Madison, Wisconsin commits to 100% renewable energy

March 23, 2017 by  
Filed under Eco, Green

Madison just became the first city in Wisconsin and the largest city in the Midwest to commit to 100 percent clean energy in just the latest example of how President Donald Trump can’t stop the renewables revolution. The state capital and college town is the 25th US city to commit to the transition away from fossil fuels and toward clean, renewable energy following Tuesday’s city council vote. The vote allocated $250,000 to develop a plan by January 18, 2018 for city operations to achieve goals of 100 percent renewable energy and net-zero greenhouse gas emissions across all sectors, including electricity, heating and transportation. “Madison’s historic commitment to 100 percent clean energy shows that we are determined to lead the way in moving beyond fossil fuels that threaten our health and environment,” Madison Common Council Alder Zach Wood said in a statement. “The benefits of a transition to 100 percent clean energy are many. These goals will drive a clean energy economy that creates local jobs, provides affordable and sustainable electricity, and results in cleaner air and water. I am proud to be a part of this council that has made the historic commitment that will lead our community to a more sustainable future.” Related: San Diego to become largest U.S. city to run on 100% renewable energy Abita Springs, Louisiana also voted on Tuesday to transition to 100 percent clean, renewable energy. The Sierra Club said that Madison and Abita Springs both committing to 100 percent clean energy demonstrates that there is bipartisan support across the country for a renewable energy future because liberal Madison voted for Hillary Clinton while conservative voters in Abita Springs went for Donald Trump. “Transitioning to 100 percent renewable energy is a practical decision we’re making for our environment, our economy, and for what our constituents want in Abita Springs,” Greg Lemons, mayor of Abita Springs, said in a statement. “Politics has nothing to do with it for me. Clean energy just makes good economic sense. By establishing a 100 percent renewable energy goal, we have an opportunity to use solar power that we can control in our community, for our community. Clean energy is a way that we can save money for Abita Springs both today and in the future.” Other American cities that have made the 100 percent renewable energy pledge include Burlington, Vermont; Aspen, Colorado; the California cities of San Diego, San Francisco and San Jose; Rochester, Minnesota; St. Petersburg, Florida; Grand Rapids, Michigan; East Hampton, New York; Greensburg, Kansas; and Georgetown, Texas. Via Sierra Club Image 1 , 2 via Good Free Photos

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Madison, Wisconsin commits to 100% renewable energy

India looks to microgrids to bridge the energy access gap

March 22, 2017 by  
Filed under Business, Green

The government has promised energy access to all households by 2019. Here are five issues to watch as India reaches for this ambitious target.

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India looks to microgrids to bridge the energy access gap

Coming soon: NYC’s first community solar project

March 21, 2017 by  
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A company based in Toronto is bringing New York City its first community solar project. UGE International , one of the world’s leading renewable-energy contractors, will be partnering with Gotham Community Solar to develop a new array at a multi-tenant commercial facility between the Park Slope and Boerum Hill neighborhoods in Brooklyn. The project, which is scheduled to be completed in early summer, will have a rated peak capacity of roughly 100 kilowatts, according to UGE. The building abuts another UGE project: the Whole Foods Market at 214 3rd Street, colloquially known as “3rd and 3rd” by locals. “It’s been a privilege to work with ConEd , the Department of Buildings, and the project’s ownership group on developing this landmark project” Tim Woodcock, UGE’s Regional Director, said in a statement. Related: UGE is building a massive rooftop solar array atop this popular Brooklyn church Woodcock anticipates selling any surplus power to nearby residents at rates lower than those offered by their utility companies. The benefits would be twofold: cheaper electricity that also comes from a sustainable source. “The solar power generated by the project will be credited to numerous residential accounts, offering access to the benefits and low cost of solar energy to those previously excluded due to their housing situation,” he added. + UGE International

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Coming soon: NYC’s first community solar project

German coal mine set to become "giant battery" for storing renewable energy

March 21, 2017 by  
Filed under Eco, Green

A German coal mine is about to become a massive battery for storing electricity from renewable energy sources. The Prosper-Haniel hard coal mine in the state of North-Rhine Westphalia that provided coal power to German industry since it opened in 1974 will soon be turned into a 200-megawatt pumped-storage hydroelectric reservoir. When completed, the nearly 2,000-foot-deep mine that is set to close in 2018 will essentially act as a giant battery that can store enough power for 400,000 homes. That’s a huge backup that’s much needed in one of the most progressive solar nations in the world. This “giant battery” stores energy by continually pumping water between two chambers, an upper and a lower connected via pipes with turbines. During periods of high electricity demand, power is produced by releasing the stored water from the upper chamber through the turbines and into the lower chamber. When demand decreases, pumps refill the upper chamber using the cheaper electricity available from the grid. Plants such as this tend to have a huge efficiency of about 80 percent, while also balancing the load in a larger power system. Related: Groundbreaking technology affordably captures C02 from fossil fuel plants As Bloomberg notes, creating this energy storage facility is a win, win for Germany—as it not only provides a much-needed place to store all that power it’s now producing through renewable energy initiatives , but it will also give a boost to the local economy in nearby Bottrop by providing jobs for many of the miners who would otherwise be out of work when the coal mine is shuttered next year. Via Bloomberg Images via Goseteufel , Wikimedia Commons and University of Duisburg-Essen

