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Found 29 results

  1. Costa Rica has been getting all of its electricity from renewable energy sources since the beginning of the year. “The year 2015 has been one of electricity totally friendly to the environment for Costa Rica,” the state-owned power supplier Costa Rican Electricity Institute (ICE) announced in a press release. The country hasn’t had to use any fossil fuels so far in 2015, much thanks to heavy rain that has kept the country’s hydroelectric power plants working at full capacity without any interruptions. This accomplishment is no random luck, it’s the result of hard work to reach the country’s goal to become carbon-neutral by 2021, as Costa Rico announced back in 2009. “We are declaring peace with nature,” Costa Rican ambassador Mario Fernández Silva said in 2010 when his country won the Future Policy award. “We feel a strong sense of responsibility about looking after our wealth of biodiversity. Our attitude is not progressive, it is conservative. Our view is that until we know what we have, it is our duty to protect it.” Costa Rica has also generated additional electricity from various other renewable energy sources – such as wind, biomass, geothermal and solar energy. Last year, hydropower accounted for 80 percent of the total electricity used while geothermal reached upwards of 10 percent. Approximately 94 percent of Costa Rica’s energy comes from renewable energy sources. But their energy system is sensitive to climate and weather disruptions due to their hydro power plants being based on so called run-of-the-river systems. They can therefore be hindered because of seasonal changes in water flow or drought – something which is becoming far too common due to climate change. CleanTechnica reports that Costa Rica are planning to build three new geothermal projects, capable of generating 50-55 MW each, to help diversify their energy portfolio. These new geothermal plants will help Costa Rica to continue to produce clean, renewable energy when the country’s hydropower plants are unable to produce electricity. It’s worth pointing out that Costa Rica is a small nation with a population of only around 4.8 million people. The country also does not have much heavy and energy-intensive industries, and mainly relies on tourism and agriculture. Despite this, Costa Rica’s accomplishment gives us hope and it should inspire other nations to increase their renewable energy efforts.
  2. There is no direct evidence that wind turbines affect physical or mental health, according to a review of the evidence by the National Health and Medicine Research Council (NHMRC). The review found no direct link between health effects and wind turbines, including pathological anxiety, depression, changes in blood pressure, heart disease, and ringing in the ears. However, due to the generally poor quality of the current evidence, the council recommended further high quality research, particularly within 1,500 m of wind turbines. More than 4,000 pieces of evidence were considered, but only 13 were deemed suitable for the review. The review found evidence supporting a link between wind farm noise and indirect health effects such as annoyance, and sleep disturbance. However it found no evidence for a link between possible health effects and low-frequency noise or infrasound. While the review said it was unlikely wind turbines would cause health impacts beyond 500 m, noise from turbines could be considered “disturbing” at distances of up to 1,500 m. Bruce Armstrong, Emeritus Professor at the University of Sydney and chair of the review’s expert committee, said none of the studies were of good quality, mostly because of poor participation rates, which could have biased the results. Armstrong identified three areas for further research: improving measurement of wind turbine noise; well-constructed studies that do not rely solely on self-reported health effects; and consideration of social and environmental circumstances. Will Grant, a researcher at the Australian National University, said there should be more research into wind turbine syndrome as a “communicated” disease. “There’s a lot of suggestion from the academic community that it’s a psychological or psychogenic illness. The interesting thing is that there hasn’t been a full research study that has investigated if it’s a psychological cause, what are the things that cause that, what are the things that contribute to that, and could we actually mitigate that.” Simon Chapman, professor of public health at the University of Sydney, said the review was the most comprehensive yet. However he expressed concern that ongoing investigation could be a foundation for stopping wind farms. “Wind farm opponents in the parliament will soon have a ready made excuse to argue for moratoriums on further wind farm development,” he said. Grant said the review was important because it took claims of ill-health seriously. He highlighted a recent study commissioned by Pacific Hydro into the health effects of low-frequency wind turbine noise, which he criticised in an article on The Conversation. “Where they were on the right track was in attempting to do research with those who have very different ideas. The only way to get to the bottom of this is to do research in which people on all sides of the debate have control over the methodology.”
  3. At the end of 2013, the wind farms installed in more than 85 countries had a combined generating capacity of 318,000 megawatts, which would be enough to meet the residential electricity needs of the European Union’s 506 million people. New data from the Global Wind Energy Council show that wind developers built 35,000 megawatts of new generating capacity worldwide in 2013. This was down from 45,000 megawatts installed in 2012—marking only the second time in 25 years that installed capacity increased by less than it did the year before. The principal reason for the decline in new capacity was a more than 90 percent drop in U.S. wind farm installations from a record 13,000 megawatts in 2012. Although the United States has the second-highest wind power capacity in the world—some 61,000 megawatts—a lack of long-term policy planning has led to several such boom-and-bust cycles. Despite the dearth of new capacity, there were many bright spots for U.S. wind power in 2013. Wind accounted for at least 12 percent of the electricity generated in nine states, including Iowa (27 percent) and South Dakota (26 percent). Iowa will get another boost from a $1.9 billion deal announced in December 2013: Warren Buffett’s MidAmerican Energy Company purchased Siemens turbines totaling more than 1,000 megawatts, all destined for Iowa wind projects. When complete in 