Tag Archives: Renewable energy

Volunteer or Exhibit at the 2013 Renewable Roundup in Fredericksburg!

The Renewable Energy Roundup and Green Living Fair is now just over two weeks away.  Be sure you have signed up for your exhibit booth and/or sponsorship and that you are letting your new and potential customers know that they can visit you at the largest sustainable event in the South!
Check out our three days worth of panels and speakers
then sign up to attend or volunteer TODAY!
.

Roundup Art 2013

September 27 – 29, 2013

MarketPlatz

100 E. Main Street

Fredericksburg, Texas  78624

Plan to join us for another Roundup, this year back to being a three day event full of tent talks, demonstrations, and green energy saving or energy making products from our exhibitors.

For further details including sponsorship and
exhibitor signups please visit:

www.TheRoundup.org

PARTNER LEVEL SPONSORS

PATRON LEVEL SPONSORS


FRIEND LEVEL SPONSORS




ASSOCIATE LEVEL SPONSORS

SUPPORTING ORGANIZATIONS



Urban Poultry Association of Texas

MEDIA SPONSORS

 



Would you also like Texas Renewable Energy Roundup & Green Living Fair on Facebook?

Would you link to our Linkedin Page The Renewable Energy Roundup & Green Living Fair?

Would you join our Google+ Community – Renewable Energy Roundup & Green Living Fair
Would you follow us on Twitter @TXGreenRoundup

For more information:
Contact: Laura Rice
Phone: (830) 997-2350
Email: lrice@treia.org

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Coal Pollution Effects on Human Health

Coal fired power plants are the single largest source of pollution in any country. http://saferenvironment.wordpress.com/2008/09/05/coal-fired-power-plants-and-pollution/

Coal fired power plants are the single largest source of pollution in any country.

Coal-fired power plant emissions contribute to global warming, ozone smog, acid rain, regional haze, and – perhaps most consequential of all from a public health standpoint- fine particle pollution. Emissions from the U.S. power sector cause tens of thousands of premature deaths each year, and hundreds of thousands of heart attacks, asthma attacks, hospital admissions, and lost workdays. So why are these power plants still up and running, and more importantly, why are there still planned developments of new plants?

To simplify things, public health concerns have focused, for at least the last decade, on the role of very small airborne particles in causing or contributing to various forms of respiratory and cardiopulmonary ailments and increasing the risk of premature death. These fine particles are particularly dangerous because they can bypass your body’s defensive mechanisms and become lodged deep inside your lungs. In fact, research also indicates that short-term exposures to fine particle pollution is linked to cardiac effects, including increased risk of heart attack. Meanwhile, long-term exposure to fine particle pollution has been shown to increase the risk of death from cardiac and respiratory diseases and lung cancer, resulting in shorter life-expectancy for people living in the most polluted cities. So who are the people that are most likely to be exposed to these health risks? In general, the poor, minority groups, and people who live in the areas downwind of multiple power plants. And unfortunately, persistent elevated levels of fine particle pollution are common across wide areas of the U.S., mainly in the east.

The adverse effects, including abnormally high levels of mortality, occur even at low ambient concentrations of fine particles—suggesting there is no “safe” threshold for this type of pollution. Since most fine particle-related deaths are thought to occur within a year or two of exposure, reducing power plant pollution will have almost immediate benefits. Below is a very nice table that I found from Physicians for Social Responsibility, outlining various diseases/conditions connected to coal pollutants.

Coal Pollution vs human Health

As it stands, we are at a turning point for determining the U.S.’s future energy policies. The health consequences tied to coal production are vast and have major impacts. We need to address the issue of coal-fired energy production, and we need to address it now. There should be NO new construction of coal fired power plants, and we must initiate plans to retire as many coal plants as possible that are currently in production.

Finally, as a nation, we must develop our capacity to produce energy from clean, safe, renewable sources in order to phase out the existing coal plants without compromising the ability to meet the nations energy needs. Instead of investing any more of our money into coal, the U.S. should fund conservation measures, energy efficiency, and renewable energy sources such as wind energy and solar power, which don’t have such a negative effect on public health.

Written by: Courtney Dunphy

Renewable Roundup and Green Living Fair 2013

Mark you calendars everyone. The Renewable Energy Roundup and Green Living Fair of 2013 is just around the corner. This event is set to begin Friday, September the 27th  in beautiful Fredericksburg, Texas and plans to live up to the title of the largest all-sustainable event in the south, and the best!  This fair is a wonderful opportunity to have a great time with the family and see the newest up-and-coming developments for our environment.  The focus of the event is to present the latest information and technology concerning renewable energy, alternative transportation solutions, sustainable farming, and new efficient building technologies. As such, you can learn how to create and save your own energy, attend informative talks from a variety of green living experts, learn about the next generation in personal transportation technology, talk with the vendors about cutting-edge green living and sustainability practices, and – of course – take home or order some of the many products and services offered at the fair.

