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Man power: a great alternative

Meg Carter, UK Independent
Pressure pads under pavements could generate electricity from every step we take.
Can a staircase capture energy from people walking up and down it, store it as electricity and use it to power lighting? It sounds like science fiction, yet it is one of a number of seemingly far-out ideas being taken very seriously by scientists and engineers whose goal is to harness the generating power of the human body.

“When we walk along a pavement, eight watts of energy is wasted – absorbed by the ground – with each heel. Yet it’s possible to harvest at least 30 per cent of that energy,” explains Claire Price, a director at The Facility Architects in London.
(26 Oct 2006)

My job: financing wind power

Jerome a Paris, European Tribune
…This Wednesday, a few banks, including mine, signed and disbursed a ground-breaking loan: we put 378 million euros on the table, to build 60 wind turbines in the North Sea, 25 kilometers off the coast of the Netherlands, near Amsterdam. The wind farm, at 120 MW is not the biggest to be built offshore (that title goes to Nysted, built three years ago, which has a capacity of 165 MW), but it is the first-ever offshore wind farm to be financed by banks.

…the principle [of project finance] is simple: you finance a specific asset, and you get repaid only from the revenues generated by that asset, without recourse to the investors that own the project. This is a financing technique that works well for project with well identified assets with high initial investment costs, and strong cash flows after that, like big infrastructure items (toll bridges, pipelines) and energy assets (oil fields, power plants).

Wind farms are quite easy to fund using this project finance mechanism, and it has indeed been done on a wide scale in most Western countries, which have stable regulatory frameworks for renewable energy, i.e. mechanisms that guarantee that renewable energy sources get a high enough price (usually higher than “grey” power, but not always these days with the price increases for gas) for each kWh put on the grid. But so far, offshore windfarms seemed to be scaring banks, for a number of reasons…

… I consider myself lucky to work in a sector where I can do some good for the planet and which is fully compatible with the political ideas that I push here.
(26 Oct 2006)
Also posted at Daily Kos.

Google to install largest corp solar power system

The Financial Express
Google Inc, the most-used internet search engine, said it plans to install the largest US corporate solar power system, joining rivals such as Microsoft Corp in adopting alternative energy.

Google’s solar system at its headquarters in Mountain View, California, will generate 30% of the facility’s electricity and will be put into service in the first half of next year, the company said on Tuesday. The solar system is more than three times the size of the one Microsoft installed in April at its offices less than 2 miles away.

Companies are installing solar panels to buff their environmental image, save money on electricity and take advantage of government incentives encouraging alternative energy usage. Federal tax credits and state rebates can help reduce the cost of solar power systems by up to 60%, according to the Solar Energy Industries Association.
(18 Oct 2006)

Australian Government Announces Funding for World’s Largest Solar Power Plant

CANBERRA, Australia — The Australian government announced Wednesday it will help build the largest solar power plant in the world as part of a new strategy to combat global warming.

The government, under fire for refusing to sign the Kyoto Protocol on reducing greenhouse gas emissions, will contribute 75 million Australian dollars (US$57 million; euro45 million) to the A$420 million (US$319 million; euro254 million) project to built a 154 megawatts solar power plant in Victoria state which will use mirrored panels to concentrate the sun’s rays, Treasurer Peter Costello said.

“The project aims to build the biggest photovoltaic project in the world,” Costello told Australian Broadcasting Corp. radio.
(25 Oct 2006)