60% New Electricity Generation Renewable Power

Becoming a trend, renewable energy sources accounted for more 60.2 percent of the 7,276 of new electrical generation placed in service in the U.S. during the first three quarters of 2015. According to the latest “Energy Infrastructure Update” from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission’s (FERC) Office of Energy Projects, 26 new units of wind totaling 2,966 MW of new electrical generation have been placed in service so far this year. This accounted for 40.76 percent of all new capacity brought online year-to-date.  Among renewable sources, solar followed with 1,137 MW (142 units), biomass with 205 MW (16 units), geothermal steam with 45 MW (1 unit), and hydropower with 27 MW (18 units). Thirty-four units of natural gas contributed 2,884 MW.

wind power in Iowa

Photo Credit: Joanna Schroeder

Only 9 MW of new generation from oil and 3 MW from coal were put into production and there was no new capacity from nuclear power. In total, new capacity from renewable energy sources so far this year is 1,460 times greater than that from coal while new capacity from wind alone exceeds that from natural gas. In just September, wind (448 MW) again dominated, with 54.83 percent of new capacity followed by natural gas (346 MW), and solar (20 MW).

Renewable energy sources now account for 17.40 percent of total installed operating generating capacity in the U.S.: water – 8.59 percent, wind – 5.91 percent, biomass – 1.43 percent, solar – 1.13 percent, and geothermal steam – 0.34 percent (for comparison, renewables were 16.35 percent of capacity in September 2014 and 15.68 percent in September 2013). The share of total installed capacity from solar alone has more than doubled over the past two years (1.13% vs. 0.54%). Total installed capacity from non-hydro renewables (8.81%) now exceeds that from conventional hydropower (8.59%).

“With Congress and numerous states now questioning the ability of renewable energy sources to meet targets called for in the Administration’s new Clean Power Plan (CPP), the explosive growth of wind, solar, biomass, hydropower, and geothermal in recent years confirms that it can be done,” noted Ken Bossong, executive director of the SUN DAY Campaign. “In fact, the latest FERC data suggest that the CPP’s goals are unduly modest and renewables will handily surpass them.”

Rethink Energy NJ Launched

A new poll has found that nearly 80 percent of New Jerseyans believe the state should invest in developing more renewable energy sources such as wind and solar. Majority support was found across all political parties and all demographic groups. However, the poll reported that 62 percent of New Jerseyans think the pace at which the state is developing and adopting renewable alternatives is too slow. The poll was conducted by Fairleigh Dickinson University’s (FDU) PublicMind for the New Jersey Conservation Foundation.

rethink-rectangle-600x240_without_URLIn tandem with the poll results, a new campaign has been launched called “Rethink Energy NJ”. The goal of the initiative is to inform citizens about the need for a swift transition to clean energy and a move away from fossil fuel reliance. Campaign supporters include the New Jersey Conservation Foundation, Stony Brook-Millstone Watershed Association and Pinelands Preservation Alliance.

“Investing in renewable energy is a win-win for both our environment and economy,” said Tom Gilbert, campaign director for New Jersey Conservation Foundation and Rethink Energy NJ. “Developing clean energy sources like solar and wind will reduce emissions that contribute to climate change and threaten our health, while creating jobs. This is a better path forward for New Jersey than the multitude of fossil fuel pipelines proposed that threaten preserved lands, our air and water, and our communities.”

The poll indicates that 77 percent of respondents are very or somewhat concerned with climate change in New Jersey. Eighty percent favor setting a goal of having 30 percent of the state’s energy coming from renewable sources such as wind and solar by 2020. That is higher than the State’s current 22 percent target. Similarly, 78 percent favor a bill requiring a target of 80 percent by 2050.

The poll also explored public opinion on proposed fossil fuel projects affecting New Jersey. One finding: New Jerseyans favor renewable energy investment over natural gas pipeline investment by a nearly two to one margin. In addition, most respondents are very or somewhat concerned with the impact of pipelines in the state.

Former Gov. Tom Kean said of the findings, “I am pleased to see the launch of this important new campaign, Rethink Energy NJ, to help educate the public and decision makers regarding the need for much greater scrutiny of new pipelines or fossil fuel infrastructure, and the urgent need to move forward with clean, renewable sources of energy and energy efficiency.”

AWEA Report: Wind Energy Momentum Continues

The momentum of wind power in the U.S. has continued through the third quarter and continues to post strong numbers. This according to the new U.S. Wind Industry Third Quarter 2015 Market Report released by the American Wind Energy Association (AWEA). More than 1,600 MW of new wind capacity was installed during Q3 increasing the yearly total to more than 3,600 MW installed.

