California’s desert battery could be three times the size of Tesla’s

April 12, 2018 by  
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Tesla’s 100-megawatt (MW) South Australia battery will no longer be the world’s largest if a new solar project goes through. According to  USA Today ,  Recurrent Energy has requested permission from the federal government for the Crimson Solar Project, a 350-MW solar plant with as much as 350 MW of battery storage in the California desert east of Palm Springs. Recurrent Energy, a subsidiary of Canadian Solar , aims to build a battery storage project and associated solar plant on 2,500 acres of public land near California’s Mule Mountains, south of Interstate 10. Solar power has rapidly expanded in  California , creating a need for more battery storage. Recurrent Energy’s plans for such a massive battery are encouraging for the clean power industry; GTM Research energy storage analyst Daniel Finn-Foley told USA Today, “If they actually installed 350 MW, that would be a bombshell.” Related: Tesla’s massive Australia battery rakes in estimated $1 million AUD in a few days But it’s not a done deal at this point. The federal permitting process could take years, and Recurrent lacks a buyer for the solar plant’s electricity . Large utilities like Southern California Edison or Pacific Gas & Electric could be possible customers. Recurrent Energy’s director of permitting Scott Dawson told USA Today, “If someone wants it, we’ll build it.” There are environmental concerns at the location, although Dawson said the company has redesigned the Crimson Solar Project to avoid the most sensitive habitats. The plant would disrupt 30 sand dune habitat acres where the Mojave fringe-toed lizard resides; a prior plan disrupted 580 acres. A previous plan also saw the plant disrupting 95 acres of biodiversity-rich microphyll woodlands, but that number is now at 1.2 acres. The solar project would not encroach on critical habitat for the desert tortoise. + Recurrent Energy Via USA Today Images via Recurrent Energy

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California’s desert battery could be three times the size of Tesla’s

This turtle with a green mohawk is one of the most endangered reptiles in the world

April 12, 2018 by  
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It’s not every day you see a turtle with a mohawk – even if that mohawk is made up of algae and not hair. The Mary River turtle is eye-catching for this stylish feature, and it is also known as a butt-breather, or a reptile that can breathe through its genitals. But this unique animal is now ranked 29 out of 100 on the Zoological Society of London ‘s EDGE of Existence Program , a list of vulnerable reptiles . According to an article from herpetologist Rikki Gumbs, the Mary River turtle can breathe through organs in its cloaca — an ability that allows the turtle to remain underwater for as long as 72 hours. Gumbs is also a lead author on a recently published PLOS One study that, according to The Guardian , highlights that reptiles such as the Mary River turtle are in trouble. According to Gumbs, “Intense historical collection for the pet trade, combined with habitat disturbance in its tiny range, mean this species is threatened with extinction .” We launched our #EDGEreptiles list yesterday, and the #punkturtle Elusor macrurus has stolen the show with its algae mohawk and unique ability to breathe through its genitals! Read more about the Mary river turtle here: https://t.co/CLfd355DQT pic.twitter.com/TYhZPyWveT — EDGE of Existence (@EDGEofExistence) April 12, 2018 Related: Turtle hatchlings spotted on Mumbai beach for the first time in nearly 20 years The freshwater turtle lives in Queensland , Australia in — as you might have guessed — the Mary River.  EDGE  explained yet another reason why the turtle is so distinct: “The only species in its genus, the Mary River turtle diverged from all other living species around 40 million years ago. In comparison, we split from our closest relatives, chimpanzees and bonobos, less than 10 million years ago.” The International Union for Conservation of Nature  also lists the Mary River turtle as endangered on its Red List. EDGE said it takes a long time for the reptiles to reach sexual maturity; they don’t breed before age 25. Dam construction is one key factor in their decline. The organization said conservation programs are now in place to protect the species. Other striking turtles that made the top 10 list include the Cantor’s giant softshell, which is among the largest freshwater turtles in the world; the pig-nosed turtle, whose nose says it all; and the Roti Island snake-necked turtle, “one of the 15 most endangered turtles worldwide.” + Top 100 EDGE Reptiles + Top 10 Most Amazing EDGE Reptiles + Mary River turtle + PLOS One Via The Guardian Image courtesy of Chris Van Wyk/Zoological Society of London

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This turtle with a green mohawk is one of the most endangered reptiles in the world

