Archives for June, 2013

When President Obama unveiled his long-awaited climate change strategy this week, he never mentioned biofuels. (See “Obama Unveils Climate Strategy.”) But with nearly a third of U.S. greenhouse gas emissions due to burning petroleum for transportation, a key and controversial question is what role plant-based alternatives can play in cutting the nation’s carbon emissions. As…

Banana-peel briquettes, anyone? High-schoolers have invented a wooden mini-press that can turn trash into an alternative to firewood for cooking.

Q Are biofuels worth the investment? Vote in the poll below. Biofuels are at a crossroads. According to the International Energy Agency, global biofuels production has grown more than sixfold over the last decade, yet biofuels still account for just 3 percent of all road fuel energy. While it may seem preferable, in theory, to…

A low, spaceship-like vessel will wind its way up the U.S. Atlantic coast from New York to Boston and onward this week, part of a solar-powered journey along the Gulf Stream that will end in Bergen, Norway. The MS Tûranor PlanetSolar, with its prominent span of photovoltaic panels, obviously aims to be a bellwether for…

Information technology managers take note: The cloud can be your friend. U.S. government researchers built a model to test the energy cost of running common business applications using centralized data centers instead of local systems. Turned out the cloud’s energy efficiency advantages on a nationwide basis were huge – up to 87 percent, or around 23 billion…

When it comes to keeping the lights and air conditioning on this summer, how much of a safety margin do we need? After all, summertime is when electricity demand surges, as an entire nation reaches for the thermostat in the midst of a heat wave. Overall, our grid is getting older, and the demands are…

The words in the title above came from Pogo, and they have bounced around in the back of my brain since the 1970s when I first heard them. Many times I’ve been confronted with the truth of that quip by Pogo, the beloved character of former Disney cartoonist Walt Kelly (1913-1973), in a poster he created for…

Global greenhouse gas emissions are higher than ever. What’s to be done? “Redrawing the Energy-Climate Map,” a special report [pdf] by the International Energy Agency (IEA), was released on Monday, and the findings are sobering. (See related story: “What’s Behind the New Warning on Global Carbon Emissions?“) In 2012 energy-related, global carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions…

Recently I was asked to serve as a judge for the Shell Student Energy Challenge, an infographic competition that was part of the student fuel-efficiency contest, Shell Eco-marathon. Shell sponsors National Geographic’s Great Energy Challenge initiative. This provided a fascinating opportunity to evaluate what many of us feel: that we must begin by not only communicating…

From swapping in smarter lighting to installing solar panels, many homeowners are seeking energy efficiency boosts that can cut bills and lower their carbon footprint. But just how green can a home get? Julie Torres Moskovitz offers an answer in The Greenest Home, a just-released visual and practical guide to some remarkable passive houses around…