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"Louisville CAN joined KySEA because evolving from inefficient use of dirty fossil fuels to efficient use of clean, renewable energy is imperative if we're to stop over-heating our planet and ruining the state we love; that doing so would also create much needed jobs throughout Kentucky and stabilize our economy makes it the elegant solution to a lot of problems." - Sarah Lynn Cunningham

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August

Sub-archives

Aug 30, 2011

Governor Beshear Signs Onto Letter Supporting Wind Development

by Nancy Reinhart — last modified Aug 30, 2011 02:56 PM

Last week, a coalition of 24 governors from both major parties and each region of the country, including Kentucky Governor Steve Beshear, asked the administration to take a series of steps to provide a more favorable business climate for the development of wind energy.

Read the full text of the letter here. Excerpts below:

“Although tax credits for wind energy have long enjoyed bipartisan support, they are scheduled to expire next year. Wind-related manufacturing will slow if the credits are not extended, and some of the tax credits’ benefit will be lost if Congress pursues a last-minute extension. It is important to have consistency in policy to support the continued development of wind manufacturing in the United States. Extending the production tax credit and the investment tax credit, without a gap, is critical to the health of wind manufacturing in our nation. The wind manufacturing industry in the U.S. would benefit even greater if the extension of these credits would be for at least seven years."

The governors’ letter also calls for:

    •    Establishing a combined intergovernmental state-federal task force on wind energy development to “ensure the Administration’s wind energy goals are met.”
    •    Expanding the Department of Energy’s renewable energy programs to “focus not only on technology research and innovation, but also on technology deployment and market development,” noting that, “these are precisely the types of efforts other nations are utilizing to successfully compete with the United States. We must recognize that a scientific breakthrough five or 10 years from now, plus several more years for commercial acceptance, will be of little value if our wind industry has been relegated to minor players in the global marketplace.”
    •    Improved collaboration on siting new wind turbines: “… [W]e believe wind energy and wildlife protection are entirely compatible and we urge a prompt resolution of the Wind Energy Guidelines and Eagle Guidance concerns.”
    •    Expediting deployment of offshore wind: “A new U.S. offshore wind sector would create tens of thousands of jobs in businesses ranging from R&D and engineering to manufacturing and marine construction.”
    •    Identifying transmission and grid integration priorities for Power Marketing Administrations (PMAs) such as the Bonneville Power Administration

The 24 governors’ letter concluded, “We believe these actions will help address some of the national economic and energy challenges before our nation. We look forward to working with you and your Administration to further our nation’s wind energy development to help drive economic growth, energy development, and the creation of high-paying jobs.”

Read more about wind potential in Kentucky here.

Aug 25, 2011

GE To Create 400-600 Jobs at Solar Power Plant

by Nancy Reinhart — last modified Aug 25, 2011 12:50 PM

Recently General Electric (GE) announced that it will build a 400 MW solar panel manufacturing facility in the U.S. The plant will be the largest power plant of its kind.

The $600 million plant is expected to employ 400-600 people and make enough solar panels each year to power 800,000 homes.

The announcement follows suit with market-wide acceptance that use of sustainable energy forms will continue to grow rapidly in coming years. This power plant is just one of several renewable energy and energy efficiency projects GE has underway.

GE's investment into sustainable energy has already had a sizable impact on Kentucky's green economy. A recent report about the green economy in Kentucky by the Brookings Institution stated that while jobs are being lost in other sectors, between 2003-2010, nearly 5,000 clean energy jobs were created in Kentucky. The largest job growth came in appliance manufacturing - primarily from GE investments into its high-efficiency appliance manufacturing operations based in Louisville.

When the decision to build the solar power plant was announced, GE indicated that the location would have been revealed by now - but they have made no such announcement as of today. What factors will impact their decision about the power plant's location? GE reported that the deciding factors, will include proximity to solar research facilities, labor availability, and state and local financial incentives.

GE is likely going to choose a state that has passed a Renewable Portfolio Standard and/or other market-based incentives - similar to the policies that the Kentucky Sustainable Energy Alliance advocates to see passed in Kentucky.

Aug 17, 2011

KySEA Discusses Clean Energy Solutions With South Asian Delegation

by Nancy Reinhart — last modified Aug 17, 2011 01:25 PM

KySEA representatives Nancy Reinhart (KFTC), Casey Sterr (FCAN) and Andy McDonald (ASPI / Ky Solar Partnership) met with seven members of a "Climate Change and Clean Energy" World Affairs Council tour group yesterday.

Group members included individuals working in the clean energy field from the countries Afghanistan, Bangladesh, India, Maldives, Nepal and Sri Lanka.

Mr. Pankaj of Nepal said he appreciated the presentations from KySEA and said he found the KySEA perspective on Kentucky's energy future refreshing and important to hear.  He noted, "After talking to the state energy department (DEDI), you would think renewable energy is not an option for Kentucky for many years and that the only choices you have right now are using coal in new ways and nuclear."

