Posts Tagged ‘renewable energy’

Oh No, Here Comes Another Learning Experience!

October 24, 2013

energy action

Nothing like learning from our experiences or mistakes is there?  Becoming aware of our energy use, naturally leads to finding ways to reduce that usage.  In celebration of Energy Action month you could really geek out on some resources out there like this from the National Academy of Sciences, But to make it relevant and to “bring it home” consider a  home energy assessment.

A good energy advisor will be able to help you in your energy awareness right where it matters most.  Look for an assessment of your home that also provides solutions you can act on, not just a list of problems.  Awareness is a great start,  and embracing the learning experience with action is putting the right foot forward and that is what October is all about.

 

Thanks,

Jason

Coming down the road–Nissan Leaf to Power Homes?

August 15, 2011

A few weeks ago, I showed an example of the Nissan Leaf charging stations that our sister company, Linc Lighting & Electrical, is installing in California.  That’s cool.  And it’s even more exciting when we’re able to look at the whole house while we’re there, and boost the energy-efficiency to help offset the car’s electricity us.  [And the Energy Upgrade California incentives are a financial boost!] 

Looking down the street and around the corner, there may be even more interesting possibilities integrating Home/Car/Electricity.  For example, Nissan has unveiled and is testing a new system allowing the car to supply electricity to the house.  This has applications from off-peak (and lower rate) power storage to emergency back-up power.  We’ll have to wait and see how this pans out.  Roll this in with smart meters, renewable generation, and community-scale projects, and things get even more interesting.  And that is what is keeping the elves in our Energy Hub workshop busy!

Meanwhile, one thing we know for certain, focusing on efficiency first makes sense!  And at home you get to do this by making your home more comfortable, durable, and healthier.

Thanks,
Mike

Secretary Chu cites a “Sputnik Moment” for energy policy and clean energy development

December 4, 2010

Following the thread of my post yesterday, I wanted to point you to an address at the National Press Club by Energy Secretary Chu.  Chu pointed to recent clean technology successes by China and other countries as a “Sputnik Moment” for the U.S.  We don’t can to sit back and do nothing and maintain a leadership position.  Indeed, on energy, we’ve already fallen behind in important areas.  As Chu indicated, we need to see what’s going on and marshall American ingenuity, strength, and can-do spirit to create cost-effective clean energy technologies–and I’d emphasize increasing efficiency–to power our country and drive our economy through the next century.  We should be hungry.  The Chinese and others have already started to eat our lunch on this front.

Thanks,
Mike

Hope for sound energy policy? Can left and right take the smart path?

November 8, 2010

One day, political finger-pointing, oneupsmanship, and gridlock might not rule the day.  We posted recently not just about environmentalists, but also the military, veterans, and climate nay-sayers all embracing sound energy policy including energy-efficiency.  And maybe a new report “Pro-Partisan Power”—the result of think tanks on both sides of the political spectrum working working together, the Brookings Institution, Breakthrough Institute and the American Enterprise Institute—is a sign that on this issue, the sides might meet.

While it’s not exactly the way I’d frame it, the report’s author note in their summary,

“Today, few issues in American political life are as polarized as energy policy, with both left and right entrenched in old worldviews that no longer make sense. For the better part of two decades, much of the right has speculated darkly about global warming as a United Nations-inspired conspiracy to destroy American sovereignty, all while passing off chants of “drill, baby, drill” as real energy policy. During the same period much of the left has oscillated incoherently between exhortations that avoiding the end of the world demands shared sacrifice, and contradictory assertions that today’s renewable energy and efficiency technologies can eliminate fossil fuels at no significant cost. All the while, America’s dependence on fossil fuels continues unabated and political gridlock deepens, preventing real progress towards a safer, cleaner, more secure energy system.”

A similar thought is echoed by David Leonhardt who hinted at the report’s release a few days ahead of time (can you echo in advance?  Perhaps if you got to read the report early you can.) in a NY Times column.   As the Leonhardt notes,

“[H]istory shows that government-directed research can work. The Defense Department created the Internet, as part of a project to build a communications system safe from nuclear attack. The military helped make possible radar, microchips and modern aviation, too. The National Institutes of Health spawned the biotechnology industry. All those investments have turned into engines of job creation, even without any new tax on the technologies they replaced.”

Of course, this applies smart investment—and that does mean spending some money at a time when the cry is for both tax cuts and erasing the budget deficit—a nontrivial challenge.  Of course, the McKinsey report showed that this was smart especially when driven by energy-efficiency savings.

But time isn’t on our side.  Our current energy policy is wasteful, it hurts the economy, it hurts the environment, and it leaves us very strategically vulnerable.  Let’s hope the new Congress cares more about doing what is right for the country than cutting down the the other side.  Like it or not, at the end of the day, when it comes to our energy policy, we’re all on the same side, win or lose.

Thanks,
Mike

Kansans for energy independence

October 19, 2010

When it rains it pours…more stories about people interested in saving energy.  The NYTimes reports on folks in the heartland interested in energy efficiency and renewable energy–even though they’re climate change skeptics.  Why?  Because EE/RE make sense! 

“It is in our DNA to leave a place better than we found it”

and

“There is no sense in our dependency on foreign oil”

As Amory Lovins says, it doesn’t matter whether you believe in global warming or not–most of the things we would do to fight global warming we ought to be doing energy–for economic, security, independence, and environmental reasons.  Just plain smart.

