News is poring in from around the world describing the innovative applications of clean energy, Off-shore wind farms in Europe, solar powered islands in the Pacific and solar lighting a path to education in Pakistan, are just a touch of what we are covering in this Clean Energy wrap-around. There must be something blowing in the wind.
Offshore Wind Farms Hit a Milestone
Denmark’s offshore wind company DONG Energy is building two new wind farms in the North Sea off Germany and they are doing it without government subsidies. This is a major milestone for European, offshore wind energy industries that have relied on government support before. (photo – DONG energy)
“The zero subsidy bid is a breakthrough for the cost competitiveness of offshore wind and it demonstrates the technology’s massive global growth potential as a cornerstone in the economically viable shift to green energy systems,” said Samuel Leupold, CEO of DONG as reported in the Financial Times and EcoWatch
Wind Energy Subsidy Ends in Oklahoma, Fossil Fuel Doesn’t
We all known that Oklahoma is a bed-rock, fossil fuel state, just spend twenty-four hours there and you will feel the fracking related earthquakes. But something must be blowing in the wind for the Sooner State. Oklahoma, it turns out is a great location for successful wind farms, so successful In-fact that the state is now the third-largest producer of wind power in the U.S. (photo – treehugger.com)
It appears that this is just way too successful for the state’s fossil fuel industry. The oil and natural gas lobby convinced the Republican governor Mary Fallin to pass a bill that ends a tax break for renewable wind energy. The “zero emissions” tax credit that began in 2010 was very successful, creating credits of $3.7 million in 2010 increasing to $113 million in 2014. The program was slated to continue up to 2021 but was cut years early even though these amounts are dwarfed by the subsidies to the fossil fuel industry that remain in place. (photo – treehugger.com)
“It’s not a level playing field”
Said Stephen Stadier of the Oklahoma Renewable Energy Council. “The estimates of the cost of subsidies for wind producers vary, but we do know they are substantially less than the $400 million to $600 million cost of subsidies for oil and gas,” David Blatt of the Oklahoma Policy Institute wrote. However, Jeffrey Clark, president of the Wind Coalition is unfazed, saying that although the incentives have been “incredibly beneficial, we remain the first and only industry to offer to phase out its incentives.” Something must be blowing in the wind.
Apparently, a coalition including oilmen, state fossil fuel executives and Harold Hamm, an advisor to President Trump joined together to end Oklahoma’s tax credits for wind energy. Read more in EcoWatch
Saudi Arabia Launches Ambitious Renewable Energy Program
The World’s largest exporter of crude oil has pledged to spend a big chunk of petrodollars on renewable energy. $30-$50 billion, is to be spent over the next ten years on 30 solar and wind energy projects for electricity generation.
Energy demand has grown 8% annually so the kingdom needs to expand capacity. This project will begin to transform the country’s power sector and to reduce its consumption of oil. “There will also be significant investment in nuclear energy,” said the Energy Minister Khalid al-Falih. (photo – solarenergyprofs.com)
The Saudi’s goal is to produce 10% of its electricity needs from renewables by 2023; See the details in Fortune.
Will Wind in Kansas Leave Coal in the Dust?
But are power utilities on the same page or are they seeing a renewable future, like the one depicted here on a Kansas stamp. Last week a report in Reuter’s surveyed utility companies in states that had originally sued to block Obama’s Clean Power Plan. Now these same companies remain committed to their own long-term plans to move away from coal-fired power plants.
Last month, coal seemingly got a reprieve when the Kansas Supreme Court granted a permit to Sunflower Electric Power Corp. to expand its Holcomb coal-fired plant. The decision took a decade to work its way through the courts, a decade that has seen huge changes in energy production.
With this outcome, Sunflower did not break out the champagne, instead saying it would “continue to assess the project relative to other resources,” such as wind and natural gas. “With all project decisions, Sunflower factors in the myriad influences in the electric industry,” added a company spokesman, so there must be something blowing in the wind.
