Alexandria doctor harnesses the sun with $50000 project

So instead, she spent the money on a towering solar installation on her Lake Brophy property.

“I’m just really sad the environment is changing as fast as it is,” she said. “I’m worried about people who will be living in 50 years.”

On Thursday, she invited friends, fellow environmentalists and local officials to the official unveiling of three enormous panels that can adjust seasonally to the angle of the sun. It will be the first residential solar installation in the 100 square miles served by Alexandria Light and Power, said the utility’s general manager, Al Crowser.

While some homeowners might use solar panels in a limited way, this is the first time a home is connecting solar power to the grid, he said. That means that if Johnson generates more electricity than she uses, the utility will pay her the end of the month. The only other solar customer on its grid is a commercial one, Alexandria Technical and Community College.

Johnson’s two-story, 5,000-square foot home is completely powered by electricity and is heated by an electricity-powered geothermal source. Johnson was disappointed that the geothermal system demanded so much electricity, so she wanted to offset that usage with renewable.

The panels will supply more than enough power for the average home, said Jeff Brandt, an executive with Sebeka, Minn.-based Zenergy LLC, which installed the panels.

Paying $54,000 for solar panels may seem steep, but tax credits will bring her total cost down to about $38,000, which will pay for itself in about 20 years, Johnson said.

Johnson expects the panels to meet about 60 percent of her energy needs throughout the year. Since 40 percent of Alexandria Light and Power’s energy comes from renewable resources such as wind, solar and hydro, she figures that makes her home’s energy supply 100 percent renewable.

Her family’s environmental record will soon get even stronger. Her mom, Jeanne Johnson, who lives with her, has ordered a Tesla electric car “from St. Elon of Musk,” as she jokingly calls Tesla manufacturer Elon Musk. With that in mind, their home was designed with a charging port in the garage.

Erika Johnson’s twin sister, Sandra, a family practice doctor, said the family has always tried to live responsibly.

“We’ve been recycling since we were first able to,” she said. “We’ve been energy conservationists for a long time. We all have Priuses. Pri-i?”

Well, except for Erika Johnson, who requires a four-wheel drive vehicle to get to the hospital during emergencies. When she retires, she says, she will trade her vehicle for something more eco-friendly.

She was devastated by the United States’ decision to pull out of the Paris climate accord. Climate change, she says, is worrisome.

“I want to do everything I can to slow it down,” she said.

Green choices

For those reluctant to drop big dollars on a solar installation, Alexandria Light and Power offers the opportunity to buy renewable power for as little as $2 a month, Crowser said at Thursday’s gathering.

Called Green Choices, the program allows customers to buy a 100 kilowatts-per-hour block of energy at that price. The average home uses 10,000 to 11,000 kilowatts-per-hour each year.

Or, homeowners can choose completely renewable energy sources for 2 cents per kilowatt hour.

Also, Runestone Electric Association is offering its customers Phase II of a solar energy option, said Ryan Rooney, the association’s manager of business development and energy management. Phase I sold out. Instead of putting solar panels on their homes, customers were able to buy into the utility’s solar installation.

Solar farms are also planned for Osakis, County Commissioner Jim Stratton told those gathered.

“We are working on green aspects and opportunities throughout the county, so get on board,” he said.

Pilot program launches using food waste for renewable energy

REGION — The Encinas Wastewater Authority and Waste Management have launched a 90-day pilot program of turning leftover food into renewable energy for the plant.

Ken Ryan, district manger of Waste Management of North County, is excited about the program.

Processed slurry has the consistency of oatmeal.

“California prides itself on being progressive and being a leader in providing closed loop recycling,” he said. “The idea with the project is to reduce and eliminate as much waste as possible on the front end, keeping food waste out of landfills.”

The proposed Assembly Bill 1826 would require mandatory recycling of foodstuffs in the future.

For the pilot, food waste is contributed by restaurants and other large facilities in Orange County where Waste Management’s CORe® process turns the leftovers into slurry, which is about the consistency of oatmeal.

Then it is added to regular wastewater, which includes human waste and all the “other stuff” that ends up at the wastewater processing plant.

