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Clean energy news this week (and good news they are!)

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Community energy: a farm in the Black Forest in Germany, with a roof covered in solar panels

Community energy: a farm in the Black Forest in Germany, with a roof covered in solar panels

Every now and again there is a flurry of news about energy.  I did a previous round-up a while back; this week, the news are pretty positive.  Here’s a quick overview.

One of the interesting trending news this week is decentralized energy, where communities decide for themselves to build solar or wind or what-have-you. One of the reasons why the Energiewende (the energy policy that promotes clean energy) is so popular in Germany is that clean energy is most often owned and operated by the local communities. Decisions are taken at a local level, so not only is there a sense of control and little NIMBYism, but communities are often better off financially; see here, here, and here.

David Roberts chimed in with the idea that developing countries might be better off foregoing large centralized power plants (including the costly development of a distribution grid) and move right away to decentralized power; a similar leap happened with phones, where cells phones were adopted without resorting to land lines.

(This also means that there are very few complaints of the type that have plagued the wind industry in Ontario; Health Canada has finally released a report that verifies that there are no negative health impacts from wind power.)

Germany is looking to aggressively move away from coal. The discussion paper issued by the Merkel government pointed out that there are too many fossil-fired power plants the system and overcapacities “have to be cut” in order to meet climate targets.  Also in Germany, a new 23 million Euro program has been unveiled to promote the development of electric vehicles.

France has started construction on the largest solar plant in Europe, a 300 MW behemoth expected to feed the grid in October of next year (details here and here). France and Germany also announced a plan to cooperate on renewables. This is great news coming from France, which has been slow to develop renewables until now.

This October, Scotland produced enough wind energy to power over three million homes in the UK – more than there are homes in all of Scotland.

A Bellingham, WA, based solar panel manufacturer is expanding and opening a plant in Minneapolis. This shows there is optimism in the field. The same thing can be said of BC, according to a new report profiled by CREDBC. Indeed, a few weeks back a German expert told the Clean Energy BC conference that Canada is well suited for the development of clean energy.

Speaking of BC, this weekend two highly-efficient houses built on PassivHaus standard open their doors to the public. This Saturday (November 8) between 10 am and 4 pm, visit Surrey’s 1st Passive House and New City Design Award Winner 2014 located at 1702-156A Street. The owners will be present and share their experience. The following Sunday (November 9) between 10 am and 4 pm, Vancouver Low Energy Infill home “Casa Pasiva’ at 919 East 15th Ave in Vancouver can be visited.

These are all pretty uplifting news. If you’re looking to nurture that mood and get a good overview of where things are at south of the border, listen to this very interesting audioclip from Michael Brune, the executive director of the Sierra Club. He explains why clean energy is, not the future, but unfolding already now. Click on the October 15 show in the link here from Vancouver Co-op radio.


Addendum: of course, as soon as I posted, I found this article in Grist that claims that solar power will reach parity with conventional electricity in everyone but three of the US States as of 2016; US solar is already going gangbusters.  Love swimming in positive news!





Written by enviropaul

November 7, 2014 at 4:34 pm

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