Andy McDonald responded, "When you hear them say something like - wind isn't possible - what it means is, wind is currently more expensive than coal, not that wind isn't feasible."

In driving around Kentucky, Mr. Fazlur of Bangladash said he had seen many farmlands that were suitable for wind power. He encouraged the state to think more broadly about how to use wind power, stating that you don't need a very high or powerful turbine to make enough electricity for a farm. He said that small-scale renewables such as on-farm wind are "positively good investments and will pay back quickly."

Several in the room were struck by how little Kentuckians pay for electricity and Mr. Pankaj added "and there is no way that can be the true cost of the fossil fuel electricity you use. I pay 15 cents per kilowatt hour in Nepal, one of the poorest countries in the world. We are completely micro-hydropower driven."

Two youth from the Frankfort High School also participated and shared their hopes for the future. They told the group that many youth they know take climate change seriously and that they are doing what we can to make a change.

 

 

Aug 12, 2011

Kentucky’s Clean Energy Economy is Growing

by Nancy Reinhart — last modified Aug 12, 2011 11:06 AM

While jobs are being lost in other sectors, between 2003-2010, nearly 5,000 clean energy jobs were created in Kentucky says a new report by the Brookings Institution, with the largest job growth coming in appliance manufacturing. The report identifies almost 37,000 total “clean economy jobs” in Kentucky.

And, with a median salary of $35,585 per year, clean energy jobs pay Kentucky workers $2500 more annually than average wages for all other jobs in the state.

goodpaygreenjobs


In terms of overall size, Kentucky’s clean energy economy ranks 26th in the nation. Nearby states with clean energy standards in place – which KySEA advocates for in Kentucky – all have bigger clean energy economies than Kentucky. Ranking particularly high are neighbors Illinois (5th), Ohio (6th), and North Carolina (11th).

To learn more about clean energy standards and the positive impact they could have on Kentucky’s economy, read here.

Aug 09, 2011

The Weather Has Been Hot....

by Nancy Reinhart — last modified Aug 09, 2011 04:45 PM

By Tim Darst, Executive Director of Kentucky Interfaith Power and Light, a KySEA group member.

The weather has been the hot topic (pun intended) of many of our conversations these days, so it seems an appropriate time for me to talk about air conditioning.  The power plants are going full steam to produce enough energy to power all the AC we are demanding.  Finding ways to reduce our energy used for air conditioning can help reduce the air pollution and save money at the same time. 

Finding ways to reduce our energy used for air conditioning can help reduce the air pollution and save money at the same time.

Turning the thermostat up a few degrees is too obvious and often contentious so I won’t even mention it.  Instead let’s look at AC competition.  There are many things that are trying to heat up our house while the AC is trying to cool it, like appliances and windows.  These cause the condenser to run longer. 

Here are some of my suggestions:  Try running your washer, washing machine and dryer at night instead of during the day.  These appliances put off heat that not only competes with the AC, but uses electricity during the peak production hours.  If you can, dry your clothes outside on a clothes line.  Avoid using the oven if possible.  Heat things up using a microwave instead, or grill outside.  My neighbors have a portable single burner that they put on their patio to cook with.  Unplug computers, cell phone charges, televisions and other devices that can put off heat even when turned off.  Don’t use incandescent bulbs; they really put off some heat!  Turn off any lights you really don’t need.   Closing blinds and curtains to keep the sun out can make a big difference.  Have awnings installed.  When you take a shower run the exhaust fan to get rid of the humidity.  Likewise the fan on your stove top can expel the heat while cooking.  Using ceiling fans can circulate the air and make it feel cooler.  Dress down to stay cooler.  Drink lots of cold drinks and don't do things that require a lot of physical activity.  Here’s your permission to relax.  Take cold showers.  Before it gets hot, clean your air filters so that your AC runs efficiently.  Keep plants and debris from accumulating close to your central AC unit outside your house.  It needs room for air to flow.

Here are some more radical ideas if you’re up to it:  Buy a solar oven to cook with.  Open the windows at night when it cools down then seal in that cool air before the day heats up and avoid the AC all together.  Turn off the AC and spend your time at cool places away from the house like swimming pools, coffee houses or the library.  Put shutters on the outside of your windows to keep the sun out.  Plant shade trees on the south side of your house.  Shade your AC condenser, it runs better when not sitting in the blazing sun.  Install solar panels on your roof to provide shade while creating clean energy.

Good luck and stay cool!

Aug 02, 2011

Putting Damaged Land to Good Use Part II: A Transition From Coal To Solar

by Nancy Reinhart — last modified Aug 02, 2011 03:15 PM

By Dan Hofmann, President of RegenEn Solar LLC, a solar panel installation company located in Louisville, KY and a KySEA member.

I had such a great response to my recent commentary that I thought it would be worth the time to take an in depth look at the implications of such a massive undertaking.

