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Distributed Generation for Tomorrow’s World and Beyond

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Arguments against the installation of rooftop solar and distributed generators have been ongoing for years. While many companies see distributed generation (DG) as an unnecessary capital expense, the value of adding a power system based on DG (even a small part) can actually save money versus consuming power generated from hundreds of miles away by the conventional means.

The demand for other options for power has been an increasingly hot topic recently as California has been hit with more power shutdowns, leaving many residents in the dark for days at a time. The need for a power system based on DG became a lot clearer to the residents of California after the most recent blackouts in October have affected more than 700,000 customers.

Keeping the Lights on During Blackouts

To keep the potential threat of devastating wildfire breakouts caused by power-lines at bay, the California utility company Pacific Gas & Electric Company, has been implementing public safety power shutoffs for over half a million residents in Northern California throughout the month of October. Within the first two weeks of the month, we saw a staggering 738,000 residents lose power and according to the latest news from PG&E, it looks like these threats continue—as late as October 29th, PG&E released a statement declaring more public safety power shutoffs are imminent as they track another round of severe heavy winds. This news could affect over 30 counties across Northern and Central California.

PG&E’s mandatory shutdowns have been leaving hundreds of thousands of customers in the dark. With these blackouts becoming more common, people are seeing the advantage of solar power and battery storage to keep their homes and facilities online. California businesses and residences have realized now that they need to become more resilient against these happenings.

New Abnormal

While most Californians know that simple rooftop solar systems aren’t going to provide enough power in the event of a system wide shut off, solar storage systems such as solar batteries can help keep homes plugged in at a normal consumption level. In the event of a disaster or power outage, being able to communicate is key and residents have become increasingly aware of this need.

Sunrun, the leading residential solar company in the United States, is estimating that over 25% of their new customers will be purchasing the Brightbox Battery System, which is a storage service that generates, stores and manages solar energy—putting the consumer in control, letting you choose how much energy you want to backup and when incase of a blackout.

Community Microgrids

In some areas, talks of installing community microgrids to keep critical facilities, like hospitals, fire stations and schools online during a blackout have been considered. The community microgrid would be connected to the main power grid, but the benefit would be that during an outage, the community microgrid would have the option to isolate itself and keep running, powering important facilities and fundamentals because of the use of solar battery storage systems.

What’s Next?

With the addition of new, distributed generators like rooftop solar and wind turbines, this could greatly reduce the need for new power lines, lessening the risk of deadly wildfires. In California’s 2017-2018 transmission plan, the grid operator had cancelled over a dozen new transmission projects, while revising 21 more due to solar and energy efficiency forecasts, saving California $2.6 billion on power lines. While there are some roadblocks and technicalities that still need to be overcome, (like effective net metering) Clean Coalition, an advocacy group for locally produced energy, has set a goal for the year 2025 of 25% of electricity demand to be generated from local renewables.

Climate-related disasters aren’t going away (they’re increasing in fact) and many residents, associations and businesses are aware of this. EnergySage, a marketplace for consumers to research and shop for solar options online, saw the interest of energy storage spike by 11% in the blackout areas of California over the span of a year. While many companies and coalitions are working on programs highlighting the worth of solar energy, we’re not quite there yet. The solar market is still in its early stages but the desire to keep the power on—by a different means that what we’re used to—grows with each passing blackout.

Here at Intersect Energy, we’re an on-site energy company that has developed many solar, CHP, fuel cell and wind projects. All our projects are done with the highest quality materials and our team of expert technicians provide the best craftsmanship to wholly maximize economic benefits for our clients. To keep up with all the latest news in the world of renewable energy, make sure to follow us on LinkedIn!

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Solar Energy Industries Association’s 10 Year Roadmap for Building the Solar Economy in the U.S.

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The end of September brought one of the largest solar power events in North America, Solar Power International, to Salt Lake City, Utah. The purpose of SPI is to gather solar, smart energy, energy storage and hydrogen fuel cell professionals together for 4 days of networking, education and innovation. Companies from all over are welcomed to showcase their latest and greatest innovations at this event with like-minded individuals who all share a common vision.

The most vital thing that came from this year’s event was the announcement of a new 10 year plan from the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA). One of the main goals that came from their plan was having solar energy account for 20% of all U.S. electricity by 2030. Today, solar energy in the U.S. only makes up about 2.4% of the total energy. While this goal may seem unachievable now, SEIA is certain it’s attainable with the next 10 years.

The Solar+ Decade: Roadmap for Building the Solar+ Economy

How exactly does SEIA’s 10 year roadmap plan to reach this goal by 2030? The new plan is built around a four pillar system to reach this target. These pillars are collaborating aggressively, the benefits of market accelerators, using market levers and policy drivers and managing growth of the solar industry responsibly.

