Thu, 08/01/2013 - 3:46pm
The West Central Research and Outreach Center has recently turned what was just a dream in 2002 into a reality. The project began with a vision of capturing wind energy and using it in an innovative way; the end product was the completion of the Renewable Hydrogen and Ammonia Pilot Plant located in Morris, Minnesota.
The plant’s function is to ultimately create NH3 (ammonia). How does it work? Nitrogen and hydrogen are created using wind, air, and water. Nitrogen is pulled out of the air by pressurizing air to vent out the oxygen, carbon dioxide, and other chemicals to leave behind the nitrogen molecules. A current of electricity produced by the wind turbine is put into water, splitting the hydrogen and oxygen. The oxygen is vented off to leave behind pure hydrogen. After a process of mixing the nitrogen and hydrogen and then heating...
Wed, 07/31/2013 - 4:20pm
Xcel Energy recently announced the 20 recipients of $30 million in renewable energy grants, seven of which are solar projects.
The projects vary in size and location throughout the state of Minnesota as well as one in Wisconsin. The largest project will be a 1.18 megawatt solar installation at a Terminal One parking ramp at the Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport. Other projects include locations at the St. Paul Midway Target, Edison High School, and the Sisters of Notre Dame School in Mankato.
Click here to see a full list of solar projects and view the original article from Minnesota Public Radio >>
MN Dept. of Commerce
Tue, 07/30/2013 - 3:37pm
The tiny Minnesota farming town of Milan may be small in terms of population—about 1,000 for the greater Milan area—but it is big time when it comes to energy efficiency.
The west central town, through its Greater Milan Initiative, committed in 2009 to develop a long-term community culture of reducing energy usage and costs and promoting renewable energy to end users. Milan adopted the nation’s first rural “Sustainable Energy Utility,” a community-based model that provides a point of contact for residents, businesses and organizations to learn about and implement energy efficiency.
To help demonstrate sustainable behavior, the nonprofit Greater Milan Initiative partnered with Otter Tail Power Company, the state, and local contractors to provide cost-effective improvements to its community center. The result has been a thriving community center that has tripled its usage, while...
MN Dept. of Commerce
Mon, 07/29/2013 - 11:41am
The Minnesota Department of Commerce, Division of Energy Resources posts state and federal funding opportunities on a regular basis. The list below includes solicitations of proposals for energy or environmental grant funding or other incentives from a wide variety of organizations. You may also get funding resources on their website, in a PDF or via email updates from Commerce.
Energy for Sustainability
The program supports fundamental research and education that will enable...
Mon, 07/29/2013 - 11:36am
The Energy Center of Wisconsin was awarded a 2011 Conservation and Applied Research Grant from the Department of Commerce, Division of Energy Resources for field testing drainwater heat recovery (DHR) systems in Commercial Buildings.
DHR systems include replacing a portion of vertical drain pipe with a heat exchanger module. The heat exchanger module can consist of a copper vertical pipe (drain line) to match the diameter of drain pipe being replace, surrounded by a coiling smaller diameter copper pipe (supply line). The system works when warm water (say, from a shower, washing machine, or dish wash station) flows vertically down through the drain line and cool water flows upward through the supply line and onto a water heater for additional heating.
CERTs recently sat in on a webinar from the Energy Center about the nearly completed study. The main take-aways are as follows:...
MN Dept. of Commerce
Thu, 07/25/2013 - 4:43pm
Many businesses, including large commercial and industrial (C&I) facilities, have the potential to realize significant energy savings from untapped improvements in operations and maintenance (O&M) practices. However, financial obligations, time and staffing constraints, and existing institutional practices create significant barriers to implementation.
Many customers also lack experience with energy and resource accounting tools for benchmarking the efficiency of their facilities, and for tracking progress of efficiency and conservation efforts. An economic environment characterized by slow growth and high uncertainty can contribute to the reluctance to make significant capital outlays for energy efficiency upgrades. These factors increase the urgency for utility Conservation Improvement Programs (CIPs) to assist customers in achieving energy savings from low/no-cost (LC/NC)...
Tue, 07/23/2013 - 12:41pm
It was a beautiful day to tour the state’s largest solar photovoltaic (PV) installation on July 19th, 2013 in Slayton, Minnesota. With the sun high and bright in the sky and only puffy white clouds to speak of, 35 members of SW/WC CERT toured the 7.5 football fields worth of solar panels working at maximum capacity. Keep reading to learn more and see lots of photos.
The day started with a informal lunch at the town’s Pizza Ranch at noon. Members of the CERTs tour, as well as members of the day’s previous tours, gathered in the East room. After a quick introduction by Joel Haskard (CERTs Co-Director) and Jeff Vetsch (West Central CERT Coordinator), Brian Ross of C.R. Planning took the stage to explain some of the changes in the recent Minnesota legislation concerning solar. Click here to view the...
Tue, 07/23/2013 - 11:51am
On those summer days that are particularly hot and sticky, the use of a ceiling fan in conjunction with air conditioning or natural ventilation may be your best choice to cool things down. The wind chill effect that increased air movement creates on skin means that turning on a ceiling fan will allow you to raise your home thermostat setting about 4 degrees with no reduction in comfort. From a conservation standpoint, it is important to keep in mind that fans should be turned off as you leave the room—fans cool people (through the wind chill effect), not rooms.
The U.S. Department of Energy recommends that ceiling fans should not be used in rooms any shorter than eight feet high. Also, blades should never come closer than 8 inches from the ceiling and 18 inches from the nearest wall. Ceiling fans are a great choice for the summer months, but will likely not reduce your heating...
Tue, 07/23/2013 - 11:37am
Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz recently highlighted the continued growth of electric vehicle sales—doubling in the first 6 months of 2013 compared to the same period in 2012—as the Energy Department released its most recent pricing data showing the low cost of fueling on electricity. The eGallon, a quick and simple way for consumers to compare the costs of fueling electric vehicles vs. driving on gasoline, rose slightly to $1.18 from $1.14 in the latest monthly numbers, but remains far below the $3.49 cost of a gallon of gasoline.
“More and more Americans are taking advantage of the low and stable price of electricity as a transportation fuel, and that’s very good news for our economy as well as the environment,” said Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz. “As the market continues to grow, electric vehicles will play a key role in our effort to reduce air pollution and slow the...
MN Dept. of Commerce
Tue, 07/23/2013 - 11:30am
A new report has been published that offers guidance to building officials and solar installers regarding the need for structural review of planned residential solar installations.
The report, issued by the Minnesota Department of Commerce in cooperation with the Department of Labor and Industry, developed standard load tables that outline limitations for placement of residential rooftop solar electric and solar thermal systems on existing single and multifamily dwellings. The tables encourage safe and structurally reliable systems while reducing costs associated with unnecessary structural review for many residential applications.
The cost to have a structural review of existing conditions for proposed solar installations can be a real barrier to adoption, according to the...