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Musings about the environment and all it touches, from education to city planning

Sun and wind in the news

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Indian workers walk past solar panels at the Gujarat Solar Park (from The Guardian)

Indian workers walk past solar panels at the Gujarat Solar Park (photo from The Guardian)

Wow, this week has been particularly rich in good news about renewable energy developments. Good thing, too, since the news on climate are, well, not exactly rosy (that’s another post!).

The British magazine The Ecologist treated us to a very readable analysis of the renewable energy revolution in Germany. Germany leads the world in solar and wind production: how did this come about? Especially considering that power price are dropping.

But that Germany did it is isn’t really news; the better question may be, why isn’t the rest of the world doing the same? What’s holding up the program?

Well, maybe the world is actually keeping up. Here’s a sample: India plans to build the world’s largest on-shore solar project; and it has also announced a plan to use renewables to bring electricity to every rural village, as seen for instance in the small village of Dharnai, in Bihar, now completely electrified by solar panels.

Jamaica just completed the world’s largest solar wind hybrid installation (yah, man). In Italy, the ancient town of Tocco, in Abruzzi, installed wind turbines that now only power the whole town but have enough power leftover to pay for municipal services. Israel just completed the world’s largest hybrid concentrating solar power plant in the Negev, generating 100 kW of electricity and 170 kW of thermal power twenty-four hours a day. And Denmark expects to be powered up by cheap wind energy within a couple of years.

This is a relatively small plant, and some people think that improvement in battery design may bring about the necessary technology to store solar and wind power during cloudy, still weather. In that respect the news that electric car maker Tesla is developing new battery storage systems is highly significant, as is the news that China has launched the largest battery for energy storage in a smart grid (okay, the news from China are two years old, but I just saw it this week).

And what about here in Canada? The Edmonton Journal featured an interesting article about a brand new Alberta solar project, and the Globe and Mail had a great and upbeat overview of solar and wind in the most happening province, Ontario.

Is that all a blip, and is solar doomed to play no more than a marginal role? I don’t think so. Just this week, the Guardian published an article entitled “Ten reasons to be hopeful that we will overcome climate change ”, based in a large on a sunny outlook for wind and solar; Stanford University showed how California could be 100% renewable; and BC’s own Guy Dauncey started a series on how BC, as well, could be entirely powered by renewable energy, sector by sector. No wonder Stu Campana, in Alternatives Journal, asks for “a windmill in my own backyard. “

Not convinced? Read this optimistic article in Bill Moyers’ “How to save the planet”. Guarantee to give you a jump in your step.

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Written by enviropaul

August 1, 2014 at 5:28 pm

One Response

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  1. […] No, I don’t mean the usual news about a flood here and a drought there; these, dramatic as they may be, have always been with us. Rather, I mean news that seem to indicate that the climate has shifted, that is, it’s behaving in ways that are completely new. This is noticeable in the jet stream, among others. (Thankfully, we have the technical wherewithal to tackle the climate beast, but that’s for another post.) […]


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