Environmental Policy

Waste Heat Recovery: The Next Wave of Clean Tech
May 24, 2011 03:32 PM - Jason Gold, CEO, KGRA Energy, LP

The terms renewable energy and clean technology conjure up images of photovoltaic panels baking in the desert sun, wind turbines rotating lazily in the wind, and large dams generating hydro-power. However, there is another important and growing clean energy technology that the average consumer hasn't heard of yet: waste heat recovery. Waste heat recovery employs a process that has been around since the 1960s called the organic Rankine cycle (ORC), which easily integrates into existing manufacturing infrastructures. ORC units capture heat that is currently being released into the atmosphere and converts it into useable CO2-free electricity. This technology has a small footprint, approximately the size of a tractor trailer flatbed and interest in systems that use this energy generating skid is on the rise as companies look to maximize the efficiency of existing investments and infrastructures. The market for waste heat recovery is virtually limitless. According to researchers at University California Berkley, the U.S. currently consumes about 100 quadrillion BTUs of energy per year. However, between 55 and 60 quadrillion BTUs are currently vented into the atmosphere as waste heat. With ORC technology these emissions are harnessed on-site to generate useable CO2-free electricity that is fed directly back into a manufacturing process. Pulp and paper, lumber, refinery, cement and power plant operations are especially well-suited for waste heat recovery systems since they consume large amounts of electricity and maintain consistent waste heat streams with temperatures between 400° and 800°F.

Namibia Wildlife Conservation
May 23, 2011 09:10 AM - David A Gabel, ENN

Namibia is a country in southern Africa which borders the Atlantic Ocean, just north of the nation of South Africa. The nation was a German Imperial protectorate from 1884 to the end of World War I, when the League of Nations gave South Africa the ruling authority. After a long struggle, Namibia achieved independence in 1990. This is a typical story for many south African nations, but what sets Namibia apart is its outstanding wildlife conservation programs. Using a community-based system, it has maintained a healthy native ecosystem which has seen sharp increases in its key wildlife populations.

Egypt faces 'environmental crisis' following ousting of Mubarak
May 19, 2011 08:15 AM - Joseph Mayton, Ecologist

The political future of the Arab world's largest country could look brighter following the recent uprising in Tahrir Square and beyond. But the country faces an ecological catastrophe - much of it tourism related - reports Joseph Mayton from Cairo.

Feral Camels Plague Australian Outback
May 18, 2011 09:39 AM - Jessica Marshall, Discovery News

More than 1 million feral camels are thrashing the remote Australian desert, destroying water supplies and disturbing Aboriginal communities to the tune of 10 million Australian dollars a year.

In the News: British butterflies bounce back
May 17, 2011 08:16 AM - Liz Shaw, ARKive.org

Some of Britain's most threatened butterflies are showing promising signs of recovery after decades of decline, according to a new study. The new data comes from the UK Butterfly Monitoring Scheme, which has been monitoring changes in butterfly populations across the United Kingdom since 1976. The biggest winner of 2010 was the wood white, which has suffered a 96% decline since the 1970s, but whose population increased six-fold last year.

The Parakeet Invasion of England
May 16, 2011 09:45 AM - David A Gabel, ENN

This green and pleasant land is quickly becoming home to a green and not so pleasant bird. The Rose-Ringed Parakeet (Psittacula krameri), an exotic bird from India and sub-Saharan Africa is spreading like wildfire in London and its surrounding suburbs. Their population was estimated at 1,500 in 1995. Only a few years ago, their numbers have jumped to an estimated 30,000! At first they seemed like a new attractive bird in people's backyards. Now they are a pest, hogging bird feeders and causing a nuisance. However, the greatest fear is that they will spread to agricultural areas and threaten crops.

ConEdison Study Reveals New Roles for Green Roofs
May 16, 2011 08:37 AM - Tina Casey, Triple Pundit

By now it's become widely accepted that green roofs can help reduce heating and cooling costs for buildings, and evidence is mounting that they can provide tangible benefits in other areas as well. The latest piece of information comes from New York, for a green roof constructed by ConEdison, the city’s electric utility. The study, conducted in partnership with the Columbia University Center for Climate Systems Research, reveals that green roofs could play a much larger than role than previously expected in helping cities find cost effective ways to deal with excess storm water. That, in turn, provides building owners with new opportunities to participate in urban sustainability planning.

Move used nuclear fuel to interim sites, says White House panel
May 16, 2011 06:54 AM - Eli Kintisch, SCIENCE

Draft recommendations from a White House commission on spent nuclear fuel released Friday include a call for one or more new aboveground interim storage sites in the United States. But the advice, which is subject to revision in a preliminary commission report due out in July, has already drawn fire from Republicans in the House of Representatives, foreshadowing a coming fight over nuclear waste. The Blue Ribbon Commission on America's Nuclear Future was formed by President Barack Obama last year to offer advice on how to deal with U.S. nuclear waste in the wake of the White House's 2009 decision to cancel plans for a permanent repository at Yucca Mountain in Nevada. "There do not appear to be unmanageable safety or security risks associated with current methods of storage at existing sites," one draft recommendation by the panel states. But "rigorous efforts" are required to maintain this state of affairs, said the commissioners in slides presented Friday. Yucca Mountain was intended to be a place where the radioactive fuel could cool for several decades and then be entombed permanently. The draft recommendations instead suggest a process involving separate sites for the two steps, as is done in Europe.

Japan’s U-Turn on Nuclear Power: Reaction
May 12, 2011 09:09 AM - Eli Kintisch, Science AAAS

Yesterday, Japan's prime minister, Naoto Kan, announced that the government was scrapping a planned expansion of nuclear power, which currently provides about a third of Japanese electricity. Instead, the government would redouble efforts to expand its renewable energy portfolio, Kan said. The turnaround followed Kan's urging last week that a reactor in Hamaoka, near an active seismic zone, be shut down; the company that runs the plant has agreed and is building a seawall to protect the plant from tsunamis when it reopens in 2 years.

Arctic nations eye future of world's last frontier
May 12, 2011 06:28 AM - Andrew Quinn, Reuters, WASHINGTON

Leaders of Arctic nations gather in Greenland this week to chart future cooperation as global warming sets off a race for oil, mineral, fishing and shipping opportunities in the world's fragile final frontier. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton will join foreign ministers from seven other Arctic states in Greenland's tiny capital of Nuuk -- population 15,000 -- on Thursday for an Arctic Council meeting on the next steps for a region where warming temperatures are creating huge new challenges and unlocking untapped resources. The council includes the United States, Canada, Russia, Norway, Finland, Iceland, Sweden and Denmark, which handles foreign affairs for Greenland, as well as groups representing indigenous inhabitants of the Arctic most directly affected as ice and snow retreat. "It's an important gathering, but also a symbol of some of the big challenges that the Arctic faces," U.S. Deputy Secretary of State James Steinberg told a Washington think-tank audience on Monday, noting that U.S. Interior Secretary Ken Salazar would accompany Clinton to Nuuk. "There are very core interests that are at stake in the Arctic, but it is an opportunity to find new patterns of cooperation," he said.

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