energy

Green Energy: Fracking

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Yet despite the federal EPA saying earlier this year that there was no evidence of fracking activities leading to “widespread, systemic impacts on drinking water resources,” several U.S. communities – even some states – continue to embrace half-truths and fear mongering over the endless economic and environmental benefits that fracking entails.

There’s More To The Story Of Ohio’s Economic Success




DOE Study: Fracking Chemicals Didn’t Taint Water

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A landmark federal study on hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, shows no evidence that chemicals from the natural gas drilling process moved up to contaminate drinking water aquifers at a western Pennsylvania drilling site, the Department of Energy told The Associated Press.

After a year of monitoring, the researchers found that the chemical-laced fluids used to free gas trapped deep below the surface stayed thousands of feet below the shallower areas that supply drinking water, geologist Richard Hammack said.

Although the results are preliminary — the study is still ongoing — they are the first independent look at whether the potentially toxic chemicals pose a threat to people during normal drilling operations. But DOE researchers view the study as just one part of ongoing efforts to examine the impacts of a recent boom in oil and gas exploration, not a final answer about the risks.

Drilling fluids tagged with unique markers were injected more than 8,000 feet below the surface at the gas well bore but weren’t detected in a monitoring zone at a depth of 5,000 feet. The researchers also tracked the maximum extent of the man-made fractures, and all were at least 6,000 feet below the surface.

That means the potentially dangerous substances stayed about a mile away from surface drinking water supplies, which are usually at depths of less than 500 feet.

“This is good news,” said Duke University scientist Rob Jackson, who was not involved with the study. He called it a “useful and important approach” to monitoring fracking, but he cautioned that the single study doesn’t prove that fracking can’t pollute, since geology and industry practices vary widely in Pennsylvania and across the nation.

For the rest of the story, follow this link: http://bigstory.ap.org/article/ap-study-finds-fracking-chemicals-didnt-spread




Are CFL lamps ready for prime time?

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As we get closer to banning the use of incandescent lighting and mandating alternatives, such as CFLs (Compact Fluorescent Lamp), more data is being made available that should be cause for untethered public debate — in consideration that some of the information we are currently reviewing could be credible. Most everyone, whether or not they really understand why, agree we need to remain diligent in finding reasonable ways to curb our energy consumption and reduce emissions. We get that. However, we also get the fact that government intrusion and manipulation generally makes a travesty of otherwise promising green energy technology, such as wind turbines and electric vehicles. As sustainable professionals we do understand and are confident we’ll get there — with technology that considers human health as well as the environment. It may be that CFLs are ready for prime time… maybe not.

Via examiner.com Many consumers in the dark about dangers of CFL bulbs  Continue Reading →




Solyndra, Inc. announces plans to file for bankruptcy

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Putting aside the fact that we the people have long debated the extent of government intervention in our free enterprise system, let’s begin with this, via wikipedia:

Free market capitalism consists of a free-price system where supply and demand are allowed to reach their point of equilibrium without intervention by the government.

Businesses succeed only when they can supply viable products to meet a demand, and demand simply cannot be fabricated or forced. So why am I talking about this here? First, this is personal. We recently borrowed great sums of money from our grandchildren to help jump start the economy and put people back to work. Secondly, the government has demonstrated a complete lack of competence in distributing these large sums of money. In doing so, in this instance, it makes our jobs as sustainable professionals much more difficult by casting a shadow on responsible environmental stewardship. And, unfortunately, this one does reek of politics and the corruption associated with politics.

via The Washington Examiner, David Freddoso: Obama’s big green gamble: Solyndra

In late May, when President Obama was in California for his fourth fundraiser for Sen. Barbara Boxer, D-Calif., he also made a point of dropping by Silicon Valley to praise his own stimulus package.

“It is here that companies like Solyndra are leading the way toward a brighter, more prosperous future,” Obama said of a solar energy company that had recently received taxpayer backing. Obama spoke of the company in glowing terms and used it as an example of how the stimulus package is creating jobs all over America.

“We can see the positive impacts right here at Solyndra,” he said. “[T]hrough the Recovery Act, this company received a loan to expand its operations. This new factory is the result of those loans. Since the project broke ground last fall, more than 3,000 construction workers have been employed building this plant. Across the country, workers in 22 states are manufacturing the supplies. … Solyndra expects to hire 1,000 workers to manufacture solar panels. …”

Solyndra was the very first company to receive a Department of Energy loan guarantee under the stimulus bill. When it was awarded, Vice President Biden said the project was “exactly what the Recovery Act is all about.” Energy Secretary Steven Chu said it would help “spark a new industrial revolution that will put Americans to work.”

