CSUs working at the forefront of sustainable fuel

Our research was featured this week in a California State University article about faculty and students who are working to advance clean transportation:

A screenshot of the betting on batteries article

In related transportation news, we currently have an open position for a student research assistant to work on the development of an electric bus charging infrastructure optimization model.

You can also read about our readiness assessment for fuel cell vehicles in the California northern coast and upstate regions.

Technical Update: Redwood Coast Airport Renewable Energy Microgrid

Aerial image of coastline and town of McKinleyville, CA, with airport marked

Site of the Redwood Coast Airport microgrid, image courtesy of Google Earth

This fall, we have been working on project initiation tasks in advance of our technical team kickoff in early 2019. Here are some of the highlights:

  1. The contract with our major partner, the Redwood Coast Energy Authority (RCEA), is completed and approved by the RCEA Board of Directors. We also have completed contracts with TRC Solutions and Schweitzer Engineering Laboratories.
  2. We are in the late stages of procurement contracting for the 2 MW photovoltaic array and the 8 MWh battery energy storage system.
  3. We are working on a Memorandum of Understanding between the Schatz Center, RCEA, and the County of Humboldt to solidify the roles and responsibilities of each organization during the project implementation process.
  4. We are continuing to work through the final approval process with the Federal Aviation Administration to site the microgrid on airport property.
  5. RCEA will be utilizing a loan from US Department of Agriculture’s Rural Utilities Service to provide much of their cost share for the project. We are working with RCEA to complete the application process for the loan.
  6. We are ramping up our work with Pacific Gas & Electric’s (PG&E) project team in preparation for tariff development work, engineering design, and lab testing activities scheduled for 2019.

By March of 2019, we will have all of our contracts in place and will be underway with our electrical design, preparing an interconnection application with PG&E, working with TRC on business model evaluation and cybersecurity planning, and beginning tariff development work with RCEA and PG&E.

The Redwood Coast Airport Renewable Energy Microgrid is funded by a $5 million grant from the California Energy Commission’s Electric Program Investment Charge and a $6 million match from the Redwood Coast Energy Authority. During an energy outage, the microgrid’s controller will use the 2 MW photovoltaic array and 8 MWh battery to form an electrical island to maintain power for the airport and the adjoining U.S. Coast Guard Air Station. The solar electric system in the microgrid is expected to generate over 3,100 MWh of electricity per year, with most of the energy going to RCEA’s Community Choice Energy Customers through the CAISO wholesale market. A portion of that renewable electricity will be credited directly to the airport’s electricity meters, offsetting approximately 80% of the electrical usage of their two largest electricity accounts. This system will be the first multi-customer, front-of-the-meter microgrid in PG&E’s service territory. It will integrate a microgrid circuit owned by an investor-owned utility (PG&E) with generation owned by a local community choice aggregator (RCEA).

Schatz Energy Fall 2018 Newsletter

Page 1 of the Schatz Energy news

Our twice-annual print newsletter is now available to download. Features include:

  • The Schatz Center roof goes solar
  • A message from the Director
  • Project announcements and updates
  • Student research 2018
  • Lighting Global Quality Assurance updates
  • Northern CA coast offshore wind feasibility

Download the Fall 2018 Schatz Energy Newsletter

Open Position at the Schatz Center: Research Engineer or Energy Analyst

We are seeking a research engineer or energy analyst to join our team in Arcata, California. The successful applicant will contribute technical and/or analytical content and assist with project implementation in one or more project areas including electric power systems, renewable energy system deployment, clean transportation, energy planning and policy, energy system integration, and/or bioenergy. Depending on skills and experience, the selected candidate may be hired for a mid-level or senior-level position.

This work provides an opportunity to make substantive contributions to the development of clean and renewable energy. (Learn more about our capabilities and our current projects…)

Application Deadline: The position is open until filled. Application materials received by 4 pm Pacific Time (US), Wednesday, December 19, 2018 will receive first consideration.

Schatz Center from above

Director’s Note: November 2018

Headshot of Arne Jacobson

The Camp Fire in Butte County has been the most damaging wildfire in California history. Hurricanes, wildfires, cyclones, floods, and heat waves are taking a heavy toll on communities around the globe. While no single weather event can be linked directly to climate change, weather disasters as a whole are expected to become increasingly common and destructive as climate change progresses.

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s (IPCC) recent special report on the prospect of limiting climate change to a 1.5°C global average temperature rise relative to pre-industrial conditions indicates that global net human-caused greenhouse gas emissions need to decline before 2030 by about 45% relative to 2010 levels. It is imperative that we do all we can to make progress toward this goal given the expected damages associated with a failure to do so. Simultaneously, given the climate disruption that is already baked into the system, actions to reduce vulnerability and increase resilience to climate damages are also needed.

