Renewable Energy

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 …

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 …

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 …

leader hosen

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 …

on a winding road

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 …

A WALK THROUGH THE WEEK'S CLIMATE NEWS

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 …

The sun rises in the East

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 …

The clock is ticking

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 …

plan on it

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 …