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The US electricity distribution grid is around 100-years old and aging faster than new construction renews it while peak demand for electricity is projected to rise 19 percent nationally during the next decade–capital investments in electrical generation, transmission and distribution are forecast to grow by only 6 percent over the same period, according to the Electrical Power Research Initiative.
Researchers at E2TAC, the Energy and Environmental Technology Applications Center at the University at Albany’s College of Nanoscale Science and Engineering (CNSE) are researching and developing a range of leading edge nanoscale technologies that hold out the promise of realizing greater yields at lower costs across a range of conventional, as well as renewable alternative power generation technologies.
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You’ve been pondering the idea for months now. Maybe you’ve devised a way to get cleaner drinking water to drought-striken regions or built an eco-emergency shelter for refugees. How do you mobilize your social entrepreneurship idea into the strategic and implementation phase? Apply now to attend the Global Social Benefit Incubator 2008, sponsored by the Skoll Foundation and Santa Clara University.Click to continue reading »
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Shareholder activism is a primary reason why several large companies are eliminating harmful toxins from their plastic products. In a recent investigative series launched by the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, reporters found that lax governmental regulation of Bisphenol-A and PVC plastic has led to their proliferation in a wide range on consumer products – including baby bottles and toys. In the last two years, however, shareholders have launched and won a record number of resolutions to get corporations to remove these toxins from their products.
Recently I have been getting more and more questions regarding my very first AskPablo post. Michael and Phil both asked me about paper cups, which were not included in the initial analysis, and I also received an e-mail from Anna. So this week I will recap the results from my very first post and will incorporate an analysis of paper cups as well.Click to continue reading »
The Dept. of Science & Technology (DST) is instrumental in charting the future course of development in South Africa. Of late, it has been busy finalizing a national Hydrogen-Fuel Cell Strategy that aims to take advantage of some of the natural advantages South Africa’s rich mineral resource base confers.
News broke nationwide end of November that South Africa’s Council of Scientific and Industrial Research was joining with North West University to establish a hydrogen-fuel cell “Centre of Competence”. The news, however, was “a bit premature,” according to a DST executive.
Two other hydgrogen research centers have already been established but have not been officially announced publicly. The CSIR-North West center represents the third leg of a national strategy that entails undertaking applied research in the areas of hydrogen and fuel cell production, distribution and applications in industrial, commercial and consumer sectors of the economy.
The premature news release pre-empted in part the DST minister’s plans to announce the national Hydrogen and Fuel Cell Strategy in January. DST plans to officially announce and provide additional information about its overarching national strategy early next year. The plan has been approved by the national cabinet and allocated a ZAR 60 million budget for its first year; capital resources that may eventually expand to ZAR 300 million over three years, according to the DST executive.
Car-pooling is so 1990′s… The eco-conscious politicians of today are sharing their private jets in the name of protecting the climate. This week Swedish prime minister Fredrik Reinfeldt and Danish prime minister Anders Fogh Rasmussen reportedly flew together to sign the Lisbon Treaty. Another private jet transported the leaders of Estonia and Finland to Portugal and the leaders of the Netherlands, Luxembourg, and Belgium are also rumored to be traveling together. But don’t expect this sort of altruistic behavior from US politicians anytime soon. Too many people here still believe that there even is a debate in the scientific community about the human causes of climate change. Until that changes the politicians will continue to drive their black suburbans and fly in their own planes…
As a child, did you ever use a magnifying glass to barbeque ants? Sizzle flies? Burn leaves? Don’t worry, we won’t tell. Someone who may fall into this category has found an ingenious way to harness the sun’s power to make jewelry. No, not using the latest thin-film solar innovation. No, they’ve what appears to be a giant magnifying glass, capable of melting glass into a pliable state, suitable for making quite lovely jewelry. You can see the process here and the resulting jewelry here.
According to the site,
The 3000¬∞ F heat is so intense that it can melt not only glass but metal and even rock!
It sounds like the makings of a potential James Bond villain tool, but thankfully, they’ve chosen it for much more benign, beautiful purposes. Ants everywhere will be relieved. Seeing this got me wondering about other innovative ways to make use of the sun’s energy. And this is what I’ve found:Click to continue reading »
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Do you ever wonder, is my garbage can the problem or am I? Say you had to go without your canister of the wasted and undesirables, what would you do without one? It would be fair to say that for most Americans the answer would be panic!! The average Jack and Jill trashes 4.5 pounds of stuff every day, just imagine how quickly the heaps of garbage would pile up.
Minus the increasing trend to recyle our waste nationally and add up the junk from our country’s 1654 landfills and you still get roughly 133 million tons each year. That figure is equivalent to the dismantiling and disposing of the Empire State Building every day. The waste footprint for people includes far more than the landfill space they contribute to.
