Renewables, Natural Gas and Efficiency, Transform US Energy Grid

by Joshua S Hill.

Bloomberg New Energy Finance has released their 2014 instalment of the Sustainable Energy in America Factbook for The Business Council for Sustainable Energy, and found that renewable energy, natural gas, and energy efficiency advancements are leading a transformation of America’s energy systems.

While there have been political shifts to and from over the past year, this latest Factbook only adds to the data showing the need and value of transitioning to cleaner and more energy efficient systems, while increasing the data documenting the long-term trend towards the same.

“The U.S. energy transformation that began in the mid-2000s gained additional momentum in 2013,” said Lisa Jacobson, president of The Business Council for Sustainable Energy. “The Factbook plays a vital role in chronicling this fast-moving transformation, which is creating whole new industries and thousands of new jobs in the energy efficiency, natural gas and renewable energy sectors.”

According to the Factbook research, renewable energy provided 13% of US electricity generation across 2013, while simultaneously reaching all-time lows in costs, allowing renewable energy technologies to be cheaper than fossil fuel electricity in some parts of the US. According to BNEF, however, “small, distributed generators and off-grid installations, meanwhile, began to emerge as a transformative force in the power industry.”

“The changes unfolding in the US energy industry have been profound and, by the typical time scale of the industry, abrupt” said Michel Di Capua, Head of North American Analysis for Bloomberg New Energy Finance. “The effects of these changes will be felt in seemingly every nook and cranny of the American economy, from military bases to manufacturing plants, from homes to highways. 2013 saw some detours from the long-term trends, but overall, it is clear that the long-term transformation of how the US produces and consumes energy continues.”

Energy efficiency financing and natural gas production and consumption have all boomed over the last year. Energy efficiency spending by energy service companies and electric and gas utilities totalled more than $12 billion in 2012 while 31 states and the District of Columbia, representing 77 percent of the U.S. population, have legislation in place to enable the financing of energy efficiency via property-assessed clean energy programs (PACE). Natural gas investment reached $15 billion for the midstream.

The need for clear energy policy in Washington was also made abruptly clear in 2013, thanks to the chaos surrounding the late extension of the wind Production Tax Credit. The wind industry only installed 600 MW in 2013, a massive drop from the record 13.8 GW it installed in 2012, and the root of the problem can be traced back to the uncertainty surrounding the PTC. Conversely, the solar tax credits did not require renewal in 2013, allowing the industry to make a clear 50% increase in cumulative solar installations.

“We urge legislators and policy makers to clarify and stabilize clean energy policies both at the federal and state levels in order to accelerate America’s energy transformation,” Jacobson added. “Clean energy technologies have made major gains in the last five years, and further growth will help reduce greenhouse gas emissions, improve our energy security and strengthen the U.S. economy.”

Repost.Us - Republish This Article

This article, Renewables, Natural Gas, and Efficiency Leading American Energy Transformation, is syndicated from Clean Technica and is posted here with permission.

About the Author

Joshua S Hill I’m a Christian, a nerd, a geek, a liberal left-winger, and believe that we’re pretty quickly directing planet-Earth into hell in a handbasket! I work as Associate Editor for the Important Media Network and write for CleanTechnica and Planetsave. I also write for Fantasy Book Review (.co.uk), Amazing Stories, the Stabley Times and Medium.   I love words with a passion, both creating them and reading them.

US Consumer Support for Renewables – Highest Level Since 2010

by Silvio Marcacci.

Consumer approval of clean energy 2013 chart via Navigant Research
Consumer approval of clean energy 2013 chart via Navigant Research

Consumer attitudes toward clean energy technologies in America rebounded strongly in 2013 to reach their highest levels since 2010, countering several years of declines in favorability ratings between 2009-2012.

This good news comes from Navigant Research’s 2013 Energy and Environment Consumer Survey, and indicates clean tech may finally be established as a preferred option for consumers despite high-profile conservative attacks.

Overall support for clean energy swung from 2012’s low of 44% to a 51% average favorability in 2013. In fact, out of ten technologies ranging from clean energy to clean transportation to energy efficiency, only one – nuclear power – declined in popularity over the past year.

Consumer support for clean energy 2009-2013 chart via Navigant Research
Consumer support for clean energy 2009-2013 chart via Navigant Research

This Just In – Renewables Rule

Navigant’s survey is the latest in an annual series dating back to 2009, and surveyed over 1,000 people in representative samples across the U.S. during the fourth quarter of 2013. Respondents were asked to share their feelings about each technology and their replies were then compared to previous years to show trends.

