PFASs can be found in the environment and humans across Europe, whereby areas around industrial production, manufacturing and application sites have been found to be particularly contaminated. This has led to contaminated drinking water around PFASs manufacturing factories in Belgium, Italy and the Netherlands, and around airports and military bases with fire-fighting training sites in Germany, Sweden, Denmark, Norway and the United Kingdom.
Against this background policy makers of different European countries joined forces and work towards a broad restriction for PFAS substances. Appropriate analytical methods need to be available for the enforcement and monitorability of a restriction. The present report summarised available analytical methods for several specific uses and draw conclusions for monitoring compliance measurements.
Read the full story from the National Institute of Water and Atmospheric Research (New Zealand).
Identifying unknown organisms, forecasting the weather and understanding the potential impacts of a tsunami. These are all possibilities opened up by a new website that has been built to provide easy access to an enormous range of environmental research data.
All plants interact with bacteria and fungi in the soil. Some plants are especially good at it. Understanding what drives those interactions could be the secret to shifting from a chemical-based agriculture system to a biological one.
The University of Minnesota has launched a Center for Climate Literacy, housed in the College of Education and Human Development. The Center seeks to advance an understanding of climate change through research, outreach and design solutions for K-12 classrooms.
The first of its kind in the United States, the Center focuses on strategies to build universal climate literacy: helping young people develop understanding, values and attitudes aligned with how we should live to respect our planetary home. Climate literacy is a wider competence than the knowledge of climate science. A multidisciplinary skillset, it includes numbers and facts, but centers emotions, care and behavioral change necessary to create sustainable futures.
The Great Plains in the United States are well known for a rich history and expansive grasslands. This region is synonymous with ranchers herding cattle across the plains and a valuable resource for a growing population.
Today, that work continues. Huge tracts of prairie still support livestock, especially cattle. The land might not be as well-suited for growing grain or vegetables, but grasslands can contribute to feeding people by feeding animals first. Like all types of agriculture, grazing on prairies has an environmental impact. Scientists, farmers, ranchers, and consumers are increasingly trying to balance food production and protecting the environment, so it is important to understand how one affects the other.
“Increases in carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases in the earth’s atmosphere greatly affect climate around the world,” says Jean Steiner. Steiner directed the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s grazing laboratory in Oklahoma. “Agricultural land exchanges greenhouse gases with the atmosphere, and how we manage agriculture affects the amount of greenhouse gas exchange.”
Steiner and her team recently set out to understand the impacts of greenhouse emissions from grasslands. Only with this knowledge can scientists hope to steer agriculture toward climate-friendly solutions.
This study was published in Agrosystems, Geosciences & Environment Journal, a publication of the American Society of Agronomy, and Crop Science Society of America.
PNNL researchers have developed software that uses geographical data to build an open-source grid reference system, providing a precise method to declare a location for structures. The Department of Energy expects this free-to-use system—Unique Building Identifier—will enable programs to better track and reduce energy use and emissions from buildings.
America’s electric power system is undergoing radical change as it transitions from fossil fuels to renewable energy. While the first decade of the 2000s saw huge growth in natural gas generation, and the 2010s were the decade of wind and solar, early signs suggest the innovation of the 2020s may be a boom in “hybrid” power plants.
A typical hybrid power plant combines electricity generation with battery storage at the same location. That often means a solar or wind farm paired with large-scale batteries. Working together, solar panels and battery storage can generate renewable power when solar energy is at its peak during the day and then release it as needed after the sun goes down.
A look at the power and storage projects in the development pipeline offers a glimpse of hybrid power’s future.
Our team at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory found that a staggering 1,400 gigawatts of proposed generation and storage projects have applied to connect to the grid – more than all existing U.S. power plants combined. The largest group is now solar projects, and over a third of those projects involve hybrid solar plus battery storage.
While these power plants of the future offer many benefits, they also raise questions about how the electric grid should best be operated.
Why hybrids are hot
As wind and solar grow, they are starting to have big impacts on the grid.
Solar power already exceeds 25% of annual power generation in California and is spreading rapidly in other states such as Texas, Florida and Georgia. The “wind belt” states, from the Dakotas to Texas, have seen massive deployment of wind turbines, with Iowa now getting a majority of its power from the wind.
This high percentage of renewable power raises a question: How do we integrate renewable sources that produce large but varying amounts of power throughout the day?
That’s where storage comes in. Lithium-ion battery prices have rapidly fallen as production has scaled up for the electric vehicle market in recent years. While there are concerns about future supply chain challenges, battery design is also likely to evolve.
The combination of solar and batteries allows hybrid plant operators to provide power through the most valuable hours when demand is strongest, such as summer afternoons and evenings when air conditioners are running on high. Batteries also help smooth out production from wind and solar power, store excess power that would otherwise be curtailed, and reduce congestion on the grid.
