Selected category: Solar Energy

Rooftop solar and EVs save water and cut pollution – and data can help us go further

Thanks to improvements in technology, it’s easier than ever to be green.

Solar panels and electric vehicles (EVs) are two prime examples of technologies that can help people minimize their environmental footprint, without sacrificing comfort or having to radically change their daily behavior. But the question still remains: How much of an environmental benefit do these technologies actually produce? And, are there actions that owners of these technologies can take to minimize their pollution footprint even more?

A new paper by my colleagues and me, recently published in Energy Economics, attempts to answer these two questions for households in Austin, Texas. These homes are part of Pecan Street Inc., a living smart-grid laboratory with the largest customer energy-use database on the planet. Using detailed household-level data from 2013-2015, we were able to track solar panel performance and EV use and charging patterns, and match these actions to two important environmental impacts: water use and greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions.

Our paper confirms that, in Texas, residential solar panels uses less water and pollutes the air less than using the central-grid power (based on its electricity sources during those years), and driving an EV instead of a gasoline vehicle generally reduces the household’s water and emission footprint, even though EVs charge from the grid. Moreover, our analysis demonstrates how carefully examining energy-use data can help us make sure we’re maximizing clean energy’s benefits. Read More »

Also posted in Electric Vehicles, Texas| Leave a comment

A roadmap for a clean, modern grid – The 6 areas that should guide our efforts

Everyone has a role to play in fighting climate change. Farmers can use new methods to rotate their crops that keep more carbon safely in the ground. Consumers can act with their wallets – buying goods and services that produce less carbon than competitors. Our elected officials, of course, have a lot of influence in setting the narrative and enabling support for climate progress.

But around the country, in municipal buildings, state offices, and corporate headquarters, separate groups of people are busy designing and implementing changes that could have the biggest impact of all: a better, smarter, more modern grid.

Improving our electricity system could be the single largest climate fighting opportunity we have. But it’s not as simple as just putting solar panels on rooftops. Our grid was built over a century ago by different companies, cities, and co-ops. Pieces of it are owned and run by a dizzying web of stakeholders. Even if we could snap our fingers and spur all of these pieces to action, each player would manifest different versions of a “modern grid.”

Environmental Defense Fund (EDF) thus released a guide titled, “Grid Modernization: The foundation for climate change progress [PDF]”, which outlines the six key categories that make up a sustainable grid modernization strategy. All of them are connected, either physically or digitally, or by legislation, regulation, or management. Most importantly, they’re connected by efficiency: If each of them is executed well, the whole grid modernization process will yield the best, most reliable, most affordable, and cleanest electricity system. Read More »

Also posted in Clean Energy, Climate, Data Access, Electric Vehicles, Energy Innovation, Energy Storage, Grid Modernization, Voltage Optimization, Wind Energy| Leave a comment

One step forward, one step back for Ohio policy to fairly compensate solar customers

Rooftop solar provides many benefits to the electric grid, like having no fuel costs and increasing electric grid resiliency – the ability to quickly recover from problems.

So how can utilities recognize these benefits and reward people who install solar at their homes and businesses? A popular way is through net metering, which allows customers to send the electricity from their solar panels to the power grid and receive a credit on their electricity bill.

The Public Utilities Commission of Ohio (PUCO) recently updated the state’s net metering policy, with some positive and some negative changes. Following the lead of the Ohio Environmental Council, Environmental Defense Fund (EDF) helped usher in these updates, and we’ll work to make sure solar customers are compensated fully and fairly. Read More »

Also posted in Ohio| Comments are closed

Clean energy is lowering electric bills in North Carolina – but this solar trade war could reverse that trend

By Dionne Delli-Gatti, Director, Southeast Clean Energy

North Carolina’s in the middle of a clean energy boom, but the looming threat of an international trade war may leave the state’s incredible success story a few chapters short.

Over the last few months, two floundering solar manufacturers petitioned the U.S International Trade Commission (ITC) to take action against foreign competitors. These companies want the United States to levy tariffs on imported solar products because they can’t match the cheaper prices. Recently, the ITC agreed with the companies’ complaint and recommended to President Trump a 30 percent tariff.

President Trump will decide this month what to do – he can follow the ITC recommendation, but, by law, doesn’t have to. He should reject the tariffs, so North Carolina’s clean energy economy can continue to thrive. Read More »

Also posted in North Carolina| Read 1 Response

This trade dispute could upend America's booming solar industry. Here's what it means for you.

If you work in the solar industry, want to buy solar panels or care about climate change, you may want to pay attention.

Two floundering solar manufacturers, with no concerns but their corporate bottom line, are about to pull the rug from under one of America’s fastest-growing industries and tens of thousands of well-paid jobs.

The manufacturers petitioned the U.S International Trade Commission this spring to take action against foreign competitors, claiming overseas rivals export products to America’s solar market at prices they can’t match. This at a time when the United States solar industry as a whole is booming.

In a decision that shook the industry and a host of free-trade advocates, ITC agreed with these single two petitioners and it’s now up to President Trump to decide whether to retaliate with an import tariff or other punitive options.

There’s a good chance he will – and this would be really bad news for American solar companies and consumers alike. Read More »

Also posted in Clean Energy| Read 1 Response

How solar helped a church pull out of the red and steward the community

This summer, Environmental Defense Fund (EDF) and The Nature Conservancy (TNC) collaborated with First Baptist Church in Mount Olive, North Carolina to host an event to explore the new opportunities solar energy is providing for the church and Wayne County.

We spent most of the day together and heard how First Baptist Church is benefitting from solar energy projects situated a couple of miles from the church. The church has provided land for two solar installations, built by Birdseye Renewable Energy and owned and operated by Strata Solar, a Chapel-Hill based solar developer. The solar farm we all toured generates more than 10,000 MWh of energy every year.

Speakers included Senior Pastor Dennis Atwood and Angelo San Fratello, President of Trustees.

"It's a matter of stewardship for us and we didn't want the land to be developed for some purpose that would be contrary to the mission of our church," Atwood said. "And solar farming is clean energy, and it's a good use of the earth and it essentially goes back to providing power for almost an entire town." Read More »

Also posted in Grid Modernization, North Carolina, Renewable Energy| Read 1 Response
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