Climate & Energy

Why can't Detroit take the same approach?

Boeing’s new Dreamliner plane boasts increased fuel efficiency

A few years ago, Boeing was struggling. Sales were slipping, financial forecasts grim. Meanwhile Airbus, a foreign competitor, passed the former champ in total sales. Now the tables are turned. There are several reasons for the stellar advance sales of Boeing's new 787 Dreamliner, but I can't help but point out one: After years of research into lightweight carbon-fiber, which now replaces heavier aluminum for the jet's fuselage and wings, the Dreamliner can sail with an estimated 20-30 percent less fuel per passenger. What's the company's reasoning behind increasing fuel efficiency? It's better for business, of course.

The economic and political foolishness of paying for carbon reduction

Don’t let your ambition limit your reality

The quest to reduce carbon emissions is plagued by a near-pathological case of economic illiteracy. This illiteracy has caused us to focus on the wrong problems, and the wrong solutions ... and it's stalled the realization of any politically tenable carbon reductions. Ironically, while the goal of reducing carbon emissions has political allies and adversaries, the economic illiteracy is found on both sides. It has become self-reinforcing. The only solace is that the economists are just as guilty.

Blue dogs for energy efficiency

This group of 43 conservative and moderate Democrats from around the country have a new energy plan. Here's what they say about energy efficiency: 8. Energy Efficiency Energy efficient technologies and energy conservation are among the most important ways for the U.S. to reduce its energy consumption, benefiting both consumers and producers of energy. Blue Dogs support the furtherance of energy efficient technologies including green buildings, energy saving appliances, advanced lighting technology, and better fuel economy standards. Blue Dogs support the promotion of energy efficient light bulbs, high-efficiency vehicles, advanced batteries, home appliances, and energy storage. The Coalition believes the federal government should lead the way by moving toward green buildings and energy efficient programs for all federal buildings as soon as possible. Private sector energy efficiency improvements to new and existing buildings -- both residential and commercial -- should also be encouraged. Fuel economy standards for automobiles and small engines should also result in energy savings. We also support improving energy efficiency assistance to state and local governments and believe that state utility regulatory commissions should adopt federal standards to promote energy efficiency. The Department of Energy’s successful Energy Star program should also be expanded. Finally, Blue Dogs support tax incentives for consumers and businesses that are early adopters of energy efficient technologies. Kudos to the blue dogs.

Nukes ablaze, but SolarFest burns brighter

Vermont renewable energy festival looks to the future

News today that a quake has caused a fire at a nuke plant in Japan follows revelations of operator error that could have caused an accident at the 1,316 MW Krummel reactor in Germany, owned by Vattenfall Europe. When a fire broke out at that plant in late June, operators panicked and put the reactor on emergency shutdown, against their guidelines, and put the reactor at risk. Then Vattenfall tried to cover up what happened. I learned of this at SolarFest this weekend in central Vermont, where thousands converged to learn and share ideas toward a safer and more sustainable energy future. Fellow vendors said that it was the best crowd for this perennial event they'd seen -- was it merely the "year of the climate" effect? Perhaps, but there was a real sense of determination shared by all the folks I spoke with about my organization's renewable energy plans. As Bill McKibben said so well from the main stage on Saturday, this event used to be about good things we should do. Now it's about all the things we must do.

Post-vacation links

Stuff I missed

There are a gazillion things I missed over vacation, or meant to post about before vacation, that I’ll never have time to return to. Thus: a link post! I missed the MoveOn town hall on …

Funny safety joke

Have you heard the one about the Japanese nuclear reactor that caught fire and leaked radioactive waste into the ocean?

When it rains, it pours -- out the energy

Using molten salt to store solar energy

We've gone round and round on various ways to store energy from intermittent suppliers like solar and wind before ... The always excellent Robert Rapier has this interesting squib on using molten salt to store thermal energy from solar in his R-Squared Energy Blog.* (While you're there you should check out his terrific posts on ethanol and biodiesel. He is in the interesting position of being a real advocate who can't ignore how oversold they are.)

Climate change big picture

A great piece in the WaPo

In Sunday’s Washington Post, Steven Mufson has an excellent big-picture look at the effort to fight global warming via legislation. It offers a sense of the scope of the problem: The potential economic impact of …

<del>The</del> My final word on carbon offsets

In which I clear everything up

Over the past couple of weeks, there’s been a strangely heated debate on this site about carbon offsets. In this post, I’ll speculate about why the concept is so charged, and argue that it doesn’t …

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