Wind Energy Worries on Both Sides of the Pond
The inability of the U.S. Congress to extend renewable-energy production tax credits that are set to expire at the end of the year has caused the U.S. wind business to stall. Today GE announced that its energy infrastructure revenues dropped 5 percent in the third quarter as wind turbine sales fell. That’s after a booming 2012, in which the U.S. wind industry for the first time surpassed 50,000 megawatts of generation capacity -- enough to power 13 million homes -- according to the American Wind Energy Association. The Guardian notes that prospects for 2013 are grim, with estimates of U.S. wind energy installations from half to a tenth of this year’s numbers.
According to The Hill, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid is “very confident” that a one-year extension for the renewable energy credit will pass the Senate, but “the House has yet to seriously consider the credit. … For the most part, resistance to extending the credit rests with Republicans. They have called the credit unwise, saying it permits government intervention in energy markets.”
Meanwhile in Britain, the world’s biggest offshore-wind energy market in terms of capacity, seven multinational companies warned the British government that its support for green energy must continue or they could halt their investments. As Reuters notes: “Recent disputes within the coalition government over support for the sector has caused them concern about the risk of a political U-turn against green energy.” In a letter to the UK Secretary of State for Energy, with copies to Prime Minister David Cameron and finance minister George Osborne, the companies wrote: "Historically the UK has benefited from being known as a country with low political risk for energy sector investments. Undermining that reputation would have damaging consequences for the scale of future investments in the UK energy sector."
Reuters notes that "Britain has one of Europe's most ambitious wind power development targets, with a projected annual capacity growth rate of 13 percent until 2020, requiring huge investment for new plants.”
Image of Royd Moor Wind Farm in South Yorkshire, England, by iStock/SheenaWoodhead
Reed McManus is a senior editor at Sierra. He has worked on the magazine since Ronald Reagan’s second term. For inspiration, he turns to cartoonist R. Crumb’s Mr. Natural, who famously noted: “Twas ever thus.”