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Tesla unveils batteries for homes, businesses

 Tesla unveils batteries for homes, businesses

LOS ANGELES (Bloomberg) — Tesla Motors Inc. CEO Elon Musk unveiled a suite of batteries to store electricity for homes, businesses and utilities, saying a greener power grid furthers the company’s mission to provide pollution-free energy.

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Biofuel from Algae

Biofuel is any sort of fuel that is created through the biological process of carbon fixation. Biological carbon fixation is the process in which a living organism converts inorganic forms of carbon (namely, carbon dioxide) into organic structures using energy from the sun during photosynthesis.



Burning Fossil Fuel: Not the Greatest Idea

In contrast, fossil fuels take millions of years in the very slow process of fossilization. Burning fossil fuels releases carbon dioxide that has been collected and stored in the earth for hundreds of millions of years. Clearly it is not a good idea to release all that stored carbon dioxide back into the atmosphere at the rate we are doing so since we have no mechanism for carbon re-uptake that can match the rate at which we are releasing it. The result is of course increasing concentrations of CO2 in the atmosphere and the global warming we are now experiencing.

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Biofuels however represent a cycle that is theoretically balanced in that a plant takes up carbon dioxide from the atmosphere while burning the plant (or extracts from the plant ) releases that CO2 back into the atmosphere, and the process repeats. As long as the plant produces more energy than is required in its cultivation and processing, we have a net positive energy result.

The big problem (presumably a transitional one) is that we currently still use a lot of fossil fuel – yes, you got it – even in the cultivation and processing of biofuels.


Corn Ethanol: Not All it’s Cracked Up to Be

Corn ethanol has its own well documented challenges – namely that it is either a net energy consumer (or if you believe the more optimistic studies) or is at best only capable of producing only about 30% more fuel than required to produce it. And that’s not to mention that corn ethanol takes lots of arable land out of food production.


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Ford to install wind and solar energy at dealerships

wind energy ford 150x150 Ford to install wind and solar energy at dealershipsAuto giant Ford announced innovative new plans this week that could see its dealers across the country become renewable energy hubs.
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How to get people into the EV driver’s seat

 How to get people into the EV drivers seat

I’ve been thinking about getting an electric car, but I haven’t yet. This made me consider a more important question: What will it take to get people driving plug-in electric vehicles? Not just me, but the millions of people the auto industry and environmentalists alike want to see in electric vehicles.

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Hello, sun — welcome to Alcatraz’s microgrid

image 150x150 Hello, sun — welcome to Alcatrazs microgridThe 22-acre island in San Francisco Bay is now a tourist attraction operated by the National Park Service. But until 1963, “The Rock” housed a supposedly inescapable prison made famous by the movie “Escape from Alcatraz.”

Today, it’s also known for its unique, 400-kW solarmicrogrid, one that scaled some tough obstacles and was nearly two decades in the making


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Corn Ethanol: Not the Greatest Thing Since Sliced (Corn)bread

This is exactly the problem with corn ethanol. Just a few years ago corn ethanol was promoted endlessly by politicians of all flavors, industry processors, farmers organizations, lobbyists – you name it. Politicians famously promoted corn ethanol on the basis of fighting global warming. Now let me ask you…How many politicians do you know who really have a passionate concern for global warming?

Scientists differ in their opinions and their study results for corn ethanol. David Pimintel, a professor of agriculture at Cornell University produced a study that concluded that a gallon of corn ethanol contained about 77,000 BTUs of stored energy. Not too shabby, but for comparison a gallon of gasoline contains around 124,000 BTUs

Pimintel went a bit further and calculated the energy required to produce that 1 gallon of ethanol. As it turns out, there is a lot involved in making that gallon of ethanol – big farms, labor, fertilizer, lots and lots of big fuel hungry machines, transportation to refineries, refining – you get the picture. He concluded that ll this effort to produce that 1 gallon of ethanol required around 131,000 BTUs of energy.

Hmmm…Doesn’t sound like such a good deal does it?

As mentioned, studies and results vary. The U.S. National Renewable Energy Lab concluded that 1 BTU of energy input is required to produce about 1.3 BTUs of energy from corn ethanol. Well, if we take these more optimistic numbers, at least our numbers are into the positive range. But it is still a WHOLE lot of effort to get that 30% gain.


Starvation, Global Food Prices

With the nation mobilizing to shift arable land into production of corn ethanol and away from food production we witnesses dramatic increases in grain prices. This was land that could have been used to produce food for humans or feed stock for agricultural animals.

Pimintel estimates that about 11 acres is required to produce fuel for one car for a year. That same 11 acres, in contrast, could feed about 7 people.

Let’s not forget that there are

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about a billion people living on the earth without enough food to eat.

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How Much More are We Projected to Consume?

The US budget deficit has been for several years relentlessly in the public’s eye. But is this focus really warranted?

Globally, we face many major long term challenges. The US budget deficit is not only not one of them but is distracting public consideration, focus, and problem solving away from far more critical issues.

Global population sits presently at around 7 billion and has recently seen explosive growth. The earliest widely accepted estimates of population date to around 10,000BC at between 1-10 million people. In approximately the next 11,500 years population grew to about 425 million. In the last 500 years, however, population has ballooned exponentially to over 7 billion – that is over 1500% increase! By around 1950 global population was at around 2.5 billion. At 7 billion today, that is 180% growth in just 60 years. By 1500AD population growth had averaged around 37,000 people per year. In the period since 1950 that number has exploded to an average of 75,000,000 per year!

As pointed out in One Scary Chart about 50% of people live in poverty, and the vast majority of those not in poverty have standards of living far below those of us in the West. Part of the UN’s assumptions about population stabilizing at around 10 billion is that as people increase their standard of living and become involved in more industrialized economies, they chose to have fewer children. So the underlying premise has to be that even as population grows to

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10 billion, the vast majority of people consume far more resources than is presently the case.

UN projections estimate that population will stabilize due to individual decisions by families at about 10 billion by around 2100.

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Fracking notes

“The take-home message of our study is that if you do an integration of 20 years following the development of the gas, shale gas is worse than conventional gas and is, in fact, worse than coal

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and worse than oil,” Robert Howarth Cornell University Ecologist





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Momentum builds for energy efficiency…but is the wolf at the door?

It says something that Ernest Moniz chose to deliver his first public talk as US energy secretary to an energy efficiency crowd.

His appearance last week at EE Global in Washington, D.C. was a surprise of sorts. And the timing was significant. Moniz had only been confirmed as energy secretary three hours before taking the podium at the Alliance to Save Energy’s annual conference.

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Behind Ford’s sustainable design vision

FordCmaxSolarFullv2 150x150 Behind Fords sustainable design visionAt first glance, Ford’s heavy-duty F-150 pickup truck and its compact C-Max Solar Energi concept car couldn’t appear more different.

Parked outside an automotive and industrial design event held last week in San Francisco, a flaming red 2015 F-150 — which is set to hit the market later this year — looks somewhat out of place in The City, as if it is just stopping through on its way to a big construction job in the Central Valley.

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