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Green Technology

How to Make Geothermal Energy Affordable

December 4, 2017
Geothermal heating affordable

Geothermal heating offers an attractive alternative to traditional fossil fuels. Not only does the price per kilowatt rival that of coal, but geothermal heating also creates significantly less harmful greenhouse gas emissions. The main drawback to this eco-friendly technology is the substantial startup costs of installing the appropriate infrastructure to harness the Earth’s energy.

The initial startup costs are typically what dissuade potential geothermal heating users from implementing the technology. Fortunately, new initiatives are underway which, over time, may make geothermal heating a more affordable and realistic option for multiple consumers.

Encourage Government Investments in Geothermal Research

For years, proponents of geothermal heating encouraged the government to invest more money into geothermal heating research to figure out more affordable and efficient ways to harness the Earth’s natural energy. Recently, the government responded and decided to invest approximately $18 million in geothermal heating research. This funding is primarily being used in pilot studies with existing geothermal technology and researching new methods of using Earth’s energy.

One such research route that could make geothermal heating more accessible and potentially more affordable to a broader range of citizens is the hot, dry rock approach. Historically, the Earth’s natural energy was harvested by using steam or heated water already present underground. One drawback to this method is that unless the resources are carefully managed, they may be depleted early due to improper or overuse.

Hot, dry rock technology involves injecting water from above ground beneath the Earth’s surface into rock formations that are heated naturally. This water can then be converted into steam to drive turbines or heat homes and office buildings. Since the water comes from above ground, the risk of depleting the geothermal resource is decreased. It also potentially increases the number of resources available, as areas without natural hot water formations can still use geothermal energy.

Install Geothermal Heating on a Larger Scale

The average cost of installing geothermal heating in a private home ranges from $20,000 to $25,000 and requires an available plot of land nearly twice the size of the home to be heated. Despite these statistics, the initial investment can pay off in as little as 10 years. On average, most homeowners can’t afford to invest a down payment into making their home eco-friendlier.

Energy companies specializing in geothermal technology could instead work with neighborhoods to install geothermal loops that would serve multiple homes or entire communities and make geothermal heating affordable. This would reduce the overall construction cost, and homeowners could work with the companies to pay back installation fees over time as part of their monthly utility bill. This model is already successfully being employed in Canada, where over 40 percent of the residential heating systems are being upgraded to geothermal heat.

Most utility companies in the United States already employ this type of billing method. Residents and corporations are charged a monthly fee that depends on how much electricity, water or natural gas they use. Implementing a similar service for geothermal heating will ultimately make it affordable and accessible to a wider range of people.

Additionally, more experienced contractors will likely be able to complete geothermal construction projects in a shorter time period with fewer resources, which in turn will lead to reduced construction costs. Communities will then benefit from skilled laborers installing their geothermal systems and reduce the risk of errors.

Develop Better Technology for Locating Geothermal Resources

Only 13 states have known geothermal resources that are deemed suitable for energy generation. This is mainly because geothermal heating resources are underground and not easily identified without drilling technology. New investments in underground exploration or geothermal identification may lead to the discovery of additional resources, which in turn can increase the demand for geothermal energy.

Government subsidies alone aren’t enough to drive the price of geothermal heating into the affordable range for the majority the United States population. Private companies and the government need to continue research in geothermal technologies to develop more efficient methods of tapping into the Earth’s natural heating resource. Over time, larger-scale development of geothermal heating infrastructure may make this energy an affordable option for everyone.

Green Technology

New Technology Helping Save Wildlife

November 27, 2017
Technology helping save wildlife

If you read technology news even on an occasional basis, you’re probably accustomed to reading about chatbots, big data and cloud computing, but news stories about technology helping save wildlife are usually not as prominent. Even so, exciting things are happening to protect our planet’s worthy — but often endangered — creatures.

Advanced Cameras to Track Natural Behaviors

Scientists realize that one of the key factors of understanding extinction is knowing how animals behave in the wild. Then, they can determine if animals are living in ways that make their eventual demise more likely to happen sooner.

