The Ripple Effect of Energy Efficiency Investment

“The term “multiple benefits” has emerged to describe the additional value that emerges with any energy performance improvement. The benefits that occur onsite can be especially meaningful to manufacturing, commercial, and institutional facilities. Energy efficiency’s positive ripple effects include increased productivity and product quality, system reliability, and more. ”

 

Source: aceee.org

>” […]  Over the past few decades, researchers have documented numerous cases of energy efficiency improvements—almost always focusing exclusively on energy savings. Non-energy benefits are often recognized, but only in concept. ACEEE’s new report, Multiple Benefits of Business-Sector Energy Efficiency, summarizes what we know about the multiple benefits for the business sector. True quantification of these benefits remains elusive due to a lack of standard definitions, measurements, and documentation, but also in part because variations in business facility design and function ensures that a comprehensive list of potential energy efficiency measures is long, varied, and often unique to the facility.

To give some concrete examples of non-energy benefits at work: Optimizing the use of steam in a plywood manufacturing plant not only reduces the boiler’s natural gas consumption, it also improves the rate of throughput, thus increasing the plant’s daily product yield. A lighting retrofit reduces electricity consumption while also introducing lamps with a longer operating life, thus reducing the labor costs associated with replacing lighting. In many instances, monitoring energy use also provides insights into water or raw material usage, thereby revealing opportunities to optimize manufacturing inputs and eliminate production waste. By implementing energy efficiency, businesses can also boost their productivity. This additional value may make the difference in a business leader’s decision to pursue certain capital investment for their facility.

Meanwhile, energy resource planners at utilities and public utility commissions recognize the impact of large-facility energy demands on the cost and reliability of generation and transmission assets. By maximizing consumer efficiency, costs are reduced or offset throughout a utility system. So the ability to quantify the multiple benefits of investing in energy efficiency, if only in general terms, is an appealing prospect for resource planners eager to encourage greater participation in efficiency programs.

Unfortunately, our research shows that this quantification rarely happens, even though the multiple benefits are frequently evident. A number of studies offer measurement methodologies, anticipating the availability of proper data. When these methodologies are employed with limited samples, we see how proper accounting of non-energy benefits dramatically improves the investment performance of energy efficiency improvements—for example, improving payback times by 50% or better. Samples may provide impressive results, but the data remains too shallow to confidently infer the value to come for any single project type implemented in a specific industrial configuration. Developing such metrics will require more data.  […]”<

 

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Concentrated Solar Power Projects in 2014

“It was a good year for solar power in the USA, with over six gigawatts of photovoltaic (PV) capacity and more than one gigawatt of concentrated solar power (CSP) being added in 2014, bringing the nation’s total solar power capacity to more than 17 gigawatts. That’s a 41% increase in solar power capacity in just one year…”  Source: www.engineering.com

>” Photovoltaic vs Concentrated Solar Power

Photovoltaic technology converts light directly into electricity. PV panels produce DC, which needs to be converted to AC before being placed on the grid. PV panels work best in direct sunlight when they’re pointed perpendicular to the sun’s rays, but they also work reasonably well in diffuse light, even when not pointed directly at the sun. This makes them inexpensive and suitable for rooftops, since solar tracking isn’t required. PV also works in climates that aren’t particularly sunny; Germany gets less sunlight than the northern US, and yet it has a large portion of its power generated by PV.

Concentrated solar power, on the other hand, requires direct sunlight and solar tracking. CSP focuses the sun’s energy and uses the resulting heat to create steam that drives a traditional turbine generator. Even better, the heat can be stored – usually in the form of molten salts – so the CSP plant can generate electricity even when the sun isn’t shining. Because CSP relies on direct sunlight, it’s most suitable for very sunny locations like the American southwest.  […]

US Concentrated Solar Power in 2014

These five major CSP plants went online in 2014 (give or take a few months – one went live in late 2013):

Gila Bend, AZ is the home of the Solana parabolic trough power plant, which provides 250 MW of power to residents of Arizona. The turbine It went live in October of 2013. Spanning 1920 acres, the solar farm includes over two million square meters of reflective troughs and two tanks of molten salts, which provide up to six hours of thermal energy storage. If the stored energy is depleted and the sun isn’t shining, the turbine can be powered by natural gas as a backup.

