Wind energy refers to the process of creating electricity using the wind, or air flows that occur naturally in the earth’s atmosphere. Wind turbines are used to capture kinetic energy from the wind and generate electricity.
Wind energy projects have created many economic benefits to the U.S.. The projects have created jobs, created a new source of revenue for farmers and ranchers in the form of land lease payments, and increased local tax base. Wind energy can also lower electricity bills for those who neighbor the wind turbines.
In terms of employment, wind energy projects create new jobs in rural communities in manufacturing, transportation, and project construction. At the end of 2016, the U.S. wind energy industry accounted for 101,000 full-time jobs.
The US Department of Energy projects that we’ll have 404 gigawatts of wind energy capacity across the country by 2050, up from 89 gigawatts today. Because the overall electricity demand is projected to remain consistent, wind energy would soon help provide one-third of the country’s needs.
Currently, the major incentive to invest in wind is the renewable portfolio standard, which mandates a minimum amount of electricity to come from renewable resources. Another incentive is the federal production tax credit, which benefits wind energy installations across the entire country. Overall, wind energy is one of the fastest growing forms of electricity generation in the United States, with the largest share renewable electricity generating capacity in the country.
This past month, the United States Department of Energy announced seven projects to advance geothermal energy development across the country. One of the projects will occur right next to us at Union; in Niskayuna, NY. The projects will total approximately $11.4 million and will focus on geothermal energy enhancement through the implementation and research on the benefits and consequences of this renewable energy source.
Geothermal energy is a geographically bound. It cannot be easily implemented in all areas of the country, and is currently solely located in the western states of the U.S. Geothermal energy is basically using heat from the Earth as energy. It uses the warmth of the Earth as steam to heat buildings and homes. The positive aspects of this type of renewable energy source is that it does not produce CO2 emissions, it is sustainable and can work throughout the day or night, and it can be very price competitive if situated in the right area. Cons to geothermal energy include the deterioration of geysers and springs, and also the presence of toxic elements such as arsenic and mercury, which can contribute to health problems.
Currently, American geothermal electricity contributes 3.8 gigawatts of electricity on the grid. The projects implemented will help expand the current systems, and is estimated to contribute 100 GW of currently inaccessible resources. It is also supposed to remove geographical barriers of conventional geothermal resources. The projects will take place in a variety of locations across the country including, Argonne, IL; Stillwater, OK; Albuquerque, NM; Norman, OK; and at the Texas A&M Engineering Experiment Station.
This is important because one project is occurring in our backyard, at General Electric Company in Niskayuna. This project is research based. It will work on developing and testing new directional drilling orientation sensors that are capable of operating at 300°C for a prolonged period of time (1000 hours). This research will allow measurement while drilling (MWD) at substantially hotter temperatures needed for geothermal drilling than current tools.
Through these projects, the US will hopefully limit the amount of CO2 produced in the atmosphere and create an energy source with an essentially limitless supply of energy for billions of years to come.
Energy Department Announces $11.4 Million for New Projects to Advance Efficient Drilling for Geothermal Energy
Renewable Energy Sources: Geothermal Energy