Royal Dutch Shell, though still reliant on profits from fossil fuels, is investing more in renewable energy. Critics say the changes have to come quicker.
The proposed lease sale is part of the Biden administration’s push to develop 30,000 megawatts of offshore wind power by 2030.
The U.S. has fallen way behind Europe partly because of an old shipping law and opposition from homeowners and fishing groups.
The country relies less on foreign oil than it used to, but pipelines and grids are increasingly vulnerable to cyberattacks and extreme weather.
The country relies less on foreign oil than it used to, but pipelines and grids are increasingly vulnerable to cyberattacks and extreme weather.
After years of delays, the federal government has approved what will be the third offshore wind project in the US—and the largest by far. Vineyard Wind, situated off the coast of Massachusetts, will have a generating capacity of 800 Megawatts, dwarfing Block Island Wind’s 30 MW and the output from two test turbines installed in Virginia.
Vineyard Wind has been approved a number of times but continued to experience delays during the Trump administration, which was openly hostile to renewable energy. But the Biden administration wrapped up an environmental review shortly before announcing a major push to accelerate offshore wind development.
The final hurdle, passed late Monday, was getting the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management to issue an approval for Vineyard Wind’s construction and operating plan. With that complete, the Departments of Commerce and Interior announced what they term the “final federal approval” to install 84 offshore turbines. Vineyard Wind will still have to submit paperwork showing that its construction and operation will be consistent with the approved plan; assuming that the operators can manage that, construction can begin.
The Vineyard Wind project, off the coast of Massachusetts, is slated to generate enough electricity to power 400,000 homes.
The world is adopting renewable sources of power much faster than experts thought possible.
Iberdrola is a leader in wind and solar power, thanks largely to a bet its C.E.O. made 20 years ago.
It’s carbon-free, but has a history of disasters. Investing more in nuclear power can help get us to carbon-neutral by 2050. But is it worth it?
The new president has promised to take the lead on climate. His plan does not disappoint.
When the Indian Point nuclear power plant shuts, its lost output will be filled primarily by generators that burn fuels that contribute to climate change.
Fallout from Texas’ statewide power outages in February continues to spread. Today, the Texas House of Representatives is scheduled to debate a bill that would require power producers to bear the costs of services that help keep the electrical grid stable.
If the bill passes, it would “unfairly shift the cost of ancillary electric services exclusively onto renewable generators rather than all the beneficiaries,” according to a letter written by the Partnership for Renewable Energy Finance (PREF), an industry group, and signed by Amazon, Berkshire Hathaway Energy, Goldman Sachs, and a number of other firms.
Amazon and other big tech firms have invested heavily in renewable power, seeking to spruce up their images while cutting their power bills. Costs for wind and solar have dropped precipitously in recent years, making investments in wind farms and solar plants attractive to power-hungry data center operators like Amazon, Facebook, and Google.
On Monday, the Biden administration announced a major effort to kickstart the offshore wind industry in the US. While offshore installations have been booming in Europe, the US is still limited to a single, small offshore farm, with new projects seeing repeated delays during the previous administration. Now, the US is laying the groundwork to see 30 GW of offshore capacity installed over the decade, with extensive growth possible in the decades beyond.
The effort involves the coordinated activities of multiple agencies, including everything from accelerated permitting of planned projects to research funding intended to lower future costs.
And end to delays
While the US is one of the global leaders in wind power, almost all of its turbines are on land. Here, the logistics of installation and required support hardware are substantially simpler and less expensive. That has allowed wind power prices to eclipse nearly every other option for generating electricity. But offshore wind is far more challenging, and it’s only recently that costs have dropped to the point where offshore wind is competitive with nuclear and coal.
The White House said the program could create tens of thousands of new jobs while moving the country toward clean energy
Wind energy has become a popular target for Republican leaders and pundits. So why are some local conservative lawmakers embracing wind farms?
In the heart of coal country, the town of Rawlins will soon be home to one of the nation’s largest wind farms. But pride in the fossil fuel past remains a powerful force.
