewable energy plants — like the San Gorgonio Pass wind farm shown above — is responsible for over 90 percent of the direct benefit of California’s climate and clean energy policies in the Inland Empire. (iStock photo).

    According to the first comprehensive study of the economic effects of climate programs in California’s Inland Empire, Riverside and San Bernardino counties experienced a net benefit of $9.1 billion in direct economic activity and 41,000 jobs from 2010 through 2016.

    Researchers at UC Berkeley’s Center for Labor Research and Education and the Center for Law, Energy and the Environment at Berkeley Law report that many of these jobs were created by one-time construction investments associated with building renewable energy power plants. These investments, they say, helped rekindle the construction industry, which experienced major losses during the Great Recession.

    When accounting for the spillover effects, the researchers report in their study commissioned by nonpartisan, nonprofit group Next 10, that state climate policies resulted in a total of $14.2 billion in economic activity and more than 73,000 jobs for the region during the same seven years.

    Study focal points

    Inland Empire residents are at especially high risk for pollution-related health conditions. This hazy view from a Rancho Cucamonga street attests to the region’s smog problem. (Photo by Mikeetc via Creative Commons).

    Because smog in San Bernardino and Riverside counties is consistently among the worst in the state, residents are at especially high risk of pollution-related health conditions.

    “California has many at-risk communities — communities that are vulnerable to climate change, but also vulnerable to the policy solutions designed to slow climate change,” said Betony Jones, lead author of the report and associate director of the Green Economy Program at UC Berkeley’s Center for Labor Research and Education.

    In the Inland Empire, per capita income is approximately $23,000, compared to the state average of $30,000, and 17.5 percent of the residents of Riverside and San Bernardino counties live below the poverty line, compared to 14.7 percent of all Californians.

    The Net Economic Impacts of California’s Major Climate Programs in the Inland Empire study comes out right after the state’s recent decision to extend California’s cap-and-trade program, and as other states and countries look to California as a model.


    After accounting for compliance spending and investment of cap-and-trade revenue, researchers found cap and trade had net economic impacts of $25.7 million in San Bernardino and Riverside counties in the first four years of the program, from 2013 to 2016.

    That includes $900,000 in increased tax revenue and net employment growth of 154 jobs through the Inland Empire economy. When funds that have been appropriated but have not yet been spent are included, projected net economic benefits reach nearly $123 million, with 945 jobs created and $5.5 million in tax revenue.

    Proliferation of renewables

    The researchers found that the proliferation of renewable energy plants is responsible for over 90 percent of the direct benefit of California’s climate and clean energy policies in the Inland Empire. As of October 2016, San Bernardino and Riverside Counties were home to more than 17 percent of the state’s renewable generation capacity, according the California Energy Commission.

    Researchers found that altogether, renewables like the solar panels pictured above, contributed more than 60,000 net jobs to the regional economy over seven years. (iStock photo)

    “Even after accounting for construction that would have taken place in a business-as-usual scenario, new renewable power plants created the largest number of jobs in the region over the seven-year period, generating 29,000 high-skilled, high-quality construction jobs,” said Jones.

    The authors compared the jobs created in the generation of renewable electricity with those that would have been created by maintaining natural gas electricity generation. “While renewables create fewer direct jobs, the multiplier effects are greater in the Inland Empire economy,” Jones said. “Altogether, renewable generation contributed over 60,000 net jobs to the regional economy over seven years.”

    Rooftop solar, energy efficiency programs

    The report looks at the costs and benefits of the California Solar Initiative, the federal renewables Investment Tax Credit, and investor-owned utility energy efficiency programs, which provide direct incentives for solar installation and energy efficiency retrofits at homes, businesses and institutions. These programs provided about $1.1 billion in subsidies for distributed solar and $612 million for efficiency in the Inland Empire between 2010 and 2016.

    While researchers calculated benefits for these two programs separately, they identified the costs of these programs to electricity ratepayers together. When the benefits are weighed against these costs, the total net impact of both programs resulted in the creation of more than 12,000 jobs and $1.68 billion across the economy over the seven years studied.

    The report’s authors suggest that officials and/or policymakers:

    Develop a comprehensive program for transportation, the greatest challenge facing in California’s climate goals;
    Expand energy efficiency programs to reduce energy use in the existing building and housing stock while reducing energy costs and creating jobs and economic activity;
    Ensure that the Inland Empire receives appropriate statewide spending based on its economic and environmental needs;
    Develop transition programs for workers and communities affected by the decline of the Inland Empire’s greenhouse gas-emitting industries.

