| | Other topics
News articles on renewable energy
Mongabay.com news articles on renewable energy in blog format. Updated regularly.
(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.
AES Corp seeks to flood rainforest World Heritage site
(04/23/2007) American power company AES Corporation seeks to flood sections of Panama's La Amistad World Heritage site, alleges a coalition of more than 30 environmental groups that today filed a petition against the electric utility.
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.
Device uses solar energy to convert CO2 into fuel
(04/18/2007) Chemists at the University of California, San Diego, (UCSD) have devised a device that uses solar energy to convert carbon dioxide into fuel. While the machine is only a prototype and not yet optimized, the researchers hope that their work will attract attention to their approach.
Palo Alto aims to cut CO2 emissions 80% by 2050
(04/15/2007) The city of Palo Alto, California aims to cut greenhouse gas emissions significantly in coming years, joining a growing number of U.S. cities that have pledged to cut emissions by 80 percent by 2050. The goal, set forth in Green Ribbon task force report last year, was discussed by a panel of experts convening at Stanford University Sunday.
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.
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.
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."
Balloon technology could cut cost of solar energy 90% by 2010
(02/21/2007) With high energy prices and mounting concerns over human-induced climate change, there is intense interest in renewable energy, especially solar, which produces no pollution and is readily available in the form of sunlight. In recent years, however, the solar energy market has been hampered by supply shortages of refined silicon, the critical resource needed for solar cell fabrication. Further, because solar installations traditionally require a large surface area to capture as much sunlight as possible, solar arrays often take up real estate, occupying land used agricultural production and other purposes. Without government subsidies, solar is not presently viable in many areas.
Ethanol always not as green as some believe
(02/16/2007) Ethanol is generally not as green as some people believe says Bruce Dale, Michigan State University professor of chemical engineering and materials science. Speaking at the American Association for the Advancement of Science annual meeting in San Francisco, Dale says that while corn ethanol produces less greenhouse gases than gasoline, it can cause other detrimental environmental effects if not carefully managed.
Weedy grass could free U.S. of foreign oil dependence says biologist
(02/16/2007) A weedy grass may hold the key to domestic energy security and mitigating emissions of greenhouse gasese, said a Stanford University plant biologist speaking Friday at the annual meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science in San Francisco.
Brazil calls out rich countries on global warming
(02/06/2007) Reuters reports that Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva criticized wealthy countries for their contributions to global warming and told them to stay out of Brazil's business when it comes to the fate of the Amazon rainforest.
Industrial waste dump becomes biofuel source
(02/01/2007) Shrub willows growing on land that was once considered an industrial waste site will be used to produce green energy according to researchers at the SUNY College of Environmental Science and forestry (ESF).
Biofuels could decimate environment, stymie developing countries, says report
(01/25/2007) In his State of the Union Address Tuesday night, U.S. President George W. Bush highlighted ethanol fuel production as a means to improve domestic security by reducing dependence on foreign oil while at the same time helping to fight global warming. His call echoes a broader shift in sentiment among business and political leaders who believe that biofuels -- liquid fuels produced 'energy crops' including sugarcane, corn, soybeans, oil palms -- are a key future liquid energy source. In fact, next week, biofuels are likely to take a prominent position at the European Union's 'Sustainable Energy Week' in Brussels when 650 delegates will listen to speeches by the likes of Al Gore and UK foreign minister Margaret Beckett. With all the enthusiasm it may seem that biofuels are the end-all solution. A new report argues that this is not the case. In its briefing, 'International trade in biofuels: Good for development? And good for environment?' the International Institute for Environment and Development (IIED) cautions policymakers not to get caught up in all the hype. IIED warns that serious concerns still remain when it comes to the widespread adoption of these renewable energy sources.
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.
