Renewable Energy completely powers 91 Illinois Communities

by Guest Contributor, the WWF

JBS News Renewable Energy. Image Credit: Illinois flag via Shutterstock
It turns out that Illinois has enlightened policies on renewable energy, and 91 communities in the state run on 100% green energy. Illinois also leads the U.S. in LEED Certified Green Buildings. It’s a pleasure to give credit where credit is due. Image Credit: Illinois flag via Shutterstock

WASHINGTON, DC, March 7, 2014 – Illinois has embraced renewable electricity on a massive scale not seen anywhere else in the nation, says a new report, Leading from the Middle: How Illinois Communities Unleashed Renewable Energy. With 91 communities providing 100% renewable electricity to their residents, the state far outpaces any other, including Ohio, which has two cities providing 100% renewable electricity.

The report was released today by World Wildlife Fund, the Environmental Law and Policy Center, LEAN Energy US, the Illinois Solar Energy Association, Illinois Sierra Club, and The George Washington University Solar Institute.

The findings of today’s report are an example of Illinois leading our country’s movement to a more sustainable future from the community level, said Sen. Dick Durbin.

Communities up and down the state have banded together to pursue renewable electricity, reducing both their utility costs and the state’s environmental footprint.

Illinois is showing what can happen when change at the local level is harnessed to create a collective movement, and I hope other states take notice.

Each community in Illinois independently voted to purchase electricity through renewable energy credits, leveraging their group buying power to receive renewable electricity while also reducing overall electricity cost.

Without fanfare, 91 local governments in Illinois have decided that renewable electricity is the best option, said Keya Chatterjee, director of renewable energy and footprint outreach at WWF.

No one knew this was happening, and I doubt anyone would have guessed. America’s green energy revolution is here; and it starts in Illinois.

The 91 communities that have transitioned to 100% renewable electricity represent more than 1.7 million individuals. Demand for renewable energy from the state is more than six terawatt hours, a reduction in greenhouse gas comparable to taking more than one million cars off the road.

We are seeing the power of letting communities choose their electricity supply, said Sarah Wochos, senior policy advocate at the Environmental Law & Policy Center.

Across Illinois, cities and towns are asking for clean, renewable energy, and we encourage them to use that power to bring new renewable energy projects to their communities.

Illinois is one of six states in the country that currently allows community choice aggregation (CCA), a system by which communities can use their bulk purchasing power to solicit bids from energy providers.

Requests for bids can stipulate the mix of energy sources, and as seen in Illinois, can require that all electricity is offset by renewable energy credits – energy that comes from sources like wind, solar, and geothermal.

Other states allowing CCA are New Jersey, Ohio, California, Rhode Island, and Massachusetts. The report includes guidance for local governments in CCA states wishing to pursue aggregation as well as recommendations for expanding CCA.

WWF is the world’s leading conservation organization, working in 100 countries for nearly half a century. With the support of almost 5 million members worldwide, WWF is dedicated to delivering science-based solutions to preserve the diversity and abundance of life on Earth, halt the degradation of the environment and combat climate change. Visit to learn more.

This article, 91 Illinois Communities Powered 100% By Green Electricity, is syndicated from Clean Technica and is posted here with permission.

REmap 2030: Roadmap to Double Renewable Energy Share by 2030

by Zachary Shahan.

IRENA has just launched REmap 2030, a roadmap showing how the world can double the share of renewable energy in the global energy mix by 2030, and triple the share of “modern renewables.” Overall, REmap 2030 sees modern renewables quadrupling in absolute terms by 2030, a share of at least 30% in total final energy consumption.

The roadmap focuses on 26 countries, and will eventually include individual reports for each country, which will be published later in the year. I had the opportunity to discuss the report with Dolf Gielen, Director of the IRENA Innovation & Technology Centre, just prior to the unveiling.

Below are some of the 1) interesting matters I pulled out of the summary of findings, 2) questions the report generated for me, and 3) Dolf’s responses.

One of the most surprising findings from the project, Dolf noted, was how little it would cost to achieve this doubling of renewable energy. And, actually, if you take external costs into account (health costs, climate costs, etc), doubling the renewable energy share is actually cheaper than business as usual. These low costs allow for a great increase in renewable energy supply that doesn’t hurt the economy but actually helps it!

