From the muscle cars of the 1950s to Volkswagen buses with sandy surfboards strapped to the roof, cars have long been part of the culture of California. Highways and freeways crisscross the state, and drive-ins and drive-thrus grew up there. The state’s latest ambition is to slash its greenhouse gas emissions by switching its car culture from gas guzzlers to electrics. That’s a tall order. California’s transportation sector produces about 40 percent of the state’s greenhouse gas emissions. As the state reaches toward its climate change goals — emissions reductions of 40 percent below 1990 levels by the year 2030 and 80 percent by 2050 — vehicles and emissions reductions will be inextricably tied.
Continued growth of wind energy in Iowa places it ahead of other states in meeting a proposed rule that would require existing power plants to cut carbon emissions, a leader with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency says. Iowa would be required to cut carbon emissions 16 percent by 2030, under the proposed rule. The state’s target is lower than the 30 percent national average because of its investment in renewable energy development and energy efficiency, federal leaders have said. Karl Brooks, the EPA’s regional director, said outcry against the rule, proposed in June, has been less than expected.
We know America’s electricity supply is rapidly de-carbonizing. Renewables generated 13 percent of national power supply in 2014, but Iowa got a third of its electricity from renewables this past March. California will hit 50 percent by 2030, and another dozen states, including South Dakota, Oregon, Colorado and Minnesota, are surging ahead. Cleaner electricity will feed increasingly efficient homes and devices, and these will be increasingly controlled by iPhones, sensors and data centers. Add this all up, and it reveals a new role for utilities: system optimization.
The Los Angeles Daily News reports (http://bit.ly/1K729QP ) that the supervisors unanimously approved a draft Renewable Energy Ordinance that updated regulations on small-scale wind and solar projects and utility-scale solar projects. Supervisor Michael Antonovich, whose district includes Antelope Valley, says many residents have complained of large wind turbines, saying they would destroy their vistas, impeded aerial firefighting, create dust and noise and contribute to health concerns like valley fever.
The Senate Finance Committee is facing familiar pressure from interest groups over energy provisions as members await word on whether next week’s expected extenders markup will proceed. Senators from both parties this week have indicated the markup may happen Tuesday, although a spokeswoman for Finance Chairman Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) said yesterday that nothing has been scheduled yet. Sen. Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.) said yesterday that the package will largely mirror the extenders bill the panel passed in May 2014, known as the “EXPIRE Act.”
Three afternoons a week, 91-year-old Palmer Carlin comes into the Energy Department’s National Wind Technology Center (NWTC) at the National Renewable Energy Laboratory(NREL) and begins having fun. That’s where the senior engineer fields questions from the public, often from would-be inventors convinced they have the next big renewable energy breakthrough. “Across the U.S., there are inventors, students, small businesses and entrepreneurs with wind-related questions who continuously shower emails and voicemails on all of us here at the wind site,” said Carlin. He imagines that the typical inventor’s scenario begins when a retired machinist goes out to a garage workshop at the suggestion of an exasperated spouse. “Then the guy invents some sort of wind machine and calls me up,” he said with a laugh.
enate Democrats introduced legislation yesterday that would extend a tax credit for residential renewable energy systems. The bill would extend by five years the Residential Energy Efficiency Property Credit, a financial incentive for homeowners that invest in clean energy technology that was put in place in 2006. The tax credit applies to residential rooftop solar systems, solar water heaters, geothermal pumps and small wind turbines but is set to expire at the end of 2016.
After months of hearings and discussion over more than a hundred bills, Senate Energy and Natural Resources Chairwoman Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) said today she anticipates her committee will begin marking up a comprehensive energy package next week. “We are pretty much on track,” she told E&ENews PM this afternoon. “We’re hoping we’ll be able to keep our schedule for markups next week and the following week. That’s the plan.” The committee will hold four markups over two weeks to meet Murkowski’s goal of completing the bill before the August recess. Each markup will focus on one of the four titles of the bill, which addresses infrastructure, supply, accountability and efficiency.
Online store Amazon said it has contracted Spanish utility Iberdrola to build and manage a wind farm in North Carolina, United States, to power its current and future cloud data centers. Amazon affiliate Amazon Web Services (AWS) said on Monday the wind farm would be operational by December of next year, putting it on track to surpass a goal for 40 percent its electrical grids to be powered by renewable energy by end-2016.
As diplomats try to piece together a complicated new global agreement to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, a sweeping new study out by the U.K. government today takes a hard look at what could happen if they fail. The worst-case scenario assessment of what a world in which global average temperatures climb far above the threshold considered safe warns of crop deterioration to in the midwestern United States, chronic water shortage along the Tigris-Euphrates River Basin, and 100-year flood events becoming 40 times more likely in Shanghai and 200 times more likely in New York.