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German sustainable energy lobby steps up to fill the nuclear hole

Can we replace fossil fuels without going nuclear? One German company says so. Unlike nuclear power, coal doesn't have to wait for failed safety features to pollute the groundwater, pollute the air, and make people sick for miles around. So getting off fossil fuels is a priority -- but now a lot of people are thinking twice about nuclear. Germany, which got 23 percent of its power from nuclear last year, is shutting down reactors left and right. To the rescue: The German renewable industry lobby. It says that renewable power -- wind, hydro, solar, and biomass -- would be …

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Wind power surges forward around the globe

Scotland expects renewables to meet all of its electricity needs by 2025.Photo: Kari GibsonFor many years, a small handful of countries dominated growth in wind power, but this is changing as the industry goes global, with more than 70 countries now developing wind resources. Between 2000 and 2010, world wind electric generating capacity increased at a frenetic pace from 17,000 megawatts to nearly 200,000 megawatts. Measured by share of electricity supplied by wind, Denmark is the leading nation at 21 percent. Three north German states now get 40 percent or more of their electricity from wind. For Germany as a …

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The Climate Post: While Congress debates climate science, China and Europe move ahead

This picture is out of date. The race begun long ago, but the guy on the right is still pacing around trying to decide whether he should start.Republicans are far more skeptical of "global warming" than of "climate change," a study led by a University of Michigan psychologist found. Among Democrats, on the other hand, about 85 percent believe the planet is getting hotter and weather getting weirder, no matter which label you use. Meanwhile, in the U.S. Congress, hearings continued about a bill to block the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency from protecting the environment -- specifically, "from promulgating any regulation concerning, taking …

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Solar: It’s not just a California thing anymore

Texas installed 22.6 megawatts of photovoltaics last year.Photo: Duke EnergyThe United States solar businesses boomed, as usual, in 2010, growing 67 percent to $6 billion, according to an annual report [PDF] released Thursday by an industry trade group. That's been the story for the past several years, but what's notable is that solar is no longer just a California thing. The industry is expanding to the East. Back in 2004-2005, California accounted for a whopping 80 percent of the U.S. market. In 2010, that share fell to 30 percent, with 258.9 megawatts of the 878.3 megawatts of photovoltaic power installed …

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California utilities (just) miss renewable energy deadline

Time's up.Photo: elfonThe California Legislature is moving to put into law a regulation requiring the state's utilities to obtain a third of their electricity from renewable energy by 2020. But how did California's three big investor-owned utilities do in meeting a previous mandate to secure 20 percent of their electricity supplies from carbon-free sources by the end of 2010? Close, but not quite. Overall, the three utilities -- Pacific Gas & Electric, Southern California Edison, and San Diego Gas & Electric -- are getting 18 percent of their electricity from wind farms, solar power plants, geothermal, and biomass facilities, according …

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How does China’s 12th Five-Year Plan address energy and the environment?

China's got ambition.Cross-posted from the World Resources Institute. The post was written by Deborah Seligsohn, WRI's principal advisor on climate and energy in Beijing, and Angel Hsu, doctoral student at the Yale School of Forestry and Environmental Studies. The draft of China's much-anticipated 12th Five-Year Plan was released this Saturday, March 5 at the opening session of the National People's Congress (NPC). The plan will actually be brought to a vote at the close of the session later this week. While there may be some changes to the plan, in past years these have not been large. The 118-page draft …

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Portlandia to help wean Los Angeles from coal

Solar tech from Oregon is headed south to make California greener.Photo: SolarWorldPortlandia may not be the sunniest of places, but it's exporting solar energy in the form of photovoltaic panels used to build carbon-free power plants. On Wednesday, SolarWorld -- the German photovoltaic module maker that operates a big factory in Hillsboro, Ore. -- announced it would supply panels and help develop an 11.6-megawatt solar farm in the Southern California desert for the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power. That's a fairly small solar power plant. But it's notable in that SolarWorld is jumping into the solar power plant …

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Can states keep clean energy jobs at home?

Photo: GreenforallCan a state with a renewable energy mandate require green jobs to stay at home? Litigation has made states into tepid defenders of their job rights, but states have the legal ground to go great lengths to keep more of the economic development from their renewable energy industry inside their borders. No renewable energy mandate passed a state legislature without the promise of thousands of new jobs, but many states have shared the recent experience of Massachusetts: the state’s largest solar manufacturing plant announced that it is moving production to China. Evergreen Solar is moving despite the state’s commitment …

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Natalie Portman: Oscar winner, green darling, and mad scientist

So take your beaker ...Original photo: John MiraThe Intel Science Talent Search has been the Mickey Mouse Club of science for almost 70 years, identifying the Justin Timberlakes of high school research long before they go on to win Nobel Prizes and MacArthur "genius" grants. So anyone familiar with Natalie Portman's stint at Harvard won't be surprised to learn that she once was an Intel Science Talent Search semifinalist, investigating "a new, ‘environmentally friendly' method of converting waste into useful forms of energy," according to The New York Times. All you kids with beakers, you too could go on to …

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Schwarzenegger calls for Tunisian-style green revolution

Hasta la vista, air pollution.He's back. Former California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger on Tuesday all but called for a Tunisian-style revolution to overturn the United States' old energy order. "It is breathtaking to see: people by the hundreds of thousands who want change ... who want to throw off the old order and subvert the status quo. It is fascinating to me how rapidly the debate in the Middle East shifted from -- could the people rise up to could the rulers hang on?" Scharzenegger said at the United States Department of Energy's ARPA-E Energy Innovation Summit in National Harbor, Md., according …