Projections vs. Projections

REmap 2030
REmap 2030

It’s also worth noting that REmap 2030 is not a presentation of maximum potential renewable energy growth, but rather something aimed at presenting realistic potential as it stands today, while clearly acknowledging that there are ways to make the future even cleaner than in the REmap 2030 scenario. In fact, the report shows that early retirement of fossil fuel plants, a greater model shift in transportation (towards bicycling, walking, and mass transit), greater electrification (which I discuss a bit below), industry relocation, and breakthroughs in cleantech could lead to ~50% renewable energy share by 2030. Each of these improvements are genuine possibilities, and trends we have clearly seen in just the past two or three years.

One chart that stood out to me in the summary report was one that showed REmap 2030 renewable energy share for total final energy consumption was about halfway between what was projected in low-end scenarios and high-end scenarios (see below). I asked Dolf why the REmap 2030 scenario differed so much from the Greenpeace & WWF ones, and he explained that the amount of renewable energy use is comparable to most other ambitious scenarios, and with greater energy efficiency in REmap 2030 the renewable share can increase further. Renewable energy use was actually very comparable in the three scenarios.

renewable energy 2030 projections
Renewable energy 2030 projections

Transportation Projections

Of course, I was also curious about the roadmap’s projections for electric vehicle growth. The projection was that only ~10% of passenger fleet transportation would be electric vehicles in 2030, which is more than some people project, but I still think is a pessimistic projection. In the end, I am in a certain camp of people who think that electrification of transport will be very disruptive and will see explosive growth. I don’t think 10% electrification is a bad projection, and it is in line with most projections from market research firms and energy agencies, but I do think it is an underestimate. Nonetheless, even achieving 10% of the passenger vehicle market would be a tremendous change from today. It would mean going from ~0.2 million EVs in 2012 to ~160 million EVs in 2030. Dolf also mentioned that this would imply sales of at least 10 million EVs per year between today and 2030.

Digging in a tiny bit, I asked about which of the 26 countries under study would be seeing the greatest electrification of transportation. Dolf noted China and France as two examples.

On another side of the transportation pie, REmap 2030 saw fairly strong growth in the use of cellulosic biofuels. Dolf noted one startup that has created a financially attractive cellulosic biofuel plant that it is looking to replicate in multiple locations. The startup is a subsidiary of Solazyme, a company which has been working in this field for several years.

Overall, biofuels are projected to grow 6 times over, from 105 billion liters in 2012 to 650 billion liters in 2030.

Less Government Support Than Fossil Fuels

REmap 2030 does project that this doubling of renewable energy will come with a cost if you only look at the price of energy (that is, if you ignore the health and climate costs of fossil fuels). However, it is not a great deal. “By 2030, renewable subsidies rise to USD 238 billion with the REmap Options fully deployed — less than half of the USD 544 billion in global subsidies for fossil fuels in 2012.” In other words, after over a century of tremendous fossil fuel subsidies, fossil fuel industries are still getting about twice as much money from governments in the way of subsidies (annually) than renewable energy would be granted according to the REmap 2030 projection. Imagine if we gave renewables as much as fossil fuels have been getting!

By the way, Dolf also noted that that a CO2 price of USD 28 per tonne would eliminated the need for subsidies.

Net Economic Benefit From Doubling Renewable Energy

Again, if you count health, climate, and other social costs, doubling renewable energy’s share of the global energy mix will have a net economic benefit. “The doubling of renewables can reduce emissions by 8.6 gigatonnes of CO2 in 2030, enough (along with the lower emissions enabled by energy efficiency) to keep us on a trajectory to limit global warming by more than two degrees Celsius. These mitigation benefits range from USD 3-12 per GJ, and the average health benefits due to reduce air pollution range from USD 1.9-4.6 per GJ. In the most conservative estimate, the external benefits thus amount to USD 4.9 per GJ, nearly twice the additional cost of USD 2.5 per GJ. A total of 900,000 net jobs will also be created globally.” ~3.5 million direct renewable energy jobs would be created.

Renewable Energy Growth Across All 4 Sectors
REmap sectors
REmap sectors

Renewable energy will grow to a different degree in different sectors. According to the REmap 2030 projection, 40% of the total global renewable energy use would be in power generation, while the other 60% would be in the building, transport, and industry sectors. The share of renewables within each of these sectors would be as follows (end-use sectors excluding the consumption of renewable power):

  • Power — 44%
  • Buildings — 35%
  • Industry — 19%
  • Transport — 15%

Growth By Renewable Energy Technology

REmap renewables 2010
REmap renewables 2010

REmap 2030 renewable energy split
REmap 2030 renewable energy split

So, you are probably now curious, how much will solar PV grow under REmap 2030? How much will wind power grow? How much will solar thermal grow? Here are some quick findings from REmap 2030 (change is from 2012 to 2030):

  • Hydropower — 60% growth, from 1000 GW to 1600 GW
  • Wind Power — 5-fold growth, from 280 GW to 1640 GW
  • Solar PV — 12-fold growth, from 100 GW to 1250 GW
  • Solar Thermal — 10-fold growth, from 380 million square meters to 4,000 million square meters
  • Power from Biomass — 5-fold growth, from 83 GW to 400 GW
  • Biofuels — 6-fold growth, from 105 billion liters to 650 billion liters
  • Electric Vehicles — 800-fold growth, from 0.2 million EVs to 160 million EVs (10% of passenger car fleet)
RE growth projections
RE growth projections

What Will Be Displaced?