Hybrids dominate the project pipeline
At the end of 2020, there were 73 solar and 16 wind hybrid projects operating in the U.S., amounting to 2.5 gigawatts of generation and 0.45 gigawatts of storage.
Today, solar and hybrids dominate the development pipeline. By the end of 2021, more than 675 gigawatts of proposed solar plants had applied for grid connection approval, with over a third of them paired with storage. Another 247 gigawatts of wind farms were in line, with 19 gigawatts, or about 8% of those, as hybrids.
Of course, applying for a connection is only one step in developing a power plant. A developer also needs land and community agreements, a sales contract, financing and permits. Only about one in four new plants proposed between 2010 and 2016 made it to commercial operation. But the depth of interest in hybrid plants portends strong growth.
In markets like California, batteries are essentially obligatory for new solar developers. Since solar often accounts for the majority of power in the daytime market, building more adds little value. Currently 95% of all proposed large-scale solar capacity in the California queue comes with batteries.
5 lessons on hybrids and questions for the future
The opportunity for growth in renewable hybrids is clearly large, but it raises some questions that our group at Berkeley Lab has been investigating.
The investment pays off in many regions. We found that while adding batteries to a solar power plant increases the price, it also increases the value of the power. Putting generation and storage in the same location can capture benefits from tax credits, construction cost savings and operational flexibility. Looking at the revenue potential over recent years, and with the help of federal tax credits, the added value appears to justify the higher price.
Co-location also means tradeoffs. Wind and solar perform best where the wind and solar resources are strongest, but batteries provide the most value where they can deliver the greatest grid benefits, like relieving congestion. That means there are trade-offs when determining the best location with the highest value. Federal tax credits that can be earned only when batteries are co-located with solar may be encouraging suboptimal decisions in some cases.
There is no one best combination. The value of a hybrid plant is determined in part by the configuration of the equipment. For example, the size of the battery relative to a solar generator can determine how late into the evening the plant can deliver power. But the value of nighttime power depends on local market conditions, which change throughout the year.
Power market rules need to evolve. Hybrids can participate in the power market as a single unit or as separate entities, with the solar and storage bidding independently. Hybrids can also be either sellers or buyers of power, or both. That can get complicated. Market participation rules for hybrids are still evolving, leaving plant operators to experiment with how they sell their services.
Small hybrids create new opportunities: Hybrid power plants can also be small, such as solar and batteries in a home or business. Such hybrids have become standard in Hawaii as solar power saturates the grid. In California, customers who are subject to power shutoffs to prevent wildfires are increasingly adding storage to their solar systems. These “behind-the-meter” hybrids raise questions about how they should be valued, and how they can contribute to grid operations.
Hybrids are just beginning, but a lot more are on the way. More research is needed on the technologies, market designs and regulations to ensure the grid and grid pricing evolve with them.
While questions remain, it’s clear that hybrids are redefining power plants. And they may remake the U.S. power system in the process.
The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) has awarded $3.6 million to 18 groups and organizations through the Inclusive Energy Innovation Prize — a first-of-its-kind competition designed to support entrepreneurship and innovation in communities historically underserved in federal climate and energy technology funding. The selected projects are helping develop the next wave of diverse clean energy business owners, executives and workforce that are creating bottom-up solutions for sustainable development. The Inclusive Energy Innovation Prize supports the Biden-Harris Administration’s Justice40 initiative to put environmental and economic justice at the center of America’s transition to a net-zero economy by 2050.
The prize, launched by DOE’s Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE) and the Office of Economic Impact and Diversity (ED) with additional funding from the Office of Technology Transitions, is supporting teams of entrepreneurs, community organizers, nonprofits, and academic institutions working to achieve energy justice in the national transition to clean energy.
A recent study found that out of approximately one billion dollars in philanthropic funding provided to a dozen national environmental grantees, just over 1% of the funding was awarded to energy justice-focused organizations. The study also revealed that inadequate access to funding, information about proper procedures during the request for applications process were all barriers that prevented the organizations from being considered for funding opportunities.
Inclusive Energy Innovation Prize encouraged applications from innovators who had never applied for federal funding and at least 80% of submissions were from first-time applicants to DOE funding opportunities.
The Phase One winners are:
Accelerating the Impact of Diverse Entrepreneurs Washington, D.C.: The American Council on Renewable Energy (ACORE) will support small and emerging renewable energy companies owned or operated by women, Asian-Indian, Asian-Pacific, Black, Hispanic, or Native American leaders, with the goal of tripling the number of businesses in the program over the next four years, and increasing diversity in clean energy C-suite leadership.
Alabama Energy Transformation Initiative, Tuscaloosa, AL: The University of Alabama and Energy Alabama will work together to provide education programs to expose, train, and recruit underrepresented students into clean energy and STEM fields through energy assessment trainings and field trips.
Central Valley Innovation Ecosystem, Fresno, CA: The Water, Energy and Technology Center at California State University, Fresno, will create and manage a region-wide, college-level program that matches students with climate and energy-focused startups and provides technical assistance and advisory services to entrepreneurs and startups in underserved communities.
