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Cape Wind to Receive Ken Salazar Approval

While the official decision on Cape Wind isn’t expected until noon tomorrow, it’s looking like the nine year struggle over Cape Wind will be settled in favour of the the massive wind farm project’s approval.

The Washington Post has is citing a source close to the Interior Secretary, Ken Salazar, as saying that the secretary will approve Cape Wind.

Cape Wind, planned to have 130 wind turbines across 25 square miles of federal ocean space off the coast of Nantucket, will cost approximately $1 billion and be the first American offshore wind power project ever.

This project was recently officially opposed by the Advisory Council on Historic Preservation on the grounds that it was wrecking the view from historical locales like Martha’s Vineyard.

Cape Wind was also strongly supported by six east coast governors who wrote a letter to Salazar last week asking to see the project come to fruition.

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The Gyre Seascraper

Created for the Evolo Skyscraper Design Competition, the Gyre Seascraper is a floating zero emissions eco-development from Zigloo Design, a Canadian based company. Only at the conception stages this underwater skyscraper was created to bring both scientists and tourists together to better understand the ocean.

The multi-level design spanning 52.3 acres, uses wind, solar, and tidal energy generation technologies all while providing adequate space for living and working, shops, restaurants, gardens, and recreation activities. Cool, sounds like its right out of an amazing Sci-Fi movie!

With radial arm that extend out from the central area for stabilization this also creates a 1.25km long port which makes it perfect for accommodating the worlds largest ships.

The centre column of the Gyre Seascraper features multiple floor levels within a double-hulled vortex with glass windows. The top two levels are dedicated to restaurants, shopping and community activities while the intermediate levels are designed to accommodate long-term residents, ocean experts, and hotel guests, with room for more than 2000 people. The lowest levels are dedicated to oceanographic research and also will feature space for a public interpretive centre.

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China Institutes Green Power Plan to Match Europe

Zhang Xiaoqiang, vice-chairman of China’s national development and reform commission said that Beijing would easily surpass Europe’s current 2020 targets for the use of wind and solar power hoping to now reach targets three times higher. This is a part of China’s ambitious plans to increase in its use of wind and solar power over the next ­decade and believes it can match Europe by 2020.

Zhang said the new goal could be 100GW by 2020, though in the current plan, the goal for wind energy is 30 gigawatts..

“Similarly, by 2020 the total installed capacity for solar power will be at least three times that of the original target [3GW],” Zhang said in an interview in London.

“We are now formulating a plan for development of renewable energy. We can be sure we will exceed the 15% target. We will at least reach 18%. Personally I think we could reach the target of having renewables provide 20% of total energy consumption.”

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Salazar Sees Wind Power Replacing Coal on East Coast

At a public hearing in Atlantic City last Monday, Interior Secretary Ken Salazar stated that he believed that most, and possibly all, coal power plants in the United States could be replaced by wind turbines along the East Coast.

“The idea that wind energy has the potential to replace most of our coal-burning power today is a very real possibility,” he said. “It is not technology that is pie-in-the sky; it is here and now.”

Salazar estimated that East Coast ocean winds could produce one million megawatts of power, which would account for almost five times the amount of power produced by all coal plants currently operating in the United States.

Not surprisingly, a spokesman for the American Coal Council, Jason Hayes, was more than a little sceptical about this possibility and pointed to roadblocks of wind power including wildlife impact and efficiency issues with transferring power back to shore.

The Atlantic City hearing was the first of four that will be held throughout the US which will examine how energy resources should be utilized with respect to the Obama administration’s energy policy. The Atlantic City Convention Center, where it took place, has the largest roof-mounted solar energy panels in the United States.

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Renewed Interest in Renewable Energy

The Obama economic stimulus package, which invested so heavily in renewable energy like wind and solar power, is finally having an effect on the green industries.

In a statement to the NY Times the vice-president of Sharp Solar, Ron Kenedi, said that although December, January and February had been “miserable,” things are starting to pick up.

“I call this the green shoots period. We’re seeing new growth,” he said.

Kenedi went to allude to a large-scale, unnamed solar project, which lost its financing late last year. Now, with banks willing to invest “they’ve unstuck their project.”

