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News articles on alternative energy
Mongabay.com news articles on alternative energy in blog format. Updated regularly.
(07/11/2007) In a side-by-side comparison, miscanthus (Miscanthus x giganteus) grass has been shown to be a more productive bioenergy source than switchgrass (Panicum virgatum), according to research presented at the annual meeting of the American Society of Plant Biologists in Chicago.
Inflatable concentrators may cut cost of solar below conventional power plants
(07/08/2007) Cool Earth Solar, a Livermore, California-based company developing an innovative way for capturing solar energy, has merged with Radiant Energy, a developer and owner of renewable and clean energy power plants including solar, geothermal, and hydroelectric. Rob Lamkin, CEO of Radiant Energy, says the merger will help ramp up the technology, which uses inflatable solar concentrators to minimize use of refined silicon, a costly ingredient in solar cells. Lamkin says the technology could dramatically reduce the cost solar energy, bringing it below the cost natural gas-fired power plants.
$100 billion invested in renewable energy in 2006
(06/20/2007) $100 billion poured into renewable energy and energy efficiency in 2006, a 25 percent jump from 2005, reports a new analysis by the UN Environment Programme (UNEP).
Google to be carbon neutral by year end
(06/20/2007) Google Inc. aims to be carbon neutral by the end of 2007, according to a statement posted on the Official Google Blog. The search giant plans to fight global warming by investing in and using renewable energy sources; reducing energy consumption by maximizing efficiency, and purchasing carbon offsets for the greenhouse gas emissions that it cannot reduce directly.
Google will put $10M towards plug-in hybrid cars
(06/19/2007) Google.org, Google Inc.'s philanthropic arm, today unveiled an initiative to convert hybrid cars to plug-in hybrid vehicles (PHEVs), a move that will cut carbon dioxide emissions, reduce oil use, and help stabilize the electrical grid.
Largest Solar Thermal Power Plant Built in 16 Years Goes Online
(06/08/2007) SCHOTT today announced that with the connection of the Nevada Solar One power plant to the grid, its solar receivers officially began collecting solar radiation needed to generate clean energy for Nevada homes.
Nobel prize winner debates future of nuclear power
(06/07/2007) Two renowned energy experts sparred in a debate over nuclear energy Wednesday afternoon at Stanford University. Amory Lovins, Chairman and Chief Scientist of the Rocky Mountain Institute, an energy think tank, argued that energy efficiency and alternative energy sources will send nuclear power the way of the dinosaurs in the near future. Dr. Burton Richter, winner of the 1976 Nobel Prize in physics, said that nuclear would play an important part of the future energy portfolio needed to cut carbon emissions to fight global warming.
First U.S. offshore wind farm wins preliminary approval
(05/23/2007) The first offshore wind farm in the United States won preliminary approval Tuesday from a panel of Delaware state officials. According to published reports, four Delaware state agencies ordered Delmarva Power, an electric utility, to buy wind-generated power from Bluewater Wind, the wind farm's developer.
Sugar could power hydrogen fuel cars says VTU researcher
(05/22/2007) Sugary carbohydrates could be used to produce low-cost hydrogen to power fuel cells report researchers writing in the May 23 issue of PLoS ONE, the online, open-access journal from the Public Library of Science ( www.plosone.org)
Ancient Amazonian technology could save the world
(05/17/2007) Terra preta, the ancient charcoal-based soil used by ancient Amazonians to create permanently fertile agricultural lands in the rainforest, is getting serious consideration as a means to fight global warming and meet domestic energy demand, reports an article in Scientific American.
U.S. ethanol may drive Amazon deforestation
(05/17/2007) Ethanol production in the United States may be contributing to deforestation in the Brazilian rainforest said a leading expert on the Amazon. Dr. Daniel Nepstad of the Woods Hole Research Center said the growing demand for corn ethanol means that more corn and less soy is being planted in the United States. Brazil, the world's largest producer of soybeans, is more than making up for shortfall, by clearing new land for soy cultivation. While only a fraction of this cultivation currently occurs in the Amazon rainforest, production in neighboring areas like the cerrado grassland helps drive deforestation by displacing small farmers and cattle producers, who then clear rainforest land for subsistence agriculture and pasture.
Wind energy has promise, but brings concerns, reports study
(05/03/2007) While wind-generated energy has the potential to produce clean electricity without carbon dioxide emissions, more research is needed to understand its impact on wildlife says a new report from the National Research Council, a private, nonprofit institution that provides science and technology advice under a congressional charter.