2015, these wind farms will likely bring the wind share of electricity in Iowa to at least 33 percent. Wind’s contribution to the grid is also growing in Texas, the U.S. wind capacity leader with 12,400 megawatts. The Electric Reliability Council of Texas reports that wind farms produced nearly 10 percent of the electricity delivered to its 24 million customers in 2013. And with the early-2014 completion of state-funded transmission projects linking windy West Texas and the Panhandle to population centers to the east, Texas can accommodate even more clean electricity on the grid. The state has 7,000 megawatts of new wind power capacity under construction, more than half of the 12,000 megawatts currently being built nationwide. China has led the world in installed capacity since surpassing the United States in 2010. In contrast to the drop in U.S. installations in 2013, China’s wind construction accelerated—adding 16,000 megawatts to reach a total 91,000 megawatts. Wind further solidified its role as the number three electricity source in China (behind coal and hydropower), out-generating nuclear power by an impressive 22 percent. The National Energy Administration aims to make wind-generated electricity cost-competitive with coal by 2020. (See data.) As in Texas and many other places around the world, some of China’s best wind resources are found far from major cities where electricity demand is high. High-voltage transmission lines now under construction will connect wind-rich provinces in the north and west with more populous ones in the central and eastern provinces. For example, one project linking remote Xinjiang province to the 4 million people in Zhengzhou, the capital of Henan province, was completed in early 2014. Infrastructure projects such as this one will be critical in reaching the official Chinese goal of 200,000 megawatts of grid-connected wind capacity by 2020. India, the country with the fifth-highest amount of installed capacity, added 1,700 megawatts in 2013 to cross the 20,000 megawatt threshold. Although this was 25 percent less new capacity than in 2012, India is poised to grow its wind power base dramatically in the coming years. In January 2014, the government announced a National Wind Energy Mission—in the spirit of the country’s National Solar Mission—to be launched mid-year. By beefing up the grid and using incentives to attract investment to wind hotspots, the program aims to hit 100,000 megawatts of wind within eight years. Development is picking up elsewhere in Asia as well. In Pakistan, wind power capacity doubled to 100 megawatts in 2013 and will double again when two 50-megawatt projects go online in 2014. Thailand also doubled its wind capacity in 2013, reaching 220 megawatts. And the Philippines has seven projects due for completion in 2014 that will expand wind capacity there 13-fold to 450 megawatts. Before China’s recent surge, Europe was the leading wind power region. Germany, which added 3,200 megawatts in 2013, ranks third worldwide in total capacity, with 34,000 megawatts. Four of its northern states regularly get half or more of their electricity from wind farms. When it comes to wind’s contribution to national electricity needs, European countries top the leaderboard. Denmark gets one third of its electricity from wind, well on its way to a target of 50 percent by 2020. Portugal, Lithuania, Spain, and Ireland come in at around 20 percent each. In fact, wind came within a percentage point of beating nuclear power for the title of Spain’s number one electricity source in 2013. And Germany, Europe’s largest economy, obtained 8 percent of its electricity from wind farms. While some of the larger European wind power markets, including Spain, Italy, and France, have slowed down, smaller players are speeding up. Poland and Romania each expanded their wind power capacity by 36 percent in 2013, to 3,400 and 2,600 megawatts, respectively. And in Turkey, even though the approval process for projects is slow, wind capacity grew by 28 percent to nearly 3,000 megawatts. One region with enormous wind potential but little development so far is Latin America. Brazil, best known for getting 80 percent of its electricity from large hydropower, hosts the most wind power capacity in the region—now close to 3,500 megawatts after a 950-megawatt addition in 2013. At government auctions, wind companies have won more than half of all contracts to sell electricity since 2011, according to Bloomberg data. Some 10,000 megawatts of wind may be installed in Brazil between 2014 and 2019. Mexico, Chile, Argentina, and Uruguay also added wind power in 2013. In all of Africa, just one project added capacity in 2013. The final 90 megawatts of Ethiopia’s 120-megawatt Ashegoda Wind Farm went into operation, more than doubling the country’s wind capacity to 170 megawatts. South Africa has 2,100 megawatts of wind power in the pipeline, including 750 megawatts to be added in 2014 alone. Offshore projects account for just over 2 percent of the wind capacity installed worldwide. Having hit a seventh straight annual installation record in 2013, however, offshore wind is growing fast. More than half of the 7,100 megawatts of offshore capacity belongs to the United Kingdom, which installed 730 megawatts in its waters in 2013. Denmark, Germany, and Belgium each added at least 190 megawatts to their totals, while China added 39 megawatts. Both Vietnam and Spain added offshore wind capacity for the first time, as did the United States, although the U.S. project was one very small demonstration turbine off the coast of Maine. Offshore wind is still one of the more expensive electricity generating technologies, but onshore wind is often highly competitive with coal, natural gas, and nuclear power in areas with strong wind resources. And costs continue to fall as wind manufacturers steadily improve turbine efficiency, harnessing more wind per machine. In the United States, the average price of wind-generated electricity has dropped 40 percent since 2009. After a slower year in 2013, world wind installations will bounce back in 2014, perhaps to a new record—the Global Wind Energy Council sees the potential for 47,000 megawatts. Roughly half of the total will be built in China and the United States (around three times more in the former than in the latter). This is good news for the wind business, for electricity consumers, and for people who value cleaner air and water. But increasingly dire scientific warnings about the consequences of climate change mean that the world will need to accelerate the shift to carbon-free, renewable sources of energy even more so in the years to come. By J. Matthew Roney.
