IN less than a month, delegates from more than 190 countries will convene in Paris to finalize a sweeping agreement intended to constrain human influence on the climate. But any post-meeting celebration will be tempered by two sobering scientific realities that will weaken the effectiveness of even the most ambitious emissions reduction plans that are being discussed.
A startup that wants to build a 25 megawatt wind farm near Greycliff in Sweet Grass County claims it’s been frustrated at every turn by resistance from NorthWestern Energy and the state’s all-Republican Public Service Commission. Tuesday morning Greycliff Wind Energy appealed to the PSC to throw out an existing state rule that it says the electric utility has used to stymie the efforts of wind power developers.
A study by Stanford University professor Marc Jacobson says every state in the U.S. could get 100% of its energy from renewable sources by the year 2050 – and save money in the process. In Michigan, most of that power would come from the state’s most abundant renewable resource: wind. Forty percent of the state’s electric needs could be met with on-shore wind power, according to Jacobson’s analysis, and 31% from off-shore wind power.
West Virginia and 22 other states challenged U.S. EPA rules for new power plants in court today, marking the latest attack in a multifront war against the agency’s climate change policies. The coalition of 23 states submitted a petition asking a federal appeals court to strike down a new EPA rule that sets the first-ever carbon dioxide emission standards for new and modified power plants.
In the push for a better battery, many in the industry are finding that the biggest challenges aren’t in chemistry and physics, but in regulations and market forces. Currently, the opportunities for a cheaper, more efficient way to store electricity are booming. Market research firm IHS Inc. reported that grid-level energy storage is on track to reach 40 gigawatts in capacity by 2022, a hundredfold increase from 2013. Meanwhile, global light-duty electric vehicle sales are expected to increase from 2.1 million in 2014 to 6.3 million in 2020, according to Navigant Research.
A Wisconsin judge on Friday rejected state regulators’ approval of a demand-based charge for new solar-owning customers served by the state’s largest electric utility. In a verbal order, Dane County Circuit Court Judge Peter Anderson said there wasn’t sufficient evidence in the case record and sent the issue back to the Wisconsin Public Service Commission to draft a new order consistent with the ruling, said Tyler Huebner, executive director of RENEW Wisconsin.
China does things in a big way, and nowhere is that more evident than in renewable energy. The world’s most populous nation was the biggest center of investment in the quarter ended Sept. 30, with $26.7 billion, according to data compiled by Bloomberg New Energy Finance. The U.S. was second for the same period at $13.4 billion.
Wind power industry officials are touting what they describe as a “wind rush” of new development and technology advances in the U.S. market, a trend characterized by substantial expansions of generation capacity in Texas and other wind-rich states, and the improved operating efficiencies of wind farms due to technology advances and higher turbine heights. Those conditions and a blustery October helped grid operators in Texas, the Great Plains and the Midwest set new records for wind energy generation, with the Electric Reliability Council of Texas achieving a new peak wind power output of 12,238 megawatts on Oct. 22, followed by the Midwest Independent System Organization hitting a 12,383 MW production peak on Oct. 28.
The main problem is the lack of planning in how to tackle the up to 80 billion euros ($88 billion) cost of decommissioning Germany’s atomic reactors. “This should have been tackled much earlier,” said Claudia Kemfert at Berlin-based DIW economic institute. “Together with the decision to phase out nuclear power they should have found a way or come up with some legislation to deal with the cost. The cost is not a new thing.” On top of those costs, there is the more than 20 billion euros annually to expand solar and wind power to help fill the energy gap.
As concerns mount over fossil fuels becoming ‘stranded assets,’ experts warn of looming financial crisis
“Smart investors can see that investing in companies that rely solely or heavily on constantly replenishing reserves of fossil fuels is becoming a very risky decision,” Nicholas Stern, the author of the famous Stern Review on “The Economics of Climate Change” and a contributor to Carbon Tracker’s 2013 report, said at the time. “The report raises serious questions as to the ability of the financial system to act on industry-wide long-term risk, since currently the only measure of risk is performance against industry benchmarks.”