News

Warren Buffett’s Big Bet on Renewables in Nevada

Source: By FELICITY BARRINGER, New York Times • Posted: Wednesday, October 8th, 2014

“This is not a value play,” said Christine Tezak, managing director of research at ClearView Energy Partners, referring to Mr. Buffett’s normally conservative investing approach. “He’s looking at this as a way to participate in the structural shift taking place in the power and energy industry.”

In the short term, the transition is going to mean construction of many renewable power plants in Nevada. Around sunbaked Las Vegas, these have been solar plants. Further north, they have been geothermal plants. They help make Nevada, a state whose energy was largely coal-fired 10 years ago, a good fit for the Environmental Protection Agency’s pending rulediscouraging coal-fired plants. “The goal of the rule was to send a small market signal to the utilities of the direction they should move in,” said Jared Blumenfeld, the director of E.P.A.’s Region 9, which covers the Southwest and Hawaii. Existing state mandates, he said, ensured that “in some cases they were already moving in that direction.”

Who are the Big Ten in the carbon pollution business?

Source: Gayathri Vaidyanathan, E&E reporter • Posted: Tuesday, October 7th, 2014

What ties America’s second-biggest energy company, ConocoPhillips Co., to a small Houston-based shale driller, Halcón Resources Corp.? They had some of the worst carbon pollution rates among their peers in 2012. Oil and gas operations have come under scrutiny for their climate impacts primarily because they leak methane, a potent greenhouse gas. The fossil fuel sector is the second-biggest emitter of the gas, which is 86 times as bad as carbon dioxide for the climate on a 20-year time scale. Where carbon dioxide works over centuries to wreak climate havoc, methane is its speedier cousin, working much more rapidly before decaying into less virulent gases. For climate change, both gases matter.

Coming boom in energy storage will make technology companies rich but harm traditional utilities, Citigroup predicts

Source: Daniel Cusick, E&E reporter • Posted: Tuesday, October 7th, 2014

Advances in energy storage technology over the next 15 years will allow for significant reductions in both costs and payback time for renewable energy systems and allow self-generation to become even more competitive with traditional utility-delivered electricity, a new report from Citigroup states.

Kansas wind energy industry set to take off

Source: BY DAN VOORHIS, THE WICHITA EAGLE • Posted: Tuesday, October 7th, 2014

Three-quarters of the way through 2014, Kansas’ wind energy industry is shifting from ice cold to red hot. The state has nearly 3,000 megawatts of wind energy capacity in 25 wind farms, placing it among the top states in the nation. This year started slowly, with months going by with little activity. But at this point, there are four wind farms under construction, with about 475 megawatts of capacity. They are Slate Creek wind farm in Sumner County, Waverly wind farm in Coffey County, Alexander wind farm in Rush County and Marshall wind farm in Marshall County.

EnergyWire’s Ferris talks Big Oil’s departure from renewable energy investments

Source: By Monica Trauzzi, E&E • Posted: Monday, October 6th, 2014

Last month, Chevron Corp. announced the sale of its renewables subsidiary, following a trend by several oil majors to move away from clean energy investments. On today’s The Cutting Edge, EnergyWire reporter David Ferris discusses the shift in clean energy strategy at several oil companies and explains how it is impacting the renewable energy industry.

Iowa State professor researching new wind turbine design

Source: By Julie Ferrell, Staff Writer, Ames Tribune • Posted: Monday, October 6th, 2014

One Iowa State University professor is leading the development of a new way to increase national wind energy production. Sri Sritharan, ISU’s Wilson Engineering professor in civil, construction and environmental engineering and leader of the College of Engineering’s wind energy initiative, is developing new details for his Hexcrete project, a concrete alternative to create taller wind turbines across the country.

The Most Ambitious Environmental Lawsuit Ever

Source: By NATHANIEL RICH, New York Times • Posted: Monday, October 6th, 2014

But the hemorrhaging of Louisiana’s coastal wetlands has gone largely unremarked upon beyond state borders. This is surprising, because the wetlands, apart from their unique ecological significance and astounding beauty, buffer the impact of hurricanes that threaten not just New Orleans but also the port of South Louisiana, the nation’s largest; just under 10 percent of the country’s oil reserves; a quarter of its natural-gas supply; a fifth of its oil-refining capacity; and the gateway to its internal waterway system. The attenuation of Louisiana, like any environmental disaster carried beyond a certain point, is a national-security threat.

North Dakota reservation gets fed funds for wind energy

Source: Associated Press • Posted: Monday, October 6th, 2014

A wind turbine project on North Dakota’s Turtle Mountain Band of Chippewa Indian Reservation is getting $90,000 in federal funds. U.S. Sen. Heidi Heitkamp announced the funds from the U.S. Department of Interior in a statement Thursday. The money will reinstall a wind tower, update a feasibility study and get land for the project.

Oklahoma reconsiders wind-energy plans

Source: By Sean Murphy, Associated Press • Posted: Monday, October 6th, 2014

But now that wind turbines stand tall across many parts of the nation’s windy heartland, some leaders in Oklahoma and other states fear their efforts succeeded too well, attracting an industry that gobbles up huge subsidies, draws frequent complaints and uses its powerful lobby to resist any reforms. The tension could have broad implications for the expansion of wind power in other parts of the country.“What we’ve got in this state is a time bomb just waiting to go off,” said Frank Robson, a real estate developer from Claremore in northeast Oklahoma. “And the fuse is burning, and nobody is paying any attention to it.”

Building wind power superhighways

Source: By Julie Wernau, Chicago Tribune reporter • Posted: Monday, October 6th, 2014

The wind is so strong in Iowa and Kansas that more wind farms there could power the country’s largest cities if only there was a way to move that electricity to where most people live. Enter Michael Skelly, a Houston businessman who envisions building five superhighways — transmission lines — to carry vast amounts of wind-generated power across more than 3,000 miles, multiple states, hundreds of jurisdictions and thousands of pieces of privately owned land. The lines, the diameter of a human arm, would be hoisted on 150-foot-tall structures, about the height of the Statue of Liberty foot to top of torch.