The Genesis power plant in Blythe CA generates 250 MW of power using a parabolic trough array consisting of more than half a million mirrors. Unlike the Solana plant, Genesis includes no storage or backup fuel. Brought online in April of 2014, designers expect it to generate about 600 GWh of energy each year.

Probably the most famous CSP plant in the US, and the largest of its kind in the world, is the Ivanpah Solar Electric Generating System in Ivanpah Dry Lake CA, about 50 miles south of Las Vegas NV. Its three power towers fired up in February 2014, and the facility now produces 377 MW of power. Its annual production is expected to exceed one terawatt-hour. Ivanpah includes natural gas as its backup, but has no on-site storage.

About 270 miles northwest of Ivanpah is the Crescent Dunes Solar Energy Project in Tonopah, NV. Originally planned to go online in late 2014, the start date has been pushed back to January of 2015. When operational, this 110 MW power tower should produce nearly 500 GWh per year. Crescent Dunes uses molten salt to store heat, allowing it to generate power for ten hours without sunlight.

The Mojave Solar One facility came online in late 2014 and now generates 250 MW of electricity. Located about 100 miles northeast of Los Angeles CA, this parabolic trough array feeds a pair of 125 MW steam turbine generators. The plant should produce about 600 GWh per year. […]”<

 

 

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Oil Price Slump Good News for Solar Power?

As global oil prices hit a five-year low, the fossil fuel industry is facing a gathering storm that could spell great news for the solar power industry.

Source: www.pv-magazine.com

” […]

Some analysts had suggested that cheaper oil could initially cause problems for the solar industry. With utilities able – but not guaranteed – to pass on gains to the consumer, the thirst for renewable energy could wane, analysts warned. “Such a scenario could destroy value on existing renewable energy projects and make it difficult to raise financing for future projects,” Peter Atherton, utility analyst at Liberum Capital, told the Guardian.

However, Deutsche Bank energy analyst Vishal Shah yesterday released a report that suggested there would be “limited/no impact from recent oil price weakness” on the solar industry, with PPA prices in the U.S. immune from oil fluctuations. In China, Shah added, government appetite to tackle air pollution also protects the solar industry from external volatility, while the U.S. residential solar market is even more insulated from external forces, which spells good news for companies like Solar City.

In Japan, energy advisor to the government and senior fellow at Mitsui Global Strategic Studies Institute Takashi Hongo told Bloomberg that “renewables are supported by policies, and that is not something that will be amended quickly just because oil prices fall,” suggesting there will be hardly any negative impact to the solar industry.

A warning shot was fired from Lin Boqiang, director of the Energy Economics Research Center at China’s Xiamen University, however. “If oil stays at current prices or weakens through the first half of next year, the impact on new energy would be massive,” Boqiang told Bloomberg. “Weakening oil prices would hamper the competitiveness of new energy.”

[…]

“The fact that oil is so unpredictable is one of the reasons why we must move to renewable energy, which has a completely predictable cost of zero for fuel,” urged Christiana Figueres, executive secretary of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change at the opening of the COP20 climate conference in Peru.

A changing tide
Following oil’s dramatic price fall last week, this week began with two seismic announcements that could hammer a further nail into the fossil fuel coffin. First, German utility E.ON announced that it is to pivot away from fossil fuels by 2016, pouring the majority of its resources into the development of renewable energy sources.

Then, a day later, the Bank of England (BOE) wrote a letter to the U.K. government’s Environment Audit Committee announcing that it is to formally begin examining the risks fossil fuel companies pose to financial stability.

BOE governor Mark Carney expressed his concern that much of the world’s proven coal, oil and gas reserves may be “unburnable” if the world is to keep global warming within safe limits.

