New Rules for Offshore Clean Power On the Way

Some long-awaited rules and regulations related to offshore renewable development could be introduced in the U.S. this year, potentially cutting the red tape for startups looking to put their wind, wave, or tidal projects in the water. Ken Salazar, the new head of the Department of the Interior, announced this week that he plans to set a framework for offshore renewables “in the coming months.”

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The rules were supposed to be finalized a few years ago as part of the Energy Policy Act of 2005, with the offshore renewable guidelines required to be issued within nine months of the bill being signed into law. “The Bush administration was so intent on opening new areas for oil and gas offshore that it torpedoed offshore renewable energy efforts,” said Salazar at a news conference in Washington.

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Energy Mapping Comes to Marine Power

Following in the footsteps of the wind industry, marine power is getting its own power map. The government of Scotland, home to the world’s only open sea testing facility for wave and tidal power, has launched a project to map out the potential of renewable energy to the north of the region, in the Pentland Firth and Orkney Waters.

There weren’t too many details on the so-called Marine Spatial Plan from the government, but it will likely be similar to wind resource maps that are becoming common in the wind industry. Instead of gauging wind gusts, the marine power map will look at the tides and waves, and likely other environmental factors such as the seabed, water depth, and distance to shore.
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Obama Team Gets an Earful on Ocean Energy

Ocean energy could have a big part to play under President-elect Barack Obama’s environmentally friendly administration, but a coalition that’s pushing for more wave and tidal power says change is needed to expand the number of projects in the U.S. Right now, there are only a handful of ocean energy projects in the U.S. and they’re all in the testing phase, according to the coalition.

The group, which is led by the New York-based Environmental Defense Fund, a non-profit environmental advocacy organization, said it has met with Obama’s transition team to discuss what it says is a confusing, and sometimes contradictory, array of federal regulations for ocean power. It claims that with federal help, ocean energy has the potential to generate 10 percent of the country’s demand for electricity, as well as create tens of thousands of jobs in the U.S.

Earlier this month, Obama named four key members to his cabinet that will be responsible for energy and climate change, including Steven Chu as energy secretary.

One big conflict the new cabinet may have to deal with is a jurisdictional dispute between the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission and the Minerals Management Service, part of the Department of the Interior. Both agencies have claims on the waters where ocean energy projects would be installed.
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NextWave Plays Flip That Spectrum

NextWave Wireless has hired Deutsche Bank and UBS Investment Bank to help it sell spectrum in three different frequency bands, ranging from 154 AWS licenses in the 1.7/2.1 GHz band to 39 licenses and spectrum leases in the 2.5 GHz band that others are using for WiMAX. After spending about $500 million since 2005 acquiring the spectrum — which now covers about 84 percent of the U.S. population (but not Miami) — NextWave has decided it wants to focus on its gear.

The company had spent the last few years assembling intellectual property and expertise for designing products, everything from chips to video services for 4G networks, especially in frequencies where NextWave had licenses. Services such as broadcast mobile TV over WiMAX are exactly the sort of thing that could add some curb appeal to the spectrum for sale.

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