How Much U.S. Electricity Will Come From Renewables in 2030?

October 21, 2019

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NextEra Energy (NYSE:NEE) made subtle changes to its outlook for renewable energy in the United States. Using a combination of data from the National Renewable Energy Lab (NREL) and its own internal analysis, the company estimates that America could generate 50% of its total electricity from renewable sources by 2030. It remains the most optimistic projection of its kind -- and even it might understate the future's potential. On the one hand, considering the United States leaned on renewables for just 18% of its electricity in 2018, there will need to be a surge in investment to make the estimate come true. On the other hand, NextEra generates more electricity from the wind and sun than any other company in the world and builds a giant share of the country's wind and solar power assets, so it has unmatched insight into trends.

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ENERGY

How viable is Underground Hydrogen Storage?

Article | December 23, 2021

Cleaner energy resources are the dire need of the hour and this is a known fact. While scientists and experts across the planet are striving hard to reduce our reliance on fossil fuels, our energy needs have never faced a downfall- thanks to rapid industrialization and urbanization. Although renewable resources like solar, wind, and hydro-electric power are the most popular alternatives, these are seasonal energy sources and the energy production from the same will not be similar all around the year. The fluctuations in production hence cannot always meet the energy demand of the population, and this makes the renewable energy sources not completely reliable. Solar Production v/s Demand of the same in a year What and How H2 is produced? Now, this is where Hydrogen- the first element of the periodic table comes to the spotlight with a solution. Being a gas, hydrogen fuel can very well cater to our energy needs and is produced from techniques including Thermochemical, Solar-Water splitting, electrolytic and biological processes. While the production of this cleaner energy source leaves a carbon footprint of about 830 million tonnes in the form of CO2 annually, the result being a zero-emission fuel is what makes H2’s future bright. Storage of H2 – the million-dollar question: Having almost cleared the need and methods of producing hydrogen fuel, we will be looking at an area that is usually not given much thought about and that is the storage of H2. As already mentioned, for time being let us consider hydrogen as an alternative to renewable resources which is utilized when the energy demand increases drastically. While producing the fuel in the nick of time is obviously undoable, sufficient storage of H2 anticipating the demand is the best choice. Like Natural Gas, Hydrogen is also compressed before storing to achieve lower volume and also because liquid hydrogen demands a 64% higher amount of energy for storage than its compressed gaseous counterpart. Storage tanks v/s Geological landforms: Compressed Hydrogen can be stored in surface storage vessels (like steel composite concrete vessels and in wind turbine towers) or in geological landforms like (salt caverns, depleted O&G reservoirs, and aquifers). Nevertheless, unlike the underground geological landforms which offer huge storage capacity owing to their sheer scale, the storage tanks which can range in size from a small bottle to a huge tank require high amounts of pressure to store an appreciable amount of H2 in it. Since these storage tanks are usually constructed on the surface, the pressure conditions in these tanks need to be artificially stimulated and thereby mount huge upfront costs when compared to their geological storage counterpart. H2 storage prices in Geological Landforms v/s Storage Vessels (in $/kg) The above is a table comparing the prices of Hydrogen storage in Geological landforms and Storage Vessels at different pressure conditions. It is visible from the table that it's about 218 times cheaper to store the same amount of hydrogen in Geological landforms than in storage vessels. Is geological storage truly a better option? Like any other storage option geological storage too has its pros and cons. From the erosion of pipelines to the tedious task of injecting the gas and maintaining it at apt pressure conditions, geological storage has its limitations. However, the important prerequisite is the availability of the suitable landform itself. While most of the Depleted O&G Reservoirs have already met all the requirements for a suitable Underground Hydrogen Storage (UHS) system, the presence of unrecoverable remnant fluids in it makes it both a boon and a bane. This is because the presence of remnant fluids like oil and gas satisfies the cushion gas need for efficient storage of H2 in the reservoir, chances of contamination of H2 by the same is also high. This is the reason why Aquifers too aren’t favorable underground landforms when it comes to hydrogen storage. Salt Caverns- the best UHS System? The problem of Hydrogen contamination in Depleted Oil & Gas reservoirs and aquifers leaves us to the next big suitable subsurface landform- salt caverns. Unlike the other two landforms, the problem of contamination can be prevented in these dome-like structures formed due to the upliftment of salt deposits and it is also found that about 98% of its storage efficiency can be used to store Hydrogen here. The reason behind its relatively expensive nature when compared to its other two counterparts is due to the process of salt removing or leaching that must be done before storing to ensure that the contamination of the gas is unheard of at least here. Suitable Conditions of UHS: As per Stefan Iglauer, the maximum amount of H2 can be stored at a depth of 1100m beneath the Earth’s surface and the capacity gradually decreases up until 3700 m depth beyond which the wettability of the gas increases as it percolates through the rocks and hence cannot be permanently immobilized. Conclusively it is found that suitable landforms formed at 1km depth can store up to 2.0 Mt of H2. Comparing this 2 MT storage capacity of Salt Caverns with the currently available storage tanks which can store about 800 kg of H2 in it, it is visible that geological landforms have a clear upper hand at least when it comes to storage capacity. Future of UHS: With demands for Hydrogen fuel estimated to grow at 5.48 % annually and the need for a suitable storage system of the same at 5.8% annually, the field of Underground Hydrogen Storage systems indeed has a bright scope. Moreover, to meet the large-scale needs of Industries, there is an imminent need to level up the storage capacity of H2 and by exploring suitable geological landforms across the globe, the estimated industrial need of 1200 kT/ year in 2050 can be met.

