Catholic churches to make massive divestment from fossil fuels

October 4, 2017 by  
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To mark the anniversary of the death of Saint Francis of Assisi, over 40 Catholic institutions have announced their imminent divestment from fossil fuels, the largest move of its kind by a faith-based organization. The announcement’s timing with Saint Francis’s feast day, October 4, seems fitting for a Catholic Church guided by Pope Francis . He has elevated environmentalism as a key tenet of his papal tenure and chose his title to honor Saint Francis, who is known for his love of the natural world and the poor. Although the specific amount of divestment has not been yet released, the number of participating Catholic organizations is over four times the previous record . In recent years, divestment from fossil fuels has gained in strength as a tool to combat climate change by denying financial support, through investments, to companies and organizations in the fossil fuel industry. The global fossil fuel divestment movement is estimated to be worth $5.5 trillion. “I hope we will see more leaders like these 40 Catholic institutions commit,” said Christiana Figueres, former United Nations climate chief who helped negotiate the Paris climate agreement, “because while this decision makes smart financial sense, acting collectively to deliver a better future for everybody is also our moral imperative.” Related: Nuns build open-air chapel to protest natural gas pipeline on their land The Catholic institutions that are participating in the latest divestment include the Archdiocese of Cape Town, the Episcopal Conference of Belgium and the German Church bank and Catholic relief organisation Caritas. The Italian town of Assisi, Saint Francis’s hometown, also divested from fossil fuels on the day prior to a visit from Italian Prime Minister Paolo Gentolini. “When we pay attention to the environment, we pay attention to poor people, who are the first victims of climate change,” said Assisi Mayor Stefania Proietti. “When we invest in fossil fuels, we stray very far from social justice. But when we disinvest and invest in renewable and energy efficiency instead, we can mitigate climate change, create a sustainable new economic deal and, most importantly, help the poor.” Via the Guardian Images via Nicola/Flickr ,  Long Thiên/Flickr , and Christopher John/Flickr

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Catholic churches to make massive divestment from fossil fuels

German company steps in to help Puerto Rico with microgrid installations

October 3, 2017 by  
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As Puerto Rico assesses the full extent of hurricane damage and continues its long, challenging road to recovery, energy companies from around the world, such as Sonnen GmbH of Germany, are stepping in to assist. Sonnen is planning to install energy-storage systems known as microgrids at fifteen or more emergency relief centers in the American island territory. “Our smart energy storage system is uniquely positioned to serve as a critical resource during the emergency in Puerto Rico,” said Blake Richetta, the head of Sonnen’s U.S. unit. Sonnen’s systems were first delivered last week, with more arriving weekly as ports reopen. Pura Energia, a Puerto Rican solar installer, is working in collaboration with Sonnen to deliver the necessary systems and restore local power. The total knockout of Puerto Rico’s energy infrastructure, which could remain inoperable for months, has made microgrids (often paired with solar panels to restore power to essential buildings), particularly vital as Puerto Ricans struggle to secure basic needs. As Sonnen installs its microgrids on emergency relief centers, it expects local consumers to seek out their own microgrid systems. Profits from these sales will be donated to build additional microgrids throughout Puerto Rico. Related: Tesla is shipping hundreds of Powerwall battery systems to Puerto Rico Since 2016, Sonnen has installed over 20 storage systems, the most recent of which have been produced at its new factory in Atlanta . The first microgrids on Puerto Rico are expected to begin operation next month. In its support for the American Commonwealth, the company is clear in its broader mission to change the world. “It is our duty to stand firmly with the people of Puerto Rico and do everything possible to help start the rebuilding process,” said Sonnen CEO Christoph Ostermann. “There is a clear connection between our mission to support humanity during a climate disaster and our mission to fight climate change .” Via Bloomberg Images via Pew Charitable Trusts and Sonnen

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German company steps in to help Puerto Rico with microgrid installations

