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Found 29 results

  1. A new nationwide poll in Poland shows that 88 percent of its citizens want their country to shift to renewables, take serious action against climate change and for their political leaders to stop blocking important EU climate action.   "The vast majority of Poles want their country to take strong action on climate change and shift to renewable energy. This is the result of a representative nationwide poll by TNS Polska in March 2014 commissioned by campaigning community Avaaz," writes Diana Maciąga over at 350.org. "This poll shows very clearly that Polish citizens want our country to take strong action on climate change and shift to renewable energy sources. Our government has to stop blocking EU climate action and we cannot allow private projects such as Elektrownia Północ, which put us on the worst possible path for our energy future."   Read it: Poles want energy transition to renewables = no new coal!
  2. The world installed 31,100 megawatts of solar photovoltaics (PV) in 2012"”an all-time annual high that pushed global PV capacity above 100,000 megawatts. There is now enough PV operating to meet the household electricity needs of nearly 70 million people at the European level of use. While PV production has become increasingly concentrated in one country - China - the number of countries installing PV is growing rapidly. In 2006, only a handful of countries could boast solar capacity of 100 megawatts or more. Now 30 countries are on that list, which the International Energy Agency (IEA) projects will more than double by 2018. PV semiconductor materials convert the sun's rays directly into clean, carbon-free electricity. Traditional solar cells - made of crystalline silicon - are combined into flat panels or "modules." While residential rooftop systems are measured in kilowatts, large ground-mounted systems can reach thousands of megawatts of capacity. (One megawatt equals 1,000 kilowatts.) Today roughly 60 percent of PV is manufactured in China. A decade ago, China produced almost no PV. But in a kind of gold rush spurred by easy bank loans and government tax incentives and subsidies, China hurtled past PV technology pioneers the United States (in 2006) and Japan (in 2008). The flood of new companies entering the Chinese PV industry over the last several years created a massive oversupply of panels at the global level and accelerated the already fast-paced drop in world PV prices. Many firms in other countries went bankrupt or shut down factories, and now even some Chinese companies are folding as the industry consolidates. Worldwide, PV production in 2012 declined 2 percent from 2011, the first annual drop on record. But this contraction will be short-lived as demand continues to rise. Solar power installations are growing more than 40 percent annually, and falling PV prices are making solar power more affordable. China, where PV had previously been too expensive to be widely adopted, may soon lead the world in generating electricity from PV. Each year since 2006 China has at least doubled the amount of new PV installed nationwide. After installing 5,000 megawatts in 2012, China is number three in the world with 8,300 megawatts of total PV capacity, trailing only Germany and Italy. And in July 2013, the government officially set a new national PV capacity goal of 35,000 megawatts by 2015. Depending on China's 2013 final tally, Japan could well install the most PV this year, perhaps more than 9,000 megawatts. This would give Japan some 16,000 megawatts of solar capacity"”over halfway to its official 2020 target of 28,000 megawatts. Historically, Japan has been the world's leading market for residential rooftop PV; in 2011, some 85 percent of PV capacity added there was residential. After the March 2011 Fukushima nuclear disaster, though, the government introduced a generous incentive encouraging larger projects, thus spurring huge investment in utility-scale PV capacity. The other big Asian solar story comes from India, a country of 1.2 billion people where an estimated 290 million still lack electricity. According to the solar energy consultancy Bridge to India, the country had 1,700 megawatts of PV installed by May 2013, with 80 percent of it in the sun-drenched northwestern states of Gujarat and Rajasthan. Bridge to India projects that figure will jump to 12,800 megawatts by 2016. India's National Solar Mission calls for 22,000 megawatts of solar power nationwide by 2022, including 2,000 megawatts of off-grid PV. Going solar is becoming increasingly attractive in India due to notoriously frequent blackouts and climbing grid power prices - not to mention that solar is now cheaper than diesel for electricity. Even though Asia's PV installations are soaring, it will be some years before it can unseat the European Union (EU) in regional PV dominance. The EU boasts 68 percent of world PV capacity. In 2012, for the second year running, the EU added more PV than it did any other electricity-generating technology. EU countries now annually installing hundreds or thousands of megawatts include Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Denmark, Germany, France, Greece, Italy, and the United Kingdom. Germany remains the world's solar capital, home to nearly one third of global PV capacity. For the third straight year, Germany added more than 7,000 megawatts of PV in 2012, reaching 32,000 megawatts. Accounting for some 5 percent of national power use, the electricity flowing from Germany's solar panels in 2012 was enough to supply more than 8 million homes. After adding a world-record 9,400 megawatts of new PV to the grid in 2011, Italy connected 3,400 megawatts in 2012 to keep its second-place