Biomimicry of native prairie yields more bioenergy than corn ethanol
(12/07/2006) Diverse mixtures of plants that mimic the native prairie ecosystem are a better source of biofuels than corn grain ethanol or soybean biodiesel according to a new paper published in the Dec. 8 issue of the journal Science. Led by David Tilman, a biology professor at the University of Minnesota, the research shows that "mixtures of native perennial grasses and other flowering plants provide more usable energy per acre than corn grain ethanol or soybean biodiesel and are far better for the environment," according to a release from the University of Minnesota.
Switchgrass-based ethanol could cost $1 per gallon, reduce foreign oil dependence
(12/05/2006) Genetic engineering of switchgrass, a native prairie plant, could reduce the price of ethanol to $1 per gallon according to a plant geneticist at the University of Rhode Island.
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.
Bacteria can generate renewable energy from pollution, help fight global warming
(10/26/2006) Currently, most energy production generates carbon dioxide, a potent greenhouse gas that contributes to global warming and local pollution. At the same time that carbon dioxide concentrations are rising in the atmosphere, fueling higher temperatures, burgeoning population growth of humans and livestock is producing ever-increasing amounts of organic pollution and waste. Now researchers at the Center for Biotechnology at the Biodesign Institute of Arizona State University are working on a way to solve both problems using bacteria to convert organic wastes into a source of electricity. Bruce Rittmann, Director of the Center for Environmental Biotechnology at the Biodesign Institute, and his team of researchers are developing microbial fuel cells (MFC) that can oxidize organic pollutants and create electricity from pollution.
Google worried about global warming?
(10/17/2006) Google said it plans to build a solar-powered electricity system at its Silicon Valley headquarters that be the largest solar installation on any corporate campus in the United States.
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.
Wells Fargo Makes Largest Corporate Renewable Energy Purchase
(10/03/2006) Wells Fargo said today it will buy renewable energy certificates (RECs) to support generating 550 million kilowatt-hours of clean, renewable wind energy a year for three years. With this action, Wells Fargo becomes the largest corporate purchaser of renewable energy in the United States according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.
Add invasive species status to list of biofuel concerns
(09/22/2006) High energy prices over the past couple years have fueled interest in biofuels, which proponents say are less damaging to the environment and provide energy security not afforded by foreign oil and gas imports. Nevertheless, accompanying their rise in visibility, have been concerns over their environmental impact of converting natural vegetation for their production. Now scientists warn that some biofuel crops pose a risk as invasive species.
Genetically modified tree could be used for cellulosic ethanol biofuel
(08/24/2006) A tree that can reach 90 feet in six years and be grown as a row crop on fallow farmland could represent a major replacement for fossil fuels. Purdue University researchers are using genetic tools in an effort to design trees that readily and inexpensively can yield the substances needed to produce alternative transportation fuel.
Biodiesel Moves to the Energy Mainstream
(08/14/2006) Country music legend Willie Nelson and biological engineer San Fernando have a lot in common. The common link between the singer and the Mississippi State University professor is biodiesel, a fuel for diesel engines produced by blending petroleum diesel with refined vegetable oil. Nelson is promoting biodiesel as an alternative to pure petroleum-based diesel and as a way to support U.S. farmers. Fernando is researching ways to make production of the fuel easier and more cost-effective.
Biofuels can lead to deforestation says Unilever executive
(08/11/2006) While biofuels are hyped for their potential to off-set fossil fuel use, the shift toward their use should proceed with caution warns Alan Jope, vice president of consumer products giant Unilever. In an August 7 interview with The Times, Jope said that the environmental drawbacks of biofuels is overlooked.
Cellulosic ethanol fuels environmental concerns
(08/06/2006) In recent months, high fuel prices and national security concerns have sparked interest in biofuels. Cellulosic ethanol, which can be derived from virtually any plant matter including farm waste, looks particularly promising. The U.S. Department of Energy projects that cellulosic conversion technology could reduce the cost of producing ethanol by as much as 60 cents per gallon by 2015. Green groups see cellulosic ethanol as a carbon neutral energy source that could be used to fight the build up of atmospheric carbon dioxide responsible for global warming.