Shipping-container development designed for Los Angeles’ homeless population

October 3, 2017 by  
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A Los Angeles neighborhood will soon be home to a new shipping container development created for individuals transitioning out of homelessness. Designed by KTGY Architecture + Planning , the Hope on Alvarado project will repurpose several, locally-sourced shipping containers as the building’s main construction material, hopefully creating an urban design model for affordable housing in densely-packed cities around the globe. Slated for a .44-acre site at 166 Alvarado Street in L.A.’s Westlake Neighborhood, the proposed design will offer 84 units made up of studio and one bedroom apartments for tenants that are in the process of getting off the streets. Multiple shipping containers , which will be sourced locally in Los Angeles, will be stacked together to create a single, four-story building centered around a courtyard. The strategic layout is geared to providing new residents with privacy and security, as well as fostering a strong sense of community. Related: London’s Marston Court transforms shipping containers into emergency housing for the homeless The individual apartments will be created by modifying the containers into units of 400-480 square feet. Doors and portions of the containers’ metal skin will be removed to be replaced with floor-to-ceiling windows, along with various interior fixtures and finishes. The development will also house the tenant support-services office on the street-level. Parking will be provided as well as ample bike-storage. Although still in the development stage, the Hope on Alvarado project will hopefully be the first in a series of Hope developments in the Los Angeles area. Both the architects and the developer, Aedis Real Estate Group , plan to continue building more shipping container developments in other cities in an attempt to create a model for sustainable, affordable housing options . + KTGY Architecture + Planning Images via KTGY Architecture + Planning

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Shipping-container development designed for Los Angeles’ homeless population

Bicycle highway in the Netherlands built using recycled toilet paper

October 3, 2017 by  
Filed under Eco, Green, Recycle

People in the Netherlands use an estimated 180,000 tons of toilet paper every year. Because this amounts to a lot of trees, last Fall the Dutch province of Friesland repurposed the product to make a bicycle highway . The stretch of roadway, about 0.6-miles-long, connects the Frisian capital of Leeuwarden to the town of Stiens. It is the first bicycle lane in the world to be paved with toilet paper — but few can tell the difference. In the Netherlands , roads are typically paved with blacktop. Specifically, open-graded asphalt friction course (OGFC) is used because it is porous and water permeable. “When roads get wet, [they get] slippery, so we use this asphalt because it takes water away from the road surface quicker,” said Ernst Worrell, Professor of energy, resources, and technological change at Utrecht University. The country sees an annual rainfall of 27 to 35 inches per year, so this safety measure is important. While the method is effective, it isn’t the only way to build safe asphalt-type roads, as the province of Friesland recently proved. Last fall, a bicycle highway was built using tertiary cellulose extracted from waste streams. CirTec and KNN Cellulose developed the technology for extracting and cleaning the cellulose fibers. The process entailed sifting paper fibers out of wastewater with a 0.35-millimeter industrial sieve. The fibers were then run through a series of machines, which cleaned, sterilized, bleached and dried them. This produced a fluffy, grayish material. According to Chris Reijken, wastewater treatment advisor at Waternet, “If you look at it, you would not expect it to have originated from wastewater.” Technically, the uses for the reclaimed cellulose are endless. The product could be used in building insulation, biofuel , textiles, pulp and paper, filters — and more. But due to sanitization concerns, it cannot legally be used in products that come into direct contact with people. Related: London Unveils $1.51 Billion Bicycle Master Plan With 15-Mile Bike Highway As a result, the recycled toilet paper was used to construct a bike highway. And so far, officials are reportedly pleased with the investment said to have held up well so far. The success of the project resulted in the same mixture being used to reinforce a dyke on the West Frisian Island of Ameland and to repave a parking lot of a children’s petting zoo in Groningen. CityLab says the city of Amsterdam is now interested in using cellulose from wastewater in its roadways. “It’s a strange idea for people that there’s [toilet paper] in the road,” says Michiel Schrier, provincial governor of Friesland. “But when they cycle on it or feel it, they can see that it’s normal asphalt.” It’s still too early to say whether products from recycled toilet paper will become mainstream, but, in the Netherlands, at least, they’re off to a good start. To repair all roadways in the Netherlands, 15,000 tons of fiber would be needed. From toilet paper alone, this wouldn’t be possible. But using tertiary cellulose from other waste sources, such as diapers and beverage cartons, two million tons could be created. Greener roads are just around the bend. Via CityLab Images via Pixabay , KNN Cellulose

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Bicycle highway in the Netherlands built using recycled toilet paper

