Suspended by ropes from the top of a giant wind turbine, two men slowly descended down a long, silvery blade. Then they got to work, and from 150 feet above the ground, the hum of a sander filled the air. For Matt Touchette and Sequoia Haughey, it was another day at the office. Rope specialists like Mr. Touchette and Mr. Haughey have long filled a range of niche jobs, like inspecting big dams, cleaning Mount Rushmore and repairing offshore oil platforms. But as wind farms have sprouted across the nation, rope companies have quickly expanded into a new line of work - fixing turbines so they last longer in the elements. It's a dream job for rock-climbing types.
Photograph by Jigar Mehta/The New York Times
Photograph by Jigar Mehta/The New York Times
Using laser-fusion technology, experts hope to add "clean, inexhaustible energy source" to the laser's distinguished resume. Using lasers in combination with nuclear fusion, scientists at the Department of Energy's National Ignition Facility (NIF) hope to mimic "the process that fuels the sun, stars and hydrogen bombs," Robert S. Boyd writes for McClatchy Newspapers. The researchers plan to combine 192 lasers in order to create the pressure and heat needed to force hydrogen atoms to fuse; the "combination loses a tiny bit of mass, which turns into a huge quantity of energy," Boyd explains. "It's Einstein's formula in action." According to NIF, a laser-fusion energy plant would never pose a threat of meltdown, as opposed to the traditional atomic energy plant. It would emit little radioactive fallout and zero greenhouse gases. Unlike solar or wind power, it wouldn't be dependent on weather conditions and could operate round-the-clock.
Today Toyota both nailed down a time frame and hinted at a price for launching the plug-in hybrid versions of the Prius in 2011, initially at a scale of several tens of thousands of vehicles per year. The hybrid leader's plans to go ahead with the plug-in Prius in 2011 with a price tag that Uchiyamada suggested today could be as low as $35,000 marks a milestone for lithium-ion battery technology. Toyota Executive Vice President Takeshi Uchiyamada also reiterated to Bloomberg reporters in Tokyo on Monday that the automaker plans to start selling an all-electric vehicle designed for short distances by 2012.
Lowe's has begun stocking solar panels at its California stores and plans to roll them out across the country next year. Solar power is now accessible to anyone with a ladder, a power drill, and the gumption to climb up on a roof and install the panels themselves. Buyer be warned, however. The DIY part of solar goes beyond installation. Professional installers typically handle all the necessary paperwork, like clearance from the local utility and applications for a bevy of government subsidies that can make the system a whole lot cheaper.
Tres Amigas, LLC today announced that it has submitted filings with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) requesting regulatory approvals needed to move forward with the Tres Amigas SuperStation, America's first renewable energy transmission hub. The SuperStation will be located in Clovis, New Mexico and will for the first time provide the capability to transfer thousands of megawatts of power between the three U.S. power grids - or "Interconnections" - known as the Eastern Interconnection, the Western Interconnection and the Texas Interconnection. By enabling the exchange of wind, solar and geothermal power between all three grids, the Tres Amigas SuperStation will help break our nation's transmission bottleneck.
More than 7.2 million jobs have been lost in the U.S. since the start of the recession, and President Obama sees home retrofits for boosting energy efficiency and the expansion of highly competitive stimulus programs for green energy projects as two of the keys for turning that trend around. Today's speech comes on the heels of reports that the White House has been considering a 2-year, $23 billion program to encourage homeowners to undertake weatherization projects such as adding air sealing, insulation and energy-saving lightbulbs — dubbed the "cash for caulkers" program — widely cheered, unsurprisingly, by the home energy retrofit industry. Overall, the U.S. home energy retrofit market is poised to grow about 15 percent per year to $35 billion by 2013, up from $20.7 billion last year, according to a recent report from SBI Energy.
