Savvy Shopper: Taking steps toward ‘dream’ of sustainable energy

In a previous edition of the A-J, I offered less-than-encouraging information on the economics of home-grown power. Although the barriers to wind and solar are formidable, that doesn’t mean we can’t “set the table” while the economics of alternative energy improve. By building a solid foundation, I believe a savvy shopper can gradually achieve the dream of sustainable energy:

Efficiency first: The best and first step for making a solar or wind project feasible is reducing your electric demand to the lowest possible level. One reason I say this is that efficiency is typically the most cost effective and green energy “source” that is available. However, the biggest factor is that every watt of alternative energy is expensive and eliminating the need for any extra power capacity is money well spent.

Fields, Sean

Size sensibly: A saying I like is “Don’t let perfect be the enemy of good.” It’s another way of saying that half a loaf beats none. In alternate energy installations, some make the mistake of wanting Mother Nature to provide 100% of their needs. Doing this can dramatically increase the cost of an installation. In reality, it is more sensible to set your sights lower and match a system to supply your base load. In West Texas, this will probably be the power your home uses during winter. While leaving room for your system to grow, I think it makes the most sense to install a system that will rarely supply excess power to your house. The best way to do this is sizing for your base load.

Incentives: While taking advantage of deals is the last thing Savvy Shoppers need to be told, mentioning specific offers never hurts! Despite the fact that inducements for renewable energy are thin in our area, federal tax credits are still available. If you can install a system before the end of 2023, you will reduce your installation cost by up to 26% by claiming an income tax credit. Some state benefits include exemption of your system’s value from property tax assessments. Although there aren’t grants for residential application at this point, be sure to check for state of Texas incentives when you are ready to start a project: https://comptroller.texas.gov/programs/seco/#skip-scroll. An additional resource for information on this subject is at the Database for State Incentives for Renewable Energy (www.dsireusa.org/)

Net metering: South Plains Electric Cooperative and Lubbock Power and Light provide “net metering,” where a customer can get credit for excess power, but neither provider pays for excess energy generated over a billing cycle. This can be thought of as overages gaining you store credit that can only be used to offset the electricity that the utility provides. Since the economics will vary depending on system size and utility charges, I can only recommend sharpening your pencil and carefully calculating cost vs. benefit when specifying your system.

Resources: A magazine I really liked was Home Power Magazine (www.homepower.com/home). While new issues are no longer published, you can get free access to all their previous content here: www.homepower.com/home. On top of having a lot of great information, it provides food-for-thought and points you to additional sources of information. For solar projects, www.builditsolar.com/ details a wide variety of inexpensive solar heating projects you can take on.

As a confession, I only use power provided by my utility, but it isn’t due to a lack of interest in home-grown energy. My main barriers are the same as everyone else’s. However, once I have my home’s energy requirements down to the bare minimum and the conditions are right, I will probably install a system. Even if the dollars and cents don’t quite add up, I might treat it as a luxury item and do it anyway. In the long run, I think such systems will only become more common due to ever-improving economics.

If you have actually installed a system or have additional ideas on renewable energy, please share them. Visit and “Like” our Facebook site (Click www.facebook.com/LubbockSavvyShopper or log on to Facebook and enter “Lubbock Savvy Shopper” in the search tool) or write us at SavvyShopperLubbock@gmail.com and fill us in on your ideas.

Also, to stay abreast of developments, follow us on Twitter to get updates: https://twitter.com/LbbSavvyShopper. Put the “U” in our community and make us complete.

Don’t miss out!

SEAN FIELDS is the A-J’s Savvy Shopper. Read his columns Sundays and Wednesdays. Email him at SavvyShopperLubbock@gmail.com, like his Facebook page at Facebook.com/LubbockSavvyShopper, or see previous columns and deals at lubbockonline.com/savvy-shopper.

CSRWire – Green Mountain Energy Customers Advance Sustainability by Choosing Renewable Energy

Published 10 hours ago

Submitted by Green Mountain Energy

HOUSTON, May 20, 2022 /CSRwire/ – Green Mountain Energy recognizes the importance of protecting the environment. With each passing year, it becomes increasingly clear that everyone must work together to mitigate the effects of climate change. While solving this problem requires complex strategies, our choices as individuals play an important role.

Green Mountain Energy customers are already doing their part, preventing more than 8.7 billion pounds of carbon dioxide (CO2) from entering the atmosphere in 2021, by choosing renewable energy and carbon offset products. To illustrate the impact, that’s the equivalent of planting 1 million trees, taking 919,000 cars off the road, or 22.9 million households turning their lights off for a year.

Since 1997, Green Mountain Energy customers have collectively avoided 98.9 billion pounds of carbon dioxide, the equivalent of planting more than 11 million trees. The 2021 numbers reflect a continued shift in mindset to choose clean energy sources.

Green Mountain Energy also advances sustainability through its charitable program, Sun Club®. Since its founding in 2002, Sun Club has donated more than $11 million to 143 nonprofit organizations across Texas and the Northeast. In 2021 alone, Sun Club donated $1.3 million to fund 10 projects; generated 18 million kWh of solar electricity; avoided over 4 million pounds carbon dioxide; captured 10 million gallons of rainwater; and grew 177,550 pounds of produce.

Sun Club collaborates with nonprofit organizations on projects that focus on renewable energy, energy efficiency, resource conservation, and environmental stewardship. To learn more about Green Mountain Energy and Sun Club or to apply for a Sun Club grant, visit greenmountain.com/sunclub.

“As a renewable energy provider, Green Mountain Energy is poised to lead the way to a sustainable future,” said Mark Parsons, vice president and general manager of Green Mountain Energy. “As more people prioritize protecting the planet, we are happy to offer practical solutions to reduce their carbon footprint, starting with the energy they use day-to-day. Together, we can change the way power is made.”

