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Author Topic: A High-Renewables Tomorrow, Today:  (Read 2954 times)

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AGelbert

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A High-Renewables Tomorrow, Today:
« on: October 10, 2013, 10:36:24 pm »
A High-Renewables Tomorrow, Today: Güssing, Austria



Laurie Guevara-​Stone

Writer / Editor

Bringing Economic Growth to a Dying Town

A small town in Austria that had no significant industry or trade business is now thriving thanks to local renewable resources.

Güssing (population: 4,000) sits in eastern Austria. In 1988 the region (population: 27,000) was one of the poorest districts in the country. It relied on agriculture, there was no transportation infrastructure, unemployment was high, and 70 percent of those who did have work were commuting to Vienna, 100 miles away. The town, where two-thirds of the working population was out of work and young people were moving away, was referred to as a dying town. Due to a lack of connections to the railway network and to the Austrian Autobahn (freeway) system, energy costs were extremely high. At the time the town of Güssing was said to be hardly able to afford its $8.1 million annual fossil fuel bill.

Several of the town leaders realized that $8 million dollars going to pay for fuel oil (mostly for heating) and other fossil fuels (such as coal for electricity) from outside the region could stay in the local economy if they could produce their own energy. However, they realized if they wanted to be energy self sufficient the first step was reducing energy use. In 1990, the town implemented an energy efficiency program, retrofitting all public buildings with new insulation and replacing all streetlights with energy-efficient bulbs, reducing energy expenditure in buildings in the town center by almost 50 percent.

With greatly improved efficiency, the town then adopted a policy calling for the complete elimination of the use of fossil fuels in all public buildings, in an attempt to keep more money in the local economy.

Heating with Local Resources

There is not a lot of wind in Güssing, but biomass is abundant—the town is surrounded by 133 hectares (328 acres) of forest. Some local residents, realizing that wood in the forest was decomposing and not being used, started to run a district heating station for six homes. With the success of that project, more small district heating systems were built. The mayor, who was looking for a way to revitalize the town, took notice. In 1996, the heating system was expanded to the whole town and was also generating electricity, all from renewable raw materials gathered from within a five-kilometer radius through sustainable forestry practices.

Then, in 2001, with the help of the federal government, Güssing installed a biomass gasification plant, that runs off of wood chips from wood thinned from the forest and waste wood from a wooden flooring company. This was the first utility-scale power plant of its kind in the world. The plant uses steam to separate carbon and hydrogen, then recombines the molecules to make a form of natural gas which fuels the city’s power plant. It produces on average 2 megawatts of electricity and 4.5 megawatts of heat, more than enough energy for the town’s needs, while only consuming one-third of the biomass that grows every year. The town also has a plant that converts rapeseed to biodiesel, which is carried by all the fueling stations in the district.

Becoming a Model Community

In 2007 the New York Times reported Güssing was the first community in the European Union to cut carbon emissions by more than 90 percent, helping it attract a steady stream of scientists, politicians, and eco-tourists. One year later, Güssing built a research institute focusing on thermal and biological gasification and production of second-generation fuels. That same year a solar manufacturer started producing PV modules in Güssing, producing 850 megawatts of modules a year and employing 140 people. Several other photovoltaic and solar thermal companies have relocated to Güssing, installing new demonstration facilities in the district.

The little town has become a net energy producer—generating more energy from renewables than it uses. Altogether, there are more than 30 power plants using renewable energy technologies within 10 kilometers of the village. Now the goal is to take the lessons from the small town of Güssing and make the entire 27,000-person district an energy-self-sufficient net producer.



Currently around 400 people come to Güssing each week to visit the numerous demonstration plants. Even Austria’s favorite celebrity, former California governor, and renewable energy advocate Arnold Schwarzenegger visited Güssing in 2012. “Güssing has become a green island,” he said when he spoke at the Güssing renewable energy demonstration plant. “You have built your own district heating [system]. You are generating your own electricity. You are operating a biomass power plant, produce synthetic natural gas from wood and develop new fuels at the research lab. I have seen all of this with my own eyes. Everyone should follow your example. The whole world should become Güssing.”

The town now has 60 new companies, 1,500 new jobs, and annual revenues of $17 million due to energy sales, all resulting from the growth of the renewable energy sector. The downtown has been rebuilt and young people picture themselves staying there in the future. And other areas are following Gussing’s lead. More than 15 regions in Austria are now energy independent with regard to electricity, heating, and/or transportation. The town of Güssing has shown that not only is a high-renewables future possible, but also economically advantageous. Schwarzenegger must agree, because when he left he said, “I’ll be back.”

http://blog.rmi.org/blog_2013_10_08_high-renewables_tomorrow_today_gussing_austria
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Re: A High-Renewables Tomorrow, Today:
« Reply #1 on: October 14, 2013, 03:40:00 pm »
Renewable Energy Patents Are Surging

by Pete Danko
 
The world of patents is a bit screwy these days, with trolls warping a system that was designed to encourage innovation by protecting and rewarding innovators. Still, it has to be seen as an encouraging sign for renewable energy that the number of patents issued in the broad field has skyrocketed of late.

Researchers from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and the Santa Fe Institute said that annual renewable-energy patents in the United States increased fivefold from the quarter-century preceding 2000 to the decade that followed, from fewer than 200 per year to more than 1,000 annually by 2009. Fossil-fuel-related patents were also up, but just threefold, from 100 per year pre-2000 to 300 per year in 2009.

Perhaps the most hopeful news in the study was the suggestions that increases in research funding can have a cumulative, long-lasting impact that can help keep innovation rolling along even through investment ups and downs.



For instance, a large increase in energy research following the oil shocks of the 1970s and 1980s was followed by a steep dropoff, the researchers said. But report co-author Jessika Trancik, an assistant professor of engineering systems at MIT, said the effect of those investments has helped drive this current patent boom. From the study:


We find that both market-driven investment and publicly-funded R&D act as base multipliers for each other in driving technological development at the global level. We also find that the effects of these investments persist over long periods of time, supporting the notion that technology-relevant knowledge is preserved.

