1. How does solar power work?

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The sun provides us with enough energy to satisfy the entire world's needs. In fact, the amount of energy the sun provides earth over a period of 20 days is the same amount of energy currently stored in Earth's reserves of coal, oil and natural gas combined. Moreover, it's endless, emits no waste, creates no environmental destruction, and is free. Unfortunately, the process of harvesting this amazing source of energy is difficult and expensive.

Solar energy is captured using solar panels. Normally, the sun's rays create heat when they come into contact with an object. Solar panels, however, turn the sun's power into electricity rather than heat. This is because the panels are coated with silicon. The electrons in most elements simply vibrate in place when they are struck by solar rays, creating heat. But the electrons in silicon actually move from their resting place, enabling the creation of electricity instead of heat. Below is a rudimentary diagram showing the basics of the process.


Due to the high cost of silicon, scientists have begun to create new types of solar panels which contain additional elements. They are working on making the process more efficient and the panels are now able to yield a greater amount of power. Many are also attempting to mimic the process of photosynthesis used by plants to capture sunlight. The plant's technique is far more effective than any solar panel yet produced. Some even speculate that creating solar panels which act as plants could help eliminate excess carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, alleviating some fears over climate change.

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Quote Page

Quotes on wind power, windmills, and renewable energy from leading experts, innovators, and scientists in the field.

Commentary or Blog Post

"There is an old joke that says Brazil is the country of the future – and always will be. But with rapid economic growth, the government claiming that some 40 million people have been lifted out of poverty in the past decade and the 2014 World Cup and 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro on the horizon, it seems the joke is about to fall flat. Brazil's time has arrived and the country of sun, sea...

"There are three main areas where, broadly speaking, subsidies or other support for energy may apply: government R&D for particular technologies, subsidies for power generation per unit of production (or conceivably per unit of capacity), including costs imposed on disincentivised alternatives, and the allowance of external costs which are either paid by the community at large or picked up...

"Global wind power capacity was 238 Gigawatts (GW) at the end of 2011, up from just 18 GW at the end of 2000, with an average growth rate of over 25% over the past five years."

"Mecca, which hosts millions of pilgrims a year visiting Islam's most holy shrine, is working toward becoming the first city in Saudi Arabia to operate a utility-scale plant generating electricity from renewables."

"The bleak windswept region of Patagonia in Argentina has some of the best conditions in the world for wind power generation. Not only are the winds strong in Patagonia, but they are also fierce in the south of Buenos Aires province and interior provinces such as Córdoba. Blessed with such potential, Argentina should be a world leader in wind energy.

And yet, despite periodic energy...

"When someone says ‘wind power’ most people probably think of giant high-cost three-bladed wind turbines generating massive amounts of power on a distant hilltop – but harnessing energy from the wind can be much more diverse and exciting in its forms and applications than simple wind turbine farms would lead one to believe. From sleek wind powered vehicles and clever home wind power...

The world currently has 121 gigawatts of installed wind energy capacity. Most of this electricity is generated via large wind farms.

"Solar energy is the cleanest, most abundant, renewable energy source available. And the U.S. has some of the richest solar resources shining across the nation. Today's technology allows us to capture this power in several ways giving the public and commercial entities flexible ways to employ both the heat and light of the sun.

The greatest challenge the U.S. solar market faces is...

"ACWA Power International, a Saudi energy developer, plans to add solar assets at home and electricity plants abroad to triple production capacity."

"New revelations continue to surface about the Obama administration's handling of half a billion dollars in federal loan guarantees to the now-bankrupt solar company Solyndra.

On Monday, Democrats released a memo that showed some voices inside the White House argued against President Obama's visit to Solyndra in May 2010.

But Solyndra was just one of the clean energy projects and...

"The 'cubic mile of oil'--a metric roughly equivalent to the amount of oil consumed worldwide each year--is frequently used to explain the challenge facing solar, wind, geothermal and biomass power.

So what would it take to replace the amount of energy in a cubic mile of oil? Roughly 4.2 billion solar rooftops, 300 million wind turbines, 2,500 nuclear power plants or 200 Three Gorges...

Denmark has long been a role model for green activists, but now it has become one of the first countries to turn against the turbines.

"The wind power industry has become tangled in the election year spin-cycle."

"Although the environmental benefits of burning less fossil fuel by using renewable sources of energy—such as geothermal, hydropower, solar and wind—are clear, there's been a serious roadblock in their adoption: cost per kilowatt-hour.

That barrier may be opening, however—at least for one of these sources. Two recent reports, among others, suggest that geothermal may actually be cheaper...

