Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Energy Secretary Announces Funding for Colorado

The good doctor is releasing some more renewable energy/energy efficiency funds to the State of Colorado. $34 million will go to weatherization rebates and credits for renewable energy systems (such as PV or solar thermal) and biomass stoves. The money will also be used to help state agencies, including public schools, reduce their energy consumption and carbon footprint.

Monday, September 28, 2009

Denver Tour of Solar Homes This Saturday (Oct. 3)

Colorado Renewable Energy Society (CRES) is hosting the 2009 Denver Solar Tour of Homes this Saturday, October 3rd. Check out your neighbor's solar installations. $20 per carload or $45 for a guided bus tour. Don't forget to register! More info at the CRES web site.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Denver Releases Most CO2, Barcelona the Least

I knew the brown cloud was bad, but I didn't think that we were the worst CO2 polluter per capita in the world. From the Science Daily article:

Its (Denver) high levels were due partly to its high use of electricity, heating and industrial fuels, and ground transportation, they note.

If this is the case, then we have a lot of work to do, i.e. a plan for a robust public transit system (RTD light-rail and Fast Tracks are on the right path), re-zoning neighborhoods to allow goods and services (instead of getting in the car and driving to the grocery store or pharmacy, how about walking or biking there?), smart grid technology (already happening in Boulder) and further development of renewable energy sources to gradually replace coal (see NREL).

I remember when we went to Barcelona a couple of years ago, we stayed in an apartment in the middle of the city and we walked or took public transit everywhere. It was that easy and actually pleasant. We walked to the market to get fresh seafood and vegetables to cook in our apartment that evening. We walked to the sites and the beach to grab some sun. We took the subway out to the suburbs to spend the day in some of their beautiful parks. Of course it was a vacation, but the people of Barcelona do this every day and seem to manage. Instead of jumping in their "cages" of isolation to go to work/shopping/sites they walk or take public transportation. The population of Barcelona engages with each other simply by not being in the confines of a car. The city is buzzing with energy and ideas and there is an exchange of these ideas that can only occur when you are walking the streets, looking at your neighbor in the eye and smiling, and telling your story. Good things happen when people interact.

The transition to reduce consumption of fossil fuels will be a bit painful, but I think if Denver wants to be called a "green city" they need to reduce their CO2 emissions first. Completing this involves a new way of thinking that is definitely within our abilities.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

PG&E Corp Quits US Chamber Of Commerce Over Climate Views

Wow. Perhaps we are witnessing a sea change? Pacific Gas and Electric tells the U.S. Chamber of Commerce to cut the crap with respect to its anti-climate change stance. Refreshing. So it begins and I hope that this statement by PG&E encourages other utilities and oil, gas, and coal companies to change their viewpoints on global climate change for the better.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Panasonic: New LED Bulbs Shine for 19 Years

Ahhhh. A low wattage, low heat lightbulb that will burn for 19 beautiful years. If true this is a sign of good things to come on the LED bulb front. Say goodbye to incandescent and compact flourescent bulbs. I know these things are 40 bucks right now but the price will come down soon.

Monday, September 7, 2009

Mixing Solar with Coal to Cut Costs

Great article from MIT's Technology Review on how Abengoa Solar (located in Lakewood, Colorado) is working with Xcel Energy to build a concentrated solar power (CSP) plant to help make the steam used to turn a coal plant's turbines to generate power. Reality dictates that we cannot just stop using coal today and just rely on renewable energy to generate our electricity. There are several reasons why this is not possible. Coal burning power plants are the most cost-effective and energy efficient way of generating base load power (because you can burn coal at anytime). Wind and solar power are sporadic and we haven't found an effective way to store the power created by renewable sources (there are many up and coming methods like fuel cells or lighter batteries that hold greater charges for longer or using salt vats to keep the heated water warm). This hybrid method is a great way to begin the process of transitioning to renewable sources.

The process of preheating a water using the sun is not new. Using solar thermal units on your rooftop to preheat the water that goes into your hot water heater is a great way to save you money by reducing your natural gas bill and helping to put less CO2 in the environment. Abengoa Solar and Xcel Energy are utilizing this same method but on a power plant-size scale. Kudos to both companies for finding ways to implement renewable solutions for our energy issues.

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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