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Clean Power us wind power reports

Published on August 19th, 2014 | by Tina Casey

6

Energy Dept Drops The Other Shoe On Koch Anti-Wind Power Machine

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August 19th, 2014 by
 
Weren’t we just saying that the Department of the Interior has pulled a classic deke on the Koch brothers’ efforts to thwart Atlantic coast offshore wind power? Well, we did just say that, and now the other shoe has dropped. No wait, make that two other shoes. The Department of Energy has just released two new US wind power reports that will probably set our friends over at Koch Industries running down the hall with their hair on fire.

Among other things, the new Energy Department wind power reports address one of our favorite lines of argument, which is that future global energy market winners will no longer be trucking mass quantities of fossil fuels around the country and the world. Instead, the winners will be exporting technology that enables communities to harvest sustainable energy locally, from wind as well as solar, biomass, geothermal and other renewables.

Btw pardon us if we seem rather irritated today but we just realized that we missed like five episodes of The Leftovers and nobody told us this was the last season for True Blood so #welcometomyworld.

us wind power reports

Photo by Tina Casey.

Great News For US Wind Industry!

We’ve been hammering away at this point for a while now, but it bears repeating. Once you send people to the moon and bring them back in one piece, find a surefire way to prevent polio, and shrink a roomful of processors down to the size of a smartphone, science is trying to tell you that digging fuel out of the ground and schlepping it for long distances is…ummm…how can we put this delicately…not a good idea any more, despite the predilections of some people with deep pockets and close connections (as in thisclose) to the John Birch Society.

The two new wind power reports are intended to boost awareness about growth in the US wind industry and raise support for the beleaguered federal production tax credit for wind power, as explained by Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz:

…the continued success of the U.S. wind industry highlights the importance of policies like the Production Tax Credit that provide a solid framework for America to lead the world in clean energy innovation while also keeping wind manufacturing and jobs in the U.S.

The Wind Technologies Market Report

First up is the 2013 Wind Technologies Market Report, produced by Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory.

As we’ve been tracking with our sister site PlanetSave, the report notes that the cost of wind energy is dropping through the floor, making it an attractive buy for utilities looking for good deals.

At 61 gigawatts, 2013 installed wind capacity met almost 4.5 percent of average yearly electricity demand in the US, so the industry still has some catching up to do. However, the report notes that the US wind industry has already provided the US with a new export sector:

…the success of the U.S. wind industry has had a ripple effect on the American economy, spurring more than $500 million in exports and supporting jobs related to development, siting, manufacturing, transportation and other industries.

The Distributed Wind Market Report

When we dropped in on the Ceres 2014 Investor Summit on Climate Risk at the UN last January, the buzz on wind power was that the US wind market has already matured. That may be true of utility scale wind farms, but according to the Distributed Wind Market Report it looks like there is plenty of room for growth at the smaller end.

The report, produced by Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, notes that 80 percent of wind turbines installed in the US have gone to distributed applications, defined as turbines that directly power local or hyper-local grids. Included in this category are full scale, multi-megawatt turbines as well as micro wind turbines.

The numbers add up to 72,000 turbines since 2003, located in every state as well as Puerto Rico and the US Virgin Islands.

As for exports, the full title of the report is “Distributed Wind Market Report: Small Turbines Lead to Big Growth in Exports.” It notes that in 2013, micro wind turbines were exported from the US to 50 other countries, led by Italy, the UK, Germany, Greece, China, Japan, Korea, Mexico, and Nigeria.

 

As for that third shoe, all this activity in the US wind sector has been going on without even tapping into the country’s vast offshore wind potential.

Part of the offshore wind power delay can be attributed to lobbying efforts by various Koch brothers, which is no surprise since their hand is also evident in efforts to quash onshore wind power.

Nevertheless, this summer the Obama Administration has been making a big push for wind power, maneuvering around the Koch obstacles by focusing on the development of Atlantic coast wind resources.

In the latest development on offshore wind, last week Interior Secretary Sally Jewell announced that her agency has identified three new areas off North Carolina for Atlantic coast wind energy development.

Stay tuned.

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About the Author

Tina Casey specializes in military and corporate sustainability, advanced technology, emerging materials, biofuels, and water and wastewater issues. Tina’s articles are reposted frequently on Reuters, Scientific American, and many other sites. Views expressed are her own. Follow her on Twitter @TinaMCasey and Google+.



  • Andre

    I do not know much about wind power but understand that it is not a very efficient way to generate electricity and unlikely to replace coal as primary source of energy. Manufacturing and then exporting wind turbines is certainly good for the manufacturers, but is it really cost effective for those who end up buying them? I do not know of people rushing to invest in wind farms and understand that they are only viable in the UK because of huge subsidies. I get the impression that it needs tax credit in the USA to be viable….

    • Bob_Wallace

      Wind has now become our (US) cheapest way to bring new electricity to the grid. New wind costs about 4 cents per kWh. Contrast that with new coal or new nuclear, both well over 10 cents per kWh.

      Wind is “variable”, the wind does not blow steadily 24/365, but by combining wind and other renewables along with storage we can create 100% reliable electricity at a price comparable (or cheaper) than we pay today.

      Investment in wind farms is strong around the world. It’s been jerked around in the US by the behavior of Congress, but the days of wind subsidy are about over. In fact, they may already be over. Since January 1, 2014 US wind is unsubsidized.

      UK onshore wind is not great. Their really good wind resources lie offshore where they have just about the best wind in the world.

      We have reached the end of the age of coal. We just learned that coal consumption in China actually fell a bit in the first half of 2014 after showing almost no growth in 2013. Coal use is dropping in the US. China and the US combined burned over 60% of all coal burned in the world in 2012, now both are replacing coal with renewables.

      Hang around on this site and read some articles. There’s a lot of great information that will let you catch up with what is happening with 21st century electricity.

    • Hans

      The UK have the best wind resource in Europe, but yet their wind electricity is more expensive than that of wind-poor Germany. The reason is their clumsy support system.

  • Pat Campbell

    We live in a country where people don’t vote – especially in the primaries where the final candidates are chosen. This allows small groups of people to run the country as they see fit. Corporations don’t vote.
    I am personally all for renewables when they make financial. Right now an EV and a thousand or so shares of KMI works for me.

    • Bob_Wallace

      “I am personally all for renewables when they make financial (sense).”
      Then you’re all for renewables because they are making great financial sense!

  • Larry

    This is great news. It could have been done 15 years ago and the U.S. would be leading the world in wind turbine exports. Of course George and Dickie had to pay off all those Texas oilmen and the Koch Bros. for their handsome campaign contributions so it never happened. Meanwhile the global atmospheric CO2 levels continued to rise and megastorms became the norm, not the exception.

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