IEEE Spectrum: Good Vibrations? California to Test Using Road Rumbles as a Power Source
Most energy-harvesting schemes are on a human scale, like using your swinging arms to power a wristwatch or your dancing legs to power a nightclub’s sound-and-light show. Why not go big by harvesting the road vibrations caused by cars and trucks?
That’s the idea behind California’s newly funded experiment to turn road rumble into watts. It would rely on piezoelectric crystals, which produce a bit of current when you squeeze them. Such crystals are often used in audio equipment to turn sounds into signals or vice versa, but if you put enough of them together, they could run streetlights, sensors and other useful highway equipment.
Fortune: Lower Gas Prices Haven’t Stopped People From Wanting to Buy Electric Cars
The American appetite for electric vehicles hasn't changed in the past five years, even as gas prices have fallen, according to a survey by the American Automobile Association.
The AAA consumer survey released Tuesday found that 15% of Americans are likely to buy an electric vehicle as their next car -- close to the percentage of consumers who plan to buy a pickup truck instead. Among millennials, the proportion of those wanting to purchase an electric car rises to 18%, the survey says.
The findings might seem tepid. But AAA contends that they suggest a strong future for electric vehicles, because consumer interest in EVs hasn't waned even though gas prices have fallen 40% since 2012, according to AAA.
E&E News: Subsidy Skeptic Tapped to Lead Perry's Grid Study
Travis Fisher, a political appointee at the Department of Energy, will lead a high-profile study that Energy Secretary Rick Perry ordered this week on what role environmental policies are playing in recent coal and nuclear plant closures, according to multiple sources.
Fisher will help analyze the way baseload power is dispatched and compensated and the effect of "regulatory burdens" past administrations introduced to decrease coal-fired generation.
Perry told his chief of staff, Brian McCormack, in a Friday memo that the study -- due in mid-June -- should also analyze "market-distorting effects of federal subsidies that boost one form of energy at the expense of others."
GreenBiz: Why Wal-Mart’s Project Gigaton Is Corporate America’s ‘Moonshot’
At a time when climate leadership from the federal government is decidedly lacking, today’s launch of Wal-Mart’s Project Gigaton is a cause for celebration. It is proof that companies can step up to advance solutions that will help business, people and nature thrive.
Just like Wal-Mart itself, this is big.
The world’s largest retailer has launched an initiative to remove 1 gigaton (that’s 1 billion tons -- billion with a 'b') of greenhouse gas emissions from its supply chain by 2030. To put that in perspective, that is the equivalent of removing the annual emissions of Germany -- the world’s fourth-largest economy -- from the atmosphere. This audacious goal is impressive; it’s corporate America’s "moonshot," and it shows real leadership.
MIT Technology Review: Blockchain Is Helping to Build a New Kind of Energy Grid
A company called LO3 Energy has developed a system that lets people buy and sell locally generated solar energy within their communities. The system uses blockchain -- the electronic ledger technology that underpins the digital currency bitcoin -- to facilitate and record the transactions.
Distributing energy this way is more efficient than transmitting energy over distances, said LO3’s founder, Larry Orsini, and would make neighborhoods more resilient to power outages, as well as helping meet demand when energy needs exceed expectations. It’s also in line with growing public support for renewable energy, distributed and decentralized energy systems, and “buy local” programs in general. At Business of Blockchain, a conference organized by MIT Technology Review and the MIT Media Lab, Orsini said that 69 percent of consumers told the technology consultancy Accenture that they were interested in having an energy-trading marketplace, and 47 percent said they planned to sign up for community solar projects.