The two most prominent forms of renewable energy (excluding hydropower) have not surprisingly been getting a lot of the innovation focus. “(B)etween 2004 and 2009, the number of patents issued annually for solar energy increased by 13 percent per year, while those for wind energy increased 19 percent per year, on average; these growth rates approach or exceed the rates for technologies such as semiconductors and digital communications,” MIT said.



But while growing markets can help bring about the investment necessary for innovations in these technologies, the researchers said markets alone won’t do the job.


To the extent that markets for these technologies grow fast enough, economic opportunity drives an increase in patenting and knowledge creation. It is important to emphasize that the growth of markets for low-carbon energy technologies, which improve on an aspect of performance (carbon emissions) not commonly captured by market price (and therefore not visible to the consumer), has depended strongly on public policy. We also note that policies are likely needed to fund research and incentivize market growth further until these technologies become cost-competitive and can take off on their own.

The paper, “Determinants of the Pace of Global Innovation in Energy Technologies,” was to published in the open-source, peer reviewed journal Plos One. A submitted version is available online as a PDF.

http://www.earthtechling.com/2013/10/renewable-energy-patents-are-surging/
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AGelbert

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Several countries, including Scotland and the Philippines, have recently announced impressive plans to obtain all of their power from renewable energy. With many countries setting their sights on much lower, incremental goals, these lofty aspirations have jarred the industry and sparked a debate.



Renewable Energy World asked industry executives to share their thoughts and insights on this controversial question:

What are the major barriers that countries face in order to reach 100 percent renewable energy — is this goal always achievable or desirable?

We want to hear your opinion. Share your thoughts in the comments below.

Kevin Smith
 Global Director, Renewable Energy, DNV KEMA

Goals serve an important purpose to ensure effort achieves a larger objective. Yet there's a difference between ambition and goals. Ambition provides inspiration, a rationale for why we want to achieve an objective. Ambition is a stretch, transformational. Goals are practical, measureable actions necessary to achieve the ambition.

Powering a country entirely with renewables can be inspirational, and may be achievable where the environment is blessed with abundant renewables that can be utilized safely, reliably and cost effectively — such as Iceland. But we should examine why we want to achieve a 100 percent renewables goal. Is this the best goal to achieve a larger ambition? Iceland isn't renewable-powered due to a specific goal. It's their best option given local conditions.

Ambition should focus on countries doing their utmost to address global warming for current and future generations with one (of many) goals being the lowest carbon emission system possible while ensuring reliability, safety, and cost efficiency. Power supply diversity that takes advantage of local resources and regional/cross-border transmission grids is a proven method for ensuring system objectives are met. 100 percent supply solutions fail to adequately acknowledge the technical, societal, and costs risks associated with an absolute goal - regardless of the generating technology.

Achieving the final incremental percentages of any goal (speed records, altitude records) is usually difficult, high risk, and impractical given alternatives. Plus, 100 percent renewable goals can quickly become politicized, resulting in delays, distractions or flawed policy that impedes progress toward our ultimate ambition.

As a dedicated, renewable energy professional, I'd like as much zero carbon emitting, renewable generation brought online as possible while ensuring a robust, secure, reliable, and cost effective system for society and our economies. Thus, 100 percent renewable goals will not be the best solution. But we should accept various goals that support the higher ambition.

As global segment director for renewable energy services, Mr. Smith develops and implements the global renewable energy business strategy for DNV KEMA Energy & Sustainability. He is a veteran of the wind industry with 14 years of service performing a wide range of engineering, advisory and project management activities.



Dr. Geoffrey Kinsey
 Director of Photovoltaic Technologies, Fraunhofer Center for Sustainable Energy Systems (CSE)

Fossil fuels are exhaustible. Therefore, a transition to an economy that runs on sustainable energy sources is both necessary and inevitable. However, a near-term focus on "100 percent renewables" runs the risk of attracting more criticism than support. An approach that focuses on high penetration (greater than 50 percent) of renewables will provide a more effective path to a sustainable energy future.

Thanks to the technological progress and cost reduction that has occurred over the last decade, renewables are now reaching grid parity in more and more areas around the world. In tandem, on-going technology developments in energy efficiency pay for themselves and reduce the load that must be carried by renewables.

Managing energy usage and large swings in supply through automated demand response will be essential — particularly in buildings, which drive peak electric demand. The advent of low-cost smart electronics in the last decade offers a means of enabling the necessary energy management.

High penetration of renewables will also require investments in both grid storage and transmission to re-distribute power across time zones and to smooth out supply intermittency. Pumped-storage hydroelectricity remains the most cost-effective storage method, though the arrival of low-cost electric vehicles adds the potential for substantial storage via vehicle-to-grid architectures.

The remaining challenge is to create the regulatory framework, standards, and incentives to enable economies to make dramatic shifts in their energy mix and invest the capital that is required. While the necessary investment is substantial, the benefits include economic development and job creation.

Dr. Geoffrey Kinsey is the director of photovoltaic technologies at the Boston-based Fraunhofer Center for Sustainable Energy Systems (CSE), a leading provider of contract research and development services to the U.S. renewable energy industry.



John Deasey
 Renewables Sales Manager, Trelleborg Offshore and Construction

Within the petroleum industry, energy sources such as oil, gas, coal and nuclear are still the main players, and while I doubt it would be feasible to replace these entirely with renewable energy, there is certainly a place for this type of natural resource.

The industrial-scale wind farms that are being installed off the UK coast clearly indicate that renewables can be a major power source. However, it is unlikely that they would be able to replace the current enormous capacity coming from fossil sources. Although wind farms — particularly offshore — have their place as part of a healthy energy mix and are a significant new development in the energy sector (even after years of challenges, installation issues, insurance claims and legal wrangling).

The wave and tidal sector, however, is lagging behind offshore wind. Many projects are delayed as companies re-structure, re-design and struggle to find the balance between design ideas and commercial reality. This sector is facing a tough time with just one or two serious designs coming to market that offer decent potential. This issue, plus the associated power output costs, suggests that we are many years from commercial wave-tidal plants that can operate and produce sizeable power.

The main barriers to renewable energy are really cost and commercial scalability, notwithstanding the legal ramifications of objectors — both political and environmental. Wind power is advancing, but when you consider the EU targets of 20 percent renewables by 2020, the 100 percent targets of countries such as Scotland and the Philippines tend to look like well-meant pipedreams.

