ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED ON: AWEABLOG.ORG
WRITTEN BY: HANNAH HUNT
We’ve seen the good news that Fortune 500 companies like General Motors, Facebook, The Home Depot, and now Apple are making smart investments to procure wind energy, realizing long-term price stability and cutting pollution at the same time.
But how many more companies are in line to invest?
A new report by WWF, Ceres, Calvert Research & Management and CDP shows how more and more Fortune 500 companies are setting renewable energy targets, increasing the number of corporate purchasers ready to procure stably priced and reliable wind energy.
In total the report reveals that 48 percent of all Fortune 500 companies now have targets in place for either renewable energy procurement, carbon pollution reductions, or energy efficiency– a steady increase over the 43 percent reported in 2014.
These goals save America’s companies billions of dollars. In 2016 alone, emissions-saving projects translated to a combined $3.7 billion in savings for these companies.
Looking closer, 53 Fortune 500 companies now have renewable energy procurement goals, with 23 of those companies setting 100 percent renewable energy targets.
Particularly remarkable is that the majority of those companies set 100 percent targets in just the past three years, reminding us that corporate demand for renewable energy is a growing trend – currently most prevalent in the Information Technology sector but expanding rapidly to other sectors such as Consumer Goods.
ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED ON: MORNINGCONSULT.COM
WRITTEN BY: ISAK KVAM
We celebrate Earth Day this month, which makes it an opportune time to take a look at the many benefits wind energy provides as a pollution-free energy resource.
Wind power creates a healthier future — it contributes to cleaner air and better health for Americans as a pollution-free electricity source.
U.S. wind farms cut sulfur dioxide emissions by 76,000 metric tons a year and nitrogen oxide emissions by 106,000 metric tons.
That literally keeps Americans out of the hospital, because these pollutants create smog that can trigger asthma attacks. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that 24.6 million Americans suffer from asthma, including 6.2 million children. When we invest in more wind power, we are investing in the health of our fellow Americans.
According to the Department of Energy’s Wind Vision report, by 2050, wind’s air pollution reductions will save $108 billion in public health costs and prevent 21,700 premature deaths.
Wind energy contrasts starkly from other sources of electricity generation, which also emit volatile organic compounds and heavy metals. These pollutants result in serious health effects, including lung cancer, asthma, increased heart disease, and other carcinogenic and neurotoxic effects.
The American Lung Association’s State of the Air 2016 report found that more than half of all Americans live in counties where they face exposure to unhealthy levels of air pollutants. However, the report states that the best progress made in 2016 centered on reducing the ozone and year-round particle pollution thanks to cleaner energy and cleaner vehicles.
Wind doesn’t just create clean air; it also saves billions of gallons of water every year.
Wind uses virtually no water to generate electricity, saving 35 billion gallons a year by replacing other thirsty electricity sources.
Wind power saves each American about 120 gallons of water each year, which is equivalent to 285 billion bottles. It does that because wind needs no water for cooling purposes to generate electricity, unlike other sources of generation. This means no warm water gets dumped into nearby lakes or rivers, causing harm to fish and other wildlife.
As the nation faces areas of drought, these savings become even more important. Farmers in particular have benefited from wind energy’s water savings. As an industry that depends on water availability for crops, animals and personal uses, farmers understand how big an impact these savings have.
America’s thermal power plants withdrew between 22 and 62 trillion gallons of freshwater in 2008, when wind energy only contributed about 1.5 percent of the U.S. electricity generation. This freshwater comes from the same rivers, lakes, streams and aquifers that we all rely on.
In 2016, wind energy supplied over 5.5 percent of U.S. electricity generation, with enough installed to power 24 million homes. By 2050, the Department of Energy’s Wind Vision Report says wind energy could realistically provide 35 percent of U.S. electricity, creating a 23 percent reduction in water consumed to generate electricity.
