Monday, 30 January 2012

Renewable Energy Hotspots: where they are and why

Solar Energy

1) Germany: 6,526 MW

When it comes to solar energy capacity, Germany easily claims the top spot with nearly half of the world’s total installed capacity. One of the major reasons for all of Germany’s success is the pricing structure that has seen a consistency over the years and has supported the growth of this clean energy. Germany has also developed the latest in solar energy devices like silicon wafers and solar cell equipment, which can harvest the solar energy at a very large scale.

2) Spain: 5,504 MW

The government of Spain came up with the mandatory feed-in-tariff pricing structure back in 2007. With the effect of this policy, the solar cell plant and the solar cell energy development saw a rapid increase and grew over five times in just a year.  The climate of Spain is also ideal for absorbing and storing solar energy.

3) Japan: 2,347 MW

Japan’s solar research has helped increase the efficiency of solar cells, so that the maximum amount of solar energy can be tapped from sunlight.  The country is also aiming to increase solar power plant capacity from 10% to 40% with the help of government incentives and assistance over the next decade.

Click here for more details!
4) The United States: 1,488 MW

The United States is one of the top countries for solar power for several reasons: solar technology, research and development, and utility scale solar power plants (concentrating solar power).  Several States have adopted programs to encourage installation of solar panels, including New Jersey and California.  Much of the climate in the U.S. is favourable for the production of solar energy.

5) China: 223 MW

China has come on strong in the solar power world in recent years.  Like other top countries for solar power, China is a leader both for solar technology and development, as well as number of solar energy power plants.  China produces the most solar hot water in the world and accounts for 2/3 of global solar electricity production.  The country is now also the world leader in solar PV panel production.

Hydro Energy

Hydroelectricity is one of the most important sources of energy in the world.  Many countries in South America are almost completely dependent on hydro power for their energy needs.  Venezuela, Norway and Paraguay are almost 100% dependent on hydro power.  For example, Paraguay exports a massive portion of its generated energy to neighbouring countries.  The top 5 countries for hydro power capacity are:

1) China: 200 GW

The Three Gorges Dam produces the same amount of energy as 15-nuclear power plants and is five times the size of the Hoover Dam. The dam itself is 1.2 miles wide, with a reservoir behind it that is 525 feet deep and 370 miles long, which stores roughly 50 trillion gallons of water.

Click here for more details!
2) Canada: 89 GW

The Robert-Bourassa generating station is a hydroelectric power station on the La Grande River that is part of Hydro-Québec's James Bay Project in Canada. The station can generate 5,616 MW and its 16 units were gradually commissioned between 1979 and 1981.

3) USA: 80 GW

The Grand Coulee Hydroelectric Power Plant is the largest hydro project in the USA.  It consists of 3 power plants and is the largest source of electricity production in USA.  The Coulee Dam has a total capacity of almost 7000 MW and helps in irrigation as well.

4) Brazil: 70 GW

The Itaipu dam has a capacity of 14GW, which made it the biggest hydroelectric power plant until the construction of the Three Gorges Dam, in China.  During 2011, Itaipu generated 92,24 TWh, providing 17% of the total energy consumed in Brazil and 73% of Paraguayan consumption.

5) Russia: 45 GW

The Sayano–Shushenskaya Dam in Russia is the largest power plant in Russia and the world’s sixth-largest hydroelectric plant. The total installed capacity of the plant is 6,400 MW; its average annual production is 23.5 TWh.

Wind Power

When it comes to wind power capacity, the top five most talked about countries are as follows:

1) Germany: 22,247 MW

Around 10% of the total energy used by the population of Germany is supplied by wind turbines. Germany consistently retains one of its chief routines, which is harnessing wind power very efficiently because they believe that utilizing wind energy instead of fossil fuels helps reduce the carbon footprint of the residents of Germany.

Click here for more details!
2) The United States: 16,819 MW

Wind energy through wind turbines are used very efficiently in the United States. In fact, these wind turbines are placed in greater numbers to further benefit more areas and more people in an attempt to break away from the dependence on foreign oil and fossil fuels which bring obvious potential hazards to the environment.

3) India: 7,850 MW

5% or less of the power needed for the country is supplied by the wind, but this percentage increases steadily each year. India is looking forward to surpass larger and more developed countries where alternative energy sources are involved.

