Germany generated 35% of its electricity with renewables in first half of 2017

July 11, 2017 by  
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Good news! In the first half of 2017, Germany derived 35.1 percent of its electricity needs from renewable sources , according to the German Renewable Energy Federation (BEE). In a press release , the country’s trade body announced that Germany has successfully met its 2020 target for “share of gross electricity consumption.” It helped that from April 30 to May 1, the country generated 85 percent of its energy needs using renewable wind, solar, biomass and hydroelectric power. Germany has steadily increased its production of clean electricity over the past few years. In the first half of 2015, for instance, the country generated 32.7 percent of its energy needs from renewables , and 32.7 percent in the first half of 2016. Though the new record is positive news , progress in other sectors has been slow, specifically in the transportation and heating sectors. Said Haraold Uphoff, the acting director of BEE, “The power generation in Germany is progressing far too slowly.” Fortunately, the country is well on its way to producing 45 percent of its electricity from renewables by 2040, and 60 percent by 2050. The report details a jump in offshore wind energy in the first half of 2017. As Clean Technica reports, onshore wind energy grew “from 34.08 TWh in the first half of 2015, to 34.71 TWh a year later, but jumping to 39.75 TWh in the first half of this year. Offshore wind also jumped, from only 2.15 TWh in the first half of 2015 to 8.48 TWh this year.” Solar PV, as well, has seen incremental increases in growth. In 2015, output has increased from 19.50 Two in 2015 to 21.74 in the first half of 2017. Related: Germany, Denmark, and Belgium to boost offshore wind 5-fold within the next decade Time and again, Germany has proven its commitment to bettering the environment by taking action to meet goals outlined at the Paris Climate Change Conference . Their most recent effort includes signing a joint statement on climate cooperation with California earlier this month. The agreement was a “reaffirmation of joint ties” between the two to continue working on the persistent issue of global warming. Via Clean Technica Images via Pixabay

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Germany generated 35% of its electricity with renewables in first half of 2017

In surprise vote, Senate keeps Obamas methane rules in place

May 11, 2017 by  
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In a stunning win for environmental activists , the U.S. Senate voted against repealing the BLM methane rule (originally passed during the Obama administration) to limit methane pollution on public land. Overturned with a 51-49 vote , the deciding “No” was from Republican Sen. John McCain of Arizona . Under the Congressional Review Act (CRA), lawmakers can overturn the rules of a previously instated administration within the first 60 days of their enactment. Because of this, Congress has voted 13 times to overturn a selection of Obama rules. Many of these relate to srteam protection, internet privacy and the shooting of hibernating bears, reports BuzzFeed. The outcome of Wednesday’s vote is being lauded as positive news, as the Obama-era rule requires gas drillers to limit leaking, venting or burning methane, which is responsible for fueling climate change . In present-day America, where the President believes climate change is a “hoax” and has ties to the oil industry, outcomes such as this one are rarely witnessed. Politicians including Sen. McCain, Sen. Susan Collins of Maine, and Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina all voted against the repeal to prevent the government from drawing up any future rules that might restrict methane emissions. McCain said in a statement , “Passage of the resolution would have prevented the federal government , under any administration, from issuing a rule that is ‘similar’. I join the call for strong action to reduce pollution from venting, flaring and leaks associated with oil and gas production operations on public and Indian land.” McCaine added that the smarter thing the Trump administration could have done was to release an updated rule to improve the one passed during Obama’s time as President. Related: Senate Republicans could save methane rules from Trump Commenting on McCain’s surprising stance, Mark Brownstein of the Environmental Defense Fund said, “The oil and gas industry gets into power and the first thing they ask for is a repeal of pollution rules, it just doesn’t make people happy. Senator McCain once again demonstrated that he is a voice of common sense and reason.” According to the Bureau of Land Management , enough methane gas is wasted by drillers to supply 6.2 million homes a year. This, in turn, costs taxpayers $46 to $204 million in lost royalties. Considering solar technology is becoming more affordable and countries such as Germany and Costa Rica have already proven populations can thrive on renewable energy , it seems clear the future is green. Erik Milito of the American Petroleum Institute deemed the outcome “disappointing” and is calling for a review of the rule under a new executive order which was recently released by the White House. However, because of the short time limit on the CRA, it is now too late for another Congressional resolution to take place to repeal the BLM methane rule. Via The Washington Post , BuzzFeed Image via Colorado Politics , Newsmax.com

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In surprise vote, Senate keeps Obamas methane rules in place