"Legislative efforts to implement a supposedly 'environmentally friendly' conversion of the U.S. economy by means of carbon credits may be on hold for the moment, but that does not mean that a shift toward solar and wind power is not underway. The motivation for the trend is supposedly profit, not ideology."

"Earlier today we showed how Jim Chanos made out like a bandit by shorting Chinese stocks. Chanos was on Bloomberg TV yesterday and saying that he wasn’t bearish enough about China. Today at the Ira Sohn Conference Chanos revealed his favorite short idea: solar stocks.

Solar stocks started the day weaker and went down further after Chanos' remarks. Chanos doesn't like the economics...

"China is the world’s biggest energy consumer, after topping the U.S. in 2009 according to the International Energy Agency. However, the U.S. is still by far the biggest per-capita energy consumer, with the average American using five times as much energy as the average Chinese."

"The statement by the China Chamber of Commerce for Import and Export of Machinery and Electronic Products on Thursday was the latest salvo in an escalating battle between China and the U.S. over trade in the renewable-energy sector. Over the past three weeks, each side has accused the other of providing illegal subsidies to prop up its sector."

"Chinese hydropower lobbyists are calling for construction of the world's biggest hydro-electric project on the upper reaches of the Brahmaputra river as part of a huge expansion of renewable power in the Himalayas.

Zhang Boting, the deputy general secretary of the China Society for Hydropower Engineering, told the Guardian that a massive dam on the great bend of the Yarlung Tsangpo -...

This article reports on the growing interest in sustainability measures on college campuses. According to this article, Clemson University is creating a new program in order to facilitate research on alternative energy.

"Wind Powering America (a DOE initiative) publishes a series [of] maps showing the potential to generate electricity from offshore wind resources in the United States. This map complements the map highlighting onshore wind energy potential. These offshore maps show wind speed detail at 90 meters above the water surface (the approximate height of many current-day offshore wind turbines), with a...

"Gov. Ed Rendell's recent proposal to increase the mandate for the proportion of electricity in Pennsylvania that must be generated from solar power -- from 0.5 percent to 1.5 percent by the year 2021 -- is the best illustration of that aphorism I have seen in a long time.

The governor is right to want clean 'green' power. I wish solar power was the answer. But today other technologies...

"Wind and biomass dominate projected increases in U.S. renewable electricity generation, excluding hydropower, in EIA's Annual Energy Outlook 2012 (AEO2012) Early Release Reference case. Increased generation from non-hydro renewable energy resources in the electric power sector accounts for 33 percent of the overall growth in electricity generation from 2010 to 2035. The non-hydro renewable...

"In 2010 a total of 73.8% of electricity in Iceland was produced with hydro power and 26.2% with geothermal power."

This article is a good example of what many individuals and towns are hoping to see if they install a wind farm.

"In the dusty highlands of Provence in southern France, workers have excavated a vast rectangular pit 17 metres (56 feet) down into the unforgiving rocks. From my raised vantage point, I can see bright yellow mechanical diggers and trucks buzzing around the edge of the pit, looking toy-like in the huge construction site. Above us, the fireball Sun dries the air at an unrelenting 37C.


"Gemasolar, the concentrated solar power plant located in Fuentes de Andalucía (Seville), a property of Torresol Energy (a joint venture between Masdar – Abu Dhabi’s future energy and clean technology company and SENER – the leading Spanish engineering and construction company) has supplied its first uninterrupted day of electricity to the network.

This has been made possible by its...

"Budget deficits drove the conversation in Washington in 2011 with the daily news dominated by government shutdown threats, the 'super committee,' continuing resolutions, and arcane budgeting practices. Unfortunately, this left Americans convinced that government investments in the future are off the table because of large federal budget deficits that need to be reduced.

Americans were...

It is understandable that renewable-energy interests support a law that requires utilities to buy escalating amounts of power from them regardless of price. The mystery is why anyone else thinks it's a good idea.

"As in most other areas of power production, when it comes to capturing energy from the wind, efficiency comes in large numbers. Groups of large turbines, called wind farms or wind plants, are the most cost-efficient use of wind-energy capacity. The most common utility-scale wind turbines have power capacities between 700 KW and 1.8 MW, and they're grouped together to get the most electricity...

"A 140-megawatt biomass gasification plant in Vaasa, Finland, will be the largest of its kind in the world, providing heat for its small host community, as well as power for the grid.

Owned and operated by heat and power producer Vaskiluodon Voima Oy, the plant will be supplied by global technology provider Metso, and adjoined to Vaskiluodon’s existing 565 MW coal-fired plant in Vaasa....

"Hydroelectricity is electricity that is generated through the utilization of hydropower, or the energy in moving water. Hydroelectric power is the most widespread form of renewable energy in the world, and about 3 PWh of hydroelectricity was supplied worldwide in 2008. Hydroelectric power plants do not pollute the water or air, but they can impact their surrounding environment and affect...

