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EGEB: California offshore wind, Trump panel climate change denier, Spanish wind

Electrek Green Energy Brief: A daily technical, financial, and political review/analysis of important green energy news.

Today in EGEB, a new report considers the potential of California offshore wind. A climate change denier looks to head up a White House panel assessing climate risk. New Virginia legislation opens up some solar possibilities in the state. And Spanish wind installations are on the rise again.

The newest state report from advanced energy group, the American Jobs Project, concentrates on California. Or more specifically, the potential of offshore wind in California.

The report notes that while California “typically leads on climate and renewable energy issues, we are late to the game on offshore wind.” Two projects have been proposed off the coast of Humboldt County and San Luis Obispo County, but the state is likely still at least a year away from securing any leases for offshore wind projects.

Deep waters off California’s coast have slowed potential growth for the state’s offshore wind industry. But the report points out that floating foundations are becoming more viable. The U.S. Department of Energy recently announced funding for floating wind turbines.

The American Jobs Project says that “with 112 GW of technical offshore wind resource potential along its coastline — enough to supply about 1.5 times the state’s annual electric energy use — California has the eighth-highest resource potential in the United States.” The report details a number of development scenarios and outlines a plan for offshore wind development in the state which starts with appointing a “California Offshore Wind Czar.”

Trump Climate Panel

The Trump administration is getting ready to create a panel which examines the effects of climate change on national security. To the surprise of no one, it appears the panel will include a known climate change denier.

The Washington Post reports that while “federal intelligence agencies have affirmed several times” that climate change does indeed pose a threat to national security, the group will apparently be headed by William Happer. Happer, a member of Trump’s National Security Council, is well-known for his climate change skepticism.

The Post’s report brings in a number of voices who find Happer’s position on the panel dangerous. Harvard science historian Naomi Oreskes “pointed to instances when Happer has claimed that carbon dioxide, the main heat-trapping gas from the burning of coal, oil and gas, is good for humans and that carbon emissions have been demonized like ‘the poor Jews under Hitler.'”

Retired U.S. Navy Rear Adm. David Titley led a study team which found climate change to be “a major national security risk.” A number of other government studies have reached the same conclusions. Titley told The Post,

“The ice doesn’t care what this administration thinks. It’s just going to keep melting and obeying the laws of physics, whatever Will Happer wants.”

Va. Solar

New legislation in Virginia should expand the potential for solar development in the state by lifting a net metering cap for electric co-ops and allowing co-op customers to install larger solar projects. Governor Ralph Northam (D) is expected to sign the legislation into law.

Energy News Network reports,

“Up until now, the cumulative installed capacity of net metering systems could not exceed 1 percent of the total annual peak load of a cooperative. The new law raises the cap to a cumulative total of 7 percent among a co-op’s mix of residential, nonprofit and commercial members.”

Additionally, the new legislation will allow residential customers within co-op territory to install enough solar to meet 125 percent of their energy needs, a bump over the previous 100 percent limit.

Spanish Winds

After years of low installation numbers, one of Europe’s biggest countries in wind power took a decent step forward in 2018.

Spain installed a total of 392 MW wind power capacity in 2018, REVE reports. The number brings Spain’s overall wind power capacity to 23,484 MW. The graphic below from Spain’s AEE shows the progress in capacity over the past 20 years.

Spain wind power graphic

Despite the recent lull, Spain still has the second-highest installed wind power capacity in Europe. Wind turbines contributed about 19 percent of Spain’s electricity in 2018.

Three auctions conducted in 2016 and 2017 have prompted a “return to activity” in the country, REVE notes. Spain dipped down to 27 MW installed in 2014 and nothing at all in 2015 before the country started to install wind capacity again.

That 2015 year was an anomaly, marking the first time Spain installed no wind power since the 1980s. The government announced drastic cuts on subsidies for renewables at the time. Capacity numbers have slowly risen since then.

Windy Day

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