The fair will be taking place over the course of three days, Friday, September the 27th through Sunday the 29th and will be located in the MarketPlaza (100 East Main Street, 78624 Fredericksburg, Texas). If you’re curious about what you will be experiencing on any given day be prepared for exhibits and on-going demonstrations, fun learning activities for the kids, local and delicious eats, live musical performances and dozens of speakers all neighboring the beautiful Fredericksburg shopping district. For those who want to be closer into the action you can volunteer and contribute your time and skills all while earning a weekend pass and a one of a kind commemorative t-shirt with a unique design created by artist Hunter Ratcliff especially for the fair. You can choose to join and be alongside the hundred plus companies, agencies, and non-profit organizations spread out across the fairgrounds presenting this one of a kind event. You can also apply for an opportunity to speak at the fair and join the talented speakers who will be featuring hands-on information for consumers, the latest in green technology developments, and much more. There will be a wide variety of speakers giving presentations such as “Help Secure Your Future with a 100% Life Sustaining Capable Home,” “Waste to Water For Texas,” “Honey Bee Rescue and Rehabilitation,” “Growing Organic Vegetables all Winter,” “Saving Water through Solar Living,”  “Shifting our Economy by Investing in Local Food Systems,” “Air, Water, and Solar Power on the International Space Station,” and many more.  For more information on how to volunteer, have an exhibit of your own, or be a speaker you can go to theroundup.org to learn more. And for those who care to partake, there will be new Belgium, 100 percent wind-powered brewery’s beers and ales for sale. Also please remember to bring your own reusable water bottle to keep with the theme of the event as filtered water stations will be provided throughout the grounds.     

Not only is this fair a chance to get out of the house and have a fun time with the family, but also a chance to learn something new and take a step towards a healthy environment at the same time. This event fosters greater self-reliance and a more sustainable Texas for a growing population. For more details and information you can visit the official Renewable Energy Roundup and Green Living Fair website and be sure to come out for a fun and informative good time.

Written by: Christina Farrell

 

Teaching Kids to Care

The Beyond Coal project is the top topic in the Lone Star Chapter, and rightfully so. With the Rally for Renewables last Thursday, I had planned on blogging specifically about the Fayette Coal Plant and the potential follow-up options after its future closing. Yeah, sure, why not? It seemed the obvious choice. Until some youngster indicated otherwise.

While filming the rally, I ran into a kid who, despite his fatigue from the heat, readily answered my questions on the state of the environment. I’m afraid that I cannot upload any video here yet, but to provide a quick summary, this little guy said he thought coal is bad for the environment and that people shouldn’t have to breathe the chemicals and ash it pumps into the air. He also said he would want wind and solar energy instead. And he has hardly entered the first grade.

The fact that the kid didn’t have to stop and think about his answers (and that his dad wasn’t prompting him) impressed me most with this interview. His readiness made me recall the importance of raising awareness of the environment in students in primary education. As part of UT Austin’s Club for Environmental Outreach, I have focused on this issue for some time. So, I think the time has come for me to shed some light on this issue.

We at the Sierra Club understand the significance of educating the public on the environment, and we pursue that end tirelessly – just as global conditions tirelessly worsen. The millennials will have the greatest challenge yet in confronting this mounting terror. Should we not focus on involving them in the future of the environment, for their own safety if not for anything else? Many have leapt up in an effort to do this, but not before many sprung up to prevent America’s failing education system from crashing altogether.

I came across a recent NPR article about the popular new “Common Core” standards that have been adopted in 45 states. They might not address scientific educational standards that would include environmental curricula, but these changes at least show some desire to redirect the US education system. It would seem that some hope lay in sight for the nation’s posterity.

But for the generations of future Texans, such hope is about as visible as Rick Perry is credible. Just look to this map of the 45 continental states that have given the green light to Common Core (credit goes to corestandards.org); it probably won’t surprise:

Screen Shot 2013-06-30 at 11.03.29 PM

Yes, Texas stands alone in the South as one of the 5 stubborn states opposing Common Core. Now, I’m not naive enough to believe that a step forward for Texas education will come soon in science, of all things; I still fear that my nephew will ask me for help with drawing a venn diagram comparing Evolution and Creationism (all eyes still on the Texas State BoE).

On the subject of young students, however, I return to the importance of educating future generations about their environment and how to be eco-friendly. Clearly, the public education system at large cannot commit to this, especially in Texas. So, it is the duty of environmentalists – as members of our local and state communities, as teachers, as big brothers and sisters, as parents, aunts, and uncles – to inform future generations of the looming (and melting) obstacles ahead. If we do not, they might run into calamities of titanic proportions.

