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Alternative Energy

  • Why Electric Vehicle's May Not be Such a Good Choice After All?

    The conclusions given at the end of this commentary are somewhat radical and show from a life cycle basis of overall efficiency and carbon dioxide emissions that natural gas fueled vehicles are a better choice than EV (electric vehicles). The Electric Vehicle (EV) Industry has not taken off as anticipated. Range anxiety, high cost, and the lack of a public and private recharging infrastructure have negatively impacted the consumers’ desire to purchase EV. Currently, the only true roadworthy EVs in the U.S. are the Chevrolet’s Volt (plug-in electric hybrid vehicle) and Nissan’s Leaf (battery power electric). Ford and Toyota entries…

  • World's Largest Solar Storage Deal Could Herald a New Era For Solar Power

    On Tuesday, BrightSource Energy and Southern California Edison added storage capabilities to three of their power purchase agreements, which collectively represent the largest solar storage deal in the world and mark a fundamental shift in the utility-scale solar market. With these agreements, utilities are now explicitly placing a higher value on resources – like solar thermal with storage – that provide cost-competitive, reliable and dispatchable power to meet peak demand. By adding storage to its solar thermal power plants, BrightSource is able to further reduce the total cost of energy by increasing its capacity factor - how much power a…

  • China Solar Manufacturers Decry U.S. "Dumping"

    The western press increasingly portrays China’s energy policies as omnivorous, circling the globe to acquire any and all energy assets to feed China’s booming economy. But this picture is overly simplistic, as authorities in Beijing are scouring the country to provide any and all exploitable energy assets, including those beloved of environmentalists worldwide – renewable energy resources. As an indication of the government’s seriousness, Beijing has recently committed an extraordinary $49 billion into national investments into solar power and wind, biomass and geothermal projects, assisted by government-backed stimulus packages. Current Chinese government energy policy legislates that non-carbon energy renewable resources…

  • What Keeps Solar Energy Executives Up at Night

    I found myself stumbling across a lot of discussion about solar energy the past few days. There is both good news and bad news. San Francisco where I live is host to the U.S. Solar Market Insight conference which is officially sold out so conference organizer GTM Research has teased those of us not attending with online conference highlights. GTM is doing the event in collaboration with the solar industry trade group, the Solar Energy Industries Association® (SEIA®). SEIA is crowing because it expects the US to install about 2,000 MW of new solar capacity in 2011 passing the 1GW…

  • The Windscraper - New Building Design Harvests the Environment for Energy

    Designed by HollwichKushner (HWKN), the Windscraper is the winning entry for the Piraeus Tower competition (held in 2010) to complete and modernize the Piraeus Tower in Greece. Called the Sleeping Giant because of its 40 year old construction hiatus, the Piraeus Tower is a 22 story office building. HWKN’s Windscraper proposes finishing the existing structure with a multi functional wind harvesting facade made up of ‘leaf’ panels coated in Alesta Eco Coating which would create an ethereal glow. The concept integrates wind harvesting into the building’s facade instead of just adding turbines.  SmartPlanet: According to the architects’ statement: “…sealed buildings…

  • Biofuel Advances: Obtaining More Energy From Switchgrass

    Researchers with the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE)’s Joint BioEnergy Institute (JBEI) a DOE Bioenergy Research Center led by the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (Berkeley Lab) have made an important step in switchgrass production. The team of JBEI researchers, working with researchers at the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Agricultural Research Service (ARS), has demonstrated that introducing a maize (corn) gene into switchgrass, a highly touted potential feedstock for advanced biofuels, more than doubles (250 percent) the amount of starch in the plant’s cell walls and makes it much easier to extract polysaccharides and convert them into fermentable sugars.  Switchgrass With…

  • European Union Wants Post-Soviet Members Nuclear Reactors Permanently Offline

    In the wake of the March Fukushima nuclear disaster in Japan and Germany’s subsequent decision in June to close all of its 18 nuclear power plants between 2015 and 2022, the European Union is turning its eyes eastwards to new EU members Bulgaria, Lithuania and Slovakia, offering further funding to ensure that its Soviet-era nuclear reactors remain out of service permanently. On 24 November the European Commission proposed to provide further EU assistance worth $662 million to support the final closure after earlier decommissioning of Bulgaria’s Kozloduy nuclear power plant (NPP), Lithuania’s Ignalina facility and Slovakia’s Bohunice nuclear station. The good news…

  • Google Reins in Spending on Renewable Energy Technology

    Back in July Larry Page became Google’s new chief executive and immediately began a campaign to reign in Google’s projects and focus their resources. This was due to the stiff competition they were facing in mobile computing and social networking from Apple and Facebook, and also investor sentiment towards increasing expenditure on none core businesses. One of the latest casualties of this “spring cleaning” was the big green initiative, RE<C (Renewable Energy cheaper than Coal), which was an ambitious idea to make renewable energy cost competitive with coal-fired power plants. The plan was to build cheaper and more efficient heliostats,…

  • Will we Ever See Solar Powered Cars on the Road?

    If you like the sun, and you like cars, then I’m guessing you’d love to have a solar-powered car, right? This trick works well for chocolate and peanut butter, but not so well for garlic bread and strawberries. So how compatible are cars with solar energy? Do we relish the combination or spit it out? Let’s throw the two together, mix with math, and see what happens. What Are Our Options? Short of some solar-to-liquid-fuel breakthrough—which I dearly hope can be realized, and described near the end of a recent post—we’re talking electric cars here. This is great, since electric…

  • India and Bangladesh Spar Over Tipaimukh Dam

    While renewable energy advocates see hydroelectric facilities as largely beneficial, things get complex when the rivers to be harnessed cross international borders. Bangladesh and India are now at loggerheads over the latter’s proposed Tipaimukh Dam across the Barak River in Manipur. New Delhi is attempting to assure Dhaka that the Tipaimukh hydroelectric project will not adversely impact Bangladesh, but India’s bland assurances are contradicted by a 2005 study by the Institute of Water Modeling (IWM) Bangladesh, which concluded that during a drier monsoon season, when Bangladesh will need water for fisheries and cultivation, Tipaimukh dam authorities would nevertheless retain 27 percent…