Clean Energy Rules Backed by Leading Tech Companies

People like the idea of clean energy, the ability for us to generate more energy than we use all from renewable sources that don’t damage the environment. France requires that new buildings have solar panels or grass on the roofs, and an Indian airport has decided that solar power is the way they want to go. In a move to help further our advances towards clean energy governments are making more and more pushes, this time, it would seem that the clean power plan in America is getting some backing from rather large companies in the technology industry.The Clean Power Plan is designed to cut carbon pollution 32 percent below 2005’s levels, all by the time we reach 2030. With more and more pressure on reducing our CO2 output, coal-fired plants are under increased pressure to become more efficient (same energy, less CO2,

The Clean Power Plan is designed to cut carbon pollution 32 percent below 2005’s levels, all by the time we reach 2030. With more and more pressure on reducing our CO2 output, coal-fired plants are under increased pressure to become more efficient (same energy, less CO2) while also groups and companies are under more pressure to promote and use renewable energy sources like solar or wind farms.

Considering themselves “major purchasers of electricity”, Amazon, Apple, Google, and Microsoft have come together and formally backed the Clean Power Plan in the United States Court of Appeals where the act is currently on hold.

With both large tech companies and the Obama administration pushing for this act to go through, it is hard to see how anything supporting renewable energy could be seen as negative but some claim the rules are onerous and overreach the abilities of the Environmental Protection Agency.

Wales Has First ‘Energy Positive’ House in Britain

Wales has become home to Britain’s first ‘energy positive’ house, so-called because it can generate a surplus of electricity which its owner can then sell on. The three-bedroom detached property in Cenin, South Wales, cost £125,000 to build, according to its designers from Cardiff University.

The house is lined with heavy insulation to retain heat during cold months, with solar panels covering the roof and mounted in the garden. For eight months of the year, the house is expected to generate £75 more electricity than it will use, which can then be sold back to the national grid or stored within the property’s batteries.

It was developed to serve the low-carbon housing bill, proposed by Labour in 2006. Current Conservative Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne, however, has recently scrapped the bill. “It was disappointing to see Osborne scrap the plans,” said Professor Phil Jones of the Welsh School of Architecture. “But the devolved Welsh, Scottish and Northern Irish governments can set their own building standards. One reason we built this house was to demonstrate to builders that you could meet the standards at an affordable price with off-the-shelf technology. The housebuilders could do it too if they wanted to.”

Jones says that building his ‘energy positive’ design en masse could bring the cost of each property down to £100,000. “We save money and space by making the photovoltaic panels the roof itself and by dispensing with radiators and making the air collector part of the wall,” he added. “The building demonstrates our leading edge low carbon supply, storage and demand technologies at a domestic scale which we hope will be replicated in other areas of Wales and the UK in the future.”

Thank you The Guardian for providing us with this information.

MIT Says Solar Panels Alone Can Handle Electricity Burden

An extensive study by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology suggests that, despite unevidenced claims to the contrary, current solar panel technology is capable of delivering all the electricity a modern household could need. According to the 356-page report – The Future of Solar Energy – solar panels could, with the proper investment, deliver terawatts of electricity by 2050. MIT maintains that it is not the technology that is holding solar power back, but the investment, with researchers calling for increased funding from the US government.

“The recent shift of federal dollars for solar R&D away from fundamental research of this sort to focus on near-term cost reductions in c-Si technology should be reversed,” the report reads.

Richard Schmalensee, Professor Emeritus of Economics and Management at the MIT Sloan School of Management, said, “What the study shows is that our focus needs to shift toward new technologies and policies that have the potential to make solar a compelling economic option.”

“Massive expansion of solar generation worldwide by mid-century is likely a necessary component of any serious strategy to mitigate climate change,” reads the conclusion of the study. “Fortunately, the solar resource dwarfs current and projected future electricity demand. In recent years, solar costs have fallen substantially and installed capacity has grown very rapidly.”

Thank you Engadget and Computer World for providing us with this information.

World’s Largest Floating Solar Power Plant Coming to Japan

Renewable energy venture Kyocera TCL has announced plans for a floating 13.4 MW solar power plant on the Yamakura Dam reservoir in Chiba Prefecture, Japan. In terms of capacity/output, the solar plant will become the largest of its kind in the world.

The plant will take up an area of 180,0002, with an output of 15,635 MWh/year, or  ¥450 million-worth of electricity per year. Kyocera is also building a number of other solar installations over Nishihira Pond and Higashihira Pond in Kato City, with plans to build another 30 plants between 2015 and 2016.

Japan has invested over $30 billion in solar energy over the last year, and is on course to usurp China as the largest solar installer in the world.

Source: Clean Technica

Offshore Wind Power On Track For 7th Consecutive Year Of Record Growth

Electricity forms the basis of modern society and so new ways of generating electricity are always welcomed. Inhabitat reports that offshore wind power, one of those new ways of generating electricity, is having a great year so far in 2013 and looks set to record its 7th consecutive year of record growth.

Countries leading the charge towards offshore wind include the UK, with a capacity of 3461 MW and Denmark, with a capacity of 1274 MW. China, Belgium and Germany are also following suit with a strong investment into offshore wind.