  4. Crowdfunding Sustainable Innovation Video Will Crowdfunding Deliver Results Where Lobbying Falls Short? The phone is ringing. I answer and I am quickly introduced to Michael’s passionate and very logically reasoned request – will I chip in again on conservation and climate change efforts? This time I hesitate and after a few minutes Michael transitions to confirming interest and goes on to make a few more contribution requests. The call ends and a few days later I receive a follow-up letter in the mail from the group Michael represents. I can’t disagree with the outreach strategy, but the money the group is requesting is earmarked for lobbying efforts. It’s a familiar scenario. Michael is like the vast majority of us, knowing we must implement available solutions for a more sustainable planet. This time I decide against contributing to the group Michael represents and instead seek ways to support sustainable innovation and solutions in the businesses, startups, community leaders and entrepreneurs of today.Maybe you’re like me and are looking for some tangible solutions because you no longer want to see your efforts marginalized or see initiatives fall grossly short of their end goal. For the past two decades you’ve seen how a few skeptics, questioning obvious science, can lead to watered down legislation. You are wondering if all your lobbying donations have been effective. You are aware of solutions and are looking to change the results. So what are you going to do? It’s time to gather your crowd, pool resources and fund the projects you have been lobbying and working on for years. This can be done with Crowdfunding. You won’t be the first. Others have gone before you and have realized tangible success.What is crowdfunding? Crowdfunding is raising small amounts of money from a large number of people to fund a specific project, product or business and it’s done primarily online. Catchall Crowdfunding websites like IndieGoGo and Kickstarter have made headlines with million dollar funding successes for games and tech gadgets. Crowdfunding niche sites Wise Green Planet (Sustainability and Green Technology) and Tubestart (Digital Video & Film Projects) have emerged in response to the need for platforms dedicated to specific market segments. These crowed sourced funding sites give rise to alternative methods of financing projects and ideas by helping to democratize capital.If taxes or sustainability matter to you consider this, local municipalities can spend on millions on fossil fuels every year. When the price of fossil fuels rise, more money is spent and finite resources are consumed. With crowdfunding, you can seek to change this for the benefit your community. You can support or start your own crowdfunding project for the purchase of solar panels, wind turbines or another form of clean, renewable energy and even incorporate Elon Musk’s Solar Battery, the Tesla Powerwall, as part of your communities overall energy solution. Clean and 100% renewable energy is sustainable and the money currently spent on fossil fuels could be directed elsewhere. The money spent on fossil fuels could instead fund structural improvements to utilities or help your local school retain course offerings, extracurricular activities and sports programs. This can be a reality in your community and crowdfunding can be part of the solution.We can agree to continue to hold our elected officials accountable to the needs and priorities of society at large. However, we can no longer wait for legislation, we must act. We must ask if matching the climate laggards tit for tat, on the long, expensive lobbying road is an effective solution. Shouldn’t we instead be investing in progress, thought leaders and innovators through impact investing and crowdfunding solutions? A solar spill is a sunny day, but an oil spill is tax money wasted and far from progress. Lobbying has yet to stop oil spills, proving it can be an environmental wasteland. We can crowdfund sustainable innovation, divest from fossil fuels and create a healthier planet. The “Crowd” can be the catalyst for this shift by funding clean energy, green technologies and advancements in sustainability. It’s a choice. In the words of Bill Nye, “I want you all to preserve our world in the face of Climate Change and carry on as The Next Great Generation.” -Chris Kratochwill fund@wisegreenplanet.com Crowdfunding Sustainable Innovation Video
  5. New data from the European Wind Energy Association (EWEA) shows that wind energy installations outperformed both coal and gas last year in the European Union. In fact, Europe closed down and retired more coal and gas capacity than they commissioned in 2014.   Across the 28 EU member states, the wind industry built a total of 11,791 MW to the European grid. In comparison, coal and gas added only 3,305 MW and 2,338 MW respectively of new capacity. The wind energy capacity increased by 3.8 percent in 2014 and cumulative installations is now standing at 128.8 GW in the EU. Wind power now cover 10 percent of the EU’s electricity consumption, up from 8% the year before. All in all, renewable power plants (and not just wind energy) accounted for 79.1% of new installations during 2014; 21.3GW of a total 26.9GW. Thomas Becker, chief executive officer of the European Wind Energy Association, said: "These numbers very much show Europe's continued commitment to renewable and wind energy. But this is no time for complacency. The uncertainty over the regulatory framework for the energy sector is a threat to the continued drive toward sustainable and homegrown energy that will guarantee Europe's energy security and competitiveness for the long-term." A Davos report, released earlier in January, warned that badly located renewable power plants are hampering the production from these new installations – and costing Europe as much as $100 billion. A solution to these sub-optimal deployments of renewable energy resources could be a more unified European energy market. “It's time for Europe's political leaders to create a truly European Energy Union and send a clear signal of their support for the shift to a secure and sustainable energy system,” Becker said. “Political will on their part is an essential piece of the puzzle.” These new EWEA-statistics also shows something worrying. This renewable energy transformation is not happening equally across Europe. Almost 60 percent all-new installations were in just two countries: Germany and the United Kingdom. These two country’s installed 5,279MW and 1,736MW respectively of new wind energy in 2014. "What we've seen in 2014 is a concentration of the industry in key countries," Becker said, adding "while markets in eastern and southern Europe continue to struggle in the face of erratic and harsh changes in the policy arena. We expect this concentration to continue into 2015." New wind power installations also saw a dramatic decline in countries such as Spain, Italy and Denmark who all installed much less wind than in previous years. Denmark might be nearing “peak wind” as it saw a drop in installations by over 90 percent. You can read the full EWEA report here.
