DE Editor's Blog
Elizabeth Cutright is the Editor of Distributed Energy Magazine
Tuesday, May 14, 2013 1:15 PM
This week, I will be attending the “ Sustainability in Public Works ” conference hosted by the American Public Works Association (APWA). One of the nation’s largest and oldest organizations focused on public works, the APWA “exists to develop and support the people, agencies, and organizations that plan, build, maintain, and improve our communities.” This year, the Summit will focus on how the “day-to-day” choices of public works professionals “influence energy use, air and watershed quality, ecosystem ... More...
Tuesday, May 07, 2013 11:08 AM
Last week, I had the pleasure of once again attending the University of California Santa Barbara’s “ Santa Barbara Summit on Energy Efficiency ” hosted by the Institute for Energy Efficiency (IEE). The Institute for Energy Efficiency, based at the UCSB Campus, is an interdisciplinary research institute “dedicated to developing technological solutions that will forever change how energy is produced, managed, and used.” With the theme, Materials for a Sustainable Energy Future, this year’s summit fo... More...
Tuesday, April 30, 2013 12:47 PM
Can energy efficiency be political? Should it? Apparently the quick answer to the first question is yes, energy efficiency can be political—but the reasons why may be surprising. A new study released by the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States (PNAS) reveals, “promoting the environment can negatively affect adoption of energy efficiency in the United States because of the political polarization surrounding environmental issues.” In other words, environmental activism coul... More...
Tuesday, April 23, 2013 4:26 PM
“We are beyond the tipping point towards a cleaner energy future.” –Michael Liebreich, chief executive of Bloomberg New Energy Finance Last week, in my blog “ Renewable Energy Investments Shrink ”, I reported “According to a report released this week by Bloomberg New Energy Finance , ‘investment worldwide in the first quarter of 2013 was $40.6bn, down 22% on a year earlier.’” “For investment in clean energy to play its role in stemming the growth in world emissions, we would nee... More...
Tuesday, April 16, 2013 12:54 PM
While it was understandable that renewable energy investors would hit the pause button during the 2009 fiscal crisis, after years of growth and expansion, private funding for wind and solar is once again taking a dive. According to a report released this week by Bloomberg New Energy Finance , “investment worldwide in the first quarter of 2013 was $40.6bn, down 22% on a year earlier.” And the news only gets worse. First quarter investments in renewable energy, energy efficiency, and energy smart technolo... More...
Tuesday, April 09, 2013 12:22 PM
While energy consumed by the manufacturing sector in the US dropped by 17% between 2002 and 2010 (according to a report released by the Energy Information Administration last month), in Asia it’s a slightly different story. According to a report released by the Asia Development Bank (ADB), due to the continent’s exponentially expanding energy demand, Asia may—as Bloomberg reports—“account for 44 percent of global GDP by 2035 and consume more than 51 percent of its energy.” “Asia could be con... More...
Tuesday, April 02, 2013 2:43 PM
Every year, we conduct a survey of our readers in an attempt to keep abreast of the interests and concerns that are most important to our audience. And every year, those of you who respond to our Distributed Energy survey consistently identify renewable energy as a hot topic you’d like to hear more about. (Our next reader surveys should go out in the next month or two—so keep your eye out for our e-mail). This interest in renewable energy is not unique to our highly qualified readership. The average Ame... More...
Tuesday, March 26, 2013 3:41 PM
“You can’t cut waste until you know what you’re wasting. . . .” So writes Bryan Walsh, senior editor for Time magazine in a recent piece titled “Smart Power: Why More Bytes Will Mean Fewer—and Cleaner—Electrons.” In his article, Walsh explores the need for better data on energy waste—something beyond standard electricity meters. Something that can utilize smart sensors and Internet. Something that can educate consumers and provide large-scale energy users with the information they need to make smart dec... More...
Tuesday, March 19, 2013 12:34 PM
Writing for The Hill’s Congress Blog last week (“ Raising the game for energy efficiency ”), C. David Myers, president of Johnson Controls Building Efficiency, calls on President Obama and congress to invest in building efficiency. “The cleanest and lowest cost way to meet our energy needs is to consume less,” declares Myers, who goes on to write about the need for incentives and strong financial paybacks to “raise the game” and put “the right tools and policies in place to increase investment in energy... More...
Tuesday, March 12, 2013 3:35 PM
According to an excerpt from Clean Energy Trends 2013 —a report compiled by energy-consulting firm Clean Edge—despite some challenges, including “high profile bankruptcies” and an overleveraged Chinese solar market, “The fundamental global market drivers for clean technology ... remain largely intact.” And as resources continue to be overtaxed and demand continues to rise (along with any extra complications due to climate change and international conflicts), the report concludes, “Resiliency and adaptat... More...
Tuesday, March 05, 2013 12:26 PM
In a provocatively titled blog over at Slate (“ What Sex Can Teach Us About Our Energy Future ”), Steve Hallet posits that when it comes to overcoming climate change and our dependence on fossil fuels, efficiency is not necessarily the answer. Pointing to natural selection in the wild and the inefficient (and often dangerous) process of reproduction, Hallet suggests, “Sex is best seen as a regulating device that tempers the tendency of natural selection to ensnare species in an efficiency trap.” But how... More...
Tuesday, February 26, 2013 12:45 PM
In Illinois, home to 2,753 MW of wind power and 580,000 manufacturing jobs (a “jobs cluster” second only to Los Angeles, CA), a new report reveals that transportation development and CHP can help the state achieve a “manufacturing renaissance” that will increase employment opportunities and drive energy efficiency. As reported by Chris Bentley at WBEZ 91.5 , the state’s transportation infrastructure—especially in the manufacturing heavy northeast—could spur economic growth and create much needed employm... More...
Tuesday, February 19, 2013 11:51 AM
Wind and Solar get all the glory. Hydropower and nuclear power often hog the controversy s potlight. But what about geothermal? We don’t talk too much about geothermal electricity here at Distributed Energy , in part because although the technology is efficient and sustainable, it embodies the very definition of onsite power: in the past, in order to harness geothermal energy, electric plants had to be built “exclusively where high temperature geothermal resources are available near the surface.” ... More...
Tuesday, February 12, 2013 12:34 PM
There are changes afoot in the South Bronx. If developers of the recent $1.5 million energy overhaul have their way, the Urban Horizon’s building on East 168 th Street will soon be a model for large-scale, affordable housing complexes around the country seeking to capitalize on “creative financing” and energy-saving retrofits. “If a nonprofit in the South Bronx can do it, others can do it, too,” Rebecca Eigenbauer, the director of housing development for WHEDco, the nonprofit that owns and runs Urban Ho... More...
Tuesday, February 05, 2013 11:09 AM
Like many of you, I spent Super Bowl Sunday at a friend’s house, surrounded by an unapologetic potluck and a generous beverage bar. While I spent most of the time chatting with friends near the food, I did catch bits and pieces of what turned out to be a fairly close contest during the game’s last few minutes. But you can guess what caught my attention on Sunday. It wasn’t the halftime show or the big budget commercials. It was the 34 minutes the lights went out in the Superdome. For the first few momen... More...
Tuesday, January 29, 2013 10:16 AM
This week I’m in San Diego, CA, attending the DistribuTECH Conference and Exhibition. The conference’s primary focus is distributed generation and the power industry, and I am excited to see what’s new in the world of smart grids and integrated onsite power systems. The topics covered throughout the week at various presentations and symposiums include automatic meter reading, customer information systems, energy management, and security systems. The organizers have also prepared a strong water-centric t... More...
Tuesday, January 22, 2013 11:17 AM
It’s Inauguration Week, and over at Forbes , contributor David Blackmon has come up with “An Energy Action List for A Second Obama Term.” While Blackmon acknowledges the general desire of the President’s take on a national energy policy, Blackmon is also quick to point out that the solution is not “a call for some omnibus 2,000-page bill that no will ever read addressing all aspects of the nation’s energy suite.” So what should the President concentrate on during his second term? Should energy independe... More...
Tuesday, January 15, 2013 11:08 AM
We all know that, generally speaking, most Americans support—to varying degrees—increased exploration and implementation of clean energy. But did you know that 91% of Americans “feel it is important that their member of congress demonstrate a leadership role on a national agenda for clean energy and protecting America’s water and air?” Would you be surprised to learn that support for clean energy and protected water resources crosses party lines, with 85% of Republicans, 87% of Independents, and 96% of ... More...
Tuesday, January 08, 2013 1:16 PM
Shifting alliances, changing roles, unpredictable weather, and one noteworthy automobile—this year’s energy landscape included familiar players but some unanticipated outcomes. Below, the highlights… In 2012, several renewable energy advancements took place, including initial construction of Africa’s largest solar plant in Ghana , the largest wind farm was installed off the Scottish coast , and Saudi Arabia announced plans to be completely powered by renewable energy. In our own backyard, the US N... More...
Wednesday, January 02, 2013 11:49 AM
Writing for the American , energy analyst Kenneth P. Green states , “when considering energy independence, one has to strive for clear thinking and consider all of the potential tradeoffs and potential unintended consequences involved.” What are those tradeoffs and consequences? For starters, switching out fossil fuel for biofuel may reduce our dependence on foreign oil, but as Green points out, “most biofuels are a Faustian bargain, causing economic waste and environmental destruction.” Perhaps we need... More...
Tuesday, December 18, 2012 11:26 AM
“The only way the entire global energy system can transition to clean energy is if its cost is lower and its performance is equal to or greater than cheap fossil fuels like natural gas, coal, and oil.” – Matthew Stepp, Senior Analyst with the Information Technology and Innovation Foundation (ITIF) Writing as a guest blogger for the Christian Science Monitor in a piece titled “Amid energy crisis, a need to define and promote innovation,” senior analyst Matthew Stepp (ITIF) argues that in order for g... More...
Tuesday, December 11, 2012 12:19 PM
For many businesses, large and small, energy costs are a significant portion of the operational budget. Within that context, it makes sense that many companies are committed to mitigating those costs through onsite power, energy efficiency retrofits, and renewable energy. In fact, according to a recent report from Calvert Investments (in cooperation with Ceres and the World Wildlife Fund (WWF)), most of the largest corporations around the world are taking the initiative when it comes to clean energy. Th... More...
Tuesday, December 04, 2012 10:18 AM
“Fixing insulation and leaky windows isn’t as sexy as saying, ‘Look at our new solar installation,’ but for every $1 spent you will save more on energy efficiency than a solar array.” –Stanford University engineering professor Jim Sweeney Last month, Californians passed Proposition 39, which closes a tax loophole exploited by out-of-state corporations that is expected to generate $1.1 billion for the state per year until it sunsets in 2018. For a state struggling with financial insolvency, that extra bi... More...
Tuesday, November 27, 2012 10:42 AM
As the New York Times reports , this week, the UK will publish what some are calling a “mammoth energy bill” that is “likely to reshape Britain’s power landscape.” While details are far from sure, it seems reasonable to assume that the bill will focus on encouraging alternatives to England’s traditional coal-powered electrical plants while also cutting back on GHG emissions. As alternatives ranging from nuclear power to natural gas and renewable energy are discussed as viable options, the Times referenc... More...
Tuesday, November 20, 2012 10:12 AM
Thanks (or “no thanks” depending on your stance) to the shale energy production, the US is on its way to energy independence, and while that independence may not have taken the form many of us envisioned, it nevertheless appears that shale oil and gas production is here to stay. As a recent forecast released by the International Energy Agency (IEA) suggests , the US is poised to be the world’s largest producer of oil by 2017, due almost exclusively to shale oil production. And while many are celeb... More...
Tuesday, November 13, 2012 11:53 AM
Most of the time, those of us focused on distributed energy and onsite power are more concerned with keeping the lights on (efficiently) than what to do when they stay off. And yet, part of the mission of Distributed Energy magazine is to focus not just on energy efficiency, but energy reliability as well. And for many folks on the East Coast still without power weeks after Hurricane Sandy, energy reliability is their number one concern. Flipping around the nightly news channels last night, I noticed th... More...
Tuesday, November 06, 2012 11:18 AM
Now that the “superstorm” has passed, rebuilding is getting underway all along the East Coast. And while I’m sure many of you have “Hurricane Sandy fatigue syndrome” (a luxury many of those caught in the storm’s path do not have), for those of us concerned about energy reliability and the role of distributed energy in a future “smart grid,” the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy provides an opportunity to learn, problem-solve, and reconsider our contingency plans. Over at the Environmental Defense Fund websit... More...
Tuesday, October 30, 2012 1:06 PM
First, a roundup of the numbers: * 670,000 without power in New York City * 10,000 calls to 911 each half hour * 11 deaths * And, according to the Washington Post , over 5 million residents are without power throughout the storm zone. So how are you staying connected? If you’re on the East Coast (or at this point, any places east of the Rockies), you’ve most likely been struggling with power outages, interruption of services, and all the other complications and challenges associated with Hurricane... More...
