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.