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After Record 2012, World Wind Power Set to Top 300,000 Megawatts in 2013

By J. Matthew Roney Even amid policy uncertainty in major wind power markets, wind developers still managed to set a new record for installations in 2012, with 44,000 megawatts of new wind capacity worldwide. With total capacity exceeding 280,000 megawatts, wind farms generate carbon-free electricity in more than 80 countries, 24 of which have at least 1,000 megawatts. At the European level of consumption, the world’s operating wind turbines could satisfy the residential electricity needs of 450 million people. China installed some 13,000 megawatts of wind in 2012, according to the Global Wind Energy Council (GWEC). This was a marked …

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Cloudy Days for a Washington-State Community Solar Effort

The Backbone Campaign's community solar project was motivated by a generous production incentive offered in Washington State for solar projects installed on public property.  Campaign organizer Bill Moyer and many residents of King County, WA, hoped to keep more energy dollars in the local economy by using this incentive to create a community solar project in partnership with the county government. But it wasn’t smooth sailing, as Bill explains in this January interview with the Institute for Local Self-Reliance's John Farrell. In trying to bring the project to fruition, Bill ran into many limitations of the state incentive program and …

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Lessons from China’s Rooftops

Last week in Wuxi, I noticed a newspaper headline about the bankruptcy of Suntech, one of China’s largest solar panel manufacturers. Below the fold was a story about the success of several local car companies and the dramatic rise in their stock values. Was there something that these stories had in common - - and something from them that could help the U.S. economic recovery? Suntech defaulted on over half a billion dollars in government loans, a figure similar to the Solyndra losses for American taxpayers. There are numerous reasons for both of these failures, but chief among them was …

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Falling Gasoline Use Means United States Can Just Say No to New Pipelines and Food-to-Fuel

By Janet Larsen Freeing America from its dependence on oil from unstable parts of the world is an admirable goal, but many of the proposed solutions—including the push for more home-grown biofuels and for the construction of the new Keystone XL pipeline to transport Canadian tar sands oil to refineries on the U.S. Gulf Coast—are harmful and simply unnecessary. Gasoline use in the United States is falling, and the trends already driving it down are likely to continue into the future, making both the mirage of beneficial biofuels and the construction of a new pipeline to import incredibly dirty oil …

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The EPA Must Protect Our Water From Coal Pollution

Here's a pretty shocking fact: While many of us know that coal-fired power plants create significant air pollution, it turns out they're one of our biggest water polluters, too. In fact, as we've developed technologies that take more toxins like mercury out of coal plant smokestacks, that pollution isn't just disappearing. Much of it is ending up in the water, instead, and those pollution levels are on the rise. Fortunately, our Environmental Protection Agency can do something about it. That's right - the same power plants that are causing asthma and heart attacks with their soot and wrecking our climate …

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Solar cooperative gets panels on 1 in 10 roofs in Mt. Pleasant neighborhood of DC

What began as a group of neighbors hoping to reduce their impact on global warming has since become a major force for solar advocacy in Washington, DC. The Mount Pleasant Solar Cooperative was started by two teenage boys who wanted to make solar power convenient and affordable through a bulk-purchase program. Along the way, the cooperatives new members realized that buying power wasn’t enough, and sought out changes in the district’s energy policies.  Today the Mount Pleasant Solar Cooperative has helped to get solar panels on over 10 percent of the homes in the Mount Pleasant Neighborhood and has grown …

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Are We Winning the Clean vs. Dirty Energy Battle?

“I’d put my money on the sun and solar energy. What a source of power! I hope we don’t have to wait until oil and coal run out before we tackle that.” -Thomas Edison, 1931 I’ve been doing just about all I can for the last 10 years to help build the climate movement. For virtually all of that time I’ve done so without much hope that we can defeat Dirty Coal, Oil and Gas in enough time to prevent massive climate disruption. In all honesty, many times I’ve felt that I was doing this work mainly to be able …

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“The Era of Coal is Over”: Los Angeles Will Move Beyond Coal by 2025

  Today, after a three-year campaign by tens of thousands across the city, Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa joined our L.A. Beyond Coal activists to publicly announce this blockbuster news: L.A. will stop using coal by 2025. "The era of coal is over," said Mayor Villaraigosa, when he first broke the news earlier this week.  Villaraigosa was joined by Al Gore, Sierra Club executive director Michael Brune, California businessman Tom Steyer, and allies from across the city on March 22 to make the announcement. This is a groundbreaking decision, a historic victory that catapults LA and Villaraigosa to the front of …

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Celebrating a Huge Offshore Wind Victory in Maryland

The winds of change brought some great progress to Maryland this week when the Maryland Offshore Wind Energy Act of 2013 passed through both houses of the legislature. The offshore wind bill has been championed from the start by Governor Martin O'Malley, who stands ready to sign the bill into law. This is a huge victory that is nationally significant for two reasons. First, it could well be the tipping point that allows us to finally tap the massive offshore wind potential off the East Coast. Second, it will ensure historically underrepresented minority groups and small businesses will benefit from …

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Two Ways Americans May Get More Ownership of their Energy Future

Three years ago, the prospects for Americans to own their energy future seemed relatively bleak.   There were almost no replicable models for doing community-based energy projects or investment, despite falling costs and technology – solar and wind – that lend themselves to local development. But thanks to recent opportunities in community solar and crowdfunding, we may see a renewable energy market in America where everyone wins. Let's start with solar.  It's the ultimate decentralized renewable energy – sunshine falls everywhere – and its cost is falling so fast that, within a decade, 300 gigawatts of unsubsidized solar will be competitive …

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