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Stock Up on Eco-Fuel for Winter by Recycling Autumn Leaves

Recycle autumn leaves for eco-fuel

Guest post by Lewis Davies Stock up on eco-fuel for winter by recycling autumn leaves Autumn is a spectacular season heralding the end of summer with a cascade of red, brown and golden falling leaves. Most of us appreciate nature’s beauty at this time of year, but consider the task of raking up and bagging the leaves to be a painful chore with little benefit. However, the leaves that fall from the trees in this season are a great source of carbon-neutral fuel that we can stock up on to last us through the winter. Bagging up leaves (and other so-called “garden waste”) for the refuse collectors to take away, and pile on top of already heaving landfill sites, is …

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Integrating Renewable Energy into the Home

Renewable energy solutions for the homeowner

Guest post by Greg Tornga A renewable energy primer for the home Coal, oil and gas = fossil fuels = nonrenewable = will one day not exist Solar, wind, plant, hydrogen, heat, ocean and flowing water = renewable energy = is constantly replenished by the earth’s atmosphere. Introducing Solar Powered Energy Into the Home The term ‘solar powered’ means powered by sunlight.  Scientists have found ways to convert sunlight into electricity through the creation of Solar Photovoltaic Technology.  You must be seeing solar panels popping up in all sorts of locations – homes, businesses and even lined up in big fields. This is a way to create renewable energy and bring us one step closer to removing the need for non-renewable …

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National Clean Energy Summit – Live Streaming

Watch live streaming video from nationalcleanenergysummit at livestream.com

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EarthTalk: Reprocessing Nuclear Waste in the U.S.

Reprocessing nuclear waste -- practiced in France and several other countries but not in the U.S. where it was invented

EarthTalk® is a weekly environmental column made available to our readers from the editors of E/The Environmental Magazine Dear EarthTalk: Why don’t we reprocess and re-use our nuclear waste like France does? Would it be possible for us to start doing so?  – Albert Jukowsky, Silver Spring, MD Reprocessing nuclear waste to extract more energy from it, while expensive and controversial, is indeed to this day still practiced in France, the UK, Russia, India and Japan—but not in the United States, where it was invented. The process involves breaking down spent nuclear fuel chemically and recovering fissionable material for use in new fuels. Proponents tout the benefit of reducing the amount of nuclear waste, resulting in less highly radioactive material that …

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GM Plants Go Solar

GM begins conversion of some of their plants to solar power

GM Announced it would be placing a 516 Kilowatt solar array on it’s property in Detroit.  This move will save GM approximately $15,000 annually in electricity costs.  The Detroit-Hamtramck plant is responsible for the production of the Chevy Volt, the second greenest car out there.  The conversion will include 6 acres of solar arrays behind the plant.  Of course, GM will be reaping the benefits of this choice by co-marketing alongside the Volt. A second GM plant being built in Maryland will pull 9 percent of it’s energy from a large solar array on the roof.  This plant will make electric motors, and various hybrid and conventional transmission systems. This move suggests GM is riding the green bandwagon of tax credits …

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Algae Could Clean Nuclear Waste

Algae cleans nuclear waste

In my neck of the woods, nuclear power is a big issue.  In southern Vermont, we have an aging nuclear power plant that, despite major red flags, continues to get the stamp of approval from the seemingly inept Nuclear Regulator Commission. That leaves community members up in arms.  In a state as small as Vermont, that means all ~650,000 of us.  We are concerned, in the wake of the Japanese nuclear power plant crisis, that businesses are ignoring the environmental and health risks in order to seek higher profits. Our power plant happens to be the exact same design as the Japanese plant.  This makes us all shake and shudder considering the entire state lies within the fallout area if …

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Sears Tower Going Solar

Sears Tower (now known as the Willis Tower) is going green with new energy producing windows

Going green is not just about new construction and technology, it’s about retrofitting and reusing existing foundations.  The tallest skyscraper in America, the Willis Tower (formerly known as the Sears Tower), is getting a green retrofit. Converting just the south side of the 56th floor will generate 2 MW of electricity.  The windows will be replaced with high power density photovoltaic windows.  They produce as much electricity as a standard photovoltaic panel, while still allowing daylight in and reducing heat loss. The resulting ambiance is calmer and cool, much like a tinted car window.  Only this window generates more electricity than is used within the room. Imagine the application of this technology on the desert skyscrapers of the middle east, …

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Power Monitor Polar Bear

Smart grid technology is all the rage.  As utilities and governments invest in systems to monitor home energy use in real time, products are coming to market that interface with the grid. This is one entry for GE’s Ecomagination Challenge.  It reminds people of that image of a polar bear swimming with no ice to rest on because of global warming.  It changes color depending on the energy being consumed by the home.  Research shows that when people are shown the real time cost of energy going into the home, they are more likely to reduce their consumption. As one person described to me recently, when there is a meter in your house that shows how much your energy consumption …

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Parabolic Solar Hot Water

Parabolic Solar Hot Water Heater

Up until now, hot water could be generated using conventional fuels or with some clean options.  Hot water can be generated using solar thermal tubing fixed to roofs.  Or, it can be generated using space-consuming, elongated tubes with a concave mirror focusing sunlight onto the tube. Now, a company out of Canada is making parabolic solar hot water system (think giant satellite dishes).  The compact-ish design allows them to be installed on nearly any rooftop, much like micro-wind systems are being installed in urban areas. The company, Solar Beam, claims the system is 262 percent more efficient than a flat-panel solar hot water system.  This translates to faster pay-back of the investment.  Here’s a zinger.  When mounted on a pole, the …

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Bloom Box Expanding

Bloom Energy fuel cells

Bloom Energy, the company behind the Bloom Box fuel cell electricity generation units, is offering 10 year contracts for their product.  Although I’m confused as to why they need a 10 year contract when they still sell the boxes for $800,000.  Current estimates predict the cost of energy from the Bloom Box is between .08 and .1 cents per kilowatt hour.  When compared to wind energy, that’s actually not a great price. Early sign-ons include Walmart, Coca-Cola, Staples, Caltech and Kaiser Permanente.  At the moment, it appears only large retail and office applications are realistic because of the cost.  Although the box providing clean, independent energy is possibly worth a few extra cents. For those not familiar with the Bloom …

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