Wind Power

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 …

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 …

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 …

real genius

MIT geeks pull energy solutions out of their pocket protectors

Photo: Jon PariseHarvard hasn’t cornered the market on inventing the future, starting businesses, and all the other Zuckerbergian things people do when they’re not getting laid. At this year’s MIT Energy Conference, students and grads came out of their nerd caves to serve up a Jabba-sized heap of tech: personal turbines, wind-collecting balloons, bathysphere batteries, and a way to convert commercial fleet vehicles into hybrids. Witness: StranWind makes arty little turbines that you can install at home, to produce up to 4 extra kilowatts of energy. Altaeros Energies is developing giant helium-filled donuts that hang out 2,000 feet in the …

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 …

breaking wind news

The (b)low-down on wind [VIDEO]

You know that saying about March coming in like a lion? If the roar refers to the wind, the saying holds true. Hang onto your hats as we enter the windiest time of the year. Besides being a force of nature, the wind is a promising renewable energy resource. Understanding wind is critical both to predicting the weather and determining the best way to harness the wind’s power. As climatologist Dr. Heidi Cullen explains, understanding the wind actually begins with the sun:

Wind Power

Wind production in Gansu, China

As of the end of 2009, according to the China Renewable Energy Industries Association, more than 10,000 utility-scale wind turbines had been installed nationwide. And in 2010, according to figures released last month by the China Industry Energy Conservation and Clean Production Association, China spent approximately $US 45.55 billion on 378 big wind power projects, including roughly 8,000 new wind turbines that were installed last year. Wind generating capacity in China has reached more than 42 GW — the most of any country, according to the Global Wind Energy Council. The industry is growing so fast, in fact, that China’s …

Nor any drop to drink

New wind and solar sectors won’t solve China’s water scarcity

JIUQUAN, China — Business for wind and solar energy components has been so brisk in Gansu Province — a bone-bleaching sweep of gusty desert and sun-washed mountains in China’s northern region — that the New Energy Equipment Manufacturing Industry base, which employs 20,000 people, is a 24/7 operation. Just two years old, the expansive industrial manufacturing zone — located outside this ancient Silk Road city of 1 million — turns out turbines, blades, towers, controllers, software, and dozens of other components for a provincial wind industry already producing more than 5,000 megawatts per year. Photo © Toby Smith/Reportage by Getty …

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