“In light of discussions with officials, we will be deepening and widening our inquiry into the topic,” wrote Carney. “I expect the Financial Policy Committee to also consider this issue as part of its regular horizon-scanning work on financial stability risks.” […]”

Read more: http://www.pv-magazine.com/news/details/beitrag/is-the-oil-price-slump-a-boon-for-solar_100017395/#ixzz3LrUAGr88

 

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Electricity storage becomes priority as solar and wind energy cost keeps dropping

“And the cost of solar power is declining amazingly. Austin Energy signed a deal recently that a solar farm is selling at 5 cents a kilowatt-hour. A recent study by Lazard gave a cost of 5.6 cents for solar and 1.4 cents for wind power (with current subsidies) or 7.2 cents for solar and 3.7 cents for wind without subsidies. Natural gas came in at 6.1 cents and coal at 6.6 cents. The Solar Energy Industries Association claims that in the Southwest electricity contracts for solar energy have dropped 70 percent since 2008.”

chemengineeringposts

imgres The rapid advances in the use of solar and wind energy – more in Europe, but now also gaining momentum in the U.S.- has put electricity “storage” front and center. That is because there is no solar production at night and little on cloudy days, while strong winds are unpredictable in most locations. So, the best “model” for these renewable energy sources is to generate as much as possible at favorable times and to “store” excess production for periods when solar and wind energy supply are low.

And the cost of solar power is declining amazingly. Austin Energy signed a deal recently that a solar farm is selling at 5 cents a kilowatt-hour. A recent study by Lazard gave a cost of 5.6 cents for solar and 1.4 cents for wind power (with current subsidies) or 7.2 cents for solar and 3.7 cents for wind without subsidies. Natural gas came in at…

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Ice Energy Storage Solution Awarded 16 Contracts by SCE

Santa Barbara – Ice Energy today (Nov 5, 2014) announced it has been awarded sixteen contracts from Southern California Edison (SCE) to provide 25.6 megawatts of behind-the-meter thermal energy storage using Ice Energy’s proprietary Ice Bear system.

Source: www.ice-energy.com

>” […] Ice Energy was one of 3 providers selected in the behind-the-meter energy storage category, which was part of an energy storage procurement by SCE that was significantly larger than the minimum mandated by the California Public Utility Commission (CPUC). SCE is one of the nation’s leaders in renewable energy and the primary electricity supply company for much of Southern California.

The contract resulted from an open and competitive process under SCE’s Local Capacity Requirements (LCR) RFO. The goals of the LCR RFO and California’s Storage Act Mandates are to optimize grid reliability, support renewables integration to meet the 2020 portfolio standards, and support the goal of reducing greenhouse gas emissions to 20% of 1990 levels by 2050.

“SCE’s focus on renewable energy is critical to helping meet California’s long-term goals, and Ice Energy is proud to be part of the solution with these contracts,” said Mike Hopkins, CEO of Ice Energy, the leading provider of distributed thermal energy storage technology. “Using ice for energy storage is not new, we’ve just made it distributed, efficient, and cost-effective. The direct-expansion AC technology is robust and proven, which is important because SCE and other utilities require zero risk for their customers.”

In 2013, 22 percent of the power SCE delivered came from renewable sources, compared to 15 percent for other power companies in the state. The utility is on track to meet the state’s goal of 33 percent, and procuring energy storage helps them meet those targets while maintaining a robust and reliable grid.

Ice Energy’s product, the Ice Bear, attaches to one or more standard 5-20 ton commercial AC units. The Ice Bear freezes ice at night when demand for power is low, capacity is abundant and increasingly sourced from renewables such as wind power. Then during the day, stored ice is used to provide cooling, instead of the power-intensive AC compressor. Ice Bears are deployed in smart-grid enabled, megawatt-scale fleets, and each Ice Bear can reduce harmful CO2 emissions by up to 10 tons per year. Installation is as quick as deploying a standard AC system.

