Microbes map path toward renewable energy future

Read the full story from Pacific Northwest National Laboratory.

In the quest for renewable fuels, scientists are taking lessons from a humble bacterium that fills our oceans and covers moist surfaces the world over. While the organism captures light to make food in a process called photosynthesis, scientists have found that it simultaneously uses the energy from that captured light to produce hydrogen.

Reference: Hans C. Bernstein, Moiz A. Charania, Ryan S. McClure, Natalie C. Sadler, Matthew R. Melnicki, Eric A. Hill, Lye Meng Markillie, Carrie D. Nicora, Aaron T. Wright, Margaret F. Romine and Alexander S. Beliaev, Multi-omic dynamics associate oxygenic photosynthesis with nitrogenase-mediated H2 production in Cyanothece sp. ATCC 51142, Scientific Reports, Nov. 3, 2015, DOI: 10.1038/srep16004.

Rural Energy for America Program Renewable Energy Systems & Energy Efficiency Improvement Loans & Grants

Application deadlines

  • Grants of $20,000 or less: November 2, 2015 and May 2, 2016;
  • Unrestricted Grants (up to $500,000): May 2, 2016;
  • Loan Guarantees are competed continuously throughout the year.

Full solicitation available at http://www.gpo.gov/fdsys/pkg/FR-2014-12-29/pdf/2014-30184.pdf

This program provides guaranteed loan financing and grant funding to agricultural producers and rural small businesses to purchase or install renewable energy systems or make energy efficiency improvements.

Who may apply?

  • Agricultural producers with at least 50% of gross income coming from agricultural operations, and
  • Small businesses in eligible rural areas.

NOTE:  Agricultural producers and small businesses must have no outstanding delinquent federal taxes, debt, judgment or debarment.

What is an eligible area?

  • Businesses must be in an area other than a city or town with a population of greater than 50,000 inhabitants and the urbanized area of that city or town. Check eligible business addresses.
  • Agricultural producers may be in rural or non-rural areas.

How may the funds be used?
Funds may be used for the purchase, installation and construction of renewable energy systems, such as:

  • Biomass (for example: biodiesel and ethanol, anaerobic digesters, and solid fuels)
  • Geothermal for electric generation or direct use
  • Hydropower below 30 megawatts
  • Hydrogen
  • Small and large wind generation
  • Small and large solar generation
  • Ocean (tidal, current, thermal) generation

Funds may also be used for the purchase, installation and construction of energy efficiency improvements, such as:

  • High efficiency heating, ventilation and air conditioning systems (HVAC)
  • Insulation
  • Lighting
  • Cooling or refrigeration units
  • Doors and windows
  • Electric, solar or gravity pumps for sprinkler pivots
  • Switching from a diesel to electric irrigation motor
  • Replacement of energy-inefficient equipment

What funding is available?

  • Loan guarantees on loans up to 75% of total eligible project costs
  • Grants for up to 25% of total eligible project costs
  • Combined grant and loan guarantee funding up to 75% of total eligible project costs

What are the loan guarantee terms?

  • $5,000 minimum loan amount
  • $25 million maximum loan amount
  • Up to 85% loan guarantee
  • Rates and terms negotiated with the lender and subject to USDA approval
  • Maximum term of 30 years for real estate
  • Maximum term of 15 years for machinery and equipment
  • Maximum term of 7 years for capital loans
  • Maximum term of 30 years for combined real estate and equipment loans

What are the grant terms?
Renewable Energy System Grants:

  • $2,500 minimum
  • $500,000 maximum

Energy Efficiency Grants:

  • $1,500 minimum
  • $250,000 maximum

Are there additional requirements?

  • Applicants must provide at least 75% of the project cost if applying for a grant only.
  • Applicants must provide at least 25% of the project cost if applying for loan, or loan and grant combination.
  • Projects greater than $200,000 require a technical report.
  • Energy efficiency projects require an energy audit or assessment.


OH: Kasich says indefinite freeze of clean-energy standards is ‘unacceptable’

Read the full story in the Columbus Dispatch.

Count Gov. John Kasich among the opponents of a legislative plan to be released today calling for an indefinite freeze in the state’s clean-energy standards.

 Hawaii’s Governor Dumps Oil and Gas in Favor of 100 Percent Renewables

Read the full story in The Nation.

At the Asia Pacific Resilience Innovation Summit held in Honolulu, Hawaii, this week, Governor David Ige dropped a bombshell. His administration will not use natural gas to replace the state’s petroleum-fueled electricity plants, but will make a full-court press toward 100 percent renewables by 2045. Ige’s decisive and ambitious energy vision is making Hawaii into the world’s most important laboratory for humankind’s fight against climate change. He has, in addition, attracted an unlikely and enthusiastic partner in his embrace of green energy—the US military.

Wind and solar surge sends EU emissions tumbling

Read the full story at Climate News Network.

Europe’s greenhouse gas emissions are falling fast, mainly because of the rapid spread of the wind turbines and solar panels that are replacing fossil fuels for electricity generation.

European Union data shows that once countries adopt measures to reduce greenhouse gases (GHGs), they often exceed their targets − and this finding is backed up by figures released this week in a statement by the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC).

The Convention’s statistics show that the 37 industrialised countries (plus the EU) that signed up in 1997 to the Kyoto Protocol − the original international treaty on combating global warming – have frequently exceeded their promised GHG cuts by a large margin.

Germany Is Showing the Rest of the World How to Tackle Global Warming

Read the full story at Mic.com. (H/T to Charlotte Roh for the link).

On Sunday, Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton unveiled the first major commitments of her climate change policy. Her plan centers on dramatically increasing renewable energy sources in the United States, with the goal of having 33% of the country’s power generation come from renewable sources by 2027. While commentators debate how realistic her goals are and whether they’re adequate for meeting the challenge of climate change, they might do well to look across the Atlantic for some inspiration.

Last week, Germany hit an extraordinary milestone: On July 25th, 78% of the country’s electricity was generated by renewable energy sources.