To broaden their knowledge, researchers often set up cameras and let them record what animals do. This technique is also known as camera trapping, and it relieves people from having to sit still for hours, hoping the animals will come out.

Today’s recording equipment is significantly more advanced than what was available in the past. For example, modern batteries can keep the cameras operating day and night for months.

Also, some cameras transmit images to scientists on other continents via satellite. The satellite transmissions are an important part of the technology helping save wildlife because they eliminate problems caused by areas of poor mobile phone reception.

Depending on Drones and Artificial Intelligence to Stop Poaching

Unfortunately, humans often contribute to the dangers animals face every day. Poaching is a particularly troubling problem throughout Africa for the elephant and rhino populations. Numerous organizations have experimented with using drones to catch poachers, but The Lindbergh Foundation is going even further to work with new technology helping save wildlife.

It depends on artificial intelligence (AI) to help reduce false alarms and look through collective footage faster. Engineers from Neurala, a deep-learning specialty company, taught the AI to recognize rhinos, elephants and poachers. That acquired knowledge allows the technology to look through real-time footage sent from the drones, including infrared video material captured at night.

Cloning Wildlife to Preserve Biodiversity

Decades ago, Dolly the sheep made headlines as the first cloned animal. Then, people began wondering if cloning in this manner might emerge as a new technology helping save wildlife.

Sadly, Dolly died in 2003 and only lived about half as long as her species usually does. Scientists did not find evidence that cloning contributed to Dolly’s death, but the fact remains that there are many challenges associated with genetics and the risks may outweigh benefits.

Despite that reality, there are efforts to clone endangered or extinct species. People are hopeful that although this practice is probably not a long-term solution to maintain a healthy level of biodiversity, it may offer much-needed short-term assistance while biologists and other wildlife explore more feasible possibilities

Using Circuit Boards to Protect Bees

Over the last couple of years, people have gained a heightened awareness of how beneficial bees are to our environment and that the numbers of them are rapidly dwindling. There are various theories about why that’s happening, but one of the most common among them is that Varroa destructor mites are wreaking havoc for the bees.

A company called Gemalto has created a small circuit board that goes directly inside the bees’ hives. It has 32 sensors that can tell when the Varroa destructor mites enter a hive and lay eggs.

After the circuit board detects a likely case of mite intrusion, it sends the information to a corresponding app. The specialized application can change the temperature of the hive to destroy the mites without pesticides and not harm the bees.

As you can see from these forward-thinking and inspiring examples, there are some significant instances of technology helping save wildlife. It’ll be interesting to see how the techniques outlined here evolve and result in even better strategies for keeping the Earth’s non-human inhabitants safer.

Green Technology

A Roundup of Renewable Energy around the World

November 17, 2017
Renewable energy around the world

The continual consumption of fossil fuels is a serious contributing factor to climate change, and first world countries consume more than their fair share. Renewable energy around the world is one of the best options for working on reducing that. It is not a full solution to climate change, but it can help mitigate the severity of it. At this point, that’s our primary goal.

Although first world countries consume more carbon emissions than others, they are not the only ones trying to solve the carbon crisis. Most countries are trying to work toward green technology. Numerous countries making impressive strides. In fact, some small islands have been able to run entirely off of renewable energy. This is difficult for large nations to replicate because the energy demand is so much higher, but even those achievements are impressive. Costa Rica managed 76 days with only renewable energy sources, and other islands are looking to do the same.

China

China is probably the biggest surprise. They’re the leading country for overall greenhouse gas emissions, but that’s mostly because they’ve got a huge population and a large production industry. They’re also making some fantastic strides in employing renewable technologies, despite their still impressive emissions. Their reasons for doing so may be based more on watching how the new industry can help them financially, but the result is the same. They are sweeping other countries under the rug with their work on renewables.

