80+1 » USA http://www.80plus1.org A Journey Around the World Thu, 25 Nov 2010 14:24:05 +0000 http://wordpress.org/?v=2.7.1 en hourly 1 Solar panels prices drop globally http://www.80plus1.org/blog/solar-panels-prices-drop-globally http://www.80plus1.org/blog/solar-panels-prices-drop-globally#comments Fri, 28 Aug 2009 08:27:59 +0000 Cyrus Farivar http://www.80plus1.org/?p=3945 As Chinese production of solar panel equipment has ramped up, the price has precipitously dropped. According to yesterday’s New York Times, panel prices have fallen about 40 percent since last summer, according to analysts at the investment bank Piper Jaffray.

At…

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As Chinese production of solar panel equipment has ramped up, the price has precipitously dropped. According to yesterday’s New York Times, panel prices have fallen about 40 percent since last summer, according to analysts at the investment bank Piper Jaffray.

At the same time, demand for solar in Europe has slowed down as Spain has ended the government subsidy for solar panels. However, solar has gotten increased attention in the United States, particularly in the American southwest, in states like California, Arizona and Nevada.

Newsweek magazine also reported this week that “In 2008, 33,500 rooftop solar systems were installed in the United States, a 63 percent increase over the amount of capacity installed in 2007. In California, the solar capital of country, the increase was 95 percent.”

Chinese polysilicon companies, which manufacture a key component of solar panels, have been vastly boosted their production. In fact, Reuters reported yesterday that the Chinese company “GCL-Poly, which acquired $3.4 billion worth of solar assets in June, is on track to produce about 3,000 tons of polysilicon by year end. LDK Solar aims to produce 5,000 tons by 2010.”

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Internet addiction center opens in a Seattle (USA) suburb http://www.80plus1.org/blog/internet-addiction-center-opens-in-a-seattle-usa-suburb http://www.80plus1.org/blog/internet-addiction-center-opens-in-a-seattle-usa-suburb#comments Fri, 21 Aug 2009 14:00:57 +0000 Cyrus Farivar http://www.80plus1.org/?p=3637 After Internet addiction centers have opened up in South Korea, China, and Japan, now the United States has just opened its first facility in Fall City, Washington, in Pacific Northwest region of the country.

The institution, formally called reSTART Internet Addiction Recovery…

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After Internet addiction centers have opened up in South Korea, China, and Japan, now the United States has just opened its first facility in Fall City, Washington, in Pacific Northwest region of the country.

The institution, formally called reSTART Internet Addiction Recovery Program, has a six-bed, 45-day program to re-integrate young addicts back into society, the Agence France Presse reports.

Patients are educated in a range of subjects, including: “everyday tasks such as bathing, cooking, and household chores, according to reStart. They also need tutoring when it comes to dating.”

The institute’s first patient is 19-year-old Ben Alexander, of Iowa City, Iowa.

He says he was addicted to “World of Warcraft,” and played it so much that he had to withdraw from his university.

However, such a treatment doesn’t come cheap. It costs $14,500 (around 10.000€), and is not covered by private insurance.

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Experts Debate Energy Usage of the Lesser Evil: Nuclear vs. Coal http://www.80plus1.org/blog/experts-debate-energy-usage-of-the-lesser-evil-nuclear-vs-coal http://www.80plus1.org/blog/experts-debate-energy-usage-of-the-lesser-evil-nuclear-vs-coal#comments Thu, 16 Jul 2009 16:10:42 +0000 Cyrus Farivar http://www.80plus1.org/?p=2373 Earlier this month, the American science magazine Seed conducted an online panel discussion on which energy source is the least evil.

In the United States, unlike Europe, there are only 104 nuclear reactors — representing about 20 percent of all domestic energy…

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Earlier this month, the American science magazine Seed conducted an online panel discussion on which energy source is the least evil.

In the United States, unlike Europe, there are only 104 nuclear reactors — representing about 20 percent of all domestic energy output. Despite some recent activity of energy plants applying to build new nuclear stations, there hasn’t been construction of a new nuclear plant in nearly three decades.