spot in installed PV, with 16,300 megawatts total. Italy got 5.6 percent of its electricity from PV in 2012. (See data.) The main policy driver that has allowed Germany and Italy to amass their world-leading solar capacity is the feed-in tariff (FIT), which guarantees renewable energy generators a long-term purchase price for the electricity they supply to the grid. As these markets mature and solar system costs decline, FIT incentives are being reduced. But worldwide more than 70 countries - the majority of them now in the developing world - use some form of FIT. Until recently, the United States lagged badly in PV capacity despite its abundant solar resources. (Nearly every state gets more sun than Germany does.) But annual U.S. solar installations doubled in 2011, and nearly did so again in 2012, when 3,300 megawatts of PV came online. As of mid-2013, U.S. PV capacity had passed the 10,000 megawatt mark. Renewable portfolio standards (RPS) - laws now in 29 states typically requiring that renewables account for a specified share of the electricity that utilities sell - have historically driven U.S. PV development. In California, the U.S. solar leader, utilities must get one third of their electricity from renewable sources by 2020. Federal tax credits and cash grants are also PV catalysts, as are the increasingly popular arrangements allowing homeowners to lease a system from solar developers like Sunrun and SolarCity rather than footing the entire upfront cost. More than half of U.S. residential systems are now leased. Another solar-rich country finally starting to seriously ramp up its PV capacity is Australia. Residential rooftops host the majority of its 2,400 megawatts, 42 percent of which were installed in 2012. In the state of South Australia, one in five homes is solar-powered. Large PV projects are announced seemingly every week in countries with little or no previous solar capacity. For example, in mid-2013 construction finished on an 84-megawatt project in Thailand. The 96-megawatt Jasper Solar Project, financed in part by Google, is under way in South Africa. And two projects of over 100 megawatts gained local approval in Chile. These large projects illustrate another global PV trend: the rise of the mega-project. Only a few years ago, the 10 largest solar farms were between 30 and 60 megawatts. Now PV parks of 100 megawatts or more are becoming commonplace. Arizona's Agua Caliente PV project became the world's largest at 250 megawatts when its fourth phase finished construction in 2012. (It will eventually be 290 megawatts.) Developers have announced a 475-megawatt PV farm in Nagasaki, Japan, due in 2016. Several projects between 500 and 3,000 megawatts are under development in California. Even as PV deployment moves toward larger applications, it is well worth noting the virtues of smaller-scale solar, especially for developing countries. In rural areas with no grid access, installing solar PV at the home level is often cheaper than building a central power plant and electric grid. Bangladesh, working for over a decade with the World Bank, had installed 1.4 million rural solar home systems as of mid-2012, for example. Peru recently announced that the first phase of its national home electrification program will equip a half-million off-grid homes with PV. Analysts expect a new PV installation record of 35,000 megawatts in 2013. Even with the possibility that Europe's annual installations will fall below 10,000 megawatts over the next few years, China, Japan, and the United States, along with the growing number of "newcomer" PV countries, will more than pick up the slack. The IEA estimates, perhaps conservatively, that world PV capacity will more than triple by 2018 to 308,000 megawatts - at peak power, the generating equivalent of 300 large nuclear plants. By J. Matthew Roney. For a plan to stabilize the Earth's climate, see "Time for Plan B." Data and additional resources at www.earth-policy.org.
  3. German manufactuer Siemens have constructed off-shore wind turbines with record-breaking rotors. These enormous rotor blades are 75 meters long, which makes a single blade almost as big as the wingspan of an Airbus A380. All in all, the gigantic rotor measures 154 meters and covers about two and a half football fields. Despite its size the rotor blade weighs 20% less than more conventionally produced blades. This is made possible because of Simenes patented technologies which uses special lightweight materials in its construction process. As you can see from the photo below the entire blade is made as a single piece of "glass fiber-reinforced epoxy resin and balsa wood". Besides making it lightweight, in relation to its size of course, these construction processes also makes the wind turbine extremely strong. And this is a good thing considering that they will be hit with the energy of around 200 tons of air per second out in the sea where these wind turbines are designed to be used. According to Siemens the tips of the 75 meter long blades will be able to move at up to 80 meters per second, or 290 km per hour. The B75 blade is the world's largest fiberglass component cast in one piece. So why are manufactures like Siemens trying to build bigger and bigger wind turbines? Well it’s simple really. As the turbine blades get longer the amount of electricity they produce increases very rapidly. And because offshore wind projects are quite expensive it makes sense to build a fewer big wind turbines than lots of small ones. A prototype 6-megawatt turbine will be erected at the Østerild test station in Denmark later this fall. And in a few years time, 300 of these huge wind turbines will be installed by the Danish energy supplier Dong just off the British coast.
