• Automated Vehicles and the Future of Fuel Efficiency

    Cars these days are becoming more and more like computers on wheels. Many car enthusiasts long for the days of simpler designs where they can figure out exactly what's going on... Topic: Fuel efficiency

  • Prius Plug-in Versus Volt: Which Costs Less to Drive?

    Now that Toyota’s Prius Plug-in Hybrid has been officially announced, we can begin the comparisons with the... Topic: EV, Price, Hybrid

  • Now you can determine the solar efficiency of your roof

    It is becoming more and more common to install solar panels on roofs in order to obtain green electricity, but not all roofs are equally suitable.... Topic: Solar, Solar resource

  • Vermont Experiments in Cow Power

    A recent case study in the State of Vermont suggests that deriving electricity from cow manure may be economically feasible. This small and largely agrarian state has no... Tagged: Vermont Topic: Biomass, Waste-to-energy, Anerobic digester

  • World's first consumer standard label for wind power launched

    The technical standard for the first global consumer label for companies to buy wind power and other clean... Tagged: International Topic: Wind

  • Charge It Up: Installing an EV Charging Station at Home

    Exciting, economical, and emission free: That’s the new world of electric vehicles!... Topic: EV

  • World First Low Carbon Fuel to Be Developed for Virgin Atlantic

    Virgin Atlantic today announced the development of a world-first low carbon aviation fuel with just half the carbon footprint of the standard fossil fuel alternative.
    ... Topic: Waste-to-energy

  • Nest Learning Thermostat: Shiny Toy or Serious Tool?

    It looks a bit like a hockey puck, but it’s designed to keep your home warm in the winter, while cooling it in the summer. But while it is indeed slick, it’s a lot smarter than... Topic: Efficiency, Thermostat

  • SAVE Act: Building Energy Efficiency into Home Value

    WASHINGTON, Oct. 20 -- The Alliance to Save Energy issued the following statement by President Kateri Callahan:

    "Every so often, a policy proposal turns out to be every... Tagged: Congress Topic: Efficiency, Legislation, Financing

  • A War Against Food Waste

    A food industry alliance is planning a three-year initiative to reduce the tremendous amount of food that Americans still throw in the garbage even as they grow... Topic: Biomass, Sustainability

  • Meet the Energy Superbugs: Extremophiles

    Extremophiles are tiny microbes that are able to thrive in hot, salty and even acidic or gaseous environments that would kill other forms of life.... Topic: Wind, Biomass, Waste-to-energy

  • Key Step Nears in Va. Quest for Offshore Winds

    A top state energy official says the federal government is preparing to accept expressions of interest from prospective developers of... Tagged: Virginia Topic: Wind, Offshore

  • Science Lags as Health Problems Emerge Near Gas Fields


    Tagged: Geothermal Topic: Natural gas, Solar
  • Health Effects and Light Bulbs

    For the first time scientists examined melatonin suppression in a various types of light bulbs, primarily those used for outdoor illumination, such as streetlights, road... Topic: Lighting, CFL, Solar

  • Duke Energy to Build Second Pennsylvania Wind Farm


    Duke Energy will build a new ... Topic: Wind farm, Wind, Utility scale

  • Military spearheads clean-energy drive


    Tagged: Ethanol, Electric Vehicles Topic: Renewables, Biodiesel
  • Solar homes showcase students’ energy, creativity

    University of Maryland students didn’t compete in the last Department of Energy Solar Decathlon... Topic: Solar, Site News

  • A Solar Panel on Every Roof? In U.S., Still a Distant Dream

    Daunted by high up-front costs, U.S. homeowners continue to shy away from residential solar power systems, even as utility-scale solar projects are taking off. But with do-it-... Tagged: United States, International Topic: Solar, Site News

  • Hog Waste Producing Electricity, Carbon Offsets

    A pilot waste-to-energy system constructed by Duke University and Duke Energy this week garnered the endorsement of Google Inc., which invests in... Tagged: Everything Else Topic: Waste-to-energy, Biomass

  • Waste Water + Bacteria = Clean Energy

    For the first time, researchers have sustainably produced hydrogen gas, a potential source of clean energy, using only water and bacteria.... Topic: Hydrogen

Valley 25x’25 promotes sensible solutions to achieve 25 percent renewable energy in the Shenandoah Valley before 2025.


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Posted: 1 month 3 days ago
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Our friends at the national 25x'25 organization recently shared two news items related to biomass projects across the Commonwealth.  The first is the $90 million loan that Northern Virginia Power Cooperative recently received from the USDA Rural Utilities Service.  This loan will be used to help to fund the construction of a 49.9 megawatt (MW) biomass facility in South Boston, VA, in southern Virginia.  Now, to put things in perspective, a 50MW power plant isn't all that huge -- an average coal-fired plant produces hundreds of megawatts of power, though the average size has been decreasing in recent.  Still, the plant will provide about 6% of the cooperative's total electricity production and will draw on wood waste from a 75-mile radius.

