Thursday, September 30, 2010

Editorial: Nation Needs a Standard for Renewable Energy

Good work. The Denver Post editorial board comes out in favor of a national renewable energy standard. If you don't agree with government subsidies to help a nascent renewable energy (RE) industry then the only other options are a national RE standard (minimum amount of the states energy has to come from renewable sources) or a carbon/gasoline tax. Doing nothing and keeping the status quo is not an option any longer.

There are some complexities to having all states meet the same RE standard (such as 15% by 2021), because southern states such as Louisiana and Mississippi don't receive as much sun for instance as the southwestern states do. However, there other renewable sources of energy such as biomass or algae that would thrive in those southern states. I hope that Congress is taking these differences into consideration. Whatever the outcome, we do need a RE standard to level the playing field in the energy industry and to provide stability for further capital investment in renewables.

Upping the Limit on Solar Cell Efficiency

The scientists at the University of Wyoming are trying to develop new ways to increase solar cell efficiency. The results are inconclusive so far but they are promising. These scientists are using "nanomaterials called quantum dots" to try and increase the limit. I can't describe the science behind this well enough, so check out Technology Review's article on the subject. Cool stuff!

Monday, September 6, 2010

Doing More While Using Less Power

It really is simple - we must learn how to use our energy more efficiently. Whether you use LED or CFL light bulbs, weatherize your home with caulk or new windows or insulation, or fill up the air pressure in your automobile tires, there are numerous ways that we as a society can learn how to consume energy more efficiently. Plus in these economic times you can save quite a bit of cash thinking about efficiency. Check out this article in the NY Times for some good energy efficiency information.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

CSU, Fort Collins Land Clean Energy Grants

Both Colorado State University (CSU) and the City of Fort Collins received grants from Colorado's New Energy Economic Development program. CSU received $15K to install a 2 megawatt PV array and the city received $72K to implement its "Carbon City sustainability information management system". This system will help track the city's carbon emissions. I think we live in interesting times. Just 10 years ago (heck even 5 years ago), renewable energy and sustainability policies were unheard of. Now they are mentioned everywhere and are being taken seriously. I hope this ride lasts forever.

Colorado Convention Center Lands LEED Certification

Nice. The Colorado Convention Center in downtown Denver has received LEED-EB Certification from the U.S. Green Building Council. Basically, they retrofitted the building so that it would use less energy and would have a reduced carbon footprint. Kudos to the staff at the Colorado Convention Center for doing what it takes to get LEED certified.

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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