Stellar views and a small footprint defines this Tasmanian timber cabin

April 12, 2018 by  
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A small abode perched high on the eastern slopes of Tasmania’s Mount Wellington offers spectacular landscape views. Room11 Architects designed the boxy dwelling with a deliberately compact footprint as an “intensely private” retreat that keeps the focus on outdoor views framed by large windows. In addition to enviable views, natural cross ventilation and a wood-burning stove help keep the home, called Little Big House, attuned to nature. Located high above Hobart, Little Big House is an escape from the city set in a forested landscape. The simple residence is clad in vertical unfinished timber in a nod to the local vernacular construction styles of Southern Tasmania. “A small home with big volumes, the house is a bespoke building in a cool climate,” wrote the architects. “Eschewing many of the traditions of Australian architecture , this house is distinctly Tasmanian.” Related: Historic train shed transformed into Tasmanian School for Architecture Polycarbonate cladding on the east and west facades bring additional light to the minimalist interior without compromising privacy. White walls and tall ceilings create a bright and airy atmosphere indoors; the entry, kitchen, and bathroom spaces are finished in black to provide visual contrast. The focus is kept on the double-height living room set next to a long strip of glazing, while the bedroom is tucked above on the mezzanine level. + Room11 Architects Via ArchDaily Images © Ben Hosking

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Stellar views and a small footprint defines this Tasmanian timber cabin

Breakthrough device is ‘100% successful’ in protecting swimmers from sharks

April 11, 2018 by  
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Though it may not feel it in some places, summer is just around the corner in the Northern Hemisphere and with warmer weather comes a rise in shark attacks. To protect swimmers and surfers from oceanic predators, scientists in Australia have developed a surfboard with LED lights on the underside that may deter shark attacks. In studying the ways in which sharks see and interact with the world around them, the research team at Macquarie University uncovered a surprisingly simple method to hide the silhouettes of surfers from sharks below that has so far proven to be “100% successful” in trials. “Pure basic research can sometimes lead to unexpected applications and potentially contribute to life-saving technology,” study leader Dr. Nathan Hart told the  Macquarie Lighthouse . “Studying the sensory systems of sharks and what triggers them to attack, and how they might mistake a human for a seal was where it all started,” Hart says. “It’s taken us to the forefront of developing shark deterrents.” Initial testing of the light-up surfboards in South Africa have shown promising results and the research team is now working with the Taronga Zoo, the New South Wales Department of Primary Industries, and a commercial partner to develop a market-ready product. “The designs we have tested have been 100 percent successful in preventing Great white sharks from attacking,” Professor Nathan Hart, associate professor of comparative neurophysiology at Macquarie, said in an interview with The Australian . Related: 512-year-old Greenland shark may be the oldest living vertebrate on Earth The well-lit surfboard as shark deterrent was informed by observations of the natural world. “This strategy is a common strategy used by midwater fish, which are trying to avoid predators swimming below them,” Hart told ABC . “Some of these fish have light-emitting organs on their underside, which put out light and help them to camouflage themselves from the light coming from above. Technology and engineering take inspiration from nature, so we’re really trying to use that inspiration that has evolved over many millions of years, and apply that to a very modern problem.” The team expects to continue their research for the next two years before finalizing a product that can be used by the public. Via Australian Broadcasting Corporation Images via Depositphotos and  Macquarie Lighthouse

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Breakthrough device is ‘100% successful’ in protecting swimmers from sharks

Antibiotic-resistant "nightmare" bacteria are spreading across the US

April 4, 2018 by  
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A new breed of “nightmare” bacteria resists pretty much all of our antibiotics – and it’s rapidly spreading across the US. The bacteria – called carbapenem-resistant Enterobacteriaceae (CRE) – is different from your run-of-the-mill antibiotic-resistant bacteria because it is incredibly deadly, with 50 percent of infected patients dying. Not only that, but it is spreading like “wildfire” with over 200 cases identified in 27 states. Researchers at the CDC said that last year they tested  5,700 samples of resistant bacteria, and of those samples, 221 were CRE or similar bacteria. That’s a full 15 percent. “I was surprised by the numbers” of bacteria with unusual antibiotic resistance, Dr. Anne Schuchat, principal deputy director of the CDC, said. “This was more than I was expecting.” Once researchers detected these bacteria, they tested other patients in the same facility to see if the bacteria had spread. It turned out that 1 in 10 people had what scientists call a “silent” infection, where they have the bacteria in their bodies but aren’t showing symptoms. Related: Flesh-eating bacteria might be spread by mosquitoes in Australia Fortunately, doctors have a plan. They are working hard to stop the spread before it becomes common. To that end, the CDC created the Antibiotic Resistance Laboratory Network (ARLN) to test and track for these dangerous bacteria. Using an aggressive containment strategy, researchers have been able to control the infection. But the danger isn’t over – doctors and scientists will have to be vigilant to stay ahead of the antibiotic-resistance trend as bacteria continue to evolve and change to evade our efforts. Via Live Science Images via Deposit Photos ( 1 , 2 )