  6. China has been the world’s largest consumer of energy since 2009 when the country surpassed the US. The majority of the energy which is produced and consumed in China comes from dirty fossil fuels. According to numbers from the International Energy Agency (IEA), about 78 percent of the total electricity generated in China between 2004 and 2010 came from coal. In 2007 China surpassed the US – yet again – and became the world’s largest greenhouse gas polluter. It’s worth pointing out though that China’s per capita emission numbers still lags behind those of more developed countries. However, this has obviously caused massive negative effects for the global climate, the local environment and Chinese people’s health. To combat this, China is investing heavily in more sustainable and cleaner energy sources. And they have done so for several years now. The country invested a total of $56.3 billion on wind, solar and other renewable projects in 2013. That year, China invested more on renewables than all of Europe combined and became the world leader in renewable energy investments. Last year China became a powerhouse for solar and wind as the country’s investments in renewable energy increased by 32 percent, to $89.5 billion. Unfortunately not everything is renewable energy as China has plans to triple its nuclear power capacity by 2020. And more than a third of the world’s nuclear reactors currently under construction can be found in China. But nuclear energy can’t seem to catch up with the deployment speed of renewable energy sources. Not even in China. Last year, China’s nuclear capacity reached 20,000 megawatts. But at the same time China added 23,000 megawatts of new wind energy capacity – a world record. Chinese wind power now has an amazing cumulative capacity of 115,000 megawatts. While Beijing plans that nuclear energy will generate 50,000 megawatts by 2020, analysts expects that the country’s wind power capacity will then have already reached 200,000 megawatts. To put things into perspective: wind power alone is now capable of powering more than 110 million homes in China. And if we only look at capacity, Chinese wind power now produce more energy than all of the nuclear power plants in the US. Renewable energy sources are being deployed much faster and on a bigger scale. And for the foreseeable future, nuclear energy is unlikely to match wind power in China. Despite this, coal remains king in China. But the energy landscape is changing ever so rapidly. And according to official data from China’s National Bureau of Statistics, coal dropped nearly 3 percent in 2014. All of this is encouraging. Particularly as new IEA data shows that global CO2 emissions stalled in 2014 while the economy actually grew. This marked the first time in four decades that the world economy grows while carbon emissions don't. Experts say that this change is likely due to an increasing worldwide deployment of renewable energy – and especially, a changing energy landscape in China.
  7. France has issued a new eco-friendly law which requires rooftops on all new buildings in commercial zones to be partially covered by plants or solar panels. The new law, which was approved at the end of last week by the French parliament, was much more limited in its scope than what French environmental activists had campaigned for. They had called for a law which required all new rooftops in France to be fitted with green roofs. But the socialist government managed to convince the activists to accept this limited law which only requires new roofs in commercial zones to be partially covered in plants. The law also gives house owners the choice of either installing a green roof or solar panels for electricity generation instead. But even if this is a trimmed-down version, the law will have positive effects for the French urban landscape. Green roofs are living roofs which are covered with grass, shrubs, flowers or other plants that gives birds a place to nest in the urban environment. These green roofs will also retain rainwater, helping reduce problems with stormwater runoff. Another benefit is that much less energy is required to heat or cool buildings which has a green roof installed. The law might also help France catch up to other major European countries – such as Germany, Spain and Italy – which has a much larger share of solar energy. Photovoltaic capacity just amount to over five gigawatts, or about one percent of the total energy consumption, in France. And this while Germany has nearly 40 gigawatts installed.
  8. Two wind turbines have been installed on France’s most iconic site, the Eiffel Tower, as part of the famous tower’s extensive green retrofit project. In addition to wind energy, the renovation also includes LED lighting and 10 m² of roof-mounted solar panels on a visitor pavilion whose output will meet approximately 50% of the water heating needs of the two pavilions. The two wind turbines, located about 120 meters up in the tower, are capable of delivering 10,000kWh of electricity annually, which is equivalent to the power used by the commercial areas on the Eiffel tower’s first floor. "The Eiffel Tower is arguably the most renowned architectural icon in the world, and we are proud that our advanced technology was chosen as the Tower commits to a more sustainable future," said Nick Blitterswyk, CEO of Urban Green Energy (UGE), the US-based company which installed the wind turbines. "When visitors from around the world see the wind turbines, we get one step closer to a world powered by clean and reliable renewable energy." The two UGE VisionAIR5 turbines are so-called vertical axis wind turbines, and these tend to have much lower production capabilities compared to the more traditional wind turbines. But UGE says the two wind turbines have been strategically placed on the Eiffel Tower so that their electricity generation can be maximized. UGE also add that these vertical axis wind turbines are designed to work in urban environments where both the wind’s speed and direction can be less predictable. The wind turbines have been painted in a brown-grey hue to match the Eiffel Tower's frame and the company says the two turbines will be “virtually silent”. The turbines, which are only accessible through a restricted staircase, are located in the southwest corner of the Eiffel Tower, overlooking the Champs de Mars.
  9. China is a renewable powerhouse

