Water-powered shower head speaker made from recycled plastic wins honors at CES

February 23, 2021 by  
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Whether it’s podcasts,  music  or audiobooks, humans are streaming audio content now more than ever. Now, thanks to wireless tech company Ampere, the sound doesn’t have to stop when it’s time for a shower. Audiophiles, meet Shower Power, the water-powered showerhead made from recycled plastic. This hydropower speaker syncs with  Bluetooth  to deliver high-quality sound straight to your showerhead, automatically turning on and off with the water. Skip tracks, play or pause with the touch of a button on the showerhead itself, or use the waterproof remote control. The device’s design features a cylindrical shape with a South Wave amplifier to provide excellent listening quality, despite its small size. Related: 8 ways to make your bathroom more eco-friendly If the 360-degree sound wave diffuser isn’t enough, Ampere has also designed a “Droplet” mini Bluetooth speaker that connects to the Shower Power so you can fill your entire  bathroom  with music. The company also has plans to develop a LED light edition of the speaker that syncs music with a light show inside the shower. So how does it work exactly? The patent-pending proprietary hydropower system turns water flow into energy as the water spins an impeller housed inside the device, like a watermill. That system is connected to a small generator that charges an internal  battery , turning the Shower Power on as the water turns on and storing power even after the shower turns off — enough for 20 hours of listening time on a full charge. The device is made to fit onto any showerhead, resulting in an easy one-minute installation and the ability to take it with you while traveling. Energy  isn’t the only thing Shower Power saves. The speaker is made out of a compound using 100% recycled ocean plastic developed specifically for shower use. Each device reuses 15 ocean-bound plastic water bottles. With all these unique features, it’s no surprise that Shower Power was named as an honoree for the 2021 CES Innovation Awards. The suggested retail price is $99, but it is still available for preorder through Indiegogo or Kickstarter at a limited discounted price. + Ampere Images via Ampere

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Water-powered shower head speaker made from recycled plastic wins honors at CES

Cobalt-free batteries will make EVs more affordable

January 18, 2021 by  
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If the high price tag is all that stands between you and your dream Tesla , you might be able to afford one in a few years. Panasonic is working on making new, cobalt-free batteries that will bring down costs and make Tesla vehicles more environmentally friendly. “Two or three years from now, we will be able to introduce a cobalt-free, high energy-density cell,” said Shawn Watanabe, head of energy technology and manufacturing at Panasonic of Japan, during a session at CES 2021 , the world’s largest tech and consumer electronics expo. CES went virtual this year because of the pandemic. Related: Tesla: the real environmental impact Cobalt is used in the cathode — “negatively charged electrode by which electrons enter an electrical device,” according to Dictionary.com — of lithium -ion batteries. While cobalt now accounts for only 5% of the cathode, the material still has a high cost, both in dollars and human suffering. Much of cobalt is mined in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, sometimes via child slavery. Tesla and other companies have found more ethical sources of cobalt elsewhere, but Tesla has been accused of tolerating maiming and deaths of kids in the DRC. Whether or not these claims are substantiated, the less cobalt, the better. “Reducing cobalt makes it harder for us to manufacture, but ultimately does reduce the negative environmental impacts of batteries and reduce the cost,” said Celina Mikolajczak, vice president of battery technology at Panasonic Energy of North America, as reported by Nikkei Asia . Because batteries usually account for 30-40% of an electric vehicle’s cost, and much of that is for cobalt, consumers can expect less expensive cars once the cobalt-free battery becomes the norm. Currently, Teslas range from just under $40,000 for the least expensive Tesla Model 3 to nearly $80,000 for the Model X. Tesla founder Elon Musk announced plans last September to introduce a $25,000 electric vehicle in three years. Via Nikkei Asia and Clean Technica Image via Dylan Scarsone

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New sparks for the electric vehicle industry