They have built and are operating vast solar and wind farms. China has a lot of space, and much of it is unpopulated. They have room to build renewable farms on a scale that more developed countries can’t. They have set their own goals, per the Paris Agreement, and one of them is to produce 20 percent of the country’s energy needs with renewables by 2030.

Iceland

Iceland has, impressively, been getting more than 75 percent of its energy from renewable sources. Iceland has an unusual situation since they are well situated to make use of geothermal energy. They don’t need to rely on wind and solar, which are more variable, and can instead depend on a constant, steady supply of power from below their feet. Their luck has made it easy to change from fossil fuels, and they’ve taken full advantage of it.

United States

The U.S. isn’t exactly top dog when it comes to renewables, but it’s still come a long way. In the late 60’s, when rivers started catching fire from all the pollution, a series of environmental policies were enacted. That curbed a lot of the U.S. emissions from companies, but the per capita emissions in the U.S. are still some of the highest in the world.

Cities and corporations in the U.S. are making a concentrated effort to take their own measures to move toward renewable energy sources. Tesla is aiming to make electric cars available to everyone, but they’re also working on solar power for everyone. In fact, they’ve designed an entire roof made of solar panels.

And despite the government’s efforts, the U.S. has made significant strides. In the past seven years, the U.S. has reduced energy emissions by over 12 percent. That’s not a huge number, and it’s certainly not high enough, but it’s a good start.

Africa

A lot of people don’t talk about Africa, but it’s one of the biggest consumers of renewable energy in the world. A big part of that comes from the fact that they never had a solidly established fossil fuel system, so they have nothing to change from. They can only gain energy, and a lot of that comes from green tech. The other significant factor is that the fossil fuel industry has less of a hold in Africa. The energy supply there is expected to at least double by 2030, and a massive portion of that is likely to be from renewable energy.

The efforts that are being put into renewable energy around the world is impressive. All countries need to get on board, and if they don’t do it because it’s good for the planet, they should do it because it’ll be good for their pockets. Ignoring the worldwide trend of energy consumption would be like ignoring the Industrial Revolution. Doing so will leave you in the dust.

Green Technology

5 Eco-Friendly Ways to Heat Your Home This Winter

November 6, 2017
eco-friendly ways to heat your home

Heating is expensive, time-consuming and often damaging to the earth, though during the cold months it’s necessary. Fortunately, there are some eco-friendly ways to heat your home throughout the winter:

1. Geothermal Heating

The first of the eco-friendly ways to heat your home is geothermal heating, which is arguably one of the most ambitious ways to embrace green living and the most costly. The average cost of installing geothermal heating is between $20,000 – $25,000. Additionally, you will need a nice plot of land, double the area that your home covers.

A major advantage of geothermal heating is that the system will work as a complete HVAC system. Geothermal heating works via a loop. Underground temperatures fluctuate much less than our atmosphere. In the summer the loop feeds in cold air from the ground to cool your home, and in the winter the loops feed in warm air from the ground to keep you toasty.

If you have the budget, this costly investment will pay for itself within a decade and has been proven to last for generations.

2. Solar Heating

Solar energy is plentiful and a great alternative to fossil fuel heating. Like geothermal heating, solar is a considerable investment.

While leasing solar panels may seem like an easier way to get started, the lease can affect the resale value of your home. It is costly to remove solar panels, and many buyers do not want an additional expense each month on top of a new mortgage.

Additionally, some buyers see solar panels as an eyesore. Fortunately, companies like Tesla are driving the market forward by creating solar roofs that have a traditional shingle look.

If buying solar panels or investing in a geothermal heating system is out of your price range, even after tax incentives, there are a few cheaper options to get you started. The best way to get started with making your home more eco-friendly is through small changes.

3. Pellet Stove

Budget pellet stoves start at about $1000 and are less costly to install than a traditional wood burning stove. They do not need a traditional chimney for ventilation and installation can occur wherever sidewall ventilation is available in your home.

