Tuesday, May 18, 2010

The Solar and Wind Expo 2010: Large, interested crowds see cool exhibits, hear informative speakers – and ride Segways

It’s hard to believe it’s been a week since The Solar and Wind Expo 2010 wrapped up on a beautiful spring day at the Timonium Fairgrounds north of Baltimore. Throughout the three-day event, we saw large, steady crowds keeping the show’s vendors occupied, with attendees saying they were excited by what they saw and learned, and vendors commenting that visitors to their booths seemed well-informed and serious about renewable energy.

Among the highlights inside and outside Exhibition Hall:
• ATR’s innovative solar tracking device, where you could see, right before your eyes, several pole-mounted panels turning to face the sun from sunrise to sundown;

• The candy-red Tesla roadster that drew constant “oohs” and “ahhs” just sitting on the exhibition floor, and even more excitement when it left noiselessly for brief but thrilling rides, courtesy of owner Bill Harris;

• The numerous excited attendees zipping around on Segways, provided by SegZone;

• The many folks touring the Living Zero Home set up just outside the Exhibition Hall (by Daylight Solar) to get tons of energy-saving ideas, and checking out the solar-powered carport (Timber Rock) next to the home;

• The futuristic-looking Extreme Bug-E – a sleek, three wheeled electric motorcycle pulling a trailer covered with solar panels – that Charlie Garlow unveiled at the Expo and will drive across the U.S. in June;

• The visitors taking advantages of free rides to the Exhibition Hall in all-electric e-Cruisers;

• The steady flow of attendees checking out the powerful and sleek-looking Endurance wind turbine propeller prominently displayed by Atech Energy; Astrum Solar’s online calculator; Groundloop/A+ Solar’s combined wind, solar and geothermal exhibit; the Electric Vehicle Association of D.C.’s all-electric Toyota RAV-4; the U.S. Department of Energy’s informative exhibit; Green Rider’s snazzy collection of electric bikes and scooters; Viridian’s innovative model for buying renewable energy and getting off the grid; and the many other informative and interesting exhibits throughout the Expo.

The Expo was also fortunate to land three wonderful and gracious main speakers. Malcolm Woolf, director of the Maryland Energy Administration, in addition to giving a very informative presentation about Maryland’s extensive renewable energy activities (and participating in our press conference) stuck around for much of the afternoon, making himself available for the numerous folks who wanted to speak with him.

Our great keynote speaker, Mayor Bob Dixson of Greensburg, Kansas, kept a large crowd enthralled with the story of how his town was utterly devastated by a tornado three years ago, and then decided to start rebuilding as the first all-green town in America, with environmental stewardship as its guiding principle. It was one of the most inspiring talks we’ve ever heard (and one of the most inspiring people this writer has ever met), and any community or city that wants to become truly sustainable can look to Greensburg as a wonderful living laboratory and example. (For more information, visit www.greensburggrows.com.)

Paul Scott, vice president of Plug In America, first related the gripping story of how electric vehicles (EVs) such as General Motors’ EV-1, started catching on like wildfire in California in the late ‘90s, only to be squashed – literally – by the car manufacturers (also told in the documentary, “Who Killed the Electric Car?”). He then spoke of how the new generation of EVs, such as the Nissan Leaf, Chevy Volt and Tesla that are coming out now, are picking up where the EV-1 left off and paving the way for a transportation future based on renewable energy. California is already developing a network of charging stations where EV owners can recharge their vehicles, and other states are going to have to do the same for EVs to truly take off and reach their potential.

And last but certainly not least, let’s not forget the many informative, well-attended seminars – all given by experts – held throughout the Expo, such as “Solar 101,” “Wind Energy 101,” “Geothermal 101,” “Intro to Going Green,” “Green Building Design,” “Why Now is the Time to Go Solar” and “Will a Wind Turbine Work for Me?”

make green a reality!

Monday, May 3, 2010

Why do we continue to ignore what is so obvious!

The huge, devastating oil spill in Louisiana, including a tragic loss of life among oil workers, has fouled thousands of square miles of water and is now threatening to do the same to the shore. Recently, 25 coal miners died in West Virginia in the worst mining disaster in decades.

The earth is bleeding oil, the sky is crying acid rain, and people and wildlife are dying because of our efforts to extract energy from it the hard way to let us maintain our modern lifestyle with all of its conveniences. What a waste, when will the public stand up against fossil fuels and start buying renewable energy products. Mother Nature has already given us the sun and wind to provide virtually all our power needs. And not only are they going to be much better for the environment and Mother Earth: Renewable energy manufacturing, installing, maintenance and related endeavors already are producing thousands of safe, well-paying jobs in the U.S. and could produce hundreds of thousands more while giving us a badly needed economic boost. It may sound corny, but solar is the new gold and wind is the new silver. Together – including other renewables such as geothermal, wave power and even biofuels – they could become an extremely valuable new energy currency.

Sadly, many other countries are realizing the vast potential of renewable energy much more than we are. In getting power from the sun, wind and other renewables, the U.S. lags behind (and in some cases far behind) nations such as Brazil, Germany, Denmark, Spain, Israel and China, to name a few. The largest nation on earth does continue to build many new coal plants for its current power needs. But it’s also going gang-busters with both large and small-scale wind and solar projects. China and these other countries realize that renewable energy and energy efficiency are the future.

The U.S. is taking steps to show that it’s seeing the light (literally) and jumping on the rapidly accelerating renewable energy train. President Obama, marking the 40th Earth Day at a wind turbine plant in Iowa, said that renewable energy will simultaneously create jobs, increase national security and help the environment. He declared, "The choice we face is not between saving our environment and saving our economy -- it's a choice between prosperity and decline." Obama predicted, "The nation that leads the world in creating new sources of clean energy will be the nation that leads the 21st century global economy." We better hurry!!
(written by George Lopez and Alan Cohen)
make green a reality!