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Alternative Energy

  • 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…

  • We Are On The Verge Of An Electric Car Battery Breakthrough

    Electric vehicles are cool. They’re inexpensive to operate, can make our air cleaner, and help reduce the amount of climate change-causing gases released into the atmosphere. But right now, they’re also mostly just for rich people. The initial cost of buying the car, combined with their limited availability, is just too much for most people to justify making the switch.That could soon change, though, because investment pundits think that Tesla Motors is on the verge of achieving something big: A battery cheap enough to make electric vehicles cost-competitive with conventional cars. Daniel Sparks at Motley Fool is reporting that the…

  • IEA Says Investment In Clean Energy Will Keep Growing, Slowly

    The International Energy Agency (IEA) says overall investment in renewable energy will continue to grow through 2020, but at a slower rate than it has in recent years.The IEA’s annual Medium-Term Renewable Energy Market Report for 2014, issued Aug. 28, anticipated investment in biomass, wind and solar energy will total $1.61 trillion through the end of the current decade, even as the rate of investment begins to lag.The report says funding for clean energy reached a peak of $280 billion in 2011 and was still a generous $250 billion in 2013. But that is expected to decline to an average…

  • Shuttered Nuclear Plants Means U.S. Will Miss Climate Targets

    The floundering U.S. nuclear industry just got a bit of good news: Utah is considering building two new nuclear reactors. Blue Castle Holdings Inc. has signed a memorandum of understanding with Westinghouse that could eventually lead to the construction of two AP1000 nuclear reactors. The two reactors have an estimated cost of $10 billion and an estimated operational date of 2024. If constructed, Blue Castle says the reactors will increase Utah’s electricity generation capacity by 50 percent, which would replace the power lost with the retirement of a few coal plants in the state. The announcement is important because building…

  • Rethink Biofuel Sources, Not Biofuels Subsidies

    The world’s foremost economic authorities are divided as to whether the planting of conventional crops to produce biofuels makes sense. Some say that the amount of money and resources poured into growing corn, rapeseed, jatropha, sugarcane and other plants for biofuels is wasted -- that it takes away land needed for food production, creates more emissions than it saves, and has caused food prices to go up worldwide. Others say that if the price of food crops includes the cost of linked oil production, then biofuels are still cheaper, that certain biofuel crops have not been fully tested and that…

  • The World’s Most Dangerous Dams

    Hydroelectric dams are a nifty way of producing a huge amount of power, but they do not last forever. This is a tale of two dams that will fail unless they are urgently repaired, and if they fail, catastrophic suffering and loss of life will be the result. The first is the Mosul Dam, which stretches across the Tigris River in a valley north of Mosul, Iraq. As dams go, this one is a civil engineering horror. The dam was captured on Aug. 7 by the Islamic State, and retaken 10 days later by Iraqi and Kurdish forces, with American…

  • Why China Is Leading The World In Solar Power

    China is the world’s top energy consumer, with the vast majority of its electricity coming from domestically-mined coal. But the Asian nation is cutting its dependence on coal, oil and natural gas and replacing it with solar at a breakneck pace.Between January and the end of June, China added 3.3 gigawatts of solar capacity, double the additions over the same period last year, and equivalent to the entire solar capacity of Australia – one of the sunniest places on earth. That brings China’s total solar power supply up to 23 gigawatts, second only to Germany’s 36 GW, and just 13…

  • U.S. Warms To Clean Energy

    A review of monthly figures for new installations of electric power capacity in July shows that renewable energy is quickly becoming the energy source of choice in the U.S. New data from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) shows that 100 percent of new capacity installed in July came from renewable energy. For the month, there were 21 megawatts of new solar, 379 megawatts of wind, and 5 megawatts of new hydropower. Natural gas still accounted for more than half of new capacity for the first half of this year, but renewable energy is quickly catching up.The data is confirmation…

  • Once Mighty Hydropower Falls Behind Other Renewables

    For decades, hydropower has been the chief source of clean and renewable energy in the United States, but new federal statistics show that it’s about to be eclipsed by other renewable sources.A report by the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) shows that April 2014 was the eighth straight month in which “non-hydropower” surpassed hydropower. Solar, wind and other alternatives were responsible for 7.4 percent of total electricity generation, just above hydropower’s 7 percent.Just 10 years ago, hydropower produced three times more energy than other renewables, according to the report by the EIA, an arm of the U.S. Department of Energy.…

  • Will Airborne Wind Turbines Soon Float Above Our Cities?

    A few months ago, and without much fanfare, Fairbanks, Alaska hoisted a large, oval, 35-foot diameter wind turbine to an altitude of 1,000 feet over the town. From high above, the BAT (Buoyant Air Turbine) generates power from gusts of wind far stronger than those powering regular wind turbines. So how is the first airborne wind turbine to be deployed doing compared to the more familiar ground-based turbines? A 1-megawatt (1MW) turbine on the ground generates on average between 2.4 million and 4 million kilowatt hours (kWh) of energy a year, which is enough to power between 240 and 400…