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Lightweight Energy Solutions

Pentagon investing in energy research

The Washington Post reports on new Pentagon-sponsored research on energy efficiency, and the hard realities that now make it a priority:

[A]bout half of the U.S. military casualties in Iraq and Afghanistan are related to attacks with improvised explosive devices on convoys, many of which are carrying fuel. As of March 20, 3,426 service members had been killed by hostile fire in Iraq, 1,823 of them victims of IEDs.

PROVOKING THE FUTURE OF ENERGY: 19 micro-forecasts from the Blended Reality 2008 crowd-sourcing experiment

At our Fall 2008 Technology Horizons Conference, we crowd-sourced five questions (via Twitter, blogs, email, and SMS) about Blended Realities in 2019. Here are the massively collaborative energy results!

Question #3: What are your energy sources for your mobile, home and business life? How are they advantageous? Disadvantageous?

Energy grid limitation on the growth of alternative energy

The New York Times recently had an article on how the U.S. electric grid is turning out to hinder the development of wind power:

When the builders of the Maple Ridge Wind farm spent $320 million to put nearly 200 wind turbines in upstate New York, the idea was to get paid for producing electricity. But at times, regional electric lines have been so congested that Maple Ridge has been forced to shut down even with a brisk wind blowing.

That is a symptom of a broad national problem. Expansive dreams about renewable energy, like Al Gore’s hope of replacing all fossil fuels in a decade, are bumping up against the reality of a power grid that cannot handle the new demands.

The dirty secret of clean energy is that while generating it is getting easier, moving it to market is not.

Bioenergy Hubs for the 21st Century: The Latin Axis, From Sao Paulo to Havana

Joe Conason's recent piece in Salon makes a fairly compelling argument that normalizing relations with Cuba has become an immediate strategic priority, not because of Fidel's succession, but because it makes sense to secure a good supply of sugar cane for our ethanol needs before China makes an offer Raul can't refuse.

Suburbia During the Crash

Maybe it's the rain in New York today, but I'm gloomy. So while China collapses, it looks like the mobility-land use solution embodied in many of America's newer suburbs seems to be unravelling due to high oil prices.

The IHT reports:

Get Ready for the Carbon Neutral Factories

MAS Holdings claims to have built the world's first carbon-neutral garment factory in Sri Lanka. The plant will make underwear for Marks & Spencer in the UK (they also make sexy lingerie for US-based Victoria's Secret).

While the plant cost 25% more to build than a traditional design (it would have been 15% without some frills due to being a showcase), with rising fuel prices it's expected to pay for the difference in less than five years.

Get ready for the carbon-neutral plants to pop up faster than garment factories after a Pearl River Delta rain.

Food vs. Fuel Heats Up

The food vs. fuel debate has really flared up in the last few weeks, with food riots in places like Haiti threatening major political disruption. This has been building up rapidly for the last year.

The New York Times reports today:

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