America’s “Roadmap” for 100% Renewable Energy by 2050

5

by Jesse Crabtree

In his new study posted in the Royal Society of Chemistry’s Energy & Environmental Science, Stanford professor of Civil and Environmental Engineering, Mark Jacobson, presents a plan for a 100% renewable energy-powered America by 2050. And what’s more, Jacobson believes this course of action to be not only economically feasible, but economically beneficial. Jacobson’s paper, which lays out specific roadmaps for how each state can work to achieve this goal, can be boiled down to three main ideas: exclusively build wind, solar, and hydro power plants after 2020; implement modest energy efficiency increases; and electrify everything. Although these three points are all required under Jacobson’s plan, this article discusses its most critical and ambitious goal; a complete shift to electric power. Continue reading

World’s First Bio Plant for Unsorted Household Waste to be Built in the UK

by Jesse Crabtree

Converting household waste into energy is no new feat. Every day, garbage is burned to power steam-turbine generators, and methane gas is recovered from decomposing waste in landfills. But now the Danish energy company DONG is planning the first bio plant that will turn waste into fuel and recyclables without any need for sorting or prior treatment. Continue reading

Masdar City: Combining Ancient Building Techniques With New Technologies to Create a City of the Future

by Jesse Crabtree

The United Arab Emirates may elicit images of old oil for many, but now Abu Dhabi’s Masdar City seeks to change this by becoming the “world’s most sustainable eco-city.” This city of 40,000 permanent residents and 50,000 daily commuters plans to run entirely off of renewable energy. The city will house its own 10-megawatt solar field, from which it hopes to fill 20% of its energy needs. The other 80% will come from renewable sources outside the city. However, the true genius behind Masdar lies less in the renewable energy that it does use, and more in the energy that it doesn’t. With summer temperatures of 130° F, Abu Dhabi regularly spends 70% of its energy on air conditioning. So instead of hiding all of its residents indoors in air-conditioned buildings—as is the norm in Abu Dhabi—Masdar seeks to draw its residents outside, where passive building techniques will provide cool spaces. Continue reading

Is Diesel Made from Air and Water be a Green?

by Jesse Crabtree

Audi is teaming up with German energy company Sunfire to make fuel for internal-combustion engines and it is literally pulling the fuel out of thin air. This diesel-like substance, called “Blue Crude,” is a string of hydrocarbons formed by combining atmospheric CO2 with hydrogen atoms obtained by water electrolysis. According to Audi, the process produces fuel at an overall efficiency of 70% and is meant to be powered by renewable energy. Furthermore, one of its main draws is that, with the exception of the electrolysis, all of the infrastructure for production and consumption of this product has already been tried and tested. Although it only releases the CO2 initially reclaimed from the atmosphere, the fact that Blue Crude does not totally sequester any emissions gives it a shaky hold on the term ‘green.’ Thus, Blue Crude’s ‘green’ status depends on renewable energies being used to power its electrolysis step. Either way, Blue Crude relies on several important factors—namely low energy prices and new legislation—in order to even be feasible.

Continue reading

Property-Assessed Clean Energy (PACE): Allowing Private Investors to Buy into YOUR Solar Panels

by Jesse Crabtree

Few people disagree with the idea of clean renewable energy, but for many barriers to entry like high upfront costs make its implementation unfeasible. According to RenewableEnergyWorld.com, even after a 30% investment tax credit, a typical 5kW home solar system costs between $14,000 and $20,000. The Property-Assessed Clean Energy (PACE) program however, is an attempt by the government to help going green require a little less green. What makes PACE different than typical government programs is that it uses funds from private investors to help finance more efficient home energy systems. Homeowners are extended a special type of loan to pay for energy improvements such as solar panels or proper insulation and in turn pay off the loan through higher property taxes. These loans are packaged into bonds and sold to private investors, who in turn receive the extra property taxes in annuity—think mortgage backed securities but without the dubious valuations and questionable morality. Continue reading

How the Clean Power Plan May Actually Become America’s First Real Clean Energy Law

by Jesse Crabtree

The Clean Power Plan is an attempt by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and President Barack Obama to reduce carbon emissions from US power plants. According to the Union of Concerned Scientists, power plants make up 40% of all U.S. carbon emissions—more than all our cars and planes combined. The plan seeks to cut energy carbon emissions 30% by 2030, a number that some are calling “ambitious” or as Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell says, a form of climate radicalism. On the other hand, many followers of the plan have argued that the plan is actually quite weak in its goals. According to Polito.com, market shifts towards renewable energy, towards low-carbon natural gas, and a general reduction in electricity demand have already brought the U.S. almost halfway to that goal of 30%. Continue reading