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Clean Break
Tyler Hamilton is the Editor-in-Chief of Corporate Knights Magazine. Prior to joining the magazine, Hamilton spent 10 years as a business columnist at the Toronto Star. Hamilton is also the author of the book Mad Like Tesla.

Energy efficiency in the house: Dissecting the Jevons Paradox

It's a chicken-and-egg riddle: Is energy efficiency driving energy use, or reducing consumption that would happen anyway?

Homes in the United States have become much bigger, more plentiful and jam-packed with electronic gadgetry over the past three decades, but improvements in energy efficiency have largely offset the amount of energy U.S. households consume.

That's the conclusion of a new report from the U.S. Energy Information Administration titled "Drivers of U.S. Household Energy Consumption." Specifically, it estimates that energy efficiency has offset consumption growth by 70 per cent since 1980, with per-household energy use dropping by 24 per cent and declines per square foot falling by 43 per cent.

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Geothermal industry reaches out to out-of-work oil drillers

Lower oil prices means the oil patch’s pain is a geothermal company’s gain. Will the Alberta government take note?

The job losses related to $55-a-barrel oil could be as high as 23,000 this year as Alberta’s oil patch adjusts to new market realities.

That was the recent warning from the Canadian Association of Oilwell Drilling Contractors, which predicted that the number of active drilling rigs in service will fall to an average of 203 a day in 2015 from 370 a day last year – a 41 per cent drop.

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What is the future of chocolate?

A cocoa shortage could send ripples through the chocolate industry by 2020, something to ponder this Valentine's Day

Walk through any airport terminal, train station, shopping mail, or main intersection in Switzerland and rarely a second goes by when you’re not exposed to evidence of chocolate.

Lindt. Nestlé. Toblerone. Villars. Frey. Favarger. Cailler. The list goes on. And in places such as Geneva, the chocolate isn’t just for eating. Several spas in the country let clients bathe in a bubbling tub of liquid chocolate, no doubt a sold out offering on Valentine’s Day.

Chocolate, quite simply, is at the heart of Switzerland’s international brand and reputation as a global commodities hub. The Swiss are the biggest per-capita chocolate eaters in the world, with each citizen consuming 12 kilograms of the treat annually – about the weight of a large cocker spaniel, and nearly twice as much as the average Canadian.

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Is nuclear refurbishment Ontario’s best option?

A renewables and energy storage combo could do the job and shouldn’t be ignored, a Navius Research analysis argues.

Chances are slim that shiny new nuclear plants will be built in Ontario. High upfront costs and a history of delays and cost overruns are among the reasons “new builds” will likely never happen in the province.

But there remains widespread debate over plans to refurbish existing reactors at the Darlington Nuclear Generating Station in Clarington, about an hour east of Toronto.

Ontario Power Generation, the province-owned electricity generator, is determined to rebuild the cores of four reactors at the Darlington site. Together, the four reactors represent about 3,500 megawatts of generating capacity and refurbishing them will extend their lives by about 30 years.

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Drone journalism is coming, like it or not

Unmanned aerial vehicles could be low-cost eyes in the sky for media, but there are social and safety implications.

Last month, it was reported that a fancy resort in Italy was going to start using drones – officially known as unmanned aerial vehicles – to assist lifeguards. The drones will be set up to spot and deliver lifejackets to swimmers in distress.

Early last week, an intoxicated U.S. intelligence worker mistakenly crashed a drone called a “quad-copter” onto the lawn of the White House. As you might guess, this wasn’t much appreciated by secret service agents.

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