Coal, of course, is a dirty fuel. It pollutes, and contributes to global climate change. In short, it’s a 19th century technology in a 21st century world. But what if we sequester the carbon from it — there’s not-so-great side effects, too.

So, what do the experts say?

One writer, Gwyneth Cravens, who has done extensive research on the nuclear industry argues for going nuclear:

“Nuclear has about the same carbon footprint as wind but is astronomically more compact and efficient and operates at 90 percent capacity (coal: 53 percent capacity; wind: 34 percent). Nuclear waste is therefore tiny in volume. The world’s entire annual inventory could fit in one large townhouse. Nuclear waste recycling, done abroad, drastically reduces volume, radioactivity, and the need for long-term disposal. Civilian nuclear plants have never produced atomic bombs.”

K.J. Reddy teaches at the University of Wyoming and argues for clean coal:

We need tangible technologies to simultaneously capture and trap flue gas in minerals at point sources and to become part of a wider carbon capture/storage portfolio, helping in immediate reduction in anthropogenic CO2 emissions to the atmosphere. For example, we are working on a process that captures and stores flue gas CO2 and other pollutants (SO2 and Hg) at a coal-fired plant. In this process we directly trap flue gas CO2, SO2, and Hg permanently in ash, which is produced by the combustion process itself. This process is easy to apply to existing or new coal-fired power plants as a post-combustion unit. In our preliminary studies we were able to demonstrate instantaneous capture and storage of partial flue gas CO2, the first step towards large-scale demonstration projects.

Edwin Lyman, a physicist, and senior scientist with the Union of Concerned Scientists’ Global Security Program in Washington, DC., argues for neither:

The true costs of both nuclear energy and coal have been concealed by government subsidies and lax safety standards. We should not expand use of either unless both technologies comply with far more stringent requirements for safety, security, and environmental protection than those in place today. The cost of such measures for nuclear power (including enhanced protection against terrorist attacks) and coal (including full capture of carbon dioxide and other hazardous emissions) would make these options even less competitive with efficiency and renewable energy sources than they are today.

Benjamin Sovacool, a former advisor and researcher at Oak Ridge National Laboratory, the NSF’s Electric Power Networks Efficiency and Security Program, and current assistant professor at the Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy at the National University of Singapore, calls for Americans to be more energy efficient:

In short, we don’t need to burden ourselves with polluting and hazardous power plants dependent on dirty, dangerous, and depletable supplies of coal and uranium. We can instead harness the power of energy efficiency and renewable power, sources of energy that are clean, safe, domestically available, nondepletable, and avoid making any sort of Faustian bargain.

Finally, Victor Rudolph, a professor of chemical engineering at the University of Queensland, argues for sticking with coal, but not for the reason you might think:

In this sense, “clean coal” at the power station can be made to work. Realistically, we need to recognize that we have trillions of dollars already invested in coal-based electrical plants and it is illogical to trash this, as it is also logistically impossible to replace it—with anything—in the medium term.

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American power company plans 51-megawatt wind farm in Colorado http://www.80plus1.org/blog/american-power-company-plans-51-megawatt-wind-farm-in-colorado http://www.80plus1.org/blog/american-power-company-plans-51-megawatt-wind-farm-in-colorado#comments Mon, 06 Jul 2009 16:53:30 +0000 Cyrus Farivar http://www.80plus1.org/?p=2137 Fresh off the heels of China’s wind announcement, an American power company has just announced that it will be building a 51-megawatt wind farm in eastern Colorado — east of the famed Rockies.

The plant will be built by Duke…

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Fresh off the heels of China’s wind announcement, an American power company has just announced that it will be building a 51-megawatt wind farm in eastern Colorado — east of the famed Rockies.

The plant will be built by Duke Energy of North Carolina. The company said in a press release today:

Duke Energy will develop the 51-megawatt (MW) Kit Carson Windpower Project on approximately 6,000 acres of land under long-term lease near Burlington, Colo. The project will be the company’s first in the state and fourth in the region.

The Kit Carson project is named after the famed American frontiersman and the county where the project will be located. As a result of a 20-year power purchase agreement, the project will supply clean, renewable energy to customers of the 44 electric cooperatives that comprise the Tri-State Generation and Transmission Association. The project is expected to enter commercial operation by the end of 2010.