Only 25 glaciers remain in Montana’s shrinking Glacier National Park

May 11, 2017 by  
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Our warming climate is ravaging the storied glaciers of Montana’s Glacier National Park . The United States Geological Survey (USGS) and Portland State University recently released data revealing the devastation of climate change on the area over 50 years. The park’s glaciers shrunk by 39 percent on average, but some dwindled by up to 85 percent. An estimated 150 glaciers filled the park in 1850; today there are around 25. The researchers tracked two glaciers on United States Forest Service land and 37 glaciers in Glacier National Park . But now just 26 glaciers in the park are bigger than 25 acres, the benchmark for a body of ice to be correctly termed a glacier. Geologist Andrew Fountain of Portland State said, “While the shrinkage in Montana is more severe than some other places in the U.S., it is in line with trends that have been happening on a global scale.” Related: The Glaciers of Glacier National Park May All Disappear by 2030 The researchers scrutinized digital maps from satellites and aerial photography to measure the outer edges of glaciers in the late summer, when seasonal snow has disappeared and it’s easier to tell how large a glacier truly is. Site visits added to the data. The researchers looked at glaciers in 1966, 1998, 2005, and 2015/2016 to track 50 years of climate change in Glacier National Park. The news isn’t good; it shows visually how the mountain ecosystem has altered in the northern Rocky Mountains. Lead USGS scientist Daniel Fagre said, “The park-wide loss of ice can have ecological effects on aquatic species by changing stream water volume, water temperature, and run-off timing in the higher elevations of the park.” The loss of glaciers in the park named for them could also hurt tourism in the area. The research is intended to help park management and inform the public; according to USGS it will assist scientists in their understanding of the effects of large scale climate patterns on glaciers in distinctive mountain environments . Via United States Geological Survey Images via Pixabay and Wikimedia Commons

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Only 25 glaciers remain in Montana’s shrinking Glacier National Park

The Ocean Cleanup raises $21.7 million to begin ridding the Pacific Ocean of plastic

May 3, 2017 by  
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Last fall The Ocean Cleanup found 1,000 large pieces of plastic in two hours in the Pacific Ocean during their first aerial reconnaissance mission. Today the Dutch foundation announced they’ve raised $21.7 million, and can now begin large-scale trials of their passive plastic capturing technology – in the Pacific – as soon as this year. The Pacific Ocean, plagued by the Texas-sized Great Pacific Garbage Patch , desperately needs to be cleaned up. The Ocean Cleanup is ready to tackle the problem with their plastic gathering technology tested in the North Sea thanks to new funding amounting to $21.7 million. Investors include Salesforce CEO Marc Benioff and his wife Lynne Benioff and entrepreneur Peter Thiel . Related: World’s first ocean trash recon mission is complete – and the results are way worse than we thought Founder and CEO Boyan Slat said in a statement, “Our mission is to rid the world’s oceans of plastic, and this support is a major leap forward towards achieving this goal. Thanks to the generous support of these funders, the day we’ll be returning that first batch of plastic to shore is now in sight.” The Ocean Cleanup’s technology draws on ocean currents to collect trash and could reduce the theoretical cleanup time of plastic in the Pacific Ocean from millennia down to years – their Ocean Cleanup Array could scoop up almost half of the patch’s garbage in 10 years . When they launch their technology in the Pacific later this year, it will be the first experimental cleanup system in that ocean, according to the foundation. The Ocean Cleanup will share more details at the Werkspoorkathedraal , an exhibition in the Netherlands, on May 11 at 2:00 PM EST. According to their website the talk will unveil The Next Phase and share “what we’ve been working on for the past two years, and what will be happening next.” They’ll be live streaming the event on their website . + The Ocean Cleanup Images courtesy of The Ocean Cleanup

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The Ocean Cleanup raises $21.7 million to begin ridding the Pacific Ocean of plastic

CO2 levels just reached 410 ppm – the highest in millions of years

April 24, 2017 by  
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Remember when carbon dioxide (CO2) levels in the atmosphere hit a terrifying 400 parts per million (ppm)? That’s number’s old news now – concentrations just reached 410 ppm for the first time in millions of years. Last week, researchers at Mauna Loa Observatory in Hawaii recorded the record-breaking level, and scientists warn the rate of increase will only slow when we reduce our carbon emissions . Mauna Loa Observatory scientists just recorded the first CO2 level above 410 ppm since they began recording in 1958. Back then, the first atmospheric CO2 concentration was a mere 313 ppm . In 2013 concentrations hit 400 ppm . Last week’s reading was 410.28 ppm. Related: CO2 levels likely to stay above 400 ppm for the rest of our lives, new study shows University of Southampton professor of isotope geochemistry Gavin Foster told Climate Central, “It’s pretty depressing that it’s only a couple of years since the 400 ppm milestone was toppled. These milestones are just numbers, but they give us an opportunity to pause and take stock and act as useful yard sticks for comparisons to the geological record.” The United Kingdom Met Office put out a CO2 forecast for the first time ever earlier in 2017, and it turned out to be pretty close to reality; they predicted CO2 concentrations could breach 410 ppm in March but very likely would by April. El Niño is partly at fault for spiking levels of CO2, but more than natural factors, humans burning fossil fuels are to blame. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) atmospheric scientist Pieter Tans said, “The rate of increase will go down when emissions decrease. But carbon dioxide will still be going up, albeit more slowly. Only when emissions are cut in half will atmospheric carbon dioxide level off initially.” In a March NOAA article , Tans said the rate of CO2 growth over the last 10 years is 100 to 200 times quicker than the rate Earth saw as it transitioned out of the Ice Age, saying “This is a real shock to the atmosphere.” Via Climate Central Images via Flickr , Flickr  and Wikimedia Commons

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CO2 levels just reached 410 ppm – the highest in millions of years

The profitable hospital system with sustainability in its DNA

April 10, 2017 by  
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Gundersen Health Systems became the first U.S. hospital to reach renewable energy independence, saved $3 million and improved community health.

