Largest energy company in the US is monopolizing solar power

December 22, 2021 by  
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An investigation carried out by Floodlight and the Miami Herald has found that the leading energy company in the U.S. is trying to influence energy policies in its favor, hurting the rooftop solar industry in Florida. The investigation says Florida Power & Light, the largest energy company in the country, is pushing policies that will overturn the current rooftop solar power reward program. If the company is successful, the current metering program where homeowners and businesses with rooftop solar power can sell unused power back to the grid would be scrapped. In turn, large solar power companies like Florida Power & Light (FPL) would have sole control of the market. Related: Solar parks could help bees make a comeback Emails obtained by the investigators show that FPL sent specific legislation text to state senator Jennifer Bradley. Just two days after the email was sent, FPL’s parent company NextEra Energy donated $10,000 to senator Jennifer’s political committee. One month later, the senator filed a bill identical to one proposed by FPL but it was introduced to the house by a different lawmaker. “This is a tired tactic that utilities have used to maintain their monopoly grip on electricity markets,” said Will Giese, southeast regional director for the Solar Energy Industries Association. “Net metering is a popular program that gives people the right to choose the energy that works for them, provides benefits to all ratepayers and creates thousands of energy jobs across Florida.” Although only 1% of Florida electricity consumers currently sell their power back to the grid, the policy has been instrumental in enticing people to install solar panels. Experts say that rooftop solar in Florida could grow at the rate of 39% per year until the year 2025 if the current metering program is upheld. The potential that the program creates in empowering people to generate their own power threatens big companies like FPL. This could explain the reasoning behind the push to have the policy changed. However, experts say that the push may not go so far if legislators do their work well. “Companies do not pass legislation,” said Katie Chiles Ottenweller, south-east director for Vote Solar. “Legislators pass legislation. I’m hopeful this is a conversation starter but at the same time, it’s really hard to have a conversation when you have a gun to your head. The bill as it is written will decimate this industry.” Via Miami Herald and EcoWatch Lead image via Pexels

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Largest energy company in the US is monopolizing solar power

Solar Installations Around the World: Where Will Solar Go Next?

December 9, 2021 by  
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Electricity generated by the sun is more sustainable than fossil-fuel-generated power, such as that produced… The post Solar Installations Around the World: Where Will Solar Go Next? appeared first on Earth911.

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Solar Installations Around the World: Where Will Solar Go Next?

