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Cambridge Solar Tool Lets Residents And Businesses Know How Much Electricity Can Be produced From Their Rooftops

MIT’s Sustainable Design Lab and Modern Development Studio, LLC (MoDe Studio) have developed a tool that allows users to estimate the solar energy potential from photo voltaic panels for almost every building in Cambridge with a simple click. The tool uses high-resolution light detection and ranging to create a three-dimensional model of the city that accounts for the shape of both building rooftops and tree foliage.

“Solar energy is a key strategy for Cambridge to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and make the community more resilient to the impacts of climate change. The Cambridge Energy Alliance (CEA) program assists the community in taking the next steps toward installing a PV system.”

Play with the solar tool here.

Renewable Energy Set to Surpass Nuclear Power by 2018

New research indicates that renewable energy capacity will overtake nuclear power in the UK by 2018. By 2015 one in ten British homes will be powered by renewable energy sources. It has been a remarkably good year for the renewable energy industry. Wind energy alone is up by a quarter since 2010.

The wind power industry continued to grow despite prominent Conservative MPs signing a statement that opposed the building of new wind farms. Investment in offshore windfarms grew by 60% to £1.5bn in the past six months.

Despite the outspoken opposition from many Tory MPs against wind power, there was a rise in the amount of onshore wind capacity approved last year for the first time since 2008.

Maria McCaffery, chief executive of Renewable UK, said: “These strong figures underline the importance of a secure trading climate to attract investment, especially in difficult times. That’s why it’s so important that the framework provided by the energy bill, currently under parliamentary scrutiny, must be right. Although we still have a long way to go to meet our challenging targets, we are firmly on track and gathering momentum.”

Germany Beats Renewable Energy Forecast

Half of Germany’s energy consumption is expected to be from renewable energy as soon as 2022, much faster than the government’s forecast.

The boom in installations of solar, wind and other renewable energy sources is likely to exceed forecasts of 35% according to Stephan Kohler, who heads the government-affiliated agency overseeing Germany’s electricity grid.

“I think this is a realistic dimension,” Kohler said. “By then we can manage to integrate it in our electricity grid.”

After Japan’s nuclear disaster in 2011, Germany decided it needed to speed up phasing out nuclear power. At the time nuclear power accounted for approximately a quarter of the country’s electricity production, similar to Japan and the U.S. Since this initiative, renewable energies’ share has since risen from 17 percent to 25 percent, driven by subsidies and investment incentives that are mostly paid for by a tax on households’ electricity bills.

“Never has an industrialized nation tried to transform its electricity production in such a radical manner as we are currently doing it,” Kohler said.

“Given the current renewable energy expansion plans by Germany’s states, if all of them were implemented, we would reach a level of 63 to 64 percent by about 2025. In our opinion, that is not sustainable,” Kohler said at a briefing with foreign journalists in Berlin.

Renewable Energy To Provide Europe with Half A Million Extra Jobs by 2020

The 2012 EU Energy [R]evolution report demonstrates how Europe can create half a million jobs in the energy sector as well as long term savings for consumers and increased climate stability if it prioritises renewables and energy efficiency over traditional fossil fuels.

Greenpeace International senior energy expert Sven Teske said: “Every €1 rise in the price of oil costs Europeans over €400 million a month. By refocusing its energy system, the EU can cut that this dependency almost in half by 2030. Renewable energy, combined with efficiency standards for cars and buildings, will revitalise our societies and save billions of euros.”

The Energy [R]evolution will only be possible with real political leadership: The European Union and its member states will have to set the framework for a sustainable energy pathway.

EREC secretary general Josche Muth said: “There is a need for a binding 2030 renewable energy target for investor confidence, to provide a stimulus to the industry, and, most importantly, to help create new jobs and technological innovation as a way out of the economic crisis. I often hear the call for policy clarity and for clear targets to encourage companies and research institutions to make the necessary commitment to allow the sector to continue its rapid growth over the coming years.”

The report’s methodology for calculating jobs can be found below:


Scottish Government Confirms New Windfarm

Scottish Energy Minister Fergus Ewing last week gave the go ahead to a 129.6 MW wind farm 1.5 km west of Stornoway.

The 36 turbine development, which will be built and operated by Lewis Wind Power Ltd – a joint venture between AMEC and EDF Energy, will generate enough energy to power 60,000 homes and be worth around £40 million for the local economy.

The Scottish Government says the development further strengthens the case for a subsea cable linking the Western Isles to the mainland. The subsea cable would open up the area for renewable energy development, both wind and marine.

“The Stornoway wind farm… will represent a significant boost to the economy of the Western Isles and create jobs during construction and in the longer term,” commented Ewing. “I am confident that the wind farm will provide great benefits to its local community and play an important part in helping Scotland reach its target of the equivalent of 100% of electricity demand generated from renewable.”

Since 2007, the Scottish Government has consented 52 renewable energy applications, out of a total of 58, and is considering a further 42 renewables applications totalling around 50 MW of generating capacity.

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Do LED Lights Offer New Ways to Grow Food

What if we could grow fruits and vegetables in half the time with no pesticides or hormones and use 90 percent less water to do it? What if we could grow those fruits and vegetables anywhere in the world, during any season?

A Netherlands-based company called PlantLab believes we can.

The methods PlantLab is suggesting are revolutionary. The company grows plants indoors, vertically stacking acres upon acres of plants. They use LED lamps to grow the plants and water them with a slow trickle that drains through the soil and is collected and reused. The neon pink light of the lamps make the space look more like a nightclub than an indoor farm.

Computers capture over 160,000 reports per second to determine the exact amount, cycle, and color spectrum of light that’s optimal for the plant, as well as water, so that no resource is wasted and the plant is neither undernourished nor overexposed.

LED light bulbs are also much better for the environment. There are now a number of different consumer LED light companies and the introduction of these bulbs will help keep the environment safer for future generations.

New Surge In Green Farming

More than a quarter of all farmers have not just green fields but “green” barns too, thanks to a surge in the use of solar panels and wind turbines.

Renewable energy is promising to overtake rural tourism as a secondary income for the agricultural sector, with 200 megawatts of power – enough for 40,000 households – installed, according to joint research by the National Farmers’ Union (NFU) and NatWest bank.

They found that one in six farmers will have solar photovoltaic (PV) systems in place by the middle of this year and one in five will be producing clean electricity by this date. If this trend continues, as much as 15% of all UK electricity from renewable sources come from the land by the end of this decade, they believe.

Jonathan Scurlock, chief renewable energy adviser to the NFU, said: “The NFU has been encouraging farmers and growers nationwide across all sectors to diversify into renewable energy for the past few years, but we are amazed at this level of uptake already.

“The potential of land-based renewable energy to support profitable farming, while contributing to energy security and the low-carbon economy, is evidently much greater than we ever imagined,” he added.

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