More importantly, they are more efficient (between 70% – 80% EPA efficiency rating) and are an effective way to use organic waste that you can otherwise discard. If you never learned how to build a fire, the learning curve on a pellet stove is much more forgiving. Just light the pellets and enjoy the heat. Some models even have an automatic system.

One drawback to consider is that a pellet stove needs electricity to function. It’s best to have a backup option as winter storms can bring heavy snow and wind that bring down power lines.

4. Get Up and Move

It doesn’t get more eco-friendly than relying on your energy. Our resting heating temperatures in our homes have risen due to sedentary lifestyles and computer-focused work.

Sixty-five degrees is comfortable if you are moving throughout the day, though can give you a chill if you stay still. Schedule regular get up and move breaks to help keep yourself mobile, more focused, and to generate more heat. Being more active is the cheapest way to add more heat to your home at the bargain price of free, especially when combined with the other options here.

5. Radiant Floor Heating

With equipment installed under the floor, radiant floor heat offers a non-intrusive form of heating that offers considerable efficiency, since there’s no heat lost through ductwork. Radiant floor heat also operates more quietly and is less likely to distribute allergens than forced air systems. Contrary to the belief of some, radiant floor heat can install in already-constructed homes. Additionally, programmable thermostats and solar panels can be compatible with radiant floor heat.

Finding eco-friendly ways to heat your home can be efficient and won’t require you to sacrifice the comfort level in your home throughout the winter.

Green Technology

Apps to Help You Live a Greener Lifestyle

October 30, 2017
Apps to Help you Live a Greener Lifestyle

The environment. A debate rages on in society about it. Whichever side you are on, saving the environment is hugely important. Every day, individuals make a choice. They might make an active choice and try and help clean the environment, or they may choose to do nothing.

But what if you want to do something? Where do you start? Luckily, there’s an app for that!

I’ve compiled a list of five apps to help you live a greener lifestyle.

1. Dropcountr

Do you know how much water you use every day? If not, don’t worry. Most people don’t. It’s easy to lose track of, considering you use water in a variety of tasks and activities every day. From laundry to cooking and using the restroom, water gets consumed.

This app tracks your water consumption. It shows you how much you use daily, weekly or even yearly. It’s a fantastic app that will open your eyes to the amount of water you go through. After using it, you’ll probably change your water consumption habits.

2. GoodGuide

Scavenger of cleaning supplies, the app gives you the information you may not have known about the product.

It provides you with a wonderful way to figure out how environmentally-friendly the products you buy every day are.

3. Carbon

people want to eliminate. But, what can you do to lower your carbon emissions

The Carbon app shows you roughly how much carbon you bring into the atmosphere. From there, your objective becomes lowering your score to help the environment. It’s a gamified app, meaning game-like aspects present themselves and make the app more fun than most.

Carbon also shows you which power plants you obtain your electricity from, which is a unique feature almost no other app gives you.

4. Oroeco

Eliminating your carbon footprint is impossible at this point. However, you can minimize it by implementing a variety of strategies, and Oroeco is an app that can help you accomplish this.

Answering a few questions tells you how you’re impacting climate change. Once you get your score, active strategies appear that show what you can do to improve your score and to minimize your impact on the fluctuating climate.

5. EWG’s Food Scores

You may be wondering what’s in your food. After all, you buy it from so many places that it’s difficult to pinpoint what is going into the production of it. Fear not, as this app appeases these concerns. First off, the app provides you with valuable nutritional information. However, the coolest aspect of the app is the contaminants section.

The app tells you the likelihood that your food is contaminated — not with anything particularly nasty, but it does show things like pesticides and hormones. If you like eating pure food, this app may be for you!

Go Green in Simple Ways

Apps can help you in so many ways. And these apps help you live a greener lifestyle. If you care about the environment, try out one, or all of them. You’ll be happy, and the environment will be happy too.

Green Technology

The Statistics of Coal and Oil Workers vs. Renewable Energy Workers

October 6, 2017

Investment in renewable energy has steadily risen, and consequently, so have the number of renewable energy workers has risen. As the nation transitions from traditional fossil fuel to clean energy sources, one looming question remains: What will happen to the workers in the coal and oil industries?

