Energy News ArticlesExcerpts of key news articles on energy
A Federal Energy Regulatory Commission judge has found that a division of Shell Oil engaged in fraud and market manipulation during California’s energy crisis, with company traders joking on tape about burning the evidence if they were ever caught. The tentative decision ... holds Shell and Spanish energy company Iberdrola liable for $1.1 billion in ill-gotten profits, money that could be refunded to Californians if the decision stands. It could end the last legal case over the expensive, long-term power purchase contracts that California signed under duress during the 2000-01 crisis. The state has already settled with all other companies accused of unjustly profiting from the long-term contracts, settlements worth a total of $7.7 billion. Officials are still pushing complaints against 13 companies involved in short-term contracts during the crisis, but have settled with others for a total of roughly $4 billion. The initial decision ... details Shell traders using schemes similar to those employed by Enron to drive up day-to-day power prices, which then increased the price California had to pay on its long-term contracts. As a result, Californians ended up overpaying Shell by $779 million and Iberdrola by $371 million. One scheme the judge cited, called “Ricochet” by Enron and more commonly known as “megawatt laundering,” involved buying electricity within California to ship to a destination outside of the state while simultaneously selling the same power back into the state’s market at a higher price.
Note: Read the text of tape recordings of Enron traders laughing at the misery they caused in California. For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing corporate corruption news articles from reliable major media sources.
Three years ago, the nation’s top utility executives gathered at a Colorado resort to hear warnings about ... rooftop solar panels. According to a presentation prepared for the group, “Industry must prepare an action plan to address the challenges.” Three years later, the industry and its fossil-fuel supporters are waging a determined campaign to stop a home-solar insurgency that is rattling the boardrooms of the country’s government-regulated electric monopolies. Recently, the battle has shifted to public utility commissions, where industry backers have mounted a ... successful push for fee hikes that could put solar panels out of reach for many potential customers. In a closely watched case last month, an Arizona utility voted to impose a monthly surcharge of about $50 for “net metering,” a common practice that allows solar customers to earn credit for the surplus electricity they provide to the electric grid. Net metering makes home solar affordable by sharply lowering electric bills to offset the $10,000 to $30,000 cost of rooftop panels. A Wisconsin utilities commission approved a similar surcharge for solar users last year, and a New Mexico regulator also is considering raising fees. In some states, industry officials [are now] arguing that solar panels hurt the poor. “It’s really about utilities’ fear that solar customers are taking away demand,” said Angela Navarro, an energy expert with the Southern Environmental Law Center.
Note: In Arizona, traditional utility companies are brazenly manipulating the law to attack solar power installation companies. Meanwhile, the Rockefellers have stopped investing in fossil fuels. Does this mean that the renewable energy revolution is now in full swing?
After decades of experiments, U.S. Navy scientists believe they may have solved one of the world’s great challenges: how to turn seawater into fuel. The development of a liquid hydrocarbon fuel could one day relieve the military’s dependence on oil-based fuels and is being heralded as a “game changer” because it could allow military ships to develop their own fuel and stay operational 100 percent of the time, rather than having to refuel at sea. The new fuel is initially expected to cost around $3 to $6 per gallon, according to the U.S. Naval Research Laboratory, which has already flown a model aircraft on it. The Navy’s 289 vessels all rely on oil-based fuel, with the exception of some aircraft carriers and 72 submarines that rely on nuclear propulsion. The breakthrough came after scientists developed a way to extract carbon dioxide and hydrogen gas from seawater. The gasses are then turned into a fuel by a gas-to-liquids process with the help of catalytic converters. The next challenge for the Navy is to produce the fuel in industrial quantities. It will also partner with universities to maximize the amount of CO2 and carbon they can recapture. ”For the first time we've been able to develop a technology to get CO2 and hydrogen from seawater simultaneously. That's a big breakthrough," said Dr. Heather Willauer, a research chemist who has spent nearly a decade on the project, adding that the fuel "doesn't look or smell very different."
