solar brewery

MillerCoors, SolarCity install largest solar project at any U.S. brewery

As high clouds slipped in front of the sun, executives from MillerCoors flipped the switch Thursday on the largest solar panel array of any brewery in the country.

When the sun is out — a pretty sure bet in Southern California — the 10-acre, 10,000-unit, fixed solar panels installed in three locations on the grounds of the Irwindale plant will generate enough energy to produce 7 million cases of beer per year.

The black solar panels, which are very similar to those affixed to rooftops and parking lots, will provide between 7 percent and 40 percent of the plant’s electrical energy, said Kim Marotta, MillerCoors director of sustainability.

Marotta, who flew out for the ceremony from Milwaukee, said the Irwindale site was chosen from among eight brewery plants because of its location. It’s the only MillerCoors facility in sunny Southern California.


OpenIDEO solar challenge

Give us your ideas to switch to renewables fast — because Congress sure won’t

OpenIDEO solar challenge

Yesteryear, I wrote a little piece about a cool challenge. OpenIDEO, the online collaboration platform, posed a question to its audience of big thinkers: How might communities lead the rapid transition to renewable energy? During the five-week research phase, people posted insights about things like printable solar cells, successful green electricity cooperatives, and refugee camps as renewable energy laboratories.

Now, the collaboration has entered phase two: ideas. Participants have already cooked up peer-to-peer markets for distributed electricity, a collection program for used cooking oil, and a training on how to turn waste materials into biodiesel. The ideas part of the challenge ends Sunday, after which the internet community crowdsources feedback, refines a short list of proposals, and eventually settles on just a few “top ideas,” which will be connected to a wealth of knowledge — and potentially a wealth of wealth, if funders dig the concepts.


solar plane

Solar Impulse plane to circle globe on just solar and storage

solar planeAn ambitious project to “do the impossible” – and fly a plane around the world without a single drop of fuel will begin in late February.

The flight route for the Solar Impulse 2 was unveiled today in Abu Dhabi, where the circumnavigation will begin in just over a month, and all going well, finish at the same place in June or July.

To do that it will stop in 12 countries (see below) having flown via Oman, India, Myanmar and China, and then undertaking long flights across the Pacific to Hawaii and the west coast of the US, and then on to New York, and then across the Atlantic to Europe and north Africa and back to Abu Dhabi.


solar umbrella

Nashvillian’s solar device helps vendors in Africa

solar umbrella
Nashville resident Mawuli Tse has brought solar power to more than 600 homes in urban parts of Ghana and nearby countries through his company, Solar Light, and a new prototype.

Nashville resident Mawuli Tse has brought solar power to more than 600 homes in urban parts of Ghana and nearby countries through his company, Solar Light.

Now, he is using energy from the sun to help those in more rural communities — this time through street vendor umbrellas and a mobile phone charging kit.

With the help of a $100,000 grant from the United States African Development Foundation and General Electric, Tse is creating a portable charger powered by solar panels that fit on top of large umbrellas that often accompany street vendors’ stands.

The charger can provide vendors with an extra source of income as customers pay to charge their phones. The solar product, called “Sunana,” will also mean additional power options for the vendors, whose homes typically lack access to an electrical grid.


Wildpoldsried solar

German Village Produces 500% More Energy Than it Consumes

Wildpoldsried solar
Wildpoldsried has reached an important milestone, now currently producing 500% more energy than it needs, and it is all generated through renewable energy systems.

Germany embraced the idea of using renewable energy sources in effort to reduce carbon emissions a long time ago, and in recent years, it has become the world’s largest renewable energy market, with a large portion of the energy the country consumes coming from sources like wind, solar, biomass, and hydro power. Lately, a small village in the south of Germany has been making headlines with its commitment to renewable energy, as it has managed to transform its energy infrastructure and produce all of its electricity through renewable sources. It’s called Wildpoldsried, situated in the German state of Bavaria, and it became famous in the global energy community in 1997, when it first started to produce electricity from alternative sources.

Now, almost two decades after the first renewable energy projects were launched by mayor mayor Arno Zengerle, Wildpoldsried has reached an important milestone, with Navigant Research reporting that the town currently produces 500% more energy than it needs, and it is all generated through renewable energy systems. Wildpoldsried, with a population of 2,600, now has a huge surplus of energy, which it sends back to the grid, for a profit.

This major success is undoubtedly result of the town’s considerable investments in renewable energy systems over the past 17 years. At the moment, Wildpoldsried has a wide variety of renewable energy facilities, including 11 wind turbines that have a capacity of about 12 MW, solar photovoltaics with a 4,900 kWp capacity, that are mostly mounted on private homes, along with five biogas plants, three hydro power plants, and a solar thermal system. What’s even more admirable, many projects were financed by the town’s residents themselves, with a small help from the Bavarian Government.

The investments in these facilities have helped the town meet the goal of producing 100% of its electricity from renewable sources much sooner than planned, as the deadline was set for 2020, but three years ago, it was already producing over 300% more energy than needed. The excess electricity that was produced in 2011, brought the town a profit of $5.7 million, as it was sold back to the power grid.

