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California's renewable energy story – The right law at the right time

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California is nation's renewable energy leader, a front-runner when it comes to promoting renewable energy sources and fight against climate change. And it all started a decade ago, when Arnold Schwarzenegger signed AB32, a law requiring California to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions back to 1990 levels by 2020.

This doesn't mean that the state hasn't been trying to reduce its carbon emissions before but with the right legislation everything became a whole lot easier. AB 32, or to be more precise the California Global Warming Solutions Act of 2006, was the first bill of this kind in a country as it took a comprehensive, long-term approach to addressing climate change.

AB32’s main target is to reduce carbon emissions to 1990’s emission level to 431 million metric tons, in 2020. According to most analysts this looks very likely to be achieved. California’s rather ambitious long-term goal, which is not yet set into law, calls for an 80 percent reduction by 2050, down to 86 million tons.

The rapid growth of three renewable energy industries (solar, wind and geothermal) was the driving force behind this reduction in carbon emissions. At this moment, around 27 percent of electricity in California is generated by renewable energy sources, with the majority coming from solar power. According to state law California must get 33 percent of its electricity from renewable energy sources by 2020.

Solar power is the most important renewable energy source in California. The state's current solar power capacity is around 7,000 megawatts (MW). Even some major setbacks like the bankruptcy of large solar power company Solyndra in 2011 wasn't enough to significantly hurt solar energy industry in California. Solar power plants are spreading across the entire state, from the Central Valley through the Mojave Desert. The growth of solar power industry was largely helped by the fact that solar panel prices decreased 82% during the last five years.

Last Updated on Monday, 26 September 2016 07:47

Why don't we use more geothermal energy?

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Geothermal energy is renewable energy source that is practically inexhaustible source of energy. We are talking here about the thermal energy of our planet that is being constantly replenished by the radioactive decay of the minerals and as such it cannot be exhausted.

So what we have here is an environmentally friendly energy source with enormous potential and yet only a tiny fraction of it is being used. Worldwide, 12,635 megawatts (MW) of geothermal power is online in 2015, with current estimates predicting around 21,500 MW in 2020. Given total geothermal potential these are really small numbers, and not something global geothermal industry can be proud of. For example, U.S. geothermal power plants currently provide only around 0.4% of total U.S. electricity generation.

The Earth's geothermal resources are more than enough to supply entire humanity's energy needs but sadly not today, and definitely not with today's technologies.

What is the main problem with currently available geothermal technologies? The first thing is the reach of these technologies which is very limited as only areas near the tectonic boundaries offer economic viability of new geothermal projects.

High capital costs are usually main stumbling block for new geothermal power projects. According to 2010 data the estimated costs of geothermal power plant construction and well drilling are at €2-5 million per generated MW of electricity.

Last Updated on Wednesday, 21 September 2016 12:11

50 reasons to use more renewable energy

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1. Renewable energy is environmentally more friendly than fossil fuels.

 2. Renewable energy sources cannot be depleted

 3. Renewable energy industry can create many new jobs

 4. Renewable energy helps against climate change

 5. Renewable energy helps against pollution.

 6. Renewable energy offers variety of energy sources to choose from.

 7. Renewable energy sources are available in all countries of the world.

 8. Renewable energy can help improve energy independence of many countries in the world.

 9. Renewable energy can improve our future energy security.

 10. Renewable energy can help decrease expensive foreign fuel import.

Last Updated on Monday, 19 September 2016 05:49

Everything you need to know about biomass

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Biomass is renewable source of energy that includes different biological material from living, or recently living organisms such as wood, waste and alcohol fuels.

There are three different ways to convert biomass sources into useful form of energy: thermal conversion, chemical conversion and biochemical conversion. All three of these conversion technologies can still improve in terms of cost-effectiveness in order to rival fossil fuels such as coal and natural gas.

Biomass isn't free of carbon emissions as some proponents say. Some call biomass a “carbon neutral energy source” because in theory biomass sinks carbon out of the atmosphere in the process of plant growth, and returns it back as it is burned. There still hasn't been a general consensus among scientists whether to call biomass carbon neutral or not.

In 2015, electricity generation from biomass across all sectors accounted for 11.3% of renewable electricity generation and 1.6% of total electricity generation in the United States.

Wood is the most common source of biomass used in United States.

The North America's largest 100-percent biomass-fueled power plant is the Atikokan Generation Station in Ontario. This power plant is able to produce approximately 200 MW at full capacity.

According to current estimates, biomass nearly accounts for 12% of the global energy supply. The global biomass power installed capacity stood at 72,571.9 MW in 2013.

Last Updated on Wednesday, 14 September 2016 09:56

Strong support for wind power in United States

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The general public opinion among U.S. citizens is that the nation needs more power coming from renewable energy sources with solar and wind being the popular and most obvious choices for most of the Americans. AWEA(American Wind Energy Association) has recently reported that  that today 70% of Americans support wind power.

The support for wind power is stronger in states where development is more prevalent such as Texas and Iowa. It has been reported that 85% of Texans support wind power and want more wind energy development in years to come. In Iowa this number climbs to 91%, which is hardly surprising given the fact that wind now provides 35% of power demand in the country.

The logical conclusion is that the more wind power installed the greater the demand for further development. Many new wind farms are expected to be constructed across the nation in years to come. The support for offshore wind projects also grows though U.S. is yet to make any real progress in this area.

Last Updated on Friday, 02 September 2016 12:42

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