A key House subcommittee tomorrow will examine how electric utilities are adjusting to shifts away from coal and toward natural gas and intermittent renewable sources in the United States. The Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Energy and Power will invite public and investor-owned utility executives to testify on the role of a “diverse electricity generation portfolio.”
Global investment in smart grid technology rose 7 percent in 2012, according to a new report by the Worldwatch Institute, buoyed by the growing presence of renewables in the energy mix and the integration of new technologies into infrastructure upgrades. World markets saw $13.9 billion invested in smart grid technology. The United States remains the lead investor in smart grids, though its investments fell last year to $4.3 billion, from $5.1 billion in 2011. China, in second place, appears to be closing the gap, increasing its smart grid spending 14 percent to $3.2 billion.
White House climate adviser Heather Zichal repeated the president’s warning that Congress must act on climate change yesterday, but she declined to give lawmakers a deadline or say which carbon policy is preferred by the administration. Describing climbing temperatures as “one of the clearest and most urgent challenges of our time,” Zichal also hinted at forthcoming action by President Obama as he faces pressure to spend more time rallying the public around solutions to climate change. He will pick up where his State of the Union address left off, Zichal said, noting that the Feb. 12 speech was “just the beginning of the conversation.”
“I would take $12 million in the subsidies to wind to begin to double energy research,” Alexander said today after a speech at the Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy (ARPA-E) fourth annual Innovation Summit at the National Harbor in suburban Washington, D.C. The senator, who has criticized wind energy subsidies in particular in the past, said during his speech that he would target “subsidies,” not just wind, as places to find funding for R&D.
New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg blasted coal-fired power generation today during a high-profile Energy Department innovation summit just outside Washington, D.C. “The king is dead. Coal is a dead man walking,” Bloomberg said during the Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy (ARPA-E) conference. “We are heading toward the sustainable future that we all want.”
A recent [Harvard] study errs in its assessment of potential wind energy resources by ignoring real-world data and experience and instead relying on crude theoretical modeling techniques. In reality, wind project developers and investors work closely with atmospheric scientists and other experts to make sure that their projects will produce as much as expected, and real-world data from large-scale wind installations in the US and Europe confirms that they do. Regardless of who is correct, the inescapable fact is that America’s developable wind energy resources are many times greater than our country’s energy needs.
Sen. Tom Carper (D-Del.) today is expected to reintroduce a bill offering tax credits for the first companies to build offshore wind projects in the United States. Carper’s bill would offer a 30 percent investment tax credit for the first 3,000 megawatts of new offshore wind projects, which would likely cover at least the first several projects. Carper said he is hoping his bill can be part of a comprehensive overhaul of the tax code.
Vestas Wind Systems A/S is cutting 110 jobs at its two blade factories in Colorado and adding 100 workers at another plant that makes wind turbine towers in the same state. The Danish wind turbine maker is reducing its workforce at factories in Windsor and Brighton, while adding jobs in Pueblo. Before the announcement, Vestas employed about 1,100 workers in Colorado.
The progress that offshore wind energy has made thus far in the U.S. could be stymied by cuts made under sequestration, U.S. Department of the Interior (DOI) Secretary Ken Salazar said at the Offshore Wind Power USA conference, which is being held in Boston this week. “We have made impressive gains – approving dozens of utility-scale solar, wind and geothermal projects in the West, and transitioning from planning to commercial leasing for offshore wind,” Salazar said during his keynote address. “The potentially devastating impact of budget reductions under sequestration could slow our economy and hurt energy sector workers and businesses.”
A majority of Maryland residents support Gov. Martin O’Malley’s plan to subsidize development of giant windmills in the Atlantic Ocean, according a new Washington Post poll. And there is growing momentum for the bill to pass the Maryland General Assembly this year.