Google recognizes that there’s been a lot of talk about the energy needed to power the Internet, and they’ve decided to publicly throw in their two cents by boldly stating that the carbon emissions required to get a glass of orange juice is equivalent to 1,050 Google searches.
“Our engineers crunched the numbers and found that an average query uses about 1 kJ of energy and emits about 0.2 grams of carbon dioxide,” wrote Urs Hölze, Google’s Senior Vice President of Operations. “We have a team of dedicated engineers focused on designing and building the most efficient data centers in the world. In fact, through efficiency innovations, we have managed to cut energy usage in our data centers by over 50 percent, so we're using less than half the energy to run our data centers as the industry average. This efficiency means that in the time it takes to do a Google search, your own personal computer will likely use more energy than we will use to answer your query.”
The blog post also noted that to do one load of dishes in an EnergyStar compliant dishwasher was equivalent to 5,100 searches, a give mile trip in the average U.S. automobile was 10,000 searches, a cheeseburger would run you 15,000 searches and just one month’s worth of electricity used by the average U.S. household clocks in with 3,100,000 searches. Sure makes you think, doesn’t it?
Green. It's all the rage in the technology world nowadays. You've got green hard drives. Green laptops. Green desktops. Green printers (with soy ink!). Green displays. Green power strips. Louis Armstrong saw skies of blue and clouds of white, but any geek worth his electric bill sees nothing but green. It's the color of the environment, and it's the color of all the cash you'll be saving by using green-themed applications to curtail your out-of-control PC habits. Or normal PC habits, because anyone can benefit from the open-source and freeware applications we're profiling in this week's software roundup. Best of all, most of these applications automatically take care of your green actions for you--set them up to run, and you won't have to lift a finger to tap into increased savings and Captain Planet-style goodwill.
Most of us view spam as an annoyance with the greatest cost associated with junk email being our time. However an even bigger price is being paid by the environment, a problem underscored by the startling amount of junk email that now flutters across the web. We're talking about 62 trillion spam messages in 2008 alone, according to a report released by McAfee.
In terms of the environment, McAfee researchers say each piece of junk email emits 0.3 grams of carbon dioxide (CO2), or a combined 17 million metric tons of CO2 for all spam-related emissions in 2008.
"The amount released into the atmosphere is significant," said Dave Marcus, director of security research for McAfee. "Spam has a big carbon footprint. It's something people be aware of."
Most of the spam-related greenhouse gas emission -- 80 percent -- comes from the energy used by PC users to view, delete, and sort for legitimate messages, McAfee says. The silver lining here is that by taking steps to reduce spam, you not only reclaim your inbox, but also can have a noticeable impact on the environment.
California utility Pacific Gas & Electric has announced it will present its proposed agreement with Solaren Corp. in front of state regulators for ratification. PG&E plans to purchase 200 megawatts of space-based solar power from Solaren over the course of 15 years.
Solaren expects to begin producing space-based solar power by 2016. If Solaren’s ambitious plan refuses to take off, the utility won’t suffer financially as it will only be required to pay for the power it receives.
"While a system of this scale and exact configuration has not been built, the underlying technology is very mature and is based on communications satellite technology. For over 45 years, satellites have collected solar energy in earth orbit via solar cells, and converted it to radio frequency energy for transmissions to earth receive stations. This is the same energy conversion process Solaren uses for its (space solar power) plant,” Solaren CEO Gary Spirnak said in an interview published on PG&E’s official blog.
If you find yourself in Morgenröthe-Rautenkranz, Germany late at night be sure that you’ve got your cell phone with you. In an attempt to save energy, the citizens of the town have set up their streetlights to turn off unless you use your cell phone to turn them on!
The program has been a moderate success so far. So far the town of only 900 has managed to save $5,300. Not too shabby! Other towns, such as Döblitz, resident Heinrich Frühauf tripped and fell in the darkness, and not long after the town was turning on their lights with cell phones as well.
Though, main issues with the program still remain. Many worry that this is just a gateway for corner cutting. Perhaps it might cause people to not use as much light as safety would require, causing for manhole accidents or night crime.
The free tool, called PowerMeter, will allow users to view and thoroughly analyze their household energy consumption data. The platform, currently in closed beta, requires that the user possess a smart meter. It will let users compare the energy-appetite of different devices within their house, besides making it possible for users to compare each other’s energy consumption trends.
Google hopes that access to household energy data will help users conserve energy – something many studies and Lord Kelvin have previously suggested.
With some news straight out of the “didn’t we just hear about something like this?” file (we did), some groundbreaking research has revealed that a near perfect solar panel has been created.
Scientists at the Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute have allegedly found a process that allows them to trap nine out of ten photons that hit a solar panel, providing a 90 percent collection rate. A new anti-reflective coating for the panels provides grounds for creating solar panels that don’t have to change their angle in order to collect energy.
With current technology, the photon absorption rate stands at an already impressive 67.4 percent, with the variable of whether or not the sun is actually hitting the cells. But the new cells which according to Shawn-Yu Lin, the man responsible for the project, function like a “dense forest where sunlight is ‘captured’ between the trees.” This happens through a process that not only involves the new anti-reflective coating, but also the bending of the path of the sunlight to an angle that allows maximum capture of sunlight.
With all possible variables at their best, Lin claims that the cells can capture 96.21 percent of the photons that hit their surface.
It looks as though today's 12-year-olds are well past the days of building model volcanoes for the school science fair. And if not, well, William Yuan just put the smackdown on the competition
Yuan, a seventh grader from Oregon, set out to improve solar technology, which at the moment could be a lot more efficient. And he appears to have done just that. Yuan's project, which he calls "A Highly-Efficient 3-Dimensional Nanotube Solar Cell for Visible and UV Light," could shake up the energy industry and lead to real change into how solar energy is harnessed and distributed.
For his project, Yuan used a special solar cell capable of harnessing both visible and ultraviolet light, whereas most solar cells use either photovoltaic (only visible light), or thermal. Ultraviolet light holds interest because it can potentially provide more energy than the longer-wavelength members of the electromagnetic spectrum. And if that weren't enough, Yuan designed his project so it could stand freely in three dimensions to collect more light, and to make use of carbon nanotubes to distribute the energy more efficiently than traditional cells.
For his efforts, Yuan received a well deserved $25,000 scholarship, a fellowship at the Davidson Institute for Talent Development, and a various other awards.