First US solar-powered airport is in Tennessee

December 7, 2021 by  
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Tennessee may not strike people as the most progressive state with 46% of the population conservative and 27% moderate, according to a Pew Research Center poll . You might not expect it to be a bastion of green energy, but the greater Chattanooga area is stepping out in front of many other parts of the U.S. as a solar pioneer. Among other firsts, Chattanooga Metropolitan Airport is the nation’s first and only airport with a solar farm that generates enough power to supply its total energy needs. The city of 185,000 is situated in southern Tennessee, near the Georgia border. It’s taken advantage of an average 207 sunny days per year to power several major solar projects. For example, Volkswagen has a 33-acre solar park in Chattanooga and recently chose the city for its first U.S. electric vehicle manufacturing facility. BlueCross BlueShield of Tennessee built a 10,000 solar panel facility at its Chattanooga headquarters. Other proud Chattanooga accomplishments include Majestic Theater, the first LEED Gold Certified theater in the US and the country’s second largest LEED Gold Certified office campus. Related: Should green architecture firms design airports? “[The airport] may not be the country’s largest or most amenity-packed airport , but there’s no question that Chattanooga Airport has made sustainability a top priority,” said Zach Honig, editor-at-large for The Points Guy, as quoted in Newsweek. “An expansive solar field became fully operational one year before the pandemic, producing enough power to support the entire airport. Outside the terminal building, there’s a Tesla supercharger and electric-vehicle charging stations.” Chattanooga Metropolitan Airport also switched out the airfield’s old incandescent lights for more energy-efficient LEDs. The terminal building’s exterior and interior lighting upgraded to compact florescent lights and hooked up to motion detectors so that lights were used only when needed. These simple lighting changes allowed the Chattanooga Airport to reduce its electric consumption by a megawatt per year. Blake Poole, vice president of air service and economic development at Chattanooga Metropolitan Airport, shared his insights with Inhabitat about being the nation’s first solar-powered airport . Inhabitat: How did this solar initiative first start at the Chattanooga airport? Poole: We began by looking at ways to reduce costs, but we also wanted to deliver on our quality service. By reducing costs, we also assist the airlines and their expenses, which opens up more services for our customers. Alongside EPB (our local power utility), we went after funding sources and ended up securing multiple FAA grants for the project. Inhabitat: Does the solar farm really power the whole airport? Poole: Yes, it does! Our solar farm sells enough renewable energy back to the Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) equal to all of the electricity we use. The solar farm also has storage as well to help after sundown and in low light situations. Inhabitat: Tell us about the workforce that installs and maintains the solar farm. Poole: Construction of the three-phase solar farm began in 2011. The first panels went online in that same year, and we completed the farm in 2019. TVA and EPB provided technical support to ensure the solar farm complied with national standards and codes. We worked with Inman Solar on the design and installation, and they also carry out our ongoing maintenance of the solar farm. Inhabitat: What other eco-measures have you taken around the airport? Poole: Several years ago, the airport started by initiating sustainable practices at the airfield and within the commercial terminal. The airport has grown its environmental stewardship to include larger projects like LEED designated facilities. Our corporate terminal was the first in the world to be LEED Platinum Certified. Other initiatives include lighting enhancements, green landscaping practices, recycling and maintenance of our ground surfaces in environmentally responsible ways. Inhabitat: Have the eco-upgrades at the Chattanooga airport inspired other businesses or airports to adopt similar measures? Poole: We’ve actually talked about the project with representatives of several airports around the world who are interested in implementing similar measures. Inhabitat: What else should readers know about the Chattanooga Airport? Poole: Over the past 50 years, Chattanooga has transformed itself from one of the most polluted cities in the nation to one of the cleanest. As a cornerstone of the community and a hub for economic activity, the Chattanooga Airport shares the region’s vision for sustainability. Beyond that, our city is known for its collaboration. Our solar farm project is a reflection of strong partnerships across Chattanooga. + Chattanooga Airport Images via Chattanooga Airport

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Solar program has customers saving money from renewable energy

November 15, 2021 by  
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Making the individual choice to invest in renewable power is a good decision for the sake of the environment . Some areas make it easy to tap into solar, wind, water and other renewable energy options by paying a few extra bucks on your monthly bill. Other areas don’t offer the option at all, or available options are cost prohibitive. Joule Assets has set out to change that paradigm with a program called community source solar, and it’s changing the framework of the power structure in New York.  Joule Community Power, also known as Joule Assets, is a company dedicated to increasing the amount of, and access to, renewable energy options. Basically they act as a mediary between cities and energy users on one side and energy providers on the other side. In this role, they work with municipalities and power companies to negotiate lower energy rates based on the numbers. In New York that means representing entire communities where a large number of customers can acquire lower energy rates than individuals can obtain.  Related: Renewable energy is growing too slow to stop climate change More than simply a bulk energy, cost-savings option, the community choice solar program maintains a focus on diversifying the types of energy available, with an emphasis on solar and other renewable energy. A recent contract with supplier Luminace is the largest solar generation supply agreement dedicated to community choice solar ever. It’s expected to produce approximately 24,600 megawatt hour in the first year of operation. A second contract with BQ Energy brings that total up to a combined 31,000 megawatt hour of community solar supply in the first year of operation for New York communities.  Most green energy programs work as an opt-in system where customers choose to participate. This system typically captures about 5% of customers. The community choice solar program through Joule will largely be offered as an opt-out program instead. That means everyone will be signed up and only those who choose not to participate will be excluded from the program. Planners anticipate this will capture about 90% of customers.  “Without having to lift a finger, our residents will be able to gain benefits from renewable energy while saving money ,” said Marbletown Supervisor Rich Parete. “This is an amazing benefit for our town and the result of some terrific collaboration.” In addition to making it easier to access energy that is sourced from solar, the community choice solar program also saves the customer money, estimated at up to 10% of their standard utility costs. The combined contracts will service more than 4,500 households and small businesses. Between 35% to 50% of those customers fall into the low to moderate income range, which provides a unique opportunity to allow these typically underrepresented households the chance to participate in renewable energy programs without extra expense. “Hudson Valley Community Power will be the first opt-out community solar program that explicitly prioritizes LMI residents for solar benefits,” said Jessica Stromback, CEO of Joule Assets. “We have already brought thousands of New Yorkers monthly savings on their utility bills while promoting clean energy, and these deals will help those who need it most.” BQ Energy develops renewable energy with a unique business model. Rather than buying and using large expanses of land for solar fields, it puts a focus on using unappealing land areas such as landfills and brownfield sites. “We are arguably the most experienced and successful landfill solar developer in the U.S. ,” the company said. “This year, we have added 175 MW of new projects to our development portfolio. We take pride in our ability to transform unusable land into operating solar projects that benefit local communities.” As a service provider, the company benefits from expanding its client base. “Repurposing landfills and brownfields to start generating new, clean energy is at the core of our mission and a benefit we are thrilled to expand upon in the Hudson Valley ,” said Paul Curran, Managing Director of BQ Energy. “Knowing that the majority of our capacity is going to low-income residents adds a social value element to our environmental efforts.” The programs offer an immediate increase in customer base for solar power providers, boosting the households they serve by thousands almost instantly. It also puts the “ power ” in the hands of community leaders when it comes to making decisions about the types of energy they want at a local level. Joule Community Power is dedicated to “empowering local decision-making, enabling access to cleaner and cheaper energy and making it easier for New Yorkers to transition to renewable electricity . Through community choice aggregation (CCA), Joule helps municipalities join together to aggregate the buying power of residents at large enough scale to negotiate more favorable terms of their energy contracts, decrease electricity costs, designate renewable generation sources, choose clean energy, increase consumer protection, select a default energy services company, support local renewable generation and deliver the benefits of solar, or other renewables, to entire communities.”   The combination of the opt-out programs, participation at the municipal level and the commitment from the solar energy providers will allow large communities with a varied population to transition into clean energy and is an automatic way to work towards climate goals for the country. Joule hopes the system sets an example for expansion across the United States and around the world.  + Joule Assets  Image via Joule Assets  