Without a doubt, this year’s headline simply reads: renewables rule, especially solar. 79% of respondents favored solar energy, a 10% surge compared to 2012 and just under the all-time high of 81% in 2009. Solar energy also had the lowest unfavorable rating at 6% and the highest “very favorable” rating at 50% – not a surprise if you consider 2013’s record-setting pace for new US solar installations.

Wind energy ranked second overall out of all surveyed technologies, coming in just behind solar in overall favorability (72%), “very favorable” (42%), and unfavorable (7%), despite the controversy over renewing the Production Tax Credit. When combined, these two renewable energy technologies appear to have cemented themselves among Americans. “Consumers consider these renewable energies to be important pieces in the power generation portfolio of the future,” says the survey’s white paper.

Clean Transportation Pulls Ahead

But positive attitudes toward clean energy aren’t just limited to our power sockets – they also extend to our highways and byways. Clean transportation options pulled ahead of the pack in 2013, led by hybrid and electric vehicles.

Hybrid vehicles ranked third in overall favorability with 67% of consumers supporting them, up an incredible 13% from 2012, and third lowest with just an 8% unfavorable response rate. Interestingly, the bulk of unfavorable responses for hybrids came from those with a high school degree or lower education.

While electric vehicles came in just behind hybrids at 61% favorability, they jumped 12% from just a 49% approval rate in just one year, hinting the increasing number of EVs on US roads could be making them more attractive to drivers.

Lack Of Understanding = Lack Of Support

Ironically, the same trend of consumers equating more solar panels and more EVs on the road to higher approval ratings may be the reason smart grid and green building concepts continued to rank poorly.

The concept of a smart grid was viewed favorably by just 37% of respondents, but unfavorably by just 6% of consumers – the same negative rank as solar energy. 57% of consumers said they either didn’t have an opinion or were neutral on smart grid technology, meaning the potential for support exists but educational efforts are lagging by utilities.

Smart meters in particular also showed the same trend as smart grid in general, with 43% viewing them favorable and 10% viewing them unfavorable but 47% saying they were neutral or unfamiliar with the technology.

Consumer awareness of LEED certification chart via Navigant Research
Consumer awareness of LEED certification chart via Navigant Research

This trend was most apparent, however, when it came to LEED certification. A massive 72% of all respondents said they were either unfamiliar (41%) or had no opinion (32%) of green building. While this is somewhat surprising considering green buildings could be half of all US construction by 2016, the potential is still bright considering those who knew about LEED supported it at a 4-to-1 ratio.

Seeing Is Believing For Clean Energy

Navigant’s annual survey generates multiple possibilities in the evolution of consumer support for clean energy technologies, but the underlying story is clear: When people learn about clean tech by seeing it in their everyday lives, they support it in large numbers.

That’s a powerful message to throw back at fossil fuel proponents or poorly informed media reports that argue support for clean energy is a mistake, and is a good omen for our potential to decarbonize and build a sustainable future.

Repost.Us - Republish This Article

This article, US Consumer Support For Clean Energy At Highest Level Since 2010, is syndicated from Clean Technica and is posted here with permission.

About the Author

Silvio MarcacciSilvio Marcacci Silvio is Principal at Marcacci Communications, a full-service clean energy and climate-focused public relations company based in Washington, D.C.

Follow JBS News Renewable Energy on Facebook and on Twitter

Home Automation Benefits (Infographic)

by Zachary Shahan

The folks at My Alarm Center recently put together a pretty spiffy infographic on some of the awesome benefits of home automation, and what home automation technologies can do.

.home automation infographics facts

Some of the facts that surprised me:

  1. A light bulb can last 2.28 years (or 20 times) longer when dimmed 50%.
  2. 56% of the average home energy bill comes from heating and cooling.

Of course, beyond the potential energy benefits, the other noted uses and benefits are also very cool. As far as other cool stats, I was also struck by the fact that:

  1. People with home automation see home insurance savings of 20% (on average) or $1,154 a year.
  2. 1.8 million home automation systems were installed in the US last year (far more than I would have guessed).
  3. 12 million home automation systems are expected to be installed in the US by 2016.

It all makes sense. With the growth of smartphones and tablets, people are feeling more comfortable with such remote and sophisticated technologies. They are even coming to expect them. I can definitely see the home automation growth trend increasing fast in the coming years.

Any of you have experience with home automation technology, or any further thoughts on this side of cleantech?

