US Wind Jobs Hit Record

The U.S. wind industry continues to shatter records. In 2015, wind energy supported 88,000 jobs, an increase of 20 percent over 2014. The data was released as part of the U.S. Wind Industry Annual Market Report, Year Ending 2015 from the American Wind Energy Association (AWEA). The strong job growth coincided with wind energy hitting the number one spot as the country’s new source of generating capacity.

US Wind Industry Annual Report 2015The report was officially released at the Vestas wind turbine component factory near Denver and Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper was on hand for the event. He noted in his remarks, “In 2015, Colorado ranked fifth in the nation for wind power capacity additions. An investment in the wind power industry and in wind projects generates new jobs, economic development in rural counties and clean air benefits to all Coloradans.”

Helping to fuel growth is the re-passage of the wind energy Production Tax Credit along with the Investment Tax Credit late in 2015. The report finds that wind energy is on track to meet the Department of Energy’s Wind Vision scenario of supplying 20 percent of total electricity by 2030.

“Wind power benefits more American families than ever before,” said Tom Kiernan, CEO of AWEA. “We’re helping young people in rural America find a job close to home. Others are getting a fresh chance to rebuild their careers by landing a job in the booming clean energy sector. With long-term, stable policy in place, and a broader range of customers now buying low-cost wind-generated electricity, our workforce can grow to 380,000 well-paying jobs by 2030.”

AWEA Wind power“Made-in-the-USA wind power will help keep our economy competitive and our air clean for generations,” Kiernan added. “Our wind energy will never run out.”

The job growth in 2015 is primarily fueled by more wind project development and construction, requiring more than 38,000 employees. The report found the industry also experienced a stabilization of its manufacturing sector, which now supports over 21,000 well-paying jobs across 43 states, up over 10 percent in a year. And more than 8,800 jobs are held by wind turbine technicians, the fastest growing profession in the U.S., according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Texas leads the nation with over 24,000 wind energy employees. Wind project construction propelled Oklahoma to second place with more than 7,000 jobs. Rounding out the top five are Iowa and Colorado with over 6,000 jobs, and after moving up 11 spots, Kansas ranks fifth with over 5,000 wind workers. Maine gained the most in the state wind employment rankings, rising 16 spots.

Caribbean’s Largest Solar Array Goes Live

The largest solar array in the Caribbean is now producing energy. Monte Plata is a 33.4 MW PV solar array located in the Dominican Republic that will produce more than 50,000 megawatt hours of energy each year. The “power switch” was turned on by Dominican Republic President Danilo Medina. The project was designed and deployed by Dubai-based Phanes Group along with partners General Energy Solutions and Soventix.

Monte Plata Aerial ViewMonte Plata’s 132,000 solar panels triple the number of solar panels in the Dominican Republic. Once phase two of the project is complete by the end of 2016, the array’s total capacity will rise to 67 MW, increasing the photovoltaic power output in the country fivefold.

“This project is a demonstration of how multiple stakeholders can work together to co-develop solar projects that are viable and bankable in emerging markets – successfully delivering access to energy and unlocking huge economic opportunities for remote communities,” said Martin Haupts, CEO of Phanes Group.

The country has been challenged with inadequate power supply that includes high transmission and distribution losses that exceed 30 percent. In addition, the country spends on average more than $4 billion each year on fossil fuel imports to operate petroleum, coal and natural gas fueled power plants.

“With much of the Caribbean challenged by expensive fuel imports, solar has the ability to liberate these island nations from economic and energy dependency, increasing the energy security and reducing greenhouse gas emissions while helping elevate communities,” added Haupts. “Phanes Group is delighted to have played a central role in delivering this breakthrough project, and we remain committed and excited about PV’s opportunities across the emerging world.”

Wind Energy Provides $7.3B in Health Savings

According to a new report from the American Wind Energy Association, U.S. wind farms reduced electric power carbon dioxide emissions by nearly 132 million metric tons in 2015. In addition, wind energy reduces other harmful air pollutants including smog-causing sulfur dioxide (SO2) and nitrogen oxides (NOx), which helps reduce rates of asthma and other respiratory issues. Electricity generated by wind in 2015 displaced an estimated 176,000 metric tons of SO2 and 106,000 metric tons of NOx, representing $7.3 billion in avoided health costs last year.

wind energy health“Americans will be able to breathe easier and live longer thanks to clean energy produced by American wind power,” said Tom Kiernan, CEO of AWEA. “Clean air benefits from wind power totaled $7.3 billion last year, without even including the value of carbon savings, and the industry also attracts thousands of quality jobs and billions of dollars in private investment to the U.S. economy. With wind power, states don’t have to make a trade-off between clean air and strong economic growth.”