He also made mention of the stimulus money that will soon be flowing to state governments via conservation-oriented block grants. This should show a marked influence on small-scale solar projects.

However, he added, the industry is still looking for clarity on how a new Treasury grant program (an important stimulus measure for renewable energy that turns tax credits into straight grants) will work. “We are also noting that the financing of projects already slated to go forward is taking extra time to get done,” he said.

Lawyer with Chadbourne & Parke, Keith Martin, stated in an email that a recent call he had conducted with bankers indicated a consensus that the stimulus package is resulting in more activity, if not yet money, in the renewable energy sector.

“There are lots of proposal letters and term sheets circulating,” he said in an e-mail message. “The mood is improving, but it has not translated yet into closing and fresh capital flowing into deals.”

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Ontario Paying Big for Small-Scale Renewable Energy

Back in 2007, the Ontario Power Authority (OPA) looked like it was setting a wonderful green precedent when it adopted a feed-in tariff for renewable energy. This allowed people who had adopted their own forms of renewable energy systems, like solar panels and wind turbines, to sell their excess power to the OPA at a set rate over a certain time period. Unfortunately, the OPA was accused by solar advocacy groups of setting the price too low and consequently failing to encourage the growth of any grass roots level renewable energy projects.

It looks like that issue might now be corrected as the legislature is now mulling over the idea of increasing feed-in tariff in concert with the proposed Green Energy Act. Both homeowners and renewable energy companies stand to start making better money for their clean energy this summer if the program gets approved. Renewable energy systems with the potential to qualify include: solar power, wind power, hydro, biogas, biomass and landfill gas turned to electricity.

The proposed new tariffs do a much better job of encouraging all of these, especially small-scale solar installations, which get the highest tariff. This is part of a larger effort to encourage 100,000 solar panel systems to be installed on residential rooftops. If this became a reality those solar panels would account for one percent of Ontario’s power supply. With the proposed feed-in tariff for small-scale solar projects proposed to be as high as 80.2 cents per kilowatt-hour; nearly double what a large solar plant would be paid, giving great incentive to start these kinds of small solar projects.

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2.65M Solar and Wind Energy Jobs in Nine Years

A Clean Edge report released today says that the wind and solar energy industries will be responsible for generating 2.65 million jobs globally in less than a decade. This expected number is about four and half times more than the current number of wind power and solar energy jobs which is approximately 600,000.

This positive predication is tempered by a less sunny short-term outlook, which predicts that renewable energy investments will plateau or even dip this year.

Chaos in the American economy is expected to seriously hamper what would’ve likely been massive, record-setting growth in the wind and solar power industries this year, but hopefully the rosey long-term outlook will keep the renewable energy jobs ball rolling at least somewhat.

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Smart-grid Project Matches Wind Power with Electric Cars

Smart-grid technology is taking another step forward as IBM is joining with Danish research consortium EDISON and seeking to optimize wind turbine energy for use with electric cars.

The goal of the project will be to correspond wind turbine energy from the island of Bornholm, Denmark, with the power consumption of electric cars.

The goal of the project is two-fold: increase the number of electric cars in Denmark to 10 percent of the vehicles on the road while shifting an even greater emphasis to wind power in the country.

Denmark already receives 20 percent of its power from renewable energy sources like wind turbines.

IBM’s Global Energy and Utilities is currently involved in approximately 50 different projects like this that relate to smart-grid technology. Allan Schurr, vice president of strategy and development recently explained their emphasis on smart-grid tech saying that it can help utilities better integrate renewable energy sources and run the transmission grid more efficiently.

Smart-grid technologies are not required to make larger use of wind and solar power but they can make them less expensive,” Schurr said. “Getting a handle on power supply and demand in real time helps address the variable nature of wind and solar power,” he said.

He went on to explain that many forms of renewable energy, particularly wind power, cause problems for power grid operators since power supply is unpredictable. Smart-grid technology can help modulate the loads so that if the wind is blowing, cars should be charging.

The Danish Edison project will try to use simulations and historical data to predict how best to correspond wind turbines power output with the charging of electric car batteries. An example of how this might function would be for a drop in wind speeds to be matched with a slow down in how fast electric car batteries are charged.

