Stories tagged renewable energy

Some of Liza's RSS feeds
Some of Liza's RSS feedsCourtesy Liza Pryor

"Stanford creates 100 million dollar energy research center"
"Stanford University is creating a 100-million-dollar research institute that will focus on energy issues, including the search for ways to reduce global warming, officials said."

"Home turbines fail to deliver as promised, warns British study"
"Home wind turbines are only generating a fraction of electricity promised by the manufacturers while some even fail to yield enough energy to run the turbine's electronics, a British study warned on Tuesday."

"'V-wing' turbine gets study cash"
"An unusual design of wind turbine with a pair of giant vertical wings could one day be generating electricity for the UK Grid."

"China's BYD to bring plug-in hybrid, electric cars to US in 2011"
"China's BYD Auto announced plans Monday to enter the US market in 2011 with a range of electric and plug-in hybrid vehicles. It would likely be the first Chinese automaker to enter the highly-competitive US market and beat many established automakers in offering an extended-range electric vehicle to US consumers."

"A bicycle evangelist with the wind now at his back"
"For years, Earl Blumenauer has been on a mission, and now his work is paying off. He can tell by the way some things are deteriorating around here."


I have thought about designing a car that would run off a small windmill behind the grill. It would spin the alternator which would run the car and recharge the batteries. It would allow anyone to drive forever without using any gas. If the car looked like any other car, would you buy it, especially if it cost the same as a "regular car"?


Jobs in the wind
Jobs in the windCourtesy BIGRED_50

Local economies benefit from global crisis

Buying locally not only saves transportation costs, but also puts money into local economies. Wind turbine gearbox manufacturer, Moventas, based in Finland, is going to build components locally. In addition to about 90 jobs and an initial annual payroll of roughly $4 million, the construction of the $9 million dollar facility will mean more employment for Faribault area workers. Faribault Daily News

Iowa benefits, too

In Newton, Iowa, TPI Composites opened a wind turbine blade manufacturing facility that hopes to provide 500 jobs. The Faribault factory hopes to add 30 jobs per year to total 200. Click here to read about more wind energy jobs created.

Bailout package includes renewable energy incentives

The American Wind Energy Association was relieved by the passage of the Economic Stabilization Act.

These tax credits are essential to the continued growth of wind energy, to the economic and energy security of the United States, and to a successful beginning in the fight against global warming.

Solar gains longer term benefits

The Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA) also was happy to see the legislation extend the 30-percent federal investment tax credit for both residential and commercial solar installations for 8 years.

“This long-term extension of the solar tax credits will create a domestic solar industry with hundreds of thousands of jobs while providing clean, affordable, carbon-free energy to millions of American families, businesses, and communities.” SEIA press release


Rock-Tenn paper recycling plant loses steam

Neighbors against the burner: Rock-Tenn neighbors organize to promote better choices.
Neighbors against the burner: Rock-Tenn neighbors organize to promote better choices.Courtesy Art Oglesby
The Rock-Tenn Company paper recycling plant (at Hwy. 94 and Cretin Ave. in St. Paul) lost their cheap source of steam energy when the High Bridge coal plant was closed. My Buzz post from May 3, 2007 explained how the Saint Paul Port Authority proposed building an incinerator at the Rock-Tenn plant to burn RDF (refuse derived fuel - garbage) for fuel.

Neighbors Against the Burner

A group called "Neighbors Against the Burner" explain why incineration is not the best solution for Rock-Tenn. This page on their website has lots of links to local media coverage about the Rock-Tenn burner controversy. I also recommend looking at their "freqently asked question" page for more information on refuse derived fuels (RDF).

After a year of study and 24 meetings with citizen volunteers participating as members of the Rock-Tenn Community Advisory Panel (RCAP), as well as input from other interested citizens and the City of Saint Paul, the Saint Paul Port Authority is recommending re-powering Rock-Tenn with discount-priced natural gas, utilizing carbon offsets from renewable biogas. The biogas would be produced at an anaerobic digestion facility to be built in out state Minnesota. The anaerobic digestion facility required would be the largest of its kind in the US.
Rock-Tenn Renewable Energy Report (81 pg pdf)

Learn more, ask questions, give advice

Community members are invited to attend a brief presentation and share their comments and questions on the Rock-Tenn Renewable Energy Report and recommendations. Click here for more information

Public Meeting
Monday, September 15th beginning at 6:30 PM
Wilder Center, 451 Lexington Pkwy N

Want to know more?


Snake power: It looks like an ordinary tube, but this device is a small version of the Anaconda, a snake-like tube that turns ocean wave power into electricity.
Snake power: It looks like an ordinary tube, but this device is a small version of the Anaconda, a snake-like tube that turns ocean wave power into electricity.Courtesy Atkins Global
Indiana Jones may hate snakes, but those looking for clean, renewable energy sources are loving the chances that a “snake” may be able to generate electricity from ocean waves.

It’s not a real snake, but an enormous rubber snake called the Anaconda. Stretching more than 600 feet long, the Anaconda produces energy as it is squeezed by the passing waves of ocean water that it is submerged in. The process is very similar to what happens with a windsock fluttering in the wind.

The Anaconda is filled with seawater and is sealed at both ends. The trailing end of the snake has turbines. As the ocean waves ripple by the Anaconda, the water inside is squeezed and pushed in bulges that move toward the turbines. When the bulges get there, their energy turns the turbines.

