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Friday, September 19, 2014

37
votes
New Orleans solar company attracts $40 million in financing, plans national expansion

nola.com -- Five years ago, entrepreneur Aaron Dirks was looking into installing solar panels on a Lower Garden District home he and his wife were renovating. He encountered a process that was both costly and complex.

Dirks, a self-described "tree-hugging Republican," had the time, money and interest to jump through the hoops. But he quickly realized many of the people who could benefit most from energy savings did not.

"The people and families that need it the most don't have time to fill out paperwork," Dirks said.

Dirks teamed with fellow entrepreneur Tom Neyhart in 2011 to start PosiGen, a New Orleans-based solar leasing and energy efficiency company that tailors services to low- and middle-income buyers.

PosiGen has grown quickly, employing 165 workers and installing more than 4,000 systems

 (read more)

Submitted Today By:
366 Comments

34
votes
DOE contractor agrees to replace failed Biomass Steam Plant at ORNL

Knoxville News Sentinel -- The U.S. Department of Energy has reached agreement with its energy-savings contractor to replace the failed Biomass Steam Plant at Oak Ridge National Laboratory with a new high-efficiency unit fueled by natural gas.

Johnny Moore, DOE’s on-site manager at ORNL, said the modified contract with Johnson Controls protects taxpayer interests and should provide a long-term solution to the lab’s steam needs.

“Our premise was we’ve got to have steam to deliver to the plant, and it was our goal to come up with a solution that was of least cost to the taxpayer,” Moore said in a telephone interview. He said he’s confident that the decision to switch to a natural gas system will prove successful.

DOE will contribute more than $5 million to Johnson Controls’ contract account to help offset some...  (read more)

Submitted Today By:
384 Comments

34
votes
Autumn gas prices expected to hit a 4-year low

CNBC -- The national average price for a gallon of regular gas, already down to $3.37, could drop another 20 cents-good news for consumers this fall ahead of the holiday shopping season, according to Gasbuddy.com.

Analysts say prices could fall to a range of $3.15 to $3.25, and that more than 30 states can expect prices under $3 a gallon.

Typically when gas prices fall, it has a positive impact on consumer spending. Gasbuddy says that due to the decline in prices consumers will spend $2.5 billion less on gas this fall than they did last year and that the money saved could trickle into other areas of the economy

Prices have fallen for a several reasons, the first of which includes seasonal factors. First, every fall the industry switches from its summer blend of gas, to the cheaper winter blend  (read more)

Submitted Today By:
511 Comments

32
votes
Solar soldiers: U.S. to train veterans to install solar panels

CBS News -- The jobs training program is among a host of initiatives the White House says will cut carbon dioxide emissions by more than 300 million tons through 2030, plus save billions of dollars on energy bills for homeowners and businesses. It will launch this fall at one or more military bases and train a total of at least 50,000 workers, including veterans.  (read more)

Submitted Today By:
53 Comments

30
votes
Saudi Arabia could fight ISIS with oil — if it can bear the price

Finacial Post -- Saudi Arabia might end up doing more in the growing multilateral campaign against the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) than its muted response so far has suggested: Using its oil-market power to drive down the price of oil, which the insurgent group relies on to fund its Islamist rebellion.
While the industry is mindful of a disruption caused by a price collapse, companies are comforted by lower differentials between Canadian and U.S. crude
“What could Arab countries offer the West to help contain this threat? Lower oil prices,”  (read more)

Submitted Today By:
106 Comments

Thursday, September 18, 2014

63
votes
A Radar Gun that Catches Driver Texting Is in Development

Auto Evolution -- ComSonics, a Virginia-based company, is developing a radar gun-like device with which police officers will be able to detect drivers who are texting. The gadget uses the telltale radio frequencies that emit from a vehicle when someone inside is using a cellphone.

According to Malcolm McIntyre of ComSonics, the technology of the new radar is similar to what cable repairmen use to find where a cable is damaged, from a rodent, for instance. They basically look for frequencies leaking in a transmission, McIntyre said.

According to the source, a text message emits different frequencies to phone call and data transfer, that can be distinguished by the device the tech company is working at.

..The only problem is whether engineers will find a way to identify who's phone was being used or they  (read more)

Submitted Yesterday By:
601 Comments

61
votes
An independent Scotland could become an energy industry powerhouse

Fortune --
If the Scots vote to secede from the U.K., nearly all of the British North Sea oil fields, as well as half of its natural gas fields, would end up under Edinburgh’s control.

Scotland would be wise to wave goodbye to the United Kingdom and vote in favor of independence.

While there are both positives and negatives to cutting the cord with Westminster, there is one factor in particular that should tip the scales in favor of the “Yes” camp—energy. Nearly all of the U.K.’s North Sea oil fields, as well as half of its natural gas fields, would end up under Edinburgh’s control, turning Scotland into an energy exporting powerhouse.

London has done a poor job managing the North Sea, leading to sharp declines in production across the board. An independent Scotland could wipe the slate clean and  (read more)

Submitted Yesterday By:
1299 Comments

57
votes
U.S. crude output surges to highest since ' 86 on shale boom

worldoil.com -- U.S. crude production climbed to the highest level in more than 28 years last week as the shale boom moved the country closer to energy independence.

Output rose 248,000 bpd to 8.838 million, the most since March 1986, according to Energy Information Administration data. The combination of horizontal drilling and hydraulic fracturing has unlocked supplies from shale formations in the central U.S., including the Bakken in North Dakota and the Eagle Ford in Texas.

“The shale boom hasn’t run its course yet,” Michael Lynch, president of Strategic Energy & Economic Research in Winchester, Massachusetts, said by phone. “The U.S. is in a good and improving position as far as oil supply is concerned.”
 (read more)

Submitted Yesterday By:
1327 Comments

54
votes
Charge your phone using ‘urine-tricity’

CNBC -- Waste not, want not, the saying goes, and researchers at the Bristol Robotics Laboratory are turning something we all produce – urine – into clean electricity, or 'urine-tricity'.
It sounds outlandish, but earlier this year, at the Reinvent the Toilet Fair in New Delhi, India – co-hosted by the Indian Department of Biotechnology and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation – the team exhibited a functional urinal that was able to charge a phone using just urine, a world first.
 (read more)

Submitted Yesterday By:
1080 Comments

49
votes
Brakes Slipping? Screeching? Grinding? Don't Delay Repairs

GasBuddy Blog -- Don't put off the small stuff because it almost always becomes a big problem later. Automotive News advises that if you think there's a problem, you need to get it checked.  NOW. Many service stations such as Midas will perform a basic brake check to determine the extent of any problems. If you hear any brake noise such as screeching, squeaking or grinding, you should immediately have your brakes checked.Worn out brake pads, calipers and drums might be the issue, but it could also be a problem with your master cylinder, individual wheel cylinders or simply a lack of fluid. Here's a rundown from the minor problems to the major ones, and their costs: ...  (read more)

Submitted Yesterday By:
1564 Comments

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

57
votes
Oil and gas companies court military veterans as shale boom grows

Powersource Post Gazette.com -- John MacZura, an Army infantry veteran, started work a week after graduation.

Before receiving his petroleum engineering degree from Penn State in 2013, Mr. MacZura, 30, had already piqued the interest of five or six oil and gas companies. He had job offers from three. He eventually joined Houston-based Cabot Oil and Gas, where he now works as a completions engineer.

“The military plays a large part in how I got to where I’m at today,” said Mr. MacZura. He spent four years stationed at the Schofield Barracks in Hawaii and two in the National Guard.

“I can’t say I was a commodity, but I was definitely sought after by companies,” he said.

Finding work in the energy sector isn't a new concept for veterans, but there has been an increased interest in recent years due to the shale gas boom.  (read more)

Submitted Sep 17, 2014 By:
1101 Comments

56
votes
Nanoribbon film keeps glass ice-free

ScienceDaily -- Rice University scientists who created a deicing film for radar domes have now refined the technology to work as a transparent coating for glass.

The new work by Rice chemist James Tour and his colleagues could keep glass surfaces from windshields to skyscrapers free of ice and fog while retaining their transparency to radio frequencies (RF).

The technology was introduced this month in the American Chemical Society journal Applied Materials and Interfaces.

The material is made of graphene nanoribbons, atom-thick strips of carbon created by splitting nanotubes, a process also invented by the Tour lab. Whether sprayed, painted or spin-coated, the ribbons are transparent and conduct both heat and electricity.
 (read more)

Submitted Sep 17, 2014 By:
1356 Comments

53
votes
Tesla wins direct sales lawsuit in Mass

autoweek.com -- Massachusetts’ highest court on Monday threw out a lawsuit seeking to block Tesla Motors Inc. from selling its luxury electric cars directly to consumers in the state, enabling it to bypass traditional dealerships.

The state’s Supreme Judicial Court unanimously concluded that the Massachusetts State Automobile Dealers Association and two dealers lacked standing to block direct Tesla sales under a state law designed to protect franchise owners from abuses by car manufacturers.

Justice Margot Botsford wrote that the law was aimed at protecting dealers from unfair practices of manufacturers and distributors “with which they are associated, generally in a franchise relationship,” rather than unaffiliated manufacturers.  (read more)

Submitted Sep 17, 2014 By:
67 Comments

52
votes
Solar Prices Drop 80 Percent Since 2008, Onshore Wind Also Falls

planetsave.com -- Fortunately, says the new report from IRENA, renewable energy can become a major force in this transformation. Its deployment is already accelerating rapidly. Just look at the dramatic drop in the costs of photovoltaics: we’ve seen solar prices drop 80 percent over just the past six years, according to the IRENA report. Solar is already at parity in Italy, Germany, and Spain, and it is fast approaching that point in several other nations.

Not only are solar statistics amazing, but nearly 100 countries have installed wind capacity now, and onshore wind power costs have also fallen significantly (18% since 2009). IRENA calculates that renewables now make up 58% of all new power capacity additions worldwide.
 (read more)

Submitted Sep 17, 2014 By:
1116 Comments

49
votes
Nissan faces battery plant cuts as electric car hopes fade

Fox Business -- Nissan boss Carlos Ghosn is preparing to cut battery manufacturing, people familiar with the matter said, in a new reversal on electric cars that has reopened deep divisions with alliance partner Renault.

The plan, which faces stiff resistance within the Japanese carmaker, would see U.S. and British production phased out and a reduced output of next-generation batteries concentrated at its domestic plant, two alliance sources told Reuters.

In what may also prove a politically sensitive blow to Japan Inc., Nissan would follow Renault by taking cheaper batteries from South Korea's LG Chem for some future vehicles, including models made in China.

"We set out to be a leader in battery manufacturing but it turned out to be less competitive than we'd wanted," said one executive on condition o  (read more)

Submitted Sep 17, 2014 By:
313 Comments

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

61
votes
Big solar plant in Mojave Desert gets state's OK

San Francisco Chronicle -- Despite environmental concerns, the California Energy Commission has given a preliminary green light to an Oakland company's second big solar project in the California desert.

The proposed BrightSource Energy facility would be the latest in a series of solar plants that the Obama administration is subsidizing in the Mojave Desert.

The plant would use the same technology as BrightSource's 5.4-square-mile Ivanpah plant near the Nevada border that opened in the spring with a $1.6 billion federal loan.

The proposed plant is located between Indio and Blythe in Riverside County, near a migratory bird path from the Salton Sea to the Colorado River.

The Ivanpah plant is the largest of its kind in the world, using concentrated light beams reflected from thousands of mirrors onto 40-story "power  (read more)

Submitted Sep 16, 2014 By:
622 Comments

58
votes
Leaky equipment, not fracking, behind tainted U.S. water : study

REUTERS -- The contamination of water supplies near U.S. shale gas fields appears to be the result of leaky cement wells and casings and not the controversial production technique of hydraulic fracturing, according to a study released on Monday.

So-called "fracking" is a way of extracting natural gas from deep layers of rock using high-pressure fluid injections. The method has triggered a surge in U.S. gas production, but raised fears that breaking up rock formations underground could allow gas to seep into drinking water.

Scientists from several universities, including Duke, Ohio State, Stanford and Dartmouth, analyzed more than 130 drinking-water well samples overlying the Marcellus and Barnett shale gas formations and attempted to trace the source of any contamination, according to the study.  (read more)

Submitted Sep 16, 2014 By:
1238 Comments

53
votes
Consumer Reports names Ram EcoDiesel 1500 'Top Full-Size Pickup'

GasBuddy Blog --
Image From ..wardsauto.comThe Ram 1500 EcoDiesel climbed to the top of Consumer Reports’ full-size pickup truck ratings with an impressive performance in the organization’s fuel economy tests.
The EcoDiesel (82 point overall road test score) turned in a best-in-class fuel economy of 20 mpg overall and 27 mpg on the highway, to help it score better than the previously tested Ram 1500 V8 (81) regular gas version and Chevrolet Silverado 1500 LT (80). “These are about the same fuel-economy numbers that we typically see in a mid-sized SUV. The Ram is currently the only truck to offer turbo-diesel technology. It will be interesting to see what impact it will have on the half-ton truck market,” said Jake Fisher, director of automotive testing for Consumer Reports. ...  (read more)

Submitted Sep 16, 2014 By:
2112 Comments

52
votes
Farmers Are Adding Solar Panels To Their Crop & Grazing Land

Sustainnovate -- I'm not sure who introduced the terms "wind farms" and "solar farms," but they are great terms and they go beyond analogy. Increasingly, farmers are adding solar panels and wind turbines to their farms in order to achieve greater financial benefit and sometimes even to save their farms from financial collapse.