John has 23 years of sales experience, six of them specializing in renewable energy. During his ten months at Trelleborg, John has grown and developed the company's renewables offering in line with wind, wave and tidal opportunities in this growing sector.


Tony Clifford
 CEO, Standard Solar

A decade ago I doubt if any national leaders would have considered it even a remote possibility that their country could be powered 100 percent by renewables. The fact that some countries have now publicly set near-term goals to do just that is nothing short of amazing. It is truly an indication of how quickly solar, wind and other renewables have advanced in the past several years.

Many countries have the renewable resources to meet 100 percent of their energy needs. Scotland has abundant sources of hydro, wind and wave power. The Philippines have excellent solar, geothermal, hydro and biomass potential. However, the barriers to attaining such large-scale utilization of renewables remain daunting.

Getting to 100 percent renewables faces technical, economic and political challenges. Technically the development of a truly smart grid and the integration of storage and micro-grids into that smart grid are substantial challenges. On the policy side, one must ask if getting to 100 percent renewables quickly is the best use of the financial resources of a country like the Philippines or Scotland. Also, the political will to accomplish such a challenging goal must exist.

Getting to 100 percent renewables is certainly a laudable goal, but political leaders should plot a course that makes economic sense. Go for the low-hanging fruit first — efficiency and hydropower are great initial steps.

Target renewables into the most cost-effective locations first, such as those without an extensive grid, create micro-grids and utilize energy storage. Build towards 100 percent renewables gradually, allowing for technical advancements and cost reductions that will be driven by global markets.

Actually reaching 100 percent renewables is not really the point. Renewables are a domestic energy source. Getting to 60 or 70 percent renewables would have a dramatic economic effect — not to mention significant positive impact on the environment and global warming.

Since 2007 Tony Clifford has led Standard Solar's rapid growth into a nationally known PV developer/ EPC. He is an elected board member of the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA), serves on SEIA's Executive Committee and also served as the president of the regional chapter of SEIA, MDV-SEIA, from 2009 to 2012.

http://www.renewableenergyworld.com/rea/news/article/2013/10/the-big-question-can-countries-reach-100-percent-renewable-energy?page=all

Agelbert's response to this overly conservative analysis.  ;D

In the year 1900, what would these gentlemen have opined about the possibility of getting the USA to 100% fossil fuel use for homes, transportation and industry by 1920 through massive government subsidies (both direct and indirect by the building of a massive highway network and giant electric grid)?

Yes, friends, that took only TWO DECADES! True, the population was smaller but the USA and several other developed countries in the world were also much less capable of large industrial ventures then they are today.

Number of Auto friendly roads:
1900 = ZERO (except a few that were that way by chance in major cities)
1920 = 36,000 miles (still a drop in the 3 million mile "bucket" but nevertheless a huge expansion from 1900. The expansion accelerated with a highway building law in 1916). Rockefeller did not pay a red cent to make these roads that helped make him rich; WE-THE-PEOPLE DID!
1

So, we could engage at the national level in massive infrastructure costs that help make big oil rich but we can't do the same for a massive Renewable energy transition that will provide ALL of Homo sapiens with a sustainable civilization???


I believe these experts will be pleasantly surprised with the pace of renewable energy replacement of dirty and polluting energy sources within the next two decades. The overwhelming mindset up to the year 2000 was basically that fossil fuels are "IT" as to being the only cost effective way to run a civilization. The overwhelming mindset NOW is that our fossil fuel powered civilization is unsustainable.

This sea change in mindset is the most important engine for rapid change, just as embracing the automobile and heavy industry modernity was in the decades from 1900 to 1920.

Historic proof that manufacturing all the renewable energy machines and infrastructure needed to transition to a 100% Renewable Energy world economy can be achieved in two decades or less

http://www.renewableenergyworld.com/rea/blog/post/2013/10/historic-proof-that-manufacturing-all-the-renewable-energy-machines-and-infrastructure-needed-to-transition-to-a-100-renewable-energy-world-economy-can-be-achieved-in-two-decades-or-less-the-mass-produced-liberty-ships-of-wwii

 http://renewablerevolution.createaforum.com/renewables/wind-power/

1. http://xroads.virginia.edu/~ug02/carney/paving.html
« Last Edit: October 17, 2013, 04:02:49 pm by AGelbert »
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Re: A High-Renewables Tomorrow, Today:
« Reply #3 on: October 17, 2013, 04:10:51 pm »
My response to this article:

http://www.renewableenergyworld.com/rea/news/article/2013/10/the-big-question-can-countries-reach-100-percent-renewable-energy

In the year 1900, what would these gentlemen have opined about the possibility of getting the USA to 100% fossil fuel use for homes, transportation and industry by 1920 through massive government subsidies (both direct and indirect by the building of a massive highway network and giant electric grid)?

Yes, friends, that took only TWO DECADES! True, the population was smaller but the USA and several other developed countries in the world were also much less capable of large industrial ventures then they are today.

NUMBER of AUTO FRIENDLY ROADS in the USA:

1900 = ZERO (except a few that were that way by chance in major cities)
1920 = 36,000 miles (still a drop in the 3 million mile "bucket" but nevertheless a huge expansion from 1900. The expansion accelerated with a highway building law in 1916). Rockefeller did not pay a red cent to make these roads that helped make him rich; WE-THE-PEOPLE DID! *

Electrification of the cities went just as fast for the benefit of fossil fuel powered utilities (which were NOT private at the time so we-the-people AGAIN shouldered most of the costs).


NOTE:Rural electrification only came later when the massive renewable energy dam building (over 1,500 dams) project of the 1930s (paid for by we-the-people) pushed renewable energy penetration of the rapidly expanding electricity grid up to over 30% - a level we have yet to regain in our present day, much larger, grid.

So, we could engage at the national level in massive infrastructure costs that helped make big oil rich but we can't do the same for a massive Renewable energy transition that will provide ALL of Homo sapiens with a sustainable civilization?  ???


I believe these experts will be pleasantly surprised with the pace of renewable energy replacement of dirty and polluting energy sources within the next two decades. The overwhelming mindset up to the year 2000 was basically that fossil fuels are "IT" as to being the only cost effective way to run a civilization. The overwhelming mindset NOW is that our fossil fuel powered civilization is unsustainable.

