Wind Energy Weekly, vol 15, #691, 1st April 1996


The following is the electronic edition of WIND ENERGY WEEKLY, Vol. 15, #691, 1 April 1996, published by the American Wind Energy Association. The full text of the WEEKLY is available in hardcopy form for $595/year and is recommended for those with a serious commercial interest in wind (the electronic edition contains only excerpts). A monthly hardcopy publication, the WINDLETTER, more suitable for those interested in residential wind systems is included with a $50/year individual membership in the Association. AWEA's goal is to promote wind energy as a clean and environmentally superior source of electricity. Anyone sharing this goal is invited to become a member. For more information on the Association, contact AWEA, 122 C Street, NW, 4th Floor, Washington, DC 20001, USA, phone (202) 383-2500, fax (202) 383-2505, email Or visit our World Wide Web site at


Gas generation to double while prices stay flat? DOE opens community center on sustainable development China battles pollution from its cheap high-sulfur coal Poll shows public backs environmental policy


U.S. demand for natural gas as a electric power generation fuel is expected to double by the year 2015, an industry analyst said March 14, but gas prices will not rise as a result.

Paul Holtberg, group manager of the baseline/gas resource center at the Gas Research Institute (GRI), told attendees at a natural gas conference in Calgary, Alberta, that gas prices might increase slightly through the year 2000 as various regulatory issues are dealt with, but should be "relatively flat" through 2015.

This seemingly remarkable forecast tracks reasonably well with the U.S. Department of Energy's (DOE) ANNUAL ENERGY OUTLOOK 1996 (see WIND ENERGY WEEKLY #681, January 22, 1996), which sees an even sharper increase in natural gas's share of electric generation, from 14% today to 27% by 2015. The DOE projection, however, is evidently disconnected from Administration climate change programs--it predicts a substantial increase in U.S. emissions of carbon dioxide (CO2), the leading greenhouse gas.

According to the OUTLOOK, "Between 1994 and 2015, [37,000 MW] of nuclear capacity are expected to be retired, resulting in a decline of 207 billion kWh per year, or 32%, from current nuclear generation. To compensate for the loss of baseload capacity and to meet rising demand, [230,000 MW] of new fossil- fueled capacity will be needed. The resulting increase in generation from fossil fuels will increase carbon emissions by 160 million tons, or 32%, over current levels." Carbon dioxide emissions from natural gas are seen as approximately doubling (in line with its share of generation) over the period, even as coal- fired generation and CO2 emissions also rise.

It will be interesting to see how this is ultimately reconciled with Administration pledges to reduce CO2 emissions to 1990 levels by the year 2000. The OUTLOOK's forecast, which is basically by definition a "business-as-usual" projection, notes that "Although renewable capacity increases from [94,000 MW] in 1994 to [115,000 MW] in 2015--reducing the impact of nuclear retirements on total carbon emissions--the intermittent nature of renewable technologies prevents them from compensating completely for the losses in nuclear capacity."

The Administration is currently working on an update of its Climate Change Action Plan (CCAP), which is aimed at carrying out the pledge to stabilize greenhouse emissions. A DOE spokesman said March 27 in an interview that the OUTLOOK numbers, with some minor modifications from other forecasts, are used as a starting point for CCAP. He also said that the CCAP update will, for the first time, project emissions effects out to the year 2010, which should shed some light on the Administration's view of the longer term. The update is likely to be released sometime in April, sources said.

Since gas is also viewed as the fuel of choice in much of the developing world, there is also some question as to whether rosy forecasts about low future prices will hold up. DOE's INTERNATIONAL ENERGY OUTLOOK 1995 sees global energy demand increasing by 36% between 1990 and 2010, but natural gas consumption jumping by 47% over the same period, and by 140% in the rapidly growing economies of southeast Asia. If global oil production peaks around 2000 or shortly thereafter, as a number of observers now predict, rising energy prices may make a hash of today's optimism.

