Renew On Line (UK) 62

Extracts from NATTA's journal
Renew, Issue 162 July-Aug 2006
   Welcome   Archives   Bulletin         


1. Energy Review EAC Review, FoE Scenarios

2. BWEA on offshore wind wind ups and downs

3. Wave & Tidal Power in Scotland and Wales

4. Reactions to the Budget...and the Climate Review

5. Greening London.. but not Devon

6. Energy Statistics RO grows

7. Coal to come back cleaner? Clean coal

8. Building Battles Building regs and codes

9. Policy moves. Tory greening, UKERC query

10. Stern Climate Views doom ahead?

11. Fuel Cells R&D slow progress

12. EU News Wind and biofuels grow

13. US News Wind battles, Bushes plan

14. World News Divisive Climate Pact?

15. Nuclear News US reprocessing

13. US News

US Wind battles

There is as much potential for offshore wind- 900 GW- off U.S. coasts, as the current capacity of all power plants in the USA combined, according to a report by the U.S. Dept. of Energy, Massachusetts Technology Collaborative, and General Electric, ‘A Framework for Offshore Wind Energy Development in the US’.
The USA’s largest wind power potential is located offshore of the highly populated urban coastal areas of the Northeast- off Long Island and Cape Cod in particular. There are some ambitious proposals in both areas. A company called Winergys wants to install a total of 1,019 turbines in the seabed off the New Jersey coast. There is already a 7.5 MW Jersey-Atlantic Wind Farm operated by Pennsylvanian company Community Energy, on land, with five wind turbines, built by GE Wind Energy, a division of General Electric. But Winergy’s plan calls for five wind farms offshore from Seaside Heights to Cape May with around 3.6 GW of generating capacity. According to the company’s Web site (, the New Jersey plans calls for five farms set between 3.5 and 6.4 miles offshore, in 48 to 60 feet of water, spread over an area of 234 square miles. The largest of the five farms, known as Five Fathom Bank 1, would include 335 turbines spread over 88 square miles and be situated 3.5 miles off Cape May Point. The northernmost site, off the coast of Asbury Park, would have 98 turbines 3.5 miles off the beach. In all, the five farms would have a generating capacity of 3,648 MW, more than half the total generating capacity of all existing windturbines in the entire US.
There are some local concerns over the impacts on tourism, but nowhere near as much hostile publicity as has been generated further up the coast in relation to the proposal by the Massachusetts company Cape Wind Associates, which wants to erect 130 turbines in Nantucket Sound. Some environmental and clean energy groups support the project, while other environmental groups, fishing vessel operators, and some Cape Cod property owners oppose it. The New York Times (25/12/05) reported that ‘The project has been vigorously opposed by Senator Edward M. Kennedy of Massachusetts and his nephew, Robert F. Kennedy Jr., senior counsel to the Environmental Defense Fund, who has said he supports offshore wind power- particularly once deep-water technology is developed- but that he opposes the Cape Wind project on the ground that it would spoil a marine wilderness and recreation area, and because a study suggests it would cost the local economy over a billion dollars a year and more than 2,500 tourism jobs’.
On Dec 16th, Robert F. Kennedy wrote in an Op-Ed article in The New York Times: ‘These turbines are less than six miles from shore and would be seen from Cape Cod, Martha’s Vineyard and Nantucket. Hundreds of flashing lights to warn airplanes away from the turbines will steal the stars and night-time views. The noise of the turbines will be audible onshore.’ He added ‘The turbines will be perilously close to the main navigation channels for cargo ships, ferries and fishing boats. The risk of collisions with the towers would increase during the fogs and storms for which the area is famous.’
Mark Rogers, a spokesman for Cape Wind, told the New York Times that the project would be in view of the Kennedy family compound in Hyannisport, and he said that Mr. Kennedy was taking an all-too-common position on offshore windmills: they sound like a good idea, but not in my backyard- or in this case, not off my beach.
*The New York Times noted that although there was a lot of on-land wind capacity in Europe (34,000MW compared to 6,740MW in the US), ‘offshore wind power is still uncommon, accounting for only 600 MW in 2004’.

