Lucius Fox

Chief Executive Officer of Wayne Enterprises

Has the solar-power industry lapsed into a classic cycle of boom and bust after a decade of unprecedented growth? It might appear so. As years of government subsidies boosted the global installed capacity of solar-photovoltaic (PV) modules and dramatically cut prices, new producers, including China, rushed into the market, prompting oversupply and pressure on margins that threaten many pioneering players. Demand today isn’t keeping up with supply, and governments continue to scale back support as they cope with the aftermath of the economic crisis.

Posted at 1:01pm and tagged with: Sustainability, Renewable Energy, Energy, Alternative Energy, Solar Power,.

theatlantic:

What We Talk About When We Talk About the Decentralization of Energy

If there’s one lesson you should pick up from this story, it’s that alternative energy isn’t only about changing what we put in our fuel tanks or how our electricity is made. Alternative energy is going to alter entire business plans and change who we are, what our responsibilities are, and how we think about ourselves. If it helps, though, this transition is nothing new. The United States has already gone through it once before. This country began as a place where energy was individual labor—something most people had to physically be involved with every day, whether they were chopping wood or driving a team of horses. Fossil fuels—oil, coal-fired engines, natural gas—changed all of that. During the course of the twentieth century, energy became a commodity. Most Americans didn’t directly labor to produce it. Most of us didn’t have to think about it at all, except when we paid the monthly bills.

Now, as where we get our energy from shifts again, what energy is—what it means to us—is changing again, too. Yet we aren’t reverting to the nineteenth century. We’re creating something new. The future of energy is a world that shares characteristics of both the past and the present. In the future, we will see where the electricity we use is made. It’ll be on our roofs, in our rivers, closer to our cities. Because more of us will make electricity, more of us will have to pay attention to how the grid works and how our choices affect it. Third parties will still handle the complicated details of keeping that energy supply reliable. There will still be wizards of the grid. Utility companies will still exist, even if their primary business model is fundamentally different. You and I are still going to enjoy the convenience of not having to chop wood every time we want a warm house. It will be different, and we won’t all get what we want, but different and imperfect don’t necessarily mean bad.

This can work. This future can happen. Yet it won’t simply happen on its own. Standing between us and the future of energy is an awfully big wall. Whether we can scale it will depend on how well we can plan and whether we have the willpower to follow those plans through.

Read more. [Image: Wisconsin Historical Society]

Posted at 2:28pm and tagged with: Energy, Wind power, Solar power, Alternative energy, Electricity,.

theatlantic:

What We Talk About When We Talk About the Decentralization of Energy

If there’s one lesson you should pick up from this story, it’s that alternative energy isn’t only about changing what we put in our fuel tanks or how our electricity is made. Alternative energy is going to alter entire business plans and change who we are, what our responsibilities are, and how we think about ourselves. If it helps, though, this transition is nothing new. The United States has already gone through it once before. This country began as a place where energy was individual labor—something most people had to physically be involved with every day, whether they were chopping wood or driving a team of horses. Fossil fuels—oil, coal-fired engines, natural gas—changed all of that. During the course of the twentieth century, energy became a commodity. Most Americans didn’t directly labor to produce it. Most of us didn’t have to think about it at all, except when we paid the monthly bills.
Now, as where we get our energy from shifts again, what energy is—what it means to us—is changing again, too. Yet we aren’t reverting to the nineteenth century. We’re creating something new. The future of energy is a world that shares characteristics of both the past and the present. In the future, we will see where the electricity we use is made. It’ll be on our roofs, in our rivers, closer to our cities. Because more of us will make electricity, more of us will have to pay attention to how the grid works and how our choices affect it. Third parties will still handle the complicated details of keeping that energy supply reliable. There will still be wizards of the grid. Utility companies will still exist, even if their primary business model is fundamentally different. You and I are still going to enjoy the convenience of not having to chop wood every time we want a warm house. It will be different, and we won’t all get what we want, but different and imperfect don’t necessarily mean bad.
This can work. This future can happen. Yet it won’t simply happen on its own. Standing between us and the future of energy is an awfully big wall. Whether we can scale it will depend on how well we can plan and whether we have the willpower to follow those plans through.
Read more. [Image: Wisconsin Historical Society]

Last month Apple unveiled that it plans to build both a massive fuel cell farm and a huge solar farm at its data center in Maiden, North Carolina. Now, late last week, in a filing with the North Carolina Utilities Commission, Apple let loose a few more details about its fuel cell plans (hat tip Wired and the local News & Observer, reposted by the News & Record).

Apple says in the filing that it will install twenty four 200 kW fuel cells at an outdoor site next to its data center, and the fuel cells could start generating electricity, using biogas, as early as June 2012. Apple expects the entire 4.8 MW system to be online by November 30, 2012.

Posted at 3:40pm and tagged with: Apple, Apple Inc., APPL, Fuel Cells, Alternative Energy, Sustainability, Environment, Clean Energy, Business, Innovation, Technology, Science,.

publicradiointernational:

British company Pavegen has developed a new paving tile that captures the energy of footsteps and turns it into electricity.

On a small scale, one day’s worth of foot traffic over a few tiles could power one street light overnight. In another recent field test at a music festival, dancers stomping on a dance floor with Pavegen tiles generated enough energy to recharge their mobile phones.

The company’s first big field test will come this summer at the London Olympics. Pavegen will be installing its system just outside the Westfield Stratford Shopping Center, one of Europe’s biggest and busiest urban shopping malls. The tiles will be placed on one of the main pedestrian thoroughfares leading into nearby London Olympic Park. Depending on the foot traffic, the company hopes its tiles might be able to power the mall’s entire lighting system. More.

(Image: Pavegen)

Posted at 5:55pm and tagged with: PRI's The World, Social Entrepreneurship, Renewable Energy, Pavegen, Energy, Alternative Energy,.

publicradiointernational:

British company Pavegen has developed a new paving tile that captures the energy of footsteps and turns it into electricity.
On a small scale, one day’s worth of foot traffic over a few tiles could power one street light overnight. In another recent field test at a music festival, dancers stomping on a dance floor with Pavegen tiles generated enough energy to recharge their mobile phones.
The company’s first big field test will come this summer at the London Olympics. Pavegen will be installing its system just outside the Westfield Stratford Shopping Center, one of Europe’s biggest and busiest urban shopping malls. The tiles will be placed on one of the main pedestrian thoroughfares leading into nearby London Olympic Park. Depending on the foot traffic, the company hopes its tiles might be able to power the mall’s entire lighting system. More.
(Image: Pavegen)

crucium:

Gentle giants (by Lieve Van den Bosch)

Posted at 12:17pm and tagged with: Alternative Energy, Renewable Energy, Wind,.

crucium:

Gentle giants (by Lieve Van den Bosch)

Algae plus salt water equals … fuel? At TEDxNASA@SiliconValley, Bilal Bomani reveals a self-sustaining ecosystem that produces biofuels — without wasting arable land or fresh water.

Bilal Bomani runs NASA’s Greenlab research facility, where he is developing the next generation of biofuels.

Posted at 1:41pm and tagged with: TEDTalks, TEDx, Bilal Bomani, Alternative Energy, Biofuel, Sustainability, Environment, Renewable Energy, NASA, TEDxNASA,.

Faced with rising energy prices and frequent electricity blackouts, hospitals and medical clinics in Kenya are turning to solar energy to provide life-saving power.

The number of medical facilities using solar energy has been growing steadily, reaching about 300 in 2010, according to the Kenya Bureau of Statistics.

Posted at 1:38pm and tagged with: Kenya, Africa, Alternative Energy, Solar, Technology, Medicine,.