Every remarkable way wind is pioneering rural America’s bright future

March 15, 2019

As America’s wind power boom spreads across the U.S., it’s bringing unmatched economic development into rural communities. Wind farms are an investment in a community’s future, making it a cleaner, financially-secure community with even deeper roots. For small communities with few opportunities to attract companies that can bring jobs, economic development, and a new source of revenue, wind is a perfect partner.

Spotlight

Solar and Energy Loan Fund

The Solar and Energy Loan Fund (SELF), which administers the Clean Energy Loan Program, provides energy expertise and favorable financing to help property owners (residential and commercial) identify and make cost-effective energy retrofits, including: energy conservation; energy efficiency; and, renewable energy alternatives (e.g., solar). SELF clients are reducing their energy consumption by an average of 24% and using the energy savings to help pay off the loans over time. Rebates and tax credits may also apply to many of the 25 energy savings products financed through the Clean Energy Loan Program. SELF clients are also increasing their home equity, market value, and overall quality of life.

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ENERGY

Indigenous lands can be ground zero for a wind energy boom

Article | May 19, 2021

It all started about four years ago, when SUVs and pickup trucks drove uninvited onto their lands, remembers Olimpia Palmar, a member of the Indigenous Wayúu peoples, who historically have occupied the La Guajira desert in northern Colombia and Venezuela. "We started seeing these arijunas [Wayuúunaiki for non-native peoples] wearing construction helmets and boots and vests, getting out of the cars, checking the desert, and then leaving," she recalls. Word soon began circulating across the Guajira Peninsula, from the rancherías — the community’s rural settlements — to the few urban centers: The arijunas were offering money to those who would let them plant tall, slim towers on their lands to measure the wind. On La Guajira’s dusty earth, where few things grow, towers began to sprout. By 2019, at least 30 wind-measuring towers had risen on Wayúu land, according to a report by Indepaz, a nonprofit research center.

