Renewable Energy is Watt's Up!
The State of Maryland has mandated that half of its fuel will be derived from renewable energy sources by 2040, joining seven other states with renewable energy goals of 50% or more. Such legislation is designed to reduce dependence on fossil fuels to lessen greenhouse gas emissions. While there is some dispute about what energy sources can claim to be “clean” as well as truly “renewable,” there is no doubt that Maryland is at the forefront of research, innovation, and implementation of alternative energy programs in the renewable energy arena. We will focus on these efforts in this edition of Region On Point.
Renewable energy comes from a source that is naturally occurring and replenishes without the interference of human intervention, such as wind, solar, and hydro-generated energy. The focus on renewables becoming a cost efficient, reliable, and resilient source of energy that can easily be used by all businesses and communities has become a priority with government, policy, and industry leaders. As legislative mandates become more prevalent and with higher goals for increasing renewable sources for supplying energy, the need for interdisciplinary collaboration for research, innovation, and implementation is critical – a number of examples of which follow below:
- The University of Maryland has a number of interdisciplinary energy centers. In particular, the mission of the Maryland Energy Innovation Institute (MEI2) is to be a catalyst for energy research, bringing together science, industry, government, and economic leaders to develop new energy technologies and facilitate the transfer of technology ideas into marketable products and services through entrepreneurial ventures. The transition from research to the marketplace is facilitated through the University System of Maryland’s network of incubators and accelerators, including the Maryland Energy Innovation Accelerator (MEIA), Maryland Technology Enterprise Institute (MTech), and UMVentures.
- The Maryland Clean Energy Center (MCEC) is a corporate instrumentality of the State of Maryland with a specific mission to advance clean energy and energy efficiency products, services, and technologies. This mission is implemented through a broader economic development strategy that includes creating and retaining jobs in clean energy, assisting in the commercialization of innovative technologies, and driving energy based economic and business development in local communities. MCEC has a number of financing and loan programs to facilitate partnerships and access to capital for implementing clean energy solutions. The Maryland Energy Innovation Accelerator will enhance MCEC’s ability to assist energy related research and technology efforts to commercialize.
- The Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA), a national trade association for the U. S. solar energy industry, represents all organizations that promote, manufacture, install, and support the development of solar energy.
- The progress toward the use of renewables as a growing source of energy for the Greater Baltimore region is significantly enhanced with efforts through BGE and Constellation Energy, both part of the Exelon family of companies. BGE is Maryland’s largest electrical supplier and has a number of programs focused on facilitating the use of renewable and clean energy. This includes creating an industry-leading green supply chain network and launching a community solar energy pilot program to provide access to solar-generated electricity for all Maryland customers, without requiring property ownership.
- Constellation, a retail and wholesale supplier of power, is increasingly building community awareness and access to clean energy programs and options. One example is the E2 Energy to Educate grant program, a grant program for middle, high school, and college students to support projects designed to enhance students’ understanding of science and technology, and inspire them to think differently about energy.
Hydro-generated renewable energy is produced right here in Greater Baltimore. Located on the Susquehanna River between the border of Harford and Cecil counties is the Conowingo Hydroelectric Generating Station (a run-of-the-river hydroelectric power plant). The plant is owned and operated by Exelon Power, a business unit of Exelon Generation. When the Conowingo Dam (pictured right) was completed in 1928 producing 252 megawatts (MW), it became the second largest hydroelectric project in the United States, behind Niagara Falls. The plant’s 11 units are capable of generating 572 MW of clean electricity.
The Greater Baltimore region is attracting significant interest from private industry in the renewable energy arena. Two high-profile projects were recently announced:
- Orsted, a global offshore wind farm developer, has leased 50 acres from Tradepoint Atlantic (TPA) to build a facility that can receive, assemble, and ship from TPA’s deep water berth component parts used to construct offshore wind turbines and farms in Maryland and other East coast cities. The partnership with TPA in Baltimore County has the potential of creating thousands of manufacturing jobs throughout the state. For more information, read the latest BBJ article.
- Bioenergy Development Co., headquartered in Columbia, Howard County, secured $106M in equity funding to be used to develop facilities that will transform organic waste into renewable natural gas. Formerly known as BTS Bioenergy, (now a wholly owned subsidiary of Bioenergy Development Co.) the company has recently broken ground at the Maryland Food Center, a 400 acre industrial park developed by the Maryland Food Center Authority (MFCA), located in Jessup. For a full list of business occupants of the MD Food Center, visit this website: https://www.mfca.info/index.php
To support the State’s aggressive commitment to achieving the 50% renewable energy goal, Governor Larry Hogan has established a Governor’s Task Force on Renewable Energy Development and Siting, which will work to develop recommendations on the siting of new solar and wind energy projects in the state. The task force will include key stakeholders from State agencies, along with representatives of Maryland’s agriculture community, local government and the solar and wind energy sectors.
