24-year-old Yemeni engineer invents mini biogas plants for home use

January 17, 2018 by  
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Some villages in war-torn Yemen still don’t have electricity since the recent conflict started nearly two years ago, according to 24-year-old chemical engineering graduate Omer Badokhon speaking to Reuters . So he invented micro-scale biogas devices to transform trash into cleaner fuel , to combat indoor pollution and slash energy poverty. He was recently among the winners of the Young Champions of the Earth prize from United Nations Environment Program (UNEP) and polymer company Covestro , winning $15,000 he plans to use to construct 50 to 80 units. Badokhon could tackle multiple issues Yemen faces with his small biogas devices. The country has faced the biggest cholera epidemic the World Health Organization has recorded, and Badokhon connects cholera with organic waste pollution in the country – which has only worsened during the war. He said in a video organic waste is the primary reason for the cholera, but that garbage could be turned into something useful to help the country with another issue: electricity woes. Related: Off-grid village with game-changing green solutions blooms in the Middle East Badokhon told the Thomson Reuters Foundation, “In some villages, electricity has not been restored since the conflict began in 2015. In Mukalla City where I now live, I remember how desperate I felt trying to complete university assignments by candlelight when power shuts down for four to six hours every day.” More than three million people still cook over open flames in Yemen, according to UNEP , and Badokhon said in another video women and child die each year because of exposure to smoke. His biogas devices will be built locally with fiberglass or plastic . They “enable the rapid decomposition of domestic organic waste, thereby maximizing the amount of biogas produced,” per UNEP. And the remains of the fermentation process are useful too; Badokhon said in a video they can serve as rich liquid fertilizer . During the upcoming eight months, according to Reuters, the devices will be tested in 1,500 rural houses in Sana’a, Ibb, Aden, Hadhramaut, Shabwa, and Taiz. In addition to the Young Champions of the Earth prize money, Badokhon also received $10,000 for research from Yemeni oil company PetroMasila. Via Reuters and the United Nations Environment Program ( 1 , 2 ) Images via the United Nations Environment Program

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24-year-old Yemeni engineer invents mini biogas plants for home use

French company debuts hydrogen-powered bikes

January 17, 2018 by  
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Pragma Industries is now the first company to begin industrial production of hydrogen-powered bicycles for commercial and municipal purposes. Founded in 2004, Pragma has now turned its fuel-cell expertise to the development of hydrogen fuel-cell powered bikes. Based in Biarritz, France , the company has already secured 60 orders for the hydrogen bikes from French municipalities such as Saint Lo, Cherbourg, Chambery and Bayonne. While the bikes are currently too expensive for the commercial market, costs are expected to eventually drop from 7,500 euros to 5,000 euros; charging stations cost about 30,000 euros. While Pragma is not the only company interested in hydrogen-powered bicycles, they have taken production of such vehicles the farthest — so far. “Many others have made hydrogen bike prototypes, but we are the first to move to series production,” Pragma founder and chief executive Pierre Forte told Reuters . Pragma’s Alpha bike is able to travel a distance of 100 kilometers (62 miles) on a two-liter (0.5 gallon) tank of hydrogen . Although the range is similar to that of a typical electric bike , the recharge time is significantly reduced from hours for a traditional e-bike to merely minutes for the Alpha hydrogen-powered bike. Related: Floating solar rig from Columbia University harvests hydrogen fuel from seawater Pragma offers two types of recharging stations: one that uses hydrolysis of water to generate hydrogen fuel on-site, and another, more affordable station that relies on tanks of already prepared hydrogen fuel. Due to the high cost, Pragma is currently marketing its bikes to larger commercial and municipal operations such as bike-rental operators, delivery companies, and municipal or corporate bicycle fleets. After producing 100 such bikes last year, Pragma hopes to sell 150 this year to organizations in places such as Norway , the United States, Spain, Italy and Germany. In addition to developing a bike that is capable of turning water into fuel without the need of a charging station, the company plans to massively expand into the retail market within the next few years. Via Reuters Images via Pragma Industries

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French company debuts hydrogen-powered bikes

