A wind turbine near Alma, Michigan. (Photo by Corey Seeman via Creative Commons)
With Michigan’s renewable energy standard set to expire at the end of 2015, and a high-profile fight over the standard in 2012 still fresh in many minds, debate has swirled about the costs and benefits of renewing or strengthening the law.
Amid the discussion, a recent study finds that Michigan could more than triple its renewable energy resources by 2030, with virtually no extra cost to consumers
Michigan’s current Renewable Energy Standard (RES) – created by a 2008 law – is among the least ambitious in the country. It requires just 10 percent of the state’s electricity to come from renewable sources by 2015.
That compares to Illinois and Minnesota standards that call for 25 percent by 2025; a number of states calling for 20 percent by 2020; and on the high end, a New York standard of 29 percent by 2015 and California’s 33 percent by 2020.
Increasing Michigan’s standard to more than 30 percent is not only feasible, according to the March 12 report by the Union of Concerned Scientists, but would result in only a 0.3 percent increase for ratepayers over 15 years.
The myPower device uses motion from walking to charge a smartphone or other device. (courtesy photo)
Part four of a four-part series
On April 3, startup companies will duke it out during the Clean Energy Challenge for $500,000 in prize money and the chance to attract new investors and partners. Here is the last of Midwest Energy News‘ series of profiles of four finalists.
Running with myPower
It’s a common dilemma for young urban professionals and students: they’re on the move all day, and constantly on their smartphones. As evening sets in, their active work life shifts to an active social life. But that’s often right when those omnipresent phones run out of battery power, cutting them off from friends and updates.
Chicago entrepreneur Tejas Shastry and his colleagues say they have a solution in myPower: a sleek, wearable device that harnesses kinetic energy from a workout or simply a busy day of dashing around, providing enough energy to charge a smart phone for up to five hours.
(Photo by Jody McIntyre via Creative Commons)
©2014 E&E Publishing LLC
Republished with permission
By Evan Lehmann
The Heartland Institute, a Chicago-based libertarian group, is raising its rhetoric a notch by claiming that rising greenhouse gas levels will actually help the world more than harm it.
The group points to increased plant and forest growth, bigger crop yields and longer growing seasons as benefits derived from rising concentrations of carbon dioxide. The assertions are made in a 150-page report that reviews studies, some going back to the 1980s, that Heartland officials say are purposely ignored by scientists contributing to the United Nations’ Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.
Altogether, Heartland says, the economic and scientific benefits of a warming world “greatly exceed any plausible estimate of its costs.”
Equare says its waste-to-energy technology can convert cattle manure and other sources into energy with zero emissions. (Photo by NDSU Ag Communications via Creative Commons)
Part three of a four-part series
On April 3, startup companies will duke it out during the Clean Energy Challenge for $500,000 in prize money and the chance to attract new investors and partners. Here is the third of Midwest Energy News‘ series of profiles of four finalists.
Nothing wasted with Equares: Early stage company
Equares Energy Company turns one of the most noxious and despised types of waste – manure from concentrated animal operations like dairies and feedlots – into power, without producing any emissions.
A contraption called the CleanStream Reformer 140 heats waste to a point that it breaks down into hydrogen-rich syngas, which is then fed into a fuel cell that makes electricity in a non-combustion process.
The heat from the process can also be harnessed for onsite use, such as drying grain or warming an incubator for baby animals.
Part two of a four part series.
On April 3, startup companies will duke it out during the Clean Energy Challenge for $500,000 in prize money and the chance to attract new investors and partners. Here is the second of Midwest Energy News‘ series of profiles of four finalists.
Saved by MeterHero
A few years ago, Milwaukee resident McGee Young realized that even as a college professor with advanced degrees, he could not read his water bill. His usage was listed in cubic feet – “you could not get a worse way to communicate that to a regular person.”
This sparked Young about two years ago to develop a product, H2Oscore, that gives people real-time, accessible information about their water use and how it compares to other local homes. About three quarters of people who used the program reduced their water usage, Young’s team found.
“It’s getting more and more important from an ecological and pocketbook perspective to manage our water more effectively,” Young said. “For us that started with better information.”
This solar array near Slayton, Minnesota provides power for Xcel Energy. Geronimo Energy is proposing similar projects to help meet peak energy needs. (Photo by CERTs via Creative Commons)
A proposed $250 million distributed solar project appears to have held its own in a Minnesota regulatory process that put it in competition with three natural gas options.
The Minnesota Public Utilities Commission on Thursday ordered Xcel Energy to pursue a power-purchase agreement with a Twin Cities solar developer to meet part of its projected generation shortfall later this decade.
Geronimo Energy’s 100 megawatt solar proposal will be paired with one or more natural gas projects, to be determined later, to provide up to 500 megawatts of new generation Xcel expects to need by 2019.
The agreements would be subject to further review by the PUC.
“It’s a big win for us,” said Betsy Engelking, a vice president at Geronimo Energy. “We participated in an RFP against natural gas and we were selected.”
Freight trains can take as long as 24 hours to navigate Chicago’s sprawling rail infrastructure. (Photo by Eric Allix Rogers via Creative Commons)
©2014 E&E Publishing, LLC
Republished with permission
By Blake Sobczak
Rail-bound crude traffic has faced intense public scrutiny and hours of delays in Chicago, the nation’s busiest freight rail hub.
Frank Patton thinks he has found a way around all the fuss — specifically, a roughly 150-mile-long way around the city itself.
The 70-year-old founder and managing partner of Great Lakes Basin LLC has proposed building a new track network to cut through the Windy City’s less-populated southern suburbs.
Where energy is concerned, Americans are at least as worried about the environmental repercussions as they are about cost.
That is among the findings of a newly-launched quarterly survey being conducted by the University of Michigan’s Energy Institute together with the university’s Institute for Social Research.
The majority of businesses in Nigeria use diesel or gasoline-powered generators for electricity. (Photo by Wayan Vota via Creative Commons)
Part one of a four-part series
Startup companies that store and generate energy, save water, turn indecipherable energy data into usable information and fill a host of other clean energy-related missions will compete for $500,000 in prize money — as well as court investors and mentors — at the Clean Energy Challenge in Chicago on April 3.
The event, hosted annually by the Clean Energy Trust, brings together startups in several categories to make rapid-fire presentations to judges, investors and other interested parties, after working for weeks with mentors as part of the ongoing clean energy startup accelerator program.
Since launching in 2010, the event has helped participants obtain $40 million in follow-up funding, according to the Trust, and connected startups with a network of several hundred industry partners.
Midwest Energy News is a media sponsor for this year’s event.
Clean Energy Trust president Amy Francetic said that this year’s crop of entrants were heavy on battery and energy storage technology, on different scales and in various creative forms.
“This year we have seen what I would call a lot of innovation and some maturing technology in storage and micro-grid,” said Francetic, adding that “folks are doing unusual and inventive things with storage.”
Workers pour concrete into a wind turbine base at Ohio Northern University in 2010. (Photo by Ken Colwell via Creative Commons)
New rankings from a market-based think tank give Ohio an average score for renewable energy. But advocates say the score doesn’t take into account more recent developments.
Last week, EnergyTrends.org released grades for states based on overall performance in renewable energy. Ohio got a C+.
The website’s scoring system gives points for installed capacity, growth in renewable energy, electric savings, and state incentive programs. It also considers evaluations from groups such as the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy (ACEEE), Ernst & Young, and SolarPowerRocks.com.
“The highest of the letter grades that were given was a B+,” notes Don Soifer, executive vice-president for the Lexington Institute, which runs the EnergyTrends.org website. Ohio’s grade was close to the middle.