Category: Uncategorized


How Renewables Could Help Solve Climate Change

By admin,

 

The global pandemic, COVID-19, has sent the federal government into a sort of frenzy. The crisis has forced the government to step up in this time of need and provide incentives to help sustain the U.S. economy. While this is necessary to avoid a depression, it comes at a price—the federal debt amount is spiking and it will need to be repaid somehow. Combining this pressure with the growing problem of climate change will result in a challenge that we have yet to surmise. We believe that renewable energy will be one of the most effective tools we have in the fight against climate change. 

 

In years past, the federal government’s climate-related disaster recovery spending was already reaching astronomical numbers. In 2017 alone, Congress allotted $136 billion in additional funding for disaster recovery, costing taxpayers about $1,000. This money goes to repairing federally owned properties, insurance, making structures stable, and disaster aid. 

 

Climate Disaster Spending

Last year, 14 billion-dollar disasters occurred, the fifth year in a row with more than 10. Research suggests that the future projections aren’t looking too promising, either. Reports from The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration estimated that the average annual number of catastrophes causing over a billion-dollars’ worth of damages over the past five years has doubled the average over the past four decades. The administration warned that this is directly correlated to climate change. 

 

In 2018, the federal government’s national climate assessment predicted continued warming stating, “it is expected to cause substantial net damage to the U.S. economy throughout this century, especially in the absence of increased adaptation efforts.” BlackRock, a global investment firm goes on to suggest that if we continue to use fossil fuels, by the year 2050 we will see a 275% increase in major hurricane risk. PG&E, California’s utility company was forced to file for bankruptcy last year when devastating wildfires ripped across the state causing over $30 billion in damages. 

 

While the federal government will have to cover these losses, state and local governments will struggle because they cannot borrow money as the federal government can. States overwhelmed with disaster costs will be forced to turn to the federal government for assistance. Additionally, banks are moving risky mortgages onto government-backed lenders Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. With the climate worsening, defaults will rise as the federal government will be personally liable. The Federal Management Agency’s National Flood Insurance Program is over $20 billion in debt. Debt projections continue to increase, and the federal deficit is expected to reach $4 trillion in 2020. 

What can be done to reduce our world from the exposure to climate-related disasters? Experts suggest cutting greenhouse gas emissions and increasing spending to bolster infrastructure when faced with extreme climate catastrophes. Greenhouse gas emissions have been dramatically increasing over the years but we’re seeing a positive uptick in wind and solar energy. Advancements to solar equipment and huge cost improvements are making renewables increasingly more competitive with fossil fuels. 

 

Carbon Tax for Change

We recognize we have a choice between a carbon tax or a climate disaster tax. A carbon tax can directly reduce and eliminate the use of fossil fuels that are rapidly destroying our climate as well as provide revenue, job opportunities, and encourage organizations to reduce their carbon footprint. While this may not affect climate change directly for some time, it’s a positive step to take to reduce emissions worldwide and better prepare the United States for other crises that arise, like the current COVID-19 pandemic. 

At Intersect Energy, we are a developer of renewable energy. We recognize New Jersey’s Master Energy plan for reducing the state’s carbon footprint and fully support this initiative to address climate change. We’re here to provide you with the most up-to-date information and current energy news in our area. For all the latest solar happenings, be sure to follow us on LinkedIn.

 

 

  Category: Uncategorized
  Comments: Comments Off on How Renewables Could Help Solve Climate Change

New Jersey Clean Cities Coalition’s New Initiative to Electrify Transportation

By admin,

The New Jersey Clean Cities Coalition (NJCC) has reported a new initiative that could prove major for the electrification of New Jersey’s transportation infrastructure. In March 2020, New Jersey happily saw $20 million in proceeds from the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI). This is the first payout since they rejoined the agreement. This initiative is the first of its kind—a mandatory, market-based program aimed to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in the US. These proceeds will not only help New Jersey reduce their emissions but trailblaze the way for new solar sectors installations, technologies, and ecological restoration projects as well as create better financing mechanisms and improve solar vehicle technologies. 

 

According to the Strategic Funding Plan, developed by the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection, the Board of Public Utilities, and the Economic Development Agency, 60% of funds will be allotted to the Economic Development Agency, and 40% will be split up between the Board of Public Utilities, and the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection. The funding plan goes into further detail, outlining four main initiatives including organizing clean transportation, creating a Green Bank for the state, promoting blue carbon in the world’s coastal ocean ecosystems, and boosting forests. 