Tuesday, October 23, 2012 9:00 AM
“The United States is convinced that energy in all its complexity will continue to be one of the defining issues of the 21 st century. And we are reshaping our foreign policy to reflect that.” –Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton In a sweeping speech delivered at Georgetown University last week, Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton outlined the ways in which foreign policy and energy policy are intertwined and interdependent. Among the points Secretary Clinton made: * Energy matte... More...
Tuesday, October 16, 2012 5:05 PM
As we barrel towards a presidential election, the next few weeks will be peppered by events highlighted and politicized in order to advance one particular partisan view. So gird your belts and brace yourselves, because another clean energy startup funded by the federal government is on its way to bankruptcy court: let the in-fighting and finger pointing begin! Bloomberg reports that A123 Inc. (AONE), an electric-car battery manufacturer awarded $249 million in federal grant funds as part of the ad... More...
Tuesday, October 09, 2012 2:14 PM
Get ready for a slowdown in clean energy momentum. As the Wall Street Journal reports this week, a recent announcement by the International Energy Agency forecasts that Iraqi oil production will more than double by 2020. The Journal calls this increased output “a shift that could alter the dynamics of global crude markets.” Although Iraq would need to invest substantially in oil production infrastructure—storage, transportation, power grid—this increased output capacity would mean the country would be a... More...
Tuesday, October 02, 2012 1:21 PM
Meters, water/energy, and the smart grid—those are just some of the topics covered this week at Autovation, taking place in Long Beach, CA. I’m here all week, and I’ll be popping in and out of presentations and checking out the exhibit floor to see what changed and what we can expect in the way of data logging, AMI, and demand management. In the meantime, here are some past Distributed Energy articles and blogs that have touched upon these topics. http://www.distributedenergy.com/DE/Articles/9449.aspx h... More...
Tuesday, September 25, 2012 10:15 AM
It’s a routine many of us go through every morning: we slip into our desk chair, click our mouse a couple of times, type in a password or two, and voilà—we are online and ready to work. I don’t know about you, but I spend a lot of my day checking e-mail, managing website content, and checking the various social media streams (Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn) that make up our online presence. Logging on, uploading data, and answering queries from half ‘round the world is not only quick and easy, it’s now an ... More...
Tuesday, September 18, 2012 8:00 AM
With all the focus on clean energy generation and the effect of the boom in shale gas production (and related decrease in natural gas prices), it’s easy to forget the importance of energy efficiency. While new power generation options are always welcome—particularly if they come with few environmental side effects—using power efficiently is the best way to reduce costs and promote sustainability. According to a new white paper released by the ACEEE, while cheap natural gas supplies can help the US reduc... More...
Tuesday, September 11, 2012 10:54 AM
Back in 2009, PSE&G established the Hospital Energy Efficiency Program—a program that provides investment-grade energy audits at no cost to hospitals in the utility’s service area. If the hospital qualifies after the audit, then the facility is free to apply for energy efficiency upgrades, with BPU footing the bill for the first seven years of costs, and with the final payments spread out over two years of the qualifying hospital’s energy bills. So far, the program has been a resounding success, bot... More...
Tuesday, September 04, 2012 3:39 PM
Two weeks back, I attended an event that seemed to exemplify what the future holds for environmentally friendly, economically successful commercial and industrial endeavors. Out in the agricultural fields of Camarillo, CA, sits Houweling’s Tomatoes. Earlier this month, as party of a ribbon cutting and grand opening ceremony for its “first-of-its-kind” Greenhouse CHP project, I was invited on a tour of the facility. In addition to learning all about the methodology of growing hot-house tomatoes and the v... More...
Tuesday, August 28, 2012 12:16 PM
Last year, in the blog “ The Rebound Effect ”, I talked about the Rebound Effect’s impact on energy efficiency. In simple terms, it describes the impulse to increase energy consumption as produces and appliances become more energy efficient. Reflecting upon the Rebound Effect, I asked, “When new technologies aimed at improving fuel efficiency actually increase energy usage, should our benchmarks shift?” But what if the Rebound Effect has been overblown? That’s the question pondered in a recent Gig... More...
Tuesday, August 21, 2012 12:57 PM
Election season is right around the corner, and unfortunately for those of us concerned with energy efficiency, energy policies and promises are once again getting short shrift in favor of the usual rhetoric. That’s understandable. Candidates must appeal to the pressing concerns of the voters. So, on some level, ignoring energy would seem like a safe bet—after all, it’s easy to assume that the lack of emphasis of energy issues on the campaign trail in favor of economic concerns and social politics merel... More...
Tuesday, August 14, 2012 10:11 AM
Last year, the devastating earthquake and tsunami that struck Japan resulted in the shutdown of the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant and a forced reduction in the nation’s overall energy use. Now, one year later, extreme energy efficiency is still the modus operandi, and many of Japan’s businesses and commercial interests are chafing under the strict use regulations. With only two nuclear power plants in operation—out of the country’s 50 total plants—Japan’s energy sector is struggling to meet demand. Fo... More...
Tuesday, August 07, 2012 11:09 AM
Imagine an additional 35 gigawatts of solar, wind, and geothermal energy added to our current power structure over the next 20 years. Imagine an additional $137 billion in investment in the energy sector. And how about an additional 209,000 jobs? How about providing enough clean energy to power 7 million homes? According a recent analysis by the Center for American Progress, harnessing the power available in the “Four Corners” states (Arizona, Nevada, New Mexico, and Utah) and California could accomplis... More...
Tuesday, July 31, 2012 10:22 AM
There’s not much to say that you haven’t already heard before about our nation’s infrastructure crisis —$2 trillion and counting—and the delicate water/energy nexus. Dire warnings and scary prognostications have not done the trick apparently, as our communities and local governments still find themselves facing budget shortfalls that have morphed from an inconvenient economic cliff hanger to almost insurmountable abyss ( http://water.epa.gov/infrastructure/sustain/infrastructureneeds.cfm ). Doom is on t... More...
Tuesday, July 24, 2012 5:10 PM
Did you know that while 20 states have “on-bill financing” programs designed to fund energy efficiency retrofits, the participation rate of these programs is only about 1%? ( www.aceee.org/sites/default/files/publications/researchreports/e118.pdf ) And with over $1.2 trillion in potential energy efficiency retrofit savings in the commercial and industrial sector, it boggles the mind that much of this low-hanging fruit is being left to rot on the tree. According to an excellent dispatch by Sandra Kwak, r... More...
Tuesday, July 17, 2012 10:14 AM
“I’m driving on sunshine. Take that, Ahmadinejad!” – George Shultz In an eye opening and enlightening interview with Mark Goldman of Clean Technica, Republican Statesman George Shultz lays out why energy efficiency is a personal cause and an integral part of national security. Shultz, who served as an economist in the Eisenhower administration, has always been aware of the connection between energy policy and international relations. He tells Goldman, “I’ve been worried about our energy proble... More...
Tuesday, July 10, 2012 2:59 PM
Last week, US Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee Chairman Jeff Bingaman (D-NM), introduced a bipartisan bill aimed at creating incentives for the nation’s industrial sector to encourage end-use energy efficiency and water efficiency. The Bill—S. 3352, the Expanding Industrial Energy and Water Efficiency Incentives Act—awards incentives to industrial and manufacturing facilities who employ the following methods and equipment: water reuse, thermal biomass, combined heat and power systems, and a... More...
Tuesday, July 03, 2012 11:00 AM
As the summer continues, there will be plenty of strain on existing HVAC systems. At Distributed Energy we have covered a variety of projects and technologies that can improve your facility’s energy efficiency, while keeping indoor environments comfortable. Here’s a rundown of our previous coverage for intelligent HVAC systems. High-IQ HVAC New Ways to Reduce Costs HVAC Payback Cooling Heels and Cutting Costs Advanced HVAC, Advanced Efficiency Controlling Comfort and Cost More...
Tuesday, June 26, 2012 12:05 PM
On Monday, the Energy Information Administration (EIA) released the Annual Energy Outlook 2012 (AEO2012), a yearly report detailing expected trends in energy use and consumption for the nation. This year, it’s predominantly good news, as the report predicts US energy consumption should slow—with growth at less than 1% per year from now through 2035—while the country simultaneously moves away from dependence on foreign oil. The report details a dramatic shift of the US energy landscape over the last few ... More...
Tuesday, June 19, 2012 11:26 AM
By September of this year energy efficiency will become the law of the land in Europe. Last week as its six-month term of European Union (EU) presidency came to an end, Denmark was able to push through a vote in favor of creating the EU’s first energy efficiency law: the Energy Efficiency Directive . The aim of the Energy Efficiency Directive is to formalize an original agreement reached by European leaders in 2007. That non-binding agreement included a commitment to the reduction of energy consumption ... More...
Tuesday, June 12, 2012 4:14 PM
All this week, the great state of Texas will play host to the America Water Works Association’s Annual Conference and Exposition (AWWA ACE). The conference, with its 18 distinctive tracks and over 100 sessions, will take place at the Dallas Convention Center from June 10–14. As you may or may not know, I am also the editor of Water Efficiency magazine, and as such, I’m always keeping one eye on the relationship between water and energy. I’m particularly interested in two professional sessions on t... More...
Tuesday, June 05, 2012 12:14 PM
We’ve been talking a lot lately about smart buildings, particularly how retrofits and energy management systems can increase efficiency and buffer budgets . Another added bonus: energy savings can mitigate construction and remodel costs. Recognizing the connection between fiscal health and reduced energy use, the California Energy Commission voted 4 to 0 last week to tighten a whole list of building regulations geared towards energy efficiency. Specifically, the Commission focused on lighting, windows, ... More...
Tuesday, May 29, 2012 12:25 PM
Measured management. It’s not something we always think about in terms of energy efficiency and reliability. Most of the time, success or failure is based on that utility bill—did it go down this month, or are we paying more? Perhaps it’s time to switch out some light bulbs, or rejigger the thermostat. But energy efficiency is not just about dollars and sense. It’s not even solely concerned with reduced consumption. To be truly efficient, you need to manage your resources wisely, use the right power in ... More...
Tuesday, May 22, 2012 10:04 AM
Sometimes calculating efficiency can be difficult. Do you rely just on the cost associated with your achieving your ultimate goal? Does it make more sense to look a little deeper and assess the impact of your choices to determine whether the route that looks the cheapest carries with it unintended consequences—consequences that could trigger even more expensive fixes at a later date? And what about the influences that are more difficult to quantify: those environmental, political, or human resource-rela... More...
Tuesday, May 15, 2012 10:36 AM
While Paris may be the “City of Lights,” anyone who’s approached Las Vegas at night knows that the casino strip could give that European capital a run for its money. Approaching from the desert after the sun is set, you can see the first pale glow of this metropolis from miles away, and once you begin to descend into the city’s valley floor, the lights are all around you—not just the suburban sprawl that spreads out from the glowing center, but the multitude of blinking, flashing signs that promis... More...
Tuesday, May 08, 2012 10:30 AM
One of the nation’s most iconic structures recently got a facelift. As part of an ongoing energy efficiency and retrofit plan for the Empire State Building, 400 of the building’s existing standard lamps will be replaced by 1200 LED fixtures. The owners of the building have been working for some time on improving the structure’s energy efficiency with everything from high-tech windows to state-of-the-art HVAC systems. By upgrading the Empire State Building’s exterior lighting, the owners expe... More...
Tuesday, May 01, 2012 11:14 AM
The water/energy nexus: Exactly what does it mean to energy efficiency and reliability? We all know that these two elements are hewn together—impacting and influencing the other. And yet sometimes it’s hard to understand a relationship so subtle and inscrutable to those of us who do not often linger near cooling towers or large-scale power generation installations. Which is why sometimes it’s easier to see the forest for the trees when the woods are halfway ‘round the world. In a new article for Yale En... More...
Tuesday, April 24, 2012 1:00 PM
According to a new report released by the Department of Energy’s Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL), US commercial buildings could save an average of 38% on heating and cooling if they employed efficient HVAC systems. And according to the report’s authors , the most efficient of these controls are not “widely available commercially,” but the hope is that these findings can inspire manufacturers to expand production. “The potential savings from adding advanced controls to existing packaged air ... More...
Tuesday, April 17, 2012 2:47 PM
For a while now, we’ve been hearing that the key to energy independence lies in increased funding for renewable energy and clean energy technology. There have certainly been plenty of lofty promises and ambitious proposals at local, state, and federal levels. And there have been setbacks too, with Solyndra and the Fukushima power plant perhaps the most high-profile examples of clean energy mishaps. But as gas prices escalate and emerging economies in India and China push up demand for fossil fuels, it s... More...
