Green energy upgrade protects Ontarians from rising nuclear costs

Choosing to scale up green energy to replace the retiring Pickering nuclear station is more affordable for Ontarians than buying expensive replacement reactors, says a report released today by Renewable is Doable, an alliance of organizations including the Pembina Institute, the Canadian Environmental Law Association and Greenpeace. Last summer, Ontario suspended its purchase of two new replacement reactors when their cost reportedly topped $26 billion — $20 billion more than expected in 2007.

NREL: Energy Saving A/C Conquers All Climates

An intriguing air-conditioning process that dries incoming hot, humid air using a desiccant and then cools the air using evaporative cooling is being refined by NREL:

The U.S. Department of Energy’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory has invented a new air conditioning process with the potential of using 50 percent to 90 percent less energy than today’s top-of-the-line units. It uses membranes, evaporative cooling and liquid desiccants in a way that has never been done before in the centuries-old science of removing heat from the air.

“The idea is to revolutionize cooling, while removing millions of metric tons of carbon from the air,” NREL mechanical engineer Eric Kozubal, co-inventor of the Desiccant-Enhanced eVaporative air conditioner (DEVap), said.

“We’d been working with membranes, evaporative coolers and desiccants. We saw an opportunity to combine them into a single device for a product with unique capabilities.”

Sylvania Intros Sleek Ultra Bright LED

It seems as though I’ve been waiting for LED bulbs to become a reality for most of my life, and it’s exciting to see them start to hit the market.  Can you image a lightbulb that only needs to be changed once every 10 years and uses 1/5 of the power of an incandescent bulb?

The Sylvania Ultra LED A-line 12-watt bulb is a second-generation retrofit product and has an estimated life of 25,000 hours.  The bulb has a color temperature of 2700k and a color rendering index of 90 …

The Osram Sylvania LED is dimmable, contains no mercury, and will be available for purchase late August 2010.  No word yet on pricing, but, according to Gadgetwise, the company says affordability is paramount.

The Crisis Comes Ashore

Al Gore writes powerfully on the perils of climate change in the New Republic in a wide-ranging and thoughtful response to the recent crisis in the Gulf of Mexico:

It is understandable that the administration will be focused on the immediate crisis in the Gulf of Mexico. But this is a consciousness-shifting event. It is one of those clarifying moments that brings a rare opportunity to take the longer view. Unless we change our present course soon, the future of human civilization will be in dire jeopardy. Just as we feel a sense of urgency in demanding that this ongoing oil spill be stopped, we should feel an even greater sense of urgency in demanding that the much larger and more dangerous ongoing emissions of global warming pollution must also be stopped to make the world safe from the climate crisis that is building all around us.

Professor sees red over ‘green building’ claims

Dan Harvey, a professor of Environmental Studies at the University of Toronto rips into contemporary building design:

We suffer from brain-dead building design. We’re building all-glass condominiums, all-glass office buildings. The office buildings are hermetically sealed – they have entire glazing sections facing west with no external shading devices. These buildings are uninhabitable without massive air-conditioning systems. … It’s really pointless to do anything else until you address this issue. I say you’ve got it all backwards. And the problem is, these buildings we’re stuck with for 50, 100, I don’t know how many years. I mean, even a coal power plant is only going to last 40 years. A brain-dead building – and that’s almost all we’re building – is going to last 100 years.

Environmental disaster looms as Gulf oil spill reaches shore

More on the disastrous oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico from today’s Globe and Mail:

The oil slick could become the nation’s worst environmental disaster in decades, threatening to eclipse even the Exxon Valdez in scope. It imperils hundreds of species of fish, birds and other wildlife along the Gulf Coast, one of the world’s richest seafood grounds, teeming with shrimp, oysters and other marine life.

“It is of grave concern,” David Kennedy of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, told The Associated Press about the spill. “I am frightened. This is a very, very big thing. And the efforts that are going to be required to do anything about it, especially if it continues on, are just mind-boggling.”

This is an excellent example of the kinds of externalized costs that make the true cost of energy production from oil staggeringly high.

Officials Set to Burn Oil in Gulf Soon

How long can we continue to argue that renewable energy is ‘too expensive’ and that offshore drilling is a viable long-term solution to energy independence:

Officials turned to the burning option when the slick of oil, released when a drilling rig caught fire 50 miles offshore and sank last week, drifted to within 23 miles of the ecologically fragile Louisiana coastline on Tuesday.
Coast Guard officials said they were not expecting landfall for the spill in the next three days. But Doug Helton, the incident operations coordinator for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s emergency response division, said winds would change Wednesday and start pushing the spill north and west toward the Mississippi Delta. “It is going to land eventually,” Mr. Helton said. The prospect alarmed fisherman and ecologists along the Louisiana coast. Gov. Bobby Jindal requested that the Coast Guard set up protective booms around several wildlife refuges in the Delta. Those delicate coastal rookeries and estuaries factor into the consideration for the surface burn. Such a burn would most likely ease the impact on wildlife.