Category: energy sustainability

December 20, 2011 • Emerging Technology, Energy Generation, Energy Innovation, Perspectives

One field of heliostats to rule them all…

by Allie Heiniger

Archimedes was not joking around.

Once upon a time in second century Greece, there lived a man named Archimedes who invented all sorts of crazy smart things. One of those things was a heat-ray weapon that was supposedly used to destroy enemy Roman ships. Although the details are not perfectly clear, historians say that Archimedes had 60 soldiers hold up bronze-coated shields aimed at the same small spot on each ship, igniting it within 10 minutes. Pretty impressive stuff for a guy whose last nerd words were supposedly, “Do not disturb my circles.” continue

October 19, 2011 • Current Events, Energy's Lighter Side, Sustainability

Driving past windmills on the way to the Windy City

by Roger Durham

My wife and I were on our way to Chicago for a long weekend. We were taking in the sites, wondering if we should stop in Lafayette on the way back to see Purdue University’s campus when we came around a bend in I-65 and saw something completely disorienting. Actually, the disorientation was not immediate.

“Look,” my wife said, “there are some windmills over there, giant windmills.” We made this trip to Chicago a

Close Encounters

couple of years earlier and didn’t see any windmills. It was like they had just appeared overnight. They were pretty cool looking, for the first couple of miles. But those few windmills become dozens and those dozens became hundreds. They were spinning slowly, majestically and some of them were very close to the interstate. continue

August 12, 2011 • Electricity, Emerging Technology, Energy Efficiency, Energy Innovation, Perspectives, Sustainability

Charge it up! Battery power of the future

by AmyHiggs

When I was but a wee tot, I really, really wanted a pink, battery-powered Barbie car. I coveted. Oh, yes. My parents, however, had sense enough not to shell out $400 for a piece of plastic that zipped along at 0.2 miles an hour and that I likely would have plowed into the family dog as soon as I took the wheel. I had to settle for a “manual” toy car that I powered myself through a hole in the floorboard — a la “The Flintstones.” I probably got going faster in that thing than I would have in the Barbie-mobile. I definitely got more exercise!

I hadn’t thought about those childhood toys in years, until I listened to an interview on NPR’s Fresh Air back in June. The host talked to the senior editor for Popular Science magazine, Seth Fletcher, about his new book, “Bottled Lightning: Superbatteries, Electric Cars and the New Lithium Economy.” Fletcher believes that “advanced lithium batteries could hold the key to an environmentally sustainable, oil-independent future.” Read more here. continue

July 12, 2011 • Current Events, Energy Efficiency, Sustainability

Google invests in residential solar projects

by Rich Wilson

For a few years now, clean energy and sustainable business practices have been driving large-scale efforts inside companies of all sizes. Whether the end goal was cheap energy, response to impending government regulation or even a little positive media exposure, evidence of the new green corporate landscape is everywhere. The green movement is gaining a substantial amount of momentum with little evidence of slowing down, due to large-scale implementation of energy efficiency projects. I recently stumbled on an article that discussed how Google has invested $280 million through a partnership with SolarCity, a California-based solar design and installation company. continue

June 27, 2011 • Electricity, Energy Efficiency, Energy Innovation, Natural Gas, Perspectives, Sustainability

Look who’s talking: Experts on the speaking circuit

by AmyHiggs

June has been a whirlwind of activity at Summit, and I’ve had trouble keeping up with everything going on. (Not that this is different than any other month, but I digress.) In the midst of all the standard nuttiness were some speaking gigs by Summit folks who are pretty well known as experts in their fields. continue

May 13, 2011 • Current Events, Sustainability

Royal Footprints

by Katie Schultz

The wedding of Prince William and Kate Middleton brought out the romantic in me, and I waited in eager anticipation to see the big moments unfold on my TV screen. It was exciting to see the wedding dress, to hear the vows, and to watch as a country closed down to honor the nuptials of its new Duke and Duchess of Cambridge.

I was just as surprised as anyone to see Prince William and his bride come driving out of the gates of Buckingham Palace in his father’s 1969 Aston Martin DB6. What brought me out of my teary-eyed stupor was the mention of how “green” that vintage blue car actually was. continue

May 2, 2011 • Current Events, Energy Innovation, Perspectives

Thoughts on the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Incident

by Wyatt Taylor

It looks like it is left to me to break the silence on The Watercooler about the Japanese Fukushima nuclear incident. First, it might be months or years before we have a full picture of the damage at the plant and its impact on the environment and population. Our prayers go out to those impacted by the radiation. This incident is a sobering reminder that processes behind nuclear power production are complicated and allow a slim margin for error.

With that said, continue

March 1, 2011 • Energy's Lighter Side, Sustainability, Travel & Leisure

Sustainable Tourism: Why It Pays to Bet on Green

by Chad Holder

Winning with sustainability

On March 16, I will be visiting Las Vegas. In an effort to encourage corporate sustainability, specifically sustainable tourism, I’ve taken it upon myself to support companies that exhibit environmental stewardship and energy efficiency. That’s why I just might seek out and congratulate a Caesars Entertainment Corporation representative for the company’s very successful corporate sustainability strategy.

At this point, it bears mentioning that the timing of my visit to Las Vegas, the location of Caesars’ Nevada headquarters and a certain college basketball tournament are all purely coincidental. Also coincidental: that I planned this trip with seven other Murray State alumni last June. continue

February 26, 2011 • Current Events, Energy Generation, Perspectives

Making Sense of Subsidies

by Wyatt Taylor

In his State of the Union speech last month, President Obama called for the elimination of government subsidies to oil companies, concluding, “instead of subsidizing yesterday’s energy, let’s invest in tomorrow’s.” The administration estimates that cutting such subsidies will save about $4 billion a year. Considering a recent government report showed the feds wasted more than $125 billion in “improper payments” in 2010, that $4 billion isn’t exactly going to send budget-hawk hearts aflutter. Still, the President’s plan presents some interesting questions: how much do we spend in energy subsidies? What energy sources are the most subsidized? Are the subsidies worth the cost? continue

February 8, 2011 • Current Events, Perspectives, Sustainability

The Hits Just Keep Coming for Cap and Trade

by Rich Wilson

If you are keeping up with the developments in Congress around “Cap and Trade” and the newest incarnation moving through the House, the Energy Tax Prevention Act, then you can picture the face-off this appears to be. Essentially, you have two sides, which are bickering on points that would benefit from a little round-table discussion. What we need here is a little peace, love and understanding.

First, we have the Cap and Trade folks who want to insert regulation, which will hold large greenhouse-gas emitters responsible for polluting. In a nutshell, the process would work like this: A company is told they can produce a certain amount of pollutants (Cap), and depending if the company over-pollutes or under-pollutes, they can purchase or sell credits (Trade) to ensure compliance under the proposed system. Sounds great, right? Well, not so fast, because this produced a firestorm of critics and lobbying efforts to denounce even the thought of a Cap and Trade system. Opposition runs the gamut from paranoid (the government is trying to control everything) to financial (the excess costs a company would incur would be passed to the end customer, which would spiral Americans into a desolate country of glorified panhandlers.) continue

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