Failed Palm Springs golf course is being repurposed into a sustainable community filled with olive groves

October 20, 2017 by  
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A failed Palm Springs golf course is being reborn as an “eco-modern agrihood” located on 300 beautiful acres of desert landscape. The Miralon residential community will include 1,150 solar-powered homes , along with almost 100 acres of open recreational space, including working olive groves, community gardens, and walking trails. The ambitious project is located on a former golf course, which was built, but never operational due to falling into foreclosure in 2008. Freehold Communities bought the property and will be collaborating with Robert Hidey Architect s along with C2 Collaborative Landscape Architecture to create a sustainable residential community focused on providing a healthy lifestyle for the homeowners. The large complex will include multiple pools, a fitness and recreation center, and various amenities. Related: Wind and solar-powered Thunder Valley Regenerative Community rises in South Dakota Miralon will consist of more than 1,000 eco-friendly homes, all equipped with solar panels. However, at the heart of the project is the massive amounts of outdoor space included in the master plan. The residential area will be surrounded by almost 100 acres of green space , which will be landscaped to create recreational space for the residents. Former golf cart paths will be repurposed as 6.5 miles of hiking trails. The tee boxes and greens will be converted into community gardens as well as dog parks, exercise stations and community social areas with firepits and WiFi. What’s even more impressive is that the homes will back up to more than 70 acres of working olive groves , which will be installed with a drip-irrigation system and cultivated by Temecula Olive Oil Company . The olives will be pressed on-site and be made available to the residents, along with produce from the community gardens. “Evolving the existing golf course into habitat-sensitive, agricultural open space is a response to the precious resources of the Coachella Valley including its need for water,” explained Freehold California Division President Brad Shuckhart, “At the same time, Miralon responds to peoples’ desire for authentic experiences – whether through community gardening or immersion in a rich range of social spaces.” + Miralon + Freehold Communities

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Failed Palm Springs golf course is being repurposed into a sustainable community filled with olive groves

Solar record-breaking China aims for 50GW installed in 2017

October 20, 2017 by  
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China , a consistent leader in solar power production and installation, is having another banner year with 25 gigawatts of solar energy being installed in June and July alone. It is estimated that China is capable of installing over 50GW of solar energy by the end of 2017. As of October 1, approximately 42GW of solar energy had been installed, though the pace of installations is expected to slow in October. Although China’s solar boom yields economic benefits, an self-interest understanding of the need to protect the environment also drives the movement. “Any harm we inflict on nature will eventually return to haunt us,” said Chinese President Xi Jinping at the National Congress of China’s Communist Party. “This is a reality we have to face.” Much of the recent growth has been concentrated in the non-utility distributed solar sector, in part because China is pushing a new program called Top Runner, which aims to install more efficient solar panels in smaller projects. By any measure, China is absolutely dominating the global solar race. In 2016, the nation of nearly 1.4 billion people installed 34GW of solar power, the most ever by any country in a single year. In contrast, the United States , in the second place position for added capacity in 2016, added only 14.6GW of solar power. Related: China announces plan to ban sales of fossil fuel cars and shift focus to EVs Although China’s solar energy domination has proven to be valuable in the export market, with many of the components for solar systems around the world being produced locally, the domestic impact of its deliberate, consistent investment in solar energy is undeniable. In transforming its energy economy, out of necessity and strategy, China may provide important global climate leadership in a time when the United States has ceded its authority in this realm. “Taking a driving seat in international cooperation to respond to climate change, China has become an important participant, contributor, and torchbearer in the global endeavor for ecological civilization,” said President Xi Jinping. “[China must] develop a new model of modernization with humans developing in harmony with nature.” Via Electrek Images via Depositphotos and Wikimedia

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Solar record-breaking China aims for 50GW installed in 2017

