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RenewableEnergyWorld.com's Top 10 Most Commented Articles of 2012

2012 has been a year filled with controversial topics and interesting advancements from the trade case to the presidential election, and each development spurred heated conversation in those involved in the renewable industry. Check out the top 10 most commented articles on RenewableEnergyWorld.com in 2012 -- don't be shy, lend your own voice to the conversation!

The 10th Most Commented Article of 2012:

Hurricane Sandy Uncovers Strength and Simplicity of Renewable Energy Systems 

by Elisa Wood, Correspondent

Wind and solar are relatively safe forms of energy, a feature that we tend to overlook until a disaster hits like the "superstorm" that disabled New York City's power grid this week.

Unlike fossil fuel plants, they require no combustible fuels to generate electricity.  And there is no danger that they will leak radiation as did the Fukushima-Daiichi nuclear plant following last year’s tsunami in Japan.

Hence, the Northeast’s wind and solar farms evoked little public anxiety this week when Hurricane Sandy hit – unlike the nuclear and fossil fuel infrastructure. Safety officials kept a careful eye on the nuclear power plants and three were shut down in New Jersey and New York. And the smell of natural gas in any flooded areas drew quick attention from those who understood the danger.

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The 9th Most Commented Article of 2012:

Foreign Dominance of U.S. Clean Energy Market Spells Trouble for America

by Jennifer Runyon, Managing Editor, RenewableEnergyWorld.com

If you are a small player in the U.S. clean energy market, you are having a harder and harder time finding capital to continue to fund your business, despite that fact that your domestic market is seen as the one with the largest potential for growth. So what do you do? According to Third Way, a political think tank, you look to foreign investors.

In its latest report, Fire Sale: The End of American Ownership of Clean Energy , the self-proclaimed "moderate" organization points out that American investment in clean energy is at an all time low, all the while foreign investment in the new energy economy is increasing. The government has curtailed its investment in the sector. In its report, Third Way points out, “by 2014, federal clean tech investment is expected to drop 75%, from $44.3 billion in 2009 to $11.0 billion.”  The organization expects the government’s dwindling support to lead to decreased private sector support of renewable energy as well. And this lack of support is happening despite the fact that the clean energy industry has been one of the fastest growing industries in the U.S. for the past few years.

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The 8th Most Commented Article of 2012:

UPDATE: Western Solar Zones to Streamline Development on Public Lands

by Steve Leone, (former) Associate Editor, RenewableEnergyWorld.com

Update: Interior Secretary Ken Salazar officially announced last week that the Department of the Interior has designated 285,000 acres of public land for solar development on pre-sited zones in the Western states of Arizona, California, Colorado, Nevada, New Mexico and Utah, as RenewableEnergyWorld.com reported in July.

From our July report:

The Wild West days of American solar development are nearing their sunset with the release and likely adoption of federal guidelines that more clearly define where large-scale projects can be sited.

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The 7th Most Commented Article of 2012:

Rove, Gibbs and the Politics of Wind's PTC

by Steve Leone, (former) Associate Editor, RenewableEnergyWorld.com

Even with certain high-level Republicans in its corner, the American wind industry has been unable to close the deal on the one issue that continues to define its short-term prospects.

So it was with sobering political reality that Karl Rove, a Republican strategist revered for his ability to build the type of coalitions that move voters and legislators alike, spoke to a weary industry Tuesday at Windpower 2012 in Atlanta. Rove, who in many ways cut his political teeth during the early stages of wind development in Texas, took the stage with former Obama press secretary Robert Gibbs in a discussion that meandered easily between traditional talking points and insightful projections.

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The 6th Most Commented Article of 2012:

Hollande Victory Signals Shift in France's Renewable Energy Policy

by Steve Leone, (former) Associate Editor, RenewableEnergyWorld.com

A natural disaster sparked the re-emergence of Japan as a ripe renewable energy market. Now, a political shakeup could have similar effects 6,000 miles away in France.

