Renewables “Rock” U.S. Energy Growth

The SUN Day Campaign’s Ken Bossong, has noted once again that renewable energy sources are dominating the new energy landscape according to the latest “Energy Infrastructure Update” report from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission’s (FERC) Office of Energy Projects. The reports shows wind and solar accounted for all new generating capacity placed in-service in April. For the month, two “units” of wind (the 300 MW Hereford-2 Wind Farm Project in Deaf Smith County, TX and the 211 MW Mesquite Creek Wind Project in Dawson County, TX) came on line in addition to six new units – totaling 50 MW – of solar.

In addition, wind, solar, geothermal, and hydropower together have provided over 84 percent (84.1%) of the 1,900 MW of new U.S. electrical generating capacity placed into service during the first third of 2015. This includes 1,170 MW of wind (61.5%), 362 MW of solar (19.1%), 45 MW of geothermal steam (2.4%), and 21 MW of hydropower (1.1%). The balance (302 MW) was provided by five units of natural gas.

Hereford Wind ProjectFERC has reported no new capacity for the year-to-date from biomass sources nor any from coal, oil, or nuclear power.

The reports finds the total contribution of geothermal, hydropower, solar, and wind for the first four months of 2015 (1,598 MW) is similar to that for the same period in 2014 (1,611 MW – in addition to 116 MW of biomass). However, for the same period in 2014, natural gas added 1,518 MW of new capacity while coal and nuclear again provided none and oil just 1 MW. Renewable energy sources accounted for half of all new generating capacity added in 2014.

“Members of Congress and state legislators proposing to curb support for renewable energy, such as Renewable Portfolio/Electricity Standards and the federal Production Tax Credit and Investment Tax Credit, are swimming against the tide,” noted Bossong, executive director of the SUN DAY Campaign. “With renewable energy’s clear track record of success and the ever-worsening threat of climate change, now is not the time to pull back from these technologies but rather to greatly expand investments in them.”

Today renewable energy sources now account for 17.05 percent of total installed operating generating capacity in the country: water – 8.55 percent, wind – 5.74 percent, biomass – 1.38 percent, solar – 1.05 percent, and geothermal steam – 0.33 percent (for comparison, renewables were 13.71 percent of capacity in December 2010 – the first month for which FERC issued an “Energy Infrastructure Update”).

For renewable energy supporters, what may be the best news: renewable energy capacity is now greater than that of nuclear (9.14%) and oil (3.92%) combined. In fact, the installed capacity of wind power alone has now surpassed that of oil. In addition, total installed operating generating capacity from solar has now reached and surpassed the one-percent threshold – a ten-fold increase since December 2010.

AWEA: Prez Candidates Must Back Wind

During WINDPOWER 2015 this week, new American Wind Energy Association (AWEA) Board Chair Mike Garland declared that it is time for the wind industry to start flexing its muscle.

“From the smallest companies to the largest, we have a shared responsibility to make this vision a reality,” said Garland, president and CEO of Pattern Energy. “Everyone in this industry needs to demand a five-year PTC.” The Production Tax Credit (PTC) is the primary federal incentive for building more new wind farms.

windpower-2015-logoAccording to AWEA, the cost of wind power has declined over 58 percent in just five years, but to meet the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) Wind Vision will require a long-term stable policy environment that allows for a continued downward trajectory of wind’s costs.

Garland noted that Jeb Bush, former governor of Florida and potential presidential candidate, has already come out in favor of a multi-year extension of the PTC, and that “it’s the industry’s job to make sure other candidates do the same”.

“What we do now will determine our success for years to come,” said Garland. “Let’s do our part and remind everyone that wind energy helps everyone, that wind is American’s clean, domestic and cheap fuel.”

Garland called on companies big and small to help the industry stay on track to meet the scenarios laid out in the DOE Wind Vision report released earlier this year. That starts with American wind power doubling from where it is today to 10 percent of the U.S. electricity mix by 2020, 20 percent by 2030 and become one of the leading sources of electricity by 2050.

Expanding on Garland’s comments were six other leading wind industry executives, including Chris Brown, president of Vestas. “For us, it’s pretty simple. We want to be the undisputed global wind leader. Full stop. It’s about one thing. Least cost of energy. We’re economic against a lot of forms of energy in most of the parts of the country. If we continue to drive that, we don’t become a political story, we become an economic story.”