Note: Strangely, the major media networks appear to be largely silent on this important breakthrough, except for Forbes, which downplays the whole thing, as you can see at this link. For a treasure trove of great news articles which will inspire you to make a difference, click here.
BlackLight Power, Inc. [has] achieved sustained electricity production from a primary new energy source by using photovoltaic technology to transform brilliant plasma, with power comprising millions of watts of light, directly into electricity. By applying a very high current through its proprietary water-based solid fuel in BlackLight Power’s breakthrough Solid Fuel-Catalyst-Induced-Hydrino-Transition (SF-CIHT) technology, water ignites into brilliant plasma, a ... bright flash of extraordinary optical power that has a power density of over 1,000,000 times that of any prior controllable reaction. BlackLight Power has now successfully converted the brilliant plasma directly into electricity using photovoltaic cells (solar cells). Simply replacing the consumed H2O regenerated the fuel, and the fuel can be continuously fed into the electrodes to continuously output optical power that can be converted into electricity. [This] safe, non-polluting power-producing system catalytically converts the hydrogen of the H2O-based solid fuel into a non-polluting ... lower-energy state hydrogen called “Hydrino,” by allowing the electrons to fall to smaller radii around the nucleus. The energy release is 200 times that of burning the equivalent amount of hydrogen with oxygen. Using readily-available components, BlackLight has developed a system engineering design of an electric generator that is closed, except for the addition of H2O fuel, and generates ten million watts of electricity, enough to power ten thousand homes. Remarkably, the device is less than a cubic foot in volume.
Note: How strange that the major media are not picking up on this story of major proportions. For a 2008 CNN article showing Blacklight had attracted $60 million and was no longer seeking funding, click here. For more on Blacklight Power, click here. For more evaluation of this development, click here.
Josh del Sol got curious in the summer of 2011 after a friend linked a serious illness to the recent installation of a "smart meter." Del Sol subsequently learned that electrical utilities across North America had been quietly installing "smart grids" that ... monitor Internet-connected meters and appliances in homes and businesses. Now, del Sol is on the verge of premiering a feature-length documentary ... titled Take Back Your Power, disclosing questionable industry practices in support of implementing networked control systems for power plants. The film links billing mistakes, invasive monitoring, even human illnesses to the rising use of smart grids in the U.S. and Europe. "Take Back Your Power delivers an ominous, powerful message about the energy industry's shift to closely watching how customers use energy in their home in an invasive, controversial manner," says Lee Waterworth, president of Yekra, a video-on-demand company. Del Sol says access to industry sources was tough. "We had a difficult time getting anyone in the industry to talk to us on camera once they found out that we were wanting to get to the bottom of some of these concerns," he says. The filmmaker was surprised by the contrast between the views of industry officials and those of ordinary citizens trying to get to the bottom of safety, privacy and health concerns. Del Sol hopes the documentary helps to prompt the electricity industry "to provide more transparency, accountability and clarity on the issues we explore in the film."
Note: You can find this documentary on the Internet. For more, read how solar providers are using "smart" systems to help their customers save money while traditional utilities use these systems only to cut their own costs. Meanwhile, concerns about the health impacts of wireless tech and the ongoing erosion of privacy rights continue to grow.