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Seoul green city has food within a 10-minute walk anywhere

November 15, 2021 by  
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Hyundai Development Company hired UNStudio in 2019 to design a green, mixed-used neighborhood in Seoul, Korea , a 10-minute city for the new digital economy. That means mixed-use spaces, green energy and digital packages for residents who are expected to live, work and play in the 504,000 square meter neighborhood. Project H1’s added technology lifestyle package is designed to go beyond traditional smart city models to serve residents in ways that free up time for leisure. Digital infrastructure also can manage energy production and consumption, communal spaces and local food production. Will it work? The plan is to create all desired amenities from a larger city, including food within a 10-minute walk of anyone’s home within the development. “For the H1 masterplan, we have aimed to create the ultimate contemporary 10-minute city , where the daily life experience of the residents is the top priority,” said Ben van Berkel of UNStudio who helped head the project. “We do this through the inclusion of a rich density of uplifting, curated on-site experiences that provide an extensive range of options for how they can spend their living, working and leisure time, thereby also saving them the time needed to travel elsewhere in the city — because with time that is saved, more time is created.” The plan proposes to achieve these goals through System Design, which focuses on flexibility, adaptability and arranging components of a neighborhood according to varying needs. “We have taken an approach of ‘flexible urban density.’ This enables the multi-functional use of public space and employs mixed-use organizational models to ensure that the residents can meet, connect and socialize, both in planned and spontaneous scenarios,” added Berkel. “The components of the masterplan not only encourage the creation of strong community bonds, the proposed digital service packages also create an unprecedented level of convenience for the residents.” + UNStudio Images via WAX & Virgin Lemon

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This luxury yacht runs on 100% renewable energy