Based on costs assumptions provided by the Harvard School of Public Health study, the tons of SO2 and NOx pollution avoided in 2015 carry a public health monetary value of more than $5.4 billion and $1.8 billion, respectively. At the start of 2016, there were 9,400 megawatts (MW) of wind power capacity under construction, which is expected to reduce another 23 million metric tons of CO2 emissions each year when operational, and cut overall power sector CO2 emissions by an additional one percent.

The 132 million metric tons in CO2 reductions in 2015 are equivalent to eliminating all power sector carbon dioxide emissions in Kansas, Nebraska, Oklahoma, and Colorado last year.

This data is an early look at AWEA’s 2015 U.S. Wind Industry Annual Market Report. The report will provide a comprehensive update on the state of the U.S. wind market, job numbers, state-by-state comparisons, and more.

Research Converts Tomato Paste to Energy

© Jamie Wilson | Dreamstime Stock Photos

© Jamie Wilson | Dreamstime Stock Photos

Researchers from South Dakota School of Mines & Technology have developed a way to convert tomato waste in electricity. Led by Venkataramana Gadhamshetty, Ph.D., he and his team used a biological-based fuel cell that uses tomato waste left over from harvests in Florida. The characteristics of the decomposing waste make it a “perfect fuel source” for enhancing electrochemical reactions, Gadhamshetty said.

Food waste comes in many forms including the leftovers of manufacturing processes of sauces, ketchup and other cooking products. He began the research several years ago as a professor at Florida Gulf Coast University. He says the project is important to Florida, where tomatoes are a key crop, because the state generates 396,000 tons of tomato waste every year but lacks a good treatment process. Gadhamshetty said a lot of this waste is ripe with chemical energy and he and his team wanted to see if this could be used as a source of electrons. The answer: yes.

The team tested the defective tomatoes in a new electrochemical device built at the South Dakota Mines campus, which degrades tomato waste and then extracts electrons. The power output from their mini reactor is small: 10 milligrams of tomato waste can result in 0.3 watts of electricity. But the researchers note that with an expected scale up and more research, electrical output could be increased by several orders of magnitude.

Screen Shot 2016-03-21 at 9.11.17 AM“It might be possible to one day put this device at the bottom of my kitchen sink” to convert waste into household electricity, Gadhamshetty said who added that this alternative fuel source is inexpensive technology because operations can be conducted at room temperature requiring no major investment of materials.

Gadhamshetty and SD Mines graduate student Namita Shrestha are collaborating on the project with Alex Fogg, an undergraduate chemistry major at Princeton University. Other project collaborators include Daniel Franco, Joseph Wilder and Simeon Komisar, Ph.D., at Florida Gulf Coast University.

“I’m really excited about this research. I come from a small country, Nepal, and we have power cut off as much as 20 hours in a day, so this could really help developing countries,” Shrestha said. “We cannot afford expensive technologies like waste treatment.” According to Shrestha’s calculations, there is theoretically enough tomato waste generated in Florida each year to meet Disney World’s electricity demand for 90 days, using an optimized biological fuel cell.

NJR Announces U.S. New Wind Project

NJR Clean Energy Ventures (NJRCEV) has announced its fourth onshore wind project, Ringer Hill Farm. The 39.9 MW project is located along the Pennsylvania-Maryland border in Somerset County, Pennsylvania, approximately 60 miles southeast of Pittsburgh and will consist of 14 GE turbines. The new wind farm is expected to be complete in early 2017.

njr-cleanenergy“Wind is an increasingly important segment of our nation’s energy mix and we are pleased to do our part to bring renewable energy to the marketplace,” said Laurence M. Downes, chairman and CEO of New Jersey Resources. “Our investment in Ringer Hill further diversifies our distributed power portfolio, represents the continuation of our Company’s long-term growth strategy and provides value to our shareowners.”

NJRCEV is investing $84 million dollars in the project and expects the wind farm will qualify for federal production tax credits, which were recently extended. Once the project is completed, it joins wind farms in Alexander Wind Farm in Rush County, Kansas which began operating in December 2015; the Carroll Area Wind Farm, located in Iowa, which came online in February 2015; and, the Montana-based Two Dot Wind Farm, which has been in service since June 2014.

