Two Dot Wind Project Completed

Two Dot Wind farmThe Two Dot Wind Project has been completed. The project is located in Two Dot, Montana, and the wind farm is owned by NJR Clean Energy Ventures, an unregulated clean energy subsidiary of New Jersey Resources). The 9.73 megawatt project is the company’s first onshore wind project, which was energized earlier this month. The energy produced will be sold to NorthWestern Energy under a 25-year power purchase agreement (PPA).

Mortenson Construction was responsible for the design and construction of access roads, foundations, erection, underground electrical collection system and a 100kV substation interconnecting into an adjacent Northwestern Energy transmission line. The Two Dot wind farm is the fifth wind farm the renewable energy contractor has built in the state to date and its 135th wind project constructed since 1995.

“We are very pleased to support NJR’s entry into the wind industry and to be part of the expansion of their renewable energy portfolio,” said Tim Maag, VP and general manager of Mortenson’s Wind Energy Group. “We value our new partnership and their commitment to furthering the growth of our industry.”

Mortenson will begin construction on their second project for NJR, the Carroll County wind farm, located in Iowa in late summer.

Renewables Make Up Nearly 90% of New Power in May

FERCA new report shows that renewable energy sources made up nearly 90 percent of all new electrical generating capacity in the U.S. in May and more than half the new capacity this year so far. A news release from the SUN DAY Campaign, a non-profit research and educational organization that promotes sustainable energy technologies as cost-effective alternatives to nuclear power and fossil fuels, says that a new “Energy Infrastructure Update” report from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission’s Office of Energy Projects shows that wind, solar, biomass, and hydropower provided 88.2 percent of new installed U.S. electrical generating capacity for the month of May, and for the first five months of 2014, renewable energy sources accounted for 54.1 percent of the 3,136 MW of new domestic electrical generating installed.

Since January 1, 2012, renewable energy sources have accounted for nearly half (47.83%) of all new installed U.S. electrical generating capacity followed by natural gas (38.34%) and coal (13.40%) with oil, waste heat, and “other” accounting for the balance.

Renewable energy sources, including hydropower, now account for 16.28% of total installed U.S. operating generating capacity: water – 8.57%, wind – 5.26%, biomass – 1.37%, solar – 0.75%, and geothermal steam – 0.33%. This is more than nuclear (9.24%) and oil (4.03%) combined. *

“Some are questioning whether it’s possible to satisfy the U.S. EPA’s new CO2 reduction goals with renewable energy sources and improved energy efficiency,” noted Ken Bossong, Executive Director of the SUN DAY Campaign.”The latest FERC data and the explosion of new renewable energy generating capacity during the past several years unequivocally confirm that it can be done.”

You can read the full report here.

New England Coast Offshore Wind Leases Available

Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell and Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) Acting Director Walter Cruickshank joined Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick to announce more than 742,000 acres offshore Massachusetts will be available for commercial wind energy leasing. The proposed area is the largest in federal waters and will nearly double the federal offshore acreage available for commercial-scale wind energy projects.

“Massachusetts is leading the way toward building a clean and sustainable energy future that creates jobs, cuts carbon pollution and develops domestic clean energy resources,” said Secretary Jewell. “Thanks to Governor Patrick’s vision and leadership, the competitive lease sale in Massachusetts will reflect the extensive and productive input from a number of important stakeholders. This includes interests such as commercial fishing, shipping, cultural, historical, environmental, and local communities to minimize conflicts and bring clarity and certainty to potential wind energy developers.”

Mass Wind Energy AreaThe Massachusetts Wind Energy Area is located approximately 12 miles offshore Massachusetts – from its northern boundary, the area extends 33 nautical miles southward and has an east/west extent of approximately 47 nautical miles. BOEM proposes to auction the Wind Energy Area as four leases.

“Today’s announcement is a momentous occasion and the culmination of years of cooperation and hard work between the Commonwealth and federal officials,” said Governor Patrick. “Through our investments and proactive planning, Massachusetts is poised to lead the charge in offshore wind energy development, with the economic and environmental benefits that come with it.”

The Interior’s is working to develop a sustainable offshore wind program through its ‘Smart from the Start’ wind energy initiative for the Atlantic Coast. To date, BOEM has awarded five commercial wind energy leases off the Atlantic coast: two non-competitive leases (Cape Wind in Nantucket Sound off Massachusetts and an area off Delaware) and three competitive leases (two offshore Massachusetts-Rhode Island and another offshore Virginia). The competitive lease sales have generated about $5.4 million in high bids for about 277,550 acres in federal waters. BOEM is expected to hold additional competitive auctions for Wind Energy Areas offshore Maryland and New Jersey later this year.