JPMorgan Chase & Co. has agreed to pay federal regulators $410 million to settle allegations that the giant bank manipulated energy markets in California and Michigan. About $285 million of the settlement will go to the U.S. Treasury for civil penalties, and about $124 million will be refunded to California ratepayers. The remainder will be refunded to Michigan ratepayers. If this story sounds familiar, that's because it is. Californians who remember the Enron energy debacle of 2000-01 won't be surprised to learn that JPMorgan's traders have been accused of fraudulent behavior. Once again, the fraud was performed by manipulating the auction system that was developed by a quasi-state agency, the California Independent System Operator, to handle California's electricity needs. The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission found that JPMorgan engaged in 12 manipulative bidding strategies, which wound up forcing ratepayers to pay higher amounts than they should have - all because the bank wanted to find a cheap way to profit off of aging power plants in Southern California. JPMorgan used a variety of bait-and-switch strategies - duping Cal-ISO into paying exorbitant fees for running the plants at a low level, for instance, or manipulating the bidding system so that Cal-ISO was forced to pay rates that were many times higher than market rate. The fact that this kind of manipulation is still happening is upsetting. And while $410 million is a record settlement for the FERC, it's a drop in the bucket to JPMorgan, which reported $6.5 billion in quarterly profits this month.
Note: Remember Enron, which scammed millions and then went bankrupt, wiping out pensions of its many employees? To read CBS reports on how Enron purposely shut down power plants so they could cause and then cash in on the energy crisis, click here.
Waiting hours for a cellphone to charge may become a thing of the past, thanks to an 18-year-old high-school student's invention. She won a $50,000 prize ... at an international science fair for creating an energy storage device that can be fully juiced in 20 to 30 seconds. The fast-charging device is a [type of] so-called supercapacitor, a gizmo that can pack a lot of energy into a tiny space, charges quickly and holds its charge for a long time. What's more, it can last for 10,000 charge-recharge cycles, compared with 1,000 cycles for conventional rechargeable batteries, according to [the inventor] Eesha Khare of Saratoga, Calif. Supercapacitors also allowed her to focus on her interest in nanochemistry — "really working at the nanoscale to make significant advances in many different fields." To date, she has used [her] supercapacitor to power a light-emitting diode, or LED. The invention's future is even brighter. She sees it fitting inside cellphones and the other portable electronic devices that are proliferating in today's world, freeing people and their gadgets for a longer time from reliance on electrical outlets. "It is also flexible, so it can be used in rollup displays and clothing and fabric," Khare added. "It has a lot of different applications and advantages over batteries in that sense." Khare's invention won her the Intel Foundation Young Scientist Award at the Intel International Science and Engineering Fair, conducted ... in Phoenix, Ariz.
Note: Now let's see if it actually makes it to market or is blocked by the companies that profit from selling many chargers. For a treasure trove of great news articles which will inspire you to make a difference, click here.
A University of Missouri professor has resurrected his two-decade-old work in the contested field of cold fusion. In 1991, Mark Prelas was part of a research team that conducted a fusion experiment that emitted a burst of millions of neutrons. The work stopped when funding was cut off. At the time, cold fusion claims had been dismissed as junk science. Prelas shifted to other work. But his neutron-producing experiment resumed this year, and he presented his findings at a cold fusion conference in August in South Korea. Prelas, now a professor in the university's Nuclear Science and Engineering Institute, received funding from the Sidney Kimmel Institute for Nuclear Renaissance at MU. In the original experiment, the team created an emitted neutron-recording device and expected to count about 10 neutrons a second. They reached a million neutrons in a second. With SKINR funding, [Prelas] re-created the experiment. More technologically advanced equipment has allowed for a better counting system, and in one run, his research team saw neutron emissions at similar levels to the 1991 observation. Rob Duncan, MU's vice chancellor of research, said ... "We've got to understand what this is. The focus clearly has to be on an opportunity to discover new physics and to understand new science. That really is our aim here at SKINR.”
Note: For deeply revealing reports from reliable major media sources on new energy inventions, click here.
