Report: Wind Energy Reduces GHG Emissions

Environment America has released the new report, “Wind Power for a Cleaner America: Reducing Global Warming Pollution, Cutting Air Pollution and Saving Water,” detailing how current power generation from wind energy prevents as much global warming pollution as taking 13 million cars off the road each year. With the Production Tax Credit (PTC) quickly reaching its expiration date, Environment America is urging Congress to extend the federal incentives for wind power. In addition to the PTC, they are also encouraging the offshore wind investment tax credit (ITC) be renewed as well.

“Our message to Congress is clear: Don’t throw wind power off the fiscal cliff,” said Courtney Abrams, Clean Energy Advocate for Environment America. “Our clean air, water, and children’s future are too important to blow it now.”

In light of the results of the report, several U.S. Senators who support wind energy offered comments. U.S. Senator Mark Udall, whose bill to repeal the clause that prevented the U.S. military from pursuing aviation biofuels was passed by the Senate, said, “Extending the wind Production Tax Credit is one of the most straightforward ways we can support clean, Made-in-America energy and American manufacturing jobs. We need the PTC to help create more good-paying jobs here at home, including jobs for our veterans who are transitioning from the military into the civilian workforce. The wind PTC is also a commonsense way to support clean energy and to reduce our carbon emissions. It is critical that Congress extend the PTC ASAP and support clean, renewable wind energy.”

U.S. Sen. Frank R. Lautenberg (D-N.J.), a member of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, noted, “Wind energy is a win for the economy, a win for the environment, and a win for New Jersey. We will continue fighting in Congress to extend the wind production tax credit and support the kind of energy development that is needed to create jobs, clean up the air our children breathe, and move America to a clean energy future.”

The report sites one advantage of wind is that it saves water. Continue reading

EU Parliament Budgets €6 Billion for Clean Energy

The European Parliament’s Energy and Research Committee (ITRE) voted to allocate 6 billion Euros to clean energy research. This is nearly two-thirds of the entire energy research budget, of 80 billion Euros, to cover renewables, energy efficiency, smart grids, and storage.

“MEPs have understood how crucial wind energy and other renewables are to the EU’s economic growth, technology leadership, fighting climate change, and that sufficient R&D funding is essential to further their development in line with the EU’s climate and renewable energy priorities,” noted Vilma Radvilaite, Regulatory Affairs Advisor at the European Wind Energy Association (EWEA).

“With 75% of its energy funding going to renewables, energy efficiency, smart grid and storage technologies and an additional 15% going to the Intelligent Energy Europe Programme, Horizon 2020 gives a real boost to green growth,” she added.

The ITRE Committee also made a specific commitment to the development of wind energy research with the agreement that they would create a separate budget line for wind energy and other Strategic Energy Technology Plan technologies. The Horizon 2020 R&D program is set to run between 2014-2020 but needs to be presented to the European Council for approval.

EC: Save Carbon Trading System; Need Key Actions

The European Wind Energy Association (EWEA) has been busy promoting wind energy throughout the European Union (EU). Last week, the European Commission identified key actions to develop the internal energy market by 2014 that included the phasing-out of regulated electricity prices and the Commission was also critical of capacity payments. In addition, the proposal lacks further development of the internal energy market after 2014.

But EWEA says these actions do not go far enough as both regulated prices and capacity payments are major obstacles to a properly functioning EU energy market. “Regulated prices, fossil fuel and nuclear subsidies, market concentration and lack of market transparency are the main problems that need to be tackled urgently. The communication focuses too much on renewable energy support mechanisms and not enough on the most critical distortions,” explained Paul Wilczek, EWEA Senior Regulatory Affairs Advisor.

Wilczek says the European Commission is right to be critical of capacity payments, which are a disincentive to invest in urgently needed grid infrastructure and create another distortion to the energy market, and also adds that the European wind industry is very strongly in favour of a single market in electricity and has been critical of the slow progress towards it.

Last week the European Commission also published “structural measures” that called for “backloading” of emission allowances. EWEA says this is needed to stop the massive oversupply of emission allowances and to re-establish confidence in the EU Emissions Trading System (EU ETS). Stéphane Bourgeois, Head of Regulatory Affairs for EWEA added that while it is a necessary first step, it will only delay and not solve the structural problem of oversupply in the ETS and a structural solution must be agreed or the carbon price will not recover. Continue reading

2012 State-by-State Resource for Renewable Energy

The American Council on Renewable Energy (ACORE) has released its 2012 Renewable Energy in the 50 States, an online, interactive resource. The report compiles updated financial data, resource potentials, market, and policy information for the renewable energy sector for all 50 U.S. states.