Advanced Wind Turbines to Soar Higher

U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) Secretary Ernest Moniz gave an engaging presentation during the WINDPOWER 2015 Conference and Exhibition taking place in Orlando, Florida. He noted that new wind resource maps are showing the ability for advanced wind turbines to reach stronger winds higher above the ground, unlocking a previously untapped wind resource area that the DOE believes could eventually bring wind energy development to every state in America.

Moniz delivered highlights from the new report “Enabling Wind Power NationwideEnabling-Wind-Power-Nationwide-Cover,” which explains how new wind turbine designs are putting one of America’s largest domestic energy resources to use – the strong, consistent winds that can be found high above the ground in nearly all parts of the country.

“Wind generation has more than tripled in the United States in just six years, exceeding 4.5 percent of total generation, and we are focused on expanding its clean power potential to every state in the country,” said Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz. “By producing the next generation of larger and more efficient wind turbines, we can create thousands of new jobs and reduce greenhouse gas emissions, as we fully unlock wind power as a critical national resource.”

The Enabling Wind Power Nationwide report builds upon the DOE’s Wind Vision: A New Era for Wind Power report released this past March, which shows wind energy can become one of America’s top electricity sources, and save consumers money while doing so.

American Wind Energy Association (AWEA) CEO Tom Kiernan was quick to applaud the Secretary’s remarks, pointing out just a few of the ways Americans stand to benefit. “This report is great news for consumers, job-seekers, rural communities and many others in these states that have yet to fully benefit from American wind power,” said Kiernan. “Wind turbine technology has advanced in just a few decades from the Model T era to more like that of a Tesla Model S. Advanced towers, blades and improved electronics to operate and maintain the turbines are all part of this revolution.” Continue reading

Sen Udall & Friends Unveil National RES Bill

U.S. Senators Tom Udall (D-NM) and friends, Edward Markey (D-MA), Martin Heinrich (D-NM), Michael Bennet (D-CO), Jeff Merkley (D-OR), Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) and Mazie K. Hirono (D-Hawaii) has introduced a national Renewable Electricity Standard (RES) they say will pump nearly $300 billion into the economy while combating climate change. The bill would require utilities to generate 30 percent of their electricity from renewable energy sources by 2030.

New Mexico Senator Tom Udall“A national Renewable Electricity Standard will help slow utility rate increases and boost private investment in states like New Mexico – all while combating climate change,” said Udall, who helped pass RES legislation through the U.S. House of Representatives and has continued to champion the issue as senator. “Investing in homegrown clean energy jobs just makes sense, and that’s why I’m continuing my fight for a national RES. More than half the states – including New Mexico – have widely successful RES policies, and it’s time to go all in. I’ve long pushed for a ‘do it all, do it right’ energy policy, and a RES will help us get there.”

If passed, the federal legislation would create the first national threshold for utilities to provide a certain percentage of their electricity from renewable resources, including wind, solar, biomass and others. It would set an 8 percent requirement by 2016, followed by gradual increases to meet the 30 percent by 2030 goal. More than half of the states already have renewable generation standards with specific timelines and target standards, and the legislation would not preempt stronger standards already implemented by states.

“Our record droughts, burning forests, dying fish, and melting icecaps all point to the urgency of taking on climate change,” said Merkley. “The only answer is burning less fossil fuel and moving toward renewable energy. Senator Udall’s bill would accelerate that transition and is a key to saving both our economy and our environment from the ravages of climate change.” Continue reading

Hawaii to Become 100% Renewable by 2045

Hawaii is the first state in the U.S. to pass legislation that will require 100 percent of all energy to sourced from renewable energy by 2045. Lawmakers voted 74-2 in favor of House Bill 623 requiring all electricity to be generated from clean sources such as wind, solar, and geothermal.

gI_59670_100 percent trend chart May15 sz800The measure, if enacted by Governor David Ige, would make Hawaii the first state in the nation with such a 100 percent renewable energy standard. Blue Planet Foundation, whose mission is to clear the path for 100% renewable energy, praised the move.