Italian physicist and inventor Andrea Rossi has conducted a public demonstration of his "cold fusion" machine, the E-Cat, at the University of Bologna, showing that a small amount of input energy drives an unexplained reaction between atoms of hydrogen and nickel that leads to a large outpouring of energy, more than 10 times what was put in. The first seemingly successful cold fusion experiment was reported two decades ago. Two types of atoms, typically a light element and a heavier metal, seem to fuse together, releasing pure heat that can be converted into electricity. The process is an attractive energy solution for two reasons: Unlike in nuclear fission, the reaction doesn't give off dangerous radiation. Unlike the fusion processes that take place in the sun, cold fusion doesn't require extremely high temperatures. In April ... Rossi and fellow physicist Sergio Focardi successfully demonstrated the device for a group of Swedish physicists. At the demo in October, after an initial energy input of 400 watts into each module, each one then produced a sustained, continuous output of 10 kilowatts (470 kW altogether) for three to four hours. Peter Hagelstein, an MIT professor of electrical engineering and computer science and one of the most mainstream proponents of cold fusion research, thinks the process may involve vibrational energy in the metal's lattice driving nuclear transitions that lead to fusion.
Note: For lots more on this exciting development, click here. And for a CBS video segment and another excellent documentary showing top researchers who continue to be very excited about results of ongoing cold fusion experiments, click here. For media reports on other suppressed new energy inventions, click here.
A physicist in Italy claims to have demonstrated a new type of power plant that provides safe, cheap and virtually unlimited nuclear power to the world, without fossil fuels or radiation concerns. The only hitch: Scientists say the method -- cold fusion -- is patently impossible. They say it defies the laws of physics. Andrea Rossi doesn't seem to care. He told FoxNews.com that his new device takes in nickel and hydrogen and fuses them in a low-grade nuclear reaction that essentially spits out sheer power, validating the strange science. “With low energy, it's possible to give a heater a certain amount of energy and to get from the same heater a superior amount of energy,” Rossi explained. He claims he demonstrated the device, called an E-Cat, at the University of Bologna in Italy on Oct. 28. Nearly a century ago, in the 1920s, Austrian scientists Friedrich Paneth and Kurt Peters hypothesized a form of nuclear reaction that doesn’t produce radiation. And since then, the theory of cold fusion -- or "low-energy nuclear reaction," as its champions now call it -- has popped in and out the public's eyes, notably hitting the cover of Time magazine in 1989. Sterling Allan, CEO of the alternative energy news agency Pure Energy Systems, told FoxNews.com he attended Rossi’s demonstration and the E-Cat is self sustaining.
Note: For lots more on this exciting development, click here. And for a CBS video segment and another excellent documentary showing top researchers who continue to be very excited about results of ongoing cold fusion experiments, click here. For media reports on other suppressed new energy inventions, click here.
Step aside, Saudi Arabia and Alaska. A major oil boom is under way in the U.S. lower 48 states and Canada. Oil rigs are sprouting across American corn fields and backyards, bringing a surge in greenhouse gas emissions and new public worries about local environmental effects. Oil companies and their supporters are grandly predicting a new age of North American petroleum, and it's no lie. U.S. reserves of oil that is ultra-heavy ... add up to more than 2 trillion barrels, with 2.4 trillion more in Canada - far greater than the conventional Middle Eastern and North African reserves of 1.2 trillion barrels. For decades, these supplies of ultra-heavy oil were viewed as exorbitantly expensive to extract. But in the past few years, a revolution in oil-field technology has made a significant portion of these reserves accessible at competitive costs. [In] 2005 the country's net petroleum imports peaked at 60.3 percent of total consumption. Net imports [shrank] to 49.3 percent by 2010. The number of rigs drilling for oil in the [US] is eight times greater than a decade ago. Already, the price gap between the international oil benchmark ... and the U.S. standard ... has grown in the past year alone to about $20 per barrel. Peak oil ... may be in the offing internationally but is nowhere to be seen in North America. Beckoning are two visions of our future. On one side is a surge of dirty oil that is likely to embolden a new crop of business-as-usual politicians. On the other is the emerging gamut of technologies for energy efficiency and renewable power that have already made California a clean-tech leader. Can America go beyond oil, or will it embrace the old status quo?
Note: Though it may be encouraging that peak oil is not an imminent threat, let us hope that clean energy technologies replace oil-based energy generation before too long.
What distinguishes the BBC from the rest of this country's media? Perhaps the most important factor is its editorial guidelines, which are supposed to ensure that the corporation achieves "the highest standards of due accuracy and impartiality and strive[s] to avoid knowingly and materially misleading our audiences." Woe betide the producer or presenter who breaches these guidelines. Unless, that is, they work for Top Gear. Take, for example, Top Gear's line on electric cars. Casting aside any pretence of impartiality or rigour, it has set out to show that electric cars are useless. If the facts don't fit, it bends them until they do. It's currently being sued by electric car maker Tesla. Now it's been caught red-handed faking another trial, in this case of the Nissan LEAF. Last Sunday, an episode of Top Gear showed Jeremy Clarkson and James May setting off for Cleethorpes in Lincolnshire, 60 miles away. The car unexpectedly ran out of charge when they got to Lincoln, and had to be pushed. They concluded that "electric cars are not the future". But it wasn't unexpected: Nissan has a monitoring device in the car which transmits information on the state of the battery. This shows that, while the company delivered the car to Top Gear fully charged, the programme-makers ran the battery down before Clarkson and May set off, until only 40% of the charge was left.
Santosh Devi is [a] 19-year-old, semi-literate woman from the backwaters of Rajasthan [who] has broken through India's rigid caste system to become the country's first Dalit solar engineer. While differences of caste have begun to blur in the cities, in rural India Dalits – also known as "untouchables" – are still impoverished and widely discriminated against. Santosh trained to be a solar engineer at the Barefoot College in Tilonia, 100km from Jaipur. The college was set up in 1972 by Sanjit "Bunker" Roy to teach rural people skills with which they could transform their villages, regardless of gender, caste, ethnicity, age or schooling. The college claims to have trained 15,000 women in skills including solar engineering, healthcare and water testing. Roy, 65, says his approach – low cost, decentralised and community driven – works by "capitalising on the resources already present in the villages". The college, spread over eight acres, runs entirely on solar energy, maintained by the Barefoot solar engineers. Since the solar course was launched in 2005, more than 300 Barefoot engineers have brought power to more than 13,000 homes across India. A further 6,000 households, in more than 120 villages in 24 countries from Afghanistan to Uganda, have been powered on the same model. Only villages that are inaccessible, remote and non-electrified are considered for solar power. A drop in the ocean, perhaps – 44% of rural households in India have no electricity – but these women are making an important contribution to the nation's power needs.
Note: For a very inspiring TED talk filled with great stories by the founder of this college, click here.
Hybrid vehicles are still tethered to the gas pump via a fuel-thirsty 100-year-old invention: the internal combustion engine. However, researchers at Michigan State University have built a prototype gasoline engine that requires no transmission, crankshaft, pistons, valves, fuel compression, cooling systems or fluids. Their so-called Wave Disk Generator could greatly improve the efficiency of gas-electric hybrid automobiles and potentially decrease auto emissions up to 90 percent when compared with conventional combustion engines. The engine has a rotor that's equipped with wave-like channels that trap and mix oxygen and fuel as the rotor spins. These central inlets are blocked off, building pressure within the chamber, causing a shock wave that ignites the compressed air and fuel to transmit energy. The Wave Disk Generator uses 60 percent of its fuel for propulsion; standard car engines use just 15 percent. As a result, the generator is 3.5 times more fuel efficient than typical combustion engines. Researchers estimate the new model could shave almost 1,000 pounds off a car's weight currently taken up by conventional engine systems. Last week, the prototype was presented to the energy division of the Advanced Research Projects Agency, which is backing the Michigan State University Engine Research Laboratory with $2.5 million in funding. Michigan State's team of engineers hope to have a car-sized 25-kilowatt version of the prototype ready by the end of the year.
Note: For many inspiring new developments on automotive technology, click here.
