“We’ve got a problem,” Dr. Moniz explained. “We recognize it. We solve it.” Around the world, energy innovation seems to be speeding up. Large historical forces are converging to create unprecedented turmoil and opportunity in what had long been one of the most hidebound industries. The changes are coming just as governments have finally resolved, after two decades of failed efforts, to tackle the global climate crisis. The emissions that cause global warming have already fallen in some of the biggest countries, including the United States.
“This kind of litigation puts states in quite a bind. What are we supposed to do? We’re trying to get cleaner, we’re trying to hold competitive processes, and then we’re getting bogged down with these PURPA claims. It certainly needs to be sorted out,” Joe Rosenthal, principal attorney in the Connecticut Office of Consumer Counsel, said.
“From the tax equity perspective, I don’t think anyone’s on the sidelines,” agreed Jack Cargas, managing director of renewable energy finance at Bank of America Merrill Lynch. The main cause for optimism is Congress’ extension last December of tax breaks for solar and wind power. The investment and production tax credits for solar and wind, respectively, have revived investors’ appetite for those projects.
In a warming world, Big Oil doesn’t look quite so big anymore. A global glut of oil and natural gas has sent prices tumbling over the last two years, and profits are evaporating. Improving auto fuel efficiency standards threaten to depress oil consumption eventually, and fleets of electric vehicles are gradually emerging in China and a few other important markets.
Offshore wind costs are plummeting in Europe and approaching “striking distance” of other power sources, Bloomberg New Energy Finance said yesterday. The average cost of electrons from offshore wind has fallen 28 percent since this time last year, BNEF said in a report. Offshore wind, long regarded as the Cadillac option of clean energy, remains one of the world’s priciest resources at roughly $126 per megawatt-hour.
2016 will be remembered as “the year U.S. offshore wind arrived,” as Block Island Wind Farm, a 5-turbine 30 MW offshore-wind project, arose off Rhode Island’s coast this summer and will soon power the grid. Relatively modest in scale, this wind farm’s christening carried significance greater than its size. The first “steel in the water” for U.S. offshore wind, it was proof of the promise this abundant home-grown renewable resource holds to light boardwalks and boardrooms up and down the Eastern seaboard.
Oklahoma Gov. Mary Fallin praised the deal in a statement to the Tulsa World, describing GE as “the world’s premier digital industrial company” working with Clean Line “on a transmission line that will harness and export Oklahoma’s great wind resource.” Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson, while acknowledging political opposition, conceded last month that the state was likely to see benefits from the Clean Line project.
“We are excited to see GE, the world’s premier digital industrial company, working with Clean Line Energy on a transmission line that will harness and export Oklahoma’s great wind resource,” commented Oklahoma’s Republican governor, Mary Fallin. Construction of the line is expected to begin in the second half of 2017. A deal that would create the largest clean-energy transmission project in the United States was announced yesterday, a $2.5 billion effort to build a high-voltage, direct-current (HVDC) power line that would take wind energy produced in Oklahoma’s windy Panhandle region to the Memphis, Tenn., area. From there it would be distributed by the Tennessee Valley Authority to other major power distribution systems in the South and Southeast.
A federal appeals court has dismissed a Virginia energy company’s request to overturn a federal judge’s ruling last year that threw out the Obama administration’s approval of what was projected to be Nevada’s largest wind power project.
Nevada became the poster child for the national net-metering debate last year when state regulators voted to slash the credits paid to rooftop solar owners who send power back to the grid. New installations ground to a halt, as prominent installers like SolarCity Corp. and Sunrun Inc. shut down operations in the Silver State. But signs of change are afoot.