Tuesday, August 31, 2004

Alternative Energy Pakistan

$875 million dollars are expected to be invested in alternative energy in Pakistan. The main alterntaive energy technologies to be used will be wind power and solar power.

Companies said to be interested include German company G-Energy with investment of $400 million, Denmark company Westas with $100 million, American company Axces with $75 million and two Chinese companies Sestak and Abex have invested $108 million and $91 million, respectively.

Pakistani Daily Times Article

Monday, August 30, 2004

Revolutionary Alternative Energy Technology Part One:Anti-Matter

Visualisation of anti-matter powered rocket

One of the major advantages of fossil fuels is that they are energy dense. A challenge with renewable energy sources such as wind power and solar power is that the energy is very diffuse and to collect significant quantities is space intensive. For example to generate all the United State's current electricity demand would take several million wind turbines.

As part of my ongoing research into alternative energy technology I have come across several "out-there" potential sources. Barring a major breakthrough in alternative energy technology these aren't likely to be providing our power anytime soon.

The first source I am going to posting about is anti-matter.

Anti-matter is literally the opposite of matter. The first evidence of anti-matter was found by Carl Anderson in 1932, who discovered positrons - electrons with a positive instead of negative charge.

When matter comes into contact with antimatter it produces an explosion of pure radiation, traveling outwards at the speed of light. Both particles that created the explosion are completely destroyed, leaving behind only other subatomic particles. It's a perfect conversion of mass into energy. It releases about 10 billion time the energy of a chemical reaction and 1000 times more than nuclear fission in a nuclear power plant.

So why haven't we built a matter/antimatter power plant yet?

There seems to be very little antimatter in the universe (and certainly in our immediate vicinity).

So how do we get hold of some antimatter?

One way is create it using particle accelerators, like CERN. However particle accelerators only produce a few trillionths of a gram of antimatter each year. This is only enough to power a 100watt lightbulb for a few seconds.

Currently, antimatter is the most expensive substance on Earth, about $80 trillion a gram.

The world's largest maker of antimatter (according to CNN in 2002), the Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory in Batavia, Illinois, makes only one billionth of a gram a year at a cost of $80 million. At that rate, it would take one million years and $80 quadrillion (80,000 trillion) to produce one gram.

Harold Gerrish of NASA/Marshall and others estimate that improvements in equipment to slow and trap the antiprotons could bring the price down to about $5,000 per microgram. This is $5 million a gram, if the cost could be brought down to $1.5 million a gram this is the equivalent of 6 cents per a kilowatt hour.

Some people have theorised that comets contain significant quantities of anti-matter. A metric ton of antimatter could provide all the world's electricity for one year. 355 grams would produce the energy equivalent of burning a million tons of coal. (these figures are taken from the matter-antimatter.com website see note below)

Anti-matter as a material is the greatest source of energy (when combined with regular matter) that we know of. However the quantities we currently produce are trivial. Barring a breakthrough in production costs and volumes or the discovery of a source and the technology to collect antimatter in space and return it to Earth, meeting our energy needs with antimatter will remain a dream for the foreseeable future.


Latest news on particle accelerators (August 2004):

CERN Homepage:

How Stuff Works - Explanation of Anti Matter & how it could be used for rocket propulsion

Matter/AntiMatter - mentions anti-matter in comets
(note this guy believes in Atlantis & thinks Nasa may cause armageddon in 2005)

Sunday, August 29, 2004

North Korea - Coal Use to Increase 5 times by 2020

Energy consumption in North Korea is expected to double over 30 years, from almost 48m tonnes of oil equivalent in 1990 to 96 million tonnes in 2020.

North Korea's use of coal is projected to increase five times from 2005 to 2020, underlining, according to a joint North Korean/United Nations report, "the urgent need for clean coal combustion and exhaust gas purification technologies, energy efficiency, and renewable energy alternatives."


Saturday, August 28, 2004

Go ahead for $155m wind farm in Australia

A 52 wind turbine, $155 million dollar ($220m Australian dollars), wind farm has been approved in Victoria, Australia. The project will generate 104 megawatts of electricity powering over 60,000 homes.

The Premier of Victoria called on Australia's federal government to increase the mandatory requirment for the use of alternative energy in Australia from 2% to 5%.

