Even amid policy uncertainty in major wind power markets, wind developers still managed to set a new record for installations in 2012, with 44,000 megawatts of new wind capacity worldwide. With total capacity exceeding 280,000 megawatts, wind farms generate carbon-free electricity in more than 80 countries, 24 of which have at least 1,000 megawatts. At the European level of consumption, the world’s operating wind turbines could satisfy the residential electricity needs of 450 million people.
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Wind has overtaken nuclear as an electricity source in China. In 2012, wind farms generated 2 percent more electricity than nuclear power plants did, a gap that will likely widen dramatically over the next few years as wind surges ahead.
World nuclear electricity-generating capacity has been essentially flat since 2007 and is likely to fall as plants retire faster than new ones are built. In fact, the actual electricity generated at nuclear power plants fell 5 percent between 2006 and 2011.
The great energy transition from fossil fuels to renewable sources of energy is under way. As fossil fuel prices rise, as oil insecurity deepens, and as concerns about pollution and climate instability cast a shadow over the future of coal, a new world energy economy is emerging. The old energy economy, fueled by oil, coal, and natural gas, is being replaced with an economy powered by wind, solar, and geothermal energy.
Despite the availability of clean and sustainable energy sources like solar, wind, hydropower, geothermal and biomass, many states depend on outdated and dirty energy sources. Ohio, Pennsylvania, Indiana, Missouri and Tennessee are among the most in need of an energy portfolio diversification.
By Lester R. Brown Between 2007 and 2011, carbon emissions from coal use in the United States dropped 10 percent. During the same period, emissions from oil use dropped 11 percent. In contrast, carbon emissions from natural gas use increased by 6 percent. The net effect of these trends was that U.S. carbon emissions dropped […]
Humboldt County in northern California is known for its eco-friendly, laid back lifestyle. Solar panels are a common site on homes, and organic food is the norm. Big box stores are rare, and respect for the natural environment is high. One would assume green energy plans would go over big with residents, but that is […]
Another nuclear disaster, another round of worldwide questioning about the viability of nuclear energy. No doubt that nuclear industry makes a point when they argue that, overall, they have a strong safety record… but, as we saw again at Fukushima, when things do go wrong, they go really wrong… So, what’s the status of nuclear […]
Hawaiian culture is steeped in a delicate harmony with nature. The islands boast consistently strong wind densities, great insolation characteristics, enormous reservoirs of geothermal energy, plant life that is perfect for the production of ethanol, and an incredible oceanic wave resource, all of which could be exploited by renewable technologies without damaging the environment. As […]
By Lester R. Brown We need an economy for the twenty-first century, one that is in sync with the earth and its natural support systems, not one that is destroying them. The fossil fuel-based, automobile-centered, throwaway economy that evolved in western industrial societies is no longer a viable model — not for the countries that […]
By J. Matthew Roney Nearly four weeks after a 9.0-magnitude earthquake and tsunami devastated northeastern Japan, emergency personnel are still struggling to stabilize the disabled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant. Beyond the immediate need to minimize further radioactive leakage and protect public health, the government is beginning to reconsider its long-term plans for nuclear power […]
By Lester R. Brown For many years, a small handful of countries dominated growth in wind power, but this is changing as the industry goes global, with more than 70 countries now developing wind resources. Between 2000 and 2010, world wind electric generating capacity increased at a frenetic pace from 17,000 megawatts to nearly 200,000 […]
We are facing issues of near-overwhelming complexity and unprecedented urgency. Can we think systemically and fashion policies accordingly? Can we change direction before we go over the edge? Here are a few of the many facts from the book to consider: There will be 219,000 people at the dinner table tonight who were not there […]