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Alternative Energy

  • Solar Breakthrough: Cheap Quantum Dot Solar Paint

    Researchers have reduced the preparation time of quantum dot solar cells to less than an hour by changing the form to a one-coat quantum dot solar paint.  How? Titanium dioxide (TiO2) nanoparticles are coated with cadmium sulfide (CdS) or cadmium selenide (CdSe.) The composite nanoparticles, when mixed with a solvent, form a paste that can be applied as one-step paint to a transparent conducting material, which creates electricity when exposed to light. Although the paint form is currently about five times less efficient than the highest recorded efficiency for the multifilm form, the researchers predict that its efficiency can be improved, which…

  • Fukushima, What Crisis? Russia’s Rosatom’s Banner Year

    Russian state-run Rosatom, has had a successful year, despite worldwide concerns about nuclear energy following the 11 March nuclear disaster at the Fukushima Diachi nuclear power plant. Rosatom’s massive nuclear empire includes the otkrytnoe aktsionernoe obshchestvo “Atomnyi energopromyshlennyi kompleks” Atomenergoprom, a 100 percent state-owned holding company that oversees Russia’s civil nuclear industry, nuclear weapons companies, research institutes and nuclear and radiation safety agencies as well as representing the Russian Federation globally on issues of the peaceful use of nuclear energy and nonproliferation as well as managing Russia’s fleet of nuclear icebreakers through FGUP Atomflot. Rosatom has just released its 2010 annual report…

  • Seeking to Circumvent Possible U.S. Trade Sanctions, China Buys Hawaiian Solar Company

    Chinese investment in the U.S. economy up to now has been primarily in the form of U.S. Treasury bills. But, reading the U.S. press and conservative calls for punitive trade tariffs against China, Beijing’s investors have taken a leaf out of Tokyo’s 40 year-old playbook, when similar concerns were raised about Japanese imports. Four decades ago Japan cannily began not only to establish factories in the U.S. for its major U.S. exports, primarily automobiles, but began a cautious policy of investing in struggling U.S. companies, so if and when Congress got more xenophobic Japanese manufacturers could point out that trade barriers…

  • Another Asian Fukushima Imminent?

    Taiwan imports 99 percent of its energy, which is vital to its rapidly industrializing economy. The island nation’s electricity demand was recently growing at almost 5 percent per year, but this is slowing to about 3.3 percent per annum to 2013.  Nuclear power has been a significant part of the electricity supply for two decades and now provides 17 percent of the country’s overall energy needs. But this has come at a potential cost. The country’s three nuclear power plants (NPPs) comprise four General Electric boiling water reactors and two Westinghouse pressurized water reactors.  Taiwan launched its nuclear power project in…

  • Are Biofuels the Best Use of Our Limited Land Resources?

    About seven million tonnes of grain corn was grown in Ontario in 2011, and by year’s end roughly 30 per cent of that is expected to go toward ethanol fuel production. Let’s ignore for the moment the whole food-versus-fuel debate, and assume that devoting nearly a third of Ontario corn production to making renewable fuel doesn’t help drive up global food prices, or for that matter, reduce our capacity to feed the world. Let’s focus instead on the use of corn as part of a greenhouse-gas reduction strategy that returns more economic value per harvested bushel. Through this lens, is…

  • Central Asia's Creative Alternatives to Fossil Fuels

    Soaring fuel prices; electricity rationing; early snow -- it's enough to send people scurrying for alternative ways to heat their homes and cook their meals. In some parts of Central Asia, however, "alternative" doesn't necessarily mean clean burning or eco-friendly. In Uzbekistan, cheap is the operative word, and that means things can get downright, well, earthy. "Coal is fuel for rich people only," says Eshmurod-Aka, a resident of Uzbekistan's Qashqadaryo province. "Animal manure is the only fuel we use now."Many Uzbek families now only turn on their power generators when there is a football match on television. Sadirokhun Sophiyev, a…

  • Italy Overtakes Germany as the Largest Solar Market in the World

    According to Dr. Henning Wicht, director and principal analyst for photovoltaics at IHS (a global information and analysis provider), "propelled by residential and institutional investors who support green initiatives as well as sustainable funding, Germany has been the world's leading country for PV installations since 2009,” however, they may be about to lose that spot to the previous runner-up, Italy. The new PV solar systems installed in Germany are down 20% from 7.4GW last year to 5.9GW in 2011. Demand in Germany dropped due to high module prices at the beginning of the year, and although a mini-boom was seen…

  • South Korean Nuclear Power Glitches Unsettle Government

    South Korea currently has 21 nuclear power plants (NPPs). According to government statistics, atomic power produces about 40 percent of the country’s total electricity supply, roughly 18.5 gigawatts. South Korea’s first NPP in Kori, South Gyeongsang province, came online in 1972 and the government is proud of announcing that its NPPs have not had any “major” accidents in the past four decades. Recently however South Korea’s NPPs have had more than a few “hiccups,” as the Korea Herald recently put it. On the morning of 14 December the Kori NPP suffered a ‘hiccup” when a temporary surge of electricity caused…

  • How Will Renewable Energy Fare in 2012?

    Renewable energy is considered the future. The best way for us to combat climate change, survive the decline of oil and generally provide cheap, safer, secure energy. However the industry is still in its infancy and relies heavily on government subsidies and tax incentives. Every year or two the renewable energy companies experience a few tense months as the subsidies and incentives approach their expiration date. Invariably Congress comes to the rescue at the 11th hour and extends them for another year or two, the companies can breathe a sigh of relief and everyone can enjoy the holidays relatively stress…

  • Subsidies: The Poisoned Chalice of Renewable Energy

    “Solar subsidies are a placebo which is giving the general public a sense of security about our energy future and is robbing the motivation of those entrepreneurs that could actually address our energy problems.” “In the near term, perhaps our bigger concern than climate change is anthropogenic energy policy.” In a recent Economist on-line debate, the affirmative motion “This house believes that subsidizing renewable energy is a good way to wean the world off fossil fuels” was surprisingly defeated. In his closing remarks, the moderator softened his strident opposition to the negative case, even admitting that “subsidizing renewable energy, is…