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We Always Knew They’d Turn to Communism

U.K. green-computing task force recommends centralizing data A newly formed United Kingdom task force will work to reduce the energy-sucking impacts of computing equipment, which some say pumps as much carbon dioxide into the atmosphere there as the airline industry. The public-private partnership, called "Green Shift," will study how to make PCs and their related equipment more efficient. The group's first endeavor is to reduce the load on home computers by making applications such as office programs, email, and internet browsing available through a network of remote data centers accessed via broadband. This, they say, would allow manufacturers to build …

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Green and gold and Goldman Sachs

The financial giant is ready to take on climate change

The investment firm Goldman Sachs has released an environmental policy framework (PDF) and invested billions of dollars in clean energy and research into environmentally-friendly markets, a stark contrast with the inaction of our own government. In their environmental policy framework, Goldman Sachs recognizes climate change and its threat to financial markets and general livelihood. Consequently, they advocate limiting emissions, participate in Europe’s carbon market, and have agreed to voluntarily report and cut their own emissions by 7 percent by 2012. You can find their progress in their 2006 Year-End Report (PDF), which includes the partnerships they have forged, research papers …

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Fun Guys

Two recent college grads make insulation using mushroom spores Let's play a word game: we say "college students" and "mushrooms," you say the first thing that comes to mind. OK, now get ready to eat your words, because two recent Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute grads are having a different kind of fun with their fungi. Eben Bayer and Gavin McIntyre used mushroom spores to create a new kind of eco-insulation. Dubbed Greensulate, the organic product contains water, flour, oyster mushroom spores, and perlite, a mineral blend common in potting soil. The pair, who have applied for grants and formed a company …

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O Pioneers

Western states fired up over clean energy When it comes to clean energy, the West is the best -- or at least, it wants to be. In Deadwood, S.D., this week, 10 Western U.S. governors and two Canadian provincial premiers are meeting to talk about the region's power prospects, including solar, wind, biomass, and "clean coal." Reporting that the region is on track to add 30,000 megawatts or more of "clean and diversified" energy by 2015, the Western Governors' Association took the federal government to task for withholding support. "Western states are serious about the development of domestic renewable energy," …

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Modular pumped storage: The least expensive and ecologically soundest means of electricity storage

If renewables are to work, we need good storage

David's recent post on pumped storage attracted enough angry responses that I guess it is time for a more detailed post on energy storage and renewable sources. Solar and wind energy are variable sources. If we want them to provide more than 20%-40% of our power, we will need some storage method. Fortunately, long-distance transmission lines can reduce this need. While the sun and wind have gaps at any one spot, if we use long distance HVDC transmission lines to connect sites thousand of kilometers apart, the sun will be shining or wind blowing somewhere almost all the time. As …

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Umbra on installing solar power

Dear Umbra, I live on Long Island, N.Y., and am interested in getting solar power for my home. I am not sure, however, if that is viable in this area. Do you have any recommended reliable sources that I can reference? There is just so much confusing information in the marketplace. Thanks, Rick Port Washington, N.Y. Dearest Rick, Don't thank me until you've tried my recommendations in the marketplace. Solar power to the people. Photo: iStockphoto Your county's rating for solar is "good," according to Findsolar.com, a private/public collaborative website that has various worksheets helping you figure out what solar …

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Adventures in the Smart Grid no. 1

Why the Smart Grid is important

It's the world's largest machine -- the interconnected network of power plants, transmission towers, substations, poles, and wires that make up the power grid. When you flip the switch you expect the juice to flow and don't have much reason to think about it, except during the occasional blackout. Power engineers and energy wonks might get passionate about the grid, but for most people it's just a background fact of life. It's time to bring the grid into the foreground, because it positions at the exact center of the world's most crucial issue, global climate change. The power grid is …

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Electricity storage and renewable energy

How can renewable energy ‘power up’?

In coming days, we'll be talking about how to "power up" renewable energy. Everyone's talking renewables. G8 leaders are talking about reducing CO2 emissions and increasing renewables; federal and state officials are talking about tough new renewable portfolio standards; many in the general public seem eager to embrace renewables as the only logical way to address global warming (although whether or not they are aware of the price of renewable energy remains unclear). There's a fundamental problem, however. The one thing no one is talking about is perhaps the one thing that would make the transition to renewables work, namely …

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Yet another guide to the candidates on global warming

They just keep coming

Speaking of guides to the candidates' positions on global warming and other guides to the candidates' positions on global warming, here's yet another guide to the candidates' positions on global warming -- this one from NPR. And while you're there, check out this story about how global warming is playing big in the presidential race.

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Medium wind: Village-sized turbines make a contribution in Alaska

Built to scale

Small and medium size wind generators of about 100 KW each are playing an important role in the power supplied by the Alaska Village Electric Cooperative (AVEC) -- a non-profit customer-owned electric co-op serving 52 villages throughout interior and western Alaska. Wind power on this scale, and in these conditions, is not cheap. Unlike megawatt scale wind turbines which cost around $1,600 per KW of installed capacity, these smaller generators run around $10,000 per installed KW. Part of that cost is simply a matter of buying on a smaller scale. But according to Brent Petrie, Key Accounts Manager for AVEC, …

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