Wisconsin has stood out nationwide for state officials’ hostility toward solar and other renewable energy sources, as codified in decisions by the Public Service Commission as well as moves by Gov. Scott Walker and state legislators. But there are also numerous bright spots in Wisconsin’s clean energy landscape, including leadership by rural electric cooperatives in renewable development.
In addition to the Department of Natural Resources, a second state agency has scrubbed information on global warming from its website. For years, the Public Service Commission featured material devoted to climate change, including strategies designed to reduce Wisconsin's reliance on coal. Then, sometime after May 1, the agency eliminated its global warming web page. The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel discovered the change when reviewing archived web pages of the DNR and the PSC. The agencies are the most influential in state government on the subject of climate change because of their role in regulating coal-fired power plants. Coal emissions from power plants are the state’s largest sources of carbon emissions.
According to a new report, companies looking for easy access to renewable energy should consider moving to Iowa. That state, followed by Illinois, topped a ranking released by the nation’s retail and tech sectors urging state governments to lower barriers to the further development of renewable energy. Ohio came in 8th. The report, assembled by Clean Edge on behalf of the Retail Industry Leaders Association and the Information Technology Industry Council, comes just as state legislatures across the country are convening for their 2017 sessions. The report was quite clear about its intentions: to urge changes in state laws and regulations regarding renewable energy, and especially corporate access to it.
Maryland Governor Larry Hogan’s environmental agenda for the coming legislative session includes allocation of $7.5 million to the University of Maryland to create a green energy research center. The goal of the Green Energy Institute — a collaboration between the University of Maryland Energy Research Center (UMERC) at the A. James Clark School of Engineering and the Maryland Clean Energy Center (MCEC) — will be to develop and attract private investment and commercialize clean energy innovations and deployment solutions in Maryland.
Ohio's renewable energy standards are again in play, following Gov. John Kasich's veto of a Statehouse-approved continuation of the freeze on those standards. And thanks to Kasich's decision, we can now get back to discussing what lies ahead for the state's energy production and, inevitably, business development.
A new report from the National Renewable Energy Laboratory and the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory outlines, generally, how the benefits of renewable portfolio standards (RPS) outweigh the costs. Ohio is back on the list of 29 states that currently enforce an RPS, and, even if standards remain the same from this point on, the U.S. will use renewable energy sources for 26 percent of electricity generation by 2030 and 40 percent by 2050. If more states join the RPS trend — and if standards strengthen — the ratio becomes bolder.
In Ohio, after two years of the RPS being "frozen," 2017 will show us how state law impacts energy production and consumption.
A total of 640 businesses and investors sent a letter to President-elect Trump and Congress on Tuesday, strongly urging continued investment in the clean energy sector. The letter, coordinated by the nonprofit group Ceres, which works with investors and companies to promote sustainability, contains big tech names like Adobe, SalesForce, eBay, HP, SolarCity, Symantec and Tesla.
The country, a core member of OPEC, plans to invest $163 billion to boost its use of alternative energy over the next three decades. That should increase clean energy's share of UAE consumption from 25% to 50% by 2050. The country also hopes to increase energy efficiency by 40% over the same period.UAE vice president and ruler of Dubai, Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, said the new energy strategy should save the emirates $190 billion over three decades. Low oil prices are forcing major producers, including Saudi Arabia, to rethink their economic strategies.
New York governor Andrew Cuomo announced plans this week to close the Indian Point nuclear power plant, which supplies electricity to New York City and surrounding areas. The plant’s two working reactors — which account for roughly 10 percent of the state’s power generation — are slated to go offline in 2020 and 2021, more than a decade ahead of schedule. Some environmentalists celebrated the closure. Others lamented the loss of a carbon-free source of energy, despite nuclear power’s potential hazards to humans and wildlife. Nuclear power plants represent a range of risks, from hazardous radioactive waste to a full-scale meltdown. They also supply the bulk of America’s zero-carbon electricity. In laying out its carbon-cutting goals, the Environmental Protection Agency assumed that existing nuclear power plants would continue to hum and buzz for decades to come. But cheap natural gas is digging into the profits of America’s aging nuclear power plants, pressuring them to close ahead of schedule.
By 2040, the number of electric cars in the world could reach 150 million, or even, if more ambitious targets for emissions reductions are adopted, 715 million. Not only would this mean a drastic reduction in the demand for oil, it could also mean a drastic reduction in the demand for biofuels such as ethanol. But the biofuel industry is not giving up without a fight. At the recent UN climate talks in Morocco, a consortium of 20 countries launched Biofuture, a platform designed to encourage the use of low-carbon biofuels, including the second generation of sugarcane cellulose-based biofuel. Brazil, the world's second largest producer of both ethanol and biodiesel (the U.S. is the largest) is leading the initiative.
At a time when Iowa farmers produced a second consecutive record corn crop amid falling prices for their commodity, the state’s growing ethanol industry remains a stabilizing factor. National crop production reports released in mid-December showed Iowa corn production in 2016 at 2.69 billion bushels, up from 2.51 billion bushels in 2015. But average statewide corn prices fell from $3.37 to $3.01 per bushel from November 2015 to November 2016.Brian Cahill, president and general manager of the Southwest Iowa Renewable Energy ethanol plant south of Council Bluffs, said that without SIRE and the 42 other ethanol plants in Iowa, prices would be even lower.“Without ethanol,” he said, “farmers would be hurting. We’re a steady buyer.”SIRE purchases 40 million to 50 million bushels of corn annually, more than 125,000 bushels daily – roughly 40 percent of the corn produced within a 75-mile radius of the Council Bluffs plant. Now paying about $3.20 per bushel, Cahill said SIRE pays between 10 to 15 cents more per bushel than offered by most elevators.