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Alternative Energy

  • Iran Drops Dollar As Congress Threatens More Sanctions

    The clock is ticking on the Iranian nuclear deal, but it may all be for naught. A meddling Congress aside, Iran appears to lack faith in US President Barack Obama’s ability to ease long-standing sanctions and is cutting what ties it can. According to Iran’s Tasnim News Agency, Iran no longer uses the US dollar in trade with foreign countries. Instead, Iran employs other currencies like the Chinese yuan, euro, Turkish lira, and Russian ruble, explained Deputy Head of the Central Bank of Iran Gholamali Kamyab. In November, Iran and six world powers – the United States, Great Britain, China,…

  • Europe And Iran: The Nuclear Dispute And The Syrian Crisis

    Following a meeting of the EU foreign ministers in late December 2014 the European Union High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Federica Mogherini stated, “Iran is not only the country with which we have nuclear talks, it is also a regional important player [sic] and this practically means that we will have to engage with Iran also on its neighborhood.” This statement highlights the two issues under intense discussion between the EU and Iran – the nuclear dispute and the crisis in Syria. In recent months much attention has been focused on potential rapprochement between Washington and Tehran.…

  • Scotland’s Wind Dream May Turn Into A Nightmare

    I last looked into the details and consequences of Scottish energy policy in the pre-referendum post Scotch on the ROCs. The expansion of Scottish renewables is progressing at breakneck speed and the purpose of this post is to update on where we are and where we are heading whether anyone likes it or not (Figure 1). Objections to wind power normally come from rural dwelling country folks whose lives are impacted by the construction of wind turbine power stations around them. My objections tend to be rooted more in the raison d’être for renewables (CO2 reduction), their cost, grid reliability…

  • Natural Gas Threatens U.S. Nuclear Future

    This will be an unhappy new year for Vernon, a small town in the state of Vermont. It is losing its economic mainstay. The owner of its proud, midsized nuclear plant, which has sustained the community for 42 years, Entergy, is closing the plant. Next year the only people working at the plant will be those shuttering it, taking out its fuel, securing it and beginning the process of turning it into a kind of tomb, a burial place for the hopes of a small town. What may be a tragedy for Vernon may also be a harbinger of a…

  • Ethanol Producers Poised To Gain From Oil Price Drop

    Energy stockholders have been watching in horror as their investments tank and those with a short time frame are considering cutting their losses, as the oil price rout looks certain to continue into 2015 and possibly beyond. But one area that could be poised to withstand the oil price carnage and might even toss out some gains for investors is the sector that produces an important, yet controversial element of gasoline: ethanol. As the prices of oil and gasoline have plummeted, so has ethanol, taking ethanol equities down with it. While that may seem like a good time to hit…

  • Kenya to Develop Africa’s Largest Wind Project

    Kenya may soon be home to the largest wind project on the continent of Africa. Danish wind company Vestas won a contract to provide 365 turbines for a 310 megawatt wind power project in Kenya. The Lake Turkana Wind Power project will be the largest of its kind in Africa, and is expected to generate 15-20 percent of Kenya’s electricity needs when completed. According to project developers, the site is a unique location that is favorable for wind. It is situated at high altitude (2,300 meters), and has consistent and predictable wind patterns. If the project sticks to its schedule,…

  • Iran Optimistic About Nuclear Energy Deal And End To Sanctions

    Iranian President Hassan Rouhani says he intends to reach a deal with West and end years of sanctions despite the objections of a “few” opponents who use their country’s crippled economy to enhance their own power. “Some people may not like to see the sanctions lifted. Their numbers are few, and they want to muddy the water,” Rouhani told an audience on Dec. 15 at the Central Bank in Tehran. He evidently was referring to hard-liners, including leaders of Iran’s elite Revolutionary Guards, who oppose any rapprochement with the West, to maintain their grip on the country's economy. “The overwhelming…

  • OPEC Decision Hits Renewables

    Is a solar supply glut on hand? Not exactly, but oil’s multi-month slide has largely overshadowed the sector’s emergent capacity. Nowhere is that more apparent than in the state of California, where the world’s largest photovoltaic power station is now online. Still, renewables did not emerge unscathed from the aftermath of OPEC’s decision to stand firm on production. Formerly rosy outlooks now take on an air of uncertainty as renewables growth looks to avoid becoming a casualty of an era of cheap oil and gas. Late last month, MidAmerican Solar’s Topaz solar farm reached full capacity to little fanfare. The…

  • The Cost Of Energy Storage

    I taught my students that intermittent renewable electricity (wind and solar) was third class compared with dispatchable fossil fuels (first class) and baseload nuclear power (second class). But that renewables may be turned into a first class electricity source with the development of affordable grid-scale storage. There are two important qualifiers to this statement and those are 1) affordable and 2) grid-scale. By grid scale I mean electricity storage that could power a medium sized town for a day or longer, or every night when the sun is down. In this short post I want to begin chronicling new storage…

  • China’s Nuclear Power Gamble Is Mind-Boggling

    The numbers that define China’s progress over the last 50 years are staggering. Over 300 million people lifted out of poverty. Over 160 cities with more than 1 million inhabitants. Over 630 million Internet users.. And now, following the recent climate change deal with U.S., China has a massive price tag of $2 trillion to implement climate policy changes. In order to cap carbon emissions and generate 20% of the country’s electricity from renewables by 2030, Bloomberg estimates this would require 1,000 nuclear reactors, 500,000 wind turbines or 50,000 solar farms. “The pledge would require China to produce either 67…