News roundup: The PTC's importance, stepping up NC clean energy, a strong year for global wind

14 April 2014 by Peebles Squire Peebles Squire

It’s Monday, and we are starting the week with plenty of wind power news. The Department of Energy highlights the importance of the PTC’s successes, a North Carolina editorial pushes for more clean energy in the Tar Heel State, and global wind is set to have a bright 2014.

A new report by the National Renewable Energy Laboratory showcases wind power’s ability to create jobs and diversify the grid with the help of the PTC:

  • A new report by the Energy Department’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory analyzes the effects the production tax credit (PTC) could have on the continued growth of wind power and, in turn, on the domestic wind energy manufacturing industry. The report notes that the PTC has been critical to the development of the wind power industry and the deployment of wind generation in the United States. From 2006 to 2012, wind power capacity has grown at an average annual rate of approximately 30 percent and the costs of new installed wind have dropped by 22 percent. At the same time, domestic manufacturers are now supplying more than 70 percent of equipment installed at U.S. wind farms — up from just 25 percent in 2006. In 2012, the industry also supported approximately 80,000 jobs up and down the supply chain and in nearly every state.
  • Wind power has been a rapidly growing part of U.S. electricity supply and is one of the fastest growing parts of the U.S. economy, creating jobs while also helping build a clean energy future. As of 2012, the U.S. wind industry had an estimated 550 manufacturing facilities producing turbines, blades, towers and their components. Through 2012, more than 60 GW of land-based wind generation capacity have been installed nationally. It is clear that wind energy is a proven technology that is growing — totaling 43 percent of the new electricity generation capacity in 2012.
  • The success of the U.S. wind industry demonstrates the far-reaching benefits that tax credits can have in creating jobs, boosting U.S. competitiveness and building a more sustainable, clean energy future.

The Raleigh News & Observer took stock of North Carolina’s significant wind resources over the weekend, and concluded that what the state needs is more renewable energy.

  • That trend has been fed by a state law requiring utilities – which now effectively means Duke Energy – to get a portion of their electric power from renewable energy sources such as solar, wind and livestock waste methane. The Renewable Energy Portfolio Standards law (commonly known as Senate Bill 3) requires that renewable energy sources account for 3 percent of a utility’s sales this year with the standards rising to 12.5 percent of total retail sales by 2021.
  • …[W]ind energy may be the best example of how the law is diversifying energy production and stimulating North Carolina’s economy by tapping a limitless resource.
  • The wind power on the state’s coast is considered one of the best “wind resources” in the East. It is attracting investment to the economically depressed counties of northeastern North Carolina and some mountain counties. The Southern Alliance for Clean Energy says proposed wind farms represent more than $1 billion in investment in North Carolina. In some counties, wind farms are already the largest taxpayers.
  • As advances in technology drive down the cost of wind power, it could expand here rapidly as it has in other states. In nine states, wind power meets more than 12 percent of the energy needs. The further growth of renewable energy here requires that the legislature stay the course. Lawmakers should stand behind the renewable energy standards that are producing alternatives to the pollution caused by burning fossil fuels.

Emerging from 2013’s worldwide slowdown, wind power is set to have a great 2014, in the U.S. and across the planet:

  • Although the United States has the second-highest wind power capacity in the world—some 61,000 megawatts—a lack of long-term policy planning has led to several such boom-and-bust cycles.
  • Despite the dearth of new capacity, there were many bright spots for U.S. wind power in 2013. Wind accounted for at least 12 percent of the electricity generated in nine states, including Iowa (27 percent) and South Dakota (26 percent). Iowa will get another boost from a $1.9 billion deal announced in December 2013: Warren Buffett’s MidAmerican Energy Company purchased Siemens turbines totaling more than 1,000 megawatts, all destined for Iowa wind projects. When complete in 2015, these wind farms will likely bring the wind share of electricity in Iowa to at least 33 percent.
  • After a slower year in 2013, world wind installations will bounce back in 2014, perhaps to a new record—the Global Wind Energy Council sees the potential for 47,000 megawatts. Roughly half of the total will be built in China and the United States (around three times more in the former than in the latter). This is good news for the wind business, for electricity consumers, and for people who value cleaner air and water.

Sources:

United States Department of Energy, “The Production Tax Credit is Key to a Strong US Wind Industry.” Breaking Energy. 11 April 2014.

Editorial, “NC must continue its support for renewable energy.” Raleigh News & Observer. 12 April 2014.

J. Matthew Roney, “World Wind Power To Have Stronger Year.” Clean Technica. 11 April 2014.