Business & Technology

Talk to me, baby

“Smart” appliances that talk to the grid are coming your way soon

Sure, it’s smart, but is it a good conversationalist?So the oven says to the refrigerator, “Don’t be so cold.” That line will soon be more than a bad joke. The Jetsons are coming to life as dishwashers, washing machines, and other home appliances begin to talk to each other and to the electricity grid in an effort to manage and reduce energy use. Last week, for instance, General Electric and Boulder, Colo.-based smart-grid startup Tendril unveiled a deal to collaborate on software to connect the industrial giant’s “smart appliances” to the grid. Pilot projects with utilities are expected to begin …

Old dog, nuke tricks

Sen. Alexander calls for 100 new nuke plants, won’t work with Dems on climate bill

Lamar Alexander unveils his plan.Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) on Monday called for 100 new nuclear power plants over the next 20 years as the central element of a climate and energy plan that Republicans intend to introduce in the Senate. In presenting the plan, he shot down the possibility that he would work with Democrats to craft compromise climate and energy legislation. Just a few days ago, Alexander seemed willing to work with Dems on a bill if it included major support for nuclear power. But at a press conference on Monday, he argued that the approach used in the …

The skinny on carbon capture and sequestration

What the heck is CCS and can it really help fight climate change? An expert explains

Artist’s rendering of a power plant with CCS technology.Image: Prosjektlab/BellonaIt is conventional wisdom among People Who Matter that burning coal is going to continue, even accelerate, no matter what kind of legislation is passed or international agreements are forged. That’s why carbon capture and sequestration (CCS) — technology that buries power-plant carbon dioxide emissions underground — is widely seen as the bright, shining hope for maintaining a livable climate: it’s the only way to burn coal without frying the planet. Or it would be, if it were proven to work on a large scale. The American Clean Energy & Security …

San Francisco solar energy incentive program shines bright in first year

Last July, the City and County of San Francisco launched the first local solar energy incentive program in the nation. The results are in, and the program is an unequivocal success. In the year since our solar energy incentive program GoSolarSF launched, we have seen a 450% increase in applications for solar installations in San Francisco over the previous year, from 200 to 850. And despite the current recession, 56 applicants met our low-income standards and will receive incentive payments. And nonprofit and affordable housing organizations are going solar too. Just last week, I joined a local affordable housing developer, …

Green jobs: debunking the debunkers

Energy markets are neither free nor efficient, so traditional economic arguments against regulation and other government interventions do not apply.  In response to my recent article digging into green jobs, a reader sent me a copy of a March paper by Andrew Morriss et al at University of Illinois that attempts to debunk green jobs myths.  While I see major flaws in most green jobs papers I read, many of the myths cited by this paper are irrelevant to what I consider the most important questions: Can government intervention to clean up the energy sector create jobs and boost the …

Sun Worshippers Descend on Bay Area

Intersolar gathering

Fifteen thousand solar devotees from around the world are expected to meet in San Francisco this week in an event that organizers hope will “create strong global relationships.” Actually, the sun worshippers will be fully-clothed (many in suits, no doubt). These movers and shakers, metaphorically speaking, will be attending the continent’s largest business-to-business solar trade conference and exhibition, called Intersolar, from July 14-16 at the Moscone Center. Intersolar has been holding similar gatherings in Germany for eight years, helping businesses from across the solar supply chain meet, network and cut deals. The first North American Intersolar event was organized last …

Sun city

Washington state may soon be home to world’s largest PV solar project

About four miles from the town of Cle Elum, Wash., there is a large, flat piece of land surrounded by a ring of 50-foot-tall Ponderosa Pines. The area has been repeatedly logged over the last few decades and is now relatively treeless. But it may soon be home to an entirely different sort of renewable resource. The land has been purchased by investors who want to build a 400-acre solar park that would generate 75 megawatts of renewable energy — enough to power 45,000 homes — making it the largest solar photovoltaic facility in the world. The world’s largest solar …

From ProPublica

Energy industry sways Congress with misleading data

This story was written by ProPublica’s Adam Lustgarten. The two key arguments that the oil and gas industry is using to fight federal regulation of the natural gas drilling process called hydraulic fracturing — that the costs would cripple their business and that state regulations are already strong — are challenged by the same data and reports the industry is using to bolster its position. One widely-referenced study (PDF) estimated that complying with regulations would cost the oil and gas industry more than $100,000 per gas well. But the figures are based on 10-year-old estimates and list expensive procedures that …

Yes, we Kahn

Carbon trading: Worthy of Feinstein’s ire?

“Deregulation shifts the major burden of consumer protection to the competitive market, and therefore, in important measure, to the enforcement of antitrust laws.” – Alfred E. Kahn, Lessons for Deregulation: Telecommunications and Airlines after the Crunch. I’ve always found the above to be one of the wiser quotes about deregulation. (Kahn, for those who don’t know him, was at the helm of the Civil Aviation Board when airlines were deregulated, and has since written some of the more insightful pieces on deregulatory processes in multiple industries.) What does this have to do with commodities and Senator Feinstein? Recently, she announced …

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