“Ice Bears add peak capacity to the grid, reduce and often eliminate the need for feeder and other distribution system upgrades, improve grid reliability and reduce electricity costs,” Hopkins said. “What’s special about our patented design and engineering is the efficiency and cost. It’s energy storage at the lowest cost possible with extraordinary reliability.”

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Thermal Energy Storage uses Ice for Cooling of Buildings – Smart Grid Technologies

Ice Energy’s proven Ice Bear system is the most cost effective and reliable distributed energy storage solution for the grid. The Ice Bear delivers up to six hours of clean, firm, non-fatiguing stored energy daily and is fully dispatchable by the utility. Ice Bear projects are job engines, creating long-term green jobs in the hosting communities.

Source: www.ice-energy.com

>” […] The Ice Bear system is an intelligent distributed energy storage solution that works in conjunction with commercial direct-expansion (DX) air-conditioning systems, specifically the refrigerant-based, 4-20 ton package rooftop systems common to most small to mid-sized commercial buildings.

The system stores energy at night, when electricity generation is cleaner, more efficient and less expensive, and delivers that energy during the peak of the day to provide cooling to the building.

Daytime energy demand from air conditioning – typically 40-50% of a building’s electricity use during peak daytime hours – can be reduced significantly by the Ice Bear. Each Ice Bear delivers an average reduction of 12 kilowatts of source equivalent peak demand for a minimum of 6 hours daily, shifting 72 kilowatt-hours of on-peak energy to off-peak hours. In addition, the Ice Bear can be configured to provide utilities with demand response on other nearby electrical loads – effectively doubling or even tripling the peak-demand reduction capacity of the Ice Bear.

When aggregated and deployed at scale, a typical utility deployment will shift the operation of thousands of commercial AC condensing units from on-peak periods to off-peak periods, reducing electric system demand, improving electric system load factor, reducing electric system costs, and improving overall electric system efficiency and power quality.

The Ice Bear is installed behind the utility-customer meter, but the Ice Bear system was designed for the utility as a grid asset, with most of the benefits flowing to the utility and grid as a whole. Therefore Ice Bear projects are typically funded either directly or indirectly by the utility.[…]

At its most basic, the Ice Bear consists of a large thermal storage tank that attaches directly to a building’s existing roof top air-conditioning system.

The unit makes ice at night, and uses that ice during the day to efficiently deliver cooling directly to the building’s existing air conditioning system.

The Ice Bear energy storage unit operates in two basic modes, Ice Cooling and Ice Charging, to store cooling energy at night, and to deliver that energy the following day.

During Ice Charge mode, a self-contained charging system freezes 450 gallons of water in the Ice Bear’s insulated tank by pumping refrigerant through a configuration of copper coils within it. The water that surrounds these coils freezes and turns to ice. The condensing unit then turns off, and the ice is stored until its cooling energy is needed.

As daytime temperatures rise, the power consumption of air conditioning rises along with it, pushing the grid to peak demand levels. During this peak window, typically from noon to 6 pm, the Ice Bear unit replaces the energy intensive compressor of the building’s air conditioning unit.

[…]

The Ice Cooling cycle lasts for at least 6 hours.

Once the ice has fully melted, the Ice Bear transfers the job of cooling back to the building’s AC unit, to provide cooling, as needed, until the next day. During the cool of the night, the Ice Charge mode is activated and the entire cycle begins again. […]”<

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Coal Power Plants Get Repowered With Natural Gas

Old U.S. coal-fired power plants, the target of new anti-pollution rules, aren’t necessarily shutting down. Many are getting a second life as they’re “repowered” with natural gas.

Source: news.nationalgeographic.com

>” […] In the past four years, at least 29 coal units in 10 states have switched to natural gas or biomass, according to SNL Financial, a market data firm. Another 54 units, mostly in the U.S. Northeast and Midwest, are slated to be converted over the next nine years. The future and completed conversions represent more than 12,000 megawatts of power capacity, enough to power all the homes in New England for one year.

