In this native village situated on a gravel spit above the Arctic Circle, life is changing more quickly than the Alaskans who have lived off the land and water here for thousands of years can keep pace with. “The ice is the biggest thing,” said Dominic Ivanoff, 28, a leader of Kotzebue’s tribal council. He used to need two foot-long auger extensions to cut holes through the thick ice when he went fishing in April. Now, he said, the ice is thin enough that he needs none.
The study examines the potential for peaceful co-existence between large raptors and rotors across Wyoming, a state with large numbers of eagles and a vast potential for wind-generated electricity. In the article, researchers Brad Fedy and Jason Tack compile data for hundreds of known eagle nesting sites and plots it against some of Wyoming’s most promising regions for wind farms. The exercise successfully identified “sweet spots,” places far removed from nesting grounds but directly in the path of prevailing winds that can keep turbines turning.
“We never anticipated a drop-off in the wind resource as we have witnessed over the past six months,” David Crane, chief executive of power producer NRG Energy, told analysts last month. The situation is likely to intensify into the first quarter of 2016 as the El Niño weather phenomenon holds back wind speeds around much of the US, according to Vaisala, a Helsinki-based weather measurement company.
Power producers who invested billions in turbines are finding that making money off the wind can be as unpredictable as the energy source itself. NextEra Energy Inc., NRG Yield Inc. and Duke Energy Corp. all said a lack of sufficiently windy days cut into second-quarter sales. And neither power generators nor forecasters seem to know exactly why.
President Obama on Wednesday will pledge to step up government aid for Arctic communities whose shorelines and infrastructure are crumbling as warming seas melt their foundations, intensifying his administration’s effort to cope with the effects of climate change where they are being felt most acutely. Venturing north of the Arctic Circle to Kotzebue, where he will become the first sitting president to visit Arctic Alaska, Mr. Obama will announce federal grant programs to help villages there cope with coastal erosion and high energy costs, and, in some extreme cases, relocate altogether, the White House said.
All this leads me to believe that the transition to renewables is well underway and offers not only investment opportunities for those with insight and patience, but also a response to the challenge presented by global climate change. With care being paid to where the investments are made, the financial returns should be quite impressive in the decades ahead. If only I were younger.
The cost of producing electricity from renewable sources such as solar and wind has dropped significantly over the past five years, narrowing the gap with power generated from fossil fuels and nuclear reactors, according to the International Energy Agency. “The costs of renewable technologies — in particular solar photovoltaic — have declined significantly over the past five years,” the Paris-based IEA said in a report called Projected Costs of Generating Electricity. “These technologies are no longer cost outliers.”
Iowa’s renewable leadership goes beyond biofuels. Iowa became the first state to implement a renewable electricity standard when I signed it into law in 1983. That paved the way for Iowa’s leadership position in wind generation, which today generates nearly 30 percent of Iowa’s electricity and is expected to grow to 41 percent by 2020. In fact, wind energy observers believe Iowa could produce enough wind energy by 2030 to achieve complete energy independence and export excess energy to other U.S. states. And it doesn’t stop at wind, as solar energy shows great potential in Iowa as well.
Gov. Jerry Brown is working on an ambitious plan for transmitting electricity across state lines and bolstering California’s role in the region, according to energy officials. The plan would integrate PacifiCorp, a utility serving six Western states, into the electricity grid run by the California Independent System Operator, which is based in Folsom. If successful, it could make solar and wind energy available more widely throughout the West — a potential victory for Brown, who has sought partnerships beyond California’s borders in his fight against climate change.
President Obama on Monday issued a global call for urgent action to address climate change, declaring that the United States was partly to blame for what he called the defining challenge of the century and would rally the world to counter it. “Climate change is no longer some far-off problem; it is happening here, it is happening now,” Mr. Obama said here at an international conference on the Arctic. “We’re not acting fast enough. I have come here today, as the leader of the world’s largest economy and its second-largest emitter, to say that the United States recognizes our role in creating the problem, and we embrace our responsibility to help solve it.”