The Science of Sustainability

Tag: electricity

What Makes Us Conserve Energy? 6 Lessons from the Smart Grid

What Makes Us Conserve Energy? 6 Lessons from the Smart Grid

Smart meters are providing consumers with hourly and daily energy use information. But does it inspire conservation?

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In a Sea of Energy Data, Utilities Try to Inspire Conservation

In a Sea of Energy Data, Utilities Try to Inspire Conservation

Smart meters are providing California households with their hourly and daily energy use information for the first time. Consumers use less electricity, studies have shown, when they can see that data. But getting them to pay attention to energy in the first place may be the biggest hurdle.

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Mercury Rises on Coal Costs

Mercury Rises on Coal Costs

Half of the airborne mercury pollution in the US comes from coal-fired power plants. After years of study and debate, the Environmental Protection Agency is planning to announce new limits on mercury from coal plants in November. Meanwhile, utilities are scrambling to meet other new federal regulations and industry groups are asking the government to slow down.

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As Renewables Boom, California Struggles to Quit Coal

As Renewables Boom, California Struggles to Quit Coal

California is known for its "green" reputation, so it might be a surprise that residents in Southern California still depend on coal power when they turn on the lights.

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Geothermal Heats Up

Geothermal Heats Up

Solar and wind power may get the headlines when it comes to renewable energy. But another type of clean power is heating up in the hills just north of Sonoma wine country. The Geysers, the world's largest power-producing geothermal field, has been providing electricity for roughly 850,000 Northern California households, and is set to expand even further.

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How Green is Biomass Energy?

How Green is Biomass Energy?

When you think of where energy comes from, you might picture a power plant or maybe wind mills. You probably wouldn't think of a pile of 12 tons of almond shells.

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Reporter's Notes for Energy Storage: The Holy Grail

Reporter's Notes for Energy Storage: The Holy Grail

Energy storage (through batteries) is something we use everyday in our cell phones and computers. So it may be a little surprising that when it comes to the electric grid, storing energy is something that's rarely done.

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Computer Memory Poised to Get Shock Therapy?

Computer Memory Poised to Get Shock Therapy?

In recent years, scientists have been playing around with more exotic forms of data storage. It turns out that some very specialized materials are not only like to be magnetically ordered, but are also naturally charged.

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A Realistic Look at Geothermal Heat Pumps

A Realistic Look at Geothermal Heat Pumps

You can do just fine with a medium-efficiency furnace and burn much less fuel than you would with a high-end system—like a geothermal system—and a leaky house.

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Is Your House Haunted by Electronic Vampires?

Is Your House Haunted by Electronic Vampires?

When it comes to climate, the inside and the outside of Bay Area homes are pretty much the same for most of the year. But there are other energy vampires beyond heating and cooling in California homes that threaten to drain your wallet.

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Producer's Notes – Climate Watch: Unlocking the Grid

Producer's Notes – Climate Watch: Unlocking the Grid

Last summer I visited the Netherlands, the original home of the windmill. Surprisingly, I saw hardly any of the quaint structures we associate with Dutch wind power. One hundred years ago Holland had about 10,000 wooden windmills dotting its landscape. Today, barely 10% remain.

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Reporter's Notes: Do We Need Nuclear?

Reporter's Notes: Do We Need Nuclear?

More people appear to be saying "yes" these days, even if grudgingly. The question is: Is it too late?

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Reporter's Notes: Smart Grid at Home

Reporter's Notes: Smart Grid at Home

I've never paid much attention to my electric meter. For most of us, it's just that box on the side of the house with a small white disk spinning inside, keeping track of our energy use. But over the next three years, all the meters for PG&E customers will be getting a major upgrade to a new, digital SmartMeter.

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QUEST Lab: Five-Cent Battery

QUEST Lab: Five-Cent Battery

How much electrical power will a nickel buy you? This week the Exploratorium shows us how to make an LED flashlight battery for only five cents.

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