So much wind energy is now being generated in the US that the emissions-free electricity-generating technology may seriously erode the nation’s nuclear power and coal sectors, the Bloomberg news agency reported Monday.
Headlined “nuclear industry withers in US as wind pummels prices,” the story interviewed utility experts talking about the state of the American energy sector after the nation’s wind power industry grew by about $25 billion last year.
The story noted that a significant part of that growth occurred as wind-related companies made sure they would qualify for the Production Tax Credit (PTC), the industry’s main tax incentive, which was due to expire at end of 2012. The PTC has since been extended.
“The surge added a record 13,124 megawatts of wind turbines to the nation’s power grid, up 28% from 2011,” the story said. “The new wind farms increased financial pressure on traditional generators such as Dominion Resources Inc. and Exelon Corp. in their operating regions. That’s because wind energy undercut power prices already driven to 10-year-lows by an abundance of natural gas.”
The Capitol in Washington
It came a day late, but US politicians in Washington finally approved on Tuesday a major piece of legislation that would increase taxes only on the most wealthy Americans as well as extending the highly-successful Production Tax Credit (PTC) on wind power projects.
Backed by both the Senate and the House of Representatives, the bill was designed to stop the nation going over the so-called “fiscal cliff” 31 December because of planned tax increases for almost all Americans and aggressive program cutbacks.
One of the key elements of the bill was to keep promoting America’s quest for increased amounts of green energy. As such, it contained a provision to extend the PTC — a tax incentive that has been instrumental in driving growth in the rapidly-expanding US wind energy sector — through the end of 2013.
Electrical power generation from wind energy last year prevented as much global warming pollution as taking 13 million cars off the road, says a new widely-quoted report published in the US.
The report — Wind Power for a Cleaner America: Reducing Global Warming Pollution, Cutting Air Pollution and Saving Water — adds that wind power saved the equivalent amount of 26 billion gallons of water, more than enough to meet the annual domestic use needs of a city the size of Boston.
Released last week by Environment America Research & Policy Center, a federation of state-based, citizen-funded environmental advocacy organizations, the report also said wind energy helped reduce air pollution, including reductions of 137,000 pounds of nitrogen oxide emissions and 91,000 pounds of sulfur dioxide emissions.
A new US scientific study released in the past few days reveals that wind energy’s vast potential could more than meet humankind’s escalating power needs throughout the 21st century.
Published on Sunday in the journal Nature Climate Change, the study says the Earth’s winds contain so much energy they could be “a primary source of near-zero-emission electric power as the global economy continues to grow” between now and 2100.
Researched by three Californian scientists, the study estimates the amount of power that can be extracted from both surface and high-altitude winds.
“Historically, wind turbines are placed on Earth’s surface, but high-altitude winds are usually steadier and faster than near-surface winds, resulting in higher average power densities,” said the study, called Geophysical limits to global wind power.
While the US wind power sector is currently facing challenges from the ongoing economic crisis and political uncertainty over whether politicians will extend the industry’s largest tax incentive, it received some more positive news recently: the nation’s first proposed offshore wind farm does not pose a threat to aviation.
Last week’s announcement by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) is thought to clear the last federal, state and local regulatory obstacle holding up development of Cape Wind, a controversial 130-turbine wind farm to be built off Cape Cod in Nantucket Sound.
“The proposed wind turbines do not exceed obstruction standards and do not have a physical or electromagnetic radiation effect on the operation of air navigation facilities,” the FAA ruling concluded.