Still, the full force of environmentalism cannot inform these students if their core educational principles do not change. So let us take a step back: if public schools cannot educate students on such important issues as the environment, what can it do? Well, for a start, it might better learn how to teach future voters how to form a caring opinion. The voter turn out in the US is increasingly deplorable, and that is no secret. Perhaps this stems from the education system’s paranoia of politics and appearing to take a particular stance. Sorry, Everytown ISD – time to grow a backbone.

No need to herald some political leaning or endorse a candidate here. Just teach kids the importance of forming their own opinions – it’s part of teaching citizenship. More importantly, teach students to inform themselves of their own free will. I do realize that environmentalism ideally would not be considered a “political” issue, since it concerns forces that affect all humans and that no government can control or alter. However, with that in mind, the ideal result of teaching students the value of seeking information in earnest would generate general support for environmentalism. Even more ideally, the US Government would run far more smoothly and voter turn-out would improve as citizens rushed to provide their involved, informed consent at the polls.

I salute the aims of Common Core, but the true goal may be missed here: the time has come for the public education system  to start teaching students how to choose and how to inform themselves with care. Once such values are in place, then we environmentalists can truly turn these millennials into little green men and women by involving and informing them. Perhaps then the government that all too often slows the will of the people, would drive us to a more agreeable – and hopefully, greener – future.

– Harry Watson, Conservation Intern

Rally for Renewables in Austin

SIerra Club members and volunteers outside AUstin CIty Hall on Thursday June 20th.

SIerra Club members and volunteers outside Austin CIty Hall on Thursday June 20th.

Last week, members and volunteers with Sierra Club showed their support at the Rally for Renewables outside of Austin’s City Hall. The event was part of the Beyond Coal Campaign to reduce dependence upon coal burning and increase utilization of wind and solar energy. Why are dirty coal plants a continuing issue in the 21st century? The focus, or heart,  of the rally is to encourage Austin’s mayor and city council to retire the Fayette Power Project and be coal free. The emphasis here is on retire vs selling the plant off and “greenwash” the city into a state of coal free energy. Retiring the plant would ensure the end of the devastating effects the burning of coal from this plant has on our environment. Below are some quick facts to help everyone understand the importance of relieving us of our dependence upon burning coal.

Coal plants are our nation’s top source of carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions. Burning coal is also a leading cause of smog, acid rain, and toxic air pollution. These emissions of toxins into our environment leads to various forms of climate change.  Various forms of pollution includes: Mercury, Sulfur Dioxide, Nitrogen Oxides, and Ash.

Toxic Mercury  is released into our atmosphere and then returns to the surface via rain and enters our streams and rivers. Prolonged exposure to Mercury can lead to numerous neurological and heart damaging conditions. An uncontrolled power plant can emit approximately 170 pounds of Mercury ash per year.

Coal plants are the leading source of Sulfur Dioxide (SO2) pollution. An uncontrolled power plant can produce up to 14,000 tons of SO2 per year. SO2 accumulation in the atmosphere causes acid rain which leads to the destruction of crops, forests,  and soils, and acidifies our lakes and streams.

Nitrogen Oxide causes ground level smog. An uncontrolled plant can emit over 10,000 tons of Nitrogen Oxides per year. This pollutant is naturally found in the atmosphere, however, human activities such as agriculture, transportation, and industries have been steadily increasing the amount found in the atmosphere.

U.S. Nitrous Oxide Emissions, By Source:

In the US alone, we produce no less than 140 million tons of coal ash pollution. All of that ash has to go somewhere, and in most cases it is dumped in the backyard of these coal plants. This ash can be put into open-air pits or into man-made ponds. Unregulated dump sites can leach these pollutants into the ground and potentially into our ground water systems, by way of aquifers.

Overall, The Rally for Renewables was a success! Numerous volunteers came out to show their support for the cause. The event lasted for nearly 2 hours with many different community members making appearances. This event, just like any like it, is an important demonstration to our local governments. As citizens of this earth, we have the right to have our voices heard, just as they were last week.

Written by: Courtney Dunphy

Kinetic Energy as Renewable Energy

One of the newest emerging sources for clean energy is kinetic energy. Kinetic energy is power that is gained from motion, and this motion can involve vehicles, individuals, and any other object, really. An interesting thing to note is that kinetic energy at its core relies on basic high school physics. Take the Soccket for example. It looks like a simple soccer ball, but it can actually store electricity by converting the kinetic energy (obtained by playing with the ball) to electricity that is then stored in an internal battery. It has a simple  stripped-down gyroscope that rotates as the ball is being tossed around. Soccket’s primary goal is to reach poor areas across the globe and thus eliminate the use of kerosene. The ball also comes with a  LED light that runs for up to 3 hours after playing with the ball for as little as 20 minutes.

