Category: Energy News


The Bright Future of Solar Power

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Our biggest source of energy, the Sun emits enough energy to completely satisfy the entire human demand for energy for over two hours! In the past few years, we’ve seen a steady rise in the deployment of large-scale solar power operations, with installations over the next few years set to reach a record high. New advancements in technology have increased these record high numbers, making solar paneling more efficient while driving down costs. While there have been a few setbacks in the quest to go solar, recent research conducted by BloombergNEF shows wind and solar energy being the least expensive forms of power in over two-thirds of the world.

Technological Advances to Power the Future  

Solar power technology is in a constant state of innovation, with new advancements being announced almost every week. This year, we’ve seen advancements in solar skin design, solar powered roads, wearable solar and solar batteries, as well as bifacial PV modules and the growing application of single-axis trackers. By the end of 2019, the solar industry is set to grow 17.5% because of decreasing costs of photovoltaics (PV) and storage technologies that were not anticipated a few years back.

Why Solar Is The Answer

Although manufacturing solar panels does use some fossil fuel, the overall use is significantly less than the use of fossil fuels in generation of power. Burning fossil fuels emits several  harmful pollutants into the air that can potentially damage the environment and the public’s health. The economic cost of this is exponential, estimating costs around $9 trillion between 1970 and 2000. Not only that, fossil fuels are limited—meaning they will run out eventually. The cost of solar has decreased by over half in the last decade, making fossil fuels increasingly less competitive.

One reported drawback with solar energy—it’s limited availability to daytime hours—is being quickly resolved with the development of advanced solar storage systems. These storage systems capture energy produced throughout the day to be used at a later time. California, more specifically Northern California, is well versed in the use of these storage systems due to the recent increase in city wide blackouts that have been overwhelming many counties across the state. However, the cost of these energy storage systems has decreased over the years making them extremely accessible and useful for facilities, residences and businesses who live near these mandatory blackouts. California and Nevada both recently signed power purchase agreements for more solar megawatts as well as additional battery storage.

The second major drawback of solar is the current state of technology isn’t as efficient as it can be, wasting a large chunk of the sun’s power. But, with the rapidly decreasing cost of technology combined with the advancements in solar and how it is being stored, we see less and less power being wasted.

Breathing Easy

Not only beneficial to the environment and the economy, renewable energy creates a positive impact on the air we breathe. A study conducted by MIT predicted that by 2030, if U.S. states hit their target goal of 13% renewable energy, we could see a decrease in healthcare costs ($4.7 billion) due to reduced air pollution. The use of renewable energy resources reduces the risk of cardio and respiratory issues among a slew of other health benefits.

What does this mean for the future of solar? The outlook is bright. With all the technological advancements we’ve seen through the years like efficiency upgrades, solar storage enhancements and the improvement of solar equipment capabilities, it all points to a more effective and efficient future for solar energy.

At Intersect Energy, we are an on-site energy company. We have developed solar, CHP, fuel cell and wind projects for commercial and industrial clients across New Jersey, New York and Massachusetts. With our turnkey service we provide to our customers, we deliver an average of 20% cost savings in energy. 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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MISO-West Cuts Renewable Resource Projects in Pursuance of Continuous Transmission System Upgrades

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In a world that’s increasingly seeing the need for connection through alternative mediums, such as distributed generation, many big-time grid energy operators are choosing to collectively cutback on their renewable resource projects. One such company, Midcontinent Independent System Operator (MISO), has actively suspended 3.5 GW of renewable projects in the Western portion of their queue this year. Why? The need for transmission system upgrades are said to be tedious, continuous and expensive.

Anytime any kind of significant development happens within a project, we look to the energy stakeholders for more information. But, as we’re all too familiar with, these particular “breakthrough development happenings” often don’t result in any work actually being done on such projects.

For MISO, this has been all too real. With over 50 GW solar projects awaiting interconnection, most of these renewable projects are in danger of never starting. Reason being? Required transmission system upgrades.

This news comes as somewhat of a shock after two successful projects completed in recent years. One project in mind, initiated back in 2011 (and since completed) is by the Electric Reliability Council of Texas. The ERCOT recognized the need to upgrade and improve transmissions, delivering power through new renewable resources, like wind. Named Multi-Value transmission line project, (MVP) this project is said to carry 25 GW in solar capacity. Also worth mentioning is another smaller project, CapX2020. This joint initiative of 11 transmission-owning utility companies in Minnesota and the surrounding areas has also been completed, amounting in 3.6 GW of wind power.

So, what’s the problem? Specifically, a series of 5 GW solar projects in the Upper Midwest. These projects have been cut in half, down to 1.5 GW. While being in the infant stages, they were still partially funded, with several of them having power purchase agreements in place. For MISO, this results in precious time and effort wasted as well as a significant amount of money lost. The Clean Grid Alliance, who analyzed these MISO solar projects, estimates the losses at around $100 million. This number may seem more appealing when presented with the Production Tax credit that was lost by canceling these solar projects. We’re seeing costs totaling $1 billion with an additional $15 million annually divided up between landowner payments.

The need for distributed generation is ever present—the world needs more resilient and reliable forms of energy. Companies like Gridworks and GridLab have done extensive research, outlining the positives of distributed energy resources, claiming to be able to power the state of New Jersey. With arguments like these present, we are hopeful that renewable projects will continue to thrive, with the cutbacks decreasing overtime.

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. We believe in the importance of distributed generation and offer turn-key energy solutions to reduce operating costs and sources of local green energy. 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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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!