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Renewable Energy


The drive to reduce greenhouse gas emissions means that many governments are trying to decarbonise electricity generation. But some renewables only generate electricity when conditions are right. They're also very location dependent and can often face opposition from local residents. From wind, to solar, biomass, HEP, tital and geothermal power - as well as explaining how different renewables are used to generate electricity, this DVD examiners the pros and cons of each energy source.

DVD / 2015 / (KS 3-5) / 44 minutes

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With case studies from the US, the UK, China and India, this title asks how important coal, gas and nuclear will be in the future global energy mix. Find out what is being done to clean up coal, the dirtiest of all fossil fuels. With the growth of fracking in the US improving energy security in the States, what are the potential benefits and environmental risks associated with it in the UK? And why is nuclear still considered to be an attractive option by some countries, despite the Fukushima disaster?

DVD / 2014 / (KS 3-5) / 34 minutes

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What makes some countries more energy secure than others and what are the strategies that can be pursued to improve security? With video case studies from the EU, Iceland, China, India, Canada and the US, this resource provides students with a wealth of contrasting examples. Find out how the geopolitics of Eastern Europe is affecting energy security in the EU. In China, energy needs are being met through an overwhelming reliance on coal, but at what environmental cost? And with new technology opening up previously untapped reserves, we ask, what are the potential risks and rewards?

DVD / 2014 / (KS 3-5) / 34 minutes

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Although renewable energies are seen as "clean and green", their development can often be cause for conflict. Some forms of renewable energy are also limited by weather and climate. Examine the pros and cons of a variety of renewable energy sources with this title that draws examples from the UK, India and Europe. The de-carbonisation of energy is discussed, and Tidal, HEP, Wind, Solar, Biomass and Biogas are all considered.

DVD / 2014 / (KS 3-5) / 46 minutes

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By Winnie Hoskyns-Abrahall, Bill Hennessy

In plain language, master electrician and solar installer Bruce Hankins explains AC coupling, the combining of a grid-tied solar electric installation with an off-grid battery backup system.

As the world turns to sustainability, solar enriches our lives. SAVING SUNSHINE takes a look at today's developments in solar electricity and its increasing role as power provider.

Combining the best features of off-grid, stand-alone solar installations with grid-tied systems that provide distributed generation, photovoltaic systems have evolved into AC-coupled systems. They provide back-up, stand-alone electricity while also using renewable solar energy for our everyday electrical needs.

This combination of renewable energy and energy storage connects multiple inverters with maintenance-free batteries and opens the door to energy independence in a sustainable, low-carbon future.

Teachers, electricians, system installers, architects, owners of grid-tied systems and solar advocates will find the clear explanations in SAVING SUNSHINE helpful in learning the specifics of an AC-coupled system and how it forms a local distribution system to deliver electricity in a more reliable and environmentally friendly manner.

DVD / 2013 / (Grades 10-12, College, Adults) / 34 minutes

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The energy demands and rising cost of oil have encouraged scientists and engineers to develop renewable energy alternatives. Biofuels are renewable energy sources from organic materials such as plants or animals that are directly converted into liquid fuels. The two most common biofuels in use today are ethanol and biodiesel. Engineered biofuels, such as ethanol and biodiesel that are made from starches, sugars and cellulose are already in use as blending agents and additives that greatly reduce vehicle emissions. Algae as a bio-fuel has become more common because it is easy to harvest and these single celled photosynthetic organisms are known for their rapid growth and high energy content.

DVD / 2012 / (High School or above) / 13 minutes

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This program stresses the importance of caring for our environment and provides an overview of multiple energy sources such as biomass and solar energy. Documents how some states are trying to enact laws that require local power plants to increase their power provided by renewable energy. To preserve our planet's health, scientists explore green projects involving ecologically friendly architecture and sustainable communities with solar homes and green housing developments.

DVD / 2012 / (High School or above) / 18 minutes

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Learning to incorporate a variety of eco-friendly energy sources into our businesses and homes will make Earth a better place to live. This program explores photovoltaics, the design behind wind turbine technology and the creative processes behind vehicles in the American Solar Car Race. Zero energy houses of the future will use many of these technologies to produce more energy than they consume. Renewable energy technologies are important for the future of our planet. This program shows how people in different areas are doing their part to explore the potential of several promising renewable energy technologies.