"Tomorrow the President will travel to TPI Composites in Newton, Iowa where he will highlight steps Congress can take right now to create American jobs, and support American companies and manufacturers – all while continuing to increase clean energy production here at home."

"Advocates of alternative energy face an inconvenient, but incontrovertible, fact:

It takes hugely rich government subsidies to make 
solar energy cost-competitive with conventional power.

Most people believe it's going to be that way for many years to come. We think they're going to be proven wrong.

That's because we control a remarkable new thin-film growth process that...

"A new national poll by Kelton Research shows that Americans of every political leaning overwhelmingly support the use and development of solar energy. According to the poll, 9 out of 10 Americans think that solar is important. In the political breakdown, at least 80 percent of participants in every party agree that it is important for the US to develop and use solar."

"A year ago, a Reno clean energy businessman warned the Public Utilities Commission that if it didn’t set a few standards for NV Energy’s wind rebate program, its customers could end up footing the bill for turbines that rarely produce electricity.

One reason behind his concern: To be eligible for rebates, customers didn’t need to prove that the wind actually blows enough to justify...

"President Obama stumped in Colorado today by going after Mitt Romney over tax credits for wind energy, a key industry in the Rocky Mountain state."

"President Obama will use the camera-friendly backdrop of an Iowa wind-energy facility Thursday to ramp up pressure on Congress to extend renewable-energy tax breaks, an issue that's become a top policy priority for the White House."

"Bypassing abundant supplies of environmentally friendly and reliable natural gas, the Bay State forces its utilities to buy energy from offshore wind farms. The tilting at windmills continues.
"It is instead found in the vast resources locked up in the Outer Continental Shelf, the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, the Chukchi and Beaufort Seas off Alaska and in the vast shale formations...

"President Obama will ramp up his call for extension of the production tax credit in a speech at an Iowa turbine blade maker on Thursday."

"In this graphic look at the current state of renewable energy in America, you can see that while some states are taking the lead in green energy, a large portion of the country is still dragging their feet in adopting more environmentally friendly means of generating electricity. Take a look to see just how green your state is or isn't."

"At Data Center Dynamics SF, I had a chance to meet Carl Zichella, Director of Western Renewable Program, CA, NV, HI. Carl has been going to DCD for years, and here are a few of his comments in a video from past conferences."

"Due to its abundance and low market price, coal combustion is the largest source of energy production in the world, accounting for 40% of all electricity worldwide. In the USA it accounts for 45% of electricity generation, and approximately 75% in Australia.

Unfortunately, coal combustion is a major contributor to global greenhouse gas emissions as well, accounting for 30% of total...

"Biomass power is power obtained from the energy in plants and plant-derived materials, such as food crops, grassy and woody plants, residues from agriculture or forestry, and the organic component of municipal and industrial wastes. Biomass power provides two valuable services: it is the second most important source of renewable energy in the United States and it is an important part of our...

"Geothermal power uses the natural sources of heat inside the Earth to produce heat or electricity. Currently, most geothermal power is generated using steam or hot water from underground. Geothermal power generation produces few emissions and the power source is continuously available.

There are three geothermal technologies currently in use in the United States: direct-use systems,...

"America needs lots of clean, low-cost, secure electricity. Unfortunately, renewable sources don't fill the bill, and a national requirement wouldn't change things.

Renewables (excluding hydroelectric dams) produce less than 3% of U.S. electricity, much of which is hardly clean. About two-thirds comes from burning scrap vegetation ('biomass') and garbage, which produce the same...

"Renewable fuels for U.S. military ships and jets are likely to remain 'far more expensive' than petroleum products absent a technological breakthrough, a study for the U.S. Air Force found on Tuesday, questioning a Pentagon push for alternative energy."

"Saudi Arabia, the world's top oil exporter, may finally be getting serious about overcoming the technical and financial hurdles for tapping its other main resource: sunshine."

"Saudi Arabia is seeking investors for a $109 billion plan to create a solar industry that generates a third of the nation's electricity by 2032, according to officials at the agency developing the plan."

"Saudi Arabia, the world's biggest oil producer, has plans to become 100% powered by renewable and low-carbon forms of energy, according to an influential member of the royal family."

"The bankruptcy filing by solar panel manufacturer Solyndra, which received $535 million in loan guarantees from the federal government, is grist for many controversies. While some of them are narrowly political, others involve legitimate policy questions that deserve a full airing. It's fair to ask, for example, why the government is subsidizing alternate energy sources in the first place....

