July 26, 2010 - Energy department blogs; Senate energy bill

Monday, July 26, 2010

First, today's picture (from several days ago): the view from the Maine island of Islesford (Little Cranberry Island), across the town field:


Blogging is hot these days, so hot in fact that the U.S. Department of Energy has unveiled its own blog: "Energy Blog". (Perhaps a contest could be held to suggest a more distinctive name?)

Those of us looking for a Senate energy bill are expecting to see more details today. While it seems nearly certain that this draft won't include a renewable portfolio standard (or as federal types seem to prefer, a renewable energy standard), a broad coalition sent a letter to Senator Reid on Friday asking for a national renewable minimum standard (hosted at the American Wind Energy Association's blog). The letter was signed by diverse parties such as:
  • labor representatives (Blue Green Alliance, United Steelworkers, Utility Workers Union of America)
  • environmentalists (Environment America, League of Conservation Voters, Natural Resources Defense Council, Pew Environment Group)
  • renewable energy groups (American Wind Energy Association, Biomass Power Association, Energy Recovery Council, National Hydropower Association, RES Alliance for Jobs), and
  • utilities (AES Corporation, NextEra Energy Resources, Inc., Xcel Energy)
The United Kingdom has set ambitious renewable energy targets: to hit a 30% renewable portfolio standard by 2020, the UK will need to install 27 more gigawatts of renewables, half of which they want to come from offshore wind.  How much will it cost?  According to a new report, too much: accounting firm PricewaterhouseCoopers says that the United Kingdom will fall £10 billion short of the £75 billion it will need to develop its offshore wind resource up to the level of the renewable energy targets.  To meet that target, the UK will need to add 1.1 GW of new capacity per year -- but in 2009, only half of that was rolled out.  Critics point to a severe lack of pre-construction finance.  Could a different mix of resources -- perhaps one picked not in advance based on specific technologies, but competing on their economics -- result in a lower cost exposure to the British ratepayer?

As the Senate has dropped its current consideration of a climate bill, Senator John Kerry has apparently predicted "an ice-free Arctic" in "five or 10 years."

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