This sea change in mindset is the most important engine for rapid change, just as embracing the automobile and heavy industry modernity was in the decades from 1900 to 1920.


Historic proof that manufacturing all the renewable energy machines and infrastructure needed to transition to a 100% Renewable Energy world economy can be achieved in two decades or less

http://www.renewableenergyworld.com/rea/blog/post/2013/10/historic-proof-that-manufacturing-all-the-renewable-energy-machines-and-infrastructure-needed-to-transition-to-a-100-renewable-energy-world-economy-can-be-achieved-in-two-decades-or-less-the-mass-produced-liberty-ships-of-wwii

 http://renewablerevolution.createaforum.com/renewables/wind-power/

* http://xroads.virginia.edu/~ug02/carney/paving.htmlower/
« Last Edit: October 17, 2013, 04:13:22 pm by AGelbert »
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Solar Decathlon 2013: Arizona State/New Mexico


Learning from the relationship of the Mesquite Tree with Saguaro cactus to design a SHADE (Solar Homes Adapting for Desert Equilibrium) house

The SHADE (Solar Homes Adapting for Desert Equilibrium) house from the combined team of Arizona State U. and The U. of New Mexico, inspired by the desert and majestic Saguaro cactus, features independent configurable modules, a prominent solar canopy, and multiple patios with microclimates for an indoor-outdoor lifestyle.

Features include phase-change materials throughout the house with a capillary radiant system for passive heating and cooling, and a thermal battery that concentrates low temperatures at night and thaws ice to cool the space during the day.


Video here

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3 Reasons Germans are Going Renewable 'At All Costs'

John Farrell 
 October 23, 2013

Germany is racing past 20 percent renewable energy on its electricity grid, but news stories stridently warn that this new wind and solar power is costing "billions." But often left out (or buried far from the lede) is the overwhelming popularity of the country's relentless focus on energy change (energiewende).

How can a supposedly expensive effort to clean up the energy supply be so popular?

1. It's about the cost, not the price

Most news stories focus on the cost of electricity in Germany, which has some of the highest rates per kilowatt-hour in the world.  But they don't note that the average German electricity bill – about $100 a month – is the same as for most Americans.  Germans are much more efficient users of energy than most, so they can afford higher rates without having higher bills.  (Note to self: check out options for energy efficiency).

2. It's about vision

Germany doesn't just have an incremental approach to renewable energy, but a commitment supported by 84 percent of residents to get to 100% renewable energy "as quickly as possible."  A few U.S. states have renewable energy visions (e.g. 33% by 2020, 25% by 2025) that approach Germany's, but they're mired in the notion that despite enormous savings to society in terms of health and environmental benefits, renewable energy shouldn't cost any more today than conventional, dirty energy on the utility bill.  Germans have taken the long view (about energy security, price volatility, etc).

3. It's about ownership

I lied in #1.  Support for Germany's renewable energy quest isn't about cost of energy, but about the opportunity to own a slice of the energy system.   Millions of Germans are building their retirement nest egg by individually or collectively owning a share of wind and solar power plants supplying clean energy to their communities. Nearly half of the country's 63,000 megawatts of wind and solar power is owned locally, and these energy owners care as much about the persistence of renewable energy they own as they do about the energy bill they pay. Not only do these German energy owners reduce their own net cost of energy, every dollar diverted from a distant multinational utility company multiplies throughout their local economy.


Ownership of Germany's Renewable Energy CapacityJohn Farrell, ILSR

Not only does local ownership flip the notion of energy costs as consumers become producers, it also flips the notion of political ownership. Three-quarters of Germans want to maintain a focus on "citizen-managed, decentralized renewable energy."

The tunnel vision on cost so prevalent in the press reflects the perspective of incumbent utilities, whose market share declines as their former customers produce their own power. It's a story that plays out in the U.S., when debates over new power plants focus narrowly on the cost per kilowatt-hour rather than how an individual or community can retain more of their energy dollar.

It may seem that Germany is going renewable "at all costs," but only if we are resigned to being energy consumers.  Because their and our energy transition is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to take charge of our energy future.  That's priceless.

http://www.renewableenergyworld.com/rea/blog/post/2013/10/3-reasons-germans-are-going-renewable-at-all-costs#comment-127427
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Re: A High-Renewables Tomorrow, Today:
« Reply #6 on: November 02, 2013, 02:00:22 am »
A High-Renewables Tomorrow, Today: Samsø, Denmark

On a small island off the coast of Denmark, a group of potato farmers have turned into power brokers, owning the wind turbines that have made their island a net energy producer. In less than ten years, Samsø went from producing 11 tonnes of carbon dioxide per person per year, one of the highest carbon emissions per capita in Europe, to just 4.4 tonnes (the U.S. is at 17.6), and has proven that running on 100 percent renewable electricity is possible.

Full story here:

http://blog.rmi.org/blog_2013_10_23_a_high-renewables_tomorrow_today_samso_denmark
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Shocked into Pursuing Renewables: What Will Jolt Us Next?

 Elisa Wood, Contributing Editor 
 November 06, 2013 

Virginia, U.S.A. -- Historical events have a way of jolting us – again and again and again – into the reminder that energy plays a big role in our well-being.


October marked two such events for the U.S. It was the one-year anniversary of Superstorm Sandy, the massive storm that knocked out power for days to millions in the Northeast. And it was the 40th anniversary of the oil embargo, the first time America experienced oil as a weapon used against it. In the time between, we’ve seen other altering experiences — Three Mile Island, natural gas price spikes of the 1990s, Enron, the Northeast Blackout, Fukushima, to name a few.  We often stagger away with new resolve to secure a cleaner or more independent energy supply; to redouble renewable energy efforts.

Are there circumstances percolating now that will spill over and alter our energy future? What will give us the next jolt?

William Prindle, vice president at ICF International, sees it coming from today’s euphoria over natural gas, what he calls the collective “fracking delusions.

“Especially in North America, but in many other regions of the world, hydraulic fracturing technology is pushing oil and gas production to levels not in any forecaster’s range even ten years ago,” he said. “The fracking boom is driving prices down for natural gas, and to some extent oil, and creating in some quarters a sense of ‘problem solved — game over’ when it comes to energy policy.” 


