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Alternative Energy

  • Wind Industry Starts to Panic as Tax Credits Come to an End

    If you haven’t heard from the American Wind Energy Association (AWEA), you probably will. Ominous, scary ads are running nationwide warning of the crushing blow to American jobs if Congress fails to extend the Production Tax Credit (‘PTC’), the 20-year ‘temporary’ subsidy most credited for market growth in the wind sector. The PTC is due to expire at the end of this year. Most of the ads target particular House members who, so far, have resisted the industry’s demands for their PTC earmark. The pressure is particularly heated right now as Congress negotiates the payroll tax holiday bill, which is…

  • Solar Insanity: Why is Obama Obsessed with Solar Energy?

    The U.S. Energy Department is throwing a lot of money at solar power recently, with California seemingly getting the bulk of the federal money. President Obama last year set some pretty ambitious renewable energy targets, by American standards, and this year called for an "all-of-the above" strategy for domestic energy. But why put so much political energy into solar? Should there be a bulk renewable energy initiative? Energy Secretary Chu last week said he was putting $12 million behind a so-called incubator program that would fund start-up and pilot solar initiatives. This falls under his department's SunShot initiative, which aims to…

  • Green Energy's Positive Impact on the World's Poor

    Renewable energy is often thought of as an initiative of advanced, sane countries such as Portugal and Germany. But there is another arena where green energy is making an impact– on the lives of the world’s poorest populations, in the global South. For them, it is not a luxury or prudent planning for the future or a dutiful attempt to save the planet from the looming catastrophe of climate change fuelled by humans pumping carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. Rather, it is a way of solving their present, low-tech energy crisis. Kevin Bullis explains that many villagers use expensive kerosene…

  • Poland Gears Up to Build First Nuclear Power Plant

    Among the few "gifts" not forced upon Poland during its more than four decades as a Soviet satellite state was a nuclear power plant (NPP). But now, given the European Union and NATO state’s surging energy needs, Poland is about to construct its first NPP. Why the retrograde step? Simple – burgeoning energy needs. Poland currently depends on coal to supply 94 percent of its energy needs but authorities in Warsaw want to diversify the country’s energy matrix with nuclear, liquefied natural gas (LNG) and shale gas projects to align its economy with the European Union's climate goals. Poland currently…

  • Global Wind Power Capacity up 21% in 2011

    On Tuesday the Global Wind Energy Council (GWEC) released statistics that claim a total of over 41 gigawatts of new wind power were installed around the world in 2011. This represents an increase of 21% to a global capacity of 238 gigawatts. 75 countries can now boast wind power installations, with 22 countries having more than 1000 megawatts (1 gigawatt). Steve Sawyer, GWEC Secretary General, said that “Despite the state of the global economy, wind power continues to be the renewable generation technology of choice. 2011 was a tough year, as will be 2012, but the long term fundamentals of…

  • Is a Solar Energy Revolution Just Around the Corner?

    India’s “Solar Mission” to install 20,000MW of solar power by 2022 has recently had a boost following the news that electricity from solar power is now cheaper than that produced by diesel generators. Making them a cost effective alternative to many people in developing countries. According to figures by market analysts Bloomberg, the price of solar panels fell by nearly 50% in 2011 alone, and they are currently just one quarter of the price they were in 2008. According to the International Energy Agency’s 2011 World Energy Outlook report, a quarter of India’s population do not have electricity, and those…

  • Nuclear Fusion: The Power Source of the Future...the Far Off Future

    Ah, fusion. Long promised, both on Do the Math and in real life, fusion is regarded as the ultimate power source—the holy grail—the “arrival” of the human species. Talk of fusion conjures visions of green fields and rainbows and bunny rabbits…and a unicorn too, I hear. But I strike too harsh a tone in my jest. Fusion is indeed a stunningly potent source of energy that falls firmly on the reality side of the science fiction divide—unlike unicorns. Indeed, fusion has been achieved (sub break-even) in the lab, and in the deadliest of bombs. On the flip side, fusion has…

  • Forget Wind Turbines - a Completely New Type of Wind Farm is in Development

    A design firm from New York, Atelier DNA, has developed a concept that uses cattail like stalks instead of traditional turbine blades for harnessing the power of wind. Planned for the city of Masdar, being built just outside of Abu Dhabi, the “Windstalk” project came in second in the Land Art Generator competition, generating renewable energy in an artistic way from a plethora of international submissions. Traditional wind turbines' biggest downfalls include noise pollution, inadvertent bird death trapping and general difficulties in installing such large structures. Atelier's new stalk design generates electricity when the wind sets them waving—minus the dreadful…

  • New Technique Discovered to Help Harvest Algae

    At the UKs Sheffield University (SU) a team led by Professor Will Zimmerman in the Department of Chemical and Process Engineering believes they have developed an inexpensive way of producing microbubbles that can float algae particles to the surface of the water, making harvesting easier, and saving biofuel-producing companies time and money. One of the cost of production problems that holds algae back as a major biomatter resource is an efficient cost-effective method of harvesting and removing the water from the algae for it to be processed. Algae have the potential to be a very efficient biofuel producer.  The one cell…

  • Energy-Poor Albania Wants Nuclear Power Plant, Neighboring Montenegro Opposes

    The good news? According to Albanian Prime Minister Sali Berisha, Albania has postponed its intention to build a nuclear power plant (NPP) in the Shkoder region near Albania’s border with Montenegro, until all issues concerning its potential impact on the environment and territory are fully assessed. The city of Shkoder is located near a lake of the same name, whose waters are divided between Albania and Montenegro. On 26 January Berisha said after meeting with Montenegrin Prime Minister Igor Luksic, "Nuclear energy is the purest and cheapest, but the Fukushima nuclear plant case has imposed the need to revise this…