Solar power prices expected to drop further this year

June 12, 2018 by  
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The price of solar energy could further fall this year, experts say. A Bloomberg New Energy Finance (BNEF) analysis published by PV Magazine predicted a 34 percent drop in the price of multicrystalline solar modules in China, an event expected to influence prices around the world. The United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) said a price drop could open up “further space for more ambition to tackle climate change , which is crucial to achieve the goals of the Paris Agreement .” The 2018 solar panel price decline could be about the same as the drop in module prices in 2016, and would be exceeded only by 2011’s 40 percent drop in prices, PV Magazine said. BNEF’s benchmark monocrystalline module price was $0.37 per watt for 2017’s fourth quarter, and could be just $0.24 per watt by 2018’s close. BNEF experts predict module prices will drop another 10 to 15 percent next year. Related: The cost of high-efficiency solar panels fell 37% in 2017 The price decline is a result of withdrawn support for China’s photovoltaic market. Since China is the biggest solar market in the world, the price fall could emanate. PV Magazine cited a BNEF note saying, “Oversupply is universal.” The note predicted a market panic initially, and developers could halt installation in the third quarter and wait for cheaper module prices and release of new quotas. India and developing countries around the world could benefit from the panel price decline, according to the UNFCCC. The UNFCCC praised the International Solar Alliance (ISA), started by India and France in 2015 to focus on investment in large-scale solar power in developing countries. UN Climate Change Executive Secretary Patricia Espinosa said earlier this year, “Our globally agreed goals in the Paris Agreement and the Agenda for Sustainable Development cannot be achieved without your [ISA’s] effort to scale up solar power generation and support countries with great solar potential … This is our moment to deliver on the promise of a better future agreed in Paris.” + Bloomberg New Energy Finance Via PV Magazine and the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change Images via Depositphotos (1, 2)

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Solar power prices expected to drop further this year

‘We are still in’ is a hashtag and a movement

June 11, 2018 by  
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The best of live interviews from GreenBiz events. In this episode: How American businesses, from WWF to Ceres to Microsoft to Ingersoll Rand, are still proving their commitments to the Paris Agreement’s climate goals.

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‘We are still in’ is a hashtag and a movement

Sustainability governance is integrated governance

June 11, 2018 by  
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Nowhere is this integration more important than on corporate boards. Here are four ideas for solving the puzzle.

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Sustainability governance is integrated governance

What Mobility as a Service (MaaS) means for the transportation industry

June 11, 2018 by  
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Shared transit options are revving up, but challenges from users and cities remain.

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What Mobility as a Service (MaaS) means for the transportation industry

This zero-emissions flying water car lets you ditch traffic and sail to work

May 4, 2018 by  
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Have you ever been stuck in traffic, wishing you had a faster way to get to your destination? Then check this out: The Bubble is a flying water car that can get you out of rush hour and onto a river, sea or lake for your commute. The water taxi, made by French company SeaBubbles , is silent, emits zero emissions and glides through the water without creating waves. The company tested its latest prototype on a lake in Geneva last month and is currently conducting a five-week trial in Paris. ? SeaBubbles wants to change transportation by lowering emissions and making trips quicker. According to the company, ditching roads and taking a water route could cut your commute in half in some cities. For instance, the company estimates that going from the Dubai Marina to downtown Dubai would take 43 minutes by car, but just 26 minutes in the Bubble. The company completed testing in Geneva this month, and The Bubble should be ready for pre-orders starting next month. The company hopes to launch in 50 cities within the next five years. Related: Flying water taxis are hitting the rivers of Paris this summer SeaBubbles first made waves last year when they announced plans to hit the water of Paris by mid-2018. Now, the company has revealed details about their new line, which includes a docking system and an app that will show users whether a Bubble taxi would save them time and allow them to order a ride. The dock is designed to further reduce transportation emissions by capturing solar, wind and water energy to charge up Bubbles between rides. If the thought of riding around on the waves makes you green around the gills, fear not. The vehicle rises out of the water once it reaches 7.5 mph, which eliminates sudden movements and that uncomfortable bobbing feeling that often leads to motion sickness. The Bubble can fit five people including the driver, although it will have autonomous capabilities. + SeaBubbles Via Autoblog

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This zero-emissions flying water car lets you ditch traffic and sail to work