  4. The People's World has obtained internal documents produced by the right wing American Legislative Exchange Council outlining a new ALEC plan to kill clean energy programs across the nation. The operation involves the top U.S. energy companies and hundreds of state lawmakers from one end of the country to the other. The documents were given to People's World Aug. 7 by Nick Surgey, director of research for the Center for Media and Democracy. Surgey was one of several leaders of organizations who spoke at a public forum here Wednesday night, just 16 hours before what is expected to be the largest demonstration ever against ALEC, which is celebrating its 40th Anniversary at Chicago's posh Palmer House Hilton. Activists, among them hundreds of union members, packed the University Conference Center here last night to hear a variety of speakers including Robert Reiter, secretary treasurer of the Chicago Federation of Labor, which represents some 500,000 workers in northern Illinois. "It is clear ALEC is working in secret to push state policies in an extreme right direction," said Reiter, "but the good news is that America's working families are standing up to this corporate driven agenda. They are no longer getting away with their secrecy. They face big demonstrations now whenever they meet." One of the internal ALEC documents is a schedule of unpublicized meetings that ALEC is holding here Thursday, bringing together representatives of top fossil fuel corporations with scores of GOP legislators to fashion a new bill to clean kill clean energy programs. This schedule is almost completely at variance with the official schedule that ALEC has posted on the Internet and distributed to members showing up at Palmer House for the ALEC conference. The official schedule makes no mention of the planned meeting of representatives of top fossil fuel corporations with scores of GOP legislators to fashion a new bill to kill clean energy programs. All the internal documents have been stamped with statements saying they are the property of ALEC and cannot be copied or distributed, and that ALEC is not subject to disclosure under any Freedom of Information or Public Records Act. "Its incredible that lobbyists working to win over elected officials who should be accountable to the public could make this kind of claim," Surgey noted. The closed-door session on energy are needed, in ALEC's view, because fossil-fuel backed efforts to eliminate clean energy laws in many states have failed, including this year in Kansas, North Carolina and Missouri. ALEC's energy task force director, Todd Winn, has, according to various sources, told Republican legislators gathering here that rolling back renewable energy standards would be a top priority for 2014. One of the bills that will be discussed at today's closed-door meeting is called the "Electricity Freedom Act." Another of ALEC's "confidential," but no longer secret, energy bills, the "Market Power Renewable Act," will also be discussed at that meeting. The Market-Power renewable Act is described by The Center for Media and Democracy and by Common Cause as a "stealth attack" from fossil fuel interests that fund ALEC. It's real purpose is to weaken laws that have spurred the growth of wind and solar energy projects across the country by allowing fossil fuel utilities to purchase renewable energy credits from outside the state. This would allow large hydropower plants, biomass and biogas into the state's energy conservation law. The result of passage would be fewer jobs and less clean energy investment in the states in the short term. It would eliminate the clean energy requirements altogether by 2015. While the forum of labor and community activists was taking place, corporate lobbyists from BP, Exxon/Mobil; Shell and other energy giants were wining and dining several hundred GOP state lawmakers at a lavish party held "under the stars" at the Chicago Planetarium. Lawmakers and their families were treated to gourmet meals, champagne, wine, liquor, beer and free peeks into the giant telescope. The press, constituents, voters and anybody else without an invitation were barred. Corporate members of ALEC, according to another of the internal documents obtained, paid $40,000 apiece to participate this weekend while legislators pay only $100 to become members of ALEC. A recent Common Cause complaint to the IRS notes ALEC pays no taxes on the money it takes in and, in fact, bills the taxpayers for the cost of wining and dining the state legislators. One of the confidential documents shows that there will be a closed-door session Thursday to churn out a bill that would kill attempts by cities and municipalities to raise the minimum wage. "The idea is to generate state laws that pre-empt towns and cities form passing ordinances that raise the minimum wage," said Rey Lopez-Calderon, executive director of Common Cause Illinois. The ALEC bill comes on top of 117 bills introduced this year alone that fuel a race to the bottom in wages, workers rights, according to Reiter of the Chicago Federation of Labor. "We will be having some important street action here in Chicago," he said, referring to demonstrations planned around the Palmer House this afternoon. "Its not just about union members. ALEC is a threat to the entire 99 percent and that includes not just union members but all workers and it also includes everyone from the homeless on up to well paid doctors and professionals." This article was first published in People's World by John Wojcik.