  1.  Aggressive Collaboration This pillar emphasizes the need to work together. SEIA suggests the collation of compatible individuals in other renewable energy sectors.
  2.  Capitalizing on Market Accelerators Marketing accelerators like energy storage, carbon reduction goals and electrification are all important for the growth of solar energy. By taking advantage of these accelerators, the 20% goal is reachable.
  3.  Market Levers and Policy Drivers In this third pillar, SEIA suggests “driving down costs, developing new financial mechanisms and building stronger federal and state policy.” The importance of managing these particular levers could “dramatically increase or limit solar deployment” so the success of this pillar is so important.
  4.  Managing Growth as an Industry The final pillar in SEIA’s roadmap is to successfully manage and anticipate challenges and changes in the industry. With a predicted explosion of growth, the solar industry will have to manage this in a responsible way for advancement.

The Importance of 20% Solar Energy by 2030

Why is this all so important? Not only would this be a positive benefit for the environment, the payoff to the U.S. economy would be exponential. As SEIA CEO and President, Abby Hopper, stated “solar could add more than $345 billion to the U.S. economy over the next ten years, reaching $53 billion annually.” It would also provide more jobs to around 600,000 individuals, as well as lower utility costs, provide cleaner air and help with climate solutions that don’t negatively affect the economy.

 

At Intersect Energy, we are committed to providing outstanding turnkey energy solutions to all our customers. All projects are done with the highest-quality materials backed by our team of experienced professionals that provide the best workmanship possible. We aim to reduce operating costs and be a source of local green energy. Make sure you keep up with the latest news in the world of renewable energy by following us on LinkedIn!

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Google Takes the World By Storm By Making the Largest Corporate Renewable Energy Investment

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Even though Google has been known to make large investments in renewable energy in the past, their employees are still frustrated that the company is not doing enough to decrease its environmental footprint. In response to these frustrations, tech employees who are involved in the Global Climate Strike, staged a series of walkouts. Google’s response to these unfortunate events? To announce that it will be making “the biggest corporate purchase of renewable energy.”

This purchase, according to Google, includes a package of 1,600-megawatts of wind and solar agreements, as well as 18 new energy deals. This is the largest corporate renewable energy purchase to date. In fact, this purchase has been compared to the same amount of power that one million solar rooftops can provide. Additionally, this investment will increase the company’s agreements by 40%, taking its renewable energy fleet to 52 projects.

In addition to this historically large purchase, Google went on to promise reducing its waste by only using recycled materials in “Made By Google” products. They are hoping to fulfill this promise by 2022.

In a recent article published in Medium, Google employees stated that “Google Cloud makes significant revenue licensing infrastructure, machine learning, and engineering talent to fossil fuel companies, promising to help them extract fuel reserves faster.” They go on to admit that “tech is not ‘green’,” but it is apparent that this does not have to be the case, and if tech companies want to actually make a positive difference, they have the power to do so.

These Google employees have certainly proven that change in the tech industry is possible, and not only have they opened the eyes of Google, but they have also opened the eyes of Jeff Bezos, Amazon’s CEO. On the same day that Google announced its historical purchase, Bezos also made an announcement: that Amazon will be joining the climate change fight by establishing something called the “The Climate Pledge.” This pledge does not just state that it will accomplish the goal of the Paris Climate Agreement, but that it will accomplish it 10 years earlier than planned. Bezos also established the goals of operating on 80% renewable energy by 2024 and 100% by 2030.

If you’re a business owner who is looking to incorporate alternative energy into your business so you can reduce your environmental footprint, contact the team at Intersect Energy today!

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Clean Energy Set to Skyrocket: Investments Predicted to Hit 2.6 Trillion This Year

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Countries around the world have committed to a clean future by investing in renewable energy. Since 2010, clean energy has made its mark on the world economy. 2019 marks a record-breaking year in renewable energy investment, as the investment is on course to reach $2.6 trillion over the past decade. Due to the advancements in clean energy, the market has grown exponentially—making it more affordable and accessible for both commercial and residential customers worldwide.

Worldwide Expansion of Solar Energy 

With these record-breaking investments, reports have confirmed that renewable energy capacity has quadrupled from 414 GW at the end of 2009 to over 1,650 GW in 2019. The biggest contributions to this expansion have been solar and wind farms. Solar power capacity has increased 2,500% globally, drawing in half—$1.3 trillion—of the $2.6 trillion in renewable energy investments. By the end of this year, solar alone will have grown to 663 GW—enough to produce the electricity needed in 100 million homes in the U.S.

