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Power United States Technology

Wind, Solar Surpassed 10 Percent of US Electricity In March, Says EIA (thehill.com) 179

According to the Energy Department's Energy Information Administration, wind and solar produced 10 percent of the electricity generated in the U.S. for the first time in March. The Hill reports: The Energy Information Administration's (EIA) monthly power report for March found that wind produced 8 percent of the electricity produced in the U.S. that month, with solar producing 2 percent. The two sources combined to have their best month ever in terms of percentage of overall electricity production, EIA said. The agency expects the two sources topped 10 percent again in April but forecasts that their generation will fall below that mark during the summer months. Due to the way geographic wind patterns affect the generation of electricity, the two sources typically combine for their best months in the spring and fall. Annually, wind and solar made up 7 percent of electric generation in 2016, EIA said.
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Wind, Solar Surpassed 10 Percent of US Electricity In March, Says EIA

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  • by Socguy ( 933973 ) on Wednesday June 14, 2017 @08:46PM (#54623003)
    Get ready for federal 'tweaking' to prevent further renewable growth. Time to tax renewables so that coal can be competitive again. Now that renewables are seriously starting to cut into market share, special interests are going to pull out all the stops to make sure nothing changes.
    • Get ready for federal 'tweaking' to prevent further renewable growth.

      If by "tweaking", you mean removing subsidies, then that is a good thing. Subsidies are supposed to be a temporary incentive to innovate, not a permanent crutch.

      Time to tax renewables so that coal can be competitive again.

      Coal is dying. Killed by shale gas, not renewables. The coal companies don't have money to invest in a lost cause political campaign, and the coalminers soon won't have enough votes to matter.

      • by drinkypoo ( 153816 ) <martin.espinoza@gmail.com> on Wednesday June 14, 2017 @09:51PM (#54623217) Homepage Journal

        If by "tweaking", you mean removing subsidies, then that is a good thing. Subsidies are supposed to be a temporary incentive to innovate, not a permanent crutch.

        Great. Let's take away subsidies from coal and oil, then.

        • Great. Let's take away subsidies from coal and oil, then.

          Sure. Dumb subsidies don't justify dumber subsidies.

          • by hey! ( 33014 )

            Well, with respect to dumb, two years ago people were criticizing solar subsidies because solar produced less than 0.5% of electricity in this country.

            If by "dumb" you mean "something I don't like", I literally can't argue with you. But if by "dumb" you mean "obviously has no chance of meeting its objectives", the graph of percent of power generated speaks for itself.

            • Subsidies for new clean energy tech are not dumb.
              Making the subsidies permanent is dumb.

              Solar and wind subsidies have worked well.
              But it is time to start phasing them out.
              First you crawl, then you learn to walk.

              • The federal investment and production tax credits for renewables are scheduled to phase out in the next 5 years, so you got your wish.

        • by kenh ( 9056 ) on Wednesday June 14, 2017 @10:30PM (#54623355) Homepage Journal

          Let's take away subsidies from coal and oil, then

          Let's examine the subsidies of each:

          Solar: Free money to pay for basic Research & Development, Secured loans to build factories, Free Training for solar panel installers, Tax breaks for creating "green" solar panel installer jobs, Free money to pay for half of each solar panel installation, and, artificially high rates utilities must pay solar panel owners, regardless of the utility's ability to actually use the electricity when it is generated.

          Oil: Ability to deduct research and development costs from income.

          The great thing about oil is the ungodly amount of tax dollars the end-user pays per gallon, as we reduce dependence on Oil, tax revenues will drop, and have to be replaced by collecting more money elsewhere, for example, by taxing electric cars to help pay for infrastructure (roads, bridges, etc.), erasing even the illusion that electric cars are "cheaper". (Oil companies earn less than 10 cents a gallon, the federal government collects almost 20 cents a gallon, and states collect up to 40 cents for each gallon of gasoline sold.)

          • Anytime you consider subsidies for oil, you must consider the 2 trillion dollars and 4,000 lives spent in the gulf war.

            The same will apply to Solar and Wind power when we go to war to protect the mines where their raw materials come from as well.

            And I'm ignoring the ongoing cost of stationing troops and ships to protect oil fields.

            • America gets a very small amount of it's oil from the Persian Gulf. We are bigtime producers of our own energy these days.

              Most M.E. oil goes to Europe and other countries.

              • by blindseer ( 891256 ) <blindseer@earthlink . n et> on Wednesday June 14, 2017 @11:37PM (#54623625)

                Most M.E. oil goes to Europe and other countries.

                That's true but oil is traded on the global market. If an area that produces a lot of oil is all of the sudden not producing oil because of war then oil gets expensive even for those that don't buy oil from that area. That oil has to be replaced by those that continue to produce oil, and increasing production costs money.

                I'm not saying that this justifies US military involvement in the Middle East. Quite the opposite in fact. I say let them fight it out amongst themselves. I also say we need to make it clear that we will trade with people that can act kindly to their neighbors, treat their citizens and visitors with respect, and generally act with civility. This trade can include weapons if they like. Keeping the peace does mean being prepared to go to war after all.

                The way to allow the USA to not concern itself with what goes on there is to produce enough energy on our own that whatever happens in the Middle East will have minimal effect on prices we pay here. We can do this by drilling for more oil, digging for more coal, putting up more windmills, and building more nuclear power plants.

