The Obama administration is proposing to lease more than 81,000 acres off the New York coast for an offshore wind energy project. Interior Secretary Sally Jewell announced the proposal today, calling it a milestone in the administration’s effort to increase renewable energy development on public lands and in federal waters. The agency plans to conduct the lease sale by the end of the year. “This is another major step in broadening our nation’s energy portfolio, harnessing power near population centers on the East Coast,” she said. “Offshore wind power marks a new frontier in renewable energy development, creating the path for sustainable electricity generation, job creation and strengthening our nation’s economic competitiveness.”
A boom in solar and wind power jobs in the US led the way to a global increase in renewable energy employment to more than 8 million people in 2015, according to a report from the International Renewable Energy Agency. More than 769,000 people were employed in renewable energy in the US in 2015, dwarfing the 187,000 employed in the oil and gas sector and the 68,000 in coal mining. The gap is set to grow further, with jobs in solar and wind growing by more than 20% in 2015, while oil and gas jobs fell by 18% as the fossil fuel industry struggled with low prices.
In the middle of the sprawling Ernest N. Morial Convention Center this week, an executive from German industrial giant Siemens gave a quick history of the offshore wind turbine. The first turbine that Siemens planted in the North Sea off of Denmark 25 years ago had a generating capacity of 450 kilowatts and barely stood above the waves. Today, he explained, as waves of people drifted past, Siemens builds massive turbines with blades that are roughly equivalent to the wingspan of a jetliner—and that can generate nearly 16 times as much power.
Utility-scale solar power will reach a critical price benchmark by the end of the decade, falling below $1 per watt for fixed-tilt ground-mounted photovoltaic systems, according to new projections published today by GTM Research. The finding, included in GTM’s latest U.S. solar PV price brief, maintains that upfront installed costs for large, ground-mounted systems will drop 21 percent in four years, from $1.26 per watt today to $0.99 in 2020, riding a nearly decadelong downward price curve.
A proposed wind farm has been delayed in Antelope County near Neigh. A crowd of about 300 people attended a public hearing Tuesday to discuss the proposed wind farm that’s expected to have about 160 turbines.
An Italian company says it has reached an agreement to build a $56 million wind farm in central Iowa with the capacity to generate 30 megawatts of energy. Building Energy SPA said its subsidiary, Building Energy Wind Iowa, will provide $23 million of the project cost, with Capital One Bank kicking in $33 million. The project, consisting of 10 wind turbines, is the groups’ first in Iowa and is slated to be constructed in Story, Boone, Hardin and Poweshiek counties.
Across the country, state officials, power companies and environmental advocates are participating in closed-door meetings to discuss the future of the Clean Power Plan. While state agencies have made parts of their planning talks public, transparency experts say the common practice of holding parallel private discussions could deprive people of insight into preparations for a regulation that stands to affect power prices and public health for decades to come. They also say it may give utilities an early opportunity to sway discussions to their benefit.
A federal appeals court has ruled that the Bureau of Land Management’s review of a controversial wind power project in southeast Oregon “did not adequately address impacts to the greater sage grouse,” throwing the future of the project BLM approved nearly five years ago into doubt. The 25-page ruling issued yesterday by the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals adds more fuel for critics who say the Obama administration has rushed to approve wind, solar and other renewable energy projects without properly analyzing impacts to wildlife and other resources.
Maryland’s Republican governor Friday gave his state’s climate policy supporters a case of whiplash, vetoing renewable portfolio standard legislation two months after he signed into law one of the most ambitious greenhouse gas reduction targets in the nation. State Sen. Paul Pinsky (D), who sponsored the measure and sits on the Maryland Commission on Climate Change, said “there’s a fair chance” the Maryland General Assembly could override the veto when it reconvenes in January.
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.