Tesla’s Powerwall faces stiff competition from several other storage products

March 5, 2018 by  
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While Tesla ‘s Powerwall may be the most well-known example of residential solar energy storage systems, it is not the only one and is facing increased competition. Nearly all major residential solar companies are now developing a similar household energy storage system, either independently or in collaboration with another company. Among those companies, SunRun, Vivint Solar and SunPower seem to be the most viable competitors to Tesla’s residential solar operations. The increased competition is good news for consumers as well as the renewable energy sector generally, indicating that the industry is maturing and spreading. SunRun now maintains the largest market share in the American residential solar industry , in part thanks to its ability to work with internal and external installation partners. This means that SunRun is able to more quickly scale up its distribution. The company’s Brightbox system incorporates LG Chem batteries into a control system (designed by SunRun) and is currently available in Arizona, California, Hawaii, New York, and Massachusetts , with more states coming online in 2018. Related: Nova Scotia Power pioneers new energy storage system using Tesla Powerpacks Vivint Solar is collaborating with Mercedes-Benz to develop a 2.5 kW-hr energy storage system that can be expanded up to a 20 kW-hr system for household needs. Mercedes-Benz already has energy storage products available in the more developed European market, which puts it in a good place as the American market grows. Last but not least, SunPower will launch its home energy storage system under its Equinox product line in 2018. Because they are geared towards high-end customers, those with the most funds to invest in new technology, it may see more rapid growth than its competitors. Regardless of the commercial success of any individual company, the flurry of activity in the American residential energy storage is a welcome sign as the United States, like the rest of the world, must move forward towards a clean energy economy. Via The Motley Fool Images via SunRun and SunPower

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Tesla’s Powerwall faces stiff competition from several other storage products

‘Floating’ ski chalet clad in charred wood overlooks China’s Songhua Lake

March 5, 2018 by  
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Beijing-based firm META-Project just unveiled a triangular cabin overlooking Songhua Lake in China’s northeastern Ji Lin province. Located at the top of a steep ski slope, the Stage of Forest lookout – which is clad in Shou-Sugi-Ban wood – peers out over the amazing landscape, and provides a respite for skiers who need a break before swishing down the mountain. The building is located on the edge of a forested hillside overlooking the Songhua Lake Resort – a popular winter destination. Jutting out over the landscape, the wood and concrete structure is a solemn presence against the snow-covered mountains in wintertime and it’s camouflaged by lush vegetation in the summer months. In addition to providing a place to rest on the slopes, the building will also be used year-round for exhibitions, conferences, workshops, and public and private events. Related: ‘Top of Tyrol’ Lookout Platform Offers a Bird’s-Eye View of Austria’s Stubai Glacier The building’s “floating” design minimizes its footprint as much as possible. The compact concrete base occupies minimal square footage, while the larger volume provides a spacious interior to enjoy the stunning views. The building consists of a concrete shell topped with charred cedar shingles, which emit a silvery tone under the sunlight. From the first floor, visitors can climb to an open-air viewing platform clad in untreated red cedar . Oval windows in the ceiling and the floor allow optimal sunlight to enter the structure, while providing a playful peak at what’s “underneath the stage,” as described by the architects. + META-Project Via Archinect Photography by Su Shengliang

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‘Floating’ ski chalet clad in charred wood overlooks China’s Songhua Lake

LEGO is rolling out their first plant-based plastic pieces

March 5, 2018 by  
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Plants from plants: that’s LEGO’s description for their first sustainable bricks . They’ll be rolling out botanical elements like trees, leaves, and bushes manufactured with plant-based plastic sourced from sugarcane this year. The move is part of their goal to utilize only sustainable materials in their packaging and core products by 2030. LEGO is utilizing plastic polyethylene based on sugarcane material: specifically, ethanol . LEGO Group Environmental Responsibility vice president Tim Brooks said plant-based polyethylene possesses the same properties as regular polyethylene, so kids and parents probably won’t notice a difference in the look and quality of the new bricks. Related: Build your own BIG-designed LEGO House with LEGO Architecture’s newest kit What does the term ‘sustainable material’ mean to LEGO? According to the company, “The LEGO Group believes a new sustainable material must have an ever-lighter footprint than the material it replaces across key environmental and social impact areas such as fossil resource use, human rights , and climate change .” The sugarcane is sustainably sourced, according to the company, “in accordance with guidance from the Bioplastic Feedstock Alliance ,” which is a World Wildlife Fund (WWF) initiative. It’s also “certified by the Bonsucro Chain of Custody Standard .” LEGO partnered with WWF “to support and build demand for sustainably sourced plastic” and joined the Bioplastic Feedstock Alliance. Give your biggest "green" to the very FIRST #sustainable LEGO Bricks! LEGO botanical elements including leaves and trees will now be made from sugarcane-based plastic.The first “greens” are to appear in LEGO sets later this year. Sweeet? #PlantsfromPlants https://t.co/rZKijykjYO pic.twitter.com/yraEOLq5NM — LEGO (@LEGO_Group) March 1, 2018 LEGO’s press release did not include information on recycling the sustainable bricks; but The Guardian said the bioplastic could be recycled several times, although it’s probably not 100 percent biodegradable . As of now, polyethylene elements comprise one to two percent of all the plastic elements produced by the company. The sustainable trees, bushes and leaf pieces will be comprised entirely of plant-based plastic, and they will pop up in LEGO boxes in 2018. Brooks said, “This is a great first step in our ambitious commitment of making all LEGO bricks using sustainable materials.” + LEGO Images courtesy of LEGO

