Obama: The Future is Green and Bright

25 02 2009

Last night, in an address to Congress, Obama once again stressed the importance of shifting toward a better environmental policy, based on the future development of, “wind power, solar power, advanced biofuels, clean coal, and more fuel-efficient cars.”

Unfortunately this means that only about 5.5 percent of the stimulus package funds energy and environmental advancements.

Obama's Stilulus Package

Obama's Stimulus Package

Obama made some good points however, especially when he said, “We invented solar technology, but we’ve fallen behind countries like Germany and Japan in producing it. New plug-in hybrids roll off our assembly lines, but they will run on batteries made in Korea.”

Germany is in fact very far ahead of the U.S. in terms of environmental standards. “In 2007 greenhouse gas emissions were down 21.3% in comparison with 1990 levels.

Solar Technology at Berlin-Adlershof

Solar Technology at Berlin-Adlershof

But, the only action Obama has taken in addressing environmental matters so far, was to ask for a, “legislation that places a market-based cap on carbon pollution and drives the production of more renewable energy in America.”

I think the carbon cap is a good idea, but I’m wondering how Congress will “drive” this “production”, and production of what exactly?





Solar Envelope House

1 02 2009

Solar energy is underrated. It is a great source of electricity and energy, but few Americans use it. Solar panels produce no pollution and can dramatically cut electric bills. One house in Columbia, Conn., takes solar energy to the extreme.

Built in 1979 this solar envelope house uses an all-encompassing air pocket to insulate the house and solar energy to heat it. After purchasing “thirty-two photo voltaic solar panels for the south roof of the house, the home owners immediately saw their monthly [electric] bill drop from a couple hundred dollars a month to bills that range from $5 to $35.”

Solar Envelope House Interview

Solar panels on house

Solar panels on house

The downside to solar panels is that they are only 40 percent efficient (this means that only 40 percent of the sunlight that hits the panel is converted into electricity). But, to put this in perspective, thermal efficiency, the amount of energy from combustion converted to mechanical work, is only about 26 percent.” This would include fuels that to create energy by burning such as gasoline. Also, according to the ecogeek blog there is a new type of solar panel that is 80 percent efficient.

Although the panels are expensive, they do cut back electricity costs and are usually worth the money in the long-run.

The owners of the solar envelope house paid owners paid $52,000 for their panels, “but a hefty state refund and a rebate from the federal government meant the out of pocket expense was less than half that amount. They expect to make their money back in less than ten years.”