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Antibiotic-resistant "nightmare" bacteria are spreading across the US

The affordable, carbon-positive CORE 9 house generates more energy than it uses

April 3, 2018 by  
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With its CORE 9 home, architecture firm Beaumont Concepts aims to redefine how affordable sustainable housing is designed and built. The compact, low-maintenance house can be adapted for energy ratings from 6 to 10-star, which allows it to accommodate a range of budgets. The architects collaborated with a team of building designers and thermal performance professionals in order to develop affordable homes that respond to Australia’s climate. The resulting design, named CORE, is a carbon-positive home that relies on renewable energy sources and feeds surplus energy back to the grid. Related: Passive Erpingham House in Australia is affordable, light-filled and easily replicable The team used a selection of recycled and sustainable materials with a low embodied energy . These materials themselves can be up-cycled or re-processed after use. Cross-ventilation and maximum use of northern light help to reduce heating and cooling loads. In order to keep costs as low as possible, the designers also incorporated an inverted roof truss, which allows more light into the building but doesn’t require any specialist construction methods or additional costs. + Beaumont Concepts Via Archdaily Photos by Warren Reed and Leo Edwards

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The affordable, carbon-positive CORE 9 house generates more energy than it uses

This passively cooled house in Australia features a green roof, recycled brick, and ocean views

March 22, 2018 by  
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The residents of Greenacres,  Austin Maynard Architects ‘ first completed project in New South Wales, originally asked for a light-filled home and a room with a view. The architects decided to take it a step further, building a house that not only affords ocean views from almost every interior space, but also incorporates the existing landscape and uses sustainable design to maximize energy efficiency. Perched on a steep block in Newcastle, the house utilizes the existing topography to create different spaces across three levels and provide expansive views of its surroundings. The garage lies hidden at the base of the property, with the entry path and garden weaving along the structure and through the green roof . A landscaped driveway reduces the visual impact of the hard surfaces in front of the house. Propped on three steel “legs” above this section, the building’s main level houses the kitchen, living and dining areas. And finally, two bedrooms and a bathroom are tucked in beneath this rectangular space. Related: Eco-Friendly Tinbeerwah House Rises on Steel Stilts in the Australian Bush Austin Maynard Architects also made sure Greenacres didn’t get in the way of its own view. Whether in the living space, the rear of the building, or any space in between, you have a clear view of the ocean, the Merewether Ocean Baths, and the city.   Related: Australia’s first carbon-positive prefab house produces more energy than it consumes In addition to these main design considerations, the architects included sustainable features to help save energy. They used locally sourced recycled brick throughout the house. The orientation, window shading, attention to cross ventilation, and central fish pond aid passive cooling and reduce reliance on mechanical ventilation. All windows are double glazed and protected from the northern and western sun. Water tanks, buried in the garden, provide ample water for the gardens and the toilets. The result is the best of both worlds: a house with stunning ocean views that also manages to be energy-efficient. + Austin Maynard Architects Via World Architecture News Photos by Tess Kelly  

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This passively cooled house in Australia features a green roof, recycled brick, and ocean views

A British billionaire is building the world’s biggest battery to rival Elon Musk’s