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German coal mine set to become "giant battery" for storing renewable energy

EPA official accused of killing investigation into Monsanto weedkiller

March 21, 2017 by  
Filed under Business, Eco, Green

An EPA official who was in charge of evaluating the cancer risk of Monsanto’s popular Roundup weedkiller has been accused of conspiring with the company to “kill” the study. Jess Rowland, the former manager of the agency’s pesticide division, is rapidly becoming an important figure in the more than 20 lawsuits that have piled up accusing the company of burying evidence that its herbicide can cause non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma. The active ingredient in Roundup, glyphosate, has come under fire in recent years for its potential links to cancer. After the World Health Organization declared glyphosate likely to be a carcinogen , a number of people who’ve been exposed to the weedkiller have stepped up and attempted to sue the company. As public pressure has grown, activists have begun calling on the US Environmental Protection Agency to ban the herbicide altogether. The agency, however, has been slow to act despite the public pressure that’s been steadily building – and a recent court case may have revealed exactly why. Last week, Federal Judge Vince Chhabria released a number of court documents detailing Monsanto’s internal communications and the company’s correspondence with the EPA. Related: Activists call on the EPA to ban glyphosate The records reveal that not only did Rowland go out of his way to try to bury research into the cancer-causing potential of glyphosate , but that Monsanto’s own employees had ghostwritten several papers on Roundup’s safety. These are the same reports, later attributed to various academic researchers, which the EPA used to declare Roundup safe for public use. While it’s possible the EPA wasn’t aware of Monsanto’s collaboration on the original studies, it does call into question the accuracy of the agency’s assessment. Monsanto is, naturally, denying the allegations, and claiming that the company’s internal communications have been taken out of context. On the other hand, it’s hard to see how else statements like “we would be keeping the cost down by us doing the writing and [the scientists] would just edit & sign their names so to speak” could be construed to mean anything else. The company has testified in court that this is merely a reference to minor edits made to the paper, rather than ghostwriting. If it’s true that academics publishing research on glyphosate’s safety are in bed with the company, and that EPA officials like Rowland are working off this biased data, the agency’s decision should be revisited as soon as possible. The WHO isn’t the only organization that’s found evidence of this herbicide’s risks – the International Journal of Cancer and the journal Occupational and Environmental Medicine have both recently published research on the link between pesticide exposures and non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma as well. Roundup has already been banned in several countries following the burst of recent studies, and the US would be wise to follow suit. Via Bloomberg Markets Images via   Chafer Machinery ,   Mike Mozart

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EPA official accused of killing investigation into Monsanto weedkiller

Inflatable spiky pinecone-shaped roofs top this forest resort in Latvia

March 21, 2017 by  
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Spiky ETFE roofs  top this airy forest resort and spa in the historic region of Kurzeme, Latvia. 3GATTI Architecture Studio and OFL Architecture teamed up to design the Pinecones Resort using sustainable construction techniques and prefabrication , resulting in a fairytale-like woodland setting in harmony with its natural surroundings. The resort comprises cone-shaped units with inflatable roofs made from 100 percent recyclable ETFE that has a minimal carbon footprint . Lightweight and flexible, this material offers the possibility of creating dynamic building forms. The roofs will be inflated by a recyclable SPF sprayed eco foam with superior insulation and structural qualities. The laminated lightweight frames, made from locally-sourced wood, support the roof membrane and allows it to withstand snow loads. Related: Labyrinthine resort in Bangladesh lets nature take over The resort will focus on providing Blue Clay treatments based on organic and naturally abundant material. Different programs will be distributed across the site, with wooden bridges connecting the units housing winter tubs, saunas, therapy rooms and dining areas. In addition to the aforementioned sustainable features, the resort will also include a water filtration system, geothermal loops, and solar window technologies. + 3GATTI  + OFL Architecture Via Archdaily

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Inflatable spiky pinecone-shaped roofs top this forest resort in Latvia