Also see:

Repost.Us - Republish This Article

This article, Home Automation Benefits (Infographic), is syndicated from Clean Technica and is posted here with permission.

About the Author

Zachary Shahan is the director of CleanTechnica, the most popular cleantech-focused website in the world, and Planetsave, a world-leading green and science news site. He has been covering green news of various sorts since 2008, and he has been especially focused on solar energy, electric vehicles, and wind energy for the past four years or so. Aside from his work on CleanTechnica and Planetsave, he’s the Network Manager for their parent organization – Important Media – and he’s the Owner/Founder of Solar Love, EV Obsession, and Bikocity. To connect with Zach on some of your favorite social networks, go to ZacharyShahan.com and click on the relevant buttons.

7 Ways To Reduce Your Electricity Bill

by Zachary Shahan

7 Ways to Lower Your Electricity Bills
7 Ways to Lower Your Electricity Bills

Originally published on Cost of Solar.

A lot of people are looking to save money these days. No one knows what the future holds, and we all know that the world has been marred with economic troubles in the past decade or so. A major household expenditure for most of us is our electric bill. And our electricity usage is a great place to start when we’re looking at how to lower our bills.

How To Lower Electric Bill, Action #1 — Go Solar!

I’m going to go ahead and start with the most obvious — the most effective way to lower your electric bill is very likely by going solar. Sure, you have to pay for those solar panels, but they are cheaper (in the long run) than electricity. The average household that goes solar is likely to save tens of thousands of dollars over the course of their solar panel system’s lifetime.

Furthermore, if you have a solar leasing option in your area, you can consider going solar without purchasing the system at all, allowing you to save money on your electric bill from day one. The average middle-class family that goes solar using a solar leasing model is projected to save $600 a year, according to one recent study.

Luckily, electricity usage, electricity costs, and sunshine are all pretty predictable factors. So, you can estimate how much you’d probably save by going solar, or you can get help with that, and then you can decide if you think it’s worth the investment or not.

Check out the specific projections for your home or business.

How To Lower Electric Bill, Action #2 — Switch To LEDs!

Now, beyond the big boy, probably the next best step you can take is ditching your incandescent light bulbs for LEDs. Yes, previously, CFLs were the hot green option for lighting. However, the cost of even more-efficient LEDs has come down tremendously in recent years, and a couple of $5 or $10 LED options are probably your best options for low-cost, high-efficiency, green lighting.

Another positive of LEDs is that they don’t contain any mercury. While cutting electricity use by switching from incandescent light bulbs to CFLs surely reduces mercury pollution from coal power plants, CFLs do contain a tiny amount of mercury, which puts some people off. LEDs, on the other hand, are a completely different technology and don’t require or contain any mercury.

Now that the cost of LEDs has come down so far, I think they will quickly grow in use and replace both incandescent and CFL bulbs. Since 2008, LED costs have fallen 85%, and we’ve gone from about 400,000 LED lights installed in the US in 2008 to approximately 20 million today, 50 times more! Join the LED revolution!

How To Lower Electric Bill, Action #3 — Cut Your AC/Heating Needs

Air conditioning and heating are major electricity hogs for a large number of people. However, a big reason for that is simply because we’ve gotten lazy about adjusting to our environment, or even gone in the opposite direction.

How many times have you been somewhere on a hot day in which the air condition was on so high that you had to put on more clothes to warm up? It’s all too common, and maybe you even have the AC set in such a way in your home. Give it some thought. Rather than paying a fortune to freeze yourself, or even to keep it cooler than your body really needs, lower your electric bill by simply raising your thermostat. Our bodies are made to adjust to our surrounding environment. Let your body do its job. And if you want to go even further, turn on a fan to keep cool so that you can turn the temperature on the AC up even further, or can even turn it off altogether. Blowing air on yourself takes a lot less energy than turning hot air into cold air.

On the flip side is of course the use of heating. In reverse from the above, you can lower your electric bill (or your heating bill, if they are separate) by simply letting your body adjust more to a cooler environment, by putting on more clothes (rather than walking around in your underwear in the middle of winter), and by using a blanket from time to time.

How To Lower Electric Bill, Action #4 — Don’t Use Electricity When You’re Not Using It

Unfortunately, most of us keep things plugged in for hours or even days between the times we actually use them. This includes TVs, computers, DVD players, DVRs, Xbox and PlayStation consoles, our air conditioning or heating (when we are out), toaster ovens, and much more. These things are then using electricity even when you are not using them. I’ve read that DVRs and gaming consoles are especially electricity needy even when not in use.

