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U.S. Soil Grows Wind Power Garden
by Michael Keller
Wind farms have proliferated across the American landscape over the last four decades. According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, one wind farm existed California in 1975. It produced enough electricity to power around 4,100 homes. By 2012, 815 wind farms were pumping out enough power for 15 million homes. 
See the Department of Energy’s interactive version.[[MORE]]

U.S. Soil Grows Wind Power Garden

by Michael Keller

Wind farms have proliferated across the American landscape over the last four decades. According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, one wind farm existed California in 1975. It produced enough electricity to power around 4,100 homes. By 2012, 815 wind farms were pumping out enough power for 15 million homes. 

See the Department of Energy’s interactive version.

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Digital Currency Looks To Charge Up Solar Electricity Production

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by Morgen E. Peck

A new project called SolarCoin seeks to make investments in solar energy just a little bit more attractive for anyone who may be on the fence. It’s a brand new digital currency of the Bitcoin ilk whose creators are offering to disburse to anyone who can prove that they’ve generated solar electricity. Right now, each megawatt-hour of electricity that your solar panels pump into the grid will get you one SolarCoin.

The goal, they say, is very simple. “SolarCoin will help make more solar energy,” currency founder Nick Gogerty tells Txchnologist. “In economics, whatever has more money flowing through it generally gets amplified. Throwing SolarCoin at solar electricity producers is the goal.”

To that end, SolarCoin Foundation volunteers began verifying electricity production claims in a pilot program this January. A third party reads each applicant’s meter to determine the amount of coins granted. The coins are then disbursed from a reservoir of “pre-mined” coins that the foundation has on hand.

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At first glance, this might look like a crew constructing your standard high-tech wind turbine. But the machine is actually perching atop a new “space-frame” tower instead of the traditional metal tube. The new design involves a metal latticework jacketed in fiberglass that can be transported in pieces in shipping containers and regular trucks.

This innovation, made by GE’s wind power unit, opens up new areas to erect taller wind generators that were previously inaccessible because of transportation issues. The prototype above is being installed at a California wind farm. 

The tower isn’t the only thing that’s new, though. The rotor on top that spans 400 feet in diameter is spinning a 1.7-megawatt turbine.

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Spore Power: Wetting Bacteria Makes Electricity And Robot Muscles

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by Petti Fong

If dry bacteria spores of the genus Bacillus were boxers, commentators would say they punch above their weight.

When they dehydrate, the rod-shaped spores— dormant cells that help the microorganism survive tough environmental conditions and are naturally found in soil and vegetation—shrivel or curl like a leaf. Add some moisture and they straighten out again. Studies have shown that they can absorb water and expand with remarkable force. Now scientists say this phenomenon can be harnessed to use the microbes as a potential source of renewable energy or as muscles to make superstrong robots.

In research recently reported in the journal Nature Nanotechnology, a team detailed how they smeared spores on a flat piece of rubber and created a bacteria-powered generator.

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