Top Ten Green Energy Good News Stories

1. German Chancellor Angela Merkel became a green energy hawk after Fukushima. She wants to phase out Nuclear energy and coal, and move quickly to renewables.

2. A team headed by Patrick Pinhero, associate professor of Chemical Engineering at the University of Missouri-Columbia, has invented a flexible solar sheet that dramatically improves the efficiency of light collection. Most photovoltaic solar panels capture only 30% of available light, but Pinhero’s sheets collect 90%. He says, “Our overall goal is to collect and utilize as much solar energy as is theoretically possible and bring it to the commercial market in an inexpensive package that is accessible to everyone… If successful, this product will put us orders of magnitudes ahead of the current solar energy technologies we have available to us today.”

3. Norway is planning to produce a 10 megawatt wind turbine that will float offshore.

4. Germany’s first offshore wind farm is now in operation, supplying clean energy to over 50,000 households.

5. Now that Japan’s government has pledged not to build any new nuclear plants, the country could over the next few decades plausibly get its electricity instead from wind power.

6. Chris Goodall reexamines the potential of UK tidal power generation and finds reasons for greater optimism than exhibited in the report of the Committee on Climate Change. For more on tidal turbines see this report.

7. Germany is streamlining regulatory permissions for wind energy installations. Bureaucratic red tape is often the biggest impediment new renewable facilities (even though governments fall over backwards to give tax and other breaks to Big Oil and Gas).

8. That the wind doesn’t blow all the time (“intermittency”) is not actually that important, contrary to what the Big Oil propagandists argue. Iowa gets 17% of its electricity from wind, and it does not cause blackouts.

9. What if solar energy got the same amount of government subsidies in the US as fossil fuels get?

10. Germany wants to have 6 million electric automobiles on the roads by 2030. If by then a majority of Germany’s electricity is produced by renewables, the country’s carbon footprint would fall considerably, as would problems of air pollution.

Note: An earlier version of this post linked to an article alleging that power-generating capacity from renewable resources now exceeds that of nuclear power plants for the first time. (A reader wrote me to question the assertion and to say that the math here is off;

Another reader replies:

“Message: According to page 8 of the report, the missing number is 80 GW for small hydro.

“In 2010, for the first time, worldwide cumulated installed capacity of wind turbines (193 gigawattsa), small hydro (80 GW, excluding large hydro) biomass and waste-to-energy plants (65 GW), and solar power (43 GW) reached 381 GW, outpacing the installed nuclear capacity of 375 GW prior to the Fukushima disaster.”

PDF link here.”