Category: renewable energy

Environment: Can dams be operated without killing rivers?

Glen Canyon Dam. Image courtesy NASA Earth Observatory.
Glen Canyon Dam. Image courtesy NASA Earth Observatory.

New study eyes impacts to aquatic insects

Staff Report

Using a vast sample of data collected in a citizen science project, researchers say they’ve been able to discern how hydropeaking affects aquatic insects that form the base of river food chains. The information could help resource managers develop alternative hydropower practices that aren’t as harmful to ecosystems, according to a new study published in the journal BioScience.

Hydropeaking refers to the practice of increasing river flows at times of peak demand, generally during the day. This study shows how abrupt water level changes affect aquatic insects in every stage of life. The research was done by scientists with the U.S. Geological Survey, Oregon State University, Utah State University and Idaho State University. Continue reading “Environment: Can dams be operated without killing rivers?”

Feds identify possible wind energy zone near Long Island

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Offshore wind turbines at Barrow Offshore Wind Farm off Walney Island in the Irish Sea. Photo via the Creative Commons.

Can the U.S. catch up to Europe with offshore wind power?

Staff Report

The U.S. is lagging far behind European countries when it comes to developing offshore wind power, but that’s starting to change.

This week, the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management took another step toward boosting ocean windpower by identifying an 8,130 acre wind area energy south of Long Island, New York, that could one day be leased for development and help generate electricity where it’s needed most — close to densely populated East Coast communities.

Just last October, a University of Delaware study showed that the U.S. is farther from commercial-scale offshore wind deployment today than it was in 2005. Before offshore wind can be developed commercially at a large scale, the U.S. must revamp regulations, as well as tax and finance policy, the study explained. Meanwhile, Europe is generating about 8 percent of its total energy capacity from windpower. Continue reading “Feds identify possible wind energy zone near Long Island”

U.S. added 7,200 megawatts of solar power in 2015

Residential installations lead the way

New initiative to boost several solar projects with $27 million.
Solar outpaced natural gas capacity additions in 2015.

Staff Report

The U.S. solar power market grew by 17 percent in 2015, adding more than 7,200 megawatts of photovoltaics and outpacing the growth of the natural gas capacity additions for the first time ever. In all, solar supplied 29.5 percent of all new electric generating capacity in the U.S. in 2015.

The solar sector grew fastest in California, North Carolina, Nevada, Massachusetts and New York, but the market continues to diversify geographically, with 13 states installing more than 100 megawatts of capacity in 2015. Continue reading “U.S. added 7,200 megawatts of solar power in 2015”

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 “Study outlines path for U.S. ‘Energiewende’”

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 “Appeals court rejects bid to block EPA Clean Power Plan”

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 “Report says U.S. lags on offshore wind energy”

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 “The catch-22 of carbon pricing”