Scotland’s latest wind farm will help fund 500 new affordable homes

April 20, 2017 by  
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Scotland’s Berwickshire Housing Association wants to capture the wind to boost their mission. By launching a new wind farm in the Scottish Borders, and selling the power to the National Grid, the charitable organization hopes to generate enough revenue to build 500 affordable homes over the next 25 years. Dubbed Fishermen Three, the 7.5-megawatt project at Hoprigshiels in Cockburnspath is a joint effort between BHA and the equally philanthropic Community Energy Scotland . The latter’s share of the revenue will enable it to help communities across Scotland leverage their own renewable energy initiatives. “The idea for the wind farm came when BHA realized that we had to be innovative in order to solve the dilemma of how to keep building new homes for social rental, which are so badly needed in this area, at a time when funding for new housing through traditional channels was in decline,” Helen Forsyth, chief executive of BHA, said in a statement. “The wind farm will provide BHA with a reliable, predictable, low-maintenance source of income that will allow us to build a steady stream of new affordable homes at a time when services are all too often being cut.” Related: 6 reasons the clean energy revolution doesn’t need Trump’s blessing Nicholas Gubbins, chief executive of CES, said that the United Kingdom’s energy system is shifting, but with changes come fresh opportunities. “We want to make sure that communities are at the forefront of the opportunities that this will create for new low-carbon energy developments,” he added. Scotland’s energy minister, Paul Wheelhouse, agrees that renewables are the way of the future. He said, “Locally owned renewables in areas such as the Borders have the potential to help drive social, economic and environmental change at a local level.” Via the Guardian Photos by Unsplash

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World’s first full-size IBC bifacial solar module takes in light from both sides

April 13, 2017 by  
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What if both sides of a solar panel could take in light? That’s the idea pursued by researchers at the Solar Energy Research Institute of Singapore (SERIS), National University of Singapore , and Germany’s International Solar Energy Research Center Konstanz . They’ve succeeded in developing and fabricating the first full-size interdigitated back contact (IBC) bifacial solar module in the world. The groundbreaking module could last longer and generate more power than the conventional variety. The team’s new bifacial solar module could offer better, more efficient solar energy in the near future. It can absorb light on both its front and back sides. Their prototype was made with bifacial ZEBRA IBC solar cells, which have an efficiency of up to 22 percent. According to SERIS CEO Armin Aberle, these IBC cells are known for reliability and durability. Related: New bifacial solar module takes advantage of direct and reflected sunlight Double- glass insulation enclosing the module means its warranty could be longer than most solar modules: 30 years or even more. And since the cells are bifacial – the researchers report a bifaciality of 75 percent – the module can produce up to 30 percent more power . SERIS’ PV Module Cluster Director Wang Yan said, “With SERIS’ new module design, panels with 350 watts front-side power can be made with 60 23 percent efficient screen-printed IBC cells. Considering an additional 20 percent of power via the panel’s transparent rear surface, each 60-cell IBC bifacial module will produce a stunning 400 watts of power in the real world.” The revolutionary solar module will be displayed at the upcoming International Photovoltaic Power Generation Conference & Exhibition from April 19 to 21 in Shanghai, China. Aberle said, “The module technology offers world-class front side power while providing free extra power from the rear side.” He said the next step is transferring the technology to industrial partners, and the product could be on the market in around two years. Via Phys.org Images via Solar Research Institute of Singapore

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World’s first full-size IBC bifacial solar module takes in light from both sides