Considering the amount of sparsely inhabited open land in Australia, they should be setting much more ambitious targets and getting innovative projects like this one built:


Friday, August 27, 2004

Middle East: Call for Arabs to Plan for the End of Oil Age

Burj Al-Arab, Dubai, United Arab Emirates

This article in Arab newspaper, Dar Al-Hayat, calls on Arab Countries (e.g. Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Iraq, Jordan, Qatar, Dubai, Abu Dhabi) to invest in the future by preparing for the end of the oil age.

The Economist recently estimated that $600m a day in oil revenues are flowing into the Gulf. The monarchies of the region are likely to earn an extra $35 billion this year.

The article warns "Arabs should beware. The bonanza will not last for ever. Instead of frittering away their oil wealth on conspicuous consumption, on real estate extravaganzas [such as the Burj Al-Arab hotel pictured above - Ed] and uncertain overseas investments, the Arabs should devote every surplus dollar to preparing their societies for a post-oil economy".

Dar al Hayat Article

Low Speed Wind Turbines

"Energy increases by the cube," says Andy Kruse quoted in the Oakland Tribune, vice president of Southwest Windpower. "If you double the wind speed, you get eight times the energy."

One way to generate more electricity in low wind speeds is to use larger blades. Southwest makes wind turbines that can be equipped with 7-foot or 10-foot diameter blades.

Southwest also is working on lighter, cheaper fiberglass blades with foam cores, he said.

Jim Dehlsen, co-founder of Clipper Windpower Inc., said his company has developed a massive 2.5 megawatt wind turbine with a custom-designed gearbox that's suitable for areas with lower wind speeds. The turbine uses a blade with a 305-foot diameter. That means the blade turns more slowly than those on smaller wind turbines, but also generates more torque.

Clipper's custom-designed gear boxes distribute the power from a wind turbine's blades to eight different generators. That helps the company's turbines generate more electricity even in varying wind speeds, and operate for 30 years instead of the 20-year industry standard, Dehlsen said.

Thursday, August 26, 2004

Wind, Wave, Tidal: Renewables Triple Play at Sea

Off-shore wind, wave and tide power are potentially a vast electricity resource for the UK.

According to this article in UK national paper, The Guardian, while wind is now accepted as a "mature technology" that is economically viable, the others are at the expensive development stage - though between them they could produce more energy than wind.

Both wave power machines and tidal power undersea turbines are currently being tested off the coasts of Britain.

A separate article in the Scotsman quotes Peter Simpson, a consultant with the wind energy consultancy Garrad Hassan & Partners, who argues that the days when people could dismiss offshore wind projects as far too expensive in comparison to onshore projects are over. Simpson led an assessment into offshore wind for the government more than ten years ago. "At the time, we came up with costs that were 60 per cent higher than the costs for similar land-based projects. Today, the offshore costs are still above onshore costs, but the gap is no longer a significant one," he says.

Simpson points out that one 600kW wind turbine at a reasonable site would produce enough electricity to meet the annual needs of 375 UK households, and a 500MW offshore windfarm would produce enough electricity to meet the annual needs of more than 300,000 UK households.

Twenty-five years ago the biggest bored pile was one metre in diameter. Now bore piles can be five metres in diameter, making off-shore turbines of five megawatts and up possible.

If off-shore wind power, wave power and tidal turbine technologies work, and can be harnessed together out at sea, it will produce significant economies of scale as the same transmission cables can bring the electricity ashore. This combination of three alternative energy power sources could potentially supply all of the UK's electricity needs and also be used in many other countries.

Scotsman Article

Guardian Article

Demand for Alternative Energy in Brazil may Double

Brazil's electricity regulator may reduce transmission and distribution rates by up to 50% for renewable energy which, Paulo Toledo, the director of power trader Ecom Energia believes could double demand from SMEs.

Small-scale hydro generators should benefit the most from the measure since they can provide a stable energy supply. Power supply from biomass generation in Brazil is dependent on the agricultural cycle, and wind power is more expensive, Toledo said.

Business News Americas Article

Wednesday, August 25, 2004

Solar Powered Steam Turbine

A Professor at Tohoku University in Japan has created a system that can power a steam turbine using solar energy.

