We’re pleased to announce the release of an original book on the iBookstore called Community Wind. Created with a collaboration of Wind Resource and The Superior Watershed Partnership, this new interactive book gives background on what a “community” wind project is, how one is built, and ways to engage in your own community. The book also offers interactive charts, graphs, video and high definition photography throughout. Please give it a look, and if you have an iPad, let us know what you think!
American Wind Power Hits Historic Milestone: 50 Gigawatts of Generating Capacity
OliBac/CC BY 3.0
The state of wind power in the U.S. is rapidly rising, with the total electrical generating capacity in the country reaching a historic milestone of 50 gigawatts – the equivalent of the output of 11 nuclear power plants.
In a political climate where our federal policies affecting wind power generation are on the rocks (the Production Tax Credit (PTC) - a federal tax break of 2.1 cents per kilowatt hour – is set to expire, and the battle over renewing or dropping it is growing heated), reaching this power production level in 2012 demonstrates some of the meteoric rise of American wind power. Some wind generation at utility-scale began in the early ’80s, and it took about 23 years to hit 5 GW of generating capacity. In 2006, capacity doubled to 10 GW, then hit 25 GW in 2008, and has since doubled that figure in the last four years.
The 50 GW of wind power capacity online, across 39 states in the U.S., is said to be the energy equivalent of powering 13 million homes, and equals the power of 44 coal plants:
“These truly are the best of times and could be the worst of times for American wind power. This month we shattered the 50-gigawatt mark, and we’re on pace for one of our best years ever in terms of megawatts installed.” – Denise Bode, CEO of American Wind Energy Association (AWEA)
According to the AWEA, though, times could still be rocky ahead for the wind industry, due to the uncertainty about whether or not the extension of the PTCwill go through, and as a result, incoming orders to the wind industry’s manufacturing supply chain have slowed down considerably.
It’s telling that one of the fastest-growing fractures in a political party known for its ideological unity is being caused by wind power. Mitt Romney recently saidthat he’d let the industry’s production tax credit expire at the end of the year—a policy position that, on its face, squares well with the small government-questing GOP of the day—but a handful of conservatives balked.
The reason is straightforward: a number of red and purple states are home to economies that have benefitted tremendously from the tax credits, which have stimulated job growth in recessionary times. Iowa, Texas, and Kansas come to mind. In fact, Iowa Republicans are among those raising the sharpest opposition to Romney’s position.
Iowa’s Ames Tribune notes that
U.S. Rep. Tom Latham, an Iowa Republican, responded by saying, “It’s the wrong decision. Wind energy represents one of the most innovative and exciting sectors of Iowa’s economy.”
U.S. Sen. Chuck Grassley, who wrote the original wind energy tax credit legislation, reportedly threatened his fellow Republicans on the Senate Finance Committee that he’d join with the Democrats in voting to keep the credits. Some Republicans on the committee had tried to remove the wind energy tax credit from a package of tax breaks under consideration.
“It’s not right to single out one energy incentive over the others before a broader tax reform debate,” Grassley said in a statement Wednesday.
Grassley’s right. It’s absurd to single wind (and solar) out as deserving of the ax, especially when some of the most mature industries in the world (oil, coal) continue to receive robust federal handouts. And now that it’s easy to draw a line between the tax credits and thousands of well-paying jobs, it’s even harder for politicians to make the case for gutting support for a young but fast-growing industry.
All this means that we may well be on the threshold of watching wind power pass the tipping point into fully, totally nonpartisan territory—especially if Congress preserves the PTC, I wouldn’t be surprised if Americans come to regard the wind industry as neutrally as they do, I dunno, the microchip industry.
Some very sobering and counterintuitive sentiment from presidential Candidate Mitt Romney.
You’d be hard-pressed to name a single American energy source that doesn’t benefit from government support. Coal companies get subsidies. Nuclear power plants are backed by massive loan guarantees. Oil companies, even the most profitable ones in the world, get truly impressive federal handouts. And, of course, wind and solar companies get tax credits.
But presidential candidate Mitt Romney opposes just one of the incentives listed above; want to venture a guess as to which one it is? It’s tax breaks for wind power, obviously! The only subsidy that’s doing what a subsidy is supposed to do—encourage investment in something we want more of. Few Americas would say, ‘yes, I’d like more of my tax dollars to support the coal industry.’
This matters, because at the moment the production tax credit (PTC) for wind power is under existential threat. Large swaths of the GOP want to do away with it, because it represents freedom-strangling government bloat or something, even though the net worth of the entire tax break comes out to, like, a single cruise missile, and has helped create thousands of jobs in states like Iowa, Texas, Kansas, and California. Republican congressmen in those states support upholding the credit, where it’s popular and proven job-creator.
Yet Romney has officially sided with the more conservative elements of his base, according to the Guardian: Shawn McCoy, a spokesman for Romney’s Iowa campaign, told the Des Moines Register earlier this week that Romney would “allow the wind credit to expire, end the stimulus boondoggles, and create a level playing field on which all sources of energy can compete on their merits”.
