The Renewable Energy Renaissance

The real Renaissance is in renewable energy whose sources could meet 25% of the nation's energy needs by 2025. Renewable technologies can help restore political and economic stability as well as save money…and the planet.



"Court ruling called a game changer for renewable power"

As reported by Hannah Northey at E&E, a federal appeals court ruling could lead to the transmission of "millions of megawatts of wind power from remote areas to population hubs around the Great Lakes." Millions of megawatts represents the electricity equivalent of thousands of atomic reactors.

The court ruled "Michigan cannot, without violating the commerce clause of Article I of the Constitution, discriminate against out-of-state renewable energy."

The court ruling supports Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) policy named Order 1000. 

On March 19, 2009, President Barack Obama named Jon Wellinghoff as FERC Chairman. Wellinghoff quickly established the integration of renewable energy sources, including wind, into the electric grid. He famously said early on in his tenure that “We may not need any [new nuclear or coal plants], ever.”

Wellinghoff submitted his resignation to President Obama on May 5, 2013. He is to remain in the post until a new chairman is appointed.


MidAmerican Energy's $1.9 billion investment in Iowa for wind energy the biggest single economic investment ever in the state

Generators from MidAmerican Energy’s 123-megawatt project near Pomeroy. (Rodney White/Des Moines Register file photo)As reported by the Des Moines Register, MidAmerican Energy's May 8th announcement that it will build 656 new wind turbines, amounting to 1,050 Megawatt-electric (MW-e), represents the biggest ever single economic development investment in Iowa's history.

Since 2004, MidAmerican has already installed 1,267 wind turbines in Iowa, or 2,285 MW-e worth.

Senate Majority Leader Michael Gronstal, D-Council Bluffs, referred to the good news as "Iowa's renaissance in wind."

The good news comes on the heels of some more very good news: MidAmerican's decision to cancel its proposed "SMR" (small modular reactor), as also reported by the Des Moines Register.


Swan SONGS as Edison opts to permanently close San Onofre

Image by J. DeStafano, 2012Southern California Edison has decided to permanently shutter its Units 2 and 3 San Onofre Nuclear Generating Stations (SONGS) reactors in Southern Cal! Congratulations to all who fought so hard for this great victory! Read the Edison press release.

"This is very good news for the people of Southern California," said [a] statement from Friends of the Earth president Erich Pica. "We have long said that these reactors are too dangerous to operate and now Edison has agreed. The people of California now have the opportunity to move away from the failed promise of dirty and dangerous nuclear power and replace it with the safe and clean energy provided by the sun and wind." 

And, as S. David Freeman, FOE senior advisor, pointed out on a telephone press conference, San Onofre's closure paves the way for CA Governor Jerry Brown's call for not only 33% of the state's electricity to come from renewables, but even a whopping 40%. Freeman added that electricity load management, efficiency upgrades, energy storage (as from lithium batteries, compressed air energy storage, etc.) will be critical to CA's nuclear-free, carbon-free energy future.

FOE's Damon Moglen pointed out that CA is becoming one of the single largest economies in the entire world leading the way toward a nuclear-free energy future.

Beyond Nuclear has compiled comprehensive media coverage on, and other reactions to, the San Onofre 2 & 3 closures at its Nuclear Retreat page.


USA, an energy innovator, launches first floating deepwater wind turbine in the world 

On May 31, 2013, the University of Maine and the Advanced Structures & Composite Center will put the United States in the lead as a safe energy innovator by launching the first-in-the world floating deepwater wind turbine that will be connected to the land-based electrical grid.  The Volturn wind turbine is the first of its kind with a advanced composite floating hull and tower. It is the product of the collaborative steppingstone effort to harvest 5 Gigawatts of renewable offshore wind from the Gulf of the Maine by 2030.  The launch paves the way for the first full scale deep water deployment of the 6 MWe floating turbine in 2016. And please see the Beyond Nuclear press release.


US solar installations grew by 76% in 2012

Solar panel installations last year rose by 76 percent in the United States compared with 2011, and the cost of the associated equipment continued to drop, according to an annual report by a solar trade group.

The panels installed last year are capable of generating 3,313 megawatts of peak electricity, according to the report from the Solar Energy Industries Association. That electricity is about the same amount produced by a medium-sized coal plant and is enough to supply 400,000 U.S. homes.

Abundant financing programs and a 27 percent drop last year in the average cost of solar panel systems helped spur the growth.

The solar industry expects installations will continue rising in 2013, but at a slower pace. SEIA and GTM Research predict installations will rise 29 percent to 4,300 MW this year.

Solar energy accounts for 0.1 percent of the nation's total electric power generation, according to the Energy Department (Jonathan Fahey, AP/Albany Times Union, March 14)