Predictions point to accelerated distributed energy growth in 2021

Welcome back to the work week, folks. Our news roundup begins with several stories about utilities’ technologies. First up: insight on distributed energy resources (DER) industry growth this year.

🔌 UTILITIES:

  • Falling technology prices, new governmental policies, and customer demand are expected to drive accelerated DER growth this year, reports Utility Dive. Utilities and DER advocates will have to discuss and align on distribution system modernization. Advancements are expected across the country, but the DER impacts and adoption will vary by location and factors like urbanization, existing infrastructure, and demographics.

  • The fate of North Dakota’s largest coal-fired power plant — set to shut down next year — remains up in the air, and a new owner likely would have to incorporate innovative technologies such as carbon capture, hydrogen harnessing, or new types of electricity storage, reports the Grand Forks Herald.

  • Naperville, Illinois-based natural gas distribution company Nicor is proposing a pilot program worth up to $20 million to capture and use renewable “trash gas,” methane created at landfills and farms, as heating fuel, reports Crain’s Chicago Business. Environmental and consumer advocates are pushing back on the plan.

🌱 BIOFUEL: Ames, Iowa-based biofuel producer Renewable Energy Group is underappreciated despite being an industry leader, in large part because the market perceives biofuels as only a temporary decarbonization solution, according to Seeking Alpha. The article suggests biofuels have more staying power because the complete adoption of other solutions is decades away.

📈 INVESTMENTS: Doug Baker, the recently retired former CEO of St. Paul-based Ecolab, said during an interview with the Minneapolis/St. Paul Business Journal (paywalled article) that he wants to become more involved in startups, potentially as an investor, reports Minne Inno.

🏆 HONORS: HPCwire magazine honored research teams at Argonne National Laboratory with two awards recognizing their use of high-performance computing for engine design projects that could lead to the development of a more efficient vehicle engine.

💻 EVENTS:

  • Tomorrow (Jan. 12), Des Plaines, Illinois-based Gas Technology Institute (GTI) will hold the first session of its tech talk webinar series, highlighting what’s new in renewable natural gas. Future sessions will address carbon capture technologies and low-carbon energy systems.

  • On Wednesday (Jan. 13), several Midwestern Clean Cities coalitions collectively will host the first installment in their winter webinar series, covering medium- and heavy-duty electric truck operations and funding opportunities.


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Centered is a publication of the Energy News Network, in partnership with the Illinois Science and Energy Innovation Foundation and mHUB.