"About 100 miles (160 kilometers) west of Dallas, 47,000 acres (19,000 hectares) of Texas cedar and scrub oak have been given over to the 421 wind turbines that comprise the Horse Hollow Wind Energy Center. The 291 1.5-megawatt turbines built by GE and the 130 2.3-megawatt wind turbines built by Siemens together deliver 735 megawatts of peak power. The farm was completed in 2006 and is...

"The linkages between rural energy and poverty alleviation, and the potential contribution of renewable energies for rural electrification, have both been well documented over the past two decades. The most important organisations around the globe agreed that energy is a key element for human development, reflected in the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs).

Small hydropower is a...

"A source of light, heat, nutrition and life, the sun has been the subject of fascination – and even worship – since time began. But while the idea of harnessing the sun’s energy has always intrigued us, in today’s challenging environmental situation, this is more than a desire: it’s a need. And new technology is now making it a reality.

While fossil fuels are being depleted, the earth...

"State legislatures pave the way for strong solar energy incentives to flourish. How? By stipulating standards for renewable energy generation within their territories. Those standards are called the state's renewable portfolio standard (RPS).

If utility companies do not meet these standards, they must pay alternative compliance fees directly to the state. Many utilities then determine...

"Offshore wind energy is a clean, domestic, renewable resource that can help the United States meet its critical energy, environmental, and economic challenges. By generating electricity from offshore wind turbines, the nation can reduce its greenhouse gas emissions, diversify its energy supply, provide cost-competitive electricity to key coastal regions, and help revitalize key sectors of its...

"'Venture capital (VC) investments and mergers and acquisitions (M&A) in the solar sector - as well as the wind energy sector and the smart-grid sector - improved slightly last year over 2009's numbers, according to [Solar Funding and M&A 2010 Report] from Mercom Capital Group LLC, a global clean energy market intelligence, consulting and communications firm…'"

If things continue as they are in Spain, the world’s poster child for renewable fuel, wind and solar energy may not save us after all—or renew the capitalist economy.

Doug Selsam's Sky Serpent uses an array of small rotors to catch more wind for less money.

"When the modern wind industry sparked to life in California during the 1980s, the maximum output of an average wind turbine was measured in the tens of kilowatts. Even stringing together hundreds of these machines only allowed a few megawatts of power to be produced, a far cry from the gigawatt-scale of a large nuclear facility.

But the past thirty years have seen remarkable...

"What could be more environmentally friendly than generating electricity from flowing water? Water has to run downhill anyway, so why not let it turn the wheels of a turbine while it's on the way down and generate some juice? No noxious air pollution, no greenhouse gases — green and clean, right? 

But here at ThomasNet, we hate to take things for granted. That's why we've...

"Despite the urgency of the need to find alternative sources of energy due to rising fossil fuel prices, the world is seemingly stuck with solar power for homes and electric motors for vehicles. If the technology to harness power from alternative energy sources isn’t fully developed yet, then how are we to replace the unsustainable and environmentally harmful fuels we currently use?"

"It's a daunting reality, yet one that's been years in the making. And it's a scenario that's shaping up from the wind-swept coasts of California to the solar rooftops of New Jersey. The renewables industries — all of them — are not only approaching a subsidy cliff. They already have one foot dangling over the edge.

These cliffs are seen as a part of the renewables landscape, and the...

"Every minute enough of the Sun’s energy reaches the Earth’s surface to meet the world’s energy demands for a whole year. Combine this powerful energy source with other readily available energy sources like wind, moving water and geothermal heat, it almost seems incredulous that our human population depends on the burning of fossil fuels to meet nearly all of its energy demands. And this...

"Weighing 1000 tonnes, with a width of 43 metres from tip to tip and resembling an underwater upturned windmill its makers claim it represents a clean green alternative to climate-destroying fossil fuels.

As SeaGen - the world's first and largest commercial scale tidal stream energy generator - was laid down in Strangford Lough, Northern Ireland, yesterday the company behind it claimed...

"Aside from the mind-boggling disparity between the science and politics of climate change, I’ve never seen such a large gap between perception and what’s actually happening on the ground.

Of course, we can’t ignore the enormous challenges — from cheap natural gas to relentless competition in manufacturing — that will lead to the death of many of the companies we know today. That is...

"A hybrid bucket truck and electric plug-in car are shown at the ground breaking ceremony for the Martin plant. Due to be completed by the end of 2010, the facility is the first hybrid solar thermal and natural gas-fired power plant and is expected to serve about 11000 homes annually.

Over 30 years, the plant will prevent the emission of more than 2.75 million tons of greenhouse gases...

"Energy purchases made by the U.S. Department of Defense do not influence world oil prices, making cutting fuel use the only effective choice to reduce what the Pentagon spends on petroleum fuels, according to new reports issued today by the RAND Corporation."

