Browsing the archives for the carbon free tag.


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    Take Action Now!

    alternative, energy, energy conservation, energy efficiency, green living, solar, Uncategorized, Wind

    Alone we can do so little; together we can do so much. – Helen Keller

     Sometimes people don’t vote because they think “one vote can’t change anything”. I think the 2000 election proved that wrong, but some people still don’t believe. Now is your time to be counted by your elected officials. If you want this country to move forward with cleaner energy contact you Congressional Representatives and Senators today. It only takes a minute but can help save the earth a life time.

     Click here to email your U.S. Representative and Senators about the NAT GAS Act today!

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    One Step Forward for Offshore Wind

    alternative, energy, green living, Wind

    Thumbs up to Ken Salazar and the Department of the Interior, they have issued five leases to private companies to explore offshore sites for wind energy. All these sites are off the shore of New Jersey and Delaware. I hope this is only the beginning of government being proactive in helping private enterprise develop off shore wind sites.

    Here in Massachusetts, where I live, Cape Wind has been fighting an uphill battle, at their expense, to get government approval for a project in Nantucket Sound. Eight years of pushing for wind energy is too long if we are actually going to make wind and renewable energy a reality. In order for individual states to meet any renewable energy quota we need more positive government actions like this.  

    Lets all pray that the government will continue to put their money and decisions where their mouth is.

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    Habitat for Humanity, a Homerun for Energy Efficient Products

    alternative, energy, forum, green living, heating options, light bulbs, solar, Uncategorized, Wind

    In a June 1st article by Dan Cook, in Arizona’s The Daily Courier, he wrote about a Habitat for Humanity home that had been built as a “net-zero energy” house.  The idea is to use smart building products and techniques, as well as alternative energy sources, such as solar, so that the house does not use any energy from the grid or fossil fuel. This is a whole new niche in the building industry and there is an unlimited amount of products and services to choose from. The problem is that builders and prospective  homeowners, we don’t know which products are proven, or will work in our situation, or have a chance to see the product installed or talk to a builder who has actually installed the product.

     

    That is why I found this article interesting. If the companies offering these great new innovative energy saving products donated them to Habitat for Humanity, we would all benefit. First the company would win, getting actual exposure to the public with their product, as well as goodwill, for donating the product. Any builder interested in the product could donate their time to help install the product at the Habitat for Humanity job site. This gives them goodwill for helping, but also gives them experience with new products and techniques that they can sell to their clients. The homeowner wins because they are buying a product that they have seen work and are having it installed by someone who has had experience with the product. The recipient of the Habitat for Humanity home wins with lower or no utility bills. And last, but not least, the environment wins every time we do not use fossil fuel to power our world. This could be the ultimate win-win situation.

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    Lessons for Wind Power

    alternative, energy, green living, Uncategorized, Wind

    According to Boston Business Journal, Boston’s Museum of Science announced this week that it will be putting a wind turbine laboratory on its roof. Apparently they have already done wind studies for a year and have come to the conclusion that there is not enough viable wind in their location to create any meaningful electricity. They already have two turbines up and intend to put up three more of varying shapes and sizes ranging from 7 feet to 40 feet. The idea is to “demonstrate small wind turbines that could be erected on small businesses and homes”.

     

    The problem is that small wind turbines cannot be erected on any building, ever. Mother Nature is a very formidable force to deal with. Any and all wind turbines have an incredible vibration; this can cause both structural and noise problems. Roof top turbines have been known to cause nails to vibrate right out of the roof. While the museum roof may be substantial enough to withstand this, with a full time maintenance crew, the average home is not engineered to withstand these forces. 

     

    Second, there is no usable wind on a roof. When you see a small wind turbine on a roof spinning wildly, it looks like it would be generating plenty of power. The truth is, all that spinning is the turbine trying to find a steady wind in a very turbulent area. Wind is invisible, and most people don’t understand what they can’t see. Think of a stick lazily drifting down a calm stream, making slow but steady progress, then there is a rock in the way, the stick goes around the rock but gets caught twirling in the eddy behind it, there is a lot of movement, but no progress. Wind is the same way, once it hits an object, such as a house or a tree; there is wind turbulence behind the object. Another way of looking at this is a sailboat in the lee of a bluff. You feel the wind on your face, it feels strong, but the sail is slapping madly and the boat is going nowhere. A wind turbine is the same way as it searches for the wind in the turbulence.

     

    The Boston Museum of Science would be doing the public a huge favor by teaching the physics of wind and turbulence using smoke chambers and roof mock ups to show how a nail or a screw can be loosened due to vibration. They should teach the benefits of clean wind energy when placed in the right location and the uselessness of putting it in the wrong location. With all my heart I hope the Boston Museum of Science is not advocating building mounted turbines, not only would they be putting the public at risk physically and promoting a waste of money, they will be putting a black mark on wind energy when these turbines never produce any meaningful electricity.

     

    Look for an upcoming blog on proper wind turbine location.

     

    For more information check out the Warwick Wind Trials data on building mounted turbines.

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    Think Globally, Buy Locally and Grow Organic!

    energy, green living, Uncategorized

    I just read a blog this morning on how salmonella is unchecked in the frozen foods we buy. The article was more politically oriented and I don’t want to get into that. But it brought up a good point about global warming.

    If you buy a head of lettuce grown in California and you live in Maine, how does it get to you? Think about this, the soil is prepared and the lettuce is planted using large fossil fuelled machinery. Then there is mega amounts of water wasted as huge sprinkler systems water the crops and everything in between. Then there is that wonderful fertilizer, the kind you wonder what it contains. Then we get our trusty underpaid, underappreciated immigrant workers to harvest the crop and package it for shipping. Then it is sent to a refrigerated distribution center and put into large, refrigerated trucks to be sent across the country, using diesel fuel all the way. Now once it is on the other coast it goes to another distribution center and sent out in another truck. Finally, about a week after being picked it goes on your grocery store shelve.

    That head of lettuce has probably used more fuel to get to the store than you used to run errands this week. A better option would be to buy local produce. Now that summer is around the corner, numerous farmers markets will be selling their goods. This not only saves all that waste of shipping your lettuce across the country, but it feeds the local economy and environment.

    Better yet, grow your own. Especially if you have young children, this is a rewarding endeavor. You will be teaching your children a life long lesson that no school could possibly teach, not to mention children are more likely to eat vegetables they grew. As an added bonus your children will not be ingesting dangerous chemicals from artificially fertilized food. There is nothing more satisfying than eating produce you grew yourself and knowing you helped the environment.

    If you are new to the horticultural lifestyle try Organic Food Gardening Beginners Manual.

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    Nuclear Power – Like it or not

    alternative, energy, green living, Uncategorized

    A couple of days ago I posted a response on a forum about whether nuclear energy should still be an option for the future. My answer was yes. This in turn has created some controversy among readers. In the meantime somebody else suggested I write about why ”the US and other countries insist on nuclear power when a reactor produces more waste in one day than will take over a million years to get rid of. Some of the technology should go to solving that problem before anyone tells us it is clean energy.”

     

     

    I don’t claim to have all the answers, but I have been looking into this. According to researchers at MIT we have four options to reduce our carbon footprint for our future energy needs:

     

    ·         Nuclear Energy

    ·         Renewable Energy

    ·         Increased Energy Efficiency

    ·         Capturing Carbon Emissions[1]

     

    Obviously I do not consider nuclear power the best option. I personally believe that wind will be our future in the coming decades. Wind is not just a source of electricity, the power from a wind tower can be used to produce hydrogen and then the tower itself can be used to store the hydrogen.[2] Hydrogen is a great source of carbon free fuel. Solar is also a great fuel source, at this point it is not cost effective for large scale application or the average consumer. The Japanese are working on a Space Solar Power System(SSPS) that will catch the sun’s rays in space without atmospheric interruptions and then beam the energy in the form of lasers back to earth.[3] These are awesome plans but will not be functional for decades.

     

    Today we have an ever increasing demand for electricity and transportation fuel, and an ever shrinking reserve of fossil fuels. Basic economics of supply and demand are telling us the cost to produce electricity and transportation fuel is going to sky rocket again in the near future. As the price of oil increases again it will be even more obvious we need to use more natural gas than oil for our transportation and electrical needs. Natural gas is commodity that is readily available from North American sources. The infrastructure is already in place to transport and use it and it is cleaner and easier to mine than coal. Natural gas does not have to be purchased from countries that do not like us and is cleaner than oil. Natural gas powered cars can be filled using a device at your home and putting up filling stations around the country is a small price to pay compared to what we are paying for our foreign oil habit. Companies like Mirant, who own non-nuclear electric plants, have already converted most plants to use natural gas, coal or oil depending on price. They have also gone to great lengths to reduce emissions.[4]  But the fact remains that however much we increase efficiency and decrease emissions we still are leaving far too much of a carbon footprint.

     

    Then there is nuclear energy. The biggest things nuclear has going for it are that it produces large amounts of electricity without producing carbon and the technology already exists and is in place and can be replicated. Everything else about nuclear power is not so pretty. First of all is cost, the initial outlay of time and money does not make new nuclear power plants competitive with other sources of electricity. There is also the issue that even if we did build new nuclear power plants to meet the up coming demand for electricity that there would only be sufficient uranium available for 50 or so years. Then there is the issue of proliferation, the stealing of technology and/or enriched uranium or plutonium.[5] After the break up of the USSR, 9/11 and the North Koreans this is a serious issue.  And then there is the storage of the spent fuel. According to Entergy Inc., owner of many nuclear plants, 80% of spent fuel loses its radioactivity within 3 years and can be stored on site safely for up to 100 years.[6] Yet the remainder can take thousands of years to break down. There is no doubt that huge irrepairable mistakes have been made with the handling of nuclear waste in the past.  Today the Department of Energy is making plans to build a repository in Yucca Mountain to store and seal off the spent nuclear fuel for eternity.[7] Not perfect, but a best case solution for a very serious problem.

     

    So the deal is we need to reduce our carbon footprint yesterday. The best solution is to have large scale renewable energy in place today, but that is still decades off. We need a bridge to get us from foreign oil dependency to 100% renewable, carbon free energy. One piece of that bridge is nuclear power, whether we like the idea or not. The other parts of that bridge are using more natural gas for transportation and electricity production, improving existing technology to lessen our carbon emissions and to push forward with research for renewable, carbon free energy.

     

    I invite everybody to check out the Pickens Plan and to pay attention to the plans our new President, Barak Obama, will bring forth. Please take time to visit the other websites used in researching this blog. Be informed.

     

    The Pickens Plan: http://www.pickensplan.com/index.php

    The Office of the President Elect: http://change.gov/


    [1] The Future of Nuclear Power, An Interdisciplinary MIT Study:http://web.mit.edu/nuclearpower/

    [5] The Future of Nuclear Power, An Interdisciplinary MIT Study:http://web.mit.edu/nuclearpower/

          Entergy Inc. : http://www.entergy-nuclear.com/environment/fuel_storage.aspx

    [7] Department of Energy: http://www.rw.doe.gov/index.shtml

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

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