“The bottom line is instead of just that stuff being treated by the digester you have mixed it with the food waste and what that does is cause a significant increase in methane gas, gas that can be used to generate green power,” Ryan said. “It can be converted to any number of uses like natural gas to fuel vehicles or be used on site, which could reduce dependence on the grid, reduce the electric bill or be put back on the grid for general consumption.”

Encinas officials are monitoring the effectiveness of the methane gas on its plant.

Debra Biggs, director of operations at the Encinas Wastewater Authority, said the test will help decide if this is something they want to plan for in the future.

Biggs said the plant is already using restaurant grease trap waste to increase the production of biogas for the plant.

“We did a pilot with brewery waste and now we are trying food waste,” she said.

She said Encinas is well aware of the assembly bill and is trying to be part of the solution for the state.

Biggs said that in a wastewater plant nothing is wasted anymore and that Encinas treats water for irrigation, to cool equipment and to water golf courses which helps keep down the cost of buying expensive water. It wants to keep its own costs down to help give relief to the consumer.

If the program is given the green light in San Diego County, local waste will be given to local processing for local closed-looped recycling in San Diego County. In the future, residents would put the food waste on the curb next to their regular trash and recyclables.

Ryan said the downside is that Waste Management will have to send out a fourth truck and there will be costs associated with that, but on the other hand, it might slow the rate of increase on the trash bill.

The pilot program began the end of August and will continue for 90 days.

On-Site Photovoltaic Solar Power For Data Centers Market Forecast and Analysis by Future Market Insights 2016 – 2026

On-site photovoltaic solar power also known as solar PV has developed from market of small-scale application to becoming a source of mainstream electricity. With the increasing fuel costs, dependence on import of fossil fuel from ethically volatile areas and uncontrolled pollution level, on-site photovoltaic solar power for data centers market is recognized as a promising alternative renewable energy technology. The use of photovoltaic solar power for data centers has come long way since 2005 when Affordable Internet Services Online, Inc. (AISO) assembled the first solar powered data center. On-site photovoltaic solar power for data centers are a good solution for many data centers and ICT companies which are focusing on decreasing carbon footprints. Being a cost-effective and eco-friendly medium for supplement power the companies like Facebook, Apple, Cisco and other are adopting on-site photovoltaic solar power for data centers. Among other renewable source such as wind, biogas and other the utilization of on-site photovoltaic solar power for data centers market is the highest.

One of the key driver in on-site photovoltaic solar power for data centers market is the stability in the cost of solar power energy. Solar power energy, further developed can be viable and economic source of energy for data center which require sustainable energy for operations and temperature maintenance within the data center. Solar energy provides an added advantage of availability as opposed the demand for fossil fuel which fluctuates annually. As the solar power is self-managed and self-contained it is not susceptible to any reduction or restriction in the availability of electric power. Another driving factors stimulating the growth for on-site photovoltaic solar power for data centers market are mentioned below: Government incentives, Environment alarm over Green House Gas (GHG) emission, Cost saving associated with the power generation from PV solar power, Access for electricity in the areas with no grid electricity, Withdraw of reliance on non-renewable resources for power supply and its import

However, even large installation of photovoltaic solar panels produce a fraction amount of energy which restricts the use of on-site photovoltaic solar power for many data centers. Thus solar power is not a full time reliable power supply. To mitigate these limitations, companies can use the combination of: Energy produced by solar panels into larger grid thus balancing the use of customary energy sources, Instead of replacing the whole power supply system, photovoltaic solar power can be used as a supplementary power supply system.

On-site photovoltaic solar power for data centers market Segmentation Based on the semi-conducting material used: Monocrystalline silicon photovoltaic panels, Polycrystalline silicon photovoltaic panels, Thick-film silicon photovoltaic panels, Amorphous silicon photovoltaic panels; Based on the application in respected countries: On-grid connected, Off-grid connected; Based on the technology: Photovoltaic Solar Linear Fresnel Reflector, Integrated Solar Combined Cycle power plant (ISCC), Photovoltaic Solar Parabolic Dish, Photovoltaic Solar Towers, Photovoltaic Solar Parabolic Trough

