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News roundup: America’s energy renaissance, offshore wind helping guide Maine’s future, and Al Gore on geo-engineering

News roundup: America’s energy renaissance, offshore wind helping guide Maine’s future, and Al Gore on geo-engineering
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This Thursday, The Washington Post speaks to America’s energy rebirth, The Bangor Daily News wants Mainers to go offshore, and Al Gore takes on proponents of geo-engineering in The Guardian.

The Washington Post’s David Ignatius breaks down the rapid growth in American energy production over the past few years. Renewable energy, especially wind power, played a major role in this “energy boom.”

  • “Developments involving energy production and technology have been so astonishing that they should puncture this long-running pessimism [concerning energy policy]. The amazing fact is that, on nearly every front, America’s energy prospects have improved in ways that would have been unimaginable just a decade ago.”
  • “In the energy marketplace, President Obama’s vision of an ‘all of the above’ strategy is actually happening. Production of oil, gas and alternative energy is rising, even as demand begins falling for these energy sources — all thanks to new technology. The market forces driving these changes are so powerful that even politicians probably can’t screw them up.”
  • “Alternative fuels? Wind farms and solar panels may be a laugh line for conservatives, but they shouldn’t be. Since 2008, U.S. wind-power capacity has more than tripled, and it is now generating the equivalent of about 60 large nuclear reactors. As for solar, photovoltaic panels are producing 10 times the power they did in 2008, with the cost down from $3.40 per watt to about 80 cents.”

The editors of the Bangor Daily News think Maine stands to become an important pioneer in American offshore wind – and that it’s worth the effort:

  • “The only remaining viable offshore wind energy pilot project in Maine may have received a green light from state regulators this week, but it doesn’t mean the turbines will ultimately be built and produce electricity. Many hurdles stand in the way, not least of which are basic opposing views that offshore wind isn’t worth the investment.”
  • “[W]ind can help hedge against electricity price spikes in New England, which is especially vulnerable to such price fluctuations because of severely limited natural gas pipeline capacity.”
  • “The problem with predicting the future is figuring out how you will alter it yourself. Maine has a significant role to play in improving the odds of the creation of a viable industry with the potential to shape the state for generations.”
  • “Welch put it well: ‘There is enough of a chance that there will be significant downstream benefits.’ We think it’s worth it, too, to take that chance.”

The United Nations has suggested governments may need to figure out a way to remove carbon dioxide from the Earth’s atmosphere… manually. This isn’t a good idea, according to Al Gore:

  • “Al Gore said on Wednesday it would be ‘insane, utterly mad and delusional in the extreme’ to turn to geo-engineering projects to avoid a climate catastrophe. The UN climate panel, in the next edition of its blockbuster reports, will warn that governments might have to extract vast amounts of greenhouses gases from the air by 2100 to limit climate change, according to a draft copy of the report seen by Reuters.”
  • “On geo-engineering Gore drew a distinction between small-scale interventions, such as white roofs, and large-scale projects meant to extract or neutralise emissions from the air or block the sunlight. Those ideas, he said, carried enormous risks.”
  • ‘The most discussed so-called geo-engineering proposals – like putting sulphur dioxide in the atmosphere to reflect incoming sunlight – that's just insane. Let's just describe that clearly – it is utterly mad,’ Gore told the conference call.”

Be sure to check out Michael Goggin’s blog on how wind power is smashing records and keeping prices low in Europe.

 For more great news on wind power, check out this week’s other roundups:

Sources:

David Ignatius, “America’s energy boom.” The Washington Post. 15 January 2014.

Editorial, "Maine’s offshore wind project is worth the risk." Bangor Daily News. 15 January 2014.

Suzanne Goldenberg, “Al Gore says use of geo-engineering to head off climate disaster is insane.” The Guardian. 15 January 2014.

 

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