Renewable Energies. Past, Present, Future


Illinois is capable of producing much more energy than it consumes and this enables it to sell a fifth of its electric energy to neighboring states. This is majorly due to the six nuclear plants in the state all of which account for approximately 50 percent of the aggregate electricity generated in the state. The amount of nuclear energy produced in the state is second to none in the entire United States. The state recently enacted an ambitious Renewable Energy Portfolio Standards which stipulates the minimum percentages of renewable energy sources that electric suppliers should use for retail electricity sales. The state has more than 300 companies in the renewable energy supply chain. These companies play an important role in providing the citizens with employment opportunities. Appendix 3 shows a map that describes the renewable energy companies in Illinois. The renewable energy technology resources in Illinois include solar, wind, anaerobic digestion, biodiesel, organic waste biomass, landfill gas, and hydropower. The state currently has an extensive wind and biomass sources which have continued to support the renewable energy.

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Status Review

Illinois State is one of the leading producers of biodiesel and ethanol in the United States. It has the third largest ethanol production capacity and the fourth largest biodiesel production capacity in the whole of the United States. As a fertile prairie, Illinois is one of the major producers of soybean and corn which forms the feedstock for the many ethanol plants in the states. The soybeans are the primary feedstock for biodiesel facilities in the state.

The renewable energy in Illinois accounts for 6 percent of the aggregate electricity in the state. However, the contribution of renewable energy has increased over the past years. The primary source of renewable energy in the state is wind which is used to generate electricity in the state. Having over 4000 megawatts of wind generated energy online, the state was ranked 6th in the united states in 2016 with regards to installation of wind capacity. The Illinoi state also has a significant wind power potential. The other renewable energy in the state is generated from biomass which majorly comes from the state landfills. Appendix 1 summarizes the estimates of energy consumption in Illinois

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Reasons for Solar, Biofuels and Wind Energy Technology

The primary reasons why there has been massive growth in the production and usage of the solar and wind power in Illinois is an attempt to get renewable energy supply chain in the state. The state is also rich in resources worth exploration of the renewable energy sources, such as adequate fields for the wind turbines installation. The place is also faced with strong winds and solar rays. Additionally, there has been massive financing by the Illinois state government and other non-governmental organizations. Currently, the state is offering small business improvement fund which is being used to have personal or tenant property renovated and fitted with these renewable energy production systems. This applies to specific districts, where as an action of the renovation and remodeling, installation of solar or other renewable energy technology is done. It is for this reason that Illinois came up with a comprehensive way to show the better side of the use of the renewable energies. The state has now created a database that stores and offers all the information based on the Illinois federal and the state regulations and incentives for renewable energy and energy efficiency.

Illinois has not left behind regarding organic fuels in forms of biomass and woody fuels as well as the animal waste source of energy. The administration of this state compiled a statute indicating that energy department to conduct a comprehensive research and providing of various assistance regarding alternative energy as well as relevant data and information . Among the numerous energy provisions enacted includes the organic alcohol fuel, woody fuel, and animal waste fuel as well as alternative energy promotions and tax exemption through various means such as financing.

In context, Illinois has incentives and laws that enhancement the biodiesel. In this case, sale and use of purely non-renewable fuels a tax of 100% are applied from 2003. Further, any fuel which is blended with biofuels about 80% of the tax is applicable. However, the state has fully enacted biofuel tax exemption in biodiesel fuel. Subsequently, the tax exemption encourages users or manufacturers to adopt the biofuel to take advantages of such state incentives. Additional, states incentives include school bus retrofit recompense. Therefore, any school that converts their buses to use alternative fuels Illinois will reimburse all the retrofitting cost.

Geothermal is another massive source of renewable energy in the state. The local government and other non-governmental organizations have been funding the projects under the national government. Geothermal Alliance of Illinois is one of the private-public organization that owns and runs most of the geothermal plants in the state. Other companies that deals with geothermal power include Connexion, Argonne, and Chetco in among others. In this regard, the state is currently having multiple geothermal market centers. Further, besides electricity use, geothermal systems are applied to heat and cool homes. Therefore, geothermal technology saves Illinois homes about 30-70 percent of their monthly bills. Moreover, geothermal energy sources in this state have serves an essential role in reducing coal overdependence.

Currently, there is a strategy in place being commenced through the Illinois Power Agency, under the Solar Credits project. The agency has put in place measures and strategies to purchase the required solar energy credits worth approximately thirty million dollars. Therefore, this auxiliary procurement disposition will be ordained from the Renewable Energy Trust. More of this information has been availed to the public on their official website. Additionally, Illinois Renewable Energy Community Foundation has come with a program with the aim of supporting and enhancing more of the renewable energy production efforts. They have a grant program which has been supporting the local government agencies, schools, municipalities and other nonprofit organizations. This has been a great boost in the current trend, with a lot of efforts put in place.

The reason renewable enable in Illinois is at the current state

Although the Illinois state has many rivers, its relatively level terrain makes the production of hydroelectric potential more difficult. Only 1 percent of the electricity generated in the state comes from hydroelectric power.

Solar power in the state accounts for less than 0.1 percent of the net electric energy. However, the use of photovoltaic technology has gained rapid growth in the state over the past years. According to Pyper, two-fifths of the solar energy generated in the state in 2016 came from a distributed generation such as rooftop solar panels.

