"Buildings like trees, cities like forests." When Michael McDonough, author and sustainability architect, suggested this be the new paradigm for the future, he was referring to the creation of buildings and communities that are self-sufficient. He also reminds us that "waste is a human phenomenon", so the concept of recycling and efficiency is central to the attainment of environmental stewardship. Through integration, energy management, efficiency techniques and technologies it is now possible to create buildings that are 'greener' and more ecologically synergistic than ever before.
Here is a short summary of some of the hot stories reported on in the last month or so.
Wind power development doesn't deal with a single industry. There are steel workers, engineers, precision manufactures, boat builders, construction crews, composite technologies, and marine technologies. The Maine Wind Industry Initiative brings these partners under one roof, so that they can network and solve problems working together.
As the PV business continues to grow, new backsheet constructions are continually being introduced. But the products we use in our efforts to be more sustainable have a bigger footprint than we think. Currently, there are at least ten commercial manufacturers of traditional PV backsheets, with traditional products in the development stage. Traditional backsheets, the protective covering on solar cells, are produced mainly from polyester and Tedlar films. Polyester is made from petroleum and Tedlar is solvent-cast using DMAC, a highly toxic industrial solvent. Both of these products defeat the purpose of clean, green energy, and as the demand for solar energy increases, so does this issue.
Each wind generator, each solar farm absolutely requires a stable grid to feed into and are not and can not be prime power sources. Meters record the amps passing thru the transformers which connect the wind units to the grid, but very little real power goes very far (see notes on AC power). They are simply dispersed, independent power producers which cannot supply any load without the base loading power of coal or natural gas. In truth, not one ounce of coal, programmed to be burned in a coal fired power system has ever been offset by the introduction of wind or solar power into the grid.
AWEA has created their first Small & Community Wind Conference & Exhibition to bring together industry leaders, new entrants, project developers, economic development groups, municipalities, land owners and other allied organizations to formulate and enact growth strategies for small and mid-sized wind applications. Focusing on important topics such as national renewable energy legislation, technology costs, zoning requirements, utility interconnection, tax revenues and investment opportunities, this conference offers valuable information on how best to capitalize on wind technology.
Watteco, a System on Chip (SoC) manufacturer has developed a unique Power Line Communication solution for the Smart Energy Command & Control Market (Home Control and Street Lighting). This technology meets today the future market requirements in term of Low Power, Small Size and Low Bill of Material.
With over three decades of experience, Jack Ristau has been a driving force in developing, constructing, and operating municipal infrastructure facilities, including solid waste management and energy recovery projects, in the United States and overseas. Since joining Wheelabrator in 1984, he has developed many notable resource recovery business activities as well as directed several projects in the Far East, Mexico, Turkey, United Kingdom, Puerto Rico, the Bahamas, Jamaica, and Barbados. Currently, Ristau is director of business development and manages waste-to-energy project opportunities in the United States and Canada, supervising proposal development and customer contract negotiations. Prior to joining Wheelabrator, Ristau held project management positions at MITRE Corporation, Hayden, Harding and Buschanan Engineers, Inc., and Metcalf and Eddy, Inc. Ristau holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Engineering from Penn State and a Masters of Science degree in Industrial Management from Northeastern University.
Biomass wastes can be transformed into clean energy and/or fuels by a variety of technologies, ranging from conventional combustion process to state-of-the art thermal depolymerization technology. Besides recovery of substantial energy, these technologies can lead to a substantial reduction in the overall waste quantities requiring final disposal, which can be better managed for safe disposal in a controlled manner while meeting the pollution control standards.
In December 2008, the 84-acre coal ash surface impoundment at the Tennessee Valley Authority's (TVA) Kingston coal-fired power plant failed and released over a billion gallons of coal combustion waste. It's estimated that this release could ultimately cost a billion dollars to remediate because 300+ acres were covered by the flood of coal ash slurry. At question is does the U.S. need more traditional coal-fired power plants and what to do with the ash slurry mess?
Some major chains have turned to fuel cell technology to help reduce their carbon footprint and their dependence on the electrical grid. Fuel cells provide clean, quiet, and reliable power to an industry that cannot afford to experience electricity outages. Stores are using fuel cells to generate heat, hot water, electricity, and even to power vehicles.
The goals of the stakeholders of the wind industry are often seen as conflicting: Utilities and some customers argue that wind power is too expensive. The wind industry and environmentalists argue that the current fossil generation does not pay for the right to pollute and if they did, wind would be cheaper than other sources of power. To both it is time to cool it.
In a unanimous vote, the Public Service Commission (PSC) recently cleared the way for Alliant Energy's Wisconsin utility to construct a 200 megawatt (MW) windpower plant project in southern Minnesota. Once operational, the Bent Tree project, costing upwards of $450 million, will be a productive source of renewable energy that will provide lasting benefits to Minnesota's economy and environment. Since it will be Alliant's Wisconsin customers who foot the bill, however, it is reasonable to inquire whether the current utility practice of outsourcing renewable energy production to other states is a good thing for Wisconsin's economy.
Solar powered attic fans are cool! Having worked in attics for many years installing solar water heaters I know all too well how hot they get. I've measured 140 degrees F! Most homes have manual roof vents, which allow some nominal air movement, but they can't keep up with the sun pounding down all day.
My long and winding path through the selection of the best heating and cooling system began six months ago and culminated with the selection of a geothermal system, which is right for us for so many reasons.
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