Which is interesting, because just a few months ago, when Democratic senators moved to end handouts to big oil, he stayed silent on that field-leveling move, and even hinted he’d continue to prop them up.
No, Romney has made a political calculation here; he thinks that it will win him some Tea Party bona fides if he sticks it to wind. But he’s already encountered some conservative opposition in places like Colorado, Iowa, and Pennsylvania—swing states where every move makes a difference.
Finally, a country with the balls/courage/conviction to make a bold step into the clean future. Thank you, Scotland, for showing that it can be done.
In 2010, Alex Salmond, the First Minister of Scotland, announced that his government was aiming to power all of Scotland with 100% renewable energy by 2025. Just a few months later, they kicked it up a notch or five: Scotland would seek to run entirely on renewable power by 2020. Most of that would come from ambitious onshore and offshore wind farms, as well as some smaller wave and tidal power projects—and there are 7 GW of such clean energy projects already completed or underway.
By the end of 2011, it looked as if all was going to plan, despite the requisite naysaying from skeptics. Here’s Triple Pundit on Scotland’s progress thus far:
2011 was an epic year for Scottish energy companies. The Department for Energy and Climate Change released figures recently demonstrating that the renewable energy sector saw more than £750 million of investment last year. Currently seven gigawatts (GW) of renewable projects are operational, under construction or approved … several projects are in the pipeline to eventually deliver 17 GW of power with an estimated investment of £46 billion … [Scotland] is already well on its way to hit its interim target of 31 percent.
And 2012 looks to continue that trend, especially as Salmond announced a new partnership with the United Arab Emirates, and Masdar, the Abu Dhabi clean energy company, today at the World Future Energy Summit. The two governments agreed to lay out an action plan this year that would allow them to pool resources and technology to accelerate cleantech development, initially focusing on offshore wind and carbon capture and sequestration.
Salmond acknowledged that one of the primary challenges to meeting the 2020 goal was finding ways to bring the costs of offshore wind projects down.
“The costs of offshore wind will have to be reduced by 20% to be competitive,” he said at a press conference today. Efforts to analyze and improve the supply chain will be a top priority, as will examining transmission challenges inherent in efficiently transporting electricity over long distances. Salmond repeatedly emphasized the need to commercialize offshore wind to make the technology available for wider deployment (and granting Scotland a foothold in one of the next generation’s most promising industries).
“The real prize is the technologies that we are refining together,” he said. “The result is to demonstrate the feasibility for deployment of those technologies around the world.”
Other challenges to the burgeoning renewable sector are strictly political in nature: Salmond has been leading a push for Scottish independence, which has led the likes of Citigroup to warn investors of backing energy projects in the region. But Salmond dismissed such concerns today, asserting that there was great “strength in confidence in the renewable sector”, and pointed to a great potential for foreign investment.
Scotland’s push to become a leader in marine renewables (they’re also seeking to deploy as much as 2 GW of wave and tidal power) is not just laudable, but could prove visionary indeed. The effort could prove a major boon to Scotland’s economy, where wind could become a $30 billion dollar industry, according to forecasts from Scottish Enterprises. As such, it’s no surprise that the plan is raising high hopes in the renewable energy industry – and, no doubt, in Scotland.
It was one of the most high profile criticisms of the Olympic Park’s green credentials, even finding its way into an episode of the hit satirical comedy Twenty Twelve. But now those who condemned the Olympic Delivery Authority for failing to follow through with plans to install a giant wind turbine at the Stratford site could be forced into a re-think, after it emerged seven wind turbines have been erected at the Olympic Park.
They might not look like the conventional three blade turbine that had been originally intended, but organisers today confirmed smaller scale vertical axis wind turbines that are designed to be more effective at harnessing the wind power in urban environments have been deployed at the Stratford park.
BusinessGreen can reveal the so-called qr5 turbines have been provided by British wind turbine manufacturer Quiet Revolution, although because of International Olympic Committee restrictions the company is not allowed to provide further details of the project beyond confirming its technology is featuring at the Olympic Park.
The 18-metre tall turbines boast 8kW of capacity and can provide up to 7,500 kWh of power a year if average wind speeds reach seven metres per second.
A spokesman for the Olympic Delivery Authority said each turbine cost £40,000, adding that they are expected to pay for themselves within 12 years.
“Sustainability has been designed into the project from the beginning, and as a result the ODA will significantly exceed its 50 per cent target to reduce the carbon footprint of the construction of the Olympic Park,” he said.
“These seven turbines serve a valuable dual function by providing 40 per cent of the energy for high-powered streetlights as well contributing to the overall renewable energy target. The turbines are connected to the Park’s energy supply, which feed renewable energy into the Olympic Park energy network during the day, which offsets power used by the lamp at night.”
The London Olympics has been widely praised for delivering the “greenest games ever”, featuring a host of energy efficient and low carbon technologies at the various venues.
However, organisers faced criticism in 2010 when it dropped plans for a wind turbine that would serve as a “green beacon” for the park amid fears that the site did not provide adequate average wind speeds.