Based on the geography, on-site photovoltaic solar power for data centers market can be classified into important segments as, Latin America, North America, Eastern Europe, Western Europe, Japan, Asia-Pacific, Middle East and Africa. Amongst all the region, North America is expected to be leading in on-site photovoltaic solar power for data centers market. The impending termination of the solar ITC (Investment Tax Credit) by the U.S. government for the purpose of business installation is one of the driving factor for the boost in on-site photovoltaic solar power for data centers market. Followed by North America, Western Europe is expected to be the second largest market for on-site photovoltaic solar power for data centers market. Western Europe on-site photovoltaic solar power for data centers market mainly propelled by demand and government initiative by the government from Germany, France, Spain and Benelux. Key economies such as India, China and ASEAN are expected to spearhead the APEJ on-site photovoltaic solar power for data centers market. Likewise, the developing IT infrastructure in Middle East, Latin America and Japan is anticipated to project strong growth for on-site photovoltaic solar power for data centers market.

Some of the recognized key players in on-site photovoltaic solar power for data centers market are mentioned below: Trina Solar, JA Solar Co., Ltd., SunPower Corporation, FIRST SOLAR, Yingli Solar, Canadian Solar, Jinko Solar, Evergreen, Hanwha Q CELLS, SCHOTT North America, Inc., Vikram Solar Pvt. Ltd.

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Converting waste toilet paper into electricity

Converting waste toilet paper into electricity
Waste toilet paper can be converted to electricity by gasification followed by reaction with air in a high-temperature fuel cell. Credit: UvA/HIMS

Chemists at the University of Amsterdam’s (UvA) Sustainable Chemistry research priority area, together with colleagues from the Copernicus Institute of Sustainable Development of Utrecht University, have published the first techno-economic analysis of converting waste toilet paper into electricity. In the journal Energy Technology, they propose a two-step process and calculate a cost per kWh comparable to that of residential photovoltaic installations.


Waste toilet paper (WTP) is not often considered an asset. In fact, most people usually prefer not to think about it at all. Yet it is a rich source of carbon, containing 70–80 wt percent of cellulose on a dry basis. On average, people in Western Europe produce 10–14 kg waste toilet paper per person per year. Accumulating in municipal sewage filters, it is a modest yet significant part of municipal waste.

At the same time, waste toilet paper is a businessman’s dream because it is one of the few raw materials with a negative cost. While this may vary across countries and regions, in the Netherlands wastewater treatment facilities pay around 70 €/ton to get rid of WTP. It is therefore an extremely attractive resource since people will actually pay you to take it off their hands.

Being such ‘true waste,” WTP offers a great opportunity for closing loops, increasing resource efficiency and creating a truly circular economy. For the UvA’s chemists, using WTP as a resource for generating electricity therefore ‘the ultimate waste recycling concept.” The Amsterdam region alone generates some 10.000 tons of WTP per year, enough to power 6400 homes.

What’s more, since the cellulose in WTP comes from trees, the electricity produced is renewable. This offers a great opportunity for matching society’s demand for renewable energy. Renewable resources often show discontinuous peaks. Plant stems can be recycled, but only after the harvest; sunlight is available in the daytime (and depends on cloud cover); and wind supply is as predictable as the weather. Waste toilet paper, however, is a continually available resource.

The Amsterdam-Utrecht research project, led by UvA professors Gadi Rothenberg and Bob van de Zwaan of the UvA’s Van ‘t Hoff Institute for Molecular Sciences, proposed a simple for the conversion of WTP, creating a direct route from unwanted waste to a useful product. Master’s student Els van der Roest examined the possibility of combining devices for the gasification of WTP (step 1) with high-temperature solid oxide fuel cells (SOFCs) able to directly convert the WTP-gas into electricity.

The project’s goal was to assess the feasibility of such a WTP-to-electricity system at a scale of 10.000 ton WTP per year, based on real-life parameter values. Using techno-economic analysis methods, the team presented a basic process design, an overall energy balance and an economic study for this concept. Data for the experiments and calculations were obtained in collaboration with the Amsterdam waste-to-energy company (afvalenergiebedrijf, AEB).

In an open-access paper published in the international peer-reviewed journal Energy Technology, the researchers present the basic system design, as well as its electricity yield and overall efficiency, based on detailed mass and energy balance calculations.

The overall electric efficiency is 57 percent, similar to that of a natural gas combined cycle plant. The levelized cost of electricity (LCOE, a measure used for consistent comparison of electricity generation methods) is 20.3¢/kWh. This is comparable at present to residential photovoltaic installations.