Peter Fusaro of Global Change Associates, another speaker at the Alberta conference, agreed that gas-fired capacity should dominate the market for new power in the U.S. following utility deregulation, which is expected to put a heavy premium on low prices. However, Fusaro noted, that will require the development of long-term supply contracts that will reduce the financing risk of new plants and pipelines.


The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) said March 8 that it has established a "Center of Excellence for Sustainable Development," described in a news release as "a pilot program that will help small communities . . . protect the environment for future generations while promoting economic development."

The center will offer information and technical advice to help communities become more energy efficient and environmentally sound. It will also provide a "tool kit" of workbooks, computer programs and data for guidance on sustainable development projects ranging from "green" buildings to neighborhoods that waste less energy. Communities can review case studies of successful community projects and research technical and financial programs that can provide further assistance. Experienced personnel will be on hand to consult with local officials.

The center's World Web site (address below) includes basic information on renewable energy sources, wind energy among them, and contact information for some wind turbine manufacturers. Its section on "Success Stories" also contains renewable energy projects, one being the "Midwest Wind Energy Project" carried out by the municipal utility in Waverly, Iowa, which installed a single wind turbine in 1994 to gain familiarity with wind technology.

"By offering assistance at the local level, we hope to help communities adopt practices that range from pedestrian walkways to environmentally friendly sources of energy," said Secretary of Energy Hazel O'Leary. "Communities with the foresight to adopt sustainable development strategies will find they save taxpayer money, improve the profits and productivity of local businesses and make the community much more liveable."

The center grew out of DOE's assistance to Midwest towns devastated by the 1993 floods. DOE helped communities rebuild using sustainable development strategies, which integrate economic development and environmental quality goals. This assistance will be offered nationwide during a six-month demonstration period. Two of the towns that benefited from the DOE program after the floods, Pattonsburg, Mo., and Valmeyer, Ill., were honored March 7 by the President's Council on Sustainable Development. With federal assistance, Pattonsburg is replacing flood-devastated buildings with energy-efficient designs, building better water-quality systems and creating a new power supply using renewable energy. Valmeyer also is embracing energy-efficient design for buildings.

DOE's Denver Regional Support Office will manage the program. Interested communities can contact the center toll-free at (800) 357-7732 or via the center's "home page" on the World Wide Web at


China needs to transform its economic system, aiming at improving efficiency rather than new development, in order to reduce its massive and growing environmental degradation, a high environmental official said March 15.

Qu Geping, Chairman of the Environmental and Resources Committee of the National People's Congress, said at a news conference that China plans to increase spending on environmental protection from the current 0.8% of gross domestic product to 1.5% at an unspecified time in the future.

According to Reuters, Qu zeroed in on the heavy use of China's high-sulfur coal as the source of many environmental problems. "Coal is at the center of China's energy structure," he said, adding, "This structure cannot be changed quickly. Acid rain is developing [and] the amount of smoke and dust emitted is still on the rise." China is accelerating hydro and nuclear power development, he said, while also introducing larger and more efficient coal boilers.

Qu drew a distinction between "extensive" development, where the primary goal is building new projects, and "intensive" development, which focuses on greater efficiency, and said China must work toward the latter while at the same time moving from a centrally-directed, Stalinist economy to one that unleashes market forces.


By a nearly 2-1 margin, voters oppose Congressional cuts in the Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA) budget, according to a recent public opinion survey conducted for the Clean Air Trust by the Democratic polling firm Lake Research, Inc.

The poll also found overwhelming support for the view that the agency should enforce air and water pollution laws "more aggressively" than it does now, the Clean Air Trust said in a news release. Of those surveyed, 55% backed stronger enforcement, while 19% preferred to see the EPA "increase flexibility and rely more on voluntary compliance. . . . "

The survey is one of several in recent months that have suggested that Congressional backers of legislation to weaken environmental laws may be out of step with the American public. Nearly three of four voters, the release said, believe the environment should be an important priority for the next President, and "nearly 60% say they'd vote against candidates who want to relax clean air and clean water laws." The view that the environment is important extended across the electorate, with 71% overall calling it either a "top priority" or "very important."

The random sample of 1,010 registered voters was conducted January 21-23 and has a margin of error of 3.1%.