By switching to natural gas, plant operators can take advantage of a relatively cheap and plentiful U.S. supply. The change can also help them meet proposed federal rules to limit heat-trapping carbon dioxide emissions from power plants, given that electricity generation from natural gas emits about half as much carbon as electricity from coal does. […]

While conversion advocates say natural gas is a “bridge” fuel that buys time for a transition to clean energy, others argue its use is hindering renewables by delaying them. Many of the planned repowering projects will extend the already long service of fossil-fuel facilities. (Related: “Switch to Natural Gas Won’t Reduce Carbon Emissions Much, Study Finds.”)

“Do you pump a whole bunch of the public’s money into outdated, inefficient infrastructure, or do you say it’s time to move forward and invest in renewable energy and upgraded transmission to move that renewable energy around?” said Kim Teplitsky, deputy secretary of the Northeast Sierra Club’s Beyond Coal campaign. Teplitsky’s group is opposed to the revivals of New York’s Dunkirk, Danskammer, and Cayuga power plants.

Power providers and regulators, on the other hand, point to the need for reliability, especially in extreme weather conditions. “The system requires a certain amount of megawatts and a certain amount of reserve margin to ensure that the system will be stable and reliable at all times,” said Gaier of NRG, which operates both renewable and fossil-fuel units. “The number of megawatts is simply not replaceable in the short term with renewables.” […]”<

 

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Grid Parity Is Accelerating the US Solar Revolution

“Solar PV installations in the U.S. increased an impressive 485% from 2010 to 2013, and by early 2014, there were more than 480,000 systems in the country. That’s 13,400 MW, enough to power about 2.4 million typical American homes.”

 

Source: www.pvsolarreport.com

>” […] You can definitely see a correlation between electricity price and amount of solar installed, though there are exceptions. Kansas, for example, has fairly high grid prices but little solar — a testament to the fact that good policy is also a key ingredient in promoting solar. And Alaska is not exactly highly populated. For the most part, though, solar is flourishing in states with high electricity rates.

In some states like California, already one of the most expensive places for electricity in the country, residential rates will soon be going up further. Customers in the PG&E service area are looking at a 3.8% increase in electricity bills. Overall, electricity prices in the U.S. have been rising rapidly. According to the Energy Information Administration, in the first half of 2014, U.S. retail residential electricity prices went up 3.2% from the same period last year — the highest year-over-year growth since 2009. […]

The fact is, solar and other renewables just keep getting cheaper. We’ve noticed a number of stories debating this recently, many in reaction to an Economist article on how expensive wind and solar really are. But as Amory Lovins points out, the reality is that renewables are getting cheaper all the time, regardless of anyone’s arguments.

What does this mean? It means that grid parity is coming sooner than you might think […]”<

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Solar Energy Storage Added to Eight California Schools

Burton School District, in the heart of California’s sun-drenched San Joaquin Valley, will also house combined solar and energy storage systems[…]

Source: www.pvsolarreport.com

>”In the commercial sector, the cost of energy storage is now low enough that businesses are finding it a useful addition to solar. Generally, businesses’ peak energy consumption is when electricity is most expensive, which makes energy storage especially useful.

As the cost of energy storage continues to decline, large solar companies have been integrating it into their product offerings to complement a solar system. […]

The district will install solar and DemandLogic to generate and store its own clean, renewable electricity at eight schools. This will be the largest combined solar and energy storage installation SolarCity has undertaken to date. It will allow the district schools to reduce energy costs by using stored electricity to lower peak demand.

SolarCity will install the district’s solar systems and battery storage at eight elementary and middle schools, as well as additional solar generation at a district office. The solar installations will total more than 1.4 MW of capacity, with storage providing an additional 360 kW (720 kWh) of power to reduce peak demand. The new solar systems are expected to save the district more than $1 million over the life of the contracts, and the DemandLogic battery storage systems could save thousands more on demand charges each year.

[…]

The new SolarCity systems are expected to generate 2,300 MWh of solar energy annually, and enough over the life of the contract to power more than 4,000 homes for a year. The solar systems will also offset over 43 million pounds of carbon dioxide and save more than 203 million gallons of water, an especially important environmental benefit in the drought-stricken valley. The entire storage project is expected to be completed by May 2015.”<

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Energy Efficiency Gains, Backfire & The Rebound Effect – A Problem?

“Every few years, a new paper comes out about the rebound effect and the issue receives some short-term attention. (When a consumer or business buys an efficient car or air conditioner, they may use their energy-efficient equipment a little more often or may spend some of their energy bill savings on things that use energy—these are examples of rebound effects.)  […]”

Source: aceee.org

>” […] we found that rebound may average about 20%, meaning that 80% of the savings from energy efficiency programs and policies register in terms of reduced energy use, while the 20% rebound contributes to increased consumer amenities (for example, more comfortable homes) as well as to a larger economy.  […]

E2e, a joint initiative of three universities, released a working paper entitled “The Rebound Effect and Energy Efficiency Policy.” In it, they discuss various types of rebound and ways to analyze it. Much of their data relates to gasoline and oil prices and consumer and market responses to changes in those prices. They find that for developed countries, “most… studies fall […] in the range of 5 to 25 percent” direct rebound effect (where direct captures consumer response but not whole-economy effects). In developing countries, where incomes are lower and impose constraints on miles driven and other energy-consuming behavior, the E2e paper finds the “most common range” is 10-40% demand elasticity (related to but not exactly the same as direct rebound). They also discuss macroeconomic effects, emphasizing studies that show rebound of 11 percent and 21 percent due to economic growth. By way of comparison, the ACEEE paper estimates 10 percent direct rebound on average for the United States, noting the first of the two economic growth studies. In addition, in the case of oil prices, the E2e paper discusses how improvements in fuel economy soften oil prices, which can lead to a 20-30% increase in global oil use due to these price effects. Bottom line: The E2e paper sees modestly higher rebound effects than the earlier ACEEE paper.  […]

Regarding electricity use, Breakthrough discusses how electricity use has risen more quickly than generating plant efficiency has increased. The authors call this backfire, even as they acknowledge that these trends are also affected by rising incomes, urbanization, changes in consumer preferences, and other socioeconomic and demographic trends. They provide no evidence on the relative importance of energy efficiency relative to these other factors. Furthermore, they seem to mix up energy efficiency and economic efficiency.[…]

Breakthrough released their new report with an op-ed in the New York Times. The op-ed goes several steps further than the report. First, applying its claims of lighting backfire from the 1800s, it claims that LED lighting, for which the most recent Nobel Prize in physics was awarded, will increase lighting energy use, particularly in developing countries. As I wrote in a letter to the editor of the Times, LEDs are about six times more efficient than incandescent lamps, so in order to reach the backfire point, the average purchaser would need to increase the amount of lighting they use by a factor of six. While such an increase may well happen among the poorest households in developing countries, it is unlikely to be seen in developed countries, or even among the middle class in developing countries.

The Breakthrough op-ed also claims that the International Energy Agency and the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change find that “rebound could be over 50 percent globally.” While technically correct, their claim takes the upper end of the ranges found in recent IEA and IPCC studies. For example, IEA states, “Direct rebound can range from 0% to as much as 65%. However, estimates tend to converge between 10% and 30%.” It would be much more accurate if the institute would cite the full range, instead of looking only at the extreme. Applying that logic, I could argue that IEA supports ACEEE’s 10% direct rebound estimate–at least 10% is within IEA’s most likely range of 10-30%. IPCC estimates get similar treatment from Breakthrough.

Bottom line: The E2e analysis is very reasonable, but Breakthrough appears to be more interested in exaggerating to make its case, rather than sticking to the facts. The truth is that for 40 years energy efficiency has had a dramatic effect on worldwide energy consumption. In the United States, if we were to use energy today at the rate we were in 1974, we would be consuming more than twice the amount that we are actually using. […]”<

 

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