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Alternative Energy / Renewable Energy

  • Does Vanadium Hold the Key to Energy Storage Conundrum?

    Renewable energy – solar and wind – works like a charm when the wind is blowing strongly enough to whip windmill blades into a frenzy, or the sun is baking down onto strategically-placed solar panels. The trouble, of course, is that the power they produce is intermittent. Wind has an annoying habit of dying down, as does the sun in hiding behind clouds.Harnessers of wind and solar power face another dilemma, and that is how to store the energy they produce, before it is fed into the electricity grid. A good example is what is happening in Hawaii. The island…

  • Oil Giants Gassed Out On Renewable Energy

    Could the future of renewable energy be reliant on the efforts of big oil companies? They would certainly like you to think so. In the first decade of the 21st century, it seemed like the likes of BP and ExxonMobil had realized that the winds of change were blowing as they begun massive investment programs in renewable source of energy. Renewable Energy World reports that from 2000 to 2010, American oil and gas companies contributed 20% of all US investment in renewables, amounting to around $9 billion. The Deepwater Horizon disaster in 2010 shattered BP’s public image, but it came…

  • Investing in Jordan: The Run on Renewables

    Energy starved Jordan, which has to import some 96% of its energy needs, is very serious about renewable energy—and so are international investors who are flocking to the country at a shocking pace, but there are pitfalls to look out for and the pace of investment should perhaps be a bit more cautious. Jordan’s 2007-2020 National Energy Strategy aims to reduce energy imports from 96% to 61%, the government has pledged to upgrade the energy sector by taking advantage of local resources, including renewable energy and oil shale (not to be confused with shale oil).If nothing else, Jordan has massive…

  • Ocean Power Rides the Green Wave

    Summer is coming in the Northern Hemisphere and tens of millions of us have plans to flock to the beaches. As we frolic along the shore we will also be awed by the relentless, eternal power of the ocean.This power has been tantalizing engineers since the dawn of the electric age in the 19th century. Those great tidal havens, the Bay of Fundy and the Bay of Biscay, have had electrical entrepreneurs salivating down through the years.Yet harnessing the ultimate renewable energy resource has lagged its two big renewable competitors, wind and solar. Both are now mature alternative energy-generating sources,…

  • Buffett Says He Will Double Investment In Renewables

    U.S. financier Warren Buffett, already one of his country’s largest investors in clean technologies, says he’s prepared to double his stake in renewable energy.Speaking June 9 in Las Vegas, he noted that his investment company, Berkshire Hathaway, already had invested about $15 billion in clean-energy enterprises, and added that he has “another $15 billion ready to go, as far as I’m concerned.”Earlier in his career, Buffett tended to invest in high-return businesses, but more recently he has said he likes the renewable energy industry because it’s ripe for reinvestment and broader acquisitions. A prime example is an energy holding company…

  • EPA Inflicts Mortal Wound on King Coal

    The big news of the week was the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s proposed rule to limit greenhouse gases from existing power plants, a move that is intended to reduce carbon pollution by 30% by 2030. The regulation is a colossal move for the electric power sector, one that will overhaul the makeup of America’s power plants and strikes at the heart of the coal industry.EPA chief Gina McCarthy went to great lengths to emphasize the fact that states will have flexibility to meet the targets, using both efficiency on site, but also investments in “beyond the fence” measures such as…

  • Buildings Can Save More Than 50% of Electrical Energy Use

    A Pacific Northwest National Laboratory team found commercial buildings could cut their heating and cooling electricity use by an average of 57% with advanced energy-efficiency controls. The team built the results with a year-long trial of the controls at malls, grocery stores and other buildings across the country. The real world study demonstrated higher energy savings than the team had predicted in earlier computer simulations.Lead researcher, engineer Srinivas Katipamula said, “We’ve long known that heating and cooling are among the biggest energy consumers in buildings, largely because most buildings don’t use sophisticated controls. But our tests of controls installed at…

  • Plans to Put PV to Pasture?

    A colleague pointed me toward an article in the LA Times last week, which lays out a plan to remove financial incentives legally bestowed on solar photovoltaics (PV) to the detriment of utility power companies. The plan is spearheaded by the Koch brothers and their political action group, Americans for Prosperity.In summary, they target two laws that give a big boost to solar: net metering, and renewable mandates. Both impart crucial advantages to solar installations that can change the economics by a large factor.Net MeteringNet metering is the practice in which a solar PV array may run the utility meter…

  • Sun, Wind Combine To Give Germany A Bit Of Free Electricity

    It was, perhaps, a mirror image of the perfect storm: An abundance of sunshine and wind in Germany on May 11 stimulated solar and wind energy generators to the point where the price of electricity cost literally less than nothing for about an hour.Bernard Chabot, a renewable energy consultant in France, has charted the activities of solar and wind energy generators that day. Shortly after midday, according to Chabot, the total amount of renewable energy entering Germany’s electrical grid was enough for nearly three-fourth’s of the country’s demand.Germany, which vigorously promotes renewable energy, has enacted regulations encouraging investment in such…

  • Germany Hits Historic High, Gets 74 Percent Of Energy From Renewables

    On Sunday, Germany’s impressive streak of renewable energy milestones continued, with renewable energy generation surging to a record portion — nearly 75 percent — of the country’s overall electricity demand by midday. With wind and solar in particular filling such a huge portion of the country’s power demand, electricity prices actually dipped into the negative for much of the afternoon, according to Renewables International. In the first quarter of 2014, renewable energy sources met a record 27 percent of the country’s electricity demand, thanks to additional installations and favorable weather. “Renewable generators produced 40.2 billion kilowatt-hours of electricity, up from…