Among other changes, the Obama administration is seeking to eliminate $4 billion in subsidies to fossil fuels, aid that Dr. Chu calls unnecessary; it is also proposing to drop research on onshore wind because it is “an established technology,’’ the energy secretary said. Offshore wind will still get research help.
With the clock winding down, House and Senate negotiators still were working Tuesday at drafting legislation to extend the 2 percent cut in federal payroll taxes for the rest of the year. What wasn’t known was whether that legislation also would include extending the federal Production Tax Credit that companies such as Vestas-American Wind Technology want to help recruit new customers for its wind tower turbines.
As plans for wind farms rising out of the ocean along the Atlantic and Gulf coasts inch closer to fruition, a new study from Carnegie Mellon University suggests that hurricanes could destroy a significant number of turbines in some of these areas, even coming close to wiping them out.
Although turbines are designed to both harness and withstand the forces of wind, they can be severely damaged by too much of it. In the United States, Europe and Asia, turbines have caught fire, blades have shredded and towers have crumpled when hit by stormy gales.
The request maintains Obama’s previous priorities of investing heavily in clean and renewable energy research and development while slimming down budgets for traditional energy research programs.
The new budget line for ITEC comes three days after the U.S. International Trade Commission made a preliminary ruling that illegally subsidized Chinese and Vietnamese wind tower exports and illegal Chinese dumping practices have harmed the United States’ domestic wind tower industry. The unanimous ruling opens the door for the Department of Commerce to move forward with a case that could eventually impose tariffs on Chinese and Vietnamese wind towers.
The great Texas wind energy machine is grinding to a halt as project developers await word on federal tax credit extensions. Waning state government support and ultra-low natural gas prices caused a sharp slowdown in activity last year. The industry is struggling to bounce back to pre-2011 annual growth levels, but experts say that although projects are still getting built, companies are putting most plans on hold as Congress debates whether to extend the production tax credits that have fueled the wind industry.
The world’s largest offshore wind farm opened off the Cumbrian coast of Britain yesterday, signaling investor confidence even at a moment when many of the country’s parliamentarians are railing against subsidies for the sector
A White House-commissioned review of the Department of Energy’s embattled loan program estimates that taxpayers are at risk of losing $2.7 billion on the government investment initiative, and that is not even counting the $567 million that is likely already lost because of the recent bankruptcies of Solyndra and an energy storage company. The Obama administration was quick to note today that the loan program was always designed to provide funding for promising projects that could not otherwise get funding from the private sector. Even $3 billion in losses would wind up far below the $10 billion that Congress set aside to cover potential risks when it established the green energy loan initiative. It is also well under the $5 billion risk assessment that DOE originally made for its $23.8 billion portfolio.
Alliant Energy, which owns Interstate Power & Light in Iowa, said Friday it will sell its moneylosing renewable energy business, RMT, after the non-regulated subsidiary reported “an erosion of margins” on its Midwestern wind farms and a loss on a solar project in New Jersey. Madison, Wis.-based Alliant said “recent economic conditions have constrained financial markets and lowered funding for large capital projects in the renewable energy services market. With fewer renewable energy projects receiving funding, the competition for those projects has intensified and profit margins have been negatively impacted.”
All indications suggest President Obama will continue forging ahead into the political minefield of hefty clean energy investments when he rolls out his fiscal 2013 spending wish list for the Energy Department and other federal agencies later this morning. Despite an ongoing scandal surrounding a DOE loan guarantee to the now-bankrupt solar firm Solyndra and a lackluster response from Congress over his previous efforts to boost clean energy spending, Obama has hinted he is not slacking off in his push to ramp up federal investment in the sector.