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Alternative Energy

  • 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…

  • 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…