By Rob Dieterich ~ February 2, 2018

President Trump in his State of the Union address this week claimed yet again that he had ended a "war on beautiful clean coal.” Let’s take a look at what the facts really say about the future of energy, particularly clean, renewable power. There's news this week of the biggest-ever offshore wind project and ever-lower prices for wind and solar. Thanks, as always, for reading. You can find more in the Clean Economy Weekly archive, here.

Offshore Wind that Rivals a Nuclear Plant?
Credit: Ørsted

Construction has begun on the world’s largest offshore wind farm, some 75 miles off the UK coast. Ørsted is installing 174 Siemens turbines of 7 megawatts each. Together, they'll give Hornsea Project One 1.2 gigawatts of capacity when completed in 2020, about as much as the largest nuclear reactors.
 
To actually construct such huge wind machines, workers first set an 800-ton “monopile” into the seafloor and then build up from there, according to a nicely detailed article from Electrek, here. Attaching the blades, each 75 meters long (about two-thirds the length of a football field), is one of the last steps. The announcement from Ørsted, formerly DONG Energy, descendant of Denmark’s state-owned North Sea oil and gas company, is here
 
In a sign of the European Union's progress in the transition to cleaner energy, generation from renewable power facilities exceeded that of coal plants for the first time last year, according Sandbag, a climate policy think tank. The UK and Germany, with their giant new offshore wind facilities, are doing more than all other EU countries combined: They accounted for 56 percent of all renewable capacity added in the EU in the past three years, according to the report, here.   
 
KEY STAT: The giant turbines for Hornsea Project One generate enough electricity with one revolution of their blades to power a typical home for more than 24 hours.

Power Company CEO: Coal Can’t Compete
Credit: NextEra Energy

By the early 2020s, it will be cheaper to get power from newly built wind and solar projects than from existing coal and nuclear plants. So says James Robo, CEO of NextEra Energy, the largest U.S. utility by market value and the biggest producer of wind and solar generation. He told Wall Street analysts on a recent conference call that, with existing tax credits, wind power can be produced at 1.2 to 1.8 cents per kilowatt-hour, and solar at 2.5 to 3.5 cents. Vox has a story, here, contemplating how remarkable those prices are. A transcript of Robo’s comments is here.
 
KEY QUOTE: “Our prospects for new renewable growth have never been stronger.”  —NextEra Energy CEO James Robo

5 Million Electric Cars for California
Credit: Bryan Mitchell/Getty Images

California Gov. Jerry Brown has an ambitious new goal for electric vehicles: He wants to see 5 million on the state’s roads by 2030, and he’s planning a major expansion of EV charging infrastructure to make it possible. California currently has about 350,000 zero-emissions vehicles. The Associated Press has the story, here.

KEY STATS: Brown proposes to spend $2.5 billion to support the transition to electric cars; he wants 250,000 charging stations and 200 hydrogen fueling stations by 2025.

New York Plans for Offshore Wind
Credit: Don Emmert/AFP/Getty Images

Offshore wind farms have been almost entirely a European thing to date, but that may be changing. New York aims to get U.S. efforts moving with a goal of 2.4 gigawatts of offshore turbines by 2030. The state published its master plan this week, identifying preferred locations, assessing procurement options, and outlining public outreach efforts. The state will solicit proposals this year and next for more than 800 megawatts of offshore wind power. 

Not to be outdone, New Jersey’s new governor this week outlined a goal for 3.5 GW of offshore wind power by 2030. New York’s master plan can be found here. A story about it from Utility Dive is here. NorthJersey.com has the New Jersey plan here.
 
KEY STATS: Elsewhere in the region, Massachusetts has a target of 1.6 GW of offshore wind power in the next 10 years, and Rhode Island has the nation’s only offshore wind farm, with five turbines producing 30 MW of power.

While Maine Puts Wind on Hold
Credit: Gage Skidmore/CC BY-SA-2.0

Gov. Paul LePage imposed a moratorium on new wind power projects in Maine last week, and it’s already sparked a lawsuit. The Republican governor argued that wind turbines may be harming tourism or damaging the environment, and he appointed a commission to study his concerns—behind closed doors. A Bloomberg story, here, says wind generation capacity in Maine has doubled to 900 megawatts in about two years. The Conservation Law Foundation wants a judge to declare LePage's ban unconstitutional. CLF says the governor is effectively trying to veto existing law. 
 
KEY QUOTE: “Out-of-state interests are eager to exploit our western mountains in order to serve their political agendas.”  —Maine Gov. Paul LePage


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