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LEGO is rolling out their first plant-based plastic pieces

Elon Musk wins $50 million bet by installing world’s largest lithium-ion battery in under 100 days

November 24, 2017 by  
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Elon Musk has done it again. In March, the inventor and mastermind behind Tesla , SpaceX and other world-changing ventures made a bet on Twitter with Atlassian’s Mike Cannon-Brookes that he could help solve South Australia’s vexing blackouts with a massive Powerpack within 100 days — or provide the $50 million service for free. And he has now officially won. Not only will Tesla receive payment for the 100 megawatt energy storage project , but residents no longer have to sit in the dark during periods of high energy demand. The largest lithium-ion battery in the world, according to Business Insider , Tesla’s 100 megawatt Powerpack supports Neoen’s Hornsdale wind farm nearly 150 miles north of Adelaide, the capital of Australia. State premier Jay Weatherill announced on Thursday that testing would begin within days, ahead of the 1 December deadline. Although Musk signed off on the South Australia project in September, the government officially awarded his company the contract in July. Business Insider reports that the massive battery is capable of providing power for 8,000 homes for a 24-hour period, or 30,000 homes for an hour during a blackout. Related: Elon Musk says he’ll fix South Australia’s energy woes in 100 days — or it’s free Last September, all of South Australia lost power when a storm damaged the state’s electricity transmission infrastructure . In response, the government announced a $550 million plan to buttress against future blackouts, which includes the Powerpack and a 250 megawatt gas-fired generator expected to cost $360 million. Weatherill says testing will ensure the plant meets all regulatory requirements, and praised all parties involved with its rapid execution. “It sends the clearest message that South Australia will be a leader in renewable energy with battery storage,” he said. “An enormous amount of work has gone into delivering this project in such a short time, and I look forward to visiting Jamestown next week to personally thank those who have worked on this project.” Via Business Insider Images via Tesla

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Elon Musk wins $50 million bet by installing world’s largest lithium-ion battery in under 100 days

The Monade Capsule is a private hideaway that hangs from city rooftops

November 24, 2017 by  
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Have you ever wished for a hidden oasis where you can go to relax? Design Academy Eindhoven graduate Alice Bleton has created an amazing rooftop hideaway that provides stressed city dwellers with the ultimate place to disconnect. The Monade Capsule is built with an L-shaped cut-out that allows the pod to hang on the edge of any building. Bleton’s Monade Capsule is made from 21 pieces of fiberglass with transparent sections that provide clear views and let natural light into the interior. The load-bearing base anchors it tightly to the rooftop and facade. Whether hanging off a skyscraper or a rugged mountain cliff, the off-grid capsule can support up to five people inside. Related: London Eye capsule transformed into rainforest-inspired tiny home The capsule’s design was inspired by shelters that can withstand extreme conditions – like emergency bunkers, submarines, and mountain huts , “At the top of the mountain, and in the hardest reachable places, people created cabins and refuges to spend the night. These temporary shelters offer minimal comfort to the hikers. It’s a shared space where people gather to protect themselves from the outside climate.” + Alice Bleton Via Dezeen Images via Alice Bleton

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The Monade Capsule is a private hideaway that hangs from city rooftops

Revolving solar-powered home for veterans wins California’s first tiny house competition

November 9, 2016 by  
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Powered by eight 330 Watt Sunmodule solar panels , the self-sufficient tiny home stores its energy in saltwater batteries that are the first to be Cradle-to-Cradle certified, and the Colossus solar tracking mechanism increases its absorption efficiency by 30 percent. In addition to being completely off-grid, the tiny home on wheels is also beautifully designed for surprising comfort. A transforming Murphy bed in the bedroom maximizes space during daylight hours, the full-sized kitchen has a seating area and fold-out table for the same reason, and the wet bathroom uses a dry-flush toilet to eliminate black water. Related: KODA is a tiny solar-powered house that can move with its owners rEvolve House is not only about as green as they come, with small planters on the facade and a spiral staircase leading to a rooftop terrace, but also boasts deep humanitarian intentions . “The tiny house provides the first step in the journey of empowering veterans to evolve their independence and is a safe haven for them to acclimate and begin training their dogs prior to returning to their respective homes,” the students write in their design brief. “The Tiny House Competition – Build Small and Win Big” is a new competition in the Sacramento region, challenging collegiate teams to design and build net-zero, tiny solar houses, writes the organizer, Sacramento Municipal Utilities District (SMUD). “The event, held Saturday, October 15 at Consumnes River College, was open to all colleges and universities in California. Participation promoted an interest in energy conservation, energy efficiency and green building and solar technologies.” + rEvolve House Images via Joanne H. Lee/Santa Clara University

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Revolving solar-powered home for veterans wins California’s first tiny house competition

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