The week in clean energy….

posted by Matt Ran

Pretty exciting week for clean energy. Here’s a snippet of news I’ve been reading about in the past few days.

  • Rockport, MO town goes 100% wind! This rural town installed wind turbine to generate its entire annual electricity usage from clean energy. This also means that as the costs of coal/gas/nuclear skyrocket – they will have fixed power costs that will stay cheap. Some people seem to think expanding our use of dirty coal will alleviate poverty but this shows a much better model for development – smart investments that aren’t based on expensive fluctuating commodities, support for local self-reliance, and clean sustainable energy solutions.


  • Land Use of Solar vs Coal I’m sure we’ve all heard the offhand comments that “… solar panels covering 1% of the Sahara desert could power the whole world…”. Which is true, but obviously not that practical or even desirable. There still seems to be a mythology that solar (either photovoltaic or concentrated) require massive amounts of land. But it’s just not true – when you factor in the millions of acres lost to coal and uranium mining, natural gas wells, oil drilling, and the related infrastructure like railways and refineries- solar provides far more energy per acre of land than even hydroelectric dams! And solar can be installed amongst our daily lives – on rooftops of residences and schools and offices – furthering goals of locally-controlled energy.

Gar Lipow made an excellent post over at Grist on this very subject comparing Nevada’s Solar One project to a mountain top removal mine. While he openly admits to using back-of-the-envelope math – he illustrates the point the fact that solar is a far better use of land resources than coal. (not to mention the environmental and economic benefits!)

  • Greenpeace successfully blockaded a coal power plant in the Philipines last week for three days. The action finally ended when the Secretary General of the Philippine ruling party stated “I will file a resolution in the Senate seeking a halt in the construction of new coal fired power plants in the country. In tandem will be a strong Renewable Energy Bill that shall allow us to shift towards a low carbon economy, and away from dependence on fossil fuels, particularly coal. Coal carries huge environmental, health and social costs.”
  • Billions Wasted on UN Climate Programme (Guardian UK) It’s no secret that the United Nation’s Clean Development Mechanism (part of the Kyoto Protocol) is rife with controversy and corruption. But this recent article by the UK Guardian points to studies than up to 2/3rd’s of carbon credits (essentially offsets) are bogus – and not actually reducing emissions. The European Unions Emissions Trading Scheme is widely recognized to have been a failure, and while the controversy is raging on the Lieberman-Warner bill here in the states – the allowance of dubious offsets in the bill aren’t even the worst of it.