Energy Generation vs. Energy Efficiency

September 15, 2010

In his last post Mike touched on a very important issue: When you talk about going ‘green’ with energy there are two sides to the coin, generation and efficiency.

Generating green energy from renewable sources such as wind, solar, tide and nuclear (depending on which side of the aisle you sit on you may or may not agree that nuclear should be part of the mix) is a wonderful goal. Make no mistake, as a nation we should be diversifying our energy sources and moving away from fossil fuels, but the other side of the coin is equally, if not more important.

Energy efficiency can stretch our precious resources further, and it is something we can all contribute to today.  We don’t need an environmental impact assessment to air-seal and insulate our homes.   And we certainly don’t need an act of Congress to put on a sweater in the winter.  All we need is personal motivation and a little foresight.

Rocky Mountain Institute’s “Reinventing Fire”

May 25, 2010

Amory Lovins and the Rocky Mountain Institute present its business driven iniative “Reinventing Fire” to wean the U.S. off fossil fuel by 2050.  Why?  Because it makes sense!   They’ve put up a splash video introduction.  Of course, I key in on the building retrofit portion.  While they talk about the Empire State Building, the same principles apply at smaller scale in residential buildings, from single family homes to larger multifamily buildings.  Energy-efficiency.  Renewable energy.  The more you save, the more money you have left for your kids’ college education, and for a cold beer on a hot day.  So much room for improvement means a big opportunity to improve!

Thanks,
Mike

Power & Energy article takes on wind energy myths

May 16, 2010

On the Energy Foundation website, I found a great link to an article on wind energy, “Wind Power Myths Debunked“, from Power & Energy.  It’s not light reading, but it touches on some important questions with understandable answers.  The summary, from the article:

The natural variability of wind power makes it different from other generating technologies, which can give rise to questions about how wind power can be integrated into the grid successfully. This article aims to answer several important questions that can be raised with regard to wind power. Although wind is a variable resource, grid operators have experience with managing variability that comes from handling the variability of load. As a result, in many instances the power system is equipped to handle variability. Wind power is not expensive to integrate, nor does it require dedicated backup generation or storage.  Developments in tools such as wind forecasting also aid in integrating wind power. Integrating wind can be aided by enlarging balancing areas and moving to subhourly scheduling, which enable grid operators to access a deeper stack of generating resources and take advantage of the smoothing of wind output due to geographic diversity. Continued improvements in new conventional-generation technologies and the emergence of demand response, smart grids, and new technologies such as plug-in hybrids will also help with wind integration.

Senator Sanders and Assistant Secrectary Zoi lead geothermal discussion

April 17, 2010

Asst. Secretary Cathy Zoi joins U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders and Congressman Peter Welch at a forum to discuss geothermal technology.

I just got back from a discussion this afternoon hosted by Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont and featuring Assistant Secretary Cathy Zoi from the Department of Energy on the topic of geothermal.  Congressman Peter Welch also had the chance to speak of the bipartisan Home Star legislation that he introduced this week to help create jobs and make homes more energy-efficient. 

I’m a fan of geothermal, where it makes sense.  I was heartened though, to see many of the discussants talk about the importance of energy efficiency first.  Geothermal often makes the most sense when we’ve maximized energy-efficiency.  As a couple of the speakers mentioned–and as readers of this blog often hear–a critical first step is improving the envelope of the home.  That is, making sure the home is well-sealed, well insulated, with good ducts were applicable, and extending even to efficient windows and doors.  Geothermal–along other heat pump technology–is going to be a solid part of a smart energy future.  And it will best deliver on its promise after we’ve made our homes and commerical buildings more comfortable and energy-efficient.

I captured Cathy Zoi’s opening remarks on a bit of shaky video.

Thanks,
Mike

Earth Hour 2010

March 26, 2010

In roughly 24 hours, Earth Hour 2010 will begin, and people across the globe will shut off their lights for one hour in order to make a statement.  However you feel about global warming, everyone can agree that conserving resources, and turning off lights when we don’t need them, is good for our society and our world.
 
Tomorrow night, the centers and capitals of over 4,000 towns and cities will go dark in order to remind us of the importance of conservation in our daily lives. From Lima to Las Vegas, from the Empire State Building to the Eiffel Tower, cities large and small across the globe will be declaring their dedication to protecting the environment we inhabit.  
 
I support Earth Hour 2010 because reducing energy waste is a great idea—and Earth Hour helps call attention to it. It’s easy in the modern world to forget about where energy comes from when you can illuminate your house with the flick of a finger, but each minute that a light bulb is burning unnecessarily is a minute that fuel is being wasted.  And in the U.S. more than 50% of our electricity comes from dirty coal.  By cutting down on our energy waste, we will reduce our dependence on foreign oil, improve our air quality, and decrease the load that energy companies are facing on a daily basis, all while helping homeowners save money on their energy bills. Who isn’t in favor of that?
 
Last year over 1 billion people participated in Earth Hour 2009, check out this video to see some of the cities that joined in: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FclcMfzjwug

If you want to join us in supporting Earth Hour 2010, turn off your lights today, Saturday, March 27th, at 8:30 PM EDT.  Remember, though, the value here is educational and inspiration.  To really get lasting energy savings, and have a long-term impact, you need to make bigger changes with bigger impacts in your home, the type of energy-efficiency improvements we discuss here at the time.
 
Thanks,
Mike


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