In the UK, wind energy provides more power than nuclear for the first time

May 18, 2018 by  
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For the first time, wind energy provided more power than nuclear energy to the United Kingdom grid. In the first three months of 2018, wind provided 18.8 percent of all power; only  natural gas was a larger energy source. This milestone may herald the arrival of an energy economy in which renewable energy is the most cost effective option. During the first three months of the year, there was even one point — the night of March 17 — when wind energy provided nearly half of the electricity used in the U.K. Even during extremely cold weather, the wind farms continued to provide energy. Meanwhile, two of the U.K.’s eight nuclear plants were nonoperational due to maintenance, while another was offline because seaweed was stuck in its cooling system. In the last three months of 2017, wind and solar combined had contributed more to the U.K. power supply than nuclear did. Now, wind is capable of outperforming nuclear all on its own. “There’s no sign of a limit to what we’re able to do with wind in the near future,” Dr. Rob Gross, co-author of a report on wind power’s recent success, told The Guardian . Wind energy received a major boost last December when a power cable between Scotland and northern Wales came online, allowing energy produced by Scotland’s wind farms to be shared across a wider range. “It is great news for everyone that rather than turning turbines off to manage our ageing grid, the new cable instead will make best use of wind energy,” RenewableUK executive director Emma Pinchbeck told The Guardian. Related: UK fracking measures could make exploratory drilling “as easy as building a garden wall” Even as the U.K. reaches new heights in its renewable energy production, it has faced a steep decline in renewable energy funding in recent years. Investment in renewable energy suffered a 56 percent decrease in 2017. “Billions of pounds of investment is needed in clean energy, transport, heating and industry to meet our carbon targets,” Mary Creagh, Labour Member of Parliament and chair of the environmental audit committee, said. “But a dramatic fall in investment is threatening the government’s ability to meet legally binding climate change targets.” Via The Guardian Images via Depositphotos (1, 2)

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In the UK, wind energy provides more power than nuclear for the first time

California becomes the first US state to require solar energy for new houses

May 10, 2018 by  
Filed under Business, Eco, Green

It’s official — California is the first state in America to mandate solar for new homes. Yesterday, the California Energy Commission voted unanimously to approve the building standards, which will go into effect on January 1, 2020. The New York Times quoted Sunrun CEO Lynn Jurich as saying, “There’s…this real American sense of freedom of producing electricity on my rooftop. And it’s another example of California leading the way.” Homes built in California in a couple of years will have to be equipped with solar energy systems. Called the 2019 Building Energy Efficiency Standards, the requirements “will increase the cost of constructing a new home by about $9,500 but will save $19,000 in energy and maintenance costs over 30 years,” according to a frequently asked questions document from the California Energy Commission. The New York Times quoted commission member Andrew McAllister as saying, “Any additional amount in the mortgage is more than offset. It’s good for the customer.” Related: California to become the first US state to require solar panels on new homes The commission said in a press release the standards would lower greenhouse gas emissions as much as if around 115,000 fossil fuel cars left the streets. They said the standards zero in on four areas; in addition to residential solar power, those areas are “updated thermal envelope standards (preventing heat transfer from the interior to exterior and vice versa), residential and nonresidential ventilation requirements, and nonresidential lighting requirements.” There are people who wonder if California’s new mandate is the best path forward to clean power. MIT Technology Review linked to an email from University of California, Berkeley economics professor Severin Borenstein to commission chair Robert Weisenmiller early yesterday morning; Borenstein said he, along with most energy economists, “believe that residential rooftop solar is a much more expensive way to move towards renewable energy than larger solar and wind installations.” + California Energy Commission Via The New York Times Images via Deposit Photos ,   Wikimedia Commons and mjmonty on Flickr

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California becomes the first US state to require solar energy for new houses

Conventional shipping get on deck for decarbonization

May 10, 2018 by  
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International shipping produces as much CO2 as aircraft. Here’s what we can do about that.