    Source: Renewables 2014 Global Status Report
  10. The Eiffel Tower goes green

    From the album The Eiffel Tower goes green

    “The Eiffel Tower is arguably the most renowned architectural icon in the world, and we are proud that our advanced technology was chosen as the Tower commits to a more sustainable future.” - Nick Blitterswyk, CEO UGE

    © UGE

  11. The Eiffel Tower goes green

    From the album The Eiffel Tower goes green

    Located above the second level, the turbines will produce over 10,000kWh of electricity a year, offsetting the annual consumption of all commercial activity on the Eiffel Tower’s first floor.

    © UGE

  12. The Eiffel Tower goes green

    From the album The Eiffel Tower goes green

    In partnership with the Société d’Exploitation de la Tour Eiffel (SETE), UGE International has installed two VisionAIR5 vertical axis wind turbines on the Eiffel Tower as part of a high-profile renovation and upgrade to the monument.

    © UGE

  13. The Eiffel Tower goes green

    From the album The Eiffel Tower goes green

    Read the story: The Eiffel Tower goes green, two wind turbines installed on the iconic monument

    © UGE

  14. Construction of the the two wind turbines

    From the album The Eiffel Tower goes green

    The two UGE VisionAIR5 vertical axis wind turbines were specially painted to match the iconic tower, and are located 400 feet above ground level to maximize energy production. Mounting the turbines at this location was in itself a technical challenge, requiring each component to be hoisted individually and suspended with rope above the tower’s second level.

