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Environment

Where the river meets the sea - salt and freshwater could be used like a giant battery (Im...

Green energy comes in many guises these days, from wind-power to wave-power. One of the more compelling of the new kids on the eco-energy block is salinity power, which uses the concurrence of salt-water and freshwater in estuaries and marries it with the natural, effortless process of osmosis.  Read More

Ultramafic rocks (in red) that potentially could absorb CO2 (Image: U.S. Geological Survey...

The debate about the benefits of using Carbon Capture and Sequestration (CCS) to fight against climate change is ongoing. One one hand there are reservations regarding suitable sequestration sites that provide sufficient security to store CO2 for centuries as well as the cost of implementing such a system, which could draw important funds away from the development of renewable energy technologies. On the other, we are still heavily reliant on burning fossil fuels to produce energy and this infrastructure can't be replaced overnight. CCS is obviously attractive to existing power generation companies as it allows them to keep hold of their existing infrastructure and for this reason, it is more than likely that CSS schemes will continue to gather momentum. So where to we can CO2 be stored? Scientists at Columbia University’s Earth Institute and the U.S. Geological Survey have produced a new report that maps large rock formations in the United States that can also absorb CO2 and are exploring ways to speed up the CCS process.  Read More

LED street lamps deliver 88% power saving in Japan

The cost and energy-efficiency of solid-state lighting are driving many new applications, and the recent installation of the first LED street lights in Osaka Prefecture in Japan, has already been found to provide an overall savings of 88% in electricity bills over the older high-pressure mercury lamps used elsewhere in the region. Each of the LED-based street lamps installed at a park on the Kizu River utilizes 36 cool white LEDs. The LED array generates 30 lux at a pole height of 4.5 meters, comparable to the brightness of mercury lamps, while using just 25 W of power per fixture.  Read More

Oyster® wave energy conversion system

A new milestone for marine energy was achieved recently when UK based Wave and Tidal Technologies company Aquamarine Power Ltd signed a 1,000 MW (1 GW) Development Agreement with the renewable energy development division of Scottish and Southern Energy, Airtricity. Aquamarimes's Wave Power device, called Oyster, is a near shore hydroelectric wave power system. Still at the full scale prototype stage, the Oyster is based around a large movable buoyant barrier structure that is mounted on the seabed in depths of 10 – 12 m (33 – 40 ft) and pivots like a gate.  Read More

First Solar has broken the $1 per watt price barrier

Arizona based First Solar has achieved a major milestone in reducing the manufacturing cost for solar panels below the $1 per watt price barrier - the target necessary for solar to compete with coal-burning electricity on the grid or grid-parity. Using cadmium telluride (CdTe) technology in its thin-film photovoltaic cells, First Solar claims to have the lowest manufacturing cost per watt in the industry with the ability to make solar cells at 98 cents per watt, one third of the price of comparable standard silicon panels. The efficiency is in part due to a low cycle time - 2.5 hours from sheet of glass to solar module - about a tenth of the time it takes for silicon equivalents.  Read More

LEDway Streetlight from BetaLED

Man’s primal fear of the darkness has helped spawn cities that are illuminated by massive numbers of streetlights – so many in fact that they represent almost 40 percent of a typical city’s electricity spending. While energy efficient LED streetlights have helped cut that figure considerably, the integration of intelligent management systems should help drive it down even further. LED exterior lighting manufacturer BetaLED is pursuing this avenue by pitting two leading forms of lighting control systems against each other in a test to discover which system produces the biggest reduction in operating and energy costs.  Read More

Oceanlinx wave energy conversion unit at Port Kembla in Australia

Renewable Energy Company Oceanlinx has re-deployed its full-scale wave energy conversion unit at Port Kembla in Australia. First deployed in 2005, the unit has been undergoing planned refurbishment and modifications for the past several months. The Oceanlinx wave generator, which is an Oscillating Water Column (OWC) device capable of generating peak power outputs of between 100 Kw and 1.5 MW, is one of six installations around the world currently being trialed.  Read More

Bottled water uses 2000 times more energy

New research from the Pacific Institute estimates that bottled water is up to 2000 times more energy-intensive than tap water. Similarly, bottled water that requires long-distance transport is far more energy-intensive than bottled water produced and distributed locally. Indeed, when all the sums were done, it seems the annual consumption of bottled water in the U.S. in 2007 required the equivalent of between 32 and 54 million barrels of oil—roughly one-third of a percent of total U.S. primary energy consumption.  Read More

Magenn's MARS floating wind generator

Wind power is notoriously flighty, particularly at ground level. Most turbine-on-a-post wind powered generators operate at around 20-40% of their rated generation capacity, simply because wind is intermittent and changes direction. But a generator situated 500-1000 feet above ground level would enjoy much more consistent strong wind - which is why the Magenn MARS system makes so much sense. It's a helium-filled rotating airship that spins in the wind on the end of a variable-length tether that also acts as a power transmitter, and it's expected to operate at more like 50% of its rated capacity. Each MARS system will be cheap and portable, which will make them extremely useful in rural, camping and emergency situations. A prototype has successfully been flown in North Carolina. A great idea that makes economic sense.  Read More

A coal-fueled power plant

While we are constantly covering advances in alternative energies the hard fact is that we are heavily reliant on the burning of fossil fuels to meet our energy needs - and in the medium term, given that the political will and economic benefits of finding green solutions is only just starting to gather momentum, we are stuck with them. That means we have to clean them up. We recently covered the discovery by Indian scientists of naturally occurring bacteria that convert CO2 into calcium carbonate and could be used on existing fossil fuel fired power plants and now Colorado based company, ION Engineering, have developed technology that could be used in a similar way to economically remove CO2 and other contaminants from fossil fuel power plant emissions and raw natural gas.  Read More

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