 

As of April 17th, the New Jersey Economic Development Agency released the state’s plan of investing $80 million annually in “programs that reduce greenhouse gas emissions, drive forward projects that boost clean energy and create jobs, protect the health of residents in environmental justice communities, and increase the resiliency of coastal communities.” 

 

New Jersey’s Climate Change Policy and 2020 Energy Master Plan

In Governor Phil Murphy’s 2020 Energy Master Plan, his administration has set a statewide goal of achieving carbon neutrality by 2050. The initiatives mentioned above were also a part of his climate change policy approach. New Jersey formally re-entered the emission trading agreement in early 2020 after two years of being on the outs. They rejoined alongside Delaware, Maryland, Connecticut, Massachusetts, Maine, Vermont, New Hampshire, New York, and Rhode Island. The state had been one of the original participants in the regional program. The proceeds from the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative will be used to aid the initiatives and support the goal of Governor Murphy’s 100% carbon-neutral electricity generation by 2050, with a focus on the state’s largest emitter—the transportation sector.

 

The state of New Jersey houses over 9 million residents, 21 counties and over 500 municipalities, making it one of the most densely populated states in the US. Out of over 6 million vehicles registered in New Jersey, almost 4 million are cars and the remaining 2 million are trucks and other commercial vehicles. With those facts and figures in place, no one is surprised by the transportation sector’s emissions, accounting for 71% of nitrogen oxide emissions and 42% in greenhouse gas emissions. Because of the location of the state, and its many roadways and waterways, there are significant transportation related challenges New Jersey will have to overcome to achieve 100% carbon-neutrality.

 

Emissions in EJ Communities in New Jersey

Because of location, most Environmental Justice (EJ) communities in New Jersey grapple with the transportation sector’s emissions. Oftentimes, low-income housing is located along the major road and waterways of these sectors, leading to higher rates of pollution in these areas. This causes health conditions like asthma, lung disease, and cancer for many. Governor Murphy’s Energy Master Plan takes this into account and recognizes the need to reduce the emissions from the transportation sector so the EJ communities start feeling some relief. This is where the initiatives of the RGGI Strategic Funding Plan comes into play. As stated, this plan is focused on organizing clean and stable transportation with a focus on electrification, which is echoed throughout Governor Murphy’s Energy Master Plan. Both plans highlight the need for electric vehicle (EV) charging stations at multi-family homes, hotels, and places of business as well as light-, medium-, and heavy-duty hybrid electric vehicles (HEVs) charging stations at commercial and industrial institutions. 

 

New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection Using VW Trust

Along with the funds from the RGGI’s plan, the NJDEP aims to use the Volkswagen Diesel Emissions Environmental Mitigation Trust to help fund over $35 million worth of projects to replace old machinery and vehicles to ones that run on electricity. Additionally, the VW Mitigation Trust will assist with EV charging station infrastructure and design, allotting another $7.6 million.

Commissioner Catherine McCabe stated, “New Jersey’s transportation sector is a major source of both greenhouse gases and pollutants that threaten the health of our residents. This injection of millions of dollars will grow the clean energy economy and protect our residents against climate threats.” 

Supplementary Initiatives Aimed to Electrify NJ’s Transportation Sector

Governor Murphy’s Energy Master Plan, the RGGI Funding Plan and now the VW Mitigation Trust are all huge successes in New Jersey’s move to electrify the transportation sector. Additional initiatives include:

  • Increase in electric vehicle use – increased legislation and goals for more sales of public charging stations for EVs.
  • Partnership to Plug In initiative – this statewide partnership aims to build out and support necessary infrastructure for EVs in New Jersey.
  • It Pay$ to Plug-In Program – this program provides rebates to offset the cost of purchasing and installing EV charging stations. 
  • NESCAUM Statement of Intent – this understanding hopes to advance the deployment of medium- and heavy-duty hybrid electric vehicles.

 

While these initiatives are all strongly supported by the New Jersey Clean Cities Coalition, they have noticed none of these plans include other renewable energy sources, like natural gas, which is cheaper and more widely available. At Intersect Energy, we’re here to provide you with the most current energy news and comprehensive green solutions in our area. For all the latest solar energy happenings, be sure to follow us on LinkedIn.  

  Category: Uncategorized
  Comments: Comments Off on New Jersey Clean Cities Coalition’s New Initiative to Electrify Transportation

Pollinator-Friendly Solar Initiatives

By admin,

 

One of the largest and most controversial factors that can potentially disrupt a solar install project is the location. The location is extremely important for likely solar sites and can oftentimes be met with local resistance. Solar cynics like to argue that the site is sitting on potentially productive land as well as the “industrial chic decor” of the installation itself isn’t a very welcomed sight.