Simply unplug these things when you aren’t going to use them for several hours or perhaps even days. (And, in the case of the AC or heating, turn it off when you are going to be out for awhile.) If you’re concerned this is too complicated for you, there are several energy-saving plugs out there that can help you to cut this standby electricity usage without you doing a thing.

How To Lower Electric Bill, Action #5 — Have An Old Fridge? Ditch It

Old refrigerators (like the one you might have in your garage) are huge energy hogs. If you’ve got one of these around “just because it would be a waste not to use it,” perhaps it’s time to realize that it is a waste using it. Get rid of it.

In fact, if you have multiple fridges of any age, consider scaling back to just one. Refrigerators are big energy consumers. They eat up electricity like Homer Simpson eats up donuts. Chances are, you need much less space in the refrigerator than you think. Look into it, give it some thought, and scale back.

If you just have one refrigerator but it’s really old, you may still end up saving money by upgrading to a new one. Look into it. Do the math. Or at least have a math-loving friend do it for you.

How To Lower Electric Bill, Action #6 — Upgrade

For the most part, new appliances and electronics are much more energy efficient. If you’ve got a really old ______, it may save you money to finally upgrade. This goes for TVs, refrigerators, computers, and much more. Naturally, of course, with an upgrade you also get a newer, better product. Who doesn’t love that?

Again, this option requires doing a bit of math to see if the new product or products is/are worth the investment. But a little math is fun, so give it a shot!

One upgrade you probably haven’t yet done and which is likely to save you a lot of money is getting a learning thermostat. These new thermostats are an excellent way to save a lot of electricity and money without doing anything.

A bunch of other upgrades you can incorporate to lower your electric bill can be found here and here.

How To Lower Electric Bill, Action #7 — Move

Moving isn’t always the best option to solve your household problems, but sometimes it is. Moving into a smaller place or moving to a newer and more energy-efficient place could be a good solution for you. Give it some serious thought. Moving can also provide you with an opportunity to make numerous life changes you’ve been waiting to make. It’s a great opportunity for starting fresh and doing a lot of things you’ve been putting off for too long.
These are my top 7 suggestions for how to lower your electric bill. Give them a shot!

Have more? Please chime in with your suggestions in the comments below!

Repost.Us - Republish This Article

This article, 7 Ways To Reduce Your Electricity Bill, is syndicated from Clean Technica and is posted here with permission.

About the Author

Zachary Shahan is the director of CleanTechnica, the most popular cleantech-focused website in the world, and Planetsave, a world-leading green and science news site. He has been covering green news of various sorts since 2008, and he has been especially focused on solar energy, electric vehicles, and wind energy for the past four years or so. Aside from his work on CleanTechnica and Planetsave, he’s the Network Manager for their parent organization – Important Media – and he’s the Owner/Founder of Solar Love, EV Obsession, and Bikocity. To connect with Zach on some of your favorite social networks, go to ZacharyShahan.com and click on the relevant buttons.

Related Posts

solar-roi

Experience Grid Freedom

EnergyGov

Cleantech Transition Is Happening, Costs Dropping Off An Icy Cliff

prize-freeze

Ecotricity Agrees To Freeze Electricity Tariff Price Until January

100% Renewable Energy Powers All These Places, All The Time

by John Brian Shannon

A handy selection of jurisdictions where renewable energy has taken over completely. More locations will be added, check back for updates!

__________

4. Iceland. (Yes, all of it) runs on clean, renewable energy.

Iceland: A 100% renewables example in the modern era

Iceland

__________

3. Tokelau. A South Pacific Island. Runs on 100% Solar Power. Used to burn shiploads of expensive diesel and kerosene to create electrical power.

An Island (Tokelau) Powered 100% By Solar Energy
 
An Island (Tokelau) Powered 100% By Solar Energy →
.
__________

2. Samsø. An Island in Denmark. Citizen cooperative formed to power the entire Island. Sells excess electricity to mainland Denmark. Cooperative makes a tidy profit.

Introducing Samsø, A 100% Wind-Powered Island

blog_2013_10_23-1

.

__________

1. Güssing. Formerly near-bankrupt town in Austria runs on solar and locally-sourced biofuel. Oh, and they export solar panels, electricity, and biofuel, by the truckload. And town coffers are filling with clean gold.

Güssing, Austria Powered Entirely By Renewable Energy

blog_2013_10_08-1

.

__________
 

Related Articles: