Last night, Google announced that it has agreed to invest heavily in a proposed $5 billion, 350-mile power transmission backbone that would provide infrastructure for future offshore wind projects along the mid-Atlantic coast. But even with the backing of one of the world's mightiest tech companies, various financial investment firms, and many important officials in government, the transmission line is going to be something of a technological trick.
The U.S. may be years behind some European nations and China when it comes to taking advantage of solar power tech, but even global superpowers have to start somewhere. Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar has approved the first large-scale solar energy projects to be built on public lands, a first step in unlocking the acres upon acres of federal and state managed real estate for clean energy production.
Of all places, the U.S. military has proven one of the fiercest proponents of renewable energy, and for totally practical reasons -- most importantly cost and safety. Now, military higher-ups plan to rely on renewable energy sources for 50 percent of their power by 2020, which could help the worldwide advancement of those technologies immeasurably. One company of Marines, saddled with tons of solar power tech, is kickstarting this revolution.
Good dog parents might think they’re doing their part by using biodegradable baggies to pick up after their pooches. But after Fido’s feces go in the trash can and to a landfill, they release methane gas, a significant contributor to the greenhouse effect. A dog park in Cambridge, Mass., has a solution: Add in a methane digester, and let your dog waste power the streetlights, tea cart and popcorn machine.
In a patriotic dairy-to-diesel demonstration project proving the breadth of fatty materials that can be converted into useable fuels, a Philadelphia biodiesel producer and the U.S. Department of Agriculture have turned an 800-pound butter sculpture of Ben Franklin and the Liberty Bell into 75 gallons of biodiesel.
The DOE released its 2009 Wind Technologies Market Report yesterday, and the results are a mixed bag of highs and lows for the U.S. Americans added 10 gigawatts of wind capacity last year, 40% more than in 2009. But alas, the U.S. is the world's wind power leader no more; China outpaced the U.S. in new wind capacity, stealing away a mantle America had owned for four years.
Here's a novel way to get a little more out of time spent in the bathroom. An industrial design student at De Montfort University in Leicester, UK, has created a clever power generator that turns falling wastewater into electricity. The HighDro Power is a waterwheel-like turbine that can be incorporated into the pipes of tall buildings to turn one man's waste into another man's wattage.
Need a weekend project around the house? Mark Suppes, web developer by day, has built his own nuclear fusion reactor in a Brooklyn workspace. It kind of makes that project car you’ve got rusting in the garage seem lame by comparison.
It's abundantly clear that we need to get off fossil fuels for various reasons (try Googling "oil spill"), but our infrastructures are far better tuned for the hydrocarbon fuels of the past century than the renewables of the next. So why don't we just make fuels that work in our existing technology from renewable energy?
When we think of farming energy, we generally think of feedstocks like corn that can be processed into ethanol, or perhaps other plant life we can culture and harvest like algae. But don't underestimate the livestock; we've recently seen methane-trapping schemes that can power farms and giant cattle treadmills that turn idle dairy drones into power-producing machines.