Starting in 2006, the government of Norway created a target of reaching 30 Terra Watt hours of elevated annual production of energy efficiency and renewable energy by 2016. Currently, the power system in Norway is hydropower dominated. Over the last few years, due to the investment the Norwegian government has made to increase efforts in the development of (more…)
The European Union will exceed its target of meeting 20 percent of its energy needs from renewable sources by 2020, according to a new report. Twenty-five of the 27 EU nations will meet or exceed their national targets, according to the analysis by the European Wind Energy Association (EWEA).
About 14 percent of the total energy (more…)
Thanks partly to its success using biofuels to power cars instead of oil, Brazil has become known as something of a sustainable business leader. The country deserves credit for taking some initiative on renewable energy, and at last year’s climate summit in Copenhagen President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva was one of the most outspoken proponents for an ambitious (more…)
For thousands of years, nomadic herdsmen have roamed the harsh, semi-arid lowlands that stretch across 80 percent of Kenya and 60 percent of Ethiopia. Descendants of the oldest tribal societies in the world, they survive thanks to the animals they raise and the crops they grow, their travels determined by the search for water and grazing lands. (more…)
The news that the world’s largest tidal turbine – 1 MW in size – will be installed off the coast of Scotland near Orkney should come as no surprise.
Primitive tidal mills operated in the England date back to the 11th century. During the 18th century, several tidal mills popped up in Western Europe. The first modern tidal plants borrowed from conventional (more…)
In spite of the Pacific Northwest’s reputation for environmental leadership, short-sighted opponents of hydroelectric power struck a blow last week when Oregon-based utility PacifiCorp agreed — under duress — to decommission a series of hydroelectric dams in the Upper Klamath River along the Oregon-California border.
Power from the dams is used to serve electrical load in Oregon and Northern California. Without the dams in operation (the licenses were extended to 2020 when they are to be shut down) PacifiCorp will have to find a way to replace the renewable, emissions-free energy that the dams provided.
Regulators were joined by dam protestors in contending that the quest for new power can be done in a way that does not damage the environment anymore or put too much of a dent in consumers’ pockets. And things are certainly expected to go swimmingly for the salmon populations that the dams threatened.
NPR’s Morning Edition recently aired this story, a variation on a theme that I have written about in the past on CleanTechies and in scholarly work: green backlash against renewable power. The Morning Edition piece focused on the land use implications of renewables, noting that it takes a lot more land to generate a terawatt of solar, wind or biofueled electricity than of coal or natural gas power.
True enough. But, for me, it all comes down to the threshold question: do you believe the worst-case climate scenarios? If your answer is yes, and you have the courage of those convictions, then you realize — as I have — that we have no choice, and no time to dawdle. People who answer that question affirmatively know that the paradigm shifts in energy production and consumption that are necessary if we are to have any chance of righting our climatological ship will face knee-jerk opposition and demagoguery from opponents (s, e.g., the spring time bloodbath over the Waxman-Markey bill). A movement that remains — however gallingly — on such tenuous footing cannot afford to endure the additional obstacle of in-fighting over policy nuances. To twist a familiar and over-used metaphor:
The number of small hydropower projects in the U.S. is increasing as utilities try to avoid concerns about the environmental impact of large dams, the Wall Street Journal reports.
The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission now has applications for 14,000 megawatts of hydropower projects — enough to power 7 million to 14 million homes — and most are located on small rivers, streams, and creeks. That figure is a 20 percent increase from two years ago.
As the number of projects grows in states such as Washington, Colorado, and Montana, environmentalists are beginning to raise objections to the small dams, which critics say can still block fish runs, interfere with whitewater rafting trips, and carve up wilderness habitat with roads, power lines, and other infrastructure.
The Pacific Northwest just finished four days of triple digit temperatures, which put the heat on renewable energy sources to keep up with demand. Just as records were being set for power consumption, wind power generation slowed due to the calm air from the locked-in high pressure system.
The extreme weather highlights the reality that wind — and to a lesser extent hydropower — may not be a panacea for power production.
Southern Washington and the Portland metro area had a record breaking streak of warmth that pushed energy demand to record highs, but the high pressure system also featured calm breezes. The local utility Bonneville Power Administration (BPA) had to quickly balance the reduction in wind power with increases in hydropower.
The earth is the water planet, so it should come as no great surprise that forms of water power have been one of the world’s most popular “renewable” energy sources. Yet the largest water power source of all – the ocean that covers three-quarters of earth – has yet to be tapped in any major way for power generation. There are three primary reasons for this:
The first is the nature of the ocean itself, a powerful resource that cannot be privately owned like land that typically serves as the foundation for site control for terrestrial power plants of all kinds;
The second is funding. Hydropower was heavily subsidized during the Great Depression, but little public investment has since been steered toward marine renewables with the exception of ocean thermal technologies, which were perceived to be a failure.
The third reason why the ocean has not yet been industrialized on behalf of energy production is that the technologies, materials and construction techniques did not exist until now to harness this renewable energy resource in any meaningful and cost effective way.