                       LEGISLATIVE UPDATE
              *             from the               *
                          July 26, 1996


The U.S. Senate is expected to vote Tuesday afternoon on the Energy and Water Appropriations bill for the coming year. When it does, Senators James Jeffords (R-Vermont) and William Roth (R- Delaware) will offer an amendment to restore renewable energy research programs, including wind, to current year levels. For wind, this would mean an increase from the $15 million approved by the Senate Appropriations Committee to $32.5 million.

This past week, we scored a major victory when the House of Representatives voted overwhelmingly, 279-135, to increase renewables programs above the levels previously set by the House Appropriations Committee. For wind, the appropriation was increased from $6 million at the Committee level to $28.5 million--a 13% decrease from current year funding, but still a major improvement.

This sweeping victory in the House sets the stage for a positive outcome in the Senate, but we must leave nothing to chance. PLEASE CALL YOUR U.S. SENATORS BETWEEN NOW AND TUESDAY AFTERNOON AND URGE THEM TO SUPPORT THE JEFFORDS-ROTH AMENDMENT TO INCREASE FUNDS FOR RENEWABLE ENERGY RESEARCH. You will find attached a fact sheet on the House amendment that contains a number of "talking points" for your use. You can reach any Senate office by calling the U.S. Capitol Switchboard at (202) 224-3121. If you have any questions, contact Karl Gawell or Sheila MacNamara of AWEA at (202) 383-2500.


The SAFE Amendment: Securing America's Future Energy (summary of amendment as submitted, 23 July 1996)

The SAFE Amendment, introduced by Representatives Schaefer, Klug, Thurman, Minge, Salmon, and Fazio, will restore most funding which was cut for renewable energy research and development programs in H.R. 3816, the FY 1997 Energy and Water Development Appropriations bill.

Q: What is the purpose of this amendment?

A: We must maintain viable renewable energy research, development, and demonstration (RD&D) programs as an insurance policy against increasing political instability from countries where the United States imports over 50% of its energy and to ensure that we have a "no-regrets" approach to pollution control and prevention. The extraction, conversion, and use of energy is the single largest contributor to air and water pollution.

Q: Why is this amendment necessary?

A: The FY 1997 Energy & Water Appropriations bill, as reported to the floor, fails to take into consideration that renewable energy programs took the largest Department of Energy (DOE) cuts--29%--in FY 1996. In the FY 1997 Energy & Water bill, DOE renewable energy programs sustain the most terminations and reductions of any civilian DOE RD&D program. This is not balanced public policy.

Q: Are renewables worth it when we must reduce the budget?

A: We must gradually reduce our dependence on fossil fuels, as we face the long-term prospect of running out of these resources. If we continue our research and development now, the cost and inconvenience to us and to our descendants will be much less than if we force future generations to embark on costly "crash programs" to research and develop energy sources which we failed to fund in the 1990s. This is not something we should delay until we see an oncoming crisis-- world energy crises have a habit of occurring when we least expect them.

Q: What are other countries doing in support of renewable energy?

A: As renewable energy budgets in the United States are cut, our industrialized competitors see a vacuum in this billion- dollar market (which is projected to grow by 70% in five years) and are filling it:

- Germany spends more for wind RD&D than the U.S.

- Japan spends twice the U.S. on photovoltaic (PV) RD&D and an additional $150 million on PV procurement.

- Germany spends 50% more than the U.S. on PV RD&D and has a $100 million local government PV program as well.

- Spain invests an equal amount to the U.S. on solar thermal RD&D.

Q: How does the American public feel about renewables?

A: The American public supports renewable energy. A public opinion poll on energy was recently conducted by Vincent Breglio, pollster for Presidents Reagan and Bush. Its results show that Americans want a new emphasis placed on developing renewable energy sources--more than any other form of energy listed in the survey. Furthermore, a large majority (59%) said that a congressional candidate's position on energy funding policy was an important enough priority to make the voter much more or somewhat more likely to vote for that candidate. Clearly, the public supports renewable energy and, if the opportunity is presented, will take it into consideration when forming voting decisions.

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