Sunday, February 5, 2012

Latest from: CleanTechnica

Latest from: CleanTechnica

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“Turbine Cowboys” Give Wind Power Its Own Reality Show

Posted: 05 Feb 2012 07:01 AM PST

TWC launches Turbine Cowboys wind power reality show“Turbine Cowboys” is a new reality series premiering on The Weather Channel this spring, and anyone with an interest in clean energy should check it out. Despite the highly mechanized nature of wind turbine construction and the use of robotic devices for maintenance, the human element is still very much at work. Turbine Cowboys is an important reminder that while renewable energy is cleaner and safer in terms of emissions and overall public health impacts, that does not necessarily translate into a low-risk work environment.

Wind and Workers

The Turbine Cowboys crew has been filming as far south as Baja California and up north to Alaska, which is a hint about the direction it’s going in. Along with the hazards you’d expect from working around electricity and huge pieces of equipment, and occupying a workspace far above the ground, the workers have to deal with rain and snow, extreme heat and cold, and of course, wind. The show will also cover the “boot camp” training received by turbine workers. As far as green jobs go, it’s hard to imagine one that’s tougher.

In the Words of a Wind Power Worker

The hazards of wind power work are aptly summed up in a posting on the Turbine Cowboys production company Facebook page (typos corrected):

“To say they are not dangerous is ignorant. The amount of safety classes, first aid and rescue training, OSHA certs, ect. is never ending. I work on turbines every day and find new risks every day. I”m constantly reminded of how a simple slip at any point in my day can harm/kill myself or a co-worker.”

Another Turbine Cowboy

“Turbine Cowboy” is a play on the old John Travolta movie Urban Cowboy, so it stands to reason that the same title has come up in the past. Sure enough, somewhere in a record shop bin out there is a 45″ single, “Turbine Cowboy,” written and recorded in 1981 by a graduate of GE’s Field Engineering Program (FEP). The program dates back to 1966 and was initiated to train workers in conventional power generation and industrial equipment work. FEP graduates have some great stories of their own and you can read all about it at their website, (the site is not affiliated with GE, by the way).

Turbine Cowboys: A Celebration of American Labor

As a side note, The Weather Channel Companies is owned by a consortium consisting of NBC Universal, The Blackstone Group and Bain Capital. Yes, that Bain Capital. Bain is perceived as an outfit that has made huge profits by eliminating jobs for U.S. workers, so it’s a little ironic that the company is connected (albeit remotely) to a show celebrating the skill, courage and resourcefulness of American labor, but whatevs. Turbine Cowboys is just one part of TWC’s upcoming “Braving the Elements” series on American workers that so far includes high-rise ironworkers and utility emergency repair crews. TWC expects to add more titles throughout the year.

Image: Wind turbines. License AttributionShare Alike Some rights reserved by

Follow Tina Casey on Twitter: @TinaMCasey.


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Super Bowl 2012 = Greenest Super Bowl Ever? (Infographic)

Posted: 05 Feb 2012 04:19 AM PST


Sports leagues and franchises are increasingly “going green”, and the NFL is no exception. The Super Bowl 2012 (aka Super Bowl XLVI) host committee, the NFL, the Indianapolis community, and people around the country are looking to improve on the greening of the Cowboys stadium and Super Bowl XLV. Check out the various green initiatives below, and don’t forget to participate in some energy-saving measures today!

NFL & Super Bowl Host Committee Purchasing Renewable Energy Credits

“As you can imagine, the Super Bowl with it's jumbotrons, dazzling half time show, and NFL Experience theme park, uses a lot of electricity,” Kara Scharwath of Triple Pundit writes. “To help reduce the impact of that energy consumption, the National Football League and the Indianapolis Super Bowl XLVI Host Committee are partnering with Green Mountain Energy to purchase 15,000 megawatt hours of renewable energy certificates (RECs) generated at wind farms in North Dakota to offset the power associated with the event.”

And these renewable energy credits don’t just cover the game—they cover a month’s worth of activity!

“The NFL actually purchases enough to offset the electricity consumed during the NFL's entire month-long tenancy at the stadium and Indiana Convention Center, as well as the week-long occupancy of all four of the major NFL hotels. According to a press release from Green Mountain, the RECs purchased will avoid the release of over 14,000 tons of greenhouse gases.”

Other Green Initiatives

The league is also organizing the “1st & Green Environmental Challenge” for the first time ever. “Participants can track their carbon and water savings on the website and the winner of the challenge will be recognized on stage at the Super Bowl village.” To put it simply, giving people the opportunity to get on stage at the Super Bowl is BIG, and the challenge is cutting millions of pounds of carbon emissions and millions of gallons of water.