As the renewable energy industry grows, issues of sustainability, resiliency, workforce training, and accessibility for all communities, regardless of socioeconomic profile, will need to be addressed. Additionally, increased investment in research and commercialization to bring product and services to market will be needed. EAGB will continue to track the development of the industry as advancements are made in all of these areas.
Baltimore-based BGE is investing $1B each year (BGE, 2019) to upgrade and advance electric and gas systems to serve customer needs of the future. Through their Utility of the Future efforts, including electric vehicles, smart street lighting, and other programs, they are working to “move smart energy forward”.
Exelon’s Baltimore HQ is also home to Constellation, one of the leading competitive energy companies that is doing a lot of work in the renewables space. Several stories related to these efforts are spotlighted in this section.
Notably, Constellation and The Johns Hopkins University have entered into an agreement to supply JHU campuses with solar in the largest commitment to solar energy in Maryland. It is also one of the most significant pledges to greenhouse gas reduction in higher education with more than 250,000 megawatt hours of solar power per year.
- BGE’s EVsmart website shows users how much money they could save by switching from a gas-fueled car to an EV. http://www.bge.com/SmartEnergy/InnovationTechnology/Pages/EV-Savings-Benefits.aspx
- BGE recently held their EVsmart program kick-off, an event that highlighted new BGE initiatives that make EV ownership more accessible in the Region. https://www.bgenow.com/2019/07/26/evsmart-celebration-features-high-heat-low-emissions/
- BGE also offers a rebate through their EVsmart Program for customers who install smart EV charging equipment. https://www.bgenow.com/2019/07/01/new-rebates-for-ev-chargers-now-available-in-maryland/
Earlier this year, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) presented BGE with the ENERGY STAR® Partner of the Year— Sustained Excellence Award. This is BGE's 9th ENERGY Star Partner of the Year award, which recognizes the success of the BGE Smart Energy Savers Program®, the company's suite of energy efficiency programs that aims to help customers reduce energy usage.
photo/infographic credit: The Johns Hopkins University
Click image to see full size and learn more.
Did you get a chance to vacation ‘downy oshun' this summer? This is great news for Maryland’s vacation town that is a popular get-away for the Region’s residents!
Ocean City turns to Constellation for Help in Using Solar to Power 20% of Beach Town’s Energy Use
Ocean City Mayor Richard Meehan pictured at lectern, and in center of photo.
Constellation has completed work on a 10-megawatt solar energy project that will account for around 20 percent of the Town of Ocean City’s annual energy use. The system is expected to produce more than 5.6 million kilowatt-hours of electricity for the Town of Ocean City and reduce carbon emissions by nearly 4,200 metric tons in the first year, the greenhouse gas equivalent of 899 passenger vehicles driven. https://youtu.be/XaMe5YWrSec
Release when construction began for more information (note that project is now complete): https://www.constellation.com/about-us/news/archive/2018/constellation-begins-construction-on-10-megawatt-solar-array-out.html
The EAGB shines a light on a few of the initiatives in the Region helping to build the workforce of tomorrow for the energy industry (and beyond) with distinctive programs featuring science, technology, engineering and math (STEM).
This internship program is one piece of BGE's innovative Smart Energy Workforce Development Program, a joint effort with local workforce development agencies and Baltimore City schools to increase access to careers at BGE for local communities. More than 40 high school students from Mergenthaler Vocational Technical High School (Mervo), Green Street Academy, Edmonson-Westside Vocational Technical High School, Carver Vocational Technical High School, the THREAD program, and Baltimore Polytechnic Institute's Pay It Forward program are spending five weeks at different BGE locations to gain experience in their chosen vocational tracks.
Energizing Young Women in STEM
The STEM Innovation + Leadership Academy is a fun program that teaches girls and young women that even if you don’t major in STEM, you can still work in STEM companies. Thirty-two young women from central Maryland high schools recently participated in Exelon’s STEM Leadership Academy at the University of Maryland. This program grew from Exelon’s commitment to HeForShe – the United Nations global solidarity movement for gender equality.
All program events are tailored to increase participant’s interest in STEM education and spark excitement in future STEM careers. This year’s projects focused on addressing climate change.
Constellation has teamed up with the Baltimore Ravens to present Sacks for Science during the 2019 season to give local students access to activities in STEM. For each sack, Constellation sponsored one school group (up to 150 people) to experience the Maryland Science Center Power Up! energy exhibit in the spring of 2019. Since launching the Sacks for Science program in 2013, Constellation has sponsored nearly 200 buses for almost 6,000 students.
To read the full EAGB newsletter online, please visit: https://mailchi.mp/greaterbaltimore.org/watts-up