Report says U.S. lags on offshore wind energy


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


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?


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


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

Report: U.S. wind energy price hits all-time low

A wind turbine installation near Frankfurt, Germany viewed from the air. @bberwyn photo.

A wind turbine installation near Frankfurt, Germany viewed from the air. @bberwyn photo.

Renewables on the rise around the world

Staff Report

FRISCO — A new report from the U.S. Department of Energy shows that wind energy prices have fallen to an all-time low, with prices offered by wind projects to utility purchasers averaged under $0.2.5 per/kWh. The falling prices have spurred increased demand by utilities, according to the report, with wind power comprising 33 percent of all new U.S. electric capacity additions since 2007

“Wind energy prices, particularly in the central United States, have hit new lows, with utilities selecting wind as the low cost option,” Berkeley Lab senior scientist Ryan Wiser said. “Moreover, enabled by technology advancements, wind projects are economically viable in a growing number of locations throughout the U.S.” Continue reading

EU wind power growing by leaps and bounds

Global capacity grew to 370 gigawatts in 2014


Got wind?

Staff Report

FRISCO — Europe is now generating about 8 percent of its total energy usage from wind power, according to an annual report from the European Commission’s Joint Research Centre.

If that doesn’t sound like a lot, here’s another way to look at it: Windpower generated enough electricity to cover the combined annual consumption of Belgium, the Netherlands, Greece and Ireland. Thanks to the ever-decreasing costs of building new windpower facilities, the EU could be producing at least 12 percent of its annual power needs with turbines by 2020.

The report confirms that wind power has been the most widely deployed form of renewable energy in the past two decades, with the global cumulative capacity growing to 370 gigawatts in 2014. Last year represented an annual record with 52.8 GW of wind turbines capacity installed worldwide, a 48% percent increase compared to 2013 and 17 percent over the 2012 record of 45.2GW. Continue reading


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