5 Green Tech Stories You Should Be Reading: May 8, 2012

The Internet’s abuzz with tales of renewable energy projects for Alaska and Japan, how EVs are selling slowly in Europe, and a crowd-sourcing database for studying climate change.

alaska wind power

image via Intelligent Energy Systems

1. “Citizens Contribute Over 1 Million Observations to National Nature Database” – Treehugger – The U.S. National Phenology Network (phenology is the study of plant and animal cycles based on changes in climate) has compiled over 1 million citizen observations into its database, which is used by scientists and researchers studying climate change and its effects on plant and animal life. Crowdsourcing like this gives researchers, as well as lay people, a broader vision of what’s happening to the planet.

2. “Crisis-Hit Japan Mulls Switch to Renewable Energy” – Nuclear power once supplied a third of Japan‘s energy, but not anymore as the last of the reactors was shutdown last Saturday. This means that even less electricity is available just as temperatures, and demand, begins to rise. To combat the shortage, Japan has increased oil- and gas-sourced electricity, which has resulted in a deficit. Many people are now looking to renewables as a more sustainable alternative, but there are obstacles to switching to green power, and renewable energy projects remain few and far between.

3. “Living the Life Electric with the Zero DS” – Wired – A review of the Zero DS, the fastest and longest-range electric motorcycle on the market. It’s zippy and the controls are intuitive, but the Zero’s range is only about 60 miles, a full charge requires five hours (even with a quick charger) and it apparently comes with pretty bad tires. At $14,000, it might be fun, but don’t expect it to be your primary vehicle. For now, it looks like electric motorcycles still have some evolving to do.

4. “Ultra-Green Europe Slow to Buy Electric Vehicles” – Mother Nature Network – While public transit and cargo bikes–human-powered bicycles designed to carry freight–are popular in Europe, it seems that EVs have yet to really catch on, despite the installation of charging stations and vehicle ownership tax exemptions. Electric vehicles are projected to remain relatively experimental in Europe for the remainder of the decade, not becoming truly popular until after 2020, say experts.

5. “Wind Power Fuels Alaska Push for Rural Renewable Energy Sources” – Alaska Dispatch – Three villages in southwestern Alaska recently acquired hand-me-down wind turbines from California in order to combat high power costs which can wipe out two-thirds of residents’ incomes. In addition to wind power, residents of the three villages–about 1,200 people in total–will  be able to monitor their electricity use from their home computers. Since the 2008 oil price spike, $175 million has been invested in studying renewable energy projects in Alaska.

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.