Green Mountain offers a variety of options for customers to harness the power of the sun to sustainably meet their energy needs. For example, the Go Local Solar plan is Green-e® Energy certified and allows Texas residents to power their homes with 100% solar electricity, whether they own their home or rent, with no roof required and zero up-front costs. To offset customers’ energy usage, Green Mountain Energy purchases renewable energy certificates from solar parks in Texas.

Customers who sign up for the SolarSPARC® (Smart People Accelerating Renewable Change) electricity plan help fund a variety of projects, programs and technologies aimed at making solar energy more affordable, effective, and available in local communities. Such initiatives may include residential and commercial rebates to make solar more affordable; subsidies for energy storage and other innovative technologies; and supporting new business models intended to lower sales, installation, and equipment costs.

Not only are customers helping the growth of solar power, but they also earn an annual credit that grows over time. Past SolarSPARC projects include rooftop solar arrays for Elbow Creek Wind Farm, Texas Parks Wildlife, Camp Hope, the Houston Food Bank, AMLI Residential and more. Check out all the projects and programs supported by SolarSPARC funds.

To learn more about how to take the next step toward sustainability with renewable energy plans, visit greenmountainenergy.com.

About Green Mountain Energy Company
Green Mountain Energy Company is the nation’s longest serving renewable energy retailer and believes in using wind, sun, and water for good. The company was founded in 1997 with a simple mission: to change the way power is made. Green Mountain offers consumers and businesses the choice of cleaner electricity products from renewable sources, as well as a variety of carbon offset products and sustainable solutions for businesses. Green Mountain customers have collectively helped avoid more than 90 billion pounds of carbon dioxide emissions. To learn more about Green Mountain, visit greenmountainenergy.com.

About Green Mountain Energy Sun Club
Green Mountain Energy is changing the way power is made and advancing sustainable communities through the work of Green Mountain Energy Sun Club. Since its founding in 2002, Sun Club® has donated more than $11 million to 143 nonprofit organizations across Texas and the Northeast. Sun Club collaborates with nonprofit organizations on projects that focus on renewable energy, energy efficiency, resource conservation, and environmental stewardship. To learn more about Green Mountain Energy and Sun Club or to apply for a Sun Club grant, visit greenmountain.com/sunclub.

Media Contact:
Estefania Joy
713-537-5735
media@greenmountain.com
Twitter: @GreenMtnEnergy

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Green Mountain Energy

Green Mountain Energy

Green Mountain Energy Company was founded in 1997 with the mission to change the way power is made. Today, we remain 100% committed to this mission, which makes us the nation’s longest serving renewable energy retailer and a clean energy pioneer. We provide customers with electricity products made from renewable resources like wind and solar and carbon offsets that help neutralize carbon emissions.

We live our commitment to sustainability inside and out: Every single product offered by our company has an environmental benefit, and our company operates with a zero-carbon footprint – distinctions that make us proud!

More from Green Mountain Energy

After renewables frenzy, Vietnam’s solar energy goes to waste

Ninh Thuan, Vietnam – For up to 12 days every month, Tran Nhu Anh Kiet, a supermarket manager in Vietnam’s Ninh Thuan province, is forced to turn off his solar panels during the most lucrative peak sunshine hours.

“I’m losing on average 40 percent of output,” Kiet told Al Jazeera, referring to the solar panels he installed on the roof of his store so he could sell power to the national grid.

“Before the curtailments, our revenue was 100 million Vietnamese Dong [$4,136], now it is just 60 million Vietnamese Dong [$2,589].”

If Kiet did not shut them off of his own accord, the state power company would “come and disconnect them instead”.

Across southern Vietnam and the Central Highlands, authorities are asking small-scale energy producers like Kiet and industrial solar farms alike to limit their operations due to infrastructure limitations.

After an unprecedented boom in renewable energy investment in recent years, the transmission lines that connect solar and wind projects to the national grid lack the capacity to deal with spikes in supply.

Policymakers have not been able to keep up either, leaving regulatory gaps that prevent some investors from monetising the power they harness.

“A [transmission] line takes three years to build, and a wind farm one year to build,” Minh Ha Duong, a clean energy expert, told Al Jazeera. “So lines need to be planned years in advance. This was not possible since in 2018 nobody knew for certain where they would be needed.”

Tran Nhu Anh Kiet is among a wave of investors in Vietnam who have betted on renewables [Courtesy of Yen Duong]

Between 2017 and late 2021, Vietnam offered 20-year contracts to buy electricity from new solar and wind power projects at fixed rates, a common policy used around the world to encourage investment in renewable energy known as feed-in tariff (FIT). At more than $70 per megawatt-hour (MWh), the rates far exceeded what other Southeast Asian countries were offering at the time. The rooftop FIT in Thailand in 2019, for example, was only about $57 per MWh.

“The reason for this policy was to avoid the risk of electricity shortages,” Duong said. “Because the coal and gas power plants we planned to build were not [concluded] on time.”

The policy worked. Attractive tariffs coupled with a short eligibility window sparked a construction frenzy, especially in solar.

BIM Energy is among the major Vietnamese investors that jumped on the bandwagon, citing attractive FIT rates and Vietnam’s prior commitment to increase renewable energy’s share in the energy mix from 6 percent in 2016 to 10 percent in 2030.

“The government has issued breakthrough mechanisms for wind and solar power,” Nguyen Hai Vinh, deputy director of BIM Energy, told Al Jazeera. “In parallel, local governments worked hand in hand with us throughout the project development phase.”

The coordinated effort enabled the Hanoi-headquartered company to finish 500MW worth of solar and wind farms in time to enjoy favourable FIT rates.

Major government support schemes have included income tax and land lease exemptions. The public’s increasing concern over air pollution caused by coal has also meant that support for clean energy has been on the rise.

Renewables boom

In 2019, Vietnam overtook Thailand as the country with the largest installed capacity for solar and wind power in Southeast Asia. By the following year, the country’s total solar power capacity reached 16,500MW, far surpassing the government’s target of 850MW.

Today in Ninh Thuan, numerous solar panels and wind turbines stand tall among the rice fields and salt farms.

