Smart Grid

Critical List: Romney’s down with coal; Iran starts up a nuclear plant

Mitt Romney, in a desperate attempt to fit in, says he wants to burn more coal. Iran's making nuclear power. There’s no way that could go wrong! But worldwide, renewables are beating out nuclear in terms of installed capacity.

How the smart grid of the future will prevent power outages for millions

Right now there are millions of people without power thanks to the wind and heavy rainfall that accompanied hurricane Irene, and I'm one of them. It sucks. Having to call the utility company just to let them know that they've failed me once again is a symptom of our antediluvian electricity distribution system.  Commonwealth Edison of Northern Illinois thinks so, too. Recently, they explained to the Daily Herald how a smart grid would have prevented outages for hundreds of thousands of their customers in the wake of recent July storms.

Russia to build $100 billion rail tunnel connecting Alaska and Siberia

Ever since Tsar Nicholas II, Russians have dreamed of connecting Siberia to North America via a rail tunnel. Now, apparently, the Kremlin has green-lighted the connection, which would be the world's longest, and twice as long as the England-to-France "Chunnel."

If the ‘smart grid’ gets too smart it will destroy itself, says study

If our utility company gives us too much information about the price of electricity -- a cornerstone of the "smart grid" -- we'll probably use that information to crash the grid and cause massive blackouts, says a new study from MIT. 

Critical List: Melting Arctic ice pollutes; wind farm could kill bald eagles

Melting Arctic ice is releasing banned chemicals like DDT, which were trapped there back when they were legal. Post-tornado clean-up in Joplin, Mo. is going slowly. Can water heaters store energy captured by wind turbines and solar panels? A startup called GridMobility thinks so.

Critical List: Financial assistance for cooling costs down; Atlanta's trees are dying

Stuck in a heat wave? Can't afford A/C? Too bad: Groups that dole out government assistance for cooling have had their funding cut and have turned away up to 80 percent of applicants. Today's the first anniversary of the climate bill's death. Atlanta loves trees! It charges $1,000 to chop one down. But drought, storms, invasive species, and natural causes get to kill trees for free, and they’re are all contributing to a large-scale die-off.

Cleantech

Dudefest no more? Women are infiltrating cleantech

Men are running the show at most of the companies pushing renewables, efficiency, clean cars, and the smart grid -- but that's starting to change.

Flow batteries store electricity in giant tanks of goop

Even if we do manage to set up a shiny futuristic renewable smart grid made of glitter and staffed by zebra unicorns, there are still going to be times when it poops out. Maybe the wind isn’t blowing; maybe a mean old cloud got in the way. And when that happens, there aren't enough boat batteries in the world to store all the electricity we're going to need to keep everything running.

Climate & Energy

The small-c conservatism of U.S. power companies

The U.S. power sector is biased in favor of the familiar. It's not well-suited to producing the risk-taking and innovation we need in clean electricity

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