NYC’s St. Patrick’s Cathedral goes green with new geothermal plant

March 17, 2017 by  
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When St. Patrick’s Day revelers parade past St. Patrick’s Cathedral on NYC’s 5th Avenue today, they will be celebrating not just the patron saint of Ireland, but also a renewable energy future for the famous landmark. Last month, the Archdiocese of New York announced that the historic Saint Patrick’s cathedral activated a new geothermal heating and cooling system that will reduce the building’s energy consumption by more than 30 percent and reduce CO2 emissions by approximately 94,000 kilograms – an impressive feat for the largest Catholic Gothic cathedral in the United States. St. Patrick’s geothermal plant is part of the final phase of a four-year, $177 million renovation that has been overseen by the cathedral’s architectural design team of Murphy, Burnham, & Buttrick working in partnership with Landmark Facilities Group and PW Grosser. It is the institution’s first restoration in more than 70 years (it was dedicated in 1879). Related: Futuristic power plant complex generates clean power through wind, solar and geothermal energy The geothermal heating and cooling system consists of 10 wells in terraces flanking the north and south sides of the cathedral drilled through dense Manhattan schist (a coarse-grained metamorphic rock) to a depth of up to 2,250 feet. When fully activated, the plant will be able to generate 2.9 million BTUs per hour of air conditioning and 3.2 million BTUs per hour of heating through 76,000 square feet of space. While wind and solar grab a bigger share of the renewables market and garner more media attention, the potential for both geothermal electricity and heating is huge. The global geothermal power market is projected to more than double operating capacity to 32 gigawatts by the early 2030s, according to the US and Global Geothermal Power Production Report from the US Geothermal Energy Association. Currently only 6 to 7 percent of the world’s estimated geothermal potential is being harnessed. Related: Pope’s official encyclical: “a bold cultural revolution” can halt climate change The Archdiocese of New York and St. Patrick’s Cathedral are not as interested in tapping the geothermal market as they are in heeding the call of Pope Francis to protect the planet and conserve God’s creation as written in his 2015 encyclical on the environment , Laudato Si. “A consistent ethic of life does not compartmentalize these issues. It prioritizes life and the preservation of life at every level,” said Cathedral Rector Monsignor Robert T. Ritchie. “One of the most basic ways in which we are called to do so is through responsible stewardship of our natural resources.” Images via St. Patrick’s Cathedral , MBB and Local 3 IBEW

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NYC’s St. Patrick’s Cathedral goes green with new geothermal plant

Dubai-based firm to construct world’s first 3D-printed skyscraper

March 17, 2017 by  
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3D printing could soar to new heights with the construction of the first 3D-printed skyscraper in the world. Dubai -based firm Cazza recently announced they aim to print the high-rise in the United Arab Emirates . They will draw on a novel construction technique known as crane printing. To print their ambitious skyscraper, Cazza will draw on cranes with added units designed for constructing 3D-printed buildings higher than 262 feet. It’s not yet known how tall the skyscraper will be. The company’s CEO Chris Kelsey said when they started their company, they focused on 3D-printing low-rise structures or houses, but developers kept asking about skyscrapers, so they decided to adapt their technology to reach higher. Related: Three-mile-high futuristic skyscraper has a smog-eating, self-cleaning coating The crane printing process includes all the major structural components needed by towering buildings, according to Construction Week Online. Current construction methods will complete the rest of the building. Mechanical engineer Xavier Hernand said there are vast possibilities for what kind of materials they could use, including steel or concrete . Cazza Chief Operating Officer Fernando De Los Rios said, “The crane printing system can be easily adopted with existing cranes which means we don’t have to build cranes from scratch. We are adding new features to make it adaptable to high wind speeds along with the use of our layer smoothing system that creates completely flat surfaces. You won’t know it’s 3D printed.” Cazza gained notice for blending mobile 3D printing robots with existing building methods to speed up construction processes and make them more cost effective and environmentally friendly. Kelsey said, “Through our technologies, we will be able to build architecturally complex buildings at never-before-seen speeds. It is all about economies of scale where the initial high technology costs will reduce as we enter the mass production phase.” The company has not yet announced a start date for the skyscraper construction. + Cazza Via Construction Week Online Images via Pexels and Good Free Photos

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

100-foot spinning sails harvest wind to power ships

March 15, 2017 by  
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For the first time in nearly a century, a ship is about to be fitted with a set of “spinning sails” that harness the wind to help power it across the ocean—a technology that could significantly green up the process of trans-oceanic shipping. As The Guardian reports, the spinning or rotor sail was first invented in 1926 by German engineer Anton Flettner, who installed them on two ships, including one that crossed the Atlantic. The “sails” are actually rotating columns that work with the prevailing winds to generate forward thrust for ships. This modern trial of a new take on old technology is backed by Maersk, Shell ’s shipping arm and one of the largest shipping companies in the world. One Maersk tanker ship will be outfitted with two of the nearly 100-foot-tall spinning sails – which are manufactured by Finland’s Norsepower . How, exactly, do they work? The spinning sails employ a principle known as the Magnus effect , in which wind passing through the spinning rotor sail accelerates on one side, while decelerating on the other. The movement of the sail generates a “thrust force” perpendicular to the wind. Electricity from the ship powers the turning of the sails, and the force generated by the sails lets the ship’s engine throttle back to lower fuel consumption. Using these sails could theoretically cut the fuel consumption of global shipping by as much as 10 percent. Related: Wind energy supplied all of Denmark’s power needs in one day Add to that the fact that, when the winds are right, each of these sails can produce about 3 megawatts of power while only requiring 50 kilowatts to operate, and the ships also have a source of renewable energy on board. The rotor sail only failed during its first go-around in the 1920s because it couldn’t compete with diesel power at that time. Now, as the price of fossil fuels is on the rise and climate change is here, this technology could be ready to set sail. Via The Guardian Images via Norsepower

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100-foot spinning sails harvest wind to power ships

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