Northern Ireland madantes green energy for new buildings
(07/25/2006) The changes, which all apply to all new homes, company and public buildings, will make micro-generation, such as solar panels to heat hot water, solar photo voltaic panels on roofs to generate electricity or small wind turbines for houses, mandatory in under two years.
Corn waste potentially useful for more than ethanol
(07/19/2006) After the corn harvest, whether for cattle feed or corn on the cob, farmers usually leave the stalks and stems in the field, but now, a team of Penn State researchers think corn stover can be used not only to manufacture ethanol, but to generate electricity directly.
High school students compete in solar car race
(07/13/2006) Beginning on July 16th, high school students from the US, Puerto Rico and India will travel to Texas Motor Speedway to compete in the 11th annual Dell-Winston School Solar Car Challenge, a race tasking students to design, build and race their own solar powered cars.
Soybean biodiesel has higher net energy benefit than corn ethanol
(07/11/2006) The first comprehensive analysis of the full life cycles of soybean biodiesel and corn grain ethanol shows that biodiesel has much less of an impact on the environment and a much higher net energy benefit than corn ethanol, but that neither can do much to meet U.S. energy demand.
Venture Capitalists, China and Green Technology
(05/24/2006) A Bay Area venture capitalist with a storied past, has set his sights on "green technology" and ultimately China, after some compelling remarks from state representatives at a recent conference. Early this spring, Chinese officials named solar and clean coal technologies as two of their three pre-eminent priorities for investment and development in the near future. For a country with burgeoning energy needs surpassing what power is presently available, this is both realistic and positive news for environmentalists and economists alike. Hoping to capitalize, John Doerr and his associates are now funneling cash into the emergent green technology sector, which he, and an increasing number of other investors believe to be the next big thing.
US has low-cost alternatives to oil; peak oil frenzy and human-induced climate change avoidable says Columbia University
(05/14/2006) Surging oil prices have fueled calls for the United States to develop new sources of affordable and secure domestic energy. While renewable energy -- especially biofuels, wind power, and solar technologies -- is an area of particular interest, researchers from the Earth Institute at Columbia University say that the U.S. already has relatively low-cost alternatives to imported oil, including coal, tar sands, and oil shale. These resources can be extracted and used at a lower cost to the environment than some might expect. In a report published in the most recent issue of Brookings Papers on Economic Activity, Klaus S. Lackner and Jeffrey D. Sachs argue that "coal alone could satisfy the country's energy needs of the twenty-first century." They say that "coal liquefaction, or the process of deriving liquid fuels from coal, is already being used in places and with expanded infrastructure could provide gasoline, diesel fuel and jet fuel at levels well below current prices." Further, Sachs and Lackner suggest that "environmental constraints such as increased carbon dioxide emissions arising from greater use of coal and other fossil fuels could be avoided for less than 1 percent of gross world product by 2050," a sum far less than others have estimated.
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.
Scientists closer to understanding key to cellulosic biofuels
(04/20/2006) Cellulose -- a fibrous molecule found in all plants -- is the most abundant biological material on Earth. It is also a favored target of renewable, plant-based biofuels research. Despite overwhelming interest, scientists know relatively little about how plant cells synthesize individual cellulose fibers.
Palo Alto leads United States in renewable energy use
(04/10/2006) Palo Alto has the highest percentage of renewable energy users in the country according to the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) 2005 Top Ten list.
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.
Largest solar power plant in a generation to be built in Nevada
(02/09/2006) The groundbreaking for the largest solar thermal power plant to be built in 15 years takes place this weekend in Boulder City, Nevada. The 64MW Nevada Solar One power plant will generate enough power to meet the electricity needs of about 40,000 households and follows in the steps of the 354MW solar thermal power plants located in California's Mojave Desert. While California's solar plants have generated billions of kilowatt hours of electricity for the past two decades, the Nevada Solar One plant will use new technologies to capture even more energy from the sun
Page 1 | Page 2 | Page 3 | Page 4 | Page 5