Archive | Energy Conservation

Scientist: Wind, Solar Energy is Future

BOSTON, Aug. 24 (UPI) — A Nobel Prize-winning U.S. scientist says the world could soon enter an era where renewable wind and solar power will be the globe’s main sources of energy.

Walter Kohn, who shared the 1998 Nobel Prize in Chemistry, told a meeting of the American Chemical Society that total oil and natural gas production, which today provides about 60 percent of global energy consumption, is expected to peak about 10 to 30 years from now, followed by a rapid decline, an ACS release said Tuesday.

But ongoing research and development of alternative energy could lead to a new era in human history in which two renewable sources — solar and wind — will become Earth’s dominant contributors of energy, Kohn said.

Global photovoltaic energy production increased by a factor of about 90 and wind energy by a factor of about 10 over the last 10 years, Kohn said, and he expects vigorous growth of these two effectively inexhaustible energies to continue.

Kohn, from the University of California, Santa Barbara, cited students on his campus who spent their own funds to convert an athletic building to total solar power.

“When it comes to providing leadership by young people in the area of energy conservation and energy efficiency and global warming — they are fantastic,” he said. “It is a major social commitment for our times.”

Copyright 2010 United Press International, Inc. (UPI). Any reproduction, republication, redistribution and/or modification of any UPI content is expressly prohibited without UPI’s prior written consent.

Posted in Consumption, Energy Conservation, Energy Efficiency, Natural Gas, Other, Solar, Wind0 Comments

Energy Waste Creates Hydrogen Fuel

MADISON, Wis., March 16 (UPI) — U.S. scientists say they have created a simple and cost-effective technology that uses small amounts of waste energy to turn water into usable hydrogen fuel.

University of Wisconsin-Madison Assistant Professor Huifang Xu, who led the study, said his team grew nanocrystals of two common crystals — zinc oxide and barium titanate — and placed them into water. When pulsed with ultrasonic vibrations, the nanofibers flexed and catalyzed a chemical reaction to split the water molecules into hydrogen and oxygen.

The researchers explained that when the fibers bend, asymmetries in their crystal structures generate positive and negative charges and create an electrical potential. That phenomenon, called the piezoelectric effect, is well known in certain crystals and is the driving force behind quartz clocks.

Xu and his colleagues applied the same idea to nanocrystal fibers and, so far, have achieved 18 percent efficiency — higher than most experimental energy sources.

Rather than harvest the energy directly, the scientists used it to break the chemical bonds in water and produce oxygen and hydrogen gas.

Xu said the process might eventually be used to generate power from a multitude of small sources — walking could charge a cell and breezes could power streetlights.

The study that included Kuang-Sheng Hong, Hiromi Konishi and Professor Xiaochun Li is reported in the March 2 issue of the Journal of Physical Chemistry Letters.

Copyright 2010 United Press International, Inc. (UPI). Any reproduction, republication, redistribution and/or modification of any UPI content is expressly prohibited without UPI’s prior written consent.

Posted in Energy & Fuels, Energy Conservation, Hydrogen0 Comments

Obama Unveils Home Energy Rebate Program

SAVANNAH, Ga., March 2 (UPI) — U.S. President Barack Obama Tuesday unveiled a new program that would offer rebates to U.S. consumers who invest to make their homes energy efficient.

The Home Star energy rebate program will save families several hundred dollars in utility bills, reduce the country’s fossil-fuel dependency and “spur hiring up and down the economy,” Obama said during a White House to Main Street visit to Savannah, Ga.

If consumers want to upgrade the energy efficiency through insulation, duct sealing, windows, roofing or doors, among other things, they could be eligible for rebates of between $1,000 and $1,500 to a combined maximum of $3,000.

Consumers looking for more comprehensive energy retrofitting could receive up to a $3,000 rebate for a whole-house energy audit and retrofits that achieve a 20 percent energy savings.

The program requires congressional approval, Obama said, who added, “Working stuff through Congress is more than a notion.”

“This is not a Democratic or a Republican idea, this is a common-sense approach” to help jump start the economy and make it stronger,” Obama said.

Programs such as Home Star and other energy-focused initiatives will help lay the foundation of economic growth that will boost jobs at decent wages critical to “create lasting opportunities and prosperity.”

He noted the first new nuclear power plant in nearly three decades will be built in Georgia, and praised programs at Savannah Technical College, where he spoke, that teach green trades.

