The first offshore wind farm in the United States is set to begin delivering power to Rhode Island’s electricity grid by year’s end, a milestone that could help reshape energy markets from New England to South Florida, experts say. But for U.S. offshore wind power to achieve its full potential, as much as 4 gigawatts of capacity, it will need a major influx of capital and know-how, much of which will come from Europe, where the technology has a 25-year performance record and now accounts for 11 GW of generation capacity on the continent.
China, the US, Japan, UK and India were the countries adding on the largest share of green power, despite the fact that fossil fuel prices have fallen significantly. The costs of renewables have also fallen, say the authors. “The fact that we had 147GW of capacity, mainly of wind and solar is a clear indication that these technologies are cost competitive (with fossil fuels),” said Christine Lins, who is executive secretary of REN21, an international body made up of energy experts, government representatives and NGOs, who produced the report.
Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump is accustomed to making sweeping, all-encompassing general statements across a wide array of subjects. However, the candidate seldom substantiates the statements with specifics. And when Trump recently appeared before an oil industry group in North Dakota, his remarks were the closest thing yet resembling an official energy policy.
Mr. Trump’s vision on energy, as on almost everything, starts with the premise that the country’s politicians have sold out the American people. President Obama has “done everything he can to keep us dependent on others,” he argued, with a policy of “death by a thousand cuts through an onslaught of regulations” on oil, gas and coal. Mr. Trump’s headline policy is “complete American energy independence” by “lifting these draconian barriers” so that “we are no longer at the mercy of global markets.”
The growth rate of renewable energy employment slowed this year, but it remained positive even as jobs in the energy sector fell overall, according to a new report from the International Renewable Energy Agency. “The continued job growth in the renewable energy sector is significant because it stands in contrast to trends across the energy sector,” said IRENA Director-General Adnan Amin in a statement.
Sen. Brian Schatz (D-Hawaii) introduced legislation to phase out fossil fuel subsidies on the same schedule as tax credits for wind power. The “Fossil Aid Is Inefficient and Regressive (FAIR) Energy Policy Act” would phase out subsidies for coal, oil shale and other fossil fuels each year after December 2016 until they are eliminated in 2020. Similarly, the production tax credit (PTC) for wind energy begins to decline in increments each year after 2016, before fully phasing out in 2020. The PTC for wind energy was extended as part of a budget deal in December.
Driven by Republican support, Michigan lawmakers advanced a pair of comprehensive energy bills last week that seek to put more restrictions on the state’s electric choice program and limit clean energy standards. SB 438, which passed the Senate Energy and Technology Committee 7-3 along party lines, would hold a 10 percent renewable energy standard “floor” going forward and phase out Michigan’s successful energy efficiency program by 2021. The bill establishes a 35 percent clean energy goal by 2025, which would include energy efficiency and an expanded definition of renewable energy to include incineration.
The Solar Energy Industries Association named its general counsel, Tom Kimbis, as interim president today. Kimbis will take over for the departing Rhone Resch on Wednesday while the organization continues a national search for Resch’s replacement. A SEIA spokesman said in an email that “there is no specific timetable” for finding a successor. Resch announced last month that he was leaving the organization after 12 years
A proposal to raise Wyoming’s wind-generation tax could disrupt plans to build the massive 3GW Chokecherry and Sierra Madre project. The Power Company of Wyoming (PCW) planned to start roadwork later this year, however, increasing the wind tax would make it impossible for the project to compete on price with other wind or solar projects, PCW president Bill Miller said in a letter to the Casper Star Tribune. Wyoming is the only state with a generation tax and wind already pays more than either coal or gas. Coal and gas plants pay about $1.77 to $3.49/MWh while the CCSM project would pay $3.91/MWh under current tax laws, said Miller.
The efforts were among a handful of projects the Department of Energy has supported since 2012 to explore offshore wind power in the Great Lakes, Gulf of Mexico and the Atlantic and Pacific oceans. In a statement Friday, the department said it would continue funding three projects, in Lake Erie, New Jersey and Maine, that had demonstrated “significant progress.” Dominion said the Energy Department cut funding because the company couldn’t guarantee a start date before 2020.