Maryland is about to become the third US state to ban fracking

March 28, 2017 by  
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Maryland’s House of Delegates overwhelmingly passed a bill to ban hydraulic fracturing , or fracking , earlier this month, and now the state’s Senate has also approved the measure. This was the final obstacle for the bill; Governor Larry Hogan has said he will sign it. Once he does, Maryland will become the third US state to ban fracking , and the first state with gas reserves to ban it through legislation. Maryland joins Vermont and New York to ban fracking, or the practice of injecting water, chemicals, and sand into the earth to break up rock, releasing natural gas . Vermont achieved a ban with legislation, New York with an executive order. Maryland’s legislation is historic because the state is the first with gas reserves to ban fracking through legislation. The Senate approved the measure with 35 to 10 votes. Related: Maryland House passes bill to ban fracking According to The Baltimore Sun, many people were surprised when the governor announced his support for the ban this month after the House passed the bill. Hogan said in a news conference, “I urge members of the legislature on both sides of the aisle and in both houses to come together and finally put this issue to rest.” Fracking had the most potential in Maryland’s Garrett and Alleghany counties, according to The Washington Post. Advocates of the practice said fracking offers an energy source cleaner than coal – natural gas doesn’t send as much carbon dioxide into the atmosphere when burned – but opponents say fracking potentially contaminates water sources and emits greenhouse gas emissions. Maryland’s Sierra Club director Josh Tulkin said the state’s ban is a big step towards a clean energy economy. Senator George Edwards, a Republican of Garrett County, was among the ten who voted against the measure. He suggested an amendment to continue a fracking moratorium to 2027 instead, but lawmakers rejected the amendment. Garrett County resident Ann Bristow told The Washington Post, “This vote confirms the power of participant democracy. Never believe when someone tells you that an organized movement can’t produce change against overwhelming odds. We are proving otherwise.” Via The Washington Post and The Baltimore Sun Images via Don’t Frack Maryland Facebook and chesapeakeclimate on Flickr

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Worlds tallest skyscraper design hangs off an orbiting asteroid

March 24, 2017 by  
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What if your daily commute involved parachuting down to earth rather than being stuck in vehicular traffic? That’s the vision in Clouds Architecture Office’s incredible proposal for a skyscraper suspended off an orbiting asteroid. The design, called Analemma, would be powered by space-based solar panels and capture water in a semi-closed loop system that draws from the moisture in clouds and rainwater. While some may write off Analemma as an early April Fools’ Day joke, we think the unusual design is a fun and unconventional thought experiment worth exploring, if only to get our creative juices flowing. The conceptual design begins with the placement of a large orbiting asteroid set on a figure-eight geosynchronous path that moves between the north and southern hemispheres on a predictable daily loop. The skyscraper , suspended from the asteroid via a high-strength cable, would allow residents to parachute down to work when the orbit slows down and gets closest to midtown Manhattan. The proposed building is split into four main areas: business activities at the lower end of the tower, sleeping quarters placed approximately two-thirds of the way up, prayer rooms at the very top of the building, and surface transfer points at the bottom. The tower would be prefabricated in Dubai —which the architects say is “a specialist in tall building construction at one-fifth the cost of New York City construction”—and the modules transported and assembled above earth. Related: This 3D-printed space igloo just won NASA’s Mars habitat competition “Analemma Tower is a proposal for the world’s tallest building ever,” writes CAO. “Harnessing the power of planetary design thinking, it taps into the desire for extreme height, seclusion and constant mobility. If the recent boom in residential towers proves that sales price per square foot rises with floor elevation, then Analemma Tower will command record prices, justifying its high cost of construction.” + Clouds Architecture Office Via Dezeen Images via Clouds Architecture Office

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European firms eye artificial island for North Sea wind and solar farm

March 15, 2017 by  
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Of all the opponents of wind turbines , few are as vociferous as the loose collective that planners and developers deride as “Nimby,” a term that derives from the acronym for “not in my backyard.” Driven to stake out real estate further offshore, a group of European companies have devised a plan almost breathtaking in its audacity: create a vast artificial island in the middle of the tumultuous North Sea, populate the area around it with thousands of spinning pylons, and drum up enough renewable energy for millions of Europeans by 2050. The venture, born of the 2050 goals laid out by the Paris agreement on climate change , is a collaboration between Denmark’s Energinet and the German and Dutch arms of electricity firm TenneT . To solidify the partnership, the companies will be meeting with Maroš Šef?ovi?, the European Commissioner for Energy, at the North Seas Energy Forum in Brussels next week to sign a trilateral agreement. If greenlit, the proposed 2.5-square-mile Power Link Island, also known as the North Sea Wind Power Hub, will boast its own harbor, air strip, solar farm, and artificial lake, along with homes for in-residence staff. Early estimates place the price of construction in the ball park of $1.3 billion. Dogger Bank, a large sandbank about 62 miles off the east coast of England, is thought to be the ideal location for the island because it’s centrally located, has waters shallow enough for turbines, and is buffeted by constant wind. Related: China is building artificial islands in disputed South China Sea territory Underwater transmission lines, coursing with energy, could potentially power the homes of 80 million people in the United Kingdom, the Netherlands, Denmark, Germany, Norway, and Belgium. By linking the energy markets of those countries, Power Link Island could facilitate international trading in electricity. It could even consolidate energy by serving as a connective hub for other, scattered wind farms or bud off smaller but similar enclaves. “This project can significantly contribute to a completely renewable supply of electricity in Northwest Europe,” said Mel Kroon, CEO of TenneT. There’s another upside: An island of significant scope could, through economies of scale, also whittle down costs. “Offshore wind has in recent years proved to be increasingly competitive and it is important to us to constantly focus on further reduction in prices of grid connections and interconnections,” said Peder Østermark Andreasen, CEO of Energinet. “We need innovative and large-scale projects so that offshore wind can play an even bigger part in our future energy supply.” + Energinet + TenneT Via The Next Web

