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 It is also well under the $5 billion risk assessment that DOE originally made for its $23.8 billion portfolio.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.
Led by China and the United States, the global wind market grew 6 percent last year, according to a new report. The wind industry installed more than 41,000 megawatts of new power in 2011, pushing the worldwide total up 21 percent to 238,000 MW by year’s end, the Global Wind Energy Council reported in annual market statistics. China installed 18,000 MW of new capacity, roughly triple the amount of the United States.
Last month was the fourth warmest January in 118 years. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration has posted a striking series of maps on last month’s temperatures and precipitation in the United States. (Explore the links highlighting differences among regions, states and cities.) The average temperature in January was 36.3 degrees Fahrenheit — 5.5 degrees warmer than the average for the 20th century.
Wind energy producers will have to start downsizing operations and laying off workers if Congress does not move swiftly to extend the production tax credit for wind energy, CEOs of wind energy companies said yesterday.
Tagging the extension onto the payroll tax bill, which renews a tax cut set to expire at the end of February, may be “effectively the last chance” to put that extension through in the first quarter of 2012, they said.