Just outside of West Virginia's capital city, Charleston, on the banks of the Kanawha River, sits the Institute Industrial Park. Chemical plants have operated here continuously since World War II, when the local factories cranked out synthetic rubber. Today there are industrial pipes, tanks and buildings stretching in just about every direction.
When Bob and Celine Richer decided to retire to New Hampshire, they knew they would need an energy-efficient home to be able to afford the long heating season. Bob contacted the New Hampshire Sustainable Energy Association for help. The Richers’s home is constructed of insulated concrete form with a geothermal and solar heating system.
Bob: The Sustainable Energy Association provided us guidance and encouragement along the way because there were so many things to choose from.
Steam rises from the cooling towers of nuclear reactors at Georgia Power's Plant Vogtle in Waynesboro, Ga. The U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission approved Southern Co.'s application to begin full construction of the nation's first new nuclear units since 1978 at Plant Vogtle.
The nuclear industry is celebrating the federal Nuclear Regulatory Commission's decision to give the go-ahead for a utility company to build two new nuclear reactors in Georgia, the first license to be granted for a new reactor in the U.S. since 1978. But last year's accident at reactors in Fukushima, Japan, still clouds the future of nuclear power, as does the cost of new power plants.
Southern Co. will build the reactors at its Vogtle site in Georgia, where two older reactors already operate.
Dear EarthTalk: Is it true that cable and other pay TV boxes that sit atop television sets consume massive amounts of energy, in part because they are always on, even when the TV is off? -- Sam Winston, Metarie, LA
Most of the few routines we have in my house involve the thermostat - at night, as we all trek upstairs to bed, I turn the main floor thermostat down and turn the upstairs thermostat up. In the morning, we do the reverse. It keeps our heating bill down, but it's a little like trying to save gas by hypermiling - not everyone is going to put in that much time to save a buck here and there.
Dear EarthTalk: There are a number of companies out there now doing “energy audits” for the home, after which they try to sell you attic insulation and other products and services. Is this just a scam or would it be wise for me to look into this? -- Bill Richards., New York, NY
Dear EarthTalk: What do I need to know about the new U.S. energy efficiency standards for light bulbs that take effect in January 2012? Will certain bulbs be unavailable? And am I supposed to switch out my older inefficient bulbs with newer efficient ones? -- Melissa McCarthy, Aptos, CA
At first, many New Englanders seemed on board with this alternative energy source, but now some these projects are encountering stiff breezes. We’ll find out how Wind Power is playing at the local level in the Granite State and how recent debates have become more nuanced and less black-and-white than in the past.
Seabrook Nuclear Plant officials says the plant is continuing to operate safely.
The vote of confidence came during the Seabrook’s annual required press briefing.
Spokesman Alan Griffith said the failed cooling system pump that prompted the plant’s shutdown in October has been fixed. But he said engineers continue to assess possible deterioration of concrete under one plant section, an electrical tunnel.. Griffith says a core sample turned up what is called Alkalide silica reaction, or ASR .
“Clean coal,” refers to technologies that reduce heavy metal, carbon and other emissions from the burning of coal. The development of technologies that could, potentially, filter greenhouse gases and store CO2 permanently is moving ahead. “Carbon Sequestration” is an important step in testing the potential of clean coal technology. We spoke with Maggie Koerth-Baker, Science Editor for Boing-Boing; she visited a carbon sequestration demonstration in Alabama.
Dear EarthTalk: Thorium is a naturally occurring element that is supposedly more available, more efficient and safer to use than uranium for generating nuclear energy. Is this true and, if so, why haven’t we made the switch? -- Jane Westermann, Austin, TX