Business & Technology

How solar power will become cheaper than fossil fuels in three to five years

Are you ready to flip the bird at your utility company? Lord knows you probably will be after you get the bill for what's shaping up to be an especially hot June. Luckily, a whole host of companies working on improving a novel solar technology would like to help you do it. The new tech is called thin-film solar, and the global research director of GE thinks it will soon be cheap enough to compete with the retail price of electricity from the grid. This is called "grid parity" and it's the Holy Grail of rooftop solar. When this magic …

Once and for all, do cell phones cause cancer?

Maybe. The World Health Organization has released a report [PDF] on the connections between cell phone use and cancer. It concluded that cell phones are a "possible" carcinogen, and there was much out-freaking. But what does this really mean? It does not, it turns out, mean that cell phones definitely or even likely cause cancer. It would be more accurate to say that the report says cell phones do not definitely NOT cause cancer. The majority of studies still show no causal link between cell phone use and cancer, writes science blogger extraordinaire Ed Yong. All studies have limitations, which is …

Renewable Energy

Apollo and BlueGreen Alliance merge — a smart move at a time of clean-energy trouble

Last week, the Apollo Alliance and the BlueGreen Alliance, two of the most important national nonprofits supporting clean energy development and good jobs, announced that as of July 1, they would merge. The much larger Minneapolis-based BlueGreen Alliance, a five-year-old collaboration of big green groups and unions, will become the parent of San Francisco-based Apollo, which was founded in 2003 and gained its renown for being the first organization to understand that the transition to an economy primarily fueled by something other than oil and coal could produce a flurry of useful results — jobs, climate action, energy security, and industrial …

Buildings that make more energy than they use gain steam

If every building made more energy than it uses, would all the world's power plants pack up and go home? Maybe education would be fully funded and the military would be forced to have a bake sale! But really: There is a building in Bellenberg, Germany that produces more energy than it consumes, mostly by being super energy efficient in the first place. It also has solar panels for electricity and ground-source heat pumps for heating and cooling. It doesn't just produce a little more energy than it uses, either: It's making 80 percent more juice per year than it …

How the ‘Arab Spring’ makes massive solar in North Africa more likely

Desertec is a massive project to to build solar thermal plants in the deserts of North Africa — you know, the same North Africa that had all the revolutions just now. But proponents are saying there’s no reason to put the project on hold just because of political unrest. In fact, they say, the economic benefits afforded by the Desertec plant might help the region in its shift towards democracy. The plants would take advantage of the Sahara’s sunshine — it gets so much that covering only 1 percent of its area in solar thermal plants could power the entire …

Greener cars and fuel mean fewer deaths tied to vehicle emissions

Cars idling in traffic lead to more than 2,200 premature deaths each year, according to a new study from the Harvard School of Public Health. But lower vehicle emissions and cleaner fuels have been driving down that number for past decade, and the number of deaths will continue to decrease until about 2025, the study says. Here's a graph from the study showing projected premature deaths connected to congested traffic from 2000-2030: What happens in 2025? Presumably, increased emissions from congestion begin to overtake gains from greener fuel and car design. The study was funded by a coalition of transportation …

Critical List: Christie ditches climate initiative; France opens huge solar farm

New Jersey governor Chris Christie has jumped ship from a regional greenhouse gas program, because "it's a failure." The owners of the Fukushima nuclear plant provided regulators with only a one-page memo on its tsunami and earthquake preparedness. One page. A decade ago. In Japan, the country that invented the word “tsunami.” Green tech companies need for everyone to start doing a better job of recycling those rare earth materials that make electronics run. Trust us, you’re never going to refurb that old Dell laptop that doesn't have wireless capabilities. Please just drop it off somewhere they can make use …

Even the Swiss hate nuclear now

In the wake of the Fukushima disaster, it seems nobody can stay neutral on nuclear power, not even Switzerland. The country has abandoned plans for new nuclear reactors, and while the five existing reactors will be allowed to keep operating, they won't be replaced. Nuclear in Switzerland will be entirely phased out by 2034, and officials say the 20-plus year interim will allow them time to develop energy alternatives to take over the significant power Switzerland now gets from nuclear — 40 percent of the country's total power capacity. Switzerland joins Germany in turning its back on nuclear, though neighbor France is …

Renewable Energy

How to get to a fully renewable power system

How can we scale up the clean and phase out the dirty?What’s it going to take to substantially ramp up the amount of renewables in the electricity system? There are many nerdy discussions of that question on the interwebs, but lemme try to talk about it in reasonably non-nerdy language. There’s a certain amount of demand for electricity that is steady and reliable. Above that, there are fluctuating “peaks” of demand each day, usually evening, when everyone gets home and starts watching TV and running the dishwasher, or in hot areas, the afternoon. For that steady core of demand, we …

Got 2.7 seconds?

We've devised the world's shortest survey to find out what kind of actions our readers are taking. You know you want to.

×