India aims to bring electricity connections to 40 million households

October 3, 2017 by  
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Millions of homes in India lack electricity . Prime minister Narendra Modi hopes to change that with his Power For All By 2019 plan. Under the scheme, around 40 million households could obtain electricity connections – with the poor receiving them for free. Low income households could finally receive electricity in India. While people won’t get power for free under the Power For All plan – they’ll need to pay for electricity they consume – they could get a free connection. Homes will be connected to the closest electricity pole by a service cable, and the government will install an energy meter and wiring so homes can charge mobile phones and obtain light from an LED bulb. Related: India cancels plans for coal power stations as solar prices hit record low Homes in rural areas that can’t easily be connected to the grid will receive solar power packs of 200 to 300 watts and a battery pack. They’ll also get five LED lights, one DC power plug, and one DC fan, according to BloombergQuint. In addition, the government will provide maintenance and repair for five years. The idea isn’t completely new; Anil Razdan, former power secretary, told BloombergQuint it’s a decade old, and they’ve been working to electrify villages, but now, “after having spent tens of thousands of crore, we’ve finally decided to take it to every home.” Some households in the past couldn’t afford initial connection charges, and under the new plan, such homes could get connections for free. India will need around 28,000 more megawatts (MW) for the plan, according to BloombergQuint. Clean energy has been soaring in the country, according to a statement from Modi , which said in the past three years, renewable energy capacity has nearly doubled. Solar power capacity grew by almost five times. The government’s goal is to produce 175 gigawatts of clean power coming from wind, solar, and hydro by 2022. Via BloombergQuint Images via Pixabay and Wikimedia Commons

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India aims to bring electricity connections to 40 million households

Puerto Rico electricity crisis sparks interest in renewable energy

September 29, 2017 by  
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Hurricane Maria has left swaths of Puerto Rico without power – and millions of people could have to go without electricity for months . The storm’s devastation has stirred new interest in obtaining more energy from clean sources like solar or wind . Energy experts say increasing renewables and transitioning from centralized grids to microgrids could boost resilience as Puerto Rico and other Caribbean islands weather storms. CARICOM, a Caribbean nation consortium, already hoped to hit 47 percent renewable energy by 2027. The recent hurricanes could act as a motivation to work for that goal. Caribbean countries in the past have relied mostly on imported fossil fuels , which are expensive both for the islands and for the environment . And storms can cripple power lines. Related: Puerto Rico could be without electricity for months due to Hurricane Maria There is an alternative, according to The Washington Post. Renewable sources, coupled with battery storage , powering small grids could offer more resiliency. Fossil fuels would offer backup—at least initially until battery storage becomes more affordable. The microgrids could be connected to a main grid but could also be isolated. With this new setup, the Caribbean could benefit from trade winds and solar panels. According to renewable energy expert Tom Rogers, who works at Britain’s Coventry University, solar systems in the tropics can “generate over one and a half times more than exactly the same PV system” installed in a location with a higher latitude like Europe. Rogers told The Washington Post, “You look at islands like Dominica, Anguilla, and other islands affected by the recent hurricanes, I’ve spoken to a couple of the utilities, and they say they would prefer to rebuild using distributed generation with storage, and just trying to reduce the amount of transmission lines. Because that’s where their energy systems fail. It’s having these overhead cables.” Via The Washington Post Images via Sgt. Jose Ahiram Diaz-Ramos/Puerto Rico National Guard and NOAA Satellites Twitter

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Puerto Rico electricity crisis sparks interest in renewable energy

5 Strategies to Choose the Right Solar Panel Installer

September 21, 2017 by  
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As solar energy explodes in popularity, there are more solar … The post 5 Strategies to Choose the Right Solar Panel Installer appeared first on Earth911.com.

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5 Strategies to Choose the Right Solar Panel Installer

To unleash global innovation, think local

September 19, 2017 by  
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Innovation is needed to bring America, and the world, across the renewable energy finish line. How do you cultivate an environment where utilities, regulators and buyers will increase their risk appetite? Start with local solutions to the energy transition. 