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ENERGY

The Future of Renewable Energy

Article | August 3, 2021

Renewable energy is the energy generated from natural resources on Earth that are neither limited or exhaustible, such as wind and sun. Thus, renewable energy is an alternative to conventional energy based on fossil fuels and is generally less harmful to the environment. Some Sources of Renewable Energy Solar: Solar energy is created by capturing sunlight's radiant energy and turning it into heat, electricity, or hot water. Photovoltaic (PV) systems utilize solar cells to convert direct sunlight into energy. The significant advantage of solar energy is that it is functionally infinite. There is an infinite supply of solar energy with the technology to harvest it, making fossil fuels obsolete. Using solar energy instead of fossil fuels can also help improve public health and environmental conditions. In addition, solar energy has the potential to eliminate energy expenses in the long run, as well as decrease your energy bills in the short term. Many government, state, and local governments also provide rebates or tax credits to encourage investment in solar energy. To know more about Solar Energy, click here. Although solar energy can save you money in the long term, it has a high upfront cost out of reach for most households. In addition, for personal houses, homeowners should also have enough sunlight and space to install their solar panels, restricting who can realistically adopt this technology on an individual level. Wind: Wind farms use turbines to generate wind energy and convert it to electricity. There are many types of systems used to convert wind energy, and each one is unique. Commercial-grade wind-powered generating systems can power a wide range of organizations, while single-wind turbines are utilized to complement current energy organizations. Utility-scale wind farms, which are purchased on a contract or wholesale basis, are another option. Wind energy is technically a kind of solar energy. Wind is caused by temperature variations in the atmosphere and the rotation of the Earth, and the geography of the planet. Wind energy is a clean energy source, which means it does not damage the environment in the same way other types of energy do. Wind energy does not emit carbon dioxide or any other hazardous pollutants that can degrade the environment or damage human health, such as smog, acid rain, or other heat-trapping gases. Investment in wind energy technology can also lead to new employment opportunities and job training, as farm turbines should be serviced and maintained to remain operational. Wind farms are often constructed in rural or isolated locations, far from busy towns where electricity is most required. Wind energy must be transmitted through transition lines, which raises the cost. Even though wind turbines produce relatively little pollution, some cities are opposed to them because they dominate skylines and create noise. In addition, wind turbines can pose a danger to nearby animals, such as birds, who are occasionally killed when they collide with the turbine's arms while flying. Hydroelectric: When it comes to hydroelectric power, most people think of dams. Pumped-storage hydropower is the process through which water flows through the turbines of a dam to generate energy. Run-of-river hydropower utilizes a canal to funnel water through rather than a dam to power it. Hydroelectric power is very flexible since it can be generated utilizing both large-scale projects such as the Hoover Dam and small-scale projects such as underwater turbines and lower dams on rivers and streams. In addition, because hydroelectric power does not emit pollutants, it is a far more ecologically beneficial energy source for our environment. The majority of hydroelectric power plants use more energy than they generate. To pump water, the storage systems may need to utilize fossil fuels. Although hydroelectric power does not contaminate the air, it disrupts rivers. It harms the animals that dwell in them by changing water levels, currents, and migratory routes for many fish and other freshwater ecosystems. Geothermal: Geothermal heat is heat trapped under the Earth's crust due to the Earth's creation 4.5 billion years ago and radioactive decay. Large quantities of this heat can sometimes escape spontaneously, but only all at once, resulting in well-known phenomena like volcanic explosions and geysers. This heat can be collected and utilized to generate geothermal energy by utilizing steam generated by heated water pumping under the surface, which rises to the surface and can power a turbine. Geothermal energy is not as common as other forms of renewable energy, but it has considerable energy supply potential. In addition, it has a little environmental impact because it can be constructed underground. As geothermal energy is replenished naturally, it is not in danger of depletion. When it comes to the drawbacks of geothermal energy, the cost is a significant issue. Not only is the infrastructure expensive to construct, but it is also vulnerable to earthquakes in some parts of the world. Is renewable energy capable of powering the future? Renewable energy technologies already account for approximately 26% of total global power, and the International Energy Agency (IEA) predicts that this will rise to 30% by 2024. According to the IEA, by 2024, the world's renewable energy capacity will have increased by 1,200 GW, which is equivalent to the capacity of the whole United States. Expert analysis indicates that a completely sustainable energy system can be achieved worldwide over the next 30 years; the difficult part is persuading countries to change their ways. What is the significance of renewable energy in the future? There are many reasons why renewable energy is critical for the future, particularly given the negative impact that fossil fuels have on our world. This includes, among other things, air and water pollution, habitat and wildlife loss, and greenhouse gas emissions that contribute to global warming. Here are a few examples of why renewable energy is so important: Lowers air pollution: By lowering air pollution, renewable energy may help improve people's health worldwide. Air pollution is a significant environmental problem, particularly in metropolitan areas and developing countries, and the World Health Organization estimates that 7 million people die prematurely due