Archive for April 3rd, 2009

Eco Dog – Healthy & Green Doggy Care

I’m not a huge animal person (pets = trouble) however, if you do happen to be a dog lover there’s a new book in town that’s right up your alley.


Eco Dog by Corbett Marshall and Jim Deskevich looks pretty darn good – even to a non-dog person. This book covers all sorts of important nontoxic and planet-friendly doggy care topics such as:

  • Potential dangers of conventional pet food and other option.
  • Homemade natural dog treats.
  • Healthy grooming products and accessories.
  • Green doggy shopping tips.
  • 25 home projects for all-natural dog care alternatives, such as Rosemary Conditioner instead of chemical-laden flea collars and Felted Dog Blanket made from recycled sweaters.


The images look great and I love the layout. As a bonus, the book is made with sustainably harvested paper and vegetable based inks. A tree hugging dog lover is sure to adore this book  and find plenty of ways to green their dog owning experience.


Do you have a dog? Do you try to choose green alternatives to conventional dog care?

[images via Chronicle Books]

Visit the original post at: Solar Power News

Carbon-Based Fuel Cells Replacing or Reducing Platinum

Researchers in Canada and Japan are working on two different methods to eliminate expensive platinum from fuel cells bringing down the costs of future hydrogen cars as much as $5,000. Researchers in California, on the other hand, are using nanotechnology to greatly reduce the amount of platinum needed in hydrogen fuel cells. All of the scientists are using carbon in one form or another to achieve results.

Researchers at the Institut National de la Recherche Scientifique in Quebec have developed a catalyst that uses iron, nitrogen, and carbon producing 99 amps, which far exceeds other non-precious metal catalysts and matches typical platinum catalysts. The process involves creating more tiny pores in the carbon that nitrogen and iron can cling to in order to promote the chemical reactions.

Meanwhile, researchers at Nisshinbo Industries in Japan have developed a carbon alloy catalyst to replace platinum. This catalyst does not cause any corrosion of fuel cell parts unlike other metal catalysts can. Production costs can be dropped by 1/6 using this new catalyst.

And, in San Bernardino, California, Professor Yushan Yan is using nanotechnology to use ¼ less platinum in his fuel cells. Professor Yan is developing carbon nanotubes coated inside and out with a tiny amount of platinum in order to create a catalytic reaction.

Now, I’ve talked before about using carbon in fuel cells to replace or reduce platinum including doped carbon nanotubes and hairy carbon fuel cell electrodes. With all the talk about carbon caps, carbon footprints and reducing carbon in our environment it is a bit ironic that adding carbon may be the answer in bringing cost-effective zero emissions hydrogen fuel cell vehicles to market.

Visit the original post at: Fuel Cell News

AWEA Launches Wind Blog

AWEA Launches Wind Blog
The fine folks over at the American Wind Energy Association (AWEA) have launched a new blog called “Into the Wind.” Check it out for wind power news and policy updates.

Visit the original post at: Energy News

Home Energy Saving Scheme will create jobs and halve electricity bills announces Minister Eamon Ryan

Energy Minister Eamon Ryan has announced that the €50 million Home Energy Saving Scheme is ‘open for business’.

Sustainable Energy Ireland will accept applications from householders wishing to save money and energy by insulating their properties.

Announcing the opening, Minister Ryan said,

“Since I announced that I had secured the funding for this scheme, there has been an unprecedented level of interest from the public.
Sustainable Energy Ireland has received 94,000 calls and website visits. SEI has assured me that from today applications received online will be processed in under 3 days. I am pleased that so soon after the initial announcement we are up and running, with all the proper procedures in place.
We need even more qualified contractors to come on board in order to deliver this scheme. I would urge contractors to register with SEI and secure a major business boost for themselves in the process. The level of public interest is such that contractors can be assured of work for themselves and for new employees through this Government scheme.
Sustainable Energy Ireland will emphasise quality throughout the scheme, ensuring that homeowners get the best workmanship and value for money.
Insulation is the single best way of saving money on energy. This Scheme will see homeowners save up to €700 annually on their electricity bills. This, coupled with recent reductions in electricity prices is great news for consumers in these tight times.
Construction workers will benefit from the thousands of jobs this scheme will create. It’s good news for our pockets, for the economy and for the environment”.

Householders and contractors can apply online at www.sei/hes or by calling the dedicated phone line 1850 927000


  • The scheme is aimed at older houses that would not typically have the energy efficiency features of recently built homes. The scheme is open to all houses built prior to 2006. Houses built from 2006 onwards should be built to the Building Regulations 2002 standard, which specifies high quality insulation and heating controls


  1. To reduce energy use and CO2 emissions from the existing housing stock, and
  2. To support the development of the energy services industry in Ireland.