Wind energy is conserving tremendous amounts of freshwater that Americans and our wildlife need. This is just one way wind works for America — by benefiting the whole country by saving water and contributing to cleaner air. We look forward to enjoying the benefits of cleaner air and more water savings as wind power continues to grow.
Isak Kvam is a communications and policy associate at Wind on the Wires.
ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED ON: EcoWatch.com
WRITTEN BY: John Hensley
AWEA released its U.S. Wind Industry Annual Market Report, Year Ending 2016 today, which showcases strong, steady growth throughout the year.
Wind power became the largest source of renewable generating capacity and supplied record amounts of wind energy to many parts of the country. Strong wind project construction, a growing manufacturing sector and the increasing need for wind turbine technicians and operators allowed the industry to add jobs at a rate nine times faster than the overall job market, as wind employment grew to a record 102,500.
Technology advances resulted in more productive turbines, with recent generations achieving average capacity factors more than 40 percent, all while costs continued to fall. And the industry saw the installation of the country’s first offshore wind project off the coast of Rhode Island.
Here are the top 11 wind industry trends in 2016:
1. Record Wind Jobs
For the first time in history, there are more than 100,000 Americans employed in the U.S. wind energy industry. Strong wind construction activity throughout the year, combined with a strengthening wind manufacturing sector and growing need for personnel to operate and maintain more than 52,000 wind turbines, allowed the industry to add nearly 15,000 full-time equivalent jobs in 2016.
That brings total U.S. wind industry jobs to 102,500. Impressively, the U.S. wind industry added jobs more than nine times faster than the overall economy. Strong wind project installation, construction, and development activity, combined with strong wind-related manufacturing activity, and over 52,000 wind turbines to operate and maintain, led wind jobs to grow 16.5 percent. That’s compared to 1.8 percent for the overall U.S. job market.
2. Wind #1 Source of Renewable Generating Capacity
Wind energy passed hydroelectric power to become the number one source of renewablegenerating capacity in 2016. With federal policy stability secured, the U.S. wind industry installed 8,203 megawatts (MW) in 2016 and the industry now has 82,143 MW installed overall, enough wind power for the equivalent of 24 million American homes.
3. Generation Records Set
Wind energy delivered more than 30 percent of the electricity produced in Iowa and South Dakota in 2016. Kansas, Oklahoma and North Dakota generated more than 20 percent of their electricity from wind, while 20 states now produce more than five percent of their electricity from wind energy. ERCOT, the main grid operator for most of Texas, and SPP, which operates across parts of 14 states, competed for new wind power penetration records throughout 2016, both topping 50 percent wind energy on several occasions.
4. U.S. Manufacturing Sector Growth
Wind energy continues to fuel the domestic manufacturing sector, with more than 500 factoriesacross 41 states producing components for the U.S. wind industry in 2016. Domestic wind-related manufacturing jobs grew 17 percent to more than 25,000 as three new factories began supplying the wind industry and five plants expanded production.
5. Technology Boosts Productivity
Technological advances allow wind turbines to reach stronger, steadier winds, and more sophisticated control systems are increasing the amount of electricity modern wind turbines generate. Wind turbines built in 2014 and 2015 achieved capacity factors more than 40 percent during 2016. At the same time, the cost of wind energy dropped more than 66 percent between 2009 and 2016.
6. Corporations and Utilities Want Wind
Fortune 500 companies, electric utilities and others signed 47 power purchase agreements totaling more than 4,000 MW during 2016. In doing so, they cited the declining costs and stable price of wind power as factors. Utilities submitted Integrated Resource Plans detailing at least 14,000 MW in wind power additions in the past two years.
7. Record Wind Enters Queue
67 gigawatts of newly proposed wind projects were added to interconnection queues in 2016, the largest since the addition of 67.3 GW in 2009. This brings total wind capacity in the queues to 136.8 GW, the highest level in five years.