Kiet, who hails from the coastal province, experienced the boom firsthand.

Sensing the opportunities offered by falling solar panel prices and government incentives, Kiet in 2019 co-founded Viet Sun, one of about 100 companies that sprung up in Ninh Thuan at the time to install rooftop solar panels. With just 14 staff members, Viet Sun has had more than 300 clients to date, ranging from farmers to his former high school teacher.

As with every boom, the bust soon followed.

During the rollout of its latest FIT which ended in 2020, the government capped solar power eligible for the rate in Ninh Thuan at 2,000MW.

Despite state power employees going door to door towards the end of 2020 telling villagers not to invest any more, installations continued.

In March, government inspections uncovered that multiple state power companies in southern Vietnam, including Ninh Thuan, had connected new rooftop solar panels after the FIT deadline had expired.

With no follow-up pricing mechanism, some solar investors have not been able to sell all the power they generate.

Some renewable investors in Vietnam are unable to sell all the power they generate [Courtesy of Yen Duong]

Trung Nam Group’s solar farm Thuan Nam, the largest such facility in Southeast Asia, is among them.

Even though it became operational in October 2020, in time to be eligible for the FIT rate at $.0935 per kilowatt-hour, the farm has not been able to sell 40 percent of its 450MW capacity because Ninh Thuan’s total solar power generation has well exceeded the government’s 2,000MW cap. On top of that, like other investments in southern Vietnam, the project has been facing curtailments due to the limited capacity of transmission lines.

“This is extremely wasteful for the company, and a waste of national resources,” Trung Nam Group told Al Jazeera in a statement. “Our revenue sources have hence experienced difficulties, seriously affecting our ability to balance the books and arrange capital as well as Trung Nam’s reputation in the eyes of our financial partners.”

Last year was particularly difficult for Vietnam’s renewable energy investors. Business closures during COVID-19 lockdowns reduced demand for power, forcing widespread curtailments. In September, about 40 solar investors in Gia Lai province, Central Highlands threatened the government with a lawsuit after they were forced to repeatedly cut supply, putting them in financial difficulty.

“They cut [power supply] every weekend, they cut 50 percent of capacity,” Huynh Thi Ha of Hung Khanh Solar Co Ltd, one of the investors, told Al Jazeera.

“It has affected my ability to pay back debts.”

Uncertainties over curtailments and post-FIT pricing have been plaguing wind power investors, too. Many experienced significant delays in construction, unable to fly in experts and ship wind turbines on time due to global supply chain bottlenecks and travel restrictions in place throughout 2021. As a result, 62 wind power projects missed the October deadline for the wind power FIT.

To date, the government has yet to issue a replacement pricing policy, leaving wind and solar power projects that finished construction after the expiration of their respective FITs unable to sell electricity.

BIM Energy built 500MW capacity of solar and wind farms to avail of Vietnam’s renewables boom [Courtesy of Yen Duong]

“The wind power companies that have missed the FIT deadline are anxiously awaiting a new mechanism, because they’d already invested money into the project,” Bui Vinh Thang, country manager for the Global Wind Energy Council, told Al Jazeera. “We need a new policy with a clear roadmap.”

But despite the risks, Vietnam’s market for renewables, especially wind, remains attractive and profitable in the eyes of many investors, according to Thang.

Vietnam is expected to approve its eighth power development plan for 2030 this May, after two years of revisions and delays. The latest draft was revised to reflect the government’s commitment to becoming carbon neutral by 2050. Under the plan, the share of coal power would drop from about 30 percent in 2025 to 13 percent in 2045, with renewables, excluding hydropower, rising from about 23 percent in 2025 to up to 52 percent in 2045.

In the meantime, eyes are also on the potential for a green post-pandemic recovery that would keep Vietnam’s boom in renewable energy going.

In January, the World Bank urged Vietnam to launch competitive bidding programmes for renewable energy in lieu of the expired FITs while also modernising the national grid and introducing energy storage systems.

Investors are already taking action. Trung Nam Group is the first private entity to have built a transmission line, which traditionally has been an exclusive domain of the state. Meanwhile, smaller players like Kiet are looking into the option of offering affordable batteries for rooftop solar panels.

“We have a paradox that now there’s an excess supply of electricity from renewable sources, yet we have to import power from China,” Kiet said. “It’s such a waste of solar investment thus far.”

This story was produced with support from Internews’ Earth Journalism Network

U.N. secretary general asks countries to ease barriers to green energy

WASHINGTON, May 18 (Reuters) – The U.N. secretary-general on Wednesday called for a global coalition to speed the deployment of battery technology, urging countries to ease intellectual property constraints to hasten the transition from fossil fuels and combat climate change.

Antonio Guterres’ plea comes as the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) released its annual report, which found that four key climate change indicators – greenhouse gas concentrations, sea-level rise, ocean heat and acidification – set new records in 2021.

In video remarks released alongside the WMO State of the Climate, the top U.N. official called the report “a dismal litany of humanity’s failure to tackle climate disruption” and laid out five actions that governments need to take to “jumpstart” the energy transition.

“The global energy system is broken and bringing us ever closer to climate catastrophe,” Guterres said, adding that while the cost of renewable technologies like wind energy and solar power have dropped significantly, major barriers inhibit widespread deployment.

Guterres called on countries, manufacturers, technology firms and financiers need to join forces to fast track the deployment of batteries, which he said was a common good and should not be held back by intellectual property constraints.

He called for international coordination to scale up and diversify supply chains for renewable energy technology and raw materials, which are concentrated in a handful of countries.

The top U.N. diplomat also urged countries to speed up the permitting process for renewable energy projects – similar to a recent proposal by the EU, and renewed his calls for governments to eliminate fossil fuel subsidies.

In order to give the world’s developing nations more access to renewable energy to power their growing populations, Guterres also called for private and development banks to triple investments in renewables to $4 trillion an year and help poor countries with upfront costs associated with wind and solar power.

“Commercial banks and all elements of the global financial system need to dramatically scale up investments in renewables as they phase out fossil fuels,” he said.

Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

UGI Commits Funding for Largest Renewable Natural Gas Project to Date

WYOMISSING, Pa.–(BUSINESS WIRE)–May 16, 2022–

UGI Energy Services, LLC (“UGIES”), a subsidiary of UGI Corporation (NYSE: UGI ), today announced an agreement with MBL Bioenergy to fully fund the first set of renewable natural gas (“RNG”) projects currently under development in South Dakota. In total, the project will represent over $70 million of investment by MBL Bioenergy, of which 100% of the funds will be provided by UGIES. MBL Bioenergy is a joint venture partnership between UGIES, Sevana Bioenergy and a subsidiary of California Bioenergy (“CalBio”) with the sole purpose of developing RNG projects in South Dakota.

The first set of projects, known as a cluster, will be built at three farms located north of Sioux Falls, SD, and is expected to generate approximately 300 million cubic feet of RNG annually once completed in calendar year 2024. Dairy waste from the farms will be anaerobically digested and then piped to a central upgrading facility before it is delivered into the interstate natural gas system near Dell Rapids, SD. UGIES, through its wholly-owned subsidiary, GHI Energy, will be the exclusive marketer for MBL Bioenergy.

“This project sets a new standard for UGI in terms of scope and size and represents a huge milestone in UGI’s investments in, and expected earnings contribution from, RNG projects,” said Robert F. Beard, Executive Vice President – Natural Gas, Global Engineering, Construction Procurement, UGI. “We are pleased to be partnering with industry-leading developers on this project that will substantially reduce greenhouse gas emissions, using dairy RNG as a vehicle fuel. We look forward to making additional investments in our MBL partnership as we advance the use of RNG as an environmentally responsible and clean energy solution.”

“This partnership with UGI is another positive step forward in expanding our carbon negative renewable natural gas business,” said N. Ross Buckenham, CEO of CalBio. “Our dairy methane capture and refining projects are delivering significant environmental benefits, improving economics for dairy farm partners and supplying a clean burning diesel replacement fuel. Through our subsidiary, Midwest Bioenergy LLC, this joint venture with UGIES, a new, powerful and committed strategic partner, anchors our dairy RNG expansion into the Midwest and will significantly expand our fuel production.”

“Sevana brought together exceptional partners to build this industry-leading RNG project. We are excited to strengthen our existing relationship with UGI to decarbonize transportation fuels through this and other projects. Sevana’s team of biogas experts is deploying state-of-the-art renewable energy technology in multiple RNG projects to form value-adding partnerships in agricultural communities,” said Steve Compton, President of Sevana. “We appreciate the opportunity to work closely with our partners and South Dakota farmers and communities to benefit the local economy and environment.”

About UGI Corporation

UGI Corporation is a distributor and marketer of energy products and services. Through subsidiaries, UGI operates natural gas and electric utilities in Pennsylvania, natural gas utilities in West Virginia, distributes LPG both domestically (through AmeriGas) and internationally (through UGI International), manages midstream energy assets in Pennsylvania, Ohio, and West Virginia and electric generation assets in Pennsylvania, and engages in energy marketing, including renewable natural gas in the Mid-Atlantic region of the United States, California, and the District of Columbia and internationally in France, Belgium, the Netherlands and the UK.

Comprehensive information about UGI Corporation is available on the Internet at https://www.ugicorp.com.

About CalBio

CalBio is a leading developer of dairy digesters for generating renewable vehicle fuel and electricity. Founded in 2006, CalBio works closely with local and state agencies, the California Air Resources Board, USDA, the dairy industry and individual dairy farmers to achieve methane reductions, protect local air and water quality, create jobs, and generate a new revenue stream for the diary family. CalBio is currently operating and/or developing over 100 dairy digester projects in California and now through its affiliates: Midwest Bio, Northwest Bio, and Southwest Bio, is developing projects across the country. For more information call CalBio or visit: www.calbioenergy.com.

About Sevana

Sevana Bioenergy develops, designs, owns and operates large-scale anaerobic digestion projects which produce renewable natural gas and organic based soil amendments. Using state-of-the-art technology, engineering, and design, we are advancing the future of biogas energy production in the United States. Biogas projects reduce waste, increase the use of renewable energy and reduce long-term greenhouse gas emissions. Our mission is to be a market leader in accelerating the production of renewable natural gas derived from anaerobic digestion facilities in North America. With an experienced team of national and international experts, we build value-add partnerships in agricultural communities by creating new markets for existing agricultural businesses. Our goal is to ensure that communities benefit and thrive through these partnerships while building renewable solutions to local waste and energy challenges. More information is available at www.sevanabioenergy.com.

View source version on businesswire.com:https://www.businesswire.com/news/home/20220516005955/en/

CONTACT: UGI Investor Relations

610-337-1000

Tameka Morris, ext. 6297

Arnab Mukherjee, ext. 7498

KEYWORD: PENNSYLVANIA UNITED STATES NORTH AMERICA

INDUSTRY KEYWORD: ALTERNATIVE ENERGY ENERGY ENVIRONMENT OTHER ENERGY UTILITIES

SOURCE: UGI Energy Services, LLC

Copyright Business Wire 2022.

PUB: 05/16/2022 04:15 PM/DISC: 05/16/2022 04:17 PM

http://www.businesswire.com/news/home/20220516005955/en

IKEA to Start Selling Solar Panels in California Stores

Swedish furniture-giant IKEA wants to bring the power of the sun into U.S. homes.

The company announced on May 12 that it was partnering with residential solar provider SunPower to make “home solar solutions” available to its U.S. customers. 

“At IKEA, we’re passionate about helping our customers live a more sustainable life at home,” IKEA U.S. CEO and Chief Sustainability Officer Javier Quiñones said in a press release.  “We’re proud to collaborate with SunPower to bring this service to the U.S. and enable our customers to make individual choices aimed at reducing their overall climate footprint.”

