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Why is hemp still so unpopular – is there something we should know?

Hemp is ready to return to the mainstream as a major crop, with many thousands of hectares planted, an increasing amount each year. Historically, the reason for hemp use was related solely to the fact that this is indisputably one of the most useful plants on earth. From medicine to basic commodities like fiber and edible oil, the hemp plant has many applications. It is used for building materials, food, clothing, bio-fuel and now even plastics.
The hemp fiber itself is immensely strong, much stronger than most other natural fibers. This was originally what made hemp popular. The fibers once processed can be used to make everything from rope to clothing, canvas and other woven materials. Softer and more durable than cotton, it is a tragedy that the association with drugs made hemp such an unpopular agri-product for decades. Public view has changed now; not only is the potent form of hemp (which we know as cannabis) now widely accepted for medicinal use, in many cases it has been legalized for recreational use too.

The ability for agriculture to focus on the non-intoxicating version of the plant (which we call hemp) has only just become a mainstream option for many farmers who would be happy to grow it but are legislated against so they cannot. One of the most important new developments is the use of Hemp as a fuel. In tandem with this is its use in plastics. The IT manager at SalvageData a Virginia data recovery company recently suggested that all computers should be utilizing hemp plastic as screens, keyboards and computer casings are now one of the biggest landfill problems; especially since LED screens took over from tubed screens – when the next generation of screens is introduced at higher resolutions, there will be another wave of replacement activity. SalvageData are aiming to be a totally green company and are currently able to meet the most of the conditions that environmentalists have stated are necessary if the world is to make it long term. However, their business is small compared to IBM and other giants who must also take up new technologies such as hemp plastics. In the meantime the recycling of other computer components is far from satisfactory. (more…)

New System Proposed To Optimize Combined Energy Use

http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/11/081113111343.htm

Engineers from the University of Zaragoza have developed an algorithm that can optimise hybrid electricity generation systems through combined use of renewable energies, such as photovoltaic and wind power, and non-renewables, such as diesel. Their study, published online in the magazine Renewable Energy, envisions storing the energy in batteries or hydrogen tanks.

“The objective of this project is to minimise both the costs and polluting emissions generated by energy production within isolated systems in the electric network, as well as reducing the amounts of unprovided energy (energy required by appliances and devices, but which cannot be supplied)” Rodolfo Dufo, one of the authors of the study and a researcher at the Higher Polytechnic Centre of the University of Zaragoza, told SINC.

The engineers looked at isolated installations, which are provided with electric energy from photovoltaic solar panels, aerogenerators – sometimes known as windmills – and diesel generators, which use electrochemical (normally lead acid) batteries or hydrogen (by means of electrolysers, hydrogen tanks and fuel batteries) for storage. They have also looked into the possibility of redirecting the hydrogen for external uses, such as powering a vehicle, for example. “The optimisation of all these systems is a very complex process, and classic optimisation techniques are not usually appropriate in these cases due to the high computational costs they incur,” said Dufo. (more…)

Turbulence for Two East Coast Offshore Wind Farms

By Kate Galbraith

Two offshore wind farms proposed along the East Coast are running into some turbulence.

A decision on whether to give an environmental go-ahead to Cape Wind, the controversial Massachusetts wind farm off the coast of Cape Code, could be delayed, reports The Boston Globe.

A Coast Guard review of Cape Wind has been extended at the request of a Minnesota congressman, James Oberstar, who chairs the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee. Mr. Oberstar sought further study of how the turbines would affect ship radar. “It remains unclear whether the delay will prevent the Minerals Management Service, the agency responsible for evaluating Cape Wind and awarding its lease, from issuing its final environmental review by the end the year as planned,” The Globe reported in its Green Blog.

A Rhode Island offshore wind-farm proposal has also been unsettled by recent developments, according to Providence Business News — including the unexplained departure of the chief executive of Deepwater Wind, the developer (which also plans to help build a wind farm off New Jersey). Another hitch is the rise of a competing application, by Grays Harbor Ocean Energy. (more…)

ITC’s Green Power Express Brings Wind Energy from the Fields to the Cities

By ClimateBiz Staff

NOVI, Mich. — ITC Holdings this week filed paperwork representing the first step in a major new electricity transmission project that will bring renewable energy from wind-rich but low-population areas to regions with high demand, especially major Midwest cities like Chicago and Minneapolis.

ITC’s “Green Power Express” will be able to transmit 12,000 megawatts of power over a network of transmission lines from wind farms in North and South Dakota, Minnesota and Iowa to cities in the Midwest. The project marks a much-needed advance in upgrading the country’s electric infrastructure to accommodate the shift from the hub-and-spoke model developed to deliver energy from centralized power generation plants to the more dispersed and smaller-scale model of renewable energy generation, whether from wind, solar, biomass or other sources.

“The Green Power Express is in many ways the true definition of a ‘smart grid’,” said Joseph L. Welch, the CEO of ITC Holdings. “According to a study by CRA International, efficient movement of up to 12,000 MW of wind power through the Green Power Express would result in a reduction of up to 34 million metric tons in carbon emissions, which is equivalent to the annual emissions of about seven to nine 600 MW coal plants, or nine to eleven million automobiles.” (more…)

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