Tag Archives: renewable energy

U.S. states turn against renewable energy as gas plunges

By Christopher Martin, April 23, 2013. Source: Bloomberg

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More than half the U.S. states with laws requiring utilities to buy renewable energy are considering ways to pare back those mandates after a plunge in natural gas prices brought on by technology that boosted supply.

Sixteen of the 29 states with renewable portfolio standards are considering legislation that would reduce the need for wind and solar power, according to researchers backed by the U.S. Energy Department. North Carolina lawmakers may be among the first to move, followed by Colorado and Connecticut.

The efforts could benefit U.S. utilities such as Duke Energy Corp (DUK). and PG&E Corp (PCG). as well as Exxon Mobil Corp (XOM)., the biggest U.S. oil producer, and Peabody Energy Corp (BTU)., the largest U.S. coal mining company. Those companies contributed to at least one of the lobby groups pushing the change, according to the Center for Media and Democracy, a Madison, Wisconsin-based non-profit group. It would hurt wind turbine maker Vestas Wind Systems A/S (VWS) and First Solar Inc (FSLR)., which develops solar farms.

“We’re opposed to these mandates, and 2013 will be the most active year ever in terms of efforts to repeal them,” said Todd Wynn, task force director for energy of the American Legislative Exchange Council, or Alec, a lobby group pushing for the change. “Natural gas is a clean fuel, and regulators and policy makers are seeing how it’s much more affordable than renewable energy.”
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BP selling its entire U.S. wind power business; Will focus on oil and gas for future growth

Note: Not that we though BP investing in mega-wind farms was any kind of solution either, but…reinvesting in oil and gas to position itself for “sustainable growth”?  Now that is what we call a perfect paradox.

-The GJEP Team

By Matt Cover, April 3, 2013.  Source: CNS News

The Deepwater Horizon oil rig burning after the explosion in the Gulf of Mexico

The Deepwater Horizon oil rig burning after the explosion in the Gulf of Mexico

BP will sell its entire American wind power business in an effort to “position the company for sustainable growth” and return to its core business of oil and gas production.

BP is the No. 6 largest oil and gas companies in the world, according to Forbes, producing 4.1 million barrels of oil per day.

“BP has decided to market for sale our U.S. wind energy business as part of a continuing effort to become a more focused oil and gas company and re-position the company for sustainable growth into the future,” BP said in an emailed statement to CNSNews.com.

BP operates 16 wind farms in nine states that together produce about 2,600 megawatts of power. It is also selling undeveloped projects that could produce an additional 2,000 megawatts.
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Wind and solar groups flee ALEC

By Tina Gerhardt, February 1, 2013.  Source: The Progressive

alecThe American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) is suffering backlash from its battle on a new front: renewable energy standards.

The American Wind Energy Association (AWEA) and the Solar Energy Industry Association (SEIA) have let their ALEC memberships expire, according to Greenwire (subscription required).

Why? Last October, ALEC adopted the “Electricity Freedom Act”model bill. This model bill, which ALEC is now seeking to roll out in various states, would end requirements for states to derive a specific percentage of their electricity needs from renewable energy sources.

Given the gridlock on national legislation, renewable energy standards, which are typically passed at the state or local level, set targets for shifting from fossil fuel energy to renewable sources, such as solar and wind energy.

The Solar Energy Industry Association let its one-year membership expire last fall. The American Wind Energy Association let its membership drop in January.
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Video: Damocracy

January 10, 2013.  Source: International Rivers

DAMOCRACY is an international movement striving to debunk the myth of dams as clean energy. While large dam projects worldwide are promoted as sources of renewable energy, in reality they cause irreversible damage to nature, people and cultures around the world.

Doga Dernegi (BirdLife in Turkey), Amazon Watch, International Rivers, RiverWatch, Gota D’água (Drop of Water) Movement, Instituto Socioambiental (ISA) and Movimento Xingu Vivo para Sempre (MXVPS) have formed the “Damocracy” movement on destructive dams, which is open for other groups working for the same purpose of debunking the myth of dams as clean energy.

