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Nonhydro Renewables Now Routinely Surpass Hydropower Generation

July 31, 2014 in EIA, EV News, Geothermal, Greentech, Solar, Wind

 Source: U.S. Energy Information Administration, Electric Power Monthly and Short-Term Energy Outlook Courtesy of EIA

Source: U.S. Energy Information Administration, Electric Power Monthly and Short-Term Energy Outlook
Courtesy of EIA

April marked the eighth consecutive month that total monthly nonhydro renewable generation exceeded hydropower generation. Only a decade ago, hydropower—the historically dominant source of renewable generation—accounted for three times as much generation in the United States as nonhydro renewable sources (wind, solar, biomass, geothermal, landfill gas, and municipal solid waste).

The recent growth in wind and solar, which reflects policies such as state renewable portfolio standards and federal tax credits as well as declining costs of technology, has been the primary driver in the increasing market share of nonhydro renewable generation. There also has been growth in geothermal and biomass sources.

October 2012 was the first month on record in which nonhydro renewable generation exceeded hydropower generation. Although this reversal was short-lived because of the significant month-to-month variation in both hydro and nonhydro resources, the trend lines began to cross each other more frequently in the past year, with the most recent reversal lasting from September 2013 through April 2014. While hydropower once again exceeded nonhydro renewable generation in May 2014 (the latest available data), EIA projects that 2014 will be the first year in which annual nonhydro renewable generation surpasses annual hydropower generation. By 2040, nonhydro renewables are projected to provide more than twice as much generation as hydropower in EIA’s Annual Energy Outlook 2014 (AEO2014) Reference case, as discussed in the AEO2014 Market Trends. In other AEO cases that assume the continuation of tax credits or other policies that support nonhydro renewables, their overall generation and generation share relative to hydropower is much higher.

The dataset used to develop this article includes only generation from plants whose capacity exceeds 1 megawatt, and as a result does not include generation from most distributed solar PV capacity. Inclusion of distributed solar PV generation, which EIA estimates at roughly 10 billion kilowatthours in 2013, modestly accelerates the timing of the crossover between hydro and nonhydro renewable generation (see AEO2014).

Hydropower capacity has increased by slightly more than 1% over the past decade, although actual hydropower generation can vary noticeably by season depending on water supply conditions. Wind capacity, on the other hand, has increased nearly tenfold over that same period. Although wind often has lower capacity factors than hydropower, wind generation increased from 3% to more than 30% of total renewable generation between 2003 and 2013.

Hydropower does exceed nonhydro renewable generation in several states, particularly in the Northwest, where in 2013 conventional hydropower accounted for 69% and 56% of total electricity generation in Washington and Oregon, respectively. However, the market penetration of other renewables is growing in the United States, particularly in the Midwest and California. Between 2003 and 2013, the number of states for which nonhydro renewable generation exceeded hydropower generation, shaded green on the maps, nearly doubled—increasing from 17 to 33 over this period.

 Source: U.S. Energy Information Administration, Electricity data browser Courtesy of EIA

Source: U.S. Energy Information Administration, Electricity data browser
Courtesy of EIA

Principal contributors: Danielle Lowenthal-Savy, Michelle Bowman

This article is a repost, credit: EIA.

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Panasonic and Tesla Sign Agreement for the Gigafactory

July 31, 2014 in Battery Energy Storage, Electric Vehicles, EV News, Greentech, Large Energy Storage, Model S, Tesla

Infographic courtesy of Tesla

Infographic courtesy of Tesla

OSAKA, Japan / PALO ALTO, USA – Panasonic Corporation and Tesla Motors, Inc. have signed an agreement that lays out their cooperation on the construction of a large-scale battery manufacturing plant in the United States, known as the Gigafactory.

