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By Sophie Harris
The Wabash Valley Correctional Facility is making some environmentally friendly changes and cutting costs.
The facility in Carlisle, south of Terre Haute, installed its first solar panels in an inmate housing unit in 2010. In 2011, they added a new solar tube system.
Physical Plant Director Roger Dagley explains how solar tubes can help the hot water supply by heating some additional water.
“Basically, they convert ultraviolet rays from the sun’s energy into thermal energy,” Dagley said. “These operate off an evacuated tube type design.”
The outcome from these new systems is being carefully monitored by the Physical Plant. Currently, housing facilities are saving 35-40 percent of energy compared to the control house.
In addition to the solar equipment, the facility is incorporating new shower systems and LED lights. Dagley says the facility is well equipped for the changes.
“Well, I don’t want to brag,” he said. “But at this facility right here, we have always been known to be the first one that would jump in there and try to make these changes. I’ve got a good staff here, they’re knowledgeable about what they do, and usually we become the test facility for these systems.”
More solar systems are schedule be added to the facility to help heat the building. Other improvements include new shower systems, and rooftop and heat units.
The updates will be funded by the Indiana Finance Authority.
A company called SheerWind, Inc. is developing a wind technology that purportedly can generate 25 megawatts without having to build a mega-size turbine.
One of its INVELOX towers produces four times the energy of the biggest offshore turbine and six times that of the largest onshore turbine.
If the technology gets off the ground, one tower would supply 25,000 US homes at a fraction of the size and cost of traditional wind turbines, says SheerWind.
It works in a somewhat analogous way to concentrating solar.
It captures, accelerates and concentrates wind in a tower, increasing the velocity of wind. “By concentrating and accelerating wind, we create a similar effect to natural wind corridors used by traditional wind towers. We are able to exceed current industry standards and make wind power costs competitive with fossil fuels,” says Cyndi Lesher, Executive VP of Sheerwind, and former CEO of Xcel Energy Company. And this is without subsidies.
The technology has been reviewed and validated by experts at major research universities and prototypes have been tested under controlled laboratory conditions.
Here’s how SheerWind describes the technology:
Conventional wind turbines use massive turbine generator systems mounted on top of a tower. INVELOX, by contrast, funnels wind energy to ground-based generators. Instead of snatching bits of energy from the wind as it passes through the blades of a rotor, wind is captured with a funnel and directed through a tapering passageway that naturally accelerates its flow. This stream of kinetic energy then drives a generator that is installed safely and economically at ground level.
Bringing the airflow from the top of the tower to ground level allows for greater power generation with much smaller turbine blades. It also allows for networking, allowing multiple towers to direct energy to the same generator.
The unit is about 50% shorter than traditional wind towers and uses a ground-based turbine with blades that are 84% smaller. Fewer generators are required, so equipment and maintenance costs are lower. Most importantly, energy output is greater.
INVELOX is scalable, equally suitable for use in major wind farms or micro-generation settings. It will produce power effectively at much lower wind speeds than current systems do, which means it will have a dramatically wider geographical range of use.
The New Year means that many of us will be making resolutions – plans to better ourselves, do something to better others or even do something to better the environment.
We’ve only got one planet, and developing less harmful technology is going to be even more important in the future to ensure that our planet not only survives, but thrives. Here are five green tech trends that are going to be important for many of us to keep an eye on in the New Year.
1. The rise of electric cars
2014 should prove to be a big year for electric cars. With great choices like the Chevrolet Volt and the Nissan Leaf, consumers have more options than ever when it comes to choosing a wallet- and environment-friendly automobile.
If you’re looking for a truly luxurious electric car, then you might want to check out the Tesla Model S, which Motor Trend has hailed as a “remarkable automobile.”
In the next 10 or so years, the average zero-emission vehicle driver could save as much as $6,000 in fuel costs over the life of the car.
2. Companies embrace BYOD
If you’ve never heard the term BYOD (bring your own device), then 2014 might be the year you add it to your vocabulary. It turns out that more and more companies are letting employees bring their own devices to the office for work purposes.
This is a green tech trend because it means that instead of charging and maintaining both a personal and work device, employees have only one device to manage. The impact on the environment might be small, but it’s definitely measurable.
Almost 80% of employees believe that using just a single device helps them balance work and personal lives – but more than half of companies asked don’t have a BYOD policy.
3. Smarter homes
We’ve reached the point where we can put the word “smart” in front of almost any noun and we can be sure that the result is something that’s better, easier, or more powerful. When you hear the phrase “smart home,” then you know it’s something special.
Thanks to great devices like the Nest learning thermostat, our homes will soon be able to regulate their own temperature and energy usage, saving us money and lessening our harmful impact on the planet.
4. Fiber leads the way toward greener Internet
The demand for fiber optic Internet is expected to rise in 2014, despite what naysayers at Time Warner Cable might claim.
Because of this, it’s encouraging to see that some of the leading providers of fiber optic Internet are adopting increasingly planet-friendly practices. Fibernet recently upgraded its data facilities to use less power, thanks to the installation of an Uninterrupted Power Source. It’s a great alternative to traditional power backup systems that use batteries, which are less energy efficient.
If you’re looking to get fiber Internet (or TV) in 2014, your best bet is with Google Fiber or Verizon FiOS.
5. More affordable solar power
Lastly, let’s take a look at solar power. In years past, the cost of installing solar panels in a commercial residence were prohibitively high. In 2014 and beyond, we can expect that the cost will continue to fall as the technology becomes cheaper to build. A nice additional perk for homeowners is the ability to receive a Federal tax credit for adopting solar technology.
Big or small, any step toward going green in 2014 is a step worth taking. How do you plan to go green in the New Year?
– See more at: http://usgreentechnology.com/green-tech-products/green-tech-trends-look-2014/#sthash.B3Qpyc8Z.dpuf
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