July 2, 2021 by  
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For those who enjoy yachting, there’s nothing better than long stretches of propulsion across the water while you take in the sea and scenery. Except perhaps if you get to experience the newest Sunreef 80 Eco, an electric luxury ride that’s silent and sustainable. Sunreef Yachts developed a thin, highly efficient solar cell system that mounts completely flush to all surfaces of the boat, including masts, hull sides and bimini tops. The expected capacity of the system is 34 kWp energy, which is stored in ultralight lithium batteries until needed. Related: Isaac Burrough unveils solar-powered luxury yacht concept “We reinvented solar panels for yachts . Our team has challenged the status quo in marine photovoltaic technology, making solar panels an integral part of the Sunreef Yachts Eco design. This is something unique in the whole yachting world,” said Francis Lapp, founder and president of Sunreef Yachts. In addition to the solar panels, the yacht also produces energy through wind turbines , which seems like a natural addition as wind is a natural byproduct of moving through the water. Below the surface, the boat creates additional energy through hydropower from propeller rotations capable of generating over 15 kWh at about seven knots. All of these systems work together to provide quiet sailing with no range limitations because the energy to run both the propulsion and appliances of the Sunreef 80 Eco is renewable during travel. The processes also produce enough energy to power the water toys and the tender. Systems such as air conditioning, water makers and kitchen appliances that require power are designed to be energy-efficient .   The Sunreef 80 Eco is equipped with two electric motors that produce no pollution , fumes or vibrations, regardless of the trip distance. In addition to providing an environmentally guilt-free ride as one of the most energy-efficient luxury yachts on the planet, the boat is completely customizable with endless interior and feature options. Sunreef Yachts takes its commitment to the planet seriously with interior furnishings and hard finishes that meet stringent sustainability standards. The company expects a full release of Sunreef 80 Eco this summer.  + Sunreef Yachts Via Yanko Design Images via Sunreef Yachts

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This luxury yacht runs on 100% renewable energy

This luxury yacht runs on 100% renewable energy

July 2, 2021 by  
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For those who enjoy yachting, there’s nothing better than long stretches of propulsion across the water while you take in the sea and scenery. Except perhaps if you get to experience the newest Sunreef 80 Eco, an electric luxury ride that’s silent and sustainable. Sunreef Yachts developed a thin, highly efficient solar cell system that mounts completely flush to all surfaces of the boat, including masts, hull sides and bimini tops. The expected capacity of the system is 34 kWp energy, which is stored in ultralight lithium batteries until needed. Related: Isaac Burrough unveils solar-powered luxury yacht concept “We reinvented solar panels for yachts . Our team has challenged the status quo in marine photovoltaic technology, making solar panels an integral part of the Sunreef Yachts Eco design. This is something unique in the whole yachting world,” said Francis Lapp, founder and president of Sunreef Yachts. In addition to the solar panels, the yacht also produces energy through wind turbines , which seems like a natural addition as wind is a natural byproduct of moving through the water. Below the surface, the boat creates additional energy through hydropower from propeller rotations capable of generating over 15 kWh at about seven knots. All of these systems work together to provide quiet sailing with no range limitations because the energy to run both the propulsion and appliances of the Sunreef 80 Eco is renewable during travel. The processes also produce enough energy to power the water toys and the tender. Systems such as air conditioning, water makers and kitchen appliances that require power are designed to be energy-efficient .   The Sunreef 80 Eco is equipped with two electric motors that produce no pollution , fumes or vibrations, regardless of the trip distance. In addition to providing an environmentally guilt-free ride as one of the most energy-efficient luxury yachts on the planet, the boat is completely customizable with endless interior and feature options. Sunreef Yachts takes its commitment to the planet seriously with interior furnishings and hard finishes that meet stringent sustainability standards. The company expects a full release of Sunreef 80 Eco this summer.  + Sunreef Yachts Via Yanko Design Images via Sunreef Yachts

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This luxury yacht runs on 100% renewable energy

Tesla aims to ramp up Solar Roof production in Buffalo next year

November 3, 2017 by  
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Tesla’s Solar Roof could be seen on more homes as the company plans to increase production in 2018. They said in a letter to shareholders they’ll be moving production from their Fremont, California factory to the Gigafactory 2 in Buffalo , New York. According to Inverse , Elon Musk provided for the first time a concrete timeframe for ramping up production, during a recent conference call, to allow for more customer installations. Tesla plans to start manufacturing more Solar Roofs soon. In a Wednesday conference call, chief technology officer JB Straubel said they are “on track to turn on most of the production line in Buffalo by the end of the year.” In the shareholder letter, Musk and chief financial officer Deepak Ahuja said as they move production to Buffalo, energy generation with the Solar Roofs will become a larger part of Tesla’s business in 2018. Related: A Tesla solar roof rotates to naturally cool this desert home in Iran Tesla has deployed less solar capacity in the third quarter than one year ago: 109 megawatts (MW) as opposed to 187 MW. In the letter, Musk and Ahuja said, “The lower developments are in large part a result of deliberately deemphasizing commercial and industrial solar energy projects with low profit and limited cash generation.” As they make the move from Fremont to Buffalo, they said in the letter Solar Roof installations will increase slowly at first, but “as we fine tune and standardize the production and installation process, we expect to ramp Solar Roof production considerably in 2018.” Musk and Ahuja affirmed Musk’s vision for pursuing renewable energy – over ten years ago, Musk said in his first master plan Tesla aimed to provide “ zero emission electric power generation options.” In this recent letter the two executives said sustainable energy – and storing it – are crucial components of the company’s mission “and will drive long-term revenue growth and profits.” Via The Buffalo News and Inverse Images via Tesla