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To unleash global innovation, think local

Trump’s DOE invests $62 million in concentrated solar power

September 15, 2017 by  
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President Donald Trump doesn’t usually mention solar power , unless it’s talk of covering his beloved border wall in solar panels . But his Department of Energy (DOE) recently announced a huge investment in concentrated solar power (CSP). Recently, the solar industry  reached the 2020 SunShot Initiative utility-scale solar cost goal, so the DOE is now looking into new priorities for investment. The DOE recently issued a press release stating they’ll invest up to $82 million in research: $62 million for CSP and $20 million in power electronics technologies, focusing on new technologies now that the average price for utility-scale solar is now six cents per kilowatt-hour. The MIT Technology Review suggested DOE officials think CSP could enhance grid stability more in the long term since CSP plants can store some power as heat, allowing them to keep producing electricity when there’s no sunshine. Related: Dubai to build the world’s biggest concentrated solar power plant But the energy CSP plants generate has been costlier than photovoltaics . And according to the MIT Technology Review, some people are suspicious the DOE may move to weaken support for photovoltaics. The Trump administration’s 2018 budget proposal slashed funding for the Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy by almost 70 percent. That’s the same office that manages the SunShot Initiative. The DOE also announced a $50 million funding opportunity for large-scale pilot fossil fuel projects in late August. But CSP’s ability to store power is a strong advantage. Energy policy researcher David Victor of the University of California, San Diego did say investing in CSP makes sense, telling MIT Technology Review, “My general impression is that we have relatively over-invested in photovoltaics and under-invested in [concentrated solar].” Dan Reicher, executive director at Stanford University’s Steyer-Taylor Center for Energy Policy and Finance, told MIT Technology Review, “[Concentrated solar power] today hasn’t been able to compete with photovoltaics, but there are some promising research areas. Given the climate challenge, we need to put eggs in many, many zero-carbon baskets.” Via MIT Technology Review and the Department of Energy Images via Bureau of Land Management on Flickr and Wikimedia Commons

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Trump’s DOE invests $62 million in concentrated solar power

The world’s biggest offshore wind farm is being built in the UK

September 12, 2017 by  
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Very soon, the UK will be home to the world’s largest wind farm . The UK Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) announced that DONG Energy  is building a 1,386 megawatt wind farm called Hornsea Project Two. Once completed, the massive project will provide enough energy to power 1.3 million homes. Thanks to record low prices, offshore wind is now cheaper than gas and nuclear energy. This resulted in a  UK-low strike price of £57.50 per MWh, making wind an attractive investment. The Hornsea Project Two will be located 89 kilometers off the Yorkshire coast and slightly north of Hornsea Project One, a 1,200 MW offshore wind farm in the North Sea off the coast of England. The equivalent of 1.3 million UK homes are expected to receive power from the Hornsea Project Two, and up to 2,000 jobs during construction and 130 jobs during the 25-year operation life of the project will be created. “We’re delighted to be awarded a Contract for Difference for Hornsea Project Two, which is another important step towards fulfilling our vision of making offshore wind the most competitive form of electricity generation,” Said Samuel Leupold, the Executive Vice President and CEO of Wind Power at DONG Energy. “We have always promoted size as a key driver for cost. The ideal size of an offshore wind farm is 800-1,500MW, and therefore it is natural that Hornsea Project Two will deliver record-low costs to society. At the same time, the low strike price demonstrates the cost saving potential of developer-built offshore grid connections, which in the UK is included in the project scope.” Related: Revolutionary floors made from waste wood pulp generate clean energy DONG Energy UK’s Managing Director, Matthew Wright, added, “This is a breakthrough moment for offshore wind in the UK and a massive step forward for the industry . Not only will Hornsea Project Two provide low cost, clean energy to the UK, it will also deliver high-quality jobs and another huge boost to the UK supply chain.” The Hornsea Project One will begin operation in 2020, and Project Two in 2022. According to UK Minister for Energy and Industry, Richard Harrington, the UK’s latest investment is evidence that the country has “placed clean growth at the heart of the Industrial Strategy to unlock opportunities across the country while cutting carbon emissions . He said, “The offshore wind sector alone will invest £17.5bn in the UK up to 2021 and thousands of new jobs in British businesses will be created by the projects announced today. This government will continue to seize these opportunities as the world moves towards a low carbon future, and will set out ambitious proposals in the upcoming Clean Growth Plan.” + Dong Energy  Via Clean Technica Images via Dong Energy , Shutterstock

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