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‘Smart paint’ warns you when stuff’s about to break, so you can fix it

Someday we'll fix infrastructure and the environment in the same way that Arizona suburbanites fix their lawns: By slapping on a coat of paint. Science has already made great strides on carbon-eating paint, and the kind of paint that can make windows into solar panels. And now researchers at at Glasgow's University of Strathclyde have developed paint that can detect underlying structural problems in bridges, mines, and turbines, allowing engineers to head disaster off at the pass.

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Why Apple should pour money into clean energy

In the last five years, Google has poured more than $700 million into financing for clean energy projects. That's not the kind of thing you do just to burnish your "green" credentials for a credulous public -- it's serious money, deployed with the express aim of diversifying the company's holdings with "businesses that can earn good returns and that aren't correlated to other investments," says Rick Needham, Google's director of green business operations.

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Newly discovered fungus eats plastic

A group of Yale students, poking around in the jungles of Ecuador, has unearthed a type of fungus that digests otherwise-unkillable plastics

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Renewables nearly competitive with fossil fuels, even without subsidies

In 2010, investors and governments poured $187 billion into renewables and just $157 billion into natural gas, oil and coal. A big chunk of the renewables investment ($66 billion in subsidies) represents forward-thinking governments nurturing their domestic renewable energy sectors through incentives. But renewables will soon be kicking fossil fuels’ asses even without that support, reports Bloomberg.

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This old house: Why fixing up old homes is greener than building new ones

Remodeling an old pad like these ones, in Baltimore, is more eco-friendly than building a new one. (Photo by cinderellasg.)

Looking for the ultimate earth-friendly bungalow? No need to engineer some LEED certified space pod. Buy an old house and gird yourself for an eco-friendly remodel.

A study released Tuesday finds that in almost every instance, remodeling an old building is greener than building a new one. Beyond that, it shows that reusing old buildings provides immediate results in the fight against climate change, while a relatively energy efficient new building won’t pay climate dividends for decades.

Taken to the scale of the city, the study has some fascinating implications. Cities, it turns out, serve as a sort of carbon sink -- the existing buildings hold a tremendous amount of “embodied energy.” Conserving that energy by sparing these buildings from the wrecking ball does a lot of good for the planet, too.

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Obama makes strong call for clean energy — oh, and drilling and fracking too

(Photo by Alex Howard.)

Clean energy rocks. Nice, deserving people get jobs at wind-turbine plants. Solyndra-style investments are critical. Oil-industry subsidies suck. Energy efficiency is an economic engine. We need to drill, baby, drill. And we need to frack, baby, frack.

Those weren't the words, but those were the sentiments in the energy portion of President Obama's State of the Union address on Tuesday night. He dedicated a significant chunk of the speech to energy issues, making an unexpectedly vigorous appeal for renewable power, cleantech investment, and efficiency -- as well as for natural-gas fracking and oil drilling.

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Chinese firms selling solar panels for less than cost

Here comes that trade war over solar panels we've been hearing about -- the one that will have unfortunate consequences for the domestic rollout of solar power.

A forthcoming study by the federal government could finally set this snowball in motion. The study reveals that Chinese solar panel makers are selling their wares at a loss, either because they have the cash reserves to take the hit or because their government is propping them up, reports Kevin Bullis at Technology Review.

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Wind turbines don’t harm health, says study

In some parts of the world, citizens who live near wind turbines have raised concerns about "wind turbine syndrome," which you’d think would be affecting half the population of Denmark by now if it were actually a thing.

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Army’s newest drone will be ‘green’

The Army is increasingly aware that the only way for its war machine to keep turning is for it to eliminate the long, vulnerable supply chain currently required to get energy to its soldiers.

That's one reason why it just awarded Lockheed Martin a contract to build a flying drone, light enough to be carried by troops or Iranians, that supplements its power with solar energy.

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Here are the potential Solyndras of 2012

Hey makers of right-wing talking points! Pay attention to these solar companies. They might fail this year, and as we all know, when a solar company fails you can repurpose its hide into a political hobby-horse and ride it forever. Here are this year's candidates for companies most likely to be mispronounced by one of the interchangeable hosts on Fox News, courtesy Matt Feinstein of Lux Research: Nanosolar Solopower Abound Solar Solarworld Oerlikon Suntech Power That list doesn't even include the two solar companies that already announced cuts in the new year, reports Katie Fehrenbacher at GigaOm: A week ago …