TAG: United States

U.S. White House Installs Solar Panels

U.S. White House Installs Solar Panels

As part of an energy retrofit meant to improve the building’s overall energy efficiency, the United States White House will be getting solar panels to offset at least some of the iconic structure’s electrical demands. But the move to install a renewable energy source at a very notable location in the U.S. may help to do a lot more good in the long run than just through the electricity they generate, just by their very presence at the home of the President of the United States. According to the Washington Post, an official with the White House confirmed that solar… read more

Animated Guide to US Energy Use

Animated Guide to US Energy Use

How much do you know about the energy system in the U.S. (or any country, for that matter)? How much energy does it take to power an entire country, where does it all come from, and who’s using it all? It’s an incredibly complex system, and teasing out just enough information to be informed, without feeling as if we need to go get a graduate degree in order to understand it, can be tough. But The Atlantic’s series The User’s Guide to Energy goes a long way toward helping us get a grasp on how energy works in America. Here’s… read more

Health Needs in the Future

Climate Change

When climate change is discussed, no matter at what level, the primary concern is rising temperatures and the impact that will have on the environment. This is justified as rising temperatures are by far the most pertinent aspect of climate change which must be addressed. However, climate change is not exempt from the “focus problem”, wherein the smaller facets of an issue are ignored, usually unintentionally, due to the stronger focus on a large aspect of the issue. People frequently respond to a large scale issue with more determination, which is why it makes sense to present an argument in that… read more

Solar Industry On The Rise

Solar On The Up

The Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA) released data late last year which showed 684 megawatts of solar photovoltaic capacity was installed in the quarter ending October 2012, 44 percent more than in the third quarter of 2011. During the first three quarters of the year, the solar industry added 1,992 megawatts of solar power, compared with 885 megawatts for all of 2011. This increase brings installed photovoltaic capacity to 5.9 gigawatts, which could power slightly under one million average American homes, according to SEIA. The surge in solar installations, and thus capacity, is attributed to not only lower costs of… read more

Clean Energy Future?

Are we slowing carbon emissions?

Studies presented late last year highlighted that the United States has been leading the global reduction of greenhouse gas emissions. The notion that the country, and maybe even the world, was well and truly on the path toward a cleaner, efficient energy future, prompted rejoicing in some quarters. Regardless of whether the data presented in these studies is accurate, it is somewhat misleading in a variety of ways. First, even though CO2 emissions from the United States may be lower now than in the past, it is still high. The emission levels were high a few years ago, which is the comparison benchmark, and it… read more

Costs Slow Solar Down

High Costs Slow Solar Down

In 2011, residential solar system installers paid a little over $1.80 per watt for solar panels in the United States, and added $4.36 per watt to the cost of the solar panel to complete an installation. Compared to other countries—specifically Germany, the world leader in solar energy—the cost in the United States to complete an installation is three times as much, leading to a lack of willingness for Americans to spend the high amount of money to install solar panels. However, a report released this month by Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory explains why the costs in the United States are… read more

Tarring and Caring

Tar sands extraction

On October 24th, the Utah Water Quality Board (UWQB) approved the first ever tar sands mine on U.S. soil, giving a permit to U.S. Oil Sands, a company which specializes in tar sand mining, and despite its name, has its headquarters based in Alberta, Canada. Incidentally, Alberta has been a hotspot for tar sand development and extraction, so it comes as no surprise a company from Alberta is involved in the U.S. tar sands industry and activities. The tar sands industry has made quite the name for itself in Alberta, wreaking havoc on the environment and people in surrounding areas…. read more

The Earth At Night

NASA Earth Observatory/NOAA NGDC

The Earth’s artificial lights have been captured by NASA’s new Suomi NPP satellite. The main shot of the United States is a composite of high-resolution images taken in April and October 2012. It seems the East Coast needs to work on their energy saving habits. Many satellites are equipped to look at Earth during the day, when they can observe our planet fully illuminated by the sun. With a new sensor aboard the NASA-NOAA Suomi National Polar-orbiting Partnership (NPP) satellite launched last year, scientists now can observe Earth’s atmosphere and surface during nighttime hours. The new sensor, the day-night band of… read more

The Future Of Coal

Future Of Coal

According to the International Energy Agency (IEA), coal demand is growing everywhere but the United States. Coal demand in the United States grew 4.3% (304 million tons (mt)), compared to Chinese demand growth of 233 mt. The amount is misleading though, because despite the demand growth, it is less than the growth in previous years. Unfortunately, from an environmental advocacy perspective, the decrease in coal usage is a result of the increase of shale gas production and usage, specifically in the United States. Additionally, a decrease in domestic usage of coal will have negative impacts on employment in the coal… read more

U.S. Oil Independence

US oil independence

The U.S. will rid itself of the long-standing dependence on Saudi Arabian oil within the next decade by increasing domestic oil and gas production, but there is the inherent risk, and rising likelihood, of worsening global warming. In a report released on Monday, the International Energy Agency (IEA) said the United States will benefit from “unconventional” sources of oil and gas, including shale gas and oil, derived from blasting rocks apart to release the fossil fuels trapped within, i.e. fracking. Hydraulic fracturing has been linked to increases in seismic activity, but it has been difficult for geologists and seismologists to… read more