Renewables & Efficiency

Expiring Tax Credits Spur Doubling of US Solar

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TESTINGWill federal incentives for the solar industry be allowed to expire after 2016? The only thing good about being in the dark about the answer is that it is spurring some 32 gigawatts (GW) of new solar projects now, just in case. That’s close to double the 20 GW installed in the US. And those 32 GW are all larger than 5 megawatts (MW) – they leave out the legions of small, rooftop systems, according to market research firm, IHS Technology. Most projects are in the 20-100MW range. “Newly proposed projects appear to be primarily located in less contentious areas and developed at sizes that are likely to promote a high potential for success in a short time,” says Christine Beadle, senior analyst for IHS. As you can see, the majority are still in California, and the new leader, North Carolina: Credit: IHS Technology Financing is already more difficult for utility-scale projects with long lead times because of the pending expiration of the ITC. Projects must be completed before the Federal energy investment tax credit (ITC) expires at the end of 2016, when the tax credit drops from 30% to 10%.  Legislation to renew the ITC was introduced in May – we’ll see if it gets anywhere. The wind industry’s production tax […]

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Is This Stick Really a Wind Turbine?

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TESTINGWhile wind turbines produce clean energy unlike dirty power plants that pollute out of sight, many people aren’t thrilled to see them dotting the landscape. Over the years, there have been many turbine designs that have yet to gain traction, notably vertical turbines.  Now, there’s a new design that takes it to the limit – turbines that look like sticks in the ground – with no blades at all. Does this new design look better to you?! No more worries about noise for people who live nearby. It has no moving parts and is therefore silent. It doesn’t have blades, so it can’t kill birds and bats. Prototypes are almost as efficient as conventional turbines and are markedly cheaper to build and maintain. “It will need less material, allowing us to provide electricity to more people at a lower cost, while leaving a smaller environmental footprint. It won’t kill birds and it won’t make noise. Stop imagining – here comes Vortex!,” says the developer, Spain-based Vortex Blades, on its crowdfunding page. Here’s how it works Instead of capturing energy by the rotating motion of turbine blades, Vortex takes advantage of “vorticity” – an aerodynamic effect that occurs when wind breaks against a solid structure. It begins to oscillate and captures the energy that is produced. It “floats” on magnets, which […]

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