According to Professor Saito, he's been able to generate twice as much energy as was possible with early solar cells. He was spurred on during the period of Japan's "bubble" economy by energy and environmental concerns, feeling that if we continue on our present path society may collapse.

The first application he believes will be putting a minature version in devices such as washing machines.

Tuesday, August 24, 2004

Spain to Triple Wind Power by 2010

Actually this was announced several months ago but it appears Spanish politicians (as is becoming the habit of their colleagues throughout the world) have re-announced this impressive target.

Currently Spain produces approximately 10% of its electricity using wind power.

Monday, August 23, 2004

Despite accidents Japan pushes ahead with Nuclear Power

Tokaimura Accident (1999)

Japan currently generates about a third of its electricity from nuclear power.

There are plans to construct a fast-breeder reactor which would use plutonium instead of uranium. This type of reactor recycles the plutonium as well as creating weapons grade plutonium (a quality that is more likely to make this type of reactor popular in North Korea).

Japan's worst nuclear accident occurred at Tokaimura, near Tokyo, in September 1999. Two workers at the plant died when they disregarded safety procedures and dumped a large quantity of uranium into a settling basin. The uranium reached critical mass, causing an explosion. Tens of thousands of people in the area were quarantined and checked for radiation.

Some nuclear power supporters claim that the problem is not that nuclear is power is inherently unsafe but the companies which run the nuclear power stations in Japan are poorly managed. Nuclear power stations in the U.K. have been more carefully regulated but this has made them extremely expensive.

The most commented on post so far on the Alternative Energy Blog is an opinion piece on nuclear power. You can join the debate here:


Guardian article on Japanese nuclear power:


New York Times article on Alternative Energy Investment

This New York Times article on alternative energy investment notes that companies involved in alternative energy have missed the recent rally in oil and gas company shares. It also lists hydrogen as being a source of power - it's worrying that some of the people getting paid to write about alternative energy seem to lack a basic understanding of it.

An equity analyst points out that it's difficult to make a quick buck as alternative energy is a capital intensive industry unlike the bubble companies of the dot-com boom of the nineties.

However, Charlie Thomas, a manager of environmental funds at Jupiter Asset Management in London, notes that some makers of wind turbines are already profitable, including two of his favorites, Vestas Wind Systems of Denmark and Gamesa of Spain.

"Wind is becoming more and more interesting," Thomas said. With oil and gas prices so high, he added, "onshore wind is just about the most efficient source of energy and is providing increasing competition against fossil-fuel energy sources."

For more details follow the link:

Taipei Times Article

Sunday, August 22, 2004

India: big on altenergy vision, low on actual commitments

This press release from the information bureau of the Indian government emphasises a need for India to take a lead in alternative energy technology. However it seems to be lacking a solid plan of action other than launching a new postage stamp. The Indian Prime Minister drew a comparison between India's success in information technology and its potential to be a leader in alternative energy on "Rajiv Gandhi Alternative Energy Day". He also notes that crude oil (of which India is a major importer) could be the first natural resource to be exhausted which is something you're not likely to hear from any western leader at the moment.


Saturday, August 21, 2004

Weapons scientists turn their sights to Wind Turbines

Lawrence Berkeley Laboratory has teamed up with former soviet weapons scientists to design a small-scale wind turbine that could be used by individuals to provide power to their homes.

Currently there are only around 300 small turbines in California according to the article.

TwinCities Article

(note free registration required:

Of course I'm not going to suggest you visit a free automatic login generation website like http://www.bugmenot.com)

Friday, August 20, 2004

China - An Energy Timebomb?

According to John Constable, senior UK economist for Exxon Mobil, China with a population of 1.3 billion people currently uses the energy equivalent of one 100 watt lightbulb per person per year.

"World energy demand is continuing to grow by 3% per annum, so by 2020 it will be up by over 40%. Most of this growth will be in China."

A chief executive of a Scottish engineering firm tells the following anecdote:

“When I first started coming out to China, there were four items most people aspired to: a bicycle, a small transistor radio, a wristwatch and a foot-powered sewing machine. Now, in many urban areas, the middle-class Chinese own their apartments, have a car, a colour television, DVDs and even go on foreign holidays.”

