Archive | Energy Efficiency

Britain Builds Green Towns to Reduce CO2

LONDON, Feb. 9 (UPI) — The British government is spending $90 million to build four carbon-neutral towns in England.

The so-called eco-towns were chosen from a list of 12 finalists. They are St. Austell in Cornwall, near the western tip of England, Whitehill-Bordon in Hampshire near London, North West Bicester in Oxfordshire in the southeast and Rackheath in Norfolk, near England’s East coast.

The money will be used to construct new low-energy houses, a third of them affordable, while also making existing buildings more efficient. Transport, education and administration will also become greener, British officials say. The four cities are expected to house up to 30,000 people within five years.

Several government departments will fund the project, which is intended to pave the way for urban city planning to become more sustainable as Britain aims to reduce its overall carbon dioxide footprint.

Britain’s Housing Secretary John Healy said the eco-towns will set a “global standard for green living while helping tackle climate change and the shortage of affordable homes.”

“People will be able to experience green living for themselves and see how it can change their lives and save money,” Healy was quoted as saying by the Environmental Data Interactive Exchange. “By 2016 there will be 10,000 new eco-homes in these four pioneering areas.”

The latest energy efficiency technology, such as smart metering and waste reduction devices, will be used in the green buildings, and public spaces will be outfitted with parking spaces for bikes and charging devices for electric cars,

Whitehill-Bordon has filed plans to build up to 5,500 homes on a site owned by the British Defense Ministry. It also wants to install a large biomass facility to supply the local community with renewable energy. The city hopes to create some 7,000 jobs in the process.

Officials in St. Austell have chosen land used by defunct industries to house about 5,000 green homes.

In North West Bicester officials have plans to build 5,000 homes and outfit the local school’s roof with solar panels as well as a heat pumping system and green public transport.

The fourth city, Rackheath, plans to construct 6,000 green homes that according to the BBC will incorporate “rainwater recycling, low flush toilets, high insulation levels and environmentally friendly roofs.”

Officials promise that the eco-city projects, which have been met with opposition in some of the towns selected, will benefit the local economies.

“Local workers, including apprentices, will help build these pioneering homes and other projects,” Healy said. “This will arm them with the new skills in green construction, giving them a head start on their career path.”

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 Buildings, Cars, Education, Energy Efficiency, Recycling, Solar0 Comments

Report: Green Energy Funds Fall Slightly

DAVOS, Switzerland, Jan. 28 (UPI) — International support for combating climate change has slipped only slightly during the recession, a report presented in Davos, Switzerland, said Thursday.

The unexpected resilience in funding was partly the result of economic stimulus programs that leaned on green energy initiatives and partly the result of the Copenhagen Accord of December 2009 in which the international community pledged $100 billion to help developing countries, a statement issued by the World Economic Forum said.

Funding to combat global warming fell 6 percent from $155 billion in 2008 to $145 billion in 2009, said the report entitled “Green Investing, 2010: Policy Mechanisms to Bridge the Financing Gap.”

A separate report said there was still a huge gap in funding needed to restrict global warming to an average temperature increase of 2 degrees Celsius.

The report, “Green Investing: Toward a Low Carbon Energy Infrastructure” said $500 billion per year would be required to keep climate change below that target.

“The world needs a substantial increase in private investment flows into clean energy and energy efficiency if we want to avoid severe impacts of climate change,” said Jack Ehnes, Chief Executive Officer, CalSTRS and a member of the World Economic Forum’s Expert Committee.

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 Business & Economics, Energy Efficiency, Infrastructure0 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

China Continues Grip on Coal

BEIJING, Dec. 17 (UPI) — While the Chinese government is embracing energy efficiency and investing in new green technology, China continues to burn coal at record rates.

Between 2002 and 2007 China doubled its coal consumption, according to the U.S. Department of Energy.

This year, China is on track to burn 3 billion tons of coal, nearly three times as much as the second-largest consumer, the United States, and about 40 percent of total global consumption during the same time.

While China has pledged to produce power more efficiently, saying it will reduce carbon intensity by 40 percent from 2005 to 2020, its energy requirements keep skyrocketing.

“For China to keep its rapid economic growth going, the only economic option is to burn more coal; renewable energy simply cannot compete,” said Tristan Edmondson, founding partner at Mint Research, a Beijing-based consultancy, The Washington Times reports.

Even by conservative growth rates, China would double coal burning to 6 billion tons by 2025, or more than the entire world consumed in 2004.

China is the world’s largest emitter of carbon. According to environmental group Greenpeace, 80 percent of China’s carbon dioxide emissions and 85 percent of its sulphur dioxide pollution come from burning coal. Every seven to 10 days a new coal-fired power station is built somewhere in China.

But China is also fast becoming a global leader in green energy.

In 2008 China was second only to the United States in terms of investment in renewable energy — $176 billion versus $200 billion — according to the global research unit of international banking giant HSBC.

HSBC estimates that China has allocated $221 billion of its recent economic stimulus money to green projects, more than twice as much as the United States and equivalent to 5 percent of China’s 2008 gross domestic product.

For its part during the Copenhagen climate-change conference, China has been pressuring the United States and other developed nations to curtail emissions and increase subsidies to developing nations’ efforts to adopt clean energy technologies.

An announcement of China’s new energy development plan, drafted by the National Energy Administration, is expected sometime after the conclusion of the conference.

Published reports suggest that the plan will raise the country’s 2020 targets, last set in 2005, to aim for a five-fold increase in wind power and a ten-fold increase in the solar power feeding its electricity grid.

In September President Hu Jintao said China would raise the share of non-fossil fuels in its energy mix to 15 percent by 2020 from an estimated 9 percent last year.

Copyright 2009 by United Press International

Posted in Coal, Consumption, Electricity, Energy Efficiency, Other, Science, Space, & Technology, 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

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 & Home0 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 & Home0 Comments

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