At the GreenXchange conference last Tuesday, Tadashi Maeda, the Director General of the Japan Bank for International Cooperation (JBIC), remarked, “Japan is the world leader in efficient use of resources, even though we import most of it.” How do they do it?
Japan doesn’t implement a carbon tax or have a carbon market. They rely entirely on voluntary agreements with local governments, markets, and civil society to reduce carbon output.
U.S. District Judge Anthony Ishii of Fresno ruled on Wednesday the California has the right to regulate tail pipe emissions of greenhouse gases.
As most here probably know, California was the first state to legislate greenhouse gas emissions from cars, a law that has been modeled in similar form by 16 other states across the country. In September Vermont federal judge William Sessions III rejected automakers assertion that a 30% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions wasn’t doable or that federal laws held sway over state rules.
In April the US Supreme Court ruled that, contrary to claims from the Bush administration, the Environmental Protection Agency has the authority to regulate vehicle emissions of greenhouse gases.
Despite the ruling yesterday, the California law can’t be enforced without a waiver from the EPA allowing the state emission requirements to exceed federal standards. Something California has been waiting for now for two years.
The state has filed suit against the EPA to force it to act, which administrator Steven Johnson says it will do by the end of the year.
The road has been cleared, and the only obstacle now rests in Washington.
The mainstream media doesn’t seem to understand the potential magnitude of changes currently underway in the sensitive international monetary balance. On December 8th Iran decided to no longer accept the US dollar in exchange for its oil. Since the mainstream media did not cover it either, you may not remember that this was one of the last actions of any international significance done by Saddam Hussein before he once again caught the attention of the US (and incidentally, it is one of the first things to be undone after Baghdad fell). It looks like Iran is switching to the Euro rather than the basket of currencies that OPEC is considering in the wake of the US dollar’s recent weakness. An exodus from the dollar would effectively mark the end of the Bretton Woods agreement under which the US currency was established as the currency of oil and therefore international banking.Click to continue reading »
Though harvesting wind energy with a kite or a sail is ancient technology, it is enjoying something of high-tech renaissance. Examples include the vision of Makani Power to harvest high altitude wind energy and English architectural firm Chetwood Associates’ design to “dam the wind” in a mountain gorge near Lake Ladoga in Northern Russia.
You may recognize the basic shape of a spinnaker sail in the Chetwood design, considered both an efficient means of capturing wind as well as an aesthetically pleasing structure designed to be “much less of a blot on this beautiful and unblemished landscape…” according to Laurie Chetwood, principal architect for the project. Attached to the sail is, of course, a turbine and power conduits to convert and transfer the wind energy.
If the project is approved, the wind dam will measure about 25 meters high by 75 meters wide (82 feet by 246 feet), at a cost of $5 million.
This leads me to think of my brother-in-law, a wildlife biologist in the business of assessing the damage to bird populations from wind power installations in Northern and Central California. I invite his comment on this design, as I do the for other biologists and experts in the field. What is the potential consequence of such a large, if elegant, “wind dam”?
Maybe we should all just go fly a kite?Click to continue reading »
According to the base case reference scenario built into the US Energy Information Administration’s International Energy Outlook 2006, worldwide electricity demand is expected to grow at a healthy average 2% per annum pace between 2000 and 2030 – increasing from 400 to more than 700 quadrillion BTUs per year. The majority of increasing demand will be in industrializing countries where more than 80% of the world’s population will live by 2030.
Africa, for instance, currently accounts for only 1.4% of global carbon emissions, but foreign investment has been pouring into countries across the continent. Demand for increasingly costly natural resources is a primary driver, but there is a definite and growing focus on environmental health and sustainable development on the part of both governments and business organizations.
Leading IT companies like IBM are playing an important role in such efforts. IBM has appointed executives, such as Maureen J. Baird, to lead a “Big Green” drive across the organization’s far flung operations. “IBM is uniquely positioned to work in all industries and all sectors bringing thought leadership and industry best practices,” according to Baird, IBM South Africa’s Business Development, Winback & Solutions Executive.
Take a look at this pile of waste. This is my foyer last week piled high with brand new yellow pages wrapped in plastic bags. It almost makes me sad, in a nostalgic sort of way to witness the demise of such a venerable icon as the phone book, but let’s be realistic here – no one in my building is going to pick one up. Well, almost no one. The fact is, these days, a phone book is only useful for propping up your chair. There are certainly some folks who insist on having one, but in the internet age, there is simply little use for these giant pieces of newsprint (to say nothing of the plastic bags).
As a shareholder in AT&T, I’m equally disappointed that the company continues to shell out god-only-knows how much money each year printing and distributing these things. The phone book should be an option for customers who specifically request it, not an unwanted tome thumped on your doorstep.