In 2011, the total installed base of renewable electricity exceeded 145 GW in the United States, with more than 67 GW from non-hydropower sources, according to the report. Every region in the country experienced growth in the 2011-2012 period, from new wind farms in the Midwest, advanced biofuel facilities in the Southeast, solar farms in the West, to hydropower facility improvements in the Northeast. Washington, California and Texas led the way in cumulative renewable power capacity, while Iowa, Nebraska and Illinois were the leaders in renewable fuels capacity.

According to the report, several market drivers of renewable energy included renewable energy targets in 29 states plus Washington, D.C., and several state production incentives. Legislation, along with incentives, have encourage manufactures, developers and end users to invest in and use renewable energy.

However, even as some states are passing new and expanded support structures, others face the scaling back of important incentives. Such actions, coupled with reduced federal support (the Production Tax Credit for wind energy is set to expire on December 31, 2012), could stifle once booming state markets. As a result, ACORE is calling on renewable energy proponents throughout the country to increase renewable energy education with a focus on economic, environmental and health benefits.

Energy Research Centre Blesses ZephIR 300

The Energy Research Centre for the Netherlands (ECN) has completed a 12 month offshore measurement campaign with the ZephIR 300 system as part of a four year campaign within the Dutch project “Meteorological Research Wind at Sea” where the ZephIR has been compared against the 108 metre Met Mast Ijmuiden (MMIJM) at the ECN Wind Turbine test facility EWTW. During a 60 week continuous period, the ZephIR was measured at over 98 percent, with the only period of unavailability being attributed to a mast power supply failure from which the ZephIR was being powered.

The data from the tests has been delivered to the wind energy industry on behalf of the Netherlands Ministry of Economic Affairs, Agriculture and Innovation. ECN’s initial conclusion is that ZephIR can be considered as a valid stand-alone system for wind resource assessments, especially given the industry’s tendency towards higher hub heights.

ECN’s Wind Energy Coordinator of Experiments & Measurements, Henk Oostrum noted, “ZephIR is very capable of providing high quality, 10 minute average wind speed and direction data at all heights well above traditional tall mast heights. Correlation is excellent to our IEC compliant mast and site. ZephIR can therefore be considered, in our initial opinion, to be used in a stand-alone application for wind resource measurements.”

Measurements at the EWTW and MMIJM are in accordance with IEC 61400-12. All masts are equipped with Thies class 1 cup anemometers and wind vanes as well as WindSensor p2456a cup anemometers. All calibrations are performed in a MEASNET approved wind tunnel and are covered by ISO 17025 ILAC accreditation.

“This is an exciting development in the ZephIR program – we never imagined that we would actually be operating within a met mast structure,” said Ian Locker, MD at Zephir Ltd. “The work that ECN has done independently, and now publicly, verifies not only the excellent core performance of ZephIR compared to a mast but also the ability to be deployed in this unique way. In both onshore and offshore applications, ZephIR has been proven to operate in a stand-alone manner providing finance-grade wind measurements for the progression of wind farm development and on-going performance analysis and optimisation.”

Grassley: Wind Tax Credit Could Be Part of Deal

The extension of the wind energy tax credit could come this year, but it might be part of a bigger deal of tax reform. Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-IA), who holds positions on the Senate’s Budget, Finance and Ag Committees, says it will be a fight.

“I think now the argument ought to be, ‘Why would you sort wind out of all the other energy tax credits that are in the bill that came out of the Senate Finance Committee?’ Hopefully, they won’t find a reason to separate it and make an exception for wind,” he said during a news conference, pointing out there are 60 extenders in the tax bill.

Grassley said it could be part of a deal to get a whole package through. “There could be a decision made between [House Speaker John] Boehner and the President that we ought to put this all off until next year. If that happens, then everything that sunsets January first will be extended into next year, I’d say, for at least six months. Then, use that for… more tax reform of the tax code, generally.”

The senator added that a five-year extension is probably not doable, but this deal, backed by a bipartisan coalition of governors, is just for one year.

Listen to Sen. Grassley’s comments about the wind energy tax credit: Sen. Chuck Grassley

Vidaris Expands Renewable Energy Division

Vidaris Inc. has expanded its Vadaris Renewable Energy Division to address the growing demand for renewable energy solutions. The company’s industry list includes solar photovoltaic, building-integrated building-integrated photovoltaic, building-applied photovoltaic, wind, and solar thermal integrated technologies. More specifically, the company has expertise in renewable energy systems including solar photovoltaic, BIPV, BAPV, wind, and solar thermal systems for both new construction projects and existing building upgrades.

The company provides clients with an independent, third-party advisor to evaluate project opportunities and assist in the design, integration and implementation of renewable energy technologies.

“Our Renewable Energy Division enables clients to strategically navigate the renewable energy marketplace and take advantage of the many benefits renewable energy offers to building value,” concluded John Hannum, PE, VP of Energy Services.

