On December 29, 2014, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) published the final rule for the Rural Energy for America Program (REAP). REAP is intended to help mainly businesses, as well as some state, local, and tribal governments develop solar, wind, and biomass projects. This new rule will change the requirements for those applying for funding from the grant and loan guarantees for renewable energy and energy efficiency improvements in rural areas. There is now a three-tiered application process based on the total project cost for funding that reduces the technical reporting requirements of the previous system. The final rule also modifies scoring criteria for renewable energy and energy efficiency improvement projects, and creates deadline dates for grant and guaranteed loan applications. USDA estimates that this rule will have net cost savings of approximately ten million dollars as a result of decreased costs in program implementation. This final rule becomes effective on February 12, 2015.
Offshore Wind Versus Solar in the Eastern US: An Unexpected Rivalry
Less than a decade ago, offshore wind energy and solar PV were similarly priced energy sources. Unsubsidized installed costs for both exceeded $5 per watt, or more than double that for land-based wind. Despite their cost, both technologies were seen as the best hopes for supplying urban centers with green power, especially in the BOSNYWASH (Boston-New York-Washington, DC) corridor of the eastern U.S. Retail energy prices in this corridor rank among the highest in North America, and lower cost energy from land-base...
As Global Demand for Electricity Grows, Geothermal Energy Heats Up
January 9, 2017 — At 2:46 p.m. local time on Friday, March 11, 2011, Japan was rocked by the largest earthquake ever to strike its shores. The 9.1 magnitude quake triggered a devastating tsunami that killed more than 15,000 people. It also took out the back-up emergency generators that cooled the reactors at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant complex, causing a series of catastrophic meltdowns. But amid the chaos, the Yanaizu-Nishiyama geothermal power plant in Fukushima prefecture didn’t miss...
How can we ensure the race for clean energy doesn’t leave the world’s poorest citizens behind?
As in other places around the world, Mexico’s wind boom runs the risk of bypassing the poor, which is why we need new global standards. Wind power is booming in Mexico. With more than 3,200 megawatts in operation, the country is on par with Japan. By 2018 it expects to have 10,000 MW installed as part of the government’s Climate Action Plan. Promising, right? Scratch the surface of that boom, however, and you’ll find uncomfortable truths: land rights conflicts and perceived inequities in...
Renewable energy: an uncomfortable position
I have been looking at how the UK is doing against its EU renewable energy targets. These set us a target of having 15% of all energy from renewable sources by 2020. The government would have us believe that all is well. It’s most recent report (published in January) took great delight in saying that we comfortably met the interim target up to 2013/14. But is that really the right measure? Interim targets are just that: interim, and it’s always tempting for them to be made easy to push trouble down...
The unconventional wisdom on renewable energy and investment
Over the summer, there has been a loud buzz in the media about the need for research and development that would lead to a breakthrough in the cost of clean energy technologies. Financial Times commentator Martin Wolf called for a “moonshot to save the planet” building on the proposal of noted academics and senior industry executives for an “Apollo mission” to put the brakes on climate change. Recently, Bill Gates announced that he would be investing at least $2 billion over the next five...