Some of the issues are ones the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission is expected to explore tomorrow when it hosts the last of three regional meetings on Clean Power Plan implementation in St. Louis. FERC’s focus will go way beyond the integration of renewable energy, of course. But the role of wind as a compliance tool for states looms large across the central region that’s the focus of the meeting. States including Iowa, South Dakota, Kansas, Minnesota and Oklahoma each get at least 15 percent of their electricity from wind and will undoubtedly be looking to do more as a way of reducing the carbon intensity of its generating fleet.
SolarWorld AG, the United States’ largest solar manufacturer, said this week it nearly doubled shipments of modules from its primary U.S. manufacturing facility in 2014, while globally the company boosted shipments by 55 percent, from 548 units in 2013 to 849 units last year.
THE KILLING of Cape Wind brings US offshore wind power back to where it probably should have started: small. At 130 turbines and 468 megawatts — enough to power 200,000 homes — Cape Wind would have been an ocean wind farm on the same scale of those in Europe. It was paralyzed by selfish and powerful people who feared the views from their seaside mansions would be ruined. With about two dozen lawsuits, they were able to litigate the project into something that became too big to not fail. The Cape Wind project effectively collapsed during the winter, when it missed deadlines for financing, resulting in the termination of its power-purchasing agreements and a lease to use the new port terminal in New Bedford built by the state to handle massive turbine pieces.
Wind turbines spinning over prairie cornfields are permanent fixtures of the Minnesota landscape. The state is the headquarters for Xcel Energy, the electric utility with the most wind power in the United States. Yet wind power is growing in other states. Texas now has the most wind power of any state, followed by California and Iowa. Minnesota is eighth. Tom Kiernan is chief executive of the American Wind Energy Association (AWEA), the Washington, D.C.-based, 1,000-member trade group for the wind power industry. On a recent visit to St. Paul, he talked to the Star Tribune about the industry’s outlook.
Ice shelves in Antarctica have been melting more rapidly in recent years, generating enough water each year since 1994 to fill 66 million Olympic-sized swimming pools. The ice melt has become especially pronounced since 2003. Some shelves have thinned by 18 percent over a two-decade span, a remarkable development given that they had existed unchanged for thousands of years, said Fernando Paolo, a graduate student at the Scripps Institution of Oceanography at the University of California, San Diego, and lead author of the study.
On March 19, President Obama signed an Executive Order, “Planning for Federal Sustainability in the Next Decade.” It mandates a 40 percent reduction in greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by federal agencies by 2025, compared to 2008 levels. The mandate is not insignificant, since the federal government is the largest consumer of energy in the United States. A variety of compliance options are available to agencies, including renewable energy, building efficiency, and alternative vehicle technologies and fuels.
Pusateri, the Edward Jones analyst, said part of the resistance may also be inflamed because of how the gas gets out of the ground. The Marcellus Shale gas is extracted using hydraulic fracturing, or fracking. The process, which blasts chemical-laden water into wells to crack open rock, has drawn heavy criticism. In New York, much of the antipathy toward pipelines was driven by the anti-fracking sentiment that resulted in Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s ban on shale gas development in New York.
Flying 56 miles west from this port, you are greeted by a 10-story, yellow, boxlike platform rising out of the North Sea. It is called SylWin1, the connection to Europe’s electric grid from one of the largest power plants ever built offshore. Beyond it, arrayed over 27 acres of ocean, are the 80 Siemens 3.6-megawatt turbines of the Dan Tysk wind farm.
For Europeans, and perhaps for some Americans, this may be their energy future. The unobstructed winds at sea here are capable of spinning up enough power to electrify around 1 million German households.
Wisconsin has asked to join 13 states supporting coal company Murray Energy Corp.’s court challenge to block U.S. EPA from finalizing a rule to curb greenhouse gas emissions from power plants. The D.C. Circuit has consolidated the Murray challenge with another one brought by West Virginia and 11 other states. In total, 15 states are part of the efforts to block the regulation.
Why the project stalled — and why New Jersey will almost certainly miss its goal of 1,100 megawatts of wind-generated electricity before 2021 — is the subject of intense debate here. Some blame the governor, whose enthusiasm for wind energy appeared to flag around the time he began exploring a run for the Republican presidential nomination. Political opponents say the turning point was a series of meetings in 2011 and 2012 with key Republican donors, including billionaire brothers Charles and David Koch, oil-industry magnates who have bankrolled campaigns against renewable energy.