Clean Energy Restoration for Rural Alaska Villages, Anchorage, AK: The Tebughna Foundation aims to create opportunities for Alaskan indigenous communities to develop clean and affordable energy resources based on traditional principles of land stewardship, and will create a handbook for equitable clean energy deployment in Alaskan Native Villages.
Community Engagement for a Clean Energy Economy, Bethesda, MD: One Montgomery Green and Bethesda Green will work with the community to create an equitable and actionable carbon reduction roadmap, run entrepreneurship training programs, and facilitate community collaborations for clean energy transition initiatives.
Creative Collaborations Build Thriving Communities, New York, NY: Soulful Synergy LLC will expand their workforce training program, which focuses on energy efficiency and building systems, to at least 250 new participants from disadvantaged communities.
Empowering the Future Energy Workforce, Richland, WA: Washington State University Tri-Cities will develop new academic programs, research collaborations and entrepreneurial activities in clean energy and climate innovation, including a research-based course with industry mentors and incubator integration aimed at engaging, retaining, and empowering Hispanic/LatinX students.
Energy Profiles build Community Energy Resilience, Utuado, PR: The Cooperativa Hidroeléctrica de la Montaña, in partnership with Fundación Borincana and Pecan Street, will empower rural villages in the interior mountains of Puerto Rico to take control of their clean-energy future by installing rooftop solar and storage systems.
Feed the Second Line: Get Lit, Stay Lit!, New Orleans, LA: Feed the Second Line will pilot solar-plus-storage microgrid installations and an apprenticeship program to in local restaurants to serve as disaster relief hubs.
Green Door Initiative, Detroit, MI: As part of their ‘motor city to solar city’ efforts, the Green Door Initiative will expand their climate-smart job training and placement programs, including for returning citizens, and create a model sustainable neighborhood block — creating jobs installing solar panels and improving energy efficiency — to reduce energy insecurity.
Imani Green Works! Community Justice & Innovation, Chicago, IL: Imani Green Works is a coalition of nine organizations working to create a minority-owned, minority-managed company to provide clean energy workforce development programs for historically disenfranchised residents of Chicago’s Pullman Community and Washington Heights neighborhoods, and conduct community workshops to foster grassroots innovation in climate smart projects.
Increase Battery Work Force Development, Atlanta, GA: Three minority owned business will partner with Clark Atlanta University, a an HBCU, to create an education program, an internship program and an entrepreneurship course for high school students through graduate students focused on battery design, manufacturing, and testing.
Native Sun REZ Network, Minneapolis, MN: The Native Sun Community Power Development will create the Reservation Energy Zone (REZ) Network to help tribes seeking to share opportunities around clean energy, including through mentorship, through assistance to local rural schools in applying for the Solar for Schools program and through investment opportunities for clean energy projects.
New Haven Eco-Entrepreneurship Creative Lab, New Haven, CT: Gather New Haven will recruit young entrepreneurs to participate in the New Haven Eco-Entrepreneurship Creative Lab to develop equitable clean energy solutions, and enable the students to pitch climate-technology projects to increase community engagement and acceptance.
Path to Tribal Energy Sovereignty, Pine Ridge, SD: Red Cloud Renewable will provide tribal communities with the workforce and entrepreneurship training, technology know-how, and resources to drive solar and other renewable energy projects on tribal lands.
SEEEDing Knoxville’s Just Energy Ecosystem, Knoxville, TN: The nonprofit Socially Equally Energy Efficient Development (SEEED) aims to design a community-driven just energy ecosystem, encourage distribution of clean energy benefits to the community and develop clean energy jobs training for disadvantaged youth.
‘Solar Utilization and Commercialization Coalition for Energy Efficiency Devices, Edinburg, TX: A coalition of professionals, organizations, and academic institutions that support startups and entrepreneurs will work to bolster the solar manufacturing industry in Texas and support startups in the industry to build economic potential in the Rio Grande Valley.
“Xcelerating” Black Climate Startups in Portland, Portland, OR: This team will launch a climate-tech business accelerator tailored for entrepreneurs from local Black and underserved communities. Their projects will include developing a culturally-informed energy curriculum for use with black-owned startups, an entrepreneur accelerator program with the goal of creating more black-owned businesses, and a program to incentivize investment using a just transition offset strategy.
The winning teams will receive $200,000 in cash and mentoring support. They are also eligible to participate in Phase Two of this Prize, which will conclude in Spring 2023 with presentations to a panel of expert reviewers. Phase Two winners will split a cash prize pool of up to $1.5 million.
Responses to a DOE request for information identified several barriers to achieving diversity in who receives DOE funding, as well as opportunities and benefits from working with researchers and entrepreneurs with a broad range of backgrounds. Responses came from environmental justice and community-based organizations; business incubators and accelerators; technology developers, investors, and funders; state, local, and tribal governments; researchers; and others.