Weaving clean energy into low-income communities

June 15, 2017 by  
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The challenges of including disadvantaged households and communities in the renewables movement haven’t largely gone unaddressed.

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Weaving clean energy into low-income communities

Researchers successfully made a battery out of trash

June 14, 2017 by  
Filed under Eco, Green, Recycle

If there’s one thing that abounds on planet Earth , it is man-made trash . Fortunately, researchers have developed a method of using discarded goods to create sodium-ion batteries. Made from recycled materials and safer than lithium variants, the battery is the latest step in renewable energy storage. To create batteries out of trash, the scientists accumulated rusty, recycled stainless steel mesh. Then, they used a potassium ferrocyanide solution — the same solution used in fertilizers and in wine production — to dissolve the ions out of the rust layer. Ions such as nickel and iron then bonded with other ions in the solution. This created a salt that clung to the mesh as scaffolded nanotubes that store and release potassium ions. As Engadget reports , “The movement of potassium ions allows for conductivity, which was boosted with an added coating of oxidized graphite.” Related: ‘Instantly rechargeable’ battery spells bad news for gas-guzzling cars More often than not, lithium batteries are used for renewable energy storage. However, the type of battery is expensive and exists in limited amounts. Additionally, lithium batteries have been known to explode. Not only are the new sodium-ion batteries safer, they boast a high capacity, discharge voltage, and cycle stability. Developing the battery was step one of testing the concept. Now that scientists have successfully created renewable energy from trash, the battery can be improved upon to maximize its potential. Via Engadget Images via Pixabay

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Researchers successfully made a battery out of trash

How companies help cut energy emissions by 20 percent

June 14, 2017 by  
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These two factors have caused the largest U.S. utilities, generating 85 percent of the nation’s electricity, to sharply reduce CO2 greenhouse gas emissions.

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How companies help cut energy emissions by 20 percent

What’s next for the Paris Accord

June 5, 2017 by  
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What happens to the Paris Climate Agreement now that the leader of the world’s second biggest emitter of greenhouse gas emissions has signaled his intent to withdraw from the landmark accord? We take a closer look at the consequences of Donald Trump’s decision to rescind US efforts to limit global warming in accordance with the 2015 agreement. President Donald Trump is a showman and his press conference was political theater for the 61 million Americans who voted him into office last November. The reality is that the withdrawal process could take up to four years to complete and Trump could be exiting the White House before he exits the Paris Accord if he doesn’t win reelection. The other reality is that, thanks to Senate Republicans who would never ratify the Paris Accord as a treaty, in order to push it past the finish line with the US onboard, the deal had to be “non-binding,” meaning all actions are voluntary. Related: Trump announces U.S. will withdraw from the Paris Climate Agreement By declaring its intent to withdraw from the Paris Accord, the US joins Syria and Nicaragua in refusing the deal. It should be noted that Nicaragua didn’t join the agreement because it didn’t go far enough in emissions reductions for the Central American nation. Minus the US, a total of  194 countries have signed and 147 parties have ratified the accord , representing 66 percent of global emissions. The accord entered into force on November 4, 2016 — 30 days after at least 55 parties representing at least 55 percent of global emissions joined. While it certainly could be argued that Trump has damaged America’s standing in the international community, it is not so clear that Trump has actually hurt the Paris Accord, Actually, there are indications that Trump’s announcement is having the opposite effect, with countries, cities and corporations redoubling their commitments to the Paris Accord and greenhouse gas emission reductions. Many experts believe that since Trump was never serious about committing the US to climate action, that his decision to withdraw from the Paris Accord could actually free up other world leaders to draft an even stronger agreement with enforcement mechanisms not possible with a Republican-ruled Senate in the US. Australian climate scientist Luke Kemp told The New York Times, “I worry that letting the United States just stay in the agreement and do whatever it wants could show how weak Paris is. It sends the message that the agreement is more about symbolism than action.” CHINA AND EU TAKING THE LEAD With Trump ceding US leadership on climate, China and the European Union are stepping in to fill the power vacuum. In a joint statement following Trump’s announcement, China and the EU — backed by all 28 EU member states — reaffirmed their commitment to full implementation of the Paris climate deal. The statement, the first between the EU and China, commited to cutting back on fossil fuels and increasing development of green technologies. Related: China says they’ll stay in the Paris Agreement – with or without Trump “The EU and China consider climate action and the clean energy transition an imperative more important than ever,” the statement reads. “The increasing impacts of climate change require a decisive response.” CITIES, STATES AND BUSINESSES STEPPING UP A group that so far includes 30 mayors, three governors, more than 80 university presidents and more than 100 businesses is negotiating with the United Nations to have their climate contributions accepted alongside other nations who have signed onto the accord. The Democratic governors of California, Washington and New York formed the US Climate Alliance to reaffirm their commitment to the Paris Accord after Trump’s announcement. It isn’t only Democrats defying Trump — Charlie Baker, the popular Republican governor of Massachusetts, said on Friday that he was joining the US Climate Alliance . Related: US states and cities say they’re sticking to the Paris Accord without Trump “As the commonwealth reiterates its commitment to exceed the emission reduction targets of the Paris Climate Agreement, today we join the U.S. Climate Alliance to expand our efforts while partnering with other states to combat climate change,” Baker said in a statement, adding that the initiative aims “to protect the environment, grow the economy and deliver a brighter future to the next generation.” Also after Trump’s announcement, 187 mayors representing more than 52 million Americans and some of the largest US cities, stated their intention to individually join the Paris Accord and work together on stronger climate change mitigation measures and transitioning to the 21st century clean energy economy. Cities around the world protested Trump pulling out of the Paris accord, including Tel Aviv, which lit up city hall in green lights . “We need to take responsibility for the next generation,” Mayor Ron Huldai said in a statement posted to Facebook. “That means, among other things, continuing to research, learn and act on the quality of the environment and the climate.” Major corporations are also on board with the Paris Accord — 95 of the world’s largest companies have commited to 100 percent renewables, including Google, Walmart and Nike. GREEN TECHNOLOGIES GETTING CHEAPER The price of solar, wind, batteries and other green technologies are dropping fast, leading to increased integration into the electricity grid. In 2016, the amount of new solar power coming online nearly doubled from the previous year — enough to power 2 million homes. Related: The sweet moment California got a record 50% of its electricity from solar Republican-ruled states are leading the renewables revolution. Kansas tripled its wind power production between 2011 and 2015. Wyoming leads the nation with 1,600 watts of new renewable energy capacity per capita being built. Nevada leads the nation in new solar power jobs while North Dakota leads in new wind power jobs. The conservative town of Georgetown, Texas is on track to be 100 percent renewable energy this year, becoming the largest US city to achieve the clean energy goal. Dale Ross, the mayor of Georgetown, admits “it’s the reddest of cities, in the reddest of states…but we put national politics aside to do our best for the people we’re elected to serve.” Images via Wikipedia 1 , 2 , 3 , 4  and White House Archives

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What’s next for the Paris Accord

Hyundai’s new emissions-free bus travels 180 miles on just one hour of charging

June 2, 2017 by  
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It isn’t just passenger vehicles  going green  these days – mass transit is jumping on the zero-emissions bandwagon. Hyundai just unveiled its first mass-produced electric bus called the Elec City . After one hour of charging, the bus can travel 180 miles thanks to a 256kWh battery pack. Best of all, the company’s first emissions-free vehicle will be available for order in 2018. According to a report from Yonhap news agency , the company has embraced green innovation “to diversify its lineup with environmentally friendly vehicles and enhance its brand image in global markets where clean modes of transportation have emerged a key point in auto manufacturing.” Hyundai launched the bus at the Truck & Bus Mega Fair, a local commercial vehicle exhibition. Tak Yeong-duck, senior vice president of Hyundai’s Commercial Vehicle R&D Division, admits that the Elec Bus has its flaws, but says it will undoubtedly become more efficient as  electric vehicle technology is improved upon. He said, “There still remain things to be improved in terms of the charging infrastructure for pure electric vehicles. But we have decided to launch the Elec City next year as the government plans to increase the number of charging stations in the coming years.” Related: The world’s fastest charging electric bus powers up in 10 seconds flat The sleek electric bus is estimated to cost more than 200 million won ($179,000 USD), and that price does not factor in the central government’s subsidy worth 100 million won. It has not been confirmed, either, if the company will sell the Elec City (which took eight years to develop) in the United States. If Hyundai does make the emission-free bus available in the U.S., it will face some fierce competition. Chinese manufacturer BYD has sold electric buses in California , as has the Canadian company GreenPower . Tesla CEO Elon Musk has also considered developing an electric bus and knowing his ambition, it might just happen. Now that Hyundai has unveiled its first emissions-free vehicle, it has a new goal of improving the fuel efficiency of its commercial vehicles up to 30 percent by 2020. Additionally, the company aims to sell 105,000 commercial vehicles in global markets, up from 102,000 units sold in 2016. According to recent reports, Hyundai may even release a long-range electric vehicle in 2018 – keep an eye out for that. + Elec City Via Yonhap News Agency Images via Elec City

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Hyundai’s new emissions-free bus travels 180 miles on just one hour of charging

Lego, Tesco face risks with public renewables goals

June 1, 2017 by  
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Renewables are now firmly in the mainstream, but corporates must overcome the barriers to deliver the scale that is needed.