The procurement of renewable sources is done by the Illinois Power Agency through competitive bid. The electricity providers must contract with the approved renewable suppliers in the state. The state passed a legislation in 2016 which requires that a portion of wind as well as solar requirements should come from new generating projects. It is estimated that when these requirements are fully met, over 1300 megawatts of the new wind capacity will be generated in Illinois. It is also expected that 3000 megawatts of solar capacity will be generated in the state. Appendix 2 describes the Illinois energy mix

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State Government Particular Policy

The policies which guide the production and consumption of renewable energy source sin Illinois are under the Illinois Power Agency and Illinois Public Utilities Act. The Future Energy Jobs Act was passed in 2016 by the Illinois General Assembly with an aim of fixing the funding of renewable energy law.

The Illinois state policy regarding renewable energy touches on renewable portfolio standard, net metering, Interconnection standards, tax incentives, Public benefit fund, rebates and grants, bonds, and other pertinent information. The policies require that the Renewable Portfolio Standards should comply with the renewable sources of energy by 25 percent by the year 2026. The Illinois renewable portfolio standards require all the investors in this sector as well as all other retail electricity suppliers to obtain increasing proportions of their retail sales from renewable sources. However, the renewable Portfolio standards do not apply to the electric cooperatives or the municipal utilities. This requirement started in 2009 at 2 percent and it is expected to reach 25 percent in 2026. The RPS policies also stipulate that investor-owned electric utilities which supply more than 100000 customers in Illinois must acquire 75 percent of their yearly renewables requirements from wind. They must also obtain 6 percent of annual renewable requirements from solar PV. Other suppliers of electric energy must acquire 60 percent of their entire yearly renewable requirement from wind but must also be in apposition to meet the 6 percent solar photovoltaic requirements.

The Illinois Clean Energy Community Foundation is one of the clean energy programs initiated under the Illinois policies for clean energy. As an independent foundation, ICEC has awarded grants aimed at supporting the production of renewable energy and achieving adequate energy efficiencies in the state.

The Illinois Net-metering standards requires that systems with an installed capacity of less than 40 KW should receive full retail rate for any power supply which is net-metered back to the electric grid. Although net-metering is also available for larger systems, only whole-sale power rate is paid and it does not include any distribution costs. It is expected through this policy that the renewable energy development would increase by the increasing renewable energy system size cap.

Applications of Technology

In the present day, the move towards the embrace of renewable energy in Illinois is so strong in that there are present-day collaborations and organizations in support of the renewable energy strategy implementation. The most conspicuous ones have been Western Illinois University Illinois Institute for Rural Affairs, where the community is educated on tapping and using the wind energy. Illinois Wind on the Wires is an organization that has been in a mission to support the wind energy utilization across the Illinois State business environment. Illinois Renewable Energy Association came in with an objective to collaborate with the communities and teach them about the many benefits, uses, and potentials of having the energy-efficiency and renewable energy for their businesses and homes. Illinois Wind Working Group happens to be another major organization which has been passing information in the area on the various opportunities that come with wind energy utilization. They also do have close relationships with various stakeholders at the state, local, national and regional levels. There is also a solar energy body known as Illinois Solar Energy Association that promotes the use and installation of solar energy via advocacy and community education.

Potential Capacities to Promote

Under the governing rules and regulations, there is no reason as to why any electricity power user would avoid embracing the trend. There are adequate strategies in place to promote the renewable energy as the planned way to go. It is expected that more policies in support of this agenda will emerge and earn much help from all the stakeholders. The state has made a major investment in the research and innovations and even taken some of their human resource for benchmarking in other nations and states where the renewable energy has taken deeper roots. It is possible to make use of better infrastructures to produce higher kilowatts tapped from the wind and solar, and now make industries independent of other electric utility.

Based on the Renewables Global report which is of high cognizance to Illinois, it is evident that the primary concern has shifted from technology, engineering or economics. The focus is now on business models, finance, electric power sector regulation and types of policy in the attempt to meet the integration challenges for buildings, production, transport, and power grids. This is further shown in the National Renewable Energy Laboratory where there is provision of wind, solar and other renewable energy general information. In 2016, there was an overall wind and solar energy project rebates was $20,000 for businesses, $30,000 for non-profit entities and public sector, and $10,000.00 for homeowners. There were about 25% project costs for business entities and homeowners, and also a 40% for non-profit entities and public sector incentives for wind energy and solar PV. In short, there is much employed in the State and federal policies about renewable energies in Illinois. The compliance with the carbon emission policies has also seen a major improvement in the efforts towards renewable energy production. The national government has also been tripping down funds to the Illinois state government to help it get the biomass fuels shipped and put into use.

Conclusion or Recommendation

Based on the above discussion, it is enough to conclude that Illinois is on the move to adopt every available technology to harness and use renewable energy. The path which the Illinois state is taking has been determined by the significant investments, strategies and policies set and enacted by the state, local government and non-governmental organizations. Soon, they may be the leading producer and consumers of the renewable energy. Therefore, the community needs to be more informed on why it is important to fully embrace the solar and wind energies. The past may have little of renewable energy history in Illinois; the present is so vibrant and fast growing; the future may be the full boom of the energy production and usage. So far, a lot is being done in towards wind, solar and other biomass resources to maximize their usage and have full dependence to renewable energy in Illinois.

The Illinois state should continue striving to sustain its position as one of the top states in the United States responsible for the production of wind generated electricity and solar production state. It is recommended that the Illinoi government should support research and development about renewable sources of energy. Additionally, the regulatory environment of Illinoi should support energy efficient programs including renewable energy, and the majority of this energy should be derived from a more distributed resources. Robust incentives should also be provided through RPS to ensure the development of more renewable energy.

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