By almost any measure, the U.S. solar market is on fire. Installations of solar panels are expected to soar by a third this year, the price of solar power is now cheap enough to compete neck and neck with gas and coal-fired power in places like California, and the fledgling industry received a vote of confidence last week when U.S. President Barack Obama announced a groundbreaking plan to curb power plant emissions. Even China’s currency devaluation could cut panel costs for U.S. solar installers. Wall Street, however, has been dumping solar shares this year, largely on concern, which investors say is misplaced, that tumbling oil prices will sap demand for alternative energy, even though oil isn’t used to generate power.
The Navy will set the record next week for the largest renewable energy purchase by a federal entity. The service is entering into a solar power purchase agreement with the Western Area Power Administration and Sempra U.S. Gas & Power LLC to buy 210 megawatts of solar power from an array in Arizona. The agreement is expected to supply one-third of the power used by the 14 Navy and Marine Corps installations in California.
t’s important to understand what small or distributed wind is — “behind-the-meter” generation generally found on farms, industrial sites and rural homesteads. It generates on-site power first, and then it can feed extra electricity to the grid. What small wind is not: towering turbine farms dotting ridgelines and feeding megawatts of electricity to wholesale markets. Smaller turbines are lower to the ground, generating little noise and posing less of a threat to wildlife than their tall cousins. It is also not what Bergey calls “eggbeater” turbines stuck on the roofs of office buildings.
In May 2013, MidAmerican Energy Company announced the Highland Wind Energy project, a $1.9 billion development that will add 448 wind turbines producing 1,050 megawatts of electricity at five sites in Iowa. The largest of those sites is in O’Brien County, where 211 turbines producing 495 megawatts are being erected. MidAmerican later announced it was expanding the Highland project, and a total of 214 turbines will be built.
U.S. EPA chief Gina McCarthy doesn’t want to duke it out with Harvard Law professor Laurence Tribe about her agency’s new climate rule, but she does think he’s wrong. Asked how she’d respond to Tribe’s criticism that EPA’s climate rule represents a “breathtaking example” of regulatory “overreach,” McCarthy told PBS talk show host Charlie Rose earlier this week, “I’m not a lawyer. And certainly even if I were, I wouldn’t argue with the man.” However, she said, “We have operated under cooperative federalism for the entire time of EPA. This is a total partnership between states and EPA. We’re setting a standard, which is what everybody in the world has been telling EPA to do.”
France has launched a tender for several floating offshore wind turbine projects in what is set to be the first attempt to test this new technology on an industrial scale. French environment agency ADEME on Wednesday posted a tender document inviting companies to submit proposals to build floating wind farms with between three to six turbines each, with a capacity of at least 5 megawatts per turbine in three sites in the Mediterranean and one site off southern Brittany. Portugal and Norway have pioneered the new technology in the past few years with a single floating turbine each, and Portugal plans to build a 25 MW floating wind demonstration farm, but the French project will be the first to test floating offshore wind on a large scale.
Wind energy has changed drastically since wind turbines started popping up in the 1980s and much of its development, research and production is happening right in our backyard. Colorado is considered a national leader in the wind energy industry. Colorado is home to the National Wind Technology Center just south of Boulder; and the leader in wind turbine production, Vestas, has four locations in Colorado, three in northern Colorado.
Hundreds of new jobs are up for grabs in Colorado as Vestas Wind Systems is looking for new employees. Vestas says it needs 350 new workers immediately to work at both the company’s blade building factories in Windsor and in Brighton. With orders up across North America, Danish wind turbine manufacturer Vestas says it’s having trouble keeping up. The company needs more blade builders at two of its four Colorado plants. “If we are to send more components then we need more people,” said Hans Jespersen, Vestas factory manager.
Over the past two years, Microsoft has contracted for 285 MW of renewable power from two off-site wind energy projects. These two wind farms—capable of generating enough electricity to power 125,000 U.S. homes—could not have been built without the long-term off-take agreement provided by Microsoft, demonstrating the large-scale impact that companies can have on renewable energy deployment. The Business Renewables Center (BRC), an RMI-convened initiative and member-led platform, is working to accelerate corporate procurement of off-site renewable energy such as Microsoft’s, by bringing together corporate buyers, project developers, and service providers.
Ikea will no longer sell halogen and ‘energy-saving’ compact fluorescent bulbs from September, when it switches all its lighting sold globally to super efficient light-emitting diodes (LEDs). The move affects over 2.3m bulbs sold by the Swedish furniture chain each year in the UK and an undisclosed number in its markets elsewhere in Europe, North America, Asia, Africa and Oceania.