We do have some good news to report for these controversial solar initiatives—according to a widening body of research, this resistance can be met with support if the solar projects are designed with greener, cleaner solutions in place. One trend we’re seeing that’s gaining momentum across the country is “pollinator-friendly” landscaping. This idea swaps out the use of gravel and turf to cover the exposed soil with pollinator-friendly vegetation, like grasses, native greenery, and wildflowers. The idea behind this practice is to encourage bees and other pollinators to visit these solar project sites, which is essential for helping boost and maintain local agriculture. 

Pollinators play an integral role in agricultural production in the United States, with approximately one quarter depending upon pollinators. Clearing out large fields for solar projects (1 MW of solar requires 5 to 10 acres of land) to be installed comes at the expense of these pollinators, who depend on this space for shelter and food. Pollinator-friendly landscaping is a common-sense solution to halt this happening and these areas can be potentially conserved for the future return to agriculture.   

 

Benefits of Pollinator-Friendly Solar Sites

Choosing pollinator-friendly landscaping while designing a solar site has many advantages. For starters, it can help to boost the overall output of the solar installation. A solar site covered with gravel, turf or crushed rock “can cut the solar project efficiency by half a percent for every two degrees of temperature increase above 77 degrees Fahrenheit”, says Rob Davis, director of the Center for Pollinators in Energy. “Thicker vegetation helps you mitigate the effects of heat and keep your solar farm operating at peak temperature.” says Davis. Other benefits developers have noticed are improved water and soil quality because of the deep root systems of the pollinator-friendly plants, as well as lower construction and solar site maintenance costs and improved economic impacts, like the introduction of solar honey.

Georgena Terry, author of a report on pollinator-friendly state policies also points out that these initiatives garner support from stakeholders because they are “feel-good initiatives that “have few detractors and appeal to both sides of the aisle.”

 

Pollinator-Friendly Solar Laws and Programs

A handful of states (7) now have pollinator-friendly solar landscaping design laws in place. In 2016, Minnesota became the first state to adopt a pollinator-friendly law, followed by Illinois, Maryland, Michigan, New York, South Carolina, and Vermont. While Virginia has no specific laws in place, they have developed their own program, Pollinator Smart, designed to “provide incentives and tools for the solar industry to adopt a native plant strategy to meet soil and water control regulations, community needs, and the needs of our biosphere.”  

Many regions with no firm pollinator-friendly laws in place have developed their own unique programs that vary slightly. A common thread was seen throughout each program and that’s the use of a pollinator-friendly scorecard. This scorecard provides developers with entomologist-approved standards that are beneficial for the pollinators. 

 With more and more states gaining support and adopting successful programs and practices in favor of pollinator-friendly solar projects, we don’t see this trend slowing down any time soon. As Rob Davis has stated, “We’d really like to ensure that the land under and around the panels is benefiting us as much as the clean energy is.” At Intersect Energy, we always provide innovative and efficient green solar solutions to our clients. Stay up-to-date with all the latest news by following us on LinkedIn.

  Category: Uncategorized
  Comments: Comments Off on Pollinator-Friendly Solar Initiatives

Solar, Wind and Hydropower Renewables Displacing Fossil Fuels During the COVID-19 Crisis

By admin,

Many states across the country have been forced into mandatory lockdowns due to the novel coronavirus, COVID-19. The lockdowns have significantly lowered air pollution and global emissions are expected to decline by at least 8% this year during the pandemic. In a study conducted by the International Energy Agency, (IEA) their findings suggest that during the remainder of 2020, renewable energy will be “the only energy source likely to experience demand growth”. As the economy slowly recovers, experts assume that the fossil fuel industry will take a hit and the U.S. will be one step closer to using clean, renewable energy. Since the beginning of May, the U.S. has produced more renewable energy than coal-fired power for 40 straight days. Generation from sources like solar, wind and hydropower have completely overtaken fossil fuels making this an incredible milestone for renewable energy. 

In the IEA’s Global Energy Review 2020 report, they examined the similarities and differences that the pandemic has had on all global energy systems. Their findings through mid-April show that countries undergoing a full lockdown are experiencing an average “25% decline in energy demand per week”. Global oil demand, nuclear power plants and natural gas all declined in the first quarter of 2020 while renewable energy demand increased by almost 2%. For many that lobby against the support of renewables, the Global Energy Review 2020 pointed out that the priority dispatch, which helps with the integration of renewable energy into the electricity system to promote security of supply and sustainability, is the main reason why renewables have proven resilient in these unprecedented times when the demand for energy is low. 

