Green Tech Regional Report: 8-10-11

This week on the Green Tech Regional Report we’re looking at more clean energy news from across the country. Because of federal policies, wind developers are scrambling to construct wind farms and pushing for renewed tax credits to ensure the continued growth of the wind industry, while solar hot water is being explored in Minnesota. Along the Mississippi River, hydrokinetic technology is being developed. Read on to see what’s happening on the green front.

Memphis, TN, inventor Geoff Greene is seeking investors to help develop his hydrokinetic turbines, which use water currents to generate electrical power. Greene demonstrated his prototype in the Mississippi River, and is looking to start up 1 MW facilities to study the turbines’ performance over time. Each turbine in the facility would generate about 135 kilowatts (kW), enough to power 100 homes. Eventually, Greene would like to see a larger version of his invention installed in the ocean to provide power nationally.

Image via Greene Turbine

Wind power is a rapidly growing area in the US, providing clean energy to more and more people as well as creating jobs. So far, the US has installed a total of 3.2 gigawatts (GW) of wind power, and more plans for wind farms are under way. But the American Wind Energy Association (AWEA) is concerned that wind’s future might be unstable, and, as noted by Environmental Finances, the tax credit for wind facilities is scheduled to expire at the end of next year.

Iowa recently increased its wind production to account for 20% of the state’s electricity. Its largest wind farm produces 1,330 megawatts (MW) of energy, and its second largest produces 800 MW. In total, the state produces over 4,500 MW of power from wind, making it second only to Texas in wind power capacity. And Iowa not stopping there. More wind farms are planned for construction, especially before the expiration of the tax credits, like the 100 MW farm planned for Franklin County, which is expected to provide power to 25,000 homes. The project is slated to start in early 2012 and be completed by the end of the year. Similarly, the 150 MW Thunder Spirit wind farm in North Dakota is planning construction for 2012, and recently received financial backing.

California’s Pacific Gas & Electric Company announced that it has entered into a 25-year contract with the Copper Mountain solar facility in Nevada. Copper Mountain will expand its capacity by 150 MW, which PG&E will buy. The expansion, which will provide power to 45,000 homes, is being called Copper Mountain Solar 2, and will include 92 ground-mounted thin-film photovoltaic panels. Eventually, Copper Mountain would like to add an additional 1,000 MW of capacity.

In St. Paul, MN, a solar hot water system is up and running. It is currently producing most of the hot water for the St. Paul RiverCentre convention center, and its creator, District Energy St. Paul, hopes to implement this technology in homes and businesses in the area. The system collects solar energy to heat and pump in water, and when hot water is not in high demand, the energy can be rerouted to other buildings on the RiverCentre’s complex. Currently, District Energy St. Paul is still studying the cost effectiveness of the system, and how to implement it over a larger area.

Laura Caseley is a graduate of SUNY New Paltz and a resident of New York State’s Hudson Valley. She writes for several publications and when she’s not writing, she can usually be found painting in her makeshift studio or enjoying the scenery of her hometown.

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