Tuesday, April 10, 2012 11:13 AM
As a fan of Professor Neal deGrasse Tyson , I’m always on the lookout for ways in which space exploration can impact our earthbound endeavors. We are all aware of the continued influence the NASA space program has had on technological innovation in the US and worldwide, and now you can add extraterrestrial energy to the mix. According to an online report by Leonard David, some day a significant portion of our power could be generated by solar powered satellites. The SPS-ALPHA project (that’s short for S... More...
Tuesday, April 03, 2012 12:35 PM
“It cannot be done.” “It’s too expensive.” “We need more research.” “It’s not enough.” These familiar refrains plague any discussion of the possibility of switching from traditional fossil fuel sources to renewable energy alternatives. We’ve all been told that solar and wind do not, and cannot, generate enough power to supplant oil and gas. We’ve all heard how renewable energy is too expensive, needs more R&D, or is just not feasible for large-scale deployment. But many times, these naysayers ... More...
Tuesday, March 27, 2012 10:38 AM
We’ve discussed many times before that when it comes to clean energy promotion and integration, the need for local control and funding is tantamount. After all, by now it’s pretty clear that—whether it’s due to politics, an ailing economy, or simply lack of will—neither congress nor the president are in any position to swoop in and save the day. Which makes the new, “multi-faceted” energy bill currently under consideration in Massachusetts very interesting. Could it be a bell weather of things to come? ... More...
Tuesday, March 20, 2012 11:58 AM
Even the most optimistic renewable energy proponents concede that, without energy storage, we will never be able to fully realize the benefits of a national smart grid powered by clean energy and backed up by distributed generation systems. We all know that in order to have a truly effective power system, energy storage must play a key role—but in what form? Last week, I was intrigued by the idea of turning airtight, underground caves into cavernous energy storage systems. According to Maggie Koerth-Bake... More...
Tuesday, March 13, 2012 12:16 PM
So did you make it to work on time this week? Even if you remembered to set your clocks an hour forward, it’s doubtful starting your workday—and workweek—60 minutes earlier than the week before was in any way enjoyable. Every year during Daylight Savings Time (and sometimes again, upon the return of Standard Time), millions ponder the efficiency of resetting clocks and creating the illusion of an extra hour of daylight. You may have heard many reasons for this time warp—from its pre-industrial ori... More...
Tuesday, March 06, 2012 10:08 AM
I’m going to bang the drum once again for energy efficiency retrofits. We’ve talked about them a lot—particularly their potential for huge energy efficiency gains and low implementation costs. At a time when new construction projects are on hold, and clean technology research is struggling for competitive funding, retrofits continue to be an appealing, low-hanging fruit. According to new research from the Deutsche Bank and the Rockefeller Foundation, investments in energy efficiency retrofits have the p... More...
Tuesday, February 28, 2012 11:15 AM
Perhaps one silver lining that can be found in the current state of our chronically depressed real estate market is that while new construction is being abandoned, old, drafty buildings are experiencing a second life—thanks in part to smart, energy-efficient retrofits. In Philadelphia, for example, one 40-year old landmark has a set of shiny new windows and a smaller carbon footprint, thanks to a retrofit project funded in part by the DOE. 400 Market Street is a 200,000 square-foot mid-rise that was bui... More...
Tuesday, February 21, 2012 11:54 AM
Last week, we discussed the possibility of an energy independent US, due in part to the country’s burgeoning natural gas industry . And while the prospect of reducing our dependence on foreign oil is enticing, the environmental and demand reduction implications cannot be ignored. But these concerns have not seriously impacted the natural gas industry: 2,400 miles of natural gas pipelines were installed throughout the US in 2011, increasing capacity by 13.7 billion cubic feet per day ( http://energy.aol.... More...
Tuesday, February 14, 2012 3:51 PM
It’s a been a long-imagined dream for many Americans—a future of energy self-sufficiency where our oil and gas prices are no longer subject to the whims of OPEC and our main energy sources are clean, green and economical. According to a recent report by Bloomberg news, that future is just about here. As reported by Rich Miller (with Asjylyn Loder and Jim Polsen) last week, the US is now “the closest it has been in almost 20 years to achieving energy self sufficiency.” One of the reasons behind this turn... More...
Tuesday, February 07, 2012 8:00 AM
In an interesting and insightful piece in Saturday’s Wall Street Journal , David Owen laments that sometimes “it’s too easy being green.” In his commentary, Owen identifies a trend that I’ve seen played out time and again—the belief that “switching to an ostensibly more benign form of consumption turns consumption itself into a boon for the environment.” In other words, “the Prius Fallacy.” Owen’s examples of the Prius Fallacy in action—buying a new, more fuel-efficient vehicle, replacing a kitchen coun... More...
Tuesday, January 31, 2012 10:51 AM
A few weeks back, in the blog “ The Magical, Radical Clean Energy Pill ”, I asked, “Could continued investment in renewable energy alternatives liberate the world’s poor and put an end to poverty?” This week, a UN Panel headed by the presidents of Finland and South Africa went on record to say yes, yes it can. The panel—created in August 2010 by UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon—includes 22 members culled from former world leaders and member nations, like the US, Russia, and United Arab Emirates, and is h... More...
Tuesday, January 24, 2012 10:41 AM
Last week, several websites—including Wikipedia—went “dark” to protest the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) , a bill under consideration by the House of Representatives that was designed to “expand the ability of US law enforcement to fight online trafficking in copyrighted intellectual property and counterfeit goods.” Because of the vague language included in the act—as well as some provisions that have been characterized as extreme overreaching on the part of federal authorities—many opponents felt that ... More...
Tuesday, January 17, 2012 6:23 AM
Could clean energy reverse climate change? Could continued investment in renewable energy alternatives liberate the world’s poor and put an end to poverty? Could large-scale solar power and hydropower projects increase efficiency and provide cheap, clean power to millions of people all over the world who currently live without access to reliable electricity? According to UN chief Ban Ki-moon, the “Sustainable Energy for All Initiative” could accomplish all of the above, and more. “This is the right time... More...
Tuesday, January 10, 2012 11:22 AM
Who knew? Apparently the hurdle that renewable energy needs to clear in California is not associated with price or generation capacity, but actually “contract restrictions imposed by federal law” and power utilities afraid to take a risk. This week, Julie Cart reports in the Los Angeles Times on renewable energy projects left idle under the California sun at several state parks as Southern California Edison (SCE) and park officials negotiate over contract provisions. Apparently, the Parks S... More...
Tuesday, January 03, 2012 3:00 PM
Energy storage. In many ways it’s treated as the ugly stepsister, condemned to stand in the shadows cast by its flashier siblings—the Smart Grid and renewable energy. But those of us well versed in distributed generation and onsite power know that in order to achieve the goal of an efficient, reliable energy systems, energy storage must be a major player. But can energy storage and renewables play nice? That’s a question explored by columnist Mathew Wald in two articles that recently appeared in t... More...
Tuesday, December 20, 2011 11:32 AM
Will the Smart Grid save us? Can the US capitalize on a robust energy efficiency market? Will China’s growing industrialization and energy demand continue to dominate the global energy landscape? In a November 9 statement, Nobuo Tanaka, Executive Director of the International Energy Agency, sums up the significance of the World Energy Outlook 2010 (WEO 2010) report released late last year, saying, “The energy world is facing unprecedented uncertainty.” With an eye on planning and prognostica... More...
Tuesday, December 20, 2011 11:23 AM
Will the Smart Grid save us? Can the US capitalize on a robust energy efficiency market? Will China’s growing industrialization and energy demand continue to dominate the global energy landscape? In a November 9 statement, Nobuo Tanaka, Executive Director of the International Energy Agency, sums up the significance of the World Energy Outlook 2010 (WEO 2010) report released late last year, saying, “The energy world is facing unprecedented uncertainty.” With an eye on planning a... More...
Tuesday, December 13, 2011 5:08 PM
Continuing our coverage of the scuffle between renewable energy funding supporters and detractors, two new opinion pieces appeared this week that take the conversation a step further by addressing the connection between federally funded power generation, economic recovery, and job creation. As we head full force into a new presidential election cycle, it’s not all that surprising that the rhetoric has started to heat up and that both sides are making sure their opinions and concerns are being heard. Fir... More...
Tuesday, December 06, 2011 5:09 PM
Last week I highlighted another point of view regarding renewable energy subsidies. In an article for Bloomberg news, Nathan Myhrvold, the former chief strategist and chief technology officer at Microsoft, argued that lack of financial support is not what has stymied the renewable industry, but the energy subsidies themselves. Now two big renewable energy advocates have laid out the case for increased government support in the face of rising international competition. In an opinion piece for the Washing... More...
Tuesday, November 29, 2011 5:10 PM
We’ve talked before about the “valley of death” and the contrast between China’s funding of their clean tech and renewable industries and our own country’s more lackadaisical approach. But perhaps the situation is not quite so simple. Writing for Bloomberg news, Nathan Myhrvold, the former chief strategist and chief technology officer at Microsoft, lays out the case that it’s not the lack of financial support that’s stymied the renewable industry, but rather it’s the subsidies themselves that are the pr... More...
Tuesday, November 22, 2011 11:06 AM
A new report released this week by the Harvard Kennedy School has determined that by spending “a few billion dollars more per year to spur innovations in energy technology”, the US government could save the economy hundreds of billions of dollars per year by 2050. The report, entitled “ Transforming US Energy Innovation ”, also recommends that government double funding for energy R&D to about $10 billion per year. The report is the part of a three-year project by the Energy Technology Inn... More...
Tuesday, November 15, 2011 5:13 PM
Last week , the 2010 edition of the World Energy Outlook (WEO 2010) was released by the IES’s WEO flagship publication. The purpose of the annual report is to supply readers with the latest information and projections in regards to energy demand and supply projections for the current year and over the next two decades. The report supplies a variety of different future scenarios, with each option broken down by country, fuel, and sector, along with analyses of “the most pressing issues faced by the energ... More...
Tuesday, November 08, 2011 5:15 PM
Last month, I got a peek of what the big players in the energy industry predict will happen over the next decade in terms of energy efficiency, renewable energy, and the smart grid. While attending Schneider Electric’s annual Editors Event, I had a chance to hear about some of the trends anticipated over the next three to five years, as well as an overall forecast of the impact the economy will have on national energy policy and vice versa. Below, some highlights: According to Aaron David, Vice Presiden... More...
Tuesday, November 01, 2011 5:23 PM
During the last SXSW Eco, I got the chance to learn a little bit more about China’s energy policy, and how decisions being made halfway ‘round the world are mirroring—and impacting—our domestic energy projects and programs. The first part of the presentation I sat in on was led by Michael E. Webber (Assistant professor for the Center for International Energy and Environmental Policy at the University of Texas). Entitled “Energy in Texas: Dirty Polluter and Clean Energy Leader,” Webber began by laying ou... More...
Tuesday, October 25, 2011 5:25 PM
Last week , I summarized the issues explored during a panel session at the first annual SXSW Eco. The panelists, Paul Allen (Constellation Energy), Alison Taylor (Siemens Corporation), and Karl Van Orsdol (Hewlett Packard), came together to discuss how corporations and cities are managing energy within the context of a new, global economy. After tackling the question of how energy and sustainability managers can “continue to demonstrate the value of expenditures on energy efficiency” in a down economy, ... More...
Tuesday, October 18, 2011 5:26 PM
We all know that “Sustainability” has morphed from catchphrase to mandate, yet despite widespread adoption and co-option of term, it’s not at all clear how sustainability is achieved, measured, and valued. One of the biggest stumbling blocks to wide-scale implementation of sustainable practices is the lack of definition and the sketchy connection between cause and effect. Reducing greenhouse gas emissions and increasing energy efficiency are laudable goals, but what about the myriad of other factors tha... More...
Tuesday, October 11, 2011 5:27 PM
I’m currently in Chicago, IL, attending the 34 th annual WORLD ENERGY ENGINEERING CONGRESS (WEEC) , a three-day conference for end users and energy professionals designed to shine a light on how various economic and market forces—as well as new technologies, regulatory developments, and industry trends—all merge to “shape your critical decisions on your organization’s energy and economic future.” Every year, the Association of Energy Engineers (AEE) hosts WEEC for “energy engineering and management prof... More...
Tuesday, October 04, 2011 5:28 PM
I’m currently in Austin, TX, attending the first annual SXSW Eco , a three-day conference focusing on “the need for a concerted approach across the public, private, and academic sectors to solving the recognized challenges facing the environment, the economy, and civil society.” Included among the speakers and presenters are some of the top names in clean tech, environmentalism, sustainability, and resource management. I’m looking forward to hearing from a variety of voices, and I’ll be tweeting all the... More...
