Over the past decade, NRG Energy’s David Crane has emerged as a leading voice on the topic of climate change and curbing carbon emissions. He was one of the first power industry CEOs in the U.S. to call for mandatory climate change measures. Now, in the Mojave Desert’s Ivanpah Dry Lake, Crane is leading a project that could add a turbo-charged boost to America’s Clean Energy revolution.
Known as the Ivanpah Solar Plant, the $2.6 billion venture boasts some impressive stats, using 170,000 heliostat mirrors to generate 392 megawatts of solar-generated electricity. Offsetting millions of tons of carbon emissions, Ivanpah is the largest solar energy plant in the world, powering around 100,000 homes with emission-free electricity.
But Ivanpah is not without its fair share of controversy: Some environmentalists have protested the project as “a deadly trap for wildlife,” because the heat it generates has reportedly killed hundreds of birds. Other critics carp that “The Ivanpah Solar Plant is already irrelevant,” because it relies on thermal rather than photovoltaic solar energy.
But with huge votes of confidence from President Barack Obama, huge investments by the U.S Department of Energy and Google, and the U.S. lagging behind other countries in developing renewable energy resources, Ivanpah has received considerable ink in sustainability circles since its opening ceremony in February.
During an extensive conversation with Crane, we discussed America’s need for an increased focus on renewable energy resources, the economic and environmental impact of the Ivanpah Solar Plant, and the future balance between sustainable energy and fossil fuels.
In the opening lines of the new documentary film GMO OMG, first-time director Jeremy Seifert gets right to the heart of the controversy surrounding Genetically Modified Organisms: “Having children makes you see everything differently,” the concerned father of two says in voiceover, explaining why he felt he needed to make the film. “It bothered me that we were eating GMOs, and we didn’t know what they were.”
Conservation, n.: “The action or process of conserving; preservation of life, health, perfection, etc.; (also) preservation from destructive influences, natural decay, or waste.”
What would you pay for the life of an endangered species, of which less than 5,000 currently exist? According to Corey Knowlton, the Texas-based big game hunting guide who purchased a trophy-hunting permit for the right to kill one Black Rhino, $350,000 is the cost of conservation.
The permit, purchased from the Namibian Ministry of Environment and Tourism, was sold at an auction last weekend by the Dallas Safari Club, which insisted that the money would be used to fund rhino conservation efforts. But details on how it will be used to that end remain sketchy at best.
The Namibian government has allowed five Black Rhino trophy-hunt permits a year since 2004. Numbers of black rhino have increased in recent years from 3,600 to 5,055. But this hasn’t stopped the Black Rhino from appearing on the IUCN Red List as critically endangered, the highest level of threat before extinction.
So news of the hunting permit’s sale sparked vitriolic debate between hunting advocates and wildlife conservationists center on whether killing for conservation is moral, or effective in terms of saving a species.
(This article was brought to you in part by Green Insurance Company, which has been providing car, van and bike insurance for over 30 years.)
Just seven years ago, the award-winning documentary Who Killed The Electric Car? examined Big Oil’s role in quelling the energy-efficient automotive revolution. But if recent statistics are any indication, the 2014 Electric Vehicles market should be one for the record books.
Leading models such as the Chevy Volt, Nissan LEAF, and Toyota Prius broke EV sales records in August thanks to lower lease prices and steep dealership discounts. The 11,363 Electric Vehicles sold during that month shows significant growth from the 4,175 sold during the same period in 2012.
But forecasters are predicting the EV market will grow exponentially larger in 2014, with some of the world’s biggest auto manufacturers ready and eager to enter the fray.
As our modern world evolves, it’s always great to see new eco friendly initiatives and technology being released that help our world stay that little bit greener. We may not have cars fueled on garbage yet, as Back to the Future predicted, but there have been a number of recent projects that should help us on our way to becoming a greater, greener society. Here are 5 incredible ideas that will change the way we live, work and travel.
SOLAR POWER IN NEVADA
NRG Energy CEO David Crane has spearheaded the development of the largest solar plant in the world, located just south of Vegas in the Nevada desert. The initiative, known as the Ivanpah Solar Thermal Energy Project, cost around $2.6 billion, but the results should provide enough emission-free energy to power 200,000 to 250,000 homes, and it has created over 2,000 jobs in the process. There’s been a lot of thought put into the placement of the plant, and Crane explains that Nevada is one of the few places in the USA where it’s possible to put it due to its high level of sun exposure and extremely flat lands. Sometimes it feels like we’re not getting very far in using solar energy to its full potential, but the amount of carbon this clean energy project will offset is definitely a HUGE step in the right direction.