Recent Posts:

Shock Absorbers Can Generate Electricity Too

Jeff St. John: February 10, 2009, 1:40 PM
Why stop at regenerative braking when there are so many potholes and speed bumps to harness for power? That's the idea behind shock absorbers that can generate electricity — and two separate versions of the same concept are now looking for commercial potential. The first is from Levant Power Corp., a Massachusetts Institute of Technology spinout formed by students who developed a shock absorber hydraulic system that pushes fluid through a turbine that powers a generator. They're testing a prototype on a Humvee provided by AM General, the company that makes the vehicles for the U.S. military. Levant reports that its shock absorbers can generate about 1 kilowatt each on...

There Is No Such Thing as Climate Change in Northern Ireland

Ucilia Wang: February 10, 2009, 9:13 AM
The environmental minister for Northern Ireland has banned TV ads urging consumers to conserve energy, calling it “an insidious propaganda campaign??? to support this nonsense notion called climate change.

Sammy Wilson, a protestant in the Democratic Unionist Party, said he believes the world’s climate is cooling, not warming, so the British government’s “Act on CO2??? campaign is hogwash, reported the Associated Press and the Belfast Telegraph.

“I dispute the theory, and it is only a theory, that the world is warming due to CO2 emissions and other human activity,??? Wilson wrote on his Website. Government policy and decision making has been heavily influenced by...

GM’s Bob Lutz Will Say Goodbye

Ucilia Wang: February 9, 2009, 2:01 PM

General Motors' Bob Lutz, a strong advocate for the company's Chevy Volt, plans to retire by the end of the year.

Lutz is leaving during a year when GM will have to fight hard for its survival. The automaker has said that it still plans to launch the Volt, a plug-in hybrid-electric car, in 2010 despite its financial woes.

Lutz, who has been the vice chairman for global product development, will become a senior advisor starting on April 1, the company said Monday. Thomas G. Stephens, GM’s current executive vice president for powertrain and quality, will take over Lutz’s job.

Lutz has been a big supporter of the Volt, which GM is banking on to set itself apart from other...

Lignol’s Cellulosic Ethanol Plant Bites the Dust; Valero Seeks to Gobble Up VeraSun

Jeff St. John: February 9, 2009, 12:28 PM
You can cross Lignol Energy Corp. off the list of companies racing to open the first U.S. commercial-scale cellulosic ethanol plant. The Canadian company said Monday it is pulling out of a joint venture with Suncor Energy (TSX, NYSE: SU) to build an $80 million wood-to-ethanol plant in Grand Junction, Colo. Lignol and Suncor — which steams oil out of tar sands in Alberta and sells fuel at its Sunoco-branded stations — blamed "the instability of energy prices, the uncertainty in the capital markets and the general market malaise" for canceling the deal announced in October. In the meantime, the companies are looking at "various alternatives" for the $30 million U.S....

Hunting for the Elusive Alt-Fuel Station

Matthew Weinberg: February 9, 2009, 9:30 AM
Are you one of those good citizens who owns an alternative fuel vehicle? Having trouble finding a place to fill up? Help’s now available on your Google Maps-enabled phone or PDA. The U.S. Department of Energy has launched the Alternative Fueling Station Locator, a tool that helps you find the five closest alternative fuel filling stations. This tool should help early clean car adopters, especially those who travel away from familiar territory. Maybe it’ll even get some people to buy cleaner cars. The numbers behind the information service tell the story of how far we have to go, though. The database contains 5,866 alternative fuel stations across the U.S. This compares to...

Gainesville Moves Closer to Launching Solar Feed-In Tariff

Ucilia Wang: February 9, 2009, 8:18 AM

The Gainesville City Commission has approved a solar feed-in tariff for residential and business customers served by the Gainesville Regional Utilities in Florida, making it the first such program in the country.

The approval followed a previous vote by the commission last December to draft an ordinance for the program. Under the program, which still needs the state’s approval, owners of solar energy systems would sell the electricity to the utilities at $0.32 per kilowatt-hour under a 20-year contract. The rate, which is higher than the price for conventional power, will remain for the first two years of the program.

The rate likely to be adjusted lower for new solar energy...

Energy Storage: Velkess and the Holy Grail

Eric Wesoff: February 9, 2009, 5:14 AM
If you attend lots of energy seminars and conferences and speeches -- and yes, I do -- you start to hear a common refrain and it goes something like this: Energy storage is the missing link for renewable energy.  Sometimes the word “holy grail??? will be substituted for “missing link.???  (Note that attached picture is a holy hand grenade, not grail.) Wind turbines are useful only when the wind blows and photovoltaic panels work only when the sun is shining.  Therefore these renewable energy sources are not considered “dispatchable??? and require a measure of dispatchable backup (typically in the form of a non-renewable source such as natural gas). “We can make...