By the Numbers

The renewable energy and alternative fuel industries employed close to 1 million Americans in 2016, compared to 200,000 workers in the combined fossil fuel industries of coal, gas and oil. Including part-time employees in these statistics raises the total number of Americans working in renewables by another 2 million.

Solar energy employed the largest number of renewable workers, with nearly 360,000 part-time and full-time employees. Wind power came in second, with 100,000 employees. By contrast, the coal industry employed just over 86,000 workers, followed by the oil and petroleum industry, which employed more than 12,000 workers in 2016.

In 2016, solar energy added over 74,000 new positions, and wind energy added nearly 25,000, for a combined total of nearly 100,0000 new jobs in the renewables field.

Over 700,000 Americans work in positions focused on improving the fuel efficiency of vehicles or investigating alternative fuels for transportation.

Not included in these statistics are the 2.3 million workers employed in distribution, energy storage and transmission in the energy efficiency sector.

Industry Transition

Employment in the wind power sector grew by 32 percent in 2016, while employment in the solar power industry increased by 25 percent. As a whole, the renewable job market is expected to increase by nine percent next year. The coal industry has steadily decreased the number of job opportunities offered since 2012. The fossil fuel market, including coal and oil, is expected to decline by three percent over the next year.

The loss of fossil fuel positions is due, in part, to multiple coal plants shutting down in recent years. Competition with inexpensive natural gas, stricter federal regulations and increased interest in renewable energy are the primary reasons for the closures.

Future of Coal and Oil

As opportunities in the coal and oil industries decrease, workers will need to learn new skills to transition into the renewables market if they wish to remain in the energy sector.

The renewables market offers positions for recent graduates and trained managers transitioning from coal plants and the oil industry. However, skilled laborers looking for new opportunities would need additional training to make this change. As governments push to decarbonize their economies, they should also consider how to transfer the energy industry workforce.

Unfortunately, renewable energy sources are not equal throughout the country. The Midwest is a leader in wind power due to the high number of wind resources, while California and Nevada lead the way in solar power.

West Virginia and Wyoming are the two leading states for coal energy production and lack the same access to renewable energy resources. Nearly three percent of Wyoming’s and two percent of West Virginia’s workforce are employed in the coal industry.

As the nation moves toward carbon-free sources of energy generation, job opportunities will shift from the coal and gas industries to the renewable energy sector. For workers to take advantage of these new opportunities, they will need to learn the new skills required to qualify for these positions.

Green Technology

RiverWatch Technology Provides Solution for Polluted Water

September 25, 2017
RiverWatch Technology

To efficiently combat water pollution, scientists, environmental groups, governments and citizens need access to accurate information about water quality. Unfortunately, this data has historically been hard to come by — especially for citizens. The reason is simple: modern technology is expensive and complex. Because of this, water quality isn’t regularly tested in many areas throughout the world.

Here’s the good news: a project out of New Zealand — where water quality data is available for less than 10 percent of the waterways — is seeking to change that with a new device known as RiverWatch.

What is RiverWatch Technology? 

A group called Water Action Initiative (WAI) along with students from Victoria University developed a device that measures water quality and makes the data available to the public.

The device, called RiverWatch, is designed for placement in waterways either on a temporary or permanent basis. It measures pH levels, chemical composition, temperature, conductivity, turbidity and discoloration. WAI then uploads that information to its website and makes it available on a phone app.

The solar-powered RiverWatch device is designed to be cost-effective and easy to use. The base unit can be built for one-tenth the price of current monitoring technology, the company claims. Each unit costs around $2,000. And since WAI is a non-profit organization, its income goes back into conservation efforts.

RiverWatch won the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) 2016 Conservation Innovation Award and is a finalist in the 2017 Wellington Gold Awards. The organization plans to launch a crowdfunding campaign soon to start producing the device.

