ACORE’s Outlook for Renewable Energy in America: 2014

Report Forecasts Industry Growth and Highlights Policy Recommendations to Advance an American Renewable Energy Economy

Jointly Authored by U.S. Renewable Energy Trade Associations

The Outlook For Renewable Energy in America (2014) Cover
This publication is available for download. Image courtesy of American Council On Renewable Energy (ACORE).

Washington, D.C. March 31, 2014 – The American Council On Renewable Energy (ACORE) today announced the release of The Outlook for Renewable Energy in America: 2014, jointly authored by U.S. renewable energy trade associations from the power, thermal, and fuel sectors.

The Outlook assesses the renewable energy marketplace and forecasts the future of each renewable energy technology sector, from the perspectives of each of the associations, and provides a list of policy recommendations by the respective associations that would encourage continued industry growth.

“ACORE applauds the unity of the renewable industry community and this united front as reflected in The Outlook for Renewable Energy in America: 2014,” said ACORE President and CEO, Michael Brower.

“The report demonstrates the many public and private sector opportunities that exist at the national, regional and local levels for continued industry advancement and investment; however, they are not one-size-fit-all solutions for every renewable technology.

The articles in the report detail specific market drivers for the biofuel, biomass, geothermal, hydropower, solar, waste, and wind energy sectors.”

“The financial markets have responded to greater American consumer interest in renewable energy with increasing levels of private sector investment,” said Jeffrey Holzschuh, Chairman of Institutional Securities at Morgan Stanley.

“Spurred by growing individual as well as business demand, private sector investment in the U.S. clean energy sector surpassed $100 billion in 2012-2013, stimulating significant economic development while supporting hundreds of thousands of jobs.”

The trade associations who participated in the Outlook are: Advanced Biofuels Association; American Wind Energy Association; Biomass Power Association; Biomass Thermal Energy Council; Energy Recovery Council; Geothermal Energy Association; Growth Energy; National Hydropower Association; Ocean Renewable Energy Coalition; and the Solar Energy Industries Association.

The industry-specific authors of The Outlook forecast renewable energy’s growth to continue, driven by increasing cost-competitiveness with conventional generation, technology advancements, and acceptance by Americans to embrace clean and renewable technologies.

Linda Church Ciocci, Executive Director, National Hydropower Association commented,

“Certainty is integral to hydropower’s continued growth over the next five years. Doubt surrounding the extension of tax incentives and the possibility of a drawn out licensing process are the main deterrent for developers that Washington must address.”

“Wind energy is now among the largest sources of new electric power in the U.S.,” said Tom Kiernan, CEO of the American Wind Energy Association.

“Technology innovation and U.S. manufacturing have reduced its average cost by 43 percent in just four years. The economic benefits are reaching communities and consumers all over America, with an average of $15 billion a year in private investment and savings on electric bills also now in the billions a year. We’re on track to generate 20 percent of the electricity in America from wind by 2030, and already produce over 25 percent in Iowa and South Dakota.”

“The U.S. is a world leader in geothermal power generation,” said Karl Gawell, Executive Director of the Geothermal Energy Association, “but to sustain that role, we need the kind of collaboration shown at ACORE’s recent National Renewable Energy Policy Forum to reach state and federal leaders so they will recognize the value of achieving the full potential and diversity of renewable energy.”

“The world has witnessed a sea change in the drivers of energy production and demand,” commented Michael McAdams, President, Advanced Biofuels Association (ABFA).

“ABFA believes these issues can be an opportunity and driver for advanced and cellulosic biofuels and we welcome the opportunity to participate with ACORE and the renewable energy community to help support the development and deployment of all renewable technologies.”

ACORE advocates that an America powered on renewable energy and renewable fuels is a stronger, more secure, cleaner, and more prosperous America.

The Outlook for Renewable Energy in America: 2014 shows the potential of America’s renewable energy economy to extend beyond one fuel choice or pipeline, to provide the country with an unparalleled opportunity to reinvigorate the U.S. economy while protecting our environment.

The Review can be downloaded here: http://www.acore.org/outlook2014

About ACORE:

ACORE, a 501(c)(3) non-profit membership organization, is dedicated to building a secure and prosperous America with clean, renewable energy. ACORE seeks to advance renewable energy through finance, policy, technology, and market development and is concentrating its member focus in 2014 on National Defense & Security, Power Generation & Infrastructure, and Transportation. Additional information is available at http://www.acore.org .

