Skip to content Skip to site navigation

Renewable Energy

Comments

Das ist gut

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 …

Comments

Serious sh*t

California going to sh*t — for green electricity

This is an opportunity we want to go down the drain.Recession-wracked California is truly going down the toilet. For green energy, that is. In a gift to headline writers everywhere, the California Energy Commission on Wednesday handed out nearly $1 million to fund an experimental project to convert what it politely refers to as "biosolids" into electricity. In other words, sh*t. Okay, we'll suppress our inner 12-year-old boy now. This is serious sh*t. No, really, we'll stop. Biosolids are a nasty pollution problem; beyond human waste, they can also include a sludge of heavy metals and other toxins left over …

Comments

a walk through the week's climate news

The Climate Post: Trace radiation isn’t the only global fallout from Fukushima

Photo by Gonzalo Déniz. As Japan's nuclear disaster stretched into its second week, traces of radiation from the stricken power plants showed up in several U.S. states, and as far away as Iceland. With the reactors and uranium fuel rods still proving difficult to bring under control, the disaster could be the "death knell" for nuclear power, some analysts said. Countries around the world -- from China to Germany -- are taking a closer look at their nuclear plants and plans, while the U.S. intends to complete an initial review of its reactors within three months. Some are still arguing publicly for more nuclear, such as European Union …

Comments

Ride that pony

Bingaman tries to make policy out of Obama’s hopey-changey Clean Energy Standard

Is Obama wasting Sen. Bingaman's time?Photo: The White HouseIn his State of the Union speech, Obama introduced an ambitious plan to encourage clean energy in the U.S. At least I think it was ambitious. Kinda hard to tell -- it was vague. Thinking about it since, I've come to see the Clean Energy Standard (CES) as paradigmatic of Obama's energy initiatives. It is well-meaning and makes a certain internal sense, but politically it's ham-handed and tin-eared. Like his freelancing on offshore oil last year, it undercuts existing congressional efforts while doing little to build new coalitions. Now the CES is …

Comments

The sun will come up tomorrow

San Francisco mayor calls for city to go 100% renewable by 2020

San Francisco's mayor wants an all-renewable town.Photo: jfraserWhere could you get 797 people to stand in line outside a nightclub to attend a $100-a-ticket fundraiser for a nonprofit that advocates for solar energy? Not-so-sunny San Francisco, of course. The queue to get into the Vote Solar Initiative annual spring equinox bash snaked down the street Monday, and even the sun made an appearance during a break in the deluge that has been soaking the Bay Area for the past week. Now, I don't cover the party beat. But as someone who lived in San Francisco during the dot-com boom of …

Comments

Nuke nukes

What we can learn from Japan’s nuclear disaster

Nuclear plants: unsafe, uneconomic, and unnecessary.Photo: Thomas AndersonCross-posted from the Rocky Mountain Institute. As heroic workers and soldiers strive to save stricken Japan from a new horror -- radioactive fallout -- some truths known for 40 years bear repeating. An earthquake-and-tsunami zone crowded with 127 million people is an unwise place for 54 reactors. The 1960s design of five Fukushima-I reactors has the smallest safety margin and probably can't contain 90 percent of meltdowns. The U.S. has six identical and 17 very similar plants. Every currently operating light-water reactor, if deprived of power and cooling water, can melt down. Fukushima …

Comments

cool hand nuke

Lesson from Japan: We don’t need nuclear power to solve the climate crisis

Anyone watching the aftermath of the earthquake in Japan can see: The human and ecological costs of nuclear power far outweigh those of any renewable energy.Cross-posted from New Deal 2.0. On March 14, an editorial in The New York Times stated, "This page has endorsed nuclear power as one tool to head off global warming. We suspect that, when all the evidence is in from Japan, it will remain a valuable tool." I want to argue that, to the contrary, the lesson to be learned from the catastrophe in Japan is that nuclear power is not even part of a sustainable solution to …

Comments

wind's up, nukes down

Japan’s wind farms save its ass while nuclear plants founder

Wind turbine in Yokohama, JapanPhoto: shibuya246If Japan's wind turbines were to get a new theme song, it would be Wagner's "Ride of the Valkyries", and it would ring out from the hills upon which they stand triumphantly, unscathed by the the country's earthquake/tsunami double whammy, lifting their skinny, still-turning blades like antennas to heaven. While Japan's water-dependent nuclear power plants suck and wheeze and spew radioactive steam, "there has been no wind facility damage reported by any [Japan Wind Energy Association] members, from either the earthquake or the tsunami," says association head Yoshinori Ueda. Even the country's totally badass Kamisu offshore wind …

Comments

Avoid at all costs

Cost, not Japan crisis, should scrub nuclear power

Please ignore this image.Photo: GlobovisionThe plumes of smoke rising from Japan's Fukushima Daiichi nuclear reactor create a visceral reaction. But the crisis should not persuade Americans to abandon nuclear power.  Instead, Americans should abandon nuclear power for its prohibitive and uncompetitive costs. The wildly escalting costs of nuclear plants under construction in the U.S. are a perfect example. A pair of proposed nuclear power plants in Florida have "overnight" costs of $3,800 per kilowatt, but since nuclear power plants actually take eight years to construct, the total estimated project costs are closer to $6,800 per kilowatt (kW) of capacity. This …

Comments

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 …