4) France: 2,455 MW

France has a history of energy efficiency, and this is also true when it comes to using wind turbines to generate electricity which is environmentally friendly. This country generates around 1% of the energy used by the population from this alternative source, and other renewable sources like ocean power and nuclear generation are used as well.

5) The United Kingdom: 2,389 MW

The UK has many areas which see high wind averages all year long, and this makes this power source extremely efficient when the equipment is placed in the right locations. Between 1 – 2% of the annual consumption of UK is provided using wind power.

Geothermal Energy

1) The United States: 3,086 MW

Click here for more details!
The United States tops the world in geothermal energy production, with 77 geothermal power plants that generate roughly 15 billion kilowatt hours of electricity per year.  The majority of the United States’ geothermal energy comes from the western states, and if tapped to their full capacity, geothermal reserves beneath just nine of the United States’ 50 states could provide upward of 20 percent of the nation’s electricity needs.

2) The Philippines: 1,904 MW

The Philippines has been using geothermal energy since 1977, when the country’s first geothermal power plant was built on the island of Leyte. Chevron, which is the largest geothermal producer in the world, has invested over $2 billion into Philippine geothermal energy installations.

3) Indonesia: 1,197 MW

Indonesia holds nearly 40% of the world’s geothermal potential beneath its thousand of volcanic islands, accounting for an estimated 28,000 MW of potential energy. Indonesia is on track to develop 44 new geothermal power plants by 2014, raising capacity to 4,000 MW, and the country plans to produce 9000 MW from geothermal by 2025.

4) Mexico: 958 MW

Mexico is home to the largest geothermal power plant in the world.  The Cerro Prieto Geothermal Power Station has a 720 MW installed capacity, and plans are in place for expansion to 820 MW by 2012.

5) Italy: 843 MW

Italy was where the very first geothermal power plant was built at the Larderello dry steam field in Tuscany. Larderello is where the first modern geothermal plants were constructed as well.

Biomass Energy

1) The United States: 10.4 GW

The United States continued to lead the world for total biomass power generation in 2010.  Most U.S. biomass electricity is derived from wood and agricultural residues and black liquor burned as fuel for cogeneration in the industrial sector.

2) Brazil: 7.8 GW

Brazil’s biomass power capacity, nearly all cogeneration, has also been increasing steadily.  Most generation is from CHP plants at sugar mills using sugarcane bagasse as feedstock.

3) Germany: 4.9 GW

Germany’s total power output from biomass increased by an annual average of more than 22% during the past decade.  Most biomass power in Germany comes from biogas, with capacity increasing more than 20% during 2010, and generating enough electricity for 4.3 million households.

4) China: 4 GW

China’s capacity rose about 25% in 2010.  The main sources of bioenergy include sugarcane bagasse, solid biomass, organic waste, and biogas (including from livestock wastes).

5) India: 3 GW

Biomass resources are used for power generation through three general applications, including grid-connected biomass power plants, off-grid distributed biomass power applications, and cogeneration via sugar mills and other industries.

Thank you for taking the time to learn more about renewable energy - Knowledge Is Power! For more information go to or write to us at if you have questions or want to get involved. Have a green day!

Tuesday, 24 January 2012

Powerful - Energy For Everyone

A new addition to our list of renewable energy documentaries is an incredible film by David Chernushenko "Powerful - Energy For Everyone". 

Challenging where our energy comes from and who profits from it can seem a little eccentric... After all, not everyone has solar panels bolted above the doorstep. Green economy educator David Chernushenko does, and they generate more than enough energy to go around. So why can't he share it? New technologies mean that energy security is within our grasp, but harsh resistance is still being met. Debunking some of the spin of the big energy lobby, David embarks on a global journey to discover what a sustainable future might actually look like. 

Watch below as he explains his own experience in the discovery of renewable energy and what he saw throughout the globe:

Thank you for taking the time to learn more about renewable energy - Knowledge Is Power! For more information go to or write to us at if you have questions or want to get involved. Have a green day!

