Here’s your bi-annual reminder to make some improvements around your home or business to save money on utility bills. Winter brings about colder weather for most of us North Americans and with that comes an increase in energy usage. There are more ways to conserve than just turning down the thermostat. You can seal any air leaks around windows and doors. Try to also keep them closed as much as possible to prevent losing the warm air created inside. Use the sun to your benefit by keeping curtains open to let the warm sunlight in but, keep them closed at night to reduce heat loss. Insulating your water heater and using your fireplace and oven will also be to your advantage. Among other tips, you can check out your utility’s website to find incentives and home assessments to see where you might be able to increase energy efficiency and savings .
Additional Information: https://ourcommunitynow.com/home-and-garden/start-a-winter-garden-to-keep-the-blues-away
We have all been on Zoom calls instead of meeting in person. Our computers, cameras, and nearly everything takes electricity.
Virtual power plants do NOT generate electricity but, they do aggregate the generation of various sources and allow the power to be traded or sold.
A virtual power plant does 2 things. It gathers up demand from real solar panels, wind turbines, or other installed generation sources. It then allows that demand to be sold, tracked, and paid.
Its use is being explored. Consider the home or business that has solar PV generation that can shut down some equipment (think of turning off your AC). Then the solar power you would’ve used to run your AC system can be sold into the market.
A virtual power plant is a marketplace where those with generation can sell some of their production. And you won’t need a Zoom meeting to get it done.
This is an interesting way to allow free-market powers to address power market demand and supply.
Additional Information: https://www.alliedmarketresearch.com/virtual-power-plant-market
Long ago, oil and coal were discovered as useful when burned. This started us down the path of building a carbon and fossil-fueled economic world. Carbon is released when fossil fuels combust. Carbon monoxide (CO) and carbon dioxide (CO2) are known greenhouse gases.
Hydrogen is not naturally occurring like coal and oil. No dinosaurs died and decomposed into hydrogen. Remember that water is oxygen with two hydrogen atoms (H20). So, hydrogen exists in large quantities and can be readily separated from water and natural gas.
Like any fuel, storage issues must be addressed along with economic considerations. Just as technology investments caused wind and solar to become the power generation choice over coal and gas-fired generation. Technology has advanced to the point that a hydrogen energy cycle (extraction, storage, combustion, and conversion to electricity) is economic. The hydrogen option is becoming especially advantageous to countries that don’t have fossil fuels to extract. Fortunately, they have water and access to natural gas as alternatives to create hydrogen.
As electricity usage grows (powering cars, trucks, etc.) and climate change is addressed, alternatives to the carbon power cycle are needed. Technology has already made wind and solar the power generating choice for many. Hydrogen seems poised to add to the solution.
So, how do we generate electricity? It’s becoming more and more of a local state issue. Technology is certainly driving cost reductions and adopting alternatives.
Every state has changed its percentage of how electricity is generated over the last 10 years.
In some cases, dramatically. Consider how Iowa generated electricity from 2001 to 2019:
The major trends:
- Coal is not economically competitive against wind and natural gas.
- Wind is the most economical electric generation option in most states.
- Natural gas production and its use grew in all states.
- Solar power is fastest growing in the Southwest.
What do long-term global or local businesses do when they see a problem? They solve it.
Climate change impacts lives today and is forecasted to accelerate its negative impact through increased storms, draught, fire, and hurricanes. Using the tools and abilities within their disposal, governments and businesses have responded to face this challenge.
Governments around the world agreed collectively to reduce emissions; see the Paris Agreement. The goal is for each country to reduce its emissions over 50 years.
Businesses are moving to reduce their carbon emissions by committing to renewable energy. A large company example is Walmart. In 2005, Hurricane Katrina devastated New Orleans and Walmart committed to sustainable energy. Fast forward to 2020, that commitment has translated to reduced waste and 29% of its electricity coming from renewables. Walmart’s aim is to use its initiative to create an alliance of companies that commit to renewable energy regardless of size called the Renewable Energy Buyers Alliance.
Seeing a problem and addressing it provides for opportunities. Walmart is reducing costs to operate its business while reducing waste and greenhouse gases that contribute to global warming. Win-Win-Win.
Based in North Carolina, Duke Energy’s customer usage is double in comparison to other areas around the country since most rely highly on electric appliances for both cooling and heating. Duke must be able to compensate enough energy for peaks of high loads throughout both winter and summer.
Some unique circumstances must be overcome if they continue planning to reach 50% carbon reduction by 2030. Options are limited, costly, and will require years of planning and building. Solar generation is weak due to low output during winter when there have been weeks on end of only 20% yield. Wind farms aren’t as reliable in the Southeast unless locations are offshore. However, Duke’s major load centers are inland. They would need to invest in transmission lines plus battery installations. Plans are already in motion to upgrade their pumped hydro storage as they are the most reliable long-duration storage system. This will ensure long term needs are met and will help Duke’s journey to reducing carbon.
The search for new ways to provide energy and more of it is a constant concern for multiple industries. A team at the Israel Institute of Technology has developed a new efficiency record for converting solar to fuel. They’ve begun to incorporate photosynthesis to increase this development. Using sunlight, they are driving chemical reactions to turn water into hydrogen fuel. Challenges are the multi-step processes and ensuring material stability. Various approaches have been taken into consideration to convert solar energy into fuel. Developments have surpassed records in photocatalysis and they are well on the way to viably converting solar to hydrogen. The team’s discoveries are a breakthrough and are leading researchers to further solar-to-chemical conversions.
Additional Information: https://phys.org/news/2020-08-solar-energy-hydrogen-fuel-photosynthesis.html
As all things are COVID-19 pandemic, local support is everything.
In Michigan, we have won awards from towns for the use of PPE in door-to-door marketing. Please see https://realgyenergyservices.com/kent-county-recognizes-realgys-safe-business-practices/.
Ohio, likewise, has provided guidelines and protocols for restarting door-to-door marketing to offer competitive retail energy.
Local application of public health rules along with adequate protections appear to be on to balance public safety and commerce.
Additional Information: http://www.energychoicematters.com/stories/20200812a.html
Environmental benefits and lower energy bills are a main draw for solar customers. Solarize Chicagoland’s participants reap those pros and then some. For those that find researching options and requirements to be laborious, this group-buy program might just gain your attention. They have support through each step of the solar installation process and their developer is accounted for. Windfree Solar was approved by the Midwest Renewable Energy Association and partners. Plus, with more customers partaking, there’s an increase in savings and extra rebates through federal and state incentive programs. Helping the environment, increasing home value, decreasing monthly costs, and benefiting the community are valued aspects of the Solarize Chicagoland program.
BP released it’s annual report of global energy data. A new record in energy consumption was set for the 10th consecutive year. Fossil fuels still account for the primary energy consumption globally with oil, coal, and natural gas. Unfortunately, emissions has grown again but coal usage has decreased to the lowest level in 16 years. Green energy was the largest share of the increase overall, with wind being the largest contributor and solar a close second. While the U.S. and Germany had the largest decline in consumption growth worldwide, China’s consumption of renewables was the highest with the US and Japan following behind.