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News roundup: Wind power gets busy, DOE funds taller towers, and wind's a good deal in Maine

News roundup: Wind power gets busy, DOE funds taller towers, and wind's a good deal in Maine

It’s Monday, and U.S. wind power is surging into 2014 with a strong finish in 2013, the Department of Energy announces a new program for taller turbine towers, and in Maine, wind energy is the smart choice.

Earth Techling’s Pete Danko reports on the U.S. wind power industry’s fourth quarter numbers, which lay out an exciting beginning to 2014:

  • The U.S. wind power industry didn’t put a whole lot of new generating capacity into operation in 2013, but it laid the groundwork, beginning construction on a whopping 10,900 megawatts in the fourth quarter.
  • The AWEA used the news to promote a retroactive extension of the production tax credit for wind, which expired at the end of 2013. “Our current growth demonstrates how powerful the tax credit is at incentivizing investment in wind energy,” AWEA CEO Tom Kiernan said in a statement. “Now it’s up to Congress to ensure that growth continues by extending this highly successful policy.”
  • The center of the new activity is in a familiar place, Texas, already the wind capacity leader at more than 12,000 MW. The AWEA said about 7,000 MW was under construction in the Lone Star state. Another usual suspect was found in the No. 2 spot: Iowa, with 1,050 MW.

The Department of Energy wants to see taller wind towers, and they’re willing to help fund the research:

  • The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) has announced $2 million in funding meant to help develop taller wind turbine towers. The department says these projects will help strengthen U.S. wind turbine component manufacturing, reduce the cost of wind energy and expand the geographic range of cost-effective wind power in the U.S.
  • While utility-scale wind turbines in operation today average 90 meters, the DOE says projects supported by this funding will engineer design concepts for fabricating and installing turbine and tower systems with a minimum hub height of 120 meters.
  • The department notes this effort supports its broader Clean Energy Manufacturing Initiative to increase the efficiency of the U.S. manufacturing sector and ensure that clean energy technologies continue to be made domestically.

Jeremy Payne is executive director of the Maine Renewable Energy Association, writing to the Portland Press Herald to explain why wind power is the best bet for the state’s renewable energy future:

  • There are a lot of proven reasons to be excited about wind energy in Maine, and I’m not the only person who is so enthusiastic in my support. A recent poll showed that support for wind energy is shared by an overwhelming 87 percent of Mainers, who said that it is the kind of clean, emission-free renewable energy that our state should be prioritizing.
  • Wind energy is clean and great for our environment. In a November report, Environment Maine noted that Maine wind farms generated more than 880,000 megawatt-hours, all from the power of the wind, displacing other, much dirtier forms of energy.
  • Businesses and residents across the state agree; Republicans, Democrats and independents agree: Wind energy is good for Maine. We hope Maine lawmakers will agree, too, and will stop efforts to end wind energy as we know it in Maine, and make future investment impossible.

Sources:

Pete Danko, “U.S. wind power got busy in the 4th quarter.” Earth Techling. 31 January 2014.

Staff, “U.S. Energy Department To Fund Wind Tower Research.” North American Windpower. 31 January 2014.

Jeremy Payne, “Wind is state’s best bet for renewable energy.” Portland Press Herald. 3 February 2014.

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