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Nepal introduces new rural energy policy

The Nepali government has introduced a new rural energy policy aiming at providing access of clean energy to the rural population and reducing their dependency on traditional energy sources including woods.

According to local Nepal Samacharpatra daily on Sunday, the Council of Ministers recently endorsed the policy that aims at generating employment and enhancing livelihood of rural people through the development of rural energy and linking it with social and economic activities.

The policy has defined small and micro-hydropower, biogas, bio-energy, solar and wind energy, improved oven and rural electrification as key clean energy options for them, said an official at the Alternative Energy Promotion Center under the Ministry of Science and Technology.

The government will promote the private institutions working for generating electricity through micro hydro plants and distributing them, according the policy.

The policy also aims to carry out research on biogas, expand solar energy coverage institutionally and prepare master plan for wind energy utilization.
(3 Dec 2006)

Bio-Fuels Seen as Alternative to Rising Oil Prices in Developing Countries

Lisa Schlein, Voice of America
Geneva – Experts attending a United Nations conference on bio-fuels say alternative sources of energy could counter the rising price of fossil fuels, which is especially burdensome for developing nations. However, they caution that planting crops for energy use could use up scarce land and resources needed for food, as Lisa Schlein in Geneva reports for VOA.

The steep rise in oil prices has created winners and losers. Those who produce oil have been reaping windfall profits. Those who import oil have had a tougher time paying their bills, especially developing countries.
(3 Dec 2006)
More balanced presentation than usual. -BA

A Conversation with Ambassador Sklar on Solar in San Francisco

Neal Dikeman, Cleantech Blog
This week I had an opportunity to have a conversation with Ambassador Richard Sklar, the President of the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission, on renewables and solar power in San Francisco. ..

They have established a network of solar monitoring stations around the city to measure our solar resource. Their primary source of power is the Hetch Hetchy hydroelectic power system. The SFPUC also owns a number of photovoltaic solar installations around the city, the largest of these is the marquee 675 kW system on Moscone Center. They also have 255 kW of solar and operate a waste gas cogen facility at the Southeast Waste Water Treatment Plant, and have a 283 kW solar project going in at Pier 96. Ambassador Sklar shared that they are expecting to shortly launch solicitations to buy solar power from private producers. ..

According to Ambassador Sklar the Moscone Center and other solar PV installations are just toys, demonstrations to say, in San Francisco we believe in green power, and we’re here to stay in solar, so pay attention. That being said, they are also serious about delivering economic power to our city, and have no intention of igorning the cost side of solar – hence the intensive efforts by the SF PUC team in demonstration projects and analysis to understand what it will cost before they make a big plunge. ..
(30 Nov 2006)

Bacteria Could Be the Source of an Unlimited Supply of Power
An Answer to the World’s Energy Problems?

Lee Dye, ABC News
The smallest creatures on the planet may help solve one of the world’s biggest problems, according to a new report from a distinguished panel of scientists.

Microorganisms, better known as bacteria, could be used to convert various materials into fuel to run our cars, heat to warm our homes, and even electricity to power our toys.

Imagine that.

A cell phone that never loses power because its “battery” consists of millions of tiny bugs chomping on lunch, cranking out electrons for a continuous flow of electrical current.

Sound far-fetched? You bet.

Impossible? It’s already being done, on a very small scale. And much research will have to be done if this bold concept is to become a reality.

But experts convened by the American Academy of Microbiology concluded that given enough time, and a little luck, microorganisms could be part of the key to our energy future.

The panel met in San Francisco last March and has just released a report, Microbial Energy Conversion, claiming that the concept is realistic.

The idea may sound like science fiction, but that’s the way many fuels are already produced by nature.
(2 Dec 2006)
Fairly good article, but framed poorly.

Fellow journalists, it’s time for an embargo on the generic news story: “XXX is the answer to the world’s energy problems.” (where XXX = coal, oil shale, fusion, bacteria, a-biotic oil, hydrogen, corn ethanol, etc.).

If there is one thing we do know about energy, it’s that there is no one magic answer. Framing the issue in this way is deeply misleading. Inevitably, if one reads the details of the story, one finds out that “much more research is needed,” “there are a few problems,” “the technology is only in its preliminary stages.”

Unfortunately most readers only scan the headlines and the first paragraph or two. The public is left with the impression that we have a multitude of technologies poised to solve the solve our energy problems – “What, me worry?”