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Rise in renewable energy will require more use of fossil fuels

By Ralph Vartabedian, December 9, 2012.  Source: LA Times

Photo: Bob Chamberlin, LA Times

Photo: Bob Chamberlin, LA Times

The Delta Energy Center, a power plant about an hour outside San Francisco, was roaring at nearly full bore one day last month, its four gas and steam turbines churning out 880 megawatts of electricity to the California grid.

On the horizon, across an industrial shipping channel on the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta, scores of wind turbines stood dead still. The air was too calm to turn their blades — or many others across the state that day. Wind provided just 33 megawatts of power statewide in the midafternoon, less than 1% of the potential from wind farms capable of producing 4,000 megawatts of electricity.

As is true on many days in California when multibillion-dollar investments in wind and solar energy plants are thwarted by the weather, the void was filled by gas-fired plants like the Delta Energy Center.

One of the hidden costs of solar and wind power — and a problem the state is not yet prepared to meet — is that wind and solar energy must be backed up by other sources, typically gas-fired generators. As more solar and wind energy generators come online, fulfilling a legal mandate to produce one-third of California’s electricity by 2020, the demand will rise for more backup power from fossil fuel plants.

“The public hears solar is free, wind is free,” said Mitchell Weinberg, director of strategic development for Calpine Corp., which owns Delta Energy Center. “But it is a lot more complicated than that.”
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Half of Europe’s renewable energy ‘comes from wood’

November 30 2012. Source: EurActiv

Practically half of the EU’s renewable energy currently comes from wood and wood waste, according to the EU statistics office Eurostat, but a lack of sustainability criteria for measuring its environmental impact is stoking fears of a hidden carbon debt mountain.

The new Eurostat numbers were issued in conjunction with the UN’s Year of Sustainable Energy For All (SE4ALL), which sets ambitious renewables, energy efficiency and universal energy access targets.

According to the Eurostat statistics, on average, 49% of renewable energy in the EU 27 states came from wood and wood waste in 2010, and most EU states met the majority of their renewable energy obligations this way.

Forest products were most popular in the Baltics, accounting for 96% of Estonia’s renewable energy and 88% of Lithuania’s. At the other end of the table, Norway and Cyprus only used wood materials for 11% and 13% of their renewable energy needs respectively.  Continue reading

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Military Greens (or, how to kill people renewably…)

Note: Nope, sorry, it’s just not enough to go after fossil fuels alone.  Just look at this prime example.  The military is switching over to “renewable” biofuels.  It is a systemic problem, not a fossil fuels problem.  We really do have to change the system–transform it into something both socially just and ecologically balanced.  It is all connected, after all… Green military?  Aaacckk.

–The GJEP Team

by Jeremy Runnalls, 2 August, 2012, Source: Corporate Knights

Climate wars. Fuel volatility. Safety in the battlefield. The Pentagon has many reasons to embrace renewable energy, and it’s taking action.

During a speech in Maryland last year, Secretary of the Navy Ray Mabus looked back on the energy transitions that American naval forces have undergone over the past 150 years. Modernization required leaving the sail behind and building metal ships powered first by coal, then oil. The objections were fierce, with officers convinced the steel ships wouldn’t float and Navy leaders reluctant to jettison wind-propelled ships for an unproven technology. Mabus sees similar objections forming today, as the Navy moves away from fossil-fuel dependency. “The naysayers who say it’s too expensive, that the technology is just not there – they are going to be proven wrong again,” he said.

According to Sohbet Karbuz, a military energy analyst and former International Energy Agency official, there are multiple factors pushing the Department of Defense (DoD) to go green, including “increasing fuel costs, logistics pains and the delicate fuel distribution network.” The DoD is the largest consumer of liquid fuels on the planet, burning about 375,000 barrels a day to fuel over 500,000 vehicles, ships and aircraft. “Energy security concerns also exist, due to the heavy reliance on imported fossil fuels,” added Karbuz. “Then there’s the fragile domestic energy grid which powers the hundreds of domestic military facilities in the United States.”

