New Jersey is the nation’s second largest solar market behind California thanks to the state government’s commitment to increase the amount of electricity derived from renewable energy sources over the next decade.
But where are the other leaders in solar energy?
1. California: 47 percent with 971 megawatts
2. New Jersey: 14 percent with 293 MW
3. Colorado: 5 percent with 108 MW
4. Arizona: 5 percent with 101 MW
5. Nevada: 5 percent with 97 MW
6. Florida: 4 percent with 73 MW
7. New York: 3 percent with 54 MW
8. Pennsylvania: 3 percent with 54 MW
9. New Mexico: 2 percent with 45 MW
10. North Carolina: 2 percent with 42 MW
Mayor Bloomberg has outlined some new additions to his PlaNYC, which aims to cut New York City’s emissions by 30 percent by 2030. One of the major new projects will be the building of solar power plants on old landfill sites.
New York City has about 3,000 acres of shuttered landfills and through this plan 250 of those will be outfitted with solar power. Once those plants come online, they’ll have a capacity of 50 MW, enough to power 50,000 homes.
The revised PlaNYC also includes a gradual cessation of the use of #4 and #6 heating oils. The dirty oils produce more soot than all of the cars and trucks in the city combined. The city will help building owners and neighborhoods transition to cleaner heating, with #6 being phased out by 2015 and #4 by 2030.
Another big goal of the plan is to create the New York City Energy Efficiency Corp with $37 million of federal stimulus money. The corporation’s main purpose will be provide financing to property owners for renewable energy installations and efficiency improvements.
The number of American businesses with formal green programs in place increased 54 percent last year according to new research from Buck Consultants(a subsidiary of Xerox). Of about 120 businesses surveyed — including hardware and other technology firms, government offices, consultancies, non-profits, hospitals, and the makers of consumer packaged goods — 69 percent said they took deliberate measures to improve their environmental and social impact in 2010.
What motivated companies to go green, officially?
Fifty-eight percent said they started their programs to create “community goodwill,” and 46 percent said they did so to improve stakeholder perception of their business. During the recession, however, 78 percent of companies with green programs came to view cost savings as the top, desired return on investment.
Over 90 percent of companies realized cost savings as a direct result of their green programs: 78 percent of them saved on electricity, 68 percent on heating and cooling, 68 percent on paper, and 60 percent saved on water. About 9 percent of companies with formal green programs said they failed to save money thanks to their initiatives in 2010.
Spending may have exceeded savings in some cases; big-ticket items like electric vehicles for company fleets, or the installation of solar canopies and rooftops, and building-wide, networked lighting systems that use sensors and LEDs (light emitting diodes) can cost a company in the short-term, for example, but lead to savings on fuel or electricity over the longer term.
The fallout from Fukushima has had ripple effects in the nuclear industry across the world, but nowhere outside of Japan has the impact been so significant as in Germany. Here the ensuing frenzy has resulted in a moratorium on nuclear power plant permit extensions and the closure of seven nuclear plants. Now the nuclear power plant operators have fired a shot across the political bow: they have stopped supporting green energy.
Why is the German nuclear industry investing in green power? And why are they stopping now? The story starts in 2005, when the German conservative party, the CDU, promised to overturn a law by the socialist-green coalition to close down all nuclear power by 2021. The CDU won the national elections. To calm public protest, they negotiated a deal with the nuclear industry: The nuclear operators would invest a good percentage of the windfall profits from extending nuclear power plant permits in funds for the expansion of alternative energy. The nuclear investment was expected to boost green energy funds by €16.9 billion (US$24 billion) in total, approximately 300 million euros in 2011-2012 alone.
On Saturday 9 April, all nuclear operators — RWE, EnBW, Vattenfall and E.ON — announced they were stopping payments into the green energy fund. It is particularly interesting that the nuclear operators are not keeping a low profile during what was announced as merely a three month moratorium to review the planned permit extensions. On the one hand, the nuclear operators are within their rights. The windfall profits expected from permit extensions (subject to extensive safety reviews) have turned into sudden, unanticipated red ink as power plants have undergone politically ordered shutdowns. Thus, the monies earmarked for the green energy fund do not exist. (It should be noted that the nuclear operators intend to put the agreed payments into a collateral account until resolution of the issue.)
But the strategy may backfire. The peremptory and unilateral cessation of payments makes the investment fund look more like a political bargaining chip than ever. What was arguably a reasonable political strategy to use nuclear plants as a bridge to greener energy now lays in tattered disarray, exposed as politics pure rather than logical risk management and strategic energy planning.
The Zero and Net-Zero Energy Buildings + Homes report by Building Design+Construction, published by Illinois-based SGC Horizon L.L.C., suggests that further developing current net-zero energy building designs and harnessing support from concerned government agencies will help address the country’s overall energy consumption.
Energy efficiency and conservation
A net-zero energy building is a building with greatly reduced operational energy needs. It is highly energy efficient with no adverse energy or environmental impact. A net-zero energy building must be capable of producing at least as much energy from renewable sources within a year to compensate for what it draws from the grid.
The International Energy Agency is calling for 312 billion dollars in fuel subsidies to be scrapped in a bid to promote clean energy sources, according to a report presented in Abu Dhabi.
“More aggressive clean energy policies are required, including the removal of fossil fuel subsidies and implementation of transparent, predictable and adaptive incentives for cleaner, more efficient energy options,” said the Clean Energy Progress Report.
Fossil fuels currently attract 312 billion dollars in consumption subsidies, versus $57 billion for renewable energy, it added, without specifying which countries were to blame.
“Even if countries belonging to the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) somehow drove their emissions to zero, on today’s path, emissions from non-OECD countries would still lead to environmental disasters on an epic scale,” it said.
According to the same source, renewables are gaining traction, but demand for fossil fuels is growing even faster.
“Despite the tremendous growth seen in this sector, demand for traditional fossil-based energy has outpaced demand for clean energy,” the report said.
“For the past decade, coal has been the fastest-growing global energy source, meeting 47 percent of new electricity demand,” it said.
The report noted that there are signs that austerity measures adopted by some governments are weakening support for renewables.
But “achieving sustainable energy goals will require a doubling of all renewable energy use by 2020”, it said.
But the emirate, which sits on some 95 percent of the country’s oil, also aims to be a centre for renewable energy, through projects such as Masdar City, which is to be powered solely by renewables.
Abu Dhabi was confirmed on Tuesday as the permanent seat of the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA).