July 25th, 2008 by Michael

There is a C|Net article that talks about a new material invented at Ohio State University. While there are materials already out there that are capable of this, the new material is more than twice as efficient as any other in existence today. They are already talking about using this material in conjunction with automobile engines as the effective temperature range is between 450 and 950 degrees Fahrenheit. I could see it as a wonderful way to increase the efficiency of hybrids.

June 27th, 2008 by Michael

The US Government has be overwhelmed with applications for new solar projects on public land. Because of this, they have invoked a two year freeze on accepting new applications. They want to perform an environmental study to see how these proposed solar plants will affect the land. This is a good thing. Instead of waiting for these plants to be built and having to react to changing environmental conditions, they want to take a proactive approach and try to determine the impact before they let loose the hounds of change.

I support this idea because it is far too easy to simply let a knee-jerk reaction run amok. While I support the paradigm shift towards renewable and sustainable energy sources, I do not support letting this fledgling industry have free reign to alter environmental conditions that could result in potentially making things worse. It will not do anyone good if we destroy our ecosystem for a little bit of energy. Certainly, some people will react with the idea that the government is trying to stifle innovation in the industry. I disagree with that point of view. We have seen repeatedly how letting industry have a free hand comes to bad results. This is why we are in the situation we are in today.

With luck, this study will be completed without delays and will show favorable results for the solar industry. I also plan on keeping an eye on the tax credits set to expire soon. Failure to extend the credits could be a serious blow to the prospective companies. At this point there is nothing to do but wait and see.

June 20th, 2008 by Michael

Over at The Daily Green, there is an article on Evergreen Solar’s new panels and how they are made. According to Evergreen’s site, these are supposed to have the smallest carbon footprint of any panels on the market today due to the inventive manufacturing process. Their “ribbon” technology allows for a more efficient creation of silicon sheets used to make their solar panels.

Also according to the company’s site, the ROI for their panels is less than one year. This is a huge deal because most solar systems take upwards of five years to pay for themselves. Tech like this is the kind of thing that can start putting solar power in the hands of the average consumer. As with any sufficiently advanced technology, the price is what keeps it in a niche market. Not all of us have the money of superstars and moguls. And there are a lot more of us than them.

The company site even has a time lapse video of their manufacturing plant in action. It is an interesting watch and only takes a couple of minutes. I recommend anyone interested in solar power make a hop over to Evergreen Solar’s website and peruse the information there. It is definitely a worthwhile read.

May 19th, 2008 by Michael
It looks like Texas will be getting a new wind farm. According to the article, T. Boone Pickens of Mesa Power has placed an order for 667 turbines from GE. These will be installed in the panhandle of Texas and should provide electricity for about 300,000 homes. It looks like people are finally getting serious about renewable energy.
May 15th, 2008 by Michael

I was strolling the web when I ran across this link to a very interesting video about building a micro wind generator. This is a very interesting concept that could, because of cost and ease of construction, put wind energy into a great many hands that could not afford or maintain turbine generators. Larger applications would most likely require a few different materials, namely the belt, but the concept is still very exciting.