DVD / 2012 / (High School or above) / 18 minutes

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Directed by Peter Bull

Reveals the true social and environmental costs of coal power and looks at promising developments in renewable energy technology.

In the digital age, half of our electricity still comes from coal. DIRTY BUSINESS reveals the true social and environmental costs of coal power and tells the stories of innovators who are pointing the way to a renewable energy future.

Guided by Rolling Stone reporter Jeff Goodell, the film examines what it means to remain dependent on a 19th century technology that is the largest single source of greenhouse gases.

Can coal really be made clean? Can renewables be produced on a scale large enough to replace coal? The film seeks answers in a series of stories shot in China, Saskatchewan, Kansas, West Virginia, Nevada and New York.

The film features amongst others: Robert Kennedy Jr., Bill McKibben, Dr. James Hansen, Myron Ebell, Don Blankenship, Joe Lovett, Maria Gunnoe, Dr. Vaclav Smil and Dr. Julio Friedmann.

DVD / 2011 / (Grades 8-12, College, Adult) / 90 minutes

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Director: Laura Israel

Wind powerˇK it's sustainable ˇK it burns no fossil fuelsˇKit produces no air pollution. What's more, it cuts down dependency on foreign oil.

That's what the people of Meredith, NY first thought when a wind developer looked to supplement the rural farm town's failing economy with a farm of their own -- that of 40 industrial wind turbines. But when a group of townspeople discover the impacts that a 400-foot high windmill could bring to their community, Meredith's residents become deeply divided as they fight over the future of their community. With wind development in the United States growing annually at 39 percent, Windfall is an eye-opener for anyone concerned about the environment and the future of renewable energy.

DVD-R / 2011 / () / 83 minutes

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An inspirational portrait of a young West African man who starts a business building solar panels from scratch and selling them to rural customers in Mali.

6-year-old Daniel Dembele is equal parts West African and European, and looking to make his mark on the world. Seizing the moment at a crossroads in his life, Daniel decides to return to his homeland in Mali and start a local business building solar panels -- the first of its kind in the sun-drenched nation. Daniel's goal is to electrify the households of rural communities, 99% of which live without power.

BURNING IN THE SUN tells the story of Daniel's journey growing the budding idea into a viable company, and of the business' impact on Daniel's first customers in the tiny village of Banko. Addressing climate change, poverty, and self-sufficiency, the film demonstrates how a small-scale, local business model can provide jobs, appropriate technology, and empowerment to people everywhere. The film also explores what it means to grow up as a man, and a vision of what it takes to prosper as a nation.

DVD / 2010 / (Grades 7-9, College, Adults) / 83 minutes

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Join the Eco=Kids Explorers as they travel to the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL), having been granted an all-access pass to learn about Electric-Plug-in cars. Before key interviews with scientists and engineers, the Explorers give a history of the Electric-Car from the beginning of the 20th Century to today. Then we explore an electric car that was designed at NREL and is being tested for possible mass production.

DVD / 2010 / (Elementary, Senior High) / 16 minutes

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Join the Eco=Kids Explorers as they travel to the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) with an all-access pass to learn about Hydrogen Fuel Cells. After an explanation and history of what a Hydrogen Fuel Cell is, our explorers team up with NREL testers and explain a modern Hydrogen Fuel Cell car. Students will learn how close we are to having them in our driveways.

DVD / 2010 / (Elementary, Senior High) / 16 minutes

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Will we be able to grow all of our fuel in the future? Along with exploring bold new ways of harvesting energy from biomass, Innovation Nation uncovers an amazing biofuel jet truck, a record breaking flying machine, and a unique car made almost entirely of organic matter.

DVD / 2010 / (Senior High, College) / 24 minutes

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Can the wind provide us with all of our power? Along with cutting-edge wind farms and new turbine designs, Innovation Nation meets renegade inventor Doug Selsam as he builds the world's first flying turbine, a device that may just change our world.

DVD / 2010 / (Senior High, College) / 24 minutes

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India faces a major energy crisis because of its rapid population growth and industrialisation, but traditional energy sources won't be enough to meet all future needs. This geography DVD resource looks at sustainable alternatives. We visit Asia's largest wind farm and look at who is benefitting from this electricity generation. We then visit a bio gas plant and ask whether this renewable energy source will provide a more appropriate technology for meeting the needs of India's rural population.

