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Five graphics from Google show how carbon-intensive its data centers really are

Enlarge / Solar panels sit on the roof of Google headquarters in Mountain View. (credit: Kimberly White/Corbis via Getty Images ) Google has long been a carbon-neutral company in a theoretical sense. That is, even when it's physically impossible for Google's data centers and offices to consume renewable energy, the company offsets that "dirty" energy with "clean" energy purchases at other times and locations. The problem is, this does not make Google carbon-neutral in a practical sense, because the company still needs polluting energy sources to keep functioning. In a new report  (PDF), Google has acknowledged this limitation and offered a few interesting graphics showing how much carbon-free energy its data centers actually consume. The report is interesting not just because Google is the largest corporate buyer of renewable energy in the world but also because it shows Google is heading off criticism that has been lobbed at all kinds of corporate buyers of renewable energy, including major players like Facebook and Apple . That is, if you're "offsetting" your carbon emissions by paying a wind farm owner for energy that's created at 2am on land that's 3,000 miles from your data center or factory, how much good have you really done? Read 10 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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European offshore wind giant buys US’ most successful offshore wind company

Enlarge / Gode wind farm off the coast of Germany. (credit: Ørsted ) One of the biggest offshore wind developers in Europe, a Danish company called Ørsted, purchased US offshore wind developer Deepwater Wind on Monday. The move suggests confidence in an expanding US offshore wind industry. There are more than 15 gigawatts (GW) of offshore wind in Europe, with more capacity being added every year. But in the US, only one commercial offshore wind installation currently generates power: Deepwater Wind's 30 megawatts (MW) pilot project off Block Island, Rhode Island. Still, the Atlantic Coast is seen as fertile ground for an expanding offshore wind industry, as the coastal area is near huge population centers with strong, reliable ocean breezes. Consequently, contracts for bigger offshore wind installations off Massachusetts and New York have been signed in the previous year. But Ørsted had trouble landing some of these bigger contracts, according to The Wall Street Journal . Despite the Danish company's experience, Deepwater Wind had more success wooing local governments and US-based utilities. With Ørsted's purchase of Deepwater Wind, the European engineering firm hopes to take advantage of Deepwater's ability to close US deals. The US company has a project off the coast of Long Island and a second project off the coast of Rhode Island in development. Read 3 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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ESA’s Aeolus mission launches to map Earth’s winds with lasers

Update : Launch successful! Aeolus is in orbit and and signal has been acquired. We’re still waiting on solar panel deployment but everything is nominal so far. FIRST DATA!! #Aeolus coming in loud and clear at #Troll station and controllers at #ESOC are seeing their first data from the satellite — ESA Operations (@esaoperations) August 22, 2018 An ESA mission 20 years in the making is set to take off today, launching the first satellite to monitor the planet’s winds directly — and using a giant laser, at that. Aeolus takes off from French Guiana at nearly midnight CEST, about 2:20 PM Pacific time, and you can watch the launch live here . Aeolus, named after the Greek god who was the keeper of the winds, is a satellite designed and approved way back in 1999 but only recently completed and deemed ready for launch. It’s essentially a vehicle for a single payload, the Atmospheric Laser Doppler Instrument, or “Aladin,” essentially an orbital lidar system . Once in orbit, Aladin will blast the surface with a 10-megawatt ultraviolet laser 50 times per second, tracking the minute changes evident in the reflected beam caused by air molecules and other matter in the atmosphere. Twenty separate measurements done on the laser light allow the satellite to determine the exact velocity of the wind where it’s pointing. Believe it or not, measuring the wind from space hasn’t really been done. Sure, you can observe cloud patterns and infer that air in some places is behaving in a certain way. But there has been no space-based, global-scale mission to directly measure the direction of the wind.

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Energy jobs reports say solar dominates coal, but wind is the real winner

Two updated energy jobs reports have been released, and they paint a picture of how the last year has affected different energy sectors. The news is good for wind and natural gas. The news is less good for solar and coal. The first report , called the  US Energy and Employment Report  (USEER), comes from the National Association of State Energy Officials (NASEO), and it looks at energy jobs across the US in all sectors of the industry. The second comes from the Solar Foundation , a pro-solar association that tracks jobs with a nation-wide survey from year to year. According do the USEER, net new energy jobs in the US increased by 133,000. In the "electricity generation and fuels" category, fossil fuels and greenhouse gas-free energy jobs are approaching a half and half split, with 1.1 million jobs in coal, gas, and oil and 800,000 jobs in nuclear and renewable generation jobs. Read 6 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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