The Importance of Water Quality

Water analysis technology has seen rapid growth in recent years thanks to major advances in optical sensors and biosensors. These new technologies have enabled remote sensing and the use of smart technologies that provide real-time information and insights. Robotic fish equipped with small sensors have even been used to locate sources of hazardous pollution.

Water quality also has significant impacts on human health, the economy and the environment, and over the next 100 years, clean water will become increasingly scarce. Unsafe or insufficient water, hygiene and sanitation lead to an estimated 3.1 percent of all deaths worldwide and a number of health conditions.

Water pollution also harms the livelihoods of people who depend on water to make a living, including fishermen and some of those in the tourism industry. Although monitoring and improving water quality can be expensive, the economic impacts make these efforts worthwhile. It’s estimated that every dollar invested in sanitation and drinking water results in $3 to $34 in economic development.

The founders of RiverWatch hope their device will provide more people with the information they need to fix water pollution problems by providing efficient monitoring at an affordable cost. By making this information available to more people, water quality may rise around the world, leading to improved environmental, human and economic health.

Green Technology

Can Solar Energy Reduce Global Temperatures by Harnessing Sunlight?

September 11, 2017
Solar Energy

Solar energy does have the potential to reduce global temperatures, though, in order to make any impact, it would need to be used more frequently and replace the use of traditional fossil fuels.

In 2011, 0.5 percent of the world’s energy came from solar energy, according to the Center for Climate and Energy Solutions. By comparison, in 2013, the World Energy Council reported 80 percent of the world’s energy came from fossil fuels.

Global Temperature Rise

When fossil fuels are burned, carbon dioxide releases into the atmosphere. Though carbon dioxide has the ability to escape the atmosphere, it happens at a slower rate than it is reintroduced through the burning of fossil fuels. The growing global population has led to an increased energy demand, which will lead to an increase in energy consumption and will inevitably lead to an increase in global temperatures.

If solar energy were used in place of fossil fuels, carbon dioxide emissions could be reduced by up to 90 percent. Unlike fossil fuel, solar energy doesn’t release carbon dioxide into the atmosphere, and therefore, doesn’t contribute to the global temperature rise. Global temperatures could actually decline as more carbon dioxide may leave the atmosphere through plants and outer-space than was generated through energy consumption.

Urban Heat Index

The Urban Heat Index (UHI), or the heat island phenomenon, is the increased temperature in urban areas caused by human activities. Primarily, the UHI is caused by changes in land usage. The secondary cause of UHI is the generation of waste heat by electricity usage. The UHI effect can range anywhere from one to six degrees higher from neighboring rural areas in the daytime, and can hit 22 degrees higher during the night.

Solar energy can reduce the effects of the UHI by blocking the amount of heat absorbed by a building and the other materials in urban landscapes. This can cause an increased need for additional energy consumption during the winter, but in turn, reduces the need for air conditioning in the summer. Global climates that experience mild winters and hotter summers may benefit the most from the installation of solar energy technologies.

Current Solar Energy Technology

Three types of solar energy technology are presently utilized, including concentrated solar energy (CSE), solar thermal energy and photovoltaic systems, more commonly known as solar panels. Concentrated solar energy and solar thermal energy both use mirrors to direct the sun’s energy onto a receiver, which then transfers the energy to a carrier medium, which is heated, and then drives a steam turbine. Solar panels generate electricity when particles of light, known as photons, remove electrons from the atoms on the photovoltaic cells in the solar panels.

All three types of solar energy technology are produced using heavy metals and fossil fuels during the manufacturing process, which negatively impact the global temperature rise.

Drawbacks

Global climates with high levels of annual precipitation or those subject to overcast conditions could lack the ability to generate enough solar energy to meet their needs, which would require them to rely on fossil fuels or an alternate energy source to make up the difference.

Solar energy can’t be generated at night. Countries at higher latitudes with less sunlight in the winter may not be viable candidates for solar power year-round and need to investigate alternatives.

