Over the last year, however, the prophet of doom has become much more a prophet of possibility — even, perhaps, an optimist. Still an object of derision for the political right, Mr. Gore has seen support for his views rising within the business community: Investment in renewable energy sources like wind and solar is skyrocketing as their costs plummet. He has slides for that, too. Experts predicted in 2000 that wind generated power worldwide would reach 30 gigawatts; by 2010, it was 200 gigawatts, and by last year it reached nearly 370, or more than 12 times higher. Installations of solar power would add one new gigawatt per year by 2010, predictions in 2002 stated. It turned out to be 17 times that by 2010 and 48 times that amount last year.
After three years of policy battles that left it bruised and cut off from taxpayer support, the U.S wind energy sector received a strong boost last week as the Energy Department reiterated its view that wind energy can become a leading source of U.S. domestic power over the next 35 years. The relief came in the form of DOE’s latest prognosis for wind energy, called “Wind Vision,” which holds that U.S. turbines could meet 35 percent of the nation’s electricity demand by 2050, with near-term goals of 10 percent by 2020 and 20 percent by 2030.
The art of letter writing isn’t dead, at least if you’re a member of Congress concerned about the Clean Power Plan. Capitol Hill spent much of the winter writing to U.S. EPA, supporting or opposing its marquee proposal to curb power-sector carbon dioxide emissions, according to records kept by the agency and obtained through a Freedom of Information Act request.
The world’s energy-related carbon dioxide emissions stopped rising in 2014, even as the economy grew, according to early data released by the International Energy Agency (IEA). Researchers said the early numbers showing that CO2 emissions remained steady at 32.3 billion metric tons in 2014 — marking the first time in 40 years that a dip in energy-sector emissions has not been linked to an economic downturn — were encouraging. Others, though, cautioned that it remains unclear if the figures represent a trend or a one-off situation.
When businesses are able to invest in high-growth markets, it almost always means job creation, too. One of the most overlooked aspects of policies like the PTC and ITC, is that they spur investment and job creation in places that need it most; locales like the Rust Belt and our Great Plains benefit greatly for instance. Before renewable energy tax policy was passed, a negligible number of Americans worked in the renewable industry. But since their passage the number of American workers in the clean power sector has swelled to well over half a million.
Kansas companies that produce energy from wind, solar or other renewable resources would lose their property tax exemption under a bill discussed by a Senate panel Monday. Such companies have been exempt from property tax since 1999. A bill discussed by the Senate Assessment and Taxation Committee would instead give those companies a 10-year exemption starting with the launch date of each project.
The strategic consulting firm Analysis Group took aim again today at Clean Power Plan critics who charge the U.S. EPA rule will harm grid reliability. In a new report focused on the area served by regional transmission organization PJM Interconnection, the Analysis Group argued that the existing power plant rule allows ample opportunity for states to construct rules that will safeguard power supplies while reducing carbon dioxide. Today’s report argued that dire warnings about grid reliability are common whenever a major change in the industry is proposed but that issues would only come about if states, regulators and the industry go on autopilot and refuse to respond to problems before they arise.
More than $1.5 million in federal funding is available for research and development of bigger wind turbine blades, the U.S. Department of Energy announced. The department in December outlined parts of the country where the next generation of wind turbines could be installed. The new areas would roughly triple the amount of land suitable for wind energy development through taller, and potentially multi-megawatt, turbine structures.
The companies are fast emerging as two of the key players in the nascent electricity storage sector. Storage technology is considered critical to integrating large amounts of renewable energy because it can absorb excess power from wind farms or solar panels and keep that for use when conditions don’t allow for power generation. “We have demonstrated that BYD is capable of adding 6 GWh every year with strong market demand,” Jurjevich, who works for BYD’s U.S. unit, said in an interview.
Montana is lucky to have one of the best wind resources in the country and it has been driving energy development in the state for more than a decade. As other Western states look to reduce carbon emissions and purchase the lowest cost renewable resources available, Montana will likely see even more wind energy growth and accompanying economic benefit ahead.