    © UGE

  15. Plans to build the world’s biggest offshore wind farm has just been approved by the UK’s energy secretary. The massive offshore wind farm, named the Dogger Bank Creyke Beck project, will be located around 130 km off the coast of the East Riding of Yorkshire. It will actually comprise of two offshore wind farms (Creyke Beck A and B.) with an installed capacity of up to 1.2GW each. But once built, it will act as a single wind farm and have up to 400 turbines generating a maximum of 2.4GWh per year – enough electricity to power almost two million homes. This means that this wind farm alone would fulfil 2.5 percent of the UK’s total electricity needs. The offshore wind project is also expected to boost the local economy. The government estimates that the wind farm will directly create up to 900 green jobs in Yorkshire and Humberside. “Making the most of Britain’s home grown energy is creating jobs and businesses in the UK, getting the best deal for consumers and reducing our reliance on foreign imports,” Energy and Climate Change Secretary Ed Davey said. “Wind power is vital to this plan, with £14.5 billion invested since 2010 into an industry which supports 35,400 jobs.” RenewableUK, the wind industry association, says the project could create up to 4750 direct and indirect jobs and generate more than £1.5 billion for the UK economy. It’s estimated that the two offshore wind farms will cost somewhere between £6 billion to £8 billion. But the project could face construction problems and delays as it would be the furthest offshore farm that have ever been attempted. RenewableUK’s Director of Offshore Renewables Nick Medic said: “It will surely be considered as one of the most significant infrastructure projects ever undertaken by the wind industry. A colossal wind energy power station right in the middle of the North Sea, comprising hundreds of offshore wind turbines over 80 miles off shore.” “It is a project that pushes the offshore engineering envelope - demonstrating how far this technology has evolved in the ten short years since the first major offshore wind farm was installed in North Hoyle just 5 miles from shore.” A date for when construction starts has not yet been set, but is likely to be years away. The Forewind consortium, which the project is being developed by, has yet to make a final investment decision. The consortium includes the Scottish and Southern Energy, Germany’s RWE, and Norway’s Statoil and Statkraft.
  16. UK approves world's biggest offshore windfarm project
  17. If all goes well, Northeast Scotland might soon be home to the world’s largest tidal energy park. The MeyGen project will place 269 sunken turbines on the Scottish seabed, capable of generating 400 megawatts of power and supplying nearly 175,000 homes in the UK with electricity. Atlantis Resources, majority owner of the MeyGen project, announced last week that the energy project had now successfully met all conditions required to start drawing down finance through the UK’s Renewable Energy Investment Fund. The project is therefore now one step closer to materialize. Atlantis Resources hopes that 60 of these turbines will be up and operational by 2020. The project will use the new AR1500 turbines, designed by Lockheed Martin (as seen in the photo above). “Having reached financial close on the first phase of our MeyGen project in Scotland, we are building momentum on our projects around the world, realising our goal of bringing cost effective clean energy to market at commercial scale,” said Tim Cornelius, Atlantis Resources CEO. Scotland is trying hard to reach its goal of having 100 percent of its electricity produced by renewable energy by 2020. In November it was announced that renewables have become Scotland’s main source of electricity. The majority of renewable energy in Scotland comes from wind and hydro. Onshore wind generated more than half of all renewable electricity output in Scotland in 2013. Hydro power contributed almost one third of renewable electricity output. Experts say that other renewable energy sources, such as biomass, have a substantial potential for growth in the future. And maybe, in a near future, tidal energy could play an important role in Scotland’s renewable energy mix. But it’s still a long way to go, both for Scotland and Atlantis Resources until they reach their goals. The Scottish government have been accused before of “pulling the rug” from other promising (and perhaps overhyped) renewable energy projects. Atlantis Resources are also working on other tidal energy project in Nova Scotia off the cost of Canada, although these energy projects are much smaller. Initially, the company is planning on deploying a single (AR1500) 1.5MW tidal turbine system in Nova Scotia – enough to power up to 750 local homes. Earlier in November this year, Atlantis Resources was awarded the wave and tidal industry’s first-ever “Navigator Award” at the International Conference on Ocean Energy (ICOE). The company was awarded for the work on the MeyGen project and its significant contribution to global marine renewable industry. “Scotland, France, Ireland and Nova Scotia are the places to watch for these prototype tidal power projects,” said Elisa Obermann of Marine Renewables Canada, the national organization hosting the ICOE this year.
  18. E.ON, which is one of Europe’s largest utility firms, has issued a “new corporate strategy” in which the energy giant lay out its plans to focus on renewable energy while spinning off its fossil fuel assets in a separate company. “We are convinced that it’s necessary to respond to dramatically altered global energy markets, technical innovation, and more diverse customer expectations with a bold new beginning,” said E.ON Supervisory Board Chairman Werner Wenning in a statement. This move by E.ON is largely due to Germany’s Energiewende – the country’s transition away from nuclear and fossil fuels and towards clean, sustainable and renewable energy. E.ON is Germany’s largest utility and the company has done massive investments in fossil fuels, such as coal and gas, but also renewable energy, from generally hydro and offshore wind farms, in Germany and across Europe. Energiewende therefore plays a huge role for E.ON’s decision, and is part of this “dramatically altered energy market” that Wenning is talking about in his statement. “E.ON’s existing broad business model can no longer properly address these new challenges,” Wenning said. While E.ON will focus on renewable energy technologies and solutions, the new separate and independent company will take over E.ON’s former fossil fuel assets, energy trading, exploration and production globally. They have not yet named this new fossil fuel company but said that the spin-off will take place after 2016. E.ON has around 60.000 employees and has said that there will be no job cuts following this decision. About 40.000 employees will remain with E.ON while the other 20.000 will transition to the new company. “We firmly