Such nonchalance carries risk.  It can lead to a turning away from renewables and energy efficiency and “let the worthy policies of the last 40 years wither,” he warned.

Natural Gas Loses Momentum?

In truth, today’s hoopla over natural gas might mask important market realties, according to Jigar Shah, author of the new book, ‘Creating Climate Wealth: Unlocking the Impact Economy’ and former CEO and founder of SunEdison. While many see these as glory days for natural gas, Shah says the industry may be about to enter its waning stage after a four-decade run as America’s defining fuel.

Shah defines four stages to the growth of an industry: 1) Pioneering: the industry first forms and technology is deployed. 2)  Growth: Many companies enter the market with widespread acceptance of the product or service. 3)  Maturation: Marked by company consolidation either through merger or attrition, the stage Shah puts natural gas in now.

The fourth stage is decline. “This is where a market runs its course — the predictions on when this will happen for natural gas vary, but most agree the momentum is largely gone,” he said.

Natural gas is inexpensive today, but the industry requires higher prices for profitability, Shah says “Almost every expert in the country puts a profitable natural gas industry at a price of at least $5.50/MCF.  At that price, coal, wind, and solar is cheaper than new natural gas.  This price will happen in the next five years and when that happens natural gas will forever be labeled a volatile fuel that can be hedged and therefore has no place as a mainstay in the electricity industry.”

What does this mean for renewable energy?

“All the while, renewable energy will be underappreciated and under the radar screen until like in Germany the incumbents are staring death squarely in the face.  It is in that moment that people will realize that natural gas is not a bridge fuel of the future, but instead has already played the role of bridge fuel for the past 25 years,” Shah said.

The Sharp Tack

Fossil fuels have a history of economy-rattling price volatility. Price spikes often cause national and international soul-searching about energy resource balance. Stephen Cowell, chairman and CEO of Conservation Services Group, points to what happened between 2005 and 2008 when gasoline prices doubled.

 “The rise in fuel price was the sharp tack that burst the bubble, causing a credit crisis and severe recession among other effects. From 2003 to 2008 the rise in energy costs was the only substantial change to the economy, and it pushed American homeowners on a tight budget over the edge. This situation ignited the sub-prime mortgage crisis,” Cowell said.

Appreciation of renewables often heightens when fossil fuel prices rise. So it’s little surprise that in 2008, alone, wind energy installations increased by 50 percent and the U.S. surpassed Germany as the leader in wind capacity.

This year brings a far more depressing story for the wind industry, largely because Congress has not renewed the federal production tax credit that is set to expire at the end of December.  The U.S. installed only 1.6 MW of wind in the first half of this year, according to the American Wind Energy Association.

“Our behavior toward energy makes it appear that we are not taking renewable energy seriously. And that’s scary,” Cowell said.

We are failing, Cowell explained, to fully consider the repercussions of what he calls the fossil fuel cliff.

“The physical market structure for energy is fragile and prone to disruption, and this can have catastrophic effects. If the rest of the world catches up and starts consuming as much fossil fuel as the U.S. we will hit the fossil fuel cliff in 50-100 years,” he said. “That is a species-threatening reality. We’ll no longer have the ability to transport food and half of the human population will starve. The recent debt crisis may be a serious issue for future generations, but the fossil fuel cliff threatens our very survival.”

This is a big worry and a direction energy could take. But are there points of hope as well?

Prindle points to the rise in new energy management technologies and better energy analytics. “We are seeing intelligence (or at least the hope of it!) creeping into our devices, from GE’s smart appliances to the Nest thermostat, to remotely controllable lighting circuits. Meanwhile, cities and states are beginning to mandate energy performance data disclosure for larger buildings, and utilities are beginning to provide enhanced energy usage data to customers.”

These intelligent devices bring greater visibility and increase energy efficiency, opening a door for greater appreciation and adoption of renewable energy.


“I think that the biggest relevant historical event of the last 40 years has been the emergence of the energy efficiency resource across the entire U.S. economy,”
said Ralph Cavanagh, co-director of the energy program at the Natural Resources Defense Council. “Ultimately, it exceeded the contribution of all other resources combined in meeting the energy needs of a growing US economy.  It helped make renewable energy more consequential (by cutting sharply the quantity of fossil fuels that needs to be displaced), and it drove improvements in energy security and reliability that make us far less vulnerable today to volatile fossil fuel prices.”

Of course, it is often hard to see a pivotal event until it’s behind us.  Some are hard to predict, like natural disasters. And technology is changing so fast, we are not always sure what questions to even ask about the future. But if history tells us anything, renewable energy will be one of the answers.

http://www.renewableenergyworld.com/rea/news/article/2013/11/shocked-into-pursuing-renewables-what-will-jolt-us-next
« Last Edit: November 06, 2013, 03:04:24 pm by AGelbert »
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What IS sustainability in Business?
« Reply #8 on: November 09, 2013, 02:02:57 am »
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=e9-Khm_ghHA&feature=player_embedded


This video covers SO MANY BASES it is mind boggling!

The concepts and proofs presented here show the way to a sustainable future by carefully tracking those pioneers that have influenced some businesses (e.g. 3M) to switch the predatory capitalist mindset of quick profits and high toxic waste and externalisms to long term gratification and the biosphere as the STARTING POINT for business profitability through truly SUSTAINABLE practices.

Did you know that in our linear processes economy, fully 90% of the energy used to manufacture and market a product is LOST TO WASTE!!? ???

Consider what that means to the global energy use if MOST of that waste was ELIMINATED?

PLUS --->


RIGHT! MUCH LESS ENERGY USE with the SAME amount of services while eliminating most pollution and toxins.

All this flies in the face of "greed is good" and REQUIRES cooperation, collaboration and acute respect for the biosphere as a NECESSITY in order to have a TRULY PROFITABLE BUSINESS VENTURE!

This video makes a laughing stock out of the LIBERTARIAN, TOP PREDATOR BALONEY that has practically destroyed the biosphere and made businesses continually shoot themselves in the foot!


How can this be, you may ask?   ???  Well one of the key components of the inefficiency of our current system is that MOST of the ENERGY spent to create products goes into mining raw materials where the LEAST humans are employed.

Conversely, a SMALL percentage of the total ENERGY spent is on manufacturing the finished product, where MOST humans are employed. 

