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White House Goes Solar

Shortly after turning down a request to restore the Carter-era solar panels on the roof of the White House, President Obama announced new units will be installed soon.  The project is out for bid by local companies.  The scope of the project has not been announced so we’re not sure how many Kilowatts will be generated. If you’ve ever walked by the White House, you’ve noticed the activity on the roof so it can safely be assumed there won’t be a great deal of clutter added to the roof. And with all the offices and unknown security-related electronics beneath that roof, I doubt any solar application can cover the consumption of that building.  However, every little bit counts.  In a …

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Algae Biofuel Hits a Speedbump

Synthetically grown (all-natural) algae biofuel has recently been pegged as the most promising replacement for traditional fuels.  The potential to grow it in a factory setting and the much lower carbon footprint make it a potential miracle fuel source. Until researchers found one pretty big snag.  Growing the algae biofuel in the manner most thought to be scalable, (large, clear cylinders) has been found to have a carbon footprint 3.7x that of petro-diesel, the fuel it was intended to replace. The study also found that when grown in ponds instead of turbo-sized test-tubes, the carbon footprint of algae biofuel drops to 4.5 x lower than petro-diesel.  However, this method consumes more water.  Not an issue in regions with an abundance. …

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California Begins Construction on Largest Wind Farm

Ground has been broken on the largest wind farm in the United States.  The farm, capable of 570 MW in the first phase of construction or enough to power about 600,000 homes, is a project of the Terra-Gen Power LLC and will be called the Alta Wind Energy Center. With a $1.2 Billion price tag, the farm will consist of five separate segments.  Financing was just secured recently, kicking construction into gear.  Just 75 miles north of Los Angeles, the project will be built in the Mojave desert. The first phase of the project will be complete in 2011.  Upon completion, the project will meet 10% of California’s mandated renewable energy needs.  More impressively, when complete, the farm will prevent …

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Google Invests Big in Wind Power

Right after investing $38.8 Billion (with a “B”), Google has purchased 20 years worth of wind energy from a company in Iowa.  If you ever wondered what it looked like to have more money than you know what to do with, investigate this growing company. Google began it’s commitment to become carbon neutral back in 2007 and announced on it’s blog today that the contract to purchase wind energy will power “several of it’s datacenters”. As with anything Google does, it did it big.  The deal is the first transaction by Google Energy, a subsidiary of Google with SEC approval to trade energy on the open market. So what does it cost Google actually consume in energy?  It uses half …

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New Clean Energy Installs On the Rise

According to a new report by the Renewable Energy Policy Network for the 21st Century (REN21), a U.N. supported initiative, half of all new energy projects in the U.S. were renewable. In Europe, 60% of projects were renewable while 25% of global projects were renewable.  China, under great environmental strain, has lead the pack with 37 Gigawatts of energy.  China also has the money to burn, for now. As Ecogeek puts it, we have a long way to go.  But progress is progress.

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New Solar Panel Combines Hot Water and Photovoltaics

Here’s something you may not know: as solar panels heat up, they become less efficient.  An ironic truth for something designed to sit in the sun all day.  Up until now, a homeowner was required to choose between photovoltaic solar panels (the kind that generate electricity) and hot water solar panels (the kind that generate, well, hot water). Hot water panels could heat your house, consumable hot water, swimming pool, etc.  Even during the winter.  Photovoltaic cells can charge a battery bank that in turn powers your house.  A company called Solimpeks has combined the two technologies to create a more efficient, widely applicable product. In addition to giving a homeowner a longer list of potential uses, the new hybrid …

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LEDs now come in a new shape: square

Ever notice LED’s (Light Emitting Diodes) are always round?  They emit light in all directions which has been somewhat of a hindrance for some advanced applications.  As we’ve discussed before, LED’s are a major component of the energy conserving consumer plan. Interestingly, most light sources we have create round light.  Go ahead, look around you and notice the shape.  This is handy for illuminating entire rooms or large spaces.  However as noted by the folks at Green Tech Media, many elements of life are, in fact, square or straight.  Read: desks, roads, paper, etc. The value in a new product coming from a startup in Austin, TX is that their LED light source creates a square light which will work …

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Transitioning to oil independence

As I write this, I am enjoying a frozen sorbet from “Del Monte”.  There isn’t one mention of words like no preservatives, no trans fat, no hydrogenated oils, etc.  And yet, there is none of that in the ingredients.  Isn’t that good old fashion honest food manufacturing?  Kudos to Del Monte for being health conscious for the sake of food ethics, not marketing. I digress. With oil spilling into the ocean at an alarming and disgusting rate, Steve McCallister over at Modern Hippie Magazine has presented a resource for transitioning away from oil.  Now, we’re not talking about getting rid of foreign oil, but oil altogether.  It is common knowledge (except for those steadfast ignorati who still don’t even think …

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Toyota to introduce way-too-expensive fuel cell car

As many experts and amateur alternative energy enthusiasts have long predicted, fuel cell concepts are still way far from realistic production. The technology works, the market and demand are present, the cost is still prohibitive.  As many industry insiders have been saying for decades, Hydrogen fuel cell technology is promising for the future: the distant future.  Despite the potential to truly push us into carbon sobriety, manufacturers can’t seem to produce a car without a large price tag. As recently as 5 years ago, the fuel cell vehicle made by Toyota cost in the neighborhood of $150,000 to produce.  Clearly too rich for the current market.  Toyota’s new $50,000 fuel cell sedan is a step closer to reality.  Although still …

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Harnessing the Power of Ocean Energy

“It is estimated that harnessing just 2 one-thousandths of the oceans’ untapped energy could provide power equal to current worldwide demand.” –Annette von Jouanne founder of the Wave Energy program at Oregon State University (OSU) With 70 percent of the world’s surface covered by ocean a remarkable opportunity exists to produce clean energy. The sea remains the greatest pool of untapped renewable power on the planet. The wave energy off American coasts alone can provide as much electricity as the nation’s hydroelectric plants. “Full scale of the wave resource is about the same as the hydro resource, which is approximately six percent,” Dr. Ted Brekken told me by phone. He is the co-director of the Wallace Energy Systems and Renewables …

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