Wind Powers 2.4 Million More Homes in 2009

New wind-turbine generation capacity grew by a record 10,000 megawatts in 2009, picking up the pace from 8,400 megawatts added in 2008, the American Wind Energy Association said Tuesday. Put another way, the 10,000 megawatts of new wind generation added in 2009 will provide enough power for 2.4 million U.S. homes. Texas continues to lead America in installed wind power, with 9,410 megawatts, followed by 3,670 megawatts for Iowa and 2,794 megawatts for California. Together, wind and natural gas make up about 80% of the new generation capacity added in the country in 2009.

Solar Powered Aircraft to Circle the Globe

When Bertrand Piccard came up with his audacious plan to fly around the world in an aircraft powered only by the sun, he found that airplane manufacturers were skeptical such a plane could be built. So who built the first model of "Solar Impulse," Piccard's $72-million solar-powered craft? A company that makes ships. And now the airplane is built. The first flight was achieved on the third of December and in the spring and summer this year, we're going to make the high-altitude flights and the cycle of [flying] one day, one night and one day. This little airplane is not a Piper or Cessna with a couple of solar cells. It's a really high-tech carbon fiber airplane which is 200 feet in wingspan. It weighs 1.6 tons. The plane will travel very slowly. Otherwise it would take too much energy. The average speed will be 40 knots, roughly 55 miles per hour. The entire budget is 100 million U.S. dollars, coming from private sponsors.

Detroit Auto Show Unveils Lots of Hybrids, Concepts and News

Toyota's FT-CH Hybrid Concept and Plans for a Prius Family --- Ford's New Plug-in Focus --- General Motors' Volt Roll out and Upcoming Plug-in Converj --- Honda's 2011 CR-Z Hybrid Debut --- PLUS --- Ford has announced that it plans to invest $450 million in Michigan for production of electric, hybrid and plug-in hybrid vehicles. The company expects to create up to 1,000 new jobs through its electrification efforts, in part by moving battery pack production to Michigan from current facilities in Mexico.

43 billion dollar North Sea Green Energy Plan

Nine European countries have teamed up to plan a 30-billion-euro (43-billion-dollar) sustainable energy project in the North Sea as part of efforts to address climate change and expand renewable energy, officials said Wednesday. The plan is to connect up the alternative energy projects of the nine nations to create Europe's first renewable electricity grid through a 6,000-kilometer network. The network would link the wind turbines off from the northern coast of Scotland with Germany's solar power industry and include the wave power plants dotted along the Danish and Belgian coasts and hydroelectric dams in Norway. It is expected to take a decade to complete the building work for the network, with the nine nations to unveil a feasibility plan later this year.

Importing Clean Energy from Mexico

The alternative energy money-men dreaming of clean energy from Mexico see several factors that make the country perfect for power production aimed at the Southwest U.S. Baja California and other parts of Mexico have gusty winds similar to those found in the world's best wind farm areas. Much of Mexico also boasts the same excellent solar footprint as California, Nevada and Arizona with bright, clear weather the vast majority of the time. In terms of total energy potential, the hills and fields of Mexico could easily supply thousands of megawatts to the U.S. without breaking a sweat. Energy developers to the North see huge potential not only in the winds whipping across Mexico but also in the hot sun that bakes the land. Perhaps most important, they see an easier, quicker and cheaper route to getting big energy projects built compared to the multiple levels of permitting processes required north of the border.

Rope Workers Benefit from Alternative Energy Boom

Suspended by ropes from the top of a giant wind turbine, two men slowly descended down a long, silvery blade. Then they got to work, and from 150 feet above the ground, the hum of a sander filled the air. For Matt Touchette and Sequoia Haughey, it was another day at the office. Rope specialists like Mr. Touchette and Mr. Haughey have long filled a range of niche jobs, like inspecting big dams, cleaning Mount Rushmore and repairing offshore oil platforms. But as wind farms have sprouted across the nation, rope companies have quickly expanded into a new line of work - fixing turbines so they last longer in the elements. It's a dream job for rock-climbing types.
Photograph by Jigar Mehta/The New York Times

Laser-Fusion - Nice Combination for Alternative Energy Source

Using laser-fusion technology, experts hope to add "clean, inexhaustible energy source" to the laser's distinguished resume. Using lasers in combination with nuclear fusion, scientists at the Department of Energy's National Ignition Facility (NIF) hope to mimic "the process that fuels the sun, stars and hydrogen bombs," Robert S. Boyd writes for McClatchy Newspapers. The researchers plan to combine 192 lasers in order to create the pressure and heat needed to force hydrogen atoms to fuse; the "combination loses a tiny bit of mass, which turns into a huge quantity of energy," Boyd explains. "It's Einstein's formula in action." According to NIF, a laser-fusion energy plant would never pose a threat of meltdown, as opposed to the traditional atomic energy plant. It would emit little radioactive fallout and zero greenhouse gases. Unlike solar or wind power, it wouldn't be dependent on weather conditions and could operate round-the-clock.

