Smart Grid

Energy Efficiency

A magical meter and friendly competition help one community dial back energy use

The Island Energy Dashboard gives residents a real-time look at how much electricity they’re sucking from the grid. When Puget Sound Energy announced plans to build a new substation to meet rising electricity demand on Bainbridge Island, Wash., in 2009, it apparently didn’t know who it was dealing with. Bainbridge is a well-to-do suburb of Seattle (a 35-minute ferry ride will drop you right in downtown), and home to more than a few techies, computer programmers, and folks who have letterhead with lots of fancy degrees in front of their names. Eric Rehm, a software-engineer-turned-marine-biologist, says that “a mosh pit …

Keystone ‘victory’ is nothing of the sort, say testy wonks

Enviros’ opposition to the Keystone XL pipeline has succeeded in delaying or possibly even deep-sixing a project that would have carried oil from the tar sands in Canada to refineries in Texas (and over a drinking water aquifer and the epicenter of a bunch of earthquakes). But not everyone is celebrating. Professional wet blanket Michael Levi wants you to know that this is probably a pyrrhic victory, more likely to result in delays to the kind of action the U.S. needs to take to avert the worst of climate change's effects. And he has a point, sort of. If Keystone …

Energy Policy

Power for the people: Energy for the 99 percent

Image: Power Up AmericaCross-posted from the Center for American Progress. The Occupy Wall Street protests are focusing Americans’ attention on the fact that power is increasingly consolidated into the hands of very few individuals and corporations. This is especially true in the energy sector. Two weeks ago, the country’s five largest oil companies — BP, Chevron, ConocoPhillips, ExxonMobil, and Royal Dutch Shell — released their third-quarter profits and once again revealed that high gas prices are bad for consumers but great for Big Oil, which pulled in a staggering $101 billion in profits during the first nine months of 2011. …

Did Germany screw the planet by deep-sixing its nuclear plants?

Germany’s phaseout of nuclear power was a boneheaded move that has wreaked havoc with its power grid and cost consumers dearly, and it will hurt the planet by leading to more coal-fired power, says a feature by Aaron Wiener in The New Republic. But wait, says Grist’s own David Roberts! Germany did no such thing! With cheap nuclear power standing in the way, Germany could never have ramped up an all-renewables grid. (Exactly the point previously made by Arne Jungjohann in Grist.) Here’s the Storified thread of the Twitter discussion that followed Wiener’s piece, in which a rare sort of …

Hybrid power plant turns wind directly into automotive fuel

Enertrag is a new hybrid power plant whose parent company invites you to "drive to [your] local petrol station and fill up with 50 litres of wind … !!!" Three exclamation points! Renewable energy has made Germans so adorable. Their website even has a picture of German chancellor Angela Merkel showing off a tank of hydrogen gas like it's a baby panda. The idea is simple: Use tried-and-true methods to transform wind power into electricity, which is used to electrolyze water and strip out the hydrogen, which can then be used as automobile fuel or burned in a combined heat …

Smart Grid

China pours money into smart grid technology

Cross-posted from Center for American Progress. There is no way to get around this fact — China aims to modernize its energy infrastructure at home and dominate clean energy technology markets abroad. At the 2011 Smart Grid World Forum in Beijing late last month, China’s State Grid Corporation announced plans to invest $250 billion in electric power infrastructure upgrades over the next five years, of which $45 billion is earmarked [PDF] for smart grid technologies. According to its three-stage plan, China will invest another $240 billion between 2016 and 2020 (including another $45 billion toward smart grid technologies) to complete …

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