to inhaling contaminated air each year. Lowers the danger of floods and droughts: Using renewable energy can also lower the risk of floods and droughts throughout the world. For example, many gallons of water are required to operate power plants that burn fossil fuels, leading to droughts in many low-rainfall nations. In contrast, climate change induced by the combustion of fossil fuels produces greater rainfall in other areas, resulting in catastrophic floods. Promotes local economies: The development of renewable energy technologies also contributes to creating new employment and financing for local economies. As a result, more employment in renewable energy is being generated every day, and they are only expected to grow more secure as technology advances. Lower long-term costs: Clean energy sources are becoming more appealing investment possibilities than fossil fuels. With the growing popularity of renewable energy sources like solar and wind power, investment is low risk, even with hefty initial installation costs. They can effectively generate electricity "for free" for decades after installation. A future powered by renewable energy will result in a more sustainable environment and help many local economies in ways that fossil fuels cannot. What is the best future renewable energy source? Solar energy and wind power, together with hydropower, are considered the greatest renewable energy sources for powering our future planet. They are the cleanest renewable resources and are ideal for household, industrial, and national grid uses. They can offer limitless quantities of clean energy to the world, but they can also boost local economies. Wind power technology has already resulted in a significant rise in employment and helps to put money back into local communities, with additional jobs being generated with each installation. Solar energy can benefit everyone who has sufficient space for PV panels, and it is much less intrusive than wind turbines. And, although initial installation prices can be high, they will start to fall as solar becomes more common. Is it possible for the world to survive on 100% renewable energy in the future? The world may survive on 100% renewable energy in the future, but this will not be without challenges. To read more about the challenges in renewable energy click here. Each nation will have to go through its transition phase, which will be relatively simple for some and more difficult for others. Others may be hesitant even to begin the transition if their economy is highly dependent on fossil fuels. The world's future can be unpredictable, and it's impossible to tell if it's possible to live completely on renewable energy. Still, we can help make the planet a better place by switching our homes' electricity to renewable energy. In the future, how efficient will renewable energy be? Renewable energy efficiency is determined by how much energy can be generated in a given period and how much it costs to generate this energy. Despite the fact that all renewable energy technologies have high initial costs, the costs of generating energy are considerably lower than the costs of obtaining fossil fuels. With the continuous advancement of renewable energy technology, this efficiency will only increase, bringing us closer to a bright future for renewable energy. What are the future benefits and drawbacks of renewable energy? Benefits: Renewable energy technologies have an infinite supply — as long as we have the sun, wind, water, and natural heat, we have renewable energy technologies. Reduced global warming impacts, such as floods, severe storms, droughts, and other extreme weather conditions. Fewer air contaminants, which lead to improved respiratory health. Reduced greenhouse gas emissions result in a more stable climate. More employment for local areas. More robust supply, which assists in the elimination of power outages. Enhanced accessibility. Lower energy costs, particularly with renewable energy prices falling. Drawbacks: Expensive initial installation costs. Intermittent - depending on the renewable energy source, they will not provide electricity 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Solar energy, for example, cannot be produced at night, and wind is not always powerful enough to spin a turbine. More advancements in storage solutions are required - renewable energy storage can be costly, but this is expected to improve as technology advances. Geographical constraints - some areas will be more suited to renewable energy sources than others. What factors will influence the future of renewable energy? The environmental advantages and the cost of transition are the two most important factors determining the future of renewable energy. The benefits of renewable energy sources often exceed the drawbacks, yet the high initial costs frequently discourage people from investing. Luckily, as environmental problems become more generally recognized, renewable energy prices, including installation costs, are falling, providing greater incentive to switch to renewable energy sources. So, what does the future of renewable energy hold? Renewable energy is expected to grow in popularity over the next decade, attempting to minimize the impacts of climate change. This may take some time, but we will have to switch to renewable energy to fight against climate change and protect our environment. FAQ Why is renewable energy the future? Alternative energy sources emit much less Carbon dioxide than natural gas, coal, and other fossil fuels. Switching to renewable energy sources for electricity production will benefit the environment by delaying and reversing climate change. Is renewable energy a good investment for business? There are many benefits to investing in renewable energy sources for businesses, including increased marketing possibilities, fewer emissions, cheaper energy costs, and many more. Businesses must lead the way in becoming more sustainable by expanding their usage of renewable energy. What is the best renewable energy source for the future? Solar energy and wind power, together with hydropower, are considered the greatest renewable energy sources for powering our future planet. They are the cleanest renewable resources and are ideal for household, industrial, and national grid uses. They can offer limitless quantities of clean energy to the world, but they can also boost local economies. 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ENERGY