The Chinese government's planning agency has set the target of 900,000MW by 2020.

That’s a tripling of energy generation over 15 years.

Meanwhile the Financial Times reports that China plans to build the equivalent of the UK's total electricity- generating capacity in each of the next two years. In recent months, the voracious demand for energy has caused blackouts in cities and factories across the country.

Chinese environmentalist Liang Congjie's opinion is “if each Chinese family has two cars like US families, then the cars needed by China, something like 600 million vehicles, will exceed all the cars in the world combined. That would be the greatest disaster for mankind.”

At the Beijing auto show a few months ago it was reported SUVs are the fastest growing segment of the Chinese auto market. GM are investing $3 billion over the next three years to double production in China. Currently there are only 16 cars and light trucks per thousand people in China, that compares to 700 per thousand in the U.S. By 2030, China is expected to have more cars than the United States and import as much oil as the U.S. does today.

In terms of oil, 40 percent of the entire growth in oil demand since the year 2000 has been China. Considering the enormous demand expansion of China's auto fleet will make on the oil we have left is it really wise to be promoting SUV sales?

The ever increasing strain China will make on world energy resources means we should do everything possible to eliminate our own reliance on fossil fuels and develop the technology for renewable alternatives which we can export worldwide.



SUVs are fastest growing segment in Chinese market:

GM expanding in China. China auto ownership expected to more than triple in 10 years:


Renewable Energy makes ballot in Colorado

After four years of trying supporters of renewable energy have got their initiative on November's ballot.

The initiative proposes that the state's seven largest electricity providers provide a minimum of 10% of their electricity from renewable sources (wind, solar, geothermal, biomass-based power & mirco hydroelectric plants) by 2015. At the moment about 2% of Colorado's electricity comes from renewable sources.

The Union of Concerned Scientists has released a study which estimates that a 20% renewable-energy requirement would benefit Colorado through lower energy costs, more jobs, capital investment and money to providers of renewable energy in rural areas. The group is working to get a national renewable energy requirement of 20% by 2020.

Sixteen states now have renewable-energy standards, if successful Colorado would be the first to get one through a ballot initiative.

Thursday, August 19, 2004

World's Largest Solar Power Project announced

PowerLight Corporation, K&S Consulting Group, and Deutsche Structured Finance announced a plan to build the world’s largest solar power project in Bavaria, Germany. The 10 Megawatts Bavarian Solarpark uses tracking technology to generate renewable electricity. Construction is one third complete, with electricity generation beginning in October and full operation expected by December 2004.

According to the article on Solarbuzz, the German Renewable Energy Law was critical to the project's success, by promoting renewable energy. This legislation, newly expanded to include ground-mounted systems such as the Bavaria Solarpark, is expected to drive further growth of the German photovoltaic market.


Korea joins the party

The Korean government has set a target of generating 5% of their energy from alternative energy within seven years.

Worryingly the Commerce Minister, Lee Hee-Beom, is quoted as saying that the government plans to drastically expand the use of solar, fuel cell, wind and hydrogen power. Hopefully he understands that fuel cells and hydrogen are not sources of energy but rather energy carriers.

Considering the close relationship between big business conglomerates (chaebols) and government he might also encourage carmakers Hyundai and Kia to do more to advance Korean development and adoption of hybrid car technology, an area currently dominated by Japanese auto manufacturers.

For South Korea, hit hard by the rise in international crude oil prices owing to its heavy dependence on oil imports, a $5 increase in international oil prices will result in a US$5.5 billion reduction in the country's balance of trade.

Korea and Japan have few fossil fuel resources of their own and are therefore heavily dependent on expensive oil and gas imports. Therefore they have much to gain from utilising alternative energy sources.

Article in Korea's Yohhap News

Wednesday, August 18, 2004

Time to consider the nuclear power option?

This opinion piece by Robin McKie in the Guardian newspaper warns "we are heading for a power supply meltdown". The more I've read and the more research I've done in recent months the more I'm inclined to agree with him. Seeing British Prime Minister, Tony Blair, recently before a parliamentary committee sidestepping questions about how we are going to meet future energy requirements here in the U.K. did not inspire confidence.

