News roundup: Billions invested in Nevada, new tech reduces costs, Kansas RES delivers

21 March 2014 by Peebles Squire Peebles Squire

Before the weekend: A Las Vegas event celebrates the billions invested in the state’s clean energy economy, wind competes thanks in part to new technologies, and the Kansas Renewable Energy Standards are a massive economic success.

Clean energy industry representatives (including AWEA’s Tom Kiernan) met with NV Governor Brian Sandoval and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid to celebrate Nevada’s impressive accomplishments in clean energy:

  • A new report shows at least $5.5 billion has been invested in Nevada’s clean energy sector since 2010. U.S. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., and Republican Gov. Brian Sandoval held a news conference Thursday at the solar-powered “Welcome to Fabulous Las Vegas” sign to highlight the report, produced by the nonprofit Clean Energy Project.
  • Reid said he’s proud that new energy investment is creating jobs, but said there is more that needs to be done. He said tax incentives and a speedy permitting process for projects on public lands could help boost the industry further.
  • The report also noted Nevada will host several clean energy-related conferences this year, including the Geothermal Energy Association’s National Geothermal Summit in Reno on Aug. 5-6.
  • AWEA WINDPOWER 2014 will be in Las Vegas from May 5-8. Register here!

According to The New York Times, wind power is taking advantage of new innovations to harvest even more energy from the breeze, saving money at the same time:

  • With new technology allowing developers to build taller machines spinning longer blades, the industry has been able to produce more power at lower cost by capturing the faster winds that blow at higher elevations. This has opened up new territories, in places like Michigan, Ohio and Indiana, where the price of power from turbines built 300 feet to 400 feet above the ground can now compete with conventional sources like coal.
  • Six years ago there, the wind speeds at 200 feet were not strong enough to make wind development make sense, said Elizabeth Salerno, chief economist and director of industry data and analysis at the American Wind Energy Association, the industry’s main trade group. But as turbine hubs — which sit atop the towers — have risen above 200 feet and included longer blades, that has changed.
  • “It’s not just more wind in the windy places that we already know about,” Ms. Salerno said. “It’s opening up, potentially, regions like the Southeast or others where maybe it’s not quite economic today but it could be in the future. That’s where we’re headed.”

The Kansas Renewable Energy Standards are but a piece of an economic success story that has spurred more than $7 billion in private investment, with wind power leading the way:

  • [T]he RES has already delivered substantial economic and environmental benefits to local communities and it’s been affordable. According to a Kansas Corporate Commission report, RES-driven development has had a very modest 1.7 percent impact on consumer rates. That’s why 75 percent of Kansans support the current RES policy.
  • Renewable energy supplied 19.5 percent of Kansas’s electricity in 2013, up from 11.8 percent the year before. With nearly 3,800 megawatts of additional wind capacity either under construction or in development (see map), Kansas is poised to blast through its RES requirement several years early. And Kansas isn’t just a wind state; a nascent solar industry is finally taking shape too.

Be sure to check out this week’s other roundups:

Sources:

Staff, “Reid, Sandoval laud $5.5B invested in Nevada clean energy since 2010.” Reno Gazette-Journal. 20 March 2014.

Diane Cardwell, “Wind Industry’s New Technologies Are Helping It Compete on Price.” The New York Times. 20 March 2014.

Jeff Deyette, “Renewable Energy Opponents at it Again in Kansas, but Wind (and Solar!) Power Forge Ahead.” Union of Concerned Scientists. 20 March 2014.