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Keith Schneider's Posts

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Desperate times call for dirty energy

Wellsville, Ohio could be the site of the first large-scale coal-to-liquids plant in the U.S.Photo: Billy Delfs for OnEarth Cross-posted from OnEarth. Driving his black Chevy pickup to the top of the bluff where Baard Energy wants to build the first large-scale plant in the United States that would turn coal into liquid fuels, Rick Williams points a thick index finger at the vacant homes and empty store fronts that make up his Ohio River Valley town and reminisces about what used to be. The son of an ironworker, Williams, 56, spent much of his adult life as a union …

Read more: Climate & Energy, Coal

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Apollo and BlueGreen Alliance merge — a smart move at a time of clean-energy trouble

Last week, the Apollo Alliance and the BlueGreen Alliance, two of the most important national nonprofits supporting clean energy development and good jobs, announced that as of July 1, they would merge. The much larger Minneapolis-based BlueGreen Alliance, a five-year-old collaboration of big green groups and unions, will become the parent of San Francisco-based Apollo, which was founded in 2003 and gained its renown for being the first organization to understand that the transition to an economy primarily fueled by something other than oil and coal could produce a flurry of useful results -- jobs, climate action, energy security, and industrial …

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Bad energy

If President Obama calls it safe, watch out

Pondering whether "safe" means what he thought it meant.Photo: The White HousePresident Barack Obama is a good fellow at work in a difficult era, to say the least. So this post is not intended to be a slam on the president. Still, it is a good idea for Obama to be much more cautious when he draws from conventional wisdom, and the word of aides, to publicly express his view that a big energy sector is safe. You'll recall that on March 31, 2010, President Obama announced the government would open much of the Atlantic coastline and the eastern Gulf …

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Wind production in Gansu, China

As of the end of 2009, according to the China Renewable Energy Industries Association, more than 10,000 utility-scale wind turbines had been installed nationwide. And in 2010, according to figures released last month by the China Industry Energy Conservation and Clean Production Association, China spent approximately $US 45.55 billion on 378 big wind power projects, including roughly 8,000 new wind turbines that were installed last year. Wind generating capacity in China has reached more than 42 GW -- the most of any country, according to the Global Wind Energy Council. The industry is growing so fast, in fact, that China's …

Read more: Wind Power

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Red sun

Solar production in Gansu, China

Photo © Toby Smith/Reportage by Getty Images for Circle of Blue Solar energy installation under construction in the Gobi Desert. In 2009, China launched a program to build the nation’s first big solar power projects, which produced two 10-MW photovoltaic power installations in Dunhuang, at Gansu’s far northern end. More than a dozen other solar energy projects -- totaling 280 MW -- will be completed this year. Two of these, generating 50 MW each, will be installed in the Dunhuang solar energy production zone. The China Ministry of Science and Technology projects that there will be 20 GW of solar …

Read more: Solar Power

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Dirty and thirsty

Coal is China’s Largest industrial water consumer

In 2010, China produced 3.15 billion metric tons of coal, according to government figures, most of it to produce electricity. Of the 962 GW of generating capacity in China, and the 4.19 trillion kilowatt hours of electricity that was produced last year, 80 percent was powered by coal. China’s coal mining, processing, and electrical generating industries consumed over 112 billion cubic meters (30 trillion gallons) of water annually, which is nearly 20 percent of all national water consumption, according to the China Ministry of Water Resources. Total electrical generating capacity is expected to double in China by the end of …

Read more: Climate & Energy

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Dirty and thirsty

Coal is China's Largest industrial water consumer

In 2010, China produced 3.15 billion metric tons of coal, according to government figures, most of it to produce electricity. Of the 962 GW of generating capacity in China, and the 4.19 trillion kilowatt hours of electricity that was produced last year, 80 percent was powered by coal. China’s coal mining, processing, and electrical generating industries consumed over 112 billion cubic meters (30 trillion gallons) of water annually, which is nearly 20 percent of all national water consumption, according to the China Ministry of Water Resources. Total electrical generating capacity is expected to double in China by the end of …

Read more: Climate & Energy

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Nor any drop to drink

New wind and solar sectors won’t solve China’s water scarcity

JIUQUAN, China -- Business for wind and solar energy components has been so brisk in Gansu Province -- a bone-bleaching sweep of gusty desert and sun-washed mountains in China's northern region -- that the New Energy Equipment Manufacturing Industry base, which employs 20,000 people, is a 24/7 operation. Just two years old, the expansive industrial manufacturing zone -- located outside this ancient Silk Road city of 1 million -- turns out turbines, blades, towers, controllers, software, and dozens of other components for a provincial wind industry already producing more than 5,000 megawatts per year. Photo © Toby Smith/Reportage by Getty …

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What a wind farm dispute in Michigan says about us

Earlier this month, on a snowy afternoon, the newly renovated Garden Theater held the largest crowd I’ve ever seen indoors in the small Lake Michigan coastal town of Frankfort, with the exception of girls and boys basketball games. On tap that day was a polemical documentary film, “Windfall.” Two groups of citizen activists held the screening to build civic momentum in opposition to a good-sized utility-scale windfarm proposed for Benzie and Manistee counties. Afterwards the big crowd, composed principally of local residents, many of whom I have known for years, heard from Ray Franz, the newly-elected Republican state House Representative …

Read more: Climate & Energy

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no, we can't

Obama's 80 percent clean energy goal: Who's he kidding?

Is Obama's style of American exceptionalism on its last legs?Arguably the central provision of President Obama's State of the Union address last night was the proposal to generate 80 percent of the nation's electricity from clean energy sources by 2035 -- including nuclear energy and "carbon capture and storage" coal technology. Getting there will take a miracle, the same sort of pie in the sky thinking that allowed our president to also present the daft notion of giving 80 percent of Americans access to high-speed rail by 2035. This in a country that last built a great rail station over …