We need to STOP using so much energy in mining and extraction by making products that, when they wear out, go back to the factory, NOT THE GARBAGE CAN and LAND FILL WASTE SITE! The factory THEN can use this product designed for recycling to refurbish it and sell it again and again!

This does THREE things.
1. It reduces high energy mining and extraction.
2  Creates more human employment.  :
3. Preserves the biosphere for future generations.   


More people have jobs, less energy is wasted and less pollution hits the biosphere. If we make it, THIS IS HOW WE ARE GOING TO DO IT!   



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Re: A High-Renewables Tomorrow, Today:
« Reply #9 on: December 02, 2013, 02:10:21 pm »
City-Owned Texas Utility Already Serves 40% Renewable Energy


Is having local control of a utility the key to ramping up renewable energy?

In 2011, Boulder citizens voted to have their city take over the electric utility, joining 1 in 7 Americans served by municipal electric utilities. Their feasibility study suggests they can more than double renewable energy on their system to over 50%, slashing greenhouse gas emissions. A study in Santa Fe, NM, suggests a similar increase (to 45% clean energy) is possible, while reducing electricity costs. Other cities, like Minneapolis, MN, are also studying the option.

Many of these communities are inspired by examples like Denton, TX, a municipal utility that already gets 40% of its power from renewable energy. The presentation to the Boulder city council is from Mike Grim, the head of the Denton city utility.
Vimeo video at link:

http://cleantechnica.com/2013/12/02/city-owned-texas-utility-already-serves-40-renewable-energy/?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+IM-cleantechnica+%28CleanTechnica%29

Agelbert COMMENT: Excellent! The money savings is in Renewable Energy harvested near the user, the more distributed, the greater the energy efficiency per collected kilowatt.

Smart people follow the Renewable Energy Money. Dumb people talk nonsense about "gross output" of nuclear power plants while they studiously ignore massive transmission losses and really massive energy costs of baby sitting "used" fuel rod assemblies for at least a century. A fuel rod assemby lasts, get this, about 6 to 8 years, period. Anyone that tells you they are "carbon neutral" is a liar.

A MW of solar or wind power collected near the user is worth much, much more than a MW of fossil fuel or nuclear power from a centralized power plant hundreds of miles from the user.

But that doesn't stop clever intelli-morons from trying to wow ignorant people about the "massive concentration of energy (poisonous energy)" you can get from the "non-intermittent" (LOL!)" nuclear and fossil fuel centralized, poisonous, water hogging and water polluting, rate rigging, investor favoring, "privatized"  power corporations.

Renewable Revolution

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The Fossil Nukers are the REAL CRAZIES!
« Reply #10 on: December 05, 2013, 12:27:20 am »
 






“Crazy” Becomes The Norm In Germany After Tremendous Green Progress

GERMAN renewable energy "craziness"

(Note: This is part of a series of interviews and stories that will run over the next few weeks looking at Germany’s Energiewende, and the transition of Germany’s energy grid to one dominated by renewable energy).


“They told us we were crazy.”


It is a phrase you often hear from Dr Dieter Salomon – the Australian-born mayor of the German city of Freiburg – a city so much at the vanguard of the green transformation that is currently underway in Germany that it calls itself – Green City Freiburg. It probably feels that it needs the extra words to reinforce the point – because green, or at least green energy, is now mainstream in Germany. 


Salomon, who was born in Melbourne but moved back to Germany with his family at the age of 3, has been mayor of this city of 220,000 people at the edge of the Black Forest since 2002. And in many ways, the story of Freiburg and its attitude to renewables, energy, and sustainability, is a microcosm of what is now occurring in the broader economy.


It goes back to the 1970s, when an unlikely coalition of farmers — many of them wine makers, academics and students — forced the state government to cancel plans for a new nuclear power plant at Wyhl, just 25kms north of the city. It was a ferocious battle 
(see a video at link at end of article), culminating in a showdown that attracted a rally of 50,000 people. It remains, Salomon says, the only nuclear power plant that has been successfully prevented from going ahead, even thought the country has now committed to closing all by 2022.



Dieter Salomon, the Australian-born mayor of Freiburg

“The prime minister of the state (of Baden-Württemberg), told us we were crazy and said that we don’t build this plant the lights will go off,”  ::) Salomon says in his offices in the heart of the Medieval old quarter of the city. “That was 40 years ago, people still remember that comment because the lights haven’t gone off.”

More than a decade later, the “crazy” accusation was leveled at the city again, this time by the local newspaper when the council decided, six weeks after the Chernobyl nuclear disaster, to install a long-term program to wean the city off nuclear and fossil fuels, and into renewables, energy saving, and energy efficiency.


 “They told us it was a crazy decision,” Salomon says. Despite preventing a new power station, the local utility still relied on nuclear for 90 per cent of its electricity needs. “They told us it was not possible .” Now, the local utility contracts almost all its outside needs from hydro-electric sources in Austria.  ;D

Freiburg argues that it earns its “Green City” sobriquet from that initial spirit of defiance against nuclear and its subsequent focus on innovation, and sustainability.




The Solar Ship in Freiburg

It boasts a carbon neutral quarter known as Quartier Vauban, where in some sections the citizens voted against the use of cars; the “Solar City” and “Sun Ship” (pictured above), a residential area that features “energy plus” housing, meaning the houses and adjoining commercial buildings produce more solar electricity than they consume during the year.

There is the famous “Heliotrop”, a unique circular home that rotates so that its massive solar PV array and solar thermal collectors can follow the sun.

The town has more than 100 “passive houses”, has retrofitted a high-rise residential building to “passive house” status (see another ); and new homes have a requirement that restricts the consumption of heating oil to 1.5 litres per square metre per year. That compares to the average consumption of 30 litres/sqm/year a decade ago. Space heating in Germany consumes twice as much energy as electricity.

New housing projects are not begun until a tram line is built. The city estimates that 30 per cent of journeys are done by public transport and 27 per cent by bicycle. Car movements account for just 30 per cent of movements within the city. It is building three new tram lines to ensure that every home is within 500m of public transport.

