Posted: 30 Sep 2010 02:00 AM PDT
We’ve discussed the pros and cons of a proposed US Renewable Energy Standard of 15% by 2021 a bit here on Cleantechnica lately. While we struggle for that bare minimum, though, European nations are steaming ahead in their renewable energy targets.
Northern Ireland announced this week that it plans to hit 40% renewable energy by 2020. Germany announced that it intends to have 60% of its power come from renewable energy by 2050 (but could even hit 100% by that time). And Scotland is aiming for “at least” 100% by 2025 it said in yet another big, clean-energy announcement this week.
Earlier this year, a study found that Europe as a whole is well on its way to exceeding its renewable energy target of 20% by 2020.
Northern Ireland's Assembly government approved its new target of 40% renewable energy by 2020 this week. It is currently producing about 10% of its energy from renewable resources but is planning to put about £1 billion ($1.58) into grid improvements and continue pushing onshore and offshore wind energy to produce four times that much by 2020.
Energy minister Arlene Foster says:
Scotland has set its bar even higher than Northern Ireland, announcing its new target of at least 100% renewable energy by 2025 yesterday. This may be the most ambitious national target in the world.
"Scotland has unrivalled green energy resources and our new national target to generate 80 percent of electricity needs from renewables by 2020 will be exceeded by delivering current plans for wind, wave and tidal generation," First Minister of Scotland Alex Salmond says.
Scotland plans to export some of its clean energy to England, its neighbor to the south that is doing alright itself, especially after installing the largest offshore wind farm in the world last week, but isn’t doing as much (per its needs) as Scotland.
This new announcement to hit 100% renewable energy by 2025 comes just one week after Scotland announced it would hit at least 80% by 2020.
While Germany is the world leader in installed photovoltaic solar energy, its total renewable energy targets are not as high as Northern Ireland and Scotland’s, but they are nothing to laugh at.
Germany’s announcement that it is hoping to hit 60% renewable energy by 2050 is not as big as researchers from the Federal Environment Agency might have hoped, who found a few months ago that Germany could get 100% of its energy from renewable resources by 2050 and could become the first major economy (member of the G20) to cut fossil fuels out of its energy diet, but it is still an ambitious target relatively speaking.
Germany already gets 16% of its energy from renewable sources, more than a potential 2021 Renewable Energy Standard for the US of 15%. But, it is of course aiming to install a lot more renewable energy, such as wind, solar, biomass, and hydro, in coming years.
It is nice to see Europe steaming forward in the clean energy sector. Hopefully it will even exceed its relatively ambitious targets.
Photo Credit: Wind turbines in Scotland, by flickr user marcusjroberts
Posted: 30 Sep 2010 02:00 AM PDT
In one of those happy research accidents that lead to new breakthroughs, scientists at the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) have developed a new kind of nanowire that produces light, much like the glow produced by LED technology. The team was actually fine tuning a new method for manufacturing ultra thin or nanoscale wires, hoping to create a process that yields a product with uniform traits, when their experiment began to light up.
The Trouble with Nanowires
Typically, nanowires are grown on a base material or substrate. The process involves depositing molecules such as zinc oxide in the form of a gas. The nanowires then “grow” vertically, like bristles on a brush. The problem is, they grow so densely that it is difficult to pick out the ones with better characteristics. Also, since the wires only touch the substrate at one end, their properties are not uniformly distributed.
A New Method of Growing Nanowires That Glow
The NIST team came up with a solution, which is to grow the nanowires horizontally. They converted gold into nanoparticles by superheating it, then manipulated zinc oxide nanocrystals into pushing the gold particles along the substrate, forming nanowires. Because the wire touches the substrate at all points, its characteristcs are more uniformly influenced than in the vertical growth method. When the researchers increased the size of the gold particle, the wires grew a fin-like nanowall which allowed electrons to flow, giving off a light similar to that of an LED.
Glowing Nanowires vs. LEDs
The NIST researchers envision uses for the new light-emitting nanowires in chip-sized “laboratories” and other miniature devices for specialized purposes. Though large-scale applications are a possibility, that seems pretty remote at the present, leaving LEDs in the lead for now in terms of providing an energy saving solution to lighting needs. LEDs are already lending themselves to large scale applications in street lighting and parking garages, for example, and new research is yielding more powerful LEDs, as well as new technologies for boosting the efficiency and lifespan of LED fixtures.
Image (altered): Nanowires courtesy of NIST.
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