“Investing in renewable energy is investing in a sustainable and profitable future, as the last decade of incredible growth in renewables has shown,” said Inger Andersen, executive director of UNEP. “It is clear that we need to rapidly step up the pace of the global switch to renewables if we are to meet international climate and development goals.”

The Race for Renewables

Although the U.S. has invested $356 billion in renewables over the last decade, China takes the gold metal as the biggest investor of renewables. China alone has invested $758 billion between 2010 and 2019. Coming in third place, Japan invested $202 billion. Although there has been an overall increase in clean energy from wind, solar and hydro, a large portion of this energy was generated from coal and natural gas plants.

At Intersect Energy, we are committed to providing turnkey energy solutions for a clean energy future. We provide commercial and industrial companies with dynamic and alternative energy development. We offer assessment, design, financing, installation and management. Contact us today to get started on your next solar energy project. Make sure you keep up with the latest news in the world of renewable energy by following us on LinkedIn!

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Out With the Old, In With the New: U.S. Electricity Retailers are Ditching Fossil Fuels

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The era of renewable energy is underway! The public is raving about renewable energy and it’s social impact because it’s cleaner, high-tech, provides new jobs and is the future of energy. As customers have been demanding options for 100% renewable energy, three U.S. electricity providers have made that possible for customers.

Three retail electricity providers will be providing customers the option to buy 100% renewable electricity. When one makes the switch, others will follow. The three providers providing customers with this option are Portland General Electric, Appalachian Power and Gexa Energy. Although these retailers are offering customers 100% renewable plan options, the plans are not the same.

What’s The Difference Between The Three?

Appalachian Power services customers in Virginia and they will begin to utilize their Wind, Water & Sunlight service to supply 100% renewable power to any customer in Virginia—both residential and industrial. Appalachian Power serves 341 megawatts of 100 percent renewable energy available from owned, operated or contracted wind, hydro and solar projects.

Portland General Electric’s plan for their customers has been named the “Green Future Impact”, which will only be available to large commercial and industrial customers. This program gives their customers a way to meet aggressive sustainability and climate goals. “Cities and large customers are leading the way to a clean energy future. We are pleased to offer another cost-effective way to help them achieve their green energy goals,” said PGE President and CEO Maria Pope. “Together, we are making Oregon an example in the fight against climate change.”

Located in Houston, Texas, Glexa Energy’s plan is vastly different than Portland General Electric. Glexa Energy will only be offering 100% renewable energy to all future residential, but they are the only company offering this to customers at no additional cost. “We’re dedicated to the lives of Texans, and with our plans backed by 100% renewable energy, customers don’t have to choose between caring for the environment and low cost,” said Brian Landrum, president of Gexa Energy.

The Future of Renewable Generation

Energy providers are taking advantage of consumer demand for renewable energy. Now that these small players have taken steps to implement 100% renewable options for their customers, others are sure to follow. Bigger and more powerful companies and entities will become more likely to join the cause. Although this is a win for renewable energy, it is going to take time for other companies to make the switch.

Intersect Energy is prepared to help you take the next steps towards a renewable energy future and make a social impact. We provide commercial and industrial companies with dynamic and alternative energy development. We offer assessment, design, financing, installation and management. Contact us today to get started on your next solar energy project. Make sure you keep up with the latest news in the world of renewable energy by following us on LinkedIn!

How Renewable Energy Can Create Billions of Dollars in Health Benefits

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The advantages of using renewable energy just keeps growing! In a recent study conducted by MIT, it was stated that ten states in the Midwest and Great Lakes region of the US could potentially be on the receiving end of close to $5 billion in health benefits in 2030. What is the cause of the additional benefits? Let’s take a deeper look.

Health Benefits and Potential Costs

Health concerns have been on the rise in recent years due to climate change, however as more states shift to renewable energy, the concerns have been reduced. One major change has been the decrease in greenhouse gases that negatively affect air quality. This has resulted in cleaner air, which has greatly improved the respiratory and cardiovascular health for those in the states with high renewable energy usage.

Reaching the $5 Billion Goal

For the states in this region to reach this goal, they will need to produce a certain percentage of their electricity from renewable energy sources. Currently, the mark has been set to 13 percent. However, if the states are able to exceed that number and reach 19.5 percent, they could receive up to $13.5 billion in health benefits in 2030 as opposed to $5.8 billion in costs. These numbers were calculated using a formula combining economic and air pollution models. If the states are able to achieve this goal, it could potentially lead to other states in the US committing to renewable energy, thus continuing the improvement of air quality.