However the quote which was widely reported by the media at the time from Tony Blair, "I am NOT ruling out the nuclear option" sounded a lot like politician speak for "I want to build lots of nuclear power stations but I don't want to say so."

So is it time to consider the nuclear option?

One of the difficulties in my opinion is there seems to be no middle ground. The anti-nuclear side is convinced that nuclear power is fundamentally dangerous and therefore can never be an option. The pro-nuclear side is convinced that nuclear power is the answer to our energy problems if only the environmentalists could be silenced.

At the moment I'm closer to the anti-nuclear position but perhaps for different reasons. Putting safety, environmental and economic concerns aside I'm concerned from an energy standpoint. If we include all the energy costs of mining uranium, building expensive power plants and then storing the waste indefinitely does nuclear power actually contribute significantly more energy than it uses?

Another important point is that uranium is a limited resource. According to some sources there are less than 40 years worth of uranium reserves in the United States. There seems little point in investing in nuclear technology if it isn't going to be a long term solution.

The problem in assessing the argument is finding unbiased information as there seems to be a lot of propaganda from both sides of the divide.

The article points out that if all the world's wind turbines were relocated in Britain they would still only provide 10% of our electricity requirements. However to me this is not an argument for building nuclear power plants rather it shows how underutilised renewables currently are and how much more we could be doing.

I think we do need to invest in nuclear research particularly in the areas of breeder reactors (which recycle uranium) and nuclear fusion (an area which has received lots of money and decades of research however we need to keep trying).

Firstly we need a big push to increase our utilisation of existing renewable technology like wind and solar power. Currently for example the United States generates less than 1% of its electricity from these sources. We can and must do better.

Guardian News Article

The World's Largest Alternative Energy Project is Air-Conditioning?

According to this article in the Toronto Star - Hollywood Actor Alec Baldwin launched the world's largest alternative energy project in Toronto yesterday. The $170 million initiative uses cold lake water to cool downtown office buildings.

The deep lake cooling system cuts electricity consumption in commercial buildings by 75% by utilizing near freezing water from 83 metres below the surface of Lake Ontario.

It has the capacity to air-condition 32 million square feet of office space - the equivalent of 8,000 homes.

The article doesn't explain in detail how the heat exchange system works however I suspect it's similar to heat pump systems that can be installed in individual homes which can be used for both heating and cooling as an alternative to traditional air-conditioning and heating systems. One of our readers in Canada has requested tips on how to make their home more energy efficient, in the future we will be giving further coverage to heat pump systems.


Tuesday, August 17, 2004

Made in Denmark: Wind Power

Denmark is the dominant player in the off-shore wind turbine market.

BTM Consult estimate by placing wind turbines along the coastline of Europe the capacity of wind turbines installed in the continent could be multiplied by four.

Denmark is also the top consumer of windpower generating over 20% of its electricity from wind turbines. This compares to just 0.5% globally. Spain which currently generates 10% of its electricity from wind power, it has recently stated it will generate 20% by 2010.

The Danish utilised the oil shocks of the 1970s to invest in alternatives allowing it to become the world leader in wind power.

Solar Gold Rush

Venture capitalists after chasing riches with dot-coms, biotech and wi-fi are now looking to make fortunes from solar cell technology.

Some entrepreneurs claim they are not just in it for money. Sunil Paul, founder of anti-spam company BrightMail, has invested in two solar cell companies, he says he wants to build companies that go "beyond just making money."

The big buzz is around flexible solar cell sheets that can be mass produced.

Martin Roscheisen, chief executive of Nanosolar, hopes to drive the raw uninstalled cost of solar electricity down to about 40 to 60 cents per watt by 2006, from the $2.75 per watt cost reached by traditional solar manufacturers. This would bring the price of solar below most other grid sources, such as natural gas.

Also driving the lower cost would be Nanosolar's ability to print cell foil in large quantities. It could cover whole parking lots, or be painted on the side of buses and cars.

Worldwide, solar is a $7 billion a year business, according to industry experts. The world's largest player, Japan's Sharp, controls about a third of total solar cell output.

Silicon Valley Article on Venture Capital Funding of Solar Energy

Monday, August 16, 2004

'Triple funds to capture wave energy'

Venture capital firm 3i has said the U.K. government should triple its investment in marine energy. Funnily enough I said the same thing in my very first post.