                I've had people tell me that building nuclear power plants will do nothing for the price of oil because oil is primarily for vehicle fuel while nuclear power is primarily used for electricity. I've seen the opposite though. Energy is energy. People will use whatever is cheapest.

                I grew up on a farm and I've seen gasoline driven augers and electric driven augers used to move corn. There's advantages to both but in the end it comes down to cost on which the farmer will choose to use. Go to Sears, or wherever you might see lawn mowers and such, and you will see electric mowers next to the gasoline powered ones. This happens on the small scale with suburban yards to mow. On the medium scale with the family farm. Why would this not happen on an industrial scale?

                Oil is oil and energy is energy. An economy needs energy. To decouple the USA from the Middle East militarily means that the Middle East needs to be decoupled from the world economically.

            • If you're going to blame somebody Oil wars in the middle east, that should be British Petroleum and their 1953 Iranian coup d'état [wikipedia.org] also called Operation Boot.

          • by drinkypoo ( 153816 ) <martin.espinoza@gmail.com> on Thursday June 15, 2017 @02:03AM (#54623951) Homepage Journal

            Oil: Ability to deduct research and development costs from income.

            You forgot ability to hand-wave away externalities like carbon release.

            And then there's coal, ability to hand-wave away externalities like release of fissile nuclear elements into the air..

            Meanwhile, solar panels made in/for the first world are required to be recycled (or at least you're paying for it), and to not leach if landfilled in spite of recycling requirements. And solar panels have paid back the energy cost of their production well within their lifetime since the 1970s. And wind power predates human production of electricity.

            Since solar is required to account for its mess, it's only fair to count fossil fuels' being permitted to ignore their respective messes as a subsidy. Since we have no technology which can reasonably clean up what coal in particular has done to our environment, the subsidy for that particular fuel effectively amounts to an infinite amount of money.

            • by blind biker ( 1066130 ) on Thursday June 15, 2017 @05:07AM (#54624285) Journal

              And then there's coal, ability to hand-wave away externalities like release of fissile nuclear elements into the air..

              People are (rightfully, to some extent) caught up with the radioactive shit that is released by the coal energy industry, but they forget the much worse stuff, mercury, lead, cadmium and other neurotoxic stuff. Especially mercury.

              • ... they forget the much worse stuff, mercury, lead, cadmium and other neurotoxic stuff. Especially mercury.

                Also: Radioactives are temporary (on geologic, and mostly on historic or shorter, timescales.) Heavy metals are forever.

                (Or at least until the planet falls into a sun or black hole, or perhaps near the heat-death if it turns out protons DO decay. By which point, of course, it won't matter that it wasn't really forever.)

                • Also: Radioactives are temporary (on geologic, and mostly on historic or shorter, timescales.) Heavy metals are forever.

                  I was under the impression that radioactives were heavy metals. They're heavy and metallic, do they not qualify?

                  • Some are, some aren't. (Elemental tritium, for instance, is a VERY light gas.)

                    They nearly always change what atom they are when they decay. (Exception being those, such as tecnetium-99m, where the nucleus is in an excited state and decays to a non-excited state by emitting a gamma - though it then becomes tecnetium-99 which eventually decays further.)

                    Some decay processes make heavy atoms lighter - e.g. by emitting alpha particles or by spontaneous fission.

  • by cosmicl ( 1034776 ) on Wednesday June 14, 2017 @09:35PM (#54623161)
    Turns out a lot of this wind power is coming from "red" states, like Kansas for example. From the nytimes https://www.nytimes.com/2017/0... [nytimes.com] "Two years ago, Kansas repealed a law requiring that 20 percent of the state’s electric power come from renewable sources by 2020, seemingly a step backward on energy in a deeply conservative state. Yet by the time the law was scrapped, it had become largely irrelevant. Kansas blew past that 20 percent target in 2014, and last year generated more than 30 percent of its power from wind. The state may be the first in the country to hit 50 percent wind generation in a year or two, unless Iowa gets there first. Some of the fastest progress on clean energy is occurring in states led by Republican governors and legislators, and states carried by Donald J. Trump in the presidential election."
    • by amiga3D ( 567632 ) on Thursday June 15, 2017 @12:01AM (#54623695)

      In mid Georgia we've got cotton being replaced by solar panels. My last trip to Columbus I drove through Taylor county, a lot of red clay that used to grow cotton. Those areas are covered by mile upon mile of solar panels as far as the eye can see. It's a brilliant thing considering that when they produce the best is the same time when A/C units are working hardest. The green revolution is here and it's paying it's own way. It continues just fine without subsidies because it makes money. Money talks.

  • USA really needs to improve that... Here in Portugal, annual wind power supply is already above 50%, with some months reaching 80-90%. Solar should be a little less than 10%

    In the beginning, green energy was more expensive (so i needed subsidies to startup the market), but now its the same price as fossil energy and we do not any subsidies anymore.

  • That, and thanks to Obama, eliminating coal fire powered plants making up the difference.

"Kill the Wabbit, Kill the Wabbit, Kill the Wabbit!" -- Looney Tunes, "What's Opera Doc?" (1957, Chuck Jones)

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