Beyond the above, Green Mountain Energy Company is also engaging in the following:

  • Buying carbon offsets to cover the greenhouse gas emissions associated with the AFC and NFC Super Bowl teams' air and ground travel.
  • Supporting urban forestry programs in Indianapolis for the Super Bowl and in Hawaii for the Pro Bowl.
  • Donating a residential solar array in conjunction with the non-profit Rebuilding Together, which will be incorporated into a low-income home renovation project in Indianapolis.
  • Providing RECs for the electricity used at Aloha Stadium in Hawaii for the 2012 Pro Bowl.

And, if you’d like to see all this and more in infographic format, here’s that:

super bowl 2012 infographic green

Source: Triple Pundit | h/t Grist

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  3. Washington University in St. Louis May Sport Greenest Building in North America

CleanTechnica Design Changing — Important Notes

Posted: 05 Feb 2012 01:48 AM PST

OK, our reader survey results showed a preference to switch back to our previous theme (site design). So, I’m about to make the switch. An important note: if you have trouble viewing the site correctly, or if you go even half a day without seeing new content, you probably just need to clear your browser cache. Browsers these days, especially Chrome & Safari, cache pages heavily and it can create problems when such big changes occur for some readers. Note: barring any huge problems or opportunities, we won’t be changing the site design considerably for awhile after today. Thank you for reading! And, of course, drop us any comments you have about the design any time by dropping a comment here.

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$89,000 — Amount Romney Could Save on Electric Bill by Going Solar

Posted: 05 Feb 2012 01:37 AM PST

This article was originally published on Climate Progress and has been reposted with permission.

by Zachary Rybarczyk and Stephen Lacey

Republican presidential front runner Mitt Romney makes more money in one day than the average American makes in a year. With $20.9 million in income last year and a lower tax rate than most middle-class Americans, perhaps he'd be willing to join the thousands of homeowners around the country who are investing in solar?

A new analysis from the solar financing and installation company SunRun finds that it could be a fruitful investment not just for Romney, but for all the other Republican candidates. The company evaluated the solar resources, siting potential and electricity rates at each of the candidates' primary homes (not second and third homes, in the case of Mitt Romney) and found that they could cumulatively save more than $300,000 over a 20-year period with a solar financing package:


electric bill romney gingrich solar

This is assuming, of course, that one of these candidates doesn't move into the White House. If so, perhaps they'll speed up the installation of a system on the White House that was supposed to happen in April of last year.

Romney has made some strange comments about solar lately. Before the New Hampshire primary, he falsely claimed that the federal loan guarantee program has caused investors to "pull back" from the solar industry. In fact, the exact opposite happened: Solar installations more than doubled in 2011.

Maybe if the candidates make a personal investment in solar, they'll change their tune.

Heck, even Fox News pundit Bill O'Reilly said late last year that he would consider installing solar. Will the presidential candidates?

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New Book at TED: “Living Architecture”

Posted: 04 Feb 2012 05:30 PM PST

This TED e-book by British architect Rachel Armstrong, is published this Tuesday, February 7. For all interested in the evolution of architecture for the people of this planet, take a look.

British architect, Rachel Armstrong

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Coming Soon: A Wireless EV Highway Charging System?

Posted: 04 Feb 2012 12:51 PM PST

Stanford University researchers this week announced they have designed a road-based, high-efficiency wireless charging system for electric vehicles. In theory, the system could help create a network of all-electric highways that charge electric cars and trucks while they drive, reduce the need for point-specific charging infrastructure, and eliminate range anxiety.

The power transfer system is based on a technology called magnetic resonance coupling. This technology creates a magnetic field between the road and vehicle to transfer electric currents to the vehicle's battery. Copper coils, placed under the road surface at regular intervals, are tuned to resonate at the same frequency. When an electric current is introduced, it creates a magnetic field between the coils that can then transfer energy to a receiving coil in passing electric vehicles.

Can it work?

While the theory may sound far-fetched, it was demonstrated in 2007 by researchers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) who used it to light a 60-watt bulb.  Energy was transferred between two coils six feet apart even when humans and other objects were in the way. That team of researchers created a spinoff company to use their technology to develop a stationary charging system that can wirelessly transfer electricity from transmitters to devices, including parked electric vehicles.

Inspired by the stationary charging breakthrough, the Stanford team were challenged to increase the amount of transmitted electricity to the level required to power a vehicle. They used mathematical simulations to prove that by bending the copper coils at a 90-degree angle and attaching them to a metal plate, up to 10 kilowatts of electricity can be transferred at a 97 percent efficiency rate.

Potential roadblocks

The charging system may theoretically work, but much more research and experimentation will be required to demonstrate the technology. Several challenges remain, such as ensuring the remaining 3 percent of electricity is lost as heat and not absorbed by humans as radiation, determining the optimal layout of road transmitters, and identifying how pavement and vehicle metal could reduce efficiency.

Even though the system could be years away from reality, the researchers think it could change the global ground transportation system. "You could potentially drive for an unlimited amount of time without having to recharge," said Richard Sassoon, managing director of the Stanford Global Climate and Energy Project. "You could actually have more energy stored in your batter at the end of your trip than you started with."

Source and image via Stanford University

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