Also this week, efforts to reconcile the House and Senate energy bills will continue, as lawmakers race the clock to see if they can find common ground. House and Senate conferees detailed their own priorities for the conference last week, signaling a desire to work toward consensus but also highlighting vast policy divides (Greenwire, Sept. 8). House Energy and Commerce Chairman Fred Upton (R-Mich.) told E&E Daily that efforts will intensify this week. “Now that the opening statements are out of the way, we’ll have member-to-member discussions,” he said.
“Over time, I think we’d like to see elements of the turbines made and assembled here in the U.S. more and more,” said Jeffrey Grybowski, CEO of Deepwater Wind, which is the developer of the project. “It’s not an all-or-nothing thing. We’ll increasingly see more and more of the components made closer and closer to these projects. And that is almost entirely driven by the size of the market that the manufacturers see.
It was that a “supergrid,” a national network of 30,000 miles of high-voltage direct current (HVDC) electricity lines, might cut electricity generating emissions by as much as 80 percent by rapidly moving surplus power generated by wind, solar, hydroelectric and natural gas around the nation. The system, he thinks, could be built in 15 years. The resulting power, most of it coming from the weather, he asserts, would not lift energy bills much above traditional levels.
The U.S. just completed its first offshore wind farm, with 30 megawatts of capacity off the coast of Rhode Island, and has laid out a plan to reach 86,000 megawatts by 2050, almost enough to power the U.K The departments of Energy and Interior are planning a joint effort to support offshore wind farms over the next five years, a move aimed at reducing cost and development risks and easing the regulatory constraints that have hindered construction to date, according to a statement Friday.
There are many challenges to overcome in the United States, including bringing down costs and developing a viable supply chain. The regulatory process “could be further optimized, and data gaps associated with environmental impacts need to be addressed,” the report says. Last year, DOE’s “Wind Vision” study concluded that 86 GW of offshore wind deployment by midcentury could reduce greenhouse gas emissions enough to avoid $50 billion in “global damages.”
A plan published by the Energy Department and the Interior Department could help enable 86 gigawatts of offshore wind energy production and support 160,000 jobs in the U.S. by 2050, the departments announced Friday. According to the plan, almost 80 percent of U.S. electricity demand is located in coastal states and offshore wind energy technical potential is equal to about two times the U.S.’s electricity demand. In order to tap into the benefits of offshore energy, the plan says the U.S. must reduce the costs and technical risks associated with offshore wind development, provide regulatory certainty and mitigate the environmental risks of offshore wind development, and increase the understanding of the costs and benefits of offshore wind energy.
Residents of the Sunshine State are finding that harnessing Florida’s abundant solar power is no simple task. With its bounty of sunny days, Florida ranks third in the nation in rooftop solar energy potential but 13th in the amount of solar energy generated, according to industry estimates. The industry views Florida as a sleeping giant that could rival California in solar potential, but renewable energy experts say the state lags behind because old laws favor utilities over private enterprise.
House and Senate energy reform conferees signaled a willingness to bridge the many differences between their respective bills today. At the same time, they outlined a laundry list of competing priorities for a final agreement. Senate Energy and Natural Resources Chairwoman Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska), who is leading the first formal energy conference since 2005, pledged to use the same “open and bipartisan manner” that she and ranking member Maria Cantwell (D-Wash.) used to assemble and pass the upper chamber’s bill, S. 2012, with broad bipartisan backing in April.
A long-simmering rift in the U.S. solar industry has become public just days before thousands of industry participants gather in Las Vegas for the largest solar trade show in North America. The campaign calling for a change in governance of the Solar Energy Industries Association by unhappy executives of distributed generation companies also comes at a time when the trade group is looking for a successor to the lobby’s longtime president and CEO, Rhone Resch, who left at the end of May.
The Ohio Supreme Court has rejected a challenge of the way state officials approved a wind farm in Champaign County. In a unanimous ruling released on Wednesday, the court found that the Ohio Power Siting Board was proper in the way it approved revisions to a proposal for the Buckeye I wind farm. But there remains a separate pending appeal that is delaying construction of the project.