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Conventional shipping get on deck for decarbonization

California Mandates Solar Panels on New Homes

May 9, 2018 by  
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In a groundbreaking decision, the California Energy Commission voted today … The post California Mandates Solar Panels on New Homes appeared first on Earth911.com.

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California Mandates Solar Panels on New Homes

10.3 million people are employed in the renewable energy industry

May 9, 2018 by  
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For the first time ever, the number of people employed in renewable energy has passed the 10 million mark, according to the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA). In 2017, 10.3 million people were working in renewable energy, with 60 percent of the jobs in Asia. Of renewable energy jobs, solar power was the largest employer with nearly 3.4 million jobs. In 2017, the renewable energy industry created over 500,000 new jobs, according to IRENA, based in Abu Dhabi. That’s a 5.3 percent increase over 2016. The countries with the most jobs in renewable energy are the United States, China, India, Japan, Germany, and Brazil, and they account for over 70 percent of renewable energy industry jobs in the world. IRENA Director-General Adnan Amin said in the agency’s statement, “Renewable energy has become a pillar of low-carbon economic growth for governments all over the world, a fact reflected by the growing number of jobs created in the sector.” Related: Clean energy jobs outnumber fossil fuel jobs in most US states The number of solar power jobs was up nearly nine percent over 2016 after what IRENA described as a record 94 gigawatts in installations last year. Around two-thirds, or around 2.2 million, of solar energy jobs are in China. Liquid biofuels is another big employer with 1.9 million jobs. Large hydropower is up there as well with 1.5 million jobs. Jobs in the wind industry decreased some at 1.15 million jobs globally. IRENA said while growing amounts of countries are enjoying clean power’s socioeconomic benefits, most manufacturing happens in relatively few countries. Amin said, “The data also underscores an increasingly regionalized picture, highlighting that in countries where attractive policies exist, the economic, social, and environmental benefits of renewable energy are most evident. Fundamentally, this data supports our analysis that decarbonization of the global energy system can grow the global economy and create up to 28 million jobs in the sector by 2050.” + International Renewable Energy Agency Images via Depositphotos ( 1 , 2 ) and the International Renewable Energy Agency

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10.3 million people are employed in the renewable energy industry

Escapods rugged Topo trailer lets you go off-road in style

May 9, 2018 by  
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Taking your adventure off-road—and even off-grid —is now easier than ever thanks to the all-terrain Topo trailer. Escapod recently launched the off-road-specific teardrop trailer, which clocks in at 1,200 pounds dry weight and is crafted from the ground up in Warship, Utah. The Topo features a minimalist and stylish weatherproof build with a hand-welded, powder-coated steel tube frame and lightweight aluminum cladding. Built to last, the four-season Topo is constructed from a durable pressure-treated frame with 1.5-inch insulation . The trailer is elevated on 17-inch Mickey Thompson wheels with Goodyear Wrangler Trailrunner AT Tires, resulting in a standard ground clearance of 18 inches. To tackle even the most technical of terrain, the trailer also comes with independent suspension rated to 3,500 pounds. For extra functionality, Rhino Rack crossbars and a Sunseeker Awning are installed on top. In contrast with the rugged exterior, the interior is a warm cocoon of pre-finished birch ply , equipped with four cabinets, three cubbies, and a closed compartment behind the sleeping space, which is furnished with a 5-inch memory-foam queen mattress. Despite its compact quarters, the Topo feels expansive thanks to a 9-by-41-inch stargazer window and the two glazed doors on either side. There’s also room for food prep with counter space in the rear. The LEDs , USB ports, 3-speed fan, and optional water pump run off a 12v series 27 deep-cycle RV battery. The Escapod Topo starts at $13,800 and can easily be customized with tempting add-ons—like the solar array or shower—or with special request equipment. Interested buyers not quite ready to take the plunge will also be pleased to know that the team will soon offer rentals in Utah, with more details to be revealed on their website . + Escapod Via New Atlas