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SOLAR+STORAGE

HOW TO TAKE ADVANTAGE OF SOLAR ENERGY

Article | December 23, 2021

UTILIZING SOLAR ENERGY You want the world to be a better place for your children and your children’s children. So how do you go about making changes in order to ensure that it will be? There are only so many things you can do, but you know it would be a good start to change the way you use energy. There’s so much waste and, in reality, only so much energy to go around. You’ve heard that solar energy is the energy source of the future and you can get behind that. After all, the sun is bright and hot and always around. It’s not going to run out of energy anytime soon and it makes sense to use its energy to power things. But how do you take advantage of that? Here are a few ideas. START SMALL WITH SOLAR ENERGY You might want to test out how solar energy works by using it in small ways. First, get some solar powered landscape lights and other small items that can help you get used to how solar power works. You’ll see that those lights glow on a nightly basis from the sun’s power that they stored during the day and you’ll realize that solar power can work well in other areas. GO BIG WITH SOLAR PANELS You can also do your research and go all out with solar panels on your roof. They’re costly to install, but they cost a lot less now than they did in the past. Plus, they’ll pay you back over the years in energy savings. If you really want to make an impact and you have the money to do so, solar panels are a great way to take advantage of the solar energy beating down on your house. GET IN TOUCH WITH A CLEAN ENERGY PROVIDER If you go with solar panels yourself, more power to you (literally, in some ways!) but not every homeowner has the funds or inclination to go that route. If you want something easier, but you still want solar power, it’s best to contact a clean energy provider for help. Your clean energy provider will harness solar power for you (along with wind energy and other renewable sources) and add it to the grid. You can then use energy as needed and know that it comes from the sun and other clean sources. SOLAR ENERGY IS THE FUTURE With natural resources dwindling, it makes sense for more people to jump over to solar power. It definitely has enough power to go around and it doesn’t cause harmful gases and pollution to be released into the atmosphere. You may as well jump on board early with Star Energy Partners. You’ll not only have peace of mind about where your energy comes from, but you’ll also pay a fixed rate, which is lower than what your bills are now. We can even call your current company for you and get you switched over with ease.

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SOLAR+STORAGE

Why Picking an Established and Credible Solar Installer Matters

Article | December 23, 2021

With the popularity of solar increasing across the country, the number of solar installers has been multiplying. Unfortunately, many fly-by-night companies with minimal installation experience or larger national firms with little market history are trying to capitalize on the industry’s growth. In addition, the sheer volume of installation partners that consumers have to choose from can result in a great deal of buyer confusion. More choices, more issues As the number of solar installers has gone up, so have complaints and issues related to providers and their service. Recently, the Minnesota Department of Labor and Industry reached terms with Empire Solar Group LLC’s trustees, a national solar installer that went bankrupt earlier this year, leaving 45 homeowners in Minnesota with projects in various levels of incompletion. Unfortunately, they’re not alone, as many other consumers have also fallen into precarious situations after companies using high-pressure sales tactics have been unable to deliver on the work. Michael Allen, CEO of All Energy Solar, says, “He’s angered that companies go out of business and face no fines.” Allen and other established industry leaders have done their best to help out customers caught in the middle of an installer’s bankruptcy issues, but there is only so much they can do. What protections do consumers have? In some cases, states have put into place protections for consumers; for example, in Minnesota, consumers stranded with uncompleted projects can get access to the state’s Contractor Recovery Fund, which receives money from licensing fees to help offset these costs. But that is of little comfort for those trying to determine what partner to choose for their project. The best bet When picking a solar installation partner, your best bet is to avoid those with high-pressure sales tactics, “too-good-to-be-true” pricing, or ones with little to no installation experience. Don’t simply trust the sales rep, do a little of your own research to see what other customers are saying. Looking for a record of successfully completed projects and businesses with state and national certifications can be another way to confirm credibility.

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SOLAR+STORAGE

Working From Home? Solar Might Be Perfect for You

Article | December 17, 2021

The pandemic emptied out most of America’s offices as workers across the country set up home workstations. Although this looked to be a temporary situation for many, it has become clear that many workers are choosing to continue to work from home, and many businesses are embracing this concept as well. If you’re one of those individuals, you may want to consider adding solar to your home. A shift in power usage According to the National Bureau of Economic Research, “Americans spent $6 billion more on at-home power consumption from April to July 2020 than during normal times, nearly offsetting a decline in business and industrial demand.” The increase in residential consumption was fueled by increased home heating and cooling demands, workers participating in virtual meetings, running computers, printers, lamps, and other electronic devices all day long. This has resulted in a shift in energy costs from corporations to employees, with many workers seeing significant increases in their home utility bills. Capitalizing on higher demand to maximize your system size Solar can be a great way to offset the costs of your home's energy demands. Because your consumption is currently higher than it would be if you were working at your company's office, you have the ability to install a system that will more than cover your electricity needs if and when you do return to a corporate office setting. Although your increased usage means you'll need to add a more extensive solar photovoltaic system to your home to do this, it also provides you with an opportunity to maximize your system's size to meet your needs. Incentives and savings The federal solar tax credit, also known as the investment tax credit (ITC), allows you to deduct 26 percent of the cost of installing a solar energy system from your federal taxes. However, that number falls to 22 percent in 2023 and goes away in 2024 for residential projects, while commercial projects are reduced to 10 percent ongoing. The ITC applies to both residential and commercial systems and there is no cap to the size of the system the ITC can be applied to. Making plans now to invest in a solar PV system for your home can be a great way to continue to reap the rewards of working from home without it having a significant negative impact on your monthly utility bill.

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