MOUNTAIN PASS, Calif.--Here in a hot, dusty corner of Southern California desert, a set of 17 chemical elements in the periodic table--so critical to advanced technology industries that they're a matter of national security--are being unearthed. Molycorp's rejuvinated $500 million facility, now under construction and set for completion in July 2012, will reduce the environmental impacts of the rare-earth-element-mining process and dramatically cut costs, providing a homegrown source for the elements used in so many national defense, energy, and consumer electronics products. This week, I toured the facility here, the only place in the United States that … Read more
To borrow a line from science fiction writer William Gibson, the future of green tech is already here, it's just not very evenly distributed.
Today is Earth Day, a good time to consider how the technology meant to preserve our environment and natural resources is progressing. If you consider individual green products, whether it's plug-in cars or home solar panel leasing, the impact on the giant scale of the energy industry is quite small. Hybrids, never mind plug-in hybrids, are less than 2 percent of total sales, and renewable energy is about 10 percent of electricity generation, with … Read more
New York City plans to restrict the use of dirty heating fuels, use its capped landfills for solar farms, and issue loans for green and energy efficiency upgrades to home owners.
New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg announced the latest initiatives for PlaNYC, the city's sustainability plan, on Thursday at a press conference in Harlem.
It's part of the lead up to Earth Day, which is Friday, April 22, and also happens to be the anniversary of when PlaNYC was first announced, in 2007.
Over 132 initiatives grew out of "48 public meetings with 220 groups, yielding almost … Read more
The Nuclear Regulatory Commission exists to police, not promote, the domestic nuclear industry--but diplomatic cables show that it is sometimes used as a sales tool to help push American technology to foreign governments.
The cables, obtained by WikiLeaks and provided to Reuters by a third party, shed light on the way in which U.S. embassies have pulled in the NRC when lobbying for the purchase of equipment made by Westinghouse and other domestic manufacturers.
While the use of diplomats to further American commercial interests is nothing new, it is far less common for regulators to be acting in even … Read more
The U.S. has enough land in the right climate to produce homegrown algae oil that would replace a significant amount of foreign oil imported for transportation use--without endangering its water supply.
The Gulf Coast region, the Southeastern seaboard, and the Great Lakes areas are ideally suited to grow algae in outdoor freshwater ponds with minimal water usage.
There's a growing conflict stemming from the push for more renewable energy and the environmental impact of large-scale wind and solar plants. But an analysis from the Nature Conservancy finds that a big boost in wind doesn't have to negatively impact wildlife.
The conservation group today released a study that argues for a policy to prioritize wind power development on "disturbed land" to avoid threatening wildlife and still ramp up wind generation significantly.
Looking at land-use data across the lower 48 states shows that there is sufficient land in locations to meet the Department of Energy'… Read more
Fossil fuel subsidies worth $312 billion should be realigned to ensure the growth of renewable energy and curb the world's reliance on carbon-intensive fuels, the International Energy Agency said in a report.
Demand for fossil fuels is outstripping the deployment of cleaner technologies. Renewable energy has seen growth rates of 30 percent to 40 percent over recent years but coal has met 47 percent of global new electricity demand over the past decade, the IEA said in its "Clean Energy Progress Report" (PDF) today.
To change this, the IEA suggests realigning fossil fuel subsidies to support clean … Read more
General Electric Chief Executive Jeffrey Immelt defended the nuclear industry's safety record today during a trip to Tokyo to show support to the operator of a stricken nuclear plant using reactors designed by the U.S. conglomerate.
Immelt met with executives at Tokyo Electric Power (Tepco), operator of the Fukushima power plant that was crippled by the March 11 earthquake and tsunami and is leaking radiation in the worst nuclear accident since Chernobyl in 1986.
GE and its nuclear business partner Hitachi have sent over 1,000 workers to help with the so far unsuccessful efforts to get the … Read more
RUTLAND, Mass.--The road up to Jordan Dairy Farm here offers a typical New England view of rolling hills, wood-frame houses, and shade trees. Then up on a hill, there appears a dome-capped silo, a structure that's bringing renewable energy to agriculture.
The silo-like building is an anaerobic digester, one of five that will be installed at small dairy farms here in western Massachusetts. If they perform as hoped, they will allow these farmers to reduce their wastes and make some money in the process. They will also recycle food residue that would normally be thrown away.
The digester, … Read more
Boeing's two-year study of jatropha-curcas agriculture in Brazil has found that location choice and strong seeds are the key to maximizing the crop's benefits, the company said today.
The jatropha-curcas plant has been under close scrutiny in recent years by scientists and companies because its olives yield an oil that can be made into an alternative jet fuel. The weedy plant can grow in adverse soil conditions. And in addition to yielding oil, it provides, like most plants, the secondary benefit of removing carbon from the atmosphere. Many have been trying to compare the carbon footprint of producing … Read more