• Sunny Forecast for Solar Power

    The American solar industry more than doubled in megawatts last year, from 887 megawatts installed in 2010 to 1,855 megawatts installed in 2011. This growth represents enough solar energy to power over 350,000 homes! 2011 also marks the first time the U.S. solar market has topped one gigawatt (1,000 MW) in a single year. Many factors contributed to this growth. The cost of installing solar panels fell 20 percent last year due to lower component costs and improved installation efficiency. Expanded financing options and a shift toward larger systems nationwide also made solar more affordable. In addition the 1603 Treasury Program, which offered rebates for businesses that installed solar panels, ended Dec. 31, 2011. This looming deadline drove developers to commission projects before the end of the year. >> Read the Full Article
  • Sales of Volt and Hybrids Surge in March

    March turned out to be a big month for auto sales in the United States. Reuters reported that total vehicle sales were up 13 percent for the month, ending the best quarter in terms of total sales since 2008. The industry sees this as a sign of general economic recovery, but with high average gas prices prevailing at the pumps, hybrid cars and plug-in vehicles enjoyed a strong month, indicating fuel economy matters to many when making new car choices. >> Read the Full Article
  • Do protected areas for wildlife really work?

    Can national parks and marine protected areas safeguard endangered wildlife against the growing pressures of population growth and climate change? Designated a national park in 1778 but safeguarded unofficially since the 13th century, the world's oldest protected area is Mongolia’s sacred Bogd Khan Mountain, overlooking Ulan Bator. The Emperor of Manchur’s 18th-century edict was designed to prevent mortals from desecrating the realms of the divine. Building was restricted, logging and hunting banned. >> Read the Full Article
  • Is that Pashmina cloned?

    The successful cloning of the unique but dwindling 'pashmina' goat, prized for its fine wool, has encouraged veterinary scientists to use similar methods to conserve other endangered animal species native to Himalayan Kashmir. When a team of veterinary scientists from the centre for animal biotechnology at the Sher-e-Kashmir University of Agriculture Science and Technology (SKUAST), Srinagar, cloned the pashmina goat, last month (March), it revived hopes for saving a species whose numbers have been declining. >> Read the Full Article
  • Laser "Un-printer" Wipes Paper Clean

    Let's talk about recycling. Despite our efforts to cut back on paper usage and production, the effects of forestry and emissions from recycling plants still heavily harm the environment. However, the paper production cycle could be changing now, thanks to lasers. Researchers at the University of Cambridge announced last week that they have discovered a way to remove toner ink from paper without damage using lasers. >> Read the Full Article
  • Plug-in Electric Cars had better early adoption rate than hybrids

    The failure to reach the sales targets for the Chevrolet Volt and Nissan Leaf has led to considerable finger pointing about so-far disappointing attempts to mass market plug-in electric vehicles (PEVs). PEVs have increasingly become fodder for politics as every misstep reinforces what opponents call their inevitable failure. But the real problem was in the original lofty expectations for PEV penetration by both the auto makers and the government, which were unreachable given the cost of the vehicles. As we've said all long, the government's projection of 1 million PEVs on US roads by 2015 was too aggressive given the short timeframe to get new vehicles to market and the nascent state of the technology . >> Read the Full Article
  • In Dubai, Camels may work to control Mangrove trees

    Too many mangroves is not a good thing – at least not at the Ras Al Khor Wildlife Sanctuary in Dubai, where they were introduced in 1990. So an ecologist at Dubai’s Wildlife Protection office has proposed using camels to trim back the excess canopies that have buried wader feeding areas. Kevin Hyland told The National that camels used to have access to the sanctuary before it was fenced off in 2002, and that reintroducing them would help restore the site’s sensitive ecology without disrupting bird life. Hyland emphasizes that the camels would be introduced as part of a careful management program, and that they will not be left to run amok. "The key phrase in the whole proposal is 'managed camel grazing,'" the ecologist told the paper. "It's not, 'let's just chuck in 100 camels, because we don't want to destroy the mangrove canopy." >> Read the Full Article
  • Spring has Sprung, it's getting warmer

    Across the country, more than 7,700 daily temperature records were broken last month, on the heels of the fourth warmest winter on record. While it might be time to lie on a blanket in the park, climate scientists are worried. They say all these sunny days are actually an extreme weather event, one with local and global implications. In Iowa, March was so hot — a record-breaking 84 degrees — that some crops there, like oats, are now running way ahead of schedule. >> Read the Full Article
  • Nest Thermostat 2.0 Brings New Energy-Saving Features

    The Nest Thermostat has been available since last December. It has a number of very unique features that make it a great energy saver out of the gate. Now a software update that is automatically pushed out to Nest thermostats through their Wi-Fi internet connection brings enhanced capabilities. The new software update Nest 2.0 includes: Enhanced Energy History, a more in-depth look at your usage Airwave, a specific energy-saving application for the cooling season Additional remote features via web, iPhone and Android Updated internal menus The software update will be downloaded automatically over the next couple of days through the user’s Wi-Fi connection. Users should also be sure to update the applications on their mobile devices as well. Nest Labs was formed by industrial designers Tony Fadell and Matt Rogers, both formerly of Apple. They decided that applying some Silicon Valley magic to the lowly thermostat would attract tech-oriented homeowners concerned about saving energy and money and reducing their burden on the planet >> Read the Full Article
  • Pink on Green: How to Ignite the Second Electrical Revolution

    The electric industry is good at building things. That's how it solves problems. Is there a threat of blackouts? Develop a new natural gas-fired plant. Worried about climate change? Build wind and solar power. Does electricity cost too much? Install a transmission line to import cheaper power. But build-to-solve represents only half of the equation in the new world of smart grid. The other half, the part that stumps the industry, is solve-without-building. Rather than adding more energy, smart grid tries to wring maximum efficiency out of the system by changing the way we consume electricity. But it turns out, trying to direct human energy behavior makes cat herding look easy. To get people to pay attention to their energy use, utilities and private companies are experimenting with alluring gadgets and social motivators. So far, success has been minimal. Thomas Edison's light bulb has been such a smashing success for the last 100 years, none of us want to turn it off. So what will it take? The Edison Foundation recently looked outside the industry for some answers, inviting Dan Pink, best-selling author of "DRIVE: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us" to speak at last month's Power the People 2.0 conference in Washington D.C. Consumer motivation has become a common conference topic. But Pink's talk was different. He stepped back and took a broader view and asked: How do we motivate the people who are trying motivate the consumer? Pink calls this "the science of how people do extraordinary things." >> Read the Full Article