America’s Other Wind Industry

A windmill at the American Wind Power Center and Museum, another stop on our Texas wind-energy tour. Photo credit: David Ferris

Two weeks ago I decamped to Lubbock, Texas, for the 22nd annual conference of the Society of Environmental Journalists. A highlight of these conferences is fleeing the hotel for field trips to places [...]

If India’s Energy Woes Were America’s

A thought experiment to help an American understand what it would be like to be an Indian, in terms of the energy we use. [...]

Read the New Column, “Power from Tides”

My latest “Innovate” column explores the mysteries of gathering electricity from the tides. [...]

Help Me Interview the Navy’s Energy Czar

On Wednesday I have an interview at the Pentagon with Jackalyne Pfannenstiel, who is in charge of a hugely ambitious program to green the Navy. What should I ask her? [...]

What Matters This Week: RAV4 Goes Electric, Mt. Everest Melts

Meat gets a powerful enemy, G.E. gives inventors $200 million, and other news from the world of cleantech and sustainability. [...]

What Matters This Week: Solar Planes, Hungry Bears, Fake Farmers’ Markets

Solar Plane Goes All Night: A milestone in clean transportation was achieved on Thursday when pilot Andre Borschberg flew the Solar Impulse for 26 hours high above Switzerland, setting new altitude and speed records for a solar plane and conducting the first all-night flight on battery energy stored from the sun. Next: a model due in 2011 with a pressurized cabin for transcontinental flight. Move over, Prius: One of the biggest perks of owning a Toyota Prius or other hybrid in the state of California is access to the highway carpool lane. But — holy halos! Hybrids are set to be booted from the HOV lane in 2011 in favor of all-electric cars. Don’t cry, Prius owners; at least you won’t be sucking anyone’s fumes as you park in second place. In other car news, Ford discovers that soy oil makes rubber twice as stretchy, and the first volleys are fired in the Chevy Volt vs. Nissan LEAF flame war. Safeway Fakes a Farmer’s Market: When a Safeway in Kirkland, Wash. launched a farmer’s market, there were just a couple problems: no local food, and no farmers. Instead, the supermarket planned to use its own employees to sell industrial produce in the parking lot. The brilliant plan collapsed before the first Chilean avocado was sold; the “market” violated both state and union rules. Compare this to Whole Foods’ declaration last month that it will require all its personal-care suppliers to verify the “organic” claims on their labels. Why Are the Polar Bears So Hungry? Everyone knows that the melting of the Arctic is bad for polar bears — but will it really kill them off? An interview in Yale Environment 360 explains exactly how melting ice puts the polar bear in peril, and what the prospects are for the magnificent mascot of the North. Breakthroughs of the Week: A new road material promises to suck up exhaust from the tailpipe; the little AQUA2 robot conquers land and sea (and looks kinda cute); and undertakers ask for the right to dissolve human corpses and flush ‘em. [...]

What Matters This Week: Solar’s Sugar Daddy, Terrafugia’s Flying Car

Terrafugia Flying Car

This is David’s summary of the week’s news for the Matter Network. To see the original, or post your comments, go here.

Solar’s Sugar Daddy: During his Saturday address, President Obama lavished an astonishing $2 billion in loan guarantees upon two solar companies. This upended the administration’s seedling strategy with renewables [...]

What Matters This Week: Investors Love Tesla, Belkin Kills the Vampire

This week in cleantech and sustainability: Tesla issues a strong IPO, the Nissan Leaf gets a slew of new customers, and a new class of companies catches the eye of Goldman Sachs. [...]

The Weekly: Deep Ignorance in the Deep Ocean

From this week’s summary: Our Gulf of knowledge about the oil spill, Indonesia’s rainforests held for ransom, big news from Nissan and Zipcar, and some welcome news for the food movement. [...]

What Wind Turbine 2.0 Will Look Like

I am coming to the conclusion that the wind turbines of today — hundreds of feet tall, sporting three blades, clustered in the cornfields like rotary clubs — will soon go the way of the Model T. Good for their day, but we’ve moved on. I explored alternative designs in wind power for my latest “Innovate” column in Sierra magazine, and can report that 31 flavors of turbines are poised to engulf the plain ol’ vanilla version we know so well. It isn’t that anything’s so wrong with Old Reliable; it’s more that there’s categories of wind that a giant whirligig just can’t use. [...]