If Sunflower does move ahead with its expansion, it would be one of only five new coal plants proposed nationwide, of which four face major setbacks. Meanwhile, since 2010, 251 coal plants in the United States have been closed. And today Kansas generates 30% of its electricity from wind, second only to Iowa. See the entire story in EcoWatch.
California’s Solar Prices Turn Negative
Roughly 50% of California’s electricity demand was met by renewable energy. The federal Energy Information Administration (EIA) estimated that on March 11, between 11am and 2pm, forty percent of the electricity on the state’s grid came from solar. When other clean energy sources were factored in, clean accounted for 55% of the state’s total energy production.
The abundant source of solar energy in California this last winter and spring drove wholesale energy prices to zero or negative at certain hours. Read more in EcoWatch.
Chicago Moves Toward 100% Renewable
There are over 900 city-owned buildings including public schools and colleges; public housing and park district buildings. Altogether this accounted for 8% of Chicago’s total electricity demand in 2016. (photo – solarpoweronline.com)
Rahm Emanuel, the city’s mayor said this goal will be met by acquiring renewable energy credits; increasing on-site solar panels and wind generators; and by purchasing renewable energy through the state’s renewable power plants. Illinois presently supplies 5.7 of the state’s total electricity needs through wind power alone. That’s enough to power 982,000 homes and makes Illinois the seventh largest state in wind power generation.
“By committing the energy used to power our public buildings to wind and solar energy, we are sending a clear signal that we remain committed to building a 21st-century economy here in Chicago,” Emanuel said. See the entire story in CBSChicago and read more on how clean energy is moving across the world in our related Blue Ocean post: Renewable Energy Update: Here’s What’s Happening! and: Solar Energy Industry is Shining Bright plus: The Rise of Renewables.
Solar Lights Up Hawaii
Nowhere is the application of solar energy more appropriate than on isolated islands that have a unique set of energy challenges. And this is exactly where Tesla and Solar City (both Elon Musk companies) intend to showcase their newest solar power and energy storage project. Blue Ocean followed earlier developments in our post on Tesla powering an entire Samoan island with solar, see: Tesla’s Astonishing Transition in 2016 is Ocean-Friendly.
This newest joint venture is on the Hawaiian Island of Kauai where they intend to build a 13 MW solar farm that also includes an impressive 52MWh of storage capacity using 272 Tesla Powerpack 2 battery units. Tesla states that with this new energy source, Kauai will save 1.6 million gallons of fossil fuels annually.
The island’s power company intends to shift 50% of its energy needs to renewables by 2023. See the entire story in autoblog.
Solar is Lighting a Path to Education in Pakistan
Pakistan might not be thought of as leading in innovation, however its abundant sunshine has allowed it to plan to power 20,000 schools with solar. The schools located in the province of Punjab, will be converted to solar in phases. Punjab is also the home to the world’s largest solar farm. Currently under construction the 1,000-megawatt solar park has already added hundreds of megawatts of energy to the national power grid. (photo – zularistan.com)
“With eight to nine hours of sunshine per day, the climatic conditions in Pakistan are ideal for solar power generation.” As reported in cleantechnica.
The Clean Energy Revolution is Irreversible, must be something blowing in the wind
“It’s at the point of great return. It’s irreversible. There is no stopping this train,” said Merran Smith, author of Tracking the Energy Revolution 2017 by Clean Energy Canada. “Even Donald Trump can’t kill it.”
Ask the 260,000 Americans that are now employed in the solar energy industry. A figure that has more than doubled since 2010. Solar was responsible for creating one in every 50 new jobs in the US and the occupation of wind turbine technician is the country’s fastest growing job.
So whatever President Trump or his new appointees like Rick Perry head of the Department of Energy or Scott Pruitt, head of the EPA say, the clean energy revolution is in the wind and solar is shining bright.
See our related posts on Trump’s efforts to roll back Obama’s clean energy initiatives; his threat to pull the U.S. out of the Paris Climate Accord; and related posts on the implementation of clean and renewable energy.
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