Thursday, January 29, 2009

Governor Ritter Congratulates 2nd Annual Excellence in Renewable Energy Award Winners

Here's some more info fromn the Cherry Creek Times on the Colorado Governor's Excellence in Renewable Energy awards. Ascent Solar wasn't the only one to receive an award. Dr. Chuck Kutscher of NREL, Coolerado Corp., Red Rocks Community College, and Western Resource Advocates all received one as well. Congrats.

Ascent Solar Receives Governor's Excellence in Renewable Energy Award

Congratulations Ascent Solar! They just received the Governor's Excellence in Renewable Energy award. Oh boy I would love to get my hands on some thin-film solar modules. I wonder if the thin-film has increased its energy output? The electricity it generates is no where near that of the traditional solar modules (the large clunky PV panels), but there are a lot more applications that one could do with thin-film solar. Cheers to the folks at Ascent Solar.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Colorado Lab, Battelle Research Green Energy

Great article on all of the research labs around the country working to place us on a solid renewable footing. Whether it be solar, wind, biofuels, or energy efficiency there are great minds working as we speak to beat back the fossil fuel monster that has a firm grip on our throats. Rock and roll.

Friday, January 23, 2009

Intel Thinks Solar Could Power Data Centers

We are now in the information age. Data, converted to zeros and ones, moves through fiber optic cables and routes through servers. Almost every business has a data center, from a one person shop with a personal computer connecting to the Internet serving up a web page all the way to Google and their hundreds of thousands of CPUs crunching search algorithms or serving up data to the end user. Data centers are electricity hogs. They are always on and need to be constantly cooled so the CPUs don't fry. So why not use renewable energy to power these puppies and help offset some of the peak load from the coal burning power plant? Well Intel is banking on it. And Google has been researching alternative forms of power for their data centers since at least early last year. The information is not going to go away and as more countries and people begin to come "online" we are going to need even more data centers to facilitate the communication.

MSU's New Cellulosic Ethanol Breakthrough Is Cheap, Efficient

I was speaking with a friend of mine the other and he mentioned that the technological breakthroughs in renewable energy are coming fast and furious. It is such an exciting time right now in the RE field with a ton of great minds and a flurry of capital contributing to what I believe will contribute to rampant innovation and cheaper products in the near future. We are going to see more of what Michigan State University did in this article with cellulosic ethanol and in other forms of RE like solar and wind. Ten years from now renewable energy is going to be a household term and we will wonder how we ever lived without it.

Greeley, Colorado Gets $80,000 to Study Renewable Energy Plant

It's hard to decipher from the article but it looks like Greeley, Colorado is getting a nice chunk of change to study the "feasibility of a renewable energy plant." What type of energy plant this is, is hard to say. Perhaps more specifics will come out soon. Also, the grant money was acquired from gaming revenues. Thank you Blackhawk and Central City.

Monday, January 19, 2009

Xcel Seeks Bids on World's Biggest Solar Project

Wow. This is awesome. An RFP for a 600 megawatt solar utility plant has been released by Xcel energy with responses due April 10. Six hundred megawatt's of electricity can supply about 150,000 homes. Kudos to Xcel for going big. I hope we start seeing more of these utility-scale renewable energy plants in the coming decade.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Colorado Builders May Have to Offer "Solar Ready" Option

Well, I'm not sure that requiring homebuilders to offer a solar option is a good idea at first glance, but if we look a little deeper, this could provide a fruitful partnership between the homebuilders and the burgeoning solar companies here in Colorado. If I was a homebuilder, I would immediately partner with a reputable solar company and come up with a plan. Let the solar company come up with sizing, cost, price for the homeowner, etc., for both PV and solar thermal. We really need to start building new homes that approach zero energy and start to think about future generations. If not now when?

Solar Plant Brightens Hope for Renewable Energy in Colorado

I'm thinking that I may have to road trip this summer to checkout this beautiful 8.25 megawatt PV array in my favorite valley in Colorado. According to the article it will be the, "most-productive utility scale solar electricity plant." I'm glad to see that Xcel Energy is generating some of their power from a renewable source other than wind.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Toyota Unveiling Electric Concept Car in Detroit

Looks like Toyota isn't resting on their laurels. They plan on introducing an all electric car with a 50 mile range in 2012. The article doesn't say but I'll have to assume that it is a plug-in. This Toyota also will be using lithium-ion batteries as opposed to the inferior nickel-metal hydride batteries. The 2010 decade is going to be an exciting one for electric automobiles.