Tesla earns contract for world’s first solar, wind and storage project

October 20, 2017 by  
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Tesla has won its first contract with Vestas, the world’s largest wind turbine maker, to supply its Powerpack batteries for a project that combines solar power , wind power, and Tesla’s storage technology — the first of its kind in the world. The $160 million project is being managed by Windlab at the Kennedy Energy Park hybrid renewable energy site in North Queensland, Australia. Windlab recently announced that it has been granted funding by the Clean Energy Finance Corporation and the Australian Renewable Energy Agency and it has chosen Tesla, Vestas, and Quanta as its partners. The Tesla/Vestas project at Kennedy Energy Park will consist of 12 Vestas wind turbines , each with a height of 132 meters (433 feet), the tallest in Australia. Tesla’s battery storage technology is particularly helpful in places like Queensland, which boasts strong winds but only during certain times of the day. Tesla’s Powerpacks will allow the wind energy captured during the afternoon to be used throughout the day and night as needed. The project is expected to be completed in about a year and will be fully operational by the end of next year. When completed, the project is estimated to create 100 local jobs and will provide power for 35,000 Australian households. Related: Tesla is shipping hundreds of Powerwall battery systems to Puerto Rico “We believe Kennedy Energy Park will demonstrate how effectively wind, solar and storage can be combined to provide low cost, reliable and clean energy for Australia’s future,” said Roger Price, Executive Chairman and CEO of Windlab. “The broader adoption of projects like Kennedy can…ensure that Australia can more than meet its Paris Commitments while putting downward pressure on energy prices.” This most recent Powerpack news follows efforts by Tesla to bring its battery storage and micro-grid technology to the recovery efforts in Puerto Rico and elsewhere in Australia, in what is expected to be the world’s largest battery installation. Via Electrek Images via Tesla and Depositphotos

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5 Strategies to Choose the Right Solar Panel Installer

September 21, 2017 by  
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As solar energy explodes in popularity, there are more solar … The post 5 Strategies to Choose the Right Solar Panel Installer appeared first on Earth911.com.

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Florida residents prohibited from using solar energy after Hurricane Irma

September 20, 2017 by  
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Millions of Florida residents lost power after Hurricane Irma raged through the state. But homeowners with solar energy installations couldn’t use them during the outage – or they’d be breaking the law. State code requires people to connect their homes to the local electric grid – and when parts of it were damaged after the hurricane , even those homeowners with backup solar power were legally obliged to sit in the dark. Florida Power and Light (FPL), which is one of the state’s major suppliers of electricity, has lobbied against letting people power their own houses with solar panels, according to Miami New Times. On their website , FPL says, “Operating your renewable system without the bi-directional meter can result in an inaccurate meter reading causing your bill to increase.” Related: Garbage from Hurricane Irma will now help power Florida Up to 40 percent of Floridians lost power after the hurricane. Residents were angered because under FPL’s rules, if its system goes down, solar power systems must be shut down as well. According to Miami New Times, state rules say customers must install a switch so their solar systems can be disconnected from FPL’s systems. But residents can’t flip the switch to power panels during a disaster. FPL can even disconnect solar panels from the grid without warning homeowners. Under FPL’s net metering guidelines, “Renewable generator systems connected to the grid without batteries are not a standby power source during an FPL outage. The system must shut down when FPL’s grid shuts down in order to prevent dangerous back feed on FPL’s grid. This is required to protect FPL employees who may be working on the grid.” Miami New Times says people have criticized FPL for spending money on lobbying rather than on hurricane-proofing grids. The Energy and Policy Institute found a FPL lobbyist drafting anti-solar laws for Republican state representative Ray Rodrigues this April. FPL contributed $15,000 to Rodrigues’ campaign. According to the Miami New Times, the Sunshine State trails behind other states in solar adoption due to power company influence. Via International Business Times and Miami New Times Images via The National Guard on Flickr and Wikimedia Commons

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Florida residents prohibited from using solar energy after Hurricane Irma

