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Alternative Energy

  • Biomass: Just Because it's Green Doesn't Mean it's Clean

    Florida residents last year filed a legal challenge against a company that was planning to build a biomass incinerator in the Florida Panhandle. They complained the incinerator project was a "toxic nightmare" for the coastal area. Now, a new study conducted on behalf of the National Wildlife Federation finds that it might be awhile before burning wood instead of fossil fuels pays off for the environment. This suggests that maybe things aren't always as green as they seem. A study examining more than half of the 22 proposed biomass facilities in seven southern U.S. states found that burning wood in favor…

  • Independent Analysis Proves the Effectiveness of Federal Loan Guarantees

    Take a deep breath, because what I’m about to tell you may be shocking: Federal loan guarantees for energy projects have been successful, cost-effective investments—contrary to what some conservatives insist is the case. Don’t take my word for it. That’s the message from Herb Allison, former national finance chairman for Sen. John McCain (R-AZ), who led a team of accountants and auditors in conducting an independent analysis of the Department of Energy’s Loan Guarantee Program. Allison and his team found that, despite the hysteria around the now-bankrupt solar-panel maker Solyndra LLC, this program will cost $2 billion less than initially…

  • How the U.S. Can Produce 36 Billion Gallons of Biofuels Annually

    Jim Lane at Biofuelsdigest.com has written an article worthy of serious consideration to answer the U.S. challenge in law to produce 36 billion gallons of biofuel annually. Ethanol from corn, now well past the E-10 or 10% blend share and looking to get to 15% and much more E-85 (85%) sales plus various ratios in between, is closing in on a third of the legal requirement.  So far the legal requirement is being waived, as the technology isn’t fully there for cellulosic ethanol production.  The special interests are resisting and the consumers aren’t on board.  It’s tough going from farmers…

  • French Nuclear Anxieties Soar After Fukushima

    France began developing a massive nuclear energy program with minimal public debate after the first oil crisis in 1974 and continued to support nuclear power even after the 1986 Soviet Chernobyl disaster. French nuclear energy giant Areva SA, majority owned by the French state, operates the country’s 59 nuclear reactors, which generate 78.8 percent of France’s electricity, the highest percentage in the world. Until Fukushima the French public felt largely secure in the safety of their country’s nuclear facilities. No more. In a report certain to spur political and public debate, France’s Institut de Radioprotection et de Surete Nucleaire (Institute for Radioprotection and Nuclear…

  • 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…