Top Ten Good News Green Energy Stories

Here are the week’s top ten energy good news stories.

1. A Japanese technical innovation has the potential to double or triple the power generated by wind turbines.

2. Germany now gets over 20% of its energy from low-carbon sources: 6.5% wind, 5.6% biomass, 3.5% solar, 3.3% hydro and 0.8% other.

3. Over 100 companies are researching wave energy, which will likely provide 180 gigawatts of power by 2050. It takes the world’s 440 nuclear power reactors to produce 376 GWe at the moment, so this would be equivalent to building 220 new nuclear plants.

4. Global wind power installation rebounded in the first half of 2011, growing 18% more than in the same period in 2010. By the end of 2011, wind will account for 3% of the world’s energy, but that percentage is rapidly growing.

5. The European Union is cooperating with Egypt to make the latter country a solar and wind powerhouse. I was told by Egyptian activists in July of this year that the Mubarak government had given renewables short shrift because of Saudi Arabian pressure.

6. Europe gets 5.5% of its energy from wind turbines, but for individual member states the amount can be much greater. Denmark gets a quarter of its electricity from wind power, while substantial wind power producers include Portugal and Germany.

7. The Japanese political political establishment has decided to throw a lot of money at renewable energy. The so-called feed-in tariff will spur growth so much that Japan’s solar energy production will like grow by a factor of 5 in the short term.

8. The good news is that new and more efficient solar panels are daily coming on line. The bad news is that Solyndria was done in by this development to some extent. The real meaning of the failure of Solyndria last week is that there were better and more efficient competitors, not that solar energy doesn’t pay or that the US has gone in for it too fast.

9. China’s wind energy market is booming, with the Asian giant having added over 8 gigawatts in wind energy capacity in the first half of 2011. China constitutes 43% of the world market for wind turbines, and its demand is rising quickly.

10. The “Light Middle East” exhibit in Dubai will underline Middle Eastern building techniques that minimize the use of energy. Muslim architects have for centuries been masters at using courtyards and fountains to cool buildings naturally.

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15 Responses

  1. “A Japanese technical innovation has the potential to double or triple the power generated by wind turbines.”

    Sadly, this breathless article bears all the hallmarks of a vaporware hype piece. No numbers are given. It claims that “prototypes are already in use” at Kyushu University. Are they a foot across? Two feet?

    This becomes worthwhile news when someone builds a full scale or half-scale prototype – or even secures the money to do so. Until then, it falls squarely into the category of things that are not real and are not going to happen.
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      • Phoenix Woman, your link led to a site with an even better story involving falling solar power prices in Italy – because electricity is quite expensive there now, rooftop and big ground solar installations will reach price parity in about 3 years – without feed-in tariffs.

        link to rechargenews.com

        This is really quite startling. The current wholesale price noted for Italy is 10.7 cents per kwh; I’m paying that much retail in Texas, but it wasn’t long ago that I was paying substantially more.

        They might not have to build solar arrays across North Africa and send the electricity across the Mediterranean as I’d hoped. Or they could go ahead and do it anyway and create electricity so dirt cheap that it would constitute a significant advantage for manufacturers who use a lot of power.

        • The solar systems proposed for North Africa are CSP systems not PV. CSP systems operate 24*7 by storing the heat, they can have natural gas as the backup heat source. Extensive use of PV requires upgrading the grid, usually with more transmission lines.

    • Yes, both lighter turbine blades and dropping PV prices are good news. I merely wished to point out that the linked article’s specific claim of dramatic efficiency gain from “wind lenses” was unsupported.
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  2. “things that are not real and are not going to happen.”

    You mean like all that fracking gas and coal bed gas and shale oil that we’re continually told by the business media will save America & free enterprise? Or those offshore oil deposits located nearer to the center of the Earth than to Brazil? Or all that dirty sand in Venezuela that OPEC just reclassified as “oil”?

    It’s all longshot territory now, yet the capital goes to support what looks most like the status quo.

  3. Thanks so much, Professor, for posting an article about a subject closest to my heart. The renewal of the Earth, air, waters, animals, humans—all life—with clean green energy needs to become the #1 effort by humanity. It is heartening to see that slowly, slowly it is becoming so.

