How a small tribe in Nevada shut down coal and built a solar farm

April 12, 2017 by  
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President Donald Trump brags about bringing back coal jobs, but tends to gloss over the fuel’s negative health effects for workers and those who live nearby. The Moapa Band of Paiutes in Nevada know all about those harmful health effects. After years of campaigning against a coal plant near their land, they finally saw it close as they switched on the first utility-scale solar plant ever erected on tribal land. The Moapa Band of Paiutes resides in Nevada next to the coal-fired Reid Gardner Generating Station. The tribe has seen high rates of heart disease and asthma, and didn’t even benefit from the power plant – it neither powered their homes nor employed their people. But because the 311-person tribe is so small, it was difficult to conclusively establish their health issues were related to the plant. Related: Moapa Paiutes to Install 250 MW Solar Power Plant to Transition Away from Dirty Coal Still, the tribe persisted in their campaign to shutter the plant, which provided power for Las Vegas. They started writing letters, and then took legal action with the help of the Sierra Club. When Las Vegas residents learned their power came from a plant polluting the air for people who lived next door, many of them got involved in the campaign as well. The tribe lost the case in 2013 but that same year Senate Bill 123 became law – requiring certain utilities to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and replace some polluting power with renewable sources. The Reid Gardner Generating Station finally closed this year, last month. Its 40 employees didn’t even lose their jobs, since they were given new positions in the same company. And now the tribe is turning to solar . They’ve leased land for the 250-megawatt Moapa Southern Paiute Solar Project; First Solar started operations and recently sold the plant to Capital Dynamics . The tribe will receive revenue and 115 of their members obtained construction jobs for the plant, which recently began operating under a 25-year Power Purchase Agreement with the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power. Two tribe members will be permanently employed as field technicians. Moapa Band of Paiutes Tribal Council chairman Darren Daboda said in a statement, “If our small tribe can accomplish this, then others can also. There are endless opportunities in renewable energy, and tribes across the nation have the perfect areas in which to build utility-scale projects.” Via Colorlines Images via Ken Lund on Flickr and ENERGY.GOV on Flickr ( 1 , 2 )

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European electricity sector pledges no new coal plants after 2020

April 6, 2017 by  
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In another sign that the world is rapidly moving away from coal , the European electricity sector just announced a commitment to not invest in new coal-fired power plants after 2020. Every European Union country signed onto the initiative except for Poland and Greece. The Union of the Electricity Industry, otherwise known as Eurelectric , which represents 3,500 utilities with a combined value of over €200 billion, reiterated its commitment to decarbonize the EU economy in line with targets set in the Paris climate agreement . Europe’s power sector is aiming to achieve carbon neutrality by 2050. “The power sector is determined to lead the energy transition and back our commitment to the low carbon economy with concrete action,” said Eurelectric President and CEO of the Portuguese energy group EDP, António Mexia. “With power supply becoming increasingly clean, electric technologies are an obvious choice for replacing fossil fuel based systems for instance in the transport sector to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.” Related: China calls America selfish amid Trump attempt to revive coal Coal is already in decline as Europe continues making massive investments in renewable energy sources such as solar and wind. Last year, European coal emissions fell by an impressive 11 percent , according to an analysis published by the European Commission. The decrease of coal emissions is part of a long-term trend — since 2010, European coal’s generation emissions fell by 16 percent and overall power sector emissions fell by 19 percent. Across the Atlantic, US President Donald Trump has pledged to revive coal. However, US utilities, similar to their European counterparts, are moving away from coal in favor of natural gas and renewables. News agency Reuters contacted 32 utilities and the vast majority said that Trump’s actions would not impact their investments away from coal. “I’m not going to build new coal plants in today’s environment,” Ben Fowke, CEO of Xcel Energy, told Reuters. “And if I’m not going to build new ones, eventually there won’t be any.” Via The Guardian Images via Flickr 1 , 2

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European electricity sector pledges no new coal plants after 2020

