Archive for April 30th, 2013

Verizon to spend $100M on solar panels, fuel cells for facilities

Posted on: April 30th, 2013 by shannon No Comments

Verizon is making its largest commitment to clean power to date with a planned $100 million investment into installing solar panels and fuel cells at its facilities. The company joins the league of Apple and Google with its aggressive investments in distributed, renewable energy.

Telecom giant Verizon is expected to announce on Tuesday that it plans to spend $100 million on clean power projects, including installing solar panels and fuel cells at 19 locations to help power its buildings and network infrastructure. Verizon’s Chief Sustainability Officer James Gowen plans to make the announcement at Fortune’s Brainstorm Green conference on Tuesday.

Verizon plans to buy fuel cells from ClearEdge Power and solar panels from SunPower. The amount of power from the solar panels and fuel cells, which will be installed across seven states, will be 70 million kilowatt hours of electricity. That’s enough to power 6,000 homes per year.

Fuel cells look like industrial refrigerators, and they use a chemical reaction to produce electricity and heat. They are filled with large stacks that are lined with catalysts (a metal, sometimes platinum), and a fuel (commonly natural gas) is inserted in one side and runs over the stack. Electricity and heat flow out the other side. The benefits of fuel cells are that the electricity can be created on site where it is used, and if the fuel used is biogas, then the electricity is also free of carbon emissions.

Verizon has been using a small amount of solar and fuel cell technology for awhile, but this move represents the company’s largest commitment to clean power projects to date. Verizon is looking to cut its carbon emissions footprint substantially by 2020.


Gowen told me in an interview that this initiative is being driven both by the desire to add energy resiliency to Verizon’s facilities as well as the company’s sustainability goals. During superstorm Sandy, a fuel cell installation that Verizon had in Long Island that powered a switching station (using fuel cells from UTC Power, which was acquired by ClearEdge Power) never went down. Gowen said he wanted that type of off-grid resiliency through out Verizon’s facilities.

All of the solar panel installations in 2013 will be pretty large ones. For example, Verizon is putting solar panels on the roof of a data center in New Jersey, as well as on the ground next to the data center. The return on investment for the combined clean power projects is supposed to be around ten years, said Gowen.

Deploying clean power technologies — both solar panels and fuel cells — at data centers is a growing trend for internet and telecom companies in the U.S. Apple (a AAPL), Google, eBay, and Microsoft are all deploying clean power at data centers to help add off grid resiliency, as well as lower carbon emissions.

Apple is building its own solar panel farms and fuel cell farms at its data center in Maiden, North Carolina. Google has spent over a $1 billion investing in clean power projects and recently started working with Duke Energy on a clean power initiative in North Carolina. AT&T has large fuel cell farms powering its operations in California and Connecticut, using technology from Bloom Energy.

In a call last week, ClearEdge Power’s CEO David Wright called Verizon’s commitment to clean power technology “a stake in the ground for other technology companies.”



Geothermal energy’s environmental & health benefits worth $117M annually

Posted on: April 30th, 2013 by shannon No Comments


The Geothermal Energy Association (GEA) has released an Air Emissions Comparison and Externality Analysis showing geothermal energy provides significant benefits to public health and the environment as one of the least-polluting and most environmentally friendly forms of energy. The analysis found binary geothermal plants produce virtually no greenhouse gases (GHG) and dry steam and flash geothermal plants put out only trace amounts of emissions. It estimates the public benefits from clean energy produced in California and Nevada are worth more than $117 million annually.

“Energy production and use is a major source of environmental and public health damage, and geothermal energy is a truly remarkable resource because it harnesses the power of the Earth to produce large amounts of power with virtually no impact,” said GEA Executive Director Karl Gawell. “Geothermal has tremendous untapped potential to provide energy without adding harmful elements into the environment.”

According to the report, geothermal energy emerges as one of the least polluting and environmentally unobtrusive forms of energy, having the lowest lifecycle emissions of any generating technology. Dry steam and flash geothermal energy plants emit about 5% of the carbon dioxide, 1% of the sulfur dioxide, and less than 1% of the nitrous oxide emitted by a coal-fired plant of equal size; and binary geothermal plants produce near-zero emissions. This is advantageous to public health, since many of the pollutants released in energy production carry negatives health consequences.

Additional benefits of geothermal energy include less land degradation, air emissions and environmental harm; greater fuel diversity; and improved national security through the use of an indigenous energy source. Geothermal energy also adds to the economy by paying substantial property taxes and providing significant long-term local employment.

This analysis updates a 2005 paper published in the Electricity Journal and expands upon the methodology by incorporating more atmospheric pollutants into the calculation. The new information showed GEA researchers the benefit of producing power using geothermal sources—as opposed to fossil fuels—is worth 3.5 cents for coal, and 1 cent for natural gas per kWh. Additionally, GEA estimates geothermal provides approximately $88 million in externality benefits per year to California and $29 million to Nevadans by avoiding fossil fuel emissions.

“Geothermal energy carries a smaller environmental footprint than other energy sources, such as coal or natural gas,” said Benjamin Matek, GEA’s geothermal industry analyst and author of the updated report. “The absence of a fuel cycle reduces the impacts on transportation infrastructure, and geothermal power plants can use recycled waste water to reduce environmental impacts on water resources and treatment costs.”

The complete report is available at GEA will expound on this analysis at the National Geothermal Summit in Reno on June 26th to 27th. For more information on the Summit, please visit

The Geothermal Energy Association (GEA)


By: North American Clean Energy