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Renewables - Mar 30

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2 big projects will amp up solar power in Southern California

Andrea Chang, Los Angeles Times
Edison plans a massive installation of photovoltaic cells on rooftops, and FPL Energy proposes a 250-megawatt plant.
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Solar energy is getting a big boost in Southern California with the unveiling of two projects that will be capable of generating a total of 500 megawatts of electricity, enough to serve more than 300,000 homues.

Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger and Southern California Edison plan to announce today the country's largest rooftop solar installation project ever proposed by a utility company. And on Wednesday, FPL Energy, the largest operator of solar power in the U.S., said it planned to build and operate a 250-megawatt solar plant in the Mojave Desert.

The projects would help California meet its goal of obtaining 20% of its electricity from renewable sources by 2010. In 2006, about 13% of the retail electricity delivered by Edison and the state's other two big investor-owned utilities came from renewable sources such as sun and wind, according to the California Public Utilities Commission.
(27 March 2008)
Related: California utility to add 250 MW in solar cells (Reuters). See next item for background. -BA


Daniel Kammen on big new SCE 250MW photovoltaic initiative

Marc Strassman, Etopia News Channel
Interview with Daniel Kammen, Director of the Renewable and Appropriate Energy Laboratory at the University of California, Berkeley.
(28 March 2008)


The Clean Energy Scam

Michael Grunwald, TIME
... An explosion in demand for farm-grown fuels has raised global crop prices to record highs, which is spurring a dramatic expansion of Brazilian agriculture, which is invading the Amazon at an increasingly alarming rate.

Propelled by mounting anxieties over soaring oil costs and climate change, biofuels have become the vanguard of the green-tech revolution, the trendy way for politicians and corporations to show they're serious about finding alternative sources of energy and in the process slowing global warming. The U.S. quintupled its production of ethanol--ethyl alcohol, a fuel distilled from plant matter--in the past decade, and Washington has just mandated another fivefold increase in renewable fuels over the next decade. Europe has similarly aggressive biofuel mandates and subsidies, and Brazil's filling stations no longer even offer plain gasoline.

... But several new studies show the biofuel boom is doing exactly the opposite of what its proponents intended: it's dramatically accelerating global warming, imperiling the planet in the name of saving it. Corn ethanol, always environmentally suspect, turns out to be environmentally disastrous. Even cellulosic ethanol made from switchgrass, which has been promoted by eco-activists and eco-investors as well as by President Bush as the fuel of the future, looks less green than oil-derived gasoline.

Meanwhile, by diverting grain and oilseed crops from dinner plates to fuel tanks, biofuels are jacking up world food prices and endangering the hungry. The grain it takes to fill an SUV tank with ethanol could feed a person for a year.
(27 March 2008)


Wind power breaks records in Spain

AFP
Wind power is breaking new records in Spain, accounting for just over 40 percent of all electricity consumed during a brief period last weekend, the country's wind power association said Tuesday.

As heavy winds lashed Spain on Saturday evening wind parks generated 9,862 megawatts of power which translated to 40.8 percent of total consumption due to low demand during the Easter holiday weekend, AEE said.
(25 March 2008)

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