Are falling utility revenues reason enough to slow down renewables?

March 20, 2017 by  
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Renewable energy’s growing pains: Distributed solar and wind power potentially could throw a wrench in the age-old utility business model.

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Are falling utility revenues reason enough to slow down renewables?

Baltimore is using the SDGs to build a more just city

March 20, 2017 by  
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The city has developed new indicators that could help urban communities keep closer tabs on local progress.

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Baltimore is using the SDGs to build a more just city

How Americans Are Embracing the Power of Their Homes

February 28, 2017 by  
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Just a few years ago, living off the grid conjured up images of tiny cabins in the middle of nowhere. Today, the dream of average American homeowners powering their homes with alternative energies is coming true. Solar panels on your neighbor’s…

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How Americans Are Embracing the Power of Their Homes

8 innovations that will electrify 2017

February 2, 2017 by  
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Distributed energy resource (DER) valuation, electric vehicles and alternative capital planning are front of mind for grid innovators.

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8 innovations that will electrify 2017

The long view: A conversation with RMI’s CEO Jules Kortenhorst

February 2, 2017 by  
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General Motors, Salesforce and many others prove corporate demand for renewable energy is charging forward, never mind the moves from Washington.

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The long view: A conversation with RMI’s CEO Jules Kortenhorst

Tesla just unveiled the world’s largest battery storage plant

February 1, 2017 by  
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Tesla just completed construction on what it claims is the largest lithium-ion battery storage project in the world. The facility is located at in Ontario, California and it consists of 396 Tesla powerpacks that can store 80 megawatt-hours of electricity – that’s enough to power over 2,500 households for a day or 15,000 households for four hours. Tesla nabbed the contract to build the battery storage facility for Southern California Edison in September 2016, and it was completed by the end of that year. The project consists of two 10 megawatt systems – each made of 198 Tesla Powerpacks and 24 inverters – connected to two different circuits at the Mira Loma Substation. Tesla Chief Technical Officer JB Straubel said “Storage is quite a new thing…and this is a different breed of battery. This is the tip of the iceberg of how much storage we’ll see on the grid .” Related: Solar homes with Tesla’s Powerwall 2.0 are already cost-competitive with the grid in Australia SCE said the facility would allow them to draw more on clean energies like solar power . When clean energy projects produce more electricity than the utility needs, it can now be stores and utilized during peak hours. The Tesla battery storage facility seems like the perfect answer to our energy issues, but MIT Technology Review points out lithium batteries are still expensive, and no one has said how much the facility cost. It’s also not clear how many cycles the Powerpack batteries can go through before they begin to degrade – MIT estimates 5,000 cycles, which would work well in a home but not as well in a grid setting. At the ribbon-cutting, SCE CEO Kevin Payne said, “This project is part of our vision at SCE to take advantage of the wind and the sun, and operate a flexible grid that delivers clean energy to power our homes, our businesses, and our vehicles. Standing here today among these Tesla Powerpacks is a great reminder of how fast technology is changing the electric power industry and the opportunities that will come with it.” Via MIT Technology Review Images via Ernesto Sanchez/Edison International

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Tesla just unveiled the world’s largest battery storage plant

Yi She Mountain Inn is a serene retreat built with local materials

January 27, 2017 by  
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Just a mere hour outside of Beijing lies Yi She Mountain Inn, a tranquil off-grid retreat tucked into an expansive mountain range. The inn, which was designed by DL Atelier and built with locally-sourced materials , offers a firm sense of simplicity in lieu of the typical luxurious amenities, offering an “environment designed to inspire humility, tolerance, enthusiasm and other beautiful emotions.” The inn was built with locally-sourced brick and wood, but includes a number of green pockets to integrate nature into the design. A lovely green roof coveres the buildings and a vertical brick wall is covered in climbing vines and wild flowers that bloom in springtime. The courtyard is filled sunlight and has natural ventilation, making it the perfect atmosphere for socializing. Related: Pine-clad V Lodge is a bold, minimalist retreat nestled within the Norwegian landscape The main spaces inside the spacious compound are meant to be communal, where interaction between guests is the norm. At the heart of the retreat is an open-air kitchen, which leads out on to a graveled patio. For indoor socializing, there is a large family-style dining table under an inverted wooden roof . Of course, for those who desire a bit of solitude, there are plenty of private nooks and crannies for quiet contemplation. Five guest rooms are found on the east side of the inn, each with its own distinct design and spectacular views of the mountains . + DL Atelier Via Archdaily Photography by Sun Haiting

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Yi She Mountain Inn is a serene retreat built with local materials