"A U.S. agency report predicts hydroelectric power will constitute 55 percent of the renewable energy added globally through 2035.

International Energy Outlook 2011, by the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA), said renewable energy sources are the fastest growing sources of electricity generation globally. It predicts, from 2008 to 2035, world renewable energy use for...

"As dams age and downstream development increases, the number of deficient dams has risen to more than 4,000, including 1,819 high hazard potential dams. Over the past six years, for every deficient, high hazard potential dam repaired, nearly two more were declared deficient. There are more than 85,000 dams in the U.S., and the average age is just over 51 years old."

"The Saudis are raising $100 billion for solar-power development, which could ease its rapidly growing demand for electric power. Though natural gas would be cheaper, the Saudis may prefer solar."

"A few days ago Alex Planes published an extraordinary article on The Motley Fool titled the "Real Costs of Alternative Energy" that summarized direct US subsidies for our principal energy sources, restated annual energy consumption from each of those sources using equivalent barrels of oil...

"On Jan. 30, a letter arrived at 10 Downing Street from 101 Members of Parliament, addressed to Prime Minister David Cameron. Its message: Stop taxpayer subsidies for wind power.

The call is being echoed across Europe, where governments are reconsidering what they — and taxpayers — can afford in terms of green-energy initiatives in an age of austerity. In the boom times before the...

"Wind energy potential can not easily be shown in simple overwiew maps. The following maps indicate the countries for which wind energy evaluations are available."

This article discusses why wind energy makes economic sense, covering issues from lack of fuel risk to the costs of wind energy, and how wind energy provides regional economic development, as well as covering other common criticisms of wind power. The Global Wind Energy Council's membership is composed of pro-wind energy organizations as well as companies that...

The U.S. could meet its Kyoto target by replacing 59 percent of coal energy with between 214,000 and 236,000 wind turbines?

"Wind power is the conversion wind energy into a useful energy source such as electricity. This is accomplished by using devices called wind turbines. Wind turbines use an electrical generator to convert the electrical current produced by the rotations of the wind turbine blades into a usable form of DC electricity, which can be further converted into an alternating current (AC).


"The White House is hopeful Congress will renew a $12 billion tax credit for wind power production, a senior Obama administration official said, as a government report warned that thousands of U.S. jobs would be lost if the incentive runs out."

Bryce details a variety of studies, recently released from Bentek Energy, the U.S. Energy Information Administration, and the Department of Energy, that support his position that no practical amount of wind energy will lead to cuts in carbon emissions.

Despite its alleged success abroad, NRDC believes that Americans still need to fork over millions of dollars for alternative energy technologies like windmills—taxpayer money that has not made the industry any more viable.

"Malodorous brown smoke from a power plant enveloped this logging town on April 29, 2010, and several hundred residents fled until it passed.

Six months later, the plant got $5.4 million from a federal program to promote environmentally preferable alternatives to fossil fuel.

The plant, Blue Lake Power LLC, burns biomass, which is organic material that can range from construction...

"The world's largest offshore wind farm officially opened today in the English Channel 12 kilometers (7.4 miles) from Foreness Point, off England's southeast coast.

Owned and operated by the Swedish energy giant Vattenfall, the Thanet Offshore Wind Farm has 100 turbines and covers an area of 35 square kilometers (13.5 square miles)."

"The world's largest offshore wind farm opened Thursday off the British coast, with 100 wind turbines capable of supplying enough electricity for 200,000 homes a year.

The farm, off the coast of Kent in southern England, is part of a major renewable energy initiative spearheaded by the previous British government.

Swedish energy company Vattenfall will operate the farm after...

"Solar power is one of those technologies that have been promised to be just a few years from profitability for 30 years. Solar panels are an environmentalist's dream — limitless electricity from the sun with no air pollution or carbon dioxide emissions — but they've had a hard time competing with coal, natural gas, oil and other sources of energy.

Can that change? A company called...

Chart or Graph

"A new national poll by Kelton Research shows that Americans of every political leaning overwhelmingly support the use and development of solar energy."

"Biofuels are liquid fuels produced from plants. The two most common types of biofuels are ethanol and biodiesel."

"Electricity from biomass plants is rising; a breakdown of sources in the U.S."

Table shows information on countries generating geothermal power in 2010.

"The Pew Research Center came out with a new survey on Thursday that shows public support for government funding of renewable energy to be sliding sharply."

"In the wake of the credit crisis and a sharp economic downturn, the federal government launched several new energy-specific direct expenditure programs that are largely directed at renewables and energy conservation."

The cost of utility-scale wind power has come down dramatically in the last two decades due to technological and design advancements in turbine production and installation.