“The Commonwealth of Massachusetts has been working hand in hand with BOEM to foster responsible commercial wind development in federal waters off Massachusetts,” said BOEM Acting Director Cruickshank. “Members of the Massachusetts Renewable Energy Task Force have been great partners in our planning process for the Wind Energy Area and the Proposed Sale Notice.”

In response to the announcement, Conservation Law Foundation, who is working to advance responsibly sited offshore wind energy, said, “This is a meaningful leap forward for New England and the nation to seize the unparalleled renewable energy opportunity of offshore wind,” said Sue Reid, Vice President of Conservation Law Foundation and Director, CLF Massachusetts. “Because of the sheer scale of offshore wind energy’s potential, it has unmatched ability to displace the dirtiest and costliest energy generation on the grid. It is an essential building block of our clean energy future—one that can deliver wide-ranging environmental and public health benefits while boosting our regional economy.”

Nebraska Wind Farm Dedicated

steeleflatsA new wind farm has been dedicated in Nebraska. This story from the Lincoln Journal Star says Gov. Dave Heineman, along with about 100 local residents and officials, attended the dedication of the Steele Flats wind farm.

The wind farm sits on about 10,500 acres of privately owned agricultural and ranch land. Its 44 General Electric turbines can generate as many as 1.7 megawatts of electricity, enough to meet the energy needs of about 19,000 homes.

The wind farm began generating power in November 2013, two months ahead of schedule. The project represents a $138 million capital investment and is owned and operated by an affiliate of NextEra Energy Resources.

“I’m excited that NextEra Energy has built a wind farm in Nebraska,” Heineman said in a news release. “Wind energy helps our local and state economy and is an important step toward our own energy future.”

The project has a 20-year contract that has the Nebraska Public Power District buying all of the power generated.

Global Wind Power Capacity to Double by 2020

Despite a slowing down of global wind energy power installations in 2013, a new report has found that global cumulative wind power capacity will more than double from 319.6 gigawatts (GW) at the end of 2013 to 678.5 GW bu 2020. The report, “Wind Power, Update 2014 – Global Market Size, Average Price, Competitive Landscape, and Key Country Analysis to 2020,” was released by GlobalData.

Offshore wind farm in chinaThe report finds that China, the largest single wind power market responsible for 45 percent of total global annual capacity additions in 2013, is expected to have a cumulative wind capacity of 239.7 GW by 2020. China overtook the U.S. as the leading market for installations in 2010, when it added a massive 18.9 GW of wind capacity.

Harshavardhan Reddy Nagatham, GlobalData’s Analyst covering Alternative Energy, said: “China doubled its cumulative wind capacity every year from 2006 to 2009 and has continued to grow significantly since then. Supportive government policies, such as an attractive concessional program and the availability of low-cost financing from banks, have been fundamental to China’s success. While China will continue to be the largest global wind power market through to 2020, growth for the forecast period will be slow due to a large installation base.”

The report also finds that the U.S. will remain the second largest global wind power market in terms of cumulative installed capacity, increasing from 68.9 GW in 2014 to 104.1 GW in 2020. This will largely be driven by renewable energy targets in several states, such as Alaska’s aim to reach 50% renewable power generation and Texas’ mandate to achieve 10 GW of renewable capacity, both by 2025. An additional driver would include the reinstatement of the Production Tax Credit that expired on December 31, 2013.

Nagatham concluded, “The slump in 2013 was largely a product of a decrease in installations in the US and Spain. While there are likely to be further slight falls in annual capacity additions in 2015 and 2016, overall industry growth will not be affected as global annual capacity additions are expected to exceed 60 GW by 2020.”

Sierra Club Launches Wind Energy Jobs Ad Campaign

With uncertainty around the major federal wind incentive, the Sierra Club has launched a national ad campaign urging Congress to reauthorize the critical incentive for domestic wind energy investments. The campaign focuses on Members of Congress with wind manufacturing jobs in their districts and states that are at risk of the Wind Production Tax Credit is not renewed.

