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Wind Energy’s Inertia

Policy and project investment support the industry’s momentum.

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Today, wind turbines spin gracefully across the California desert; they tower over Iowa cornfields, and stand watch off coastal waters. Wind power is emerging as an increasingly viable power source.

The domestic US market for offshore wind has gained momentum recently due to both declining costs and supportive policies. Current laws in several northeastern states require utilities to enter into contracts for wind energy generated off their coastlines. In 2017, over 7 gigawatts were installed across the US, according to CNBC.

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This week, the US House committee will begin debate on three new bills projected to further accelerate offshore wind energy leases in federal waters. One of the proposed bills requires the Interior Department to develop a leasing schedule for federal offshore leases. Another creates a federal grant for offshore wind career programs. The third grants the Interior Department control over the federal submerged lands surrounding territories for offshore energy development.

“The Trump administration has thrown its weight behind the nascent offshore wind industry by streamlining permitting processes and working to open up more areas for lease,” according to Reuters.  “The administration views offshore wind as an element in its goal for US energy dominance.”

The effects of this support are visible in the increase in projects in development nationwide. In May, three Massachusetts utilities were awarded the largest ever US contract for offshore wind and New Jersey committed to the procurement of 3.5 GW. Last week, US telecom AT&T announced a new 300-MW Power Purchase Agreement (PPA) with Florida-based electricity supplier NextEra Energy Resources, a project that builds upon a previous 520-MW deal.

“As one of the world’s largest companies, we know how we source our energy is important,” said Scott Mair, President, AT&T Operations. “We’ve been working for a long time to ensure our wind projects deliver for both our business and the environment. We will continue to explore renewable energy solutions to help create a better, more sustainable world.”

What are your thoughts? Will we see more wind power contracts as a result of supportive legislature in the coming months? How will this surge in project development impact other renewable energy markets such as solar? DE_bug_web

 

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Comments

  1. Hi Laura, love your articles and writing style.
    Writing to you to ask if you would please show a balanced prospective regarding Wind Turbines, specifically the environmental cost of this “darling” in the renewable movement. A few years ago I had read several reports about how China was one of the key sources of Rare-Earth magnetic ores used in the manufacture of the wind generator magnets. The articles were sharing the unbelievable environmental disaster in China where they are processing the ores and dumping the waste in a 5 mile long “tailings” lake of spent ore and acid. The articles spoke about the locals loosing their hair and teeth to this superfund type of dump. When people think of renewables they need to consider all impacts to the environment (lithium battery manufacture and carbon footprint, raptor bird kills, rare-earth magnet manufacturing, etc.). There are a couple of these rare-earth mines in the US and Canada but obviously our environmental laws are much stronger and would not allow this type of circumstance.

    1. Mark, thank you for your thoughtful comments. I appreciate the reminder to remain cognizant of the environmental affects of renewables. Of course there are plusses and minuses for every energy source. I’ll do my very best to ensure balanced coverage.

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