By this time next year, electric vehicles could be popping up all around Los Angeles, and the "quintessential city of sprawl" plans to be ready, Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa said Tuesday. Along with a network of partners, the city plans to update 400 existing charging stations around the region while adding 100, Villaraigosa said. Electric vehicle owners also probably would receive tax rebates to construct home chargers and would have access to high-occupancy-vehicle lanes and preferential or free parking. Villaraigosa painted a rosy portrait in which the new electric vehicle infrastructure would lure battery and charging station manufacturers to Los Angeles, create masses of green jobs and reduce reliance on foreign oil.
Warren Buffett, the closely watched investor and mega-billionaire, expects that 20 years from now, all cars will run on electricity. At least, that's what he told Rice University business students at his Omaha headquarters this month when asked for his thoughts on peak oil and replacements for "carbon fuels," the Houston Chronicle reports. Such a rapid transition to electric vehicles could work out well for BYD, the China-based developer of electric vehicles and lithium-ion batteries in which Buffett's Berkshire Hathaway investment firm holds a 10 percent stake. If nothing else, aggressive statements from Buffett, one of the world's highest-profile investors, could help build momentum for the EV market and BYD's growth.
From designer Haneum Lee comes a concept that would power street lights from the energy generated by the trash collected from its base. The lamppost composts the trash and uses the methane byproduct as a fuel to power the lamps. I'm not sure how much trash is needed to power a full side street lamp or if today mostly plastic and paper garbage are well suited for composting but its a novel idea.
Energy management could end up being the killer app for the slow-moving home automation market. Here’s the latest: iControl, a 5-year-old start-up backed by some of the biggest names in venture capital and networking announced this morning that it has launched an energy management product for utilities, broadband service providers and security firms. Out of the gate the company expects its customers to provide consumers a smart thermostat and a gateway for around $70. They expect broadband service providers to offer the energy management service to their customers for free, potentially bundled with a security system, and energy will act as a differentiator or value-add service, instead of a major revenue driver.
Briz Solar Powered Window Blinds designed by Nari Kim and Phullip Lim uses water as a cooling agent. There are two pipes beneath the blinds which help to circulate water which gets evaporated as dry mist. It is this mist which cools the breeze which enters the window. So you get natural air and the sunlight streaming through the blinds is collected and used to power the cooling system.
With its BB1 concept, Peugeot has created a totally new solution to the current and future needs of urban mobility. The BB1 concept is the first ever full electric vehicle that can seat up to four adults in a space of just 2.5m. This compact vehicle is a fusion between car and scooter, whilst offering passengers a safer, more comfortable and weatherproof environment. Other advantages of this ground-breaking concept are that it has zero emissions, is easy to park and has a range of 75 miles, making it a perfect choice for city center transport.
Comprehensive clean renewable energy and climate policies would create jobs, increase consumers’ income and strengthen the economy, according to a study conducted by three universities in the USA. The study estimates that as many as 1.9 million new jobs could be created across the United States within renewable energy, annual household income could increase by US$1,175 per year, and Gross Domestic Product could increase US$111 billion by 2020. The economic assessment was conducted using EAGLE, a forecasting model that projects the long term economic impacts of climate legislation on the economy. The model details economic interactions within and between each of the 50 states, and compares the impacts of combining a limit on carbon pollution with complementary efficiency and renewable energy policies.
Developer, ReVolt Technology Ltd is ready to bring to market new zinc-air batteries that can store three times the energy of lithium-ion batteries, by volume, while costing only half as much. The first plan to sell small "button cell" batteries for hearing aids starting next year and to incorporate its technology into ever larger batteries, introducing cell-phone and electric bicycle batteries in the next few years. It is also starting to develop large-format batteries for electric vehicles. The MIT site Technology Review has more info about the tecnology and some of the hurdles zinc-air storage needs to overcome.
Toshiba just launched the first Dynario fuel-cell for portable consumer electronics. That's right, the long promised and highly anticipated direct methanol fuel-cell (DMFC) with dedicated fuel cartridge for on-the-go refueling will go on sale October 29th in Japan for ¥29,800 (about $328) plus another ¥3,150 (about $34) for a set of five, 50ml fuel cartridges. Dynario's hybrid structure uses a lithium-ion battery to store enough electricity to charge two typical cellphones. That works out to be about $1 per recharge.
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