Cleantech

U.S. finally catching up to rest of world on solar

In the U.S., solar photovoltaic (PV) panels are, somewhat unexpectedly, suddenly the belle of the renewable energy ball — and their dance card is wide open. There is now more solar PV capacity planned for the immediate future than any other renewable you can name. Wind, solar thermal, geothermal — it's like they all showed up at prom in powder-blue tuxes and Trump hair, and now they can't get a date with an investor. More than four gigawatts of solar PV are "in development" as of the end of 2010, which is almost as much as the entire sun-baked country …

Climate & Energy

A conversation with Bill Gates on climate and clean energy [VIDEO]

This morning, Bill Gates, Microsoft chairman and co-chair of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, talked with Climate Solutions Board Co-chair Jabe Blumenthal about climate change and innovations in clean energy. Watch the video here and read the transcript below — or just catch the highlights. Watch the video Afterward, KC Golden of Climate Solutions and David Roberts of Grist.org kept the conversation going with a live chat. Replay it here.   Transcript of Bill Gates’ remarks at Climate Solutions fundraiser on May 10: Q. How and why did you get involved in climate change and energy issues? A. I …

Wind Power

Want local communities to support wind? Put them in charge

Let’s turn NIMBYs into YIMBYs.Photo: Eddie CodelThis post originally appeared on Energy Self-Reliant States, a resource of the Institute for Local Self-Reliance’s New Rules Project. Last month, Grist’s Jess Zimmerman noted sarcastically that “Money is a miracle cure for ‘wind turbine syndrome.'” It is. And environmental advocates frustrated by the (spurious?) health and aesthetic complaints raised by not-in-my-backyard (NIMBY) actors would do well to consider why. The implication of her post (and this attitude in general) is that we can’t green our energy system without sacrifice. Getting to big carbon reductions will require enormous new renewable energy development and it will …

Daylight-mimicking LEDs save power, might reduce symptoms of Alzheimer’s

All the cool kids know that CFLs are merely a bridge technology — and now students at Drexel University have a grant to enhance their successor, which are household lights comprised of light emitting diodes. LEDs aren’t new tech — they’re already used in your monitor, television, Christmas tree, throwies, etc. They're super efficient, plus they come in fun colors, so they’re all set to inherit the household-lighting throne. More importantly, the ability to both dim LEDs and combine different colored bulbs to produce any color in the visible spectrum should allow the Drexel researchers to create indoor lights that …

Offshore wind power to explode to 17 times its current capacity in just six years

Offshore wind will reach 70.1 GW of capacity by 2017, says Pike Research. That's 17 times its current capacity, which is 4.1 GW, and amounts to several times the current maximum solar capacity of the most solared-out country in the world, Germany. Europe is currently in the lead on offshore power, but by 2017, China will pull even. (The U.S. will be in the mix somewhere too, if we can get those Nantucket swells to settle down.) We’re mostly talking about ocean wind farms, but a portion of this new capacity will come from freshwater offshore installations, such as in …

How the internet is saving the physical world by making it disappear

In 2009, a study by researchers at Carnegie Mellon and Stanford made the case that the switch to downloading music from transporting physical CDs had significantly reduced the carbon footprint of Americans' music consumption. That's just one of countless examples of "ephemeralization," which is the process by which new, post industrial-revolution technology tends to lead to our owning and transporting less stuff, not more. (The term was coined by noted genius/loony Buckminster Fuller, who also brought us “tensegrity.”) Princeton Ph.D. candidate Timothy B. Lee argues that this process is happening to countless goods and services, including "typewriters, newspapers, magazines, books, maps, cameras, film …

Green doesn’t sell to mouth-breathing Americans, says CEO of GE

GE is making billions of dollars selling the world wind turbines and energy-efficient technology, so it's a little surprising to hear that the biggest regret of its CEO, Jeffrey Immelt, is all that hippy-dippy talk at the center of the company's Ecomagination campaign. "If I had one thing to do over again I would not have talked so much about green," Immelt said at an event sponsored by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. "Even though I believe in global warming and I believe in the science … it just took on a connotation that was too elitist; it was too …

Better Place taps China in bid to take over the world, more or less

If a supervillain wanted to roll out a plan to turn the planet's car infrastructure on its head, he could hardly do better than the deal that Israeli company Better Place just announced with the China Southern Power Grid Co. Better Place is a company that wants to replace filling stations with battery swapping stations. (The batteries are swapped by robots.) If it works, the concept eliminates the range anxiety, long charging times, and battery ownership headaches that come with driving an electric car. The first pilot station is in Israel, and its CEO has estimated that he can cover the …

Portland, Maine, to save 50,000 gallons of oil a year with geothermal heating and cooling

Portland, Maine's new airport expansion is to be the first in the country to use a dead-simple but often overlooked technology to significantly reduce its heating and cooling bills. They're calling it a geothermal system, but it's not like the kind that produce power in Iceland; it's more properly called a "ground-source heat pump." The system will use the ground beneath an employee parking lot as a giant heat sink. To transport energy to and from the sink, the system will run fluid through pipes snaking through 120 wells dug 500 feet into the ground. Below a meter or two, …

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