Oil intensity per war fighter has risen 2.6 per cent a year for the past 40 years. Cheap oil and infrequent supply disruptions lulled the military into complacency for decades. It is the experience in Afghanistan and Iraq that sparked an overhaul of the DoD’s approach to energy issues. More than 3,000 American soldiers and contractors have been killed in attacks involving fuel convoys over the past 10 years. P.W. Singer, a senior fellow and expert in 21st century warfare at the Brookings Institution, laments the army losses. “A mere 1 per cent improvement in defense energy efficiency would have meant 6,444 fewer convoy missions, one of the most dangerous roles in the Iraq and Afghanistan conflicts.”

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Seattle Steam Plant Assailed as Producer of ‘Dirty Heat’ Despite Green Credentials

Note: “Recycled wood”?  Last time I checked, burning was not “recycling.”  Many times biomass plants start off with burning so-called “waste wood” left over from lumber mills, etc, but they quickly use up these materials and move right along to burning trees straight out of the forest.  Bad for health, bad for forests and bad for the climate.  Large biomass plants are no solution to anything.

–The GJEP Team

By Nina Shapiro Tue., Jul. 10 2012

Cross-Posted from Seattle Weekly

Seattle Steam.jpgA downtown energy plant has become a target for activists who claim the facility is producing “dirty heat” that is poisoning the environment and literally threatening our lives. “It’s connected with cancer, strokes, heart attacks,” said Duff Badgley, one of several dozen activists who staged a protest yesterday. Yet the facility in question–Seattle Steam’s new biomass plant–is producing a type of energy often hailed by environmentalists.Biomass heat is obtained by burning recycled wood rather than fossil fuels like coal and gas. Burning wood emits carbon just like fossil fuels, University of Washington bio-resource scientist Rick Gustafson tells Seattle Weekly. But since wood comes from trees that absorb carbon from the environment, biomass energy is considered “carbon neutral,” Gustafson says.

After Seattle Steam opened its biomass plant near Pike Place Market in 2010, converting part of its operation over from natural gas, the company received glowing coverage fromSustainable Industries Magazine, NPR and other media outlets. Seattle Steam chief executive Stan Gent tells SW that its biomass plant, which supplies heat to some 200 buildings downtown, has reduced the company’s carbon emissions by 60 percent.

Activists, however, claim that biomass plants emit more carbon, not less. They also say such facilities pollute the air with small matter known as “particulates.” Badgley, part of a group called No Biomass Burn, which has also protested planned facilities in Port Townsend and Shelton, says it’s these particulates that can cause grave health hazards like heart attacks and strokes. He cites a 2008 report from the American Lung Association that warns that even short-term exposure to particle pollution “can kill.”

But that report was not talking about biomass plant pollution specifically, but all types of particle emission, including the pollution caused by automobiles and even home fireplaces. Clark Williams-Derry, director of programs for the environmental non-profit Sightline Institute, says he believes cars and trucks–not biomass plants– “are the big deals when it comes to particulates.” He points to a chart created by Seattle Steam that shows just that.

Gent adds that his company’s facility, being new, has a state-of-the-art “scrubber” that cleans up the emissions so that the plant generates even less particulates than allowed by the Puget Sound Clean Air Agency.

Still, Sightline’s Williams-Derry says there’s a question in his mind about the agency’s capabilities. “Are they finding the really, really fine particulates,” he wonders. If there’s a problem however, holds the UW’s Gustafson, the solution lies in correct regulation, not throwing out biomass energy altogether.

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Pat Spears: Indigenous leader for sustainability and renewable energy passes away

From Clayton Thomas-Muller, Tar Sands Campaigner for Indigenous Environmental Network, and Board member of Global Justice Ecology Project:

Indian Country and really America lost one their heavy weights in the fight for a new economic/energy paradigm. Many of you have met Pat Spears and Bob on the road pushing for Indian owned wind development in the Dakotas.

Pat passed this weekend.

Patrick Neil Spears, 62, Former Tribal Chairman, Walks On

Cross-Posted from Indian Country Today Media Network, July 5, 2012

Patrick Neil Spears, age 62, former tribal chairman, passionate warrior for renewable energy and indigenous sustainability, and long-time president of the Intertribal Council On Utility Policy, journeyed on to the spirit world shortly after midnight on July 2, from St. Mary’s Hospital in Pierre, South Dakota.