The system’s capital costs are still relatively high, mainly due to the fuel cell investment costs. But these are expected to decrease as the market for fuel cells develops. The operating costs are relatively low, partly thanks to the high thermodynamic efficiency (ca. 70 percent). The researchers expect learning effects could make the system more competitive in future, with an LCOE of about 11 ¢/kWh.

The project team concludes that there is a future in turning toilet paper into electricity. “When we discuss these results with companies, people get very excited,” says Prof. Rothenberg. However, no Dutch company or municipal authority has as yet been willing to invest in further development. The team is now considering taking their concept abroad: “We might see the first WTP-to- plant being built in China,” says Rothenberg.


Explore further:
Africa’s urban waste, a valuable source of electricity

More information:
Els van der Roest et al. Converting Waste Toilet Paper into Electricity: A First-Stage Technoeconomic Feasibility Study, Energy Technology (2017). DOI: 10.1002/ente.201700247

SoCalGas Streamlines Processes to Support Renewable Gas Projects

LOS ANGELES, Aug. 22, 2017 /PRNewswire/ – Southern California Gas Co. (SoCalGas) today announced new initiatives that will make it easier for renewable gas production facilities to connect to the company’s natural gas pipeline system. First is the creation of a downloadable toolkit to assist renewable gas producers and developers who are interested in interconnecting their projects with the SoCalGas pipeline network.  In addition, new provisions will enable SoCalGas and renewable gas producers to accelerate the interconnection process by procuring the necessary material much earlier than previously allowed.

Like electricity, natural gas can be made from renewable sources.  About 80 percent of all methane emissions in California come from the state’s dairy and farm operations, landfills and wastewater treatment plants. That methane can be harnessed and cleaned to produce renewable natural gas for use in transportation as well as in homes and businesses.

A study conducted by the University of California at Davis estimates that the natural gas needs of around 2.4 million California homes could be fueled with RNG derived from the state’s existing organic waste alone.  Already, 60 percent of the fuel used in natural gas vehicles in California is renewable, and SoCalGas expects that to increase to 90 percent by 2018. This can help reduce the need for other fossil-based fuels, and increase our supplies with a local renewable fuel.  

“Renewable natural gas is key to achieving the state’s ambitious air quality goals and providing families in California with a clean and reliable source of energy to heat and power their homes for generations to come,” said Lisa Alexander, vice president of customer solutions for SoCalGas. “Renewable natural gas will also help transform transportation in the state, which accounts for 80 percent of smog-forming pollution and that disproportionally burdens our most vulnerable communities.  With today’s technology, we can harness this otherwise wasted energy to de-carbonize our pipeline system, reduce greenhouse gas emissions, and slow climate change.”

“Since 1988 all but two renewable natural gas projects have been developed outside of California—which explains why the state imports most of the renewable natural gas (RNG) it consumes,” said Johannes Escudero, chief executive officer and executive director of the Coalition for Renewable Natural Gas. “That is changing—and we appreciate SoCalGas’ leadership and ongoing commitment to the RNG Coalition and industry as it relates to addressing the minimum heating value requirement that would prevent California from fully realizing the total economic and environmental benefits associated with increased RNG development, pipeline interconnection, deployment and utilization in-State.”

“SoCalGas is leading the way to a decarbonized gas supply in California, which will help the state reduce the most damaging climate and air pollutants,” said Julia Levin, executive director of the Bioenergy Association of California.  “In addition to protecting communities from pollution and wildfires, increasing in-state biogas production will create good jobs throughout California.  These efforts are a win-win for the environment and the economy.”

SoCalGas is also working to accelerate the use of renewable natural gas, by capturing methane emissions to decarbonize its pipelines. SoCalGas aims to build and operate more renewable natural gas interconnection facilities throughout California to bring more clean, renewable natural gas to its customers.  This summer the company will complete its first renewable natural gas interconnection project in Perris, California.  When the project is completed, renewable natural gas produced by a waste management company will power a fleet of more than 320 waste hauling trucks.

SoCalGas recently launched a new Renewable Gas website to provide general information on biogas derived renewable natural gas.  A key feature of this site is a downloadable toolkit to assist biogas producers and developers who are interested in putting renewable natural gas into the SoCalGas pipeline network.   In addition, the new website also explains the monetary incentive program for utility interconnection projects.  In the future, SoCalGas plans to include information on other types of renewable gases and technologies to the website, such as renewable hydrogen and power-to-gas.