Tuesday, September 27, 2011 5:29 PM
As the echo of Solyndra’s demise continues to reverberate throughout the clean tech industry, more details have begun to emerge regarding the federal government’s clean energy loan-guarantee program , including the revelation that many renewable energy startups have begun to view the program as risky and inflexible. According to a recent article in the Washington Post , some clean tech companies have begun to feel that the loan program is “a bad bet.” For example (as reported in the Post ), Solar Trust—... More...
Tuesday, September 20, 2011 5:30 PM
Who doesn’t love a “smart building.” We’ve talked a lot in the past about the idea of retrofitting existing structures so that energy resources are used more intelligently and efficiently ( www.distributedenergy.com/blogs/de-editors-blog/retro-smart-61583.aspx , www.distributedenergy.com/blogs/de-editors-blog/give-me-smart-shelter-60039.aspx ). Switching out old lighting fixtures, upgrading outdated HVAC systems, improving insulation and building envelopes—all these tactics can help property managers an... More...
Tuesday, September 13, 2011 5:31 PM
As I stated in my recent editorial , water and energy are inextricably linked, in part because of the amount of energy needed to collect, treat, and delivery potable water. Within this context, water reuse and reclamation is the secret energy efficiency weapon, both as a tool to reduce the amount of water pulled from strained water resources, and also as a way to monitor and improve water quality. I’m currently in Phoenix attending the 26 th annual WateReuse Symposium. While I flit from presentation to ... More...
Tuesday, September 06, 2011 5:32 PM
In a major setback for clean tech funding and the future of financing for a host of renewable energy projects, last week Solyndra —a poster child for the president’s push for a “green economy” and the recipient of $535 million in federal loan guarantees—announced it had filed a Chapter 11 petition in US Bankruptcy Court, after revealing that the company was over $1 billion in debt. In a filing released in conjunction with the bankruptcy petition, chief financial officer W. G. Stover pointed to the compa... More...
Tuesday, August 30, 2011 5:33 PM
Over the weekend, the big news was—of course—Hurricane Irene. Prognosticators, weathermen, and news anchors looking to fill hours of live coverage conspired to predict the worst: flooding, deaths, power outages, and billions of dollars in damage. And while Vermont in particular—and much of the eastern seaboard in general—is still dealing with widespread flooding, it seems like, for the most part, Hurricane Irene was the disaster that didn’t happen. Nevertheless, when facing widespread disruption of esse... More...
Tuesday, August 23, 2011 5:34 PM
Last week , I talked about the impact energy use has on energy efficiency, asking, “In this era of economic insecurity and belt-tightening, are consumers more open to a plea to reduce energy use?” For the business sector, energy management is already a top priority. According to the fifth annual global Energy efficiency Indicator Survey , reducing costs by increasing efficiency is “the primary energy efficiency motivator” for building owners around the world. Conducted by Johnson Controls’ Institute for... More...
Tuesday, August 16, 2011 5:35 PM
A few weeks ago , while discussing EPA’s upgrade to the Energy Star program, I asked, “What about the argument that merely increasing the efficiency of existing products alone is not enough and that consumers must also be urged to use less?” When discussing energy efficiency, I think it’s important to include “use” in the equation—it’s not enough to simply improve products and services so that the status quo can be maintained, we must strive to also reduce the amount of energy we use. And it can start w... More...
Tuesday, August 09, 2011 5:36 PM
Much of the talk surrounding the Smart Grid involves the construction of new infrastructure to fit the needs of an intelligent, national grid system. And along with worries about cost and implementation are concerns that distributed generation—particularly in the form of onsite renewable power—is not being taken into account as the asset that it is. But that might be about to change. Those of us involved in energy efficiency and reliability know that the demand for renewable energy—particularly solar pa... More...
Tuesday, August 02, 2011 5:38 PM
Last week, President Obama signed an agreement with 13 major automakers from around the world, to “pursue the next phase” in the Administration’s national vehicle program—a plan to increase fuel economy to 54.5 miles per gallon for cars and light-duty trucks by Model Year 2025. The expectation is that these new fuel standards will result in a cost of almost $1.7 trillion dollars in fuel cost savings. Additionally, achieving these new benchmarks will save the nation the equivalent of 12 billion barrels o... More...
Tuesday, July 26, 2011 5:40 PM
With the advent of e-mail, it may seem supremely inefficient to hand off correspondence to a third party for physical delivery when the click of a mouse is just so darn convenient. But while we may deride it as “snail mail,” the truth is that, on average, the US Postal Service (USPS) employs almost 600,000 employees to handle 170,574 million pieces of mail per year. And if you picture the infrastructure that sorts, stamps, and delivers all greeting cards, care packages, and bills, it’s easy to imagine t... More...
Tuesday, July 19, 2011 5:41 PM
Last year, in a blog entitled “ Harvest Time Is Over ”, I discussed one of the downsides of an effective energy efficiency program: Once the low-lying fruit’s been picked and the early adopters are on board, the gains start to diminish and the momentum slows. So what can you do to inspire the “late adopters” and increase energy efficiency? Raise the bar. That’s EPA’s approach, anyway. This week, the agency announced the addition of a new rating system to its popular Energy Star program: Energy Star Most... More...
Tuesday, July 12, 2011 5:42 PM
It’s a comedic mainstay: “How many (blanks) does it take to change a light bulb.” Lately, it seems as if “congressmen” is the most appropriate option to fill in that blank. As you may or may not know, in the past week, members of the House of Representatives are posed to debate—and maybe even vote—on repealing the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007 (EISA). At issue is the Act’s Energy Efficiency and Equipment Standards provision, which calls for, amongst other things, the adoption of new effic... More...
Tuesday, July 05, 2011 5:43 PM
Last week, Microsoft announced that it was discontinuing Hohm —an energy management application designed for residential users—“due to the slow overall market adoption of the service.” This announcement comes less than a week after Google announced it had pulled the plug on its own energy-monitoring app— PowerMeter . In both cases, the products themselves received positive feedback, but implementation fell way behind company expectations. For Microsoft, its future environmental efforts will shift, with a... More...
Tuesday, June 28, 2011 5:45 PM
As summer rolls in and temperatures rise across the country, many of us are dialing down that thermostat and letting our HVAC systems cool and control our indoor environment. For many businesses and commercial interests, HVAC costs are not insignificant, but when you are the US military—the single largest consumer of energy in the world ( http://www.energybulletin.net/node/29925 )—the price tag includes not only billions of dollars, but national security concerns and the health and safety of those boots ... More...
Tuesday, June 21, 2011 5:45 PM
Last week , I discussed a presentation delivered at the Santa Barbara Summit on Energy Efficiency by Julie Christodoulou, Director Naval Materials Division for Office of Naval Research. During her presentation, Christodoulou stated that the Department of the Navy (DON) is pursuing some concrete energy efficiency and reliability goals, including a 50% reduction of non-tactical petroleum by 2015 and a 50% increase of alternative energy use by 2020. The DON is not alone in its concern for—and commitment to... More...
Tuesday, June 14, 2011 5:46 PM
So what will a more energy-efficient future look like? All month I’ve been highlighting the ideas, insights, and prognostications of the presenters who participated in this year’s Santa Barbara Summit on Energy Efficiency . You heard from leaders in the field of super computing and renewable energy, along with the planning and preparation currently being overseen by a cavalcade of government agencies, lead by the NREL and US DOE. As the last day of the summit drew to a close, three presenters attempted ... More...
Tuesday, June 07, 2011 5:47 PM
On June 2nd, nine House Republican representatives signed on to a letter to the House Subcommittee on Energy and Water Development requesting, among other things, that federal funding for the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) be terminated because, “They have failed to live up to their supposed potential”. “We should not follow the president’s poor planning,” continued the letter—penned by California US Rep. Tom McClintock, “ in increasing the funding for these anti-energy boondoggles.” If you... More...
Tuesday, May 31, 2011 5:48 PM
As the last day of the Santa Barbara Summit on Energy Efficiency began, the emphasis of the conference switched from what “could be” to “what is”, as representatives from Oracle and Chevron spoke on what’s working right now. As Jeff Henley, Chairman of Oracle Corporation explained in his welcome speech, “At the end of the day, what’s going to solve this problem of energy is technology.” The truth is that, thanks to technological advancements in energy efficiency, we are on the leading edge of a fundamen... More...
Tuesday, May 24, 2011 5:49 PM
Just about everything we do nowadays has an online component, and all that virtual reality requires computing power . . . lots and lots of computing power. With the energy demand and costs associated with keeping all those servers running smoothly, data centers are often the earliest adopters of energy-efficient technologies and procedures. And as data centers move beyond the cloud and its basic data collecting functions, a new era of supercomputing awaits. Last month at the Santa Barbara Summit on Ener... More...
Tuesday, May 17, 2011 5:51 PM
By now we are all familiar with the challenges faced by the construction and integration of a national smart grid. In addition to cost, any large-scale, interconnected energy system must overcome energy security and reliability issues, while also addressing the need to stabilize renewable energy contributions to the grid. And any system that will combine power generate from both the utility and its customers will have to utilize an advanced IT platform that can accommodate a complex informational archit... More...
Tuesday, May 10, 2011 5:52 PM
We all know that one of the biggest stumbling blocks to wide scale adoption of renewable energy as part an onsite power system is cost. While, in the long run, installing solar panels on your roof or carport will save you money by decreasing the amount of energy you’re pulling from the grid, the truth is that many times the ROI is so far in the future that it seems to disappear beyond the horizon. But the DOE is getting ready to change all that with a new program aimed at reducing the cost of solar powe... More...
Tuesday, May 03, 2011 8:00 PM
Last week, I was lucky enough to attend the Institute for Energy Efficiency’s “Santa Barbara Summit on Energy Efficiency.” One of the highlights of the two-day event included the keynote address by Bill Brinkman, Director for the Office of Science at the US DOE. Brinkman started out his talk by raising the stakes on the present (and future) of energy efficiency technologies and renewable energy, “Two years ago, I said we needed to reach a level of research and development we haven’t seen since the heigh... More...
Monday, April 25, 2011 8:00 PM
This week, I will once again attend the University of California Santa Barbara’s “Santa Barbara Summit on Energy Efficiency” hosted by the Institute for Energy Efficiency (IEE). The Institute for Energy Efficiency, based at the UCSB Campus, and as an interdisciplinary research institute, is “dedicated to developing technological solutions that will forever change how energy is produced, managed, and used.”
This year, the Summit will focus on “Scie More...
Monday, April 18, 2011 8:00 PM
One year ago this week—just in time for Earth Day, no less—an explosion on the Deepwater Horizon oil rig triggered “the largest accidental marine oil spill in the history of the petroleum industry”. For three months, the world watched in horror as the oil slick mushroomed out of control, causing extensive damage to marine and wildlife habitats (along with the Gulf's More...
Monday, April 11, 2011 8:00 PM
In a recent blog, I said that when it comes to the future of renewable energy, “we find ourselves suffering not from a dearth in energy options, but from a lack of imagination.” And even as events in Japan continue to unfold (as of this morning, news reports indicate that Ja More...
Monday, April 04, 2011 8:00 PM
Tax time is here, and it’s a sure bet that many of you reading this will be writing checks out to Uncle Sam yet again this year. And just as death and taxes are two of life’s certainties, it’s also a pretty good bet that most of us feel we are paying too much to federal and state governments—especially at a time when we are well aware of the beneficial tax breaks available to some of our country’s top earners (both individuals and corporations). I don’t know about you, More...
Monday, March 28, 2011 8:00 PM
Let’s take a break from regularly scheduled programming—and all the bleak and bleaker news coming out of Japan and Libya—and focus on some promising developments and breakthroughs in the arena of clean energy generation.
Last week, as part of World Water Day, the Global Wind Energy Council took a moment to tout the water conservation benefits associated with wind power. In a statement released on March 22nd (World Water Day), Steve Sawyer, Secretary General of the G More...
Monday, March 21, 2011 8:00 PM
It's not surprising that as events unfold in Japan, discussions about the safety and future of nuclear power continue to dominate news and media outlets. In last week’s blog, I made the case that while nuclear power has very little to do with distributed energy, it has everything to do with energy efficiency. But in all the conversations about nuclear power’s potential to curb greenho More...
Monday, March 14, 2011 8:00 PM
We don’t often discuss nuclear power, primarily because we’re focused on distributed energy systems rather than utility-scale power plants. But, as many pundits and politicians have noted, the current tragedies unfolding in Japan have shone a spotlight on nuclear power. In light of world events—as well as the fact that nuclear power has experienced a resurgence as of late—it makes sense to discuss nuclear power; especially as it relates to clean energy and efficiency.
