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Spain’s gain from wind power is plain to see

Ambrose Evans-Pritchard, UK Telegraph
Windmills pay. On a breezy Saturday at the end of March, Aeolian Parks scattered across the hill-top ridges and off-shore sandbanks of Spain produced 40.8pc of the country’s electricity needs – 9,862 megawatts to be precise.

The much-derided turbines produced enough wattage to power the great cities of Madrid, Barcelona, Seville, Valencia, Toledo, Cordoba, Granada, Santander, Bilbao, and Zaragoza combined. The workday record on a Tuesday, March 5, was 28pc.

Years of nurture by the Spanish government have paid off. Spain is a global superpower in the wind race, with 15,000 MW of capacity. The region of Navarra is 70pc green, shielded against gas-shocks, Russian politics and soaring oil prices.

Today’s wind turbines are a far cry from the archaic mini-mills that scar the landscape for little return, and provoke such fury in the English shires. They are vast. Each mast can power a neighbourhood.
(8 April 2008)

US Solar and Wind Businesses Powered by Tax Breaks

Anita Huslin, Washington Post
For Tony Clifford, president of Standard Solar, the threats of climate change and high energy prices have been great for business. His Gaithersburg firm, which installs solar panels for homes, has tripled its revenue in the past year and raised new funds for expansion.

Last week, he got another piece of good news. The Senate agreed to extend solar and wind energy tax breaks as part of a housing bill that is likely to win approval in the House. An elimination of the tax incentives would have been a blow to Clifford’s business, forcing him to cut his staff of 20 and tell subcontractors he no longer needed them.

… Although the solar business is booming across the United States, federal tax incentives remain key to fueling the industry’s continued growth, utilities and solar firms say. Solar energy is still more expensive than more conventional sources, such as coal or natural gas, and is likely to remain so for a few years.

But solar costs are coming down while coal and gas plant construction costs are going up, and the solar industry says the eight-year extension of tax breaks in the Senate legislation would help create a cleaner, more reliable source of energy.
(14 April 2008)

Biogas Fuelling the Olympic Torch?

David DuByne, Language Matters
… China is playing a lead role in the area of biogas – processes by which we can turn our waste, animal waste and food waste into a high-end, useable commodity. The subject of using fecal matter as an energy source ranges from taboo in some societies to wide acceptance and utilization in others. In China, it fits into the latter category. Here’s what China’s National Development and Reform Commission has on the books for biogas.

In China alone there are nearly a billion and a half people with just as many livestock, poultry and garbage dumps all providing methane feedstock daily. It’s hard for China to sidestep the idea of turning something that was discarded into a commodity for electricity generation. China plans to have an installed capacity of bio-energy projects reaching 5.5 million kilowatts by 2010, but jumping to 30 million kilowatts by 2020, a 600 percent increase in 11 years.

Biogas is a combustible mixture of gases produced by micro-organisms when livestock manure and other biological wastes are allowed to ferment in the absence of air in closed containers.
(11 April 2008)