However, having so much more electricity than needed, presented a problem of a different kind for the town and the local utility company Allgäuer Überlandwerke GmbH (AÜW), since all of a sudden, it had an enormous amount of excess electricity that it didn’t had the capacity to store and distribute. That’s why the company partnered up with Siemens to develop the Integration of Regenerative Energy and Electrical Mobility (IRENE) system, integrating sensors at the plants producing electricity from renewable sources, to determine exactly how much energy is produced and consumed at each facility, and stabilize the grid with the help of a variable transformer. This joint project cost $6 million, which is not that big of an investment, considering that the town earns more than $7 million a year by selling the excess electricity.

This small and remote Bavarian town can serve as a great example to communities around the globe – such as the small town of Krommenie, near Amsterdam in the Netherlands with its solar-powered bike paths – as they try to reduce their carbon footprint and curb their dependence on fossil fuels.

buzzwords of 2014

The Top Cleantech Buzzwords and Phrases From 2014

buzzwords of 2014Last year, “utility death spiral” was on our list of the top buzzphrases. A few months later, the Oxford English Dictionary included “death spiral” in its list of new words for 2014.


GTM employees regularly use “honky-tonker,” “sword and sorcery” and “wackadoodle” — all added to the dictionary in 2014 — in our conversations around the office. So we’ll take that to mean that our colloquialisms have influence on the Oxford editors.

If there’s any word with the same potential to make the dictionary in 2015, we’ll vote for “YieldCo.” But there are plenty of others with equal weight. Below are ten words, acronyms or phrases that were used a lot within the clean energy industry this year.


crescent dunes

8 surprising energy stats to remember from 2014

crescent dunes

2014 was a huge year for energy. Solar surged forward, China and the U.S. got serious about climate change, and new tech continued to reshape our relationship with the power grid.

In case you missed the big stories, here are 8 statistics that capture the year’s most important energy trends.

More than 50x: how fast renewables are outpacing coal in America
Coal is America’s largest source of electricity, but its dominance is waning. There were five new coal power plants built in 2012, two in 2013, and just one in 2014 — Spiritwood Station in North Dakota, which produces a modest 62 megawatts of capacity at peak.

Comprehensive Review of Climate Change Science from the Green Market Oracle

Climate-ChangeSolarFeeds note: We bumped into this Green Market Oracle post from 2012 and it was too good not to share. Republished (with permission) here in its entirety , the post inspired SolarFeeds to create a new category for not-so-new stuff worth sharing. The category is called “Awesome”!

The evidence for anthropogenic global warming is unassailable. In 2009, 18 scientific groups — including the American Association for the Advancement of Science and the American Meteorological Society — issued a joint statement indicating that human activities are the “primary driver” of climate change. The National Academy of Sciences (the gold standard for objective scientific assessment) have also clearly supported the body of evidence on anthropogenic global warming.

“Some scientific conclusions or theories have been so thoroughly examined and tested, and supported by so many independent observations and results, that their likelihood of subsequently being found to be wrong is vanishingly small. Such conclusions and theories are then regarded as settled facts. This is the case for the conclusions that the Earth system is warming and that much of this warming is due to human activities.”

Here are 33 articles, reports and studies that support the existence of anthropogenic climate change:

  1. No scientific body of national or international standing maintains a dissenting opinion on climate change
  2. September 2012 was the Warmest in Recorded History (NOAA)
  3. Strong Body of Evidence for a Changing Climate
  4. American Meteorological Society Corroborates Anthropogenic Climate Change
  5. More Scientific Support for Anthropogenic Climate Change 
  6. Science and Pernicious Ignorance of Climate Change Denial
  7. The Fifth Global Environmental Outlook Report
  8. Findings and Solutions in the Living Planet Report 2012
  9. A New Study Indicates We Are Reaching a Tipping Points
  10. Environmental Tipping Points
  11. Climate Change Science
  12. Top Four Climate Studies of 2011
  13. State of the Climate Global Analysis Nov 2011
  14. Interactive Map Reveals Warmer Spring 2012
  15. 2012 is but the Latest Year Marked by Heat and Drought
  16. Heat in the US Northeast and Drought Around the World IN 2012
  17. Temperature Data: 1880 – 2011 (Video)
  18. New NASA Video Graphically Illustrates that the Earth is Warming
  19. Popular Media is Distorting the Facts about Climate
  20. State of the Climate Global Analysis Nov 2011
  21. Debunking CO2 Myths and The Science of Climate Change
  22. Primer on CO2 and other GHGs
  23. Video: Why People are Confused about the Scientific Veracity of Climate Change
  24. Bill McKibben: Global Warming’s Terrifying New Math
  25. The Effects of Global Warming
  26. The human fingerprint in global warming
  27. Human activities produce in just 3 to 5 days, the equivalent amount of carbon that volcanoes produce globally each year
  28. Chronological history of atmospheric CO2, showing a massive spike from the Industrial Revolution onwards
  29. Strong correlation between atmospheric CO2 levels, man-made carbon emissions and the global average temperature
  30. The rapid decline in Arctic sea ice is between 70% and 95% due to man-made global warming
  31. A NASA study reports that changes in solar activity cannot be responsible for the current period of global warming
  32. 10-year average (2000–2009) global temperature anomaly relative to 1951–1980 mean