Archives for December, 2012

As of January 1, traditional 75-watt incandescent light bulbs can no longer be manufactured in the United States, continuing a national transition to more efficient lighting by 2014. The first phase of the new federal light bulb standards, as set forth in the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007, went into effect last January…

Fracking has now become so much a part of the fabric of American life that it has earned its first genuine Hollywood treatment. Promised Land, co-starring and co-written by Matt Damon and John Krasinski, opens today in a limited number of theaters, with wider release next week. While the energy industry has girded for battle…

Perhaps the first Little Pig was right all along. In a demonstration about how to build a simple structure made entirely of recyclable or reusable materials, a small Parisian architecture firm called Studio 1984 chose straw as the main building material, designing a cozy, 15-square-meter “nest” that even the Big Bad Wolf would have to admire. The tiny structure, built earlier this fall…

It’s 10 p.m.—do you know where your insulation gaps are? As the winter months descend and much of the country braces for icy weather, a startup company in the Boston area called Sagewell is taking it to the streets to let homeowners know exactly where their heating dollars are escaping, and provides suggestions about how to make their homes more energy…

This map, released today by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, provides one of the best views yet of how hydraulic fracturing for natural gas and oil has spread across the United States. It is a snapshot in time, based on 24,879 wells that were “fracked,” or hydraulically fractured, between September 2009 and October 2010. (Related…

A tidbit to consider when you are stringing your tree and adorning your home with lights this year (or next): If all of the holiday bulbs sold this year were energy efficient, it would save 700 million kilowatt hours and the equivalent of greenhouse gas emissions from 100,000 cars. Those numbers come from the U.S.…

While debate continues over whether Congress should extend the wind production tax credit that expires Dec. 31, the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE)  is touting its progress in supporting offshore wind development, noting that it is providing up to $168 million in funding for seven “advanced technology demonstration projects” across the country. The United States…

If the people expecting the world to end when the Mayan calendar does on Dec. 21 are right, then we probably don’t need an energy policy. But NASA has an ironclad case that they’re wrong, and not many people seem to be taking the doomsayers seriously. Just about everyone is doing their holiday shopping as…

The most recent Conference of the Parties meeting (COP) conference in Doha has now come and gone.  As has been dissected at necessary nauseam, more or less nothing was accomplished.  Some will see this as a failure, as I do, and others will (correctly) note that this meeting, the 18th such COP (see historical note…

Greeting a small group at the Swiss Embassy in Washington, D.C., pilots Bertrand Piccard and Andre Borschberg shared details about the next leg of travels for their solar-powered plane, the Solar Impulse. The pair, who were recently featured on CBS’ 60 Minutes, are laying the groundwork for their ultimate goal of completing the first solar-powered…

In a finding that confirms the devastating health impact of energy poverty, the landmark Global Burden of Disease study published today tallied 3.5 million annual deaths from respiratory illness due to burning of wood, brush, dung, and other biomass for fuel. Cooking on traditional cookstoves is a far greater risk factor than poor water and…

History suggests he’s wrong.

Chinese auto parts manufacturer Wanxiang Group agreed to purchase battery maker A123 Systems for $256.6 million Sunday, pending approval from U.S. bankruptcy court and the federal government.  A123 makes lithium ion batteries and storage systems for the utility and transportation sectors. The deal ends an ownership roller coaster for the Waltham, Massachusetts-based A123 that began…

Reports of a 7.3 magnitude earthquake in Japan Friday sparked fears of a tsunami and potential nuclear plant damage, with the impact of the 9.0 magnitude 2011 Tohoku earthquake and ensuing Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster still being felt in Japan’s energy landscape a year and a half later. The latest quake occurred east of Sendai,…

A collection of papers now out in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS) looks at the response to the Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill in 2010, examining whether it was successful and how it could be improved. The release of the reports comes just days after the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) suspended BP from obtaining new U.S. contracts due to…

The Americas are undergoing a transition in the energy sector that will have global geopolitical ramifications. At the same time as the United States is touted to become the world’s largest oil producer by 2020, and a net exporter by 2030, Brazil, Nicaragua, and Panama show the most promise in becoming regional hubs not only for clean energy investment, but for sustained low-carbon economic growth.