Monday, 23 January 2012

Green Resolutions

Whether you celebrate Chinese New Year, or any New Year, now is a great time to begin your green resolution! Like many New Year's themes, green resolutions can also be aimed at improving your health as well as that of the planet. Try any or all of  these green resolutions today, and use some tricks to help you keep them:

Green Resolutions:
Walk! Limiting your use of vehicles can greatly reduce the amount of harmful emissions released into the atmosphere, while at the same time increasing your cardiovascular fitness, lowering your cholesterol, improving your circulation, and much more! You can also run and ride your bicycle; both are great ways to get your heart rate up and keep gas use down. Check your local resources for walking routes, hiking trails, and bike paths.

Co-transport! Shared means of transportation are a great way for you to fulfill your needs without putting as much damage on the environment, or your wallet! Translink, Zip Car, Modo, and Car2Go are just some of the options available to you. Check out your local community for more today!

Clean green! Using green products in your household cleaning can be better for the health of the planet and of yourself, your family, and your pets. Green products are typically made with natural ingredients and can reduce the amount of harmful toxins you inhale each day. Green products are also often packaged in recycled or biodegradable materials and offer bulk options to reduce waste. Research and read the labels of your green products, looking for words such as biodegradable, 100% recycled, certified organic, and green certified, to chose the ones that are right for you.

Reduce, Reuse, Recycle! These days most homes, offices, and public areas all offer recycling options to encourage us to manage our waste properly. While you may already practice the 3Rs, try to go that extra mile and do a little more this year! Composting is a great way to reduce, and make use of, your waste. Did you know you can recycle aluminum foil? See what else is on the recycle list here!

Tips for Keeping Them:

Set alarms! Make use of those reminder options in your email and mobile devices by setting daily green alerts.

Plan ahead! Organizing your activities and meals ahead of time can help you make better, greener, decisions. Try things like: pre-making your lunches at home with fresh, local ingredients and packing them in reusable containers and bags; bringing water with you in reusable bottles; and walking or riding to your destinations.

Set goals! The first step to achieving a goal is deciding on it, the second is writing it down, and the third is acting towards it. When you can see and measure your tasks you are much more likely to achieve them! Learn more about how to set and achieve goals here.

DO IT FOR YOURSELF! You are your greatest motivator, and your greatest procrastinator. You can always find an excuse not to do something, but when you really want it nothing can stop you. Go green for the planet, for the future, but mostly for yourself; doing your part never felt so good!

Thank you for taking the time to learn more about renewable energy - Knowledge Is Power! For more information go to or write to us at if you have questions or want to get involved. Have a green day!

Friday, 20 January 2012

Green Resources: Digital Textbooks

It's no secret that elementary, secondary, and post-secondary schooling all put a heavy strain on paper products with materials to teach and learn. The use of online reference has greatly reduced the number of students that require paper research information but today textbooks are still mandatory and primarily in paper form. Apple has just announced its new digital textbook service called iBooks 2, and they are not alone in the area of paperless learning. Here are a few companies currently making waves in the digital reading arena:

A Multi-Touch textbook on iPad is a gorgeous, full-screen experience full of interactive diagrams, photos, and videos. No longer limited to static pictures to illustrate the text, now students can dive into an image with interactive captions, rotate a 3D object, or have the answer spring to life in a chapter review. They can flip through a book by simply sliding a finger along the bottom of the screen. Highlighting text, taking notes, searching for content, and finding definitions in the glossary are just as easy. And with all their books on a single iPad, students will have no problem carrying them wherever they go.
Apple Insider 

Built for students, with students, to help you learn faster

Anytime, anywhere access across all connected devices
Search, highlight, take notes & see key highlights from other students
24/7 interactive math & science help from Chegg's network of students and experts

Students can rent e-textbooks for as few as 30 days and extend rental periods in one-day increments. A key feature is you can keep annotations and highlighting after the rental period ends. The notes are stored in the Amazon cloud and can be automatically synced if you re-rent a textbook. The amount of storable highlighting allowed is determined by the individual publishers, according to an Amazon spokesperson.

Thank you for taking the time to learn more about renewable energy - Knowledge Is Power! For more information go to or write to us at if you have questions or want to get involved. Have a green day!

Monday, 9 January 2012

Tag Your Green!

In 2011 GE launched its "Tag Your Green" campaign with the following question:

"What does environmental responsibility mean to you?" 