August 25, 2020 by  
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New sparks for the electric vehicle industry Zoé Bezpalko Tue, 08/25/2020 – 01:45 Thinking back to the beginning of 2020 can seem like a lifetime ago. Before the pandemic took root on a global level, the transportation industry was already in the midst of a great and exciting transition. The move to electric vehicles (EVs) was intensifying.  Take General Motors, for example. In early March, the company announced it would have 20 new EVs by 2023. It also is tackling ambitious innovations with its Ultium battery and propulsion system that could enable a GM-estimated range up to 400 miles or more on a full charge with 0 to 60 mile-per-hour acceleration as low as three seconds.  And then COVID-19 hit. Sales for all vehicles plummeted. But new consumer revelations were (and are) occurring on a daily basis — and it is good news for the EV market. People are appreciating how skies can be clearer and bluer with fewer cars on the road. We’re learning the value of our time and resources with lessons in how to shop more efficiently with fewer trips. With a growing unease in taking public transportation, the demand for electric bikes and cars is also skyrocketing.  While governmental incentives for the EV market in the United States are minimal, the private sector is jumping on board to continue the momentum and meet the new consumer demand.  In June, Lyft announced that every vehicle on its platform will be electric by 2030. Despite a setback in the construction of its factory during the shutdown, Rivian will debut its electric pickup truck and electric SUV next summer. The company is also on track to manufacture more than 100,000 electric vans for Amazon. And GM isn’t shying away from its announcement and commitment to EVs, stating in May that it is continuing at full speed. But there is still much more that needs to change and be done. The present and future opportunities for EVs What can be done to propel the EV industry even further despite the current global climate with COVID-19? Like anything in today’s landscape, it’s complicated — but it’s possible to achieve new inroads. Let’s be honest. EV design and manufacturing comes with an entirely different set of challenges, even without a global pandemic as a backdrop. From EV design to manufacturing and battery optimization and production, we must address needed changes head-on for a radical, new approach to design and manufacturing. Battery changes Of course, not every company can be GM and create its own battery system. That’s why there is a need for greater openness in battery design and production — and what is actually inside the “black box” battery pack provided by manufacturers. If we can tap into the battery itself, we can further innovate for more efficiency. Battery packs contain components such as cooling, sensors and battery management systems that, if more open, could allow engineers and designers to optimize storage and layout for energy efficiency. With the development of integrated digital design tools, the hope is that addressing both the battery and the car’s geometry in one combined design process will lead to greater efficiency for both.  Manufacturing changes Even before COVID-19, automotive manufacturers and suppliers already were looking at new ways to modernize factories for better performance and reduced energy consumption. Last fall, Porsche opened a new, innovative factory to manufacture its first fully electric sports car, the Taycan. The zero-impact facility is the largest built since the company was founded 70 years ago, and it is also one of the first in the world to begin use of driverless transport systems within the factory. It’s a great example of not only the acceleration of EV availability in the market, but a better way to approach manufacturing, too. COVID-19 and its disruptive impacts on the global supply chain have accelerated how manufacturers and OEMs are looking at their production for more resilience. When factories shut down, it was a chance to step back and think of embedding sustainability throughout operations, in the factory layout itself, or leveraging more additive and local manufacturing. That also means greater opportunity to bring EV manufacturing and production more into the fold and mainstream. EV design changes On the vehicle design side, there are still untapped opportunities to improve battery range, especially through lightweighting and friction reduction. Frictions can be reduced by employing computational fluid dynamics software for simulation. And using generative design , designers can look at an incredible array of options to reduce the overall weight of the car.  Imagine taking an EV design and inputting the parameters to optimize such as geometry, materials, mechanical properties or even the manufacturing process. With generative design, the design team can explore the generated solutions and prioritize and choose what is most important for their goals. What’s more, the power of generative design truly shines when coupled with additive manufacturing to reduce waste in production. It even can solve some supply chain challenges for parts availability. GM has been putting generative design to the test, especially for lightweighting. Its very first proof-of-concept project was for a small, yet important, component — the seat bracket where seat belts are fastened. With parameters based on required connection points, strength and mass, the software returned more than 150 valid design options. The team quickly identified the new seat bracket with a unique, unimaginable style, which is 40 percent lighter, 20 percent stronger and consolidates eight components into one 3D-printed part.  Driving forward If 2020 has taught us anything, it’s that we are all much more resilient than we thought possible. This global pandemic is offering us an opportunity to reflect on a future we want — one that is not only more sustainable, but also more equitable for all. We are embracing change as never before. As we all adapt to our new reality, industries also follow suit. Change and adaptability always has been endemic to the EV industry. We have made huge strides already. Now it’s time to keep driving forward. Pull Quote EV design and manufacturing comes with an entirely different set of challenges, even without a global pandemic as a backdrop. Topics Transportation & Mobility Design & Packaging COVID-19 Electric Vehicles Featured in featured block (1 article with image touted on the front page or elsewhere) Off Duration 0 Sponsored Article Off Porsche’s zero-impact factory designed to manufacture electric vehicles. Image courtesy of Porsche.