SoCalGas reviewed its current system and identified several areas that would smooth the path to interconnection for renewable natural gas developers.

One enhancement, approved by the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) on April 8, enables SoCalGas and potential interconnectors to speed the process by procuring the necessary materials much earlier than previously allowed. Previously, procurement of these materials could only be done when the interconnection studies were concluded and a construction agreement was executed.

About Southern California Gas Co.
Headquartered in Los Angeles, SoCalGas® is the largest natural gas distribution utility in the United States, providing clean, safe, affordable and reliable natural gas service to 21.7 million customers in Central and Southern California. Its service territory spans 22,000 square miles from Fresno to the Mexican border, reaching more than 550 communities through 5.9 million meters and 101,000 miles of pipeline. More than 90 percent of Southern California single-family home residents use natural gas for home heat and hot water. In addition, natural gas plays a key role in providing electricity to Californians—about 60 percent of electric power generated in the state comes from gas-fired power plants.  

SoCalGas has served communities in Californiafor 150 years and is committed to being a leader in the region’s clean energy future. The company has committed to spending $6 billion over the next five years to modernize and upgrade its gas infrastructure, while also reducing methane emissions. SoCalGas is working to accelerate the use of renewable natural gas, a carbon-neutral or carbon-negative fuel created by capturing and conditioning greenhouse gas emissions from farms, landfills and wastewater treatment plants. The company is a subsidiary of Sempra Energy (NYSE: SRE), a Fortune 500 energy services holding company based in San Diego. For more information visit socalgas.com/newsroom or connect with SoCalGas on Twitter (@SoCalGas), Instagram (@SoCalGas) and Facebook. 

About Southern California Gas Co.: Southern California Gas Co. (SoCalGas) has been delivering clean, safe and reliable natural gas to its customers for more than 145 years. It is the nation's largest natural gas distribution utility, providing service to 21.6 million consumers connected through 5.9 million meters in more than 500 communities. The company's service territory encompasses approximately 20,000 square miles throughout central and Southern California, from Visalia to the Mexican border. SoCalGas is a regulated subsidiary of Sempra Energy (SRE), a Fortune 500 energy services holding company based in San Diego.

 

View original content with multimedia:http://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/socalgas-streamlines-processes-to-support-renewable-gas-projects-300507964.html

SOURCE SoCalGas

San Diego County looks to rooftop solar, waste diversion to reach climate goals

Dive Brief:

  • San Diego County last week released a draft Climate Action Plan that aims to cut greenhouse gases in unincorporated communities and in county government operations and boost renewable energy to 90% by 2030. 
  • The plan includes installing solar panels on existing homes, increasing solid waste diversion and improving the energy efficiency of new buildings.
  • The new climate plan is in response to a 2015 Sierra Club lawsuit, the San Diego Union-Tribune noted. The county has opened a 45-day public comment period on the plan, scheduled to end Sept. 25.

Dive Insight:

San Diego County’s proposed cuts do not perfectly mirror state targets, but they are close, according to the Union-Tribune. The county climate plan comes after the city of San Diego pledged to switch to 100% renewable energy by 2035.

California mandates call for reducing emissions 40% below 1990 levels by 2030 statewide.? San Diego County’s plan to combat climate change comes five years after the county’s Sierra Club chapter sued it over an earlier draft of the plan, the news outlet reported. In response, officials overhauled the plan. 

The plan will tackle emissions from unincorporated portions of the county — an area in the southwestern corner of California that encompasses approximately 3,570 square miles with a 2014 population of 454,599. To achieve those goals, San Diego plans to install solar panels on existing homes, increase solid waste diversion, improve energy efficiency in new buildings and boost renewable energy. 

The city of San Diego wants to go a step further and power the city with 100% renewables in a separate plan from the county. To achieve that goal, the city is eyeing Community Choice Aggregation, a route that has faced questions from San Diego Gas Electric. The CCA system would allow San Diego to purchase energy for its customers, leaving the utility to deliver the power. 

SDGE has verbally supported CCAs, but says it wants to ensure a vigorous debate over the system’s structure by proposing to establish a separate investor-backed marketing division to lobby on CCA issues. Under CCAs, community choice providers set rates to support their power mix, and utilities receive a fee for distributing the power. 