As a whole, the components used to generate solar energy are more expensive than those used to generate energy from fossil fuels.

Ultimately, though solar energy has the potential to reduce the overall global temperature, it isn’t likely enough countries could afford to convert from burning fossil fuels to make a large enough impact.

Green Technology

What Is the Future of Gas and Oil Companies?

September 1, 2017
Future of gas and oil

The future of gas and oil companies seems to have drastically altered in the past few years. It’s shaped economies and political landscapes. We use oil and gas to get much of our energy and the heat for our homes. We use gasoline to fuel our vehicles.

Oil and gas companies, however, typically don’t have the best reputation. Many people consider them money-hungry and get lots of press coverage for oil spills and other accidents.

This, as well as the emissions they release, makes them less than popular with environmentally minded folks. While more eco-friendly than coal, they aren’t as green as renewables like hydro, solar and wind, which have no emissions, so what does this mean for the future of gas and oil companies?

Changes in the Market

Oil and natural gas changed the electricity market dramatically, and it’s still going through changes. In a recent Department of Energy report, which Energy Secretary Rick Perry ordered, researchers cited the economic advantages of natural gas as the main reason for the closure of a number of coal and nuclear plants.

They also named the increasing popularity of renewables as a secondary reason for the shutdowns. Over the last decade, the percentage of energy demand met by renewables in the U.S. almost doubled, driven by solar and wind. People have been increasingly installing solar panels on their rooftops and opting for electric cars as well.

Green Initiatives

In response to these changes, oil and gas companies have been either continuing with their usual practices or starting, perhaps hesitantly, to make their businesses a little bit greener.

Oil companies have in the past funded research into new energy resources or low-carbon technologies. Exxon Mobil, for example, funded algae biofuel research in 2009 to the tune of $100 billion. It canceled the project due to a lack of economic feasibility.

Some activists claimed the project was a scam meant to show that alternatives to oil aren’t viable. Other oil companies, too, have started and then stopped green initiatives.

Cleaner Oil and Gas?

New technologies aimed at making oil and gas — as well as other emissions-heavy technologies — cleaner are also now making their way to the forefront of energy industry discussions. Carbon capture and storage (CCS) have the potential to capture up to 90 percent of carbon emissions before they’re released into the atmosphere.

Those captured emissions may then be stored underground or used for other purposes. These technologies are currently being researched and developed, but if they make it to implementation, they may make natural gas and oil greener resources.

Investing in Renewables

The renewable energy market is still much smaller than that of the oil and gas industry, but it’s growing at a rate that makes it impossible for oil and gas companies to ignore. They’ve shown some interest in investing in renewables, but it’s difficult to say how exactly that will transpire. Oil companies have invested in renewables before but eventually backed off.

Oil companies have realized that renewables are a potential threat to their business. Shell even released a report that found solar could become the dominant energy source by the end of this century.

Because of the growth of renewable resources and the technological momentum behind that growth, oil and gas companies are starting to invest in solar, wind, battery technologies and more. Oil companies in Europe especially are getting in on the renewables market to protect the future of their business.

The energy market is undergoing significant shifts due to technological, regulatory, economic and other changes. While the oil and gas industry is still strong now, things may change in the future. What the future of gas and oil companies looks like depends on how they adapt to market demands.

Green Technology

How to Be More Eco-Friendly Even If You Drive Everywhere

August 21, 2017
Eco-Friendly even if You Drive

“Go green” is a battle cry we hear now in every part of our lives. It’s a call to reduce our energy use and to use our resources more wisely. It challenges us to look inward and see where we can make changes to live a “greener” lifestyle. Some of our energy-wasting habits need only minor tweaks to make a difference.

But let’s face it — there are certain things you can’t change. If you live in New York and you have to go to a wedding in California, riding your bike there is probably out of the question. The easiest way to get there is by an energy-guzzling airplane.