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The profitable hospital system with sustainability in its DNA

Overdue: The next Copernican mindset shift

April 10, 2017 by  
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Are we wasting time busily shoehorning the uncomfortable realities of Earth system science into increasingly obsolescent economic and business models?

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Overdue: The next Copernican mindset shift

4 Simple Swaps for a Truly Sustainable Easter

April 7, 2017 by  
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Growing up, Easter was always one of my favorite holidays. There was that heady mix of the first hints of spring, the excitement of egg hunts and the delicious chocolate treats. Now that I’m a mother myself, I love seeing my own daughter…

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4 Simple Swaps for a Truly Sustainable Easter

The US solar market grew by a record-breaking 95% last year

February 16, 2017 by  
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The United States solar market grew an astounding 95 percent in 2016, installing an extraordinary 14.5 gigawatts of new solar capacity, according to the annual Solar Market Insight Report (SMI) from GTM Research and the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA). For the first time in history, solar ranked as the number one source of new electric generating capacity in the US, accounting for 39 percent of new capacity additions across all fuel types in 2016. “What these numbers tell you is that the solar industry is a force to be reckoned with,” said Abigail Ross Hopper, SEIA’s president and CEO. “Solar’s economically winning hand is generating strong growth across all market segments nationwide, leading to more than 260,000 Americans now employed in solar.” Related: Solar power now provides twice as many jobs as coal in U.S. A record 22 states each added more than 100 megawatts of solar, with California topping the list for cumulative solar capacity at 18,304 MW. There are now more than 1.3 million solar PV installations in the US, with a cumulative capacity of 42.3 GW. Wind energy also enjoyed a great year, accounting for 26 percent of all new electric generating capacity. Most of the new solar capacity was in utility-scale solar, which grew 145 percent from 2015. For the first time since 2011, the non-residential market outpaced residential solar installations — community solar added a record of more than 200 MW, led by Minnesota and Massachusetts; and rate design and net energy metering resulted in the development of new non-residential solar projects, particularly in California. + US Solar Market Insight Via CleanTechnica Images via Wikimedia and SEIA

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The US solar market grew by a record-breaking 95% last year

Stanford researchers pioneer world’s first affordable urea battery

February 13, 2017 by  
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Stanford University researchers have designed a new battery that could revolutionize renewable energy storage . Using urea , an affordable, natural and readily available material found in mammal urine and fertilizers, their battery is notably more efficient than past iterations. The battery, developed by Stanford chemistry professor Honjie Dai and doctoral candidate Michael Angell, uses an electrolyte made from urea – a material already produced in mass industrial quantities for use in plant fertilizers. Non-flammable and made with electrodes from abundant materials like aluminum and graphite, the battery presents a low-cost way for storing energy from many sources – including renewables . “So essentially, what you have is a battery made with some of the cheapest and most abundant materials you can find on Earth. And it actually has good performance,” says Dai in a press release. “Who would have thought you could take graphite, aluminum, urea, and actually make a battery that can cycle for a pretty long time?” Dai and his team were the first to make a rechargeable aluminum battery in 2015, which charged in less than a minute, while lasting for thousands of charge-discharge cycles. And they’ve improved on both the performance and cost of their latest model, which is about 100 times cheaper than the 2015 battery, with a higher efficiency of 1,500 charge-discharge cycles and a charging time of 45 minutes. This is also the first time that urea has been used to make a battery. Related: MIT researchers invent ingestible battery powered by stomach acid Energy storage is a huge challenge for solar power and other renewables, as users need a reliable way to store power for when their systems aren’t producing energy. The batteries currently on the market, including lithium ion and lead-acid batteries tend to be quite costly and don’t last that long. But Dai and Angell believe their battery might be the solution to the conundrum of renewable energy storage. “It’s cheap. It’s efficient. Grid storage is the main goal,” says Angell. “I would feel safe if my backup battery in my house is made of urea with little chance of causing fire,” added Dai. The researchers have licensed their battery patents to AB Systems, a company founded by Dai, and a commercial version of the battery is on the way. They’re planning to work on increasing its life span down the road by further investigating its internal chemical processes. Via Stanford Images via Pexels , US Navy and Tea Horse Trade Guest House , Wikimedia Commons

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Stanford researchers pioneer world’s first affordable urea battery

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