In his first major policy address since taking over at the Department of Energy, Dr. Ernest J. Moniz sought to explain the administration’s “all of the above” energy plan and answered critics who accuse Obama supporting natural gas development despite concerns that fracking contaminates air and water.
Obama’s climate action plan has strong support among Americans, according to a new poll, which shows majorities favor reducing carbon emissions from power plants, driving more fuel efficient cars and developing wind, solar and hydroelectric power.
The “London Array” off the coast of Great Britain is a massive wind farm, capable of powering 500,000 homes. But will such projects tip the scales enough for the UK to meet its renewable energy targets? The critics are gathering.
Despite having escaped this summer without rolling blackouts and the kind of heat we experienced last year, Texas is still dealing with the energy crunch issue. Luckily, our state is home to the nation’s largest wind power industry and it contains about a fifth of the country’s wind turbines. The Electric Reliability Grid of Texas (ERCOT), the Texas grid operator, announced that earlier this month wind throughout the state contributed 26 percent of the load on the grid, setting a new record…This is in addition to wind helping Texas avoid blackouts in February of last year, when a cold front proved too much for many traditional power plants.
A bipartisan coalition of governors has written to Congress to plead for the extension of the Production Tax Credit that has helped fuel the development of wind energy in the U.S..
The PTC, set to expire at the end of December, provides wind developers with a tax break that makes the business more profitable. Proponents say it’s needed to level the playing field for new energy, which must compete against subsidized fossil fuel industries like coal and natural gas.
You know that argument about how the U.S. can’t really impact greenhouse gases because they’re spiraling out of control in other developing nations like China and India?
It’s illogical on its face, but that’s not stopping fossil fuel interests from pushing this idea.
When will it be possible for the US to be powered mainly by clean, renewable energy?
This simple question, which could tell us so much about our national economic and health prospects, has been treated by many vested interests as nearly unanswerable. The fossil fuel and power industries, our federal and state governments have stressed, at various times and places, that it is ever-so hard to predict when the US could achieve a fully realized clean energy future.
Their characterization of the clean energy landscape as amorphous and unknowable has a basis in reality. The energy revolution faces many obstacles. There’s the fact that the US has three electricity grids (East, West and Texas grids) that will need updating to accept renewables. Accomplish that and you still have to deal with multiple government bodies that must move slinky-like in the same direction. That would be the federal government, the 50 state governments, the dizzying array of local, county and utility boards and entities. Permitting new energy already can be a nightmare even when all parties are trying to facilitate it.
The wind is whipping down the plains, challenging the view that renewable energy can play only a small role on the electricity grid, according to figures released today by the American Wind Energy Association.
AWEA’s annual report shows that five states received more than 10 percent of their electricity from wind in 2011:
$1 Trillion – Profits earned by the top five largest oil companies Exxon-Mobil, Chevron, ConocoPhillips and foreign-owned BP and Royal Dutch Shell came to nearly $1 trillion for the 10 years from 2001-2011.
$4 Billion – Total Annual US Subsidies to oil companies.
At the recent GreenBiz Forum in New York, I was surprised by an on-stage interview with Fred Bedore, an executive from Walmart. I’ve followed the greening of the retail giant fairly closely for years, so I wasn’t expecting a lot of new information from Bedore, Walmart’s Senior Director of Business Strategy and Sustainability.
In Washington, the loudest voices have the biggest pocketbooks. And they’re taking the US on a death march with fossil fuels.
Unlike most advanced nations, where green energy has taken firm root, the US tarries, only half-committed to new energy while guzzling more oil per capita than any other nation. We know this habit is unsustainable. It continues because oil is profitable. And Big Oil peels off some of its largesse to buy acquiescence from Washington.
That’s a crude, but accurate assessment. No pun intended.
Suntech, the Chinese solar panel maker with operations in the US and Europe, has won the Gigaton Prize for helping reduce carbon emissions worldwide through its solar installations.
Suntech, the world’s largest producer of silicon solar modules, was recognized for helping its customers and business partners save on carbon-pollution by using solar power. In October, the company reached a benchmark of 5 Gigawatts of cumulative installed solar power.