Eligible measures:

  • The eligible measures and the set grant amounts available.
  • The typical improvement in BER rating that could be expected from each individual measure, done in isolation. Note that in estimating the total potential BER improvement, if the full range of meas ures is installed, the potential BER improvements for each measure should not be added together.


The typical payback period for each measure, arising from energy saved.

    1. Measure
    2. Grant rate
    3. Typical net BER improvement
    4. Typical payback (years)

    Roof Insulation

    Cavity Wall Insulation

    Internal Wall Insulation

    External Wall Insulation

    High efficiency boiler plus heating control upgrade

    Heating control upgrade only
    15 -25%

    Building Energy Rating

    Minimum investment:

    • A minimum level of investment is required of householders to participate in the scheme. Householders must avail of measures (excluding BER) involving a minimum grant payment of €500 for a first application. This means that hou seholders cannot avail of a grant for roof insulation or cavity wall insulation only. These low cost measures must be undertaken together or with another measure.

    Heating controls and boilers:

    • To avail of the €500 grant for heating controls, a homeowner must install a range of time, temperature and zone controls on their heating system and electric immersion water cylinder. This low cost measure can improve a home’s BER rating by up to 25%, yet has a payback of only 4 to 5 years.
    • While heating controls can be added to an existing heating system, it is particularly attractive to any homeowner replacing their boiler to also install heating controls at that time. Under the Building Regulations 2008, anybody replacing an existing oil or gas boiler must install a condensing boiler with a minimum seasonal efficiency of 86%. Condensing boilers with an efficiency of up to 95% are available on the market. This additional efficiency can lead to significant savings . A grant of €200 towards the cost of these higher efficiency boilers is available to any homeowner who is also installing heating controls.

    Wall insulation options:

    • To insulate the walls of their home, owners may have a choice of cavity wall, internal or external insulation, depending on the construction of their home. Homeowners should seek professional advice on which option is most suitable for their home.
    • Where a house has a suitable cavity, then cavity wall insulation is the most economical investment. Where this is not possible the options are either internal dry lining or external insulation. Internal dry lining, while considerably less expensive than external insulation, will ultimately reduce somewhat the internal habitable space of the home and may not be practical where there is decorative internal plasterwork. External wall insulation may prove preferable where a significant upgrade to the external facade is already envisaged. Both may resul t in additional works in order to reinstate electrical, plumbing and glazing fixtures.

    Building Energy Rating:

    • A BER assessment is not required for participation in the scheme. However, a BER carried out prior to works can provide useful advice to a homeowner on the upgrade measures he or she needs to take to improve the home’s energy efficiency. A BER conducted after the measures are finished can establish the impact of the works and give the homeowner comfort regarding their investment.
    • To avail of the BER grant of €200, a homeowner must have a BER assessment conducted before and after works. Anybody wishing to secure the services of a registered BER assessor can find details at . Homeowners should shop around for the best price.

    Visit the original post at: Energy News

    The 5-minutes Rechargeable Hydrogen Tank Invented

    Obama’s plans for a prosperous hydrogen economy cannot come alive if we don’t find the proper storage for the hydrogen, as an energy carrier. The scientific community, funded by their governments and/or private investors, are looking for several solutions to this issue.

    Visit the original post at: Energy News

    Wind Systems Integration – Energy Storage and Wind Power

    From Jeff Anthony, Manager – Utility Programs, American Wind Energy Association :

    One issue that often comes up relative to wind power an understanding how it works for utilities, is how wind power is addressed from a variable energy output standpoint (the fact that wind projects are not “dispatchable” like other resources) and whether wind power projects need to be “backed-up one-for-one” on a megawatt for megawatt basis (they do not). Here are some resources that are extremely useful to explain these hard-to-grasp topics.

    Two very useful Webpages with lots of to various resources and documents that can help explain these two topics: wind integration and reliability and wind power.

    Another very useful website is this new webpage on the National Renewable Energy Laboratory website and wind power and wind integration
    – which also explains why energy storage is not needed at this time.

    And here is what utilities have to say — those that are actively involved in addressing wind integration efforts (as opposed to utilities who are not involved with wind power or who are not making an effort to get involved).

    I hope you find these webpages and the links to various documents useful. This is a complex issue and so AWEA is available to assist further in understanding these issues at any time.

    Visit the original post at: Energy News

    First Solar Completes Acquisition of OptiSolar’s Photovoltaic Project Pipeline
    TEMPE, Ariz.–April 3 2009–First Solar, Inc. (Nasdaq: FSLR) today announced that it has completed its acquisition of OptiSolar’s photovoltaic project pipeline. First Solar expects to construct the solar power plants developed under the pipeline over the next several years and sell them to a combination of regulated utilities, diversified energy companies and other independent power producers.