As it stands 1080 MW went online in the first six months of 2013, which has increased global offshore wind power capacity by 20% to 6500 MW across 15 countries. Offshore Wind capacity is currently growing at a rate of about 40% per year.

The UK managed to add 500 MW of offshore wind capacity in the first half of 2013 with an additional 12000 MW of offshore wind capacity under construction or in the planning stages. The USA on the other hand continues to disappoint with just 0.2 MW of installed capacity despite the Eastern Seaboard of the USA being one of the best places in the world from which to extract offshore wind energy. The Eastern Seaboard of the USA is estimated to have the potential to provide 530,000 MW of electricity – that is 81X the current global capacity of offshore wind energy.

Image courtesy of DEFRA

World’s Second Largest Offshore Wind Farm Up And Running In The UK

Business Green reports that UK’s Greater Gabbard wind farm off the coast of Suffolk has now been officially opened. The new offshore windfarm is made up of 140 wind turbines capable of generating an average of 1750 GWh of electricity a year, enough to power 450,000 homes. This makes the project the world’s second largest offshore wind farm and the project provides 14% of the UK’s offshore wind farm electric generation capacity.

The wind farm is located 12 miles from the shoreline of Suffolk. The project is expected to be extended and will reportedly double in size by 2017 under the planned Galloper wind farm extension. The total cost of the project is £1.3 billion and was jointly developed by SSE renewables and RWE npower renewables. The world’s largest offshore wind farm in the world is located in the Thames estuary and is called the London Array.

Despite all the positives surrounding this new opening the UK government still faces criticisms about its commitments to carbon-neutral electricity generation. Business Green states that:

“The government has faced criticism over the extent to which foreign companies have supplied the turbines for the UK’s offshore wind farms and led the development of new projects. The industry has repeatedly warned that without stronger reassurances that the market will continue to develop post 2020 manufacturers will remain reluctant to locate manufacturing plants in the UK, arguing that the government should introduce a decarbonisation target for the power sector for 2030 and sign up to post-2020 EU renewables targets.”

Image courtesy of Business Green

 

China Preparing New World’s Tallest Mega Dam

According to news coming out of China, they are preparing another Mega dam project. Information made available to the public suggests this dam will be the world’s tallest at a height of 314 metres (1030 feet). The new mega dam will be a subsidiary of one of China’s state owned power companies the Guodian Group.

The location of this new Mega dam is to be in South-Western Sichuan province on the Dadu river. The estimated cost is a huge £2.9 billion / $4.40 billion and the construction will take approximately 10 years from start to finish.

The design engineers believe this new dam could generate 8 billion KW-hours of electricity every year. Though it certainly doesn’t come without envirornmental costs, the Chinese environmental authorities gave the project the green light despite knowing the potential devastating effects of doing so.

“The project will affect the spawning and movement of rare fish species, as well as the growth of endangered plants, including the Chinese yew, which is under first-class state protection.”

The scale of the project implies that people will need to be relocated and nature relocated where possible. The costs may be large but China desperately needs new ways to meet its rapidly rising electricity demand in a more green way. By 2020 it aims to have 15% of energy supplied by “Green” sources.

China’s state council is currently debating whether or not to approve this new mega dam or not.

What are your thoughts? Are China leading the way with their green energy projects?

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Electric Wind Farm Proposal In Scotland Challenged By Donald Trump

Whether you believe in climate change or not, the issue of electricity generation is one that we will face for a long time. With growing electricity demand we need new ways to generate electricity, particularly in the UK where we are reliant on gas, coal, oil and an ageing stock of nuclear power plants. That is to say, irrelevant of what your opinion is on climate change we still need more electricity and more cost effective long-term ways of generating it.

The proposal to build an offshore windfarm in Scotland’s Aberdeen bay was hoping to be exactly that. The 11 turbines promised to generate enough electricity to power 49,000 homes – while small, it is still a positive start to adding extra capacity to the UK grid that doesn’t rely on expensive imports. However, Donald Trump is now trying, and will probably succeed, in blocking this proposal.

Donald Trump owns a golf course and is in the process of planning luxury hotel buillds in Aberdeen and he believes these wind farms will kill the value of his businesses. He has also made other objections such as he believes the wind farms will actually raise the cost of electricity,  he says they will need to be rebuilt every 4 to 5 years and he claims they cause cancer to nearby people. While you might disagree with Donald Trump’s objections, money does speak, already Swedish energy investors Vattenfall are looking to sell their shares in the project, if you believe media speculation.

What is Donald Trump up against? Well, he is up against the Scottish National Party and minister Alex Salmond, both of whom are strongly committed to the success of the renewable wind energy sector. Donald Trump recently launch an anti-wind farm advertising proposal which fell through as the advertising standards agency said it was misleading.

This type of situation certainly isn’t new as wind farms have always suffered from strong NIMBY (not in my back yard) sentiments. Will business interests prevail or will the windfarm get the go ahead? It is a tough one and it is also hard to call which one is more “in the public’s interest” but as a technology lover I would like to see offshore windfarms grow, succeed and lower energy costs particularly in the UK where electricity costs have been spiralling out of control.

What are your thoughts on this story? We know it isn’t what we usually cover but electricity is the lifeblood of the technology sector.

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