Business & Technology

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 …

Let’s balance the budget by charging for CO2

The Center for American Progress has released a plan that could balance the budget by 2030, lower some people’s income taxes, and cut carbon emissions 83 percent below 2005 levels by 2050. This isn’t just a Holy Grail, it’s an entire Holy Place Setting. The CAP plan proposes to eliminate the deficit mainly through taxes and fees that would primarily affect high earners and businesses — including an oil import fee and a large and rising price on CO2 emissions. Individual income taxes would fall somewhere between the Bush tax cut rates and the rates we’d have if those cuts …

How green is this car? New fuel economy stickers give a few hints

The federal government is making it easier for consumers to buy an eco-friendly vehicle. New fuel economy window stickers released today detail annual fuel costs and fuel-costs savings and give greenhouse-gas ratings. The stickers will start appearing on 2013 models. It's a little busy with information, and the environmental community was pushing for a different model that gave each car an overall A to D letter grade for its fuel economy and pollution impact. That version would have required less effort from dense consumers. The new model has plenty of fine print to trip people up: It notes, for instance, …

Green Cars

New vehicle labels take three steps forward, one step back

This post was written by Therese Langer, transportation program director at the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy and a contributing author at the ACEEE blog. The new vehicle fuel economy label announced today by the EPA and the Department of Transportation (DOT) beats the current label, providing better information on fuel costs and adding emissions of both greenhouse gases and traditional air pollutants. The new label takes on the confusing matter of the divergence of fuel economy and greenhouse-gas performance when fuels other than gasoline enter the mix, showing for example how a diesel vehicle does better on miles-per-gallon …

Politics

The House wants to slow the military’s clean energy march

Cross-posted from the Center for American Progress. The Department of Defense is the largest energy consumer in the nation. It has made significant efforts to wean the military services from their sole dependence on fossil fuels — particularly jet and diesel fuel made from oil — to power their planes, ships, and vehicles. Pollution from burning these fuels contributes to global warming, which, according to military leaders, is a “threat multiplier” for national security. Instead, the services are developing more efficient aviation, naval, and terrestrial heavy equipment, and various cleaner domestic advanced biofuels.[1] Unfortunately, the House Armed Service Committee’s National …

Cleantech

Distributed geothermal could supply 7 percent of California’s electricity

With the right policies in place, geothermal could play an active role in reaching California’s renewable energy goals.Small, geographically dispersed geothermal power plants could provide 7 percent of California’s electricity supply, according to an analysis of data collected by a consultant to the Golden State. California recently passed new legislation requiring the state to provide 33 percent of its electricity from renewable energy and newly elected Gov. Jerry Brown (D) signed the bill into law. Geothermal energy is a renewable resource using the heat of the Earth to generate electricity and heat homes, offices, and factories. California leads the world …

Turn your car into a car-share

So you’ve successfully reduced your car usage, and now you have this hunk of metal sitting around outside your house, like a garden gnome that needs annual emissions inspections. Why not share it, and maybe make some money? Car-sharing service Getaround has unveiled a kit that will allow people to offer their cars for short-term rental to friends and neighbors. The kit is an easy-to-install GPS/WiFi/keyless entry doohickey that, along with Getaround’s iPhone app, makes it simple to arrange reservations, payments, and pickups. Your car still lives with you and everything, but during its idle time — 22 hours a …

Smart Cities

Great places: dense, wired, and sustainable

This is part three in a series on “great places.” Read parts one, two, four, and five. Part of what makes great places great is ecological sustainability. So what’s the best way to reduce our per-capita resource footprint? Typically you hear one of two stories. One is about technology: making gadgets, appliances, vehicles, and factories leaner and more efficient. The other is about conservation, i.e., consciously choosing to use less stuff. Neither of those stories captures the biggest opportunity and the best strategy for reducing consumption and waste, which is, quite simply, density. Density is the sine qua non of …

Getting green and happy by exporting pollution and misery: not cool

Do you know where your Apple gadgets come from?Two things I’ve seen recently have got me thinking about how the Western world solves its problems by exporting them. First, over the weekend I saw The Agony and the Ecstasy of Steve Jobs, a one-man theater performance from Seattle’s own Mike Daisey. It’s an absolutely brilliant show, at turns laugh-out-loud funny and heart-wrenching. It combines two concurrent narratives. One is about the history of Apple, the unique design genius (and personal ruthlessness) of Apple CEO Steve Jobs, and — most amusingly — Daisey’s deep and authentic love of tech gadgets generally …

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