believe that creating two independent companies, each with a distinct profile and mission, is the best way to secure our employees’ jobs, E.ON SE CEO Johannes Teyssen said. This decision by E.ON will clearly add credibility to Energiewende and boost Germany’s renewable energy sector while encouraging further investments in renewables. But will it give E.ON customers access to clean energy and, more importantly maybe, will it be a blow to the fossil fuel industry? Damian Kahya who is the editor of Energydesk, Greenpeace's energy and climate blog, says no. “Even when the deal goes through, the power you get will come from coal or gas because EON will still buy power from the open market. Indeed, it will probably buy power from the 'new company' and then sell it to you,” Kahya writes. “EON has set up a really good deal for new, fossil fuel-heavy, company, which it will hold a minority stake in (for a while at least). What it's done is keep all of the debt with the parent firm, the EON that does renewables and the like - and left the new company, which owns the gas and coal plants, almost entirely debt-free. Because the new firm also holds EON’s existing hydro and nuclear stakes it may actually generate more money from renewables than the parent company.” E.ON currently has €31 billion in net debt and this split makes sense economically as it will make it easier for both the new E.ON and the new fossil fuel company to attract investors. Kahya explains: “Investors who like to put their money somewhere safe didn’t necessarily see EON as a safe bet (the share price has fallen over the past five years) but the company wanted their money to build power grids and offshore wind turbines, safe investments backed by the government. On the other hand the fossil fuel bit of the firm was essentially competing against itself in an effort to stave off competition from clean energy. EON is part of a EU lobby group which has actively campaigned against subsidies for renewables. In splitting the company EON’s created a firm which your pension fund can buy into — an outfit which owns regulated power grids and subsidy-funded offshore wind farms and dominant positions supplying power to consumers.” This move by E.ON – to dump nuclear and fossil fuels in favour of renewables – might not dramatically change either the renewable or fossil fuel industry. But it’s still good news and it might point towards a new trend where large national energy companies starts to divest, or at least separate themselves away, from fossil fuels.
  19. According to newly released statistics from the UK Department of Energy and Climate Change, renewable energy sources produced 32 percent of Scotland's electricity in the first half of 2014 – beating both nuclear power, which used to be Scotland's main source of electricity, and fossil fuels. Scotland produced 10.3 terawatt-hours (TWh) of electricity from renewable energy sources in the first half of 2013. Nuclear energy, which had previously been Scotland’s main source of electricity, only generated 7.8TWh over the same period. Other fossil-fuel sources then followed, with 5.6TWh of electricity generated from coal and another 1.4TWh from gas-fired power stations. The energy policy of the Scottish government is that 100 percent of all electricity consumed in Scotland by 2020 should come from renewable energy sources. The majority of renewable energy in Scotland comes from wind and hydro. Onshore wind generated more than half of all renewable electricity output in Scotland in 2013. Hydro power contributed almost one third of renewable electricity output. Experts say that other renewable energy sources, such as biomass, have a substantial potential for growth in the future. Environmental campaigners and leaders in the green energy sector have hailed this as an historic event and urged increased commitment towards renewables in Scotland and the rest of the UK. Niall Stuart, chief executive of the industry body Scottish Renewables, said that “the renewables industry has come a long way in a short space of time” and that there is still “plenty of potential” for more. Besides fighting climate change, Stuart also said that renewables will decrease the country’s reliance on imported energy while supporting communities across Scotland with more jobs and investment. “The announcement that renewables have become Scotland's main source of electricity is historic news for our country and shows the investment made in the sector is helping to deliver more power than ever before to our homes and businesses,” Stuart added. “This important milestone is good news for anyone who cares about Scotland's economy, our energy security and our efforts to tackle climate change.” Lang Banks, director of WWF Scotland, said that this “represents a major step on the way to Scotland becoming a 100 per cent renewable nation” and added that “last month, while nuclear reactors were forced to shut because of cracks, Scotland's renewables were quietly and cleanly helping to keep the lights on in homes across the country.” “Put simply, renewables work and are helping to cut climate change emissions and create jobs in Scotland.”
  20. For the first time, the FIFA World Cup final in Brazil yesterday was powered by the sun. Solar panels have been installed on both the Arena Pernambuco and the famous Estádio do Maracanã by Yingli Solar, the world’s largest solar panel manufacturer and a FIFA World Cup Sponsor. The solar panels are expected to generate more than 1MW per year of clean electricity. FIFA say these solar projects represents their commitment to sustainability as well as a way to reduce the environmental impact of its own operations. “Sustainability is one of the key tenants in our vision for the 2014 FIFA World Cup,” said Federico Addiechi, FIFA’s Head of Corporate Social Responsibility. “We hope this landmark project will be the catalyst to increase the production and use of renewable energy in the country.” FIFA and Yingli has installed 1500 solar panels on the Estádio do Maracanã, one of football’s most iconic venues and South America’s largest stadium. The solar panels will generate over 550MWh of clean electricity which can power an estimated 240 homes annually. The solar panels will prevent the release of about 350 tons of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere each year, similar to the impact of planting 14,000 trees. The Arena Pernambuco, home to five matches of the FIFA World Cup, was powered by a much bigger solar installation. The plant - located in São Lourenço de Mata, a suburb of Recife, the regional capital of the Brazilian state of Pernambuco - uses more than 3650 high-efficiency panels to generate about 1,500MWh of clean electricity each year. The solar power generated could power 600 average homes and is expected to offset about 800 tons of carbon dioxide each year, similar to the impact of planting 35,000 trees. It’s also the first solar power plant in Pernambuco.
  21. New technologies: hydrogen fuel cells