    “California continues to demonstrate leadership on climate and clean energy, and results like these show that California’s models can be exported,” said Ethan Elkind, climate director at the UC Berkeley Center for Law, Energy and the Environment.

    Noel Perry, founder of Next 10, said the report gives policymakers and stakeholders the concrete data needed to weigh policy options and investments in the Inland Empire and beyond.

    See the full article here .

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  • richardmitnick 6:26 am on September 6, 2016 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , Renewable Energy   

    From ICL: “New tool can calculate renewable energy output anywhere in the world” 

    Imperial College London
    Imperial College London

    06 September 2016
    Hayley Dunning

    No image caption. No image credit.

    Researchers have created an interactive web tool to estimate the amount of energy that could be generated by wind or solar farms at any location.

    The tool, called Renewables.ninja, aims to make the task of predicting renewable output easier for both academics and industry.

    The creators, from Imperial College London and ETH Zürich, have already used it to estimate current Europe-wide solar and wind output, and companies such as the German electrical supplier RWE are using it to test their own models of output.

    To test the model, Dr Iain Staffell, from the Centre for Environmental Policy at Imperial, and Dr Stefan Pfenninger, who is now at ETH Zürich, have used Renewables.ninja to estimate the productivity of all wind farms planned or under construction in Europe for the next 20 years. Their results are published today in the journal Energy.

    They found that wind farms in Europe current have an average ‘capacity factor’ of around 24 per cent, which means they produce around a quarter of the energy that they could if the wind blew solidly all day every day.

    This number is a factor of how much wind is available to each turbine. The study found that because new farms are being built using taller turbines placed further out to sea, where wind speeds are higher, the average capacity factor for Europe should rise by nearly a third to around 31 percent.

    This would allow three times as much energy to be produced by wind power in Europe compared to today, not only because there are more farms, but because those farms can take advantage of better wind conditions.

    Super sunny days

    In another research paper also published today in Energy, the pair modelled the hourly output of solar panels across Europe. They found that even though Britain is not the sunniest country, on the best summer days solar power now produces more energy than nuclear power. However, the pattern of this solar output through the year substantially changes how the rest of the power system will have to operate.

    Wind and solar energies have a strong dependence on weather conditions, and these can be difficult to integrate into national power systems that requires consistency. If there is excess power generated by all energy sources, then some supplies have to be turned off.

    Currently, wind and solar power generators are the easiest to switch on and off, so they are often the first to go, meaning the power they generate can be wasted.

    Making use of a larger capacity for solar energy generation relies on changes to the national energy system, such as adding new types of electricity storage or small and flexible generators to balance the variable output from solar panels.

    Making models faster

    Renewables.ninja uses 30 years of observed and modelled weather data from organisations such as NASA to predict the wind speed likely to influence turbines and the sunlight likely to strike solar panels at any point on the Earth during the year.

    These figures are combined with manufacturer’s specifications for wind turbines and solar panels to give an estimate of the power output that could be generated by a farm placed at any location.

    Dr Staffell said he spent two years crunching the data for his own research and thought that creating this tool would make it quicker for others to answer important questions: “Modelling wind and solar power is very difficult because they depend on complex weather systems. Getting data, building a model and checking that it works well takes a lot of time and effort.

    “If every researcher has to create their own model when they start to investigate a question about renewable energy, a lot of time is wasted. So we built our models so they can be easily used by other researchers online, allowing them to answer their questions faster, and hopefully to start asking new ones.”

    He and Dr Pfenninger have been beta testing Renewables.ninja for six months and now have users from 54 institutions across 22 countries, including the European Commission and the International Energy Agency.

    Dr Pfenninger said: “Renewables.ninja has already allowed us to answer important questions about the current and future renewable energy infrastructure across Europe and in the UK, and we hope others will use it to further examine the opportunities and challenges for renewables in the future.”

    See the full article here .

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    Imperial College London

    Imperial College London is a science-based university with an international reputation for excellence in teaching and research. Consistently rated amongst the world’s best universities, Imperial is committed to developing the next generation of researchers, scientists and academics through collaboration across disciplines. Located in the heart of London, Imperial is a multidisciplinary space for education, research, translation and commercialisation, harnessing science and innovation to tackle global challenges.

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