Tag Archives | Alternative Energy

Why We Must Divest From Fossil Fuels: A Student’s Open Letter to Harvard President Drew Faust

PIC: Harvard (CC)

PIC: Harvard (CC)

Wen Stephenson and Benjamin Franta, via the Nation:

The movement for fossil-fuel divestment has swelled to what an Oxford University study calls the fastest-growing divestment movement in history, one with the potential to shift the political ground beneath the fossil-fuel lobby’s feet. There are more than 500 campaigns globally—including on some 400 college and university campuses in the United States, along with city and state governments and major religious institutions. Ten colleges and more than twenty cities—including Seattle, San Francisco and, as it happens, Cambridge, Massachusetts—have committed to divest.

Back in October, Harvard University President and distinguished American historian Drew Gilpin Faust, having faced more than a year of increasing calls by students, faculty and almuni to divest from fossil fuels, released a statement in which she explained why Harvard would do no such thing, at least not on her watch. Reactions to her position—by critics ranging from climate activist Tim DeChristopher (now at Harvard Divinity School) and Columbia’s Todd Gitlin (an alum) to former Oberlin president and National Science Board member James Lawrence Powell, among others—pointed to its logical inconsistency, not to mention blindness to moral, political and economic facts.

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World’s First Magma-Enhanced Geothermal System Created in Iceland

Pic: Ivan Vtorov (CC)

Pic: Ivan Vtorov (CC)

Via ScienceDaily:

In 2009, a borehole drilled at Krafla, northeast Iceland, as part of the Icelandic Deep Drilling Project (IDDP), unexpectedly penetrated into magma (molten rock) at only 2100 meters depth, with a temperature of 900-1000 C. The borehole, IDDP-1, was the first in a series of wells being drilled by the IDDP in Iceland in the search for high-temperature geothermal resources.

The January 2014 issue of the international journal Geothermics is dedicated to scientific and engineering results arising from that unusual occurrence. This issue is edited by Wilfred Elders, a professor emeritus of geology at the University of California, Riverside, who also co-authored three of the research papers in the special issue with Icelandic colleagues.

“Drilling into magma is a very rare occurrence anywhere in the world and this is only the second known instance, the first one, in 2007, being in Hawaii,” Elders said.

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Big Oil’s Big Lies

Burning gas from Deepwater Horizon oil spill 2010-05-16Antonia  Juhasz calls foul on BP and other oil giants’ claims to be supporting alternative energy, at Rolling Stone:

Since the Gulf oil disaster in 2010, BP has spent hundreds of millions of ad dollars to cleanse its image as a dirty-energy giant. In the company’s latest TV ad, wind turbines whirl in the sun as a voiceover touts the number of American jobs created by BP and promises, “We’re working to fuel America for generations to come.” There’s just one problem: BP’s commitment to wind energy is virtually nonexistent.

In April, BP announced that it is selling off its entire $3.1 billion U.S. wind energy business – including 16 farms spread across nine states – as “part of a continuing effort to become a more focused oil and gas company,” according to a company spokesperson. Indeed, though it famously rebranded itself “Beyond Petroleum” in 2000, BP also exited the solar energy business back in 2011.

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Artificial Photosynthesis System as Efficient as Plants and Can Reduce CO2 Levels


Via DigInfo TV

A group at Panasonic has developed the Artificial Photosynthesis System, which produces organic materials with a world-leading efficiency in terms of solar energy conversion. The recently achieved efficiency, 0.2%, is on a par with that for real plants used in biomass energy.

Artificial photosynthesis is a technology that uses sunlight to produce oxygen and organic substances from water and carbon dioxide, like plants do. As an ideal technology that could solve both global warming and energy issues, artificial photosynthesis is currently being researched worldwide.

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World’s First Perpetual Motion Machine?


via Astounde

Since at least the 12th century, man has sought to create a perpetual motion machine; a device that would continue working indefinitely without any external source of energy.

A large scientific contingent thinks such a device would violate the laws of thermodynamics, and is thus impossible.

Could it be that as a race, we don’t fully understand the laws of physics and such a device may indeed be possible? What would the ramifications be if we could actually build a perpetually moving device?

Norwegian artist and mathematician Reidar Finsrud is an outside the box thinker that has devised a machine that he believes achieves true perpetual motion. Take a look at the video below and see what you think.

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Trees Used to Create Recyclable, Efficient Solar Cell

Via ScienceDaily:

Georgia Institute of Technology and Purdue University researchers have developed efficient solar cells using natural substrates derived from plants such as trees. Just as importantly, by fabricating them on cellulose nanocrystal (CNC) substrates, the solar cells can be quickly recycled in water at the end of their lifecycle.The technology is published in the journal Scientific Reports, the latest open-access journal from the Nature Publishing Group.

The researchers report that the organic solar cells reach a power conversion efficiency of 2.7 percent, an unprecedented figure for cells on substrates derived from renewable raw materials. The CNC substrates on which the solar cells are fabricated are optically transparent, enabling light to pass through them before being absorbed by a very thin layer of an organic semiconductor. During the recycling process, the solar cells are simply immersed in water at room temperature. Within only minutes, the CNC substrate dissolves and the solar cell can be separated easily into its major components.

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Wind and Solar Power Paired With Storage Could Power the Grid 99.9 Percent of the Time

And it wouldn’t cost more money than our current system.  Via ScienceDaily:

Renewable energy could fully power a large electric grid 99.9 percent of the time by 2030 at costs comparable to today’s electricity expenses, according to new research by the University of Delaware and Delaware Technical Community College.

A well-designed combination of wind power, solar power and storage in batteries and fuel cells would nearly always exceed electricity demands while keeping costs low, the scientists found.

“These results break the conventional wisdom that renewable energy is too unreliable and expensive,” said co-author Willett Kempton, professor in the School of Marine Science and Policy in UD’s College of Earth, Ocean, and Environment. “The key is to get the right combination of electricity sources and storage — which we did by an exhaustive search — and to calculate costs correctly.”

The authors developed a computer model to consider 28 billion combinations of renewable energy sources and storage mechanisms, each tested over four years of historical hourly weather data and electricity demands.

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