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

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

The U.S. could transition to 100% renewable energy by 2050


Wind power!

‘The main barriers are social, political and getting industries to change …’

Staff Report

FRISCO — Getting the U.S. completely off its addiction to fossil fuels may seem daunting, especially if the goal is a relatively quick switch to renewable energy sources. But there’s more and more scientific evidence showing it can be done with existing technology, and without causing a lot of economic pain.

The U.S. could achieve the transition by 2050, say two California scientists who have outlined a plan for all 50 states to make the switch to renewable energy sources.

The advantages are pretty clear: Combating climate change, eliminating  mortality and disease linked with air pollution, creating new jobs and stabilizing energy prices to the benefit of consumers. Continue reading

Feds OK three big solar projects in Nevada

Regional plan helps speed reviews


New solar energy projects are sprouting across the sunny Southwest.

Staff Report

FRISCO — Up-front planning helped speed three big new solar projects through the federal review process, the U.S. Department of Interior said this week, touting the administration’s Western Solar Plan as a model for renewable energy development on public lands.

The plan mapped out solar energy development zones in areas where there was little potential for conflicts over resources. The reviews three new projects in Clark County, Nevada, where completed in 10 months, about half the time it previously took under the project-by-project system. Continue reading

Is the West’s power grid vulnerable to climate change?

‘In their development plans, power providers are not taking into account climate change impacts …’


Renewable energy sources may be less susceptible to climate change impacts.

Staff Report

FRISCO — The Western power grid is vulnerable to projected global warming impacts, and should be climate-proofed to minimize the risk of future power shortages, according to a new study by  two Arizona State University engineers.

Their findings show that extreme heat waves and droughts and related changes in precipitation, air and water temperatures, air density and humidity, are all factors in the energy equation, and that those changes could significantly constrain the energy generation capacity of power plants. Continue reading


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