A wake will be held at his home at Fort George on the western end of the Lower Brule Reservation (marker 148 on SD Hwy 1806) on Thursday evening, with burial at 10 a.m. on Friday morning at the nearby Holy Name Cemetery on SD Hwy 1806, southeast of Ft. Pierre, South Dakota. Pat requested that ‘no flowers be cut’ for his passing, instead donations for a memorial to his work maybe sent to the Intertribal COUP.

An enrolled member of the Lakota Kul Wicasa (Lower Brule Indian Tribe), Pat was born in the old IHS hospital at Rosebud on June 26, 1950, to Norman F. Spears and Esther Thompson Spears of Lower Brule. He is survived by his mother, brother Daniel and sisters Cathy, Brenda and Tammy; his children Pedro, Leslie, Michael, Ryan, Matthew, Clay, Edward and Little Patrick; sixteen grandchildren; and his beloved companion Suzie Crow. He was preceded in death by his father, brother Michael, and his two sons Shawn and Patrick.

At various times throughout his life Pat called Lower Brule, Vermillion, Aberdeen, Washington, DC, Pierre/Ft. Pierre and lastly Ft. George home. Pat’s formal education included graduating from Lyman High School, a BA in Sociology, with emphases in Anthropology and Indian Studies from the University of South Dakota in Vermillion, and graduate study in Public Administration at the Washington D.C. Public Affairs Center, University of Southern California.

Pat’s informal education came through his love of rock, country, western, folk and traditional Indian music, through construction labor on I-90 and the long hours of ranch and farm work, years of working for federal and tribal governments, wrangling plants and animals on the set of ‘Dances with Wolves’, and the enjoyment of fishing, hunting, gardening and playing a mean blues harp. He witnessed the construction of the last dams on the Missouri river and the flooding of his treasured homeland garden, farmlands and hunting grounds. He greeted every dawn in prayerful gratitude for the coming day.

Pat was the former Planning Director and then Chairman of the Lower Brule Sioux Tribe and has worked at tribal, intertribal, state and federal levels of government, including HUD, HHS, SD Governors Office of Economic Development and the Mni Sose Intertribal Water Rights Coalition.

Topping off a long career in tribal planning, Pat was the co-founder and president of the Intertribal Council On Utility Policy (COUP), representing the energy interests of American Indian Tribes in the Dakotas, Wyoming, and Nebraska. Through Intertribal COUP, Pat was involved in policy issues and outreach education to tribal governments, colleges, and indigenous environmental organizations on climate change, energy planning, energy efficiency and renewable energy development, and sustainable housing workforce training. His policy work also included collaboration with other regional and national members of the Intertribal Energy Network.

Providing consultant services to tribes, intertribal organizations, DOE Wind Powering America, NASA, and tribal colleges, Pat championed renewable energy, energy efficiency, climate change, and strawbale housing construction training on the Sinte Gleska University campus on the Rosebud Reservation. He also served as co-chair of the Native Peoples, Native Homelands Climate Change Workshop as part of the USGCRP National Climate Assessment.

Pat was a member of the team that developed the first utility scale wind turbine at Rosebud and the KILI Radio wind turbine project on the Pine Ridge reservation with Honor the Earth. He served as a board member for NativeEnergy, a company that assists in financing renewable energy projects through the purchase of renewable energy credits and carbon offsets and for Fresh Energy, a St. Paul based, non-profit advocacy group for renewable energy policies. He also co-managed the development of the 450 MW Intertribal Wind Project plan, competitively selected in 2003 as a federal environmental justice wind energy project, developed to help ‘green’ the federal hydro-power electrical grid in the Northern Plains by reducing the region’s dependence on lignite coal generation and building tribal economies.