Cleantech investment booms, but energy tech bubble looms
(04/30/2007) Investors are pouring money into clean technology, with spending on R&D rising to $48 billion in 2006, up 9% from 2005, reports a new study by Lux Research, an emerging technology research and advisory firm. However, the report warns that the energy technology sector is showing signs of a bubble, with initial public offering (IPO) values and venture capital deployments more than doubling last year.
Dutch plan restricts biofuels that damage environment
(04/29/2007) The Netherlands has proposed a system to reduce the environmental impact of biofuels production. The country becomes the first in the world to establish such guidelines. Environmentalists have expressed increasing concern for the establishment of energy crops in biodiverse and carbon-rich ecosystems like the peatlands of Indonesia and the Amazon rainforest. They say that conversion of these forests for oil palm and soybeans is threatening endangered species and worsening global warming. Further, they warn, demand for such biomass energy products is driving up prices for food crops.
Dutch will demand rainforest-friendly palm oil
(04/27/2007) In a report scheduled to be released today, the Dutch government will outline criteria for growing biofuels in a more sustainable manner. The guidelines will be closely watched by the rest of Europe, which is currently struggling with the environmental pros and cons of large-scale energy crop production, especially in ecologically-sensitive areas like the Amazon and Indonesian rainforests.
Biodiesel may worsen global warming relative to petroleum diesel
(04/23/2007) Biodiesel made from rapeseed could increase rather than reduce greenhouse emissions compared to conventional diesel fuels, reports a new study published in the journal Chemistry & Industry. Overall the researchers found that petroleum diesel and rapeseed biodiesel, presently the main biofuel used across Europe, have a similar environmental impact. The results suggest that efforts to mitigate climate change through the adoption of rapeseed biodiesel may be of little use beyond energy security.
Ethanol may be greener but have higher health cost
(04/18/2007) Widespread burning of ethanol as fuel may increase the number of respiratory-related deaths and hospitalizations relative to gasoline, according to a new study by Stanford University atmospheric scientist Mark Z. Jacobson. The report comes as mounting environmental concerns cloud the benefits of using ethanol as a green alternative to fossil fuels.
Concentrating solar power better option than nuclear
(04/10/2007) Regarding Nuclear power plants are financially risky given high costs, there is absolutely no need for nuclear power in the US because there is a simple mature technology that can deliver huge amounts of clean energy without any of the headaches of nuclear power.
TXU hopes to build nuclear reactors instead of coal-fired power plants
(04/10/2007) Texas energy company TXU will abandon plans to build coal-fired power planets and will instead focus on building the largest nuclear power plants in the United States according to an article from The Wall Street Journal. Despite reduced emissions of greenhouse gases, the decision will likely prove controversial due to the high cost of nuclear energy. Without substantial subsidies nuclear energy is rarely cost-competitive with coal or renewable power sources.
Nuclear power plants are financially risky given high costs
(04/04/2007) Nuclear power plants are risky investments given rapidly rising costs of construction of nuclear fuel, reports a new study by researchers from Georgetown University, Stanford University and UC Berkeley.
Palm oil doesn't have to be bad for the environment
(04/04/2007) As traditionally practiced in southeast Asia, oil palm cultivation is responsible for widespread deforestation that reduces biodiversity, degrades important ecological services, worsens climate change, and traps workers in inequitable conditions sometimes analogous to slavery. This doesn't have to be the case. Following examples set forth by the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil and firms like Golden Hope Plantations Berhad, a Malaysian palm oil producer, oil palm can be cultivated in a manner that helps mitigate climate change, preserves biodiversity, and brings economic opportunities to desperately poor rural populations.
Eco-friendly palm oil could help alleviate poverty in Indonesia
(04/03/2007) The Associated Press (AP) recently quoted Marcel Silvius, a climate expert at Wetlands International in the Netherlands, as saying palm oil is a failure as a biofuel. This would be a misleading statement and one that doesn't help efforts to devise a workable solution to the multiplicity of issues surrounding the use of palm oil.
U.S. can cut oil imports to zero by 2040, use to zero by 2050
(03/29/2007) The United States could dramatically cut oil usage over the next 20-30 years at low to no net cost, said Amory B. Lovins, cofounder and CEO of the Colorado-based Rocky Mountain Institute, speaking at Stanford University Wednesday night for a week-long evening series of lectures sponsored by Mineral Acquisition Partners, Inc.
