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The Renewable Energy Renaissance

The real Renaissance is in renewable energy whose sources could meet 25% of the nation's energy needs by 2025. Renewable technologies can help restore political and economic stability as well as save money…and the planet.

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Thursday
Nov022017

Could be renewables are becoming “too cheap to meter”

Germany’s renewable energy transition continues to set new records with yet another for wind energy forecasted in early November 2017 to drive electricity prices below zero .  According to Bloomberg New Energy Finance, negative pricing for too much electricity from the country’s wind turbines means that the power producers either have to shut down turbines down or pay customers “to take the electricity off the grid.” We are talking about a forecast for Germany’s wind energy production to generate 39,109 megawatts of electricity in one day, the equivalent of 40 nuclear power stations.  Germany is now licensing offshore wind farm development without government subsidies as the technology’s cost continues to plummet, now projected by 71% over the next 20 years. But Germany’s rapid deployment of innovation renewable energy is only a part of the global expansion picture for abundant wind and solar power.

The design for Doctors Without Borders new Geneva headquarters uses innovative transparent photovoltaic cells coating the colored glass building. The beautiful architecture incorporates energy efficiency and its own renewable energy production from the sun.  Transparent solar cells have only entered to commercially emerge in the last few years but according to the authors of a study published in Nature, light-harvesting materials are the new wave for an ever innovative solar power industry turning glass into an electricity producer. With more than 750 billion square feet of glass in the United States, a transparent solar laminate overlay on windows oriented to the sun’s arc could generate 40% of the nation’s energy according to researchers.  One project, led by energy researchers at Michigan State University, is using organic molecules fashioned into thin plastic-like transparent film that can capture ultraviolet and infrared wavelength in sunlight and convert it into electricity.

Thursday
Sep142017

Renewables are leaving nuclear behind

The new edition of the World Nuclear Energy Status Report has been released, with some key insights into the dwindling influence of nuclear energy worldwide. You can read and download the full 2017 report here. Here is a summary of findings in the Report about the worldwide status of renewable energy compared to nuclear energy:

Renewables Distance Nuclear

Globally, wind power output grew by 16%, solar by 30%, nuclear by 1.4% in 2016. Wind power increased generation by 132 TWh, solar by 77 TWh, respectively 3.8 times and 2.2 times more than nuclear's 35 TWh. Renewables represented 62% of global power generating capacity additions.

New renewables beat existing nuclear. Renewable energy auctions achieved record low prices at and below US$30/MWh in Chile, Mexico, Morocco, United Arab Emirates, and the United States. Average generating costs of amortized nuclear power plants in the U.S. were US$35.5 in 2015.

The World Nuclear Industry Status Report 2017 (WNISR2017) provides a comprehensive overview of nuclear power plant data, including information on operation, production and construction. The WNISR assesses the status of new-build programs in current nuclear countries as well as in potential newcomer countries.

The WNISR2017 edition includes a new assessment from an equity analyst view of the financial crisis of the nuclear sector and some of its biggest industrial players.

The Fukushima Status Report provides not only an update on onsite and offsite issues six years after the beginning of the catastrophe, but also the latest official and new independent cost evaluations of the disaster.

Focus chapters provide in-depth analysis of France, Japan, South Korea, the United Kingdom and the United States.

The Nuclear Power vs. Renewable Energy chapter provides global comparative data on investment, capacity, and generation from nuclear, wind and solar energy.

Finally, Annex 1 presents a country-by-country overview of all other countries operating nuclear power plants.

Tuesday
Aug012017

Alphabet Sees Power in Molten Salt, a New Moonshot

As reported by Dow Jones Newswire. The article begins:

Google parent Alphabet Inc. is pitching an idea to store power from renewable energy in tanks of molten salt and cold liquid, an example of the tech giant trying to marry its far-reaching ambitions with business demand.

Alphabet's research lab, dubbed X, said Monday that it has developed plans to store electricity generated from solar panels or wind turbines as thermal energy in hot salt and cold liquids, such as antifreeze. The lab is seeking partners in the energy industry, including power-plant developers and utilities, to build a prototype to plug into the electrical grid.

The article reports at its conclusion:

Other academics said new demand for energy storage may mean the idea could now work. "Molten salts aren't new, and thermal storage isn't new. What's new about this is there's a big brand-name backer behind it," said mechanical-engineering professor Michael Webber, deputy director of the Energy Institute at the University of Texas at Austin. "And the rise of renewables means there's more demand (for energy storage). So maybe the time is right for an old idea."

Thursday
Jul272017

The Congressman who would kill wind -- and 9,000 jobs

Renewable energy is the world’s fastest growing energy sector and wind energy is its fastest growing single renewable energy source. More than 54 GW of wind power was installed across the global market in 2016. 

While onshore wind still predominates, dramatic advances in technology combined with falling costs are also making offshore wind an attractive proposition. Yet, despite its extensive coastlines, the U.S. has lagged woefully and unforgivably behind in this sector.

But two new offshore wind projects planned for the Maryland coastline off Ocean City, are now in jeopardy. U.S. Wind and Skipjack Offshore Energy have been pursuing — for too many years already — the arduous process of approval for an offshore wind farm that would be the biggest in the U.S. The project is predicted to create more than 9,000 jobs for the region. But one man wants to kill it.

That man is Rep. Andy Harris, the lone Republican member of the Maryland Congressional delegation. Last week he introduced — and successfully got passed — an amendment in the U.S. House Appropriations Committee that effectively blocks the use of federal money to review site assessment or construction and operation plans for wind turbines less than 24 nautical miles from the State of Maryland shoreline. 

That, say the developers, could kill the project dead. Those 9,000 jobs are poised for annihilation if the amendment is adopted by the full House and approved by the Senate, a strong possibility given the Republican control of both Houses.

Rep. Harris is wrong on so many counts. But he is up for re-election in 2018. We are calling on Marylanders to hold Harris to account. Here is our op-ed.


Wednesday
Jul052017

Renewables overtake Nuclear Years Earlier Than Expected

The latest issue of the U.S. Energy Information Administration’s (EIA) Electric Power Monthly (with data through April 30) reveals that renewable energy sources – including wind, solar, geothermal and hydropower – are now providing a greater share of the nation’s electrical generation than nuclear power, according to a new analysis from nonprofit SUN DAY Campaign.

For the first third of this year, renewables and nuclear power have been running neck-in-neck, with renewables providing 20.20% of U.S. net electrical generation during the four-month period (from January through April) compared to 20.75% for nuclear power. Yet, SUN DAY says that in March and April, renewables surpassed nuclear power for the first time and have taken a growing lead: 21.60% (renewables) versus 20.34% (nuclear) in March and 22.98% (renewables) versus 19.19% (nuclear) in April. Read more