amisampat's Blog Posts

Energy Efficiency Grants: Coming to Your State Soon

April 06 2009 / by amisampat
Category: Energy   Year: 2009   Rating: 4 Hot

240_EnergyHog_AdultHomePg_08.jpgBy Ami Sampat

$3.2 million dollars budgeted by the Obama administration as a part of the economic stimulus package is close to hitting your neighborhood.

The Energy Efficiency and Conservation Block Grant will use the money to fund and promote the use of home energy audits, energy efficiency upgrades, replacement for outdated appliances, and so on. The Department of Energy describes main goal of the grant as to "support energy audits and energy efficiency retrofits in residential and commercial buildings, the development and implementation of advanced building codes and inspections, and the creation of financial incentive programs for energy efficiency improvements."

The grant will also help transportation services work on efficiently using energy, reduce greenhouse gas emissions, and to also work on energy efficient stop lights and street lights, while also adding renewable energy installments to government buildings.

As noted by the Department of Energy, the economic stimulus money will benefit homeowners by $6,500 in home improvements related to energy conservation.

The programs created by the Energy Efficiency and Conservation Block Grant are different for each state and city. There are a few criterion cities and states must undergo before they can actually receive the funding. Firstly, cities with a population over 35,000 are eligible for funding. Secondly, states and cities must apply. The applications are due on May 26 and June 25, respectively. Lastly, the state and city governments must have a plan on where to use the money within eighteen months of receiving the grant. If after eighteen months, no solid plan is set in place, then the money is lost.

To see how the money will help your state, visit

India's First Solar City

March 06 2009 / by amisampat
Category: Environment   Year: 2012   Rating: 4

240_iStock.jpgBy Ami Sampat

The Ministry of New and Renewable Energy  recently announced that the city of Nagpur, Maharashtra will become the country's first solar city by the year 2012. Nagpur will receive ten percent of its energy consumption through renewable energy sources and will also create a foundation for a future Smart Electrical Grid.

Nagpur is the first of sixty solar cities to be developed over the course of five years.

The Ministry explains its reasons for wanting to create a solar city, "To meet the peak electricity demand of cities, to reduce dependence on fossil fuels and expensive oil and gas for energy and to promote increased use of renewable energy, this scheme has been developed."

The ministry will fund half of the total costs, 190 million rupees ($3.7 million), with the state government paying the rest. 

Creating a solar city will result in the major restructuring with the use of multiple solar applications. The street lights, traffic lights, and so on will be based on solar energy system. Solar water heaters will also be installed.

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Biggest Energy Saving Project in Uncertain Territory

February 04 2009 / by amisampat
Category: Environment   Year: 2009   Rating: 5 Hot

By Ami Sampat240_energy_plant_2_full.jpg

In his last days of office, Bush and his administration proposed a lighting efficiency policy which would help save energy and money. The Obama administration must now look over the proposal and issue the finals standards by the end of June. The proposal outlines the covering of florescent tube lamps and cone-shaped reflector lamps which are abundant in offices and homes. This would be the largest energy saving project in history of the U.S.

If followed through, by the year 2042, the savings would be drastic: 9.6 quadrillion BTUs of energy, $39.7 billion spent on energy, and 509 million metric tons of CO2. While these figures look promising, the proposal would cause more money and energy lost than saved.

High savings would lead to net additional savings of 6.2 quadrillion BTUs in energy, $25.6 billion spent on energy, and 290 million metric tons of CO2. That is a drastic amount of energy and not to mention, consumers' money.

The administration is allowed to add a new rule which will help broaden the outcomes of the proposal. The lighting standard is just one of the twenty five energy related proposals the Obama administration must complete in the next four (or eight) years.

The Obama administration must now look over the proposal and issue the finals standards by the end of June. The administration is allowed to add a new rule which will help broaden the outcomes of the proposal. The lighting standard is just one of the twenty five energy related proposals the Obama administration must complete in the next four (or possibly eight) years.

Despite being given a faulty proposal, Obama has high hopes to reduce the energy use in this country. He is devoted to lowering the electricity use by 15% by the year 2020.

