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2013 Renewable Energy Recap: A Year of Record Setters and Energy Storage …

Looking behind is almost easier than presaging a future. One year ago, we wrote a following: “This time, though, we am some-more confident: in 2013 a initial offshore turbine in U.S. waters will start spinning. (Probably.)”

I wasn’t wrong! (Technically.) In June, a medium 20-meter-tall (65-foot) floating turbine began feeding power to a grid from a bay in Maine. It wasn’t much, and a large offshore breeze farms all gunning for initial place sojourn tied adult in pre-construction quagmires, yet it was a turbine, and it was offshore. Cause for celebration! And some-more generally, offshore breeze does seem staid to indeed make a leap; early efforts by Cape Wind in Nantucket Sound advise that long-cursed plan may qualify for a taxation credit formed on construction starting by a finish of this year. And a array of other large breeze farms, quite off a coasts of Rhode Island, New Jersey, and Virginia, might shortly get underneath way. In annoy of a positive signs for a industry, though, we have schooled my lesson: we will make no promises of spinning offshore turbines in 2014. We’ll usually have to wait and see.

Back onshore, 2013 was noted by a solid impetus toward practical, utility-scale appetite storage, as good as a array of ephemeral record setters in solar and breeze generation. One after another, large concentrating solar thermal plants claimed largest-in-the-world status: Abu Dhabi’s Shams 1, Arizona’s Solana (more on that one in a moment), and finally California’s Ivanpah plant. CSP has been deliberate a many viable approach to gamble large on solar—and these 100-plus-megawatt plants seem to behind that up—but a ever-dropping prices on photovoltaics has slowed some of  CSP’s momentum, and maybe behind some of the grandest of dried solar plans.

Wind also went large this year, with a United Kingdom’s London Array switching on to turn a world’s biggest offshore breeze farm, violence out a Irish Walney site. Big breeze skeleton abound, both on and offshore, yet a London Array’s full gigawatt ability might be tough to kick any time soon.

But generating all this purify solar and breeze appetite is usually one aspect of renewable power. Intermittency and dispatchability have prolonged tormented efforts to scale renewables, and 2013 was a year that appetite storage unequivocally began to take a spotlight. California now has a country’s initial appetite storage mandate, a law requiring storage ability that can outlay 1325 megawatts by a finish of 2020, and 200 MW by 2015. How a state will grasp this is now adult in a air, yet they should have several options: it seemed that a year was full of news on new approaches to storing power.

At a Advanced Research Projects Agency—Energy limit in February, storage projects dominated a vaunt gymnasium floor. Ideas ranged from softened flywheels to iron-flow batteries, yet some-more determined approaches are expected to win out for a foreseeable future: softened lithium-ion batteries and aged ideas like compressed air appetite storage. Several dense atmosphere companies are starting to indeed boat units (or will shortly start) that can assistance breeze farms max out on their capacity. In a U.K., a largest-yet commander plan will exam a outrageous Li-ion battery installation in Bedfordshire.

And appetite plants are starting to embody storage from a opening as well. That Solana plant in Arizona, built by Abengoa Solar, incorporates fiery salt storage that lets a plant furnish appetite for 6 hours after a object goes down.

All of this sounds like good news for renewables, and it is. But when confronting a bulk of a meridian change challenge, a few gigawatts here or there aren’t remotely enough. A news from a International Energy Agency laid out a problem in a nutshell: a altogether share of appetite attributable to coal, oil, and gas currently has not altered one smidge from a late 1980s. Renewables will need to grow during a towering gait in sequence to make a poignant disproportion in emissions.

We’ll check behind subsequent year to see how a bid is going.

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