So, from which energy resource will renewable energy be getting its increased share? Coal is projected to be the main loser, declining by 26%. Natural gas and oil’s decline is estimated at 15%.

fossil fuel reductions 2030
Fossil fuel reductions 2030

Aside from country-by-country roadmaps, REmap 2030 includes roadmaps for 4 specific sectors — cities, electricity storage, global manufacturing, and grid integration. It will be interesting to dig into those once they are published.

Full disclosure: My trip to Abu Dhabi for Abu Dhabi Sustainability Week was provided courtesy of Masdar.

This article is republished from CleanTechnica:

About the Author

Zachary ShahanZachary 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 and click on the relevant buttons.

WWF says India could reach 100% Renewables by 2050

by Guest Contributor Emma Fitzpatrick

Originally published on RenewEconomy

When the world thinks of countries that could go 100 percent renewable, the immediate thoughts go to islands with solar and storage, hydro and geothermal rich countries such as Iceland, or even wind and wave-rich countries like Scotland.

One of the last economies imagined going fully renewable would be India, the rising economic giant that is still yet to connect several hundred million people to its mostly coal-fired grid, and is expected to have the highest growth of electricity consumption. But according to environmental group WWF, India could reach a goal of 100 percent renewables by 2050.

The study examines the possibility of a near 100% Renewable Energy Scenario (REN) for India by the middle of the century against a reference scenario (REF) in which the economy is likely to be dependent primarily on fossil fuels – coal, oil and gas.

WWF says that to get there India must make some large-scale changes to get on the right track as soon as possible. According to the report, aggressive energy efficiency improvements alone can bring in savings of up to 59 percent (by both the supply and demand sides) by mid-century.

Biofuels are set to play a large role, especially in the transport sector accounting for nearly 90 percent of the industry’s requirements.  According to WWF the third-generation biofuels in question are currently still in R&D phase and for the plan to go accordingly they must become commercially viable within the next two decades.

Overall, biofuels account for 23 percent of the total commercial energy supply,  most of the transportation needs. Solar thermal accounts for much of industry’s heating needs, and the electricity supply increases nearly 8 fold, with wind contributing the largest component.

Electricity generation by resource - Renewable Energy Scenario (REN) for India
Electricity generation by resource – Renewable Energy Scenario (REN) for India

The report says the reference scenario depicts an unsustainable, polluting and relatively inefficient energy future in 2051. The renewable scenario, on the other hand, presents a modern, cleaner and highly efficient India and shows that it is, in principle, theoretically feasible to achieve close to 90 percent penetration of renewable energy sources in the energy mix by 2051.

“However, there are still many unresolved questions in the REN scenario related to resource potentials, availability, commercial viability of alternative options, policy and finance mobilization, barriers of cultural and technological lock-ins, etc,” it says.

“Several feasibility studies are, therefore, needed to lay the basis for moving toward the REN scenario; these have not yet been carried out. There are many interventions that would be necessary to remove various barriers and to achieve higher levels of renewable energy deployment in India.”

Concentrated solar thermal technologies, many of which are currently still in the research and development phase, will take on a large chunk of the nations electricity needs as well as meeting thermal demand in industries that require temperatures below 700°C.

Wind is also set to push India towards its 100 percent goal. Currently India has no estimates of its offshore wind potential but the WWF predicts that it could have up to 170 GW installed by 2051.

Rural households will be forced to change their cooking habits, meeting their needs through improved cook stoves while urban households switch to electrical based cooking.

In 2010, fossil fuels accounted for 74 percent of India’s total energy consumed as well as being the world’s third largest emitter of carbon dioxide. India’s greenhouse gas emissions have also steadily risen by 2.9 percent each year between 1994 and 2007.

Much of the rural population still relies on biomass (such as firewood and agro-residue) for much of its basic cooking needs (around 24.6 percent of the primary energy supply) as well as using kerosene for lighting purposes.

