Katie Fehrenbacher

How Green Is That Download?
August 17, 2009

Over at Earth2Tech, Katie Fehrenbacher passes along a new study showing that—surprise!—downloading music online tends to be more eco-friendly than buying physical CDs. At first glance, this looks like one of those so-obvious-why'd-they-bother papers, on par with that recent study discovering that toddlers get cranky when they miss naptime. But in fairness, this one does pile on a few twists: If the buyer walks to a retail outlet to buy a CD, instead of driving, it’s about the same energy and carbon emissions as buying an album online and then burning it to a CD.

Behind The Algae-Biofuel Hype
August 05, 2009

Lately, investors have been getting excited about the idea of using algae to generate new biofuels. Earlier this year, ExxonMobil inked a $600 million deal with Synthetic Genomics to develop algae biofuel using a new, seemingly promising technology. (Keith Johnson offers a fuller explanation here.) But over at Earth2Tech, Katie Fehrenbacher has a excellent post asking whether this summer's hottest clean-energy fad will really reduce carbon emissions.

Why Energy Storage--yes, Energy Storage--needs Love
July 27, 2009

Over the last few years, Congress and the states have slowly cranked up support for renewable energy, especially wind and solar power. Likewise, more and more public dollars are going toward the creation of "smart grids" that would juggle demand more efficiently and reduce waste in the electricity sector. These are all grand ideas. But, as Katie Fehrenbacher points out today, the overall impact of both renewables and smart grids will be severely limited unless we find good ways of storing energy. This is still a big technical challenge.