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New sparks for the electric vehicle industry

New sparks for the electric vehicle industry

August 25, 2020 by  
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New sparks for the electric vehicle industry Zoé Bezpalko Tue, 08/25/2020 – 01:45 Thinking back to the beginning of 2020 can seem like a lifetime ago. Before the pandemic took root on a global level, the transportation industry was already in the midst of a great and exciting transition. The move to electric vehicles (EVs) was intensifying.  Take General Motors, for example. In early March, the company announced it would have 20 new EVs by 2023. It also is tackling ambitious innovations with its Ultium battery and propulsion system that could enable a GM-estimated range up to 400 miles or more on a full charge with 0 to 60 mile-per-hour acceleration as low as three seconds.  And then COVID-19 hit. Sales for all vehicles plummeted. But new consumer revelations were (and are) occurring on a daily basis — and it is good news for the EV market. People are appreciating how skies can be clearer and bluer with fewer cars on the road. We’re learning the value of our time and resources with lessons in how to shop more efficiently with fewer trips. With a growing unease in taking public transportation, the demand for electric bikes and cars is also skyrocketing.  While governmental incentives for the EV market in the United States are minimal, the private sector is jumping on board to continue the momentum and meet the new consumer demand.  In June, Lyft announced that every vehicle on its platform will be electric by 2030. Despite a setback in the construction of its factory during the shutdown, Rivian will debut its electric pickup truck and electric SUV next summer. The company is also on track to manufacture more than 100,000 electric vans for Amazon. And GM isn’t shying away from its announcement and commitment to EVs, stating in May that it is continuing at full speed. But there is still much more that needs to change and be done. The present and future opportunities for EVs What can be done to propel the EV industry even further despite the current global climate with COVID-19? Like anything in today’s landscape, it’s complicated — but it’s possible to achieve new inroads. Let’s be honest. EV design and manufacturing comes with an entirely different set of challenges, even without a global pandemic as a backdrop. From EV design to manufacturing and battery optimization and production, we must address needed changes head-on for a radical, new approach to design and manufacturing. Battery changes Of course, not every company can be GM and create its own battery system. That’s why there is a need for greater openness in battery design and production — and what is actually inside the “black box” battery pack provided by manufacturers. If we can tap into the battery itself, we can further innovate for more efficiency. Battery packs contain components such as cooling, sensors and battery management systems that, if more open, could allow engineers and designers to optimize storage and layout for energy efficiency. With the development of integrated digital design tools, the hope is that addressing both the battery and the car’s geometry in one combined design process will lead to greater efficiency for both.  Manufacturing changes Even before COVID-19, automotive manufacturers and suppliers already were looking at new ways to modernize factories for better performance and reduced energy consumption. Last fall, Porsche opened a new, innovative factory to manufacture its first fully electric sports car, the Taycan. The zero-impact facility is the largest built since the company was founded 70 years ago, and it is also one of the first in the world to begin use of driverless transport systems within the factory. It’s a great example of not only the acceleration of EV availability in the market, but a better way to approach manufacturing, too. COVID-19 and its disruptive impacts on the global supply chain have accelerated how manufacturers and OEMs are looking at their production for more resilience. When factories shut down, it was a chance to step back and think of embedding sustainability throughout operations, in the factory layout itself, or leveraging more additive and local manufacturing. That also means greater opportunity to bring EV manufacturing and production more into the fold and mainstream. EV design changes On the vehicle design side, there are still untapped opportunities to improve battery range, especially through lightweighting and friction reduction. Frictions can be reduced by employing computational fluid dynamics software for simulation. And using generative design , designers can look at an incredible array of options to reduce the overall weight of the car.  Imagine taking an EV design and inputting the parameters to optimize such as geometry, materials, mechanical properties or even the manufacturing process. With generative design, the design team can explore the generated solutions and prioritize and choose what is most important for their goals. What’s more, the power of generative design truly shines when coupled with additive manufacturing to reduce waste in production. It even can solve some supply chain challenges for parts availability. GM has been putting generative design to the test, especially for lightweighting. Its very first proof-of-concept project was for a small, yet important, component — the seat bracket where seat belts are fastened. With parameters based on required connection points, strength and mass, the software returned more than 150 valid design options. The team quickly identified the new seat bracket with a unique, unimaginable style, which is 40 percent lighter, 20 percent stronger and consolidates eight components into one 3D-printed part.  Driving forward If 2020 has taught us anything, it’s that we are all much more resilient than we thought possible. This global pandemic is offering us an opportunity to reflect on a future we want — one that is not only more sustainable, but also more equitable for all. We are embracing change as never before. As we all adapt to our new reality, industries also follow suit. Change and adaptability always has been endemic to the EV industry. We have made huge strides already. Now it’s time to keep driving forward. Pull Quote EV design and manufacturing comes with an entirely different set of challenges, even without a global pandemic as a backdrop. Topics Transportation & Mobility Design & Packaging COVID-19 Electric Vehicles Featured in featured block (1 article with image touted on the front page or elsewhere) Off Duration 0 Sponsored Article Off Porsche’s zero-impact factory designed to manufacture electric vehicles. Image courtesy of Porsche.