Smart grid technology can help balance electricity supply from wind power or solar energy with demand. This would mean eliminating the need for fossil fuel backup generators that are typically used as stand-by power suppliers.

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Obama Congress Address Sobering but Hopeful

President Barack Obama addressed Congress and the nation tonight, warning that although it will take a long time for the flailing economy to mend, with courage and hard work, better economic times are on the horizon. Obama spoke to a joint session of Congress which was nationally televised. He gave a message of hope, but the President was clear he did not want to raise false expectations.

“If you haven’t been personally affected by this recession, you probably know someone who has,” Obama began.

“While our economy may be weakened and our confidence shaken; though we are living through difficult and uncertain times, tonight I want every American to know this: We will rebuild, we will recover, and the United States of America will emerge stronger than before,” Obama said to a rousing standing ovation.

“The answers to our problems don’t lie beyond our reach. They exist in our laboratories and universities; in our fields and our factories; in the imaginations of our entrepreneurs and the pride of the hardest-working people on Earth. Those qualities that have made America the greatest force of progress and prosperity in human history we still possess in ample measure. What is required now is for this country to pull together, confront boldly the challenges we face, and take responsibility for our future once more.”

Obama spoke about how we lived in an era where short-term gains became a priority. He warned that now is the time to act boldly and to invest in energy, education and health care. He hopes to create 3.5 million jobs in the private sector which includes constructing wind turbines and solar panels.

In the next few days, Obama said he will submit a budget to congress, which he sees as a vision for America. The budget will focus on three areas: renewable energy, health care and education. He added that to truly transform our planet, we need to make the energy that is profitable. To support that, Obama stressed that he would invest $15 billion a year on renewable energy technologies including biofuels, solar energy and wind energy. He also promised to double the nation’s supply of renewable energy within two years.

“That is why I will be asking Congress for a market based cap on carbon pollution and drives the production of clean, renewable energy in Amercia,” Obama said.

Obama told Americans that if they have questions about the stimulus plan, they can go to where they’ll be able to see how every penny is being spent. If you weren’t watching, Obama’s speech was met with multiple standing ovations.

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Self Describing Network Promises Smarter Grid

The days of power being generated in centralized locations is coming to an end. The U.S. is coming off a record year in wind power. The UK has an aggressive plan for investing in renewable energy systems and Barack Obama is investing hundreds of billions of dollars to see solar power and wind energy maintain their momentum. It’s safe to say that a wide dispersion of power generation will continue with the proliferation of all these renewable energy forms.

This is creating some problems when it comes to managing power grids since the infrastructure was designed to pipe power from one spot outwards like a spider web.

But wind power and solar energy producing electricity across entire countries grid operators are having problems knowing what generators are connected, whether they are working or not and how much electricity they are generating. This hasn’t been too big a problem so far but with these industries growing like wild fire it likely will be in the near future.

As we reported earlier on our wind power sister site, Southwest Windpower has been lobbying the U.S. government to expand Wi-Fi Internet connections in rural areas so as to allow its wind turbines to communicate with a central operator.

Now FGH research in Germany has taken a look at this same problem and made a significant breakthrough in dealing with this issue.

“Grid management systems were designed around a large number of clients and a few suppliers, but now there are increasing numbers of suppliers. This requires a new level of communication and management system,” explains Bernhard Schowe-von der Brelie, a lead researcher at the FGH research institute.

Schowe-von der Brelie has made great  progress towards developing a solution, for managing distributed resources in an electricity grid while also providing a method of communication between autonomous systems across any network.

The German research has team developed a generic framework that will allow for ‘self-describing’ networks. These networks allow each component, whether it’s a simple wind turbine volt meter or a weather station’s thermometer, to autonomously send its information regarding its function, location and any relevant data.
The results of this “self describing” network is that smart power grids can be set up for a town or city more easily and cost-effectively.

Schowe-von der Brelie explains, “Instead of storing information in a centralized database, the S-TEN approach is for each node, each sensor or device connected to the network, to have its own intelligence.”

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