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Saturday, April 3, 2010

America Behind In Renewables

From our friend Madhava Ghosh

While we have great potential for renewables in this country, the government has taken the path of least resistance and just subsidized the oil and coal companies. We have plenty of potential though it will requie an upgrading and expansion of the energy grid.

“The United States has incredible wind power resources. Although wind energy currently provides only slightly more than 1 percent of U.S. electricity, that number is rising rapidly. A recent government report projects that we could get 20 percent of our electricity from wind by 2030. Most of that growth will be from utility-scale wind projects, although there’s great support for developing small wind power too, including home-scale wind turbines and small community-based projects.”

Read whole article here. FYI, for those who don’t read the article North Dakota is at the top of the list of windy places in the US, it just lacks a way to get that energy to the rest of you.

There are some notable exceptions on the local level, like Austin, Texas. Wouldn’t it be nice if devotee projects would take up the challenge?

Austin, Texas’ Ambitious Carbon Mitigation Targets, Results Provide Models for Cities

Austin, Texas, has one of the most ambitious carbon mitigation targets for a U.S. city—to be carbon neutral by the year 2020—a target made all the more complex by the fact that Austin owns its own power company. With significant renewable resources available, and a progressive population and local government, the city of Austin has become a model for building the diverse package of renewable procurement, efficiency measures, and public outreach that can achieve substantial results in carbon emissions reductions. In order to get a clear shematic of this progressive model, VerdeXchange News was pleased to speak with Jake Stewart, the program manager of the Austin Energy Climate Protection Program, the agency tasked with the implementation of the city’s green programs.

VerdeX: What are Austin Texas’ renewable energy goals?

Stewart: The primary goal for the municipality itself, meaning all of municipal operations, is to be carbon neutral by 2020. That will be sourced predominantly by in-house in renewables, but anything that needs to be offset will be offset. That includes fleets and municipal operations.

You have the utility plan, which sets the goal to create 700 megawatts in efficiency savings by 2015. That’s like creating a power plant worth of efficiency savings. We also have goals of 30 percent renewables by 2020 and building 100 megawatts of solar.

Extending to the community, there’s a whole separate plan that engages the community, building a consensus on how the community can reduce its carbon footprint in a way that has economic upside. We want to bring in green and clean tech companies in a Silicon Valley for renewable energy by making Austin very hospitable for those companies. That’s been true with solar companies. We have a solar rebate program, which has been really successful in other cities because it provides companies a way to bridge cost differential.

Read full article here.

To see how things can work on a national level you have to go to Europe.

Germany: The World’s First Major Renewable Energy Economy

Germany’s Reichstag in Berlin is set to become the first parliamentary building in the world to be powered 100 percent by renewable energy. Soon the entire country will follow suit. Germany is accelerating its efforts to become the world’s first industrial power to use 100 percent renewable energy — and given current momentum, it could reach that green goal by 2050.

“The technical capacity is available for the country to switch over to green energy, so it is a question of political will and the right regulatory framework. The costs are acceptable and they need to be seen against the huge costs that will result if Germany fails to take action to cut its carbon emissions.”

– David Wortmann, Director of Renewable Energy and Resources, Germany Trade and Invest

Read full article here.

There are lots more stories of innovation in Europe, here is one from Finland.

In a cave under the Eastern Orthodox Uspenski cathedral in Helsinki we find the result of a joint project between Academica and Helsingin Energia; the world’s most eco efficient computer hall. Computer halls usually require a lot of energy in order to keep the computers from overheating, but this computer hall is cooled down by district cooling. And that is not all, the heat generated from the computers is then distributed back as district heating!

Helsingin Energia reckons that in district cooling the primary energy consumption of the computer hall now commissioned is only 20% of that of a standard computer hall, and the additional benefit of the waste heat recovery is a bonus. They are in other words saving money and generating energy all at once.

Read full article here.

1 comment:

PatPro said...

America is behind on renewable energy, but hopefully we will be catching up soon. The momentum is swinging in the right direction, we just need more people to care and be aware. You can visit my site at to learn more.