Stickbulb’s new Boom LED lamp is made of reclaimed wood from NYC water tanks

April 6, 2017 by  
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Almost five years have passed since New York-based design firm Rux Design unveiled their revolutionary StickBulb lighting system , which was inspired by destroyed buildings. Now, the innovative designers are back with a new, bolder LED lamp called Boom that’s made out of reclaimed Redwood from dismantled NYC water tanks. Rux’s new Boom lamps were officially unveiled this week at the Milan Furniture Fair . The series follows up on the designer’s quest to repurpose materials from architectural destruction. Boom is made of reclaimed wood taken from dismantled NYC water tanks. Years of exposure to the harsh NYC climate on one side and water on the other has given the wood a rich, unique coloring. Related: 15 brilliant green lamps for a brighter future The reclaimed wood pieces are shaped to fit linear LED bulbs that are then connected to an elegant brass core. The lighted sticks shoot out at different lengths and emit light from different directions, creating a sense of “exploding light.” According to Stickbulb Co-Founder and RUX Founder Russell Greenberg, the team’s lighting systems take a revolutionary approach to green design : “Our fixtures are literally born from the destruction of architecture. We celebrate this energy and history in the form and function of our designs.” Boom debuted in a temporary exhibit at Archiproducts Milano on April 4th during Milan Design Week . + Stickbulb + Rux Design

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Stickbulb’s new Boom LED lamp is made of reclaimed wood from NYC water tanks

Cute zen tiny house is a steal at $49K

April 6, 2017 by  
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The prolific tiny house designers at Escape Traveler are well-known for their impressively compact homes, but their latest model, simply called, One , stands out for its elegant Japanese-inspired design. The charred exterior was created using the ancient Shou-Sugi-Ban technique, which imbues the wood with an attractive patina and long-lasting durability. The interior draws upon Japanese design principles with simple materials and an open floor plan that give the home a quiet Zen-like feel. To top it all off, the beautifully finished 276 sq ft home is available for just $49,800. Drawing upon the Japanese term “ma,” which roughly translates to “gap,” the interior space was built out with flexibility in mind. Light wooden walls and a high ceiling give the 276-square-foot home a serene quality. The 11-foot-tall ceiling also creates enough room for a spacious sleeping loft on the second floor. LED lighting is installed throughout the home, but for the most part the interior is naturally illuminated by large windows and a glass door. Energy loss is reduced thanks to foam insulation made from recycled materials . Related: Amplified tiny house lets musician homeowner rock out in the great outdoors The interior layout is designed to be simple, with multiple space-saving features hidden throughout, providing utmost versatility for future homeowners. A walk-in closet and storage space is hidden under steps that lead to the second floor, and custom-made drawers were installed below the stairwell. The compact kitchen is another marvel in efficient use of space. The sink is hidden right under the stovetop, and hidden drawers blend into the interior when not in use. + Escape Traveler Via New Atlas Photos via Escape

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5 surprising products made from hemp

April 6, 2017 by  
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Hemp is a sustainable supermaterial with a wide range of applications that go far beyond hacky sacks and beaded bracelets. An experimental project called Fabric-Action explores exciting new uses for hemp – including modular gardens, skateboards, swings, and even air purifiers . Each design emphasizes the intrinsic qualities of this natural, sustainable and fast-growing material while showing how hemp can fit the latest production techniques such as 3D-printing, CNC technology and laser-cutting. Click on for five intriguing hemp products from the Fabric-Action show at Milan Design Week 2017. Agri-Hemp , designed by Michele Armellini and Marco Grimandi , is a modular indoor gardening system. Agri-hemp pots of different sizes are realized in thermo-formable woven hemp, a new material inspired by traditional hemp fabric. The system is completed by vertical wooden legs designed to support the hemp pots. Delta-9 by Gabriele Basei is a skateboard made out of waterproof hemp that is decorated with textile inserts typical of Umbria’s style. Kinesis by Ekaterina Shchetina e Libero Rutilo is a swing made out of three different types of hemp. Suspended on traditional hemp ropes, the swing features a seat made out of Canapalithos, a pressed hemp panel, and knobs made of 3D-printed hemp plastic. Carlotta Antonietti, Laura Tardella and Marzia Tolomei ‘s Paidia is a suspended cradle that utilizes several of hemp’s key attributes. Hemp is antibacterial, resistant to moisture, heat-insulating and light, so it’s the perfect material for this baby product, which is made out of hemp felt and lined with hemp fabric. Once your newborn grows up, Paidia can be easily transformed into a soft basket for toy storage. Soft by Enrico Azzimonti is an air purification system entirely made of hemp-derived materials. The project integrates the use of digital technologies such as 3D-printing to create tubular textile hemp filters that purify indoor spaces. These designs were presented at Milan Design Week 2017 and can be seen at Fuorisalone 2017 in Universita Statale di Milano. + Milan Design Week images by Maria Novozhilova for Inhabitat