Freiburg has also become a hub of innovation and industry. I lunched at Solar Fabrik, the first carbon-neutral solar module manufacturing facility. The city is also the home of numerous research facilities, most notably the Fraunhofer Institute for Sustainable Energy, which has grown from 60 people to more than 1,300, and is the second largest solar research institute in the world.

“Freiburg was quite different from rest of Republic,” Salomon says. “They thought we were the crazy guys from the Upper Rhine Valley. But now it is mainstream.”
But, he concedes, “a lot of people complain that we don’t do enough, that what we have done is nothing, that we have to do more.”

Indeed, despite its credentials, Freiburg now trails other cities in the deployment of renewables. It gave itself what seems to be a modest target of generating 10 per cent of its own electricity needs through renewables by 2010, but came up well short.  ???




It has six turbines on the hills overlooking the town, and solar PV on the stadium, and virtually every other public building that can support it, as well as many private homes. But it still only generates 6% of its own electricity needs through these means. Despite being in the sunniest region in Germany, there is just not that much wind and sun to go power the city within the narrow boundaries of the city, and few biomass or hydro opportunities. About 50 per cent of its energy needs (mostly heat) comes from combined heat and power plants.

Now it has set a target of 100 per cent renewables for the Freiburg region, which includes the surrounding areas that have 650,000 people.    It aims to do this by 2050. It will use the open spaces and resources of the surrounding areas for more wind turbines and solar farms, biomass plants and run-of-river hydro. And, Salomon hopes, geothermal. (Some smaller towns scoff at such targets, saying that they have already reached 100 per cent renewables, or even more, in some villages. The region of Emmendingen, which forms part of Freiburg and has 25,000 people, aims to be 100 per cent renewable by 2030).

The Green Conundrum: Fundies vs Realos

Salomon was elected mayor in 2002 – the first Green mayor of a large city in Germany — and re-elected in 2010 (they have eight-year terms). He’s what is knows an a “Realo”, as opposed to a “Fundie”, or fundamental Green that refuse the corridors of power.

It’s been a battle that has raged with the Green Party since it was founded more than three decades ago. The Green Party shared power with the Social Democrats in Berlin a decade ago, and the same arrangement is in place in Badem-Wurrtemburg, where Freiburg is located. The state’s capital, Stuttgart, also has a green mayor.

But in the federal level, the Greens have snubbed the opportunity of forming a Coalition with Angela Merkel, despite being the first party approached. Some say it is because the Fundies rule again in Berlin, others say it is because the centre-right has stolen its thunder by rejecting nuclear and supporting renewables. Still, others are frustrated that the Greens are not sharing power, because the energy transition would likely be quicker than with a centre right/centre left coalition.
For Salomon though, being Green and in government is “quite normal”. “When I was re-elected 3 years ago, I represented the mainstream of Freiburg.”

He says he needs to be a “realo” in more ways than one, because his party has just 13 out of 48 councillors. There are 10 parties represented to the council. “I have to have majority support in the council or I cannot govern,” he says.

Salomon is confident that the Energiewende – the national energy transition that will see it phase out nuclear altogether by 2022 and become a nation predominantly powered by renewables — will succeed. This is despite a lot of vested interests trying to make political capital out of rising electricity prices.


“A lot of countries are looking at Germany
,” Salomon says. Some of them don’t want us to reach our targets, others are hoping that we do. When it works in Germany, a lot of other countries are going to copy it.


“I know some countries think we are crazy, including the British. But now they are building new nuclear power plants with the French and the Chinese. The money they guarantee for every kilowatt hour is more than we pay for solar. Now, that is really crazy.”


See also our story Should Australian communities buy back their grids, which traces the history of Schönau, which was the first village to do so in Germany.


(Thanks to Craig Morris, a Freiburg based journalist who writes the Energy Transition blog (EnergyTransition.de), for allowing us to share some of his videos. More will be featured in our other stories. They can be found here).

http://cleantechnica.com/2013/11/17/crazy-becomes-norm-germany-tremendous-green-progress/
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Renewables To Account for All New Power in Australia through 2020, Says AEMO   


 Dorothy Davis, Content Director, PennEnergy 
 December 17, 2013 



Quote
New renewable generation that comes online displaces existing baseload generation and adds to the current oversupply of generation capacity in the NEM signaling potential generation reductions. 

Quote
A new report from the Australian Energy Market Operator (AEMO) forecasts 100 percent of new power in Australia will be generated from renewable energy sources through 2020.



The AEMO’s National Transmission Network Development Plan (NTNDP) The AEMO’s National Transmission Network Development Plan (NTNDP) 2013, predicts the majority of new electric generation will be based on wind power (84 percent), followed by solar (13 percent) and finally biomass (3 percent). This includes 168 MW of new wind generation that has recently come online in Tasmania, and a further 131 MW in Victoria, 270 MW in South Australia, and 386 MW in New South Wales committed to come online from 2014–15. AEMO said it is aware of close to 15,800 MW of proposed wind generation projects.

The NTNDP estimates approximately 8,700 MW of new wind generation to connect to the transmission network by 2020, resulting in a total installed National Electricity Market wind generation capacity of around 11,000 MW.

http://www.renewableenergyworld.com/rea/news/article/2013/12/renewables-to-account-for-all-new-power-in-australia-through-2020-says-aemo?cmpid=rss
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Feb 13, 2014

Laurie Guevara-​Stone

Writer / Editor

A High-Renewables Tomorrow, Today: El Hierro, Canary Islands

Islands confront some of the most difficult energy challenges. Their size and remoteness means they pay extremely high energy costs for often unreliable and dirty energy. Yet many islands are blessed with large amounts of sun, wind, and water, making renewable energy a promising solution. One small island off the coast of Africa has embraced these resources, most notably through an innovative hybrid hydro-wind system.

The smallest and most remote of Spain’s Canary Islands, El Hierro (pop. 10,700) is a land of lava-sculpted rocks, cliff-lined shores, and crystal clear waters. It is a diver’s paradise, yet remains relatively untouched by tourism. In the early 1980s, the island took its first environmental stance, opting for a development model based on respect for the island’s heritage and conserving its natural resources. “At the time, these guidelines seemed to be in contradiction to the social and economic dynamics of the Canary Islands that were seeking to attract mass tourism built on a foundation of a spectacular real estate business,” the President of the El Hierro Island Council, Tomas Padrón, said in a presentation to UNESCO. “It now gives us great satisfaction to be able to say that we have seen that the road chosen by the people of El Hierro was the right one and we are proud of living in harmony with a natural habitat that has remained largely unaffected by the hand of man.”