Iowa Wind Power builds taller and innovative wind towers

by Tina Casey

We were just talking about GE’s new taller wind turbine tower, which will hit the market next week at a whopping 139 meters, when along comes the latest American Wind Energy Association wind power report showing that the great state of Iowa now gets about 27 percent of its electricity from wind.

With the tallest turbine in Iowa reaching only 94 meters, imagine what’s going to happen to Iowa wind power production when taller wind turbine towers get into the ground.

Now, here’s where it gets interesting. We had a great sneak peek at GE’s new taller wind turbine tower earlier this week, and while we were talking with the folks over there the subject of taller wind turbine towers made with concrete came up.

It just so happens Iowa is home to at least two of the larger cement plants in the US (concrete is cement mixed with an aggregate), so let’s take a quick look back at what we learned from GE in terms of materials and the cost of wind power.

Wind turbine in Iowa by inkknife_2000.
Iowa gets 27% of its energy from wind power and will soon get even more than that. Iowa is also rich in cement plants, so they have built 94 metre tall wind turbine towers from concrete to lower costs and speed installations. Wind turbine in Iowa by inkknife_2000

Low Cost Wind Power And Taller Wind Turbine Towers

Our visit to GE took us to the Mohave desert, where the company has built a 97-meter prototype (limited to 97 by FAA regulations) for the 139-meter commercial version of its new “Space Frame” steel turbine tower. One key takeaway from our conversation there was the influence of factors on the cost of wind power other than the efficiency of the turbine itself.

In terms of the wind turbine tower, those other factors include raw materials, shipping, and labor, all of which can curtail height to cost-effective dimensions.

Within the shipping costs you also find a whole tangle of complications. One key factor there is the configuration of roads, bridges, and tunnels.

That’s why, GE pointed out to us, you’re not going to see much in the way of tubular-style wind turbine towers with a base larger than the current standard. Right now, the industry is conforming to the size of components that can get from point A to point B on a flatbed hauler, and with the size of the base curtailed, you’re not going to gain much in height from here on out.

That’s where GE’s solution comes in. It’s a steel space frame (that’s an engineering term for latticework) tower and instead of coming in a tube it has five distinct sides that are assembled on site. It can be flatpacked for transit, and the whole thing fits into standard shipping containers.

Another solution already on the market is to build all or part of the tower from concrete, though given the logistics involved with concrete that’s not a one-size-fits-all solution. It could be more cost-effective in regions where a cement plant is handy, and that’s where Iowa comes in.

Iowa And Taller Wind Towers

Iowa has four Portland cement sites, two of which are listed by the US EPA as among the larger cement plants in the country. It makes sense to give the local industry a boost and that is exactly what has been going on.

Just last May we noticed that researchers at Iowa State University are working on stress tests for a concrete wind turbine tower. Though their goal of 100 meters falls short of the GE Space Frame mark, it’s well above the currently typical range of 80 meters. The research has been funded by the state’s Grow Iowa Values economic development fund.

Also with the state’s cement facilities in mind, back in 2011 Spain-based Acciona Windpower announced plans for building concrete wind turbine towers in Iowa. We don’t have an update on that project but the company does have a turbine with a 120-meter concrete tower on the market.

Iowa At 27% Wind Power

Iowa is one of eleven states that are part of MISO, a regional grid operator that is very keen on wind power. Iowa Governor Terry Branstad (R) has also been an aggressive champion for extending the production tax credit for wind power, despite his party’s marked lack of enthusiasm.

Those are two key factors driving the state’s growth in wind power. According to the latest report from the American Wind Energy Association (AWEA), wind power accounted for 27 percent of the total electricity production in the state in 2013.

It looks like we ain’t seen nothing yet. Another key factor in Iowa’s wind energy growth is Warren Buffet, the well known investor. His MidAmerican Energy company is already heavily involved in the Iowa wind industry and just last year he announced that he would pour another $1.9 billion into new wind farms in Iowa.

Note: for the record, we got that figure of 94 meters for Iowa’s tallest wind turbine tower from the Iowa Energy Center at Iowa State (it happens to be a GE project, coincidentally). If you know of a taller one in the state, please let us know in the comment thread.

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This article, Iowa Eyes Concrete to Blow Past 27% Wind Power Mark, is syndicated from Clean Technica and is posted here with permission.

About the Author

JBS Renewable Energy. Wind Power. Tina CaseyTina Casey specializes in military and corporate sustainability, advanced technology, emerging materials, biofuels, and water and wastewater issues. Tina’s articles are reposted frequently on Reuters, Scientific American, and many other sites. You can also follow her on Twitter @TinaMCasey and Google+