Tue, 12/10/2013 - 1:54pm
Since the 1930s, Duluth, Minnesota, has continually drawn frigid water from Lake Superior, heated it to steam in a coal-fired boiler, then pushed that steam through a network of pipes to provide heat for downtown businesses.
The city is now studying its options for modernizing the aging system to make it more flexible, economical, and sustainable.
A consultant’s master plan presented Monday to the City Council recommends adding sawdust as a fuel source and converting steam lines into a more efficient, closed-loop hot water system. “If we are going to own this, we are going to bring this steam plant into the 21st century,” David Montgomery, the city’s chief administrative officer, said in an interview. “We want to turn this into a real asset, which we think it can become, from an...
Tue, 12/10/2013 - 1:46pm
The market share of condensing boilers, sometimes called high-efficiency boilers, has increased dramatically over the last several years, thanks in part to utility programs that provide rebates.
Unfortunately, many of these newly installed condensing boilers only achieve a fraction of their expected ideal case energy savings. Center for Energy and Environment’s Senior Mechanical Engineer Russ Landry explains why, and offers solutions to optimize their performance.
When a boiler burns natural gas to heat water, it produces both carbon dioxide and water vapor—which is really just diluted steam. In a conventional boiler all of this steam goes right out the chimney with most of its potential heating energy wasted:
The lost heat up the flue results in an annual fuel utilization efficiency of about 80 percent for conventional boilers. In order to increase boiler...
Tue, 12/10/2013 - 1:20pm
A total of 100 rural small business and agriculture producers in Minnesota were assisted by funding through USDA Rural Development’s Rural Energy for America Program (REAP) in 2013. Funding for 75 of these projects was recently announced by Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack. USDA Rural Development Under Secretary Doug O’Brien announced funding for the first 25 projects back in August during his visit to Minnesota to advocate for a new Food, Farm and Jobs Bill at Minnesota’s 2013 IDEAg Farmfest show.
The 2013 REAP funding will provide $2.3 million to Minnesota-based rural small businesses and farmers who will then leverage personal funds and other incentives to construct $10 million worth of projects throughout the state. The total number of projects funded and total dollars awarded represent the second highest in the nation and reflect Minnesota’s continued success in securing REAP...
Tue, 12/10/2013 - 8:52am
Douglas Tiffany, assistant extension professor at the University of Minnesota, discussed the economics of co-locating torrefaction, ethanol and coal power plants at the University of North Dakota on Nov. 6.
“What we wanted to get an idea of was what would be the rates of return on equity for torrefaction plants and how that use of biocoal could help coal-fired power plants comply with new regulations that are hanging over their head at this time,” Tiffany said.
After the cost of biomass, an independent torrefaction plant may face a production cost of $42 per finished ton, Tiffany explained. However, if the plant was able to sell a certain amount of steam and gases, the cost would be estimated at $17 per ton. “A co-located torrefaction plant where it has an opportunity to sell those gases would be enjoying 16 percent rates of return on equity versus six percent without that [...
Mon, 11/25/2013 - 1:59pm
Lake Region Electric Cooperative (LREC) members now have the opportunity to purchase part of the output from their newly-installed HQ Prairie solar project being built on the restored native prairie at LREC headquarters.
The HQ Prairie solar array consists of 96 solar panels with a combined capacity of 39.36 KW or 39,360 watts. The array is expected to produce about 1.1 million kWh of clean, renewable electricity over the next 20 years. Each module has a nameplate capacity of 410 watts and will produce an average of 588 kWhs of electricity each year.
A recent study found that some 80% of homes in America are unsuited to the installation of solar on-site due to shading, structural or ownership issues. LREC community solar provides a simple, affordable, low-risk way for LREC members to be part of the solar movement.
Members can purchase the output of either a half or full panel and...
Fri, 11/22/2013 - 3:52pm
The development of community solar gardens is a potentially exciting opportunity that will allow individuals to join with others in their community to advance clean energy projects.
CERTs is working to develop materials and resources to help individuals and communities better understand what this opportunity does—and doesn’t—mean for them.
We’re asking you to participate in a survey so that we can better understand what your needs are to make informed decisions about this emerging solar arena. We hope you’ll help!
Your responses will be kept confidential and will not be associated with your name. If you agree to participate in this study, we will ask you to complete an online survey (linked to below) that should take approximately 10 minutes. Please review the consent language before agreeing to be in the study.
Of course, should you have any...
MN Dept. of Commerce
Fri, 11/22/2013 - 3:14pm
The Minnesota Department of Commerce announced on Nov. 22 the 2014 incentive amounts for its 10-year, $15-million-a-year Made in Minnesota Solar Incentive Program, to launch Jan. 1 2014.
Made in Minnesota was one of several initiatives enacted by the 2013 Legislature to increase deployment of solar energy throughout the state. It will help achieve the state’s new solar electricity standard, which calls for 1.5 percent of electric sales from investor-owned utilities (Xcel Energy, Alliant Energy, Minnesota Power, and Otter Tail Power) to come from solar electricity by 2020.
The incentives for solar electric systems from the Made in Minnesota Solar Incentive Program will be available to customers of investor-owned utilities who install solar electric, or solar photovoltaic (PV), systems using solar modules or collectors certified as manufactured in Minnesota. Modules from two Minnesota...
Fri, 11/22/2013 - 2:25pm
There are a lot of great educational resources out there to help people understand their clean energy options, but often language barriers can get in the way. Now, for Spanish-language learners, there is a nice collection of clean energy resources available.
Thanks to a generous grant from the Carolyn Foundation, Do It Green! Minnesota is distributing a number of exciting new handouts on energy efficiency and renewable energy in Spanish!
Lista de Energía / Energy Checklist – a step-by-step list of easy tasks to do throughout the year to save energy
Alternativos de energía renovable en Minnesota / Renewable Energy Alternatives in Minnesota – two informative articles about the different types of renewable energy available in Minnesota
Preguntas de Energía / Energy Trivia Questions – good for...
Thu, 11/21/2013 - 12:28pm
Nearly 30 people gathered at the historic Depot in Wadena Friday, Sept. 13th, to learn about heating alternatives for communities on delivered fuels at an event co-hosted by Central Clean Energy Resource Team (Central CERT) and University of Minnesota Extension.
Speakers gave presentations on energy efficiency (the cleanest energy is the energy you don’t use!), solar thermal air heat and hot water systems, biomass on the farm and for heating school districts, as well as combined solar biomass systems, and the latest research on biomass as a heating alternative.
The group was welcomed by Central CERT Coordinator Sarah Hayden and CERTs Co-Director Joel Haskard. Meeting attendees enjoyed tasty snacks of fresh fruit, muffins, and coffee, while networking and speaking with presenters one on one about projects.
To see the presentations:...
Mon, 11/18/2013 - 5:18pm
Ever wonder what to do with the tangled mess of lights that marks the start of many Minnesotans holiday season? Ring in the holidays by getting rid of old, broken, inefficient light strands and upgrading to new, efficient LED holiday lights!
CERTs is partnering again with the Recycling Association of Minnesota (RAM) for the 2013-2014 holiday season on Recycle Your Holidays™. RAM recycles every part of the light strings—the metal wires, the plastic casing, and even the lights themselves. We’re providing a map of drop-off locations that are accepting holiday lights, and it’s also possible for you to sign up as a location.
Click here to see map of drop-off locations >>
Click here to see our press release & spread the word >>