Armow Wind Farm Powers Up

The 180 MW Armow Wind power facility in Ontario has powered up. The Samsung Renewable Energy and Pattern Energy Group project used Ontario-made products. Towers for the 91 Siemens 2.3 MW wind turbines were made in Windsor and the 273 blades were manufactured in Tillsonburg.

armow wind project“Samsung is proud to complete our fourth wind project under our Green Energy Investment Agreement with the government of Ontario,” said Steve Cho, Vice President, Samsung C&T. “Armow Wind created more than 350 jobs during peak construction and supported over 750 workers from our Ontario manufacturing facilities. Samsung and its partners are creating jobs and investing in the community which is benefiting real people in Kincardine and across the province.”

According to a press statement, Armow Wind is also bringing strong economic benefits to the Kincardine community, including more than $75 million over 20 years in property taxes, landowner lease royalties and community benefits. As part of a long-term Community Benefit Program, Armow Wind committed $13.6 million dollars to the Municipality of Kincardine. The program supports education and other initiatives.

“Armow Wind is a great example of how Ontario is changing the future of electricity. Armow Wind is a project that produces clean, renewable energy and that was built by Ontario workers with Ontario-made wind turbine components,” added Mike Garland, CEO of Pattern Development. “Armow Wind is now generating millions of dollars in local lease payments and property taxes, updating the local airport, and improving the community of Kincardine through our community benefits program. We want to thank the landowners, other community members and the municipality for their hard work and collaboration on this project. We are honored to become a part of this great community.”

The Armow Wind power facility operates under a 20-year power purchase agreement with the Independent Electricity System Operator (IESO).

U.S. Wind Industry Celebrates Great Q4

The U.S. wind industry continues to gain power with 5,001 MW installed during the 4th quarter of 2015 – more installations than all of 2014. In 2015 there was 8,598 MW was installed, a 77 percent increase over 2014. U.S. Wind Industry Fourth Quarter 2015 Market Report, published by the American Wind Energy Association (AWEA), finds strong market activity is expected to continue. Going in to 2016, 9,400 MW were under construction.

AWEA_jan report graphics“The data released today show 2016 presents an extraordinary opportunity for American wind power,” said Tom Kiernan, CEO of the American Wind Energy Association (AWEA). “The time has never been better for states and utilities to lock in low-cost, stably-priced wind energy to achieve their Clean Power Plan carbon reductions. Wind energy is on track to supplying 20 percent of the country’s electricity by 2030.”

Wind installations during the fourth quarter of 2015 represent the second strongest quarter ever recorded with total installations across 2015 trailing only 2009 and 2012. Combined there is now 74,472 MW of installed wind capacity in the U.S. and more than 52,000 operating wind turbines.

“Low-cost, stably-priced wind energy is a ‘no-regrets’ solution for states and utilities looking for the best way to meet the Clean Power Plan,” added Kiernan. “Texas ranchers and Iowa farmers know wind power costs one-third as much as it did six years ago. Analysis by the Energy Information Administration confirms that wind energy will make up the majority of states’ lowest-cost Clean Power Plan strategy.”

Governor’s Wind Energy Coalition Adds Solar

The Governors’ Wind Energy Coalition has added solar energy to its lineup of renewable energy promotion and has changed its name to reflect the new addition: Governors’ Wind and Solar Energy Coalition (GWSC). The Coalition’s goal is to support renewable energy technologies that among other benefits, help to put Americans to work in all 50 states.

Screen Shot 2016-01-24 at 9.45.48 PM“We are proud of Iowa’s leadership in wind energy and we are also encouraged by the recent growth in solar energy,” said Iowa Governor Terry Branstad who just last week highlighted Iowa as one of the country’s leading wind power producers. “The addition of solar to the Coalition’s portfolio represents a commitment to future economic and renewable energy growth, and further diversification of our nation’s energy portfolio.”

Rhode Island Governor Gina Raimondo said of the announcement, “I support the foresight of my colleagues to broaden the Coalition’s focus and include solar energy development as a policy priority. Wind and solar provide complementary benefits to the U.S. electric grid and will help diversify the country’s energy mix. The need for states to take a broader view of renewable power is clear.”