New Tesla Powerpack system to offer energy savings of 40-50%

August 28, 2017 by  
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Tesla has pioneered massive battery storage projects this year, such as a 396 Powerpack facility in Southern California. But a recent project in Queensland, Australia reveals installations don’t always need to be huge to make an impact. A system with a single Powerpack and commercial inverter was installed at The Cathedral College in Rockhampton to store solar energy that can help power the boarding school at night. GEM Energy Australia installed a 100 kilowatt solar system on rooftops at The Cathedral College, and some of that energy is stored in the Tesla Powerpack 1.5 during the day. At night, it can power the whole boys boarding house for five hours. The school expects the system will offer them an energy savings of 40 to 50 percent over 12 months, and GEM Energy estimates the school will see a payback in six to seven years. The company said the system cost $285,000 and will offset 40 metric tons of carbon every year. According to Electrek, the system covers 61 percent of the school’s energy , and came online earlier this year. Related: Tesla unveils massive solar battery plant to power the island of Kauai Tesla’s Powerpacks are targeted for commercial enterprises; usually smaller projects can use their Powerwall . But this installation of the one-Powerpack system at the Australian school – the first to have such a system installed – reveals the flexibility of energy storage products from Tesla, according to Electrek. The school system also uses a Tesla inverter; when the company put out their latest Powerpack generation, they also released a commercial inverter they developed drawing on their experience with car inverters. The school already seems pleased with the results; Cathedral College ICT Manager Aaron Nunn said in a Tesla video, “I think it definitely does impress upon our students we’re showing good stewardship and respecting the environment and its resources.” Via Electrek and GEM Energy Australia Images via GEM Energy Australia

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New Tesla Powerpack system to offer energy savings of 40-50%

American fern inspires groundbreaking new solar storage solution

April 3, 2017 by  
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Energy storage has been a leading obstacle to widespread adoption of solar energy , but that may be about to change. A new nature-inspired electrode developed by two scientists at RMIT University in Australia could hold the key to drastically improved storage. Their electrode, which is based on patterns in the western swordfern, could boost the capacity of storage technologies by a staggering 3,000 percent. The groundbreaking electrode is made with graphene , and according to the university, could open the door to flexible, thin solar capture and storage technology. This would allow us to place a thin film on smartphones, cars, or buildings – enabling them to power themselves with solar energy. Related: Pocket-sized HeLi-on charger uses flexible, printed solar cells to power your phone The two researchers found inspiration for their prototype in the veins of the Polystichum munitum , a native western North American fern. Researcher Min Gu said in a statement, “The leaves of the western swordfern are densely crammed with veins, making them extremely efficient for storing energy and transporting water around the plant. Our electrode is based on these fractal shapes – which are self-replicating, like the mini structures within snowflakes – and we’ve used this naturally efficient design to improve solar energy storage at a nano level.” The electrode could be combined with supercapacitors , which have been combined with solar already but haven’t been widely utilized for storage due to limited capacity. But the scientists’ prototype can increase their capacity 30 times greater than current limits, according to Gu. The journal Scientific Reports published the research online the end of March. Paper lead author Litty Thekkekara said by using their electrode with a solar cell, we could develop flexible thin film solar, replacing the rigid, bulky solar cells that are limited in use. Smartphone batteries would become a thing of the past, and hybrid cars wouldn’t need charging stations, if scientists could build on this research to develop thin film solar. Via RMIT University Images via RMIT University

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India doubles down on solar power with huge park capacity increase