The idea is being developed by the British firm Atkins Global. This is all still in the testing stages, but if the research pans out, the Anacondas would be submerged in ocean waters at depths of 120 to 300 feet.

So far, however, researchers are testing their theory on smaller snakes in a wave tank. Seawater testing could begin next year and if everything is successful, the technology could go online commercially in five years. Estimates figure one full-sized Anaconda could generate 1 megawatt of electricity, about the same amount of power for 2,000 homes.


Silicon solar obsolete soon?
Silicon solar obsolete soon?Courtesy D. O. E.

NanoSolar, cheaper than coal

Renewable energy becoming cheaper than fossil fuels may happen soon. Today, Nanosolar CEO Martin Roscheisen says his startup took a step in that direction by shipping its first thin-film solar panel (via TechCrunch). In a blog post, Roscheisen claims his company has produced

“the world’s lowest-cost solar panel – which we believe will make us the first solar manufacturer capable of profitably selling solar panels at as little as $.99/Watt.”

Electricity from a new coal burning plant costs about $2.10/watt.

Nanosolar can change the world

Popular Science gave Nanosolar's Powersheets the top technical innovation of the year award. The NanoSolar website provides this list of news and events:

You can watch a video showing how NanoSolar photocells are manufactured (via KQED).


Making the world a better place

A philanthropic arm of the Google Foundation called drawing upon its nearly $2 billion in Google stock will invest "hundreds of millions" in companies specializing in renewable energy, co-founder Larry Page said.

"If we achieve these goals, we are going to be in the (electricity) business in a very big way," Page said. "We should be able to make a lot of money from this."

One gigawatt of renewable energy

Google's plan, known as RE< C, is to develop a gigawatt of electricity from renewable energy sources that will be cheaper than electricity produced from burning coal. Google is betting its R&D dollars on advanced solar thermal power, wind power, and enhanced geothermal technologies. Google's headquarters already draws some of its power from one of the country's biggest solar power installations.

"Cheap renewable energy is not only critical for the environment but also vital for economic development in many places where there is limited affordable energy of any kind," added Sergey Brin, Google Co-founder and President of Technology. grants and investments

Two companies is working with are eSolar Inc. and Makani Power Inc. By focusing sunlight with mirrors, eSolar Inc. hopes to generate utility-scale power cheaper than with coal. Makani Power Inc. is developing high-altitude wind energy extraction technologies (Get more information via pdf downloads by clicking the company names).

"'s hope is that by funding research on promising technologies, investing in promising new companies, and doing a lot of R&D ourselves, we may help spark a green electricity revolution that will deliver breakthrough technologies priced lower than coal." (Nov 27 Google press release)

Sources & resources: Yahoo News and and FAQ


A solar powered telephone: And you thought the Death Star was sinister? Well that never destroyed our planet, so no. (photo by redjar on
A solar powered telephone: And you thought the Death Star was sinister? Well that never destroyed our planet, so no. (photo by redjar on
According to Dr. Jesse Aubusel, the Director of the Program for the Human Environment at The Rockefeller University, renewable energy isn’t a super good idea. That is to say, he thinks it’s a pretty bad idea.

Using math and numbers, Dr. Aubusel figures that the amount of land necessary for “green” energy sources makes them extremely impractical, especially when compared to nuclear energy. According to Aubusel, were we to flood all of Ontario (900,000 square km), it would only provide 80% of the energy that Canada’s 25 nuclear power stations could produce. I guess that’s the end of my plans to flood Ontario. Or, to provide enough electricity for New York City, all of Connecticut would have to be turned into a wind farm (although, who’s to say that Connecticut would mind). Also, to grow a single pot of basil, it would take more dirt than there is in my whole room. So no basil.

Aubusel, in this article, always brings the issue back to the matter physical space required for renewable energy, and the number of watts produced per square meter. “Nuclear energy is green,” he states. He’s not referring to its radioactivity, I think, so much as to its relatively small physical footprint, and the potential to use already existing infrastructure.

It might seem to some that this is a pretty simplistic way of looking at things, but we should all make sure that we’re doctors before we disagree.

When asked if he could imagine technology that uses and creates energy more efficiently than those he based his research on, Doctor Aubusel states, “No.” When asked if he could possibly try, he replied, “That’s not really my style.”


Pond scum to the rescue: Researchers are looking at ways to produce fuel from algae. Photo from NOAA.
Pond scum to the rescue: Researchers are looking at ways to produce fuel from algae. Photo from NOAA.

If some researchers in Colorado have their way, you may one day be driving a car powered by pond scum. Solix Biofuels is one of a handful of companies trying to produce biodiesel from algae.

May people consider biodeisel fuels, like ethanol, a preferable alternative to gasoline for powering. It is renewable (we’ll never run out; we just grow some more); it pollutes less; it is non-toxic and biodegradable; and we can grow it in the US, and not have to import oil from overseas.

One of the big problems with biofuels, though, is they are made from plants. Some of those plants, like corn and soybeans, we eat. Turning those plants into fuel is already driving up the price of food. And replacing all our oil with biofuel would require more farmland than exists in the entire nation.

This is where algae comes in. Algae produces vegetable oil, which can be refined into biodiesel. It can grow anywhere you can set up water tanks. It thrives on sunshine, which is plentiful and free. And it pulls carbon dioxide out of the air. (You could, in fact, take the CO2 produced by a traditional power plant and pump it straight into an algae farm)

Algae researchers are a long way from producing any biofuel yet. But this could be a way of meeting our energy needs while being gentler to the environment.