The second is the announcement that Enviva, a wood pellet manufacturer, will provide wood chips to two Dominion Power coal plants.  The two facilities, in Southampton and Hopewell, have been converted to operate using biomass, including wood chips.  Both are about 50MW plants.  Enviva will produce nearly 750,000 metric tons of wood chips and pellets this year, but most of that is shipped overseas to Europe.  The strong and active role of governments in promoting renewable energy throughout most of the European continent has put them far ahead of the U.S. in terms of renewable adoption.  Virginia only has a 15% renewable portfolito standard (RPS) by 2025, and that is voluntary, without any legal mandate or punishment for non-compliance.  Germany, by contrast, is aiming for 35-40% of their energy to come from renewables as early as 2020.  (Plus, that country has an agressive feed-in tariff system that financially rewards, rather than punishes, renewable energy installers.)  Nevertheless, it is good to see Dominion moving to implement more biomass facilities.  This move will likely be good for Dominion, good for the Commonwealth, and good for consumers in the long term.

The economic viability of woody biomass, a term used to describe a variety of fuelstocks comprised of wood, has made it an appealing renewable option.  Sustainable harvesting and active forest management practices can make biomass an outstanding long-term solution for some of the Shenandoah Valley's energy portfolio.  These news stories are encouraging, since they provide models for what the Valley can achieve using biomass.  The South Boston facility can serve as a renewable energy beacon...in addition to helping to llight up southern Virginia, of course!

Posted: 2 months 1 week ago
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Posted: 2 months 3 weeks ago
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On Wednesday, October 5, the first electric vehicle (EV) charging station was unveiled in the parking lot near .  The ribbon cutting ceremony took place in the late morning and drew a crowd of more than thirty people.  The push for EV charging infrastructure has been pushed by many members of the community, most notably Dave Miller, who owns Dave's Taverna, actively works to promote a vibrant downtown Harrisonburg, and is renewable energy advocate.  Other partners in the project included HEC, the City of Harrisonburg, Downtown Renaissance, and Virginia Clean Cities.  The charger, made by Eaton, can charge the batteries of two EVs at a time. Harrisonburg Electric Company  Total charging time is a little over four hours.  Initially, HEC will allow customers to charge their vehicles on the unit for free, since the company wants to encourage its use and to collect data about usage patterns and charging times.  Brian O'Dell, of HEC, said that the company eventually plans to shift to a pay-per-hour service with a credit card reader.

Although EVs are not necessarily renewable -- and sadly, in the Valley, most of our electricity still comes from coal -- but shifting to EVs can benefit the cause of greater renewable energy for a number of reasons.  Most importantly, they shift the load of transportation away from oil, the supply of which is limited and politicaly uncertain, and towards a system that can use energy that is generated in any of a number of different ways (e.g. wind or solar).

For additional reporting on this event, see WHSV's write-up.


Posted: 2 months 3 weeks ago
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Have you ever considered getting solar panels for your home or business?  Ever wanted to know more about solar panels in practice, but didn't know anyone with experience with them?  If so, you have a chance this Saturday, October 1, to talk with home and business owners in the central Shenandoah Valley who have solar panels.  This informal "solar tour" will feature installations of both PV and solar thermal panels in locations ranging from Waynesboro to Harrisonburg to Fincastle.  There is no need to sign up, just show up at any of the locations listed here during the availability listed on each location.

These home and business owners will obviously have different levels of knowledge, but all have agreed to be around their homes and answer whatever questions they can about their panels.  The sites range from newly installed systems whose history is measured in months to systems that have been in place for over two decades.  The event is part of a national effort to increase awareness of solar power as a clean and available source of renewable energy.  Hopefully, the more people are able to see installed systems and ask questions about them, the more they will consider solar systems for their own homes.  Also, if you have a solar installation and want to be added to the list, details for getting involved are here.

The event was written up in two newspapers, with articles in the Staunton News Leader and Waynesboro's The News Virginian.

Posted: 3 months 6 days ago
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Related Links

These links may be helpful in finding more information about sustainability, clean energy, and local agriculture.

National 25x'25

  • A Look Back at 2011 Brings With It a Commitment to 2012
  • 'Climate-Smart' Agriculture Includes Accelerating Renewable Energy
  • Level the Playing Field for All Energy Sources
  • Highlighting another Path to Economic, Energy Benefits
  • Ongoing Growth of U.S. Renewable Energy Sector is Cause for Thanks

Renewable Energy World

  • Asia Report: Wind Tower Trade Case Sparks New Questions
  • Renewable Energy Recap: Israel
  • Renewable Energy Recap: Argentina
  • Renewable Energy Recap: Brazil
  • Top 10 Most-read News Stories of 2011

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