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Before we get to the energy news, allow me to plug the 2010 DailyKos Bracket Challenge.  You don't need to be a basketball fan to play.  I watch a ton of basketball, and I manage to embarass myself with my picks every year.  If you want to join, look for the group named DailyKos Challenge.  The password for entry is DKos 2010.  With that, on to the round up.

We start off with geothermal news, as Ormat Technologies will bring geothermal power to Nevada:

The 16-megawatt (MW) Tuscarora project is in an advanced stage of development. Ormat plans to construct and operate the project, which is expected to become operational in 2012. Up to 40 MW of electricity from the project has been contracted under a 20-year power purchase agreement with Nevada Power Company, a subsidiary of NV Energy Inc.

Terms of the power purchase agreement are pending customary regulatory approval. The Tuscarora project is located on approximately 9,800 acres of land in Elko County, Nevada.

Residents of San Angelo, Texas will soon be getting an economic white knight of sorts in the form of a wind tower fabrication plant:

Clad in light industrial gray, the Martifer-Hirschfeld wind tower fabrication plant sits low to the ground in contrast to its products, which will reach to the sky trying to catch the wind. On land that was a vacant field just eight months ago, the factory is now fine-tuning specialized machinery that will be crafting the massive parts of wind towers the size of California redwoods by the third quarter of this year, the company says.

Aside from the environment benefit of the new energy source, the economic impact is sizable:

With approximately 120 employees, the Phase I operation won’t crack the top 20 employers in the county, but the jobs are expected to pay well — Martifer in 2009 said the average salary for the plant workers would be about $31,500 a year, which would make the annual payroll just under $4 million.

The plant will be 170K square feet and will employ 120 workers in phase I and 225 in phase II.

A Colorado company, Sundrop Fuels, has developed a new way to turn biomass into synthetic fuels:

Sundrop Fuels, a startup based in Louisville, CO, says it has developed a cleaner and more efficient way to turn biomass into synthetic fuels by harnessing the intense heat of the sun to vaporize wood and crop waste. Its process can produce twice the amount of gasoline or diesel per ton of biomass compared to conventional biomass gasification systems, the company claims.

Construction on Sundrop's first commercial facility should begin this year. They plan to couple the solar gasification plant with a biorefinery that can produce up to eight million gallons of transportation fuel annually. They hope to produce 100 million gallons a year by 2015.

America's first commercial wave power farm has been launched off the coast of Oregon:

When the initial project is finished, the first $4 million dollar buoy will measure 150 feet tall by 40 feet wide, weighing 200 tons. Nine more of these crafts will be set in motion by the year 2012 for a total cost of $60 million dollars. About four hundred homes will receive electricity from Oregon’s wave power farm by the completion of the project.

Nissan has accepted 56K orders for its Leaf, a fully electric car that will not be released to mass market until 2012.  Nissan plans to build half a million models globally by 2013.  And as the article points out, Tesla should be worried:

Nissan’s manufacturing and buying power are already in place. The company also plans to have it’s EV on the market two years before Tesla brings its more affordable Model S to market. The Leaf will cost around $25,000, while the Model S will be priced over $50,000. When the Leaf is released, it will be in a class of one: the entry-priced electric, if you will. And in the luxury segment, Tesla will soon have the likes of Audi to contend with.

Here is a video of the Leaf in action:

One more video, an illustration of how geothermal energy works:

Originally posted to mark louis on Mon Mar 15, 2010 at 04:27 PM PDT.

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