“As the first state to move toward 100% renewable energy, Hawaii is raising the bar for the rest of the country,” said Rep. Chris Lee, the Chairman of the House Energy and Environmental Protection Committee and introducer of HB 623. “Local renewable projects are already cheaper than liquid natural gas and oil, and our progress toward meeting our renewable energy standards has already saved local residents hundreds of millions on their electric bills. Moving to 100% renewable energy will do more to reduce energy prices for local residents in the long term than almost anything else we could do.”

Senator Gabbard, Chair of the Senate Energy and Environment Committee and a champion of the measure in the Senate, shares the sentiment. “With this bill, we’ll now be the most populated set of islands in the world with an independent grid to establish a 100% renewable electricity goal,” said Sen. Gabbard. “Through this process of transformation Hawaii can be the model that other states and even nations follow. And we’ll achieve the biggest energy turnaround in the country, going from 90% dependence on fossil fuels to 100% clean energy.”

House Bill 623 also increases the interim requirement to 30 percent renewable by 2020. Last year, Hawaii generated about 22 percent of its electricity from renewable resources. Continue reading

Vaisala Launches Nomad 3 for Wind Data

Vaisala has launched the Nomad 3 Data Logger, a flexible and highly portable data management device that makes wind measurement easier and more economical for developers and operators around the globe says the company. With intermittent issues around wind energy, early siting and ongoing investment and operational decisions are based on wind resource data and have a direct link to success of a wind project.

Vaisala wind data loggerAccording to Vaisala, current data loggers on the market are difficult to install and operate. They also cite current data technologies often fall short when it comes to performance in rough, remote locations and cross-compatibility with broad range wind measurement sensors employed throughout the renewable energy industry.

The Nomad 3 Data logger has been widely tested and the company’s first data logger was developed back in 1981. The new device, however, has been completely re-engineered with the current challenges of developers and operators in mind. According to the company, the Nomad 3 offers a Linux operating system, and a smaller, lighter design while remaining incredibly flexible and straightforward to use. It is compatible with all market-leading wind sensors, and is ideally suited for hard to reach regions of emerging markets like South America, Asia, and Africa, since it can be conveniently carried in a backpack to sites without road access.

The Nomad 3 Data logger also features wireless connectivity and Vaisala’s SkyServe wind data management service – a secure web portal that offers a range of fleet management tools. Online operating systems also make it accessible to any web-enabled device, such as a smartphone, tablet, or computer.

A number of partners and government laboratories have already started using the Nomad 3 as beta clients at locations around the world. These include: NIWE (India’s National Institute of Wind Energy formerly known as C-WET), Saiwind, and WISE Information Sentinel.

SheerWind Licenses Wind Tech in Denmark

SheerWind Inc. has signed a licensing agreement that will allow its technology to be marketed and deployed in Denmark. The agreement will allow wind-power developer E-Venturi to introduce SheerWind’s INVELOX wind delivery system. The first pilot project is expected to be built in Denmark before the end of the year.

INVELOX the New Face of Wind Power (PRNewsFoto/SheerWind)

INVELOX the New Face of Wind Power (PRNewsFoto/SheerWind)

E-Venturi, based in Slagelse, Denmark, will be the first company to market SheerWind’s technology in Europe. Denmark leads the world in wind energy penetration, with 39.1 percent of its electrical consumption coming from wind power. The Danish government plans to quadruple wind power production by 2050 and is pursuing a goal of complete independence from fossil fuels.

“We are thrilled to have the world’s wind leader distributing our technology. This is incredible validation of our technology and we look forward to a prosperous relationship that benefits both our countries for years to come,” said George Manos, the president of SheerWind.

According to SheerWind, the INVELOX technology is a cost-effective, high-performance alternative to conventional wind technology. The system uses no above-ground propellers. Rather, it employs a funnel-driven system that captures the wind and brings it to ground-level power turbines and rotors for safer, easier and cheaper operation and maintenance. The technology is safe for humans and wildlife, requires less maintenance than conventional wind systems, and produces more electricity per dollar invested than conventional systems, adds SheerWind.

“Denmark has a long history of introducing ground-breaking wind technology, and we are pleased to continue that tradition by making available within our company SheerWind’s better way to harvest wind energy,” added Lars Lindebjerg Peterson, the CEO of E-Venturi. “We plan to market this innovative solution to some of the world’s leaders in renewable and environmental advancements, and expect it to aid Denmark in reaching its renewable energy goals.”