Ten years ago, when Ron Pernick predicted that solar power would be a $23.5 billion industry by the decade's end, skeptics scoffed. After all, worldwide sales of photovoltaic solar equipment in 2000 were just $2.5 billion. Pernick's prediction had to be wrong. It was. The global solar market last year hit $71.2 billion. Pernick is co-founder and managing director of the Clean Edge Inc. market research firm, and for the last 10 years, his outfit has produced annual tallies of alternative energy sales around the world. The latest report, released today, shows a decade of remarkable growth. The market for solar power, wind power and biofuels still pales when compared with that for fossil fuels (Exxon Mobil, for example, made $383.2 billion last year). But clean-energy technology is no longer stuck in a niche. "It went from relative obscurity 10 years ago to being one of the dominant market forces today," said Pernick. Wind power has grown from a $4 billion global market in 2000 to $60.5 billion in 2010. Ten years ago, alternative energy firms received less than 1 percent of the venture capital invested in the United States. Last year, they got 23 percent, with investments totaling $5.1 billion. For biofuels, the report's data only stretch back to 2005. But in that time, the worldwide market for ethanol, biodiesel and other biofuels has grown from $15.7 billion to $56.4 billion.
Note: For many reports from reliable sources on promising new energy technologies, click here.
A Massachusetts biotechnology company says it can produce the fuel that runs Jaguars and jet engines using the same ingredients that make grass grow. Joule Unlimited has invented a genetically-engineered organism that it says simply secretes diesel fuel or ethanol wherever it finds sunlight, water and carbon dioxide. [The] company says it can manipulate the organism to produce the renewable fuels on demand at unprecedented rates, and can do it in facilities large and small at costs comparable to the cheapest fossil fuels. What can it mean? No less than "energy independence," Joule's web site tells the world, even if the world's not quite convinced. "We make some lofty claims, all of which we believe, all which we've validated," said Joule chief executive Bill Sims. Joule was founded in 2007. In the last year, it's roughly doubled its employees to 70, closed a $30 million second round of private funding in April and added John Podesta, former White House chief of staff under President Bill Clinton, to its board of directors. The company worked in "stealth mode" for a couple years before it recently began revealing more about what it was doing. This month, it released a peer-reviewed paper it says backs its claims. Joule says its organisms secrete a completed product, already identical to ethanol and the components of diesel fuel, then live on to keep producing it at remarkable rates. Joule claims, for instance, that its cyanobacterium can produce 15,000 gallons of diesel full per acre annually, over four times more than the most efficient algal process for making fuel. And they say they can do it at $30 a barrel. The company plans to break ground on a 10-acre demonstration facility this year, and Sims says they could be operating commercially in less than two years.
Note: For many other fascinating new energy inventions reported in the major media which should be making news headlines, click here. For a powerful two-page summary showing why these amazing inventions get so little attention and are sometimes even suppressed, click here.
Sempra Energy has agreed to pay about $410 million to settle claims that it played Enron-style games with California's electricity market during the 2000-01 energy crisis, state officials said. Houston's Enron, as well as other companies, used a variety of tactics to create the appearance of congested power lines in some instances and energy shortages in others. Electricity prices soared, and rolling blackouts rippled across the state. Enron traders were caught on audio tape bragging about how much their trading schemes were costing "Grandma Millie," their derisive term for the California utility customer. The crisis forced the state to buy expensive long-term power contracts that Californians are still paying off, month by month, on their utility bills. Pacific Gas and Electric Co., the state's largest utility, tumbled into bankruptcy as a result of soaring wholesale power prices. And Gov. Gray Davis lost his job in a recall election fueled by public anger over his handling of the crisis. Since then, the state government has reached 39 settlement agreements with energy companies for a total of $3.2 billion.
Note: To see how blatant the corruption is, watch the tapes of Enron traders laughing at causing traffic accidents at this link. For many more examples of corporate corruption reported by reliable, verifiable sources, click here.
