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Member since: 2002
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China’s Solar Energy Plans Become Even More Ambitious


The People’s Republic of China has increased its target for installed solar power by 50%. It now aims to have 15 GW of installed solar generating capacity, by 2015, Reuters reports.

The move comes just months after China doubled its solar goal from 5 GW to 10 GW earlier this year, following the partial meltdown of the Fukishama nuclear plant in Japan.

How can China be so ambitious? It’s thought that the revised target has been made possible by an uptick in solar installations thanks to new government supports for the industry. China’s government introduced its first unified national feed-in tariff for solar energy in August, guaranteeing a price significantly higher for solar power than was previously being paid by various state agencies. Note that feed-in tariffs are believed to have driven three-quarters of global photovoltaic solar power installations.

To give you a sense of the scale of what China’s trying to achieve, consider this: at the end of 2010, the country had less than 1 GW of installed solar capacity. A government think-tank reported in August that it expected there to be 2 GW of installed solar capacity by the end of 2011.


Wind Power Produces Just 4-14% Emissions of Fossil Fuels, Even With Manufacturing & Decommissioning


It's tempting to think that wind power is entirely free of greenhouse gas emissions, but energy has to be used to make, assemble, maintain and ultimately decommission turbines and wind power projects. Even given all that though, a new assessment of the environmental impact of wind power, published in Environmental Research Letters, shows that wind power is a huge improvement over fossil fuel power plants it replaces.

Assuming a 20-year lifecycle for onshore wind farms, and a 25-year timeframe for offshore projects, the paper concludes,
the total emissions of wind electricity range between 4% and 14% of the direct emissions of the replaced fossil-fueled power plants. For all impact categories, the indirect emissions of displaced fossil power are larger than the total emissions caused by wind power.

The paper's authors note that these figures are in high range of other analyses done on the subject from other sources.


For onshore projects the wind turbine itself is the single largest emission source at 60-69% (very roughly evenly divided between making the tower, the nacelle and the rotor). In an offshore project though, the turbine itself drops to just 19-35% of the overall emissions, with the installation and decommissioning creating the majority of impact (19-35% and 18-52% respectively). Interestingly, the foundations for the turbines can be up to 11% of the overall emissions for an onshore project, and up to one quarter of the emissions for an offshore project.


Cape Wind Project: Northeast Utilities And NStar Buy Stake In Offshore Wind Farm


BOSTON (AP) — Energy companies Northeast Utilities and NStar have agreed to buy more than a quarter of the power produced by the long-planned Cape Wind offshore wind farm as a condition of a proposed merger, state officials announced Wednesday.

The announcement is a huge boost for the 130-turbine Cape Wind project, which would be located about 5 miles off Cape Cod in Nantucket Sound and aims to be the nation's first offshore wind farm.

The Cape Wind project has sold half its power to the Massachusetts utility National Grid but has struggled to find buyers for the rest of the power, posing a major obstacle to its efforts to secure financing. As part of the deal announced Wednesday, the combined Northeast Utilities-NStar company would buy 27.5 percent of the electricity Cape Wind produces under a 15-year contract.

State Energy and Environmental Affairs Secretary Richard Sullivan said the agreement shows the administration's commitment to clean energy.


Mass. wind turbine health study debated at hearing


Neil Anderson says the headaches, dizziness and palpitations began shortly after Wind One, a 400-foot high wind turbine, began operating about a quarter mile from his Falmouth home. So did sleep disruptions, ringing in his ears and elevated blood pressure.

Anderson was among a number of Massachusetts residents who on Tuesday disputed a recent report from a state-appointed panel of experts that reviewed existing scientific evidence and found no serious health risks associated with living near wind turbines.

"Despite the conclusions of this expert health panel, wind turbines that are close to residences make people sick," Anderson told the Statehouse hearing, adding that nearly all of his symptoms disappeared when the town-owned, 1.6 megawatt turbine was temporarily shut down in November amid complaints.

Environmentalists, industry officials and other wind energy advocates were equally strong in their praise of the panel's report, telling state officials who called the meeting that the findings were a resounding endorsement of wind as a safe and clean alternative to other types of energy.


U.S. May Achieve Energy Independence This Decade, Citigroup Says


The U.S. may achieve energy independence this decade because of growing North American oil production from shale formations, according to Citigroup Inc. (C)

U.S. shale oil output will grow by 2 million barrels a day as California production increases by 1 million and U.S. Gulf of Mexico output gains 2 million barrels, Seth Kleinman, global head of energy strategy at Citigroup Inc. in London, said in a report today. Foreign imports will drop to 3 million barrels a day, according to the forecast.

“U.S. oil production is rising fast, and net imports of oil are falling sharply,” Kleinman said in the report. Net U.S. oil and product imports are about 8 million barrels a day now, he said.

Canadian production is expected to rise by 1.6 million barrels by 2020, according to the report, which cited the Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers.

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