Saturday, June 28, 2008

Mercedes to Cut Petroleum Out of Lineup by 2015

Via Eco Geek we have an article that Mercedes-Benz is going to phase out petroleum based cars by 2015 and instead focus on electric plug-in, fuel cell, and biofuel run cars. Nice. I certainly applaud the courage of the Germans for moving in that direction. As well, this is going to take a new way of thinking about generating electricity (for the electric plug-in cars) because of all the extra demand for power. We definitely can't burn more coal, so what do we do? Solar PV, CSP, and wind is what we do.

Friday, June 27, 2008

Citing Need for Assessments, U.S. Freezes Solar Energy Projects

Looks like the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) is putting a stop to any further requests for solar power plants on government land due to the need for environmental impact studies. Not still accept and evaluate applications during the environmental studies, but a complete moratorium on applications. These studies will take two years and then I guess applications can resume.

Now I am, what some may say a lefty, a tree-hugger, ice-cream sandwich lover, and whatever else, but I am also a big fan of common sense trumping policy. The common sense being the need to start offsetting our energy consumption with clean energy methods starting yesterday and the policy being the environmental impact of said energy generation on the land, air, water and animals. And you mean to tell me that the oil and gas that's being drilled in pristine wilderness areas is having less of an impact than a CSP plant or solar array?

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Wind Farm to Be Built Off Delaware Shore

Nice, a wind farm off the coast of Delaware. The article says that it is the nation's first offshore wind farm. Now I seem to remember previous articles that mentioned offshore wind farms on the East Coast that were panned because people considered them eyesores or that these wind farms would ruin the ocean view. Well according to the company that is going to build the farm,

"From the shore, the park will be visible only on clear winter days, and the turbines will be nearly invisible during summer months when Rehoboth Beach fills with vacationers."

The eyesore argument doesn't hold water now.

Monday, June 23, 2008

Australian, Chinese Researchers Make Breakthrough in Renewable Energy Materials

If true this would be great for the PV industry. Not only that but this as well:

"Titania nano-crystals are promising materials for cost-effective solar cells, hydrogen production from splitting water, and solar decontamination of pollutants."

Cool eh? Still 5-10 years off, but that's really just a blink of an eye.

Energy Bills, Boulder Flavor Going Solar

This article is a little old, but gives a nice overview of the bills that Governor Ritter signed into law recently to help create a smart and sound energy policy for Colorado. A shout out to the Colorado legislature for pushing these bills though.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Cranberry By-products Could Be Used in Biofuel, Experts Say

Interesting article on the potential use of all the stuff that is left over after the juice is squeezed out of the cranberry. All the cellulosic by-products: stems, skins, leaves could be turned into fuel (the Italians would turn it into grappa, which is like rocket fuel). What if all of our organic waste could be turned into fuel to power our machines? Heck what it all of our waste could somehow be converted into a cleaner fuel that oil? A man can dream can't he.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Biofuel: A Tankful of Weed Juice

I love that title, "weed juice." It was in reference to biofuels made from weeds and agricultural farm waste as opposed to making it from food. Just last weekend I picked about a billion (yes a billion) weeds from my yard. I placed them in numerous trash bags and then left them for the garbage man to take it away and place it in our burgeoning landfills. How nice would it have been if those weeds could be picked up, by an outfit and then converted to a biofuel for my car. Definitely.

This article discusses the second-generation biofuels (not made from human food sources), which labs around the world are working on right now.

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Solar Energy Firm Plans Colorado Growth

More good news for Colorado. REC Solar, Inc. is adding more jobs in its Westminster office. Keep 'em coming!

Google, Chevron Build Mirrors in Desert to Beat Coal With Solar

More positive love for solar thermal (or CSP) plants in the Mojave Desert. This is probably my favorite line:

"Google, Inc., Chevron Corp. and Goldman Sachs Group Inc. are betting this energy will become cheaper than coal."

"Cheaper than coal." That certainly is the goal.

Saturday, June 14, 2008

BrightSource's Novel Solar Thermal Power Concept for California Heats Up

I think it's time to make concentrated solar power (CSP) a household word. I really do believe that this technology will help us dramatically reduce our need coal-fired electricity plants. Now you'd still have to pay a utility for your electricity needs from this renewable source, but if you get an energy audit to see where your property currently stands with respect to energy consumption, and then add some solar panels, a solar hot water heater, solar air heater, and great insulation, you can radically drop the amount of money paid to the utility. CSP plants are going to do wonders for the United States' electricity consumption.

