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Alternative Energy

  • A Big Pension Fund Is Investing Heavily In Clean Energy. What Should You Do?

    Earlier this week, one of the largest pension funds in America, the California State Teachers’ Retirement System (CalSTRS) made an announcement that was of particular interest to energy investors. They announced that they would be nearly tripling the amount they have invested, bringing it to around $3.7 Billion. Obviously, that a fund of that size is to step up investment in that sector is good news, but investors should be careful not to read too much into the announcement.First, let’s look at what they didn’t say. They didn’t, as some coverage of the news has suggested, say that they are…

  • Could Iran Be Trading Oil With Russia For Nuclear Support?

    With the help of a few former Soviet neighbors, Iran is set to revitalize their crude oil exports after the profound effect of past sanctions.Not only has Russia offered to provide goods and services in return for Iranian oil, Azerbaijan and Kazakhstan have proposed reinstating oil swap deals. Oil swaps in general are not new, as they are often used to optimize logistical obstacles. In Iran’s case, it is the supply of crude oil to their refineries in the north from countries closer than Iran’s own oil fields in the south. An oil-for-goods arrangement has also occurred in the past,…

  • U.S. Firm Angers Dubliners With Plan For Waste-to-Energy Generator

    Covanta Holding Corp. will soon begin construction on a new waste-to-energy generator in Dublin, Ireland and its surrounding area that is expected to operate at 58 megawatts and provide what the company says will be clean, renewable energy for 80,000 homes.In a statement issued Sept. 20, Covanta, based in Morristown, N.J., said it had reached agreement with the city council of Ireland’s capital to build, own and operate the plant. It said construction is expected to begin immediately, and the facility should be on-line in late 2017.The plant will be designed to use post-recycled waste from nearby landfills, making it…

  • Saudi Arabia Aims For Nuclear Power Within 20 Years

    To help address its energy needs, last week Saudi Arabia announced plans to incentivize both private and public investments in energy sources other than oil. Within 20 years, the Saudi Royal Family aims to invest $80 billion and $240 billion so that nuclear and solar, respectively, will each provide 15 percent of the Kingdom’s power needs. The transition is intended to happen quickly, with the first nuclear reactor expected to come online in only eight years. Beyond minimizing carbon emissions, the nation's energy efforts are an instance of an energy symbiosis, whereby energy production techniques are uniquely suited to consumption…

  • The High Cost Of Renewables

    In this post I present “back of envelope” style calculations on the capital costs of renewables globally since 1998 and deduce that roughly $1.3 trillion has been spent installing wind turbines and solar panels. Is this a lot of money? Is it a wise investment? What else may we have we got for our money?There are different ways to view this. For example UK annual GDP is roughly double this sum and in that perspective it is not a huge amount for the world to spend over 15 years. Some would argue that we should be spending a lot more.…

  • New Cellulosic Ethanol Plant Commercializes Renewable Fuel

    A new factory that hopes to break oil’s stranglehold over America’s transportation sector has just opened its doors in Iowa.The $275 million factory will churn out ethanol – a renewable fuel that can be blended directly with gasoline and used normally in cars and trucks. However, this factory won’t produce traditional ethanol, which is made from corn. Instead, it will use farm waste from left over corn stalks, husks, corncobs, and leaves. Dubbed Project Liberty, the new cellulosic ethanol factory in Iowa promises a “new era” for renewable fuels. It is the second commercial-scale cellulosic ethanol plant to be constructed…

  • Wind Power Finally Takes Hold In United States

    At first glance, wind power might seem to be an easy road in the trip to renewable energy: Set up a turbine and begin cranking. But where turbines have been installed, nearby residents have complained about the sight and noise. Beyond that, the costs to set up wind farms are high.As a result, wind power has developed sluggishly in the United States – until recently, according to a report commissioned by the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE). There are now 14 offshore wind projects in advanced stages of development in the U.S. that are expected to be completed within the…

  • Texas Set To Become Solar Powerhouse

    Texas could finally become a leader in solar, thanks to a new resolution passed by the city council of Austin. The bill will require the municipal utility, Austin Energy, to obtain 60 percent of its electricity generation from renewables over the next decade, and to be completely carbon-free by 2030. It calls on Austin Energy to build 600 megawatts of solar power by 2017, and it mandates the city support the build out of 200 megawatts of distributed solar on rooftops. The council resolution, passed on August 28, could directly lead to the installation of an additional 800 megawatts of…

  • The Global Outlook For Biofuels

    Introduction to the GSRToday I want to take a deep look at the global biofuels picture, drawing mainly from the Renewables 2014 Global Status Report (GSR) that was released in June by REN21, the Renewable Energy Policy Network for the 21st Century. I had intended to draw data primarily from the recently released Statistical Review of World Energy 2014, but I believe that the GSR is the most comprehensive report available when it comes to the global renewable energy picture. The GSR has more complete renewable energy data than the BP Statistical Review, but both reports complement each other. Full…

  • Geothermal Power Gathering Steam in U.S.

    The bubbling sulfur springs and powerful, majestic geysers of Yellowstone National Park are visible manifestations of the potential for geothermal energy in the United States. Yet for various reasons -- including logistics, economics and permitting issues -- geothermal has not even come close to reaching its potential. That could be changing, though, with the introduction this summer of a series of geothermal bills that may hasten its development and remove some bureaucratic obstacles. Renewable Energy World reported at the end of July that U.S. House and Senate subcommittees discussed permitting needs and took up two bills related to geothermal development.The…