According to the agreement, Tesla will prepare, provide and manage the land, buildings and utilities. Panasonic will manufacture and supply cylindrical lithium-ion cells and invest in the associated equipment, machinery, and other manufacturing tools based on their mutual approval. A network of supplier partners is planned to produce the required precursor materials. Tesla will take the cells and other components to assemble battery modules and packs. To meet the projected demand for cells, Tesla will continue to purchase battery cells produced in Panasonic’s factories in Japan. Tesla and Panasonic will continue to discuss the details of implementation including sales, operations and investment.

The Gigafactory is being created to enable a continuous reduction in the cost of long range battery packs in parallel with manufacturing at the volumes required to enable Tesla to meet its goal of advancing mass market electric vehicles. The Gigafactory will be managed by Tesla with Panasonic joining as the principle partner responsible for lithium-ion battery cells and occupying approximately half of the planned manufacturing space; key suppliers combined with Tesla’s module and pack assembly will comprise the other half of this fully integrated industrial complex.

JB Straubel, Chief Technical Officer and Co-founder of Tesla Motors said: “the Gigafactory represents a fundamental change in the way large scale battery production can be realized. Not only does the Gigafactory enable capacity needed for the Model 3 but it sets the path for a dramatic reduction in the cost of energy storage across a broad range of applications.”

Yoshihiko Yamada, Executive Vice President of Panasonic, added, “We have already engaged in various collaborative projects with Tesla toward the popularization of electric vehicles. Panasonic’s lithium-ion battery cells combine the required features for electric vehicles such as high capacity, durability and cost performance. And I believe that once we are able to manufacture lithium-ion battery cells at the Gigafactory, we will be able to accelerate the expansion of the electric vehicle market.”

Cost reductions will be achieved through optimized manufacturing processes driven by economies of scale previously unobtainable in battery cell and pack production. Further price reductions are achieved by manufacturing cells that have been optimized for electric vehicle design, both in size and function, by co-locating suppliers on-site to eliminate packaging, transportation & duty costs and inventory carrying costs, and by manufacturing at a location with lower utility and operating expenses.

The Gigafactory will produce cells, modules and packs for Tesla’s electric vehicles and for the stationary storage market. The Gigafactory is planned to produce 35GWh of cells and 50GWh of packs per year by 2020. Tesla projects that the Gigafactory will employ about 6,500 people by 2020.


Tesla Motors

This article is a repost, credit: Tesla.

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IBM to make free supercomputing power available to sustainability scientists

July 30, 2014 in Climate Change, Environment, EV News, Politics

Dr. Alán Aspuru-Guzik, PhD (center), associate professor in Harvard University's Department of Chemistry and Chemical Biology, discusses his group's Clean Energy Project running on IBM's World Community Grid, with Dr. Viktors Berstis, PhD (right), lead scientist for World Community Grid and IBM Master Inventor  Photo courtesy of IBM

Dr. Alán Aspuru-Guzik, PhD (center), associate professor in Harvard University’s Department of Chemistry and Chemical Biology, discusses his group’s Clean Energy Project running on IBM’s World Community Grid, with Dr. Viktors Berstis, PhD (right), lead scientist for World Community Grid and IBM Master Inventor
Photo courtesy of IBM

ARMONK, N.Y. – 29 Jul 2014: In support of the updated Climate Data Initiative announced by the White House today, IBM (NYSE: IBM) will provide eligible scientists studying climate change-related issues with free access to dedicated virtual supercomputing and a platform to engage the public in their research.

Each approved project will have access to up to 100,000 years of computing time at a value of $60 million. The work will be performed on IBM’s philanthropic World Community Grid platform.

Created and managed by IBM, World Community Grid provides computing power to scientists by harnessing the unused cycle time of volunteers’ computers and mobile devices.  Participants get involved by downloading software that runs when they take breaks or work on lightweight computer tasks, such as browsing the internet.  The software receives, completes, and returns small computational assignments to scientists. The combined power contributed by hundreds of thousands of volunteers has created one of the fastest virtual supercomputers on the planet, advancing scientific work by hundreds of years.

IBM invites researchers to submit sustainability project proposals to receive this free resource, and invites members of the public to donate their unused computing power to these efforts at

Through the contributions of hundreds of thousands of volunteers, World Community Grid has already provided sustainability researchers with many millions of dollars of computing power to date, enabling important advances in scientific inquiry and understanding.

For example, World Community Grid partnered with the University of Virginia on Computing for Sustainable Water, which studied the effects of human activity on the Chesapeake Bay watershed to understand what actions can lead to restoration, health and sustainability of this important resource.

Harvard University’s Clean Energy Project has identified more than 35,000 materials with the potential to double carbon-based solar cell efficiency, after screening and publicly cataloguing more than two-million compounds on World Community Grid. This is believed to be the world’s most extensive quantum chemical investigation to date. Until now, carbon-based solar cells were made from a handful of molecules that were painstakingly discovered one by one. With Harvard’s work, there’s thousands more to explore.

World Community Grid’s partnership with the University of Washington on Nutritious Rice for the World modeled rice proteins and predicted their function to help farmers breed new strains with higher yields and greater disease and pest resistance, potentially providing new options for regions facing changing climate conditions.

“Through his Climate Data Initiative, President Obama is calling for all hands on deck to unleash data and technology in ways that will make businesses and communities more resilient to climate change,” said John P. Holdren, President Obama’s Science Advisor. “The commitments being announced today answer that call by empowering the U.S. and global agricultural sectors with the tools and information needed to keep food systems strong and secure in a changing climate.”

World Community Grid is welcomed by researchers who don’t have the funds or dedicated access to powerful supercomputers that can accelerate their simulations and virtual experiments. It has been used to facilitate research into clean energy, clean water and healthy foodstuffs, as well as cures for cancer, AIDS, malaria and other diseases.

“Massive computer power is as essential to modern-day scientific research as test tubes and telescopes,” said Stanley S. Litow, IBM Vice President, Corporate Citizenship & Corporate Affairs and President, IBM International Foundation. “But due to scarce funding for research, pioneering scientists often don’t have access to supercomputers vast enough to meet their research objectives. At IBM, we hope that the equivalent of 100,000 years of computing time per scientist will speed the next major breakthrough to help the world meet the challenge of climate change.”

Nearly three-million computers and mobile devices used by over 670,000 people and 460 institutions from 80 countries have contributed power for projects on World Community Grid over the last nine years. Since the program’s inception, World Community Grid volunteers have powered over 20 research projects, donating nearly a million years of computing time to scientific research and enabled important scientific advances in health and sustainability.

For more information on World Community Grid, pease visit

For more information about IBM’s philanthropic efforts, please visit

This article is a repost (7-29-14), credit: IBM.

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LADWP Begins Construction on Major Solar Project that Will Deliver 300 MW of Solar Power to Los Angeles

July 30, 2014 in EV News, Greentech, Politics, Solar

Photo courtesy of LADWP

Photo courtesy of LADWP

LOS ANGELES —The Los Angeles Department of Water and Power (LADWP), joined by City of Los Angeles and Kern County officials, broke ground Wednesday (7-23-14) on a 250-megawatt (MW) solar array in Kern County while also spurring development of 50 MW of solar power within the city to help boost the local clean energy economy. Altogether, the new solar projects will provide 300 MW of clean, sustainable sun power for 127,000 homes and reduce enough greenhouse gas emissions to remove the equivalent of 82,500 cars off the road.

The Beacon Solar Plant, located about 14 miles north of the town of Mojave, Calif., is unique because the agreements with two private solar developers to build the large-scale solar in Kern County also requires them to build small-scale solar projects in Los Angeles through LADWP’s Feed-in Tariff (FiT) program. The full 300 MW, expected to be completed by the end of 2016, will move LADWP’s renewable portfolio closer to meet the state-mandated level of 25% renewables by 2016 and 33% by 2020.

