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Happy health care day everybody!  I wonder if we can make this a national holiday of some kind.  I mean, we have arbor day.  What have trees ever done for us?  Just kidding all you tree huggers out there.  On to the energy.

Researchers in CA have made important solar energy break throughs:

Recent research conducted at the California Institute of Technology (Caltech) supported by BP and the Energy Frontier Research Center program of the Department of Energy, which has been funded by the Recovery Act, has led to stellar results for the field of solar energy. A team of scientists from Caltech has created an innovative flexible photovoltaic (PV) solar cell using arrays of long, thin silicon wires embedded in a polymer substrate that enhances the absorption of sunlight and efficiently converts its photons into electrons. In addition, this design has cost benefits in that the solar cell requires only a fraction of the expensive semiconductor materials required by conventional silicon solar cells. Cost-competitiveness is a critical factor for solar cells in order to achieve large-scale adoption in the energy market.

Important break throughs have been made in the transmission of alternative energy:

Two breakthroughs in renewable energy have been pioneered in combination by John Douglas; an investment banker with many renewable energy start-ups under his belt.

Together, the two technologies in combination could provide the wind power deployment equivalent of the combination of the invention of the coal-fired steam electric power station – in tandem with the railroad to deliver the coal; that changed power generation in the 19th century.

  1. Transmission Developers would provide electricity transmission in underwater cables (previous story this week), that can be lain in aqueducts, riverbeds and lakes, or down ocean coastlines – clearing the one big hindrance to the development of renewable energy, which is the new transmission needed, and the NIMBYism that succeeds in prevents that from being built, because these would be out of sight.
  1. The other, Riverbank Power – an equally innovative breakthrough, would provide a complete solution to storing wind power (previous story) effectively making it dispatchable base-load power.

Newsflash: alternative energy is very popular:

The utility-scale solar industry is ready for what one executive today called "explosive growth," and new national polling data released today shows that 75 percent of those surveyed support the development of solar energy plants on public lands.

And it's not just solar power.  People selected solar farms and wind power (22% each) as the top energy sources that the government should prioritize for support.  They easily beat out natural gas & nuclear power(16% each), oil (11 %) and coal (4 %).  That 4% for coal must consist of just congressmen and senators from appalachian states.

We all know the US military kicks major ass.  But did you also know  
they are green?

The Navy is making headway in meeting its alternative energy goals over the next decade as the service partners with technology companies to harness ocean thermal energy to generate electricity for its naval bases, reports National Defense magazine. A key reason: naval bases consume about 25 percent of the Navy’s annual energy resources.

Meanwhile, other military services like the Army Corps of Engineers are ramping up their solar system installations.

Renewable energy projects at naval and army installations are a big part of an effort by the entire Defense Department agencies to meet its internal goal of generating 25 percent of all energy from renewable sources by 2025. Last year, the U.S. military launched several "green" initiatives including solar and wind projects that officials estimate could save millions, reduce their environmental footprint and save lives in war zones where fuel convoys are frequent targets.

Across the pond, British conservatives have made new renewable energy proposals:

Huge offshore wind parks and new nuclear reactors to be financed by a state-backed Green Investment Bank would be built under plans to reform energy policy and meet tough emission reduction targets to be announced by the Conservatives today.

In a package of measures with far-reaching implications for industry and consumers, David Cameron is also expected to call for a floor price for carbon to be set as a way of stimulating investment in cleaner forms of energy.

The policy will punish coal and gas-fired power generation while benefiting producers of wind and nuclear electricity. Greg Clark, Shadow Energy Secretary, did not reveal details, but said: "We believe that the time has come to establish new financial mechanisms to make it easier for people to invest. At the moment it is too difficult."

The policies will also include a measure that marks a return to the same principle used to defeat Nazi Germany in the 1940s. Mr Cameron will for the first time set out plans for government-backed green "war bonds" to help to finance energy projects of up to £200 billion that are considered critical for Britain to meet its goal of cutting carbon emissions by 34 per cent by 2020.

Green bank?  Punishment for coal plants?  Why can't our conservatives be like British conservatives?  Hell, why can't some of our Democrats be like British conservatives?

Alcoa has made a break through in solar energy:

Alcoa Inc. said Thursday that it has developed an aluminum-based, solar power generation system, designed, built and tested in its Upper Burrell technical center, that produces energy cheaper than solar power systems using glass mirrors.

Based on tests conducted at Alcoa Technical Center, the solar power system using the specially coated aluminum mirrors lowers the cost of generating electricity by more than 20 percent over conventional systems that use silvered glass mirrors, said Eric F. Winter, director of Alcoa's development laboratories.

My grandfather used to work for Alcoa, so that's good.

Apparently, North Carolina could be the Saudi Arabia of wind energy:

According to a new study made by the University of North Carolina (UNC), the North Carolina state could have 100% of its power coming from off-shore wind turbines. The company Duke Energy wants to make North Carolina "the first state to generate wind power from in-water turbines", by building three pilot off-shore wind turbines in state waters.

Unused rural areas could hold the key to expanding solar power:

The 47 square-miles of land proposed for the Westlands Solar Park in remote Kings and Fresno counties is just one of dozens of unfinished solar projects in California, but renewable energy analysts say it is a rare one that enjoys the broad support of environmental groups such as the Sierra Club, powerful agriculture interests and state government.

Thousands of solar panels would be located on and near the salty-white, fallowed farm land, most of which is owned by the Westlands Water District, the largest such district in the country comprised of 600,000 acres of San Joaquin Valley farmland.

Once completed, the first chunk of solar proposed for the site - the total size of which is roughly that of San Francisco - could generate up to 1 gigawatt of power, or enough to energize up to one million homes.

Colorado has leapt to the head of the pack with regards to alternative energy:

House Bill 1001 requires our largest utility companies to generate 30 percent of their electricity from renewable energy sources by 2020. Six years ago, the people of Colorado showed incredible foresight by adopting the nation’s first voter-approved renewable energy standard, 10 percent by 2015.

Off shore wind is all the rage in the NE USA.

And finally, a major infrastructure project is ready to start up in the US:

What's billed as the biggest rollout of electric vehicle infrastructure in the world is about to begin in the United States.

Urban planners are deciding where to locate more than 11,000 charging stations in 11 major cities. They want those stations up and running when the first mass-market electric cars from Nissan and General Motors go on sale at the end of this year.

Last year, the Department of Energy awarded $100 million to eTec, an electric transportation research and development firm, to build electric vehicle charging networks in five states. Now is when the rubber meets the road, or more precisely, construction begins.

Could this be coming to a street corner near you?

electric vehicle charging

We can only hope.

Originally posted to mark louis on Tue Mar 23, 2010 at 03:47 PM PDT.

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