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Greenhouse Gas Limits to Stop Growth of Coal-Burning Plants

March 27, 2012 16:56 by Bran

Did you know that coal power plants emit, on average, 1,768 pounds of carbon dioxide per megawatt?  That's in contrast to the mere 850 pounds of CO2 per megawatt cast out by a natural gas plant.  As you can see, there's a huge discrepancy in the amount of greenhouse gas emissions each power plant produces. 

That's why, according to the Washington Post, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) issued "the first-ever limits on greenhouse gas emissions from new power plants" today.  And while the rule won't affect existing coal power plants, it will likely prevent many new coal-fired plants from being erected.  The Washington Post reports: "The rule ... dooms any proposal to build a coal-fired plant that does not have costly carbon controls."

America's job market is not expected to be affected because much of the market has already shifted.  That is, many utilities are already opting to build natural gas plants due to low natural gas prices. "It’s simply a shift from a dirtier fuel to a cleaner fuel," President of the Center for Clean Air Policy Ned Helme said.

But Republicans in both the Senate and House of Representatives plan to fight the rule, claiming that it's part of a larger, job-killing agenda.

What do you think?  Is the new rule too harsh on coal-burning power plants?

Renewable Energy: What are My Options?

October 24, 2008 15:59 by human

This blog outlines the different types of renewable energy, and how exactly they are produced. Generating clean and environmentally-efficient power is easier than you think, and there is a ton of research and development in the renewable energy market going on right now. The push for renewable energy standards is a hot topic, so understanding what your options are will help you understand where the renewable energy market may be headed in the near and distant future.


The power of water is abundant—approximately 73 percent of all renewable energy according to the Energy Information Administration (EIA). Hydropower is generated using the mechanical energy of flowing water by forcing it through piping called a penstock, which then turns a generator in order to produce electricity. Water power also consists of wave and tidal energy, which are both in the infant stage of research, as scientists try to discover how to harness the energy produced from movement of the ocean. The Hoover Dam is the largest hydropower system in the U.S.

Solar Power

Solar cells made from silicon absorb the sun's radiation, also called photovoltaic cells. The photovoltaic process involves the movement and displacement of electrons to absorb the sun's radiation and create electricity, but there are also solar systems that use large-scale mirrors to heat water, or produce high temperatures and generate steam, which is used to turn a generator.

Wind Power

Wind power is a very simple process. A wind turbine converts the kinetic energy (motion) of wind into mechanical energy that is used to generate electricity. The energy is fed through a generator, converted a second time into electrical energy, then fed into the grid to be transmitted to a power station. Wind power is abundant in California and Texas, with the two largest wind farms in the world residing in West Texas. Wind is unique because it carries incentives for farmers to give parcels of land for building wind turbines, and has the most potential as far as widespread adoption due to the large areas of land with consistent wind available to harness.

Geothermal Power

The process involves trapping heat underground, then building energy that rises near the surface in the form of heat. When this heat naturally creates hot water or steam, it is harnessed and then used to turn a steam turbine to generate electricity. The Italians were the first to use geothermal energy for commercial purposes in the early 1900s.


Biomass is a very versatile form of renewable energy. Biomass power plants burn biomass fuel in boilers to heat water and turn a steam turbine to create electricity. Biomass fuel is everything from wood to landfill trash, which is currently being used to convert into methane for the production of dry natural gas. Agricultural research is seeing unique results, including dairy farms in Texas converting cow manure into energy.

What Is Renewable Energy?

October 16, 2008 10:05 by human

All the energy we use comes from the earth. The electricity we use every day doesn't come directly from the earth, but we make electricity using the earth's resources, like coal or natural gas.


Both coal and natural gas are called “fossil fuels” because they were formed deep under the earth during dinosaur times.

The problem is that fossil fuels can't be replaced - once we use them up, they're gone forever. Another problem is that fossil fuels can cause pollution.

Renewable energy is made from resources that Nature will replace, like wind, water and sunshine.

Renewable energy is also called “clean energy” or “green power” because it doesn’t pollute the air or the water.

Why don’t we use renewable energy all the time?

Unlike natural gas and coal, we can’t store up wind and sunshine to use whenever we need to make more electricity. If the wind doesn’t blow or the sun hides behind clouds, there wouldn’t be enough power for everyone.

Another reason we use fossil fuels like coal and natural gas is because they’re cheaper. It costs more money to make electricity from wind, and most people aren’t willing to pay more on their monthly utility bills.

How can we use renewable energy?

You might be using renewable energy today without knowing it! Iowa is home to more than 600 wind turbines, creating enough electricity to power 140,000 homes. Wisconsin and Minnesota also have lots of wind farms – and the number is growing every day.