When the boys and girls of Spirit Lake, Iowa, load their backpacks for classes this fall, each child in grades 5 to 12 will be packing a lap top computer provided by the school district.
This bit of good fortune was funded by a special initiative. But it is not the first time Spirit Lake has stepped up to embrace new technology. In 1993 – when “renewable energy” was not widely discussed — it became the first school district in the nation to install a wind turbine, a move that has saved the district some $200,000 in energy costs.
When that pokey Wind World 250 KW turbine, financed by the state and a federal grant, was paid off, Spirit Lake put up another turbine, this one a hefty 750 KW NEGMicon, in 2001.
Senate leader Harry Reid said today that he would continue to push for a clean energy bill after Congress is back in session, but the shape of such a bill could not be prefigured because Democrats and Republicans would have to reconsider the issues.
“I don’t think we can define where we’re going to wind up because it’s a work in progress,” Reid said at a news conference on Tuesday.
A new Senate energy bill would not, however, contain a cap-and-trade provision, Reid said.
Speaking at the AREDAY conference in Aspen, Colo., this past weekend, Avatar filmmaker James Cameron addressed a key point on many minds, that with the current vacuum of national leadership, the U.S. appears in danger of slipping behind in the race to a clean energy economy
More importantly, Cameron said we have “just a few years” to begin an aggressive program to mitigate climate change or we risk paying a high price, economically and ecologically, he said, invoking what should be a motivator for everyone: our children’s future.
Texas A&M has created a lot of engineers and even more football fans. Now the school’s athletic department and licensing agents will be innovating in the energy field by creating Aggie Energy, a school-branded electricity service available in Texas, where most residents can choose their own power providers.
Can the Longhorns be far behind? In fact, they’re not. The University of Texas at Austin, an even bigger football powerhouse, has just announced that it too will be getting into the energy business with a similar plan. The proceeds of both programs will benefit the schools’ athletic programs, as well as academics and sustainability initiatives. (The Aggies say they’ll fund scholarships for Corps of Cadets. UT calls out sustainability initiatives in its announcement.)
California’s ambitious solar incentive program is basking in early success, despite the poor economy, according to a hopeful mid-course report.
Three years into a 10-year roll out, the California Solar Initiative (CSI), a component of Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger’s “Million Solar Roofs” plan, is already 42 percent of the way toward its state goals, according to a July 9 report to the legislature. That’s counting projects that are installed, holding reservations and in progress, according to collected data.
All told, California has more than 600 Megawatts of installed solar power connected to the grid at nearly 65,000 customer sites.
A U.S. government study released today shows that the Western grid can accommodate a large input from wind and solar operations without extensive and expensive upgrades.
With better coordination among utilities using the grid serving states in the mountain west and southwest, it could produce 35 percent of its electricity from wind and solar energy by 2017.
By Julie Bonnin
Green Right Now
The first commercial air test flights using biofuels took to the sky earlier this month: First Air New Zealand, then Continental Airlines in Houston gave us a glimpse of a greener way to fly. Next up: Japanese Airline, JAL has announced a demonstration flight using a Boeing 747-300 powered by biofuel set for Jan. 30 in Tokyo.
Jennifer Holmgren is General Manager of Renewable Energy & Chemicals for Honeywell’s UOP, a refining technology developer which partnered with Continental on its landmark project. One week later, she was a keynote speaker at Petrotech 2009, an international oil and gas conference hosted by the Indian government, on the topic of emerging technologies (the conference ends Thursday).
And the greenest state could soon be… No, not California. Not Washington, or Oregon, or Colorado.
Or at least it could be. Maybe. The islanders have plantation-sized plans for moving off fossil fuels and into clean energy. Their goal: Meet 70 percent of Hawaii’s energy needs with clean energy sources like solar and wind power by 2030. That’s a bigger reach than any other state have taken, or feels able to take.
Across the country, 24 states have set firm goals for adding renewable power to their energy portfolio. Another four states have non-binding goals for their Renewable Portfolio Standards (RPS), as they’re called.
Most of these look to increase the amount of renewable energy to 10 to 30 percent of the total used by the state by 2015 or 2020.