5 Green Tech Stories You Should Be Reading: May 10, 2012

New solar in Nevada but no new offshore wind in Virginia, a defense of the Chevy Volt, and the small, digital future of clean technology. Come see what the buzz is all about.

silver state north solar, ken salazar

image via U.S. Department of the Interior

1. “In Defense of the Chevy Volt” – US News – Despite a lot of griping about the Chevy Volt from Republican politicians and pundits, it seems the electric vehicle is, in fact, a pretty solid ride, much to the chagrin of its critics. Though the Volt has faced some obstacles, including a battery whose expensive technology drives up the price, according to this defense of the Volt, all new technology is about trial and error, and the Volt seems to be chugging toward technological and economical success just fine.

2. “Interior Secretary Touts New Solar Plant in Ivanpah Valley” – Las Vegas Review-Journal – Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar flipped the ceremonial switch at Nevada’s newest solar power plant, the 600-acre, 820,000-panel Silver State North Project, in the Ivanpah Valley about 40 miles south of Las Vegas. The plant can power 9,000 homes, all while producing no emissions or waste and consuming no water. But while it’s clean, large-scale utility solar power still remains more expensive–in this case more than twice the price–of natural gas power.

3. “Gamesa Suspends US Offshore Wind Test, Focuses on Spain” – Bloomberg – A 5-megawatt prototype offshore wind installment, destined for Virginia’s Chesapeake Bay, was postponed by Spanish wind company Gamesa due to uncertain prospects of permits and sales, and a feeling that the offshore wind industry would not be a viable market for another three or four years. Gamesa is, however, moving forward with an offshore project off Spain’s Gran Canary Island, which will be the country’s first offshore installation.

4. “The Future of Clean Tech? Try Hacking Code” – CNET – 80 programers, divided into 16 teams, competed furiously at the Cleanweb Hackathon in Boston for an $11,000 prize for whoever could come up with the best app to better manage, and thus conserve, natural resources and improve customer convenience. Entries included software for finding carpool mates and monitoring energy use in the home, and many more. Projects like these reflect a shift in cleantech companies from large-scale manufacturing to small, digital-based niche applications.

5. “Microsoft Pledges to be Carbon Neutral Starting This Summer” – GigaOm – Following in the ever-shrinking footprints of Google, who has been carbon-neutral since 2007, Microsoft announced a plan to become carbon neutral by the 2013 fiscal year by enacting energy efficiency measures and purchasing carbon offsets, as well as looking into investing in renewable energy projects. Microsoft will also be putting a price on their carbon emissions, which means that money from the company’s own budget will go towards buying offsets and renewable energy.

Laura Caseley is a graduate of SUNY New Paltz and a resident of New York State’s Hudson Valley. She writes for several publications and when she’s not writing, she can usually be found painting in her makeshift studio or enjoying the scenery of her hometown.

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