News roundup: U.N. report: doubling renewables, new support for Iowa wind, clean energy wins in January

25 February 2014 by Peebles Squire Peebles Squire

Today, a new U.N. report says we can double global renewables by 2030, Windward Iowa wants to grow the state’s industry, and clean energy dominated new U.S. generation in January.

The International Renewable Energy Agency reports that available technologies can propel the world toward doubling its current renewable energy portfolio by 2030:

  • "The good news is that the technology already exists to achieve that inspirational goal by 2030, and even to surpass it. Strikingly, taking external costs into account, the transition to renewables can be cost-neutral," wrote Adnan Amin, IRENA's director-general, in a foreword to the "REmap 2030" report.
  • But, he warned, "The call to action is this: unless countries take the necessary measures now, we will miss the goal by a considerable margin. If we continue with business as usual, under the policies currently in place, the world will increase the share of renewable energy from 18 percent today to only 21 percent, instead of a potential 36 percent or more."
  • "Opportunities for renewable energy exist in very different resource, political and economic environments," the authors note. "Realizing the full technology potential requires the contribution of all countries -- from industrialized to developing and emerging economies."

In Cedar Rapids, Windward Iowa wants to enhance Iowa’s ability to grow wind power through exports to energy-hungry states:

  • [W]ind in Iowa could produce 40 times the power requirements of the entire state if there were enough wind turbines and the transmission grid to distribute that power. But Lang said without more ways to send the power to buyers, primarily in other states, there is a limit on how much wind power in Iowa can continue to grow. Twenty five percent of all the power in Iowa comes from wind and the industry, including both manufacturers and companies installing wind turbines, employs about 7,000 people.
  • “It would be no different than any other commodity in our state—hogs, corn soybeans. We don’t consume all those things in the state of Iowa. We make a healthy amount of money off those commodities sold elsewhere and wind energy should be no different,” [IWEA interim director Mike] Prior said.
  • “If we don’t build more grid to take excess power out (of Iowa) we’ve stalemated the industry we have today,” Lang said.

Even with a slowdown toward the end of 2013, wind power and other renewables stepped up to produce 99 percent of new American generating capacity in January:

  • Non-hydro renewable energy sources accounted for more than 99% of all new U.S. electrical generating capacity installed during January for a total of 324 MW, according to the latest Energy Infrastructure Update report from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC).
  • Citing the FERC statistics, renewable energy advocacy group SUN DAY Campaign explains solar led the way in January with 13 new "units" totaling 287 MW, followed by geothermal steam with three new units totaling 30 MW. Biomass added three new units totaling 3 MW, while wind had one new unit with an installed capacity of 4 MW. In addition, there was 1 MW added that FERC defined as "other."
  • The slow-down in new wind power is no surprise. As the American Wind Energy Association (AWEA) recently noted in its fourth-quarter 2013 market report, policy uncertainty led to a dive in new U.S. installed wind capacity last year. However, AWEA found that over 12 GW of new wind capacity started construction in 2013 and is slated to come online within the next few years.

Be sure to check out Monday’s roundup: Optimizing wind, Camp's tax plan, and a call to extend the PTC

Sources:

Lisa Friedman, “U.N. report says world could double renewable power in 16 years.” E&E News (subscription required). 24 February 2014.

Dave Franzman, “New Wind Power Group Pushes for Infrastructure to Get Power to More Buyers.” KCRG Iowa. 24 February 2014.

Staff, “Renewables Account For 99% Of New U.S. Generation In January.” North American Windpower. 24 February 2014.