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2010 August | Green and Alternative Energy Information

Americans making more use of renewable energy

Fossil fuels are still dominant energy sources in United States, and their dominance doesn’t look like being decently challenged by renewables in years to come. But this doesn’t mean that everything looks negative for renewable energy sector in United States, on the contrary, the latest data shows that Americans used significantly more renewable energy resources in 2009 compared to previous years (especially wind energy).

According to the US Department of Energy  Americans were using less energy in general in 2009 compared to previous years. There are two factors mainly responsible for this: recession and improved efficiency. Recession is connected with lower economic activity and thus decreased demand for energy, and higher efficiency appliances and vehicles were able to reduce energy demand even further.

Coal and petroleum are still heavily used in United States but recent data shows that Uncle Sam used significantly less coal and petroleum in 2009 than in 2008. Wind energy was the most popular renewable energy source in 2009, and Americans were using significantly more wind power in 2009 compared to 2008.

Other renewable energy sources such as solar, geothermal, and hydropower also experienced increase in use though this increase is significantly smaller compared to wind energy.

The estimated U.S. energy use in 2009 was 94.6 quadrillion BTUs, down from 99.2 quadrillion BTUs in 2008, and domestic energy use experienced decline in all important sectors (residential, commercial, industrial and transportation).

The significant increase of totally installed US wind power capacity in 2009 was mostly due to the more than acceptable incentives, and technological advancement of wind power technologies. To put it in other words, in 2009, the wind power technology got better and the incentives remained relatively stable (despite the financial crisis).

This has resulted in less CO2 emissions compared to previous years because Americans were burning less fossil fuels. It will be very interesting to see whether this trend will continue once energy demand starts to grow again, or will coal and petroleum, once again, grow in popularity.

Posted byNed Haluzan

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Offshore wind sector set to create 60 times more jobs in ten years

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Scotland’s offshore wind industry could create 28,000 jobs by 2020, contributing £7.1billion of investment to the economy, according to a report commissioned by Scottish Renewables and Scottish Enterprise.

The first comprehensive study of the potential impact of offshore wind on the Scottish economy suggests this new industry could create as many as 48,000 jobs – 28,000 directly, supported by a further 20,000 through related industries.

The Scottish Offshore Wind: Creating an Industry report also highlights that Scotland already has major strengths in the supply chain to this new industry in areas such as cable laying and subsea structures, with a number of Scottish-based businesses already generating significant revenues from offshore wind development.

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China to increase renewable energy investment

Solar Feeds reports that China has announced it will invest $3 billion in the development of biofuels over the next ten years.

The plan is part of a wider program to decrease greenhouse gas emission levels. These also entail reforesting the country to a 23% level, up from the current 20%, which will help the country absorb its carbon emissions. Besides offsetting carbon emissions, forests can provide biomass for biodiesel and ethanol.

China draws two thirds of its energy for coal. For that reason the country has been pushing clean technologies and has become the world’s biggest investors in renewable energy and clean tech.

Europe

Meanwhile, a new report released by Eurostat, the European Union’s statistics agency, called Statistical Aspects of the Energy Economy in 2009, found that between 2008 and 2009 the use of renewable energy in the European Union increased 8.3 percent.

In total, renewable energy accounts for 18.4 percent of energy production in the European Union, trailing right after natural gas at 19.3 percent.

Energy derived from hard coal and natural gas decreased by 9.2 and 10.1 percent, respectively. Besides, energy consumption in Europe decreased by 5.5 percent. The report notes that the reduction could be related to the global recession.

Via Solar Feeds and NY Times BlogsBookmark

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Hemp car sparks a buzz

The blogosphere is abuzz about an electric car made of hemp developed by a team of Canadian companies who plan its debut at the EV trade show in Vancouver next month.

The compact four-passenger car, with its body made of hemp bio-composite, will have a top speed of 55 miles per hour and a range of 25 to 100 miles before needing to be recharged, depending on the battery, CBC News reported.

Calgary-based developer Motive Industries Inc. said hemp achieves the same mechanical properties as glass composite without the weight, an important goal when designing the body of a battery-powered vehicle.

“Didn’t Cheech and Chong already try this?” wrote one observer on Slashdot.org.

“Model THC?” quipped another.

Hemp is a natural fiber product of the Cannabis sativa plant and is comparable to cotton as a fiber. It is bred differently from the Cannabis indica plant that produces marijuana, which is outlawed under the U.S. Controlled Substance Act.

“It’s illegal to grow it in the U.S., so it actually gives Canada a bit of a market advantage,” Nathan Armstrong, president of Motive Industries told the CBC.

Industrial farming of hemp is practiced in 30 countries including Canada, France, England, Germany, Australia and Russia but cultivation is illegal in the U.S.

Last year, an Ontario company secured $1.8 million from investors to open the first North American bio-processing plant for industrial hemp, The Canadian Press reported.

Hemp for the Kestrel is supplied by Alberta Innovates Technology Futures, a Crown corporation in the western Canadian province that purchases its cannabis from an industrial hemp farm in Vegreville, Alberta.