DVD / 2009 / (KS 3-5) / 28 minutes

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Simply put, geothermal energy derived from heat produced by the core of the earth. Geothermal energy is one of the oldest renewable resources used by humans. It has been used since the Ancient Roman times as a heat source. Recently, we have begun to harness that energy as a source of power. Geothermal power plants take the heat from the earth and bring it to the surface to create steam that spins a turbine. We have a constant supply of heat from the earth. The challenge is finding where it is strongest and bringing it to the surface. The Eco Kids will guide us through this process and explain a few different ways that geothermal power plants operate. Find out how experts are working to fine tune the process and make geothermal power plants more affordable and useful across the country.

DVD / 2008 / (Elementary, Senior High) / 11 minutes

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Brazil claims to have stolen a march on the industrial world. It's developed a cost-effective alternative to petroleum by growing sugar to produce ethanol.

Brazil's sugar crops are a great source of the petrol-substitute ethanol. And now rising oil prices and Brazil's production of ethanol have led to an automotive revolution in the country.

Car manufacturers in Brazil have created the flex car -- a vehicle that can run on either ethanol or petrol, or any combination of the two. Over 1.3 million flex cars are now running in Brazil - more than half total car sales

The foundations for the country's "sweet revolution" were laid during the oil crisis in the 1970s, when Brazil's military-led government bankrolled the development of the ethanol industry.

Ethanol can be produced from many crops but, in Brazil, it is made from the most potent and cost effective crop of them all, sugar cane. Brazil is the world's largest exporter of sugar and the biggest producer of ethanol.

Sugar has been grown in Brazil for centuries, it's the conversion to alcohol that's a relatively new phenomenon.

In north-east Brazil, much of the harvesting continues to be done by hand. Each man works a 10 hour day, 6 days a week, and cuts 8.5 tons of cane.

The Brazilian government sees ethanol as a chance for the country to boost its economy by becoming a major exporter.

Car manufacturers claim that the change to cars running on ethanol can be achieved without great costs. Special software helps the car to adjust for whatever mix of petrol or ethanol it's using.

But it's not just on the roads that ethanol is powering Brazil. The world's first ethanol-fuelled planes are now being built.

In Brazil, the price of fuel has helped convert millions to ethanol. But they're also claiming environmental advantages because ethanol exhaust gasses are cleaner.

But not everyone is convinced that ethanol is Brazil's environmental saviour. Burning off sugar cane before the harvest is widely considered to be bad environmental practice.

And although ethanol may be a renewable fuel, growing more sugar puts pressure on home soil. The sugar industry has a bad track record when it comes to looking after the environment, and forests throughout Brazil are being destroyed by the sugar farmers.

DVD / 2007 / () / 41 minutes

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Germany is leading the world in encouraging renewable energy. By 2050, half of its energy could come from renewable sources. But what's the real cost of its energy revolution?

Germany's landmark EEG law compels power companies to buy electricity at above market prices, from anyone using renewable technology to generate it. "It's the beginning of an energy revolution," says politician Herman Scheer.

The renewable revolution has already come to the German village of Juhnde where residents now produce their own electricity from manure.

"I'm personally very happy," says one resident, "because now I am independent of the international oil prices." 30 neighbouring villages are so impressed they're planning to invest in their own plants.

Germany is now the world leader in renewable energy. 10% of its electricity requirements are now supplied by wind, solar, bio-mass and small hydro. That will grow to 20-25% within 15 years, when nuclear is scheduled to be phased out.

The EEG law has also led to a boom in solar power. Near the German city of Leipzig is a brand-spanking-new solar panel factory using groundbreaking technology developed in Australia. Germany's support for renewable energy is sucking in technology from around the world.

Germany's renewable energy industry now employs 170,000 people - a new industry. But not everyone is a fan. Power companies, forced to buy renewable energy at a high price, pass the cost onto consumers and business.

This means electricity for domestic use is the most expensive in Europe - for business it's the second most expensive. The critics say that makes some parts of German industry uncompetitive - and actually costs the country jobs.

For Germany's big four energy companies, renewables represent a big threat. With conventional power stations, they make money both from power generation and from distribution. But with renewables they are largely restricted to distribution alone.

Dieter Schaarshmidt is a renewable energy pioneer. He manages a windmill co-operative and is aiming towards 100% renewable energy in the region. "We think that renewable energy should be owned by the people in the region," says Dieter. But the bigger companies are already starting to take over.

