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Clean Energy | Green and Alternative Energy Information

Clean energy – Definition

Finding an adequate definition for clean energy isn’t an easy thing to do, mostly because of the issue with nuclear power categorization. While some energy experts believe that nuclear power should be also categorized as a clean energy source because harnessing nuclear energy doesn’t emit harmful greenhouse gas emissions others say that nuclear power shouldn’t be considered as a clean energy source because of radioactive nuclear waste.

What does this “clean” mean? The clean means environmentally friendly, or given our current energy situation, environmentally more acceptable compared to fossil fuels. This somewhat explains why there is such a big debate whether we should include nuclear power among clean energy sources or not, as energy experts first need to agree whether nuclear power is environmentally more friendly option compared to fossil fuels.

The question about nuclear power categorization is really a question of setting up the limit for term “clean”. If clean energy refers only to energy sources that are not connected with greenhouse gas emissions then nuclear power should be considered as one of the clean energy options, and if clean refers to energy sources that are not hazardous for environment then nuclear power cannot be categorized as a clean energy source.


Abandoned Sites to Become Solar Fields

Brownfields like this may become solar fields. Via Srwenvironmental.com

Brownfield sites are abandoned or underused industrial and commercial facilities available for re-use. Often, redeveloping such sites is hampered by real or perceived environmental contamination.

But a new partnership may change that. OPEL Solar, a supplier of high concentration photovoltaic (HCPV) solar panels and advanced solar trackers and TRUENORTH Solar & Environmental, a designer and installer of high quality solar industry products, have teamed up to install utility-scale solar fields on brownfield sites across North America that have been deemed otherwise unusable.

One of the attractions of doing that is that blighted areas of land can be turned into renewable energy fields to meet growing demand, besides helping utilities to meet their clean energy mandates.

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Financing Renewable Energy

Stephen Lacey’s podcast this week on Crossing the Valley of Death was simply terrific. In the first 10 minutes or so, he delivered interview snippets with several top players in the financing of energy innovation, each pointing to a singular basic fact:

There is a gap between the interests of venture capitalists (who want to invest a few million dollars in projects that are likely to produce large short-term profits) and the interests of institutional investors and banks (who, while they will take long-term positions, do so only in mature, risk-free technologies).

The show went on to discuss a variety of different work-arounds to the challenge, including an initiative now working its way through Congress: the creation of a new entity housed in DOE, the Clean Energy Deployment Administration (CEDA). Supporters claim that CEDA would bring strong financial expertise and a specific purpose to create an attractive investment environment for the development and deployment new clean energy technologies.

The only thing I would add is that this entire discussion is occurring in the context of renewable energy that is currently expensive vis-à-vis fossil fuels. A few of the folks Stephen interviewed mentioned this casually, but it’s really at the crux of the entire issue; I know I’ve mentioned this “level playing field” concept before, but this is where the central problem lies. If you a solution that makes a bloated government even bigger, go for it. But if you you believe that “that government is best that governs least,” and you want market-based capital formation to drive the clean energy industry, all you really have to do is remove the subsidies given to fossil fuels, the problem will take care of itself more or less instantly.

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Worst Excuses for Not Using Solar Power

Over the past couple of months as the team at Clean Energy Experts has talked to a number of friends and other colleagues about solar power, we’ve been hearing a lot of the same excuses for not going solar.  Time and time again, we have to explain to them why their reasoning is unfounded but still we find the same excuses wherever we go.  So we thought we’d take a little time to dispel the four most common excuses for not utilizing solar power.

First Excuse: It’s Too Expensive

Everyone seems to know that federal and state governments have significant financial incentives in place to help promote the adoption of solar power.   Even after these incentives, the average residential solar system costs between $10,000 and $30,000 and for most people, this represents a major capital investment.  As a result, most people stop there and say, “I can’t afford it.”

What they don’t know is that there are a number of financing options available to help ease the cost of solar.  For example, a number of solar installers offer financing programs, similar to small loan or mortgage, where there is little to no up front cost and finance the balance of the purchase price through a loan.  As a result, the homeowner does not have to come up with cash upfront but can amortize the cost of the solar system over time.  What’s great is that when you factor in a your reduced utility bill from solar and the amortization cost of the panels, this amount is most likely still less than your electric bill without solar power.  So you save immediately and that savings grows over time as electricity rates increase.