The Soccket in action

Another remarkable example is a product by the name of Pavegen. The Pavegen is essentially a floor tile that absorbs kinetic energy when walked on. These tiles contain a small LED that lights up when a person walks over it, informing him/her of their contribution to the Earth. The tiles themselves are produced from recycled materials. The same concept is being developed by KinergyPower, essentially by replacing humans with vehicles, and sidewalks with roads.

The Pavegen in action

The possibilities for kinetic energy are immense. Lighting traffic lights across highways. Providing extra electricity in high-traffic intersections. Obtaining the electricity required to provide lighting for a night club by using the kinetic energy from the people that are dancing, etc.

Kinetic energy absorbing tiles

Whether it is to help poor communities by providing them with clean energy and replacing their current inefficient and hazardous means of energy, or lowering our carbon footprints in a fun, intuitive way, the future of kinetic energy as a renewable energy source is surely optimistic.

For further reading material, check out the following links: InhabitatGizmag, MNN, Yahoo!

Written by Yuval Edrey

New Research Could Help Increase Diffusion Rate of Residential Solar

According to Dr Varun Rai, solar adopters who installed solar arrays most quickly typically looked to their community for informational support. (Photo credit: www.inhabitat.com)

According to Dr Varun Rai, solar adopters who installed solar arrays most quickly typically looked to their community for informational support. (Photo credit: http://www.inhabitat.com)

As the unmistakable signs of climate change become more apparent by the day, homeowners are putting an increasing amount of thought into their sources of power. One of the most popular alternatives to purchasing fossil fuel-based power is undoubtedly that of solar energy. In purchasing residential solar photovoltaic (PV) systems, however, there are barriers (mostly financial) that have kept the technology from diffusing as rapidly as some would like. While these financial barriers are well-studied, researchers at The University of Texas at Austin are now studying how certain barriers to trustworthy information affect the adoption of residential solar systems and how, if such information were accessed more easily, the process of adoption might become less daunting for consumers while accelerating diffusion.

The Energy Systems Transformation (EST) research group, led by Dr. Varun Rai, an assistant professor at the Lyndon B. Johnson School of Public Affairs and Cockrell School of Engineering, notes in a paper titled “Effective Information Channels for Reducing Costs of Environmentally-Friendly Technologies: Evidence from Residential PV Markets”, which is co-authored by Scott Robinson, that solar PV adopters face particular “uncertainties and non-monetary costs” (UNMCs) that delay the installation of their systems. These UNMCs include information search costs, uncertainties about the future performance and required maintenance of the system, and perceptions of quality, sacrifice, and opportunity cost. By analyzing household-level data that compiled the survey responses of residents who have gone through the process of adopting solar PV systems, the group was able to gain valuable insight into how the delaying effect of UNMCs might be circumvented in the future via an improvement in the organization and exchange of credible information.

Credibility, as it turns out, was found to be a key characteristic of the kind of information that facilitated the decision-making process. This was apparent in the way that those adopters whose decision times were shorter were typically those that had access to trusted information networks, such as friends, family, and neighbors who had adopted solar PV systems. Through these networks, adopters were able to utilize the knowledge that their peers had gathered from experience – which, as the data suggests, was far more compelling than the information they could gather elsewhere. Moreover, those adopters that had simply observed solar PV systems on neighboring households were found to have shorter decision times, which further supports the idea that trusted information about the functionality of residential solar, even if collected passively, is very influential in the decision-making process. Ultimately, the research suggests that an increase in the exchange of information through trusted networks (in both passive and active forms) has the potential to decrease adopter decision times by about two-thirds, which is equal to roughly six months.

So, while information about the use and installation of residential solar systems is not difficult to find, at all – the internet is chock-full of it – the key, according to Dr. Rai, is that adopters obtain information that is from local or trusted sources; preferably a combination of both.

Ultimately, these findings could change the way that government and industry approach the development of residential solar power. Rai suggests that one useful approach might be the establishment of an online communication platform that harnesses the power of local information-sharing, which could provide tremendous benefits at a relatively low cost. Furthermore, they suggest such a platform could be a federally administered hub that aggregates regional installation information, which would be useful in serving as a “one-stop shop” of knowledge for potential solar adopters.

Regardless of the strategy that is ultimately implemented, however, the research is sure to contribute to the development of residential solar power generation. This is especially important, being that current adoption levels are nowhere near market potential.

Dr. Rai’s research paper and accompanying video abstract can be found here.

Written by Diego Atencio, Beyond Coal Intern