8. Improving the Transmission Grid
Transmission expansion to serve wind continues, particularly in MISO and SPP. A number of proposed interregional Direct Current transmission lines have now also cleared final permitting hurdles. In total, transmission projects that could support the delivery of nearly 52,000 MW of wind energy over the next five years are currently under development, though not all are likely to be built.
9. Wind Benefits Every State
More than 74 percent of U.S. congressional districts have operational wind energy projects or active wind-related manufacturing facilities, including 77 percent of Republican districts and 69 percent of Democratic districts. The industry invested more than $14.1 billion in new wind projects and supported 102,500 jobs across all 50 states.
ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED ON: American Wind Energy Association
WRITTEN BY: Tom Kiernan, CEO of the American Wind Energy Association
Moving up the economic ladder can be much more difficult in rural America than in other places.That was the key finding from a recent report on the differences between urban and less-populated parts of the county. As the study’s authors stated in their introduction, “Place matters.” There are any number of reasons why this might be the case. Rural areas generally offer fewer job opportunities, and small tax bases may struggle to fund schools. Incomes can falter as a result.
However, researchers at the bipartisan Economic Innovation Group found an important exception: rural communities that are comparatively well-off are able to provide their children with the very best springboard to enhanced economic prospects, it turns out.
“Prosperous rural areas can provide a significantly greater boost to children than even prosperous urban areas, suggesting that the quintessential engine of economic mobility may not be the urban melting pots of Horatio Alger-style myth, but rather the small town communities of the Upper Midwest,” their report explains.
Here is where wind power has a role to play.
Because 99 percent of wind farms are built in rural areas, they bring economic development into these regions on a nearly unmatched scale. Wind has driven over $140 billion of investment over the past decade, and another $85 billion of economic activity is on the way in just the next four years.
Many of the country’s 100,000-strong wind energy jobs benefit rural communities, with more coming. By the end of President Trump’s first term, the U.S. could have 248,000 wind-related jobs, in wind companies, the supply chain, and the communities surrounding wind farms and factories.
Much of this goes right to the rural areas that need it most.
Because wind farms are often the biggest taxpayers in a county, they swell local coffers. That new revenue helps pay teacher salaries, buy new school computers, build classrooms, and expand educational opportunities in other ways.
Consider the Lincolnview School District, in the rural northwestern corner of Ohio. After a wind farm was built several years ago, the school district was able to provide every student from grades K through 12 with a new laptop — and fund the repair and replacement program, too. Lincolnview offers advanced classes in biomedical and pre-engineering it would not have been able to fund before the wind farm.
Or take Lowville, a rural town in upstate New York. The Lowville school district funded new Advanced Placement classes, and it built new athletic fields using funds from a nearby wind farm. In fact, researchers from Syracuse University are currently studying Lowville schools because their students perform significantly better on standardized tests than students from similarly income-constrained areas.
“This opportunity with wind, it’s incredible to see. It’s been the number one economic development we’ve ever had,” says Jeff Snyder, Lincolnview school district superintendent. “I don’t know any better way to spend money than on kids and our future.”
These resources open opportunities for economic mobility.
While the researchers point to the Upper Midwest in their report as an example of prosperous rural areas, we in the wind industry also look to the area because it showcases wind power’s potential.
I would like to think the two are related.
Iowa sits right in the middle of that Upper Midwest region, and no state has better taken advantage of its God-given wind resource. Today wind supplies over 35 percent of the state’s electricity, and the resulting job creation and economic development is impressive.
Over 8,000 Iowans now have wind-related jobs, many of them at 11 in-state factories that build wind turbines and parts. Iowa’s farmers get over $20 million a year in lease payments for hosting turbines. That’s income they can count on rain or shine. And wind farm construction has brought $11.8 billion of investment into the state’s economy, including $1 billion investments from both MidAmerican Energy and Alliant Energy.
More is on the way. Iowa could have over 17,000 wind-related jobs and another $9 billion of additional economic activity from wind power by 2020.
That is how you bring economic development into rural America, and offer our children futures full of opportunity.