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Escapods rugged Topo trailer lets you go off-road in style

How lagom the Swedish concept of ‘just right’ can help you live a balanced life

May 9, 2018 by  
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If there’s one word that defines our modern lives, it’s this: excess. We own too much stuff, too many things compete for our attention (Should I binge-watch a show on Netflix or check in on Snapchat? …Or maybe both at the same time?) and there is too much pressure to have the perfect life that everyone on Instagram seems to have. It’s overwhelming. And while many people are embracing minimalism to combat the exhaustion of modern life, it can be a bit too limiting. That’s why you need to know about the Swedish concept of ‘Lagom,’ which celebrates the idea of “just enough.” It’s the space between minimalism and living in excess. Image via Jen P. What is lagom? The Danish concept of hygge has captivated people around the world with its emphasis on embracing the simple pleasures in life. Lagom, on the other hand, is about finding balance in every aspect of your life. Instead of eschewing your phone to light some candles and relax, it’s about finding the right amount of time to connect with the world without feeling overwhelmed by it. At its essence, lagom means enjoying a simpler life so you can focus on what is really important and makes you happy. Related: 6 ways to make your life more “Hygge” – the Danish secret to happiness Lagom — pronounced lah-gom — is knowing what is essential in your life and knowing when something isn’t serving you. The Swedish embrace lagom as a lifestyle — in fact, it helps inform the particular brand of socialism that helps Sweden thrive. The idea is that nobody in society should have too much or too little. Some argue that lagom can be negative, because it is based on Lutheran self-denial. But we think that practicing lagom can help you improve your life by embracing ‘good enough.’ In Sweden, lagom can be illustrated by how Swedes seem perfectly happy in homes that are only a fraction of the size of homes in the U.S. Do we really need all that space? Then, you have to fill it with more stuff and clean it, when you could be just as happy in a home half the size . It is also better for the world if we do more with less, and that’s an important part of lagom — making choices that may require a bit of sacrifice to benefit the world. With lagom, less is more, and instead of buying things we do not need, it is about finding pleasure and fulfillment in moderation. It is the belief that extremes on the spectrum are bad. For instance, exercise is good, but none at all is just as detrimental as too much. Cooking at home is good, but not if it stresses you out, whereas dining out for every meal could be a disaster for your budget. Image via Jess Waters How do you embrace lagom? To find your inner lagom, you need to ask yourself one question: is this good enough? Or, is this just enough? If KonMari-style purging feels like yet another set of rules that you have to follow in order to live up to someone else’s standards, stop and ask yourself if perhaps a light spring de-cluttering is good enough for you. If the pressure to hygge-fy your life has turned from taking a cozy moment with a book to the frantic pursuit of the perfect chunky-knit blankets and the best organic candles, it’s time to step back and find a balance between calm and pressure. Image via Bench Accounting Live lagom at home When it comes to the home, the trend is to toss everything out to achieve a simple lifestyle. Lagom guides you to embrace what brings you joy and eliminate what doesn’t. A little ‘ clutter ‘ isn’t always a bad thing – if you get real pleasure from a bookcase full of knick-knacks or a drawer full of your favorite pens, go for it. Just make sure that what you keep is valuable and utilized. A shelf full of books is just a burden if you never read them. The same goes for anything that is cluttering up your space without a purpose. Are you really enjoying that bar cart that you bought because it looked cute on Pinterest? If not, give it away on Craigslist. Then, before adding anything else to your space, ask yourself if things are good enough already. The point is to find a simpler life that still has room for the things that make you happy. Image via Bethany Legg Pencil in lagom at work In your work life, apply lagom by knowing when enough is enough. Instead of putting in extra hours to look dedicated, think like the Swedes, who believe that putting in overtime means that you aren’t working efficiently enough during your regular hours. Accept that work is an important part of life, but find the balance between letting it be the main focus of your life and an unpleasant task you charge through as quickly as possible. Set expectations with your employer: you will give your best effort while you are in the office, but after eight hours, you are heading out to enjoy the rest of the day. Instead of banking those time-off hours, use them frequently to give yourself a mental recharge. Image via Brooke Lark Add lagom to your plate The concept of lagom really shines when it comes to eating because it’s all about moderation — you can literally have your cake and eat it, too. The Swedish recognize that there is a time for indulging in all the delicious goodies that make a celebration great, but there is also a time to moderate. The first step to eating lagom-style is to eliminate waste. If you are tossing out a great deal of food, and your ingredients had to travel across the planet to reach you, you are definitely not embracing lagom. Instead of eating imported fruits all year round, try to find local produce that is in season. When you have a craving for something sweet, do as the Swedes do and take a fika — a short coffee break accompanied by your favorite treat. Not every meal has to be a huge presentation – something simple will do most of the time. The point is not to impress your friends but to have something that you enjoy from start to finish, while being mindful of your impact on the world. Let lagom bring balance to your life Lagom is something that you can incorporate into nearly every aspect of life. Think like Goldilocks: you are looking for the bed that is just right. Embracing lagom will not only simplify everything, but it will ease your stress and help you find the kind of balance that is essential to being happy. Next time you are doing something because you feel like you have to, ask yourself if things aren’t already good enough as they are. And instead of feeling guilty for enjoying things you think you shouldn’t, have them in small doses. Finally, be mindful of what you bring into your life and realize that sometimes the simpler things will ultimately bring you the most joy. That’s the key to living lagom. Lead image via Robson Hatsukami Morgan

