Archives for October, 2011

College campuses are facing the same problems everyone else is — houses built on sand. Coastal erosion, extreme weather and climate uncertainty are affecting university campuses the same way they are our homes. How are they dealing with these issues? But even more, how are they educating people to deal with these issues elsewhere? As…

After a unanimous vote by the California Air Resources Board, the state adopted the most comprehensive cap-and-trade system in the country, a key part of a 2006 global warming law that had yet to be implemented. The system will cover 85 percent of greenhouse gas emissions in the state, and allows businesses to counterbalance up…

A record number of investments in renewable energy projects took place in the third quarter of 2011, according to Bloomberg New Energy Finance. Asset financing for clean energy projects – including large scale wind and solar power plants – totaled $41.8 billion in the third quarter. The biggest investments were made in offshore wind farms.…

Everybody knows that China is the world leader in cheap solar. By contrast, Israel has barely begun to tap the global solar market. Yet the world’s largest solar panel producer in China, Suntech, has invited Israel’s state-owned electric utility, Israel Electric Corporation (IEC) – which has no experience in solar power at all – to…

Chances are, aside from getting annoyed when trying to program it, you’ve hardly given your thermostat a second thought. But two former Apple leaders, Matt Rogers and Tony Fadell, who worked on products like the iPod, iPhone and iPad, think they can change that with a retro-meets-modern-looking digital thermostat from their startup, Nest Labs. But…

What can be done to diversify our clean energy technology options?  In recent years we have seen a number of seemingly  “old” technologies undergo a reassessment, and a reinvention.  Geothermal power, once assessed as “an excellent source of baseload energy, but likely limited in commercially exploitable capacity” has undergone a renaissance. Here’s the new view…

In the past, people appreciated the importance of the sun only when they were drying tomatoes and eggplants. Vegetables were hung on strings and left to dry under the sun. The sun in Turkey’s Anatolia region is bringing welfare and prosperity to its people more than ever these days. Solar energy will be the most…

It’s the counterintuitive energy ideas that people have trouble grasping. Another one came out this week, in the form of a Japanese study in Environmental Science & Technology that found the best areas for photovoltaic solar energy may be the Earth’s coldest regions, even the high altitudes of the Andes and the Himalayas. Not only…

In the five years that the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy has ranked states’ efforts at energy efficiency, California has come out on top–until this year. For the first time, Massachusetts came in at No. 1 on ACEEE’s 2011 State Energy Scorecard, which measures states’ efforts in areas such as utility programs, building and…

A group of 285 large investors, representing more than $20 trillion in assets, urged world governments to forge a binding treaty at upcoming climate negotiations in Durban, South Africa, and said global spending has not been nearly enough to keep warming below 2 degrees Celsius. The call came from a coalition of four green investment…

When assessing green energy subsidies, a little history helps. With Solyndra grabbing headlines (see here and here), “federal subsides” for green energy is beginning to challenge “regulations” as the epithet du jour among those proffering the sacrifice of America’s environment on the altar of the economy and jobs. (A false dichotomy in the opinion of…

Green Growth or Green Confusion?

I have just been at the inaugural Global Green Growth Forum (3GF) in Copenhagen. This was a high level event, opened by the Crown Prince of Denmark and the new Danish Prime Minister, then following the initial panel discussion there was an introductory keynote by United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon – in person. The…

The “Blame China” Game

Rumors are swirling about the next shoe to drop in the campaign against renewable energy. A handful of struggling solar manufacturers are expected to announce they are joining a petition to the International Trade Commission and the US Department of Commerce (DOC). The petition is expected to allege China unfairly subsidizes solar manufacturers and is…

Although Australia’s Prime Minister Julia Gillard had promised before to not enact a carbon tax, floods, bush fires, heat waves, and drought reawakened discussion about putting a price on greenhouse gas emissions. This week, Australia’s House of Representatives narrowly passed a carbon tax, sending the bill to the country’s Senate, where observers say it is…

Does the Volt Need a Jolt?

Senior Obama administration officials are in Detroit today, visiting a Ford plant that makes green vehicles and touring the production line of the Chevrolet Volt. The Volt hit the market late last year with a surge in attention, but its sales so far have been disappointing. General Motors set a goal of selling 10,000 Volts…

There’s an argument against higher fuel economy that’s often dismissed by environmentalists, but resonates with a lot of people. The line of reasoning goes like this: small cars may be more fuel-efficient, but big cars are safer. If you took this to its logical conclusion, of course, we’d all be doing our car buying at…

The U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) says renewable energy will grow faster than other electric generating options and will account for nearly a third of the world’s electric generating capacity by the end of 2035. In its newly released International Energy Outlook 2011 (IEO2011), the nonpartisan statistical and analytical agency within the U.S. Department of…

The proposed Keystone XL pipeline, which could carry a diluted form of tar sands from Canada to Texas, has attracted the ire of many environmentalists, including Bill McKibben, who spearheaded protests in front of the White House last month. This week, McKibben argued the Obama administration is practicing “crony capitalism” and that e-mails obtained through…

In the past, it was unions vs. mining companies. Today, environmentalists are lining up against mining companies over the practice of large-scale surface mining, aka mountaintop removal, in the Central Appalachians. Environmentalists claim the process permanently scars the land and pollutes the water. Mining interests maintain that pollution is limited, the land can be reclaimed, and coal mining is critical to West Virginia’s — and the nation’s — economic health.

Planet Forward’s Frank Sesno catches up with Secretary of Energy Dr. Steven Chu on site at the 2011 Solar Decathlon. Chu talks about some of the coolest innovations in the houses, and even wonks out a bit on r values and building materials. (Related Photos: Solar Decathlon Students Race to Renew Home Energy) The official DOE…

The final results of the 2011 Solar Decathlon caught the University of Maryland off guard. After all, the UMD team was only one of 19 competitors assembled on Washington D.C.’s West Potomac Park last week as the Department of Energy sought out this year’s most innovative and practical solar homes. Schools from around the world…

The North Anna nuclear facility that shut down following Virginia’s 5.8-magnitude earthquake in August remains offline, but regulators say the plant sustained “no significant damage” and that the plant operator’s response protected public safety. The Nuclear Regulatory Commission held a public meeting Monday during which it summarized its findings in the wake of North Anna’s…

The sun set on the federal government’s loan-guarantee program for renewable-energy development on Friday, with the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) closing four deals – three for big solar-power plants and another for a 28-state rooftop-to-grid project – worth around $4.7 billion. But while there were last-day winners, there were also losers, as four conditionally…

When the State Department released its environmental impact statement for the proposed Keystone XL pipeline expansion, which would carry oil from the tar sands of Canada to refineries in Texas, its general conclusion was that the project would have “no significant impact” on most surrounding resources. The pipeline’s proposed path across sensitive ecosystems and the…