Portugal and Spain already offer a marine energy tariff, while Ireland is considering one.

The race is on in Europe to be the first country to install a commercial wave machine to supply the grid.


$235 billion subsidy for fossil fuels

The British Government has sent a letter to the World Bank saying it has not done enough to cut subsidies for extracting oil, coal and gas. It also said the Bank has not done enough to promote renewable energy generation.

A conservative estimate of worldwide subsidies for oil, gas and coal is $235 BILLION dollars.

It is often argued that renewable energy is not cost competitive with fossil based fuels. The reality is fossil fuels are heavily subsidised which makes developing renewable alternatives more difficult. A recent National Geographic article estimated that an unsubsidised gallon of gasoline would cost between $6 and $8.

Imagine how much more use of renewable energy we would be using if the subsidies were removed from fossil fuels. If they were then applied to renewable energy sources soon several would be cheaper than the current non-renewable choices.

Small scale renewables would also allow the first world to bring the health and economic benefits of electricity to the developing world in a sustainable way. Deaths from the effects of burning biomass indoors with inadequate ventilation have now surpassed AIDS in Africa.

We need to stop subsidising our addiction to fossil fuels, and invest in the alternatives.

BBC Article

Sunday, August 15, 2004

6 Tidal Power Turbines for New York

Of all renewable energy sources, wind power and solar power are currently among the most cost effective and scalable. These are the sources which can supply a large proportion of the electricity we currently use at an affordable price.

However wave power and tidal power are two technologies which are in the development stage. Although they may sound the same the difference as I understand it (and if I'm wrong please someone correct me in the comments section!) is:

UPDATE: I got it the wrong way round but no-one else spotted it so I'm correcting myself!

tidal power - tidal power involves blocking the flow of the sea by creating a dam across a bay or estuary. To the best of my knowledge there are approximately 40 sites in the world suitable for major tidal power projects. Therefore it can make a global contribution albeit a small one (however for the U.K. it can contribute up to 15% of current electricity generation). Tidal stream technology however does NOT involve block the tide. The tidal turbines in New York are an example of tidal stream power.


wave power - this uses the power of ocean waves to generate electricity. It can potentially be used in many locations worldwide however the technology is still in its infancy.


If the project goes to plan Verdant Power of Virginia plans to grow the number of turbines in the New York's East River to 200-300 free-standing units spaced along the river.

Saturday, August 14, 2004

Colorado's Wind Power could Triple by 2007

The Denver Post reports Xcel Energy one of the U.S.'s largest utility companies plans to triple wind power generation from a current level of 250 megawatts to 750 megawatts. This would put Colorado as the 3rd largest wind power generator behind California and Texas.

However alternative energy advocate Manolo Gonzalez-Estay from Coloradans for Clean Energy is quoted as saying "They're moving in the right direction. However, our concern is that they're not moving quickly enough."

The move by Xcel energy would take the proportion of electricity generated through renewable sources from 4% to 10%. To put this in context Spain which already generates 10% of its electricity from renewable energy has set a target of 40% by 2010.

The article also notes Xcel energy has OPPOSED an initiative on the November ballot that would require Xcel and other energy providers in Colorado to generate more of their energy from renewable sources.

UPDATE: There is a petition on http://www.renewableenergyyes.com which asks Xcel Energy to reconsider its position on the renewables initiative.

Generating 10% of electricity from renewable sources for any state or country is not enough, if we are going to solve our current and future energy problems we need to be much more ambitious.

Solar Powered Wine

A vineyard in California has officially announced the shift to solar power, another example of state and federal incentives working.

The system, installed by Akeena Solar, and used to run its winery and main offices, laboratory and residence, is located at about 2,000 feet up Mount Eden.

The press release notes their utility company PG&E does not pay for excess power put back into the grid therefore the winery installed a smaller system than they might have.

Utilities worldwide should be required by law to buy electricity generated locally by homes and businesses using equipment such as solar panels and micro wind turbines.

Market Wire Press Release

Friday, August 13, 2004

Red Hydrogen Buses on London's streets

Three hydrogen buses began service in a two year trial this week running from Central London to East London. Each bus costs approximately $1.35 million dollars each. This may sound a lot of money but as the hydrogen fuel cell A-Class Mercedes being trialled by Daimler-Chrysler cost one million dollars each the buses seem like a relative bargain.