Wind_works_fb_final (2)The top states with wind power capacity additions include Texas with 771 MW, Oklahoma with 398 MW, Kansas with 201 MW and Illinois with 175 MW. This quarter Kansas has jumped to 6th place and is continuing to build additional capacity. The industry is seeing stronger market activity as compared to this time last year, and given the construction activity in Iowa, the state is on pace to surpass California and become the second-ranked state behind Texas in installed capacity by the end of this year.

“We are on the cusp of greatness,” said Tom Kiernan, CEO of AWEA. “There are over $20 billion worth of wind farms under construction right now, creating well-paying jobs and spurring economic development in rural communities across the country. This growth is in jeopardy however, as continued policy uncertainty could throw the wind industry off yet another economic cliff.”

Despite the growth in the industry, there still remains uncertainty. While the U.S. Senate Finance Committee voted in May to pass the tax extenders package that included the extension of the Production Tax Credit and Investment Tax Credit, it has yet to be passed by Congress. Wind projects currently under construction are due to in part to the construction extension of the Production Tax Credit that occurred at the end of 2014.

In 2015, the wind industry has installed more than double the MW installed during this time frame in 2014. There is now over 69,470 MW of installed wind capacity across the U.S. – edging closer to the 70 gigawatt (GW) threshold. A near-record of more than 13,250 MW of wind capacity is under construction in the U.S., with an additional 4,100 MW in advanced stages of development.

Listen to the press conference here: U.S. Wind Industry 3rd Quarter Report Launch

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P&G to Meet Power Demands with 100% Wind

Proctor & Gamble (P&G) made an announcement this week when they committed to meet 100 percent of its electricity demands with wind power. The company has developed a partnership with EDF Renewable Energy (EDF RE) that includes the development of a 370,000 MWh wind farm in Cooke County, Texas expected to be online by December 2016. The Tyler Bluff Wind Project will produce enough energy to meet all power demands for their North American Fabric and Home care plants where globally brands including Tide, Gain, Downy, Dawn, Cascade, Febreze and Mr. Clean are manufactured.

wideshotpinwheels_webThe announcement was made in conjunction with P&G’s signing of the American Business Act on Climate Pledge where they pledged to achieve 30 percent renewable energy to power its plants globally by 2020 with a longer-term vision of all facilities being 100 percent renewable energy powered.

Speaking about the project Shailesh Jejurikar, North America Fabric Care President, P&G, said, “I am delighted that our collaboration with EDF RE continues to provide our consumers with their favorite, high performing brands while reducing our environmental footprint. At P&G, when it comes to sustainability, actions speak louder than words and this move is a significant milestone in delivering that promise. It is incredible that the wind farm will generate enough electricity for all our P&G Fabric and Home Care plants; to put that in context: This is enough electricity to wash a million loads of laundry.”

The electricity consumption of the plants makes up about half of their total energy consumption, and this electricity will be exclusively generated by wind power. The plants will continue to use natural gas for process heating and comfort heating during winter.

To celebrate the scale of the collaboration, P&G Fabric & Home Care and EDF RE have constructed a mini-wind farm in Washington DC. The installation is placed on the lawn in front of the Capitol Building and is made up of thousands of spinning pinwheels.

Massachusetts Most Energy Efficient US State

Massachuesetts has edged out California as the most energy efficient state in the U.S. according to the ninth annual State Energy Efficiency Scorecard. Several states continue to improve their scores including California, Maryland, Illinois, Texas and Washington D.C. The report is published by the American Council for an Energy Efficient Economy (ACEEE) with support from the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE).

2015-map-640ACEEE Executive Director Steve Nadel said of this year’s findings, “As states move to frame their plans under the federal Clean Power Plan this year marks a tipping point for energy efficiency. State policies are increasingly encouraging utilities to invest in cost-effective efficiency, prompting them to adopt new business models that align their interests with those of customers and policymakers. We can see this taking hold in the 20 states that improved their Scorecard rank in 2015. Utilities across the United States invested more than $7 billion in energy efficiency over the past year alone.”

