Global investments in new renewable-energy facilities surpassed those for fossil fuels for the first time last year, according to analysis from Bloomberg New Energy Finance. Wind, solar and biomass power attracted $187 billion in investments in 2010, compared with $157 billion for natural gas, oil and coal, according to the report. "The progress of renewables has been nothing short of remarkable," said Achim Steiner, executive director of the U.N. Environment Program. Bloomberg (11/25)
EU will lead the world in renewable energy, analyst says
The EU will set the pace in renewable-energy development, thanks to its aggressive renewable-energy and greenhouse-gas-reduction goals, according to analyst Daniel Yergin. "Europe, particularly Germany, will be a laboratory for offshore wind. It's the next frontier for renewable power," Yergin said. United Press International (12/5)
Report: China's wind power capacity to reach 80 GW by 2015
China's wind power capacity reached 39.24 gigawatts in August, the most in the world, according to China's State Electricity Regulatory Commission. The country is on track to achieve 80 gigawatts of wind power capacity by 2015, the agency said. Wind farms supplied 58.3 billion kilowatt-hours of power in the first 10 months of 2011, up 57% compared with the same period in 2010. China Daily (Beijing)/Xinhua (12/5)
Xcel Energy Sets World Record with 55.6% Wind Penetration
Minneapolis-based utility Xcel Energy set a world record early on the morning of Oct. 6, with 55.6% of the electricity on its Public Service of Colorado system between the hours of 4 and 5 a.m. coming from wind, according to the Denver Post. Read more on the AWEA blog.
Gamesa ships 1,000th nacelle from factory in Pa.
Capacitor-parts factory to open in Arizona
Maxwell Technologies is planning to develop a factory in Peoria, Ariz., for ultracapacitor components used in wind turbines and other machines, said President and CEO David Schramm. The company hopes to open the facility by the end of 2012, Schramm said. American City Business Journals/Phoenix (10/19)
Wind turbine manufacturer to open new facility in Colorado
Southwest Windpower is planning to open a new office in Broomfield, Colo., by the end of the year. The office will focus on commercial sales and development of a wind turbine-testing site in Golden, Colo. The project is part of Southwest Windpower's effort to shift its focus from small-scale projects to commercial and industrial applications, the company said. Broomfield Enterprise (Colo.) (12/1)
The wind energy industry has once again scaled up the capacity of a single installation, apparently moving decisively beyond the previous upper range of four to five megawatts.
Siemens unveils new 6-MW wind turbines for offshore use
Siemens rolled out a bigger version of its 6-megawatt, direct-drive wind turbine for offshore use in Europe, writes Martin LaMonica. The new wind turbine will be available with rotor diameters of either 400 or 505 feet. Siemens expects orders for up to 50 of its new SWT-6.0 turbines in Europe through 2013, LaMonica adds. CNET/Green Tech blog (11/29)
Unfortunately, the most important and most-discussed issue for wind energy right now is the looming expiration in USA of the production tax credits for wind energy installations.
Bode: Removal of PTC would kill U.S. manufacturing jobs
The renewable-energy Production Tax Credit should be renewed because it generates manufacturing jobs, keeps electricity rates low, attracts investments in the wind sector and is a performance-based business tax incentive with bipartisan support, according to American Wind Energy Association CEO Denise Bode. Repealing the PTC would, in effect, be "enacting a targeted tax increase, crippling an American manufacturing success story and sending our jobs to foreign countries," Bode writes. National Journal/Energy & Environment Expert Blogs (12/5)
Report: Ending PTC would cause significant drop in wind installations
Wind power installations could decline by as much as 85% if the renewable-energy Production Tax Credit is allowed to expire at the end of 2012, according to a report from consulting group IHS Emerging Energy. "There is support [for the PTC], but it is hard to run an industry with this much uncertainty," said Peter Kelley, vice president of public affairs at the American Wind Energy Association. The Denver Post (12/1)
More than 750 groups press for renewal of Section 1603 tax credit
A coalition of more than 750 clean-energy businesses and groups wrote a letter calling on Congress to extend the Department of the Treasury's Section 1603 investment tax credit through 2012. "Since its enactment, the program has leveraged over $22.8 billion in private sector investment to support over 22,000 projects utilizing a wide range of energy technologies in all 50 states," the coalition said. Allowing the tax credit to lapse this year "would stifle job creation and severely restrict the market's ability to leverage private sector capital to finance new domestic energy projects." CleanTechnica (12/2)
Inconsistent U.S. rules may drive renewables to South America
Inconsistent U.S. policies on renewable energy could force developers to shift their investments to South America, which has the resources and policies to drive development, according to Peter Meisen, president of the Global Energy Network Institute. "You've got to get the rules right to get developers to go in," said Meisen. Greentech Media (12/1)
Analyst: Section 1603 tax credit's expiry will hurt renewables sector
Federal support for renewable-energy projects will decline next year if the Treasury Department's Section 1603 investment tax credit is allowed to lapse on Dec. 31, analysts said. The program has backed at least $32.9 billion in projects since it started in 2009. "There's just no way we can compensate for the cash grants if they go away," said Marshal Salant, managing director of Citigroup Global Markets. Bloomberg Businessweek (11/30)
