Category - Renewable Energy

To discuss developments in solar, wind, and other renewable energy resource uses.

From 500 tank cars in Canada in 2009 up to 140,000 this year!

You know you read stuff that simply blows your mind and you wonder if it’s true. I just had that experience. It was an article about shipping crude oil by rail, from source to refinery. And for me it’s doubly ironic because I so consider oil use to be a lame duck. Every bad thing that happens to us because of oil use, for me is like a soldier dieing after a peace accord. From the big stuff like climate change to the little stuff like a town being wiped off the map by a runaway exploding tanker car train.

And then there is the medium serious stuff like Fukushima. Not oil but the same lame duck.

Sure I’m going to miss the wide open spaces of my Midwest. Not that they are pristine now nor have they been pristine for going on a 150 years. Sure I am irritated at night when I drive trough a multi-mile wind plant and every tower flashes in unison. I would so prefer that they blink randomly, like the stars. Ironic again in that they had to work harder to make them blink in unison.

And I am going to miss the wide open views across Lake Michigan when wind towers begin appearing there.

They are already telling us that we’d better approve that pipeline cause we’re moving that oil one way or another. Wait, scratch that. One way AND another.

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Solar-powered plane prepares for flight across the United States

(AFP) – A groundbreaking solar-powered Swiss aircraft is ready to make a coast-to-coast flight across the United States, its creators said Thursday.

The experimental Solar Impulse plane, which has made several trips since its maiden flight in 2009, will take off on May 1 on a transcontinental tour split in five stages.

“We are ready to do this flight across America,” said Solar Impulse co-founder Andre Borschberg during a press conference at a hangar in Mountain View, near San Francisco.
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Fight the Power!

Imagine, for a moment, you could go completely off the grid, in terms of energy usage. Would you do it?

You may get the chance. In fact, it may be easier than you thought:

solarNRG Energy Inc. (NRG), the biggest power provider to U.S. utilities, has become a renegade in the $370 billion energy-distribution industry by providing electricity directly to consumers.

Bypassing its utility clients, NRG is installing solar panels on rooftops of homes and businesses and in the future will offer natural gas-fired generators to customers to kick in when the sun goes down, Chief Executive Officer David Crane said in an interview.

Now, this is not exactly the image one has in mind when one thinks “off the grid,” to be sure. After all, you’re still dealing with someone who is most definitely on the grid and most definitely part of the energy cartels that partly control our society.  Read More

Updated water wheels power India’s rural mountain economy

(CSM) – Wooden water wheels have long captured energy from mountain streams. New versions work even better, helping provide a local, sustainable source of energy to Indian villages high in the Himalayas.

Living in an isolated Himalayan hamlet, 2,500 meters (5,600 feet) above sea level, Govind Singh Rana seems an unlikely candidate for wealth. But by the standards of other villagers in northern India’s Uttarakhand state, he earns a fortune by harnessing the power of the mountain stream that runs across his land.

Rana uses a water-powered turbine to run a saw mill, press apricot oil in season, and generate electricity, at little cost to himself and without the need for environmentally unfriendly power sources like diesel generators.

He is one of 28,000 people in Uttaranchal who have discovered the advantages of a modern incarnation of the traditional wooden water wheel, or gharat. The turbines, which harness hydro power for small-scale industry by day and for generating electricity by night, have brought an ecologically sustainable economic revolution to the Himalayan states of Uttaranchal, Jammu & Kashmir, and Himachal Pradesh, as well as the so-called Seven Sister states in India’s northeastern Himalayas.

more at link

Breakthrough for Solar Power – New Fabrication

Science Daily Science News

solar1Feb. 27, 2013 — A novel fabrication technique developed by UConn engineering professor Brian Willis could provide the breakthrough technology scientists have been looking for to vastly improve today’s solar energy systems.

For years, scientists have studied the potential benefits of a new branch of solar energy technology that relies on incredibly small nanosized antenna arrays that are theoretically capable of harvesting more than 70 percent of the sun’s electromagnetic radiation and simultaneously converting it into usable electric power.

The technology would be a vast improvement over the silicon solar panels in widespread use today. Even the best silicon panels collect only about 20 percent of available solar radiation, and separate mechanisms are needed to convert the stored energy to usable electricity for the commercial power grid. The panels’ limited efficiency and expensive development costs have been two of the biggest barriers to the widespread adoption of solar power as a practical replacement for traditional fossil fuels. Read More

Citizens Tell Obama to Stop Pipeline and Get Serious about Environment

Michael Collins

(Washington, DC 1/17)  The nation’s capital hosted over 40,000 citizens assembled to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.  The crowd urged President Obama to bring to reality his lofty words on climate change in the inaugural address just days ago.  By stopping the construction of the Keystone XL pipeline, the president would deal a blow to the rogue energy companies who, by their actions, are ready to sacrifice everything to transport oil from Alberta, Canada’s tar sands, across the United States, for refinement in Houston, Texas and shipment to China.

The broader concern of the gathered citizens and march sponsors,, and the Sierra Club, represents the existential issue of our time.  We need to get very real, very soon on the manifest threat to the earth’s climate posed by fossil fuels and the threat to the human species embodied by insane ventures like the Canadian tar sands project.  The verdict of science is clear.  As leading climate scientist James E. Hansen said, the full exploitation of tar sands oil Read More

Solar industry grapples with hazardous wastes

AP Homeowners on the hunt for sparkling solar panels are lured by ads filled with images of pristine landscapes and bright sunshine, and words about the technology’s benefits for the environment — and the wallet.

What customers may not know is that there’s a dirtier side.

While solar is a far less polluting energy source than coal or natural gas, many panel makers are nevertheless grappling with a hazardous waste problem. Fueled partly by billions in government incentives, the industry is creating millions of solar panels each year and, in the process, millions of pounds of polluted sludge and contaminated water.

To dispose of the material, the companies must transport it by truck or rail far from their own plants to waste facilities hundreds and, in some cases, thousands of miles away.

The fossil fuels used to transport that waste, experts say, is not typically considered in calculating solar’s carbon footprint, giving scientists and consumers who use the measurement to gauge a product’s impact on global warming the impression that solar is cleaner than it is.

After installing a solar panel, “it would take one to three months of generating electricity to pay off the energy invested in driving those hazardous waste emissions out of state,” said Dustin Mulvaney, a San Jose State University environmental studies professor who conducts carbon footprint analyses of solar, biofuel and natural gas production. more at AP

Fossil Fuels ‘Too Valuable to Burn’

By Paul Brown, Climate News Network

This piece originally appeared atClimate News Network.

LONDON—Burning fossil fuels for energy is a disastrous waste of natural resources preventing their use for the manufacture of fertilizer, medicines, clothing and other vital goods, according to a German think tank.

A study by the World Future Council, based in Hamburg, has attempted for the first time to put an economic price on the consumption of oil, gas and hard coal to produce energy when they could be used instead for making useful things.

While it is well known that fossil fuels are used to make all sorts of everyday objects like plastics, carbon fibre, soap, aspirins, solvents and dyes, it is a new idea to consider how this might affect future generations when the fuels run out.

A report – The Monetary Cost of the Non-Use of Renewable Energies – by Dr. Matthias Kroll, released today to the Climate News Network, claims the cost of these important natural resources runs into trillions of dollars a year, but does not appear in economic calculations of the costs of generating energy.

More Here.

Source: Truthdig.