There are wonderful stories from all over the world that Greentech Media comes across in the realm of clean energy and sustainability. On Our Reading List highlights our favorite recent finds.

  • We say it during ice storms and heat waves. Sometimes, we even say it in our sleep. At the risk of sounding like a broken record, Greentech Media will repeat the mantra: we really need a modern electrical grid. Events like the blackout late last week that affected millions of people from San Diego to Mexico highlight the need for a smarter grid -- now. The power may be back on, but questions remain. Daniel Froetscher, vice president of energy delivery for APS, the largest electricity provider in Arizona, told the Los Angeles Times, “We don't know the underlying causes." The lack of visibility and feedback on the grid is highlighted again and again through human error and natural disasters. There were safeguards built into the system so that when a single piece of equipment failed in Yuma, AZ, it shouldn’t have spread so far and so wide. But it did. The investigation could help spur more intelligence on the grid at a faster pace (the blackout of 2003 pushed the ongoing wave of synchrophasors). It’s a story we’ll be watching.
  • With the recent downfall of Solyndra, the effect of China’s solar panel industry on the U.S. is being scrutinized more than ever. Politicians, of course, are weighing in. Senator Ron Wyden of Oregon asked President Obama to investigate imports of panels from China, according to Bloomberg, in an effort to help U.S. producers compete on level ground. However, the picture is not as cut and dry as China winning while the U.S. is losing. A recent report by GTM Research and SEIA found that the U.S. was a net exporter of solar compared to China when all components were analyzed.
  • The fallout of Japan’s Fukushima disaster is still being debated six months after the tragedy, and likely will be for decades to come. The Japan Atomic Energy Agency recently estimated that about 15,000 trillion becquerels of cesium-137 and iodine-131 were released into the Pacific Ocean during the incident, about triple the estimate provided by the utility TEPCO. The difference, according to Scientific American, is adding in the airborne radiation that would have fallen into the ocean, along with the radiated seawater. This, along with more detailed information about levels of radiation in soil, will likely turn Japan into a world leader in renewable energy and encourage them to abandon nuclear energy. "We have bullet trains and water. From now on, there will be environmental technology," said Japan’s new foreign minister Koichiro Gemba, according to Energy & Environmental Management. Japan already has one of the world’s most advanced electrical grids, so expect big things in renewables as the country focuses its energy priorities in new directions.
  • What can we say? We love a good infographic. This one from The Economist shows “a population-weighted history of the past two millennia. It can be interpreted many different ways, but one data point The Economist points out is that "over 23 percent of all the goods and services made since 1AD were produced from 2001 to 2010.” Will it be interesting or scary to see what the next century brings?