DOE’s Moniz to Speak at WINDPOWER 2015

For the first time, U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) Secretary Ernest Moniz will speaking at WINDPOWER, the largest wind industry event in the U.S. The annual conference and expo is hosted by the American Wind Energy Association (AWEA) and will be held this year in Orlando, Florida May 18-21, 2015.

Secretary Moniz will speak during the Welcome & Opening General Session on Tuesday, May 19, starting at 8:30 am. He is expected to discuss Wind Vision, the DOE’s definitive new report that shows how wind energy can create ample economic, environmental and health benefits and DOE Secretary Ernst Monizcontinue to provide key contributions to the nation’s energy portfolio. He will also explore advancements in wind turbine technology that could open up economic wind opportunities in many parts of the country.

Doug Greenholz, President of IKEA Property Inc., also confirmed he will be speaking during the Welcome & Opening General Session. Greenholz manages IKEA’s 40 existing stores and support units in the U.S. He is expected to talk about IKEA’s investment in U.S. wind farms and wind energy across the globe. The company announced late last year the purchase of a 165-megawatt Texas wind farm, the single largest renewable energy investment made by the company ever. The company is one of many to recognize the benefits of stably-priced, affordable wind power in recent years.

Click here for more information and to register.

EWEA Welcomes ETS Reform, Carbon Reserve Goals

The EU-28 Member States and the European Parliament have agreed to introduce a market stability reserve in 2019 to tackle a glut of over 2 billion excess permits in the Emissions Trading System (ETS). At hearing the news, the European Windy Energy Association welcomed the move made between lawmakers to reform the ETS before 2021.

ewea-logoAccording to EWEA, the surplus of allowances is currently suppressing the carbon price and failing to hold Europe’s worst polluters to account over their emissions.

Policymakers have also agreed to transfer the backloaded and unallocated allowances into the market stability reserve before they flood the market at the end of the decade. The number of these allowances could be as high as 1.7 billion according to analyst estimates.

Ivan Pineda, Director of Public Affairs at the European Wind Energy Association, said, “The start date of 2019 shows that Member States are prepared to compromise. It is also pleasing to see that a substantial number of excess allowances will not be returning to the market and will instead go directly into the reserve. But we have to acknowledge that Member States and the Parliament could have been far more ambitious in the shake-up of the carbon market and that much more comprehensive reform is needed in order for this instrument to provide a meaningful signal to investors.”

Pattern Energy Kicks off Amazon Wind Farm Project

Pattern Energy Group has announced the closing of financing on the 150 MW Amazon Wind Farm (Fowler Ridge) and construction is in full swing. The project is located in Benton County, Indiana and has entered into a 13-year PPA with Amazon to supply electricity to the grids that service Amazon Web Services datacenters. Upon completion, the Amazon Wind Farm project is expected to generate approximately 500,000 megawatt hours (MWh) of wind power annually.

“The Amazon Wind Farm project has successfully closed financing and is moving ahead on schedule,” said President and CEO of Pattern Development, Mike Garland. “We look forward to helping Amazon power its customers’ businesses with domestic clean energy harnessed from the winds of Indiana. We are now working with Amazon, Google and Walmart, demonstrating that America’s leading corporations are increasingly investing in, or buying power from, non-polluting energy sources like wind power. We see this growing trend driving the development of more new projects.”

AmazonPatternThe Amazon Wind Farm (Fowler Ridge) project will be comprised of 65 Siemens 2.3 MW turbines with ‘Made in America’ components. The turbine blades are being manufactured at the Siemens factory in Ft. Madison, Iowa and the nacelles are being assembled at the Siemens facility in Hutchinson, Kansas. The turbine towers will be sourced from Michigan and Wisconsin. Transformers for the project will be manufactured at the Siemens facility in Richland, Mississippi.

“Siemens is proud that our ‘Made in America’ wind components will be used at the Amazon Wind Farm. Wind power is an increasingly important part of our nation’s energy mix, and this project is part of a growing trend we see in the U.S. of technology companies and leading corporations investing in wind power,” said Jacob Andersen, CEO Onshore Americas, Siemens Wind Power and Renewables Division. “Our goal is to provide the most efficient and reliable equipment to ensure that wind energy is both sustainable and affordable. We’re pleased to continue our long relationship with Pattern Development and Pattern Energy, and Siemens technicians will work to ensure optimal performance of this equipment.”