Wind Power

Energy Policy

America must not back down on sustainable energy

Clockwise from top left: Sens. John Kerry, Sheldon Whitehouse, Barbara Boxer, and Bernie Sanders.If you read just the headlines these days, you might think renewable energy in America is going the way of Solyndra. Don’t take our word for it: A recent headline from Fox News declared “ENTIRE Solar Industry on Brink of Collapse.” We cannot allow long-time opponents of renewable energy to focus the discussion only on Solyndra (whose higher-priced panels could not compete as solar costs came down) when we should be thinking about competing with China to win the next energy revolution. Why? Because the race is …

Wind Power

Bonneville Power unfairly favored hydro over wind, rules FERC

Photo: Vlasta JuricekThe Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) has ruled that the Bonneville Power Association (BPA) unfairly discriminated against wind turbine owners when it curtailed the production of power from wind assets last spring in response to high hydro production. Wind owners are understandably happy, having argued that BPA was essentially favoring hydro over wind. The technical argument went like this: BPA entered into contracts to sell all of the power available from their generators; if BPA (or any other grid operator) has the ability to unilaterally curtail wind generation, it would reduce the effective value of future wind contracts …

Renewable Energy

America’s energy future: iPads vs. typewriters with guns

This post originally appeared on Energy Self-Reliant States, a resource of the Institute for Local Self-Reliance’s New Rules Project. As Americans transition their electricity system to the 21st century, they should ask this question: Does it make sense to pursue strategies such as accelerating the development of new high-voltage power lines that reinforce an outdated paradigm of electricity delivery, or should scarce energy dollars be spent to add new clean, local energy to the grid in the most cost-effective manner? Fossil-fuel power lends itself to centralized power systems, requiring long supply lines (rail or pipeline) to provide a constant supply …

Renewables trump fossil fuels for first time ever

Last year investors poured $187 billion into electricity from renewable sources (wind, sun, biomass, etc.), versus $157 billion for fossil fuels, calculates Bloomberg New Energy Finance. “The progress of renewables has been nothing short of remarkable,” United Nations Environment Program Executive Secretary Achim Steiner said in an interview. “You have record investment in the midst of an economic and financial crisis.” This boom was spurred by aggressive government action all over the planet, including $66 billion in subsidies. But will this boom continue? Looks like it. The European Environment Agency tallied up all the renewable projects that member countries are planning …

Renewable Energy

Renewables in the U.S.: Growing fast, but not fast enough

Last month, the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) released the “2010 Renewable Energy Data Book” [PDF], which is a cornucopia of charts, facts, and figures on energy use in the U.S. The top-line conclusion for climate hawks is familiar: Renewable energy is growing rapidly, but not rapidly enough; it remains a small fraction of overall energy production and consumption. Here’s the graphic that best captures the current situation: Click for larger version.NREL: 2010 Renewable Energy Data Book [PDF] Non-hydro renewables remain a small part of the U.S. energy story. More to the point, the sexy renewables — solar, wind, and …

Renewable Energy

Feed-in tariffs responsible for most renewable energy

Cross-posted from CleanTechnica. Feed-in tariffs are a comprehensive renewable energy policy responsible for 64 percent of the world’s wind power and almost 90 percent of the world’s solar power (see charts below). With simplified grid connections, long-term contracts, and attractive prices for development, that’s policy that works. Image: David Jacobs Image: David Jacobs The basic premise of the feed-in tariff is that the electric utility must connect any wind turbine or solar panel (or other generator) to the grid and buy all the electricity via a long-term contract with a public price. Its use in Germany and its simplicity have …

Coal

Water. Coal. Texas. Sanity. One of these words does not belong.

Texas’ water problems won’t be over anytime soon.Photo: SeanIn case anyone missed it, Texas had a big drought last summer — the worst one-year drought in the state’s history. Lakes dried, animals were slaughtered, cities imposed lawn-watering restrictions, the governor prayed for rain. Among the doom-and-gloom sector of the left, talk has been circulating of Texas as a failed state. That’s easy to dismiss as tit-for-tat revenge for Texas’ age-old talk of secession; after all, droughts end, and places recover. Unless they don’t: When one takes a hard look at Texas’ water supply, and plans to build nine water-intensive coal …

Business & Technology

Think Walmart uses 100% clean energy? Try 2%

Walmart is moving like a tortoise toward its clean-energy goal.Context is critical to understanding Walmart’s sustainability initiatives and their impact on the retailer’s overall environmental footprint. But context has been sorely absent in the news media’s coverage of Walmart’s green efforts. Even within the environmental community, conversations about Walmart tend to miss the big picture. Walmart’s renewable-energy activities provide a perfect example. Six years ago, the company announced that it was setting a goal of being “supplied by 100 percent renewable energy.” Succinct, powerfully stated goals are a signature of Walmart’s sustainability campaign — in part, it seems, because journalists …

Wind Power

Wind electricity to be fully competitive with natural gas by 2016

Photo: Vlasta JuricekCross-posted from Climate Progress. The best wind farms in the world are already competitive with coal, gas, and nuclear plants. But over the next five years, continued performance improvements and cost reductions will bring the average onshore wind plant in line with cheap natural gas, even without a price on carbon, according to analysis from Bloomberg New Energy Finance (BNEF). After analyzing the cost curve for wind projects since the mid-1980s, BNEF researchers showed that the cost of wind-generated electricity has fallen 14 percent for every doubling of installation capacity. These cost reductions are due to a number …

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