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India triples solar power capacity in three years

March 14, 2017 by  
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India’s solar power capacity has exploded over the past three years, growing from just 3,000 megawatts in 2014 to an installed capacity of 10,000 MW in 2017. And that’s just the beginning of the country’s solar ambitions, with a renewable energy target of 175 gigawatts as soon as 2022. India’s government is working to further its ambitious goal already, with more than 14,000 MW worth of solar projects in the works, and another 6 GW set to go to auction soon. India expects to add a total of 8.8 GW of further solar capacity in 2017. As Swarahya reports, this investment in solar power is aimed at addressing a growing demand for electricity in India. Projections peg the country’s power consumption at three times its current rate by 2030. The government’s recent national electricity plan says those needs could reach as much as 360 GW of total generation by 2022. The plan says that by developing renewable technologies like solar, wind, geothermal and hydroelectricity, the country can meet the growing demand while reducing environmental impacts. Related: New 2D perskovite cell could slash the cost of solar No doubt, reducing air pollution is also high in the minds of the Indian government. A report issued earlier this year showed that China and India are leading the way in deaths due to air pollution . The two countries experienced a combined 2.2 million deaths due to air pollution in 2015 . Via Swarahya Images via Pixabay and Flickr Creative Commons, jepoirrier

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Amazon to install large-scale solar systems on 50 facilities by 2020

March 3, 2017 by  
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Amazon just announced plans to install 41 megawatts worth of solar power on the roofs of its US facilities this year. The project is part of amazon’s larger initiative to install solar systems on 50 of its order fulfillment facilities around the globe by 2020. “As our fulfillment network continues to expand, we want to help generate more renewable energy at both existing and new facilities around the world in partnership with community and business leaders,” said Dave Clark, Senior Vice President of Worldwide Operations. “We are putting our scale and inventive culture to work on sustainability—this is good for the environment, our business and our customers. By diversifying our energy portfolio, we can keep business costs low and pass along further savings to customers. It’s a win-win.” The solar projects planned for this year will see a total of 41 megawatts installed on the rooftops of Amazon facilities in California, New Jersey, Maryland, Nevada and Delaware. Depending on various factors, the solar installations could provide the facilities with up to 80% of the energy needed to run. Related: Amazon’s new Prime Air delivery drone is part helicopter, part airplane https://youtu.be/R7tMiQcF9tY According to Amazon, the company is also working on other clean energy projects – including a wind farm in Texas and a network of wind and solar farms in Indiana, North Carolina, Ohio, and Virginia. It’s also possible some of this power could be used to energize other initiatives Amazon is working on – such as the eventual delivery of orders by drones , and the company’s plans to build a giant floating warehouse in the sky from which the drones would work. Via Businesswire Images via Amazon/Businesswire

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Portable solar unit fits into a steel drum for off-grid events

February 24, 2017 by  
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The Solar Charging Can fills the gap between large-scale residential photovoltaics and portable solar chargers for your smartphone. The unit unpacks quickly for camping, outdoor events, and other off-grid functions and is ready to use after just a half hour of assembly. In addition to recreational use, the unit can provide crucial power to mobile medical clinics, disaster relief areas, and refugee camps. Mobile Solar Chargers Ltd developed the Solar Charging Can to be an impressively versatile unit that is easy to put together in a pinch. The basic model includes a 180W/18v 5.5A solar panel , which is both flexible and waterproof, on a retractable telescoping pole, as well as two batteries, a voltage regulator, and all other necessary equipment for the unit to run smoothly. An included anchor secures the can to the ground, but the added sand bags provide an extra dose of security. Upgraded versions can be purchased to include a WiFi router, additional panels, a remote CCTV camera, and LED lighting . Related: Portable smartflower POP solar system produces 40% more energy https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=K8yoDfVzWfU The entire unit can be assembled in a half hour by two people, according to the website. And they can be custom ordered to meet the needs of the event it will serve. This is especially helpful for organizations that provide disaster relief support or intend to power housing for refugees for an extended amount of time. One Solar Charging Can starts at about $2,235 (£1,795). + Mobile Solar Chargers Ltd Via Treehugger Images via Mobile Solar Chargers Ltd, YouTube (screenshot)