Monday, March 07, 2011 7:00 PM
So … are you feeling the pain at the pump? According to the American Automobile Association (AAA), the national average price of gas is now $3.51 per gallon (compared to $3.12 a month ago and $2.75 at this time last year). The reasons for this price jump are pretty obvious—continuing unrest in the middle east along with a jump in gas prices from $90 a barrel for crude oi More...
Monday, February 28, 2011 7:00 PM
We all know that Newton’s laws of motion are not confined to the study of physics, but instead are often applicable to a variety of life experiences and universal truths. This is especially true of Newton’s final axiom—to every action, there is always an equal and opposite reaction—which somehow crops up regardless of subject or circumstance.
Newton’s third law was on my mind while reading about the decision by a Missouri utility to actually cu More...
Monday, February 21, 2011 7:00 PM
As a revolution continues to sweep North Africa, the uncertainties brought about by the turmoil are impacting oil prices, which have already passed $100 a barrel in the past few weeks and look poised to pass that mark again. And while it may seem insensitive to look inward while the citizens of those countries struggle for a brighter future, there’s no denying that it’s hard to watch events unfold in the Middle East and not give at least a passing thought to what this might mean for US energy More...
Tuesday, February 15, 2011 7:00 PM
We all know the Chinese proverb, “Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime.” When it comes to energy use, as the proverb states, we can gain more benefit by teaching users to increase energy efficiency than by merely gifting them with improved products. Additionally, while large-scale power users lay claim to a larger wattage volume, proportionately small businesses spend more on energy and have the most to gain from efficienc More...
Monday, February 07, 2011 7:00 PM
What can automate and control your energy systems while increasing efficiency, fine-tuning demand response, and integrating reliable renewable energy? Apparently the smart grid can do all that and more—at least that was the buzz at this year’s Distributech Conference and Exhibition.
Held in sunny San Diego, CA—a locale gratefully appreciated by several out-of-state attendees who were able to skip out on the latest series of snow storms pummeling the country—Distrib More...
Monday, January 31, 2011 7:00 PM
Last week, we talked about incentivizing energy efficiency at the utility level and what that might mean for distributed energy and onsite power (“Carrot or Stick,”). Specifically, I focused on a recent report by the ACEEE that concluded profit motive can motivate private utilities to adopt and expand energy efficiency programs ( More...
Monday, January 24, 2011 7:00 PM
We’ve asked this question before: Is it better to encourage energy efficiency though incentives and benefits, or are we better served by mandating use reduction through regulations, fees, and penalties? In light of the rebound effect and other obstacles, it’s certainly tempting to say “play or pay” and force the hand of energy users big and small, especially when deal More...
Monday, January 17, 2011 7:00 PM
It seems as if all the Smart Grid buzz has died down lately—perhaps that’s in part because of the economic restructuring we’ve been experiencing over the last couple of years. But I don’t expect the topic to be completely abandoned—the mindset that centralized systems are superior to distributed systems is deep-rooted and tough to counteract. It could be that the “buzz” is gone, because the creation of a national smart grid now seems like a forgone conclusion: More...
Monday, January 10, 2011 7:00 PM
With our focus on energy efficiency and reliability for facilities and industry, we don’t often discuss the energy demands related to transportation. But the advancements of fuel cells for vehicles and smart grid models that incorporate cars as backup power generators illustrate that there’s a certain amount of overlap between the two. Which begs the question—when it comes to applying new energy technologies to existing models, what can we learn from the automobile industry?
Monday, January 03, 2011 7:00 PM
Efficiency. It’s a key word . . . a mandate . . . a state of being. And it is—after all is said and done—our ultimate goal: to find a way to reduce waste to get the most out of our resources. Intuitively, most of us associate efficiency with use reduction—using less and getting more. But what if the opposite is true? Could increased efficiency result in increased consumption? And if so, what does that mean for energy efficiency?
This week in The National, Bjorn More...
Monday, December 20, 2010 7:00 PM
I’d like to start off by saying that prognostication is not my strong suit. Thankfully, there are plenty of folks out there that will gladly declare their predictions for the coming year. After reviewing some of the editorials, opinions pieces, studies, and surveys that are out there, it appears that the consensus is that while the economy may not be bouncing back any time soon, we can expect to see continued growth in the areas of energy efficiency and renewable energy. Here at Distributed Energy, we’v... More...
Monday, December 13, 2010 7:00 PM
Last week, I was lucky enough to attend the Association of Energy Engineer’s (AEE) annual World Energy Engineering Congress (WEEC) in Washington, D.C. The event is aimed at “end users and energy professional in all areas of the energy field,” and every year, it draws an international crowd anxious to keep abreast of all that’s new in all areas of energy efficiency, reliability, and the latest in renewable and energy management technologies. In addition to a well-stocked exhib More...
Monday, December 06, 2010 7:00 PM
Where would we be without data centers? A mostly unseen infrastructure of servers and fiber-optic cables, data centers provide us with the tools for a modern world. Those Google maps directions, those Facebook updates, those paperless banking statements: Just about everything we do nowadays has an online component, and all that virtual reality requires computing power . . . lots and lots of computing power. And with the energy demand and costs associated with keeping all those servers running smoothly, d More...
Monday, November 29, 2010 7:00 PM
All that low-lying, energy efficiency fruit we always talk about? It’s gone. At least, that’s the verdict handed down by the Shelton Group’s Energy Pulse survey. After polling over 500 American consumers in an attempt to “profile US households by energy conservation perceptions, motivations, and actions,” the Shelton group has uncovered some disheartening results: With early adopters alrea More...
Sunday, November 21, 2010 7:00 PM
As we all know, one of the biggest obstacles to large-scale implementation of renewable energy is the loss of energy during transmission. I explored these issues in depth last year in my blog entitled “Point of Use Generation,” where I pointed out that the often-remote location of solar and wind farms necessitates the construction of additional power lines over large swathes of land, power More...
Monday, November 15, 2010 7:00 PM
We all know that the smart grid as a lot of potential—increased efficiency, possible incorporation of renewable resources, comprised security. If that last one gave you pause, it should: Among all the challenges and opportunities associated with the smart grid, of greatest importance is the reliability of the infrastructure itself—including its ability to thwart security breaches, hacks, and any other manner of assault.
It’s common knowledge that the US government is keenly aw More...
Monday, November 08, 2010 7:00 PM
We’ve talked before about the value of energy efficiency retrofits. For many facilities managers, the first step towards cutting energy use and reducing costs involves picking (and retrofitting) low-lying fruit like lighting, insulation, and HVAC. Of course, homeowners can also benefit from similar change outs, and this week, the Obama Administration will unveil a new program designed to make it easy for homeowners to improve the energy efficiency of their residences.
Monday, November 01, 2010 8:00 PM
With all the focus these days on the Smart Grid and renewable energy, it’s sometimes easy to miss one of the most important aspects of energy use: efficiency. While attention and funding is most often funneled towards finding new economical and environmentally friendly energy sources, sometimes it’s working with what we have that can make all the difference. Case in point—the 30% Solution 2012 (www.thirtypercentsol More...
Sunday, October 24, 2010 8:00 PM
We all know that the Smart Grid is being touted as the future of our nation’s energy infrastructure. But for those of us involved in distributed energy, a truly successful Smart Grid must incorporate onsite power and renewable energy. Of course, in order for any “smart” energy infrastructure to truly integrate renewable energy—and thereby actualize the dream of a future free of fossil fuel dependence—the issue of energy storage must be addressed. The only way wind and solar More...
Sunday, October 17, 2010 8:00 PM
Let’s talk about data centers. As you may or may not know, data centers have begun to account for a greater percentage of national energy usage—due in large part to our increasing dependence on their services in our private and public lives. According to a 2007 report by the USEPA on server and data center efficiency [read article...], “During the past More...
Sunday, October 10, 2010 8:00 PM
Inspired by last week’s online article from Reuters about virtual power plants (What's This Buzz about Virtual Power Plants?), I’d like to discuss “virtual power plants” (VPP) and what their promotion and development might mean for the future of onsite power and renewable distributed energy.
As the More...
Sunday, October 03, 2010 8:00 PM
For the past 22 years, October has marked the beginning of Energy Awareness Month. Sponsored by the DOE and operating under the Federal Energy Management Program, the purpose of Energy Awareness month is to “promote a greater public understanding and awareness of energy sources and how they can be used effectively.” The theme for 2010, POWERING AMERICA; We’re On Target, puts the focus on t More...
Monday, September 27, 2010 8:00 PM
Native Californians know that the best weather of the year along the coast usually doesn't kick in until after Labor Day. This year, after three months of summer gloom and nary a beach day in sight, the summer weather has finally hit with a vengeance—breaking records and hitting well above the 100-degree mark all across the state, including the beaches. And while I have managed to doge this heat wave—I'm currently in New Orleans attending the National Rural Water Association’s annual co More...
Sunday, September 19, 2010 8:00 PM
Last week, I proposed that comparing our progress against the rest of the world’s energy policies and projects can inspire us to take a hard look at our own energy efficiency practices and protocols. I would like to extend that idea further by asking, can we predict our future based on the current experiences of similarly situated countries? And can a glimpse of “what might be” inspire us to change course and modify our behavior so that we can avoid the worst-case scenarios currently be More...
Sunday, September 12, 2010 8:00 PM
It’s often helpful to compare our progress against the rest of the world—especially if another country’s success can help boost our own energy efficiency practices. With that in mind, on more than one occasion, I’ve highlighted the energy efficiency, renewable energy, and or onsite power activities taking place in the international community. In last month’s blog entry entitled “ More...
Monday, September 06, 2010 8:00 PM
In the face of continued grim economic news, we may finally have found a silver lining. While we have all been adversely affected by 2008’s financial crisis, the slow down in economic activity has also translated into a reduction in energy usage. At the same time, the country’s energy generation as a whole has shifted from traditional fossil fuels to renewable energy sources. And while the reason behind these changes may not be ideal, when it comes to energy consumption in the United States, More...
Sunday, August 29, 2010 8:00 PM
Last year, I took a look at the energy earmarks included in the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) and asked, “Will this funding result in tangible results, or lose its way amidst a forest of bureaucracy and red tape?” Now, almost two years after the US Senate passed the $838 stimulus bill, we are finally getting our answer in a report released by the White House entitled “The Recovery Act: Transfo More...
Sunday, August 22, 2010 8:00 PM
When it comes to energy efficiency, most of the “buzz” focuses on the Smart Grid and renewable energy technologies. It’s probably easy for a lot of us to imagine a future where a majority of our energy comes from clean, efficient (and distributed) sources that pump that power through a streamlined, state-of-the-art electrical grid. But what if something goes wrong? What if a turbine needs to be repaired, or an inverter replaced? If there’s a hiccup in the system, will we have the More...
Sunday, August 15, 2010 8:00 PM
Last month, the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) unveiled their list of America’s “2010 Smarter Cities”. In the end, 22 US cities made the cut, based on their “investment in green power, energy efficiency measures, and conservation.” The impetus behind the Smart Cities list was to illustrate how—even during tough economic times—cities around the cou More...
Sunday, August 08, 2010 8:00 PM
What if the government had the power to shut you down for a failure to meet national energy efficiency standards? Would the possibility of a shuttered business and a diminished livelihood spur you into action? Or would the lack of quantifiable efficiency standards only lead to confusion and frustration?
While those of us in the US don’t have to worry about mandatory closures anytime soon, the situation in China—where the government recently ordered over 2,000 companies to shut down More...
Sunday, August 01, 2010 8:00 PM
According to the Department of Energy (DOE), 39% of US energy consumption can be attributed to residential and commercial buildings. With more than a third of our energy resources gobbled up by structures large and small, it makes sense to employ stricter building guidelines so that our future homes and offices can be more energy—and economically—efficient. The question is—can we start small or should we aim big? In Europe, buildings—many of them old and drafty—account for nearly 40% of the European Uni... More...
Sunday, July 25, 2010 8:00 PM
Last week, the DOE debut they new “Energy Blog”. In the blog’s first entry, Energy Secretary Steven Chu explained the purpose of this new outreach format, stating “While the act of starting a blog is hardly novel, it is a first for us and part of our commitment to achieving the level of transparency, engagement, and accessibility that you should expect from your government.”
Some of the promise More...
Sunday, July 18, 2010 8:00 PM
Can “onsite power” have an international component? Is there an advantage to be had by focusing not just on local energy efficiency, but also creating an international framework to promote a more intelligent and efficient use of resources?
This week, energy officials and representatives from 21 countries will meet in Washington DC to work on several international energy initiatives. During the two-day meeting, the participating countries—which combined account for 80% o More...
Sunday, July 11, 2010 8:00 PM
We all know that you must sometimes spend money to save money—certainly that’s the case when it comes to implementing energy-efficient design in new buildings or retrofits. We can talk all we want about “low-hanging fruit” and return on investment, but ultimately, there’s no free lunch when it comes to energy efficiency—it’s all about “show me the money”.