Interested in learning more about solar energy, contact the team at Intersect Energy today! We provide analysis, financing and structuring of alternative energy solutions for your site with a goal of reducing the site’s environmental impact while maximizing savings for you as the site owner. Contact us today to get started on your next solar energy project. Make sure you keep up with the latest news in the world of renewable energy by following us on LinkedIn!

New Jersey’s Plan to Reach the State’s 100% Clean Energy Target with Distributed Energy Resources

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Clean EnergyThe Garden State is paving the path to achieve 100% clean energy by 2050. To begin the process, Gridworks, GridLab and the Center for Renewables Integration joined forces to outline the benefits and necessary steps to reach New Jersey’s goal of 100% clean energy in their 2019 Energy Master Plan.

2019 Energy Master Plan

This master plan outlines the capabilities of distributed energy resources (DER) and how they can provide services to help homeowners and utility scale customers. DERs include solar panels, power plants, electricity storage, small natural gas generators, etc. Most of their solar development in New Jersey has come from the residential and C&I sectors. This transition concludes that DER will provide new services for both utilities and customers to reduce overall energy demand and create jobs across the state of New Jersey.

“In 2001, the year before I became the President of the New Jersey Board of Public Utilities, New Jersey had 6 solar installations across the entire state,” said Center for Renewables Integration (CRI) co-founder Jeanne Fox. “We pioneered innovative solutions then and now have more solar installed than any state in the Northeast. The principals in this report build on our past progress and will keep New Jersey on the forefront of fighting climate change for years to come.”

Key Recommendations

In order to reach the 100% renewable energy goal that New Jersey has set, Gridworks, GridLab and the Center for Renewables Integration outlined four key recommendations in the 2019 Energy Master Plan.

  • Integrate DER
  • Encourage electrification of buildings and transportation to reduce emissions
  • Deploy clean technologies in low-income communities
  • Conduct Holistic Grid Planning to reach 100% carbon free goal

Community solar will play a leading role in achieving this goal, which can offer access to clean energy for all New Jersey residents. Jeff Cramer, Executive Director of the Coalition for Community Solar Access (CCSA) explained, “We look forward to working with all DER providers and key decision makers in New Jersey to ensure community solar is largely included into the distributed energy resource mix that is currently being planned.”

At Intersect Energy, we are committed to helping New Jersey reach their goal of 100% clean energy by 2050. We offer a wide variety of renewable energy installations/services such as wind and solar. As renewable energy continues to increase in popularity, we are here to help our customers transition to renewable and sustainable energy sources. Contact us today if you have any questions or inquiries regarding renewable energies. We look forward to hearing from you!

New Solar Permit Software Could Bring Big Changes to the Solar Energy Market

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Solar PermitWith over 2 million solar customers in the U.S., new technology to help store solar power is on the rise. This technology is helping to reduce the cost of solar installations and is saving money for local governments. Solar power and the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA) are joining forces with the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) and many others to develop a new automated solar permit software for distributed solar storage.

The Cost

The cost to install solar energy in the U.S. has decreased 70% over the last 10 years, but costs are still much higher compared to other countries. The reason that the cost is higher in the U.S. is largely due to costs associated with permits, inspections and cancelation fees.

New Technology Will Reduce Costs

The U.S. Department of Energy’s Office of Technology Transitions awarded the NREL $695,000 from their Technology and Commercialization Fund to develop a software platform called Solar Automated Permit Processing (SolarAPP) that will significantly reduce the time and cost of permitting applications. In turn, this will make solar energy more affordable for businesses, which will expand solar energy development and job growth.

“Inefficient permitting can cause frustration and added costs for Americans who just want to go solar,” said Abigail Ross Hopper, President and CEO of the Solar Energy Industries Association. “A streamlined, easy-to-use solution such as SolarAPP can cut down on burdensome applications and connect solar projects to the grid faster. A more reliable permitting experience will help both inspectors and solar customers save time and money without sacrificing safety or quality.”

The SolarAPP initiative builds on previous and existing programs, which will provide a streamlined process that will increase efficiency and reduce the time and cost of solar installation. This new initiative will lead to lower cancellation rates across the board and will make it more efficient and cost effective for business owners to access clean, affordable solar energy. This new platform could also benefit local governments that are facing budget constraints and growing workloads to keep up with the accelerated pace of solar energy development.

Interested in learning more about solar energy, contact the team at Intersect Energy today! We provide analysis, financing and structuring of alternative energy solutions for your site with a goal of reducing the site’s environmental impact while maximizing savings for you as the site owner. Contact us today to get started on your next solar energy project. Make sure you keep up with the latest news in the world of renewable energy by following us on LinkedIn!

