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Wind power is now cheaper than coal in some countries

Michael Marshall, New Scientist
When many countries are choosing their next generation of power stations, they will be tempted to pick wind turbines. Thanks to better design, building wind farms can now be cheaper than building new coal or gas power stations.

Figures from Bloomberg New Energy Finance show that this is already the case in Australia. Any wind farms built now would generate electricity for between A$80 (about US$80) and A$113 per megawatt-hour, whereas new coal plants would cost A$176/MWh.

In Australia, coal’s high cost is partly due to the nation’s carbon tax, but new coal power stations would still cost A$126/MWh even in the absence of the tax…
(11 February 2013)

Global solar capacity breaks through 100GW barrier

Staff, Business Green
Global solar capacity has surpassed 100GW, reducing energy sector CO2 emissions by 53 million tonnes a year, according to new industry figures.

The European Photovoltaic Industry Association (EPIA) yesterday revealed that cumulative solar PV capacity reached 101GW in 2012, after 30GW of new solar technologies were installed.

Significantly, the figures revealed a shift in the global solar market as emerging economies picked up some of the slack caused by a slowdown in European countries…
(11 February 2013)

Media campaign against windfarms funded by anonymous conservatives

Suzanne Goldenberg, The Guardian
Conservatives used a pair of secretive trusts to fund a media campaign against windfarms and solar projects, and to block state agencies from planning for future sea-level rise, the Guardian has learned.

The trusts, Donors Trust and Donors Capital Fund, served as the bankers of the conservative movement over the past decade. Promising anonymity to their conservative billionaire patrons, the trusts between them channelled nearly $120m to contrarian thinktanks and activists, wrecking the chances of getting Congress to act on climate change.

Now the Guardian can reveal the latest project of the secretive funding network: a campaign to stop state governments moving towards renewable energy.

The campaign against wind and solar power was led by a relatively new entity, the Franklin Centre for Government and Public Integrity. The Franklin Centre did not exist before 2009, but it has quickly become a protege of Donors Trust.
(15 February 2013)

EU should seek 100 percent green energy by 2050: WWF

Barbara Lewis, Reuters
One-hundred percent green energy for the European Union is realistic by the middle of the century provided the bloc signs up to ambitious energy policy goals for 2030, conservation body WWF said in a report on Thursday.

Debate has begun in Brussels on targets for 2030 to replace the existing set of 2020 goals, which are to cut carbon emissions by 20 percent from 1990 levels, improve energy savings by 20 percent compared with projected use, and increase the share of renewables in the energy mix to 20 percent…
(13 February 2013)
Link to the report

Weatherwatch: Wind turbines impact on balance and distribution of species

Kate Ravilious, The Guardian
A stroll through a wind farm may be a breezy experience. Now it turns out that extra draughts, created by swishing turbine blades, can change the weather.

As well as extracting energy from the wind, wind turbines swoosh air around. Fernando Portée-Agel, from the École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne in Switzerland, and colleagues, investigated the impact of the extra drafts, measuring changes in temperature and humidity beneath a scale model of a wind farm, situated in a wind tunnel…

Luckily these weather changes are localised, and occur on large wind farms. With thoughtful design (such as staggering the turbine layout) the weather changes caused by wind farms can be minimised…
(17 February 2013)

Image credit: Wind turbine – dan_h/flickr