Manitoba Hydro’s Seven Sisters Dam. (Photo by Darren Fast via Creative Commons)
Norway has been called the “battery” of northern Europe because of its huge potential to store energy in its hydro power facilities, which produce virtually all of the country’s electricity.
When generation ramps up at Danish wind farms, Norway can slow production at its hydro facilities, storing water in reservoirs to be released later when electricity is in shorter supply.
As much as 40 percent of Danish wind power is “stored” like this behind Norwegian hydro dams, according to a 2012 paper by Norwegian energy economist Johannes Mauritzen.
In northern Minnesota, an electric utility is proposing a 500 kV, cross-border transmission line that would let it tap Canadian hydropower under a similar arrangement.
Minnesota Power says the Great Northern Transmission Line would allow it to balance intermittent power from its North Dakota wind farms with dispatchable power from Manitoba hydro facilities.
“I think we here at Minnesota Power have coupled together what I like to call the holy grail of renewable resources,” said Dave McMillan, the utility’s executive vice president.
A wind farm under construction in Germany in 2009. (Photo by Windwärts Energie via Creative Commons)
Chicago energy experts who spent a week in Germany and Brussels in mid-November on a fact-finding expedition came back with a complicated take on Germany’s famous Energiewende, the sweeping transition to clean and renewable energy.
They were highly impressed with the fact that unlike the U.S., Germany has a cohesive national energy policy, and that it has meant rapid adoption of solar and wind power, including through substantial governmental support and subsidies.
But they also learned how Germany has in some ways been a victim of its own success, with the swift transition to solar and wind and the closure of nuclear plants raising reliability issues.
“They’ve been successful beyond their wildest dreams – there’s so much solar and wind coming on to their grid that it’s actually destabilizing their grid,” said Rachel Bronson, vice president of studies for the Chicago Council on Global Affairs, which convened the delegation along with the Konrad Adenauer Stiftung (KAS) – a political organization close to the center-right Christian Democratic Party. “It’s exciting, but there is too much (renewable power) coming on at times, and sometimes not enough.”
Wind advocates in Nebraska say Bruce Pontow, who represents rural co-ops in the state, has been a major obstacle to wind development. Pontow says his position has been misunderstood. (Image via YouTube)
Nebraska is rated third among the states for its wind-energy potential. And yet a year ago, it ranked only 26th for its actual wind-energy production.
It’s a long-debated issue that came to a head earlier this year, when neighboring Iowa’s vast wind farms helped it beat out the Cornhusker State to land a $300 million Facebook data center.
In fact, among Midwest states, only Ohio has less installed wind capacity than Nebraska.
The reason for the gap? Several people familiar with the curious dynamics of wind energy in Nebraska place much of it squarely on the doorstep of one Bruce Pontow.
Construction of an offshore wind turbine off the coast of England in 2010. (Photo by DECC via Creative Commons)
Offshore wind energy development in the Great Lakes could create thousands of manufacturing and construction jobs in the region — if lawmakers get the policy right.
A new report by an Illinois economist concludes that the economic impact of offshore wind farms in the Great Lakes greatly depends on whether the industry can grow at a steady pace.
Offshore wind developers are more likely to open regional offices and manufacturing facilities if they view the Great Lakes as an opportunity for sustained, long-term growth, it says.
But if incentives and permitting turn out to be as choppy as Lake Superior during a wind storm, those companies would probably import parts and expertise from elsewhere instead.
Wind turbines in McLean County, Illinois. (Photo by Tim Lindenbaum via Creative Commons)
Cross-posted from Greentech Media with permission
By Chelsea Barnes and Justin Barnes
Numerous schemes to scrap or diminish state renewable portfolio standard (RPS) policies have attracted a lot of national attention this year. Grim media forecasts for RPS policies, and the hefty renewables markets these policies facilitate, were not uncommon. These reports were worrisome to renewables supporters.
And for good reason. Meeting existing state RPS requirements will require 93,000 megawatts of new renewables capacity by 2035, according to Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory.
That’s a lot of new renewables capacity. And a lot of investment.
Wind turbines north of Madison, Wisconsin. (Photo by Michael Leland via Creative Commons)
Wisconsin legislators are scheduled to take up a bill next week that would make it easier for people to sue for perceived health symptoms and property value impacts they attribute to wind turbines.
Under the proposal, anyone living within 1.5 miles of a wind turbine could sue for damages related to physical or emotional suffering, loss of property value, moving expenses, or lost profits, and the wind farm owner or operator would be forced to pick up the tab for the plaintiffs’ attorney fees.
It would also prohibit as a defense the fact that a project has already been legally permitted to operate by the state or a local government.
Opponents say the bill (SB167), if passed, would effectively put an end to wind development in Wisconsin and potentially drive up electricity rates in the state.
“The real intention of this is to kill wind [energy] in Wisconsin, and I would say it would do that,” said Joe Sullivan, regional policy manager for Wind on the Wires, a nonprofit that advocates for policies that support wind energy and transmission development.
These solar panels at Heidel Hollow Farms in Pennsylvania were installed with financial assistance from the USDA. (Photo via USDA)
©2013 E&E Publishing, LLC
Republished with permission
By Amanda Peterka
The solar, wind and biofuels industries are urging the 41-member bicameral farm bill conference committee to provide rural energy programs nearly $1 billion in mandatory funding.
In a letter Monday to conferees, more than 100 renewable energy and farm organizations said they supported language contained in the Senate version of the bill, S. 954, that would guarantee $900 million in funding over the next five years for the bill’s energy programs. They said the programs, while a relatively small part of the farm bill, are critical for tapping the nation’s renewable energy and bio-based product potential.
Lithium batteries store energy at a smart grid demonstration project in Oregon. (Photo by PGE via Creative Commons)
Development of energy-storage systems, which some consider essential to the growth of renewable energy, has trailed behind the installation of wind turbines and solar panels. However, it appears that is about to change.
Regulatory changes at the federal and state levels are likely to give a big boost to energy-storage projects, whether they stash electricity in batteries, pumped hydro, compressed air or some other technology.
Joe Spease, who’s developing several compressed-air storage projects in Texas and in his home state of Kansas, says he’s “ecstatic” about the developments. There’s a dawning recognition, he said, that energy storage is “the best thing that can happen for the economy and the environment. It’s inevitable that there will be a speedy movement towards these projects.”
Chris Shelton, president of AES Energy Storage in Arlington, Virginia, put it this way: “Key stakeholders – regulators and policymakers – are beginning to see that storage is part of the equation. That’s a big deal.”
Solar panels being installed at Wayne National Forest facilities in Ohio in 2009. (Photo by Wayne National Forest via Creative Commons)
©2013 E&E Publishing, LLC
Republished with permission
By Peter Behr
The eastern Great Lakes and mid-Atlantic region could rely on wind and solar power for as much as 30 percent of their generation capacity — without threatening electricity delivery — with net benefits even after additional transmission lines and reserve resources are added, according to a preliminary study released by the PJM Interconnection, the region’s grid operator.
The study, by GE Energy Consulting, investigates several scenarios for additions of wind and solar generation to the PJM grid, which extends from New Jersey to to Ohio and parts of Michigan, Indiana and northern Illinois. It calculates the amount of new transmission lines needed to deliver the renewable energy and the required backup generation to support the variable wind and solar power.
A wind turbine blade being hauled by truck in North Dakota. (Photo by Daniel Liu via Creative Commons)
Renewable energy has been on a roll in the Midwest until recent months, and the whims of federal policy could slow things even further, according to a new report.
The American Council on Renewable Energy is in the process of surveying the state of renewable energy in the U.S., region by region. Their latest report, titled Renewable Energy in the 50 States: Midwestern Region, looked at 12 states: Iowa, Minnesota, Illinois, Ohio, Nebraska, Kansas, Missouri, the Dakotas, Wisconsin, Michigan, Indiana. The survey catalogs state policies, recent renewable developments in the marketplace, and the employment and investment stimulated by renewables.
Although it still relies heavily on coal, the nation’s midsection is noteworthy for its production of wind energy and biofuels, author Lesley Hunter wrote. More than one-third of the nation’s wind capacity is located in the 12-state region. Of the nine states nationwide that produce at least 10 percent of their electrical power from wind, five are located in the Midwest. In 2012, she wrote, installed wind capacity in the Midwest grew by 29 percent.