The vehicle is slated for prototype and testing later this month.

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10 common energy questions and answers

1. Why is renewable energy called renewable, what does this mean? This means that renewable energy (unlike fossil fuels) can be replenished in relatively short periods of time.

2. Which fuel is the most common source of electricity in the world. The answer is coal, coal despite being very dirty fuel is also the cheapest energy option in much of the world. For instance, 49% of the United States electricity comes from coal.

3. Why solar energy, despite the enormous potential still counts for such a small share of global energy supply? Solar energy, indeed has enormous potential but solar power technologies are still very expensive, and also do not provide adequate efficiency to be used on a wider scale. This means that solar energy sector definitely needs cheaper and far more efficient solar cells in order to compete with fossil fuels.

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Surf’s up: tidal power in Scotland

Via Renewbl.com

A Norwegian tidal energy company, Hammerfest Strom, which is partially owned by ScottishPower Renewables, has entered a $6.25 million deal with Burntisland Fabrications in order to build a 1-megawatt tidal turbine.

Tidal power means harnessing energy from the flow of sea tide, which in some parts of the world can provide significant amounts of renewable energy. It is estimated that Scotland harbours one-fourth of the Europe’s offshore tidal and wind resources.

The 10 turbines will be set up in the Sound of Islay and by 2013 could make the Island of Islay a 100% renewable energy place. The project will be the largest demonstration tidal power initiative in the world.

Earlier this year, Hammerfest Strom announced that it received a $6.07 million grant from the Carbon Trust for the construction and testing of a 1 MW tidal power device at the European Marine Energy Centre (EMEC) in Orkney, also in Scotland.

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Green Light For €200M Co Clare Wind Farm

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A wind energy development co-operative in County Clare has received planning permission from Clare County Council to construct the largest community owned wind farm development in Ireland.

West Clare Renewable Energy Ltd. (WCRE) plans to construct 28 3MW wind turbines on the western slopes of Mount Callan, a 391-metre high mountain located between Ennis and Miltown Malbay.

The company says the EUR200 million project will be capable of generating enough electricity to power every home and business in County Clare, as well as meeting the Limerick Clare Energy Agency’s 2010 targets for emissions reductions and renewable energy production. .The Scheme is predicted to reduce carbon emissions over its life time by a massive 4,400,000 tonnes of carbon.  The community-based scheme is also expected to provide up to 300 jobs during the construction phase.

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Stand-alone and Hybrid Wind Energy System

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Research and Markets has published a new report on the development of both stand-alone and hybrid wind energy systems.

Wind power generation is fast becoming one of the leading renewable energy sources worldwide, with the installation of large-scale wind farms contributing to national power grids, as well as the increasing penetration of small-to-medium-scale wind power projects in distributed, isolated, and community power networks.

Reliability of power supply is one of the main issues for wind energy systems, and so improved stand-alone and hybrid wind energy systems are being developed, incorporating advanced energy storage and grid integration systems, in order to increase power generation rates and to provide secure power supply to the end user.

This book provides a comprehensive reference on the development of both stand-alone and hybrid wind energy systems, as well as energy storage systems and overall systems integration with local grids. Chapters cover the design/construction, modelling/simulation, monitoring/control and optimisation of stand-alone and hybrid wind energy technologies, reviewing their current state and future development. Further to this, many of the energy storage and distribution systems covered in the book are also applicable to other renewable energy generation technologies.

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The Myth of Cheap Fossil Fuels – A Roadblock for Renewable Energy

by Ralf Sigrist, Nordex USA

Recently, when Senator Harry Reid put forth a “spill bill” rather than an energy bill, my theory that the energy debate in this country has been framed upside down seemed to be confirmed.

Arguments for renewable energy legislation have mixed messages on jobs creation with those of climate change, national security, energy independence and environmental disaster.  After two years of debate and millions spent in lobbying, no one has been persuaded.

Why? Because clean energy got stuck on the wrong side of the cost debate. Guardians of the carbon economy have promoted the axiom that traditional energy is cheap, renewable energy is expensive, and you can’t replace cheap with expensive, especially by way of the taxpayer. That’s the kind of flawed thinking that could allow Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell’s spokesperson to say “Republicans are more than happy to protect Americans from a job-killing national energy tax,” in reference to cap and trade.

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Selling the electricity you generate

The feed-in tariff has made it simpler to sell the electricity you generate, but don’t use in the house, back to the grid. It has set standard rates to be paid for electricity generated which are dependent on type of technology and size of system, and all exported electricity is paid at 3p per kWh.

Choosing your energy supplier is the key to selling excess. The reason it is simpler now is that under the previous system all the suppliers offered different buy back rates, and these had to be weighed up against the rates at which they sell electricity, so it was complex to work out the best deal.

Now all the big energy companies must buy back exported electricity from microgeneration, and some of the smaller ones have chosen to. If price is your key factor, then there’s no shortage of price comparison sites available.

If it’s important to you that the electricity you buy from the grid is from renewable sources you can use our guide How to buy renewable electricity.

 

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