A Recovering Economy 

As economies across the world prepare their recovery plans post pandemic, the IEA predicts the global energy demand will fall by at least 6% this year. Coal-fired power will fall more than 10%, with gas consumption seeing its biggest fall in history, a record 5% slump. Oil demand will drop by 9% in 2020 due to limited mobility and aviation restrictions, while nuclear power is expected to fall 3% since last year. Carbon emissions will see their largest fall ever, with the IEA predicting an almost 8% drop but warning of a rebound that could be larger than ever once things return to normal. Solar and wind power have risen to 9% in the first quarter of 2020 due to warmer weather, lower gas prices and more renewables that were added to the grid in 2019 as well as the significant dip in electricity demand due to individuals staying home. All in all, renewable energy has accounted for over 25% of generation in the first quarter of 2020. 

While energy systems across the globe have suffered, there still lies some uncertainty with the small scale solar sector. Because of the lockdowns, installations have slowed or stopped all together. The uncertainty of the economy is sure to halt any homeowners’ future plans for solar rooftop installation or at least postpone them for the time being. While the trend of renewable ascension is expected to continue, experts are now hopeful that solar, wind and hydro energy will exceed coal consumption into 2021, with the COVID-19 crisis accelerating this change. Little was mentioned in the report regarding energy storage

Regardless of what happens during the economic recovery, one statement reflected the damage that could be done to the fossil fuel industry in the long run, stating, ”Renewables are the only energy source likely to experience demand growth across the remainder of 2020 regardless of the length of lockdown or strength of recovery”.

Here at Intersect Energy, we’re a Distributed Energy Resource developer dedicated to providing turnkey services to our customers. We provide initial assessment and design services, construction management and financing. Regardless of what the future holds, we are here to provide all the latest news and resources as well as our desirable green energy solutions. To receive the most up-to-date news, be sure to follow us on LinkedIn

  Category: Uncategorized
  Comments: Comments Off on Solar, Wind and Hydropower Renewables Displacing Fossil Fuels During the COVID-19 Crisis

Wind and Solar: Predicted to be the Fastest Growing Sources of Electricity Over the Next Two Years

By admin,

The U.S. has been making substantial strides towards renewable energy goals recent years by pushing out fossil fuels and replacing them with renewable energy. In fact, The U.S. Department of Energy’s Energy Information Administration is predicting that wind and solar will grow 10-17% over the next two years. If these predictions are accurate, wind and solar will be the fastest growing sources of electricity over the next two years.

Wind Is Winning In Renewable Energy

Since it was discovered in 1919, wind energy has come a long way. One major improvement is affordability. The share of total U.S. generation from wind is projected to increase from 7% in 2018 to 9% in 2020, making wind the largest source of renewable energy in the nation. Currently, there is utility-scale wind power installed in 41 states. In 2019, about 11 GW (gigawatts), or 1 billion watts, of wind capacity are scheduled to come online, which is the largest amount of new wind capacity that has been installed since 2012.

Solar Continues To Soar

As prices continue to fall, solar is becoming a cost-effective energy choice for homeowners and business owners alike. It is the most abundant energy source on earth, and it has become the third-largest renewable energy source in the U.S. power sector. In addition, the installation of solar power across the U.S. has increased more than 23 times over the past eight years. In 2019, utility scale power installations are projected at 4 GWac (gigawatt alternating current). Over the next two years, it is projected that almost 9 GWac solar will be installed across the nation.

Investing In A Renewable Energy Future

Renewable energy could possibly exceed coal electricity by 2022. The EIA predicts that coal will begin to fall by 24%. When adding together renewable energy sources that will be used in the U.S., it’s predicted that the U.S. will get 38% of its electricity from clean energy sources in 2020. This is a great step as renewable energy looks to continue to gain ground on fossil fuels.

 

Interested in investing in a solar power project, but not sure how to find opportunities? As a Distributed Energy System developer, Intersect Energy has the expertise and services you need to find solar power opportunities and capital. Contact us today so we can help you get started with your solar power investment and make sure you keep up with the latest news in the world of renewable energy by following us on LinkedIn!

Tariffs Hit Hard in Q3: What Impact Did This Have on Solar Market?

