Archive for December, 2009

Sun + Wind= Renewables Working Around the Clock

Posted on December 29, 2009. Filed under: News | Tags: , , , , |

Green Inc reports on a new project planned by Southwest Solar Technology that incorporates both solar and wind technology to overcome the difficulty of storing electricity. As Matthew Wald, the reporter from Green Inc, puts it:

“Electricity from renewable sources can be like a perfect luncheon served at 4 a.m., a nice thing but far more appreciated at a different hour. Electricity is hard to store, though, which is why nearly all of it is consumed at the instant it is generated, and energy storage is still in its infancy.”

Already, a potential method of storage is compressed air technology. Excess energy is taken from the grid at any time and used to push air into an underground cave. When electricity is needed, the air is released to push a turbine and generate electricity. In the southeast, the Alabama Electrical Cooperative has been using the technology since 2000. In its plant, the air is heated with natural gas to better drive the turbines.

 Southwest Solar Tech is working on working off of the existing compressed air technology to heat the air with solar power and intergrate wind farms into the mix. A solar dish will be used to heat a container of liquid to up to 1700 degrees fahrenheit. This will heat the air that is pushed into a cave by wind turbines at night, when the wind farm is generating surplus electricity that is not accepted by the grid.

This project is currently only in the planning stage, but as contintue renewables play a bigger role in US energy supply, the issue of storage will grow in importance.

Read Full Post | Make a Comment ( None so far )

DC Law Requires Commercial Buildings to Track Energy Use

Posted on December 22, 2009. Filed under: News | Tags: , , , , , |

Environmental Leader reports on a new requirement of the DC Clean and Affordable Energy Act, which takes effect next week. The law was passed in 2008 and requires owners of commerical properties in Washington, DC to track their energy use starting January 1, 2010.

The legislation is meant to give owners and tenants easy access to energy use information which will be measured with the help of the EPA’s Energy Star Manager tool. Armed with this information, tenants and owners will be able to increase energy efficiency and cut back energy use.

According to the Department of Energy, buildings are responsible for 70% of US energy consumption and are responsible for 40% of US greenhouse gas emissions. Another telling statistic from the World Business Council for Sustainable Development:

“Buildings account for 40 percent of the world’s energy use with the resulting carbon emissions substantially more than those in the transportation sector.”

DC is leading the way for energy efficient buildings and is currently ranked 4th nationally for Energy Star Rated Buildings. This type of energy efficiency legislation exists in California and Washington state and is being discussed in New York city, though building owners there oppose the plan calling the requirements, “cost prohibitive”.

Read Full Post | Make a Comment ( None so far )

Feel Good Last Minute Gift Ideas

Posted on December 21, 2009. Filed under: Recommendations | Tags: , , |

This weekend’s snowstorm was pretty to watch, fun to play in and definitely added to the seasons merriment! And while I enjoyed the excuse to be a homebody on Saturday, I felt a little panicked when I lost 2 prime holiday shopping days and still had no gifts in mind for most people on my list…

So I started thinking creatively on what I could do without leaving the house (and avoid pay for express shipping).

Here are some of the ideas I came up with:

1) Kiva Gift Certificate– I gave these to all my friends last year, and they were a big hit! Kiva is a micro-lending website where entrepreneurs with projects all around the world post requests for funding and people lend small sums of money to make the projects possible. You can print the gift certificates right from your computer, so its quick and super easy and your friends can choose which project they want to support.

2.) Union of Concerned Scientists Membership: Support the work of one of the leading environmental and  advocacy groups that works on issues like climate change, clean energy, food safety, and nuclear safety. And by giving a membership now, your donation will be matched by an anonymous donor, helping UCS do even more great work!

3.) Make something- Sometimes a scary thought, but great for a snowy day. Of course cookies and candy are an obvious choice, but there are plenty of other creative ideas like herbal teas from Food and Wine and soup in a jar from Food Network.

Read Full Post | Make a Comment ( None so far )

Eco-Naughty or Nice? ForestEthics ranks companies on their paper choices

Posted on December 18, 2009. Filed under: Recommendations | Tags: , |

Treehugger reports on the release of ForestEthics 4th annual Naughty or Nice list companies based on their paper usage for direct mail catalogs.

Who’s Nice? Timberland (no more paper catalogs); REI (Forest Stewardship Council Certified Paper Only); Patagonia (High recycled content).
Who’s Naughty? Citi and Chase are the naughtiest of all for using paper sourced from endangered forests in Canada and the Southern United States. Thats definitely coal worthy!

The motivation for the ForestEthics Ranking?

100 million trees are fodder for the paper that creates the mostly junk mail that floods your mailbox everyday. Thats 100 million trees that could be storing carbon and reducing the effect of climate change. And, 44% of that mail goes directly into the trashcan.

Read Full Post | Make a Comment ( None so far )

Eco Kids Fighting Climate Change in Britain

Posted on December 16, 2009. Filed under: News | Tags: , , , , , , , , |

Here’s an interesting listen from today’s NPR Morning Edition. The story is about kids in British schools taking the lead in fighting climate change by learning about the topic and designing programs to cut their own carbon footprint. The students are supported by the Eco-Schools program which helps get kids involved as eco-reps that track energy use, encourage sustainable commuting and promote recycling. Also mentioned in the story were schools making use of renewable energy including wind and solar for on-site, clean power generation. Another idea for the teenage crowd carbon dating–students meet up and go on low carbon dates such as taking bike rides or eating local vegetarian food.