New Honda Hybrid Contender Challenges Champ Prius

I'm glad Honda brought back the Insight. We need a little competition to bring down the prices on these hybrid electric/gasoline cars so that the adoption rate is greater. Hopefully the waiting list won't be too long.

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Obama Team, Exxon Mobil Chief Trade Jabs on Energy

Pardon me for rolling my eyes, but I guess I'm a little underwhelmed by responses like the one that the CEO of Exxon-Mobil gave to reporters today. This was in response to President-elect Barack Obama's economic speech today. I'm not sure what the CEO's angle is, but he is using tired arguments in a time when we need fresh ideas and unique solutions. Or perhaps his "angle" is to try and impede his increasing irrelevancy. Whatever.

Obama Speech Pushes Clean Energy

President-elect Barack Obama gave a major economic speech today and is giving more lip service to renewable energy. I hope that he'll back this up with some action. But I really have no reason to believe that he won't follow through on his word.

Sunday, January 4, 2009

Reinventing the Wheels

I stumbled upon this Atlantic article from January 1995 on reinventing the automobile. It seems appropriate to read this article in 2009 (a full 14 years later) now that the American auto industry is on the brink of complete and utter collapse. Be careful when you read this though, because it might make you sick yo your stomach or blind with anger. The technology to make cars energy efficient and have lower emissions was there in 1995 and before. The automotive companies simply chose not to make them and instead relied upon status quo and cheap gasoline. I'm convinced of this.

One of the concepts in the article that intrigued me was making the undercarriage of an automobile smooth, thereby making it more aerodynamic. Something so simple smoothing out the undercarriage would grant us a few more miles per gallon. Is this concept on any of our cars or trucks today? Nope. Nada. Zilch.

So read the article (it's by Amory Lovins the genius that founded the Rocky Mountain Institute) and let me know what you think.

Utility Pulls Out of Coal Deal

Another positive casualty of the economic downturn. The credit freeze is preventing a coal company from acquiring the money to build a new coal-fired electricity plant. They do however, have the right to expand existing coal plants. This is the perfect time to get creative and see how we can meet the growing electricity demand with renewable sources. Utility companies will need to provide incentives on the demand side, i.e., reducing the amount of electricity consumed. Consumers will have to start thinking about how they use energy. The demand side can be addressed with a few ideas. These could be localized electricity generation (PV, wind, etc.), energy audits to make existing structures energy efficient, and greater use of smart grids. Within this crisis there is opportunity. Let's play it smart this time.

Saturday, January 3, 2009

Air New Zealand Tests Biofuel on Boeing 747

I'm glad Air New Zealand is experimenting with biofuels in their jets. Other airlines have done this as well but I'm not sure if they made sure that the biofuel was "certified" to meet sustainability criteria, i.e., the biofuel didn't displace food crops. Good thinking Air New Zealand.

Let The Sunshine In: Solar Energy’s Not Light Years Away

Great, in-depth article on solar power (PV and thermal) from the Washington Park Profile with a few local examples of families and businesses that have taken advantage of the rebates and have seen a dramatic decline in their utility bills.

Thursday, January 1, 2009

Toyota Secretly Developing Solar Powered Green Car

Sweet. Even though the economy is in the doldrums, now is not the time to slow down on the research and experimentation. Looks as though Toyota is not recycling old ideas. Remember it was Toyota who launched the Prius when gas prices were cheap. They are not a myopic car company. When you have American car companies still pushing 20 miles per gallon as a good thing, it's no wonder why they are in their current predicament. Toyota is still going to crush its American competition in the future.

Happy New Year!

Wow. I never thought 2008 would ever end. What a bizarre year. We saw gas prices go through the roof and renewable energy (RE) meander to the forefront. Then gas prices crashed and the RE buzz all but disappeared. But I believe there is promise on the horizon in 2009 for the renewable energy field. We will have a new president who I believe can help coax RE out of the shadows and grant it a bit of respect. I also think that what we need is more education and more research. The U.S. has the educational and research infrastructure to become the world leader in RE technologies. I'm thinking 2009 is gonna be the year! Happy New Year everybody. It's time to roll up our sleeves and get to work.

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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