A recent report from green NGO WWF widely praised the Games green credentials, but warned that organisers were likely to miss a target to deliver 20 per cent of its energy from renewable sources, despite the efforts to deploy some onsite generation technologies.
The World’s Biggest Wind Turbine Blades Are So Long Their Tips Spin at 180 MPH
For off-shore wind farms to become an economically feasible alternative energy source, each turbine needs to be big. Like, really big. That’s why the latest turbine blade from Siemens is gigantic—just a hair shorter than the wingspan of an Airbus 380.
The B75 turbine blade itself is 75 meters long, while the entire rotor assembly measures 154 meters in diameter. As it spins, the blades cover an area of 18,600 square meters—that’s roughly two and a half soccer fields—at a brisk 80 meters per second, or 180 MPH at the tips.
Moving that fast over such a large area generates a tremendous amount of force. About 200 tons of air press on the blade every second with wind speeds of just 22 MPH. To build a blade that can withstand it, Siemens pours each blade as a single unit of glass fiber-reinforced epoxy resin and balsa wood. This process, called IntegralBlade, eliminates seams, joints, and other structural weak points, while maximizing the rotor’s performance. The process also reduces weight by as much as 20 percent, which lightens the system’s load bearing requirements—from the nacelle down to the foundation.
The B75 blade is currently being installed on Siemens’ 6-MW turbines, which are going up in Denmark’s Østerild Test Station. Running at capacity, the entire farm could produce enough energy to power 1.8 million homes, by 2017. If the tests are successful, Danish energy giant, Dong, plans to install 300 of these new turbines along the English coast within the next few years. [PHysOrg - Siemens - Discover Siemens - Green Car Congress]
At this point, denial is the official Republican Party stance on climate change. Not a single one of their presidential or (to my knowledge) congressional candidates has affirmed the existence, much less the danger, of anthropogenic climate change in the 2012 election cycle.
But Bob Inglis is bucking the trend.
Inglis was drummed out of the U.S. House in 2010 when South Carolina voters gave his Tea Party challenger more than 70 percent of the primary vote.
Happy 4th of July! We hope it finds you well. Though ArtPrize is long behind us, we are still striving to educate the country of the benefits of clean energy, wind energy being a big part of that. Take a look at the Michigan Energy, Michigan Jobs proposal, and read why its a good deal for the state of Michigan, and for families all over the United States!
About The Proposal
A proposal may be on the Nov. 6, 2012, ballot requiring that 25 percent of Michigan’s energy come from renewable sources such as wind, solar and biomass by 2025. This is good for Michigan, and here’s why:
- Michigan currently imports its energy from other states and countries, sending billions of dollars — and the jobs they create — out of Michigan. This proposal will help us build a clean energy industry right here in Michigan, so that Michiganders can buy Michigan energy, and we can stop exporting our money and our jobs.
- This initiative will help expand Michigan’s clean energy production without significantly increasing energy prices. Studies by independent economists predict that it would cost the average Michigan household an average of $1.25 a month, and in the long run could reduce our energy bills. More than 30 states, including Illinois, Minnesota and Iowa, already have adopted renewable energy standards similar to Michigan’s proposal and are higher than Michigan’s current RES of 10%.
- Using more wind and solar energy will reduce pollution and give Michigan cleaner and healthier air and water, protect the Great Lakes, reduce asthma and lung disease, and ultimately save lives. That’s why groups like the Michigan Nurses Association endorse this proposal.
India may have led the world in renewable energy growth last year (its solar power installations grew at incredible 700%), but when it comes to new wind power China far and away leads the world. China’s wind power push nearly tripled that of the United States, which installed the second-greatest amount.
New figures from the Global Wind Energy Council show that China installed 18 gigawatts of new wind power in 2011, bringing its national total to 62.73 GW, a world-leading 26.4% of all our wind power.
The US installed 6.81 GW of new wind power in 2011, for a total of 46.92 GW and 19.7% of the global market.
India came in third for new installations, with 3.019 GW, but ranks fifth for total capacity (16.084 GW, 6.7% of the world’s wind power).
Rounding out the top ten nations for new wind power installations in 2011: Germany (2.1 GW), UK (1.3 GW), Canada (1.3 GW), Spain (1.1 GW), Italy (1 GW), France (0.83 GW), Sweden (0.76 GW). All other nations in the world combined installed 5.2 GW last year.
Though the stats break out wind power installations on a nation-by-nation basis, the European Union as a whole installed 9.62 GW of new wind power in 2011, bringing the total wind power capacity for the region to 93.96 GW. That’s slightly over 6% of the EU’s total electrical generating capacity.
- China Leads World in New Wind Power Installations for 2011 (treehugger.com)
- You: Wind power generates 6% of EU electricity (earthtimes.org)
- Wind power in Europe grew 11% in 2011 (guardian.co.uk)
- How to save on Electric Batteries? (4): Increase photovoltaic or wind power production (albertcampi.me)
- Nick Clegg defends wind power subsidies after Tory-led attack (bfreenews.com)