Let Production Tax Credit Expire

A new report has been released from the Texas Public Policy Foundation analysts Bill Peacock and Josiah Neely reviewing the impact of the Production Tax Credit (PTC) for wind energy.  According to The Cost of the Production Tax Credit and Renewable Energy Subsidies in Texas, the PTC’s current annual cost in Texas alone is nearly $567 million. If the PTC continues, the cost of the tax credit would run about $4.1 billion through the 10 years ending in 2015.

“The continuation of the Production Tax Credit will cause more disruption in electricity markets and impose higher costs on consumers and taxpayers,” said Bill Peacock, the Foundation’s Vice President of Research and Director of the Center for Economic Freedom. “The negative consequences of the Production Tax Credit are even more apparent in Texas, as it has more wind-generated electricity than any other state.”

For wind producers in Texas there are several programs to aid in development: the PTC, Renewable Energy Credits (RECs) under the state’s Renewable Portfolio Standard, federal grants as part of the 2009 stimulus bill and access to transmission through the Competitive Renewable Energy Zone (CREZ) program. When combined, the programs will cost taxpayers about $12.8 billion through 2015 and the cost of subsidies in the state are on the rise.

“Texas is undergoing a major debate over whether price signals are adequate to maintain resource adequacy,” said Josiah Neeley, policy analyst for the Foundation’s Armstrong Center for Energy and the Environment. “A significant portion of the problem with price signals can be directly attributed to the subsidies for wind generation, particularly the Production Tax Credit.”

Peacock added, “Electric competition is working in Texas; rather, it is government interference with the market led by the Production Tax Credit that is causing today’s concerns regarding reliability. Congress should allow the Production Tax Credit to expire. If not, consumers, taxpayers, and Texas’ world-class energy-only electricity market will pay the price.”

Recharge Gets WindMade Designation

The latest WindMade label designation has gone to Recharge, a news service focusing on renewable energy. The organization is now using 100 wind power to generate all of its power needs.

The WindMade label is backed by the UN Global Compact, WWF, Vestas and the Global Wind Energy Council. To be awarded the label, companies must obtain at least 25 percent of their electricity from wind power. Recharge dramatically exceeded this requirement with the generation of all power needs from wind energy.

“WindMade is set to play a key role in making sure that public support for wind energy translates into growing industry momentum, as more and more corporations see the benefits of using wind as their main energy source,” said Recharge Editor-in-Chief Ben Backwell. As a high profile media company, it is vital that we practice what we preach, and WindMade makes both commercial sense and fits in with our core values.”

Henrik Kuffner, WindMade’s CEO added, “Recharge is one of the most authoritative publications in the renewable energy sector, but the company’s commitment to renewables extends beyond journalism. We are proud to be awarding the WindMade label to Recharge’s UK operations, and look forward to a constructive partnership with this new member.”

Wind Turbines Weather Hurricane

The clean-up is in full swing on the east coast as a result of hurricane Sandy. The majority of people who lost power during the storm have had their electricity restored. Yet is there a better way to keep the lights on during a major weather event? Wind power might just be the answer. Several wind energy companies have said that their turbines, directly in the path of the hurricane remained operational and undamaged.

Northern Power Systems said 74 of its wind turbines remained standing, undamaged and performed safely. The turbines were designed that when each turbine detected high force winds, it automatically entered safe mode. When conditions returned to normal, each turbine began generating electricity again.

“The losses experienced from Hurricane Sandy are a tragic reminder of how powerful nature can be,” said Troy Patton, Northern Power Systems president and CEO. “Many of our turbines, from the Caribbean to the eastern seaboard of the US, were directly in the path of Hurricane Sandy, but none were damaged by the high winds. At Northern Power Systems, we have the experience and commitment to continue to make products that are safe and reliable.”

At the peak of energy outages, more than eight million people lost power. However, Capstone Turbine heard from its customers that its wind energy systems continued to operate seamlessly during and after the worst of the storm. Many of the buildings that did not lose power were integral to diaster relief efforts including the Salem Community College in Salem County, New Jersey that served as a Red Cross diaster relief. The college has three Capstone C65 microturbines that provide heating, cooling and emergency powered and they succeed in their charge.

“Users around the world continue to adopt Capstone microturbines because they want the high reliability and low emission benefits of our distributed generation products,” said Darren Jamison, Capstone president and Chief Executive Officer. “Hurricane Sandy is a tragedy that has had a terrible loss of life and property, but I’m proud of the performance of our Capstone product that successfully kept our customers in business during this crisis. It’s unfortunate that in many cases it takes a major event like this to get people to start to think differently about how to reliably deliver their energy needs and change traditional utility buying habits.”

To aid diaster relief efforts, visit the Red Cross website.