And because, as they say, money changes everything—let’s look at how fundin More...
Monday, July 05, 2010 8:00 PM
“Until now, the monthly electric bill was seen by California businesses as one of life’s certainties. That is no longer the case, thanks to more affordable renewable energy options.”—Cypress Semiconductor Corp. CEO T. J. Rodgers, paraphrasing the opening passage of the US Declaration of Independence.
Over the Independence Day weekend, several companies and organizations seized the opportunity to declare their “energy independence.” In light of the se More...
Monday, June 28, 2010 8:00 PM
Lighting: Energy efficiency’s low-lying fruit and the easiest, low-cost way to increase your building’s energy efficiency. Last month, in a blog entitled “The Future’s So Bright,” I outlined the future of energy-efficient LED lighting as discussed at the Santa Barbara Summit on Energy Efficiency. Part of lighting’s future includes an emphasis on providing information to the consumer, in the hope that knowledge will prompt behavior.
While those of us concerned More...
Sunday, June 20, 2010 8:00 PM
As I spend the next three days in Chicago attending the AWWA’s annual conference and exposition (ACE 2010), I’m conscious of the connection between water efficiency and energy efficiency.
The conference is aimed at water professionals, and every year it draws an international crowd anxious to keep abreast of all that’s new in all areas of water resource management. Over the next few days, I hope to meet the folks that are leading the way in water efficiency, and I anticipate t More...
Monday, June 14, 2010 8:00 PM
Last week, the American Energy Innovation Council released its energy policy recommendations. Comprised of business leaders like Bill Gates, the council’s mission involves fostering strong economic growth, creating jobs in new industries, and reestablishing America’s energy technology leadership through robust, public investments in the development of world-changing energy technologies. The council believes that “by More...
Sunday, June 06, 2010 8:00 PM
“If we want to avoid extreme energy, we need extreme efficiency.” –Daniel Gross, “Moneybox” column and senior editor at Newsweek.
I think most of us our still trying wrap our heads around the implications of the continuing disaster in the Gulf of Mexico (aka, “The BP Oil Spill”), and specifically how we might change the way we look at energy sources and consumption.
This week, in Slate.com’s More...
Monday, May 31, 2010 8:00 PM
Last month, Grist staff writer David Roberts posted an interesting piece on how the inability to indemnify risky energy enterprises (i.e., nuclear power plants, deep-sea oil drilling) places an undue burden on the public. Roberts’ article focuses primarily on the economic and societal costs associated catastrophic disasters like the BP oil spill, but he does discuss how More...
Monday, May 24, 2010 8:00 PM
As we all know, when you begin to develop an energy efficiency plan of action the first step is to identify the low-lying fruit. What quick, easy, and cheap changes can be made that will give us the biggest bang for our buck? Usually, replacing your existing lighting systems are at the top of the list. Better bulbs, smarter controls, intuitive design—all these elements can be changed or tweaked in a way that reduces energy use and cuts costs.
But what does the future hold for energy-effic More...
Monday, May 17, 2010 8:00 PM
Last week, I was lucky enough to attend the Institute for Energy Efficiency’s UCSB’s “Santa Barbara Summit on Energy Efficiency.” One of the highlights of the two-day event included the keynote address by Dan Reicher, Director of Climate Change and Energy Initiatives at Google.
Reicher started out discussing what he considered the biggest economic opportunity of the 21st century: the smart grid. He described today’s power grid as a largely fossil-fuel based system More...
Sunday, May 09, 2010 8:00 PM
This week, I will once again attend the University of California Santa Barbara’s “Santa Barbara Summit on Energy Efficiency” hosted by the Institute for Energy Efficiency. The Institute for Energy Efficiency, based at the UCSB Campus, is “an interdisciplinary research institute dedicated to developing technological solutions that will forever change how energy is produced, managed, and used.”
Of course, here at Distributed Energy, much of our editorial con More...
Sunday, May 02, 2010 8:00 PM
Last week, we discussed the DOE’s Retrofit Ramp-Up initiative (“Retrofits and Revamps”), and, according to a new report by the US Green Building Council (USGBC), these DOE revamps are only part of a larger opportunity available to the federal government: the ability to use 30 existing programs to enhance energy efficiency in buildings and residences across the country. In a report entitled More...
Monday, April 26, 2010 8:00 PM
Last week, the federal government announced that under its Retrofit Ramp-Up grants (part of the ARRA) a slate of selected projects from around the country have been awarded part of an estimated $452 million in funding for energy efficiency retrofits of commercial and residential buildings.
The details of the plan were outlined on April 21 in a speech delivered by Vice President Biden, who began by describing the impact of recent funding of energy efficiency products and projects:
Tuesday, April 20, 2010 8:00 PM
While much of the news focuses on residential energy efficiency, it’s important to remember that the biggest gains can be had at large-scale commercial facilities. Often the biggest energy users in a community, these high-demand customers can affect big changes by making even the smallest modifications to their use patterns and facilities. Of course, new structures designed for efficiency can result in even greater efficiency, as can retrofits and upgrades of existing buildings.
For an ex More...
Sunday, April 11, 2010 8:00 PM
Some interesting developments this week for energy storage and the smart grid. As we’ve discussed before, distributed energy can play a lead role in the development of a national (or multi-state) smart grid precisely because of its ability to streamline energy management. Energy storage is an integral part of energy management; recently, a series of projects and legislative initiative have focused on promoting the optimization of the smart grid via storage.
In California, AB 2514, written More...
Sunday, April 04, 2010 8:00 PM
During an unpredictable event—such as an earthquake, hurricane, flood or other natural (and man-made) disaster—there is one thing we can depend upon: Our power and water delivery systems will be challenged, and not all will be able to adequately weather the storm. It is during these times that onsite power becomes an invaluable asset.
This week, southern California was once again rattled by Mother Nature, as a magnitude 7.2 earthquake hit south of the border near Mexicali, Mexico. A More...
Sunday, March 28, 2010 8:00 PM
This week, Colorado Governor Bill Ritter is expected to sign into law one of the country’s most aggressive renewable energy standards. Under Colorado House Bill 10-1001, the state’s electric utilities must increase the percentage of energy derived from renewables to 30% by 2020. Previously, the state’s energy providers were expected to More...
Monday, March 22, 2010 8:00 PM
In an article in today’s New York Times (California Utility Regulators Not Quite Ready for Fuel Cells, Todd Woody looks at the impact of fuel cell adoption by some of California’s biggest energy users—California’s utilities. As fuel cell popularity grows, utilities in California have begun to promote their use to supplement power supplied More...
Monday, March 15, 2010 8:00 PM
This week, a bipartisan coalition made up of 29 governors from around the country called on the President and Congress to support a new national renewable energy standard and develop an interstate wind power transmission system. (Click here to read the article) .
Calling themselves the “Governors’ Wind Energy Coalition,” the group issued a list More...
Monday, March 08, 2010 7:00 PM
They say the road to hell is paved with good intentions, and that’s often the case when we try to mitigate one set of problems only to see another set of challenges pop up in its place. When it comes to efficiency and conservation, it’s always important to take into account all of the ramifications of our actions.
Such is the case when it comes to water and energy. As we’ve discussed in the past, energy and water are inextricably linked—and attempts to conserve the More...
Sunday, February 28, 2010 7:00 PM
Last week I was lucky enough to attend the Renewable Energy World Conference and Expo in Austin, TX. While there, I got a chance to talk to show participants and exhibitors to get an idea of where renewable energy is headed, and how onsite power and energy efficiency are becoming ever more important features of our “green” future.
Some of the most intriguing tidbits and stories I picked up while in Texas include:
* A shift from third-party distributors of solar and w More...
Sunday, February 21, 2010 7:00 PM
Last year, in a blog entitled “Interdependency”, I wrote, “What we need is a broader effort that focuses on the interdependency of all our resources. As I’ve said before, any discussion of climate change, sustainability, or “going green” must include water: our diminishing supply, our increasing demands, and the impact our water needs has on the environment, and vice versa. Wa More...
Sunday, February 14, 2010 7:00 PM
Lately, a lot of people have been asking me about the “new” energy-efficient light bulbs: Are they really that different from traditional bulbs, are they landfill safe, and the big one—can they really help me cut down on energy costs? And while we are certainly all concerned about the environmental impact of our choices, it never hurts to keep an eye on the bottom line.
So, how much of a difference can energy-efficient lighting make? Well, for one tire retailer, the difference More...
Sunday, February 07, 2010 7:00 PM
We’ve all heard the adage “the squeaky wheel gets the grease,” but there’s a flip side to that cliché: Sometimes the quietest efforts are the most effective. Recently, a series of reports from the Pacific Institute highlighted how California could save approximately 1 million acre-feet of water per year, simply by switching to low-flow fixtures and smart irrigation technologies (www.pacinst.org). Which got me to thinking o More...
Sunday, January 31, 2010 7:00 PM
On the eve of a new year and a new presidential administration, I asked, “Can we be saved by the green team?”. At the time, there was a lot of buzz about President Obama’s commitment to a new national energy policy that would include clean energy technology, a smart grid, a reduction of dependence on fossil fuels, a reduction of GHG emissions, and—of courseR More...
Sunday, January 24, 2010 7:00 PM
We’ve been talking a lot about the need for emergency backup systems and the ways in which onsite power can provide reliability and efficiency to any existing power system. Clearly great minds think alike, as this week, it was announced that the US General Services Administration (GSA) has decided to install a cogeneration and distribution system at the Department of Homeland Security Campus (DHS) in Washington DC. DHS is home to the Coast Guard, Immigration, Border Protection, the TSA, and FEMA More...
Sunday, January 17, 2010 7:00 PM
The lights are flickering, and the rain’s coming down hard—you’ve got to love rain-panicked Californians. We basked in the sun while the rest of the world froze, but we’re set to get our comeuppance over the next several days as a series of storms bear down on our shores. As if often the case for a state unaccustomed to severe weather, the pundits and the television meteorologists have been urging us to take precautions and prepare for power outages. And as my IT guy urges me to save often in case the p... More...
Sunday, January 10, 2010 7:00 PM
Is it possible that we could kill two birds with one stone via a national energy policy that decreases our dependence on fossil fuels and reduces our unemployment rolls? That’s certainly the hope of the Obama administration, which announced a new set of tax credits for clean-energy projects in 43 states. These tax credits are part of last year’s $787 billion stimulus package, a significant portion of which was allocated for federally funded energy projects, with an emphasis on renewable energ More...
Sunday, January 03, 2010 7:00 PM
As a new year and a new decade begins, it’s hard to resist the impulse to check the crystal ball and try to intuit what might be in store for us in the coming year. When it comes to energy efficiency and onsite power, 2009 was comprised primarily of promises. The hope for 2010 (and beyond) is that we will now begin to see payback on those promises, in the form of both “brick-and-mortar” funding, as well as quantifiable trends and strategies that point towards an ever increasing awarenes More...
Sunday, December 20, 2009 7:00 PM
Community and energy efficiency—during the holidays, there is no better time to observe the interplay of those elements. Just walk around any cozy neighborhood during the evening, and you’ll see houses awash in lights, and each strand of colored bulbs represents not only the season, but also an additional power demand. And if the whole block is lit up, well … you can imagine how many watts are wafting out into that winter night.
But don’t label me a Scrooge just yet. I l More...
Sunday, December 06, 2009 7:00 PM
Last week, Pennsylvania Governor Edward G. Rendell announced that, thanks to $11 million in ARRA funds, the state will soon have nine new large-scale CHP facilities that will generate enough power to supply over 180,000 homes per year. The funding from the ARRA will pass through More...
Monday, November 30, 2009 7:00 PM
Last week, DOE Energy Secretary Steven Chu unveiled a $45-million ARRA grant awarded to Clemson University, for the creation of a wind energy test facility. The purpose of the facility will be to study large-scale wind turbine drivetrain systems. The hope is that the results of this testing will help the US compete in the wind energy market and reduce the overall cost of implementing wind energy systems.
There’s a lot More...
Sunday, November 22, 2009 7:00 PM
A recent report from Pike Research estimates that by 2010 there will be more than 250 million smart meters installed worldwide. That number indicates that the future of energy efficiency will be determined to a large extent by measuring and managing power usage. An ancillary benefit will be ability to empower the consumers by supplying them with the information and the ability to reduce their energy usage. And of course, when it comes distributed energy, these smart meters will be the all important middl More...
Sunday, November 15, 2009 7:00 PM
What could be more “sustainable” than turning waste into energy? It’s certainly not a new idea, but as we begin to focus ever more intently on energy efficiency, it’s become clear that our landfills offer a bounty of environmentally friendly power.
