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Sarah Laskow's Posts


One giant, offshore wind turbine can provide power for 6,000 people

Off the coast of Belgium, truly gigantic wind turbines are going up. They're rated at 6.15 megawatts. The blades of these monsters cover the surface of two soccer fields, according to RWE Innogy, the German company behind the project. The hub holding the gear that makes the electricity? It's the size of a two-family home. Just one of these things can provide power for 6,000 people.

It's hard to get a sense from the photo above how big wind turbines like this are, because the sea is so massive. But check out this video of a six megawatt rated wind turbine … it's just huge.

Read more: Cleantech


Critical List: America has 3.1 million green jobs; a battery made of paper waste

The United States has 3.1 million green jobs, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

High temperatures in the Midwest are as much as 40 degrees F above normals for this time of year.

Is the EPA ever going to regulate greenhouse gas emissions from power plants?

Read more: Uncategorized


The White House’s secret plan to make American households more energy-efficient

In the spirit of keeping a positive, bright outlook on life and politics (ha), we're going to ignore for the moment the Obama administration’s embrace of the Cushing-to-Texas branch of Keystone XL. Instead, let's talk about another announcement the White House made today, this one about how they're going to convince Americans to use less energy.

Back in January, the White House launched a program called Green Button. It's an "industry-led" program in which utilities make energy-use data available in standard formats. This means a couple of things: 1) It's easier for people to access information about their household's energy consumption and 2) it's easier for software developers to design applications that will help people understand energy use.

The big news the White House wants to share today is that the number of households that will have access to this sort of data will more than double, from 12 million to 27 million in total.

Read more: Energy Efficiency


Critical List: Obama to expedite portion of Keystone XL; World Water Day

It's World Water Day: How much do you use? (The average American household uses 350 gallons. I KNOW.)

Obama is set to expedite the southern leg of the Keystone XL pipeline.

The Supreme Court decided that the couple who wants to fight the EPA over whether their property counts as a wetland can go ahead and fight the EPA.

Is that climate change in your Hunger Games?

Read more: Uncategorized


Robot jellyfish will use water for fuel, spy on you

A team working out of Virginia Tech and the University of Texas at Dallas is building a robotic jellyfish that mimics the real thing. Here it is in action:

The robot gets its power from hydrogen and oxygenate, which reacts with platinum to create heat, driving the jellyfish's "muscles." One day, the jellyfish won't even need to come with a separate fuel source, Discovery News reports:


Behold H&M’s new green collection

H&M's business model -- selling cheap clothes that either disintegrate or fall out of fashion quickly -- doesn't exactly fit into the "buy less stuff" model of sustainability. But they're still trying to sell eco-consciousness, in the form of "bonded recycled polyester," which usually serves as jacket lining, apparently.

This one's probably the cutest of the bunch, but we are afraid of what "bonded recycled polyester" feels like up close.

Thanks to pressure from groups like Greenpeace, the company is working to pollute less and recycle more. Check out a few of the dresses from the 2012 H&M Conscious "Glamour" collection but before you click buy, ask yourself is "Would I buy this nonsense at all if it didn't have an eco-friendly halo around it?"

Read more: Living


Critical List: Tariffs for imported Chinese solar panels; Obama to visit solar facility

The Department of Commerce announced that China was selling solar panels at unfairly low prices in the U.S. and that it would slap tariffs on them.

Obama's on an "all-of-the-above" energy tour today: He'll stop at a solar facility and at oil and gas fields.

The New York Times reported Sunday that the U.S. Department of Agriculture would require environmental reviews of properties with oil and gas leases before issuing mortgages to them, but now the secretary of ag is saying that the department will do nothing of the sort.

The National Bike Summit is underway. Go with other bikers to harangue your congressperson about public transportation funding!

Read more: Uncategorized


Renewable hydropower could supply all of Africa’s electricity

In Africa, 587 million people go without electricity -- only about two-fifths of the continent's population has access to a regular supply. But according to a new United Nations report, hydropower -- a form of renewable energy -- could supply all of Africa's electricity needs.

Right now, only about 32 percent of the continent's energy comes from hydropower, but there's vast potential for growth. Africa is only using about 5 percent of its hydropower potential.

There are two main obstacles to tapping into this resource: money (not enough of it) and the need for cooperation. Rivers make great international borders, which is not exactly convenient for countries who want to build large dams. They have to come to an agreement with other governments in order to move forward.

Read more: Climate & Energy


Energy monitoring device lets dad bust up rager from 500 miles away

If this were a movie, hardware and software developer David Rowe would look like a sitting duck for teen shenanigans -- I mean, we don’t know the dude, but we’re pretty sure he’s a dweeby dad (or as close as you can get in Australia). The man describes himself as “kind of a power geek” -- and he is talking about home energy use, not imperialism. But in fact, Rowe’s power geekiness has now translated into powerful hardass parenting: He busted up his daughter's New Year's bash from 500 miles away, thanks to his home energy monitoring device.

Over New Year's, Rowe was traveling in the Melbourne area, an eight-and-a-half-hour drive from home. His 16-year-old daughter was staying with friends. The vacant house piqued Rowe's energy geek curiosity: How would it perform with no one in it? So he fired up his energy-monitoring device and took a look.

Read more: Green Home


Critical List: Happy vernal equinox, Alec Baldwin calls Inhofe an ‘oil whore’

Happy spring! Check out the Google doodle celebrating the vernal equinox.

A new survey shows that fewer Americans consider alternative energy development a bigger priority than oil, coal, and gas production.

Air emissions from fracking contain pollutants that pose health risks to those living nearby, a new study confirms.

Read more: Uncategorized