Some key finding of the 2015 State Scorecard include:

  • The top 10 states for energy efficiency are Massachusetts, California, Vermont, Rhode Island, Oregon, Connecticut, Maryland, Washington, and New York, with Minnesota and Illinois tied for 10th place. Massachusetts retains the top spot for the fifth consecutive year based on a strong commitment to energy efficiency under its Green Communities Act.
  • A solid 20 states rose in the State Scorecard rankings. California, a leading state, is also one of the most improved states this year. Maryland, Illinois, the District of Columbia, and Texas also deserve recognition for improvement over the past year.
  • Overall, 16 states fell in the rankings this year, due to such factors as policy or program rollbacks or failure to keep pace as other states expanded efficiency efforts. The five states most in need of improvement (starting with dead last) are: North Dakota, Wyoming, South Dakota, Louisiana, and Mississippi, although new efficiency programs in Louisiana and Mississippi mean these states may not be in the bottom for much longer. While not in the bottom five states, New Mexico dropped the farthest in 2015, losing four points and falling six positions from 25th to 31st in the rankings. This is due in part to the state’s failure to adopt energy building codes beyond the 2009 requirements.

Another key finding: Savings from electricity efficiency programs in 2014 totaled approximately 25.7 million megawatt-hours (MWh), a 5.8% increase over last year. These savings are equivalent to about 0.7% of total retail electricity sales across the nation in 2014. Gas savings for 2014 were reported at 374 million therms (MMTherms), a 35% increase over 2013. Click here to read the full report.

Global Wind Atlas Offers Comprehensive Data

A new free resource has been launched that provides detailed data and statistics on global wind energy potential. Provided by the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) and the Technical University of Denmark (DTU), the Global Wind Atlas, provides wind resource data at one-kilometre resolution; whereas, in the past the best data was at 10-kilometres.

GWA pocket screenshot2“Wind energy potential across the globe is vast, but the upfront costs of measuring potential and determining the best locations for projects is an obstacle in many countries,” said IRENA Director-General Adnan Z. Amin. “The new Global Wind Atlas provides this needed data directly and for free, making it a ground-breaking tool to help jumpstart wind energy development worldwide.”

The Wind Atlas is the latest offering as part of the Global Atlas, a renewable energy mapping tool. The organization explains that the dataset uses microscale modeling to capture wind speed variability on small scales, allowing for better estimates. For example, when locating wind farms, developers naturally pick areas with the highest wind speeds. In datasets that provide average wind speeds over large areas, the enhancement of wind speeds due to small scale features such as hills and ridges are not captured, making the resource appear weaker than it actually is. The Wind Atlas can prevent this underestimation, provide visual maps showing wind speeds at three different heights, and also provide tools to generate and export data and statistics such as wind roses and wind speed distributions over a chosen area.

Danish Minister for Energy, Utilities and Climate, Lars Christian Lilleholt, added, “The release of the Global Wind Atlas demonstrates the support of the international community to expand global renewable energy to address global climate change, increase electricity access and stimulate economic development,” said. Denmark, together with South Africa, has already developed the South African Wind Atlas and we have seen the value of the tool in the development of the wind energy sector.”

U.S. Census Fun Fact: Wind

Did you know that the first practical wind turbine generator dates back 74 years to 1941? It was then that Palmer Putnamof Vermont demonstrated his device. His 1.5 MW wind turbine had blades 66 feet in length, and in 700 hours of operation, produced nearly 300,000 kilowatt hours.

Innovators were working on wind turbines between the World Wars, mostly for rural areas in Canada and America where people had difficulty getting power. However, it was Putnam who realized that to generate more power, more efficiently, location and high wind speeds were vital. When searching for his ideal location, Putnam looked for wind speeds in excess of 30 mph. He also wanted to be able to supply alternating current to the grid without the losses incurred by converting direct current to alternative current.

According to his patent, he found his “advantageously exposed” location in that of Grandpa’s Knob, a 1976 foot high forested summit with a rocky base. During the winter of 1940-1941, workers built the 120 foot (36 meter) tower and turbine. The wind turbine featured just two steel blades, each weighing 7.5 tons each and were 66 feet (20 meters) long —bigger than the wings of all but a handful of bombers flying at the time. The turbine was designed to operate in wind velocities between 30 and 60 miles per hour and to withstand gusts stronger than 140 mph.

Today, there are more than 2,700 electric power generating facilities (i.e. wind farms) producing 4.1 million megawatt hours. Wind power now provides 4.5 percent of the U.S. electricity production. Siemens is building the world’s longest blade that is 74 meters long, nearly 243 feet, the length of an A-380 Airbus airplane,

IEA Releases Mid-Term Renewable Report

According to the International Energy Agency (EIA), renewable energy will represent the largest single source of electricity growth over the next five years. Pointing to the need to economically mitigate climate change and enhance energy security, the report calls on governments to reduce policy uncertainties that are creating barriers to development.