Obama Administration's Vision of a Smarter Grid

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Surge of Hybrid and Electric Cars in India, China

January 13 2009 / by amisampat
Category: Environment   Year: 2009   Rating: 3 Hot

By Ami Sampat240_tatanano.jpg

The Nano car, created by Tata Motors, has not yet gone on sale but an affordable micro-hybrid version is already gearing up to hit the market. In this micro-hybrid, the engine would automatically stop running once it has gone idle. This feature would cut fuel and gas emissions by 10 to 15 percent.

The Nano which was first introduced in January 2008, was said to be on the market by late 2008, but is now expected to roll into the market early this year. The Nano will cost an affordable $2,500, which may increase due to the added micro hybrid-system.

The introduction of Tata's Nano was meant to create the first reasonably priced, environmentally friendly car, in order to help the densely populated and polluted urban areas India. Having the hybrid being affordable will also make it more accesible to not just the rich class, but the middle class as well.

Meanwhile, China is producing hybrid cars of its own. Chinese automakers, BYD, will display their hybrid car at the Detroit auto show this month. At the auto show, BYD will be given a main floor, rather than a hallway which it had last year. BYD will displaying its plug-in hybrid.

Brilliance China Automotive Holdings Ltd is also making its first appearance at the show.

China is certainly making waves to make its car companies known. However it will be five years before Chinese automakers are able to compete in the U.S. markets.

India and China's venture into hybrid cars is a preemptive step of the automakers to reduce pollution and make a name for itself in the North American auto industry. As these country's launch their respective cars in their homeland and the U.S, it will certainly cause a sensation for the rest of the world.

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Clean Energy Prize Competition Down to 14 Teams

December 22 2008 / by amisampat
Category: Environment   Year: General   Rating: 2


By Ami Sampat

The Clean Energy Prize Competition was founded with the goal of using clean energy technology from the labs to actual use. DTE Energy, in conjunction with the University of Michigan, want the contestants to create the best business plan for bringing clean energy technologies into stores and the market. The team with the most creative module receives $100,000 plus the grand prize of $65,000.

The competition started with 20 teams and is now down to 14.

This contest prepares the participants with the experience and knowledge of what it takes to start a clean energy business.

The business proposals include: "Aeolian is involved in the design and manufacture of air-powered automotive engines", "CTW International would develop land-based projects that have climate, biodiversity, and community benefits", "Husk would convert agricultural waste into high-grade insulation" and "Potential Energy would create clean, sustainable storage for wind energy".

The competition is judged by leaders from different sectors. In the first round, the judges came from companies such as Google, the Michigan Public Service Comission, and Next Energy.

The next round in the competition is creating a financial overview which must be submitted by January 16, in which six teams will be eliminated. The next judging, the semi-finals, will take place on February 13 and on March 20 the final will be held.

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Flying on Jatropha Biofuel

December 10 2008 / by amisampat
Category: Transportation   Year: 2009   Rating: 5 Hot


By Ami Sampat

What Happened?
Continental Airlines and Boeing are preparing for the first flight of a plane run partially on next generation biofuels, which will leave on January 7 from Houston, Texas. Continental and Boeing's joint venture will be the first American plane to use jatropha as a biofuel. This biofuels milestone follows Virgin Atlantic's earlier test run, using coconut oil and babassu oil.

Why is this important?
Biofuels would not only help reduce the airline industry's carbon emissions but it could also be a more stable source of fuel.

The January 7th flight is going to be fueled by a 50/50 blend of traditional jet fuel and biofuels derived from algae and jatropha fuel. Jatropha is a shrub (non-food crop) grown on marginal lands.  Its oil-rich seeds can be used to make biofuels. The first commercial scale Jatropha operations are now being tested in India,  China, Indonesia, Malaysia and West Africa

What's Next?
Provided the test run goes well next month, this could open doors for the airline business and biofuel producers looking to capture a part of the aviation biofuel market.

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Keeping Your Computer on Can Help the Solar Industry and Environment

December 09 2008 / by amisampat
Category: Environment   Year: 2010   Rating: 1


By Ami Sampat

What Happened?
Scientists at Harvard University and IBM have an idea to create cheap, solar energy: by using the power from countless computers that are left on.

IBM's World Community Grid allows materials science researchers to use volunteers' computers for calculations testing new solar compounds.  Researchers expect to get the research done faster- calculations that takes usually twenty years to collect would only take two.

Why is this important?
By gathering information from idle computers, researchers are hoping to find organic materials to manufacture solar cells. This solar energy would be cheaper and more flexible. In turn, it would be used in a wide array of situations-such as to coat windows and rooftops.