Our work at the Schatz Center is strongly motivated by these challenges. Our renewable energy microgrid work combines efforts to integrate more solar power into the electrical grid while increasing resilience for critical infrastructure including emergency response centers, fuel stations, airports, and Coast Guard facilities. Likewise, our upcoming feasibility analysis of offshore wind development along California’s northern coast will explore a large potential new clean energy resource for our state. Through these and other efforts, we continue to promote clean and renewable energy and to otherwise take measures to address global climate change.

Measures to address climate change will be most effective if they are crafted by diverse teams from all walks of life. Over the past six months, we have been doing some introspective work at the Center related to staff diversity and an inclusive work environment. We held an all-day retreat in August that focused on these topics, and we have begun implementing measures identified at the retreat and subsequent staff and subcommittee meetings. As we work to make progress, I appreciate the thoughtfulness and initiative that our team has brought to the table. We are committed for the long haul when it comes to making a positive difference regarding diversity and inclusion. The successes that we achieve will make us a stronger and more effective organization.

A group photo of 35 staff standing outside the Wharfinger Building in Eureka

Schatz team at the August retreat

I will close by welcoming Carisse Geronimo and Grishma Raj Dahal to the Schatz Center. Both are graduate students in the Energy Technology and Policy (ETaP) master’s program, and they joined us in August. Carisse is the first recipient of the Donald and Andrea Tuttle Fellowship for Clean Energy Studies. She is working with Dr. Sintana Vergara and other Schatz Center colleagues on biomass energy, waste management, and associated opportunities to reduce greenhouse gas pollution. Grishma, who received the Schatz Energy Fellowship, is working with our off-grid energy access team on research related to off-grid solar power. We are very glad to have them on our team.

Happy winter holidays, and goodbye until next time.

~ Arne

Northern CA coast offshore wind feasibility study

On October 25, the Schatz Energy Research Center at Humboldt State University was awarded a grant from the California Ocean Protection Council (a division of the California Department of Natural Resources), to study the feasibility of offshore wind generation for the Northern California coast. The $623k grant will assess the environmental impacts, determine the required modifications of coastal infrastructure, examine stakeholder benefits and impacts, and evaluate local, state, and federal policies as they relate to offshore wind development.

A map of the northern CA coastal region included in this analysis, from Fort Bragg to southern Del Norte County. Average wind speeds are shown.

The feasibility analysis will cover selected areas in this region

Offshore wind energy is likely to play an important role in meeting California’s targets for carbon neutrality by 2045. The offshore wind resource near Humboldt Bay is among the best in the nation, with wind speeds often exceeding 10 meters per second at 90 meters above the ocean’s surface (Schwartz 2010), which is the approximate height of wind turbines. The National Renewable Energy Laboratory estimates that the state’s offshore winds have the technical potential to produce 392 TWh per year, about 150% of California’s annual electricity load (Musial 2016).

Analysis of North Coast wind speed data has shown that the wind power is fairly consistent throughout the day (Musial 2016) when compared to other renewable resources such as land-based wind or solar. Offshore wind could provide a more consistent power flow to the grid, which in turn would support increased integration of technologies with highly variable generation throughout the day, such as solar. But California’s deep ocean floor, sensitive ecosystems, seismic activity, and protected coastlines, will require careful research and development in order to responsibly develop offshore wind projects. Engaging California’s coastal communities — who have the most to lose from sea level rise due to climate change — in early research and planning is critical for successful future development efforts.

The project is expected to kickoff in early 2019. For this project, the Schatz Energy Research Center is collaborating with ecological consultants from H.T. Harvey and Associates, coastal engineering specialists from Mott MacDonald, and faculty in the Economics and Environmental Science & Management departments at Humboldt State.

References

CLASP and IFC affiliated team members visit the Schatz Center

Last week, the Lighting Global team hosted Riley Macdonald from CLASP and Honglin Hui, a consultant to the International Finance Corporation (IFC). Riley recently joined the CLASP team as Market Development Coordinator and is based in Washington, DC. Honglin recently joined the IFC team as a Lighting Global China consultant and is based in Shenzhen, China.

Riley and Honglin participated in three days of training designed to increase their understanding of the Lighting Global Quality Assurance program. The training included sessions on testing methods, standards, and policies used by the Lighting Global Quality Assurance program, as well as hands-on work in the test lab. We also met to discuss approaches for outreach to Chinese manufacturers that are reflective of Chinese business culture and represent best practices for cross-language communication.

Arne and Honglin inspect a module in the Schatz Center's off-grid solar products test lab.

Arne Jacobson and Honglin Hui inspect a solar module.

Kaileigh Vincent-Welling and Riley Macdonald work in the Schatz Center's off-grid solar products test lab.

Kaileigh Vincent-Welling demonstrates the solar charge test for Riley Macdonald.

An extended hand turns the dial on an Electronic Load, which reads 0.0003V and 0.002A.

Scott Toyama shows how an electronic load is used to test the port performance of off-grid solar products.

Six people stand in a narrow, wet canyon with fern-covered walls.

Our visitors join the team for a hike in Fern Canyon.