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Why coal country must be part of the clean economy

March 8, 2017 by  
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One of the most remarkable developments in recent years has been the relatively drama-free embrace in many corners of the private sector of the concept of environmental externalities. Arguments over the indirect costs of fossil fuel combustion — climate change, mercury contamination, ground level ozone and the like — have been a form of hand-to-hand combat in utility rate cases and other regulatory actions for years.

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Groundbreaking technology affordably captures CO2 from fossil fuel plants

February 22, 2017 by  
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What if fossil fuels could be burned without pouring emissions into the air? Many people consider that idea to be wishful thinking, but chemical engineer Rodney Allam doesn’t. He’s been working on carbon capture technology on and off since the 1970’s, and with the help of venture capital incubator 8 Rivers , recently put the finishing touches on the Allam Cycle , an electric-generation system that captures all the carbon dioxide (CO2) made from burning fossil fuels. Allam investigated bolt-on methods during his decades of searching for a way to capture CO2 from fossil fuel plants, but found those methods too expensive. He aimed to make carbon capture affordable, but gave up in the 1990’s. Then 8 Rivers came along in 2009 with a plan to make use of Recovery Act money from the federal government. When Allam returned to the issue, he was at last able to develop the Allam Cycle. Related: Breakthrough technology turns coal plant CO2 into baking powder The Allam Cycle doesn’t utilize steam to create electricity . Instead, CO2 under pressure and in a supercritical state spins the turbines powering the generators. Combustion adds CO2 to keep the process going, and any excess is sent into a pipeline. NetPower , 8 Rivers’ portfolio company constructing the first Allam Cycle plant, describes the technology as truly clean, saying plants that utilize the Allam Cycle are able to “inherently eliminate all air emissions.” That means no particulate matter, mercury, nitrogen oxides, or sulfur oxides either. Plus, Allam’s technology can generate electricity at the same six cents per kilowatt-hour as other gas-fired turbines. NetPower is working with Exelon and Toshiba on the first plant. According to Forbes, such a full-size plant costs around $300 million to construct and can generate 300 megawatts yearly. Once the plant is built, it will take a few months before NetPower can show the cycle is stable. Allam told Forbes they might know for sure in a year. The first plant will run on natural gas ; 8 Rivers says on their website they are also developing a coal -based system. Via Forbes Images via Wikimedia Commons and eutrophication&hypoxia on Flickr

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Third highest CO2 polluter in U.S. to shut down 25 years early

February 15, 2017 by  
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Coal power is on the way out–and the closure of the 2,250 megawatt Navajo Generating Station is evidence. The major Arizona coal plant that’s provided electricity to cities like Los Angeles, Las Vegas, and Phoenix during its over 40-year history is set to shut down in 2019. The Navajo Generating Station, which started generating electricity in 1974 and is managed mainly by Salt River Project , is slated to close 25 years ahead of schedule, according to High Country News. The plant is a huge polluter in the American West, spewing so much carbon dioxide Azcentral.com said the plant is America’s third largest contributor to greenhouse gas emissions. In addition to carbon emissions, the station pumps out 472 pounds of mercury, 259 pounds of arsenic, and 4,370 pounds of selenium from its smokestacks yearly. High Country News reports those elements toxic to humans and wildlife have appeared in Grand Canyon fish and Mesa Verde National Park precipitation. The coal plant also consumes around nine billion gallons of water taken from Lake Powell every single year for cooling and steam generation. Related: China orders a halt to over 100 coal-fired power plants Coal power is no longer the area’s cheapest power source. Salt River Project officials have said it’s less expensive for them to purchase power from alternative sources than to generate energy at the station for their one million customers, due largely to low natural gas prices. While the shut down will provide a breath of fresh air for the environment , the transition could be hard for local communities. 90 percent of the plant’s 400 employees are Native Americans . The Navajo Nation and Hopi tribe receive royalties from the plant and the Kayenta coal mine located 78 miles away which provides coal for the Navajo Generating Station. High Country News suggested the plant owners could work with local tribes to build renewable energy plants on reservations instead. Via High Country News Images via Wikimedia Commons ( 1 , 2 )