Renewable Energy Power Capacity Takes The Leap Over Coal

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Renewable EnergyThe good news just keeps coming in for renewable energy! With the U.S. making stronger efforts to reduce pollution and implement new forms of alternative energy, there has been a steady power shift in relation to energy usage. This past April was a milestone for renewable energy, and the total generating capacity of renewable energy amounted to 21.56%, while coal’s capacity dropped from 23.04% to 21.55%. This shows that a significant change is on the horizon as renewable energy is becoming more popular than coal. Natural gas, as well as renewable energy, are taking more and more market share at the expense of coal. Let’s take a deeper look at this development.

Coal is Cooling Down

With data released by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC), the trend becomes crystal clear. Coal is on the way out, while renewable energy and natural gas are on the way in. Additional statistics presented by FERC suggest that additional units for coal added were only two units, while solar, wind and natural gas combined amounted to over 3,000 unit additions.

Regarding retirements of units, coal unit retirements amounted to 50 units while solar, wind, and water combined only amounted to 21 units retired. Finally, the high probability of units to be added for coal amounted to 2 units while solar, wind, and natural gas amounted to over 55,000 units. This certainly backs up the notion that coal is on the way out and renewable energy is taking over slowly but surely.

Renewable Energy is Taking Over

While capacity does not translate in actual generation of energy, the trend shows that over time, renewable energy will overtake coal in both capacity and energy generation. Currently, coal contributes to 21.55% of total generating capacity, while wind, solar and water combined contribute to roughly 19% of total generating capacity. But with the predicted data from FERC, it can be inferred that renewable energies will overtake coal sooner than later. Natural gas is the number one contributor to total generating capacity with 44.44%. Natural gas will hold the number one spot for quite some time.

At Intersect Energy, we provide our clients with the highest quality service to help them lower their business’s impact on the environment while increasing the efficiency and effectiveness of their respective businesses. We offer a wide variety of renewable energy installations/services such as wind and solar. As renewable energy continues to increase in popularity, we are here to help our customers transition to renewable and sustainable energy sources. Contact us today if you have any questions or inquiries regarding renewable energies. We look forward to hearing from you!

Renewable Energy Prices Continue To Fall– Making Them Comparable To Fossil Fuel Prices

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Renewable energy sources such as hydroelectric power, wind power, and concentrated solar panel energy are continuing to decrease in price. The good news was contained in the newest Renewable Power Generation Costs report released by the Abu Dhabi-based International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA). IRENA also predicted in their report that renewable energy sources will be cheaper than fossil fuels by the year 2020, which is fantastic news for not only the renewable energy industry, but the world in general!

Cost Reductions

Hydroelectric power is the cheapest source of renewable energy at an average cost of $0.05 per kilowatt hour (kWh). Not far behind are solar and geothermal energy, which cost an average of $.10/kWh. Finally, wind power is the most expensive of renewable energy sources, which costs an average of $0.13/kWh. It is important to understand that these statistics are based on global information and individual projects pertaining to renewable energy can range from $0.05/kWh to $0.25/kWh. This is still great news as to compare these prices with that of fossil fuels, which range from $0.05/kWh to $0.15/kWh, the price difference is minuscule.

What Cause the Price Reductions?

The cost reductions in renewable energy have come about because the price to build and run new renewable energy plants has decreased. The global weighted-average cost for renewable energies are as follows: bioenergy electricity fell by 14%, solar PV and wind fell by 13%, hydropower fell by 11%, and most significantly, concentrated solar panels (CSP) fell by 26%. As the total cost to operate the plants continues to decrease, incremental but noticeable decreases in per kilowatt hour prices for renewable energies will continue to decrease as well.

Benefit to Society

Up until this point, the main topic of this article has been focused on the numbers and how renewable energies are now able to compete with fossil fuel prices. But, there is a greater benefit to mention. With diminishing usage of fossil fuels and increased usage of renewable energy, our environment will benefit and pollution will begin to slow down. Renewable energy will never run out, while fossil fuels have a limited supply. The sustainability of renewable energy creates optimism that the climate objectives in the Paris Agreement can be met–now it’s just a matter of making sure we can accelerate the growth of renewables.

If you are interested in joining the movement towards renewable energy, contact the team at Intersect Energy today! We provide analysis, financing, and structuring of alternative energy solutions for your site with a goal of reducing the site’s environmental impact while maximizing savings for you as the site owner. Contact us today to get started on your next renewable energy project. Make sure you keep up with the latest news in the world of renewable energy by following us on LinkedIn!