    Visit the original post at: Energy News

    A New Audio Interview Featuring Richard Reincke of GWS Technologies, Inc., and SEDCO CEO Tom Layton, is now available at
    AUSTIN, Texas —, Inc. announced today that it has posted a new audio interview featuring GWS Technologies, Inc. (OTCBB: GWSC), an alternative energy company developing renewable energy solutions, and Sustainable Eco-Green Development Company, Inc. (SEDCO).

    Visit the original post at: Energy News

    Web 2.0

    Web 2.0
    Slowly but surely I am getting sucked into the networking aspect of the ‘Web 2.0′ world. For a long time I ignored these sites, but have come to appreciate that they can be used to share links and ideas and to keep up with people/sites I am interested in.

    I guess it started out with an invitation to join LinkedIn (My Profile here). LinkedIn is a social networking site for professionals, and I imagine it would be quite handy if one were searching for a job. As of this writing, I have 42 connections on LinkedIn, many people I work with now or have in the past.

    Next came Facebook, which is more of a purely social networking site than LinkedIn. (My Facebook profile here). I typically provide some updates there, but I have to be careful that I don’t get sucked into endless chats. I usually pop in and out quickly to avoid that. I have 65 ‘friends’ on Facebook currently, including people I have never met, people who read R-Squared, classmates from high school and college, and even family members. I find Facebook to be OK for keeping up with friends, but it can turn into a real time-waster as there are numerous pointless games and such designed to keep people on the site for as long as possible.

    Finally, I signed up with Twitter last week. (My Twitter profile here). Still not sure how that experiment is going to pan out. The nice thing about Facebook and Twitter is that I can provide short updates from my Blackberry. That is pretty handy when I am on the road. I plan to utilize both next week when I am in D.C. if I think there is anything of interest to report.

    There are numerous other sites along the lines of the ones I have mentioned, but I think these will keep me busy enough for now. (If you think I missed an important one, please mention it).

    To summarize, LinkedIn has proven occasionally useful and is good for keeping up with professional colleagues, but I think it would be especially useful for job seekers. Facebook is a good place to hook up with friends from 20 years ago, but it can also be used to share links and chat about particular areas of interest. Twitter is more of an experiment for me at this stage, but I plan to give it a workout next week.

    Speaking of next week, it will largely be quiet for me as I attend the 2009 EIA Energy Conference. I just noticed today that Secretary of Energy Steven Chu is giving the keynote address. There are lots of other interesting topics to be discussed, so I will take good notes and provide an update after the conference.

    Visit the original post at: Energy News

    ODAC Newsletter – 3 Apr

    ODAC Newsletter – 3 Apr

    A weekly review from a UK perspective

    read more

    Visit the original post at: Energy News

    Trends and Opportunities in Thin-Film Solar
    Amorphous silicon (a-Si) will continue to lead the thin-film solar photovoltaics (PV) space for several years to come, says the research firm NanoMarkets. The firm projects that US $1.3 billion in revenues for a-Si based photovoltaics this year that will grow to $4.1 billion in the year 2014. These and other findings appear in the firm’s newest report titled, “Materials Markets for Thin-Film Silicon Photovoltaics.”
    Visit the original post at: Renewable Energy News –

    StatoilHydro & Statkraft to Develop Offshore Wind Farm
    StatoilHydro and Norwegian power utility Statkraft have said that they are joining forces to develop the 315-megawatt (MW) Sheringham Shoal Offshore Wind Farm off the coast of Norfolk in the UK. The wind farm, which will use 88 three-and-a-half megawatt capacity turbines, could start producing electricity as early as 2011.
    Visit the original post at: Renewable Energy News –

    NextEra to Build Wind Turbine Service Facility
    Iowa Governor Chet Culver this week joined NextEra Energy Resources LLC to break ground on NextEra Energy Resources’ Generation Repair and Service (GRS) facility. The GRS facility will be used to overhaul and repair wind turbine electric generation equipment operated by subsidiaries of NextEra Energy Resources. It will also be used to warehouse and store parts and supplies to support renewable and other energy-related operations throughout the Midwest.
    Visit the original post at: Renewable Energy News –

    SunEdison Activates 1.2-MW Solar PV System
    SunEdison has activated a 1.2-megawatt solar photovoltaic (PV) energy system for Progress Energy Carolinas. Sited on 10 acres of land at Progress Energy’s Sutton Plant near Wilmington, the 1.2-MW ground mount system is the largest in North Carolina.
    Visit the original post at: Renewable Energy News –

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