MT_Renew_MR_2015_Cover_HR“Renewables are poised to seize the crucial top spot in global power supply growth, but this is hardly time for complacency,” said IEA Executive Director Fatih Birol as he released the IEA’s Medium-Term Renewable Energy Market Report 2015 (MTRMR) at the G20 Energy Ministers Meeting held in Turkey. “Governments must remove the question marks over renewables if these technologies are to achieve their full potential, and put our energy system on a more secure, sustainable path.”

The Renewable Energy Mid-Term Market Report 2015 finds that renewable electricity emissions will exceed 700 GW and will account for nearly two-thirds of global power capacity additions. Non-hydro sources such as wind and solar will represent nearly half of the total global power capacity increase finds the report. Similarly, the Natural Resources Defense Council in a recent study also found wind and solar to be leading the way in renewable energy growth.

The share of renewable energy in global power generation will rise from 22 percent in 2013 to more than 26 percent in 2020. Also by 2020, the amount of global electricity generation coming from renewable energy will be higher than today’s combined electricity demand of China, India and Brazil.

The report says the geography of deployment will increasingly shift to emerging economies and developing countries, which will make up two-thirds of the renewable electricity expansion to 2020. China alone will account for nearly 40 percent of total renewable power capacity growth and requires almost one-third of new investment to 2020. Continue reading

EDF RE Completes 194 MW Wind Farm

Spinning Spur 3 delivers clean electricity to the towns of Georgetown and Garland in Texas. (Photo: Business Wire)

Spinning Spur 3 delivers clean electricity to the towns of Georgetown and Garland in Texas. (Photo: Business Wire)

EDF Renewable Energy’s (EDF RE) Spinning Spur 3 Wind Project located in Texas is now in operation. The 194 MW wind farm was completed three months ahead of schedule and the renewable electricity produced will feed into the CREZ (Competitive Renewable Energy Zone) transmission infrastructure and be sold to Georgetown Utility Systems and Garland Power & Light, two municipal utilities who signed long-term power purchase agreements. Spinning Spur 3 is located 50 miles west of Amarillo in Oldham County and consists of its 97 Vestas V-100 2 MW wind turbines.

“We are excited to have commenced commercial operation of the Spinning Spur 3 project, and would like thank the residents of Oldham County and surrounding areas for helping us reach this important milestone,” said Ryan Pfaff, executive vice president of EDF Renewable Energy. “We are also pleased to be working with Garland Power & Light and Georgetown Utility Systems to supply clean, competitively priced electricity to their customers for years to come.”

With the Spinning Spur 3 project in operation, the Group’s installed capacity in the state has now reached 1,066 MW through six wind energy projects.

NRDC Report: U.S. Energy Economy Healthy

America’s energy economy has never been better according to a new report, “A Tectonic Shift in America’s Energy Landscape,” from the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC). One key finding is that innovative energy saving techniques have enabled the country to more than double its economic productivity from oil, natural gas and electricity over the past 40 years. This means, finds the report, that energy efficiency has contributed more to meeting the country’s needs than all other resources combined.

Screen Shot 2015-10-13 at 11.00.06 AM“Although the nation’s energy news has trended from bad to worse for decades, we’ve seen a remarkable turnaround, much of it due to the huge and inexpensive resource of energy efficiency — getting more out of every energy dollar,” said Ralph Cavanagh, NRDC co-director of the energy program. “But you’d never know it from those who want to build the massive KXL pipeline, ratchet up oil and gas drilling, launch a nuclear renaissance or embrace an ‘all of the above’ energy policy.”

NRDC’s First Annual Energy and Environment Report, America’s (Amazingly) Good Energy News, is the product of a detailed, extensive analysis of recent government data that shows total U.S. energy use in 2012 was below the 1999 level even though the economy grew by more than 25 percent (adjusted for inflation) during that period. This result, shows the report, is that factories and businesses are producing substantially more products and value with less energy, the amount of gasoline per mile driven is down, and the cost of all energy services (from lighting to refrigeration) also has decreased.

“These energy reductions are saving hundreds of billions of dollars every year, helping U.S. workers and companies compete worldwide, and making our country more secure,” added Cavanagh.

The report notes that the amount of climate-warming carbon dioxide pollution also is down, putting the nation on track to meet President Obama’s emissions reduction target of 17 percent over the next seven years, though much more must be done, says NRDC, to avoid the worst effects of climate change.

Here is a snapshot of several of the report’s major findings: Continue reading