Environment Forum

Solar power mounts in Canada

December 11, 2009

canadaflag Solar power is heating up in the northern reaches of  Canada, a country not exactly known for its sunny rays and warm weather.

Thank you, EPA: U.S. solar companies

December 8, 2009

tomwernerMany businesses chafed on Monday at the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s declaration that greenhouse gas emissions endanger human health.

Wind projects don’t harm property values: study

December 3, 2009

Not-in-my-backyard — or NIMBY — protests can stall or stop wind power projects, with their spinning turbines, or other renewable energy projects, as Reuters has reported here.

Solar players see sun rising over India

November 25, 2009

India has ambitious plans for solar power as the country looks to boost its solar output to 20 gigawatts by 2022 from close to zero, as Reuters reported in this story.

U.S. lab says 2008 pivotal year for solar costs

October 21, 2009

The holy grail for solar power is to match the cost of power from coal-fired power plants or other traditional fuel.

The race for U.S. smart-grid cash

September 18, 2009

Utilities across the United States are rushing to a federal stimulus program that is doling out money to create a “smart grid” — systems that will upgrade the electricity grid.******In this story, Reuters correspondent Eileen O’Grady looks at the tough job facing the U.S. Department of Energy: They have to divvy up $4.5 billion in smart-grid money among some 565 applications.******Smart grid technology measures and modifies power usage in homes and businesses and improves grid reliability. Experts envision that it will open the door to a new era with “smart” appliances that turn themselves on and off, electric cars, more renewable energy and more efficiency on power lines.******San Diego Gas & Electric is one of the utilities hoping to launch a smart grid through the federal program and has applied for $100 million in stimulus funds.******Their plan would build micro smart grids at the University of California, San Diego and a residential community in San Diego County. They would work with companies like IBM, Cisco and Itron on the system technologies, software and hardware.******”They not only have to talk with each other but we have to make sure the entire network is secure. So from an intellectual security standpoint, we’ll ensure that we have that set-up, that we have the ability to communicate from one device and we make it seamless for the customer,” said Michael Niggli, chief operations officer at San Diego Gas & Electric.******Another major issue the utility hopes to solve is what happens when energy from renewable resources is intermittent, with its power generated fading or spiking.******”If the wind stops blowing or if the sun has clouds that intervene, so you can be in a situation where the power supply is affected,” Niggli said in a phone interview with Reuters.******”That’s a lot different than what we have today … where it’s like driving a car. If you want to go faster, you push the accelerator.”******Niggli envisions a system where customers can control their home energy use remotely, turning on the air-conditioning from a computer through the Internet or even on  their handset.******Some companies that are partnering with utilities are not putting all their eggs in one basket in the race for the smart-grid stimulus funds.******IBM is working as a vendor with a dozen utilities that have applied for money.******If the smart grid is done right, then customers won’t even notice a difference, said IBM’s Stephen Callahan, who leads the company’s Intelligent Utility Network unit for the Americas.******”Those customers shouldn’t see anything but improvement in cost, reliability, all those things,” Callahan said.******We wanted to know what readers think about the federal program to jump-start smart grid projects. What should the DOE prioritize? What kind of projects would you like to see?******(Photo: The sun is shown as it rises between power transmission lines in Burbank, California. Photo credit: Fred Prouser/Reuters)*********************

New Jersey has best payback on residential solar in U.S.

September 16, 2009

California may be the Golden State, but it’s New Jersey where U.S. residents get the best deal on their solar power systems, new research shows.

Smithsonian gets solar panel that once graced White House roof

August 21, 2009

U.S. President Barack Obama has made climate change legislation one of his top goals and has pushed for more clean, renewable energy like solar and wind power.

Sage, wind and grouse: The “brown” side of clean energy?

August 3, 2009

CARBON, Wyoming – They used to mine coal in the abandoned town of Carbon. Now this patch of southern Wyoming is a battleground in the debate over what many hope will be the clean energy source of the future: wind power.

A rocket man’s view of solar energy

July 31, 2009

After nearly 25 years in the computer science and aerospace industries, including a stint at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Doug Caldwell decided to pursue a career-long dream of putting his engineering skills to use for the environment. So the Southern California native left his own start-up, a company that builds cameras for spacecraft launch systems, to explore his options.