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Lego, Tesco face risks with public renewables goals

The 9 (or 10) keys to successful sustainability leadership

June 1, 2017 by  
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A recent commencement speech for corporate sustainability graduates.

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The 9 (or 10) keys to successful sustainability leadership

Forward Labs’ new solar roof is 33% cheaper than Tesla’s – and it can be installed in half the time

May 26, 2017 by  
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Tesla gets all the attention lately when it comes to solar roofs , but start-up Forward Labs has been hammering away at their own solar roof technology – and not only is it 33% cheaper that Tesla’s offering, but it can be installed in half of the time. Forward Labs’ design blends right in with traditional roofs, and it’s made of monocrystalline solar cells with a higher density that other solar roofing options Whereas Tesla’s solar roof is made from individual shingles, Forward Labs’ standing-seam metal roof is made up of one large, layered piece. It has a tempered glass surface, with an “optimal chromatic cloaking” layer right below. The roof comes in 8 colors right now, but thanks to the chromatic layer, any color is technically possible. Related: Tesla’s groundbreaking solar roof just hit the market Because Forward Labs uses more cost-effective materials, it costs on average 33% less than the Tesla solar roof. According to the CEO, the solar roof will cost $8.50 per square foot, which works out to about $3.25 per watt. Installation can be done in just a few days – about half of the time as other solar roofs. The system is passively cooled via air gaps below the panels, and if a panel breaks, it can be popped out and replaced by a new one. The roof looks identical to other metal roofs, so it could easily pass a Home Owner’s Association’s muster, and each installation can provide decades of solar power. Taylor, Forward Labs CEO, told Green Tech Media that the company is aiming to do the right thing for the right reason. In contrast, he believes that Tesla’s design is the “wrong thing for the right reason.” “It’s wrong to devalue people’s houses with something that doesn’t look good. It’s wrong to put holes in roofs; it’s wrong to go to war with homeowner associations; and it’s wrong to try to ram something down people’s throats that they don’t want,” he said. The company is also working with conventional asphalt shingle companies to recycle removed roofing materials. Forward Labs are currently taking reservations with installation starting next year. + Forward Labs Via Treehugger and Green Tech Media

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Forward Labs’ new solar roof is 33% cheaper than Tesla’s – and it can be installed in half the time

The wind turbine manufacturer putting unemployed coal miners to work

May 25, 2017 by  
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The transition to clean energy isn’t always easy for workers in fossil fuel industries. As coal miners find themselves out of work, one wind turbine manufacturer aims to give them jobs in clean industries through a free jobs training program. Goldwind Americas , the United States branch of a major Chinese company, wants to offer out-of-work coal miners in Wyoming new roles as wind technicians instead. The Bureau of Labor Statistics says wind turbine service technicians is the fastest growing occupation in America, with a median pay of $52,260 a year in 2016, and some of those jobs could be a perfect fit for skilled laborers who no longer have employment in the fossil fuel industry. Goldwind’s Wyoming job training initiative, Goldwind Works, could produce workers for a huge wind farm they’re building in the state, where they have an agreement to supply up to 850 turbines. After construction they’ll require up to 200 workers to maintain the wind farm. Related: Clean energy jobs outnumber fossil fuel jobs in most US states Goldwind Works is slated to start next month. It will include informational meetings and a tower climb and safety training at a Montana wind farm. Goldwind Americas CEO David Halligan told The New York Times coal miners likely already possess some relevant mechanical and electrical skills, and are used to laboring in hard conditions. He said, “If we can tap into that market and also help out folks that might be experiencing some challenges in the work force today, I think that it can be a win-win situation.” Wyoming produces more coal than any other state in America. They produce almost four times as much of the black rock as West Virginia. Even so hundreds of coal miners lost their jobs in the state last year. Meanwhile the wind industry could offer new opportunities to those out-of-work miners. Via Greentech Media and The New York Times Images via Pixabay and Goldwind Global

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The wind turbine manufacturer putting unemployed coal miners to work

The growth of corporate clean energy in 6 charts

May 24, 2017 by  
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Recently, U.S. facilities have begun to offer large-scale renewable energy options to customers. Here, a closer look at the rapid scale-up.

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The growth of corporate clean energy in 6 charts

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