Californian Solar

Californian regulators have approved CSI, the California Solar Initiative, the largest solar energy policy enacted in the U.S. and second only to Germany. It offers $3.2 bn for solar energy rebates over the next 11 years, which will provide for the installation of around 3GW of PV. The California Public Utilities Commission will provide $2.8bn in incentives for projects on existing public & residential buildings, businesses and industrial & farm facilities. And the California Energy Commission will provide $400m in incentives for new homes via targeted collaboration with builders & developers. However, the CSI does not include a mandate that new homes include solar, nor does it require that installation work be done as so-called ‘prevailing wages,’ i.e. union wages. That was a sticking point for Republicans that had led to the demise of the previous draft legislation (see Renew 160).
* BP is to build a $1bn, 500MWhydrogen-fuelled power plant in California, using oil
refinery wastes and storing the CO2 produced in an oil well.

US Energy Initiative

In his State of the Union Address in January, President Bush outlined an ‘Advanced Energy Initiative’ designed to reduce dependence on oil imported from the Middle East by 75% by 2025, and said that he will increase Dept. of Energy clean-energy research by 22%, focussing on energy use in homes and businesses and in automobiles. He said that the US was addicted to oil and that ‘the best way to break this addiction is through technology’. So he would ‘invest more in zero-emission coal-fired plants, revolutionary solar and wind technologies, and clean, safe nuclear energy’.
His proposed budget for 2007 would have $281m for clean coal technology, including $54m for the Future Gen carbon capture and storage programme; $148m for solar power, up from $65m from last year; $44m for wind, up $5m; and on the transport side, $289m for hydrogen fuel technology, up from $53m; $150m for ethanol from cellulose from agricultural waste such as woodchips & switch grass, up $59m; and $30m for battery research, up £6.7m from last year. A $250m Global Nuclear Energy Partnership (GNEP) has also been launched, $170m of which is new money via the Advanced Energy Initiative.


The renewable energy community was generally pleased: the Solar Energy Industries Association saw the commitment to solar as ‘historic’, but not everyone was happy with the plan. The Democrats said that even after the 22% rise, the Bush administration would only be spending as much on renewables research as the Clinton administration in 2000. And some felt that the renewables part was just as sop, with the main drive being for coal and nuclear. The Environment California lobbying group told the San Francisco Chronicle: ‘Going from Middle Eastern oil to coal and nukes to solve our addiction is like going from one hard-core drug to another’. Certainly GNEP looks very worrying: see p.14 and Forum.
In addition, the SunDay campaign warned of parallel cuts in some support programmes for renewables, with RenewableEnergyAccess reporting that RD&D/deployment programmes for concentrated solar power, geothermal, hydro and weatherization were being closed down or sharply curtailed. And the National Renewable Energy Labs at Golden, Colorado were facing cuts, with up to 100 staff (11% of the total) at risk, and 32 had actually been laid off- although an evidently embarrassed Bush has now rescinded these cuts. Even so, the Environment and Energy Study Institute were ‘concerned about there being a robbing Peter to pay Paul scenario’.
More generally, the lack of commitment to energy efficiency, and the absence of regulatory or tax measures to stimulate reductions in vehicle emissions, was very striking- the fuel efficiency standard of 27.5 mpg has been unchanged for 20 years. And, as the Guardian (2/2/06) noted, only around 20% of US oil imports come from the Middle East, so reducing them by 75% would amount to only a15% cut in overall oil imports. Not quite so bold.
* In parallel came news of Exxon Mobils record profits- $36.13 bn for the year- due to high oil and gas prices. New York Senator Hillary Clinton called on Bush to back a ‘Strategic Energy Fund’, with ‘a temporary fee’ which would be attached to ‘a portion of the profits of oil companies who do not invest their profits in increasing refinery capacity, renewable energy, and other energy infrastructure investments needed to secure America’s energy future.’ No one seems to dare to use the word tax!
* US use of renewables will have risen by 60% from 2004 levels by 2025- and 3.9% in 2006-07, says the latest Dept of Energy ‘Annual Energy Outlook’. It installed 2.4GW of wind last year.

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