For all their environmental bad marks, U.S. coal-fired power plants have been good citizens of the grid, their engineers are quick to say, rapidly and dependably adjusting output to keep power in balance and flowing. Now, as wind farms and distributed solar power spread, so must sophisticated electronic devices that will have to help take over the essential stabilizing role of retired coal plants.
Iowa’s adoption of wind energy is putting it ahead of other states in meeting carbon reduction goals proposed by U.S. EPA. The state gets the highest percentage of its electricity from wind power in the country. Iowa’s adoption of the alternative energy source means it would only have to cut its carbon emissions by 16 percent by 2030 under EPA’s proposed rule. By comparison, the average national carbon emission cuts are 30 percent.
President Obama stood in the chamber of the United Nations General Assembly last week and urged the world to follow his example and fight global warming. But a major new declaration calling for a global price on carbon — signed by 74 countries and more than 1,000 businesses and investors — is missing a key signatory: the United States.
The declaration, released by the World Bank the day before Mr. Obama’s speech at the United Nations Climate Summit, has been signed by China, Shell, Dow Chemical and Coca-Cola. It calls on all nations to enact laws forcing industries to pay for the carbon emissions that scientists say are the leading cause of global warming.
Our friends over at Fuel Fix have the scoop on a proposed $8 billion California wind energy project that could blow the socks off the regional renewable energy market. The idea would be to use Wyoming as a site for a new wind farm — which would be one of the largest in the US — and schlep the energy over to Los Angeles on new and existing transmission lines. But, that’s not what caught our eye. The key to the $8 billion California wind energy project, the thing that helps fulfill the Los Angeles vision of a sustainable, secure energy source, would be a massive compressed air energy storage system using salt caverns in Utah.
The acting chairman of the White House Council on Environmental Quality isn’t sure if the “acting” part of his title will be removed anytime soon. Moreover, acting CEQ chief Michael Boots doesn’t think the question is all that important. “Nobody inside that building is concerned about whether it’s ‘acting’ or not,” said Boots, in reference to the White House, in a brief interview here.
The Interior Department today unveiled a major new proposal establishing a competitive leasing process for renewables projects that it said should spark commercial-scale project development inside more than a dozen solar energy zones across the West. The proposed rule unveiled today by Interior Secretary Sally Jewell is meant to advance President Obama’s Climate Action Plan, which has challenged Interior to approve an additional 10,000 megawatts of renewable energy on federal lands by 2020.
An alliance of four companies proposed an $8 billion project Tuesday that within a decade could send wind power generated on the plains of Wyoming to households in Southern California. If approved and financed, the sprawling venture would produce clean power equivalent to the output of a large nuclear power plant by creating one of the country’s largest wind farms near Cheyenne, a huge energy storage site inside Utah caverns and a 525-mile electric transmission line connecting them.”This would certainly be one of the most ambitious and expensive energy infrastructure projects we have seen,” said Travis Miller, an industry analyst for investment research giant Morningstar Inc. “Energy storage, paired with renewable energy, has been the holy grail of utilities and energy companies.”
A conservation group and two private landowners are suing the Interior Department and the agency’s Bureau of Indian Affairs for approving the expansion of a California wind farm in alleged violation of environmental laws and despite objections from federal and state wildlife officials who warned of significant impacts to eagles.
Susan Combs, Texas’ comptroller of public accounts, said the state needs to take a more market-based view of electricity and focus on making it reliable and affordable. Her office issued a report yesterday on Texas power that called for an end to tax breaks and subsidies for certain new generation. “It’s time for wind to stand on its own two feet,” Combs said in a statement. “Billions of dollars of tax credits and property tax limitations on new generation helped grow the industry, but today they give it an unfair market advantage over other power sources.”
One of the nation’s largest utilities today unveiled the biggest battery system in North America, which will store energy generated by wind farms outside Mojave, Calif., and provide critical information for the design and operation of storage on the grid. Southern California Edison (SCE) financed the 32-megawatt-hour battery system that cost $50 million, half of which was funded by a 2009 smart grid stimulus grant from the Energy Department, according to the company. The demonstration project will test the performance, integration and automation of a lithium-ion battery storage system and “smart inverter” technology into the grid over a two-year period, Doug Kim, director of advanced technology at SCE, said in a statement.