joelg's Blog Posts

Yucca Mountain Nuclear Storage on Ice. Now What?

March 04 2009 / by joelg / In association with Future Blogger.net
Category: Energy   Year: 2009   Rating: 4

By Joel Greenberg

Yucca MountainThe Obama administration recently announced their proposed budget with an interesting nuclear wrinkle:  they are no longer funding Yucca Mountain, the underground repository for nuclear wastes in Nevada, 90 miles Northwest of Las Vegas.  "Unfunding" effectively kills the project.  Supporters view Yucca Mountain as a reasonable solution to storing nuclear waste for the long term.  Critics call it a boondoggle based upon flawed science.

Nuclear waste is a byproduct of generating electricity in the 104 nuclear reactors currently running in the US.  It's highly toxic with some elements remaining dangerous for hundreds of thousands of years. It's currently being stored on-site at each reactor, which are running out of room to store the waste.  While Yucca Mountain had room for the existing waste from these 104 reactors, it did not have room for the future waste from the reactors that are now planned as a result of the Energy Policy Act of 2005, which has kicked off a renaissance of nuclear power in the US after 30 years of dormancy.

Surprised?

"No," says Dr. Mike Kotschenreuther, a senior research scientist at the Institute for Fusion Studies at the University of Texas, "We've known that President Obama said he was going to discontinue Yucca Mountain for some time.  We're still going to need a solution to nuclear waste, even if Yucca Mountain is no longer a viable project, so we've been doing our best to come up with a solution."

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Gaming Our Way to Efficiency

January 09 2009 / by joelg / In association with Future Blogger.net
Category: Energy   Year: 2009   Rating: 3

By Joel Greenberg

Byron Reeves is a man with a vision:  using video games to teach and to help mold behavior. When we get a smart grid and smart devices that track and report on their energy consumption, we'll have the data we need to understand our energy usage in the home.  But will we really take advantage of that information?


Energy Efficiency Game

"Games have the potential change behavior," says Reeves a professor at Stanford University and co-founder of Stanford's MediaX; he conducts research on the emotional and social effects of immersive environments including complex online games . "I became interested in building a game platform that could change behavior around energy usage," he says.  To that end, he's been showing a vision video he created with Millions of Us in which he brings to life a game where homeowners compete with each other to see who can become the most energy efficient.

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Top Energy Stories of 2008: #2 The Year of Scientific Breakthroughs

December 16 2008 / by joelg / In association with Future Blogger.net
Category: Environment   Year: 2008   Rating: 2

By Joel Greenberg

In the blur of announcements from solar companies, oil company TV commercials, and news pundits, science sometimes get lost in the conversation.  But it's science that will bring us to a workable energy future and this year has seen some significant breakthroughs.  MIT's Daniel Nocera announced the development of a low cost catalyst that helps in the electrolysis of water into oxygen & hydrogen.  The development of Metal Organic Frameworks (MOFs) for solid hydrogen storage continued to evolve; Nanotechnology continues to bring promising experimental results across many energy related fields including, catalysts for fuel cells; conversion of waste heat into electricity; a new theory explaining molecular movement in polymers; and more.

Which of these scientific breakthroughs might change the commercial viability of cleaner hydrocarbons, bioenergy, renewables and advanced energy storage systems?

Scientific breakthroughs

 

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Top Energy Stories of 2008: #8 The Rise of Local Initiatives

December 17 2008 / by joelg / In association with Future Blogger.net
Category: Energy   Year: 2008   Rating: 1

By Joel Greenbeg


"We'll do it ourselves," so say the mayors of cities around the United States as they sign their cities up for the Kyoto Protocol on climate change, committing their cities to lower their C02 emissions to pre-1990 levels. "Think global, green local" could be the name of the trend for municipalities taking the initiative on energy, such as:

- The City of Austin announcing the Pecan Street Project which will open up the city owned grid to cleantech entreprenuers using open source software as the model.

- Los Angeles setting a target of 10% of its electricity to come from renewable resources by 2020. Los Angelese has the largest utility.

- The New Jersey Meadowlands Commissions publishing an RFI for building a solar power station on their land.

- The California Air Resources Board approving a plan to lower California CO2 emissions below 1990 levels.

- New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg announcing a plan to put wind turbines on city owned building and bridges.

Can the Obama administration change the inconvenient truth that alternative energy markets in the US need more than mayors to make them viable at scale?

Local green initiatives

Photo courtesy of GreenForAll.org.

Top Energy Stories of 2008: #7 Geeks Go Green

December 16 2008 / by joelg / In association with Future Blogger.net
Category: Energy   Year: 2008   Rating: 1

By Joel Greenberg

Geeks look at the Big Grid and it reminds them of the old main frame computer days.  They look at the auto industry and and see rust.  So, they'll change it themselves.  Through their RE<C program, Google is funding renewable energy companies with the goal of generating 1 gigawatt of energy at a price less than coal.  Applied Materials has joined Google as high tech leaders that are covering their rooftops and parking garages with solar panels.  Former Intel CEO Andy Grove challenges his old company to get into batteries for electric vehicles.  Silicon Valley VC legends Vinod Khosla and John Doer fund cleantech companies.

Can these hi-tech leaders find success that scales in a business where there's no Moore's Law?

Geeks Go Green: Google fires up it's rechargeIT and RE<C programs

Photo courtesy Google.

Top Energy Stories of 2008:

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Top Energy Stories of 2008: #10 Emerging Energy Missionaries & Visionaries

December 16 2008 / by joelg / In association with Future Blogger.net
Category: Energy   Year: 2008   Rating: 1

By Joel Greenberg

Putting a face to energy  happened in a big way in 2008.  From T-Boone Pickens' full court press promoting his Picken's Plan for wind energy and natural gas to Shai Agassi coming of age with his Wired cover story promoting his electric vehicle infrastructure company Better Place, energy technology became humanized.  And what do you do for an encore once you've cracked the Human Genome?  Ask scientist Craig Venter and he'll tell you it's using algae to create bio fuels that replace oil.  He's hoping to have something on the market in five years.

Could personality be the thing that takes a vital, but dry industry from infrastructure to top of mind in the eyes of customers?

Energy Visionaries

 

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Top Energy Stories of 2008: #9 Infrastructure Gains Attention

December 16 2008 / by joelg / In association with Future Blogger.net
Category: Energy   Year: 2008   Rating: 1

By Joel Greenberg

The 'Big Grid' is based upon a mass distribution model from the 1930's and technology from even earlier.  But industry and the Department of Energy are beginning to develop standards to transform the Big Grid into the Smart Grid so that it can handle renewable energy sources, electric vehicles, distributed energy generation, demand side managment, and information about it all. The sale of electric vehicle charging technology company V2Green to Smart Grid technology company GridPoint marks the beginning of a market where hi-tech geeks meet energy geeks. 

Could there be a collision of paradigms between geeks who've grown up under Moore's law and those whose basic technology hasn't changed in 70 years?

TERM-Infrastrcture.jpg

Photo courtesy Bradley Woods.

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Top Energy Stories of 2008 : #6 The Clean Coal Lobby Breaks Through the Clutter...and Gets a Response

December 16 2008 / by joelg / In association with Future Blogger.net
Category: Energy   Year: 2008   Rating: 1

By Joel Greenberg

The term "Clean Coal" entered the US consciousness primarily through the lobbying efforts of the American Coalition of Clean Coal Technology and their presence at both the Republican and Democratic convetions, resulting in both candidates using the term.  A coalition of environmental groups lead by Al Gore are fighting back saying there's no such thing as Clean Coal.

Will Clean Coal become the new tobacco and suffer for it down the line?

TERM-CleanCoal.jpg

Top Energy Stories of 2008: #5 The Dying Gasp of Corn Ethanol

December 16 2008 / by joelg / In association with Future Blogger.net
Category: Energy   Year: 2008   Rating: 1

By Joel Greenbeg

As the debate raged on whether the high price of corn affected the high price of food worldwide, the tide has turned against the Corn Lobby that advocates using a monoculture of corn to fuel our vehicles.  The interest in celullosic ethanol rises as corn-based company Verasun fails.

How will the corn lobby fight back as the tide turns away from corn?

TERM-CornEthanol.jpg

Photo courtesy stevelyon

Top Ten Energy Stories 2008 (Continue)

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Top Energy Stories of 2008. #4 From $147 to $50: The Price of Oil

December 16 2008 / by joelg / In association with Future Blogger.net
Category: Energy   Year: 2008   Rating: 1

The high price of oil fueled the political debate about energy and made alternatives appear attractive.  But as the economy collapsed and with the it the price of oil, it remains to be seen if investment in alternatives will continue at a robust pace.

What will happen to the price of oil when the economy recovers in the US and abroad?

Cheap Gasoline

Photo courtesy of geocam20000.

Do you think the price of a gallon of regular gas will rise significantly by April 1st, 2009?

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