Business & Technology

Business & Technology

Trick out your Kindle with solar panels

Screwdriver-and-soldering-iron types have probably already made their e-readers solar powered, but what if you didn’t have any Schottky diodes lying around? SolarFocus has the technologically …

Cooking grease is now so valuable that people are stealing it

Who says that clean energy policies don't create jobs? The boom in biodiesel has created not only a new commodities market in cooking grease, but a new business opportunities for security professionals -- not to mention providing work for thieves and black-market fences, which is a kind of job? That’s because fryer oil is now such a valuable resource that people are straight-up stealing it. In recent years, a couple of state governments have realized that cooking grease has a use as a biofuel source and have regulated grease collection. At the same time, though, some less-than-savory characters have realized the grease’s value as well and are boosting it, costing some small rendering businesses losses on the order of $750,000 per year. And so the world comes to this impasse, as described by The New York Times: The grease is often stored in black Dumpsters that reek of death, in back alleys, which is why pickups usually take place in the middle of the night.

Living

Heart to hearth: Darfur Stoves Project’s Andree Sosler makes survival sustainable

From her Berkeley office, Andree Sosler distributes cheap, clean, efficient cooking stoves to women in the Darfur region of Sudan.

The only defense of electric cars you really need

Maggie Koerth-Baker is one of the most responsible energy journalists on the planet, in part because she writes for the blog of all blogs, BoingBoing, which has never felt the need to cloak its writers' opinions in trumped-up objectivity and false balance. So it was refreshing to see her refute the latest turd lobbed over the wall by the internet's favorite tabloid, Gawker Media: "You Are Not Alone. America Hates Electric Cars.”

Coal-burning energy company demands more regulation

Baltimore company Constellation Energy has retrofitted two coal-burning power plants in anticipation of new EPA emissions laws. Now a lawsuit has delayed the new regulations from being enacted, and Constellation is pissed; if they're going to shell out $885 million to be in compliance, by god everyone else should have to, too. So they're flipping a Uie from usual energy company behavior, and agitating for stricter rules.

Critical List: Toxic chemicals on the rise; baby seals in trouble

The EPA may retest water in Dimock, Pa., where residents have linked polluted water to fracking operations. In its first round of testing the town's water, the EPA declared it safe. GM is fixing up the Volt in order to avoid in real-life battery fires like the ones that started during testing. As winter sea ice disappears in the Arctic, fewer baby harp seals are making it. The amount of toxic chemicals shunted into the environment went up 16 percent between 2009 and 2010, according a new EPA report.

Climate change bumps prices at Starbucks

Crap weather means that the wholesale price of arabica beans is at a 14-year high of $3.09 per pound, and coffee distributors are blaming climate …

Embattled teen genius actually better, smarter than most people

Back in August, the Internet discovered Aidan Dwyer, a 13-year-old go-getter who worked out a way to make solar panels more efficient. Because nobody likes a 13-year-old go getter, the Internet basically told him NO YOU'RE WRONG. Okay, so he should have measured power instead of voltage when testing his solar panel design. But it turns out Dwyer is totally getting the last laugh here, and is proving that nerdy 13-year-old go-getters actually are just better at life than most people on the Internet. Dwyer's spoken at PopTech's annual innovation conference and is scheduled to speak at the World Future Energy Summit.

Critical List: Patagonia becomes a Benefit Corporation; oil industry threatens Obama

Patagonia has become a Benefit Corporation, which means it can prioritize goals other than profit. The oil industry is sending a message to Obama: Approve the Keystone XL pipeline, or face the political music in 2012. It is possible to avoid earthquakes when disposing of fracking wastewater. It's just really, really expensive. The U.S. isn't the only country leery of the EU's carbon trading airline scheme: China's protesting, too.