Sustainability in the News
We've got local, national and global sustainability news just for you! The most current sustainability stories are all here.
Nevada is increasingly realizing its potential as a hub for solar, making the most of the vast amounts of sunshine the State receives. Nevada has recently overtaken California as the US leader of solar and geothermal production per capita.
The leap in solar power has been helped by major projects from several of the large casinos including MGM Resorts whose 8.3 MW solar array is the largest rooftop solar array in the United States. There have also been the addition of major businesses such as Google and Tesla to Nevada who have brought with them a desire to move towards more clean energy use, and in Tesla’s case clean energy is key to their business including developing solar panels.
Solar now accounts for 21% of Nevada’s electrical production, nearly a third of which is exported to neighbouring States making it a valuable commodity for the local economy. So much so that solar is now estimated to support over 4,000 jobs in Nevada.
Speaking at the ninth annual National Clean Energy Summit in Las Vegas, Nevada Governor Brian Sandoval said that the “$734 million in incentives has attracted a return of $7 billion in capital investments, payroll, and taxes paid.”
The solar market in Nevada seems likely to continue its growth in the forthcoming year with key policy decisions around net metering being made in the 2017 legislative session that will boost the residential solar market.
Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke has recommended that the Trump administration significantly shrinks Gold Butte National Monument, Nevada. Zinke fails to mention by how much the 300,000 acre Monument would be reduced by.
Former Montana Congressmen Zinke’s made the recommendation “to ensure that the monument reservation is limited to the smallest area compatible with the protection of the objects identified and protect historic water rights”. This allows the Valley Water District to access their water rights according to Senator Dean Heller.
Trump has said previous presidents have abused the Antiquities act by putting unnecessarily big chunks of territory off limits to drilling, mining, grazing, road traffic and other activities. In April he ordered Zinke to identify which of 27 monuments designated by past presidents should be rescinded or resized.
The move has received significant criticism after Gold Butte National Monument was designated for protection only last year under the previous administration. It is seen by many as an effort to accommodate the same corporate special interests who overwhelmingly benefit from the President’s tax plan to drill for oil even at the expense of the natural beauty and recreation these areas provide for all.
Petitions aiming at saving the Monument have received tens of thousands of signatures and the general consensus is that the Nevada public are strongly against the plan. This is reflected by many local politicians opposing the notion including Senator Catherine Cortez Masto and Dina Titus.
Senator Catherine Cortez Masto”Today’s recommendation, along with yesterday’s by President Trump, threatens over a century of environmental protections guaranteed by the Antiquities Act,”
Rep. Dina Titus stated Zinke has been busy “fundraising and undermining the integrity of the Interior Department.He is in no position to make a sound judgment on Gold Butte”.
There has also been significant and well publicized criticism from Patagonia and REI, the outdoors retailers. They claim the move is illegal and threatens precious lands which should be reserved for the public. A place to be outdoors, learn about nature and enjoy recreation as well as preserving their natural beauty.
The Las Vegas Global Economic Alliance (LVGEA) has announced its 50th member of its Board of Directors, Betsy Fretwell. This ensures the LVGEA is now the largest C-level business board in the State of Nevada, completing their “drive to 50” campaign.
The LVGEA 50 has attempted and succeeded in putting together a group of the strongest and most committed leaders in Las Vegas with the aim of diversifying and strengthening the economy of Southern Nevada. The aim is to make the region an economic powerhouse, not just nationally but on a global scale, creating local jobs, increasing investment, opportunities and ensuring a long term and sustainable solution, not just economically but also across transportation, technology, innovation, education and sustainability. The board represents private and public sectors and communities providing input from across the spectrum.
Betsy Fretwell, the Senior Vice President of Switch becomes the 50th board member. She brings great insight, innovation and additional leadership to the board, helping them to drive Southern Nevada forward. The relationship with such a strong, iconic and innovative organisation such as Switch is invaluable to the LVGEA in promoting innovation, collaboration and looking towards technology to drive economic development, an area that Betsy Fretwell has thrived in throughout her career.
In 2016 Betsy won the ImpactNV Sustainable Leadership Award for her instrumental role in implementing the Mayor and City Council’s sustainability resolutions and was instrumental in helping the City reach an agreement with NV Energy to received 100% of the City’s retail load from renewable sources while in her position of City of Las Vegas City Manager.
With its 50th board member now in place there are exciting times ahead for the LVGEA as they continue to help form a sustainable and successful local economy.
Energy storage has been marked as a key technology to help increase the deployment of clean energy and help us move towards a more sustainable society. There have been fast moving developments in this sector over the past five years or so, seeing us progress from relatively modest and expensive batteries towards large/commercial scale storage capable of holding thousands of hours of clean electricity with continually falling costs.
California is now home to the largest lithium battery farm in the world. It consists of 400,000 batteries encased in shipping containers and took 6 months to build. It stores a staggering 120 MW hours of energy, enough to power 20,000 homes for 4 hours. This can allow homes and businesses to use more clean energy and less produced from fossil fuels. It can store energy from solar or wind while it is abundant and then distribute it at times of low production.
Avoid Peak Demand Charges
Storage will also help businesses, domestic consumers and utilities to avoid peak demand charges. These can occur when there are high levels of demand from the grid, basic supply versus demand economics. Having storage enables users to participate in “peak shaving” where they use stored energy at times of peak demand to help reduce their bill.
With such a dynamic and fast passed industry developments in storage are happening every day. Not only that but the way we use and interact with our energy and storage systems is continually changing as we move toward a smart energy system. In a previous ImpactNV article we looked at how there is now the possibility to use your electric car battery as storage for your home, or even to send energy back to the grid at times of high demand. This is known as vehicle to grid or vehicle to home technology and is another illustration of the direction in which we are moving and what exciting innovations are to come, helping us to be more sustainable and save money.
BBC Radio Program on energy storage: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/av/science-environment-42021353/the-world-s-biggest-lithium-battery-farm