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Renewable Energy News
U.S. Wind Power Production, Manufacturing Reaches Record Highs
The U.S. Department of Energy has released two new reports showcasing record growth across the U.S. wind market -- increasing America’s share of clean, renewable energy and supporting tens of thousands of jobs nationwide. According to these reports, the United States continues to be one of the world’s largest and fastest growing wind markets. In 2012, wind energy became the number one source of new U.S. electricity generation capacity for the first time – representing 43 percent of all new electric additions and accounting for $25 billion in U.S. investment
In the first four years of the Obama Administration, American electricity generation from wind and solar power more than doubled. President Obama’s Climate Action Plan makes clear that the growth of clean, renewable wind energy remains a critical part of an all-of-the-above energy strategy that reduces harmful greenhouse gas emissions, diversifies our energy economy and brings innovative technologies on line. The Obama Administration has committed to another doubling of the renewable electricity generation from energy resources like wind power by 2020. “The tremendous growth in the U.S. wind industry over the past few years underscores the importance of consistent policy that ensures America remains a leader in clean energy innovation,” said Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz. “As the fastest growing source of power in the United States, wind is paving the way to a cleaner, more sustainable future that protects our air and water and provides affordable, clean renewable energy to more and more Americans.” ...by Penn Energy
EU Wind Industry Faces Critical Worker Shortage
The European wind industry has grown so rapidly over the past decade that it is facing a critical shortage of skilled personnel, a new report reveals. There is currently a shortage of 7,000 qualified personnel required by the European wind energy sector each year, a figure that could increase to 15,000 by 2030 if the number of graduates taking courses relevant to the industry does not rise.
The figures come from a new report by the European Wind Energy Technology Platform (TPWind), based on research by renewable energy consultancy GL Garrad Hassan: “Workers wanted: The EU wind energy sector skills gap”. A full 78 percent of companies that responded to the TPWind questionnaire said they “found it difficult or very difficult to find suitably trained staff”. This in an EU with an overall 11 percent unemployment rate, and a youth unemployment rate of 20.9 percent (5.5 million people between the ages of 15-24).
Filippo Gagliardi, Project Manager for EWEA, which coordinates and hosts the TPWind Secretariat, says that there are different reasons for the gap between skills and jobs in the industry. These include the rapid pace of growth in the sector — installed capacity has increased from around 13 GW in 2000 to more than 100 GW in 2012, far beyond all forecasts; a demographic problem whereby retiring engineers are not being replaced, due to lack of new engineers; and a dearth of students with STEM skills — science, technology, engineering and mathematics. ...by Tom Rowe, Renewable Energy World News
Methane Leakage From Gas Fields Guts Climate Benefit
A major new study in Geophysical Research Letters by 19 researchers — primarily from NOAA and the Cooperative Institute for Research in Environmental Sciences (CIRES) — suggests natural gas may be more of gangplank than a bridge. Scientists used a research aircraft to measure leakage and found: The measurements show that on one February day in the Uintah Basin, the natural gas field leaked 6 to 12 percent of the methane produced, on average, on February days.
The Environmental Defense Fund (EDF) called the emissions rates “alarmingly high.” While the researchers conducted 12 flights, “they selected just one as their data source for this paper,” ClimateWire reports. Researchers actually measured higher emissions on other flights, but atmospheric conditions during those flights “gave the data more uncertainty.” The Uinta Basin is of particular interest because it “produces about 1 percent of total U.S. natural gas” and fracking has increased there over the past decade. This study confirms earlier findings of high rates of methane leakage from natural gas fields. If these findings continue to be replicated elsewhere, they would utterly vitiate the direct climate benefit of natural gas, even when it is used only to switch off coal....by Joseph Romm from The Energy Collective
SunPower Producing Solar Panels at Full Speed
SunPower Corp., the second-largest U.S. solar manufacturer, is selling panels as fast as it can make them and is seeking ways to expand production capacity in anticipation of increasing global demand. The company reached “full manufacturing utilization” in the second quarter, Chief Financial Officer Chuck Boynton said during a conference call yesterday. It’s considering expanding a production joint venture with the Taiwanese electronics maker AU Optronics Corp. or building new fabrication facilities. It also recently announced its foray into residential leasing.
SunPower is mulling an expansion as the rest of the industry contends with a global oversupply of panels that’s driven down prices and margins. Chief Executive Officer Tom Werner is seeking to position the company to gain share, especially in Asia. “We’re fully allocated,” Werner said in an interview yesterday. “There are times you wish you could build a new fab.” SunPower’s sales in Asia doubled in the second quarter to $101.9 million from $48.2 million a year earlier, driven by surging demand in Japan where the government is promoting wider use of solar panels to replace electricity from shuttered nuclear power plants. The company estimates is has about 10 percent of the country’s residential panel market....by Ehren Goossens from Renewable Energy World News
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