"The following table condenses and reorders the data from the lowest to the highest direct Federal subsidy per unit of useful energy consumed."

"The oldest type of geothermal power plant uses steam, accessed through deep wells, to directly drive a turbine to produce electricity."

Wind turbines vary in size. This chart depicts a variety of historical turbine sizes and the amount of electricity they are each capable of generating (the turbine's capacity, or power rating).

"[N]ot surprisingly, countries with a large proportion of the population living on an income of less than $2 per day tend to have low electrification rates and a high proportion of the population relying on traditional biomass (Figures 8.3 and 8.4)."

As implied by the name, the HAWT shaft is mounted horizontally, parallel to the ground. HAWTs need to constantly align themselves with the wind using a yaw-adjustment mechanism.

In a VAWT, the shaft is mounted on a vertical axis, perpendicular to the ground. VAWTs are always aligned with the wind, unlike their horizontal-axis counterparts, so there's no adjustment necessary when the wind direction changes.

"Map of existing hydroelectric facilities, potential hydroelectric sites, and excluded hydroelectric development areas in the U.S."

"China is the world’s leader in wind power, after topping the U.S. in total installed wind capacity in 2010. Today, China accounts for 22% of the world’s total wind power capacity."

The United States Continued to Lead the World in Cumulative Wind Power Capacity, but Was Overtaken by China in Annual Additions.

"The levelized cost of energy for many RE technologies is currently higher than existing energy prices, though in various settings RE is already economically competitive."

"Combine a new U.S. president pushing a stimulus package that includes $28 billion in direct subsidies for renewable energy with another $13 billion for research and development, and the picture for renewable energy—geothermal power among the options—is brightening."

The implications for how much wind energy can really be used should be considered. Denmark is also a good example of how this process can impact energy supplies and prices.

Some states are beginning to realize relatively high levels of wind energy penetration.

To maintain the baseline requirements for electricity, ERCOT must daily cycle coal to accommodate wind generation. Doing so produces more pollution and CO2 emissions.

"The greatest indicator of the condition of the nation's dams can be seen in the Table that demonstrates the increase in the number of high hazard dams that need to be repaired compared to the number of completed repairs to high hazard dams, which remains flat."

"According to U.S. Energy Information Administration data, the U.S. gets 6 percent of its electricity from hydro."

"The map below shows the quality of U.S. solar resources compared to the two leading countries in solar energy, Germany and Spain."

Installation and production cost of various renewable energies.

"The EU cost of electricity generation without these external costs averages about 4 cents/kWh. If these external costs were in fact included, the EU price of electricity from coal would double and that from gas would increase around 30%."

"Wind and biomass dominate projected increases in U.S. renewable electricity generation, excluding hydropower, in EIA's Annual Energy Outlook 2012 (AEO2012) Early Release Reference case."

Several countries are beginning to achieve relatively high levels of wind energy penetration in their electricity grids.

"A key factor in the increased support for conservation programs, end-use technologies and renewables was the passage of several pieces of legislation responding to the recent financial crisis and subsequent economic downturn...."

"A chart showing the growth in solar power capacity in the United States, from 2004-2011."

Much of the report focuses on the costs associated with various renewable energy mandates at the state and regional level.

This chart shows solar debt and other investments by country. The U.S. has the most at 19, with China trailing at 11.

Each renewable megawatt installed, on average (given Spain’s breakdown of individual source contributions), destroys 5.28 jobs, compared with the 4.27 jobs destroyed per megawatt of wind energy.

We summarize the results achieved in terms of employment, subsidies and investment in the three main renewable industries.

"Support for renewable energy is now well established across the EU 15."

"In this graphic look at the current state of renewable energy in America, you can see that while some states are taking the lead in green energy, a large portion of the country is still dragging their feet in adopting more environmentally friendly means of generating electricity. Take a look to see just how green your state is or isn't."

"The government spends billions of dollars to support the energy industry, which allows it to make energy cheaper than it should cost on the open market."

Percentage of various sources of energy used in the U.S.

This chart describes various types of renewable energy and color codes the regional locations that they are found in.

"This map of the available wind power over the United States indicates the wind power density class by using a color chart."

"The value of direct federal financial interventions and subsidies in energy markets doubled between 2007 and 2010, growing from $17.9 billion to $37.2 billion."

In the chart above, the Institute for Energy Research takes information from the United States Department of Energy's Energy Information Administration to graph which sources generate what percentage of energy in the United States.

This report by Bentek Energy shows that wind often blows strongest when its energy is needed the least. Because wind energy fluctuates so much, coal fire facilities often cycle up and down to accomodate the changes.

The increase in wind energy employment needs has placed a greater emphasis on the development of new educational programs.