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NexLoop unveils water management system inspired by spiders, fungi, bees and plants

November 3, 2017 by  
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In its quest to sustainably serve the needs of urban farmers , NexLoop  found inspiration for its water management system in the natural world. Seeking to create a system that is self-sufficient and adaptable to local needs, the NexLoop team observed the ability of cribellate orb weaver spiders to craft webs that capture water from fog in the air. The team then incorporated this design into their system, called the AquaWeb, to passively capture water from the atmosphere. The biomimetically-designed AquaWeb incorporates ideas from fungi, bees, and plants to create a naturally-inspired solution to the complex human problem of growing food. For its work, NexLoop was awarded the 2017 Ray of Hope Prize from the Ray C. Anderson Foundation and the Biomimicry Institute. After determining how water capture would work, the team looked at drought-tolerant plants such as the crystalline ice plant to learn how it effectively stores water to survive in dry areas and applied these lessons to the AquaWeb’s storage system. As for distribution of this water, the team studied fungi , which are essential organisms in places like forests where mycorrhizal fungal networks transport water and nutrients to trees that need them. As for a solid structure, the team incorporated the hexagonal shape of honey bee nests. Related: 6 groundbreaking examples of tech innovations inspired by biomimicry The AquaWeb seeks to meet the needs of a global community that is increasingly urban . The global population is expected rise to at least 9 billion by 2050, 70 percent of which will live in cities. This historic shift towards urban living will require adoption of food systems that are locally based, resilient, and efficient in its use of resources. AquaWeb’s passive capture and storage of rainwater is a key feature for stability in a world increasingly plagued by extreme weather. As part of the 2017 Ray of Hope Prize, the NexLoop team received $100,000 to promote and refine its design. The second place prize was awarded to Team Windchill, which designed an electricity-free refrigerator based on animal temperature regulation, while the third place prize went to Team Evolution’s Solutions, which invented a food waste nutrient recycling and supply system aimed to help hydroponic farmers . + Biomimicry Institute Images via NexLoop and Depositphotos

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Richard Branson’s plan to help rebuild the Caribbean with clean energy

November 3, 2017 by  
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Renewable energy could help islands in the Caribbean be more resilient in the face of future hurricanes – and billionaire Richard Branson wants to make that happen. He’s spearheading a plan for recovery centering on renewable energy. Replacing fossil fuel power grids with clean energy sources like solar and wind could also promote economic development. Hurricanes Irma and Maria devastated Caribbean islands. Now, Branson aims to help them rebuild. He has spoken with lenders and foundations about a fund to pay for a Disaster Recovery Marshall Plan, a name that nods to the Marshall Plan to rebuild Western Europe following World War 2. His efforts, which focus on renewable energy, could also include debt relief negotiations in which the International Monetary Fund (IMF) might be involved – Branson met with IMF managing director Christine Lagarde and said she was willing to facilitate meetings between creditors and Caribbean nations. He also said in a blog post he met recently with over 50 representatives from Caribbean governments and utility companies. Related: Puerto Rico electricity crisis sparks interest in renewable energy He told the Thomson Reuters Foundation, “We want to move the Caribbean countries into clean energy and make them more sustainable, which will make dealing with hurricanes much easier. The Caribbean heads of state agree with one voice that this is a good idea.” Branson rode out Hurricane Irma in a cellar on Necker, his private island in the British Virgin Islands. The island’s solar-powered microgrid weathered the storm well, he said, with the solar panels running again just 24 hours after the hurricane. In a blog post, Branson said people interested in helping could donate to the BVI Community Support Appeal , which aims “to raise money for the long term reconstruction” of the British Virgin Islands. Via the Thomson Reuters Foundation and Richard Branson Images via Caribbean Buzz Helicopters/Virgin and Ricardo Rossello on Twitter

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