In 1997, El Hierro was the first in the Canary Islands to adopt a sustainable development plan to protect its environmental and cultural richness, prompting UNESCO to declare the entire island a biosphere reserve in 2000. Yet the island was still importing and burning 6,000 tonnes of diesel per year, emitting 18,700 tonnes of carbon dioxide. Twenty percent of the electrical energy consumed ran three desalination plants to generate water for drinking and irrigation. So a lack of energy on El Hierro not only meant not being able to turn on the lights; it also meant suffering from a scarcity of water and thus food.

The government of El Hierro realized conservation wasn’t enough; it needed to take things a step further and become a 100 percent energy-self-sufficient island. Fortunately, Padrón was not only president of El Hierro’s local government, but also knew a bit about electricity as he worked at the island’s electric company. With some research and education, Padrón and the new Department for Alternative Energy Research convinced people of the viability of a hydro-wind system.

A public-private partnership was formed between the Island Council, the Spanish energy company Endesa, and the Canary Islands Technological Institute to develop the project, called Gorona del Viento.

El Hierro now has five wind turbines with a combined installed capacity of 11.5 megawatts soon to provide the majority of the electricity for the island.   ;D When wind production exceeds demand, excess energy will pump water from a reservoir at the bottom of a volcanic cone to another reservoir at the top of the volcano 700 meters above sea level. The upper reservoir stores over 132 million gallons of water. The stored water acts as a battery. When demand rises and there is not enough wind power, the water will be released to four hydroelectric turbines with a total capacity of 11 MW.


The entire project, expected to come online this year, is projected to generate three times the island’s basic energy needs—for residents, farming cooperatives, fruit and fish canneries, and the 60,000 tourists who visit every year.  :o  ;D Any excess electricity will be used to desalinate water at the island’s three desalination plants, delivering almost 3 million gallons of water a day, enough for drinking water and to cover part of the irrigation needs.

While energy storage via pumped hydro is not new—plants already exist in numerous countries around the world—El Hierro’s is the first major plant not to use conventionally generated electricity. The hydro-wind plant had to pass rigorous environmental criteria to make sure it didn’t negatively affect the ecosystem of the area. The project developers had to remove and replant Macronesian heaths—native shrubland habitat, replant protective embankments, and protect a certain variety of cypress.

Besides reliable electricity, more fresh water, and improved agricultural opportunities, the Gorona del Viento partnership expects to earn over $5 million a year in electricity sales, and save almost $2.5 million a year in diesel imports. Since the whole project cost about $93 million, half of which was funded by a European Union government grant, project partners will recoup their investment relatively quickly. Once the system is paid off, the revenue from the project, aside from the amount used for system maintenance, will be put back into the local economy.

El Hierro’s next goal is to replace all 4,500 of El Hierro’s cars with electric vehicles  ;D. According to Javier Morales, El Hierro’s councilman for sustainability, if they sell electricity at the same price as gas, they can recoup the necessary $90 million in infrastructure costs in 10 years. The EV batteries will be charged with excess energy from the hydro-wind plant. "The whole system will be integrated," Morales told TIME magazine. "It's beyond green. When the power plant and the car system interact, it will be like galaxies colliding."


The island has also embarked on a solar thermal program to replace electric water heaters and a PV rooftop program. Future plans include having all the island’s agricultural cooperatives convert their fields to organic production (they have already signed on to the plan), with each farm having a biodigester that converts waste into methane for fuel and fertilizer.

"At first, it was simply an issue of becoming more self-sufficient," Padrón told TIME. "We were completely dependent on outside deliveries and could be cut off at a moment's notice. But then with the global energy crisis, and climate change, and everything else that's happened, we've realized it has a lot more value."

El Hierro’s hydro-wind plant does have a lot more value. It is serving as a role model for renewable energy projects in other isolated communities. Similar projects are under consideration in the Greek islands of Icaria and Crete, and Portugal’s Madeira. “The ‘El Hierro 100% Renewable Energies’ Project will make our island the first in Europe to be supplied with renewable energies,” Padrón said in his presentation to UNESCO, “turning it into a worldwide benchmark in implementing energy self-sufficiency and autonomy systems based on clean energy sources.” 


http://blog.rmi.org/blog_2014_02_13_high_renewables_tomorrow_today_el_hierro_canary_islands
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This Island Is The First In The World To Be Powered Fully By Wind And Water


By Ari Phillips May 1, 2014 at 9:29 am Updated: May 1, 2014 at 10:26 am

The smallest and southernmost of Spain’s Canary Islands is about to make an outsized mark on the path toward a more renewable energy-powered future.

With the opening of a new wind farm next month, El Hierro, population just over 10,000, will become the first island in the world to be fully energy self-sufficient through combined wind and water power. The five wind turbines will provide 11.5 megawatts of power, enough to meet the demand of the population and the desalination plants on this small crop of land off the coast of Africa in the Atlantic Ocean.
 
When the wind isn’t blowing, hydropower will fill the void. When the wind is blowing, power will be used to pump water into a reservoir in a volcanic crater about 2,300 feet above sea level. Then when power is needed, that water will be released down to a lower reservoir and used to generate electricity on the way. This process is known as pump-storage hydroelectricity, and is used in many other countries across the globe — including the world’s largest outside of Washington, D.C.


“This system guarantees us a supply of electricity,” said the director of the Gorona del Viento wind power plant, Juan Manuel Quintero.


With the $75 million project set to come online, El Hierro will no longer have to rely on costly and dirty diesel generators for electricity   ;D — although it will maintain an oil power station just in case. According to Phys.org, the island’s transition to renewable energy will cut carbon dioxide emissions by 20,600 tons per year and save the island from using 40,000 barrels of oil a year.

Other islands are taking advantage of renewable resources to become wind- and solar-powered, but El Hierro is believed to be the first to do so exclusively with wind and hydro power and without having any connection to an outside electricity grid.


http://thinkprogress.org/climate/2014/05/01/3433002/spanish-island-renewable-energy/
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