Michigan Renewable Energy Projects Up 57%

Renewable energy is up across the county. In our home state of Michigan, that’s no different. Renewables are playing a leading role in reducing emissions and increasing efficiency like never before. 

An end-of-year study confirmed what we’ve long known to be true. Sustainable, responsible energy is on the rise, and it’s offering an exciting glimpse at what’s possible. Renewable energy is up by a whopping 57% over the previous calendar year, and in 2020, that number could rise even further. That report, conducted by the Michigan Public Service Commission, confirmed that these innovative energy production avenues have increased every year since 2006. Renewables now account for nearly 45,000 kWh in the state, up 46% since 2017. 

Of those alternative energy sources, solar energy remains the top producer in the state of Michigan by some margin. It’s responsible for 94% of renewable energy sources, with wind power a very, very distant second place. It might also be worth noting that just two companies, DTE Energy and Consumers Energy, account for a massive 88% of all alternative energy production. There are renewable energy projects in every single Michigan county, except one. Only Luce County in the Upper Peninsula lacks a  renewable energy project as of the time of this study’s publication. 

The state has a long road ahead to eliminate fossil fuels. According to the state’s annual report, 10% of energy came from renewable sources in 2015. Only about 1% of the state’s energy needs are met by solar, while the state is offering up some encouraging results from wind. Michigan ranks 14th in wind power potential, which currently accounts for 93% of our current alternative energy capacity. 

We’re proud to be playing a part in bringing Michigan communities and companies into a more sustainable way of life. By improving energy use today, we’re preparing companies from across industries to plug into the new technologies and opportunities that are right around the corner. Keen can help companies save tens of thousands of dollars per year right now, and that’s only the tip of what technology and innovation will offer tomorrow.

Want an expert look at how your facility can save money and increase efficiency? Schedule a comprehensive energy audit today. 

Keen Racing Does Fun: Farmland 5km 2019

This is what community is all about. This past Saturday, we enjoyed sun, fun, and even a run at the Farmland 5k and Free-For-All Bike Race! 

We’ve been the title sponsor of this event since its first edition for a lot of reasons, but perhaps the most important is simply because we love it! It’s unique, unpredictable, and brings together a lot of special people at a time of year that would otherwise be a bit of a whole in the calendar. 

Having any event in early December in northern Michigan is a gamble, but for runners and bikers from Traverse City, we’re never scared of a weather forecast! This year was the snowiest edition of Farmland in years, but not the coldest. Temperatures were at or above freezing for both the noon run and 1pm bike races, and the sun stayed out for almost all of it! 

Keen had plenty of athletes in action in the run and bike, including a smiling Mike Powers. The two to three inches of soft snow made traction tough for the runners, but they still put up some interesting times over the 3.2 mile course that included some rolling hills and a surprising amount of wind. 

With over 100 runners, the snow was mashed and softened up by the time the bikes lined up. Fat bikes, with tires over four inches wide, were the popular choice, but as always, we saw a bit of everything for the “free-for-all”, including plenty of 29ers and even two cyclocross bikes! 

First place or last, we’re all about having fun. TJ Brown got the kids to the line, the youngest participants of the whole day! Just staying upright in the soft snow was challenge enough, but the whole family had a blast. Mike, Shawn Luca, TJ, and all the Keen crew were smiling lap after lap, totally 12 miles!

A big thanks to the Traverse City Track Club and everyone who makes the Farmland happen, and we’ll see you again in 2020!

Check out the full results from race day here.

Grid-Scale Energy Storage Expected To Increase 35%

When we’re talking about energy storage, we’re talking about growth. For decades, businesses and municipalities balked at the idea of sustainability and alternative energy under the false fear of cost. Renewables are no longer inefficient, expensive, or too complicated for a facility or utility to incorporate into what is already in place. 

Energy storage is coming, and it isn’t just coming to small-scale applications, either. A recent report found that grid-scale energy storage is forecasted to grow, and grow fast. By 2028, experts believe energy storage will increase by as much as 35%. That would put its capacity at a whopping 22,909 kWh. 

Two big factors in this growth pattern come down to technologically improvements in solar power and the energy storage batteries themselves. Providing more efficient solar panels paired with batteries that can adjust to even dynamic load changes mean that the gradual move to a more decentralized energy grid is picked up pace. Energy won’t move in a single direction on these new grids, either. Instead, energy will flow to where demand is, moving from energy production and storage facilities no matter where they are on the grid. 

