A meta-assessment by Rembrandt Koppelaar argues that "Solar is able to generate 14 times the energy invested to create the panels" while "oil and gas now generate roughly 11 times the amount of energy invested" in the U.S., due to declining reserve quality.
Electric vehicles – It's not just about the car - "One of the key characteristics of complex systems, such as the world's energy and transport sectors, is that when they change it tends not to be a linear process. They flip from one state to another in a way strongly analogous to a phase change in material science... A second important characteristic of this type of economic phase change is that when one major sector flips, the results rip through the whole economy and can have impacts on the societal scale." (via) [more inside]
Alaska is Having Its Hottest Year Since Records Began - "After a spring that was a full ten degrees hotter than normal, the northern state is on track for the most sweltering year on record." (via) [more inside]
The case for optimism on climate change - "I'll finish with this story. When I was 13 years old, I heard that proposal by President Kennedy to land a person on the Moon and bring him back safely in 10 years. And I heard adults of that day and time say, 'That's reckless, expensive, may well fail.' But eight years and two months later, in the moment that Neil Armstrong set foot on the Moon, there was great cheer that went up in NASA's mission control in Houston. Here's a little-known fact about that: the average age of the systems engineers, the controllers in the room that day, was 26, which means, among other things, their age, when they heard that challenge, was 18." (via; previously) [more inside]
The war on coal is not just political rhetoric, or a paranoid fantasy concocted by rapacious polluters. It’s real and it’s relentless. Over the past five years, it has killed a coal-fired power plant every 10 days. It has quietly transformed the U.S. electric grid and the global climate debate.
Tesla Powerwall Battery Economics: Almost There - "Elon Musk announced Tesla's home / business battery today. [video] tl;dr: It'll get enthusiastic early adopters to buy. The economics are almost there to make it cost effective for a wide market... That said, for large scale grid deployment (outside of the home), it still looks like flow batteries and advanced compressed air are likely to be far cheaper in the long run." [more inside]
UN Climate Report: We Must Focus On 'Decarbonization', and It Won't Wreck the Economy - "The basic message is simple: We share a planet. Let's start acting like it." [more inside]
The world's largest solar power plant will probably be cleared for construction in California. At 1GW it is the size of a nuclear power plant and nearly doubles the US installed base of commercial-scale solar power. It will take 6-years, $6-billion and 7,000-acres. Proposed site (on Google maps). It will use parabolic trough's (video). It is being built by a German company (construction video / operation animation). There are many other CSP (Concentrated Solar Power) projects.
The globe’s networked ecologies of food, water, energy, and waste have established new infrastructures and forms of urbanism. While these ecologies exist at the service of our contemporary lifestyles, they have typically remained hidden from view and from the public conscience. Infranet Lab is studying the shifting / changing conditions. [more inside]
Meta-efficiency is the analysis of efficiency at a more comprehensive level. Metaefficient Review assesses products considering not only their energy efficiency but also the embodied energy, toxicity, affordability, and usability. [more inside]
Chris Goodall, author of Ten Technologies to Save the Planet, talks about the ten big green energy myths.
Enertia is producing "innovative new homes of remarkable strength, economy, and beauty, brought to life by an elegant new architecture and the discovery of a new source of pollution-free energy." The design took first prize in the Modern Marvels/Invent Now competition (previously). In an interview, the inventor, Michael Sykes, says "he was inspired by the way the earth’s own atmosphere keeps the planet at a relatively constant comfortable temperature despite the frigidity of space." He also notes that his wife calls herself a "homemaker," natch.
Verdier, a very geeky proposal for the redesign of the VW Westfalia. I think my brain just exploded. It has solar panels, an integrated pop-top tent with a huge awning and an attached screened enclosure, a fold-out kitchen with tables and chairs and more. [Flash-based, English translation link available at the bottom.]
World solar challenge 2003. Darwin to Adelaide 19 - 28 October. Check out the route. Meet the teams. Have a look at the Green Fleet class as well, where technology meets reality. I won't be able to watch the race but have high hopes for next year's Olympics.
A kilometre-high solar tower, to be built in the Australian outback by EnviroMission Ltd, will become the world's tallest structure when completed in 2006. Designed by Jorg Schlaich of Schlaich Bergermann und Partner, the solar tower (or solar chimney) operates like a hydroelectric power plant, but uses hot air instead of water, and it could provide enough electricity for 200,000 homes. Time calls it one of the best inventions of 2002, and I think it's one of the most ingenious ideas I've ever heard. Another solar chimney project was planned in Rajasthan, India, but I haven't found any information on its current status.
Let the sun do your cooking for you! Not just a great way to save electricity, gas, or charcoal... (particularly if you live in California *grin*) it's delicious too! We built the Solar Funnel Cooker just for the halibut (groan) - cooked it in white wine with shredded zucchini and carrots - and it was the most tender, tasty fish I've ever eaten.