If Texas were a country, it would rank sixth in the world, behind Germany, the rest of the U.S., Spain, China, and India.

"These offshore maps show wind speed detail at 90 meters above the water surface (the approximate height of many current-day offshore wind turbines), with a spatial resolution of 200m, for 26 States along the coasts and the Great Lakes."

According to American Wind Energy Association, the estimated U.S. wind-energy potential is about 10.8 trillion kWh per year -- about equal to the amount of energy in 20 billion barrels of oil.

"The use of all energy sources increases over the time horizon of the IEO2011 Reference case (Figure 15). Given expectations that world oil prices will remain relatively high through most of the projection period, petroleum and other liquid fuels are the world's slowest-growing source of energy."

This map describes the potential that wind, solar, biomass, and hydroelectricity have for replacing oil in different parts of the world.

Over 27,000 MW of new wind power generation capacity came on line worldwide in 2008, bringing the total global wind power capacity to over 120,000 MW through the end of 2008.

"This map was prepared by the US-DOE in 1985 using wind data compiled in 1980."

Analysis Report White Paper

The report considers some associated challenges, estimates the impacts and considers specific needs and outcomes in the areas of technology, manufacturing and employment, transmission and grid integration, markets, siting strategies, and potential environmental effects associated with a 20% Wind Scenario.

Wind and solar energy are routinely promoted with the promise of green jobs, and that they will lead to a green technology revolution while improving the environment. But how well do wind and solar energy solutions actually perform on these promises? Let’s take a rational look.

"But affordable energy is under assault. Many politicians and ideological special-interest groups are working to place onerous restrictions on the energy we use and on how we use it."

The sixth environmental action programme of the European Union encourages ‘reforms of subsidies with considerable negative effects on the environment and that are incompatible with sustainable development’ and emphasises the need to undertake ‘as soon as possible an inventory and review of subsidies.

Credits to photovoltaic and solar thermal power accounted for a cumulative total of $4.4 billion, while wind technology received $1.3 billion.

Reports examining the international status of geothermal development were published by the US Geothermal Energy Association (GEA) in 2007 and by the International Geothermal Association (IGA) in 2005 and 2010. This report builds on those documents to present a view of the world geothermal market, in particular to identify trends in the market

"With gasoline and electricity prices skyrocketing, politicos on both the Left and Right agree that the government must do something to promote alternative energy sources. The debate is not whether to intervene, but how. Which fuels should we promote? How aggressively should we subsidize those fuels?"

The 1990s saw an explosion of energy policy changes around the globe. Driven by economic, environmental, security, and social concerns, energy regulation has been in great flux.

"The Special Report on Renewable Energy Sources and Climate Change Mitigation (SRREN) of the IPCC Working Group III provides an assessment and thorough analysis of renewable energy technologies and their current and potential role in the mitigation of greenhouse gas emissions. The results presented here are based on an extensive assessment of scientific literature, including specifics of...

With high quality petroleum running out in the next 50 years, the world governments and petrochemical industry alike are looking at biomass as a substitute refinery feedstock for liquid fuels and other bulk chemicals.

Wynn and Lowe argue that renewable energy mandates will be difficult to implement, will raise costs for energy consumers, and may even negatively affect the environment.

Wind projects vary in size, from small projects of one to a few turbines serving individual customers, to large projects designed to provide wholesale electricity to utilities or an electricity market.

Paper providing an overview of wind power development and the issue of intermittency. The economics of wind power development and the technology’s carbon balance are also considered.

The energy world faces unprecedented uncertainty. The global economic crisis of 2008-2009 threw energy markets around the world into turmoil and the pace at which the global economy recovers holds the key to energy prospects for the next several years.


In this podcast, Andrew Morriss explains some of the problems with renewable energy products. According to Morriss, renewables such as wind or solar are less efficient because they actually rely on a good deal of "brown" energy to make them effective.

Dr. Heidi Cullen discusses the challenge of powering America's cities with wind energy in this Climate Central report.

The video explores using small, private windmills for residences rather than large, utility-grade windmills.

Host Summer Rayne Oaks visits a Texas wind ranch to discover how eco-friendly energy is used in rural America.

In this brief news clip, Patrick Michaels explains the extreme inefficiency of renewable energy such as wind and solar power. According to Michaels, government spending on energy sources such as these is wasteful.

"Of all of the proposals you have seen, which is the most promising?" Robert Bryce's first pick is nuclear energy.

"In this brief talk, Saul Griffith unveils the invention his new company Makani Power has been working on: giant kite turbines that create surprising amounts of clean, renewable energy."

This video humorously demonstrates how green jobs are more costly and more energy inefficient than normal energy sources.