China built the ‘World’s biggest air purifier’ – and it seems to be working

January 17, 2018 by  
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What has been called the world’s largest air purifier by its operators is now up and running in the Chinese city of Xian in Shaanxi province. The 100-meter (328 feet) tall tower has already improved the local air quality, lead scientist Cao Junji told the South China Morning Post , adding that it could prove to be a valuable tool in the country’s fight against urban air pollution . “The tower has no peer in terms of size … the results are quite encouraging,” he said. Greenhouses covering the size of half a soccer field surround the base of the tower, into which polluted air is pulled. The smog is heated in the greenhouse by solar energy, then rises through the tower, passing through several layers of cleaning filters. Because Xian largely relies on coal for heating, smog can become exceptionally thick and harmful during the cold months. Despite the lower level of solar energy available during the winter , a special coating on the tower’s greenhouses allows it to absorb what is available more efficiently and continue to pull smog all year long. To determine the tower’s impact on local air quality, Cao and his team erected over a dozen monitoring stations. The team found that the average reduction in PM2.5, the most harmful particles in smog, was 15 percent during times of heavy pollution. Related: China is planting 6.6 million hectares of new forest — almost the size of Ireland Cao stresses that the results are only initial while further details will be released in the spring. A comprehensive scientific assessment of the tower’s effectiveness is also forthcoming. Nonetheless, what is known is promising. While there have been other similar smog-removing towers, many of which were powered by coal-fueled electricity, the Xian tower is unique in its very limited electricity needs. “It barely requires any power input throughout daylight hours. The idea has worked very well in the test run,” said Cao. While locals have marveled at the tower’s size, it is in fact a miniature version of smog-removing towers that Cao and his team hope to install throughout China’s dense, massive cities . The full-size version could reach as high as 500 meters (1,640 feet) while the surrounding greenhouses could cover nearly 30 square kilometers (11.6 square miles). Via South China Morning Post Images via South China Morning Post and Colin Capelle/Flickr

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China built the ‘World’s biggest air purifier’ – and it seems to be working

Over 200 nations commit to ending ocean plastic waste

December 7, 2017 by  
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Over 200 countries signed a United Nations resolution in Nairobi, Kenya to eliminate plastic waste in the world’s oceans. The resolution is an important step forward to establishing a legally binding treaty that would deal with the global oceanic plastic pollution problem. According to the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), there will be more plastic by weight in the world’s oceans than fish by 2050 if current trends continue. The resolution offers hope for the future. “There is very strong language in this resolution,” said Vidar Helgesen, Norway’s environment minister, in an interview with Reuters . “We now have an agreement to explore a legally binding instrument and other measures and that will be done at the international level over the next 18 months.” Although plastic pollution is a global problem, Norway was the country that initiated the UN resolution. “We found micro plastics inside mussels, which is something we like to eat,” said Helgesen. “In January this year, a fairly rare species of whale was stranded on a beach because of exhaustion and they simply had to kill it. In its tummy they found 30 plastic bags.” Even the most remote parts of the globe have not escaped the plastic menace. In the final episode of the acclaimed  Blue Planet II ,  plastic pollution is documented in isolated areas of Antarctica . Related: Scientists discover cheap method to identify “lost” 99% of ocean microplastics China is the world’s largest producer of plastic waste and biggest emitter of greenhouse gases. However, the world’s most populous country has taken the global lead in addressing these environmental crises. “If there is one nation changing at the moment more than anyone else, it’s China … the speed and determination of the government to change is enormous,” said Erik Solheim, head of UNEP, according to Reuters . Meanwhile, the resolution, which was originally intended to have legally binding targets and timetables, was weakened by the United States , after Trump Administration officials rejected the stronger language. Current American intransigence notwithstanding, Solheim envisions a future in which products and manufacturing systems are redesigned to use as little plastic as possible. “Let’s abolish products that we do not need … if you go to tourist places like Bali, a huge amount of the plastic picked from the oceans are actually straws,” said Solheim. Although there is much work to be done before a treaty is signed, several nations are already moving ahead to protect the environment. To mark the signing of the UN resolutions, 39 countries, including Chile, Oman, Sri Lanka and South Africa, adopted new commitments to reduce plastic pollution . Via Reuters Images via Depositphotos and  Trevor Leyenhorst/Flickr

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Over 200 nations commit to ending ocean plastic waste

WBCSD President Peter Bakker on the Global Goals

November 20, 2017 by  
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The best of live interviews from GreenBiz events. This episode: An intimate look at what the United Nations SDGs mean for business.

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WBCSD President Peter Bakker on the Global Goals

23 terms you should know about COP23

November 16, 2017 by  
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It’s an alphabet soup out there at the United Nations climate talks. Here’s how to digest all the acronyms.