By admin,

The new 2018 U.S. solar tariff which was signed on January 23, 2018 by the Trump Administration levies a 30% tariff on all solar imports to the United States for the next four years. Although developers and contractors tried to secure models in the past few months before the tariffs hit, Q3 2018 is where the impacts of the new 30% tariff have been seen, according to a SEIA and Woods and Mackenzie report. Let’s take a deeper look at the impact this has had on the solar market.

Solar Installation

Solar installation during Q3 fell 15% year-over-year to 1.7 GWdc (gigawatt direct current). The utility-scale sector saw the biggest impact from the tariffs, where installations fell to 678 MW (megawatt). Most predict that the market at the end of 2018 will remain relatively flat in comparison to 2017.

“Developers originally planning to bring projects online in Q3 2018 were forced to push out completion dates to Q4 2018 or Q1 2019 due to uncertainty around tariffs,” said Colin Smith, Senior Analyst at Wood Mackenzie. “We did, however, see utility PV procurement outpace installations fourfold in Q3, showing that despite the tariffs causing project delays, there is substantial growth ahead for the U.S. utility PV sector.”

Residential Installation

Although the utility-scale sector experienced a decrease in installations, residential solar was up 11% year-over-year, with an increase in California’s solar market. This didn’t happen right away, the tariff first caused the cost of solar sold to American homeowners to spike, and the cost of solar is 5.6% higher now than it would have been.

What’s to Come?

“If not for the tariffs, the U.S. solar market would undoubtedly look better today than it does now,” said Abigail Ross Hopper, SEIA’s president and CEO. “However, as this report shows, this is a resilient industry that cannot be kept down for long.” Wood Mackenzie expects many of the delayed projects to come back online by the end of the year. Due to the new 2018 solar tariff, there has been a negative impact on the solar energy market, but the report also shows that the solar industry is resilient and it will make a comeback in the new year.

Across all other markets, solar is competing with lower-cost fuel sources such as wind and natural gas. This means with the increase in solar costs and the competitive marketplace, homeowners, utilities and businesses might be more likely to choose an alternative to their power generation.

How Intersect Can Help

Interested in investing in a new solar power project in the new year? Intersect Energy is an on-site energy company that can provide you with turn-key energy solutions. We have experience when it comes to alternative energy on-site energy generation, we know the process. Contact us today so we can help you get started on your next solar power investment. Don’t forget to stay up to date with all the latest news in the renewable energy industry by following us on LinkedIn.

Surging Benefits for the Use of Solar Energy in Commercial Real-Estate

By admin,

When it comes to the advancement of commercial real-estate, there have been changes in virtually every field ranging from price negotiations, to the rise of online marketing and communication tools. However, among the most pivotal is the expansion of solar energy used for commercial real-estate.

According to an article published by the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA), “Solar energy offers commercial real estate (CRE) property owners and managers an exceptional opportunity to boost cash flow by reducing utility expenditures, increasing rents, and increasing common areas maintenance (CAM) using reimbursements.”

In addition to the list from SEIA, property owners are no longer dependent on distributed energy from monopolistic (utility) companies for electricity. This reduces the problems that come from being subjected to unpredictable and politically based rate increases.

The primary way to evaluate the economic benefits from solar energy involves calculating how much power a building or company is using. The more power being used, the more the solar development costs can pay for itself. As an independent consultant and developer, Intersect Energy (www.intersectenergylllc.com) has seen an average of 20 percent cost savings for their clients net of capital costs.

The most efficient way to bring solar energy to commercial real-estate is using a solar power purchase agreement (PPA). According to SEIA, a PPA is a financial agreement where a developer arranges for the design, permitting, financing and installation of a solar energy system on a customer’s property at little to no cost.

One of the biggest advantages about solar energy according to commercial tenants is that it provides satisfaction due to its reliable power and the cost reduction. This satisfaction manifests in positive feedback and encourages property owners to install more solar energy facilities, increasing development demand, and creating jobs.

Despite the overwhelming success of solar energy in commercial real-estate, not all property owners are on-board with the idea. Some feel that solar energy is not reliable enough or just prefer not to get involved in providing alternative, green energy to their tenants. However, solar energy has proven to be just as reliable, if not more, than distributed energy from a utility company. The reason for the lack of confidence in solar energy varies from different property managers, but with the economic benefits we will no doubt see solar energy used more often.

Intersect Energy is an expert in alternative and micro grid technology, developed for their clients with not just alternative energy solutions, but access to financing sources. If you want to learn more and get information, contact us today.