The name of the new initiative is Home Solar, and the program will first launch in certain California markets in the fall of 2022. The program will enable IKEA Family customer loyalty program members to purchase solar energy infrastructure for their homes through SunPower that allow them to both generate and store clean energy.

“The launch of Home Solar with IKEA will allow more people to take greater control of their energy needs, and our goal is to offer the clean energy service at additional IKEA locations in the future,” Quiñones said. 

The new program builds on IKEA’s broader sustainability initiatives both in the U.S. and abroad. The company has pledged to model a circular economy and be climate positive by 2030. It has already pledged to phase out plastic packaging by 2028. Further, it exceeded its goal of generating more renewable energy than it uses by 2020, according to Fast Company. It invested in two solar farms in the U.S. and a wind farm in Romania and also installed solar panels on nearly 90 percent of its stores worldwide and 90 percent of its U.S. stores.

It is also not new to offering home solar: It sells solar panels in 11 non-U.S. markets including the UK, according to Insider. Last year, it also launched a program in Sweden that allowed homeowners to purchase renewable energy from wind and solar parks and track their energy usage via an app, as Reuters reported at the time. IKEA Sweden head of sustainability Jonas Carlehed said he hoped that both the renewable energy program and residential solar panels would be available to all of its markets eventually. 

“IKEA wants to build the biggest renewable energy movement together with co-workers, customers and partners around the world, to help tackle climate change together,” the company said in a statement reported by Reuters.

IKEA’s partner in bringing home solar to the U.S. is the California-based SunPower, The Hill reported. The company has been in the solar business for more than 35 years, according to the press release. 

“We are thrilled to deliver exceptional solar products to IKEA customers through a unique and simplified buying experience,” SunPower CEO Peter Faricy said in the press release. “Together with IKEA, we can help introduce the incredible benefits of solar to more people and deliver on our shared value of making a positive impact on the planet.”

While IKEA has made efforts to become more environmentally friendly as a company, it has still faced criticism for generating both climate and air pollution by shipping goods to the U.S. 

The Big Read: As households face soaring electricity prices, being eco-friendly can be wallet-friendly too

  • LANDED PROPERTIES

For landed properties, the existing roof’s material and the angle it is at can make it expensive, unsafe and inefficient to install solar panels.

Mr Prasath said: “About 30 to 40 per cent of homes that enquire are unable to install the panels.

“Some roofs have tiles that are glued directly to it, so it can become unsafe for us to clear up some tiles and place our brackets for solar panels on top. It may compromise the roof’s integrity.”

He added that roofs which are at a 45 degree angle or have protruding windows would not be suitable for solar panels.

  • CONDOMINIUMS

For condominiums, homeowners seeking to install solar panels will need to get approval from their management committees — commonly known as Management Corporation Strata Title, or MCSTs — and the authorities, and the greenlight is given on a case-by-case basis depending on various factors. 

Both Mr Prasath and Mr Goh said that their companies have received enquiries from condominium homeowners interested in installing solar panels, but faced difficulties in getting the necessary approvals.

Condominium homeowners interviewed said that even if they manage to get the greenlight from their MCSTs to install solar panels, they are unsure if authorities require additional approvals. 

Approvals aside, cost savings for condominium owners are also limited because they are ineligible to sell excess electricity to the national grid.

Their apartments also need to be on the top floors with roof access belonging to them, and where there is enough sunlight to generate electricity.

Mr Prasath added that another obstacle is that condominiums often use submeters, which allows condominium homeowners to track their individual consumption. 

“Solar panel systems require testing and commissioning by SP Group before they can be connected to the grid, which (SP Group) only does for buildings connected to master meters such as (landed homes) and private-owned industrial buildings,” he said.

SP Group did not reply to TODAY’s queries. 

  • HDB FLATS

For HDB flat homeowners, their options are further limited as solar panels not only take up space, but also require direct sunlight to generate a significant amount of electricity for home usage.

In 2020, a HDB resident made the news when he put up solar panels — reportedly weighing 10kg to 20kg — on top of a clothes-drying rack and an air-conditioner.

HDB told the media then that said such installations outside flats are not allowed as they may affect the structural integrity of the building, and can pose a risk to the public. It also reiterated that installations outside of a flat are prohibited unless approved by the town council. 

Dr Chua from NTU’s division of economics noted that households on high floors can still tap solar energy in a limited fashion, such as hanging small solar panels at their windows and using them to power their mobile phones or laptops.

Smaller solar power generators are also readily available in the market. Such generators can cost anywhere from several hundred dollars to a few thousand dollars. 

Mr Goh from UTICA, which sells such products, said they are commonly bought by hikers and campers looking to tap solar energy while outdoors. Some residents have also bought these generators to place in their balconies to power their mobility devices and other gadgets at home.

As part of a Government initiative to harness solar energy, HDB has to date installed solar panels on about 2,700 blocks and plans to reach 8,400 blocks in the next “two to three years”. In total, this will produce enough electricity to power 95,000 four-room flats.

On how these panels will benefit residents, the Ministry of National Development (MND) said in a written parliamentary reply on Jan 10 that the energy generated is “first used to power common services in HDB estates, such as lifts and lights”, and any excess solar energy will be channeled to the national grid.

“Town Councils managing these HDB blocks will enter into a service agreement with the solar vendor to pay for the solar energy consumed, at a preferential rate not higher than the retail electricity tariff rate,” MND added. “This may help the Town Councils in mitigating the rising cost of energy.”

HOW TO SAVE ON ELECTRICITY BILLS 

For now, there remain significant limitations as to how individual households can turn to renewable energy as an alternative power source. 

Nevertheless, consumers can still take matters into their own hands, in terms of reducing their electricity consumption. 

For example, Ms Valerie Khoo, a 27-year-old wealth management consultant, said she does not use a fan or air-conditioner on cooler days but instead, leaves her windows open at night while she sleeps.

“With the (electricity) price increase, we’ve been a bit more conscious and my mom nags at us more about not using the air conditioner unless its really too hot,” she said. 