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23 terms you should know about COP23

World’s largest solar plant in a refugee camp opens in Jordan

November 14, 2017 by  
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The world’s largest solar plant found in a refugee camp has begun operations at the Za’atari Refugee Camp in north Jordan , near the Syrian border. The project, which cost $17.5 million, was funded by the German government and will provide power for up to 14 hours per day. The newly available solar energy at Za’atari will be used by more than 80,000 residents to charge phones, contact families outside of the camp, and power refrigeration, lights, fans and televisions. With this power comes greater security for the residents of the camp. “That allows the children to continue their studies, and also (for) the safety of women and young girls to go about. Camp life will be made much easier,” said Stefano Severe, United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) representative in Jordan, according to Reuters . The new solar plant , which consists of 40,000 solar panels, will reduce carbon emissions of the camp by 13,000 tons per year and will save $5.5 million annually, which will then be reinvested back into the refugee community. Access to electricity, taken for granted in many countries, has a transformative power in the daily life of residents at a refugee camp. “When we have electricity during the day, our children can stay home, they don’t go out in this weather and play in the dust and mud,” said Anwar Hussein, a Syrian refugee who fled Damascus five years ago and has been living in Za’atari ever since. Related: SOLARKIOSK E-HUBBs put goods, services, and power back into Africa’s hands Although Za’atari may boast the world’s largest solar plant at a refugee camp , it is certainly not a unique feature. Solar energy is increasingly being used to provide power to displaced communities across the globe. For example, in nearby Azraq, an area of Jordan that once hosted magnificent wetlands that have since largely dried up, a 2-megawatt solar plant provides the electricity needs for two villages of 20,000 Syrian refugees. The Azraq plant opened in May as the world’s first solar plant in a refugee camp. Via Thomas Reuters Foundation / UNHCR Images via UNHCR/Yousef Al Hariri

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World’s largest solar plant in a refugee camp opens in Jordan

Almost 200 countries gather at COP23 to accelerate climate action

November 6, 2017 by  
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COP21 ultimately led to the groundbreaking 2015 Paris Agreement . Now, two years later, world leaders are meeting in Bonn, Germany to talk climate action at COP23, and how they can speed up implementation of the landmark deal’s goals without support from the US. Delegates from nearly 200 countries will be present. Fiji prime minister Frank Bainimarama will serve as COP23’s president. It’s not just government leaders who are gathering, but representatives from cities, businesses, and civil society organizations. The BBC reported around 20,000 visitors and delegates will be present. Speakers will include Solar Impulse pioneer Bertrand Piccard , United Nations Special Envoy Michael Bloomberg , and actor Arnold Schwarzenegger , to name a few. Related: Nicaragua joins Paris Accord, leaving the US and Syria as lone dissenters Although President Donald Trump yanked the United States out of the Paris Agreement , the country cannot leave until 2020 so there will be an American team of negotiators present, which the BBC said is comprised largely of career civil servants. But some Trump administration members will reportedly back an event at COP23 promoting fossil fuels and nuclear energy as climate change solutions, which is upsetting some delegates. The BBC said at the event, speakers will focus on how coal and other fuels can help curb the impacts of increasing temperatures . A White House spokesperson said, “It is undeniable that fossil fuels will be used for the foreseeable future, and it is in everyone’s interest that they be efficient and clean.” International Institute for Environment and Development director Andrew Norton said the idea that fossil fuels can help tackle climate change is beyond absurd, saying, “These talks are no place for pushing the fossil fuel agenda. The US needs to come back to the table and help with the rapid cuts in emissions that the situation demands.” American governors, mayors, and business people part of the We Are Still In coalition will attend COP23 to show the world much of the country below the federal government still backs the Paris deal. Via the BBC and United Nations Climate Change Images via COP23Demo on Flickr and Takver ( 1 , 2 ) on Flickr

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Almost 200 countries gather at COP23 to accelerate climate action

Christiana Figueres: ‘Energy for everyone and emissions from no one’

October 26, 2017 by  
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What does the next decade look like for the U.N.’s former executive secretary of the Convention on Climate Change?

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Christiana Figueres: ‘Energy for everyone and emissions from no one’

Akamai’s Texas wind PPA ups the renewable energy ante

October 26, 2017 by  
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The midsize American cloud-delivery platform sets an example for how small electricity buyers can grow the renewables market.

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Akamai’s Texas wind PPA ups the renewable energy ante

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