Federal wildlife authorities in California are working with a wind energy company to breed the endangered birds in captivity to replace any that may be killed by turbine blades. Conservationists are skeptical.
Our editor-in-chief obviously hates me. That’s the only conclusion I could reach after he asked me to watch an abysmal attack video targeting renewable energy—a video produced by a notorious source of right-wing misinformation.
But despite its bizarre mishmash of irrelevancies and misdirection, the video has been widely shared on social media. Perhaps you’ve seen it, or maybe you just to want to be ready when a family member brings it up in an argument. What, if anything, is true in this farrago of bad faith?
Yes, it’s awful
The video is hosted by “Prager University.” My only previous exposure to the organization’s videos had been this excellent one on the Confederacy by Colonel Ty Seidule, a professor of History at West Point who has since been placed on the Pentagon commission that will examine bases named after Confederate generals. Seemed legit!
We used to dream big. Now we’re increasingly thinking short term.
The entire nation’s energy delivery system needs an overhaul.
At least he didn’t bring up the Green New Deal.
When post-truth politics meets energy policy.
Power failures have cast a spotlight on whether energy companies and regulators are doing enough to prepare for climate change and natural disasters.
The state’s massive blackouts are the result of a failure to insure against extreme weather.
Republicans are blaming renewable energy, when it’s the state’s powerful utilities that failed to prepare for the worst.
The state’s widespread electricity failure was largely caused by freezing natural gas pipelines. That didn’t stop advocates for fossil fuels from trying to shift blame.
The snowstorm covered a huge part of the country, including states unaccustomed to slick roads and a deep freeze.
This morning, as the jet stream brought frigid air south to the central United States, Texas residents found themselves facing rolling blackouts as statewide grid struggled to meet demand amidst a large shortfall in generating capacity. As the day wore on, many saw these blackouts extend for ever longer periods of the day, and grid authorities are expecting problems to extend into at least Tuesday. As of noon local time on Monday, the Southwest Power Pool, which serves areas to the north of Texas, also announced that demand was exceeding generating capacity.
The shortfalls appear to be widespread, affecting everything from wind turbines to nuclear plants. One source of trouble may be an increased competition for natural gas, which is commonly used for heating in the United States.
Coming up short
Texas is unusual in that almost the entire state is part of a single grid that lacks extensive integration with those of surrounding states. That grid is run by an organization called ERCOT, the Electric Reliability Council of Texas, a non-profit controlled by the state legislature.
Joe Biden and Tom Vilsack plan to take swift action on climate change proposals.
G.E.’s giant machine, which can light up a small town, is stoking a renewable-energy arms race.
After a year when climate-related disasters seemed to become the norm, the team will be monitoring a 2021 that is pivotal for the world.
New research details major infrastructure work — including immense construction projects — that would need to start right away to achieve Biden’s goal of zero emissions by 2050.
Exxon Mobil is struggling to find its footing as demand for oil and gas falls and world leaders and businesses pledge to fight climate change.
Wind and solar are better bets for investors and the planet.
Renewable energy developers have struggled to finish projects as the pandemic disrupts construction and global supply chains.
When demand exceeded supply in a recent heat wave, electricity stored at businesses and even homes was called into service. With proper management, batteries could have made up for an offline gas plant.
Something as simple as black paint could be the key to reducing the number of birds that are killed each year by wind turbines. According to a study conducted at a wind farm on the Norwegian archipelago of Smøla, changing the color of a single blade on a turbine from white to black resulted in a 70-percent drop in the number of bird deaths.
Wind power is surging right now, with more than 60GW of new generating capacity added worldwide in 2019. As long as you put the turbines in the right spot, wind power is reliably cheaper than burning fossil fuels. And most people would prefer to live next to a wind farm than any other kind of power plant—even solar.
Not everyone is a fan of wind turbines, however, because of their impact on local populations of flying fauna like birds and bats. Politicians with axes to grind against renewable energy say that we should continue to mine coal and extract oil because of the avian death toll, and US President Donald Trump has called wind turbines “bird graveyard[s].” Estimates from the US Fish and Wildlife Service calculated that approximately 300,000 birds were killed by wind turbines in 2015 (which is probably two orders of magnitude fewer than die as a result of colliding with electrical power lines each year), and bird deaths from turbines are trending down as the industry moves to larger turbine blades that move more slowly.