Her family of four spends about S$120 a month on electricity for their five-room flat. Apart from ensuring they turn off the lights when not in use, they also chose a two-tick refrigerator — the highest energy rating available for her nearly 650 litre fridge when it was bought in 2018. 

Apart from her parents and younger brother, Ms Khoo lives with the family’s two dogs. The food for her dogs takes up half the space in the freezer, she said.   

The ticks system by the National Environment Agency (NEA) rates the energy efficiency of household appliances, with five ticks being the most efficient, and one tick being the least efficient. This is displayed on the energy label, which also shows consumers the annual energy cost of the appliance.

Mining is a polluting business. Can new tech make it cleaner?

In March, President Joe Biden ordered more federal resources directed toward mining  metals and minerals essential for electric vehicle (EV) batteries, including nickel, cobalt, graphite, and lithium. The presidential directive highlighted one of the most controversial realities at the center of the green energy transition: In order to switch from dirty fossil fuel energy sources to carbon-free renewables and EVs, we need more mining—historically a very polluting business.

Mining involves digging ore out of the ground, hauling it to processing plants, crushing it, separating and refining the metals, and then disposing of the waste. Land is stripped bare to make way for mines and surrounding infrastructure, which often uses considerable amounts of energy and water, produces air pollution, and generates hazardous waste.

But a suite of emerging technologies, from artificial intelligence to carbon capture, could make extraction of the so-called critical minerals and metals required for this energy transition more sustainable than it is today. With demand for these materials expected to surge as the world moves away from fossil fuels and embraces solar, wind, and EVs, there’s growing interest from both the United States government and the private sector in bringing new technologies to market, and quickly. In a recent report on shoring up supply chains in the U.S. for the clean energy transition, the Department of Energy (DOE) emphasized the importance of federal support for “environmentally sustainable and next-generation” extraction methods for critical minerals.

Douglas Hollett, a special advisor at the DOE on critical minerals and materials, says this reflects the agency’s view that critical minerals mining cannot simply be a matter of finding the resources we need and digging them up.

“It’s: Let’s find it, let’s be more effective at it, and let’s end up with the lowest targeted impacts across the value chain, as we look at everything from the exploration phase to extraction, processing, then end of life,” when the products mined materials are use in don’t work anymore, Hollett says.

Mining data

Long before a mine is built, geologists are sent into the field to drill holes in the ground and search for valuable ore deposits. Exploration is typically the least environmentally damaging stage of mining, but there is still room to improve it. A small but growing number of mineral exploration startups believe they can do so by mining data.

Those startups include KoBold Metals, which uses sophisticated data science tools and artificial intelligence to search for evidence of battery metal deposits in vast amounts of public and historical data, as well as data the company collects during AI-guided field programs. Backed by Bill Gates’ Breakthrough Energy Ventures, KoBold aims to boost discovery rates 20-fold compared with traditional field exploration efforts, reducing the amount of ground that needs to be disturbed to find new ore bodies.

Holly Bridgwater, an exploration geologist at Australian geosciences innovation company Unearthed, feels KoBold’s goal is “achievable” given the mining sector’s very poor hit rate: Today, geologists estimate that less than one in every 100 sites that is surveyed for mining ever actually becomes a mine.

KoBold is carrying out fieldwork this summer at several sites in Canada and Zambia where it has found evidence of nickel and cobalt deposits. But chief technology officer Josh Goldman says the company is “two years or more” away from deciding whether any of them are worth mining. If it can use AI to discover well-hidden but particularly high-quality ores, that could reduce the downstream impacts of mining, Goldman says.

“If you find low-quality resources, you have to mine a huge amount more material” to extract the metal, Goldman says. “That means you have a huge amount of additional waste. Finding the really high-quality resources is critical.”

Powering renewably

Discovering higher-quality ores could reduce the impact of mining, but any traditional mining process will still have significant environmental effects—particularly on the climate. Hauling, crushing, and processing rock is very energy intensive; the mining sector accounts for 6 percent of the world’s energy demand and 22 percent of global industrial emissions. While many mining companies have begun purchasing renewable electricity and some are experimenting with alternative transportation like hydrogen-powered trucks, the sector still largely relies on fossil fuels to power its heavy machinery and energy-hungry facilities.

For at least one critical mineral, lithium, there may be a cleaner path forward. Used as an energy carrier in the batteries powering everything from smartphones to EVs, global demand for lithium could rise more than 40-fold by 2040 if the world shifts rapidly from gas-powered vehicles to electric ones.

For decades, researchers have explored the possibility of extracting lithium from geothermal brines—hot, mineral-rich waters that some geothermal power plants bring to the surface from deep in the Earth to produce energy. The idea, says Michael Whittaker, a research scientist with the Lithium Resource Research and Innovation Center at the DOE’s Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, is to power the entire lithium extraction process using carbon-free geothermal energy. Removing lithium from geothermal brines also has the potential to use far less water than the enormous, open-air evaporation ponds used to concentrate lithium from the shallower mineral-rich waters lurking beneath salt flats in Argentina and Chile.

Big hurdles must be overcome before large amounts of lithium can be obtained through the geothermal process. Whittaker says the lithium content of geothermal brines is “relatively low” compared with their South American counterparts. In geothermal brines, other elements, like sodium and potassium, tend to be present in much higher concentrations than lithium, interfering with its extraction. Currently, Whittaker says, geothermal plant operators bring hot brine to the surface and inject the spent brine back underground much faster than lithium can be extracted, meaning they’re not able to get as much value out of the process as they could.

Despite technical challenges and commercial setbacks, the DOE and private sector partners see promise in the geothermal method. Rough estimates based on measurements of brine chemistry and volume suggest that an enormous amount of lithium is lurking beneath a hyper-salty lake in Southern California known as the Salton Sea.

“No matter how you slice it, there’s a lot of lithium [beneath the Salton Sea] that could potentially supply the U.S. demand for batteries for EVs for the rest of the decade,” Whittaker says. “And probably many decades thereafter.”