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Indonesian president gives forest management back to indigenous communities

February 23, 2017 by  
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After decades of conflict over the power to oversee Indonesia’s forests, President Joko Widodo gave management rights back to nine indigenous communities. According to the World Agroforestry Centre, millions of indigenous people cared for forests sustainably for centuries until the Dutch colonial government declared state ownership, and this moment marks an important milestone in the acknowledgement of indigenous rights . For years, indigenous communities have fought for recognition as their rights have been contested by the government – even after independence in 1945, according to the World Agroforestry Centre. There are thousands of distinct ethnic groups across the islands of Indonesia, and Widodo recently took what the center described as a highly symbolic step in formally granting forest management titles to the nine indigenous communities. In a speech on the occasion, Widodo said, “Recognition also means an appreciation of Indonesia’s original values and its identity as a nation.” Related: Indonesian president announces plan to halt palm oil industry expansion Widodo cited the Kajang people, one of the nine communities, in his speech as an example from which others could benefit. An earlier national government altered the Kajang’s forests’ management status from indigenous to “production forests with limited uses” so the government could control them and parcel some land out for rubber plantations. But the Kajang developed “a set of local regulations that affirm, recognize, and protect based on traditional management,” according to Andi Adriardi, a member of a non-governmental organization that helped the Kajang regain rights. They coordinated with the local government and organizations to reclaim the title. Adriardi said the government recognized their case as a “good lesson that approaches perfection” for a well-managed forest. Kajang leader Andi Buyung Saputra, pictured above with Widodo, said in his acceptance speech, “Our traditional wisdom has played an important role in managing and preserving our forests. This has contributed to keeping our Earth greener and reducing the negative impacts of climate change .” Via World Agroforestry Centre Images via World Agroforestry Centre and Wikimedia Commons

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New super-thin film acts like "air conditioner" for buildings

February 13, 2017 by  
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Engineers at the University of Colorado Boulder have developed a thin, artificially structured “metamaterial” that can cool objects without the use of water or energy. The film works to lower the temperature of the surface beneath it through a process known as “passive cooling,” meaning that it vents the object’s heat through thermal radiation while bouncing off any incoming solar energy that may negate those losses. As described last week in the journal Science , the glass-polymer hybrid material could provide an “eco-friendly means of supplementary cooling” for thermoelectric power plants, which require colossal amounts of water and electricity to keep their machinery chugging along at optimum temperatures. The film measures a lithe 50 micrometers thick, or just slightly more substantial than the aluminum foil you’d find in your kitchen. And, much like foil, researchers say it can be easily and economically manufactured by the roll for large-scale residential and commercial applications. “We feel that this low-cost manufacturing process will be transformative for real-world applications of this radiative cooling technology,” Xiaobo Yin, an assistant professor who co-directed the research, said in a statement. Buildings and power plants aren’t the only structures that could benefit, Yin said. The material could keep solar panels from overheating, allowing them to not only work longer, but harder, as well. Related: 3D-printed “Cool Brick” cools a room using only water “Just by applying this material to the surface of a solar panel, we can cool the panel and recover an additional one to two percent of solar efficiency,” said Yin. “That makes a big difference at scale.” Yin and his cohorts have applied for a patent as a prelude to exploring potential commercial applications. They also plan to create a 200-square-meter “cooling farm” prototype in Boulder sometime this year. “The key advantage of this technology is that it works 24/7 with no electricity or water usage,” said Ronggui Yang, a professor of mechanical engineering and a co-author of the paper. “We’re excited about the opportunity to explore potential uses in the power industry, aerospace, agriculture and more.” + University of Colorado Boulder Photo by Chris Eason

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New super-thin film acts like "air conditioner" for buildings

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