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Military wants to lead U.S. into the green
Bernie Woodall, Reuters
The U.S. military has a history of fostering change, from racial integration to development of the Internet. Now, Pentagon officials say their green energy efforts will help America fight global warming.
By size alone, the Defense Department can make waves. It accounts for 1.5 percent of U.S. energy consumption.
The military has set a goal that 25 percent of its energy should come from renewable sources by 2025 and aims to create machines and methods to help Main Street America reach similar targets, said Alan Shaffer, a retired Air Force officer who leads the Pentagon's research and engineering arm.
(7 August 2008)
GCC states to harness winds of change
Gopal Bhattacharya, Business 24-7 (Arab Emirates)
GCC countries, sitting on a quarter of the global oil and gas reserves, have traditionally used fossil fuels for most of their needs. Of late the GCC countries are diversifying their sources of energy, by focusing on alternative energy sources. Generally, alternative energy indicates energies that are non-traditional and have low environmental impact.
... Following the recent surge in fossil fuel prices, however, the interest of GCC countries in renewable energies has resurfaced. With the exception of Qatar, every GCC country faces a gas shortage now. There is an urgent need for new discoveries, improved recovery rates, better energy efficiency and intra-regional gas trading schemes from Qatar and Iran. The Dolphin pipeline from Qatar to Abu Dhabi is a case in point.
The GCC countries are increasingly aware of this problem, which is likely to worsen in the future with growing populations and economies. Oil is in good demand and yields higher profits as an export item than being fired in gas strapped power plants at home. Therefore, the GCC countries now envisage nuclear energy, coal and renewable energies as additions to their energy mix. The aim is to extend the lifeline of their most precious export good and use it more efficiently.
Saudi Oil Minister Ibrahim Al Naimi has clearly stated that Saudi Arabia is planning to make solar energy an important pillar of the national energy mix.
(5 August 2008)
Giant kites to tap power of the high wind
Alok Jha, The Observer
A traditional childhood pastime could provide a breakthrough in renewable energy, after successful experiments in flying a giant kite at one of Europe's top research centres.
Scientists from Delft University of Technology in the Netherlands harnessed energy from the wind by flying a 10-sq metre kite tethered to a generator, producing 10 kilowatts of power.
The experiment generated enough electricity to power 10 family homes, and the researchers have plans to test a 50kW version of their invention, called Laddermill, eventually building up to a proposed version with multiple kites that they claim could generate 100 megawatts, enough for 100,000 homes...
(3 August 2008)
Building affordable solar water heaters
Hadas Goshen - Daily Californian, CNN
In spring 2007, University of California Berkeley Energy and Resources Group professor Ashok Gadgil challenged students in his Design for Sustainable Communities class to come up with an affordable and efficient solar water heater that could be used in low-income households.
Now, a little more than a year later, one team of students has already installed solar water heaters on the roofs of several homes in Quetzaltenango, Guatemala.
They have been so beneficial to the recipients that there are already plans to mass produce the heaters locally.
(5 August 2008)
Host of new pylons to carry wind farm power
Jonathan Leake, The Times
Pylons are on the march. Britain’s electricity transmission and distribution companies are to announce plans for a £10 billion rewiring of Britain.
A report due this autumn will warn that if Britain is serious about a low-carbon economy then it must string potentially thousands of miles of new high-voltage power cables across the country. The infrastructure is vital, experts say, because most renewable energy will be generated in remote areas such as northern Scotland or the North Sea - whereas most consumers live in southern Britain.
Some fear the new pylons and cables would threaten treasured landscapes, creating dilemmas for environmentalists who would otherwise support renewable energy without question.
“The power-generating industry is about to undergo great structural changes,” said Chris Bennett, future transmission networks manager for National Grid, which runs the high-voltage cable system.
“We are moving from a system dominated by a small number of large power stations to something far more diverse. Our network needs to adapt rapidly to those changes.”
(3 August 2008)
German City Wonders How Green Is Too Green
Nicholas Kulish, New York Times
MARBURG, Germany - This fairy-tale town is stuck in the middle of a utopian struggle over renewable energy. The town council’s decision to require solar-heating panels has thrown Marburg into a vehement debate over the boundaries of ecological good citizenship and led opponents to charge that their genteel town has turned into a “green dictatorship.”
Officials in Marburg face opposition over a solar initiative.
The town council took the significant step in June of moving from merely encouraging citizens to install solar panels to making them an obligation. The ordinance, the first of its kind in Germany, will require solar panels not only on new buildings, which fewer people oppose, but also on existing homes that undergo renovations or get new heating systems or roof repairs.
To give the regulation teeth, a fine of 1,000 euros, about $1,500, awaits those who do not comply.
(7 August 2008)