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New sparks for the electric vehicle industry

How solar-charged HVAC keeps trucking cool

August 11, 2020 by  
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How solar-charged HVAC keeps trucking cool Mike Roeth Tue, 08/11/2020 – 00:01 When most businesspeople travel for their jobs, they retire to their hotel room at the end of the day. However, when long-haul truck drivers are finished with their work, they move to the back of their truck cab into what is called the sleeper compartment. Long-haul, over-the-road truck drivers typically are out on the road anywhere from one to three weeks at a time, delivering the goods we need for our daily lives. Most drivers spend their off-duty time in the sleeper compartments of their trucks, sometimes keeping the truck idling to get power and to cool or heat their space. This idling creates a significant amount of increased emissions, noise and wear on the main engine. To reduce fuel consumption — which by extension decreases emissions — trucking fleets are using auxiliary electric battery HVAC (heating, ventilation and air conditioning) units in combination with solar panels installed on truck roofs. Idling to keep cool Providing an acceptable environment to rest and work is critical. Most important, drivers need access to heating and cooling for their comfort and health. In addition, there is the need for electric power for entertainment, completion of necessary work-related paperwork, cooking, etc. While all these so called “hotel” loads consume energy, the biggest energy draw has been the vehicle’s air conditioning system. Historically, drivers’ power needs were supplied by idling their vehicles’ 400 plus horsepower engine. It was common for trucks to have 50 percent idle time during the summer, meaning if they drove for 11 hours, the truck would idle for 11 hours while the driver was not driving. That amounts to over 2,000 hours per year of non-driving idling, which is costly and loud and generates emissions, and which can nearly completely be removed. Reducing idling time The trucking industry has made amazing progress in lowering emissions from these hoteling loads and today long-haul trucks typically have a small unit known as a battery HVAC or electric auxiliary power unit (APU) installed either at the factory when the truck is produced or added later once the fleet takes ownership of the vehicle. These battery-powered units have allowed fleets to significantly reduce their idle time. However, as the effects of climate change have caused higher temperatures, the battery HVAC systems are not powerful enough for long amounts of time. These systems have enough power to make it through a driver’s mandated 30-minute rest break after up to 11 hours of driving. However, they often can’t make it through the 10 consecutive hours of off-duty time mandated after 11 hours of driving. Battery-powered units have allowed fleets to significantly reduce idle time. But as the effects of climate change cause higher temperatures, the battery HVAC systems are not powerful enough for long amounts of time. Even more, the systems usually can’t make it through the 34-hour reset mandated in the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administrations Hours of Service regulations for commercial vehicle drivers after a number of consecutive driving days. The battery HVAC system gets charged while the vehicle is moving down the road. In some cases, fleet terminals or truck stops have shorepower plugs that allow the truck’s HVAC system to run off electricity. But not enough of these options are available, so drivers can’t always rely on their battery HVAC systems to keep them cool. The addition of solar panels to these trucks helps keep the HVAC batteries charged without producing any greenhouse gas emissions in the process. Let’s have a quick look at the savings such a system delivers. For a single week of resting in the sleeper during the summertime, a heavy-duty truck idling 50 percent of the time would burn about 19 gallons of diesel, producing 420 pounds of carbon dioxide. Compare this to burning around two gallons of diesel using a battery HVAC system augmented with solar panels. About 1 million such tractor-trailers are in North America, and given that only 10 percent of current sleepers use these systems today, the industry could save 1.7 million gallons of diesel fuel and reduce CO2 emissions by 19,000 tons each summer week. (See below for a real-life example with a driver using this system.) Multiple benefits of solar-powered HVAC systems While in theory the benefits of using solar panels to power battery HVAC systems sound ideal, having firsthand feedback from a fleet that has deployed this technology provides deeper insights into the real-world performance. Clark Reed, a driver with Nussbaum Transportation, is one of the most energy-efficient drivers on the road today and also participated in NACFE’s Run on Less 2017 fuel efficiency demonstration. During a three-week period in 2017, seven drivers operating trucks specified with commercially available technology demonstrated that 10.1 miles per gallon (mpg) was possible hauling real freight in real world applications. The national average at the time of the run was 6.4 mpg. Using a solar-powered HVAC system, Reed said he was able to get through his 10-hour breaks with zero idling and the 34-hour reset break with little to no idling depending on weather conditions and the amount of hotel load he required. “My idle time is right at 1 percent now, and I am out for weeks at a time, which requires multiple resets [34-hour breaks from driving] on the road,” he said. Reed also said the system allows him to stay comfortable while his truck is being loaded or unloaded at customer locations where idling is not allowed. In addition to the cooling benefits, Reed found some additional value from the system. “The system is quiet,” he said. “There is no motor droning on or turning on and off in the middle of the night [as happens in other idle reduction solutions]. It helps me get better sleep, not just because of the comfort, but also because of its almost silent operation.” There are also benefits for those around Reed. “The unit does not blow smoke and fumes into the truck parked next to me,” he noted. “The air conditioning system is completely clean running, with the only exhaust being from the heater when it is needed.” A cleaner future for trucks  Solar panels on trucks with battery HVAC systems keep drivers cool and help them manage their hotel loads with less fuel use and reduced greenhouse gas emissions. Infrastructure development could increase adoption of solar powered truck HVACs, if there were more plugs at places where drivers stop. Given that the electric grid is becoming cleaner because of the increased use of wind and solar, these systems can become even cleaner in the future. Existing and emerging technologies are making trucking fleets more efficient and cleaner than ever, while the trucking industry keeps supplying us with the essential goods we need every day. Pull Quote Battery-powered units have allowed fleets to significantly reduce idle time. But as the effects of climate change cause higher temperatures, the battery HVAC systems are not powerful enough for long amounts of time. Topics Transportation & Mobility Trucking Collective Insight Rocky Mountain Institute Rocky Mountain Institute Featured in featured block (1 article with image touted on the front page or elsewhere) Off Duration 0 Sponsored Article Off The Volvo SuperTruck includes an array of solar panels built into the roof of the trailer. Courtesy of Volvo Close Authorship