Watch this video and "let’s use the internet to get inspired, get involved, and get everyone thinking and acting more responsibly. Let’s connect and exchange new eco-ideas, thoughts, and innovations." - GE

Friday, 6 January 2012

Eco-Friendly Architecture: paints, flooring, green roofs, and more!

There has been a heavy shift towards green building design over the past decade due to a more environmentally-conscious mind state.  Take a look at what's new in retrofitting existing building structures, environmentally safe products, and green roofs!

Retrofitting Existing Building Structures:

Retrofitting existing buildings is an excellent way to optimize overall efficiency, whether it be in your existing home or commercial building.  The best approach to increasing energy efficiency will vary from building to building. For some buildings, a comprehensive retrofit project will produce the most energy efficient building system, possibly reducing energy consumption by 25-50%. In other buildings, technical and financial constraints may prevent a retrofit project and in these cases, it is often desirable to implement behavioural changes.  The following chart shows some factors that should be considered when planning a retrofitting project:

(Click for more info!)

Environmentally Safe Products:

The composition of materials used in a building plays a major factor in its impact on the environment. Whether new or renovated, existing government facilities must lead the way in the use of environmentally preferable products and processes that do not pollute or unnecessarily contribute to waste stream, do not adversely affect health, and do not deplete limited natural resources.

Here are at some eco-friendly materials for the foundation and construction of a home/commercial building and some for the interior of buildings as well.

Engineered Roof & Ceiling Frame Plan

Advanced framing techniques that use engineering principles to minimize material waste while meeting building code structural guidelines.

Engineered Flooring System

An engineered system that reduces warping, twisting, and shrinking that can lead to squeaky floors. These systems make efficient use of faster-growing trees from managed forests which help preserve old-growth forests for a sustainable future.

Finger Jointed Studs

Resource efficient construction materials that are as strong and stable as solid-sawn studs. This material is used throughout all the walls of our homes and engineered to deliver straighter stronger walls.  Here is a quick video on finger jointed studs… 

OSB Exterior Sheathing/Decking Oriented-strand board (OSB)

Made from small pieces of wood harvested from small, fast growing trees (usually from a tree farm) and have an average recycled content of anywhere from 66 to 75 percent.

Mgo Board Trim/Soffit

These innovative magnesium cement-based products are deemed to be CO2 (greenhouse gas) friendly by capturing emissions in the manufacturing process that are not released into the atmosphere. Mgo boards can be recycled upon demolition or even composted, returning valuable magnesium-based minerals to the soil. This superior, non-combustible material also resists rot resulting from humidity, rain, salt air and termites.

Eco Glass

Generally is comprised of 95% recycled glass and plastic, and can be used as a hard wearing surface for kitchen worktops. Eco glass worktops are available in a range of finishes to resemble marble, quartz or granite, and match conventional glass for practicality and style.

Eco Fabrics

Natural eco fabrics are the environmentally friendly alternative to synthetic cloth because they’re made from renewable plant fibres. The two most popular eco fabrics are cotton and jute (also called hessian), and other types include hemp, recycled polyester, organic leather, wool, felt and fair trade silks.

Eco Paints

Conventional lead based paint emits harmful chemicals into the air, such as pesticides, herbicides and toxins, which are referred to as volatile organic compounds (VOC).  Eco paints, on the other hand, contain fewer or no toxins at all, in which case they’re labelled as being VOC free. Eco paints are odourless and popular types are milk, plant, water or soy based, rather than lead.

Green Roofs:

There are two distinct types of green roofs: intensive and extensive.

Intensive green roofs are essentially elevated parks. They can sustain shrubs, trees, walkways and benches with their complex structural support, irrigation, drainage and root protection layers. The foot or more of growing medium needed for an intensive green roof creates a load of 80-150 pounds (36-68 kilograms) per square foot.

Extensive green roofs are relatively light at 15-50 pounds (7-23 kilograms) per square foot. They support native ground cover that requires little maintenance. Extensive green roofs usually exist for their environmental benefits and don't function as accessible rooftop gardens.


Protect the roof membrane from harsh weather and ultraviolet radiation, allowing them to last twice as long traditional roofs.

Have a fairly stable surface temperature, remaining at air temperature or cooler while traditional rooftops can soar up to 90º F (32º C) above air temperature.