Some energy executives are pleased that the former vice president is not calling for a fracking ban and said they could work with him.
As coal declines and wind and solar energy rise, some are pushing to limit the use of natural gas, but utilities say they are not ready to do so.
The natural gas project would have crossed the Appalachian Trail. Dominion Energy, one of the pipeline’s two partners, also announced the sale of its gas transmission and storage assets.
Wind giants are trying to shrug off the effects of the pandemic.
The wind power industry sees an opportunity in allowing windmills to be pushed into deeper water.
For the first time, the United States is on track to produce more electricity from renewables than from coal this year, a climate milestone.
Google’s data centers run 24/7 and suck up a ton of energy — so it’s in both the company’s and the planet’s interest to make them do so as efficiently as possible. One new method has the facilities keeping an eye on the weather so they know when the best times are to switch to solar and wind energy.
The trouble with renewables is that they’re not consistent, like the output of a power plant. Of course it isn’t simply that when the wind dies down, wind energy is suddenly ten times as expensive or not available — but there are all kinds of exchanges and energy economies that fluctuate depending on what’s being put onto the grid and from where.
Google’s latest bid to make its data centers greener and more efficient is to predict those energy economies and schedule its endless data-crunching tasks around them.
It’s not that someone at Google looks up the actual weather for the next day and calculates how much solar energy will be contributed in a given region and when. Turns out there are people who can do that for you! In this case a firm called Tomorrow.
Weather patterns affect those energy economies, leading to times when the grid is mostly powered by carbon sources like coal, and other times when renewables are contributing their maximum.
What Google is doing is watching this schedule of carbon-heavy and renewable-heavy periods on the grid and shuffling things around on its end to take advantage of them. By stacking all its heavy compute tasks into time slots where the extra power they will draw is taken from mostly renewable energy sources, they can reduce their reliance on carbon-heavy power.
It only works if you have the kind of fluid and predictable digital work that Google has nurtured. When energy is expensive or dirty, the bare minimum of sending emails and serving YouTube videos is more than enough to keep its data centers busy. But when it’s cheap and green, compute-heavy tasks like training machine learning models or video transcoding can run wild.
This informed time-shifting is a smart and intuitive idea, though from Google’s post it’s not clear how effective it really is. Usually when the company announces some effort like this, it’s accompanied by estimates of how much energy is saved or efficiency gained. In the case of this time-shifting experiment, the company is uncharacteristically conservative:
“Results from our pilot suggest that by shifting compute jobs we can increase the amount of lower-carbon energy we consume.”
That’s a lot of hedging for something that sounds like a home run on paper. A full research paper is forthcoming, but I’ve asked Google for more information in the meantime; I’ll update this post if I hear back.
On Wednesday, the Global Wind Energy Council, an industry trade organization, released its review of the market in 2019. During the past year, wind power saw its second-largest amount of new installed capacity ever, with over 60GW going in. But the news going forward is a bit more uncertain, with the report predicting that after years of double-digit growth, the industry would see things tail off into steady-but-unspectacular territory. And that prediction was made before many key markets started dealing with the coronavirus.
A very good year
Wind power is now one of the cheapest options for generating electricity. In many areas of the globe, building and maintaining wind power is cheaper per unit of power than it is to fuel a previously constructed fossil fuel plant. While offshore wind remains more expensive, its prices have dropped dramatically over the last several years, and it is rapidly approaching price parity with fossil fuels.
But cost isn’t the only thing at issue. Renewables may require new transmission lines to feed their power to where people actually live, and managing wind’s intermittent nature may require grid upgrades once its percentage gets high enough. And due to the past successes of wind, a significant number of the best sites are now already in use in some regions. Given those issues, it can be difficult to justify shutting down power plants that may have decades of service left in their expected lifespan. This is especially true in fully industrialized countries, where total electricity use has been trending downward, largely due to gains in energy efficiency.