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Tag Archives: USA

Energy in the US: the rise of renewables

By Dave Elliott

Energy use and impacts are changing in the USA, in part due to progressive policies from Obama, but also because of structural changes in the energy economy. Carbon dioxide emissions from US energy sector have fallen 12% since 2005, mainly since there has been a decline in the use of coal, although its fall back has mostly due to an increase in the use of natural gas to generate electricity. However, renewables are also playing growing roles, supplying around 16% of US power, eclipsing nuclear (their output overtook that from nuclear in 2010) and they are expanding fast, hitting 17% in the first part of 2016. But all that could change when Trump takes power. (more…)

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Offshore wind – will the US catch up?

By Dave Elliott

It has been striking how much more enthusiastic the EU, and the UK especially, has been on offshore wind compared with the US. The EU will soon have nearly 11GW installed, compared to zero so far in the US. Part of the reason for the difference has been that, unlike the US, there are shallow waters off the UK and some other parts of the EU, which enabled earlier easier projects, with piles driven into the sea-bed for supporting towers – nursery slopes, in effect. It wasn’t until new “floating” wind technology emerged that deep-water sites further offshore became viable. Floating jacket leg and spar buoy systems are being tested off the EU coast and the US and Japan are also now in the race, in the later case as part of the response to the Fukushima nuclear disaster, with a 2MW unit installed off Fukushima and 7MW floating devices now under test.
http://www.offshorewind.biz/2015/03/23/floaters-game-changers-for-offshore-wind/

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Which way for solar?

By Dave Elliott

‘The Future of Solar’, a major report from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, US, looks at solar photovoltaics (PV) and also concentrated solar power (CSP). On balance it backs solar PV, advanced thin film systems especially, but says that, even with just current crystalline silicon, ‘material inputs for c-Si PV generation are available in sufficient quantity to support expansion to terawatt scale’: http://mitei.mit.edu/futureofsolar (more…)

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Renewables in the USA

By Dave Elliott

The USA current generates nearly 15% of its electricity from renewables and they are still expanding quite rapidly, with wind at 66 GW and PV soon at 20 GW. This growth has mainly been driven by the simple fact that these options are getting competitive, although, despite continuing political uncertainties and delays, state and federal tax concessions, support schemes and production quotas have obviously also helped.

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Wind power around the world

By Dave Elliott

Wind power is booming globally, with over 370GW of electricity generation capacity installed so far. It could jump to 2,000 GW, more than five times its current level by 2030, supplying up to 19 % of global electricity, the Global Wind Energy Council says, although that would require ‘unambiguous commitment to renewable energy in line with industry recommendations … [and] the political will to commit to appropriate policies’. (more…)

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All change in Germany, the EU, and the US?

By Dave Elliott

Things are changing in Germany. With renewables booming, German energy giant RWE has suffered a massive loss of €2.8 billion, its first loss in 60 years. It has admitted it got its strategy wrong, and should have focused more on renewable and distributed energy rather than conventional fossil fuels: ‘We were late entering into the renewables market – possibly too late.’  A previous RWE CEO had gone on record with the immortal line: ‘Photovoltaics in Germany make about as much sense as growing pineapples in Alaska’.  www.reuters.com/article/2012/01/18/germany-energy-idUSL6E8CI12Y20120118

Now Germany has 36.5GW of PV, supplying around 5% of its electricity and at peak times much more!  And about 8% from its 33GW of wind.  (more…)

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Imported wood combustion? Some say it’s fine..others disagree

By Dave Elliott

Many environmentalists are not keen on using imported wood pellets in old inefficient converted fossil-fueled plants. They say there are better ways to use biomass and better sources- local anaerobic digestion of biomass wastes and residues, along with Combined Heat and Power (CHP). Large-scale biomass conversion, and even co-firing with coal, is sometimes portrayed as an interim option, getting biomass use established, but not everyone is convinced that this helps build up support for local sourcing of biomass. It’s just a way to keep old power plants going, so as to avoid having to write off some sunk costs.  There is also the wider debate about the extent to which large-scale combustion of grown biomass, especially from forests, is net low carbon, given that it takes time for new growths to absorb emitted CO2. It’s even been claimed that using wood from trees might lead to more emissions net than from using coal, depending on the source of the wood: http://www.rspb.org.uk/Image/biomass_report_tcm9-326672.pdf 

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Do the math – no, the U.S. can’t punish Putin by exporting oil and gas

Since Russia has taken over the Crimea region of Ukraine, there have been several news articles written regarding the supposed ability of the United States (U.S.) to use our oil and/or natural gas as some sort of geopolitical weapon.  This weapon would somehow hurt Vladimir Putin (not Russian citizens) and probably help the Europeans and Ukrainians that buy natural gas from Russia. I link here a recent Bloomberg article (March 25, 2014) that is an example of an article that does not ask the most relevant questions on this topic. By not asking relevant questions and not using relevant data, the public is not being properly informed.

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Green electricity in the USA

By Dave Elliott

The share of renewables is growing in the United States, up from its current 13%, although the US does not have a nationwide renewable electricity target. However 30 individual states and the District of Columbia do, adding up to a cumulative target of about 18% by 2025. (more…)

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US green energy: store, curtail – or export?

by Dave Elliott

The US is pressing ahead with renewables, with around 60GW of wind and 10GW of PV solar already in place.  But that means some system operation issues are coming to the fore.  Since these sources vary, as does demand, when there is surplus output from wind of PV, should it be stored or just dumped?

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