Correction: A previous version of this article incorrectly stated that regulators rejected SDGE’s CCA proposal. SDGE’s compliance plan with the CPUC has been approved.

 

News Highlights: Top Energy News of the Day

Oil Falls on Demand Concerns

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Oil prices edged lower on Tuesday, weighed down by concerns over demand and a strengthening U.S. dollar.

Why Blackstone Is Betting $7 Billion on Natural Gas

Private-equity firm Blackstone is making one of its biggest bets on the growth of natural gas production, wagering that even if gas prices remain stuck at depressed levels, it can profit.

Iranian President Threatens to Back Out of Nuclear Deal

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani threatened to revive his country’s nuclear program if the U.S. continues to pile on sanctions, in a direct warning he is prepared to tear up a deal that set the stage for Iran’s opening to the West.

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U.S. Crude-Oil Supplies Seen Decreasing in DOE Data

U.S. crude-oil inventories are expected to show a decrease of 3 million barrels in data due Wednesday from the Department of Energy. Gasoline supplies are expected to decrease by 1 million barrels

Defaults Increase for ‘Green’ Loans

PACE loans are designed to help homeowners make eco-friendly upgrades to their homes. But the number of people defaulting on their payments is on the rise, according to tax data.

KPMG to Pay $6.2 Million to Settle SEC Claims of Audit Failures

KPMG agreed to pay $6.2 million to settle SEC allegations that the accounting firm botched its audit of an oil-and-gas company, and the lead partner on the audit agreed to a suspension from auditing public companies.

Canadian Miner Targets Citgo in Venezuela Fight

A Canadian mining company trying to collect on a $1.4 billion judgment against Venezuela is trying to seize shares of U.S.-based refiner Citgo Holdings Inc. in lieu of payment.

Pemex Chief Took Bribes, Ex-Odebrecht Officials Say

Former officials of Brazilian construction firm say it gave $10 million in bribes to the head of Mexico’s state-run oil firm Pemex, partly when he was helping President Enrique Peña Nieto get elected, according to documents and media reports.

Report Links North Korea Rocket Engines to Russia, Ukraine

The rocket engines North Korea has used in recent tests were probably acquired through illicit channels originating in Ukraine or Russia, where the complex rocket engine was designed, a Washington think tank wrote in a report Monday.

Foreign Solar Firms Gain Unexpected Support in Tariff Fight

An unusual alliance of green energy advocates and conservative free-trade organizations is clashing with U.S. solar-panel makers seeking trade tariffs on foreign rivals.

(END) Dow Jones Newswires

August 15, 2017 16:15 ET (20:15 GMT)

Severing ties with utilities isn’t as easy as cutting the cable cord

If disaster ever struck, Joe Fleischmann could keep the lights, refrigerator and big-screen TV running in his Orange County home, even if the power company went dark.

Fleischmann is an early adopter of home energy storage: In his garage is a battery strong enough to help keep the essentials in operation.

The home of the former Los Angeles County sheriff’s deputy sports a full suite of eco-friendly power equipment — solar panels on his roof as well as battery storage and an electric vehicle charging station in his garage. But even with all his powerful tools, Fleischmann still can’t cut the power cord with Southern California Edison.

Severing ties with the centralized power system — going off the grid — might be a dream of survivalists and some consumers, but the reality is difficult to achieve. The cost of batteries large enough to power air conditioners, a washer, dryer and other big energy guzzlers would imperil most homeowners’ budgets.

“As far as being completely off grid, it’s kind of a foreign thought to me because you’ve always had to rely on the utilities,” Fleischmann said. “We could do that, but at what cost?”

Even the leader in the residential electricity storage industry — and supplier of Fleischmann’s $26,000 battery system — doesn’t see consumers defecting from their utilities.

“True off-grid is ridiculous,” said Blake Richetta, senior vice president of Sonnen Inc., who oversees the German battery maker’s U.S. arm that is based in North Hollywood. Sonnen has about 18,000 residential systems, primarily in Germany and Italy.

Not only is it costly to turn your home into a virtual power plant, Richetta said, but it makes the consumer’s home an island that would be unable to tap the central power system if the off-grid operation fails.

