Posted on Leave a comment

Vast Renewable-Energy Potential Across U.S. Tribal Lands

first_img FacebookTwitterLinkedInEmailPrint分享Abby Kessler for E&E:According to a report published by the Department of Energy, reservation lands have the potential to produce about 6 percent of the nation’s renewable energy, although reservations make up just 2 percent of total U.S. land.And despite the potential, Bob Gough, secretary of the Intertribal Council on Utility Policy, or ICOUP, said “next to nothing” is being harnessed.The resources aren’t being tapped due to many factors, including hefty upfront investments required, lack of knowledge about how to plan for such a project and connectivity issues to the nation’s power grid in rural areas.During a DOE presentation last month, John Steward, acting manager for the transmission business unit at the Western Area Power Administration, estimated a feasibility study for implementing renewables would cost an estimated $10,000. A system impact study and environmental assessment would also have to be conducted, preliminary steps that would push the price of potential projects even higher.Sean Esterly, project lead at the National Renewable Energy Laboratory, said funding is “definitely the biggest issue” tribes face when transitioning to renewable energy.Various financing programs are available for federally recognized tribes that provide funds and assistance to nations interested in assessing the potential for renewables on their land. DOE said that between 2002 and 2014, the agency invested $48 million in 183 tribal clean energy projects valued at about $93 million.But, Gough said, the government’s investment in renewables on tribal land is markedly smaller when dispersed among more than 500 federally recognized tribes.Funding shortages may be a concern, but Esterly said connecting tribes to those grants is an important step that is frequently overlooked. He said the tribes aren’t always aware that grant dollars are available to invest in such projects.“Unfortunately, due to capacity of some of the tribes and lack of knowledge of which of the resources they can take advantage, a lot of the opportunities are falling through the cracks,” he said.Another issue is access to the grid. Reservations typically are not well connected to the power grid, making transportation of generated energy an expensive endeavor.U.S. utilities “are operating off of 19th-century organization, 20th-century technology and 21st-century needs,” Gough said of the nation’s grid, noting the aging infrastructure is stymying the entire country’s conversion to cleaner power sources.He said the Great Plains region offers immense wind potential, while the Southwest offers ample possibilities for solar.A recent study from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and the University of Colorado, Boulder, said wind and sunshine could power most of the United States by 2030. Over large geographic regions, weather trends tend to average out, meaning spreading renewables over swaths of land could smooth highs and lows in electricity output (ClimateWire, Jan. 26).The issue is not intermittency, Gough said, rather the nation’s utility infrastructure.Full article: Renewables offer glimmer of hope for isolated reservations Vast Renewable-Energy Potential Across U.S. Tribal Landslast_img

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *