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Alternative Energy

  • Proposed Indian Nuclear Power Plant in Zone Subject to Earthquakes

    Like many energy poor countries with rapidly rising economies, India’s government sees the development of a nuclear power industry as a potential godsend to meeting soaring demands for electricity. But the country’s proposed nuclear program has run into increasing resistance, following the devastating earthquake and subsequent tsunami that on 11 March 2011 devastated Japan’s Daichi nuclear power plant complex, taking all six Tokyo Electric Power Co. (TEPCO) reactors offline. Public opinion in India is concerned because the country is subject to both of the natural phenomena, and authorities are declining to release relevant materials. The issue is not insignificant, as nuclear power…

  • Which Renewable Fuel Looks Set to Replace Traditional Petroleum Fuels

    While it may be way too early to declare a final winner in the race to find replacement renewable liquid fuels to replace the jet fuel and diesel that power so many of the vehicles in the world, there are some indications as to the technology that just might end up coming out ahead. The results that are starting to appear also show that sometimes there is a disconnect between what the Government wants and considers possible and the real world. The concern over climate change (not peak oil) led many Governments around the world to mandate that propulsion fuels…

  • Geothermal's Potential as a Serious Energy Source

    The Earth started its existence as a red-hot rock, and has been cooling ever since. It’s still quite toasty in the core, and will remain so for billions of years, yet. Cooling implies a flow of heat, and where heat flows, the possibility exists of capturing useful energy. Geysers and volcanoes are obvious manifestations of geothermal energy, but what role can it play toward satisfying our current global demand? Following the recent theme of Do the Math, we will put geothermal in one of three boxes labeled abundant, potent, or niche (puny). Have any guesses? The Physics of Heat Thermal…

  • Are Offshore Wind Farms a Feasible Option for the Future?

    Britain is the pioneer in offshore wind energy, with more turbines placed out at sea than by any other nation. However, constructing such offshore wind farms is far tougher and more expensive than land based wind energy. In the dockyards at Belfast in Northern Ireland, where the Titanic was built, are blades longer than the entire wingspan of a Jumbo jet at 61.5 metres and weighing 22 tonnes. The blades are made of fibreglass and become thicker toward their point of attachment where they are fixed by 128 massive bolts in a ring to the rotor hub of the machine.…

  • How the Sunflower can Revolutionise Solar Power Plants

    Concentrated Solar Power (CSP) plants are probably the most technologically advanced and efficient form of generating solar energy on a large scale. Currently there are only a handful in the world (although that number is expected to grow) and one of them (inventively called PS10) majestically stands in Andalucia, Spain. It is 100 metres tall and surrounded by rows of giant mirrors (heliostats), each roughly the size of half a tennis court. The heliostats reflect the sun’s energy onto the central tower where it is then converted into enough electricity to power 6,000 homes. CSP’s could potentially generate enough clean,…

  • Who Will Survive the Coming Solar Energy Meltdown

    “Without these subsidies … ‘On-grid PV,’ would be virtually non-existent. It only exists because the solar industry lobbied government officials to compel citizens to purchase this otherwise non-economic energy source.” “Included in the list of failed solar companies is Solon of Germany whose corporate slogan was ‘Don’t Leave the Planet to the Stupid.’ Fortunately for taxpayers, it appears Solon will be leaving the planet.” A recent Wall Street Journal article, Dark Times Fall on Solar Sector (December 27, 2011), surveyed the latest solar industry fallout, as well as overviewed the financial condition of the surviving companies. But the article seems…

  • Investment in Clean Technology Set to Reach Record Levels in 2012

    The clean-tech sector is primed for a record-setting year of investments in 2012, following robust growth in 2011 despite difficult conditions, according to the Cleantech Group. Global clean technology venture and corporate investments totalled $9 billion in 2011, a 13% increase over 2010, according to the analysis firm’s preliminary 2011 data. This is just shy of 2008’s record of $9.5 billion. Clean-tech mergers and acquisitions reached record highs in 2011 with 391 deals and a dollar volume of $41.2 billion, up 153% over 2010. “Despite some of the well-publicised headwinds, venture capitalists continue to invest in clean-tech,” said Sheeraz Haji,…

  • Why Africa Needs to Embrace Bamboo Charcoal

    In the developed world where a flip of a switch or twist of a knob starts food heating the idea of gathering dung, wood or making charcoal for food preparation is a nearly horrifying thought. But for billions of humans, that procedure is a daily routine. It isn’t possible for people to join in the world of trade, increasing incomes and raising living standards to the developed world’s condition without getting through the food gathering and preparation needed at far more productive time scales.  Increasing human population is making the food issue even more complex, and much of the forests…

  • Expiration of Cash Grant to Affect Biomass & Wind More than Solar

    The expiration of the 1603 US cash grant programme is likely to slow but not stop the solar industry’s fast march toward grid parity, as solar costs continue to decline rapidly, said industry experts. However, preserving government subsidies for other renewables remains critical as they try to reach parity with traditional energy sources, experts said. The Section 1603 Treasury grant programme expired on 31 December after an effort to include an extension in must-pass legislation failed. Solar industry advocates were the strongest supporters of an extension and have vowed to keep pushing for the programme to be retroactively renewed. One…

  • Once Derided as an Expensive Folly, China’s Three Gorges Dam Goes From Strength to Strength

    China’s Three Gorges Dam Project was launched in 1993 with a $27.69 billion budget. While the Three Gorges construction finished in late 2008, its final six additional turbines in the underground power plant only started generating electricity last year. Located on the middle reaches of the Yangtze River in Hubei Province, the Three Gorges Dam is now the world's largest water control and hydropower project, consisting of a 7,661 foot-long, 594 foot -high dam, a five-tier ship lock, with 26 hydropower turbo-generators generating 20,300 megawatts. Only Brazil’s Itaipu dam produces more electricity. In addition to generating electricity, the Three Gorges Dam controls…