Written by R.E. Lord   


Wind, waves and seaweed could supply a substantial amount of Europe’s fuel needs within the next 40 years, according to a report presented at a European Science Foundation (ESF) conference in Belgium.

The vast and largely untapped potential energy locked in the world’s oceans needs only will and research to be loosed for the benefit of Europe – along with a massive amount of funding, government or otherwise – and could supply up to 50 percent of Europe’s electricity needs by 2050, the report claims.

Read more: The Ocean Frontier: Report says renewable marine resources could be Europe's energy future
Written by R.E. Lord   

FTC Green Guide

The Federal Trade Commission seeks public comments on proposed changes to Green Guides

Seeking to more precisely define what has become one of the most overused, amorphous words in the English language, the Federal Trade Commission wants the public’s help revising its “Green Guides” for marketers.

The changes will be the first to the agency’s Green Guides in more than 10 years – a decade that has seen an explosion of consumer products, product certifications and seals of approval using the word “green” and related terms.

Read more: FTC To Green Marketers: Back Up Your Claims
Written by R.E. Lord   

Wind Energy Transmission

Google will put up a large chunk of the funding to develop a major wind-energy project in the Mid-Atlantic region.

The company announced this week that it would fund some 37 percent of the “Atlantic Wind Connection” (AWC), a 350-mile wind-power infrastructure complex planned for the Atlantic coast from New Jersey to Virginia.

The underwater power “backbone” will connect 6,000MW of offshore wind turbines, “equivalent to 60 percent of the wind energy that was installed in the entire country last year and enough to serve approximately 1.9 million households,” according to Google’s Green Business Operations Director Rick Needham, who announced the deal on the company’s official blog.

Read more: Google Invests in Superhighway for Clean Energy
Written by R.E. Lord   

Nissan Leaf Some six months before the all-electric Nissan Leaf is set to hit the market, it has already sold out. That's right, according to Nissan CEO Carlos Ghosn, as reported by the Detroit Free Press, the car has received 13,000 orders for the car that is set to release by the end of 2010, the total allotment of Leafs headed to the U.S.

This fact, certainly good news for Nissan, may perhaps lend some weight to argument that there is a demand in this country for an affordable electric vehicle. But does it mean long-term success for other such vehicles? That is obviously the big question for car makers, scrambling to find their own place in this select niche, but this early success doesn't tell us much.

Read more: Electric Car Nissan Leaf Already Sold Out
Written by R.E. Lord   

Thin Film SolarThin film solar panels promise to provide some of best alternative energy solutions to come forward these past few years--perhaps ultimately fulfilling the hope that solar advocates have long held for this evolving technology. Thin film overcomes some of the shortfalls of traditional photovoltaic cell technology although they introduce a couple of obstacles that are yet to be overcome.

Traditional solar technology consists of converting the suns energy into electricity using bulky flat panes with crystalline silicon solar cells.  The cost of production is relatively high (compared to traditional energy sources like coal and natural gas), the panels are bulky and the efficiency is somewhere in the neighborhood of 15-20% for most residential applications (though near 40% efficiency is possible if you have deep enough pockets).

Read more: Thin Film Solar Panels
Written by Tim Hull   

Switchgrass, a resilient, high-yield grass native to North America, has been drawing a lot of attention lately thanks to the president giving it his imprimatur in his 2006 State of the Union address.

This might just be more than political rhetoric because Switchgrass (also known as Tall Panic Grass) could become the biofuel of our dreams.

Read more: Switchgrass: Native American Powerhouse?
Written by R.E. Lord   

Algae, one of the oldest life forms on earth, are poised to play a major role in the global search for the ideal biofuel feedstock, as researchers around the world seek new, more efficient ways to squeeze oil from "seaweed" to produce a clean and renewable biofuel. Some scientists even project that algal fuels could one day replace petroleum outright.

There are certainly good reasons for this kind of audacious hope. Some forms of algae are as much as 50 percent oil, and they can be grown in salty water or even waste water, absorbing C02 in the process. Researchers say algae can produce from 30 to 400 times more oil per acre than other popular biofuel feedstocks like palm trees and soy beans. And since algae can be grown in huge open ponds or in sealed bioreactors, and because algae can convert sunlight into chemical energy (photosynthesis) much more efficiently than other feedstocks, its wide use could take biofuel production out of the food cycle for good.

Read more: Algae Biodiesel: Making Biofuel from Algae
Written by Prognog Staff    Image The American Wind Energy Association, or (AWEA), has recently announced record growth in the wind producing industry in the US for a third year in a row.  The United States now produces roughly 21,000 (MW) of installed wind power capacity at this point.

According to the AWEA, "this summer, the U.S. passed Germany to become the world leader in wind generation."

They also report that according to the US Department of Energy, "wind could provide 20% of U.S. electricity by 2030, supporting 500,000 jobs and reducing greenhouse gas emissions as much as taking 140 million vehicles off the road, and saving 4 trillion gallons of water."
Written by Prognog Staff   

Solar Power
Recently, in fact just last week, the BLM announced a moratorium on all new solar power projects on Federal land, citing the need for further environmental impact studies. We even talked about it in a recent blog post on solar power.

Now, the BLM has announced it was going to continue accepting solar energy applications for solar power plants on BLM land.

“We heard the concerns expressed during the scoping period about waiting to consider new applications,” said BLM Director James Caswell, “and we are taking action. By continuing to accept and process new applications for solar energy projects, we will aggressively help meet growing interest in renewable energy sources, while ensuring environmental protections.”

Although the BLM needs to move carefully in granting any type of project on federal land, this is great news for renewable energy and solar power specifically.

Written by Prognog Staff   

Interesting article here on Alternet.org.

After a steady stream of news out of Washington this past year that ethanol was going to cure all our woes, it's refreshing to hear some rational thoughts to the contrary.  Written by the Co-Directors of the International Forum on Globalization (www.ifg.org), the authors make some good points about the pitfalls of looking for biofuels to cure our dependence on oil noting that "corn-produced ethanol and many of the other biofuel varieties are leading us down a path of unsustainability as they continue to impact fragile ecosystems, threaten biodiversity, concentrate corporate power and increase inequities in rural communities."

I think a move away from corn based ethanol is an absolute necessity and sources like switchgrass and other cellulosic materials can provide a much more sustainable system of supply.  Ultimately, though, it is like the authors say, " "the answer must involve renewables plus significant efforts toward all-out conservation, efficiency, reduced consumption and "powering down" of energy use."


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