Materials science breakthroughs in wind turbine blade technology could drive down the costs of building wind farms and help put the renewable energy technology on a stronger economic footing to compete with coal- and natural-gas-fired electricity. Early-stage research by General Electric Co., with support from the Department of Energy and Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University, aims to use tensioned architectural fabrics rather than fiberglass as the primary material for turbine blades, thus driving down costs by 25 to 40 percent, according to officials involved in the research-and-development effort.
MetLife and an arm of General Electric that finances energy projects have teamed up for the second time this year as investors in a major wind farm in the Great Plains. This time, GE Energy Financial Services and MetLife Inc. joined Union Bank to invest $247 million in a wind farm near Wichita, Kan. The Post Rock wind farm has been up and running since Nov. 14, developed by Wind Capital Group. The 22,900-acre wind-energy farm is about 80 miles outside Wichita, in Ellsworth and Lincoln counties.
The Obama administration today announced it will hold its first competitive lease sales next year for offshore wind in U.S. waters, a decision that was hailed by clean energy advocates, industry groups and East Coast lawmakers. The Interior Department said two lease sales will be held in wind energy areas off the coast of Virginia and in federal waters shared by Rhode Island and Massachusetts.
Just as the passengers on the Titanic could do nothing to avoid that iceberg, supporters of a key wind industry tax break have little control at this point over whether their incentive will continue into next year.
Proponents of the wind production tax credit (PTC) believe they have largely won the argument over the merits of extending it at least through next year — with a deep, bipartisan bench in both chambers of Congress on board in principle with an extension. But there is little appetite in Congress to address the credit in isolation of the broader suite of tax-and-spending issues collectively known as the “fiscal cliff.”
The drought continued to expand this week, with the largest increase found in the southeastern United States and Oklahoma.
Ongoing budget negotiations between President Obama and House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) showed little sign of progress yesterday, leaving a suite of energy-related tax breaks hanging in the balance. Expired or expiring tax incentives for wind energy, alternative fuels, home weatherization and other activities are expected to be included as part of a broader legislative package aimed at addressing the looming spending cuts and tax hikes collectively known as the “fiscal cliff.”
A Devens technology company embroiled in several intellectual property theft lawsuits in China said it has cut its staff significantly again, this time blaming a slowdown in the wind energy industry it helps supply. On Wednesday, AMSC — formerly known as American Superconductor — said it laid off about 25 percent of its workforce, or an estimated 100 employees. The company now has 340 workers worldwide, down from a peak of about 800 in 2011.
Energy is the issue of our time. No other issue will have a greater impact on our future, our air quality, our water resources, our economy, and our quality of life.
The fate of an expiring tax credit for wind power is closely tied to prospects for an end-of-the-year deal on the so-called fiscal cliff, but its relatively low prominence in those talks is making it difficult for supporters to handicap their chances of winning an extension before the end of the year.
Officials in Massachusetts yesterday gave their expected blessing to a power purchase contract between Cape Wind and a state utility, clearing another key hurdle in the long-running effort to construct the first offshore wind farm in federal waters. The Massachusetts Department of Public Utilities yesterday approved a contract between Cape Wind, an affiliate of Energy Management Inc., and state utility NStar for 27.5 percent of the 468-megawatt wind farm’s output. The DPU last year approved a separate power purchase agreement (PPA) between Cape Wind and National Grid for 50 percent of the output, and the remaining generation remains unsold.