Advanced Energy Perspectives

Advanced Energy Technology of the Week: Residential and Commercial Building Solar Power

Posted by Maria Robinson

Jan 27, 2015 12:01:08 PM

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA’s) plan to regulate carbon emissions is just the latest challenge facing the U.S. electric power system. Technological innovation is disrupting old ways of doing business and accelerating grid modernization. Earlier this year, AEE released Advanced Energy Technologies for Greenhouse Gas Reduction, a report detailing the use, application, and benefits of 40 specific advanced energy technologies and services. This post is one in a series drawn from the technology profiles within that report.

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Solar photovoltaic (PV) power systems convert sunlight directly into electricity. PV modules (panels) produce direct current, which is converted to grid-compatible alternating current through an inverter. The flat-plate PV modules are commonly mounted on the roofs of residential and commercial buildings. The two main PV materials used in modules are crystalline silicon and thin-films such as cadmium telluride. The former is more commonly used for residential and commercial buildings due to its higher efficiency and associated smaller footprint, which is a desirable characteristic for rooftop applications.

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Topics: Advanced Energy Technology of the Week

EPA GHG REGS: We Read the Comments, So You Don't Have To, Part 5: Industry Groups and Environmental Groups

Posted by Frank Swigonski and Caitlin Marquis

Jan 26, 2015 5:41:00 PM

After the comment period closed on December 1, the stats were in: EPA received more than 4 million comments on the Clean Power Plan from individuals, organizations, and state regulatory bodies. It would take 71 people working eight hours a day from now until June to read them all. But don't worry—our Carbon Policy Analysts identified the top comments and plowed through them. This is the fifth of five blog posts presenting AEE’s summary of and take on comments from a few key stakeholders: federal and state regulatory organizations, states, ISO/RTOs, utilities, and industry and environmental groups. This final post covers comments from industry groups and environmental groups.

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In its comments, AEE emphasized the greater role advanced energy technologies could play in the Final Rule, making suggestions ranging from strengthening the renewable and energy efficiency targets to providing guidance on EM&V to clarifying that a variety of advanced energy technologies will be accepted in state compliance plans. Many industry associations, NGOs and private-sector companies submitted their own sets of comments, some of which took positions that aligned closely with AEE’s. While AEE presented a unique perspective in its comments, a very diverse group of organizations and companies share its positions on many key issues.

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Topics: EPA GHG Regs

NEWS: Solar and Wind's Boom Year; FERC Demand Response Case; HECO vs. Net Metering

Posted by Lexie Briggs

Jan 23, 2015 11:19:00 AM

Can FERC determine compensation for demand response? Can a Hawaiian utility dump net metering? Those questions are in the news this week. Plus, numbers are in, enough to show a boom in solar and wind installations in the U.S. last year.

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The Department of Justice filed an appeal to the Supreme Court to uphold the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission’s Order 745, which directed grid operators to pay for demand response services on par with power generators in wholesale markets. The D.C. Circuit Court ruled in May that FERC did not have the ability to regulate payments for demand response, citing states’ exclusive rights over retail energy markets. The Justice Department argued that Order 745 makes demand response providers “actual and integral participants” in wholesale markets, and thus subject to FERC authority.

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Topics: News Update

FEDERAL: State of the Union Highlights Progress, Draws Lines in Sand

Posted by Arvin Ganesan

Jan 22, 2015 12:24:00 PM

President Obama’s penultimate State of the Union was closely watched by politicos and policy wonks alike. It was, after all, his first address to a fully Republican Congress. What the President said, and how he said it, was very telling of how he wants to treat his last two years.

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Many State of the Union addresses look forward and set lofty goals. In contrast, this year’s address was a look back at how the country has changed over the past six years. He noted with respect to energy that, “every three weeks, we bring online as much solar power as we did in all of 2008” and that “America is [now] number one in wind power.”

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Topics: Federal Policy Update

Advanced Energy Technology of the Week: Modular Nuclear Power

Posted by Maria Robinson

Jan 20, 2015 11:55:00 AM

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA’s) plan to regulate carbon emissions is just the latest challenge facing the U.S. electric power system. Technological innovation is disrupting old ways of doing business and accelerating grid modernization. Earlier this year, AEE released Advanced Energy Technologies for Greenhouse Gas Reduction, a report detailing the use, application, and benefits of 40 specific advanced energy technologies and services. This post is one in a series drawn from the technology profiles within that report.

NuScale_Power_Module_Cutaway-769945-editedSmall modular reactors (SMRs) are small-footprint nuclear power plants that can be sized between 10 MW and 300 MW, like the schematic from NuScale (left). There are numerous SMR plant designs, though SMRs all rely on the same nuclear fission technology of larger plants. Nuclear fission releases heat in the reactor core to produce steam, which spins a turbine attached to a generator that produces electricity. Unlike utility-scale plants that can take years to construct, SMRs can be assembled offsite and delivered fully constructed. SMRs are smaller, simpler, and can be sited in more places than utility-scale nuclear plants, including submarines, which have been powered by a type of SMR for decades. SMRs generally have their reactors buried in the ground, away from weather hazards. They often use passive cooling systems that are not vulnerable to power outages, increasing the safety of the plant

While no SMRs are operating on the grid in the U.S. or elsewhere as of yet, the DOE believes there will be a substantial domestic and international market once products are developed. DOE is presently working with several companies, including mPower America and NuScale Power, to develop, test, and deploy different types of SMRs. DOE is assisting in design certification, site characterization, licensing, and engineering activities, aiding companies that are targeting SMR commercial operation in the next decade.

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Topics: Advanced Energy Technology of the Week

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Advanced Energy Perspectives is AEE's blog presenting news, analysis, and commentary on creating an advanced energy economy. Join the conversation!

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