According to SNL Energy, wind and solar energy added 61 percent of all new generation capacity in 2015 through November. As states make plans to comply with the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Clean Power Plan, wind and solar power are expected to continue supplying large amounts new electricity in the years ahead.

“I am proud to work with governors from across the country, and both parties, to advance renewable energy. The exciting growth of both wind and solar energy provide our states with tremendous economic opportunities, as well as the ability to reduce emissions, protect public health, and build a more prosperous and sustainable American clean energy future,” said Washington Governor Jay Inslee.

According to the American Wind Energy Association (AWEA), wind power has surpassed the 70 gigawatt (GW) milestone of installed wind capacity. Per AWEA, if the pace continues, wind power can become one of the largest sources of electricity in the U.S. by supplying 35 percent by 2050. Tom Kiernan, AWEA CEO noted the group has been very effective in getting policy results that help grow the wind energy industry, and said the decision to combine forces with solar energy reflects the economic and environmental value of diversifying the country’s electric grid.

Pattern Energy Completes Amazon Wind Farm

The 150 MW Amazon Wind Farm Fowler Ridge project, located in Benton County, Indiana has been completed and is fully operational. Pattern Energy Group’s wind farm will sell 100 percent of the energy produced to Amazon Web Services (AWS) to power their datacenters.

“It’s a privilege to team with AWS on the Amazon Wind Farm Fowler Ridge, demonstrating the strong and growing appetite for wind power from the country’s leading corporations,” Amazon Wind Farm turbinesaid Mike Garland, President and CEO of Pattern Energy. “This facility was completed on schedule and we are beginning 2016 with all 16 of our wind power facilities fully operational. Since our IPO we have grown the portfolio by 119%, underscoring the value of our strategic relationship with Pattern Development and our ability to execute attractive third-party acquisitions.”

The Amazon Wind Farm Fowler Ridge consists of 65 Siemens 2.3 MW wind turbines with ‘Made in America’ components. The turbine blades, nacelles, towers, and transformers were manufactured in the United States. “Siemens is proud that workers at our factories in the Midwest produced the turbines for the Amazon Wind Farm Fowler Ridge, which continues an exciting trend of technology companies and major corporations turning to wind power for their energy needs,” said Jacob Andersen, CEO Onshore Americas, Siemens Wind Power and Renewables Division.

According to the American Wind Energy Association (AWEA), companies such as Amazon, are helping to boost wind power in the U.S. with direct wind energy contracts. In other examples, Microsoft and Walmart have both contracted directly with companies to build wind farms to generate electricity for their operations.

Jerry Hunter, vice president, Infrastructure at AWS said of the project completion, “AWS has a long-term commitment to achieve 100% renewable energy usage for our global infrastructure footprint, and we continue to make progress towards this goal. We’re very excited to announce with Pattern Energy that the Amazon Wind Farm Fowler Ridge is now live and producing electricity, bringing a new source of clean energy to the grids that power our datacenters.”

Clean Power Plan A Top Energy Issue

The Clean Power Plan (CPP) is among top issues that legislators will face this year in energy according to the Council of State Governments.

“Energy issues will continue to receive significant attention in 2016,” said Liz Edmondson, director of energy and environmental policy at CSG. “Market forces, governmental regulations and increasing technology are changing the way we generate, transmit and use energy. In light of these issues, state policymakers and regulators will need to work together to comply with new federal regulations such as the Clean Power Plan, and to ensure that consumers continue to enjoy reliable and affordable access to electricity.”

In addition to the Clean Power Plan, states will face a variety of policy issues related to an increase in natural gas production. Other top issues in energy and environment include electricity transmission, ratemaking and grid reliability; water quality and quantity; and the use of science-based decision making.

The CPP continues to be a hot button issue with coalitions coming together to sue the EPA in an effort to block the plan’s implementation. This week the U.S. Court of Appeals rejected a stay requested by opponents.

“This is a huge win for protecting our health and climate from dangerous carbon pollution, said David Doniger, director of Climate and Clean Air Program at the Natural Resources Defense Council. “The Court has brushed aside the polluters’ bogus bid to block the Clean Power Plan, and the electricity sector will continue the shift from its high-pollution, dirty-fueled past to a safer, cleaner-powered future.

“The decision greenlights work that most states have already begun to put the Clean Power Plan into action, and signals to others that there is no excuse for holding back on implementation. Cutting the largest source of carbon pollution fueling climate change should be Job One,” added Doniger.