In today’s EGEB:
- Some Canadian lighthouses are switching from diesel power to solar and wind.
- Offshore wind doesn’t seem to be a detriment to tourism on Block Island.
- Australia pursues a solar-to-hydrogen microgrid project.
- Coal is even losing ground in Kentucky.
Electrek Green Energy Brief: A daily technical, financial, and political review/analysis of important green energy news.
While remote lighthouses in British Columbia, Canada, usually rely on diesel generators to run 24/7, a number of them are now moving to renewable energy.
The CBC reports that 10 of the Canadian province’s 27 lighthouses are scheduled for solar and wind power upgrades. Shaun Loader of Fisheries and Oceans Canada said the goal is for the lighthouses to run entirely off solar panels, battery banks, and wind turbines, with the diesel generators only remaining on the grounds for emergencies and power shortfalls.
Aside from environmental concerns, the solar and wind installations reduce the need to deliver fuel to the remote locations. Those deliveries are described as both “costly and difficult,” and it’s why renewable energy makes sense for remote communities. Not to mention the other benefits:
“You can imagine having diesel generators running in the background 24 hours a day on a light station which has beautiful scenery,” Loader told the CBC. “Now they are hearing the diesel generators shut off.”
The Block Island Wind Farm off the coast of Rhode Island hasn’t kept tourists away from the state’s Block Island destination. In fact, researchers find tourism has increased since the turbines went up.
University of Rhode Island researchers analyzed Airbnb rental data before and after construction of the offshore wind farm over the course of three years. They found an increase in summer occupancy rates following the wind farm’s construction, and “no noticeable effects” for the rest of the year.
The data didn’t indicate the reasons for an occupancy increase, but two of the researchers suggested curiosity about the wind farm may have been a factor.
I’m not so sure about that. I don’t think people make vacation plans based on renewable energy projects, and who knows what a longer view will show. But so far, it looks as though people were, at the very least, unbothered by offshore wind.
Australia is ready to host its first solar-to-hydrogen microgrid in the Daintree Rainforest, backed by a nearly $1 million grant, pv magazine Australia reports. Federal Energy Minister Angus Taylor said,
“The proposed microgrid will store energy generated by new and existing solar panels by converting it to hydrogen, generating reliable power and reducing the World Heritage Area’s reliance on diesel fuel to generate power, with consumption currently estimated at around 4 million litres of diesel per annum.”
This particular project will produce hydrogen gas to be collected, stored, and used to fuel large-scale generators. Residents can send their rooftop solar power to a microgrid, and they can earn credits back from power that goes into the community grid.
An analysis by the Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA) concluded this microgrid option was best for the particular situation in the rainforest.
Kentucky Coal Hit
The Louisville Courier-Journal reports that while coal is “still king in Kentucky,” a shift is happening. The state has also opened itself up to renewable energy through legislation, but natural gas is taking up the bulk of what coal is leaving behind.
Nevertheless, there are still slight gains for renewables. Hydroelectric power had a slight increase in the state’s energy mix during the past three years, and Rodney Andrews, director of the University of Kentucky’s Center for Applied Energy Research, believes better technology could spur more solar and wind development.
In February, President Trump expressed his public support for one particular Kentucky coal plant — but that wasn’t enough to save it from closure.
"We find that all of the roughly 10,000 MW of coal plants in Georgia are substantially at risk from new local renewables by 2025, with 6,500 MW substantially at risk today." – Dr. Joshua Rhodes of Vibrant Clean Energy, Georgia Power 2019 IRP testimony #GaIRP @joshdr83 @VibrantCE
— Simon Mahan (@SimonMahan) May 7, 2019
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