Tesla’s Powerwall faces stiff competition from several other storage products

March 5, 2018 by  
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While Tesla ‘s Powerwall may be the most well-known example of residential solar energy storage systems, it is not the only one and is facing increased competition. Nearly all major residential solar companies are now developing a similar household energy storage system, either independently or in collaboration with another company. Among those companies, SunRun, Vivint Solar and SunPower seem to be the most viable competitors to Tesla’s residential solar operations. The increased competition is good news for consumers as well as the renewable energy sector generally, indicating that the industry is maturing and spreading. SunRun now maintains the largest market share in the American residential solar industry , in part thanks to its ability to work with internal and external installation partners. This means that SunRun is able to more quickly scale up its distribution. The company’s Brightbox system incorporates LG Chem batteries into a control system (designed by SunRun) and is currently available in Arizona, California, Hawaii, New York, and Massachusetts , with more states coming online in 2018. Related: Nova Scotia Power pioneers new energy storage system using Tesla Powerpacks Vivint Solar is collaborating with Mercedes-Benz to develop a 2.5 kW-hr energy storage system that can be expanded up to a 20 kW-hr system for household needs. Mercedes-Benz already has energy storage products available in the more developed European market, which puts it in a good place as the American market grows. Last but not least, SunPower will launch its home energy storage system under its Equinox product line in 2018. Because they are geared towards high-end customers, those with the most funds to invest in new technology, it may see more rapid growth than its competitors. Regardless of the commercial success of any individual company, the flurry of activity in the American residential energy storage is a welcome sign as the United States, like the rest of the world, must move forward towards a clean energy economy. Via The Motley Fool Images via SunRun and SunPower

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Tesla’s Powerwall faces stiff competition from several other storage products

‘Floating’ ski chalet clad in charred wood overlooks China’s Songhua Lake

March 5, 2018 by  
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Beijing-based firm META-Project just unveiled a triangular cabin overlooking Songhua Lake in China’s northeastern Ji Lin province. Located at the top of a steep ski slope, the Stage of Forest lookout – which is clad in Shou-Sugi-Ban wood – peers out over the amazing landscape, and provides a respite for skiers who need a break before swishing down the mountain. The building is located on the edge of a forested hillside overlooking the Songhua Lake Resort – a popular winter destination. Jutting out over the landscape, the wood and concrete structure is a solemn presence against the snow-covered mountains in wintertime and it’s camouflaged by lush vegetation in the summer months. In addition to providing a place to rest on the slopes, the building will also be used year-round for exhibitions, conferences, workshops, and public and private events. Related: ‘Top of Tyrol’ Lookout Platform Offers a Bird’s-Eye View of Austria’s Stubai Glacier The building’s “floating” design minimizes its footprint as much as possible. The compact concrete base occupies minimal square footage, while the larger volume provides a spacious interior to enjoy the stunning views. The building consists of a concrete shell topped with charred cedar shingles, which emit a silvery tone under the sunlight. From the first floor, visitors can climb to an open-air viewing platform clad in untreated red cedar . Oval windows in the ceiling and the floor allow optimal sunlight to enter the structure, while providing a playful peak at what’s “underneath the stage,” as described by the architects. + META-Project Via Archinect Photography by Su Shengliang

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‘Floating’ ski chalet clad in charred wood overlooks China’s Songhua Lake

LEGO is rolling out their first plant-based plastic pieces

March 5, 2018 by  
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Plants from plants: that’s LEGO’s description for their first sustainable bricks . They’ll be rolling out botanical elements like trees, leaves, and bushes manufactured with plant-based plastic sourced from sugarcane this year. The move is part of their goal to utilize only sustainable materials in their packaging and core products by 2030. LEGO is utilizing plastic polyethylene based on sugarcane material: specifically, ethanol . LEGO Group Environmental Responsibility vice president Tim Brooks said plant-based polyethylene possesses the same properties as regular polyethylene, so kids and parents probably won’t notice a difference in the look and quality of the new bricks. Related: Build your own BIG-designed LEGO House with LEGO Architecture’s newest kit What does the term ‘sustainable material’ mean to LEGO? According to the company, “The LEGO Group believes a new sustainable material must have an ever-lighter footprint than the material it replaces across key environmental and social impact areas such as fossil resource use, human rights , and climate change .” The sugarcane is sustainably sourced, according to the company, “in accordance with guidance from the Bioplastic Feedstock Alliance ,” which is a World Wildlife Fund (WWF) initiative. It’s also “certified by the Bonsucro Chain of Custody Standard .” LEGO partnered with WWF “to support and build demand for sustainably sourced plastic” and joined the Bioplastic Feedstock Alliance. Give your biggest "green" to the very FIRST #sustainable LEGO Bricks! LEGO botanical elements including leaves and trees will now be made from sugarcane-based plastic.The first “greens” are to appear in LEGO sets later this year. Sweeet? #PlantsfromPlants https://t.co/rZKijykjYO pic.twitter.com/yraEOLq5NM — LEGO (@LEGO_Group) March 1, 2018 LEGO’s press release did not include information on recycling the sustainable bricks; but The Guardian said the bioplastic could be recycled several times, although it’s probably not 100 percent biodegradable . As of now, polyethylene elements comprise one to two percent of all the plastic elements produced by the company. The sustainable trees, bushes and leaf pieces will be comprised entirely of plant-based plastic, and they will pop up in LEGO boxes in 2018. Brooks said, “This is a great first step in our ambitious commitment of making all LEGO bricks using sustainable materials.” + LEGO Images courtesy of LEGO

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LEGO is rolling out their first plant-based plastic pieces

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