Wind power could supply 20% of global electricity by 2030

October 19, 2016 by  
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Although solar power gets more press, the wind power industry is growing nearly as fast . The (GWEC) released an historic report Tuesday in Beijing, saying 20 percent of the world’s total electricity could come from wind by as early as 2030 . With last year’s Paris climate deal as a strong motivating factor, the group predicts the world’s total wind power capacity could grow by nearly five times over the next 14 years, reaching as much as 2,110 gigawatts (GW) by 2030. The GWEC report outlines that, although not cheap, the long-term benefits of wind power infrastructure will begin paying off immediately. The GWEC estimates an annual investment of $224 billion would be required globally in order to grow the wind power industry to its potential capacity. Meanwhile, 2,110GW of clean, renewable wind energy would reduce carbon dioxide emissions by 3.6 billion tons each year. Related: 5 Things the Paris climate deal must do to slow global warming China has been an unlikely leader in the wind power industry, boosting its capacity by 17 percent last year over 2014 figures for a total of 433GW. Chinese leaders still plan to add 60GW before the end of this year. Despite the increased capacity, China is still struggling to create ways to utilize that renewable energy efficiently. In July, China’s energy regulator said 21 percent of all wind-generated electricity was wasted in the first half of this year, due in large part to new coal-fired power plants which make it more difficult for wind power to reach the grid. Chinese leaders did pledge earlier in the year to shutter 1,000 coal mines , which many took as a sign of the beginning of the end of fossil fuel use there, but the battle between coal and wind rages on. China, and many other places on the planet, will have to improve their grid infrastructure in order to take full advantage of plentiful wind energy. The energy regulator said that more than 40 percent of the wasted power occurred in regions of China that are already underserved by the grid, clearly illustrating how the failure is on the part of the infrastructure and not the nearly infinite potential of renewable energy . While government leaders can work to reduce reliance on fossil fuels in finite supply, they must also work to improve the infrastructure that allows residents to reap the benefits of the wind. Via Reuters Images via Pixabay , Bill Badzo/Flickr and Wendell/Flickr

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Wind power could supply 20% of global electricity by 2030

MAD Architects reveals designs for a glowing China Philharmonic Hall in Beijing

October 19, 2016 by  
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Located at the south side of the Workers Stadium East Gate in Beijing’s Central Business District, the China Philharmonic Hall will cover an 11,600-square-meter site with a total floor area of 26,578 square meters. The concert hall is envisioned as a “hidden gem” of Beijing and a place for peaceful respite in the city. “We wanted to create a pure and sacred oasis in the midst of the bustling city,” says Ma Yansong , founder & principal partner of MAD Architects. “From the moment you enter the building, you will be taken to another time and space.” Related: MAD completes undulating Harbin Opera House in China The concert hall will be surrounded by a lotus pond and lush greenery. The building’s translucent facade will bear likeness to draped fabric that gently lifts upwards at the entrances. Natural light pours into the building through the translucent white curtain wall , which also makes the building look as if it is glowing at night . The curvaceous interior will comprise a 1,600-seat main concert hall, 400-seat rehearsal hall, a professional recording studio, library, collection gallery, offices, and rehearsal rooms. The China Philharmonic Hall will begin construction later this year with an expected completion date in 2019. + MAD Architects Via ArchDaily Images via MAD Architects

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MAD Architects reveals designs for a glowing China Philharmonic Hall in Beijing

Amazing off-grid Tiny Solar House travels across the U.S.

October 14, 2016 by  
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The tiny mobile home measures approximately 18 feet long and 9 feet wide and it was constructed with a cedar exterior using vertical tongue-and-groove siding and long walls. It features a living room / office space; a kitchen with a fridge, double sink and a four-burner stove; a bathroom with shower and compost toilet; a sleeping loft with a queen-sized mattress and storage space. Related: Live off the grid and rent-free in the charming Wohnwagon mobile caravan The solar panels installed on the roof generate enough clean energy to keep the house powered throughout the day. These are connected to maintenance-free deep cycle AGM batteries and a MidNite Solar charge controller and Xantrex inverter that keep the system running throughout the night. Related: The world’s first off-grid EcoCapsule is now available for pre-order During its five-month journey across the country, The Tiny Solar House has visited Texas, Oklahoma, New Mexico, Colorado, South Dakota, Iowa, Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Ohio, and Pennsylvania. The owner is planning to go on a tour of the East Coast this fall, followed by a tour of the West Coast in the winter and a trip to the Northwest in the spring. + The Tiny Solar House Via Renewable Energy World Photos via The Tiny Solar House

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Amazing off-grid Tiny Solar House travels across the U.S.

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