Marine Life Drawn to Offshore Wind Farms

Renewable and sustainable energy is pretty great on its own. Now there’s one more reason to support using wind as a energy source because when the wind turbines are placed offshore marine wildlife moves in. The world’s oceans are suffering from overfishing and other human caused carnage so providing marine animals with shelter is something we should be doing.

The fact that wind turbines can provide sustainable energy while helping marine animals survive is good news indeed.

Offshore wind farms can be fertile feeding grounds for seals who choose to seek them out – concludes the study, by an international team of researchers from Britain, Holland and the US, published yesterday in Current Biology Journal.

This is because the presence of a hard structure beneath the waves attracts barnacles and other crustaceans, and, in turn, fish. Dr Deborah Russell, a research fellow at the Scottish Oceans Institute at the University of St Andrews, explained how the “reef effect” attracts seals. “Things like barnacles and mussels will settle on hard structures and then that in turn will attract other marine species and it builds up over time.”

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Global Solar and Wind Energy Production Continues to Grow

The sustainable energy market consistently needs to prove its worth despite the obvious benefits, whats worse is that the industry as a whole is up against the subsidized fossil fuel industry. Despite the artificially lowered fossil fuel prices sustainable energy solutions continue to prove their economic worth.

Global solar and wind energy capacities continued to grow even though new investments in these energy sources declined during 2012. Global investment in solar energy in 2012 was $140.4 billion, an 11 percent decline from 2011, and wind investment was down 10 percent, to $80.3 billion.But due to lower costs for both technologies, total installed capacities grew sharply.

Solar photovoltaic (PV) installed capacity grew by 41 percent in 2012, reaching 100 gigawatts (GW). Over the past five years alone, installed PV capacity grew by 900 percent from 10 GW in 2007. The countries with the most installed PV capacity today are Germany (32.4 GW), Italy (16.4 GW), the United States (7.2 GW), and China (7.0 GW).

Europe remains dominant in solar, accounting for 76 percent of global solar power use in 2012. Germany alone accounted for 30 percent of the world’s solar power consumption, and Italy added the third most capacity of any country in 2012 (3.4 GW). Spain added the most concentrating solar thermal power capacity (950 MW) in 2012 as well. However, Italy reached the subsidy cap for its feed-in tariff (FIT) program in June 2013 while Spain recently made a retroactive change in its FIT policies, meaning growth in solar energy will likely slow in these countries in the near future.

Read more at WorldWatch

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Mongolia Builds Their First Wind Farm

Via Treehugger

Mongolia is entering the sustainable energy market and the country aims to export renewable energy to its neighbours. It’s great to see countries that are not as well-off as others build the needed infrastructure for a sustainable future.

Mongolia is so windy and has such harsh winters, in fact, that the turbines at Salkhit were built specifically to be “Mongolia-proof” so they could survive the strong winds and winter freeze. Each blade is ~120 feet and the tower and blade combined are 384 ft. However, because Mongolia’s roads are still so bad, the turbines had to be transported directly over the steppe! It took three months for the pieces to arrive from China, where they were manufactured.

This project is still just one of what will need to be many wind and solar power projects in order for Mongolia to realize its vision of becoming a net exporter of energy to neighbors in China and Russia. Every journey has a beginning, and it was great to see Mongolia taking this important first step.

Read more at TreeHugger

Via Spacing

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China to Build Car-Free City

The Chinese city of Chengdu will be getting a new neighbour, an entire city purpose built city for people instead of cars. China’s capital city Beijing is known for its smog problems and the Chinese government is under more and more pressure to implement environmentally-friendly policies. Creating sustainable urban centres are a step in the right direction.

Chicago architecture firm Adrian Smith + Gordon Gill Architecture say the city will use 48% less energy and 58% less water than a more conventional city of the same size; it will also produce 89% less landfill waste and generate 60% less carbon dioxide.

“Accordingly, we’ve designed this project as a dense vertical city that acknowledges and in fact embraces the surrounding landscape—a city whose residents will live in harmony with nature rather than in opposition to it. Great City will demonstrate that high-density living doesn’t have to be polluted and alienated from nature. Everything within the built environment of Great City is considered to enhance the quality of life of its residents. Quite simply, it offers a great place to live, work and raise a family.”

Read more at WebUrbanist

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Tidal Power in UK is Promising

The UK is looking into ways to make their power grid more environmentally sustainable and being an island nation they have looked into using tides. Tidal flows are predictable and reliable which means that power companies can predict energy generated from tide-powered turbines, unlike with unpredictable wind. A new study reveals that the latent energy in tides can be used to supply a lot of the nations electric needs.

“From tidal barrages you can reasonably expect you can get 15% of UK electricity needs, that’s a very solid number,” co-author Dr Nicholas Yates from the National Oceanography Centre told BBC News.

“On top of that there is a 5% tidal stream figure, and with future technological development that is likely to be an underestimate in my view,” he said.

Read more at the BBC.

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