Case in point, the Lewisville landfill. As reported early this week in the More...
Monday, November 09, 2009 7:00 PM
Earlier this fall, in a blog entitled "Give Me ‘Smart’ Shelter", I discussed building envelopes and the push for “smart” buildings—an option made especially viable thanks to ARRA funds earmarked for energy efficiency projects. And while there may not be many new construction projects coming down the pipeline, retrofitting existing structures can still give us a big bang for our More...
Sunday, November 01, 2009 7:00 PM
Health care has been in the news a lot lately, and while the focus has naturally been on issues of cost control and quality of service for the average citizen, the facilities that handle patients have been quietly improving services and reducing costs by focusing on power quality, reliability, and the benefits of onsite power. Last month, the Shands Cancer Hospital at the University of Florida (UF), unveiled a new 500,000 square-foot, 192 bed cancer and critical care facility . The Shands C... More...
Sunday, October 25, 2009 8:00 PM
We’ve spent a lot of time discussing renewable energy and the possibilities of a “green” smart grid that includes solar, wind, and distributed energy. But what about energy storage? An integral part of any efficient power system, energy storage not only supplies backup power for mission critical systems, it also helps with peak shaving and balancing costs based on supply and demand.
Finally, energy storage is starting to get some attention: A new bill introduced by US R More...
Sunday, October 18, 2009 8:00 PM
In March of this year, I discussed the ARRA feeding frenzy in a blog entitled “The Air Is Electric”. The ARRA is still in its infancy, but at its debut, intense lobbying had already begun on Capital Hill. Utilities, vendors, and consultants had descended in hopes of carving out their own piece of the stimulus pie. A little over six months later, we’re starting to see exactly how some of More...
Sunday, October 11, 2009 8:00 PM
Earlier this month, the City of San Antonio, TX, and CPS Energy released a report (available online ), outlining a plan to bring sustainable energy use to Alamo City, TX. The report was the result of a workshop facilitated by Jeremy Rifkin, president of the Foundation on Economic Trends in the United States. In the report, Rifkin outlines what he calls the “Third Industrial Revol More...
Thursday, October 01, 2009 8:00 PM
All year, I’ve been keeping an eye on the disbursement and use of ARRA funds for energy projects. Earlier this year, the news was quite positive—$150 billion in funding set aside to fund “green” energy sources, including distributed energy and efficiency programs, for the next several years. As the 2010 budget began to make its way through the congressional pipeline, the DOE had set it’s sights on a total of $26.9 billion, with $2.25 billion specifically set aside for More...
Sunday, September 27, 2009 8:00 PM
As ARRA funds start to trickle out across the country, it’s clear that some communities are enthusiastically embracing the chance to significantly shift the use and distribution of resources away from “business as usual” programs and towards projects focused on efficiency and reliability. In Massachusetts for example, $15 million in ARRA funds have been earmarked for the promotion and construction of high-performance buildings (schools, hospitals, etc). The state hopes that these “ More...
Sunday, September 20, 2009 8:00 PM
As I’ve stated before, the benefits of the smart grid and renewable energy greatly diminish the further energy must travel from the source. First of all, the placement of solar or wind farms in remote locations requires the construction of power lines over large swathes of land, and many times the source or the method of delivery must be laid out over sensitive habitats or national parks. Additionally, under our current system, traditional power lines are an inefficient method of transportation for More...
Sunday, September 13, 2009 8:00 PM
It’s all about metering this week, as I’m off to Denver, CO, to attend the Utilimetrics Smart Metering Conference and Exposition, aka Autovation. The conference covers metering primarily in the electric utility industry, and there’s plenty of discussion on the role metering will play in the adoption of the Smart Grid. In Distributed Energy, we’ve been focusing a lot lately on energy management systems, especially in relation to energy efficiency and the promised arrival of a natio More...
Monday, September 07, 2009 8:00 PM
For Data Centers, energy efficiency is not just a “no-brainer,” it’s a requirement for survival. As of 2005, data centers around the world consumed almost 23 billion kWh (double the amount used in 2000).
With those kinds of energy requirements, even the smallest increase in efficiency can reap huge rewards. In an article posted on Earth2Tech this week entitled “Startups Go Wir More...
Sunday, August 30, 2009 8:00 PM
Earlier this summer I wrote about the sometimes topsy-turvy world of green building and how sometimes the best “green” intentions can lead to unexpected—and decidedly inefficient—results. In my July blog, “When Green Buildings Go Bad”, I asked, “should there be real and quantifiable standards enacted (much like USGB’s LEED certification pr More...
Sunday, August 23, 2009 8:00 PM
After four consecutive years with the fastest-growing wind-power market in the world, the DOE announced that, as of 2008, the US can now call itself “the world’s leader in wind power.” According to the DOE, the US has now reached over 25,000 megawatts per year, overtaking previous world wind leader Germany’s 23,930 megawatts. Those 25,000 megawatts translate into a 2% portion of the country’s power supply.
The DOE report (available at More...
Sunday, August 16, 2009 8:00 PM
The title of a recent article in the New York Times
caught my eye last week: Energy Efficiency: Fact or Fiction? The article sets about debunking some common (small-scale) energy myths—is it
smarter to leave your computer in sleep mode or turn it off (the latter), is it
more efficient to drive around with a half tank of gas in your car (negligible),
should you hand More...
Sunday, August 09, 2009 8:00 PM
fall, buildings will have a new rating to aspire to when the American Society of
Heating, Refrigerating, and Air-Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE)
unveils its Building Energy Quotient (Building EQ) program. According to an
article in Salon, the program “will include ratings for
all building types except residential, and will roll out More...
Monday, August 03, 2009 8:00 PM
Last month, McKinsey
Global Energy Materials asked in their report, Unlocking Energy Efficiency in
the US Economy, “How is it that so many energy saving opportunities worth
more than $130 billion annually to the US economy can go unrealized, despite
decades of public awareness campaigns, federal and state programs, and targeted
action by individual companies, nongovernmental organizations, and private
A perceptive question
really, why is i More...
Sunday, July 26, 2009 8:00 PM
If a tree falls in the woods and no one is there to hear it,
does it make a sound? It’s an age-old question, and, thanks to the popularity of
“green building,” there’s a new twist—if a green building stands empty, is it
still “sustainable?” This query was inspired by a recent trip to Las Vegas. By
most estimates, Clark County (which includes Las Vegas, Henderson, and
surrounding areas) is at the top of the list of communities devastated by the
Sunday, July 19, 2009 8:00 PM
In March of this year, we ran a little story entitled “Turning Onion Juice Into a
Power House” which detailed California-based Gills Onions’ installation of an anaerobic
digester capable of turning onion waste into digester gas that could, in turn,
be burned as energy for onsite power generation. Online since December 2008,
Gills Onions’ system is a perfect example of how distributed More...
Sunday, July 12, 2009 8:00 PM
This week the US House of Representatives prepares
to vote on appropriations for energy and water development for the 2010
fiscal year (the Senate is also moving
forward and Appropriations Committee approved its version last week).
According to the New York Times,
the House will be talking a budget proposal of around $33 billion aimed at
funding en More...
Sunday, July 05, 2009 8:00 PM
Last week, I wrote about the state-of-the-art
onsite power system installed by Santa Barbara Cottage hospital, which just
happens to be located a few blocks away from Forester Media.
(Innovation In My Own Backyard).
While that project’s integrated efficiency is already resulting in diminished
power needs and reduced operating costs, not all energy-efficient More...
Sunday, June 28, 2009 8:00 PM
For most of us, a
trip to the hospital is no casual affair. Whether you’re on your way to the
emergency room or stopping by to visit a friend or family member, chances are
the last thing on your mind is the hospital’s backup power system. Yet we all
know that one little surge or glitch—let alone a full-scale blackout or grid
failure—can not only stall the computers and dim the lights, but can impact a
lifesaving piece of equipment or impede a critical medical procedu More...
Monday, June 22, 2009 8:00 PM
The countdown begins: Now that the longest day of the year
has come and gone, we can all look forward to sunset arriving a little earlier
each evening. And as the sun sets, light switches will be flipped up in houses
all over the country. This is no insignificant event, according to the DOE,
lighting consumes 22% of all electricity produced in the US. That 22% presents
not only a challenge, but also an opportunity. After all, lighting is often
considered the low-hanging fruit of any energy effic More...
Sunday, June 14, 2009 8:00 PM
week, I attended the West Coast Energy Management Conference in Long Beach, CA.
For 28 years, the conference has catered to energy efficiency professionals from
the West, looking for a place to come together and learn about the latest energy
management developments and new implementation strategies. The conference is put
on by the Association of Energy Engineers (AEE), a 9,000-member-strong
organization that includes energy engineers and energy management professionals
from the US an More...
Sunday, June 07, 2009 8:00 PM
With the astronomical start of summer less than fortnight
away, now’s a good time take a closer look at your HVAC system and determine
where you can increase efficiency and positively impact your bottom line. In
general, HVAC systems account for more than 30% of a building’s electricity
costs, and there are now several technological improvements—including
building envelopes and energy management systems (EMS) —that
can help you reign in your HVAC–related energy More...
Sunday, May 31, 2009 8:00 PM
Last month, I attended the 2009
Santa Barbara Summit on Energy Efficiency. The topics ranged from computing to
lighting to storage, with a special emphasis on the nexus between politics,
technology, and the economy. With a focus on promoting the development of energy
efficiency technologies, the summit included presentations and panel discussions
that included voices from both the private and public sectors. Much on the minds
of participants and audience was ARRA stimulus funds, and whether More...
Monday, May 25, 2009 8:00 PM
On average, some homes in Austin, TX waste up to 50% of
the energy delivered by the local power utility, in part because many of these
20–30-year-old homes have had little or no
energy improvements. In the past, Austin has done a lot to increase energy
efficiency, including 0% loans for upgrades and policies aimed at encouraging
renewable energy on a residential and commercial level. As a result of these efforts, Austin has
seen a significant improvement: more than 23,000 reside More...
Monday, May 18, 2009 8:00 PM
month, I touched upon the effect of President
Obama’s cap-and-trade energy plan on data centers (“Behavior Modification:
In that blog, I suggested that in order to survive under a new national energy
policy that calls for accountability and quantifiable results, data centers
would be wise to focus on energy efficiency, and how onsite power can mitigate
the cost of acquiring energy from a ce More...
Sunday, May 10, 2009 8:00 PM
I wrote my blog “Candles, Canned Food, and Gensets?”
in October of last year, I was contemplating the relationship between emergency
power backup systems and onsite power. Last week, Santa Barbara was once again
under siege as the Jesusita fire blazed in the foothills and, at times, seemed
to threaten the entire city. Fortunately, in the midst of this crisis, Santa
Barbara was able to avoid large-scale power outages. Nevertheless, the very
nature of unforeseen disaster More...
Sunday, May 03, 2009 8:00 PM
avoided discussing biofuel in the past not only because of its tenuous
connection to onsite power, but also because the amount of resources needed for
many biofuel crops (including soil and water) appear to negate their associated
benefits. But what if biomass could be directly linked to onsite power with the
intent of creating a localized, distributed energy system? After all, biomass
does not just involve biofuel crops, but mill wastes, urban wastes,
forest residues, and agri More...
Sunday, April 26, 2009 8:00 PM
First off, my apologies
to those of you who’ve heard enough about the Smart Gird. I was planning on
discussing other onsite power and energy efficiency issues today, but then I
looked over the first draft of the DOE’s grant application for stimulus money,
and it became clear that the development of national smart grid is still an
important issue for those of us in the onsite power and energy efficiency
Earlier this month, Vice
President Biden announced that t More...
Sunday, April 19, 2009 8:00 PM
way you slice it, when it comes to energy efficiency, the US lags far behind
much of the industrialized world. For example, according to the International
Energy Agency (IEA: www.iea.org), the
US releases more carbon dioxide (CO2) into the atmosphere, for each
dollar of economic product, than 92 other countries (out of 137) tracked by the
IEA. Additionally—and due in large part to the average size of North American
Monday, April 13, 2009 8:00 PM
In October of
last year, San Diego Gas and Electric (SDG&E) introduced the Beach Cities
Microgrid project. With additional participation by some big names in the energy
Energy Group (HEG), Advance Control Systems (ACS), Motorola, IBM, Lockheed
well as help from Pacific Northwest National Lab and the University of San
Diego, the pilot project was designed to “test,
in San Diego, CA, how information-based technologies and DER [distribu More...
Sunday, April 05, 2009 8:00 PM
We all know data centers are
energy-intensive enterprises, comprising almost 2% of all US energy consumption.
According to a 2006 report by the EPA, data centers use approximately 61 billion
kWh. That translates into a total consumption cost of $4.5 billion. As we
continue to transform ourselves from a paper-based to digital society, data
centers—which are the backbone of our information infrastructure—will continue
to grow in size and importance; and with that growth comes a re More...
