25 June 2018

Cities lead the way

As our Federal government continues trying to prop up the coal and oil industries, some cities in Minnesota are taking the initiative to shift their energy usage to renewable sources.
The sewage plant in [St. Cloud, Minnesota] does something even a non-engineer might find remarkable: It makes so much of its own energy that on some days, when the sun shines bright, the plant’s managers don’t need to buy electricity... That happened for the first time on April 12 of last year. Since then, it’s happened on 30 additional days, most recently on June 5.
Those “net zero” days in St. Cloud are among a wave of positive anecdotes from municipalities across the state about early efforts to adopt renewable energy. Driven by favorable economics and, to a lesser extent, constituent proddings, many cities have turned to solar and other renewables so quickly that even the people pushing for the change say they’re surprised...

The city has since subscribed to 32 solar gardens — at least 20 commissioned last year alone — for a total of 23 million kilowatt-hours of solar energy, or enough to meet about three-quarters of demand.
Solar panels were also installed on the roof of the police headquarters, a fire station, a senior center and three other city buildings. A conversion to LED helped cut in half electrical use for streetlights between 2015 and 2017. Efficiencies at the sewage plant lowered its power demands as the new biodigester and solar panels came online. The public transportation system, meanwhile, converted nearly two-thirds of its bus fleet to compressed natural gas. That lowers carbon emissions and has saved St. Cloud Metro Bus about $450,000 in fuel costs over the past three years.
More at the link.

1 comment:

  1. The question now is whether excess solar power can be pumped into the electricity network.

    The best thing states can do to make solar power attractive is to make good regulations for what happens with excess power generated by solar of wind.

    To keep renewable energy efficient, we need to make sure that excess power goes back into the existing power network. This will require a major shift in most states where (semi) public power companies see power distribution as a one-way street in which they push power from their plants to customers. This needs to become a two-way street where power gets generated much more distritubutedly and the power company is responsible for moving all that power around between customers, with their power plants supporting low production hours.

    State regulations vary enormously. There are states where you get kicked of the network if you generate power yourself. There are also states that "force" power companies to take excess power produced by people. In Germany, you get a 10% bonus in excess power you produce and pump into the electric grid compared to the price you pay for taking power.


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