But even if Solyndra is a good example of what the stimulus package can do, it might not be the kind of example Obama wants to publicize. Jim McTague of Barron’s noted over the weekend that, two months before Obama’s glowing speech, PricewaterhouseCoopers released a fear-filled note in its audit of the company, which has accumulated losses of $558 million in its five-year lifetime. The firm noted that Solyndra “has suffered recurring losses from operations, negative cash flows since inception and has a net stockholders’ deficit that, among other factors, raise substantial doubt about its ability to continue as a going concern.”    Continue Reading →




Obama’s ‘green jobs’ fizzle

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This is not intended to be a rant or a political statement – merely an impassioned opinion. Okay, perhaps the headline is a (little) bit over the top, I borrowed it from the recent wizbang article, Obama’s ‘green jobs’ fizzle. However, given my position on the subject, I couldn’t come up with a more appropriate replacement.

When I started a small design/build company in 1983, my second project was a partial berm residence. At that time, many of the private building related energy reducing strategies were passive solar and/or earthen bunker structures, drawing on principles going as far back in time as the caveman. “Renewable Energy” technology was practically non-existent, with green technology companies struggling to hang on and keep their heads above water. It was apparent for renewable energy to progress and the technology to succeed, the industry needed to be substantially subsidized  by private investors and, to some extent, the government.

Fortunately, private investments in renewable energy technology began to materialize, and as a result the industry steadily evolved in a positive direction. Additionally, organizations such as the U.S.Green Building Council (USGBC) came on the scene and developed green building rating systems that promoted renewable energy. Unfortunately however, during the past several years, politicos have taken control, in my opinion, to gain political capital from large corporate players and environmentalists. In their efforts to “appease”, many of these policy makers are ill-informed, misguided and, seemingly, concerned more about the political bandwagons they associate with than being responsible environmental stewards. So what could go wrong? To begin, as we’ve witnessed recently with AGW and Cap n’ Trade, these (failed) policy proposals are extremely detrimental to those of us who support and advocate a more reasonable pro-environment position. It’s proving difficult to get consumers attention when rebuttals to these devisive policies are garnering most of the spotlight. The best selling author Michael Crichton coined the phrase “Environmentalism as a Religion“.

Wind turbines? Not much coming from the environmentalists, or the government for that matter, about the impact of these massive wind turbines on the bat habitat. Farmers depend heavily on bats to help control pests and in Pennsylvania alone, bats save farmers an estimated $277 million annually. High speed rail? Several states have returned stimulus funds when they realized the untenable costs associated with maintaining this form of mass transit. The California High Speed Rail Project will cost more than expected – much more than the original estimated cost of $33 billion as presented to the voters. That estimate was revised to $43 billion, and if the entire system over runs the budget by the same percentage as the first leg is expected to, the total cost will likely be somewhere between $63 – $87 billion dollars. This project is over budget before a single foot of track has been laid. Due in large part, most ironically, to environmental impact studies. This has become a national embarrassment.     Continue Reading →




Environmental Release of Mercury from Broken Compact Fluorescent Lamps

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WARNING: Mercury vapor released from broken compact fluorescent light bulbs can exceed safe exposure levels!

One of the websites I visit frequently is Watts Up with That? – commentary on puzzling things in life, nature, science, weather, climate change, technology and recent news. The site is hosted by Anthony Watts, a former television meteorologist who spent 25 years on the air and also operates a weather technology and content business.

Perhaps it’s coincidence that I ran across his 06 July, 2011 article, Gee, ya think? Proof of what many have said for years, that provides his analysis of a study by Mary Ann Liebert reported in Environmental Engineering Science. Coincidence because I was recently challenged when I mentioned to several of my piers the potential health issues caused by mercury contained in Compact Fluorescent Lamps (CFLs).

In summary, the study states:

However, the TCLP results do not fully reflect the potential hazards of CFLs because the CFLs continuously release Hg vapor once broken. The emission can last weeks even months and the total amount of Hg that can be released in vapor from new CFLs can often exceed 1.0 mg. Since vapor Hg can be readily inhaled by people, rapid removal of broken CFLs and sufficient ventilation of rooms by fresh air are critical to prevent people from potential harms. Effective packaging for preventing the breakage of CFLs and retaining the Hg vapor from broken CFLs is another way to reduce exposure to Hg in transportation, handling, and storage.  Continue Reading →




Energy 101: Wind Turbines

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Developed for over a millennium, today’s wind turbines are manufactured in a range of vertical and horizontal axis types. The smallest turbines are used for applications such as battery charging or auxiliary power on sailing boats; while large grid-connected arrays of turbines are becoming an increasingly large source of commercial electric power. The use of wind turbines can be a great way to provide a source of clean and renewable energy for your home or business. There are a number of small wind energy devices that you can use to generate power and these can be very cost effective in providing a significant level of electricity. The demand for wind turbines for homes has been increasing over the past few years due to people wanting to seek alternative energy sources. Energy sources such as solar and wind power are being sought after as a way to cope with the ever increasing electricity bills.