“The Beacon Solar Plant and related local Feed-in Tariff solar projects will move the needle closer to our goals, providing L.A. City residents with clean energy while reducing greenhouse gas emissions,” said LADWP General Manager Marcie Edwards. “In addition to the 250MW of solar we are building in Mojave, in just two years with these agreements, we’ll add solar equal to one-half of all the solar that’s been installed within the City of Los Angeles service territory in the past 15 years.”

“The goal is in sight. It’s exciting to witness the start of a truly significant project for Los Angeles—one that will spawn solar generation on a large scale while spurring more clean solar power right in Los Angeles and boosting the local economy,” said Los Angeles City Councilmember Felipe Fuentes, 7th District, and Chair of the L.A. City Council Energy and Environment Committee, who joined in the groundbreaking ceremony Wednesday.

Along with helping spur the clean energy economy in Los Angeles and meeting renewable energy goals, the expansion of local solar builds more resiliency and reliability into the power grid. Small solar systems are like “mini power plants” that generate power right where it is being used, saving on transmission costs and taking advantage of the city’s abundant sunshine to help meet electrical demand, LADWP officials said.

“The combination of large-scale solar in the Mojave Desert and small local solar in Los Angeles also offers the advantage of geographic diversity. If it’s cloudy in Kern County and sunny in L.A., the city will still capture renewable energy,” said Randy Howard, Senior Assistant General Manager, LADWP Power System.

The Beacon Solar Plant is part of a cluster of renewable energy projects that ties into the new Barren Ridge Renewable Transmission Project (BRRTP), a critical power transmission line that will provide an additional 2,000 MW of capacity, enabling LADWP to deliver new renewable energy from Beacon and other renewable resources from the Tehachapi Mountains and Mojave Desert areas to Los Angeles.

The Beacon Solar Plant and local FiT solar projects will be built through power purchase agreements approved by the City Council and Board of Water and Power Commissioners. Selected through a competitive bid, Hecate Energy will develop 162 MW at Beacon as well as 28 MW of additional solar in the LA Basin. The second contractor, SunEdison, will develop 88 MW at Beacon and also build another 22 MW of solar in Los Angeles. Both Beacon and local solar projects are expected to be completed by the end of 2016. LADWP crews are building the Beacon Switchyard and Collection Station, a transmission connector line, and other infrastructure necessary to support the solar power facility.

In 2012, LADWP acquired the 2,500-acre Beacon property, including all previously approved permits to build a 250 MW solar photovoltaic facility. The Beacon Plant will be a state-of-the art facility, including 900,000 panels on single-axis trackers able to track the sun in the late afternoon hours for maximum operational efficiency.

Renewable energy is critical to the power supply transformation of Los Angeles. Over the next 15 years, LADWP will replace over 70% of its existing power generation with renewables, energy efficiency, storage, and more efficient and flexible natural gas generators.

This article is a repost (7-25-14), credit: LADWP.

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GM Teams Up with EV Industry for a Better Grid

July 29, 2014 in Electric Vehicles, EV charging, EV News, GM, Greentech, Volt

Eight automakers and 15 electric utilities work to develop smart grid program

2015 Chevrolet Spark EV Photo courtesy of GM

2015 Chevrolet Spark EV
Photo courtesy of GM

SAN DIEGO – General Motors is bringing its OnStar-enabled Smart Grid solutions, to one of the largest electric vehicle collaborations to take place within the industry. Eight global automakers, including GM, and 15 electric utilities are working with the Electric Power Research Institute to develop and implement a standardized Smart Grid integration platform.

“One thing that’s missing from most Smart Grid programs is a sense of collaboration,” said Tim Nixon, chief technology officer, Global Connected Consumer, GM. “Companies will showcase a meaningful solution, but without widespread acceptance in the industry, its usability is limited. That’s what makes this partnership unique.”