Mining waste

Some researchers and entrepreneurs believe the resources needed for the energy transition can be found in the waste from aging and abandoned mines.

These include Nth Cycle, a startup that has developed technology for extracting battery metals like cobalt, nickel, and manganese from mine waste, low-grade ores, and end-of-life technology including EV batteries. Its core technology, called “electro-extraction,” uses none of the harsh chemicals or high-heat furnaces often found in mining and recycling operations—only electricity, which can come from renewable sources. Metals are selectively removed from crushed, liquified rock by running that mine waste through a series of electrified, carbon-based filters that founder and CEO Megan O’Connor likens to giant Brita water filters.

O’Connor, who optimized the metals extraction process while completing her doctorate and before founding Nth Cycle in 2017, says the company’s 300-square-foot filtration systems can be transported to mining sites. There, company data show, they can wring up to 95 percent of the remaining metals out of material considered to be waste. The company, which raised $12.5 million in a funding round in February 2022, plans to announce its first mining customers later this year.

For nearly a decade, the DOE has been investigating whether rare earth elements, a group of chemically reactive, metallic elements used in offshore wind turbines, EV motors, and semiconductors, can be harvested from coal mine refuse, such as coal ash. In February, the department announced plans to stand up a $140 million extraction and separation facility to demonstrate the idea at a commercial scale. Hollett called the project an “exciting” opportunity to see whether the hundreds of coal waste sites badly in need of cleanup can also provide something of value.

“Whether it’s a legacy ash pond or a stubbornly persistent acid mine drainage situation, it goes in the direction of being able to address resources from existing legacy materials,” Hollett says. “But there’s a remediation theme here as well.”

Deep decarbonization

After miners have extracted everything of value from rocks, the often-toxic waste, called tailings, are usually buried on-site. But if the mining operation took place on certain kinds of rocks—so-called ultramafic rocks, which have a high magnesium content and high alkalinity—those tailings have the potential to absorb carbon from the air.

“What happens in the ultramafic mine tailings we work on is that they consume CO2 from the atmosphere, and they put that CO2 in a solid mineral form,” says Greg Dipple, a professor of geology at the University of British Columbia. “These are the most durable and permanent form of carbon storage.”

Dipple’s research has shown that ultramafic mine tailings can sequester tens of thousands of tons of CO2 a year on their own. But he says that process can be enhanced by a factor of three or four with some relatively simple, low-cost interventions, like churning the tailings to expose fresh rock to the air and adding or removing water from this powdery waste. Coupled with renewable power usage and hydrogen or electric vehicles, Dipple believes this form of carbon capture has the potential to make certain mines carbon-negative—meaning they draw more CO2 out of the air than they produce.

In 2021, Dipple and several colleagues founded Carbin Minerals, a startup aimed at commercializing their technology. Carbin Minerals, which is focused on partnering with nickel miners working in ultramafic rocks, is currently negotiating partnership agreements with multiple mines. In April, the startup was named one of 15 milestone winners in Elon Musk’s XPRIZE Carbon Removal competition. All of the winning teams had to demonstrate a pathway for their technology to pull billions of tons of CO2 out of the air. Dipple says the $1 million prize Carbin Minerals received will help accelerate early-stage research into using its technology on a broader range of rocks.

“Together with the anticipated growth in the supply chain required for critical and battery metals, that’s the pathway to this technique potentially working at a scale of billions of tons a year,” Dipple says. 

‘As sustainable as we can be’

While new technologies offer hope that the mines of the future can be more environmentally sustainable, many are still years away from being applied at a large commercial scale—if that proves possible at all. And cleaner mining approaches are only one piece of the puzzle: We also need to do a much better job of recycling metals from dead solar panels, EV batteries, and other technologies to reduce the need for future mining. Finally, stricter laws and regulations are required to ensure that where mining is expanded to meet rising metals demand, it’s done with the consent of local communities and in a way that directly benefits those communities.

While the impacts of mining will never be zero, Bridgwater says the industry can do much better—and it has a responsibility to try.

“Fundamentally, mining is about extracting materials,” Bridgwater says. “There’s always going to be energy required to do that; there’s always going to be some form of footprint. Our goal should be ‘as sustainable as we possibly can be.’”

Univar Solutions to Significantly Increase On-Site Renewable Energy Capacity, through Partnership with Sustainable Solutions Provider Motive Energy

“As part of our ambitions to achieve our ESG goals, Univar Solutions has committed to invest significantly in climate change reduction,” said Jen McIntyre, chief people culture officer and executive ESG lead at Univar Solutions. “Our partnership with Motive Energy, which will reduce emissions and costs at one of our major U.S. facilities, is another important proof point in our journey to transforming our operations with low-carbon enabling technologies. We look forward to continuing to invest in solar energy for our other sites around the world to reduce our carbon footprint in line with our net zero commitment.”

“This project marks another important milestone toward achieving Univar Solutions’ 2025 ESG goals and commitment to reach net-zero emissions by 2050,” commented Liam McCarroll, director of sustainability at Univar Solutions. “Univar Solutions’ driving purpose is to keep our communities healthy, fed, clean, and safe, and recognizing the importance of carbon reduction is central to supporting the wellbeing of communities around the world. We are excited to be partnering with an innovative company like Motive Energy to transform how we generate and store electricity at the City of Commerce facility as part of our ongoing efforts to create a positive impact to our emissions reductions while also providing attractive economic returns on our investments.”

The project is expected to be completed during 2022.  It will utilize Motive Energy’s Watt.io Energy Storage System and the CodeWatt software suite to build a Microgrid at the Univar Solutions facility.

“Motive Energy’s unique capabilities in providing full engineering, procurement, and construction (EPC) services in conjunction with its proprietary CodeWatt Energy Management System allows customers to benefit from the advancements made in renewable energy technologies,” said Yogesh Singh, general manager vice president for Motive Energy.   “This is self-evident at the Univar Solutions facilities in Southern California where the Solar Photovoltaic (PV) + ESS Microgrid being built will allow a leading chemical distribution facility to offset significant amounts of its energy usage. It will reduce their energy bills in meaningful ways and add resiliency to the operation.  Our post construction operations and maintenance (OM) services will also allow Univar Solutions to focus on its operations without having to worry about energy related issues.”

