The first offshore wind farm in the United States completes construction, wind energy prices continue to drop while the amount of energy capacity continues to soar, and NASA sets its sights on reducing CO2 emissions created by jet travel. Read these stories and more in this week's renewable energy news roundup.
Offshore Wind Farm Completes Construction
The first offshore wind farm in the United States completed construction Thursday when the final turbine blade was installed. The $300 million Block Island project, which will start operation later this year, has five turbines with a total generating capacity of 30 megawatts — enough to power about 17,000 homes.
Wind energy prices in the United States "are at rock-bottom levels" and continue to remain attractive to utility and commercial purchasers, according to a new report from the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (Berkeley Lab) for the U.S. Department of Energy. The report confirmed that wind prices are at an all-time low, with newly built wind projects in the United States averaging around 2¢/kWh thanks to technology advancements and cost reductions across the wind industry.
U.S. wind capacity reached almost 74 gigawatts (GW) last year driven by the increasingly-attractive prices for the technology, according to the U.S. Department of Energy. Annual installations increased by 77 percent in 2015 to 8.6 GW compared with the previous year to make wind power the most-deployed electricity source in the country. More than 4300 utility-scale turbines were installed across 64 projects in 20 states last year, bringing the total fleet to more than 48,500. This has boosted jobs in the industry by about 15,000 to a total of 88,000.
NASA Funds Projects to Make Jet Travel More Sustainable
NASA last week announced that it was funding research into five new technologies under a "green aviation" initiative that it says could cut airplane fuel use in half, reduce aircraft noise, and most important, slash carbon emissions by as much as 75 percent. The worldwide airline industry produced about 860 million tons of CO2 in 2015, a significant portion of the approximately 40 billion tons produced by all human activities last year—a little over 2 percent of all CO2 emissions last year.