wind power

The 38th Earth Day (4.54 billionth if you really want to get technical) has come and gone. Have we learned anything new? In the past few years, you could not open a newspaper, magazine, trade publication, or flip the channel without someone talking about how they were greening it up. Unfortunately, 2009 has not seen nearly as much interest, thanks in most part to the economic mess we are stuck in. On the bright side, a lot of momentum has begun in the past couple of years that has carried through into 2009, and with stimulus funding directed at green projects, one can only hope more is to come.

Here are some of the technologies I find most interesting. Please leave a comment and let us know what technologies you find most interesting that could really help our environment.

Smart Grid
smartgridthinkingOur current electrical grid is 112 years old. This century-old technology is now giving way to the digital era as cities such as Boulder, CO and Austin, TX, flip a new kind of switch. Most recently, the Miami Smart Grid Initiative, a partnership between Cisco, GE and Florida Power & Light, has gained a lot of media attention. The debate is quite interesting on the effectiveness of the Smart Grid, but with stimulus money set aside, this area of technology is likely to see quite a of investment and hopefully, more deployment.  Maybe it’s my inner geek coming out, but I want to have more control over my energy usage, see how my family can cut back and save some money. Want to learn more? Check out the Department of Energy’s Smart Grid resource site at http://www.oe.energy.gov/smartgrid.htm.

L.E.D.
blue-ledThe incandescent bulb is fading fast and many countries have proposed outlawing bulbs of certain wattages, further speeding the 130 year old light bulb’s demise. In the past few years, CFLs (Compact Fluorescent Lightbulbs) have become the rage. I’ve even changed every bulb in our house to CFLs in hopes of saving some money. While CFLs do use less money and last longer (be careful of the cheapy ones that burn out quickly), they also contain a lot of mercury and the environmental groups have pounced on this. In comes L.E.D., or Light Emitting Diode. These contain no mercury, use even less power (as little as 7.5 watts) and last upwards of 10 years. So where are they? Not in too many places yet (traffic lights and the super bright flashlights and headlights are good examples of their power) because the costs are so high. A traditional residential replacement bulb currently sells for $120 and there are some teething problems. However, the potential this technology has and the fact prices should come down in the next few years has me really excited this could be a truly eco-friendly lighting solution.

Renewable Power
underwater-powerI recently saw a program highlighting three groups around the world and their quests to harness the power of the oceans. From turbines in the Hudson River tolong cylinders that float a few miles off the coast, there are many creative technologies to better utilize the Earth’s largest natural resource. In my opinion, this has to be one of the most exciting and innovative areas in eco-tech. Wind power, solar, algae as a fuel, hydrogen – there are limitless possibilities.

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