“I’m convinced the country that leads in clean energy will lead the global economy,” Obama said. “I want us to be at first.”

Copyright 2010 United Press International, Inc. (UPI). Any reproduction, republication, redistribution and/or modification of any UPI content is expressly prohibited without UPI’s prior written consent.

Posted in Energy Conservation, Energy Efficiency, Nuclear0 Comments

Nanotech May Transform Energy Storage

STANFORD, Calif., Feb. 24 (UPI) — A U.S. scientist says he and his team are re-conceptualizing energy storage by utilizing nanotechnology.

Stanford Assistant Professor Yi Cui says nanotech products of the future might allow energy storage on paper and cloth while retaining the mechanical properties of ordinary paper or fabric.

Cui’s team envisions numerous functional uses for their inventions — homes lined with energy-storing wallpaper or reactive high-performance sportswear that would allow everything from portable appliances to a soldier’s battle gear to be powered by an outlet woven into a T-shirt.

“Energy storage is a pretty old research field,” Cui said. “Supercapacitors, batteries — those things are old. How do you really make a revolutionary impact in this field? It requires quite a dramatic difference of thinking.”

Cui said he plans to direct his research toward studying both the “hard science” behind the electrical properties of nanomaterials and designing real-world applications.

“This is the right time to really see what we learn from nanoscience and do practical applications that are extremely promising,” he said.

The Cui group’s latest research on energy storage devices was detailed in papers published in the December online edition of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences and in the January issue of the journal Nano Letters.

Cui also presented his research last week in San Diego during the annual meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science.

Copyright 2010 United Press International, Inc. (UPI). Any reproduction, republication, redistribution and/or modification of any UPI content is expressly prohibited without UPI’s prior written consent.

Posted in Energy Conservation0 Comments

California Energy Storage Project Heralded

PASADENA, Calif., Jan. 27 (UPI) — The Southern California Public Power Authority says it plans to create the nation’s first cost-effective, utility-scale, distributed energy storage project.

Officials said the 53 megawatt project, to be built in collaboration with the Ice Energy Corp., will be designed to help permanently reduce peak electrical demand by shifting as much as 64 gigawatt hours of on-peak electrical consumption to off-peak periods every year, reducing exposure to costly peak power and improving the reliability of the electrical grid.

“By using storage to change how — and more importantly when — energy is consumed by air conditioning, we can offset enough peak demand in the region to serve the equivalent of 10,000 homes, said Bill Carnahan, executive director of SCPPA, which deliver electricity to approximately 2 million customers in such California cities as Anaheim, Azusa, Banning, Burbank, Cerritos, Colton, Glendale, Los Angeles, Pasadena, Riverside and Vernon, as well as the Imperial Irrigation District.

Ice Energy of Windsor, Colo., said it delivers distributed energy storage and smart grid solutions for transforming energy system efficiency and improving grid reliability.

Copyright 2010 United Press International, Inc. (UPI). Any reproduction, republication, redistribution and/or modification of any UPI content is expressly prohibited without UPI’s prior written consent.

Posted in Consumption, Electricity, Energy Conservation0 Comments

Amendment to Chinese Energy Law Adopted

BEIJING, Dec. 26 (UPI) — China’s renewable energy law was amended Saturday to require power companies to buy all power generated from renewable resources.

Chinese state-run news agency Xinhua reported Chinese lawmakers adopted the amendment to China’s renewable energy law during a National People’s Congress Standing Committee meeting.

The amendment also requires the State Council Energy Department and the state power regulatory agency to “determine the proportion of renewable energy power generation to the overall generating capacity for a certain period.”

Under China’s renewable energy law, electricity grid companies will face sizable fines if they fail to purchase power generated from renewable resources such as non-fossil fuels or wind and solar power.

The law and its adopted amendment come about as China remains reliant on coal as a power supply. Two-thirds of the country’s power supply comes from coal, Xinhua said.

Copyright 2009 by United Press International

Posted in Coal, Electricity, Energy, Energy & Fuels, Energy Conservation, Energy Efficiency, Energy Industry, Solar, Wind0 Comments

Bacteria Used to Power Simple Machines

ARGONNE, Ill., Dec. 16 (UPI) — U.S. Department of Energy scientists say they’ve used common bacteria to power simple machines, providing insight for creating bio-inspired energy production.

The researchers at the Argonne National Laboratory and Northwestern University said they discovered bacteria can turn microgears when suspended in a solution.