Modern gabled guesthouse embraces passive solar in Australia

May 4, 2018 by  
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A sleek and modern take on the Australian farm building has popped up in the coastal town of Gerringong. Atelier Andy Carson designed Escarpment House as a two-bed guesthouse on an east-west axis to make the most of ocean views to the south and pastoral views to the north. The building orientation and material choice were also guided by passive solar principles. Set on nearly 150 acres of pasture with dairy cows, the Escarpment House maintains a relatively low profile with a simple gabled form created in the likeness of the traditional metal shed dairy structures of the region. “The project utilizes north and south decks as ‘winter’ and ‘summer’ outdoor space to enable the occupants to use the building mass as sun or wind protection moving to each side as favored,” wrote the architects. “The site positioning offered a significant view towards the nearby dairy with the setting sun over the escarpment offering a unique user experience.” The two bedrooms are located on the home’s east end, while the open-plan kitchen, dining area, and living space face the west. Related: Passive solar home stays naturally cool without AC in Australia Energy consumption is minimized through the regulation of light and views thanks to the west façade’s large operable panels that open or close with the touch of a button. Escarpment House also features extra-thick insulated walls and double-glazing . Supplementary solar power, rainwater harvesting with UV filtration and treatment, as well as on-site sewage treatment further reduce the home’s environmental impact. + Atelier Andy Carson Via ArchDaily Images © Michael Nicholson

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Modern gabled guesthouse embraces passive solar in Australia

Vertical village built almost entirely of wood to rise in Paris

April 27, 2018 by  
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Sou Fujimoto , Nicolas Laisné and Dimitri Roussel have won a design competition to design a striking new mixed-use development as a counterpoint to Paris’ urban sprawl. Titled “Vertical Village,” the 164-foot-tall tower will serve as a “new gateway” to the east suburb Rosny-sous-Bois and be built almost entirely of timber. The nearly 400-foot-long timber-framed structure will be reinforced with a concrete base and supporting column. Developed by La Compagnie de Phalsbourg and REI Habitat, the 303,542-square-foot mixed-use Vertical Village will comprise 57,000 square feet of office space and 183,000 square feet of housing, nearly a third of which will be allocated for social housing . Unlike the conventional architecture surrounding the structure, Vertical Village is designed in Fujimoto’s iconic architectural style with its undulating white form and seemingly random assortment of geometric canopies supported by thin pillars. Glazing wraps around the building as will greenery. Related: Paris hopes to create a forest 5 times bigger than NYC’s Central Park The ground floor and rooftop will house 64,583 square feet of open community space including a food court, day care center, family office, community centers, an escape game center, and a rooftop bar. A sports hub will span the full height of one section of the building and feature climbing walls , urban soccer pitches, and a gym. The Vertical Village is part of a wider government-backed scheme to revitalize Paris’ suburbs as directed by Inventons la Métropole du Grand Paris . + Sou Fujimoto + Nicolas Laisné + Dimitri Roussel Via ArchDaily Images © Sou Fujimoto, Nicolas Laisné and Dimitri Roussel

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Vertical village built almost entirely of wood to rise in Paris

California’s wild extremes of flooding and drought will only get worse as the planet warms

April 24, 2018 by  
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Between 2011 and 2017, California suffered through one of the worst droughts in its history. After the drought broke last year in what would be California’s wettest winter in a century, extreme flooding caused severe damage and killed several people. In a study recently published in the journal Nature Climate Change , researchers predict that similar patterns of polarized weather will continue to define California’s climate well into the 21st century, particularly if greenhouse gas emissions are not immediately and significantly reduced. If emissions continue to grow until 2100, the drastic wet-dry weather patterns could double in frequency, wreaking havoc in the state. California is not unfamiliar with bouts of strong drought and flooding . In 1862, what is known as the Great Flood devastated California in a weather event that has not be repeated since. Much of the state has a Mediterranean climate, which is conducive to dry summers, wet winters, and powerful shifts between those two extremes. However, as with much of the extreme weather expected from climate change, the frequency and intensity of such weather events are increasing. As the weather becomes more destructive, the authors predict that California could face serious challenges, particularly in water storage/access and flood control. Related: Federal court orders first hearing on the science of climate change In order to prepare for a more hostile climate, California must upgrade its infrastructure. “Few of the dams, levees and canals that currently protect millions living in California’s flood plains and facilitate the movement of water from Sierra Nevada watersheds to coastal cities have been tested by a deluge as severe” as the Great Flood of 1862, wrote the researchers.  On the other side of the world, Europe faces a drier future, with another study predicting that the percentage of drought-prone area will double if global average temperatures continue to rise beyond a 3 degrees Celsius increase. Even if the goals of the Paris agreement are met, which at the moment seems doubtful , Africa is still expected to endure potentially destabilizing extreme weather as a result of foregone climate change .   Via Phys.org Images via Wikimedia (1) (2)