About Univar Solutions
Univar Solutions (NYSE: UNVR) is a leading global commodity and specialty chemical and ingredient distributor representing a premier portfolio from the world’s leading producers. With the industry’s largest private transportation fleet and technical sales force, unparalleled logistics know-how, deep market and regulatory knowledge, formulation and recipe development, and leading digital tools, the Company is well-positioned to offer tailored solutions and value-added services to a wide range of markets, industries, and applications. While fulfilling its purpose to help keep communities healthy, fed, clean and safe, Univar Solutions is committed to helping customers and suppliers innovate and focus on Growing Together. Learn more at univarsolutions.com.

About Motive Energy
Motive Energy is a division of the Motive Companies. With a nearly 50-year track record designing innovative power and energy solutions, Motive Energy will help your business transform the way you source, store and manage your energy. Motive Energy partners with other companies to develop customized, fully integrated, end-to-end solutions that move those companies toward greater energy independence and efficiency. To learn more about Motive Energy’s suite of solutions, please visit https://motiveenergy.com.

Forward-Looking Statements
This press release includes certain statements relating to future events and our intentions, beliefs, expectations, and predictions for the future, which are “forward-looking statements” within the meaning of Section 27A of the Securities Act of 1933 and Section 21E of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934, as amended. Forward-looking statements are subject to known and unknown risks and uncertainties, many of which may be beyond the Company’s control. These forward-looking statements are subject to risks and uncertainties that could cause actual results to differ materially from the expectations and assumptions. A detailed discussion of these factors and uncertainties is contained in the Company’s filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission. Potential factors that could affect such forward-looking statements include, among others: the ultimate geographic spread of the COVID-19 pandemic; the duration and severity of the COVID-19 pandemic; actions that may be taken by governmental authorities to address or otherwise mitigate the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic; the potential negative impacts of COVID-19 on the global economy and our customers and suppliers; the overall impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on our business, results of operations and financial condition; other fluctuations in general economic conditions, particularly in industrial production and the demands of our customers; significant changes in the business strategies of producers or in the operations of our customers; increased competitive pressures, including as a result of competitor consolidation; significant changes in the pricing, demand and availability of chemicals; our levels of indebtedness, the restrictions imposed by our debt instruments, and our ability to obtain additional financing when needed; the broad spectrum of laws and regulations that we are subject to, including extensive environmental, health and safety laws and regulations; an inability to integrate the business and systems of companies we acquire, including of Nexeo Solutions, Inc., or to realize the anticipated benefits of such acquisitions; potential business disruptions and security breaches, including cybersecurity incidents; an inability to generate sufficient working capital; increases in transportation and fuel costs and changes in our relationship with third party providers; accidents, safety failures, environmental damage, product quality and liability issues and recalls; major or systemic delivery failures involving our distribution network or the products we carry; operational risks for which we may not be adequately insured; ongoing litigation and other legal and regulatory risks; challenges associated with international operations; exposure to interest rate and currency fluctuations; potential impairment of goodwill; liabilities associated with acquisitions, ventures and strategic investments; negative developments affecting our pension plans and multi-employer pensions; labor disruptions associated with the unionized portion of our workforce; and the other factors described in the Company’s filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission. We caution you that the forward-looking information presented in this press release is not a guarantee of future events or results, and that actual events or results may differ materially from those made in or suggested by the forward-looking information contained in this press release. In addition, forward-looking statements generally can be identified by the use of forward-looking terminology such as “may,” “plan,” “seek, “will,” “expect,” “intend,” “estimate,” “anticipate,” “believe” or “continue” or the negative thereof or variations thereon or similar terminology. Any forward-looking information presented herein is made only as of the date of this press release, and the Company does not undertake any obligation to update or revise any forward-looking information to reflect changes in assumptions, the occurrence of unanticipated events, or otherwise, except as required by law.

SOURCE Univar Solutions Inc.

Montauk Renewables releases first quarter 2022 results

The Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), based in Paris, has issued a report examining ways to reduce and better manage the amount of unused or expired medicines with the potential to contaminate the environment via sewer systems or landfills.

The 56-page report, titled “Management of Pharmaceutical Household Waste: Limiting Environmental Impacts of Unused or Expired Medicine,” contends the share of household medication ending up as waste in OECD countries varies from 3 percent to 50 percent, but “volumes are rising as aging populations consume more pharmaceuticals.” (There are more than 35 OECD countries, with members signing on to “shape policies that foster prosperity, equality, opportunity and well-being for all.”)

Over the past two decades, per capita consumption of lipid-modifying agents (such as cholesterol-lowering statins) has increased by a factor of nearly four and per capita consumption of anti-diabetic and anti-depressant medicines have doubled, OECD says.

“Environmental contamination from improper disposal of unused or expired medicine has adverse effects on ecosystems and contributes to the development of antimicrobial resistant bacteria,” the group states.

It lists “observed impacts on wildlife” that include traces of oral contraceptives causing the feminization of fish and amphibians and residues of psychiatric drugs altering fish behavior. “In addition, unused or expired medicines constitute wasted health care resources and can present a possible public health risk of accidental or intentional misuse and poisoning,” OECD says.

Measures proposed by the OECD researchers to avoid and better manage pharmaceutical household waste include: 1) find ways to reduce volumes of unused or expired medicine, including the use of “precision medicine and package sizing,” as well as supporting marketplaces for unused but unexpired medicines; 2) ensuring the environmentally sound collection and treatment of unavoidable pharmaceutical waste, perhaps via separate collection systems or the use of extended producer responsibility (EPR) systems; 3) raise public awareness using focused communication campaigns, including for liquids, ointments and creams, which “tend to be discarded improperly,” OECD says.

The report can be purchased and downloaded here.