As with solar systems, wind powered systems can be used in two ways: off-grid or on-grid. Off-grid is when your home or business is entirely disconnected from an electric utility company and you generate all of the electricity your home or business requires. An on-grid wind power system sends all of its electricity back into the public electrical network (grid) which the electric company gives you credits for. At the month, the electric company sums up your credits with how much your home or business has consumed, and issues rebates if you consumed less than you put into the grid.

The U.S. Department of Energy’s website ENERGY.GOV has a wealth of information as it relates to Science & Technology, Energy Sources, Energy Efficiency, the Environment and Prices & Trends. The EPA series of short videos related to Energy 101 topics are being posted on studio4llc.com to present entry level information related to Home Energy Assessment, Cool Roofs, Geothermal Heat Pumps, Solar PVs and Wind Turbines.

Please visit the Home>Portfolio>Video Gallery to view this video.




Energy 101: Solar PV

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Solar photovoltaic (PV) systems can generate clean, cost-effective power anywhere the sun shines. PV panels convert the energy of the sun into renewable electricity to power homes and businesses. A small solar electric or photovoltaic (PV) system can be a reliable and pollution-free producer of electricity for your home or business. And they’re becoming more affordable all the time. Small PV systems also provide a cost-effective power supply in locations where it is expensive or impossible to send electricity through conventional power lines.

As with wind powered systems, solar PV systems can be used in two ways: off-grid or on-grid. Off-grid is when your home or business is entirely disconnected from an electric utility company and you generate all of the electricity your home or business requires. An on-grid wind power system sends all of its electricity back into the public electrical network (grid) which the electric company gives you credits for. At the month, the electric company sums up your credits with how much your home or business has consumed, and issues rebates if you consumed less than you put into the grid.

The U.S. Department of Energy’s website ENERGY.GOV has a wealth of information as it relates to Science & Technology, Energy Sources, Energy Efficiency, the Environment and Prices & Trends. The EPA series of short videos related to Energy 101 topics are being posted on studio4llc.com to present entry level information related to Home Energy Assessment, Cool Roofs, Geothermal Heat Pumps, Solar PVs and Wind Turbines.

Please visit the Home>Portfolio>Video Gallery to view this video.




Energy 101: Geothermal Heat Pumps

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An energy-efficient heating and cooling alternative, the geothermal heat pump system moves heat from the ground to a building (or from a building to the ground) through a series of flexible pipe “loops” containing water. This edition of Energy 101 explores the benefits Geothermal and the science behind how it all comes together.

The California Energy Commission also has an excellent in-depth analysis on geothermal heat pumps. follow me »

The U.S. Department of Energy’s website ENERGY.GOV has a wealth of information as it relates to Science & Technology, Energy Sources, Energy Efficiency, the Environment and Prices & Trends. The EPA series of short videos related to Energy 101 topics are being posted on studio4llc.com to present entry level information related to Home Energy Assessment, Cool Roofs, Geothermal Heat Pumps, Solar PVs and Wind Turbines.

Please visit the Home>Portfolio>Video Gallery to view this video.




Energy 101: Cool Roofs

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Environmentally friendly “Cool Roofs” reflect the sun’s heat,  reduce both building cooling loads, lower utility bills, reduce the urban heat island effect and drastically reduce the amount of waste going into landfills.

Cool roofs for commercial and industrial buildings fall into one of three categories: roofs made from inherently cool roofing materials, roofs made of materials that have been coated with a solar reflective coating, or green planted roofs.

Cool roofs are one of the quickest and lowest cost ways we can reduce our global carbon emissions. Roofs and road pavement cover 50 to 65 percent of urban areas. Because they absorb so much heat, dark-colored roofs and roadways create what is called the “urban heat island effect,” where a city is significantly warmer than its surrounding rural areas. Cool roofs significantly reduce the heat island effect and improve air quality by reducing emissions. A recent study by researchers at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (LBNL) found that using cool roofs and cool pavements in cities around the world can help reduce the demand for air conditioning, cool entire cities, and potentially cancel the heating effect of up to two years of worldwide carbon dioxide emissions.

The U.S. Department of Energy’s website ENERGY.GOV has a wealth of information as it relates to Science & Technology, Energy Sources, Energy Efficiency, the Environment and Prices & Trends. The EPA series of short videos related to Energy 101 topics are being posted on studio4llc.com to present entry level information related to Home Energy Assessment, Cool Roofs, Geothermal Heat Pumps, Solar PVs and Wind Turbines.

Please visit the Home>Portfolio>Video Gallery to view this video.




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