he International Energy Agency has released a new report examining historical trends in the cost of wind energy over the past several decades. Those costs fell precipitously between 1980 and 2000 because of innovation and efficiency gains, but started to rise in the early 2000s due to commodity and raw materials prices.
A freshman Democratic senator from Delaware today introduced a bill that would give wind farms, solar arrays and other renewable electricity sources a new way to line up investors. The bill from Sens. Chris Coons (D-Del.) and Jerry Moran (R-Kan.) would change the tax code to let renewable power companies be structured as master limited partnerships. The measure rides a wave of enthusiasm among policy experts for a financing model that has been used by others in the energy industry since the Reagan administration.
Vic Abate expects that many makers of gearboxes, towers, and blades for wind turbines will go under next year. He should know: As vice president of General Electric’s (GE) renewable energy business, Abate is the executive who will seal their fates. With a federal tax credit that subsidizes the U.S. wind industry set to expire at the end of 2012, GE is scrutinizing its supply chain. That’s significant as the Fairfield (Conn.)-based company is the market leader in wind, with a 29.4 percent share in 2011, according to the American Wind Energy Association (AWEA). Uncompetitive vendors will be culled, Abate says, while stronger suppliers will be offered operational and financial assistance. “We’re in the process of picking winners and losers,” he says
ov. John Kitzhaber on Tuesday released a new draft of his 10-year energy action plan that outlines a host of regulatory and legislative measures to boost conservation and renewable energy and transform Oregon’s transportation sector to use less fuel and emit less greenhouse gases. The plan calls for meeting 100 percent of Oregon’s electricity demand growth during the next 10 years through expanded conservation and efficiency programs. The state will start at home, with a state building innovation lab and retrofits of up to four million feet of state-owned office space. The plan also calls for expansion of conservation tax incentives, the Small Scale Energy Loan Program, and programs like Clean Energy Works that coordinate bank-funded home retrofits with repayment on utility bills.
The Sierra Club this week launched a new lobbying campaign designed to persuade Congress to extend a lucrative federal tax incentive that’s credited with expanding the wind power industry and supporting tens of thousands of jobs. The “Wind Works” campaign, which the Sierra Club formally launched yesterday, comes as President Obama continues to press Congress to extend the production tax credit (PTC) that’s set to expire at the end of the year.
“We need conservative Republicans who can say, ‘This means jobs to my district,’ … and we need Democrats to say, ‘This is a way to expand the range of options that we have in this country for energy,’ ” said Karl Rove, former deputy chief of staff and senior adviser to President George W. Bush. The measure, which expires Dec. 31, gives 2.2 cents in tax breaks for every kilowatt-hour of electricity produced by wind turbines and biomass, geothermal and landfill gas plants. Extending the tax credit would give wind energy manufacturers and suppliers more certainty that their business will move forward. An additional four years of federal incentives also is enough time to lower the cost of wind power to the point that it is as cheap as traditional sources of electricity such as coal and natural gas, industry supporters say.
Illinois communities are moving away from getting their power from big utilities like Commonwealth Edison Co. and Ameren Illinois, a change that is worrying renewable energy developers. The two large utilities provide most of the funding for the Illinois Power Agency, which procures energy for utilities. And as the utilities lose market share, renewable energy developers are concerned that their projects will not be funded.
Increasing wind power many not lower grid emissions as much as previously thought, according to a new study from Argonne National Laboratory.
Renewable energy needs help. Technological innovation has significantly reduced the cost of solar panels, wind turbines and other equipment, but renewable energy still needs serious subsidies to compete with conventional energy. Today, help comes mostly in the form of federal tax breaks.
Georgia’s leaders are hoping to capitalize on the state’s nascent manufacturing industry for wind power when 200 international wind energy exhibitors come to Atlanta next week. The state already is home to more than a dozen companies that make components that either go into wind turbines or that assist in building them. Such development has been a way for Georgia and the Southeast to capitalize on the wind energy industry even though the state lacks a steady wind needed for the giant turbines to spin constantly and create electricity.