GM currently offers extended range electric vehicles – the Chevrolet Volt and Cadillac ELR – as well as the all-electric Chevrolet Spark EV. The plug-in electric vehicle market in the U.S. has grown to more than 225,000 vehicles – including more than 63,000 Chevrolet Volts, the best-selling plug-in vehicle in the U.S. since launch in 2010.

“As electric vehicles become more prevalent in the marketplace, it will present some unique challenges and opportunities for utilities who manage the flow of the electric grid,” said Dan Bowermaster, EPRI manager of Electric Transportation. “The focus of this collaboration is to create a standard program that will allow utilities to work with different types of plug-in vehicles to more efficiently manage their demand on the grid.”

For the first phase of the program, EPRI and the participating companies will work to develop a standardized Demand Response solution. Demand Response is the signal a utility sends to an energy management company communicating the supply and demand needs to the electric grid. That company then communicates with designated plug-in vehicles in the area to manage their energy consumption in accordance with the grid’s needs.

“If such a service were ever to be implemented for consumers that opt-in to it, they could receive a financial benefit or other incentive for allowing their vehicle charging to be managed,” said Nixon. “This would also allow utilities to help reduce stress on the grid and costs to all utility customers.”

The goal of this program is to develop a cloud-based, central server that would receive grid requests from a utility – like Demand Response – and then translate and standardize that request so it could be relayed to all appropriate plug-in vehicles in the designated area. Automakers would be expected to develop and deploy technologies compatible with these smart grid communications.

GM has been working with companies like TimberRock Energy Solutions, Inc. to research, test and develop potential real-world solutions like Demand Response.

The global automakers participating in this program are: American Honda Motor Co., Honda R&D Americas, Inc., BMW Group, Chrysler Group LLC, Ford Motor Co., GM, Mercedes-Benz Research & Development North America, Inc., Mitsubishi Motors North America, Inc., and Toyota Motor Engineering & Manufacturing North America, Inc. The utilities involved are DTE Energy, Duke Energy, PJM Interconnection LLC, CenterPoint Energy, Inc., Southern Company, Northeast Utilities, Southern California Edison, Pacific Gas & Electric Company, San Diego Gas & Electric, Commonwealth Edison, TVA, Manitoba Hydro, Austin Energy, ConEd and CPS Energy.

About OnStar LLC OnStar, LLC (OnStar) is a wholly owned subsidiary of GM Holdings LLC (“GM”). Along with its affiliate Shanghai OnStar Telematics Co. Ltd (a joint venture involving OnStar, Shanghai General Motors Co., Ltd (SGM) and Shanghai Automotive Industry Corporation (SAIC)), OnStar serves more than seven million subscribers in North America and China. OnStar is a provider of connected safety, security and mobility solutions and advanced information technology. OnStar’s key services include automatic crash response, stolen vehicle assistance, remote door unlock, turn-by-turn navigation, vehicle diagnostics and hands-free calling.

Eight MBA teams from Babson, Columbia, Harvard, University of Michigan, University of California-Berkeley and Stanford visit the General Motors Detroit-Hamtramck Assembly plant - home of the Chevrolet Volt - Wednesday, July 23, 2014 in Detroit, Michigan. Sponsored by Chevrolet, the MBAs Across America teams will help more than 35 businesses nationwide, traveling in a fleet of 4G LTE Chevrolet Volts. (Photo by Steve Fecht for Chevrolet) Courtesy of GM

Eight MBA teams from Babson, Columbia, Harvard, University of Michigan, University of California-Berkeley and Stanford visit the General Motors Detroit-Hamtramck Assembly plant – home of the Chevrolet Volt – Wednesday, July 23, 2014 in Detroit, Michigan. Sponsored by Chevrolet, the MBAs Across America teams will help more than 35 businesses nationwide, traveling in a fleet of 4G LTE Chevrolet Volts. (Photo by Steve Fecht for Chevrolet)
Courtesy of GM

This article is a repost, credit: GM.