The big power companies argue that renewables can't guarantee supply. And because electricity itself cannot be stored on a large scale, they say for the foreseeable future, renewables can only fill a minor, top-up role. And they're getting support from some German politicians who want to keep open the option to use nuclear power.

But Hermann Scheer says renewables alone can meet Germany's entire energy needs, because hydro and bio-mass can guarantee supply when wind or solar are not available. He says the power companies oppose renewables for financial, not technical reasons.

"The most important question is how long do we need?" says Scheer, "Because if this development is postponed and postponed again and again, then we will lose the race against time."

DVD / 2007 / () / 30 minutes

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As the Earth's fossil fuel reserves decline, what forms of energy will come next? After discussing the formation, uses, and consequences of burning coal, oil, and natural gas, this DVD explores the development of alternative resources that may someday completely replace them: nuclear power, solar energy, biomass, geothermal energy, hydroelectric power, and wind power. Benefits, costs, and environmental impacts are considered.

DVD / 2006 / (Grades 7-12) / 21 minutes

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"Poultry Power" - poultry droppings used as an inexpensive and renewable fuel source; "Quiet Motor" - newly designed, efficient motors save on electricity; "Viper" - a new kiln to improve charcoal production and the better use of local resources; "Baby Breather" - a canopy for baby carriages to protect children from air pollutants; "Peak Protection" - sandstone floors from abandoned cotton mills are used to save eroded country paths; "Swampy Joe" - a wetland harvester designed to harvest reeds without damaging the environment; "Sweetness and Light" - a bio-tech company is now turning plant waste into clean, efficient and renewable energy.

DVD / 2004 / (Intermediate, Junior High, Senior High, College, Adult) / 30 minutes

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Global warming, ozone depletion, acid rain - all are attributable to the automobile. It is obvious the time has come to find alternative ways to preserve our planet. Solar electric cars are one possible answer, but are they for real and can they really work? This classic program looks back at the first electric cars and reminds us how ahead-of-their-time people had visionary ideas about cars. We understand now that these vehicles were for real and discover how progress has been made in developing them. We meet well-intended novices who experiment with solar energy and electric cars; also we witness a "Tour de Sol," an excellent example of how everyday people can get first-hand experience with engineering design. In the end we realize electric cars will be an important part of the 21st century; the Chevy Volt and the Nissan Leaf are just the beginning.

DVD / 2004 / (Intermediate, Junior High, Senior High, College, Adult) / 30 minutes

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A fitting description of the continually self-regenerating energy and raw materials resource generally known as biomass might well be solidified solar energy. As a key link in the carbon cycle, tremendous amounts of vegetable material with concentrated reservoirs of energy locked inside are being manufactured round the clock by that greatest of dynamos, the sun. The sheer quantities of material are as enormous as the potential uses for biomass are diverse. Examples taken from various European countries show how effectively energy can be extracted from vegetable materials using a wide variety of methods all determined by specific regional and economic conditions, and yet all highly efficient and all friendly to the environment. The self-regenerating resource called biomass is an ideal example of the harmonization of economy and ecology.

DVD / 2001 / (Senior High, College) / 25 minutes

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The voracious appetite of the worlds six billion people for energy has given rise to a fast-food system of power supply and consumption. But there is only one source which can truly satisfy this hunger forever: the sun. Like many other visions of the future, the long-touted revolution of solar energy failed to materialize by the end of the millennium. But in the tradition of Prometheus, the pioneers are thinking ahead and, at the same time, blazing a trail for the world to follow, from the photo-voltaic roofers of Austria, to the cottage energy industry of Switzerland, to the architects of a solar village in Sweden; from the grass-roots solar revolutionaries of Germany to the energy entrepreneur with the competitive edge in the U.S.A. the spectrum runs from visionaries to pragmatists who have all put their faith in the only inexhaustible resource. But its only the beginning of a long, long road from shortsighted, fast-food energy consumption to a solar world energy order. The means and the end are a new technology of light.

DVD / 2001 / (Senior High, College) / 25 minutes

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The need for nontraditional energy sources has been well publicized. This program consolidates information about the many promising and exciting alternative solutions to the energy problem. Students learn how energy from the sun can supply power for heat, electricity and transportation by means of solar cells, solar towers and active or passive solar heating system. Other sources of renewable energy are discussed-biomass, wind, falling water and tides. Each is evaluated in terms of efficiency in receiving, storing and providing energy.

DVD / / () / 48 minutes

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