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Renewable Energy

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Road to recovery act

The Recovery Act: the most important energy bill in American history

If the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) had been an energy bill, it would arguably have been the single-most important piece of clean energy legislation in our nation's history. It drove unprecedented new investments -- both public and private -- into modernizing America's clean energy infrastructure. And its clean energy provisions alone have already saved or created 63,000 jobs and are expected to create more than 700,000 jobs by 2012. Now that ARRA has run its course, we need to stay committed to these investments to keep building the U.S. clean energy industry and remain globally competitive. Newly elected …

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Greener by design

Peter Calthorpe on why urbanism is the cheapest, smartest way to fight climate change

Peter Calthorpe.Cities may be the trendy topic du jour, but Peter Calthorpe has been talking about the benefits of urbanism since the 1970s. In 1993, he was one of the founders of the Congress for the New Urbanism, an influential national organization that promotes walkable, mixed-use, transit-rich development. Now Calthorpe has come out with a new book, Urbanism in the Age of Climate Change. In it, he argues that sustainable urban development must play a key role in the fight to reduce carbon emissions and counter climate change. He writes: Confronting climate change is a little like the war on …

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Batteries included

California to green its grid with energy storage

With intermittent sources like wind and solar becoming more common, energy storage is increasingly seen as crucial for greening the grid.Photo: mike_tnIn just about every story on renewable energy, there's a familiar cast of characters: green power developers, utilities, and sundry state and federal regulators. But there's one key player that often lurks in the background -- the grid operator. In the Golden State, most of the power grid is controlled by the California Independent System Operator. Based in a suburb of Sacramento, Cal ISO, as it's known, essentially ensures that electricity supply and demand stay in balance to prevent …

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Holes in our pockets

House Republican budget cuts would strangle innovation

This article was cross-posted from the Center for American Progress. President Barack Obama's State of the Union on Jan. 25, 2011, waved the green flag for innovation and competition in the cleantech sector. He proposed a number of programs to speed the development and manufacturing of domestic energy efficiency and renewable energy sectors to help American businesses race with their Chinese, German, and other competitors. But before the president's proposals had completed their initial laps in Congress, the Republicans' proposed House "continuing resolution" (or spending bill) for the remainder of fiscal year 2011 (FY 2011) waves the yellow caution flag …

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New Contest for Exposing Polluter Lobbyists’ Influence

Are you a lobbyist for the coal industry, looking for the best way to meet members of Congress who will put your dirty energy money ahead of modern environmental standards and their constituents' health? Maybe the chairman of a powerful congressional committee, seeking yet another industry lobbyist to join your staff and help roll back the Clean Air Act, choosing polluters over children's health? Or a giant oil company who wants everyone to forget about that devastating oil spill and need some insiders to pull the strings in the halls of power? If so, then you need to check out Polluterharmony.com …

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Go big or go homeless

The gobsmackingly gargantuan challenge of shifting to clean energy

If I were king, I'd make everyone in America set aside time to watch the first hour of this video. It will change the way you think. Since I'm just a blogger, I expect most people won't, so beneath, I've extracted some of the key slides from Saul Griffith's extraordinary presentation, to give a clear sense of just what an enormous task lies ahead of us this century. Say we decide we want to prevent the climate from entering irreversible feedback loops that spin us into biophysical circumstances our species has never experienced. Seems reasonable, no? To avoid those feedbacks, …

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The Biggest Loser

Are we in a ‘clean energy race’ with China?

A popular line among climate hawks these days goes something like this: If the U.S. doesn't support domestic clean energy, China will beat us in the clean energy race. The message has become quite popular lately, and indeed Obama said something very like it in his State of the Union, what with the "Sputnik Moment" (which, because I'm a bad person, I can't help thinking sounds like the title of a porn movie). There's been a wide-ranging debate about the merits of this approach on the interwebs over the last few months. I think it helps to separate the claim …

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feed me a stray cat

Are flesh-eating robots the future of green tech?

Sure, you can get power from the sun and the wind and other things you could paint on the wall of a child's bedroom -- if you don't mind being a hippy. But aren't there any forms of alternative energy that are more, you know, metal? Enter James Auger and Jimmy Loizeau, British designers who have developed appliances that run on bugs and vermin: The appliances are powered by microbial fuel cells, which take in organic matter (flies, mice) and convert it into electrical energy. Auger says the gadgets aren't really intended for mass production, and that's probably for the …

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Hi-ho, Silver State!

Southern California Edison signs another big photovoltaic farm deal

Solar farms could be sprouting in the Nevada desert.Photo: FotowatioSouthern California Edison on Wednesday announced another big photovoltaic power plant deal, this time to buy electricity from a 250-megawatt solar farm to be built by First Solar. Add that contract to 831 megawatts' worth of photovoltaic power purchase agreements the Los Angeles utility signed with SunPower and Fotowatio in January, and you're talking some serious solar -- more than a gigawatt. At peak output, that's the equivalent capacity of a big nuclear power plant. I wouldn't be surprised to see SoCal Edison execs tooling around town with "I ♥ PV" …

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Blowing coal away

Wind power now competitive with coal in some regions

Photo: Vlasta JuricekMore good news on the renewable energy front Monday: The cost of onshore wind power has dropped to record lows, and in some regions is competitive with electricity generated by coal-fired plants, according to a survey by Bloomberg New Energy Finance, a market research firm. "The latest edition of our Wind Turbine Price Index shows wind continuing to become a competitive source of large-scale power," Michael Liebreich, Bloomberg New Energy Finance's chief executive, said in a statement. "For the past few years, wind turbine costs went up due to rising demand around the world and the increasing price …