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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 …

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solar, so good

Is your area solar-ready? Check out this gorgeous map

Chart: National Renewable Energy Laboratory The places you would go to get some sun aren't necessarily the places with the most potential for solar energy. The Southwest is a giant hotspot; Florida and Hawaii are only okay. Check out this map to find the solar potential where you live. Read more: "Good Sun," Xcel Energy

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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 …

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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 …

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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 …

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beat-boxin'

Is the Bloom Box cheaper than solar?

This is part of a series on distributed renewable energy posted to Grist. It originally appeared on Energy Self-Reliant States, a resource of the Institute for Local Self-Reliance's New Rules Project. The Bloom Box has received a lot of media attention for its plug-and-play approach to electricity from fuel cells. The 100 kilowatt boxes generate electricity from natural gas, with lower carbon emissions than traditional natural gas-fired power plants, and they can be connected right into the grid alongside commercial and industrial buildings. But will this well-marketed, distributed fuel cell make economic sense? Compared to retail electricity prices in a few …

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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 …

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Solar intervention

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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The people want to topple the old energy regime

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 …

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YOU ‘LIKE’ US, YOU REALLY ‘LIKE’ US!

Now on Facebook: your grandma, mailman, and … the solar industry

You just got poked by the sun.Photo: diogo dubiellaYou have a new friend request ... from the sun! OK, it's actually from a company selling solar panels. "Solar service providers ... are increasingly turning to social media tactics in an attempt to create engaged communities around the sunny clean power," says Earth2Tech. Solar startups are harnessing the power of Jesse Eisenberg's brunette tendrils  Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube in the hope of boosting business and creating word-on-the-street evangelists. One such company, Sungevity, already has cred with the hip green kids, so its embrace of social media is no surprise. The company …