Apple is officially cleared to sell surplus solar energy

August 9, 2016 by  
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Tech giant Apple started Apple Energy LLC back in June with the goal of selling their surplus solar energy . While 93 percent of their power came from renewable energy last year, some of Apple’s solar farms produce enough energy that the company apparently decided to jump into the clean energy business. Now the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) has granted Apple approval to sell their surplus energy. Apple holds 20 megawatts (MW) of a Nevada solar farm, 50 MW of an Arizona facility being built, and 67.5 MW in North Carolina. At their California campus they also can generate 18 MW. Last year they agreed to buy 130 MW from First Solar , a move Bloomberg said at that point in time was the “largest-ever solar procurement” by a company that was not a utility. Over the next 25 years, Apple will shell out $850 million on the First Solar solar farm near San Francisco. Related: Apple is launching a new company to sell surplus solar energy Speaking on the new FERC approval, Bloomberg analyst Kit Konolige said, “When you own power production facilities then you would typically want to have authority to sell power. It is indicative of a number of related trends that are lowering demand for power produced by utilities.” Other major tech companies have been getting in on the push towards sustainability and renewable energy. Google created Google Energy and obtained similar approval around six years ago. Like Apple, Google has said it aims to run its company entirely on renewable energy (Apple’s data centers already run on clean energy). Amazon and Microsoft have also supported solar farms and wind turbines. With the FERC approval, Apple is cleared to start selling renewable energy it owns but doesn’t need. According to Bloomberg, the FERC approval means the government agency determined Apple’s energy business entry likely won’t “unfairly hike up power prices.” Via Bloomberg and CleanTechnica Images via Pixabay and Wikimedia Commons

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Apple is officially cleared to sell surplus solar energy

How Barcelona "superblocks" return city streets to the people

August 9, 2016 by  
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An increase in pedestrian-friendly public space and the reduction of traffic are big benefits of Barcelona’s Urban Mobility Plan, but even more important is the plan’s potential in reducing premature deaths. Studies have attributed air pollution as the driving cause behind 3,500 premature deaths a year in Barcelona’s metropolitan area; the staggering number doesn’t include the injuries or deaths caused by traffic. By removing space for motorized traffic and increasing attractive alternatives—the city plans to add 200 kilometers (124 miles) of bicycle paths and make bus stops more easily accessible to residents—urban planners hope that people will ditch the car to walk and bicycle. To understand the superblock, one can start with the 400 meter by 400 meter nine square blocks of the famous gridded Eixample, a neighborhood that will also be one of the first areas to implement the plan. In the current nine square blocks, motorized traffic passes through all roads at 50 kilometers per hour (around 30 miles per hour). Under the superblock plan, however, the inner four intersecting roads will be reclaimed for public space . Private vehicles may use those roads but will be restricted to speeds of 10 kilometers per hour (6.2 miles per hour). Higher speed traffic and public transport will be confined to the outer roads. Related: How to Create Community Through Quality Public Spaces If all goes to plan, the scheme could free up 160 intersections. “This plan sums up the essence of urban ecology,” Janet Sanz, city councillor for ecology, urbanism and mobility, told The Guardian . “Our objective is for Barcelona to be a city in which to live. Also, as a Mediterranean city, its residents spend a long time on the streets – those streets need to be second homes, or extensions of one’s residence, at all times … Public spaces need to be spaces to play, where green is not an anecdote – where the neighbourhood’s history and local life have a presence.” Via The Guardian Lead image via Tech Insider ; all other images via BNC Ecologica

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NASA builds more advanced shelters to protect firefighters from wildfires