"Watch this video about wind power, the world's fastest growing energy source, on HowStuffWorks. With the rise in natural gas and oil prices, wind power is the new hot technology.

Primary Document

"The purpose of this project is to research the feasibility of using strong pulsating electric fields with inert electrodes placed directly into the circulating water in water-cooled air conditioning systems to achieve a reduction in mineral and bio fouling in the condenser tubes such that chemical treatment is no longer needed."

"The U.S. wind power industry is facing uncertain times. With 2011 capacity additions having risen from 2010 levels and with a further sizable increase expected in 2012, there are – on the surface – grounds for optimism. Key factors driving growth in 2011 included continued state and federal incentives for wind energy, recent improvements in the cost and performance of wind power technology, and the need to meet an end-of-year construction start deadline in order to qualify for the Section 1603 Treasury grant program. At the same time, the currently-slated expiration of key federal tax incentives for wind energy at the end of 2012 – in concert with continued low natural gas prices and modest electricity demand growth – threatens to dramatically slow new builds in 2013."

"The Army and Air Force are committed to developing one billion watts of renewable energy on their installations by 2025, senior leaders from both services announced yesterday."

Research suggests that rare raptors and sensitive grassland birds may be put at risk by wind development, and many scientists are concerned that expansion of major wind developments into important migratory bird habitats.

"Mr. Speaker, this 'do nothing' Republican-Tea Party Congress is killing jobs with its endless political games. This week's gimmick vote to repeal the Affordable Care Act is a meaningless vote to deny millions of American's healthcare. Meanwhile, this House's failure to pass an extension of the Wind Energy Tax Credit to producers of all-American energy is killing jobs. Roughly 37,000 American jobs in the wind energy sector are at risk."

"This report responds to a November 2010 request to the Energy Information Administration (EIA) from U.S. Representatives Roscoe G. Bartlett, Marsha Blackburn, and Jason Chaffetz for an update to a 2008 report prepared by EIA that provided a snapshot of direct federal financial interventions and subsidies in energy markets in fiscal year (FY) 2007, focusing on subsidies to electricity...

Marshall R. Goldberg testifies before the South Dakota Public Utilities Commission on the local long- and short-term economic impacts of building wind farms.

"The Directive 2009/28/EC on renewable energy, implemented by Member States by December 2010, sets ambitious targets for all Member States, such that the EU will reach a 20% share of energy from renewable sources by 2020 and a 10% share of renewable energy specifically in the transport sector.

It also improves the legal framework for promoting renewable electricity, requires national...

"Water power — it can cut deep canyons, chisel majestic mountains, quench parched lands, and transport tons — and it can generate enough electricity to light up millions of homes and businesses around the world.

Hydropower, also known as hydroelectric power, is a reliable, domestic, emission-free resource that is renewable through the hydrologic cycle and harnesses the natural energy of...

"IEO2011 focuses exclusively on marketed energy. Non-marketed energy sources, which continue to play an important role in some developing countries, are not included in the estimates. The IEO2011 projections are based on U.S. and foreign government laws in effect as of the start of 2011. The potential impacts of pending or proposed legislation, regulations, and standards are not reflected in...

"Levelized cost is often cited as a convenient summary measure of the overall competiveness of different generating technologies. Levelized cost represents the present value of the total cost of building and operating a generating plant over an assumed financial life and duty cycle, converted to equal annual payments and expressed in terms of real dollars to remove the impact of inflation....

A general discussion of Minnesota’s current transmission system, its challenges and actions being taken to alleviate challenges and ensure a strong system in the future.

"Obviously there's some wind power here in Iowa that we want to tap."

"Renewable energy deployment has been accelerating at paces that exceed even optimistic expectations and they continue to command a greater market share of the energy production sector every year. Despite their rapid growth, there are few publicly available compilations of the data on renewable energy costs. Collecting this data is a difficult task, as costs change constantly with developments...

Wind power deployment is measured in months, and a half completed wind farm is just a smaller power plant, starting to generate power and income as soon as the first turbine is connected to the grid.



This FAQ examines the primary types of renewable energy available to us today, some instances of both failed and successful renewable energy companies, and what the future might have in store for this sector of America's energy industry.

Coal has been an integral part of American industrial development for well over a century. The transition from wood to coal allowed manufacturers a far greater energy generating capacity. America's coal reserves are vast and the mining technology is developed. It is also spread through many areas of the country, helping to support many different local economies. 

Over the last...

Solar energy has been at the forefront of the alternative energy discussion for decades. At times, solar power has shown more potential than any other renewable energy source. In other instances, the technology has failed miserably. The most fundamental obstacle is finding a way to lower its cost. Currently, solar power is simply not able to provide our homes with affordable energy. Government...