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Alternative Energy / Renewable Energy

  • Big Oil And Renewables: Not So Strange Bedfellows

    In most conversations about energy, the topic of Big Oil versus renewables usually becomes a zero-sum game. Renewable advocates accuse Big Oil of conspiring to shut out wind, solar and other alt-energy sources in the pursuit of greater profits driven by fossil fuels. Big Oil defenders say that renewables, while an important adjunct, can never meet the global demand for energy provided by traditional sources: coal, oil and gas. In fact, the big oil companies have never shunned renewable energy in their mix of business operations, and only recently have pulled back investments in solar and wind. But the reasons…

  • Epic Drought Impacting California’s Clean Energy Goals

    California has just entered its fourth year of drought -- a slow-rolling crisis that is showing no signs of abating.All of California is now affected, with more than half of the state considered to be in “exceptional” drought, the worst designation handed out by the U.S. Drought Monitor. Reduced rainfall means that California reservoirs are continuing to shrink, with water levels at just 52 percent of their historic average.That’s not just a problem for California’s $42.5 billion agricultural industry, which grows and produces much of the country’s fruits, nuts and vegetables. It is also is cutting into the state’s electricity…

  • New Technology Could Have Us Generate Power As We Walk

    You may have heard how the jaw movement from talking or chewing can be turned into useable energy. Now scientists have found a way to harness the energy of something equally simple: walking.The amount of energy produced by it isn’t nearly enough to power something like an electric car, but watch batteries -- yes. Researchers at the Center for Research in Advanced Materials (CIMAV) have designed a small, flat cylinder that fits in a shoe and stores the mechanical-vibrational energy that a human creates by walking.The scientists then used the captured energy to recharge AAA batteries and even self-powered clocks.Related:…

  • A Big Pension Fund Is Investing Heavily In Clean Energy. What Should You Do?

    Earlier this week, one of the largest pension funds in America, the California State Teachers’ Retirement System (CalSTRS) made an announcement that was of particular interest to energy investors. They announced that they would be nearly tripling the amount they have invested, bringing it to around $3.7 Billion. Obviously, that a fund of that size is to step up investment in that sector is good news, but investors should be careful not to read too much into the announcement.First, let’s look at what they didn’t say. They didn’t, as some coverage of the news has suggested, say that they are…

  • U.S. Firm Angers Dubliners With Plan For Waste-to-Energy Generator

    Covanta Holding Corp. will soon begin construction on a new waste-to-energy generator in Dublin, Ireland and its surrounding area that is expected to operate at 58 megawatts and provide what the company says will be clean, renewable energy for 80,000 homes.In a statement issued Sept. 20, Covanta, based in Morristown, N.J., said it had reached agreement with the city council of Ireland’s capital to build, own and operate the plant. It said construction is expected to begin immediately, and the facility should be on-line in late 2017.The plant will be designed to use post-recycled waste from nearby landfills, making it…

  • The High Cost Of Renewables

    In this post I present “back of envelope” style calculations on the capital costs of renewables globally since 1998 and deduce that roughly $1.3 trillion has been spent installing wind turbines and solar panels. Is this a lot of money? Is it a wise investment? What else may we have we got for our money?There are different ways to view this. For example UK annual GDP is roughly double this sum and in that perspective it is not a huge amount for the world to spend over 15 years. Some would argue that we should be spending a lot more.…

  • IEA Says Investment In Clean Energy Will Keep Growing, Slowly

    The International Energy Agency (IEA) says overall investment in renewable energy will continue to grow through 2020, but at a slower rate than it has in recent years.The IEA’s annual Medium-Term Renewable Energy Market Report for 2014, issued Aug. 28, anticipated investment in biomass, wind and solar energy will total $1.61 trillion through the end of the current decade, even as the rate of investment begins to lag.The report says funding for clean energy reached a peak of $280 billion in 2011 and was still a generous $250 billion in 2013. But that is expected to decline to an average…

  • U.S. Warms To Clean Energy

    A review of monthly figures for new installations of electric power capacity in July shows that renewable energy is quickly becoming the energy source of choice in the U.S. New data from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) shows that 100 percent of new capacity installed in July came from renewable energy. For the month, there were 21 megawatts of new solar, 379 megawatts of wind, and 5 megawatts of new hydropower. Natural gas still accounted for more than half of new capacity for the first half of this year, but renewable energy is quickly catching up.The data is confirmation…

  • Why Air Bags May Be the Answer to Clean Energy’s Viability

    Stop a dozen people on the street and ask them what the biggest challenge facing alternative energy is, and most would probably answer along the same lines. There would be some vague notion of finding, or maybe developing, clean energy sources to prepare for the day when we exhaust the Earth’s supply of fossil fuels. Ask many experts, though, and they will tell you that we already have viable solutions and now just need to solve one central problem: storage. The answer to that may be something as simple as giant bags of air.Clean energy sources have a major storage…

  • Unlikely Bedfellows: Mines That Run On Solar Or Wind Power

    Mining companies are often seen as dinosaurs when it comes to making changes that will benefit the environment, but that perception may be shifting as some companies turn to renewable energy to cut costs and lighten their carbon footprint.At first blush, mining and renewable energy seem incongruous. Mining's reputation as a voracious consumer of fossil fuels is well deserved, especially surface mining, where diesel-sucking haul trucks perform endless loops to and from gigantic pits scraped ever-deeper by immense earth-moving machines belching greenhouse gases.Contrast that with solar panel installations, with their acres of gleaming panels and gently humming generators, or wind…