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Study: Focus wind power on 'disturbed land'

There's a growing conflict stemming from the push for more renewable energy and the environmental impact of large-scale wind and solar plants. But an analysis from the Nature Conservancy finds that a big boost in wind doesn't have to negatively impact wildlife.

The conservation group today released a study that argues for a policy to prioritize wind power development on "disturbed land" to avoid threatening wildlife and still ramp up wind generation significantly.

Looking at land-use data across the lower 48 states shows that there is sufficient land in locations to meet the Department of Energy'… Read more

2011 Land Rover LR4: The most capable offroader we've tested

It is easy to look at the 2011 Land Rover LR4 and see a big dumb SUV. Its boxy form and imposing presence drew sneers and rolled eyes as we made our way around the streets of San Francisco, where the Prius reigns supreme. However, unlike most gas-guzzling poseur utility vehicles, the Rover is actually a very capable SUV with an advanced Terrain Management system that allowed the massive SUV to climb loose dirt hills like a mountain goat and pull itself through slick mud holes like it was fitted with treads. All the while, the LR4 isolates its driver … Read more

Full steam ahead for record-challenging streamliner

Steam-powered engines have been around for about 300 years, but they've never been known for amazing speeds. Now, a company in Florida and a streamliner designer from Tennessee are building a steam-powered streamliner vehicle.

Cyclone Power Technologies today announced it is working to "complete installation of the engine, gearbox, and fiberglass body" of the Cyclone-Williams LSR streamliner--a steam-powered car that could set a new land speed record.

More traditional land speed record-breaking streamliner vehicles, such as Poteet & Main's Speed Demon, can reach speeds of more than 450 mph, with 1045 hp and 672 pound-feet of … Read more

Small Land Rover big enough for the U.S.

A few months ago we saw the debut of the Land Rover Evoque at the Paris Motor Show. This vehicle offered the luxury and off-road capability we've come to expect from Land Rover, but its two door-styling seemed too small for the U.S.

Land Rover knows its business, bringing out a slightly larger version of the Evoque at the Los Angeles Auto Show. Where getting into the rear seat of the two-door Evoque looked like a challenge, this new Evoque offers much more access with four doors and a hatchback.

Both versions of the Evoque get a new … Read more

Nevada land approved for 500 megawatts of solar

Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar on Monday approved the Amargosa Farm Road Solar Project, the third major solar project to gain approval to be built on U.S. public lands.

The two 250-megawatt plants will be built by Solar Millennium, a German company that makes parabolic-shaped concentrated solar panels. Each plant will include a thermal energy storage system so that it can continue to supply electricity during cloud cover or at night for up to 4.5 hours per plant. Some of the solar-generated electricity will be explicitly directed toward powering buildings in Las Vegas, according to Solar Millennium.… Read more

Interior Dept. OKs first solar projects on public lands

While news of the White House solar installation captured the world's attention yesterday, another historic change that could have greater impact on solar energy in the U.S. was taking place.

The Bureau of Land Management (BLM), part of the U.S. Department of the Interior, announced it had approved the first large-scale solar-energy projects to ever be built on public land.

Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar signed final versions of the Records of Decision for two solar installations, both of which happen to be on public lands in California. They will have a large impact on the amount of electricity generated from solar as a result.

"There are 11 million acres of public lands in the California Desert, and a large majority of those lands are managed for conservation purposes. These projects, while a significant commitment of public land, actually represent less than one-hundredth of one percent of that total area. Given the many benefits, the extensive mitigation measures, and the fair market value economic return, approval of these projects is clearly in the public interest," Salazar said in a statement.

One of the alternative-energy projects approved was proposed by a subsidiary of the oil giant Chevron.

The Chevron Lucerne Valley Solar Project, which will be overseen by the Chevron subsidiary Chevron Energy Solutions of California, was granted use of 422 acres of public land in San Bernardino County, Calif., for the purpose of building a 45-megawatt solar plant consisting of 40,500 solar panels. The land is located near California State Route 247 north of San Bernardino National Forest and abuts an existing transmission line. When complete it's expected to generate enough electricity to power between 13,500 and 33,750 homes at any given time. (The range takes into consideration the natural fluctuation in available solar power.)

Another project, the Imperial Valley Solar Project, which will be overseen by Tessera Solar of Texas, was granted use of 6,360 acres of public lands in Imperial County, Calif. It's desert land located along Interstate 8 near Plaster City, Calif., just north of the California-Mexico border. That plant will consist of 28,360 parabolic solar dishes estimated to produce about 709 megawatts worth of energy annually. Once up and running, that plant is expected to provide enough energy to power between 212,700 and 531,750 homes at any given time.… Read more

Poll: Best car from Paris

With a mix of new models and concept cars at the 2010 Paris Motor Show, automakers showed off some fine sleds. We found a lot of cars we wanted to jump in and drive away right there on the show floor. Being a European show, names such as Jaguar, Lotus, Audi, and BMW stood center stage with drool-worthy vehicles.

Some of the cars touched an aesthetic nerve, works of automotive sculpture such as the Lamborghini Sesto Elemento. The Ford Focus ST looked like affordable fun, and had us eager for the U.S. launch. While the Jaguar C-X75 tweaked our … Read more

In Paris, a jet-powered Jag, a tiny Land Rover, and five Lotus concepts

We just returned from the press preview of the 2010 Paris Motor Show, which is open to the public from now until October 17, where we saw a hybrid turbine car from Jaguar, iPads in a BMW, a scary Lamborghini, a compact SUV from Land Rover, and every car Lotus will build up to 2015.

Jaguar C-X75 concept Jaguar's C-X75 is one of those concept cars we wish was in production right now. An innovative hybrid powertrain using micro-turbines means it hits 60 mph in about 3.4 seconds yet gets about 36 mpg.

Lamborghini Sesto Elemento concept Lamborghini'… Read more

The littlest Land Rover

No, it's not a children's fable, the littlest Land Rover is actually a new model, the Evoque.

Faced with tightening emissions regulations, Land Rover went small, designing a new model that would get adequate power from a small engine. The result is the very modern-looking Evoque, a departure for Land Rover from its usual safari-capable tanks.

But despite the Evoque's size, it is no lightweight. Land Rover fitted it with every technology that currently makes its bigger models capable of tackling any terrain. Not only does the Evoque feature all-wheel-drive, but it has systems for descent control … Read more

2011 Subaru Forester to offer HD Digital Radio

Subaru will treat owners of the 2011 Forester with a better-sounding radio through HD Digital Radio.

The service will be included with the "premium radio" package option on the Forester. HD Digital Radio offers more than 2,000 crystal-clear AM and FM stations without a subscription fee.

Other automakers that offer HD Digital Radio receivers include Audi, BMW, Ford, Hyundai, Land Rover, Lincoln and Mercedes-Benz. This option is a first for Subaru models.

The service will also offer iTunes Tagging. iTunes Tagging lets you capture information about a song on the radio and store it on your iPod … Read more