Did you notice that last weekend the largest onshore wind farm in America started operation in north-central Oregon? The 845 MW Shepherds Flat facility will generate an estimated 2 billion kWh each year—enough to power 235,000 homes. On top of that, this clean power will eliminate about 1.5 million metric tons of carbon pollution annually—the equivalent of taking approximately 260,000 cars off the road.
Who built Shepherds Flat? We, the people, did! Caithness Energy relied on more than a billion dollars in loans guaranteed by the Energy Department. With the project up and running, and with a long-term commitment from Southern California Edison to buy power, it looks like a good investment. Maybe that's why Google also kicked in $100 million.
Shepherds Flat is the kind of project we should be building across the U.S.—or at least in those parts, like the Eastern Columbia River Gorge, with abundant wind resources. Yet the Republican Party opposes even extending the Production Tax Credit that wind power has had for decades. Right now, they would probably sooner move Burning Man to the National Mall than help finance more success stories like Shepherds Flat.
Here's why that's crazy:
Remember red states and blue states? It turns out that it's the red ones that have the most to gain by investing in renewable energy. For one thing, many of them are rich in renewable resources—olar in the Southwest and wind in the Midwest. This isn't just hypothetical. According to a new report from DBL Investors, of the 10 states with the fastest growth in clean-tech jobs, only two (Hawaii and New York) are considered traditionally Democratic.
In fact, when you look at the total number of clean-tech jobs per state, rock-red Texas comes in third. That's because both Governor Rick Perry and his predecessor, George W. Bush (not exactly card-carrying enviros) pushed for wind energy incentives in their state. And it worked. In 2010, Texas got eight percent of its energy from wind.
Governors Bush and Perry are not the only Republicans who've refused to pretend that renewable energy isn't good for their states' economies. Particularly in the Midwest, Republican leaders like Kansas Governor Sam Brownback are up in arms about their party's opposition to wind energy—not to mention the thousands of jobs at stake if the Production Tax Credit expires.
So why has the national GOP adopted its topsy-turvy worldview? For the answer, you have to look toward a different kind of green—the unprecedented hundreds of millions of dollars that Big Oil and Big Coal are spending to make sure that everyone in America knows the name of Solyndra (even if they aren't sure exactly what happened there) but as few as possible hear about successes like Shepherds Flat.
In the long run, of course, the dirty energy advocates will fail because they're swimming (as hard as they can) against the tide of history. But we can't afford to wait for reason to triumph over ad dollars. What can you do right now? Tell Congress to renew the Production Tax Credit before we lose even more wind-energy jobs.
Visit EcoWatch’s RENEWABLES page for more related news on this topic.
A "trash tsunami" has washed ashore on the beaches of Honduras, endangering both wildlife and the local economy.
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More long-finned pilot whales were found stranded today on beaches in Tasmania, Australia. About 500 whales have become stranded, including at least 380 that have died, the AP reported. It is the largest mass stranding in Australia's recorded history.
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By Harry Kretchmer
By 2030, almost a third of all the energy consumed in the European Union must come from renewable sources, according to binding targets agreed in 2018. Sweden is helping lead the way.
Sweden is a world leader in renewable energy consumption. Swedish Institute/World Bank
Naturally Warm<p>54% of Sweden's power comes from renewables, and is helped by its geography. With plenty of moving water and 63% forest cover, it's no surprise the <a href="https://sweden.se/nature/energy-use-in-sweden/#" target="_blank">two largest renewable power sources</a> are hydropower and biomass. And that biomass is helping support a local energy boom.</p><p>Heating is a key use of energy in a cold country like Sweden. In recent decades, as fuel oil taxes have increased, the country's power companies have turned to renewables, like biomass, to fuel local 'district heating' plants.</p><p>In Sweden these trace their <a href="https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0360544217304140#fig3" target="_blank">origins back to 1948</a>, when a power station's excess heat was first used to heat nearby buildings: steam is <a href="https://www.sciencedirect.com/topics/engineering/district-heating-system" target="_blank">forced along a network of pipes</a> to wherever it's needed. Today, there are around 500 district heating systems across the country, from major cities to small villages, providing heat to homes and businesses.</p><p>District heating used to be fueled mainly from the <a href="https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0360544217304140" target="_blank">by-products of power plants</a>, waste-to-energy plants and industrial processes. These days, however, Sweden is bringing more renewable sources into the mix. And as a result of competition, this localized form of power is now the country's<a href="https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0360544217304140#fig3" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer"> home-heating market leader.</a></p>
Sweden is using smart grids to turn buildings into energy producers. Huang et al/Elsevier
Energy ‘Prosumers’<p>But Sweden doesn't stop at village-level heating solutions. Its new breed of energy-generation takes hyper-local to the next level.</p><p>One example is in the city of Ludivika where 1970s flats <a href="https://www.buildup.eu/sites/default/files/content/transforming-a-residential-building-cluster-into-electricity-prosumers-in-sweden.pdf" target="_blank">have recently been retrofitted with the latest smart energy technology</a>.</p><p>48 family apartments spread across 3 buildings have been given photovoltaic solar panels, thermal energy storage and heat pump systems. A micro energy grid connects it all, and helps charge electric cars overnight.</p><p>The result is a cluster of 'prosumer' buildings, producing rather than consuming enough power for 77% of residents' needs. With <a href="http://www.diva-portal.org/smash/get/diva2:1232060/FULLTEXT01.pdf" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">high levels of smart meter usage</a>, it's a model that looks set to spread across Sweden.</p>
<div id="d7bf9" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="8757b138d5570bec9d6aad18074a429a"><blockquote class="twitter-tweet twitter-custom-tweet" data-twitter-tweet-id="1273556364263071744" data-partner="rebelmouse"><div style="margin:1em 0">Read more about Western Harbour and book a visit: https://t.co/ujSmVs9rNK 🏡🌳🌊 https://t.co/C5PuPziqIM</div> — Smart City Sweden (@Smart City Sweden)<a href="https://twitter.com/SmartCitySweden/statuses/1273556364263071744">1592474473.0</a></blockquote></div>
Scaling Up<p>A recent development by E.ON in Hyllie, a district on the outskirts of Malmö, southern Sweden, <a href="https://www.eonenergy.com/blog/2019/February/sweden-smart-city" target="_blank">has scaled up the smart grid principle</a>. Energy generation comes from local wind, solar, biomass and waste sources.</p><p>Smart grids then balance the power, react to the weather, deploying extra power when it's colder or putting excess into battery storage when it's warm. The system is not only more efficient, but bills have fallen.</p><p>Smart energy developments like those in Hyllie, Ludivika, and renewable-driven district heating, offer a radical alternative to the centralized energy systems many countries rely on today.</p><p>The EU's leaders have a challenge: how to generate 32% of energy from renewables by 2030. Sweden offers a vision of how technology and local solutions can turn a goal into a reality.</p>
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By Jessica Corbett
In another win for climate campaigners, leaders of 12 major cities around the world — collectively home to about 36 million people — committed Tuesday to divesting from fossil fuel companies and investing in a green, just recovery from the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.
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