March 16, 2018 by  
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British billionaire Sanjeev Gupta is building the world’s biggest battery in South Australia, knocking Elon Musk’s battery project from the title. South Australia is home to a 100MW battery the size of a football field, which switched online last November. Gupta plans to build his own 120MW battery at a storage facility at Whyalla Steelworks , which he purchased last year. A once-in-a-lifetime storm caused blackouts throughout South Australia in 2017, prompting the state to secure its energy grid against future disruptions. The state began investing in renewable energy – and it’ll invest $7.8 million into Gupta’s project. The SIMEC ZEN Energy storage facility will be located 186 miles north of Adelaide in Port Augusta. Gupta’s GFG Alliance bought the struggling steelmaking giant Arrium last year, of which the Whyalla Steelworks is a part. Related: Tesla’s South Australia battery starts delivering power a day early Musk pledged last year to build a South Australia battery facility in 100 days – or the project would be free . He built it in just 63 days, and the project switched online last November. Musk’s battery is connected to a wind farm operated by energy firm Neoen, and it provides enough energy to power 8,000 homes for 24 hours during a blackout. Via Phys.org Images via GFG Alliance and Tesla

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A British billionaire is building the world’s biggest battery to rival Elon Musk’s

Despite Trump’s rhetoric, US officials are still working to stop climate change

March 16, 2018 by  
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When Trump stepped away from the historic Paris climate agreement and proposed  slashing the EPA’s climate research budget , he signaled to the world that reducing carbon emissions wasn’t a priority for the US. But what Trump says and what his government does are two different things. While Trump continues to bloviate, federal agencies and scientists continue to collaborate on international efforts to fight climate change. Despite what Trump has said, the State Department, government scientists, and federal agencies continue to work hard to fight climate change. Technically, the US is no longer part of the Paris accord . But scientists and federal employees have been helping to draft the rulebook for its implementation. The US has also quietly boosted funding for clean energy projects, and research into global warming, as well as signing a global call to action to fight climate change. Related: US states and cities say they’re sticking to the Paris Accord without Trump Leaders and researchers from international groups aimed at fighting climate change say that they don’t notice a huge change from before and after Trump took office. Aleksi Härkönen, chair of the Arctic Council advisors group, said, “We really don’t detect any change with the Americans.” Back at home, Trump allies are dismayed that the President hasn’t implemented his rhetoric. “I am concerned that much of our climate policy remains on autopilot,” said Trump’s former energy adviser Myron Ebell. Part of the reason for the lack of change is that Trump hasn’t replaced staffers or filled key positions necessary to push through his agenda. “Our U.S. colleagues know that climate change is not a hoax,” said one anonymous scientist, who helped draft the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change report along with US scientists. Via Reuters Images via Unsplash and Flickr

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Despite Trump’s rhetoric, US officials are still working to stop climate change

Redesigned Flow Hive 2 snags whopping $13.6 million on Indiegogo

March 6, 2018 by  
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Record-smashing crowdfunding project Flow Hive offered honey on tap: a beehive that makes it easier for beekeepers to harvest honey. Over 50,000 Flow Hives have gone out to 130 countries around the world, and now the Australian father-son team behind the design are back. The pair redesigned their groundbreaking hive, drawing on customer feedback and adding brand new features, and took to Indiegogo again with the Flow Hive 2 for a campaign that was just 18,983 percent funded. Flow Hive 2’s design is simple: inside a body comprised of laser-cut sustainable Western red cedar rest Flow Frames, which Stuart Anderson and Cedar Anderson, father and son, describe as “the most revolutionary beekeeping invention since the Langstroth hive was designed in 1852.” The frames are partially built honeycomb: add bees to do their thing — covering the honeycomb in wax, completing the cells, filling them with honey, and capping with wax — and then, when it’s time to harvest the honey, beekeepers insert and turn a handle to allow channels to form inside. The honey flows down into a waiting jar with minimal disturbance to the bees, who “are left to be, still standing on their wax capping.” A few hours later the bees realize the honeycomb is empty and they get right back to work, busy as bees. Related: How a simple honey harvester demonstrates the sweet success of viral crowdfunding campaign The Flow Hive 2 features an adjustable hive stand making it easier to set up on uneven ground. A multi-functional tray helps beekeepers trap pests. Deeper handles, a ventilation control system, a harvesting shelf, and observation windows on both sides are among the other upgrades to the hive. Beekeepers can obtain around five-and-a-half to six-and-a-half-pounds of honey per frame. The Flow Hive 2 costs $932; earlybird backers snagged it for $699. The Indiegogo campaign is over, raising an incredible $13,662,173. But it seems Flow Hive’s journey is really just beginning. You can find out more on the campaign page or their website . + Flow Hive + Flow Hive 2 Indiegogo Image via Flow Hive

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Redesigned Flow Hive 2 snags whopping $13.6 million on Indiegogo

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