That’s the initial indication as the world works to gauge the fallout from a massive swing in political direction as Socialist François Hollande unseated Conservative Nicolas Sarkozy for the French presidency. The math is pretty simple on this one. Sarkozy has been a staunch supporter of nuclear power, which is reponsible for more than 75 percent of the country’s electricity. He’s also been mostly against expanding government programs to grow the green economy. President-elect Hollande, meanwhile, is an avid backer of renewable energy and he has stated publicly that he wants to reduce France’s dependence on nuclear power to 50 percent by 2025.

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The 5th Most Commented Article of 2012:

Koch Brothers Fund Bogus Studies to Kill Renewable Energy

by Elliott Negin, Union of Concerned Scientists

You can say one thing about the Koch brothers: They don't let the facts get in their way. Of course I'm talking about Charles G. and David H. Koch, the billionaire owners of Koch Industries, the oil, coal and natural gas conglomerate that's been dubbed the "kingpin of climate science denial."

Last summer, Richard Muller, a Berkeley physicist long skeptical of climate science, went off script and announced that his three-year, Koch-funded investigation verified that global warming is indeed real, is primarily caused by human activity, and is even worse than the climate science community thought.

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The 4th Most Commented Article of 2012:

Why You Need to Worry About How the Media Covers Climate Change

by Aaron Huertas, Union of Concerned Scientists

Renewable energy developers and advocates often find themselves talking about climate science. And sometimes they run into skepticism and even hostility on the topic. Understanding where bad information about climate change comes from and why some people reject climate science can help us communicate more effectively about climate change as well as the role renewable energy plays in reducing climate-altering emissions.

Scientists are clear when it comes to what they know about climate change. The National Academy of Sciences, which was founded by Abraham Lincoln to advise the federal government on scientific matters, concludes  that, “Climate change is occurring, is caused largely by human activities, and poses significant risks for — and in many cases is already affecting — a broad range of human and natural systems.”

Image: Get the facts via Shutterstock

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The 3rd Most Commented Article 0f 2012:

The Question: What is the Most Difficult Issue Facing the Solar Industry?

by RenewableEnergyWorld.com Editors

It's been a year of both continued expansion and mounting challenges for the global solar industry. RenewableEnergyWorld asked solar industry executives to share their thoughts and insights on one burning question:

What has proven to be the most difficult issue facing the solar industry during the past year and what are some key strategies to ensure long-term growth?

Responses were updated daily, and we encourage you to lend your own voice to the discussion in the comments.

Image: Podium via Shutterstock

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The 2nd Most Commented Article of 2012:

Romney's Energy Plan Ignores the Success of Solar and Wind: View

by Deborah Solomon and Mary Duenwald, Bloomberg Editors

Mitt Romney sets an ambitious goal with his pledge to achieve U.S. energy independence by 2020. It's just too bad his plan relies almost entirely on fossil fuels and largely ignores the solid promise of clean energy.

Romney’s plan, rolled out Thursday in solar-friendly New Mexico, focuses heavily on oil, gas and, most unnecessarily, coal. The presumptive Republican presidential nominee promises to expand drilling on federal lands and to roll back environmental rules his campaign adviser Ed Gillespie says are “destroying the coal industry.”

Image: Opinion in dictionary via Shutterstock

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The Most Commented Article of 2012:

Massachusetts Finalizes Strict Regulations on Biomass Plants

by Meg Cichon, Associate Editor, RenewableEnergyWorld.com

The Massachusetts Department of Energy Resources (DOER) finalized the Massachusetts Renewable Portfolio Standard Class I regulations for biomass eligibility yesterday after more than two years of evaluation and heated debate.

The final standards require all woody biomass plants to generate power at minimum 50 percent efficiency to receive one half of a renewable energy credit (REC), and 60 percent efficiency to receive one full REC. Previously plants were required to operate at 25 percent efficiency. All plants must also achieve a 50 percent reduction in lifecycle emissions over 20 years.

Image: Gavel via Shuterstock

Lead image: People chatting via Shutterstock

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