How far you live from work will dictate your commute. There are limitations to how far you can realistically walk each day, and some routes aren’t navigable by bicycle. If you don’t live in a walkable, bikeable area, you may be forced to drive your car wherever you go — even if you are environmentally conscious. What are some things you can do to be more ecologically friendly, even if burning fossil fuel is a necessity for you?

Work from Home

The simplest solution — and the best way to save energy — is to not drive as often. See if your employers will allow you to work from home one day per week or more, as schedules and commitments allow. That saves trips to and from the office. Figure out how much gas you use each trip, and do the math. You will save energy, money and wear on your vehicle.

Share the Commute

Whether working from home is feasible or not, you can also save energy by carpooling with like-minded, energy-conscious coworkers. Minus the extra travel to each other’s homes, you’ll reduce energy use by one vehicle per person. This will give you extra time to strategize over work issues — or just gripe about them. It’s a great coworker bonding experience, as well.

Maintain Your Vehicle

No one likes to bring their vehicle into the dealership or service station if there is nothing wrong with it. Too often, it can feel like they are looking to “fix” things that aren’t broken, and you can almost feel their hands reaching into your wallet. But just like it’s best to see your doctor regularly before you are ill, it’s wise to have your vehicle regularly inspected.

Oil leaks pollute the environment. Inefficient engines waste gasoline. Your vehicle’s exhaust system cleans and minimizes the amount of harmful fumes entering our air. Some states require regular inspections to make sure they comply. The good news is, newer vehicles are equipped with warning lights to alert you of almost every problem you could be having.

But regular maintenance can mean catching those problems before a light goes on. There are also a few things you can do yourself — such as oil changes — which do not require a mechanic and a hefty service fee.

Maintain Adequate Tire Pressure

Tire pressure

You might not think too much about your tires, but everything rests on top of them! Tires need to be inflated to their proper pressure. This number is usually posted on a sticker inside the driver’s-side door. A typical commuter vehicle tire pressure is 30 to 35 pounds per square inch (PSI).

Invest in a tire pressure gauge, which should be easy to find at an auto supply store or any department or grocery store with an automotive section. Tires might look properly inflated, but don’t rely on eyeballing them — take a few minutes to check them weekly. Most vehicles have a tire pressure warning light that illuminates when the tire pressure is low. However, that light doesn’t come on until they are well below their required pressure.

According to the U.S. Department of Energy, an underinflated tire will reduce gas mileage 0.4 percent for every one PSI. Again, do the math. It’s easy to waste gas without knowing, and even easier to prevent it. In addition to a tire gauge, it’s a good idea to invest in an electric air pump. They can be used remotely, powered by your vehicle’s auxiliary outlet and often come with gauges built in.

Be particularly careful in the winter, when colder temperatures can reduce tire pressure. In addition to underinflated tires lowering your vehicle’s MPG, they will also affect your ability to steer and brake in harsher driving conditions.

Drive Green

  • Plan your routes to conserve energy and save time. Combine errands into one efficient trip.
  • Don’t use the air conditioning without thinking about it. The AC takes a lot of extra energy and strains your engine. Listen to the sound when it’s on. That’s your engine making the extra effort to cool you down. Don’t suffer, but use it consciously.
  • Don’t speed excessively. The faster you drive, the more energy you use. It’s best to stay within the posted speed limit.
  • When approaching a red light, take your foot off the gas and decelerate gradually, rather than braking hard at the last moment. This conserves energy.
  • Don’t rapidly accelerate from a traffic light. It takes more power — and, therefore, more fuel — to move your vehicle that quickly.
  • Use cruise control to maintain a constant speed and make your drive more efficient.
  • If you are off the road and will be stopped for a long time, shut the engine off rather than leaving it running. Anything over a minute or two is wasting gasoline.

For most working people, a car is a realistic must, not a choice. No one wants to pollute the environment, but we need to drive to work to make money and support our families. We can control, limit and reduce our energy use, but we can’t stop it. If you must drive everywhere, do so as eco-consciously as possible, and spread the advice to your family, friends and coworkers.