The lawyers and engineers who dwell in an elegant enclave here are at peace with the hulking neighbor just over the back fence: a vast energy plant that burns thousands of tons of household garbage and industrial waste, round the clock. Far cleaner than conventional incinerators, this new type of plant converts local trash into heat and electricity. Dozens of filters catch pollutants, from mercury to dioxin, that would have emerged from its smokestack only a decade ago. In that time, such plants have become both the mainstay of garbage disposal and a crucial fuel source across Denmark, from wealthy exurbs like Horsholm to Copenhagen’s downtown area. Their use has not only reduced the country’s energy costs and reliance on oil and gas, but also benefited the environment, diminishing the use of landfills and cutting carbon dioxide emissions. The plants run so cleanly that many times more dioxin is now released from home fireplaces and backyard barbecues than from incineration. Across Europe, there are about 400 plants, with Denmark, Germany and the Netherlands leading the pack in expanding them and building new ones. By contrast, no new waste-to-energy plants are being planned or built in the United States, the Environmental Protection Agency says — even though the federal government and 24 states now classify waste that is burned this way for energy as a renewable fuel, in many cases eligible for subsidies.
Note: Why isn't the US implementing this clean technology? For lots more from major media sources on promising new clean energy developments, click here.
A Navy-funded thermal engine bobbing off the coast of Hawaii is accomplishing a rare feat -- it produces more energy than it consumes. Though it's not quite a perpetual motion machine, it could provide scientists or the Navy with a perpetual presence on the seas. The engine is attached to an unmanned underwater vessel, called SOLO-TREC, and uses the energy of the ocean to derive a practically limitless energy supply. SOLO-TREC is outfitted with a series of tubes full of waxy phase-change materials. As the float encounters warm temperatures near the ocean's surface, the materials expand; when it dives and the waters grow cooler, the materials contract. The expansion and contraction pressurizes oil, which drives a hydraulic motor. The motor generates electricity and recharges the batteries, which power a pump. The pump can change the float's buoyancy, allowing it to move up and down the water column. "In theory what you have now is unlimited endurance for something that has this type of engine," said Thomas Swean Jr., team leader for ocean engineering and marine systems at the Office of Naval Research, which funded the project. "Other things can break, but as far as the energy source, it will only stop working if the ocean ran out of energy, which is unlikely to happen."
Note: For lots more from major media sources on promising new energy inventions, click here.
Is the economic, social and physical deterioration that has caused so much misery in the Motor City a sign of what’s in store for larger and larger segments of the United States? I found real reason to hope when a gentleman named Stan Ovshinsky took me on a tour of a remarkably quiet and pristine manufacturing plant ... about 30 miles north of Detroit. What is being produced in the plant is potentially revolutionary. A machine about the length of a football field runs 24 hours a day, seven days a week, turning out mile after mile after mile of thin, flexible solar energy material, from which solar panels can be sliced and shaped. Mr. Ovshinsky ... developed the technology and designed the production method that made it possible to produce solar material “by the mile.” He invented the nickel metal hydride battery that is in virtually all hybrid vehicles on the road today. When I pulled into the parking lot outside his office ... he promptly installed me in the driver’s seat of a hydrogen hybrid prototype — a car in which the gasoline tank had been replaced with a safe solid-state hydrogen storage system invented by Mr. Ovshinsky. What’s weird is that this man, with such a stellar track record of innovation on products and processes crucial to the economic and environmental health of the U.S., gets such little attention and so little support from American policy makers. In addition to his work with batteries, photovoltaics and hydrogen fuel cells, his inventions have helped open the door to flat-screen televisions, new forms of computer memory and on and on.
Note: Ovshinsky has been at the forefront of new energy breakthroughs for years, yet has received very little press, likely because his inventions threaten the established oil industry. For a powerful, three-minute video showing how some of his key inventions have been shelved because they threatened profits, click here.
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