And going it alone negates a more global benefit: Residential and commercial power systems can provide support for the electric grid and utility companies.

“Energy storage adds value, significant value, to the grid operator,” said Richetta, a former North American sales manager for Tesla Inc., which has a battery line of its own.

For instance, as consumers add solar panels and battery storage, combined with increasing energy efficiency, demand decreases for electricity from traditional utility companies. That helps utilities avoid construction of new fossil fuel plants such as natural gas facilities.

“We are essentially helping the grid do things it could never do before in a cheaper and cleaner way,” Richetta said.

And although Fleischmann’s system comes with a high price tag, the cost has been dropping substantially, making it potentially more affordable for average consumers in the next few years.

Ravi Manghani, director of energy storage for GTM Research, said the installed price of residential systems has dropped 25% to 30% over the last two to three years. The cost of the batteries themselves has declined by about 60% during that time to about $425 per kilowatt-hour, he said.

And consumers can benefit from state and federal incentives that can reduce the overall cost, Manghani said.

In some places, living off-grid makes more sense than in others.

In the United States, that place is Hawaii, which has the nation’s highest electricity rates at roughly twice as much as what Californians pay per kilowatt-hour. Because Hawaii must import fuel for its power plants, costs run high.

Hawaii’s higher utility tab makes it a simpler decision for consumers to sprin

g for solar panels and battery storage. And that potential sales opportunity has drawn the attention of energy companies including Sonnen, Tesla, Sunrun and Blue Planet, which are offering solar and battery packages similar to Fleischmann’s system but at various sizes.

But for other places, even relatively high-cost California, it can be difficult to get a deal that includes storage for less than what consumers are paying their utility company for electricity.

“You’re probably not going to save enough money to make that work,” said Ron Nichols, president of Southern California Edison, which serves about 15 million people through 5 million residential and business accounts. “Right now it doesn’t pencil out.”

Nichols acknowledges that the equation might improve eventually for residential consumers.

“Battery technology is going to get better over time,” he said. “And its costs are going to come down.”

Nichols said he sees some of the greatest, immediate opportunities in commercial storage systems such as at schools, large office buildings and other commercial entities.

Commercial customers pay a premium for using electricity at times of peak demand. A battery can reduce commercial customers’ use of electricity from the utility company during those periods and ultimately save money. In addition, they can contract with the power company to allow the utility to draw electricity from the battery when the electric grid might need it.

“It’s not some silver bullet for everything,” Nichols said. “But we’re finding new opportunities. They’re going to be very helpful for the grid in the future.”

Bernadette Del Chiaro, executive director of the California Solar Energy Industries Assn., agrees that battery prices are still a bit high on the residential side. But she argues that just as commercial customers can assist the electric grid with their batteries, so can residential consumers by staying connected to their utilities and the wider electric grid.

“The solar and storage industry are really, actually committed to a green grid,” Del Chiaro said. “It really is seen as making the grid stronger and more resilient, as opposed to everybody an island unto themselves.”

Del Chiaro said utility companies benefit from the argument that solar plus storage is too expensive for residential customers because they retain control of electricity and keep prices high for consumers. But working toward empowering consumers will ultimately reduce their costs, she said.

“What we’re trying to push for is something that truly transforms the market,” Del Chiaro said. “Everybody just thinks solar and storage are toys for the rich. The utilities run around Sacramento and call solar plus storage the ‘Cadillac class.’”

But if utilities are allowed to set the agenda for how the electric system develops, she said, “we’ll keep prices really high that way.”

Fleischmann, who retired from the Sheriff’s Department after a back injury, installed a 6.5-kilowatt solar array on his Brea home three years ago. He added the Sonnen battery system last year.

Fleischmann thought the Sonnen system, which looks like a storage cabinet in his garage, provided a good match for his home. The system is expandable, unlike some batteries, and can be operated from a computer and smartphone.

“I think it actually looks pretty cool,” Fleischmann, 46, said.

Cielo Waste Solutions Corp.: Exclusive Renewable Diesel Technology Turns Trash Into Cash

Rick Mills — Bio and Archives | Comments

Richard lives with his family on a 160 acre ranch in northern British Columbia. He invests in the resource and biotechnology/pharmaceutical sectors and is the owner of Aheadoftheherd.com. His articles have been published on over 400 websites, including:

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