Outdated perceptions: how energy attitudes are damaging customer wallets

Article | March 22, 2021

Despite rising energy costs and dwindling customer ratings of the ‘Big Six’, over 37% of Brits still believe they are getting a good deal when it comes to gas and electricity. Here, Keith Bastian, CEO of rising independent Outfox the Market, challenges those age-old perceptions that are damaging consumer bank balances… I have never quite understood the notion of pay more for the same service. Except that last part, is really where the difference lies. As I have made my way through the energy market, it seems clear to me that we are facing a common notion. Age-old dinosaurs, that have relied on name status and brand power to retain customer loyalty, despite not providing anything different or any value-added service, give the impression that customers are somehow safer with them. That is the biggest misconception. We at Outfox the Market would like to challenge that. Of course, when I speak in such a way, I am referring to the ‘Big Six’, those long-established brands whose share in the energy market whilst substantial, is increasingly coming at the cost to its customers. For example, in the latest independent customer rankings from Which, it was determined that the traditional big energy companies had some of the lowest scores for customer service and value for money, yet some customers still feel secure with them. On the contrary, rising independents, such as ourselves, were scoring highly in these areas and this is where I feel the difference lies. Regardless of your opinion on fossil fuels and/or renewables, it is more the value of looking after your customers, understanding their concerns and dealing with them efficiently that has become somewhat lost for the ‘Big Six’. It is true that they have a larger proportion of customers to serve with a larger workforce, but that should not be to the detriment to the service they provide. What were are seeing now, as evidenced by the recent Ofgem price hikes, is the ‘Big Six’ once again failing consumers in these areas, with most of the top names putting costs up by £96 a year on average as of April. I am not one to not acknowledge that energy firms are tongue-tied in some respects in passing regulated costs on; there are times when we must. However, customers could also benefit from a little research. Even with growing numbers of consumers switching, nearly 60% of all households in the UK are still on standard variable rate tariffs, those that are subject to the incoming Ofgem hikes. So, the real question is why aren’t more customers switching? Heritage, loyalty and brand association. These facets really should not come at cost of paying more for energy. I really believe it is down to time-sensitivity and a misunderstanding around the barriers to switching, with cost somewhere in the middle. According to MoneySuperMarket, 75% of us would switch if we could save £149.99. A hefty figure, but why not the £96 highlighted earlier? That is still pretty good, and something that would add up nicely over the years. I understand we are time-poor as a nation, it’s well publicised, but we’re all well averse in switching phone contracts and insurance deals, so why not where our energy comes from? Truth be told, I believe it’s an age-old notion that energy is ‘just something that comes with the house, not worth the hours or hassle to change.’ But in all honesty, it takes a matter of seconds to switch. Firms such as ourselves offer this and more via a quick and easy quote online. Best of all, many energy providers will help manage the switching process for you, contacting your current provider and notifying them of your intentions. I would also like to challenge this notion that once an energy firm ‘gets you’, you are ‘locked in’ for years upon end in ever rising contract costs. If you are on a standard variable tariff, you can switch to a new provider at any time. What’s more, even if you are in a fixed term energy deal, which can be subject to exit fees, sometimes the cost involved outweighs the savings you can make with your new provider. Customers must do their best to ask more of energy firms, check the service they are being given and hold it up against national bill averages. Compare what your neighbours, friends and family are paying under similar living circumstances, and weigh up if you are being given a fair deal. Living costs and regulated price hikes are always going to be an ever present worry, so I call on both customers and energy firms to do their due diligence in these respects. Age-old energy firms relying on their reputation must take a serious inward look at their lessening market share to understand why they are failing customers. It’s time to make a change now, both from business attitude and a consumer standpoint; switching is quick, easy and a vital notion to bear in mind, as both retaining custom and saving money becomes an ever-growing sticking point in the energy market.

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What does Covid-19 mean for Renewable Energy?

Article | April 15, 2020

Covid-19. It’s everywhere, and it’s probably the reason that your food cupboards are unusually more stocked than usual, or the fact that you’re likely reading this blog from the confines of your own home, as opposed to at your office or during your daily commute. But, despite the impact to business, economies, daily life and public health, there’s one bittersweet development which we can all take away from the outbreak – and that’s the considerable reduction of global CO2 emissions, and a resurgence of hope that it is fully possible for us to slow the onset of climate change and preserve our planet for future generations.

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Spotlight

Solar and Energy Loan Fund

The Solar and Energy Loan Fund (SELF), which administers the Clean Energy Loan Program, provides energy expertise and favorable financing to help property owners (residential and commercial) identify and make cost-effective energy retrofits, including: energy conservation; energy efficiency; and, renewable energy alternatives (e.g., solar). SELF clients are reducing their energy consumption by an average of 24% and using the energy savings to help pay off the loans over time. Rebates and tax credits may also apply to many of the 25 energy savings products financed through the Clean Energy Loan Program. SELF clients are also increasing their home equity, market value, and overall quality of life.

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