Briefly Noted … Other Renewable Energies

– A government-organized meeting on the use of renewable energy in public land in the United States has been moved from California to Washington, DC. The November 28 session is organized by the departments of the Interior and Energy, and was designed to include tours of geothermal, solar, wind and biomass projects in California. Energy secretary Spencer Abraham had to be at the White House on that date, so the event was moved to accommodate his schedule. In addition to Abraham and Interior secretary Gale Norton, vice president Dick Cheney may attend. The idea for the summit came from a recommendation in Cheney’s National Energy Policy. Topics will include permits for renewable energy on public land, transmission issues and regulatory problems. – Germany’s parliament has agreed to increase subsidies next year for four kinds of renewable energy, overruling Economics minister Werner Mueller who wanted to cut financial support for the sector. Parliament’s budget committee decided to increase subsidies for solar, thermal, biogas and geothermal energy to 400 million marks, from 300 million last year, according to the Green Party. Mueller wanted to cut the government’s research budget for renewables by 65 million marks, but the committee cut it by less than 26 million marks. – The French parliamentary office for the evaluation of technological choices, has been told that France has made a mistake in hoping that investment in wind energy alone would be enough to satisfy relevant European directives. An ambitious program based on biofuels and solar power would be more profitable, say UDF deputy Claude Birraux and Jean-Yves Le Deaut. They say PV companies in France must develop urgently to respond to increased demand. The politicians recommend the installation of 50,000 solar roofs and 200,000 solar powered water heaters. – La Commission de Regulation de l’Electricite, the utility regulatory in France, has approved tariffs for electricity generated from new small hydro plants, waste incineration and landfill gas. Prices for power from incineration and landfill gas range from 30 to 39 centimes per kilowatt hour, while prices for small hydro range from 40 to 45 centimes/kWh. CRE says the prices are reasonable and would not give producers excessive profits. The government in Paris recently implemented a fixed price for wind energy, despite CRE’s view that prices were too expensive and would lead to high consumer bills. – Students and faculty at Wesleyan University in Connecticut will purchase 2.1 million kWh of renewable energy for its Freeman Athletic Center. The Connecticut Energy Cooperative will provide the Green-e certified electricity for the facility, which consumes 10% of the campus’s annual load. A student campaign relied on bake sales to raise US$1,500 in three weeks for membership in the co-op. Last spring, Connecticut College became the first in the state to sign up for renewable electricity. – Brazil has the potential to develop 6,000 MW in generation projects using sugar cane biomass, according to the Sao Paulo sugar cane association (Unica). Consultant Onorio Kitayama says the potential is far from fully exploited and, despite a special federal program of incentives, the Brazilian government is acting too slowly by not providing clear guidelines to stimulate cogeneration with biomass. Only 15 out of 140 sugar processing plants are currently using power cogeneration. – The Philippine National Oil Company will help develop the geothermal potential of Indonesia, as a result of an agreement that also expands co-operation in the development of markets for coal and natural gas. The Philippines is the second largest producer of geothermal energy in the world, after the United States. – A manufacturer of earth energy heat pumps in the United States, DeMarco Energy Systems of America Inc, has signed on the Department of Energy program, ‘Rebuild America.’ The initiative works at the local level to help community groups access innovative technologies and business tools, and focuses on private commercial buildings, state and local governments, academic facilities, and public and assisted housing. Under a 1994 Presidential Executive Order, all federal facilities must save 30% of their total energy consumption by 2005, and DeMarco promotes its technology to that sector.
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