In 2007, Pat, along with Bob Gough, long-time friend and COUP colleague, traveled to Basel, Switzerland to accept the inaugural World Clean Energy Award for Courage for the COUP plan to build tribal wind projects and sustainable, affordable reservation housing. In 2011, Intertribal COUP proposed a five-year commitment to tribal energy training and education through the Renewable Nations Institute with the Clinton Global Initiative. Always looking to expand tribal capacity, Pat was just beginning a new COUP project with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, bringing climate and weather monitoring programs to the reservations through several tribal colleges.

Pat always had a warm smile and ready good word for every one he met. He was proud of the accomplishments of all his children and comfortable in the company of the Ikce Wicasa on the Great Plains reservations, street musicians in Greenwich Village, San Francisco or Los Angeles, mayors at Robert Redford’s Sundance or at international gatherings, senior scientists at NASA, or senators and congressmen in Washington, DC. While his passionate advocacy for Indian peoples will be missed, his leadership and spirit will guide generations to come.

[Tax deductible donations may be sent to: Patrick Spears Memorial Fund, Intertribal COUP, P.O. 25, Rosebud, South Dakota 57570.]

Read more:http://indiancountrytodaymedianetwork.com/2012/07/05/patrick-neil-spears-62-former-tribal-chairman-walks-on-122052

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U.S. Debt Deal Kills Off Prospects of Renewable-Power Support

Note: Unfortunately this article only discusses the impacts on wind and solar subsidies.  It makes no mention of subsidies for wood-based electricity production, wood-based liquid fuel production or other nonsense “renewable” energies.  Eliminating subsidies for those “false solutions” that directly threaten global forests and are being used to promote genetically engineered trees (GE trees or GM trees), would be a GOOD thing.  Once again it comes back to the need to reduce consumption and overproduction that is at the heart of the real solutions.

–The GJEP Team

Cross-Posted from Bloomberg News

By Jim Efstathiou Jr. and Christopher Martin - Aug 5, 2011

 

No Renewal for Renewable Energy Aid in Debt Deal

A rotor assembly is raised into position at the Edison Mission Group Big Sky wind farm in Illinois. The Treasury Department has paid out $7.78 billion in grants to developers of wind, solar, biomass and geothermal energy under an incentive created in the stimulus bill and expires at the end of the year. Photo: Daniel Acker/Bloomberg

U.S. government support for renewable energy may plunge from record levels, setting back the use of wind and solar power before they can compete on their own with oil, gas and coal.

Direct spending, tax breaks and research funding pushed federal renewable-energy subsidies to $14.7 billion in 2010, according to Alan Beamon, director of the Energy Information Administration’s Office of Electric, Coal, Nuclear and Renewables Analysis. Project developers are lining up for subsidies approved in the 2009 stimulus bill as incentives expire and the deficit-reduction deal dims prospects for future backing of solar panels and wind farms.

“The debt agreement, which is focused on cuts only and not revenue increases, makes it more likely that this infant sector gets strangled before it matures,” Daniel J. Weiss, a senior fellow at the Center for American Progress, a Washington policy group that advises Democrats, said in an interview with Bloomberg Government.

The deal on a debt-limit increase that Congress and President Barack Obama struck to avert a U.S. default would result in at least $2.1 trillion in spending cuts, according to the Congressional Budget Office. Additional savings of at least $1.2 trillion would come from enactment of a deficit-reduction bill or from automatic spending cuts if Congress fails to accept a package framed by a 12-member panel.

Direct Pressure

“The potential lapse of key subsidies at the end of 2011 puts the pressure all the more directly on the clean-energy sector to drive down costs and become more competitive between now and then,” according to a Dec. 13 report by Bloomberg New Energy Finance.

The Treasury Department has paid out $7.78 billion in grants to developers of wind, solar, biomass and geothermal energy under an incentive that was created in the stimulus bill and lapses at the end of the year. Tax credits for wind, solar and geothermal projects end in 2012 and 2016.

“I will be working hard to preserve renewable energy incentives, but it will be more difficult to do so going forward, and that is one reason I opposed the deficit deal,” Senator Robert Menendez, a New Jersey Democrat, said in an e- mail. “Oil company incentives do not sunset, but renewable incentives do.”

Government aid for renewable energy is up from $5.12 billion in 2007, according to the EIA. Subsidies are expected to decline beginning this year, and will fall 77 percent by 2016 from the record in 2010, according to the White House Office of Management and Budget.

Tax Credits

The expiring grants from the Treasury filled a void in project financing that followed the collapse of Lehman Brothers Holdings Inc. three years ago. The grants were offered after the recession sapped demand in the tax equity market, where tax credits earned by solar and wind project developers could be sold to companies seeking to reduce their tax burden.

The tax credits also will expire unless Congress approves an extension. The production tax credit, used mainly by wind- farm developers, runs out at the end of 2012. The investment tax credit, which goes primarily to solar and geothermal projects, ends in 2016.

“The truth is that paying equity subsidies for green energy is expensive,” Kevin Book, managing director at ClearView Energy Partners LLC, a Washington-based policy analysis firm, said in an interview. “Who will be the strong voice to defend credits, and which credits get defended?”

Other subsidies for energy, which go both to renewable sources and oil and gas, may also be targeted by the congressional debt-reduction panel.

Tax Code

Written into the federal tax code are benefits valued at $24.2 billion for renewable energy and efficiency incentives through 2014, compared with an estimated $17.9 billion for the oil, gas, and coal industries, according to a December report by the congressional Joint Committee on Taxation.

“We’ve only just started supporting renewable energy,” Ellen Vancko, manager of the Nuclear Energy and Climate Change Project at the Cambridge, Massachusetts-based Union of Concerned Scientists, said in an interview. “We need to allow these technologies to mature so they don’t need subsidies.”

Globally, government spending on renewable energy peaked last year at $74.5 billion and will decline to $68 billion this year before dropping to $21.4 billion in 2013, according to New Energy Finance.

In the U.S., the 2009 stimulus bill provided $65 billion for clean energy, including loan guarantees for solar and wind power, funding for state programs to help make homes more energy efficient, research into battery-powered cars and trucks and systems to capture carbon dioxide from power-plant emissions. The bill also created the Treasury grant program.

Spent by Mid-2012

By the end of last year, the U.S. had spent 36 percent of the $65 billion, according to Stephen Munro, an analyst with New Energy Finance in Washington. By mid-2012, all the money should be spent.

About $34 billion in stimulus funds will be spent on clean energy this year, up from $13 billion in 2010, Munro said. The remainder, about $18 billion, will be delivered by July 2012 as continued disbursements for Treasury grants and accelerated depreciation for renewable technologies, he said.

Projects that begin construction this year can qualify for a Treasury grant. Payments under the program, made when the renewable power source goes into service, are expected to reach a high of $4.26 billion this year and end in 2016 with $620 million in outlays, according to the White House Office of Management and Budget.

The grant program was extended through this year in a December 2010 tax deal.

‘Political Football’

“The Treasury grants are very vulnerable in the current fiscal mood and the production tax credit has always been a political football,” said Nathanael Greene, director of renewable energy policy at the Natural Resources Defense Council in New York. “Wind energy has the most at stake right now. Expiry of the credits would put a lot of people on the street.”

The stimulus bill also included $6 billion for Department of Energy loan guarantees to back renewable projects, a figure later reduced to $2.5 billion. The department said in May it stopped work on a loan guarantee for Cape Wind off of Massachusetts because there wasn’t enough money for all applicants. The first U.S. offshore wind farm is projected to cost $2.6 billion. Funding for the loan guarantee program fell to $170 million in the current budget.

About 75,000 jobs in the U.S. are in the wind-power industry, according to Denise Bode, chief executive officer of the American Wind Energy Association, a trade group in Washington.

Current wind “projects are safe, and prospects for extension of the program beyond 2012 are as good as ever,” Bode said in an e-mail. “I had a front-row seat to tax reform in the mid-1980s, and I feel confident that wind incentives will survive this process.”

To contact the reporters on this story: Jim Efstathiou Jr. in New York atjefstathiou@bloomberg.net; Christopher Martin in New York at cmartin11@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Larry Liebert at lliebert@bloomberg.net

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