Biofuels demand will increase, not decrease, world food supplies
(03/27/2007) As concerns mount over fuel-versus-food competition for crops, a Michigan State University ethanol expert says that cellulosic ethanol could render the debate moot. Bruce Dale, an MSU chemical engineering and materials science professor, notes that ethanol can be made from cellulosic materials, like farm waste, instead of corn grain.
Biofuel Cell Produces Electricity from Hydrogen in Plain Air
(03/27/2007) A pioneering biofuel cell that produces electricity from ordinary air spiked with small amounts of hydrogen offers significant potential as an inexpensive and renewable alternative to the costly platinum-based fuel cells that have dominated discussion about the hydrogen economy of the future, British scientists reported here today.
Bush, U.S. automakers look for easy way out of fuel standards
(03/26/2007) President Bush praised U.S. automakers on their efforts to build more 'flexible fuel' vehicles capable of running on blends of gasoline and biofuels like ethanol and biodiesel. Environments retorted that the announcement was simply a ploy to undermine efforts to develop more fuel efficient cars, according to The Associated Press.
Cell phone batteries could be powered by OJ
(03/26/2007) Researchers at Saint Louis University in Missouri have developed a fuel cell battery that can run on virtually any sugar source -- from orange juice to tree sap -- and may last three to four times longer than conventional lithium ion batteries.
New green biofuels process could meet all U.S. transportation needs
(03/14/2007) Purdue University chemical engineers have proposed a new environmentally friendly process for producing liquid fuels from plant matter - or biomass - potentially available from agricultural and forest waste, providing all of the fuel needed for "the entire U.S. transportation sector."
Bush administration cuts funding for geothermal energy
(03/13/2007) The Bush Administration is seeking to eliminate federal funding for geothermal energy research according to a report from Reuters. Oddly, the move comes as the White House has made a push for renewable energy to reduce dependence on foreign oil imports. Apparently the administration appears to be focused on biofuels as liquid fuels and nuclear for electricity generation.
Wind energy speculation jumps in Texas, but Exxon on sidelines
(03/12/2007) While speculative energy ventures are nothing new in Texas, today companies are taking risky gambles in wind power argues an article that appears in today's issue of The Wall Street Journal (WSJ). The WSJ reports that energy firms are investing hundreds of millions of dollars in some of the most remote -- and windy -- parts of Texas, but notes that the investments will only pay off with government subsidies.
Plug-in cars could help fuel Austin power grid
(03/12/2007) The city of Austin, Texas hopes to launch an ambitious plan using plug-in electric cars to reduce pollution and improve power grid management, reports an article in today's Wall Street Journal. Under the initiative put forth by Roger Duncan, deputy manager of Austin Energy, the city-owned electric utility, and backed by mayor Will Wynn, the plug-in electric cars would serve as sort of giant battery from which the city grid could draw power during peak demand.
Government pledges $385M for cellulosic ethanol
(03/08/2007) The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) announced it will invest up to $385 million over the next four years for six biorefinery projects capable of producing more than 130 million gallons of cellulosic ethanol annually.
Termites can make ethanol
(03/06/2007) Achim Steiner, Executive Director of the UN Environment Programme (UNEP), says that termites can be used to make eco-friendly ethanol. He cites U.S. government backed research showing that "microbes living in the guts of termites have potent enzymes able to efficiently and cost effectively transform woody wastes into sugars for ethanol production."
Air pollution may reduce wind power, rainfall
(01/22/2007) Aerosolized particles and other pollution produced from vehicle exhaust may reduce wind speeds near Earth's surface, resulting in less wind for power generation as well as reduced precipitation, according to a study published in the December 27th online edition of Geophysical Research Letters by researchers at Stanford University and NASA.
Geothermal energy could cut U.S. oil demand
(01/22/2007) Geothermal energy could eventually power some 25 million homes across the United States at a cost of $40 million per year according to a Department of Energy sponsored study released Monday. Lead by Jefferson Tester, a professor at MIT and lead author, the report argues that unlocking the heat stored in Earth's crust could improve American energy security while reducing emissions greenhouse gases blamed for global warming.
China invests in $5.5B biofuels project in Borneo, New Guinea
(01/18/2007) China has agreed to invest in a $5.5 billion biofuels project on the islands of New Guinea and Borneo. The plan promises to be controversial among environmentalists who say that it will destroy some of the world's most biodiverse -- and threatened -- ecosystems on the planet.