February 14, 2017 by  
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India just made a huge commitment to solar power . They’re doubling the planned capacity in their solar parks program from 20 gigawatts (GW) up to 40 GW. The government has also given a green light to the program’s second phase. India Minister of Finance Arun Jaitley said the government will move forward with the solar parks program’s second phase in a union budget speech. According to CleanTechnica the government’s Ministry of New and Renewable Energy (MNRE) has identified multiple solar energy projects that possess a cumulative capacity of 20 GW, and will add an extra 20 GW of capacity under the second phase. Related: India just fired up the world’s largest solar plant to power 150,000 homes Solar parks could be a huge win for India. CleanTechnica reports it seems many consumers aren’t aware of the benefits of rooftop solar , but also utilities aren’t well equipped to handle rooftop systems. But the government seems to recognize solar energy could be a perfect fit for the growing country that needs a renewable source of energy and also enjoys around 300 days of sunshine yearly. According to a 2014 MNRE document titled Scheme for Development of Solar Parks and Ultra Mega Solar Power Projects , “Solar power projects can be set up anywhere in the country, however the scattering of solar power projects leads to higher project cost per MW and higher transmission losses…The solar park is a concentrated zone of development of solar power generation projects, by providing to developers an area that is well characterized, properly infra-structured, and where the risk of the projects can be minimized as well as the facilitation of the permitting process.” According to The Indian Express , the government has approved 33 solar parks in 21 states. CleanTechnica notes while the government has expanded the current solar parks program, the target for overall installed capacity by March 2022 in India is still the same at 100 GW. Via CleanTechnica Images via Wikimedia Commons ( 1 , 2 )

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Jimmy Carter built a new solar plant on his old peanut farm

February 14, 2017 by  
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Jimmy Carter is once again pioneering solar energy projects. The former president who almost 40 years ago installed solar panels at the White House just unveiled a solar power project on his Plains, Georgia farm, where he once cultivated soybeans and peanuts. The 3,852 solar panels on his land can generate enough renewable energy for more than half of the 683-person town where Carter was born. Carter leased 10 acres of land for a 1.3 megawatt solar array to Georgia-based SolAmerica Energy , who first approached Carter’s grandson Jason Carter regarding the project. The panels, which can move to follow the sun, will provide power to the grid through a 25-year Power Purchase Agreement with Georgia Power . The New York Times reports the family will make under $7,000 a year from the solar project. Related: White House Solar Panels Fire Up for the First Time Since Jimmy Carter Left The former president, who is now 92, invested time in the solar project making notes in the lease agreement’s margins and regularly visiting the farm. Carter promoted solar power nearly four decades ago with his White House array, and although the next president, Ronald Reagan, removed the panels, Carter didn’t give up on clean energy. He recently said in an interview at his old high school, “I hope that we’ll see a realization on the part of the new administration that one of the best ways to provide new jobs – good-paying and productive and innovative jobs – is through the search for renewable sources of energy. I haven’t seen that happen yet, but I’m still hoping for that.” Carter’s wife Rosalynn said after the ribbon-cutting ceremony, “It’s very special to me because I was so disappointed when the panels came off of the White House, and now to see them in Plains is just terrific.” Experts and the former president have said the farm array, while small-scale, could still offer an example for other areas of agrarian America. Via The New York Times Images via SolAmerica Energy

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Jimmy Carter built a new solar plant on his old peanut farm

Innovative water-trapping beads prevent crops from rotting in humid countries

February 14, 2017 by  
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Researchers have found an economical way to prevent humidity from destroying crops in both small and large scale agricultural operations. Small beads made from a porous mineral called zeolite absorb water molecules , preventing fungal toxins from growing on seeds and grain in developing countries. The beads prove to be less expensive, time-consuming, and resource-dependent than more common farming practices. Zeolite beads , developed by Rhino Research in Thailand, have been specially engineered so their pores are just the right size to absorb water molecules. This small but effective fix can help farmers in places like Nepal, India, and Kenya, where about a third of crops are lost due to the effects of excess moisture. By placing the beads adjacent to the harvest in mesh bags or other screened-in containers, crops will be safe from a significant amount of the moisture that leads to rotting or the spread of fungus. Related: 93 percent of the world’s seed diversity has vanished the last century Larger operations can also benefit from zeolite beads. Instead of blowing hot air over walnuts, almonds, rice, and other grains, these dry harvested crops can be passed through the absorbent beads. A flow of ambient air is all that is needed afterward, saving batches from being scorched – a problem that ruins quality and taste. To keep the beads effective, heating them in a compact oven removes excess moisture so they can be reused. + Rhino Research Via  Technology Review Images via Rhino Research

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