The energy supplied will then be sold by the Tri-State Generation and Transmission Association.

According to The Associated Press, it supplies power to 44 electric cooperatives in Colorado, Nebraska, New Mexico and Wyoming, and “currently gets 72 percent of its power from coal and roughly 1 percent from wind and solar.”

The US is experiencing a relative boom in wind power, too.

The American Wind Energy Association notes:

The U.S. wind energy industry shattered all previous records in 2008 by installing over 8,500 megawatts (MW) of new generating capacity (enough to serve over two million homes), increasing the nation’s total wind power generating capacity by 50% to over 25,300 MW and channeling an investment of some $17 billion into the economy.

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March 18 Movement Fights for Bloggers’ Rights http://www.80plus1.org/blog/march-18-movement-fights-for-bloggers-rights http://www.80plus1.org/blog/march-18-movement-fights-for-bloggers-rights#comments Mon, 29 Jun 2009 15:47:34 +0000 Cyrus Farivar http://www.80plus1.org/?p=2007 On March 18, 2009, Iran gained the dubious honor of becoming the first nation in the world to have a blogger die while in custody.

That first victim was Omid Reza Mirsayafi, a 29-year-old Iranian blogger and journalist who wrote largely…

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On March 18, 2009, Iran gained the dubious honor of becoming the first nation in the world to have a blogger die while in custody.

That first victim was Omid Reza Mirsayafi, a 29-year-old Iranian blogger and journalist who wrote largely about music and culture. (In 2003, Iran also became the first nation in the world to imprison a blogger.)

Just last month, a new group was founded jointly by a Bahraini, an Iranian and an American as a way to fight against these types of injustices being carried out by authoritarian regimes all over the world.

Recently, the March 18th Movement introduced its first Internet video as a way to help others around the globe learn about Mirsayafi and put pressure on foreign governments to stop these abhorrent policies of oppression.

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Small-time bike sharing hits Collingswood, New Jersey (USA) http://www.80plus1.org/blog/small-time-bike-sharing-hits-collingswood-new-jersey-usa http://www.80plus1.org/blog/small-time-bike-sharing-hits-collingswood-new-jersey-usa#comments Tue, 16 Jun 2009 21:19:01 +0000 Cyrus Farivar http://www.80plus1.org/?p=1519 While bike sharing began in Europe and has recently spread to North America, its largely only exists in big cities like Lyon or Montreal.

However, a Philadelphia suburb, Collingswood, is now well into its first year of a small bike-sharing program…

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While bike sharing began in Europe and has recently spread to North America, its largely only exists in big cities like Lyon or Montreal.

However, a Philadelphia suburb, Collingswood, is now well into its first year of a small bike-sharing program at the cost of $25 per year.

What’s interesting about this program is that it was started independently of any large-scale infrastructure that would normally be required, like in-street bike locks or electronic kiosks.

The Philadelphia Inquirer explains:

In October, about 40 riders circled the borough’s Knight Park on the rejuvenated bicycles - spray-painted an easily identifiable lime green - and their own wheels to introduce the program.

Since then, about 65 residents have signed up, paying the $25 annual fee to “check out” one bike for up to a year or to exchange cycles as often as they like. They’re encouraged to wear a helmet and offered discounts on locks and water bottles. Everill e-mails reminders about tune-ups. In all, Leonard estimates, about 250 people have participated.

Bike sharing - generally geared toward short-term use - is popular all over Europe. Sturdy cycles are locked to kiosks spread throughout cities such as Oslo, Barcelona, and Vienna. Paris launched one of the largest programs in 2007 with 20,000 bicycles. Programs are run by nonprofit groups and city governments, as well as for-profit companies such as Clear Channel Outdoor, that participate in exchange for advertising on shelters or benches.

At least 70 U.S. universities, including Drexel, run free and rental programs, according to the Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education.

Washington, D.C., launched SmartBike last summer. Boston and San Francisco are investigating proposals, as is Philadelphia. A feasibility study is due to Mayor Nutter by fall.

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