As we’ve noted before, all of us will play a role in this new “energy cloud”. From our phones to our cars to hour homes to our businesses, we’ll all be a part of what is essentially a push-and-pull to meet the dynamic energy needs of the connected consumers. 

Energy storage at every level will be crucial, and the grid-level capacity needed to make these smarter, more sustainable grid really work is on the way. 

For more on this, head here. To learn how to shape your own microgrid in any industry, contact Keen today. 

The Microgrid Moment: PG&E Makes Case For Businesses To Get Off The Grid

A few weeks ago, thousands of homes and businesses lost power. Across northern California, the lights went out, production stopped, and perishables started to rot. No one called the power company; they were the ones that flipped the switch. 

The trial and errors of PG&E are the perfect case study on how microgrids are needed. In some sense, failures of regional power suppliers and the outrages and monetary loses incurred by consumers are motivating factors in taking back control. Are microgrids on the horizon?

Frankly, they’ve been a long time coming. A microgrid essentially comprises three parts. For it to function, a microgrid relies on a source of energy, a way to store that energy, and a smart system to make sure so much (or little) as a watt isn’t wasted. No matter the scale, those three pieces need to be in place for a company or community to unplug for the larger electrical grid. There is a lot of progress in all three areas; solar, wind, geothermal and other renewables are getting more efficient by the minute, while the storage capacity of batteries is opening up doors for industrial applications on even the largest of scales. 

It’s progress that’s largely due to a fall in prices. Over the past nine years, the price of renewable energy has, on average, fallen by 85%, and that’s led to even more investment and more implementation. Investing in these microgrids could be money very well spent; experts estimate that the power outages in northern California have resulted in roughly $1.5 trillion in lost economic output. 

Bringing more firms “offline” is easier than you think Federal, state, and even private initiatives are supporting companies that are piecing together their microgrid futures. From leasing materials to dynamic financing programs, plus constantly falling prices on capital itself, means that if you’re looking at microgrids, odds are there are a lot of options to make it happen. That’s another value proposition to add to total control of your energy future, plus lower operating costs long-term. 

Ready to get started? We’re already working on microgrids across the country. Let us help you get rolling in 2020!

Keen On The Go: Farmland 5km and Free-For-All Bike Race 2019

It isn’t always easy to get the family outside and moving this time of year. With the snow coming and going, a mix of warm and cold temps, and often a lack of sun, sometimes you need a good excuse to get going. 

That’s what Farmland is for. We’re proud to be back as the title sponsors of the Farmland 5km and Free-For-All Bike race here in Traverse City, Michigan. For yet another year, we’re inviting runners and bikers to join us for a run, a bike race, and a whole lot of fun on Saturday, December 7. 

Runners get their first crack at the action with a country-inspired five-kilometer race at Rasho Farm. The course is famous for its rolling hills, two copses of trees, and a ton of support at the finish line. Once you’re done, you’re straight into the little village of vendors, soup, Short’s Brewing Co beer, and even some Starcut Ciders before awards. 

As the fleet-of-foot relax, the bikes take the start line for a 12-mile drag race that sees mountain bikes, cyclocross bikes, and fat bikes battle it out. The conditions are half the fun and a huge part of selecting what bike to pick. Over the years, we’ve seen snow, sun, rain, and a mix of everything on race day! With all those runners sticking around, each lap is punctuated by thunderous cheers as riders fly through the race village. 

A run and a bike race…why not both? One of the coolest features of Farmland 5km is the chance to win ultimate bragging rights with the overall title. We take your combined time from the run and the bike for the best total time. It’s a unique chance to see how you do in a new discipline and certainly earn your beer or cider. 

The event raises money for the Traverse City Track Club, a non-profit organization that has donated tens of thousands of dollars to local charities. For a lot of our cycling pals, it’s the first time we all get back together since the Iceman Cometh Challenge in November, and a chance to get ready for a full winter of fun. 

Keen always shows up strong, entering riders, runners, and a few dual threats with fast legs and darn good attitudes. Wanna join us? You can get signed up for the Farmland 5km presented by Keen Technical Solutions right here

The Energy Storage Solution That Might Be Parked In Your Garage

It’s easy to see energy storage as a massive challenge, and it’s also one that doesn’t get a lot of attention. In spite of the tremendous potential and impact of comprehensive energy storage, it’s not the eye-catching topic that garners headlines or an appropriate level of investment. What does? The secret to energy storage; electric vehicles.  Continue reading “The Energy Storage Solution That Might Be Parked In Your Garage”