Record Year for Renewable Power; Heat, Transport Stay Fossil

Source: By Reuters • Posted: Friday, June 19th, 2015

The growth of renewable energy outpaced that of fossil fuels in the electricity sector last year, with a record 135 gigawatts of capacity added from wind, solar, hydropower and other natural sources, a new study shows. That’s more than the generating capacity of all nuclear reactors in the United States and slightly less than Germany’s installed capacity from all power sources.

The annual report released early Thursday in Europe by Paris-based REN21, a nonprofit group that promotes renewable energy, underscored how China, the world’s top consumer of coal, has become a global leader in clean energy, too.

Upgrade boosts detection of aircraft over utility-scale farms 

Source: Ariel Wittenberg, E&E reporter • Posted: Friday, June 19th, 2015

he Air Force and the Federal Aviation Administration will now be better able to detect aircraft flying over utility-scale wind farms, thanks to a recently announced radar upgrade. The upgrade only applies to air route surveillance radar, a series of search radars across the country used by the Air Force and FAA to monitor and control the nation’s airspace. Developed by the Department of Defense, Department of Homeland Security and FAA, it will use a new algorithm to recover lost radar coverage over wind farms.

FERC rejects retired Navy pilot’s objection to R.I. offshore farm

Source: Hannah Northey, E&E reporter • Posted: Friday, June 19th, 2015

The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission today rejected a retired Navy pilot’s bid to fight wind development off the coast of Rhode Island. FERC rejected a request from Benjamin Riggs Jr. for the commission to initiate an enforcement action against the Rhode Island Public Utilities Commission for approving a purchase power agreement in 2010 between the developer of the 30-megawatt, five-turbine Block Island Wind Farm and the Narragansett Electric Co., a subsidiary of National Grid.

Pope Francis warns of climate change’s human causes and ‘grave implications’ in landmark encyclical

Source: Scott Detrow, E&E reporter • Posted: Friday, June 19th, 2015

In a historic document addressed to “every person living on this planet,” Pope Francis warns that climate change and other forms of environmental degradation have reached a crisis point. Francis frames “Laudato Si’,” the first papal encyclical devoted solely to ecological issues, as an “urgent appeal … for a new dialogue about how we are shaping the future of our planet.” Encyclicals are among the highest forms of Catholic teaching a pontiff can publish.

Pope Francis Aligns Himself With Mainstream Science on Climate

Source: By JUSTIN GILLIS, New York Times • Posted: Friday, June 19th, 2015

The new papal encyclical on the environment is a ringing call to action, a critique of consumerism and a prophetic warning about the dangers of ignoring what Pope Francis calls “the ecological crisis.” But amid all his soaring rhetoric, did the pope get the science right? The short answer from climate and environmental scientists is that he did, at least to the degree possible in a religious document meant for a broad audience. If anything, they say, he may have bent over backward to offer a cautious interpretation of the scientific facts.

FERC’s Moeller sees ‘unforeseen consequences’ of air regulators planning the grid 

Source: Rod Kuckro, E&E reporter • Posted: Friday, June 19th, 2015

A leading federal electricity regulator yesterday warned market participants of the “unforeseen consequences” of having U.S. EPA and state air regulators essentially take on a job they’ve never done before — plan what the nation’s electric grid will look like in the future. Philip Moeller, who is stepping down from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission when his terms expires at the end of the month, also said he is “very impressed” with new FERC Chairman Norman Bay, commending him for “trying to open up the process and include other commissioners in decisionmaking earlier.”

Up to ten wind turbines could be added to Kahuku wind farm

Source: By Chris Tanaka, Hawaii News Now • Posted: Thursday, June 18th, 2015

They’ve been given the green light by the state, and if construction goes accordingly, nine to ten new wind turbines will dot the hillsides above Kahuku by the summer of 2016. The Na Pua Makani Wind Energy Project is a subsidiary of Champlin/GEI Wind Holdings LLC, a southern California based company. The project will be split into two sites. One will be adjacent the current wind farm, and the other will be opposite Malaekahana.

Comment: Wind energy can power Iowa’s economic future

Source: By Tom Kiernan, AWEA, Des Moines Register • Posted: Thursday, June 18th, 2015

The winds of change are blowing in Iowa. Within two decades, wind energy here could power the equivalent of more than 6.3 million homes. That’s from a new report released by the Department of Energy. According to this report, the American wind industry can rapidly expand over the next two decades, comprising one-fifth of the domestic electricity market by 2030. Unfortunately, federal policymakers are putting this future in jeopardy. Congress has failed to renew the federal Production Tax Credit, which provides a key incentive for wind energy production. Lawmakers must correct course immediately — by restoring the credit to keep the American wind energy industry humming.

Spanish firm to build wind energy components plant in Texas

Source: By Paul O'Donnell, Dallas Business Journal • Posted: Thursday, June 18th, 2015

Spanish company plans to build a new manufacturing plant in Amarillo to make towers and components for the wind energy industry. Gov. Greg Abbott announced Tuesday that GRI Renewable Industries, a division of Madrid’s Gonvarri Steel Industries, will invest $41 million in the plant and create more than 300 new jobs. In return, the state is offering $1.85 million in economic incentives from its Texas Enterprise Fund. “GRI’s decision to locate (its) latest manufacturing plant in the Lone Star State continues Texas’ streak of attracting job creators,” Abbott said in a statement. “I am proud of our effort to close this deal.”

High-Tech Solar Projects Fail to Deliver

Source: By Cassandra Sweet, Wall Street Journal • Posted: Wednesday, June 17th, 2015

Some costly high-tech solar power projects aren’t living up to promises their backers made about how much electricity they could generate.Solar-thermal technology, which uses mirrors to capture the sun’s rays, was once heralded as the advance that would overtake old fashioned solar panel farms. But a series of missteps and technical difficulties threatens to make newfangled solar-thermal technology obsolete. The $2.2 billion Ivanpah solar power project in California’s Mojave Desert is supposed to be generating more than a million megawatt-hours of electricity each year. But 15 months after starting up, the plant is producing just 40% of that, according to data from the U.S. Energy Department.