Sunday, March 29, 2009 8:00 PM
you’ve been keeping track of distributed energy and onsite power in the news,
then you’ve noticed that all the talk as of late seems to be how a distributed
power systems will be an integral part of any national smart grid system. Of
course, I’ve been keeping an eye on these development and—as I’ve stated
before—I’m optimistic that future national energy policies will provide
opportunities for an expansion of onsite power systems. And as long as More...
Sunday, March 22, 2009 8:00 PM
I’ve been talking a lot about the possible opportunities that
can open up for onsite power and distributed energy with the creation of the
“Smart Grid.” In my mind, the
ability to manage demand while switching back and forth between the grid and a
localized power source is what makes this grid “smart” and energy
efficient—especially when renewable energy is added to the mix. As far as I’m concerned, onsite power is
integral to any nation More...
Sunday, March 15, 2009 8:00 PM
Monday’s edition of Salon, writer
Jennifer Kho details the “feeding
frenzy” that has erupted as a result of
the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (ARRA). In Kho’s article, Jesse
managing director of research firm Global Smart Energy, details the intense lobbying taking
place, as coalitions between utilities and venders are formed in an attempt to
capitalize on the promise of government funding from under the stimu More...
Sunday, March 08, 2009 8:00 PM
It looks like the money is starting to roll in. Last week, the Department of Energy (DOE) announced that
it was issuing a new Industrial Technologies Program for data centers and
service-based telecommunications facilities. According to the DOE, the program’s
purpose is to promote research and development on a variety of different energy
efficiency technologies, in order to “increase the efficiency of IT [information
technology] equipment and software, power systems, a More...
Sunday, March 01, 2009 7:00 PM
some questions were finally answered as
Barack Obama unveiled his first federal budget
proposal. With a tally of around
$3.6 trillion for the fiscal year (beginning October 1), you might wonder how
exactly this money will be spent.
For those of us focused on energy efficiency and onsite power, there’s
good news—$150 billion in funding has been set aside for “green” energy sources,
including distributed energy and efficienc More...
Sunday, February 22, 2009 7:00 PM
Thirty of the country’s most
prominent leaders in the areas of government, business, and non profits will
meet today to participate in The Center for American Progress Actions Fund’s
“National Clean Energy Project Forum.”
The purpose of forum is to “explore ways of increasing US reliance on
clean energy and reducing the country’s dependence on foreign oil.” With a significant portion of the
American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (aka More...
Sunday, February 15, 2009 7:00 PM
There’s been a lot of talk about
sustainability, “green jobs,” and the potential of renewables, but it’s not
often that you find all three rolled into one under the mantel of distributed
energy—even rarer … the source behind this combination is not a private
commercial venture, but rather, the Mayor of Alamo City, TX—Phil
Hardberger hopes to transform his
city into an international, renewable energy leader. The firs More...
Monday, February 09, 2009 7:00 PM
The Smart Grid has been getting a lot of press lately, thanks in part to the current stimulus package debate—the current draft of which earmarks $4.4 billion for smart-grid technologies. I’ve already discussed how the smart grid and onsite power can coexist, but those discussions have focused primarily on demand management at a large, centralized level. Under the smart grid scenario, a utility can balance supply and demand based on the data it collects from users.
But what a More...
Sunday, February 01, 2009 7:00 PM
previous blog I asked, “Can
distributed energy and the electrical grid coexist?” It’s a question that I
continue to ponder as President Obama's infrastructure plan continues to gain
steam, with the Smart Grid as one of its most integral components. As I stated
in my most recent editorial (Distributed
“Conceptually, the smart grid wo More...
Sunday, January 25, 2009 7:00 PM
An interesting article
R. Baker in today’s (January 26) San Francisco Chronicle discusses the 2009 California
Green Innovation Index, a report conducted by the public policy group Next 10
tracks. The report concludes that
California has benefitted economically as a result of several energy-efficient
programs, projects, and regulations implemented since the 1970s. Over 30 years ago, California’s state
government began requiring energy-efficient applian More...
Sunday, January 18, 2009 7:00 PM
I still remember the first time I drove out to
Palm Springs and got a first hand glimpse of wind power at work – there, where
interstate 10 cuts a black stripe through the desert, whirring without pause, turbines seemingly
synchronized to dance with the wind, were the windmills of the San Gorgonio Mountain Pass in the San
Bernardino Mountains where more than 4000 separate windmills provide enough
electricity to power Palm Springs and the entire Coachella Valley.
It was hard not More...
Sunday, January 11, 2009 7:00 PM
According to an article by Luther Turmelle in the New Haven Register, the Connecticut Municipal Energy Cooperative is considering a $30-million distributed energy project in Wallingford, CT. According to the plan presented to the town’s Public Utilities Commission, 20 diesel and natural gas generators would be placed in and around Wallingford. The hope is that the installation of these generators can help offset future increases in transmission costs and capacity charges. The gener More...
Tuesday, January 06, 2009 7:00 PM
Can it be true? Could nuclear power be harnessed for small-scale, onsite power systems? And could these small nuclear generators actually be good for the environment? That’s the stand taken by Hyperion Power Generation Inc., which has developed a “garden shed–sized nuclear reactor that can produce enough heat to generate 25 MW of electricity for up to 10 years.” The details of the project are detailed nicely in the January 5 issue of TheStar.com in an article by energy repo More...
Sunday, December 28, 2008 7:00 PM
When President-elect Barack Obama picked Nobel physics
laureate, Stephen Chu, to head the Energy Department, many saw it as a
significant shift away from the Bush administration’s efforts and attitudes
towards climate change. Add John
Holdren – a Harvard University expert on climate change – as the new White House
science adviser; former environmental lawyer and US Senator Ken Salazar, as
Interior secretary; former New Jersey environment chief Lisa Jackson, as head o More...
Sunday, December 21, 2008 7:00 PM
Ask and ye shall receive – that’s the spirit that dominates
as we close out 2008 and fix our eyes on 2009’s horizon. With the promise of an historical
infrastructure spending program and three million jobs, next year already
resembles Santa’s gift bag. Many
communities are already tabulating and numbering their wants and needs, and it
seems those requests will not be in vain.
With money and motivation, many lingering projects will find new life,
Sunday, December 14, 2008 7:00 PM
Most of us are aware of
the benefits of installing a CHP system: increased efficiency, less pollution,
and lower operating costs. For
example, an industrial facility using CHP can ramp up its energy efficiency to
89%, a nice increase from the typical 55% efficiency of most conventional
systems. With those kinds of
savings, it’s no wonder CHP has been a popular “go to” onsite energy source –
but is it popular enough?
Thomas Edison’s firs More...
Sunday, December 07, 2008 7:00 PM
POWER-GEN and backup power systems
Last week, I spent some time at the 20th anniversary of POWER-GEN International
in Orlando, FL. While a
significant portion of the show is focused on utilities and the grid, when it
comes to backup power and emergency systems, distributed energy is where it’s
at. Armed with a complementary tote
bag and a reporter’s curiosity, I set out to explore the many exhibitors who’d
set up shop to promote their emerge More...
Sunday, November 30, 2008 7:00 PM
“What I learned on my winter vacation, Part II” -
In September 2008, La Revista de Fotovoltaica initiated a
count of solar installations in Spain, and the final number is staggering: 300
installations of 1 MW or more in a country that may be the third largest in
Europe but is still only twice the size of the state of Oregon (and that’s
including the Balearic Islands and Canary Islands). I can personally attest to the virtual
blanketing of solar panels More...
Sunday, November 23, 2008 7:00 PM
“What I learned on my winter vacation.”)
When you venture into the land of Don Quixote, it’s hard not
to attach special significance to windmills. For Cervantes’ hero, these lonely
sentinels dotting the landscape represented dragons to be vanquished and dangers
to be overcome.
But of course, to the modern observer, Spain’s picturesque
wind farms (also known as known as
parques eólicos) are not medieval monsters but mod More...
Monday, November 17, 2008 7:00 PM
offices are located in Santa Barbara, CA, a city of some 80,000 inhabitants that
has made it into the national news for the fifth time in less that two years
with yet another serious fire.
Named the “Tea
Fire” because of its birth in an abandoned but oft-trespassed tea
house in the foothills of neighboring Montecito, as of today (November
18th) the blaze is close to full containment after burning some 2,000
acres,destroying 210 residences, and da More...
Sunday, November 16, 2008 7:00 PM
an age-old argument: How much should we be held accountable for as individuals,
and at what point should the government step in to help? At one point, will we have to take
a serious look at local, state, and federal energy efficiency programs, statutes
question, which I posed before is -
we have a civic duty to promote distributed energy? By implementing
onsite power, are we in fact working for the greater good? Afte More...
Sunday, November 09, 2008 7:00 PM
month, the passage of H.R.
1424 – aka “Emergency Economic
Stabilization Act of 2008,”, included
five-year extension of the portion of the Energy Policy Act of 2005 granting a
tax deduction of up to $1.80 per square foot to building owners for “greening”
new or existing commercial buildings. The act also extends solar investment tax
credits to 2016 to businesses and public utilities as well as residential solar
installations (the $2,000 cap ha More...
Sunday, November 02, 2008 7:00 PM
If you missed it, Robert X. Cringely’s blog “Azure Blues: Microsoft and the electric power industry have a
lot in common” is worth a read.
Click here for Robert
X. Cringley’s Blog
In it, Cringely does a marvelous
job of explaining Moore’s Law and how it relates to the renewable energy market
– specifically solar power.
What I found pa More...
Sunday, October 26, 2008 8:00 PM
Today I’d like to start off with a question—do we have a
civic duty to promote distributed energy?
By implementing onsite power, are we in fact working for the greater
good? After all, decentralized
energy systems come with a “one-two” punch of increased efficiency and the
option of including renewable energy.
If it’s possible, should we all be working towards a power system that
limits grid dependence, curtails demands on fossil fuels, and More...
Sunday, October 19, 2008 8:00 PM
distributed energy? There are many
right answers to that question, ranging from the need for reliable emergency
back up power to the opportunity for increased efficiency via the incorporation
of renewable energy. And when it
comes to reliability, distributed energy can bring together the grid and
is the case put forth in an opinion piece by PATRICK
D. NOLAN of the St More...
Sunday, October 12, 2008 8:00 PM
Necessity breeds invention, or so the saying goes. For actual proof of this, one need look
no further than the story of the Shaanxi Mothers environmental association. Headquartered in Xi'an, China, the group
is comprised of women committed to promoting environmental stewardship while
helping rural communities cope with the challenge of scratching out a living
while simultaneously protecting the environment. When faced with the issue of sustenance
farming and the ravages of c More...
Sunday, October 05, 2008 8:00 PM
to a recent report by the Cleantech Group (a global research and investment company
with offices in North America, Europe, India, and China),
Silicon Valley venture capitalists have found one area of the American economy
strong enough to earn their investment dollars: clean technology. That’s good
news for the renewables market, especially for those of us convinced of the
connection between energy efficiency, onsite power and alternative energy.
Sunday, September 28, 2008 8:00 PM
interrupt this economic crisis to bring you some unexpectedly good news from
Wall Street: Last week, the Senate passed a bill designed to provide more than
$17 billion in renewable energy tax incentives, including a one-year extension
on wind credits and an eight-year extension on solar tax credits. In addition,
the new bill extends solar tax credits to utilities.
could this influx of cash help wind and solar companies, many analysts believe
that a commitment of More...
Sunday, September 21, 2008 8:00 PM
When I attended the American Rainwater Catchment Systems
Association’s (ARCSA) annual conference in Santa Monica, CA last week, the last
thing I expected was to hear about the connection between energy efficiency and
decentralized systems. But Mark Buehrer of 2020 Engineer presentation—“How
Commercial Developments Can Go ‘Green’ by Harvesting and Using Rain
Water—succinctly made the case that decentralized systems (both of the onsite
power and onsite wate More...
Wednesday, September 17, 2008 8:00 PM
Welcome to the new Distributed Energy Web site. You’re among the first to experience our beta site, and we’re glad to have you on board to help us test the waters, try out the site’s new features, and let us know what you think.
We’ve always made the content of the magazine available online, but now it’ll be much easier for you to find current articles as well as browse and search through past issues to find exactly what you need. You’ll also have access to all the More...
Tuesday, July 08, 2008 8:00 PM
Welcome to the new Distributed Energy Web site. You’re among the first to experience our beta site, and we’re
glad to have you on board to help us test the waters, try out the site’s new
features, and let us know what you think.
We’ve always made the content of the
magazine available online, but now it’ll be much easier for you to find current
articles as well as browse and search through past issues to find exactly what
you need. You More...