Energy Efficiency, Microgrids, Solar  -  November 30, 2019

Weekend reads: Norway's net-positive buildings; turning Thanksgiving waste into energy

It's the weekend! Kick back and catch up with these must-read articles from around the web.

What happens when the humble circuit breaker becomes a computer (Vox) The electricity system is evolving from analog to digital — and that’s great news for transitioning off of fossil fuels. I have been writing a lot lately about a big trend in the energy world, namely the decentralization of the energy system. Almost all electricity used to be generated at large power plants and carried over long-distance, high voltage transmission lines before it was dumped into local distribution grids. These days, a small but growing fraction of it is generated, stored, and managed within the distribution grid itself.

Norway’s net-positive buildings show how Massachusetts could raise the bar (Energy News Network) The newest office building on the waterfront in the central Norway city of Trondheim is stripped down and striking, with a polygonal roof angling up into the skyline. An elliptical atrium bores down through the center of the structure. The entire building is clad in black. It takes a closer look to notice that the dark roof — some 32,000 square feet — is covered entirely in solar panels.

Virginia schools’ rapid solar growth is headed for ceiling without legislative fix (Energy News Network) The number of Virginia K-12 schools switching to solar has almost tripled to 86 since 2017, according to a clean energy group’s report released Tuesday. But that trajectory will be stifled unless the state General Assembly lifts the limit on a pilot project that essentially caps solar arrays installed to electrify schools, universities, churches, municipal buildings and other tax-exempt entities to a total of 50 megawatts.

How the humble chairlift could revolutionize renewable energy (Grist) What do you see when you imagine a zero-carbon future? Electric buses zipping by? Rolling hills covered with solar panels? Offshore wind farms towering over the sea? If batteries are part of your vision, good thinking. But there’s a promising, if whimsical, piece of the renewable energy puzzle that might be missing from your mental picture: the world of gravity energy storage.

Digesting Thanksgiving Leftovers: One Utah Facility Turning Food Waste Into Energy (KUNC) It’s nearly Thanksgiving, which means extra food — and extra food waste. But one man’s garbage is another’s renewable energy. Wasatch Resource Recovery in North Salt Lake, Utah, is already taking in more than 350 tons of food waste every day, and it’s only at half capacity. While it started taking some food in February 2019, Morgan Bowerman said that the last few pieces of the facility will be in place in the next few weeks and the facility will be ready to take on more waste — and produce more natural gas.

Keywords: Weekend reads

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