The extra growing medium and vegetation insulates the building from intense temperatures and minimizes heat gain. According to a Canadian study, even a six-inch extensive green roof can reduce summer energy demands by 75 percent.

Thank you for taking the time to learn more about renewable energy - Knowledge Is Power! For more information go to or write to us at if you have questions or want to get involved. Have a green day!

Wednesday, 4 January 2012

Global Investment in Renewable Energy: Czech Republic

The final country on our list of the largest reported investments in renewable energy in 2010 is the Czech Republic

In the Czech Republic, renewable energy is supported through either a guaranteed feed-in tariff or a green bonus paid on top of the market price. System operators are free to choose either option. Furthermore, renewable energy is promoted through several subsidies and an exemption from the tax on income gained from the sale of electricity from renewable sources.


Here are a few of Czech Republic’s renewable energy policies (click here for more information):

Tax exemption – No income tax is foreseen neither in the year of putting in operation renewable electricity plants nor for the following 5 years.

EU Structural Funds – From 2007, investors in renewable electricity production had the opportunity to obtain aid from the EU’s Structural Funds via the Operational Programmes. The Operational Programme (OP) for 2007-2013 focused, amongst other things, on the construction and restoration of plants using RES.


The share of renewable energy sources has been increasing, although still below EU average.

Coal is the main energy source for electricity production. The second most important source is nuclear power.

The share of renewable energy sources has also been increasing, although still below EU average.


Renewable Energy Availability

Click to see larger image
and for more information.

Gross electricity production from hydro amounted to 2,090 gigawatt-hours while the total installed capacity amounted to 1,031 megawatts.

Gross electricity production from biomass amounted to 968 gigawatt-hours in 2007 (with an annual increment of 237 gigawatt-hours).

Wind plants produced 125.11 gigawatt-hours in 2007. By the end of 2007, 113.8 megawatts of wind power had been installed in the Czech Republic. In 2007, 10 projects with a total capacity of 70.3 megawatts were put into operation.

To learn about the other countries on this list please see our blog archive or take a look at our GREENcyclopedia for much more!
Thank you for taking the time to learn more about renewable energy - Knowledge Is Power! For more information go to or write to us at if you have questions or want to get involved. Have a green day!
Res-LegalERECERECERECEndeavorscorp, Bloomberg New Energy Finance and United Nations Environment Programme (2011)

Tuesday, 3 January 2012

Global Investment in Renewable Energy: France

Continuing with our list from December 2011 (archive) next up we have France

Renewable sources such as biomass and hydro participate to a significant extent of France’s energy mix. However, France is developing policies aimed at a more diversified mix which includes increasing wind and photovoltaic electricity, solar energy for heat and biofuels. France also has the second largest potential in the European Union in terms of wind energy and a very good potential in terms of solar and geothermal energy.

Learn more about renewable energy in France here.


Here are a few of France’s renewable energy policy plans (for more info, please click here):

Tax Credits – In 2005, tax credits were set up (50% since 2006) for equipments using renewable energy source. This is now called the sustainable development tax credit regime and is extended to 2012.

General Tax on Polluting Activities – Operators who incorporate levels of biofuels inferior to the anticipated national objectives must acquit, according to the 2005 Financial Law a supplementary payment of General Tax on polluting activities. The rate of the tax decreases according to the amount of biofuels put on the market.


France faces an energy import dependency close to average EU levels, with the majority of imports being oil.

The share of gas, also imported, has been steadily increasing in recent years.

Electricity production in France is dominated by nuclear energy which amounts approximately to 77% (2007).

Renewable Energy Availability

The level of production of large-scale and small-scale hydropower installations combined to represent 59,712 gigawatt-hours (GWh) of the total 64,439 GWh.

The second and third principal sources are biowaste (1,671 GWh) and solid biomass (1,371 GWh).

Solar power demonstrates an average annual growth of 90% (between 1997 and 2004), and for onshore wind power this figure is 58%.

Stay tuned for the final country coming up!
Thank you for taking the time to learn more about renewable energy - Knowledge Is Power! For more information go to or write to us at if you have questions or want to get involved. Have a green day!
Sources: ERECERECERECEuropaBloomberg New Energy Finance and United Nations Environment Programme (2011)