Now that we know it’s physically possible for solar photovoltaics (PV) to supply all of the electricity needs in Kentucky by covering only 1/5th of the land already cleared by mountaintop removal (MTR) with solar panels, I think it’s important to ask the following: How quickly could we make the transition from coal to solar? How much would it cost in the short and long term? How would this transition affect coal mining jobs and how many jobs would it create? Can our economy, and our environment for that matter, afford to stick with coal for the long term?

I think the only way to make a transition of this scale possible would be to spread it over many decades. In my previous assessment, I estimated that it would take a 69.1 GW solar array to provide all of the electricity needs in Kentucky today, but if this project is spread out over many years the size of the solar array would need to grow to match the expected increase in electric kWh consumption over time.

Figure 1 below shows what I believe would be a feasible transition from coal-fired electricity to solar PV over the next 50 years. If we start by adding roughly 1 gigawatt (GW) of solar each year and increase that amount by 7% per year for 40 years, we could achieve a net-zero carbon economy by the year 2050; powered entirely by solar PV. It also shows the expected increase in electricity consumption from a total of about 90 terawatt-hours (TWh) today to about 240 TWh in the year 2060. This increased consumption is based on the U.S. Department of Energy’s data that shows an average annual increase of around 2% in electricity consumption in Kentucky from 1980–2005.

danfig1

Figure 2 below shows the solar PV capacity that would need to be installed per year and the cumulative in direct current (DC) megawatts. There would be a drop off in year 2050 as we achieved net-zero. But, new panels would still need to be manufactured and installed as the industry standard 25-year warranty would expire on earlier solar panels, thereby providing long-term jobs. However, manufacturers claim that solar PV panels can function well past their expiration date, producing electricity for 40 or even 50 years.

danfig2

Figure 3 below shows the jobs that would be created over the next 50 years. This projection is based on a University of California report that claimed that in the solar industry "20 manufacturing and 13 installation/maintenance jobs [are created] per installed megawatt." As you can see, the 20,000 coal-mining jobs (represented in red in the graph) in Kentucky would pale in comparison to the potential of solar PV. In fact, more than 30,000 jobs could be created in year one with the installation of 1 GW of solar, already matching coal-mining employment. These would not be temporary jobs either. The maintenance jobs would be needed indefinitely and the manufacturing and installations jobs would be needed as some solar panels are retired and replaced by new panels.

danfig3

Figure 4 below illustrates the corresponding gradual decrease and eventual elimination of coal-mining jobs in Kentucky.

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Starting with my estimate from my last commentary, Figure 5 below shows the decrease in the cost per watt DC of installing solar PV and energy storage over the next 50 years. This is based on the fact that the cost per watt to install solar has historically decreased by about 4% per year over that past decade. Energy storage would not need to be added until solar PV electricity production exceeded around 10% of the total, at which point the volatile nature of solar energy can present issues to a stable grid.

danfig5

Figure 6 below shows the cost per year in dollars to install solar PV, install energy storage, maintain the massive solar array, and build transmission grid infrastructure to get the electricity to residential, commercial and industrial consumers in Kentucky. I used this estimate of $1.5 million per mile to build the high voltage DC (HVDC) transmission lines and estimated an average of 100 miles per line with a maximum of 2,000 MW for each line.  As you can see, the annual payroll for solar manufacturers, solar installers, and solar maintenance jobs could be close to $13 billion a year by 2060, providing much needed employment income to the commonwealth.

danfig6

Figure 7 below shows the decrease in the consumer price per kilowatt-hour (kWh) for solar energy over time. This cost includes the cost to install solar, install energy storage (beginning in 2020), maintain the solar array, and building the transmission infrastructure. While this decrease may not look like much at first glance, it’s much more desirable than the dramatic cost increases in Figure 8 if we were to stick with coal. 

danfig7

Figure 8 below shows the expected increasing cost of coal-fired electricity, which is sharply different from the expected decreasing cost of solar PV electricity over the same time period. This projection is based on a the 5% per year increase in the cost per kWh in Kentucky over the past 10 years for residential, commercial, and industrial sectors in Kentucky from empirical data from the U.S. Energy Information Administration.

danfig8

Figures 9 and 10 below show how costly it could be for Kentucky to ignore to potential of solar energy. While the annual cost of electricity during the transition from coal to solar could be similar to the cost of coal electricity by itself through the year 2030, the exponential increase in coal electricity could drain nearly $150 billion more per year than solar energy by 2060 with a cumulative cost of $1.78 trillion over 50 years. Kentucky has always used the cheap cost of coal electricity to lure business to the commonwealth, the same strategy could be used for solar electricity if we get a head start on competing states.

danfig9

danfig10

Figures 11, 12 and 13 show the environmental benefit of using solar PV electricity.

danfig11

danfig12

danfig13

 

It’s clear that solar energy is superior to coal-fired electricity in this department. Imagine using solar electricity to manufacture solar panels right here in Kentucky!

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