"Affordable" Plug-in Prius in 2011

Today Toyota both nailed down a time frame and hinted at a price for launching the plug-in hybrid versions of the Prius in 2011, initially at a scale of several tens of thousands of vehicles per year. The hybrid leader's plans to go ahead with the plug-in Prius in 2011 with a price tag that Uchiyamada suggested today could be as low as $35,000 marks a milestone for lithium-ion battery technology. Toyota Executive Vice President Takeshi Uchiyamada also reiterated to Bloomberg reporters in Tokyo on Monday that the automaker plans to start selling an all-electric vehicle designed for short distances by 2012.

Solar Power coming to a store near you

Lowe's has begun stocking solar panels at its California stores and plans to roll them out across the country next year. Solar power is now accessible to anyone with a ladder, a power drill, and the gumption to climb up on a roof and install the panels themselves. Buyer be warned, however. The DIY part of solar goes beyond installation. Professional installers typically handle all the necessary paperwork, like clearance from the local utility and applications for a bevy of government subsidies that can make the system a whole lot cheaper.

America's First Renewable Energy Transmission Hub

Tres Amigas, LLC today announced that it has submitted filings with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) requesting regulatory approvals needed to move forward with the Tres Amigas SuperStation, America's first renewable energy transmission hub. The SuperStation will be located in Clovis, New Mexico and will for the first time provide the capability to transfer thousands of megawatts of power between the three U.S. power grids - or "Interconnections" - known as the Eastern Interconnection, the Western Interconnection and the Texas Interconnection. By enabling the exchange of wind, solar and geothermal power between all three grids, the Tres Amigas SuperStation will help break our nation's transmission bottleneck.

Obama Calls for Green Jobs

More than 7.2 million jobs have been lost in the U.S. since the start of the recession, and President Obama sees home retrofits for boosting energy efficiency and the expansion of highly competitive stimulus programs for green energy projects as two of the keys for turning that trend around. Today's speech comes on the heels of reports that the White House has been considering a 2-year, $23 billion program to encourage homeowners to undertake weatherization projects such as adding air sealing, insulation and energy-saving lightbulbs dubbed the "cash for caulkers" program widely cheered, unsurprisingly, by the home energy retrofit industry. Overall, the U.S. home energy retrofit market is poised to grow about 15 percent per year to $35 billion by 2013, up from $20.7 billion last year, according to a recent report from SBI Energy.

Electric Vehicle Infrastructure Plans for Los Angeles

By this time next year, electric vehicles could be popping up all around Los Angeles, and the "quintessential city of sprawl" plans to be ready, Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa said Tuesday. Along with a network of partners, the city plans to update 400 existing charging stations around the region while adding 100, Villaraigosa said. Electric vehicle owners also probably would receive tax rebates to construct home chargers and would have access to high-occupancy-vehicle lanes and preferential or free parking. Villaraigosa painted a rosy portrait in which the new electric vehicle infrastructure would lure battery and charging station manufacturers to Los Angeles, create masses of green jobs and reduce reliance on foreign oil.

Warren Buffett Says --- All Cars Will Be Electric By 2030

Warren Buffett, the closely watched investor and mega-billionaire, expects that 20 years from now, all cars will run on electricity. At least, that's what he told Rice University business students at his Omaha headquarters this month when asked for his thoughts on peak oil and replacements for "carbon fuels," the Houston Chronicle reports. Such a rapid transition to electric vehicles could work out well for BYD, the China-based developer of electric vehicles and lithium-ion batteries in which Buffett's Berkshire Hathaway investment firm holds a 10 percent stake. If nothing else, aggressive statements from Buffett, one of the world's highest-profile investors, could help build momentum for the EV market and BYD's growth.

Lampposts Powered by Trash

From designer Haneum Lee comes a concept that would power street lights from the energy generated by the trash collected from its base. The lamppost composts the trash and uses the methane byproduct as a fuel to power the lamps. I'm not sure how much trash is needed to power a full side street lamp or if today mostly plastic and paper garbage are well suited for composting but its a novel idea.

Energy Management Software Backed by Cisco, GE, Comcast

Energy management could end up being the killer app for the slow-moving home automation market. Here’s the latest: iControl, a 5-year-old start-up backed by some of the biggest names in venture capital and networking announced this morning that it has launched an energy management product for utilities, broadband service providers and security firms. Out of the gate the company expects its customers to provide consumers a smart thermostat and a gateway for around $70. They expect broadband service providers to offer the energy management service to their customers for free, potentially bundled with a security system, and energy will act as a differentiator or value-add service, instead of a major revenue driver.

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