Clean Power

Published on May 8th, 2017 | by Tina Casey

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US Energy Dept. To Trump: Lalalalala We Can’t Hear You, Wind Power Rocks!

May 8th, 2017 by  

Energy Secretary Rick Perry has been steadily undercutting the Trump Administration’s pro-coal messaging with a flood of press releases, tweets and articles touting clean tech and renewables. The good news is so relentless it’s almost like he’s laughing and pointing over at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.

You won’t find much on the Energy Department’s main News & Blog page, but the agency’s social media, offices and labs are firing on all pistons. In the latest development, the agency’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory is out with a new report on the economic benefits of offshore wind development.

Economic Benefits Of Offshore Wind

The new report is aptly titled “An Assessment of the Economic Potential of Offshore Wind in the United States from 2015 to 2030.

A link is not on the NREL news page as of this writing, but the agency tweeted a link last Thursday and Friday with this recap:

NREL study evaluates 7k+ potential USA offshore #WindPower sites and finds considerable economic potential by 2017 – http://bit.ly/2qwGRre

Sweet!

The new report is a companion to a 2015 analysis that estimated the offshore growth of wind development at a potential 3.3 gigawatts by 2020.

That sounds pretty impressive, but the question is whether or not adding more wind to the grid makes sense economically.

The new report concludes that it certainly does, though not equally in all regions. The quality and accessibility of US offshore wind varies considerably along the country’s vast coastlines.

NREL finds that the low-hanging fruit in terms of high economic potential can be found mainly in the Northeast, including the east coast of Virginia.

Several states in that region have already cottoned to the benefits. Rhode Island was first out of the box with the nation’s first operating offshore wind farm. Massachusetts lost bragging rights to first place when the ill fated Cape Wind project hit a snag (thanks partly to this guy) but a new state law virtually guarantees that the offshore industry there is heading for boom times.

That law may have breathed new life into Cape Wind. When last heard from, the developers were still making payments on their site. Just last month they won a court order enabling them to keep the project inching along, at least for now.

New York State is also on track for its first wind farm. Somewhat ironically, the tips of the turbines will be visible from New Jersey, where the Administration of Governor Chris Christie has successfully blocked offshore development.

That includes an innovative offshore farm that would have brought millions in federal funding — and an estimated 500 new jobs — to the state.

Christie will be forced out of office by term limits, but The Garden State has a lot of catching up to do. Leases for offshore wind development have also been activated in other states along the Atlantic coast.

All in all, the offshore activity is pretty impressive for a country that had zero commercial offshore wind turbines in operation before last year.

More Good News From NREL

NREL has been celebrating its 40th anniversary and apparently Perry is not interested in throwing cold water on the festivities.  All year, a 40th anniversary banner headline and feature stories have been splashed across the NREL home page.

That alone is enough to pull the rug out from under Trump’s coal messaging, and NREL has also been piling on with current events — even if they are not so current.

In addition tweeting about the new wind report, last week NREL tweeted a link leading to a new article by the US Energy Information Agency.

wind energy USA

NREL also tweeted a link to one of its own articles from back in April covering the topic of best practices in zoning for solar, and to an April recap of articles on grid integration science — quite timely considering the contentious new grid study ordered by Perry.

Another NREL tweet from last week sends you to an April 11 solicitation for proposals involving advanced technologies to for small and mid-sized turbines.

And so on.

In a particularly interesting twist, all this activity on Twitter took place immediately after word leaked that the Trump Administration — apparently without Perry’s foreknowledge — appointed a fossil energy fan to lead Energy Department’s Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy.

It’s also in the middle of crunch time for the Trump Administration.

Trump is facing enormous pressure to keep the US in the Paris climate accord, and Perry has gone on record in support of staying (he left the door open for Trump to “renegotiate” the climate accord but that could just be Perry handing Trump a way to claim victory while reversing his campaign promise).

Nevertheless, last week Trump floated the idea of pulling out. Apparently a decision one way or another will be coming this week, so stay tuned.

Image (screenshot): NREL via Twitter.


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About the Author

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+.



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