Coal currently accounts for 42.4 percent of India’s total primary energy demand in 2010, with the national rail network being the largest coal consumer before 1975 – now overtaken by the power sector (87.7 per cent of total consumption).

Electricity alone plays a crucial role in improving levels of human development and the quality of modern life – with a strong positive link between human development, economic growth and growth in energy and infrastructure.

To sustain India’s own growth it requires large amounts of energy, with little oil reserves and much of its large coal reserves being inaccessible due to technological, social or geological factors, the country has many push factors to get its renewable base up and running. Due to the low oil reserves India has a high import dependence making it more economically vulnerable and well as supply issues.

India started its National Solar Mission in 2010 and is aiming to get 20 GW of grid connected solar power by 2020. As well as this, the Mission is promoting 2,000 MW of off-grid applications; including 20 million solar lighting systems and 20 million square metres of solar thermal collector area by 2022.

In general, India has a vast potential for solar power generation, with about 58 percent of the country’s total land area receiving an annual global insolation about 5 kWh/m2/day. These areas with 5 kWh/m2/day or above can generate at least 77 W/m2 at 16 per cent efficiency.

Rooftop PV is likely to play a major role in both rural and urban areas with residential, agricultural and industrial priorities reducing the amount of available land for solar programs.

It was estimated that almost 30 percent of industrial processes in India require heat below 250°C which can be supplied with heat from solar thermal concentrators. Temperatures below 80°C can be met through solar air heaters and solar water heaters. Industries – with the exception of iron, steel, cement and fertilizer – could in theory shift to CSP based heating.

Wind energy in India currently ranks second to hydro in renewable energy’s generating electricity. With 17,700 MW of installed capacity India’s rank in harnessing wind energy is fifth in the world after USA, China, Germany and Spain. Over the period of 1992-2010 the wind energy installed capacity in India witnesses an annual growth rate of 37 percent.

According to the Centre for Wind Energy Technology, most of India’s wind energy is concentrated in five states – Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, Maharashtra and Gujarat.

The WWF estimates that India’s total wind potential in megawatts stands at 49,130 at 50 metres, when taken up to 80 metres the reading more than doubles at 102,788 MW.

Hydropower is also being considered, with estimates around 148GW of energy potential. Two rivers, Brahmaputra and Indus, have the highest potential, with only 11 and 50 per cent respectively being utilized thus far.

India’s first tidal power project, with a 3.75 MW capacity, is being set up as well as the Kapasar project which involves building a 30 km-long dam. A recent study cited in the report suggested that also tidal power generation is feasible in certain areas it may not be commercially viable due to diesel costs. Currently, The Government plans to build 7 MW of grid-connected ocean tidal power plans in its 12thfive-year plan.

India’s geothermal potential is around 10,600 MW, distributed across various states and in 2009 the country’s geothermal power capacity stood at 10.7 GW. Although geothermal power development is restricted to tectonically active regions, and seeing as India lacks volcanic activity on its mainland, it also faces issues such as costs of drilling and transmission of energy.

Comparing the REF’s and REN’s final energy demands in 2050 highlights not only a stark mix of energy uses but also efficiency levels. In 2051 the REF is approximated to have increased the countries’ energy demand up to 2,545 Mtoe when compared to the REN sitting at 1,461 Mtoe – highlighting an overall energy savings of 43 percent.

Modeling done by the WWF has estimated that the total undiscounted technology investment cost for the renewables scenario is 42 per cent more than the reference (fossil-fuel) scenario, requiring 544 trillion Indian Rupees from 2011 to 2051. Although the figure sounds quite high it is only around 10 percent higher than if India was to stick to its reference scenario.

In the renewables scenario, India will have almost a quarter more electrical generation capacity (in GW) than if it continues along the reference scenario path. Furthermore, in 2051 the renewables scenario will yield less than one billion tonnes of carbon emissions, compared to the reference scenario with almost 12 billion tonnes.

WWF highlights that although the renewables scenario is preferred it will not be easy for government to get there, recommending various policy options available including; tax holidays for renewable energy uptake, creating incentives for new projects, enhancing R&D, increasing the budgetary allocation, pricing energy and technology for efficiency and strengthening policy and regulatory set-ups.

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This article, India Could Reach 100% Renewables By Mid-Century, is syndicated from Clean Technica and is posted here with permission.

Top 10 Most Interesting Energy and Environment Articles From October

by David L Roberts

Elevated radiation levels of US
Elevated radiation levels in the U.S.A.

