Policy

Kepco for the Wind

South Korea’s Korea Electric Power Corporation will build a $9 billion, 2.5-gigawatt offshore wind farm off the southwest coast of the Korean peninsula by 2019, the Ministry of Knowledge Economy said in a statement.
While this blog focuses upon U.S. wind power development, it is good to note such clean energy elsewhere in the world. This includes Asia. This blog recently noted wind power development in China and now relays information about wind power development in South Korea. A thanks to the Big Gav.

According to the ministry, the 51-percent government-owned Kepco will be buying wind turbines from eight local suppliers including Doosan Heavy Industries and Construction, Daewoo Shipbuilding and Marine Engineering, and Hyundai Heavy Industries.

The wind farm project will be built in three phases, beginning with a $355-million demonstration project by 2014 which will consist of turbines having the capacity of between 3 and 7 megawatts.

The second phase 400-MW demonstration project will have an investment of $1.42 billion by 2016. To complete the third phase is a $7.26-billion investment to build a 2-GW wind farm by 2019.

Wind Power Growing Fast in Parts of the U.S.

“Solar power and fracking get all the press, but wind has quietly become a major force in the U.S. power grid,” begins Will Oremus for Slate. Well, Will, that is because they are more important. The advantage of wind power is how quickly it can go up and start producing electric power. And, what you say about the growth of wind power in certain parts of the United States is worth knowing. If you are a greenie-weenie, that is.

According to a new report from the Department of Energy, wind accounted for about a third of all new electricity capacity installed in the country in 2011. That’s not too far behind natural gas, which accounted for 49 percent of new capacity amid an ongoing boom in hydraulic fracturing, or fracking.

Overall, it still amounts to just 3.3 percent of the nation’s electricity demand—coal and natural gas dominate, followed by nuclear. But it has now been the second-fastest-growing electricity source in six of the past seven years, thanks in part to a renewable electricity production tax credit originally signed into law by George H. W. Bush in 1992.

Wind’s wild ride may soon come to an end, though. The tax credit is set to expire at the end of this year, and while the Senate has passed an extension, the Republican-controlled House has not.

Now the fate of the wind industry is becoming an issue in the presidential campaign. Mitt Romney on Tuesday toured a coal plant in Ohio to slam Obama for environmental policies that prioritize renewable energy sources over fossil fuels.

“If you don’t believe in coal, if you don’t believe in energy independence for America, just say it,” Romney said, according to the Columbus Dispatch. “If you believe the whole answer for our energy needs is wind and solar, then say that.”

Obama hit back on campaign stops in Iowa, arguing that ending the wind credit would cost the country 37,000 jobs. He included a dig at Romney over the old anecdote that he once strapped the family dog to his car roof on a road trip. From the Des Moines Register:

“Governor Romney even explained his energy policy this way: I’m quoting here: ‘You can’t drive a car with a windmill on it.’ That’s what he said about wind power,” Obama told about 800 Iowans at a campaign rally in rural Oskaloosa. “Now I don’t know if he’s actually tried that. I know he’s had other things on his car.”

Despite its huge growth of late, the U.S. wind industry remains far behind that of several other countries in terms of its contribution to the nation’s overall energy supply. Denmark’s wind capacity is about 29 percent of its annual demand, and that figure is also above 10 percent in Portugal, Spain, Ireland, and Germany.

In the United States, Texas is by far the largest wind power producer, followed distantly by Iowa, California, Illinois, Minnesota, Washington, Oregon, and, of course, Oklahoma, where the wind comes sweeping down the plain.

OWS Movement

This puts the climate change movement in something of a quandary. Should we largely ignore the OWS Movement and continue with climate change activism as before? Simply abandon the climate issue for the time being in the hope that OWS will lead to changes that make dealing with climate politically easier? Try to do both?

Pursuing our own agenda will almost certainly mean we are marginalized and ignored by the mainstream and the bulk of the progressive movement. Throwing our lot in with the OWS Movement means the climate issue gets framed within the terms of that struggle, which is limiting to the point of being almost useless.

Granted Klein discusses the need for a far more fundamental agenda than is currently being articulated, one that would indeed put us on the right course to deal with climate change meaningfully. However, the bulk of her speech is about comparing OWS to the anti-globalization protests of a decade ago with observations about what mistakes were made then and how they might be avoided now. Perfectly legitimate and needed, but hardly a speech about climate change action.

Klein’s title is quite correct in that it isdown to us – the 99%.” The powers that be have demonstrated all too clearly that they will not take any meaningful action on climate change until it is far too late, if then. However, absent from the article is any discussion of what it is that we 99% are going to do. Not that it would be possible to articulate that in one short Guardian piece, but the fact is that it is left totally in the air.

Is it the premise that the occupations will lead to meaningful change, and if so, how exactly? Insomuch as the occupations do not seem to be connected to critiquing the amount of wealth we get by destroying the Earth (or the Developing World),exactly what change are we expecting? Realistically, at best the occupations may lead to some reforms in some mechanisms of wealth distribution within parts of the Industrialised North, but that’s probably about it. As such simply throwing our lot in with the OWS Movement does not seem a viable option.

So what are we, the 99% who must take up the task of actually solving the climate change crisis, to do?

Occupy Madrid: By JoeInSouthernCA

It seems to me that notwithstanding my apparent critique, the Occupy movement offers an opportunity as well as a challenge. As ever, the important task of educating the broader public, including our fellow progressives, about the realities of the climate crisis remains paramount.

The Occupy Movement is an opportunity to educate our fellow activists about those realities, as well as make ourselves available to be educated. To form meaningful alliances and coalitions we have to truly understand the concerns and needs of the various social justice movements. We cannot hope for meaningful cooperation and coordination if we do not deeply appreciate what those communities need and want.

At all costs we must not attempt to simply use the Occupy Movement to try to co-opt other peoples issues. Our desire to integrate our causes into a realistic and meaningful strategic plan for social change must be a sincere one. To do that we must listen at least as much as we speak, if not more so.

We must also educate by example. We will earn their respect and attention when how we live moment to moment demonstrates how seriously we understand the immediacy of the climate crisis to be. Equally we must live our lives in accordance with what they have to teach us about their issues and concerns. That is the only thing that will convince them of our commitment to justice and equity, and that the issue of climate change is fundamentally about climate justice.