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How lagom the Swedish concept of ‘just right’ can help you live a balanced life

Global tourism’s carbon footprint is four times bigger than we thought

May 7, 2018 by  
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For the first time, researchers have quantified the  carbon footprint of global  tourism around the world – and their findings show that tourism’s impact is roughly four times greater than previously thought. The research, led by the Integrated Sustainability Analysis supply-chain research group at the University of Sydney , accounted for all components of the tourism industry, from travel to souvenirs. The group found global tourist activity is growing faster than international trade and already accounts for one-tenth of the world’s total greenhouse gas emissions. The impact analysis took a year and a half to finish and included approximately one billion global supply chains. “Our analysis is a world-first look at the true cost of tourism—including consumables such as food from eating out and souvenirs—it’s a complete life-cycle assessment of global tourism, ensuring we don’t miss any impacts,” study co-author Dr. Arunima Malik told Phys.org . Not surprisingly, the researchers identified air travel as the major contributor to the overall emissions from global tourism. Related: 7 exotic off-grid Airbnb rental homes for adventurous travelers As much of the world experiences a period of strong economic growth, there is concern that this will result in greater greenhouse gas emissions. “We found the per-capita carbon footprint increases strongly with increased affluence and does not appear to satiate as incomes grow,” lead researcher Manfred Lenzen told Phys.org . The researchers recognize that high-level actions must be taken to counteract the ever-increasing emissions trend in tourism. “Given that tourism is set to grow faster than many other economic sectors, the international community may consider its inclusion in the future in climate commitments, such as the Paris Accord , by tying international flights to specific nations,” co-author Ya-Yen Sun told Phys.org . “ Carbon taxes or carbon trading schemes—in particular for aviation—may be required to curtail unchecked future growth in tourism-related emissions.” All this, however, will most certainly result in increased costs for air travelers. + University of Sydney Via Phys.org Images via Depositphotos 1, 2

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Global tourism’s carbon footprint is four times bigger than we thought

Record-breaking paper water purifier operates at near 100% efficiency

May 7, 2018 by  
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Researchers at the University at Buffalo have created a highly efficient device that uses sunlight and black carbon-dipped paper to clean water . The paper is placed in a triangular arrangement, which enables it to vaporize and absorb water with nearly 100 percent efficiency. The simple, inexpensive technology could be deployed in regions where clean drinking water is chronically unavailable or areas that have been acutely affected by natural disasters. “Our technique is able to produce drinking water at a faster pace than is theoretically calculated under natural sunlight,” said lead researcher Qiaoqiang Gan in a statement . The solar still concept, which uses sunlight to purify water, is ancient; Aristotle described a similar technique more than 2,000 years ago. The difference is the new device’s ability to achieve ultra-high efficiency. “Usually, when solar energy is used to evaporate water, some of the energy is wasted as heat is lost to the surrounding environment,” Gan explained. “This makes the process less than 100 percent efficient. Our system has a way of drawing heat in from the surrounding environment, allowing us to achieve near-perfect efficiency.” The carbon -dipped paper’s sloped orientation is key in achieving this efficiency, allowing the bottom edges to soak up water while the outer coating absorbs solar heat to be used in evaporation. Related: This moss can naturally eliminate arsenic from water The research team prioritized simplicity and accessibility in its design. “Most groups working on solar evaporation technologies are trying to develop advanced materials, such as metallic plasmonic and carbon-based nanomaterials,” Gan said. “We focused on using extremely low-cost materials and were still able to realize record-breaking performance.” Through their recently launched start-up, Sunny Clean Water, the team hopes to increase access to their device for areas in need. “When you talk to government officials or nonprofits working in disaster zones, they want to know: ‘How much water can you generate every day?’ We have a strategy to boost daily performance,” said Haomin Song, an electrical engineering PhD graduate, in a statement . “With a solar still the size of a mini fridge, we estimate that we can generate 10 to 20 liters of clean water every single day.” + University at Buffalo Via Futurity Images via Huaxiu Chen and Douglas Levere/University at Buffalo

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Record-breaking paper water purifier operates at near 100% efficiency

California is about to be the first US state to require solar power on new homes

May 7, 2018 by  
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California is taking a huge step forward in clean energy this week, as the state is expected to require solar energy for just about all new homes, The Orange County Register reported . The California Energy Commission is slated to vote this Wednesday on new standards mandating almost all new houses be equipped with solar panels , beginning in 2020, and it’s expected they’ll approve the move. The Golden State “is about to take a quantum leap in energy standards,” according to California Building Industry Association technical director Bob Raymer. If approved, the solar mandate would cover all houses, apartments, and condominiums as high as three stories obtaining building permits after January 1, 2020, according to The Orange County Register. There could be alternatives or exceptions allowed for structures shaded by other buildings or trees, or if a roof is too small to allow for solar panels. The new provisions would offer compliance credits for builders who install batteries like Tesla’s Powerwall , allowing them to cut the size of solar systems. Homes won’t need to reach true net zero status under these standards, according to The Orange County Register. Related: San Francisco approves measure to require solar panels on new buildings Compared against a 2006 code, these new standards would add around $25,000 to $30,000 to construction costs, according to Meritage Homes ‘ vice president of environmental affairs C.R. Herro speaking to The Orange County Register. $14,000 to $16,000 of that would go to solar; $10,000 to $15,000 would go to increased insulation and appliances, windows, heating, and lighting that is more efficient . Herro said the $25,000 to $30,000 would lead to $50,000 to $60,000 in reduced operating costs during the home solar power system’s 25-year lifespan. Homebuilder and former Orange County Building Industry Association president Bill Watt told The Orange County Register the added costs could mean home prices are too high for many buyers, saying, “We’re not building enough housing already. Why not just pause for a little while, focus on the affordability and housing issues , then circle back?” Sierra Club California director Kathryn Phillips told The Orange County Register, “The technology is developing so fast, we think the timeline was a bit slow.” Via The Orange County Register Images via Pixabay and U.S. Air Force photo by Kenji Thuloweit

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