WYSO

Energy

Rick Willoughby / Flickr Creative Commons

Today sustainability commentator Bob Brecha tackles a thorny question: how much energy does it take to make wind turbines and solar panels.

Here’s a scary thought: What if all the effort being put into new wind turbines and solar panels is a waste of time and money because they don’t create as much energy as it takes to build and install them.  And because of that, maybe they don’t help reduce greenhouse gas emissions either. 

Large Solar Farms Proposed In Three Ohio Counties

Jul 17, 2017
Dan Konik

A couple of large wind farms have cropped up in Ohio over the past couple of years, but the state still hasn’t seen a big development with solar power. That could change very soon with not one but three big solar farms in the works.

The three plans, which have been submitted for approval by state regulators, would generate between 125-150 megawatts each.

To get an idea of just how big this is, the largest solar generator right now is a 20 megawatt facility in Bowling Green.

The three plants would be in Brown, Hardin and Vinton counties.

Havana, Cuba
Pedro Szekely / Flickr Creative Commons

All the nations of the world need to make decisions about how to use resources but in developing countries, trade-offs between economic growth and spending on health and education are especially challenging. On Friday, President Donald Trump is expected to announce changes in U.S. policy toward Cuba. Commentator Bob Brecha was in Cuba early this month and has some thoughts about how the Cuban government is making choices about economic growth and sustainability.

Commentary: EPA and Us

Apr 25, 2017
Paul A. Fagan / Flickr Creative Commons

After World War II, American industry grew rapidly, leading to not only unprecedented wealth and a growing middle class, but also to serious negative effects on the environment.  As industry and population expanded, we learned through poisoned rivers and unbreathable air that there are limits to the capacity of the environment to absorb our waste.  The Environmental Protection Agency was created in 1970 with strong bipartisan support for efforts to remediate heavily polluted urban air and waterways across the country.

Ohio Utility Company Aims To Raise Rates

Apr 19, 2017
Duke Energy / Flickr Creative Commons

State energy regulators are looking over a new plan, proposed by AEP, that would allow the utility company to increase rates on customer electric bills. 

AEP is asking to increase a certain line item on electric bills by 120%. That "customer charge" would go up about $10 more a month. Rachel Belz with the advocacy group Ohio Citizen Action notes AEP just tried and failed to raise rates to help its struggling coal plants.

“They just keep reaching right into the pockets of their residential customers.”

solar panels on roof
Chris Kantos / Flickr Creative Commons

Politicians in Ohio and around the country  are struggling to articulate new energy policies.  Renewables are booming and becoming cheaper, but shale oil and gas are on the rise as well. How will the energy system of the future look?  Sustainability commentator Bob Brecha has some ideas about pitfalls to avoid.

Garry Knight / Flickr Creative Commons

The 2016 presidential campaign often focused on immigration issues, but there was very little talk about energy or climate change.  Sustainability commentator Bob Brecha thinks we should be talking about all of these issues, and tying them together when trying to come up with solutions.

The Greening of China?

Jan 22, 2017

As the world considers how to respond to climate change, China has emerged as the great paradox. With its fast-growing economy, China has become the leading producer of CO2 (though not on a per-capita basis). Simultaneously, it has become the world's leading producer of green and renewable energy.

Are We Heading for a Hydropower Boom on the Three Rivers?

Dec 12, 2016
The hydroelectric power station at the Kinzua Dam on the Allegheny River (pictured above) is one of the larger hydropower projects in Pennsylvania—generating enough electricity to power 400,000 homes.
Michael Scialdone / Flickr Creative Commons

Behind a chain link fence, Paul Jacob watches water spill over a dam on Neville Island—a 1,200-acre stretch of land in the Ohio River near Pittsburgh that’s a hive of industrial lots and chemical plants. But to Jacob, the white froth at the base of the Emsworth Back Channel dam—built in 1936—represents an opportunity.

“The water over that dam—that basically is unused energy,” Jacob says. “You’ve got a substantial flow of water.”

Kym Farnik / Flickr Creative Commons

The role of coal as an energy source is diminishing in this country.  Ten years ago, half of the electricity in this country came from burning coal, but today, that number has dropped to one third. The coal companies have claimed that the Obama administration is waging a WAR on Coal .   But sustainability commentator Bob Brecha isn’t so sure.

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