The Sandia National Laboratories have achieved a landmark breakthrough in solar-voltaic power-generation technology. The snowflake-like “solar glitter” uses 100 times less material to produce the same amount of electricity as today’s standard 6-inch square solar cells. This achievement of ultra-miniaturization now has the potential to move solar-voltaic power generation to the forefront of the clean energy revolution, and help speed the transition away from carbon-based combustible fuels.
The super-reduced size of these snowflake solar cells means they can be used to create more dependable power-generation solar arrays. As reported by Inhabitat (‘green design will save the world’), when a large solar cell fails, it has a serious impact on the overall productivity of the solar array, already limited by the space it takes up, while these tiny snowflake cells, just 14 to 20 micrometers thick and 0.25 to 1 millimeter in diameter, can fit so much more productivity into the same space, the failure of one flake will have negligible overall impact on output.
Continue reading “Snowflake Solar Cells 100 Times More Efficient than Standard Solar Cells”
toward a science of conscious thriving: through resourceful reasoning & deep communicability
high-risk, low-yield hydrocarbon fuels not fit to compete over long term
Opportunity cost is a serious, long-term stress on economies hampered by rampant governmental corruption, or by severe productive resource deficits—in consumer capital, infrastructure, or long-term reliable energy flows. With the ongoing boom in development of shale gas drilling and tar sands oil recovery, there is now massive investment, into the tens of billions of dollars of public and private money, in high-risk, low-yield ways of extracting carbon-based fuels, with the explicit purpose of extending old-fashioned combustible fuel technologies beyond what would otherwise be economically viable.
Massive new investment is flowing to these resources, because existing incentives and the influence of entrenched interests make it more efficient for major investors to pour money into these resources. They are not attracting investment by being inherently more economical than other options. In fact, as a direct result of dedicating such massive investment to new, untested and riskier schemes for carbon fuel extraction—including ultra deepwater drilling—the most efficient means of investment in future energy technologies are being choked off.
Continue reading “New Development of Carbon Fuels May Be Drag on Economy”
We will not fall magically into a rising tide of job creation, just by depriving ourselves of services and privileges we have built into our way of life and on which our prosperity depends. And we will not create jobs by privileging those industries that are doing the least to innovate. Innovation is the American way; it is what the nation has always struggled to accomplish, and it must be the cornerstone of a new job-creation boom.
It may be that moments of grave economic pressure put grave strain on a culture’s ability to give voice to and to share a common understanding of core values. It may be that after the financial collapse that struck in 2007 and 2008, the US is facing a crisis of conscience and a struggle to regain its identity. We need to remember that we can take the reins of the 21st century economic landscape, and build the economy of tomorrow.
Continue reading “To Create Jobs, Innovate; Don’t Favor the Least Imaginative”
Ownership is liberating only if it liberates; the new paradigm has to be a participatory society
In order to push his 2004 bid for re-election, and his radical and untenable economic ideology, George W. Bush touted the need for an “ownership society”. In theory, this meant ordinary people could have access like never before to capital for home-buying, and the paradigm of a privately owned individualist property would be firmly rooted in the democratic ground of American society.
“In theory”, because that never really was the case. There was a massive new flow of capital from financial institutions to home-buying, but much of the capital was illusory, and the motivation was to gather more wealth to those institutions, not to leave it in the hands of homeowners. In practice, most borrowers were in fact falling into a dangerous situation in which they were in effect owned —their homes, their wages, their working lives and recreational time— by the lenders.
Continue reading “The Usership Society: Decentralized Energy Next Stage for Democracy”
Global solutions to a global crisis: climate justice & the science of viability
Date: April 7, 2011 @ 2:30 pm
Location: First Floor Lounge, Falvey Memorial Library
For the third ClimateTalks roundtable event of the academic year, two faculty members will present advanced analysis of the climate crisis, from the historical, ethical and scientific points of view, and we will moderate a policy debate among students working on environmental issues.
Continue reading “ClimateTalk #3: Utopia or Oblivion”
Last Thursday, Citizens Climate Lobby‘s Villanova group held a meeting to discuss the nuclear crisis unfolding in Japan and how this impacts future energy policy in the United States. The Villanova group leader also explained the usefulness of personal testimony in letters to Congress, in support of the Million Letter March.
The question of how nuclear power, or its deep fallibility, will affect the clean energy future is crucial, because the conventional policy response to a reduction in nuclear power investment is the expansion of interest in carbon intensive fossil fuels. We now have the technology to shift to a clean energy economy, and the responsibility to move our nations policy in that direction.
Continue reading “Nuclear Crisis, the Folly of Drilling & How to Build a Clean Energy Future”
At the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month, we held the first of our series of Climate Talks, to explore with more depth and more detail some of the intricacies of the climate crisis, including social, philosophical and political, dynamics, and the way we frame our perception of global-scale phenomena. It was a construtive conversation, from four points of view, each of which was able to benefit from a kinship of interest, so that whether we were discussion environmental justice, political solidarity, economics and collaborative politics or Villanova’s ongoing commitment to reducing its carbon footprint, there were ways to deepen and broaden our understanding of each facet of the problem from each of the different perspectives.
Continue reading “Climate, Energy & Ethics Roundtable (video + recap)”
There is mounting concern the ongoing flow of oil from the damaged BP Deepwater Horizon well in the Macondo field may be the result of one or more serious structural breaches in the cement well casing below the sea bed. Statements made on 7 June by Florida Sen. Bill Nelson, to MSNBC’s Andrea Mitchell, suggest the well casing has ruptured, there are multiple points of seepage across the surrounding sea bed, and the well can likely only be closed from below, if or when the two relief wells connect with the damaged well.
The news is gravely important, because it would mean that 1) efforts to seal or cap the well from above will not work and 2) the cement lining of the well itself may have been structurally flawed from the outset. Firedoglake has been reporting on this issue, in an effort to bring to light information that has apparently been included in private briefings to members of Congress but never disclosed to the public.
Continue reading “BP Well Casing Likely Breached”
The quest for the most fuel-efficient vehicles has entered a new phase, with major government private-sector investment in research and development for industrial-scale commercial production of a new class of gas-electric hybrid vehicles and EVs (all-electric cars). Swiss-based Solar Impulse is building the world’s first 100% solar-powered airplane, an achievement that will revolutionize the travel, industrial production, transport and fuel sectors. Now comes the news that the Chevrolet Volt will shatter the existing paradigm for fuel efficiency, achieving 230 miles per gallon (mpg).
Nissan claims to have better comparable performance for their LEAF model, and Tesla is preparing a fleet of high-performance “100% torque 100% of the time” EVs. Solar panels are creeping into automotive design, for supplemental power for commercially sold vehicles, though they have long been the subject of engineering competitions that race solar-only prototypes. Organic solar concentrators (dye-treated SV-edged windows) allow for the highly efficient use of existing window surfaces to capture solar power and generate electricity.
Continue reading “Fuel Efficiency: Hybrid, Electric, Solar or ‘Exotics’ (discussion)”