Science & Technology

Kenya to get massive wind farm

A Kenyan firm is planning a 300 MW wind farm which, when operational in 2012, will represent roughly 20% of the electrical capacity of the country. The 20% figure is a bit deceptive though. Wind farms don't produce electricity at anything near the nameplate capacity, so the farm will probably represent something more like 10% of Kenya's output. Still, this… read more →

Batteries not included

Almost a hundred million dollars of new investment in battery technology has been announced in the few days: first, Boston Power announced that it had received $55M in a fourth round of funding for their Sonata lithium-ion battery. The Sonata is advertised to have a very long lifetime, a quick charging cycle and makes a variety of environmentally friendly claims.… read more →

Create your own bike lane

This product doesn't actually exist, but based the internet enthusiasm for it, somebody ought to get it into production real quick like: Traditional blinkers might alert drivers to a cyclist's presence, but they don't do a very good job establishing a zone of safety around the bike. By "painting" a visible marker onto the pavement, LightLane establishes a boundary that… read more →

Smart grid, part 1: the need

Two smart grid articles recently appeared and disappeared in the holiday shuffle. Both are too good to let slip, and because I know almost no one actually clicks the links, I'll use them as the basis for a few backgrounder posts on a technology that will be affecting all of us quite a bit over the next few decades. First… read more →

Passive Houses in the U.S.

Can you stand one more post about energy efficiency in houses? Our earlier post about the Passivhaus standard in Germany attracted a comment from Katrin Klingenberg, Director of the Passive House Institute US, that merits wider circulation. A version of her comment appears below. Also, check out the organization's web site, which, helpfully, is in English and covers a lot… read more →

The first Energy Star clothes dryer?

The Department of Energy doesn't even bother to rate clothes dryer under its ENERGY STAR program because the models on the market differ little in their energy use. That could change soon. The DryerMiser system uses hot fluid and a heat exchanger to warm the dryer, rather than natural gas or an electric heating element. According to Hydromatic Technologies Corporation,… read more →

Jatropha jet fuel

As 2009 gets underway, it's encouraging to see the world’s airlines competing for environmental credentials. I wrote last month about Emirates' claim to have launched the longest green flight, SFO to Dubai. Now Air New Zealand reports that it powered one of the engines of a Boeing 747-400 with oil from jatropha plants. Continental Airlines has a special flight planned… read more →

“Passive houses” yield aggressive carbon cuts

I'm a little late to this party, but so-called "passive houses" have been lighting up in the blogosphere in the wake of this New York Times article: > Using ultrathick insulation and complex doors and windows, the architect engineers a home encased in an airtight shell, so that barely any heat escapes and barely any cold seeps in. That means… read more →

Necessity is the mother of the smart grid

A recent ice storm left tiny Harvard, Massachusetts without power for four days. The holiday miracle that ensued will amaze and inspire you: > John Sweeney, a member of the town's conservation-minded Heat Advisory Committee, took a characteristically green approach to powering his home during the storm... Sweeney ran his refrigerator, freezer, TV, woodstove fan, and several lights through his… read more →

China delivers first commercially available plug-in hybrid

The Chinese firm BYD (Build Your Dream) has leapt dramatically into the electric car market with the introduction of the F3DM, a commercially available plug-in hybrid that can travel for 60 miles without using its gasoline engine. The car retails for about $22,000 in China, well below the projected price of the Chevy Volt, which it closely resembles. Of course,… read more →
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