The Future of Wind Energy is in the Hands of Congress
Photo courtesy of Shutterstock
One of the fastest-growing sectors in the energy industry, wind energy, is playing a critical role in developing America’s vision for a clean, energy independent future.
In 2012, wind energy capacity in the U.S. surpassed 50 gigawatts of electricity—the equivalent of 44 coal power plants or 11 nuclear plants—and generated enough energy to power nearly 13 million homes. With more than 10 gigawatts worth of new wind farms currently under construction, the industry will soon be producing more than 60 gigawatts of electricity.
And that figure is slated to grow dramatically within the next decade. According to former President George W. Bush’s administration, wind energy has the potential to generate more than 20 percent of U.S. energy needs by 2030. With every new wind farm adding more than 1,000 jobs to an industry that already employs 75,000 people, the wind industry’s continued growth will play a vital role in helping to revitalize the U.S. economy and improve its energy portfolio.
Unfortunately, the industry is facing a major hurdle right now in Congress.
The wind Production Tax Credit, which offers wind energy producers a 2.2 cent tax credit for every kilowatt of electricity produced from wind, is set to expire at the end of this year. The credit has helped the industry slash costs by more than 90 percent since the 1980s and has fostered new investments in wind farms around the country. But that progress could be halted quickly if Congress does not extend the Production Tax Credit before it expires on Dec. 31.
Experts are warning that if the tax credit expires, it could cripple the industry’s growth and lead to more than 37,000 jobs being lost. Already, some companies are already letting go of workers in the midst of the credit’s uncertainty, including Siemens, one of the largest turbine producers in the U.S., which just announced that it is laying off more than 1,000 employees.
In addition to losing thousands of jobs, failure to extend the tax credit will increase the cost of wind electricity, which will affect not only homeowners but also the companies and small business that have committed to buying renewable energy. That’s why 19 of the most visible companies in the U.S., including Starbucks, Johnson and Johnson, Sprint and Levi’s are all calling upon congress to extend the Production Tax Credit for the wind industry.
Really, it’s a no brainer. Why would we weaken an industry that can help grow our economy and provide the clean, domestic, renewable energy that America desperately needs?
Visit EcoWatch’s RENEWABLES page for more related news on this topic.
- Redwoods are the world's tallest trees.
- Now scientists have discovered they are even bigger than we thought.
- Using laser technology they map the 80-meter giants.
- Trees are a key plank in the fight against climate change.
They are among the largest trees in the world, descendants of forests where dinosaurs roamed.
Pixabay / Simi Luft<p><span>Until recently, measuring these trees meant scaling their 80 meter high trunks with a tape measure. Now, a team of scientists from University College London and the University of Maryland uses advanced laser scanning, to create 3D maps and calculate the total mass.</span></p><p>The results are striking: suggesting the trees <a href="https://www.nature.com/articles/s41598-020-73733-6" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">may be as much as 30% larger than earlier measurements suggested.</a> Part of that could be due to the additional trunks the Redwoods can grow as they age, <a href="https://www.nature.com/articles/s41598-020-73733-6" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">a process known as reiteration</a>.</p>
New 3D measurements of large redwood trees for biomass and structure. Nature / UCL<p>Measuring the trees more accurately is important because carbon capture will probably play a key role in the battle against climate change. Forest <a href="https://www.wri.org/blog/2020/09/carbon-sequestration-natural-forest-regrowth" target="_blank">growth could absorb billions of tons</a> of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere each year.</p><p>"The importance of big trees is widely-recognised in terms of carbon storage, demographics and impact on their surrounding ecosystems," the authors wrote<a href="https://www.nature.com/articles/s41598-020-73733-6" target="_blank"> in the journal Nature</a>. "Unfortunately the importance of big trees is in direct proportion to the difficulty of measuring them."</p><p>Redwoods are so long lived because of their ability to <a href="https://www.nature.com/articles/s41598-020-73733-6" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">cope with climate change, resist disease and even survive fire damage</a>, the scientists say. Almost a fifth of their volume may be bark, which helps protect them.</p>
Carbon Capture Champions<p><span>Earlier research by scientists at Humboldt University and the University of Washington found that </span><a href="https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0378112716302584" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Redwood forests store almost 2,600 tonnes of carbon per hectare</a><span>, their bark alone containing more carbon than any other neighboring species.</span></p><p>While the importance of trees in fighting climate change is widely accepted, not all species enjoy the same protection as California's coastal Redwoods. In 2019 the world lost the equivalent of <a href="https://www.worldwildlife.org/threats/deforestation-and-forest-degradation" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">30 soccer fields of forest cover every minute</a>, due to agricultural expansion, logging and fires, according to The Worldwide Fund for Nature (WWF).</p>
Pixabay<p>Although <a href="https://c402277.ssl.cf1.rackcdn.com/publications/1420/files/original/Deforestation_fronts_-_drivers_and_responses_in_a_changing_world_-_full_report_%281%29.pdf?1610810475" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">the rate of loss is reported to have slowed in recent years</a>, reforesting the world to help stem climate change is a massive task.</p><p><span>That's why the World Economic Forum launched the Trillion Trees Challenge (</span><a href="https://www.1t.org/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">1t.org</a><span>) and is engaging organizations and individuals across the globe through its </span><a href="https://uplink.weforum.org/uplink/s/uplink-issue/a002o00000vOf09AAC/trillion-trees" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Uplink innovation crowdsourcing platform</a><span> to support the project.</span></p><p>That's backed up by research led by ETH Zurich/Crowther Lab showing there's potential to restore tree coverage across 2.2 billion acres of degraded land.</p><p>"Forests are critical to the health of the planet," according to <a href="https://www.1t.org/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">1t.org</a>. "They sequester carbon, regulate global temperatures and freshwater flows, recharge groundwater, anchor fertile soil and act as flood barriers."</p><p><em data-redactor-tag="em" data-verified="redactor">Reposted with permission from the </em><span><em data-redactor-tag="em" data-verified="redactor"><a href="https://www.weforum.org/agenda/2021/03/redwoods-store-more-co2-and-are-more-enormous-than-we-thought/" target="_blank">World Economic Forum</a>.</em></span></p>
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