Archives for April, 2014

For the first time in the short history of the U.S. government’s Renewable Fuel Standard, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has proposed to decrease the total amount of renewable fuel required as part of the national supply, with a 41 percent cut to the advanced biofuel category. But a study recently published by our organization…

Comments Off on Canadian College Teams, Midwest High Schools Win Big in Race for Fuel Efficiency

A winning vehicle designed by students in a race for fuel efficiency can travel from New York to Los Angeles on one gallon of gas. After a last-minute scramble for qualifying runs by many of the 126 student teams, Shell* Eco-marathon Americas ended Sunday with nearly a dozen first-place winners in different vehicle and fuel…

Comments Off on Students Reflect on Shipping, Travel Costs During Last Leg of Race

Tucked tightly into their self-built prototype vehicles, drivers slid on sunglasses, adjusted helmets took deep breaths Sunday morning before their last chance for a qualifying run. With only had only three hours left to compete in the prototype category of Shell* Eco-marathon’s race for extreme energy efficiency, students had to make this time around the…

Comments Off on Student Teams Share Tools, Advice Off the Track During Eco-marathon

A race for fuel efficiency might be dog-eat-dog on the track, but student teams are willing to lend a helping hand back in the paddock. Shell* Eco-marathon Americas gives more than 1,000 students the chance to showcase their science and engineering skills in Houston each year. (See related photos: “Rare Look Inside Carmakers’ Drive for…

Comments Off on Detroit Teams Look to Innovation and the City’s Future

An inner city Detroit high school’s high-tech electric streamliner hit the Houston streets Saturday in a race for extreme energy efficiency. (See related photos: “Rare Look Inside Carmakers’ Drive for 55.”) But unlike most futuristic vehicles competing in the annual Shell* Eco-marathon Americas competition this weekend, the battery-powered prototype tapped the latest smartphone technology to…

Comments Off on Shell Eco-marathon Americas Heats Up in Houston as Student Teams Test Prototypes

A group of cowboy hat-wearing New York teenagers is one step closer to pushing the boundaries of energy efficiency after hours of tinkering with their battery-powered prototype. More than 1,000 high school and university students from five countries are competing this weekend in the annual Shell* Eco-marathon Americas competition in Houston. Two student teams from…

A recent study in Nature Climate Change is attracting a lot of attention because of its headline grabbing claim that cellulosic ethanol made from crop residues produces higher carbon emissions than gasoline. (See related blog post: “Corn Waste for Biofuel Could Boost Emissions, Study Says.”) Professor Adam Liska of the University of Nebraska Lincoln, who…

After decades of debate and with growing anxiety about climate change, the planet is no closer to a systematic solution to our collective energy challenge. Yet still we try. At its impressive Vancouver gathering, National Geographic asked a simple question:  Is natural gas the bridge to a sustainable energy future?  (See video featuring participants including…

The U.S. Department of Energy has been counting on leftover residue from corn cultivation—such as  stalks and cobs—as an abundant future source of renewable clean energy, and touted it as a potential goldmine for farmers as well. But University of Nebraska-Lincoln (UNL) researchers may throw a damper on those plans, with a newly published study…

Forty-four years ago today, Denis Hayes convened the very first Earth Day, an event that drew millions to events across the United States and heralded a new global awareness of the need to preserve our natural resources. Hayes is now at the vanguard of an effort to rethink our buildings and, by extension, our growing…

Comments Off on Loan Guarantees for U.S. Renewables Making a Comeback

Federal loan guarantees for renewable energy, which spurred the development of massive projects like the recently completed Ivanpah Solar Electric Generating System in California – and roiled the 2012 elections – are emerging from hibernation. More than two years after closing the last such loan guarantee, the U.S. Department of Energy announced on Wednesday that…

Comments Off on ‘The Great Invisible’ Wins Full Frame’s Best Environmental Film

Environmental winner documents the impact of the Deepwater Horizon disaster on the ecosystem — the human ecosystem. Full Frame Festival: A Springtime Cornucopia of Documentaries With the first weekend of April in the rearview mirror, so is, for Durhamites and aficionados of documentary film, the 2014 edition of the Full Frame Documentary Film Festival, reportedly the…

Energy use increased in the United States in 2013 as a fourth consecutive year of economic growth exerted its influence, but the longer-term trend shows the country operating with greater efficiency while also revealing the small but growing role of renewable sources like solar and wind. The font for these insights is the Lawrence Livermore…

Comments Off on Three “Next Steps” for California Climate Action

California enacted its Global Warming Solutions Act (AB32) in 2006. Since then, an entire network of interacting, mutually-reinforcing legislation  has evolved in the state,  historic in how the different measures support one another. A solar roof mandate (one million by 2020)  augments  an electric vehicle mandate (also one million in 2020), while both bolster  a…

Comments Off on Milestone IPCC Climate Report Shifts on Biofuels

In a newly issued document, the U.N. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change has shifted position on biofuels, for the first time acknowledging that they may have negative impacts that take away from their value in reducing greenhouse gas emissions. The Working Group II contribution to the IPCC’s report, Climate Change 2014: Impacts, Adaptation, and Vulnerability ,…