Weekend Reads: The Rising Electricity Demand in Virginia; The Logistics of Airport Solar Farms - Smart Energy Decisions

GHG Emissions, Solar, Sourcing Renewables  -  May 8, 2021

Weekend Reads: Rising Electricity Demand in Virginia; The Logistics of Airport Solar Farms

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

Why Not Turn Airports Into Giant Solar Farms? (Wired) The next time you’re staring out a plane window during takeoff or landing, give the airport a scan. You’ll see hangars and other support buildings and, of course, the terminal. But mostly, you’ll see lots of empty space. Airplanes, as many aeronautical engineers have noted, like open spaces—for obvious reasons, including not getting along with trees. You know what also likes open spaces? Solar panels, which abhor the shade of not only trees but also tall buildings. So why aren’t we covering our airports—dedicated spaces that can’t be used for anything other than the business of air travel—with solar arrays? Well, it turns out that airports not only have a lot of empty space, they also have a lot of rules.

Data centers and electric vehicles will drive up Virginia electricity demand, UVA forecaster predicts (The Virginia Mercury) Demand for electricity is likely to balloon in Virginia over the next three decades as data centers flock to the state and electric vehicles increasingly replace traditional ones, a forecast from the University of Virginia’s Energy Transition Initiative released last week found. “Virginia policymakers have decided to make our electricity supply greener, and to do that we have to build a substantial amount of energy sources over the next few years. … If we’re going to do that, we have to be prepared, and we have to bring all the information together to allow us to do that in a cost-effective way,” said William Shobe, director of the initiative within UVA’s Weldon Cooper Center and the author of the report. Overall, Shobe predicts that Virginia’s electricity sales will increase 30 to 38 percent by 2035 and by more than 78 percent by 2050, compared to current sales. Some experts, however, caution that many variables will affect future electric demand.

Senate Democrats announce $73B clean bus plan (The Hill) Senate Majority Leader Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) and Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio) announced a new $73 billion plan on Tuesday aimed at replacing the country’s mass transit buses with clean vehicles. The proposal seeks to replace the country’s 70,000 buses and 85,000 cutaway vehicles and transit vans, prioritizing funding for areas with the worst air quality first, according to a press release. A summary said the plan, called Clean Transit for America, will authorize the money for the procurement and deployment of zero-emission buses and infrastructure, including charging stations related to it. Nearly all of the funds would be used for grants to help with procurement and infrastructure costs, according to Schumer's office. The funds going elsewhere include $60 million toward a workforce training program and $500 million that would go to transit agencies to lessen the burden of retraining workers.

Webinar: Systems Vs. Silos - ESG, Net Zero Roadmaps and Making Climate Action Plans Reality (Duke Energy Sustainable Solutions) Whether your organization has just announced a net-zero target or is on an advanced climate action path, there is always more to do. For Duke Energy, one of the U.S.’s largest energy holding companies, the path includes managing the nation’s largest coal transition, addressing materiality and reporting to meet evolving requirements, and assuring affordable and reliable energy for all of its 7.9 million residential, small business and large corporate customers. Join a candid discussion on the ESG opportunities – and challenges – and the various ways companies can meet their net-zero goals. REGISTER HERE

California's dilemma: How to control skyrocketing electric rates while building the grid of the future (Utility Dive) California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) President Marybel Batjer says the state will not let skyrocketing electricity rates threaten reliability or the state's policy goals. But affordability is a growing concern as California works toward a "future grid" and a dynamic new power system to meet the climate crisis and related extreme weather events, stakeholders and CPUC Staff maintain. Rates rising far faster than inflation are straining the budgets of vulnerable customers and new approaches that protect policy goals and customer bills are urgently needed, they agree.

Webinar: Data centers will continue to be an essential service in the "new normal." How will this alter the future of energy supply and demand? (CPower) As the lockdown drove America to shelter in place, increased home-computing across the country created the kind of spike in ones and zeros that the data center industry was born to house. Now, as economies are recovering, the sector looks to a bright future with an eye on growth, efficiency, and sustainability.  To support our transformation to online services and businesses, some of the world’s largest data centers require more than 100 megawatts (MW) of power capacity—enough to power around 80,000 U.S. households. What if data centers have the opportunity to act as also as energy suppliers, selling excess supply back to the grid and helping to maintain grid stability and reliability?

Undulating Solar Mountain produces 300 MWh of renewable energy annually (Inceptive Mind) Future projects have focused more on reducing our environmental impact. As climate change takes hold, reaching world-historical levels, engineers and architects are coming up with unprecedented ideas and solutions. A Mumbai-based architecture firm, literally called NUDES, has presented “Solar Mountain,” a modern structure constructed from recycled timber and clad in solar photovoltaic panels. It is also one of the ten shortlisted projects for Burning Man’s 3,800-acre Fly Ranch in Nevada. The Fly Ranch in the Nevada Desert is a permanent, off-the-grid space proposed by the organizers of Burning Man. To create its infrastructure, they partnered with Land Art Generator Initiative (LAGI) for a multi-disciplinary design challenge – LAGI 2020 Fly Ranch and now the shortlisted entries, including NUDES’ Solar Mountain, will move to the next stage of prototyping.

Keywords: Weekend reads

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