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Alternative Energy / Renewable Energy

  • Texas Town First Of Many To Switch To 100% Renewable Power

    On March 18 the city of Georgetown, Texas announced that it would soon be generating 100 percent of its electricity from renewable sources. Georgetown agreed to purchase the power from a 150-megawatt solar farm that is to be constructed by SunEdison and online in 2016. Coupled with a 2014 agreement to buy wind power, Georgetown will be able to generate all of its electricity needs without any help from coal, oil, natural gas, or nuclear power. Texas, the largest oil producer in the United States, is not normally known for its green tendencies. But Georgetown will be the first of…

  • Renewables Poised For Massive Growth In The Middle East

    Growing scale in renewable energy projects has sharply reduced the price of sustainable energy to near parity with fossil fuels, creating new opportunities for energy companies but also for investors. This is the thrust of a report published this month by the National Bank of Abu Dhabi entitled "Financing The Future Of Energy," prepared by the University of Cambridge and PricewaterhouseCoopers. The report focuses on renewable energy prospects in the wider Gulf region – the ‘West-East corridor’ stretching from Africa into Central Asia – in the context of global energy development. According the report, US$48 trillion will need to be invested…

  • Nicaragua On Course To Become Renewable Powerhouse

    Nicaragua’s concerted effort to develop renewable energy is beginning to pay off, with three-quarters of gross domestic primary energy supply and half its electric power now generated from renewable sources even though it has barely begun to tap its potential for hydro, wind, solar and geothermal energy. “Nicaragua’s renewable energy sector has a bright future, both for utility-scale and small-scale projects, due to the country’s largely untapped renewable resources,” the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) said in a report published in January. In the period 2006-2012, the Central American country attracted $1.5 billion in investment in renewable energy, the largest…

  • OPEC Decision Hits Renewables

    Is a solar supply glut on hand? Not exactly, but oil’s multi-month slide has largely overshadowed the sector’s emergent capacity. Nowhere is that more apparent than in the state of California, where the world’s largest photovoltaic power station is now online. Still, renewables did not emerge unscathed from the aftermath of OPEC’s decision to stand firm on production. Formerly rosy outlooks now take on an air of uncertainty as renewables growth looks to avoid becoming a casualty of an era of cheap oil and gas. Late last month, MidAmerican Solar’s Topaz solar farm reached full capacity to little fanfare. The…

  • The Cost Of Energy Storage

    I taught my students that intermittent renewable electricity (wind and solar) was third class compared with dispatchable fossil fuels (first class) and baseload nuclear power (second class). But that renewables may be turned into a first class electricity source with the development of affordable grid-scale storage. There are two important qualifiers to this statement and those are 1) affordable and 2) grid-scale. By grid scale I mean electricity storage that could power a medium sized town for a day or longer, or every night when the sun is down. In this short post I want to begin chronicling new storage…

  • Google Gives Up On Renewables

    This is a post-mortem on a project initiated by Google – a master of innovation if ever there was one and a company with impeccable green credentials (see photo below) – the goal of which was to scope out an innovative renewable energy system that could compete economically with coal and other fossil fuels and which could be deployed quickly enough to stave off the worst impacts of climate change. Google headquarters, complete with 1.6MW of PV panels Work on the project, which Google named RE<C (Renewable Energy cheaper than Coal) continued from 2007 to 2011, a period over which…

  • Waste To Energy Could Be Long-Term Renewable Solution

    On a recent business trip to Edmonton, in northern Canada, I was surprised to find, amid the bales of recycled materials and heavy equipment pushing around mountains of trash, a large facility that looked a lot like an oil refinery. The building was a couple of storeys high and consisted of a network of interlocking pipes, surrounded by a cage of steel framing and a number of platforms. When I asked about it, a landfill worker told me the facility is a waste to biofuels plant that essentially converts garbage into biofuels. Opened in June, the waste to biofuels plant…

  • The Cold, Hard Truth About Renewables

    Does the recent climate accord between US and China mean that many countries will now forge ahead with renewables and other green solutions? I think that there are more pitfalls than many realize. Pitfall 1. Green solutions tend to push us from one set of resources that are a problem today (fossil fuels) to other resources that are likely to be problems in the longer term. The name of the game is “kicking the can down the road a little.” In a finite world, we are reaching many limits besides fossil fuels: 1. Soil quality–erosion of topsoil, depleted minerals, added…

  • Renewable Energy Will Allow Communist Party Of China To Hold Onto Power

    News about the US-China climate change deal was met with an equal measure of praise and doubt. Many observers cheered the fact that the world’s two largest economies had come together on an issue as important as climate change and vowed to take real, measurable steps in curbing emissions. Still others saw the announcement as a paper tiger, an agreement that allowed Beijing to gain some credibility while having no intention of ever following through with the terms of the deal. The National Review was particularly virulent in making the latter point. It wrote that there “was abundant reason for…

  • How Global Fossil Fuel Dependence Hasn`t Changed In 20 Years

    Whilst enjoying the good natured exchanges on this blog concerning the pros and cons of new renewable energy sources I decided to dig deeper into the success of Green energy policies to date. Roger Andrews produced this chart the other day and the low carbon energy trends caught my eye. It is important to recall that well over $1,700,000,000,000 ($1.7 trillion) has been spent on installing wind and solar devices in recent years with the sole objective of reducing global CO2 emissions. It transpires that since 1995 low carbon energy sources (nuclear, hydro and other renewables) share of global energy…