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California’s wild extremes of flooding and drought will only get worse as the planet warms

Governor Cuomo announces a bill to ban single-use plastic bags in New York state

April 24, 2018 by  
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Could New York be the next state to ban plastic bags? Ten cities and towns in New York have already put plastic bag bans in place. Now the rest of state could follow. Governor Andrew Cuomo just introduced a bill to ban single-use plastic bags in the state, where people use an astonishing 23 billion of them each year. After blocking a New York City five-cent plastic bag fee bill and launching a New York State Plastic Bag Task Force last year, the governor  announced this bill based on recommendations in the task force’s report. Trash bags, garment bags, and bags for wrapping certain food like meat or fruit would not be part of the bill. Instead, the bill targets single-use , carryout plastic bags “at any point of sale.” Cuomo’s statement on the bill also said New York would launch an outreach campaign to educate the public about the environmental impact of plastic bags, and promote reusable bags . Related: Boston just officially banned single-use plastic bags Will Cuomo’s bill pass? It’s not a done deal yet. The New York Times said leaders of the Senate and Assembly opposed New York City’s bill. A spokesperson for Assembly speaker Carl Heastie told The New York Times the Assembly mainly supported a ban; a fee was a different story. The Republican-run Senate may or may not back the bill. Some people are skeptical about the timing of the bill as Cuomo faces a challenge to re-election from Cynthia Nixon, who recently unveiled her climate platform . While her web page makes no mention of plastic bags, it does come out strong on issues like energy ; for example, criticizing Cuomo for bailing out three aging nuclear power plants last year with more than $7 billion in taxpayer dollars. If passed, Cuomo’s plastic bag ban would go into effect January 1, 2019. + Governor Cuomo Introduces Program Bill Banning Single-Use Plastic Bags in New York State Via The New York Times Images via Dan DeLuca on Flickr and Depositphotos  ( 2 )

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Governor Cuomo announces a bill to ban single-use plastic bags in New York state

Scientists reveal new technique to make biofuel from mushroom waste

April 10, 2018 by  
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Researchers at the National University of Singapore have discovered a revolutionary way to transform mushroom waste into biofuel. Despite claims to the contrary, biofuel — typically derived from food crops — is often more environmentally-destructive than it is helpful. This new technique could change that by harvesting energy from waste produced in the process of mushroom cultivation. In a study published in Science Advances , researchers explain how Thermoanaerobacterium thermosaccharolyticum (TG57), a common bacterial byproduct of mushroom cultivation, can be isolated and used to convert plant-based cellulose into biobutanol. Biobutanol is a biofuel that can be used by vehicles designed to run on gasoline. First identified in 2015, the TG57 bacterium strain has been cultivated in various forms to analyze its ability to produce biofuel in a more sustainable manner. “The production of biofuels using non-food feedstocks can improve sustainability and reduce costs greatly,” researcher He Jianzhong told Silicon Republic . “In our study, we demonstrated a novel method of directly converting cellulose to biobutanol using the novel TG57 strain. This is a major breakthrough in metabolic engineering and exhibits a foundational milestone in sustainable and cost-effective production of renewable biofuels and chemicals.” Related: Paris has a new underground – a massive farm for mushrooms and veggies Creating biofuel from waste products is a potential boon for the industry and the environment. Biobutanol holds the most promise because of its energy density, and it can be used directly, without modification, in vehicles designed to run on gasoline. Prior to the study, the high environmental and financial costs of producing biobutanol blocked it from mainstream use. However, the researchers have revealed a widely applicable, straightforward technique that does not require any significant genetic alterations of the bacterium. Someday soon, you may munch on mushrooms with the satisfaction of contributing to greener transportation and a healthier planet. Via Silicon Republic Images via Depositphotos (1)

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