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Electric cars and solar power could freeze fossil fuel growth by 2020

February 3, 2017 by  
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Fossil fuels could officially be a thing of the past as early as 2020, according to a new report. The report shows the declining costs of electric vehicles and solar energy could put a stop to the growth in worldwide demand for oil and coal in less than three years time. According to the Guardian , a report by the Grantham Institute at Imperial College London and the Carbon Tracker Initiative entitled “ Expect the Unexpected: The disruptive power of low-carbon technology,” polluting fuels could lost 10 percent of their market share to solar power and “clean cars” within a decade. To put it in perspective, a 10 percent market share loss was enough to cause the recent collapse in the U.S. coal industry , while the five major utilities in Europe collectively lost about $100 billion between 2008 and 2013 because they didn’t ready themselves for the 8 percent growth in renewable energy . Related: Ireland votes to be the world’s first country to fully divest from fossil fuels According to the study , “Big energy companies are seriously underestimating the low-carbon transition by sticking to their “business as usual” scenarios which expect continued growth of fossil fuels, and could see their assets “stranded.” The study also notes that solar photovoltaic power could supply 23 percent of global power generation by 2040, and as much as 29 percent by 2050. That’s enough to entirely phase out coal and leave natural gas with just a 1 percent market share. At the same time Exxon is predicting renewables will supply just 11 percent by 2040. The researchers also see electric vehicles making up about 35 percent of the road transport market by 2015, and as much as 67 percent by 2050. That growth trajectory will see EVs displace about two million barrels of oil per day in 2025, and grow to 25 million barrels per day by 2050. Via Guardian and Carbon Tracker Images via USAF and Ride_and_Drive , Wikimedia Commons

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Torontos 8 Winter Station winners to revive citys frozen beaches

February 3, 2017 by  
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Toronto’s freezing beaches will soon be a hotspot of activity. The third annual Winter Stations design competition recently unveiled this year’s eight winners, a series of temporary art installations that will take over the city’s east end beaches beginning February 20. These interactive pieces will be built atop ordinary lifeguard stands and offer designs ranging from a Japanese onsen-inspired installation to a modern lighthouse. The Toronto Winter Stations competition selected five professional and three student teams to create temporary sculptures for the Toronto beachfront created under the theme of “Catalyst.” The competition seeks visionary designs that reinvent the waterfront landscape into an inviting and memorable place during a time of year when the frozen beaches are normally deserted. “Winter Stations 2017 delivered, once again, gutsy and lyrical transformations of ordinary lifeguard stands,” said Lisa Rochon, Winter Stations Design Jury Chair. “Visitors will be able to touch and feel their way along the beach, experiencing luminous shelter from the wind, warming waters for their feet, and designs that celebrate the Canadian nation of immigrants.” Related: 7 Burning Man-style winter stations unveiled for Toronto’s snowy shores The winning entries in the professionals category include: Asuka Kono and Rachel Salmela’s I See You Ashiyu, an installation where visitors can dip their feet into a Japanese hot spring-inspired basin; studio PERCH’s North, a suspended forest of 41 trees hung upside down; Mario García and Andrea Govi’s Collective Memory built from recycled bottles in reference to a statistic that says nearly one-half of the Canadian population over the age of 15 will be foreign born or a child of a migrant parent by 2031; Dionisios Vriniotis, Rob Shostak, Dakota Wares-Tani and Julie Forand’s BuoyBuoyBuoy, a reflective sculpture mimicking the motion of multiple buoys; and Joao Araujo Sousa and Joanna Correia Silva’s modern interpretation of a lighthouse in The Beacon, which will also double as a drop-off location for non-perishable items like canned food or clothes. The selected student works include University of Waterloo’s Flotsam and Jetsam that speaks to the ills of plastic consumption; Humber College School of Media Studies & IT, School of Applied Technology’s the Illusory that uses mirrors to distort perspectives; and Daniels Faculty of Architecture, Landscape, and Design, University of Toronto’s Midwinter Fire, which immerses visitors in a miniature version of a Southern Ontario winter forest. + Winter Stations Via ArchDaily Images via Winter Stations

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