Speaking of CSP plants (sorry for my little rant above) it looks as though a company out of California wants to build a 900 megawatt CSP plant. And this company has a new method of making the solar thermal process more efficient. Apparently the founder (Arnold Goldman) of this company (BrightSource) was the first to pioneer CSP plants in the 1980s, but the low cost of oil put him out of business. Anyway, check out the article on Mr. Goldman's new CSP method here.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Google Pours Massive Investment into Renewable Energy Research

Google is investing $20 million in the next year on renewable energy research. Looks like they are going to hire some staff and get down to business to try and figure out how to offset their vast electricity consumption (data centers are electricity hogs). Now that's smart business, but also an inspiration to us all. As individuals we need to try and make it work so that all of our households can offset energy consumption with renewable energy. Let's keep an eye on Google in the next year or or so to see how they progress.

Sunday, June 8, 2008

Solar Panel Subsidies Not Smart, Says German MP

Interesting perspective on solar subsidies from Germany's MP, Hans Josef Fell. And Germany should know; 14% of their energy production is from renewable energy (compared to about 7% in the United States. So the main gist of the MP's arguement is that subsidizing solar panels themselves prevents the solar power market from having any sort of reliability or longevity. In other words, the MP says, instead of giving rebates to consumers for solar panels pay the consumer a high price for the excess energy sold back to the grid. Never thought about it that way. That's worth exploring with respect to U.S. policy.

Saturday, June 7, 2008

International Agency Urges the Start of an ‘Energy Revolution’

Nobuo Tanaka, executive director of the International Energy Agency, says it's time to get busy with investment in new forms of energy due to energy shortages and growing greenhouse gas emissions. He says about $45 trillion would do it and that we need to start right away. So, how 'bout it people of planet Earth?

Thursday, June 5, 2008

The Biggest Economic Opportunity of This Century

For all of you investment junkies out there, an article from the Motley Fool on how to best invest in "cleantech" industries, i.e., renewable energy industries. I like the "cleantech" phrase. It is the sort of phrase that is marketable, catchy, straightforward, approachable, and last but not least, tangible. By now the phrase, "renewable energy" is familiar to me and to people familiar with the industry, but perhaps a lot of people out there find the term "renewable" difficult to wrap their minds around. Do people really care that energy generation is renewable? Or do they just care that it is some clean technology? Would people (when hearing the particular phrase) be more likely to invest in the cleantech industry or in the renewable energy industry? I'd like to see a focus group on the phrases "cleantech" versus "renewable energy."

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

California Car Company Will Produce 300 MPG; Detroit Just Now Waking Up from Long Nap

Two posts down below I mentioned a U.K. automobile company that could get about 100 mpg. But I just saw this California company named "Aptera" on NBC Nightly News. The news report claimed that the Aptera car could get about 300 miles per gallon! Plus production starts in late 2008. The car will only be sold in California, so you'll have to travel to pick it up (unless you live in The Golden State), but it'll get three...hundred...miles...per...gallon. You could get across the U.S. on one tank/charge. I'm saving my shekels as we speak. Rock and roll.

And it looks like we aren't going to see any leadership from the myopic Detroit folks. The headline on Yahoo today: "GM to Close 4 Plants, Focus on Small Cars." They sure do have a hard time seeing the writing on the wall don't they? And it's usually at the expense of American jobs. Sigh.

Monday, June 2, 2008

Solar Lily Pads Gently Floating And Gathering Energy on the River Clyde

For some reason the artist's rendition of solar lily pads (see right, picture credit to ZM Architecture) feels like something right off a sci-fi novel book jacket. You know what I mean? I like ZM Architecture's concept of what is essentially a solar panel floating stationary on a river. I hope Scotland goes for it and I hope it catches on elsewhere. Cherry Creek Reservoir anyone?

Axon Automotive's Goal: Most Fuel Efficient Car in Europe

I stumbled upon this recently formed car company in the U.K., Axon Automotive. With carbon fiber technology their goal is to have the most fuel efficient, affordable, and safe automobile in Europe. Can you say 100 miles per gallon! Yes you read that right. They're still a young company, so anything could happen. But I can't wait for 2010. Maybe an American auto company could partner with these folks?

Wishful Thinking

*Before adding PV, wind, or solar thermal to your residential or commercial structure, the first step is to analyze this structure's energy consumption through a professional energy audit. I'd like to see some public education on the importance of an energy audit for any structure. Remember Smokey the Bear's forest fire shtick drilled into our heads over the last few decades? How about something like, "Henry the House" desperately wanting to know how much energy he consumes and wastes throughout the day?

*With over 300 sunny days a year on the Front Range is it too much to ask for solar PV and thermal modules on every residential and commercial unit (after an energy audit of course)?

*How about affordable plug-in electric cars that go more than 100 miles on a charge with PV and wind powered recharging stations?

*Dreaming of companies large and small adopting business sustainability practices to maximize profits, reduce their carbon footprint, and enhance the lives of their employees and the communities that surround them.


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