Energy Updates

If you subscribe to various newsletters you probably find your inbox overflowing with emails every week. Here’s a quick update of some interesting energy happenings.

Energy Updates

Finding the time to read everything you’ve subscribed to can be stressful (because you want to read it all, but rarely have time). This week we’re going to do a quick recap and look at who is making interesting moves in the energy realm.

Tech Giants

No matter how you feel about Facebook as a company, CEO Mark Zuckerberg has a goal for all their data centers and offices to utilize 100% renewable energy by 2020. They’ve already signed deals to buy wind and solar power near their other data centers around the world. This latest move will be to build a solar farm on land in West Texas, named Prospero Solar, which will be about five times the size of Central Park with a capacity of 379 megawatts. The project has a financing package alone of $416 million.


ASHRAE president, Sheila Hayter, and Assistant Secretary for the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE), recently signed an agreement to collaborate, “in the development and implementation of the safe use of next-generation refrigerants and concurrently improve equipment energy efficiency." Here are some of the goals found in the agreement:

  • Encouraging the continued development of voluntary consensus-based standards related to energy efficiency
  • Encouraging the use of advanced energy design concepts
  • Cooperation to provide and encourage the use of clear and consistent information to the building industry about building energy rating and labeling
  • Work within the building community and related professions to encourage the interoperability of building related software and integrated solutions


New Jersey released its roadmap for the conversion of its energy profile to 100% clean energy by 2050. It features a series of seven strategies:

  • Reducing transport sector energy consumption and emissions
  • Accelerating deployment of renewable energy and distributed energy resources
  • Maximizing energy efficiency
  • Reducing energy use and emissions from the building sector
  • Modernizing grid and utility infrastructure
  • Supporting and incentivizing community-level energy planning
  • Leveraging economic and environmental opportunities of clean energy

In 2018 New Jersey generated 75.255 million MWh of electricity, mostly through a combination of natural gas (51.6%) and nuclear (42.5%) power sources.

Cool Stuff

The University of British Columbia (UBC) is improving upon a biogenic (produced by living organisms) solar cell made with dye-producing bacteria. Previously, these types of cells were created using expensive and very complex processes and toxic solvents were used in the dye-removing process. The new approach leaves the dye as-is which makes it “higher yielding and about 10 times cheaper.”

The biogenic material used by UBC, in this case, was E.coli bacteria that were engineered to produce lycopene - a natural dye. Apparently, lycopene is great at harvesting light and turning it into electrical energy.

The new solar cells supposedly work well in cloudy skies or in full sun. In early testing, the solar cells have generated an electrical current “twice as strong as any from similar devices, its capacity is constantly being increased.”

What else are you seeing out and about that’s worthy of noting?


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