Here’s my latest monthly report of the “Top 10” most compelling clean energy, climate, and environment-related news stories encountered last month. These articles may have an impact on your business, your life, and the world we live in. Or, at the very least, might surprise you about what’s going on.

Over a thousand articles were reviewed across various energy platforms and 40+ were found to be of particular interest, which were sent to my private reader list. This newsletter is available upon request. The 10 most interesting to me are shown here, with a startling #1 article at the end.

10. A report from three Bay Area companies paints a positive outlook for investment in cleantech, stating that cleantech accounts for 25% of all investment capital today. Now that cleantech expectations are more in line with capabilities, many large multinational companies are stepping in as investors, both for their own energy efficiency (carbon footprint) goals as well as venture capitalist–like goals.

9. Denmark is striving for 100% power generation from renewables by 2050, and it has been announced that it will receive a WWF Gift to the World award for this leadership. Other nations planning to be carbon neutral are Australia, New Zealand, Norway, Iceland, Tuvalu, Bhutan, The Maldives and Costa Rica.

8. Navigant Research estimates the currently small global market for energy storage (today at $150 million) will rapidly expand to $10 billion by 2023 due to acceleration of wind and solar installs.

• California currently mandates 33% of utility power be derived from renewables and is now considering mandating energy storage as well. To address inherent intermittency, this evolving industry is seeing growing commercialization of many technologies including batteries (lithium-ion and sodium-sulphur), flywheel, molten salt, and pumped hydro storage.

7. Scientists from Potsdam Institute (PIK) forecast the planet is on path to increase global temperature 9 degrees F in a century through GHG emissions, creating a scenario of floods and droughts that would place 1 billion people at risk — 13% of the global population.

• The Asian Dev. Bank reports that, by 2035, Asia will increase its energy consumption by 67%, representing half the world’s energy demands — and half the world’s GHG emissions. The bank soberly estimates that coal will account for 83% of this growth and that CO2-emitting gasoline cars will remain dominant.

Here’s one view of global climate change in 25+ years, with predictions of more droughts, floods and impacts on over 1 billion people as a result of rising sea levels — with island nations, coastal cities, and tropical zones most vulnerable.

6. While a national cap-and-trade program has been illusive, the New Jersey legislature is considers rejoining the 9-state (eastern) regional carbon-trading program, RGGI. RGGI is the oldest such program in the US, but a similar program now exists in California, Washington, Oregon, and British Columbia. The western regional carbon and GHG emissions trading program hopes of to expand to surrounding states at some point.

5. The Energy Information Administration reports that the US produced 3.8% less CO2 in 2012 (vs. 2011), continuing a recent downtrend of GHG emissions since 2007. Some of the main credits for the drop in emissions are considered to be a slowed down economy, power plants converting from coal to gas, increasing use of renewable energy, and an improvement in “energy intensity” — a macro energy efficiency measure of energy usage per unit of GDP.

• Notably, however, the switch from coal to gas, while reducing CO2, increases the (risk of) emissions of methane, which is 20 times more harmful than CO2.

4. A report from the UK predicts that advanced (drop-in) biofuels such as butanol will begin to play a large long-term role in reducing GHG emissions. Compared to hydrogen or electric vehicle formats, the benefit here is the fact that biofuels can be used in international combustion engines. Since internal combustion engines are expected to dominate for the foreseeable future, many argue that advanced biofuels are sorely needed.

CEFC is the first to make and distribute the advance biofuel biomethane, called Redeem, thru a network of 35 fueling stations in CA. It is made from methane from landfills (and other sources) and is available both compressed and in liquid form.

3. T. Boone Pickens and Waste Management are two notables committed to “renewable” natural gas that’s an alternative to fossil gas currently produced via tracking. Redeem is renewable since it’s a natural by-product of decomposing biodegradable materials (methane et al), such as that found in landfills.

Some communities are now capturing methane gas naturally produced in land fills (aka “garbage dumps”) and selling it to intermediaries to produce electricity.

2. China’s Harbin City (11 million) was closed down due to an excessive pollution index of 1000, which the WHO states is over 3 times the 300 index it considers “hazardous.” WHO considers an index of 20 to be “safe.”

The #1 Energy Story Of October

1. In case you’re wondering about the effects of Fukushima, here’s a frighteningly well documented report about doses of cesium 137, iodine 131, and strontium 90 that have already infected wildlife all along the west coast of North America, including my favorite — wild caught Pacific salmon. This may affect human health for generations.

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This article, Top 10 Most Interesting Energy & Environment Articles From October, is syndicated from Clean Technica and is posted here with permission.

About the Author

David L Roberts is a marketing consultant to renewable energy startups.