The first wave of ads targets 20 House members who have been silent as the Wind Production Tax Credit has expired, and involves a television advertisement targeting Congressman Tim Walberg (MI-07) as well as geo-targeted online ad buys in 20 other districts. These members represent districts and states with a growing wind industry who have not taken a position in support of extending the federal Production Tax Credit for Renewable Energy. In most cases, they have taken no position at all.

The Wind Production Tax Credit expired at the end of last year, in part, said the Sierra Club, because of new opposition from groups backed by the billionaire Koch Brothers and other dirty fuels interests who’ve also fought to preserve the $4 billion in annual tax breaks for the oil and gas industry.

“The Wind Production Tax credit is arguably one of the best bets we’ve made on clean, domestic energy,” said Dave Hamilton, Director of Clean Energy for Sierra Club’s Beyond Coal campaign. “It encourages huge investments, creates good American jobs, helps our country become more energy independent, and cuts air and water pollution. But many in Congress are failing to act, leaving thousands of American workers and communities across the country blowing in the wind.”

The wind industry employs more than 80,000 American workers and produces enough clean energy to power 15 million homes. It saves more than 30 billion gallons of fresh water each year compared with other energy sources. According to the American Wind Energy Association, if growth remains steady, the industry will produce 20 percent of America’s electricity by 2030. Continue reading

Wind, Solar Solution for New EPA Power Plant Rules

epa-logoThe U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is expected to announce later today new rules to reduce carbon pollution from coal-fired power plants by 30 percent by 2030, and a couple of renewable energy sources could help states comply. This article from the Boston Globe says solar and wind energy might be part of the compliance mix.

Under the rule, states will be given a menu of policy options to achieve the pollution cuts. Rather than immediately shut down coal plants, states could reduce emissions by making changes across their electricity systems — by installing new wind and solar generation or energy-efficiency technology, and by starting or joining state and regional “cap and trade” programs, in which states agree to cap carbon pollution and buy and sell permits to pollute.

And this article from the Houston Chronicle says power plants in Texas could end up in good shape because they use clean-burning natural gas.

[T]he state would have some 110 fully operating power plants, mostly fueled by natural gas, [Al Armendariz, a former EPA official who now leads the Sierra Club’s anti-coal campaign in Arkansas, Mississippi and Texas] said. “That’s the good news. The problem can be solved at a small number of plants. This will not affect nuclear plants or natural gas plants.”

Texas officials said the low prices for natural gas have led to the seasonal mothballing of coal-fired plants and reduced their output overall. The shift, they said, will lead to fewer emissions of greenhouse gases.

You can bet more renewable energy sources will be chiming in when the rule is announced later today.

Rural Wind Energy Development Act Introduced

capitol-buildingA bill to help rural areas get more power from the wind has been introduced. Representatives Earl Blumenauer (OR-03) and Tom Cole (OK-04) say their Rural Wind Energy Development Act will provide an investment tax credit to ranchers, farmers, and small businesses to offset the up-front costs of owning a distributed wind turbine.

Small wind turbines (generating up to 20 megawatts of clean energy) allow farmers, ranchers, and other consumers to cut their energy bills and, at times, sell power back into the grid. They also allow thousands of businesses—from “mom and pop” stores, to retailers, to ranches, and to breweries—to reduce their energy load, to help clean the environment, and to save money. The Department of Energy’s national laboratories estimate that community wind generates a strong economic multiplier for local communities, helping rural areas rebound from challenging economic times.

“Community wind energy not only creates American-produced electricity, but American jobs as well,” said Blumenauer. “Approximately 90% of distributed wind turbines sold in the U.S. are made here, according to domestic manufacturing content, creating non-exportable, family wage jobs.”

“I am pleased to once again work with my friend and colleague in furthering the success of the same credit we worked to create in 2008,” said Cole. “Not only does the credit play an important role in encouraging and developing an all-of-the-above energy approach for our nation, but it also ensures that America continues to be a leader in innovation. By modestly increasing this credit, we can continue to encourage economic development, especially in our rural communities.”

The bill is touted as taking away federal restrictions that work well for large-scale wind projects, but cause issues for the smaller producers.

New Wind Turbine Offers Quiet Rooftop Power

liamWhile rooftop wind turbines aren’t a new idea, one company might have solved the issue of the noise they can generate that keeps most homeowners from putting them in. This article from gizmag.com says Dutch-based The Archimedes has introduced its Liam F1 Urban Wind Turbine, which also brings an energy yield that is “80 percent of the maximum that is theoretically feasible” to the table… quite the claim considering most conventional wind turbines average around 25 to 50 percent.

The 75-kg (165-lb) 1.5-meter (5-ft)-wide Liam obviously doesn’t look much like a typical turbine. It draws on the form of the nautilus shell, and the screw pump invented by ancient Greek mathematician Archimedes of Syracuse.

That form factor reportedly results in minimal mechanical resistance, allowing it to spin very freely and to operate quietly – blade noise is one of the common complaints regarding rooftop wind turbines. Additionally, the design is claimed to keep it always pointing into the wind for maximum yield.

Along with its claim of being able to achieve 80 percent of Betz’ limit, The Archimedes adds that “The Liam F1 generates an average of 1,500 kilowatt-hours of energy [per year] at a wind-speed of 5 m/s [16.4 ft/s], which resembles half of the power consumption of a common household.”

The new wind turbine should be available July 1st with a price tag of about $5,450.

Wind Best Option to Meet EPA Pollution Rule

awealogoA new report shows that wind energy is probably the best way to meet a proposed new federal government rule regarding carbon pollution for existing power plants. The American Wind Energy Association (AWEA) has just published a new white paper that shows wind is one of the biggest, fastest, cheapest ways states can meet the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency rule on limiting carbon dioxide pollution expected to be published June 2.

Among the key findings in the new report are:

The 167.7 million megawatt-hours (MWh) of wind energy produced in the U.S. in 2013 reduced CO2 emissions by 126.8 million tons, the equivalent of reducing power sector emissions by more than 5 percent, or taking 20 million cars off the road.

The top 10 states by volume of carbon reductions from wind energy are: Texas, Illinois, California, Colorado, Iowa, Missouri, Oklahoma, Wisconsin, Minnesota and Wyoming.

States achieving a reduction in carbon emissions of 10 percent or more (compared to a 2011 baseline) from wind energy alone include California, Colorado, Idaho, Iowa, Kansas, Minnesota, Nebraska, Oregon, South Dakota, Vermont, and Washington State, with Oklahoma, Wisconsin and Wyoming coming in just under 10%.

Wind energy also currently reduces sulfur dioxide (SO2) emissions by nearly 347 million pounds per year and nitrous oxide (NOx) emissions by 214 million pounds per year. These pollutants acidify lakes and streams, contribute to smog, and negatively impact public health.

AWEA officials say the best part of this news is that many states and their utilities are already familiar with the affordable, reliable product that wind energy provides.

Floating Turbine Looks to Change Wind Energy

altaeros1A new type of wind turbine that floats a couple of thousand feet above the ground could change the wind energy game. This article from EcoSeed says the Buoyant Air Turbine, or B.A.T., which uses a helium-filled shell and was designed by Massachusetts Institute of Technology alums Ben Glass and Adam Rein in wind energy start-up Altaeros, could bring energy to off-grid areas.

Their B.A.T. uses a helium-filled shell – made of the same fabric used in blimps and sails – to hover around 1,000 to 2,000 feet above ground to capture the stronger, steadier winds available at that altitude.

The B.A.T. can produce double the energy of similarly sized tower-mounted turbines. This is because, at the altitude that the B.A.T. hovers, the winds blow five to eight times stronger than winds at tower level (roughly 100 to 300 feet).

According to Mr. Rein, the B.A.T. is not designed to replace conventional tower-mounted turbines but, it will be able to bring wind power to areas where tower-mounted turbines are not practical or economically feasible.

“It’s really about expanding wind energy to all those places in the fringes where it doesn’t really work today, and expanding the amount of wind power that’s able to be deployed globally,” said Mr. Rein.

The article also points out that the autonomous working system will eliminate the need for metal towers and concrete bases, which should please environmentalists working on the clean part of the energy angle.

Maryland Gov Vetoes Wind Turbine Moratorium

omalleyA moratorium that would have stopped construction of wind turbines for more than a year near a U.S. military base in Maryland has been vetoed by that state’s governor. This article from the Star Democrat says Gov. Martin O’Malley vetoed the 13-month wind turbine moratorium that would have kept the structures from being put up within 56 miles of the U.S. Naval Air Station Patuxent River,calling the bill unnecessary and a chilling message to renewable energy developers.

The bill would have delayed construction on wind turbines to wait for a study on how they could affect radar use around the base. Supporters of the bill argued it was important to consider needs of the base, a big economic engine in southern Maryland. But opponents contended it sent a bad message to businesses and harms wind farm development in Maryland.

“There are already safeguards in place to ensure that no renewable energy projects conflict with military facilities — those safeguards render this bill unnecessary,” O’Malley said in a statement.

Opponents of the bill said it would have threatened development of a wind farm in Somerset County due to expiring federal tax credits.

The governor explained that the bill would have killed a $200 million investment in the county and said it was unfair because the developers had invested millions of dollars and played by every regulatory rule.

“If this moratorium were to take effect, it would send a chilling message to clean energy investors, developers, manufacturers, construction firms, engineers and sustainable businesses that the state can change the rules at the eleventh hour,” O’Malley wrote.

Vestas Supplying Turbines for First Wind Project

V112 installation, Macarthur Windfarm, AustraliaAs Maine’s First Wind project looks to move forward, a maker of the wind turbine blades will soon be delivering the technology to the New England location. Vestas Wind Systems will fulfill First Wind’s order of 148 MW for V112-3.0 MW turbines in the U.S. in the 2nd quarter of 2015 with the blades expected to be turning by the end of next year.

Vestas has received an order for 48 V112-3.0 MW turbines for the 148-MW Oakfield project in the state of Maine. The order is a call-off on the master supply agreement (MSA) announced in December 2013 for multiple U.S. projects, the potential of which totals 718 MW. With today’s order, Vestas has secured 298 MW under this MSA.

The highly popular V112-3.0 MW turbines – for which Vestas has already received almost 6 GW of orders – will be supplied for this project. The project will also include a 10-year Active Output Management (AOM) 5000 service agreement. AOM 5000 is an energy-based availability guarantee that ensures the turbines are operational when the wind is blowing. This service option includes the VestasOnline® surveillance system that remotely controls and monitors the turbines and minimizes lost production by predicting when maintenance may be required.

“We’re pleased to continue the construction of the Oakfield Wind project and look forward to installing Vestas’ V112-3.0 MW turbines there,” said First Wind CEO Paul Gaynor. “The Vestas turbines at our Bull Hill project in Maine and the Palouse project in Washington State have performed well and we expect the Oakfield project to enjoy similar success.”

This is the fourth project Vestas and First Wind have done together and their second in Maine. The other project in Maine has achieved 99 per cent availability since it was commissioned two years ago.

First Wind Hopes Turbine Project is Approved. Again

firstwind1A New England wind energy company is hoping Maine utilities regulators approve, again, a partnership with a Canadian power company to build a multimillion-dollar wind energy project. This article from the Bangor (ME) Daily News says Boston-based First Wind is asking for approval of its partnership to build the wind farms near Oakfield, Hancock and Bingham with Nova Scotia-based power company Emera, an approval that a court sent back to the Maine Public Utilities Commission.

In petitioning the PUC for a new approval after the state’s high court struck down the commission’s first authorization of the partnership, First Wind and Emera say the revised deal advances the state’s renewable energy development goals and that specific regulations governing the deal provide enough protection from opponents’ concerns of favoritism. They also argued that there is still room within the Maine Supreme Judicial Court opinion for the $360 million partnership to move ahead.

Those arguments have reversed earlier opposition by the PUC’s public advocate, whose job is to represent ratepayers in regulatory cases.

The Industrial Energy Consumer Group, which opposes the joint venture along with Houlton Water Co., criticized that reversal in a legal brief filed Friday with the PUC, arguing the deal would create an incentive for favoritism between Emera Maine and the sister company that would own a stake in wind power resources.

First Wind says it feels confident the $360 million project with Emera will move ahead.

Wind Leads Renewable Energy Increase in Texas

Cielo Wind Power farm in TexasOil-rich Texas is seeing a surge in renewable energy use, and that surge is being led by wind. This article from the Dallas Business Journal says an Electric Reliability Council of Texas report shows wind, solar and other renewable energy sources increased 12 percent last year, with wind making up the lion’s share of that increase.

Renewable energy produced 38.1 million megawatt hours of power in 2013 compared to just 33.9 million MWh in 2013. Wind power makes up 97 percent of the renewable generation. Wind generation grew by more than 4 million MWh , or 13 percent, in 2013 as well.

Solar grew by 33 percent, or 40,000 MWh, in 2013. Landfill gas had a modest increase, too.

The article goes on to say that biomass and hydroelectric actually went down in 2013.