Archive for the ‘environment’ Category

A no-fuss solar-powered building | ZDNet Photo Gallery

from the ZDNet photo galleries:

The Boston Architecture School and Tufts University are building the Curio House, a home that’s designed to run entirely from solar energy. It’s the Boston area’s entry into the Solar Decathlon, a Department of Energy-run event where student teams from 20 universities compete for the best solar home design.
Curio House

Teams need to take apart and then reassemble their buildings on the National Mall in Washington, D.C., next month where they will be open to the public for 10 days and judged by a panel.The Boston team has focused its design on affordability, making an 800-square-foot building using almost entirely off-the-shelf products and technologies. It has lined up a buyer for the home in Cape Cod where it is supposed to be the first unit in a green housing development. The projected cost of the building, big enough for two people and a small child, is about $200,000. Students, donors, and school administrators held a ribbon-cutting ceremony at the unfinished building on Thursday at Tufts University in Medford, Mass.


US subsidies of oil and coal more than double the subsidies of renewable energy

File under “Things that make me scratch my head:”

US subsidies of oil and coal more than double the subsidies of renewable energy

Jeremy Hance
September 21, 2009

During the fiscal years of 2002-2008 the United States handed out subsidies to fossil fuel industries to a tune of 72 billion dollars, while renewable energy subsidies, during the same period, reached 29 billion dollars. Conducted by the Environmental Law Institute (ELI) in partnership with the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars, the research shows that the US government has heavily subsidized ‘dirty fuels’ that emit high levels of greenhouse gases.

The funds provided to renewable energy sources plunges further when one takes into account that of the 29 billion dollars, 16.8 billion went to subsidizing corn-based ethanol, an energy source that numerous studies have shown is not carbon neutral and has been blamed in part for deforestation in the tropics and the global food crisis. The remaining 12.2 billion went to wind, solar, non-corn based biofuels and biomass, hydropower, and geothermal energy production.

Of the 72 billion dollars given to fossil fuels, 2.3 billion went to carbon capture and storage. The rest of the funds went to oil and coal.

via US subsidies of oil and coal more than double the subsidies of renewable energy.

I have no problem with using subsidies or the tax code to encourage private enterprise to move in a certain direction. But this boggles the mind. Why are we subsidizing businesses that have posted record profits, even in the middle of a recession, and slighting those that have demonstrated economic, employment, and environmental superiority?

LakewoodAlive to host forum on wind energy feasibility in Lake Erie –

From the Sun News (Cleveland):

Great Lakes Energy Development Task Force members will discuss the possibility of wind energy in Lake Erie at 7 p.m. Sept. 30 at Harding Middle School, 16601 Madison Ave in Lakewood.

The results of the initial feasibilty study were made public in May (see Wind power initiative on Lake Erie passes feasibility test). Estimates for the next stage of the demonstration project – deployment of turbines in a pilot project – range from $77 million to $93 million.

A cure for colony collapse disorder? – Ars Technica

Spanish researchers believe they have found the cause of Colony Collapse Disorder, a worldwide problem which resulted in huge numbers of previously healthy bee colonies to suddenly sicken and die.

A new study published in the journal Environmental Microbiology Reports may clarify things, as a team of Spanish researchers report the cause of the colony collapse disorder, and also suggest a cure. The researchers isolated the parasitic fungi Nosema ceranae from a pair of Spanish apiaries, while finding none of the other proposed causes—Varroa destructor, IAPV, or pesticides. With the identification of the invading pathogen, the team treated other diseased colonies with fumagillin—an antibiotic—and observed a complete recovery of the colony.

via A cure for colony collapse – Ars Technica.

With this vector identified, the apiarists (bee scientists – new word for me too!) can take steps to manage the causes – including better hygiene to prevent infection and obviate the need for antibiotics.

Interior Dept. to use economic stimulus funds to promote renewable energy

Well, this is pretty cool:

Red Rock National Conservation Area, Nevada –Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar today announced $305 million will fund more than 650 Bureau of Land Management projects across the country under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009. The investments will restore landscapes and habitat, spur renewable energy development on public lands, and create jobs.

A skosh over thirteen percent will be used for commercial-scale renewable energy projects on land under the BLM portfolio. Over 100 projects – wind, solar, biomass, geothermal – are in various stages of the permitting process. Some of the funds will also be used to create or improve power transmission over publicly-managed land. While it’s not as sexy as the generation side of the equation, improving the capability and reliability of the transmission grid is hugely important. Having commercial scale renewable generation taking place on remote areas is useless if that power can’t make it to where it is needed.

It is true that most of the money will be used on more traditional public works-type projects, but there is a very strong component dedicated to increasing energy efficiency (yay!) and employing renewable energy, where practical. For instance, of the stimulus plan-funded projects in Nevada,

BLM stimulus funding in Nevada will provide $26.4 million for more than 40 projects, including investments in renewable energy, habitat restoration, roads, bridges and trails, abandoned mines and capital improvements. About $1.2 million of that total will be used to install solar power systems at 16 BLM fire stations in the State, including one next to Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area. The photovoltaic systems will be wired into the electric services at the stations, providing power with a savings in utility payments and reducing their carbon footprint.

Again, while not as sexy as renewable generation, spending money to improve energy efficiency in public buildings offers immediate impact and ongoing savings for taxpayers.

Let me reiterate: yay!

And the cherry on top: Anyone can check on the progress of these projects to see how the stimulus funds are actually being used:

The public will be able to follow the progress of each project on and on Secretary Salazar has appointed a Senior Advisor for Economic Recovery, Chris Henderson, and an Interior Economic Recovery Task Force. Henderson and the Task Force will work closely with the Department of the Interior’s Inspector General to ensure that the recovery program is meeting the high standards for accountability, responsibility, and transparency that President Obama has set.