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Alternative Energy

  • 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…

  • U.S. - China Energy Trade War Imminent?

    Washington loves free trade – if it produces a surplus for the U.S. In an election year, with a modest economic recovery underway, American politicians are trumpeting their credentials in saving and creating jobs and protectionism sentiment against foreign products is rising. And the number one target? China. Hardly surprising, as during the period January-November China’s surplus balance of trade with the U.S. reached $272 billion, almost 8 percent higher than that registered during the corresponding period in the previous year, as U.S. consumers become more dependent on Chinese producers than ever before. Without directly criticizing China, during his State of the Union address on…

  • Hydrokinetic Power Could Grow to be a Big Player if it Passes its First Test

    Hydrokinetic power shows great promise for growth as it can be theoretically installed in both industrial waterways such as wastewater treatment and food processing plants, and natural water ways without disrupting natural flow. Hydrokinetic turbines are designed to be anchored in place in the waterway, and don’t require construction of a large dam to generate false water pressure, which reduces the huge costs in capital and carbon emissions. A company called Verdant Power has just been the first ever to win a commercial license for a hydrokinetic power facility in the US. Its Roosevelt Island Tidal Energy (RITE) project will…

  • In 2011, Global Spending on Renewable Energy Rose 40 Percent

    A global revolution is slowly transforming the world’s energy market, with traditional transnational fossil fuel conglomerates facing future changes that will transform their previously cozy environment, whether they like it or not. Renewable energy, starved from the outset of funding, a foundling left at the door of the world’s rising energy needs, has reached adolescence and has begun to attract investment from beyond the traditional hydrocarbon-based market dominant companies. Sez who? PricewaterhouseCoopers., a titan of Wall Street. PwC noted in its annual analysis of merger and acquisition (M&A) transactions in the sector shows that deal values worldwide in 2011 totalled…

  • The Dirty Truth: Some Biofuels are More Polluting than Fossil Fuels

    Biofuels are a clean, alternative energy that many are hoping will become the next source of liquid fuels for internal combustion engines; a clean substitute for polluting fossil fuels. The US is a huge supporter of biofuels, last year producing 1 billion gallons, and the EU has also stated its intentions for 10% of all transport fuel to be biofuel by 2020. Wait a minute though, new data obtained from a leak by the European Commission provides evidence that not all biofuels are clean. In fact some are more polluting than fossil fuels. The EU proposed a default value of…

  • Waste to Energy: A Great Source of Clean Energy - But is it the Correct Waste?

    Converting Waste-to-Energy, and in particular MSW, are hot topics throughout the global landscape. The conversion process, which consists of a number of physical and complex chemical steps, serves a much needed civic function that at the end of the day produces potentially carbon-neutral energy in the form of electrons or fuels such as diesel, ethanol, etc. Additionally, it furthers benefits the environment by reducing the amount of landfill disposed wastes and subsequent methane emissions. The contribution of methane emissions from landfills compared to all other anthropogenic sources of methane emissions is shown below (EPA): Waste management is primarily landfills and…

  • Does Engineered Material Herald a New Dawn for Nuclear Power?

    Nuclear power has been getting a hard time of late and outside observers would be well in their rights to assume that this once lauded energy source is dying out as recent events have shown that the dangers outweigh the benefits. Japan is trying to pursue other energy sources, many European countries are gradually decommissioning their reactors, and the US is also letting their nuclear industry slip into decline in favour of alternative energies.But wait, maybe there is hope for the nuclear industry, after all we know it provides vast amounts of cheap energy, we just have to find a…

  • Our Energy Future: Can the Ocean Provide for all our Energy Needs?

    With the exception of tidal energy, our focus thus far has been on land-based energy sources. Meanwhile, the ocean absorbs a prodigious fraction of the Sun’s incident energy, creating thermal gradients, currents, and waves whipped up by winds. Let’s put some scales on the energetics of these sources and see if we may turn to them for help. We’ve got our three boxes ready: abundant, potent, and niche (puny). Time to do some sorting! Thermal Gradients Wherever there is a thermal gradient, our eyes light up because we can create a heat flowacross the gradient and capture some fraction of…

  • European Supergrid to Revolutionise Renewable Energy?

    Europe is the world leader in renewable energy generation, but as with all renewable energy sources they face the problem of reliability. One way of overcoming this limitation and ensuring that power supply will be constant is to have expensive, traditional, fossil-fuelled power stations to generate electricity whilst conditions are unfavourable for the renewable source; but this almost makes the whole investment in renewable power sources irrelevant. A better way of ensuring consistent power is to link several diverse sources of renewable energy on one electrical grid. So when a wind farm can’t produce much power on a windless day,…

  • Outrage over Dams Being Built as Part of India's Hydro Energy Scheme

    In demonstrations barely reported in the media, peasants and students in the North-eastern Indian state of Assam are fighting together against a proposed gargantuan network of dams across the upper reaches of its rivers in Arunachal Pradesh, one of the world’s six most seismically active regions. The movement has gathered impressive momentum against a project that threatens devastating environmental, demographic and socio-economic impact. The anxiety and disquiet among the downstream dwellers created over the construction of mega dams in Northeast India has left Assam’s politics in a simmering state. On the foothills of the Eastern Himalaya, lush green tea gardens…