The article receiving the most hits this time last year – when we registered 54,000 unique visitors a month; some 30,000 less than in November 2011 (latest available data) – was about how the world famous chef, Ferrán Adrià, was redeveloping his multi-Michelin-starred restaurant, El Bulli, to transform it into a Centre for Creativity. As part of the remodelling, the restaurant located on Spain’s Costa Brava coast is being retrofitted with the latest in renewable energy and energy saving devices. Clean tech cooking: El Bulli goes green received a total of 2,351 hits.
Another food-related piece followed close behind with 2,134 hits. This time it featured the relationship between ice cream and biogas, with a piece on Ben and Jerry's bio-powered ice cream. The Unilever Group, which owns Ben & Jerry’s ice cream, has constructed a bio-digester at the Ben & Jerry’s factory in Hellendoorn (the Netherlands), which will use production waste to cover 40% of the ice cream factory’s green energy requirements.
Renewable Energy Magazine is all about Clean Energy Journalism, but while this encompasses all renewable and energy efficiency and saving technologies, we are the first to admit that we often do not give enough coverage to this latter field. This probably reflects the fact that the wider society and business community do not either, and so the amount of news coming out from the energy saving and efficiency sector is lower than from the renewables industry. It is therefore a nice surprise to find that our third most popular story in January 2011 (1,999 hits) has energy efficiency in its title.
Energy efficiency key
The piece comprised an interview with Jorge Padilla, Professor of Economics at the University of Oxford (England), who said that: "most economists believe that the first thing to be encouraged [in business] is energy efficiency". Padilla collaborated in the drafting of "Harnessing Renewable Energy: in Electric Power Systems”, a book that aims to be "essentially informative” and touched more than one sensitive nerve as it aimed to “shift the [energy] debate from what we perceived as a debate between two extreme views – the ultra-ecologist, 100% renewables perspective or the Bush-style ‘oh well, this is a disaster’ approach, to the middle ground, to the economists’ position, which is all about cost-benefit".
Next up in our Top 10 for January 2010 came a piece on how Scotland’s First Minister, Alex Salmond, had officially opened a state-of-the-art, £4.7 million hydrogen fuel cell demonstration and research facility in Methil, Fife. The new Hydrogen Office is the cornerstone of Fife’s flagship Energy Park which Salmond hopes will become one of Europe’s leading locations for innovation and development of renewable energy technology.
Scotland featured heavily in our news coverage during 2011 due to its strong commitment to renewable energy. In May, the First Minister pledged to move “still faster and further” to fulfil the Scottish government’s target of 100 per cent renewable energy by 2020, while we published several articles on the country’s growing wind and, especially, ocean energy industries.
In March, the Government revealed that the value of the renewables sector in Scotland is estimated to rise to as much as €3.7 billion by 2013-14 as further renewable capacity comes on line.
Another area that does not generate as much news as other technologies is solar thermal, so it is again interesting to find that our fourth most read piece in this time last year was on how Japan was exploring a deal to conduct research on air cooling through solar thermal technology.
This piece on solar technology was followed by another – this time on solar photovotaics (PV) – referring to how the Spanish solar PV industry had decided to protest against retroactive measures imposed by Government, which saw previously enacted feed-in tariffs for solar energy being cut. Other countries followed suit later in the year, with Germany and the UK for example all imposing cuts to their support for solar PV.
An article entitled "Japan launches Hydrogen Town Project" came in sixth, meaning that two articles on hydrogen are listed in our top ten. While this technology is still in its infancy, it is clearly a popular topic among readers, perhaps precisely due to the fact that any research in this field is breaking new ground. The Hydrogen Town Project is being conducted as a part of a wider reaching Hydrogen Energy Social Infrastructure Development Demonstration Project aimed at creating what Japan’s Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry describes as “a hydrogen society in the future”.
Again, it is nice to see that energy efficiency featured twice in our top ten in January 2011, with a piece on how to alter the way businesses go green. The article looked at how companies are beginning to take responsibility for their actions and looking to the 'Go Green' movement. However, the up-front costs of being environmentally sustainable and the long-term return on investments usually steer them towards the 'doing business as usual' model. That said, Bobbi Klein of energy conservation company, Green Analytics, Inc, explained in the piece that the shift towards zero carbon should not be painful.
Breaking new ground
Our readers clearly appreciate coverage of cutting-edge technologies, and so it comes as no surprise that ocean energy featured in our Top 10 for January 2011. The piece in question looked at the Indian state of Gujarat’s plans to install Asia’s first commercial scale tidal power plant. The 50-MW tidal power project is being built in the Gulf of Kutch by marine energy developer, Atlantis Resources Corp in conjunction with Gujarat Power Corporation Ltd.
Last in our Top 10 comes a piece on one of last year’s star sectors: the solar thermal electric sector. The piece highlighted how solar thermal electricity will cost 50% less to produce in 15 years, according to a study by consultancy firm, AT Kearney, commissioned by the European Solar Thermal Energy Association (Estela). The study forecasts that this technology’s manageability will also be a key factor in its growth over the next decade.
Indeed, in October, the first commercial solar thermal electric plant in the world to use molten salt thermal storage in a central tower configuration with a heliostat field was officially opened in Spain by the King of Spain and the Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi. Two months earlier, the plant had generated electricity non-stop for 24 hours, producing 340 MWh in the period.
January 2011 was an exciting time for Renewable Energy Magazine, coming off the back of being awarded the European Solar Prize by the European Association for Renewable Energy, Eurosolar, in December. It saw us hard at work designing and developing a new look website, which went live at the beginning of February and coincided with our first foray into social networking through our Twitter account.
Next month, we will look at the Top 10 articles we published on our new look site, so join us then.