Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Wind Energy Plus (in Minnesota)

While this article is specific to Minnesota, where it is believed that wind in particular holds some of the best promise for meeting renewable energy mandates, it also covers a range of other technologies that are being tried, and it highlights some of the challenges of introducing new methods of energy production, one of them being not enough transmission lines to carry electricity from wind turbines.

Some of the other alternative energy methods mentioned are converting coal to oil, burning turkey litter to generate electricity, converting grass seed waste into an energy source, and using electricity derived from wind to produce hydrogen.

Read the story here.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Power to the People

Well, I don't think it is going to change the way big energy produces power. But on the other hand, it is an indication of what is possible, and it sounds like fun.

David Butcher's Pedal Powered Generator advertises $50 plans to build your own bike powered generator. If you buy the parts new, they cost about $230. If you recycle an old bike, you can do better.

There are videos and other information if you click the links on the left side tab. I was struck by this note under one of the videos:

At the Green House event in San Francisco, the PPPM simultaneously powers: Cell Phone charger, Desktop Fan, DVD Player, 2 LED and 2 Compact Fluorescent Lights and a Laptop (battery charging). Burners were interested to hear that a single 60 Watt incandescent light required more power than everything listed above combined.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Waste Heat to Energy

Here's a fascinating story about how waste heat going up the smokestack can be turned into a profitable commodity with waste heat electrical generators. According the article there's a huge potential for overall energy savings. I wonder if it's something utilities might offer as a service to customers.

There's an interesting twist in the article. It cites a recent situation in Massachusetts where this type of energy production was not included in a clean energy bill because solar and wind advocates feared losing government money. The article cites people saying that one energy conserving initiative should not preclude another -- we need to do all these things. Still, that the issue came up at all is an indication that even among those advocating alternative energy production there will be political differences.

Read the story here.

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

Cobb House and Lifestyle Change

Here's an interesting example of a woman who left a high paying career to live more simply. She built her own small "cob" cottage. Since her cob house -- made of mud, essentially -- is placed in a residential community outside Seattle, it is interesting to see how she worked to make her house acceptable to the neighbors and building inspector, alike. It is also indicative and reflective of a new way of thinking about how a growing number of people want to relate to the world.

Read the article here.