    Our world is powered by an energy system based mainly on fossil fuels since the beginning of the XX century. How much could it last? Some years? Some decades? Certainly not an entire century. It’s time for alternative energy. An energy system based on renewables can last for centuries instead. Hydrogen cells represents part of the future of energy and its continuing development will have an effect on the reduction of fossil fuels usage. Hydrogen can be used to power vehicles with fuel‐cell engine. A miniature fuel cell is light and economical than to an ordinary battery. This would allow to supply even small appliances. The hydrogen fuel cell is an electrochemical generator in which the electricity is produced by the reaction between a fuel (hydrogen) and a gaseous oxidizer compound (oxygen or air). Together with electricity, heat and water are produced. Hydrogen cells have a high electrical efficiency and a low environmental impact. Right now many US companies, such as Wal‐Mart, AT&T, FedEx and Hyundai, are using hydrogen cells and increasing the usage. Since the process produces little or no greenhouse gases, hydrogen power stands to get a boost in the wake of President Barack Obama’s recent call for tighter controls on carbon emissions. And what is the real support to hydrogen from the US government. Apparently it's high, they dedicate hydrogen an entire program and a website… well, part of a website (hydrogen.energy.gov). A few years ago hydrogen power powered just 1% of power worldwide, according to EIA (Energy Information Administration). Former Energy Secretary Steven Chu was skeptical and called for a 44% reduction in funding for hydrogen research. Also Tesla Motors Inc. CEO Musk was and still is skeptical. “I’m not the biggest fan of fuel cells,” Musk said “I usually call them ‘fool cells.’” Not the best joke ever but when Sandia National Laboratories, the Department of Energy, Hyundai, Wal-Mart, etc. tell that hydrogen power is a green way to reduce fossil fuels, I tend to believe them. Many companies are increase hydrogen use, such as those previously mentioned and the grocery chain Kroger Co. and Bayerische Motoren Werke AG. And now it's time for transport companies: Hyundai will begin deliveries of its fuel‐cell Tucson SUV next week. Honda Motor Co. already offers one there and Toyota Motor Corp. will follow next year. Although Tesla will remain a little bit longer without hydrogen cells since the CEO's strong opposition. Automakers may be selling 1.76 million fuel‐cell vehicles a year worldwide by 2025, according to Deloitte Consulting. For years hydrogen cells producers were losing money but now their profits are highly increasing. Plug Power is up more than 1,000 percent in the past year, the best performer on the Nasdaq Index. Ballard has doubled and FuelCell has gained 49 percent, compared with a 23 percent gain for the broader market index. The current administration is supporting this green way to reduce carbon emissions and the future for these companies is now easier and brighter. More information on hydrogen.energy.gov and Fuelcells.org References from Bloomberg.com Photo from Getty Images
  22. From the album Random images

    The map shows the space required to power the world with solar panels.
  23. From the album Random images

    Fossil fuel subisidies are several times larger than "subsidies" to renewable energy!
  24. Renewable energy jobs 2013

    Renewable energy employment by technology.

    © International Renewable Energy Agency