Study outlines path for U.S. ‘Energiewende’

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In just 15 years, renewable energy could power most of the U.S. @bberwyn photo.

Huge cuts in greenhouse emissions possible by 2030

Staff Report

Germany’s deliberate transition to renewable energy — the Energiewende — has made headlines around the world, but the U.S. also has the potential to  make a big shift toward renewable energy.

Solar, wind and other weather-driven renewable resources could supply most of the nation’s electricity by 2030 and potentially cut greenhouse gas emissions from the power sector by up to 78 percent,  according to a new study by researchers with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and the University of Colorado. Continue reading

Appeals court rejects bid to block EPA Clean Power Plan

States free to move ahead with energy transition plans

Mercury from the Craig Station power plant in northwest Colorado pollutes lakes in Rocky Mountain National Park.

Fossil fuel power plants like Craig Station in northwest Colorado will have to clean up their act under the Clean Power Plan. @bberwyn photo.

Staff Report

A federal appeals court this week rejected a last-ditch effort by fossil fuel companies  to block implementation of the EPA’s Clean Power Plan, which is aimed at curbing heat-trapping pollution from power plants.

An anti-environmental coalition of states and fossil fuel companies had sought an emergency stay in federal court, but the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit today denied that request, stating that the petitioners’s claims didn’t meet the legal standard for emergency court action. Continue reading

Report says U.S. lags on offshore wind energy

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Can the U.S. take advantage of its enormous potential for offshore wind energy? Photo courtesy Andy Dingley/University of Delaware.

University of Delaware study identifies key policy hurdles

Staff Report

The U.S. has fallen way behind on developing its potentially huge offshore wind energy potential, according to University of Delaware researchers, who identified some of the obstacles in a recent study.

According to their paper, published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, the U.S. is farther from commercial-scale offshore wind deployment today than it was in 2005.

“As we celebrate the 10-year anniversary of the U.S. Energy Policy Act of 2005, it is disheartening to see that while land-based wind and solar have reached new heights, U.S. offshore wind has remained a missed opportunity,” the paper’s lead author, Jeremy Firestone, said in a release that summarized the study findings. Continue reading

The catch-22 of carbon pricing

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Energy policies must reflect true price of carbon.

‘Policymakers are more likely to price carbon appropriately if it is cheaper to move onto a low-carbon path …’

Staff Report

LINZ — If government leaders want to encourage a shift to renewable energy, their polices must reflect the true price of carbon, including the hidden environmental, health and societal costs of burning coal and oil.

The current price of carbon is below zero, once fossil-fuel subsidies are taken into account, and that is slowing the shift toward a low-carbon future, a new paper in Nature concludes. Continue reading

Energy: Can wind farms be too large?

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Careful planning is needed to maximize the benefits of large wind farms. Photo via DOE.

New modeling study shows a “slowdown” effect if too many turbines are clumped together

Staff Report

FRISCO — Wind turbine installations could some day reach a point of diminishing returns if they get too big, according to a new study that evaluated the effects of large wind farms on atmospheric flow and its implications for how much renewable energy the turbines can generate.

The researchers at the University of Kansas did their study in the context of the renewable energy boom. Wind energy accounted for 3.3 percent of electricity generation in the United States in 2011. The study was aimed at learning what happens to the wind when a larger number of wind turbines removes more and more of the energy of atmospheric motion. Continue reading

Colorado PUC won’t change current net-metering price for rooftop solar energy

A new study suggests photovoltaic systems add to the resale value of homes. PHOTO COURTESY U.S. DEPARTMENT OF ENERGY.

A new study suggests photovoltaic systems add to the resale value of homes. Photo via U.S. Department of Energy.

Ruling will encourage more distributed renewable energy installations

Staff Report

FRISCO — The Colorado Public Utilities Commission this week rejected an attempt by Xcel Energy to roll back net net metering, a key financial incentive that has helped spur widespread installation of rooftop solar systems in the state.

Net metering gives consumers credit for the energy their systems put into the grid at the same rate residential customers are charged for electricity — about 10.5 cents per kilowatt-hour. Continue reading

Environment: Coastal communities in southeastern U.S. not exactly enthusiastic about offshore oil and gas drilling

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Where there is drilling, there are oil spills. Photo via U.S. Coast Guard.

Offshore wind energy projects touted as better alternative

Staff Report

FRISCO — Cities along the southeastern coast of the U.S. are lining up to oppose offshore fossil fuel exploitation. Earlier this week, the  Morehead City Council unanimously passed a resolution opposing seismic airgun blasting and offshore drilling.

The council’s resolution expresses concerns that federal plans for offshore oil and gas exploration and development threaten coastal communities, economies, fisheries and marine mammals.

The city was reacting to the Obama administration’s proposed plans to opening a large swath of the Atlantic Ocean, from Virginia to Georgia, to offshore drilling. Meanwhile, seismic airgun blasting, a process used to search for oil and gas deposits deep below the ocean floor, is continuing to move forward in an area twice the size of California, stretching all the way from Delaware to Florida. Continue reading

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