“The gears are a million times more massive than the bacteria,” said physicist Igor Aronson, who led the study. “The ability to harness and control the power of bacterial motions is an important requirement for further development of hybrid biomechanical systems driven by microorganisms.”

The scientists discovered the aerobic bacteria, Bacillus subtilis, appear to swim around the solution randomly, but occasionally the organisms will collide with the spokes of the gear and begin turning it in a definite direction. The researchers then added a few hundred bacteria which worked together to turn the gear.

When multiple gears are placed in the solution with the spokes connected, the bacteria will begin turning both gears in opposite directions and it will cause the gears to rotate in synchrony for a long time, the scientists said.

“Our discovery demonstrates how microscopic swimming agents, such as bacteria or man-made nanorobots, in combination with hard materials can constitute a ‘smart material’ which can dynamically alter its microstructures, repair damage or power microdevices,” Aronson said.

The research is reported in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Copyright 2009 by United Press International

Posted in Energy, Energy & Fuels, Energy Conservation, Energy Efficiency, Microorganisms0 Comments

Obama Seeks Incentives for Home Energy

WASHINGTON, Dec. 15 (UPI) — President Barack Obama Tuesday called on Congress to provide temporary incentives for U.S. homeowners who invest in energy-efficient retrofitting.

“The simple act of retrofitting these buildings to make them more energy-efficient … is one of the fastest, easiest and cheapest things we can do to put America back to work while saving money and reducing harmful emissions,” Obama said during a visit to a Home Depot in Alexandria, Va., while ticking off retrofitting examples such as installing new windows and doors, insulation, roofing, correcting ceiling leaks and modernizing heating and cooling equipment.

He also noted energy-related investments made under the American Reinvestment and Recovery Act put the nation on a pace “to upgrade the homes of half a million Americans by this time next year … boosting the economy, saving money on energy, creating clean energy jobs that can’t be outsourced.”

And there’s another reason to retrofit, Obama said to some chuckles — insulation is sexy.

“Here’s what sexy about it: saving money,” he said. “You put in the insulation, you — you weatherize your home now, you will make up that money in a year or two years or three years, and then everything after that is just gravy.”

Copyright 2009 by United Press International

Posted in Buildings, Consumer Products, Electricity, Energy, Energy & Fuels, Energy Conservation, Energy Efficiency, Energy Efficiency & Weatherization, Homes & Buildings, House & Home0 Comments

Biden Issues Positive Clean Energy Report

WASHINGTON, Dec. 15 (UPI) — Vice President Joe Biden has issued a report to the president indicating U.S. Recovery Act initiatives are building a more energy-efficient economy.

“I’m pleased to report that the administration is laying the foundation for a clean energy economy that will create a new generation of jobs, reduce dependence on oil and enhance national security,” Biden wrote in the memo Monday. “Through the Recovery Act and more effective use of programs already in existence, the administration is taking the critical steps to transform the United States into a global clean energy leader.”

The memo outlined ways the Recovery Act and other investments are allowing the United States to make clean energy advances, and asserted the nation is scheduled to double geothermal, solar and wind generation manufacturing facilities in three years.

The memo also touted three of the first-ever electric vehicle facilities along with 30 new battery plants expected to be operational during the next six years. U.S. homes will have 26,000,000 Smart meters installed by 2013, triple the number now in service, the memo said.

There are plans to build and operate five commercial scale power plants with carbon capture facilities intended to help control greenhouse gas emissions.

All the projects are to be funded, the memo says, either by Recovery Act monies alone or in combination with private sector investments.

Biden will discuss the measures at a meeting on climate change in Copenhagen next week.

Copyright 2009 by United Press International

Posted in Energy, Energy & Fuels, Energy Conservation, Energy Efficiency, Energy Industry, Energy Policy & Advocacy, Geothermal, Other, Solar, Wind0 Comments

President Barack Obama Speaks on Energy Savings at Home Depot in Alexandria Virginia

Obama Visits Virginia Home Depot Store

U.S. President Barack Obama speaks at a meeting on the economic impact of energy saving home retrofits with labor, manufacturing, and small business leaders at a Northern Virginia Home Depot store in Alexandria, Virginia on December 15, 2009. UPI/Ron Sachs/Pool

Date Taken: December 15, 2009

Posted in Electricity, Energy, Energy & Fuels, Energy Conservation, Energy Efficiency, House & Home1 Comment

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