It's no secret: it can be difficult to stay afloat financially as a farmer. These days, one of the best ways to do so is to make greater use of one's land by using the land for complementary purposes. In particular, adding solar panels or wind turbines can offer a huge financial boost without hurting farm revenues.
 (read more)

Submitted Sep 16, 2014 By:
1476 Comments

49
votes
Coast Guard, Enbridge, and EPA to conduct simulated oil spill exercise in Michigan

Fox 17 -- INDIAN RIVER, Mich. — More than 200 participants from the U.S. Coast Guard 9th District, Enbridge, the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality, the Environmental Protection Agency, and others, will take part in an exercise on Wednesday that simulates a ‘worst-case scenario’ oil spill.

According to a press release from the Coast Guard, the exercise will focus on how to respond to a breach in Enbridge’s Line 5, and a discharge of light crude oil.  (read more)

Submitted Sep 16, 2014 By:
40 Comments

Monday, September 15, 2014

63
votes
Protecting America's power grid: Calls for action

CNBC -- Electronic attacks on banks, retailers and oil companies have amplified calls to fortify the U.S.'s aging electric grid, which some believe is more vulnerable than ever to terrorism  (read more)

Submitted Sep 15, 2014 By:
1489 Comments

53
votes
Green Monsters: The Electric Bike Wars

Forbes -- The roar of a Harley-Davidson engine is as distinctive as the popping of a champagne cork. But what if you could have all the power and beauty of a hog with a silent engine that doesn’t devour gas? That’s the question Harley asked earlier this year when it unveiled Project LiveWire, its futuristic prototype for an electric motorcycle.

Harley-Davidson is hardly alone in the e-bike wars, where several companies are seeking to become the Tesla of motorcycles. And not just because it’s good for the environment.

Last year the major motorcycle brands–including BMW, Harley-Davidson, Honda, Kawasaki, KTM, Piaggio, Suzuki, Triumph and Yamaha–sold 561,000 bikes nationwide, up from 557,000 in 2012 but down a staggering 53% from the 1.2 million sold in 2006. This year motorcycle sales remained relat  (read more)

Submitted Sep 15, 2014 By:
1352 Comments

51
votes
More women haggling over car price

By Michael Strong of The Detroit Bureau -- Survey shows women enjoy process more than men.

The stereotype of a woman being unwilling to haggle with a dealership salesperson thus relying on her husband or some other man to handle the negotiations is going by the wayside.

The comfort level of women when it comes to rolling up their sleeves and getting the best deal on a new car is rising, according to a recent survey by Swapalease.com. In fact, women are more likely than men to duke it out: 33.3% of women said "it makes it a fun process" compared with just 25.1% of men.  (read more)

Submitted Sep 15, 2014 By:
406 Comments

50
votes
In mining country, ‘war on coal’ hard to see

bostonglobe.com -- The desolate stretch of Highway 133 crests a Rocky Mountain pass and settles into a valley where some of the world’s most valuable coal is located — and the landowner is the US taxpayer.

If there is a “war on coal” by President Obama, as his critics say, then this might be a place to wage it. Obama has, after all, approved regulations designed to cut global-warming carbon emissions by nearly one-third, and he is preparing to attend a Sept. 23 United Nations climate summit at which he will renew his call for world action to fight climate change.

But here in the Rockies and across much of the West, Obama may be the coal industry’s critical, if unlikely, ally. The administration has rejected calls to place a moratorium on leasing public land to mining firms — even though such leases accoun
 (read more)

Submitted Sep 15, 2014 By:
58 Comments

50
votes
At least 150 major companies prep for carbon prices

USA TODAY -- At least 150 major companies worldwide - including ExxonMobil, Google, Microsoft and 26 others in the United States - are already making business plans that assume they will be taxed on their carbon pollution, a report today says.

The U.S. has yet to impose a price on heat-trapping carbon dioxide emissions, but other nations are starting to do so as a way to address global warming so U.S.-based companies are factoring an eventual one into their plans, says the international non-profit CDP, formerly known as the Carbon Disclosure Project. The report is the group's first one to look at corporate carbon pricing on a global scale.

"We're seeing companies taking steps they're not required to, and they're doing this to be competitive in a carbon-constrained world," says Zoe Antitch,...  (read more)

Submitted Sep 15, 2014 By:
268 Comments