PTC uncertainty, economy are hurting Iowa's wind sector
The economic downturn, low power prices and the uncertainty surrounding the renewable-energy Production Tax Credit are pushing down demand for wind power in Iowa, executives said. "Even though wind energy is great, until that discussion [about tax credits] is settled, I don't think we'll see much activity," said Teresa Nicholson, executive director of the Winnebago-Worth Counties Betterment Council. The Globe Gazette (Mason City, Iowa) (11/26)
IFB's Harding: PTC extension would provide "certainty" to wind sector
A bill sponsored by Reps. Dave Reichert, R-Wash., and Earl Blumenauer, D-Ore., proposing to extend the federal Production Tax Credit through 2016 would give the industry the "certainty" needed to maintain growth, said Dennis Harding, bio-economy manager for the Iowa Farm Bureau. "It's kind of what all industries are asking for and that is some kind of certainty in the system," Harding said. When the PTC was allowed to lapse in the past, wind power installations dwindled by 73% to 93%, resulting in layoffs, Harding added. Farm Futures (11/28)
The debate over whether or not to extend favorable tax treatment to the construction of new wind generation capacity features, of course, the same old wrong-wing and Republican arguments about the need to curb government spending and the inherent danger of the "big, bad gub-mint picking winnahs and luhzers." It's easy to dismiss this as the usual ideological blindness of conservative ideologues clinging so strongly to their ironically named "neo-liberal" economic theories of free markets, but when one looks at the brazen favoritism shown to the fossil fuels industries, it looks more and more like a perfect example of economic interests extracting economic rent through the corrupting influence of their money in politics.
Bode: House bill unwisely targets wind power sector
A bill by Reps. Mike Pompeo, R-Kan., and Raul Labrador, R-Idaho, to roll back energy tax incentives unwisely targets the wind industry while protecting the tax credits for other energy sources, writes Denise Bode, CEO of the American Wind Energy Association. Wind power is the "most promising source of new manufacturing jobs" in the U.S., Bode writes. "At this critical time for our nation's economy, we should not be contemplating a tax increase on an emerging energy industry that is growing new manufacturing jobs," Bode adds. The Washington Times (11/29)
IEA: Renewables are becoming more competitive with fossil fuels
Renewable energy is getting closer to matching the cost of fossil fuels "without the need for specific economic support," according to a report from the International Energy Agency. However, tax incentives are justified for technologies that are not yet competitive, the report showed. "Where technologies are not yet competitive, economic support for a limited amount of time may be justified by the need to attach a price signal to the environmental and energy security benefits of [renewable energy] deployment," the report added. Reuters (11/23)
This past year, I've concentrated much of my reading on the formative thinking that resulted in the American Revolution and the creation of the Constitution and federal government. What I have learned strengthened my belief that the conservative belief in "neo-liberal" economics is not just alien and un-American, but downright seditious. Here, for example, is a quote from E.A.J. Johnson, The Foundations of American Economic Freedom: Government and Enterprise in the Age of Washington. (University of Minnesota Press, 1973), pp. 194-195, in which Johnson strings together the ideas of different sermons, tracts, and letters from William Findlay, John Beale Bordley, Samuel Deane, Timothy Stone, Pelatiah Webster, and last but certainly not least, James Madison
The general view, discernible in contemporaneous literature, was that the responsibility of government should involve enough surveillance over the enterprise system to ensure the social usefulness of all economic activity. It is quite proper, said Bordley, for individuals to “choose for themselves” how they will apply their labor and their intelligence in production. But it does not follow from this that “legislators and men of influence” are freed from all responsibility for giving direction to the course of national economic development. They must, for instance, discountenance the production of unnecessary commodities of luxury when common sense indicates the need for food and other essentials. Lawmakers can fulfill their functions properly only when they “become benefactors to the publick”; in new countries they must safeguard agriculture and commerce, encourage immigration, and promote manufactures. Admittedly, liberty “is one of the most important blessings which men possess,” but the idea that liberty is synonymous with complete freedom from restraint “is a most unwise, mistaken apprehension.” True liberty demands a system of legislation that will lead all members of society “to unite their exertions” for the public welfare. It should therefore be the policy of government to aid and foster certain activities or kinds of business that strengthen a nation, even as it should be the duty of government to repress “those fashions, habits, and practices, which tend to weaken, impoverish, and corrupt the people.”Clearly, the USA and the world need a coherent industrial policy to shift our economies off their reliance on burning fossil fuels. But a bunch of wrong-wing ideologues are preventing us from doing so, in their desire for a chimera of ideological purity that is actually the antithesis of the economic principles the USA was founded on! I think we need to really beat on this point over and over again: what conservatives and Republicans believe about economics is contrary to what America's founders believed.