As the story points out, this type of action is not a substitute for clear government policy to cut carbon emissions. Still, education early on helps make low carbon living a natural habit for kids and is changing the mindset of future generations towards environmental stewardship.

Schools in our area are also working to integrate climate change and renewable energy into their curriculum. Earlier this week, Clean Currents attended the  unveiling of a 111KW solar installation at the Bullis School in Potomac, MD. Not only will the installation provide 20% of the electricity needs for the Blair Arts Center, the largest building on the Bullis campus, but it will also serve as a learning tool to teach kids about solar power and climate change. Here’s a video from Monday’s event:

Read Full Post | Make a Comment ( None so far )

845 MW Wind Project Deal Signed in Oregon

Posted on December 14, 2009. Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , |

Green Inc. reported last week on a $1.4billion wind deal signed last week.  The Oregon project will feature 338 GE turbines that have the capacity to produce 845 MW of power, making it the largest wind turbine committment of the year, according to GE.  The announcement paid close attention to the issue of green job creation after the drama over a West Texas project that featured Chinese turbines. The GE turbines will be assembled in Florida and more than half of the parts will be made in the United States. Addionally, 400 temporary jobs will be created during the construction of the project, set to take place in 2011-12.

Read Full Post | Make a Comment ( None so far )

Skepticism, Climate-Gate and Copenhagen

Posted on December 11, 2009. Filed under: News | Tags: , |

In the lead up to the Copenhagen Climate conference which kicked off this past Monday, there was a lot of buzz about what has come to be known as “climate-gate”. 

Shortly before the conference, hackers released of files and emails from the Climate Research Unit at the University of East Anglia in which some scientists questioned particular data and talked about preventing the publicaiton of colleague’s papers that may have presented altnernative viewpoints. Climate change skeptics took this data and ran with it, with everyone from Sarah Palin, to Saudi Arabia citing it as evidence that human induced climate change is a hoax.  The scientific community has vocalized its opposition to this claim and as Andrew Revkin and John Broder from the NYtimes GreenInc blog explain:

“In recent days, an array of scientists and policy makers have said that nothing so far disclosed — the correspondence and documents include references by prominent climate scientists to deleting potentially embarrassing e-mail messages, keeping papers by competing scientists from publication and making adjustments in research data — undercuts decades of peer-reviewed science.”

Still, these attempts to fix the did little to fuel the drama of climate-gate in Copenhagen. As the NY times reports, a group of prominent climate skeptics met at the city during the climate summit. Here are a couple quotes from that meeting:

“Carbon dioxide is only a good thing…More carbon dioxide means more warmth, and more crops, which means more people can be fed. That doesn’t bother me at all” –Phillip Foster, author of While the Earth Endures: Creation, Cosmology and Climate Change

I wonder if Mr. Foster thinks rising sea level and increasingly severe weather patterns are also going to help us humans lead better lives…or maybe he’s just choosing to ignore some key data. How could such a stickler for scientific truths do such a thing?

“They [scientific majority who supports the hypothesis that climate change is human induced] have brainwashed the broader population into believing that they are right…and now we see and hear that they are not right, and that convinces me that it is good that we are here…Also, I hate windmills.”  –Claus Castenskiold, retired gentleman farmer.

I know my personal vendetta against windmills has also led me to question human induced climate change at times…

Read Full Post | Make a Comment ( None so far )

Clean Currents…The Rap

Posted on December 9, 2009. Filed under: News, Recommendations | Tags: , |

The video speaks for itself.

Read Full Post | Make a Comment ( None so far )

Copenhagen Coverage…

Posted on December 8, 2009. Filed under: News | Tags: , , |

In case you missed it, the Copenhagen UN Climate Talks (COP-15) kicked off yesterday. Union of Concerned Scientists has some great coverage of the summit including videos of what’s going on in the negotiations and background info on the talks and climate policy in general.

The UCS site can also help you contact your Senator and urge them to take action on climate…as Mike Tidwell suggested.

Read Full Post | Make a Comment ( None so far )

Stop going green to stop climate change?

Posted on December 6, 2009. Filed under: Events, Recommendations | Tags: , , |

Mike Tidwell, executive director of CCAN, had an interesting and counter-intuitive at first glance piece in the Outlook section of the Post today. In it, he advocated that small green actions like replacing lightbulbs, or buying recycled wrapping paper are only giving people a false sense of progress against climate change, but in reality doing very little to address the problem. He urged people to stop “going green” altogether and instead put their time and energy towards fighting for real policy actions to create a legally binding response to climate change. He compared climate change to civil rights–indicating that voluntary measures are not enough and that laws need to change in order to create real progress. Even though integration was not flawless once it was required by law, it happened and the country moved forward:

“After many decades of public denial and inaction, the civil rights movement helped Americans to see Southern apartheid in moral terms. From there, the movement succeeded by working toward legal change. Segregation was phased out rapidly only because it was phased out through the law. These statutes didn’t erase racial prejudice from every American heart overnight. But through them, our country made staggering progress. Just consider who occupies the White House today.”

On the eve of the Copenhagen climate talks, Tidwell also points out that strong US leadership will drive the rest of the world to address this issue as well, and hints at his disappointment with President Obama’s current, “leadership from behind” on this issue.

Tidwell will be chatting on the Washington Post’s site about his piece tomorrow at 11AM, and its likely his opinions are bound to elicit various reactions from readers.

Read Full Post | Make a Comment ( 3 so far )

« Previous Entries

Liked it here?
Why not try sites on the blogroll...