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Alternative Energy

  • Texas Town First Of Many To Switch To 100% Renewable Power

    On March 18 the city of Georgetown, Texas announced that it would soon be generating 100 percent of its electricity from renewable sources. Georgetown agreed to purchase the power from a 150-megawatt solar farm that is to be constructed by SunEdison and online in 2016. Coupled with a 2014 agreement to buy wind power, Georgetown will be able to generate all of its electricity needs without any help from coal, oil, natural gas, or nuclear power. Texas, the largest oil producer in the United States, is not normally known for its green tendencies. But Georgetown will be the first of…

  • Beyond Iran And Pakistan: 7 Nuclear Wannabes

    The meltdown at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear complex in 2011 following the Japanese tsunami forced a major rethink of nuclear power as a safe form of electricity generation. As radiation from the plant spewed into the ocean and nearby communities following an immediate evacuation, the world reaction was swift and dramatic. Within days the spot price of uranium collapsed. Japan ordered the shutdown and maintenance of all its existing reactors. Germany, a major consumer of nuclear power, permanently closed 8 of its 17 nuclear reactors; other European countries shelved their nuclear plans. While fear still lingers of a nuclear catastrophe…

  • A Look At The Future Of Nuclear Power

    If nuclear power is going to succeed in the 21st century, there will need to be major innovations in controlling costs and enhancing safety. The generation of nuclear reactors constructed in the 1970’s and 1980’s are showing their age. In just the past week, several U.S. reactors faced some equipment problems, forcing them to shut down. The Fermi 2 nuclear power plant outside of Detroit was taken offline after a water leak on March 19. The Oyster Creek nuclear plant in New Jersey was forced to temporarily shut down due to an electrical problem. These problems are minor, to be…

  • The $6.8 Billion Great Wall Of Japan: Fukushima Cleanup Takes On Epic Proportion

    More than four years after the catastrophic tsunami that crippled several nuclear reactors in Fukushima, the Japanese utility that owns the site is struggling to deal with a continuous flood of radioactive water. The tsunami knocked off power at the nuclear plant, which led to the meltdown of three of the six reactors, with a fourth severely damaged. The ongoing release of radioactive material has prevented anyone from entering parts of the complex. But getting a handle on the mess, let alone permanently cleaning up the site, has been extraordinarily difficult. The problem is the daily flood of rainwater that…

  • Renewables Poised For Massive Growth In The Middle East

    Growing scale in renewable energy projects has sharply reduced the price of sustainable energy to near parity with fossil fuels, creating new opportunities for energy companies but also for investors. This is the thrust of a report published this month by the National Bank of Abu Dhabi entitled "Financing The Future Of Energy," prepared by the University of Cambridge and PricewaterhouseCoopers. The report focuses on renewable energy prospects in the wider Gulf region – the ‘West-East corridor’ stretching from Africa into Central Asia – in the context of global energy development. According the report, US$48 trillion will need to be invested…

  • Wind May Win The Renewable Race – But At What Price?

    You only need to drive the long, lonely stretches of highway in west Texas, Kansas, Nebraska, Ohio, Colorado or even parts of California to know that wind farms have become prolific across America. In fact, there are over 48,000 wind turbines spinning their blades in at least 39 states including Alaska, Hawaii and even in Puerto Rico. The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) released an Executive Summary on wind last week, including some interesting, but possibly ambitious, projections. According to the DOE, wind has become the fastest-growing source of alternative energy since 2000. In 2008, the report claims, wind provided…

  • Time To Get Back Into Canadian Solar

    Longtime, regular readers with the memory of an elephant may remember an article that I wrote in May of last year. That piece suggested that even though solar power stocks had fairly consistently failed to live up to expectations, the ridiculously low valuations at the time made a couple of them worth buying. One of those suggestions was Canadian Solar (CSIQ).In that article, as is my wont, I also suggested parameters for the trade; a stop loss just below $20, which was never reached, and a price target of $37, which, as it happens, was actually about 10 percent away…

  • Nicaragua On Course To Become Renewable Powerhouse

    Nicaragua’s concerted effort to develop renewable energy is beginning to pay off, with three-quarters of gross domestic primary energy supply and half its electric power now generated from renewable sources even though it has barely begun to tap its potential for hydro, wind, solar and geothermal energy. “Nicaragua’s renewable energy sector has a bright future, both for utility-scale and small-scale projects, due to the country’s largely untapped renewable resources,” the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) said in a report published in January. In the period 2006-2012, the Central American country attracted $1.5 billion in investment in renewable energy, the largest…

  • China Builds Nuclear Reactors in Earthquake-Prone Pakistan

    China has decided to defy international norms and build new nuclear reactors in Pakistan. While the U.S. and Europe see stagnant growth for commercial nuclear power, the same is not true in Asia. China is not only building nuclear reactors at home, but it is exporting its technology abroad. Of particular concern is its construction of nuclear reactors in Pakistan. China helped build two reactors at Chashma, which came online in 2000 and 2011 respectively. More recently, it has decided to double the size of the Chashma power plant, with two additional reactors under construction. And it is also constructing…

  • France’s Areva Lost $5.6 Billion In 2014 – Is This The End?

    Could France, a heavyweight in nuclear power, begin to see its position crumble? Areva, France’s iconic nuclear power builder, reported a massive financial loss for 2014. The state-owned company revealed that it lost 4.9 billion euros ($5.6 billion) in 2014, an enormous decline from the 500 million euro loss it posted the previous year. Weighing on the company is its much-heralded rector in Finland. The Olkiluoto 3 unit under construction in Finland was supposed to be completed in 2009, but it has since turned into a nightmare. Billed as the first Generation III+ pressurized water reactor – dubbed the Evolutionary…