August 9, 2016 by  
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Back in 2013, 19 firefighters died in Arizona because their emergency shelters didn’t protect them. NASA scientists realized materials in a space project they were working on might be useful, so they teamed up with the U.S. Forest Service (USFS) to help design a safer emergency fire shelter that would better protect firefighters. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VgiPZbtbaOQ NASA engineer Mary Beth Wusk said in a press release, “The huge loss of those firefighters made some of us at NASA think about how our research might help improve firefighter survivability.” NASA researchers were working on ” flexible thermal protection systems for inflatable heat shields ,” and realized the material that could someday help astronauts enter the atmosphere safely could also save lives here on Earth. They contacted USFS and initiated the CHIEFS program, or Convective Heating Improvement for Emergency Fire Shelters, to adapt the space technology for fire shelters firefighters use if they get trapped while battling wildfires . Related: 7 NASA discoveries that will blow your mind It’s not as simple as just turning heat shields into shelters. Emergency fire shelters have to be small and lightweight so firefighters can carry them easily. Shelters have to guard against flames, heat, and gases. USFS Fire Shelter Project lead Anthony Petrilli used to be a firefighter. In 1994 he and seven others successfully used fire shelters to survive a fire, but 14 other firefighters died. Petrilli said, “Our project is trying to take advantage of advances in materials that may offer better protection by slowing the transfer of heat through the shelter layers.” NASA fire shelter designs have already undergone several tests, including in a controlled burn in Canada forests. While prototypes are still being tested, engineers anticipate turning in results to USFS early next year. Shelter prototypes could be delivered to firefighters in the summer of 2017, and if all goes well an updated shelter will be ready in 2018. + NASA Images via U.S. Forest Service/Ian Grob

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NASA builds more advanced shelters to protect firefighters from wildfires

Beautifully restored 135-year-old building revives one of Delhi’s oldest markets

August 9, 2016 by  
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The architects spent two years researching the urban and architectural characteristics of Chandni Chowk, one of the oldest and busiest markets in Old Delhi, India where the building is located. They formed a large team of workers who had a deep understanding of traditional architecture . Some of the traditional elements were replicated, while others were translated into modern architectural language. Related: Curvaceous Brick House uses passive cooling and local materials in India The original courtyard building was built during late Mughal and colonial periods, and adorned with floral patterns, sculptures and fluted modulations. The open courtyard has an octagonal floor pattern with a water fountain at its center. To ensure structural integrity, the architects introduced additional columns, repaired slabs and changed the materials for cost efficiency and durability. + Spaces Architects@ka Photos by Bharat Aggarwal

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Beautifully restored 135-year-old building revives one of Delhi’s oldest markets

Why community solar is becoming big business

February 17, 2016 by  
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As big players such as First Solar enter the market, will the “community” part of community solar endure?

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WWF’s new Markets Institute sets the table to feed 9 billion

February 17, 2016 by  
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Mars, Kellogg, Unilever, General Mills will work with the WWF on the systemic change needed, through the Markets Institute to Advance Sustainable Food Production.

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WWF’s new Markets Institute sets the table to feed 9 billion

Can Amazon’s sustainability dream team deliver?

February 17, 2016 by  
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Amazon’s sustainability group now counts more than 50 people. Is the secretive company stepping up?

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The Porter Ranch leak is plugged, but we have bigger problems

February 17, 2016 by  
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Leaks are bad, but we have a larger methane problem. An emerging biogas industry that uses organic waste gas capture is a possible solution.

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The Porter Ranch leak is plugged, but we have bigger problems

Large organic farm in Saudi Arabia switches to solar-powered irrigation

January 27, 2016 by  
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A major agricultural firm in Saudi Arabia has launched a new solar project to power its irrigation system . U.S.-based First Solar installed the solar array on a large organic farm owned by Al Watania , and the electricity generated from the array runs a number of pumps that supply water to the farm. The large-scale solar pilot program demonstrates the power of renewable energy with a huge reduction in greenhouse gas emissions , and may help spur the solar industry’s growth in the country. Read the rest of Large organic farm in Saudi Arabia switches to solar-powered irrigation

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Architecture students design sustainable learning center for blooming community garden in L.A.

January 27, 2016 by  
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