In 1899 economist/sociologist Thorstein Veblen introduced the term Conspicuous Consumption to describe what he believed to be the evils of wealth accumulation in the nouveau riche upper class of the Gilded Age (Veblen was not exactly a "right wing" economist). You can best think of Conspicuous Consumption today as the notion that consumerism and "keeping up with the Joneses" drives economics.
One of my friends, Helen Priest from Meridian Energy, coined a new version of the term this week--conspicuous sustainability. She is here from New Zealand's largest (and all green) power company visiting Silicon … Read more
PALO ALTO, Calif.--This is sort of like the "two, two, two mints in one" solution for the clean-tech set.
Australia's Terra Fuel Technologies has come up with a device that, when added to a diesel car, bus or truck, lets the vehicle also run partly on ethanol. You need to add a second gas tank on the vehicle to hold ethanol, but in the end, it's an ethanol-diesel car. The device, a black box, controls the flow of ethanol into the engine.
The company has tested it and will start selling it in the United … Read more
A representative for eco-blog TreeHugger has confirmed that the site has been acquired by Discovery Communications, parent company of the Discovery Channel, The Science Channel, Animal Planet, and several other properties. A report of the deal initially surfaced in the New York Post today.
A press release from Discovery and TreeHugger confirmed that the blog will be part of the upcoming Planet Green network, but financial terms of the deal were not disclosed. The New York Post had suggested a $10 million price tag.
"TreeHugger.com is a strategic complement to our digital media portfolio, aligning perfectly with Discovery?… Read more
IBM intends to undertake a massive server consolidation in an effort to make its data centers more "green."
The computing giant on Wednesday said it will transfer the computing load now on 3,900 servers onto about 30 System z mainframes running Linux.
That transfer will reduce power consumption at IBM's 8 million square feet of data centers by 80 percent over the next five years.
Data centers represent large consumers of … Read more
If you tend to zone out and leave your computer on to suck energy needlessly, Local Cooling (download it from CNET Download.com) helps you tell your Windows XP beast when to rest, giving the electric company a break, too. I've been using this free download on two PCs for a couple of weeks. It lets you time automatic snoozes or shutdowns for precise periods of neglect (also see Earth2Tech). Use Vista? Check out this battery saver.
Venture investment firm Technology Partners on Tuesday announced it has raised a $300 million fund to invest in clean-technology and life science companies.
Heading up the clean-tech portion of that fund is Ira Ehrenpreis, who has been investing in the sector for several years. Among his investments is high-end electric-vehicle producer Tesla Motors, biofuels company Imperium Renewables and water treatment firm Sensicore. With so much investment going into the clean-tech area, I asked Ehrenpreis to provide a snapshot on clean-tech investing.
Q: With all the activity in clean-tech venture capital, are you concerned that there is too much money chasing … Read more
Turns out that the most popular car in Silicon Valley will now have a slightly less expensive price tag.
Toyota said this week that it will sell a new standard 2008 model of its gas-electric hybrid car for $20,950, or 5.5 percent less than its 2007 version, according to a story from the Los Angeles Times (readable here without subscription at the Cincinnati Post's site.) The base price does not include destination charges and options like cruise control and heated rear-view mirrors.
Still, Toyota is raising the price of its midsize and Touring models of the Prius … Read more
The University of Delaware has inched up the record for solar cell efficiency with a new device that can convert 42.8 percent of the light that strikes it into electricity.
That beats the old record of 40.7 percent hit in December. The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, or DARPA, has been funding research to get efficiency up to 50 percent.
The cell, created by Christina Honsberg and Allan Barnett of UD, splits incoming light into three buckets: high energy, low energy, and medium energy light. The light is then directed to different materials, which then extract electrons out … Read more
Technology Partners, one of the first VC firms to get into clean technology, announced it has raised $300 million for its eighth fund.
The firm will use the funds to invest in clean tech companies as well as life sciences and health/lifestyle companies (i.e. obesity and hair removal. It's big business.). The proceeds in the fun will be split evenly between clean companies and health companies. And who knows, it could also overlap as a handful of companies are promoting technology for purifying food and increasing crop yields for organic farming.
Among other companies, Technology Partners has … Read more