A method of clean, cheap solar energy could help to reduce our dependency on coal for electricity generation.

What to Watch
The range of potential materials used in renewable energy systems could be vastly expanded by tapping the computational power of networked personal computers.  Earlier we wrote a post on a simliar computer-based discovery around solid state hydrogen storage system.

If you would like to volunteer your computer to the World Community Grid, please visit the Clean Energy Project.

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Making Glass from Sugar?

December 03 2008 / by amisampat
Category: Technology   Year: General   Rating: 1


Is there 'bio-plexiglass' in our future?

What happened?
Acrylic glass, or polymethyl methacrylate, could soon be made out of sugars, alcohol, or even fatty acids. Acrylic glass, which is sold under the name plexiglass, is used as a non shattering alternative to glass, in items such as protective goggles and vehicle lights.

Dr. Thore Rohwerder and Dr. Roland H. Muller were able to come up with an alternative solution to creating acrylic glass. Instead of it being a purely chemical process, based on petrochmical raw materials, they have found a way to use renewable raw bio-materials instead.

Why is the important to the future?

The demand for arcylic glass is expected to rise in the next few years. Having an alternative method to create this glass would benefit as the demand increases. Using renewable materials is an easy, fast solution to appease this problem while also being beneficial to the environment.

What to watch

Using renewable bio-materials is a long way from becoming used in commercial acrylic glass, but to be thinking of such things is a step in the right direction. Companies, such as DuPont, have already started thinking of the next generation applications for bio-materials. In September 2007, DuPont and Plantic Technologies created a joint venture - the development and sale of renewably sourced polymers.

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Ecobee's Smart Thermostat Comes to America

November 20 2008 / by amisampat
Category: Environment   Year: 2010   Rating: 3

By Ami Sampat

What happened?

Ecobee, the makers of the Smart Thermostat announced new sales offices opening in California and New England. The Smart Thermostat allows for the consumer to save time, energy, and money by controlling the thermostat of their home through touch screen programming and a personalized web portal.

Interest in Ecobee’s newest offices is taking off. “Our Regional Sales Managers on both coasts have been very busy due to the company’s phenomenal start,” says Ecobee CEO Stuart Lombard.

Why is this important to the future?

Ecobee’s products symbolize a new wave of the future of appliances where we actively manage our energy appliances. With the Smart Thermostat, consumers have greater awareness and more control of when systems are used, for how long, and at what cost. This type of awareness, knowledge, and control over energy systems is fundamental in making an environmental and energy-centric change.

What to Watch

Keep a look out for appliances to be ‘smarter’ in the near future as companies integrate sensors, microcontrollers, and web-based software to create new levels of control that helps costumers save energy and money. The booming pre-sales of the Smart Thermostat is a positive indicator that people are thinking in the direction of a change.

Dubai to build the Middle East's largest solar panel manufacturing plant

November 19 2008 / by amisampat
Category: Energy   Year: 2010   Rating: 3

By Ami Sampat

The Middle Eastern city of Dubai is in the process of creating the region’s largest photovoltaic manufacturing plant.

What Happened?

A recent article in Dubai’s Khaleej Times discusses the city’s plans to create a photovoltaic manufacturing plant. The plant, made by Solar Technologies FZE, will be 93,000 square meters, and able to produce solar panels of 5.7 square meters, making it the largest solar panel manufacturing plant in the Middle East.

The plant will generate 130 megawatts of power annually and will go into production in the last quarter of 2010.

Solar Technologies FZE CEO Dilip Rahulan states, “The mission of Solar Technologies is to accelerate the adoption of solar photovoltaic by rapidly expanding the manufacturing capacity and significantly reducing the cost of solar modules through innovations and manufacturing excellence.”

Why is this important to the future?
The building of the solar panel manufacturing plant is just one of the results of Dubai’s newest program, Green Dubai 2008. It also includes the green building initiative to be used in all buildings from now on as well as advances in sustainable development.

Managing director and CEO, Saeed Mohammed Al Tayer, says “We have explored alternative energies, namely wind power, solar power, and tidal power- we are conducting a feasibility study for other cheaper proven sources of energy.” Dubai’s city-wide initiative to create a green environment is the first in this part of the world.

What to Watch

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