Indeed as buses follow fixed routes and start and end at depots they are much better suited to using hydrogen than passenger cars at the moment. The buses will have a range of a 125 miles before refuelling.

Let's hope to see an infrastructure built for fuelling buses with hydrogen throughout the world in the next few years as an infrastructure for cars seems decades away. Also train networks should be fully electrified (many like those in England still run mainly on non-renewable diesel).

Finally it needs saying that hydrogen is NOT an energy source but an energy carrier (like electricity). In order for it to be truly clean the hydrogen needs to be generated from a renewable source like wind power or solar. Therefore we need to make a major investment in wind & solar power NOW so that when the technology is ready for hydrogen cars we will have a clean energy source to make the hydrogen.


Thursday, August 12, 2004

Colorado: Pork barrel spending from energy dinosaurs

The Denver Post reports Citizens for "Sensible Energy", funded unsurprising not by regular citizens but by three of the major suppliers of energy in Colorado, are campaigning against a proposal to require the state's largest energy providers to make greater use of renewable energy resources.

Instead energy executives prefer to raise energy prices (by an average of 73% last winter) and pay themselves multi-million dollar salaries.

The article predicts this being the first of many battles with the energy dinosaurs across America.

Wednesday, August 11, 2004

has been celebrities against wind power

Noel Edmonds - once the face of Saturday night TV in England

Wind power is in my opinion THE best renewable energy source at the moment. It's cost competitive with fossil fuels used to generate electricity, it's a proven technology and it's scalable. Solar power in comparison (which can also make a valuable contribution) is currently significantly more expensive than fossil fuel electricity and requires action by consumers (e.g. installing solar panels).

Of course some people like businessman (that's what he now calls himself) Noel Edmonds oppose them because they may pose a small threat to birds, though that doesn't stop airports and skyscrapers getting built. I suspect the main reason is they just don't want to live near a wind farm is that they find them ugly. The solution of course is that as fossil fuels run out they can have the default alternative of politicians built next door to them -
a nuclear power plant.

And we all know how popular they are.

Guardian Newspaper Article

Here's the website for the "Renewable Energy Foundation" -
what a great name for an anti-wind power group


Solar Chimney

artist's visualisation

Enviromission of Australia wants to build a $342million 200 MW "solar chimney" in southwestern New South Wales. When complete, the structure will be just short of 1km high, almost twice as high as the tallest building in the world.

The "solar chimney" would feature a large greenhouse covering 13sqkm. As the hot air rises, it would escape up a 990m tower in the centre of the structure. Wind turbo-generators mounted in the chimney would convert this 50km-an-hour rush of hot air into electricity. Enviromission's proposal has yet to be approved.

This idea was reported back in 2001 and they were hoping then to break ground a year ago:


A demonstration protype was built in the 1980s in Spain which ran successfully for two years. If built the Australian solar chimney will be over 40 times bigger. The great thing about this concept is it can run almost constantly not just when the sun is out.

I hope this gets approved fast these are the kind of visionary projects we need to replace fossil fuels.

Here's the latest news on this project:


Kyocera begin making solar PV modules in North America

Kyocera announced yesterday that they are going to begin large scale manufacture of solar photovoltaic modules later this year in Tijuana, Mexico.


Japanese Create a Solar Sail

Japanese scientists have deployed two prototype solar sails in space.


Meanwhile back on Earth maybe we should be concentrating on utilising solar power on ships which can convert the readily available source of hydrogen (i.e. the sea) into fuel. We've had the first hybrid cars, now how about the first hybrid boat?




New Wave Energy Centre in Scotland

A new European wave energy research centre has been officially open in Orkney, Scotland. Scotland is one of the world's centres for wave power research and development.

The British government had committed to generating 10% of the UK's
electricity from renewable sources by 2010. However the British P.M.
Tony Blair has already admitted this target is "challenging". Which
is political speak for "we aren't going to hit the target with our
present policies although we'd like to pretend we will"

Meanwhile Portugal has commited 3 times more money to incentives.
And I thought the U.K. was supposed to be a rich country.

BBC News Article on Wave Power