Energy Paths for the Yurok People

We recently helped the Yurok Tribe secure $180,000 from the U.S. Department of Energy and we are now working together to develop a Yurok Tribe Strategic Energy Action Plan. This plan will support the tribe’s efforts to increase energy efficiency, develop local renewable energy resources, reduce energy costs, and meet energy needs on the reservation. First we will identify potential energy projects that can help achieve these goals. This list will then be screened and prioritized based on technical feasibility, cost, likelihood of being funded, and other criteria. Finally, we will work with the Tribe to select a few key projects where we will develop preliminary design and cost information sufficient to “queue them up” for future funding and deployment.

Our work will be split between two key regions of the Reservation – the Klamath region at the mouth of the Klamath River (served by Pacific Power) and the upriver region near Weitchpec (served by Pacific Gas & Electric). Projects will be identified in these two regions that can provide economic, environmental, resilience, and energy security benefits. These may include community solar installations with energy storage, micro-hydropower, microgrid technologies, and participation in aggregate net metering programs. The Yurok Tribe has been working for years to make sure all tribal members on the reservation have access to reliable, affordable, modern, cost-effective energy services. This project aims to outline a clear path to achieving these goals.

RELATED EVENTS…

On Thursday, November 1, Santa Clara law professor Catherine Sandoval will present her research on “The Native American reservation electricity access gap: a case study of the Yurok Tribe’s leadership and next steps for energy justice and climate change.” The talk will be held at 5:30 pm in the Native American Forum on the HSU campus.

Dr. Sandoval’s research will also be released shortly in Energy Justice: US and International Perspectives (New Horizons in Environmental and Energy Law series, Edward Elgar Publishing, 2018).

Looking over a ridge toward evergreen mountains

Looking south along the Klamath River from the new Tulley Creek Transportation Building

Nov 1 lecture: the Native American reservation electricity access gap

For our final talk in this semester’s Sustainable Futures Speaker Series, Catherine J.K. Sandoval will explore The Native American reservation electricity access gap: a case study of the Yurok Tribe’s energy access leadership and next steps for energy justice and climate change.

Please note that this lecture will be held in the Native American Forum (BSS 162).

Catherine Sandoval is a tenured Law Professor at Santa Clara University, where she teaches energy, communications, antitrust, and contract law. Her research explores the intersection of energy, the environment, telecommunications, and underserved and disadvantaged communities — including the Native American reservation electricity gap and the role of net neutrality in powering energy and forestalling climate change.

Catherine Sandoval headshot

Sandoval served as a Commissioner of the California Public Utilities Commission from 2011-2017, and was the first Latinx person appointed as a CPUC Commissioner. She serves on the American Indian Chamber of Commerce of California Advisory Council, and received the Chamber’s 2016 Warrior Award for her work to improve Native American utility infrastructure access and service. The first person in her family to earn a Bachelor’s, she received a B.A. from Yale University; a Master of Letters in politics from Oxford University, where she was the first Latina to win a Rhodes Scholarship; and a J.D. from Stanford Law School.

Download the event flyer

The Sustainable Futures Speaker Series at Humboldt State creates interdisciplinary discussion, debate, and collaboration around issues related to energy, the environment, and society. Fall 2018 lectures are held on Thursdays from 5:30-7 pm. For details on upcoming events or to request accessibility accommodations, visit our series events page or call (707) 826-4345.

Lighting Global Quality Assurance: test method and standards updates

As a growing and dynamic industry, the off-grid solar market encompasses a wide diversity of product quality. Some products are designed and manufactured well, while others fall short of expectations for safety, durability, or performance. In many households, purchasing an off-grid solar product is a major financial decision. Poor quality products can lead to market spoilage — in which consumers lose trust in an entire technology. Product standards and testing provide quality assurance for consumers, and support those companies who follow best practices in manufacturing and design.

Starting in 2007, the Schatz Center, working in collaboration with the Fraunhofer Institute for Solar Energy Systems in Germany, helped develop a set of test methods for evaluating off-grid solar product quality. In 2013, a revised version of these test methods was published by the International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC) under IEC TS 62257-9-5. Since 2009, we have worked closely with Lighting Africa, Lighting Asia and Lighting Global World Bank Group initiatives to develop an international program for quality assurance and consumer protection for LED-based off-grid lighting and power systems.

In the last ten years, over 29 million Lighting Global Quality Verified solar lighting products have been sold, benefitting more than 147 million people.

Recent developments:

  • In 2018, we updated the test methods to include a more robust analysis of ports and appliances. This new version of the IEC TS 62257-9-5 was published in June.
  • The Schatz Center renewed and expanded our ISO 17025 accreditation through the ANSI-ASQ National Accreditation Board (ANAB) to be one of the three off-grid solar testing labs internationally accredited to conduct testing according to the new version of IEC TS 62257-9-5.
  • We recently submitted the Lighting Global Quality Standards to the IEC for adoption. Having these standards published by the IEC will create an easier path for government adoption and will help limit the sale of poor quality products in the market.
Brightly illuminated LED products against a black background

A selection of off-grid solar products that have met the Lighting Global Quality Standards