Are biofuels good or bad for the environment?
(12/15/2006) Sometimes hailed as a savior from global warming and foreign oil dependence, biofuels are as often criticized for deforestation and pollution. So, are biofuels good or bad for the environment? Grist, an independent online environmental magazine, examines the question in a new series devoted to biofuels.
China to build world's largest solar power plant
(11/21/2006) China plans to build the world's largest solar power station in the northwestern province of Gansu according to a report from Xinhua, China's state news agency. Construction of the 100 megawatt facility will take five years and cost 6.03 billion yuan ($766 million).
Renewable sources could power 25% of U.S. energy needs by 2025
(11/13/2006) Renewable energy sources could supply one quarter of America's electricity and motor vehicle fuel needs by 2025 according to a new study from RAND, a nonprofit research organization. Currently six percent is energy used in the United Stats comes from renewable sources like solar, biomass, hydroelectric, tidal, wind, and geothermal.
Solar Energy Powers Mainland China's Richest Man
(10/12/2006) The largest private fortune in mainland China may belong to Shi Zhengrong, the founder of the China's largest producer of photovoltaic equipment used to convert sunlight into eletricity, according to an article in today's edition of The Wall Street Journal.
High oil prices fuel bioenergy push
(05/09/2006) High oil prices and growing concerns over climate change are driving investment and innovation in the biofuels sector as countries and industry increasingly look towards renewable bioenergy to replace fossil fuels. Bill Gates, the world's richest man, has recently invested $84 million in an American ethanol company while global energy gluttons ranging from the United States to China are setting long-term targets for the switch to such fuels which potentially offer a secure domestic source of renewable energy and fewer environmental headaches. Biofuels are fuels that are derived from biomass, including recently living organisms like plants or their metabolic byproducts like cow manure. Unlike fossil fuels -- like coal, petroleum, and natural gas, which are finite resources -- biofuels are a renewable source of energy that can be replenished on an ongoing basis. In general, biofuels are biodegradable and, when burned, have fewer emissions than traditional hydrocarbon-based fuels. Typically, biofuels are blended with traditional petroleum-based fuels, though it is possible to run existing diesel, engines purely on biodiesel, something which holds a great deal of promise as an alternative energy source to replace fossil fuels. Further, because biofuels are generally derived from plants which absorb carbon from the atmosphere as they grow, biofuel production offers the potential to help offset carbon dioxide emissions and mitigate climate change.
Wind turbines could power China says expert
(03/09/2006) Wind could become China's second-largest source of electricity according to a Chinese energy expert. Wang Weicheng, an energy professor at Tsinghua University in Beijing, told reporters that China has the potential to install up to 100 gigawatts of wind power. Wang's comments come as China has been aggressively expanding its interests in renewable energy sources including wind, solar, biofuels, tidal, and small hydroelectric dams.
Making wind power less deadly for birds
(12/15/2005) High oil prices and concern over climate change are driving interest in renewable energy technologies. All types of potential power sources -- not limited to the sun, ocean tides and waves, raw sewage, and even insects -- are the focus of media reports, while governments and industry scramble to announce their grand plans for adopting green energy.
California plans $3 billion for solar energy projects
(12/13/2005) Tuesday the California Public Utilities Commission announced an ambitious program to expand the market for solar power, proposing to provide $2.8 billion of incentives toward solar development over the next 11 years.
China to add wind power capacity
(08/15/2005) China plans to construct its first offshore wind power complex next year in hopes of easing chronic electricity shortages, the official Xinhua News Agency reported Monday.
China announces wave power station changes
(07/27/2005) China announced that it has developed typhoon-resistant technologies for the world's first experimental wave power station. The announcement comes two months after a Norwegian firm signed an agreement to construct a commercial wave farm to harvest electricity from sea swells off the coast of Scottland.
How might I buy invest in green energy projects?
(07/20/2005) On June 17, Associate Press reported that Zilhka Renewable Energy hopes to complete a $100 million wind farm in eastern Oregon by December 2006. The article said the company owned wind farms in eleven states. For many investors, green or otherwise, this would seem like a great company in which to own stock. Whether or not the numbers would bear that out, a savvy investor would first want to know, "How might I buy a piece of Zilhka or invest in their projects?"
Renewable surf energy; Wave farm to harvest electricity from sea swells
(05/21/2005) A new wave farm will be used to generate electricity from sea swells.
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