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Paul Gipe's Posts

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Germany passes new renewable energy law for 2012, raises targets and payments

Despite widespread rumors in North America that Germany was abandoning its system of Advanced Renewable Tariffs, the country's upper chamber of parliament, the Bundesrat, approved the latest revision of its pioneering Renewable Energy Sources Act [PDF] on July 8, 2011. The action follows approval by Germany's House of Commons, the Bundestag, on June 30, 2011. The new version of the law first introduced in Germany in 2000 will go into effect Jan. 1, 2012. Approval of the latest revisions of the Renewable Energy Sources Act, the Erneuerbare-Energien-Gesetz (EEG) in German, is significant because it follows the nuclear accident at Fukishima, …

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Should California adopt the German solar model?

When it comes to certain things -- luxury cars, beer, chocolate -- we should just acknowledge that the Germans did it better than us first. This teutonic skill extends to solar power, where a tariff system ensures Germans pay less for solar energy than we do. But that doesn't mean we can't copy them, and if we do, comparatively sunny places like California stand to gain even more than cloudy Deutschland. Newly installed solar photovoltaic (PV) projects in California were paid an average of approximately $0.34 per kilowatt-hour (kWh) last year, according to a privately commissioned study. Germans paid substantially …

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Germany to substantially increase geothermal feed-in tariffs

Germany wants to do for geothermal energy what it has done for wind, solar photovoltaics, and biogas by raising its payment for geothermally generated electricity in 2012. Feed-in tariffs, or fixed payments for the electricity generated by wind turbines, solar panels, and biogas power plants, have pushed Germany to world leadership in renewable energy development, most of which is in small distributed applications. However, Germany is in the "also ran" category in geothermal energy, tying Ethiopia for the amount of capacity installed. Even France, a country not known as a hotbed of renewable energy development, has more than twice the …

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Germany can phase out nuclear by 2017

The conservative German government has issued a 14-page document [PDF] outlining how Germany can close all of its nuclear reactors by 2017 -- sooner than the government's official proposal of 2022 -- and still keep the lights on. The report, and the timing of its release, indicates the intense political debate within and without the ruling coalition of Angela Merkel's Christian Democrats and her junior partner the neoliberal Free Democrats. As noted by Craig Morris for Renewables International, the report was issued by an agency within the German Ministry of the Environment, but it was not "commissioned" by the ministry …

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Nuclear power is expensive and uninsurable

The world's beleaguered nuclear industry continues to take a battering. The "nuclear renaissance" juggernaut that once seemed unstoppable now appears dead in its tracks. The cabinet of Germany's conservative government on Monday voted to take the country out of nuclear permanently by 2022. Not to be outdone on the right, the country's opposition parties say that's not fast enough. The conservative party in the state of Bavaria has gone even further and says that while it was first in German nuclear power, it will now be first in exiting nuclear. Bavaria, known as the "Texas of Germany" for its conservatism, …

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Distributed geothermal could supply 7 percent of California’s electricity

With the right policies in place, geothermal could play an active role in reaching California's renewable energy goals.Small, geographically dispersed geothermal power plants could provide 7 percent of California's electricity supply, according to an analysis of data collected by a consultant to the Golden State. California recently passed new legislation requiring the state to provide 33 percent of its electricity from renewable energy and newly elected Gov. Jerry Brown (D) signed the bill into law. Geothermal energy is a renewable resource using the heat of the Earth to generate electricity and heat homes, offices, and factories. California leads the world …

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Germany continues breaking clean energy records

A German wind farm.Photo: Dirk Ingo FrankeAs the nuclear reactor accident at the Fukushima Daiichi plant continues to dominate the world's attention, Germany has quietly broken more renewable energy records. The conservative government of Chancellor Angela Merkel, struggling to stay ahead of public attitudes toward nuclear power in the run-up to regional elections, issued its annual report on the contribution of renewable energy to the German energy market in 2010. Wind turbines, hydroelectric plants, solar cells, and biogas digesters now provide nearly 17 percent of Germany's electricity. Meanwhile, the German network agency Bundesnetzagentur issued its final update on the installation …

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Britain abandons renewable power mandates, embraces feed-in tariffs

In a potentially precedent-setting move for the English-speaking world, Great Britain's ruling coalition proposes abandoning its long-running experiment with so-called "market reforms" of the 1990s. Included in the proposal released by Chris Huhne, Energy and Climate Change Secretary Dec. 16, 2010, is wholesale revision of the country's Renewable Obligation, the British version of Renewable Portfolio Standards (RPS). While the renewable targets will remain, the government proposes abandoning the mechanism for reaching the targets, the Renewables Obligation (RO). Instead the coalition government of the Conservative and Liberal parties proposes implementing a system of feed-in tariffs for "low carbon generation". Britain, along …

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Ontario feed-in tariffs creating solar jobs at the cost of a donut per month

This box of Tim Hortons could cover an entire year of solar PV.Photo: Daniel NugentUsing a measure of cost that all Canadians understand, a provocative new report says the impact of Ontario's feed-in tariffs for solar photovoltaics (PV), which will create 70,000 jobs, is no more than one Tim Hortons donut per month. Tim Hortons is a popular Canadian coffee-shop chain found in even the smallest village. The confidential report comes at a time of heated political debate in the provincial capital of Toronto about the cost of the current government's Green Energy and Green Economy Act. Ontario's feed-in tariff …

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Provincial feed-in tariffs spurring community power

The city of Toronto looking out onto Lake Ontario.Photo: Christopher ChanThe Ontario Power Authority (OPA) has signed feed-in tariff contracts for 384 megawatts of community-owned renewable energy projects in the Canadian province. When completed, Ontario will have the largest installed base of community-owned renewable generation in North America, surpassing community ownership of renewable generation in Minnesota. Nearly one-third of the capacity will be built by Ontario's aboriginal population. Within a few years, Ontario will have the largest installation of community-owned renewable resources outside Denmark and Germany. In an Oct. 12, 2010 report, OPA said that it has signed contracts for …

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