Global Economy Becoming Efficient

Usually when economists talk about efficiencies they means firing people so executives can get better returns, this time efficiency is found by using electricity in smarter ways. The myth that increased energy consumption means a better economy has been “decoupled”. The global economy is using less energy for every dollar produced – a sign that economic progress doesn’t have to mean the destruction of the environment.

The EIA also measured energy productivity, which is the inverse of energy intensity, measuring units of economic productivity for every unit of energy consumed. The world also saw significant increases here over the past two and a half decades. China came out far ahead, with a 133 percent increase in energy productivity between 1990 and 2015, largely due to the fact that increases in economic output were twice that of increases in energy consumption. The US saw a 58 percent gain in energy productivity over the same 25 years as well.

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Austrialian Team Gets Solar Efficiency Over 40%

It’s been said that once solar power efficiency gets to 40% it’ll be a tipping point for the mass use of solar panels. Now we can see if that is true as a team of researchers partnered with industry has developed technology to make it so solar energy conversion can regularly hit 40.4%.

The advance involved two steps. Three solar panels were stacked to capture energy from different wave lengths of sunlight, and then excess light from the stacked panels was directed by a mirror and filters to a fourth PV cell, making use of energy previously discarded.

“This is our first re-emergence into the focused-sunlight area,” said Professor Green, who pioneered 20 per cent-efficiency levels in similar technology in 1989.

The institute was prompted to revisit the technology in part because of Australian companies’ efforts to develop large-scale solar towers using arrays of mirrors to focus sunlight on PV cells.

One of those firms, Melbourne-based RayGen, collaborated with UNSW on the project. It is building a plant in China with an solar conversion rate of about 28 per cent across the year.. “We’d take them to the mid-30s” for future projects with the technology jump, Professor Green said

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Scotiabank Looks to Reward Eco Companies

Banks have a horrible reputation because of their inability to predict economic behaviour, this was highlighted by the ongoing economic claptrap that started roughly seven years ago. Canadian banks have also received a tarnished reputation because of their ongoing unethical investments in the Alberta tar sands. Perhaps as a reaction to this, Scotiabank launched an awards program in 2010.

Their EcoLiving Awards is focused on bringing attention and finances to companies that are improving the efficiency of households. This can range from better windows to new technology systems. You can nominate a company at their website, so if you know a Canadian company that makes the world a little more sustainable on the home front you should nominate them.

“The Scotiabank EcoLiving Awards showcase outstanding leaders in home energy efficiency. If you have a great idea or solution, we want to hear from you,” said Kaz Flinn, Scotiabank’s Vice President, Corporate Social Responsibility. “We know that Canadian homeowners are likely to consider making their home more energy efficient or environmentally friendly with renovations. These awards bring forward new and innovative ideas.”

The Scotiabank EcoLiving Awards recognize winners in three categories:

  1. Business Leadership ($50,000) – a business or individual who is leading the way in home energy efficiency products, services or solutions. Focused primarily on executing a proven idea or program.
  2. Innovators ($15,000) – a business or individual demonstrating innovation in home energy efficient products, services and solutions. Focused on introducing exciting new ideas for products or programs.
  3. Student Leadership ($10,000) – a full-time college or university student who demonstrates promise for the future of home energy conservation.

Find out more at their website.

A More Efficient Truck for Shipping


A new SuperTruck is a huge improvement over current long-haul trucks that ship tonnes of goods around North America. The USA’s Department of Energy wanted to make trucks 50% more efficient through various solutions, even a marginal increase can lower gas consumption and thus pass on savings to a consumer.

The demonstration SuperTruck made a whole swath of changes (as can be seen in the image above) to make their truck way better than existing fleets. All their changes add up to a 61% improvement in freight efficiency!

This was achieved without anything too exotic: The ‘SuperTruck’ uses a higher-efficiency engine and an aerodynamic tractor-trailer that significantly reduces drag combined with a waste heat recovery system, electronic controls that use route information to optimize fuel use, low-rolling resistance tires, and weight reductions all around.

Read more at TreeHugger.

Thanks to Matt!

Empire State Building Gets a Green Overall

The Empire State Building in New York has received a green overall that has cut 20% of the building’s energy consumption and will save the owners a ton of cash.

The renovations are part of a $500 million rehab plan for the building. The building’s owners, Malkin Holdings LLC, filed for an initial public offering back in February which valued the building at $2.5 billion.

The changes to the Empire State include:

–Filling the existing windows with an energy saving gas and adding an additional plastic pane.

–Upgrading the building’s cooling system.

–Using computerized “smart” energy management technology that can adjust temperatures floor by floor.

–Provide tenants with detailed energy use in their space.

–Automatically shut off lights in unused areas.

Read more at CNN.

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