    I have three more articles to add to your list, one from today and two from this year:

    Kenzaburo Oe, Nobel Winner, Urges Japan To Abandon Nuclear Power
    link to huffingtonpost.com

    And these are about Bolivia’s Law for Mother Earth, which has passed, giving Nature rights. Those include:

    1. The right to life and to exist
    2. The right to continue vital cycles and processes free from human alteration
    3. The right to pure water and clean air
    4. The right to balance
    5. The right not to be polluted
    6. The right not to have cellular structure modified or genetically altered
    7. The right not to be affected by mega-infrastructure and development projects that affect the balance of ecosystems and the local inhabitant communities. . . .

    Bolivia’s Law of Mother Earth Establishes 11 New Rights For Nature
    link to infiniteunknown.net

    Bolivia enshrines natural world’s rights with equal status for Mother Earth
    link to guardian.co.uk

  4. I think this should be titled “Top Ten Good News Green ELECTRICITY Stories”.

    Conflating electricity and energy only serves to hide the energy sources used for space and process heat and of course transport – which are overwhelmingly oil and gas.

    I wish pundits would differentiate between electricity production and consumption – what means this word “gets”.

    May be 20% of electricity PRODUCED in Germany comes from low carbon sources {nuclear being one of those sources), but that ignores sources of the electricity it imports, much is which is coal & nuclear. I would also note that Germany currently produce no electric cars. The first will probably be the Opel/Vauxhall Ampera, which is a rebadged Chevy Volt.

    The Russia->Germany Nordstream gas pipeline was put into operation yesterday link to dw-world.de,,15368461,00.html

  5. hard not to notice that on your list the one bit of news involving the US is a failed company, Solyndra. There can be hardly any doubt that countries around the world are making the necessary investment and commitment to Green energy sources, some faster than others. The initiatives around Europe are especially impressive – and the list provided here is but a small sample of all that’s happening throughout Europe.

    But what of lil’ ol’ US of A? that must be the country which awaits the miraculous invisible hand of “market forces’ to do its magic. Heard lately of regional US collaborations? of federally funded (yes, FUNDED) initiatives? but that’s the least that will be needed for any smart grid to happen, for example. In germany, by contrast, the smart grid is not just a buzz word used to sell the latest fizzed up business plan. It’s an unfolding reality for many areas, factories, plants, homes and business parks. It is something that is actuated, not just as decoration for the design boards.

    Someone will bring up Li batteries, I’m sure. Yes, photovoltaics, success stories aside, will it actually move beyond the happy little start-ups? anyone knows of a PG&E plan to institute alternative power solutions anywhere? car makers teaming up with PV producers? homebuilders? urban designers?

    The most likely scenario is that the US will be left far behind other developed countries, it’s vaunted start-ups bought by foreign concerns who’ll know better what to do with and how to implement the innovations. It’s lauded venture capitalists will quickly force profit margins that make no sense technologically or financially. It’s government utterly dysfunctional and incapable on even agreeing whether green is a color or taste. It’s corporatocracy committed to it’s own aggrandisement, and it’s people – yes, what of the once great American people? dispirited a bit, you say? pulled down perhaps by one far flung imperial war too many? hobbled by an educational landscape that Niger would not be proud of, it’s best and brightest cowed by the gap between haves and have nots, its ideas burnt up as offerings to the miniature gods of finance, a country which fancied itself an empire for a little too long.

    If only it knew how to quit while it was ahead. If only it could stand up and start something beyond start-ups….if only…..

  6. “Muslim architects have for centuries been masters at using courtyards and fountains to cool buildings naturally.”

    Not to mention wind towers, or Malqafs.

  7. China’s wind energy market is booming… This is really really true.. ><.. Now all around the world is all about china's good & cheap products.. Soon, China will be the biggest market around the world… By the way, nice share Juan..

  8. It’s electricity. Not energy. The vast quantities of energy used in cars and other forms of transportation dwarfs the amount of energy produced by green electricity generation.

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