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Earth911 Quiz #47: Battery Recycling Challenge

January 31, 2019 by  
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Americans buy about 3 billion batteries each year, half of … The post Earth911 Quiz #47: Battery Recycling Challenge appeared first on Earth911.com.

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Earth911 Quiz #47: Battery Recycling Challenge

A conversation with a lithium-ion battery pioneer

April 26, 2018 by  
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On the eve of receiving the Japan Prize, Dr. Yoshino looks back at his battery research that helped pave the way for today’s booming lithium-ion market.

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A conversation with a lithium-ion battery pioneer

4 steps to walking the talk through SDGs disclosure

April 26, 2018 by  
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Here’s how to get in front of sustainable development goal-reporting guidance.

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UMD scientists invent new water-based battery that won’t catch fire

April 16, 2018 by  
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Researchers at the University of Maryland have invented a new  water -based zinc battery that is safer than a traditional lithium-ion battery, but which doesn’t sacrifice power or usability. The team utilized elements of older zinc battery technology with novel water-in- salt electrolytes to create a battery that is not prone to catching fire. “Water-based batteries could be crucial to preventing fires in electronics, but their energy storage and capacity have been limited – until now,” said study first author Fei Wang in a statement . “For the first time, we have a battery that could compete with the lithium-ion batteries in energy density, but without the risk of explosion or fire.” Their work was recently published in the journal Nature Materials . One of the new battery ‘s improvements over traditional batteries is its ability to overcome irreversibility, the phenomenon in which the charge delivered by the battery at its intended voltage decreases with usage, through a technique that changes the structure of the positively charged zinc ions within the battery. In addition to the battery’s application in consumer goods, it also could prove invaluable in extreme conditions such as the deep  ocean or outer space. Related: California’s desert battery could be three times the size of Tesla’s The saline aqueous nature of the zinc battery eliminates the need to replace evaporated water within the battery, a key challenge of traditional zinc batteries. “Existing zinc batteries are safe and relatively inexpensive to produce, but they aren’t perfect due to poor cycle life and low energy density,” said study co-author Chunsheng Wang in a statement . “We overcome these challenges by using a water-in-salt electrolyte.” The researchers believe that their invention and related discoveries could be applicable to a wide variety of energy technologies. “The significant discovery made in this work has touched the core problem of aqueous zinc batteries,” said study co-author Kang Xu in a statement , “and could impact other aqueous or non-aqueous multivalence cation chemistries that face similar challenges, such as magnesium and aluminum batteries.” + Nature Materials Via  TechXplore Images via John T. Consoli/University of Maryland

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UMD scientists invent new water-based battery that won’t catch fire

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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