China’s wind and solar sectors could attract as much as 5.4 trillion yuan ($782 billion) in investment between 2016 and 2030 as the country tries to meet its renewable energy targets, according to a research report published on Tuesday. China has pledged to increase non-fossil fuel energy to at least 20 percent of total consumption by the end of the next decade, up from 12 percent in 2015, part of its efforts to tackle air pollution and bring carbon dioxide emissions to a peak by around 2030.
If the proposed the Department of Energy cuts go through, the U.S. could lose its leadership role in clean energy technology and innovation, business leaders, former DOE officials and members of Congress say. The funds are used for industry and academic research in clean energy technologies, as well as research at DOE labs. Backers of DOE funding say this fills voids for early-stage research that may be too risky for private investment.
Lawmakers in state legislatures across the nation have proposed hundreds of bills this year relating to clean energy. While many propose to grow alternative energy resources, others work to impede them, creating a chaotic map of countervailing efforts. State politicians have introduced measures to dramatically expand renewable electric power in nearly a dozen states in the first three months of 2017, some as ambitious as aiming to run entirely on renewables within a few decades; some would launch smaller-scale community solar ventures, like a pilot in Virginia; others would add tax breaks for solar users in South Carolina and Florida.
U.S. EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt spoke to state environmental regulators, espousing his pitch for “cooperative federalism” as agency chief. In a speech at the Environmental Council of the States’ spring meeting in Washington, Pruitt said he aims to work with state agencies on cutting back pollution as well as rebuilding the country’s water infrastructure.
More than 900 government buildings in Chicago will shift their electricity use to “100 percent renewable energy” by 2025 under an ambitious mayoral plan that contrasts sharply with President Donald Trump’s retreat on environmental issues. Together, Chicago Public Schools, City Colleges, Chicago Park District fieldhouses and buildings owned by the city and the Chicago Housing Authority consume 8 percent of all the electricity used in Chicago, according to city officials. Last year, that amounted to nearly 1.8 billion kilowatt hours — enough to power295,000 Chicago homes. It would take more than 300 wind turbines to generate that amount of power.
Wind and the sun will be powering more of the American West in coming years as a Berkshire Hathaway subsidiary takes advantage of federal tax credits that encourage renewable energy to take the place of coal-generated power. PacifiCorp, a division of Berkshire Hathaway Energy, issued a three-year, $3.5 billion plan for its renewable energy system from Wyoming to California. The six-state plan will add 900 megawatts of capacity by upgrading generators with larger blades and new technology, build a 140-mile-long power line in Wyoming and add 1,100 megawatts of new wind projects.
Don’t look to the Kentucky Coal Museum to bring coal back. The museum is installing solar panels on its roof, part of a project aimed at lowering the energy costs of one of the city’s largest electric customers. It’s also a symbol of the state’s efforts to move away from coal as its primary energy source as more coal-fired power plants are replaced by natural gas. The state legislature recently lifted its decades-old ban on nuclear power.
Economists and business groups warn that China’s industrial ambitions have entered a new, far-reaching phase. With its deep government pockets, growing technical sophistication and a comprehensive plan to free itself from dependence on foreign companies, China aims to become dominant in industries of the future like renewable energy, big data and self-driving cars.
Denmark’s Vestas, the world’s largest wind turbine maker, is keen to expand into areas such as energy storage to increase the global use of wind power and bring costs down. The wind industry is entering a phase of slower growth and steadier demand for turbines, prompting producers to look at alternatives to grow revenue. “The storage side is interesting and there are a lot of small start-ups that might be of interest. I’m looking for industry batteries,” Vestas Chairman Bert Nordberg told Reuters.
A glut of supply in America’s biggest power market may be sticking around for a while. This May, newly-built or expanded natural gas-fired plants, wind farms and solar installations will compete in an annual auction for electricity supplies in the mid-Atlantic and Midwest. As demand flags, the flood of generation means payouts from the grid manager, PJM Interconnection LLC, may fall to as low as $90 a megawatt-day, the lowest in four years, according to Prajit Ghosh, director of power and renewables research at Wood Mackenzie Ltd. in Houston.