Beam solar-powered off-grid EV chargers deployed worldwide

January 10, 2022 by  
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Off-grid EV charger manufacturer Beam has now installed solar-powered off-grid EV chargers in more than 100 municipalities in the U.S. and around the world in Spain, Brazil, Canada and the Caribbean. It’s big news in an industry that has so far relied on EV chargers that are on-grid and permanently installed. New York City , Beam’s biggest customer, now has around 100 Beam chargers. After years of critique that EV charging infrastructure is too big a project to reach all areas that would need it, Beam has created an off-grid solution that takes EV charging wherever it needs to go. Beam Global CEO Desmond Wheatley told CleanTechnica in May 2021 that his EV charger company had fulfilled an order from the state of California for 52 off-grid solar-powered EV chargers. Each has 44kWh of battery storage capacity and a 4.3 kW solar array. Related: Shine Turbine is a wind-powered portable device charger The secret to Beam’s success is both in quality and in design. Beam off-grid EV chargers don’t need any construction or electrical work to install, so they don’t require permitting. Made in the United States, Beam’s EV chargers are not permanently installed in their location, making them easy to deploy to other locations. Off-grid chargers are also used after natural disasters for power in remote areas. “We also see cities and states that value the transportability of the EV ARC™ system,” Wheatley said, “and that it can be swiftly redeployed depending on how a city needs to use the infrastructure. The City of Oakland , California, for example, redeployed some of their EV ARC™ systems to power COVID-19 emergency sites in April 2020.” Beam EV chargers have been sold to the U.S. Marine Corps and multiple cities. One Beam EV charger can provide 265 miles of driving charge to electric cars in a day. They can charge up to six vehicles at a time, and the solar tracking function allows for 25% more generation than a fixed array. They are completely solar-powered, flood-proof up to 9.5 feet, and wind-rated to 120 mph. They can even be used as generators during grid failures. + Beam Via CleanTechnica Images via Beam

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Beam solar-powered off-grid EV chargers deployed worldwide

Packaging Waste: 2 States Tackle Producer Responsibility

January 10, 2022 by  
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Currently, a manufacturer serving the United States has little incentive to consider what happens to… The post Packaging Waste: 2 States Tackle Producer Responsibility appeared first on Earth911.

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Packaging Waste: 2 States Tackle Producer Responsibility

The smart, simple way ecoducts help animals survive

December 30, 2021 by  
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The Swedish Transport Administration recently announced the completion of an  ecoduct over the E6 in Skåne  in southern Sweden. The animal crossing path is the agency’s third in the country. In January, Sweden announced plans to set up several reindeer crossings to help the animals cross the dense network of roads. These bridges and underpasses, also called ecoducts, are being established globally to help animals thrive in regions with dense road networks. United States President Joe Biden has already allocated $350 million of his $1.2 trillion infrastructure plan to building wildlife crossings.  Related: A radical plan for livestock is coming to The Netherlands  In southern California , plans are underway to begin the construction of the world’s largest wildlife crossing bridge in 2022. The bridge will help isolated mountain lions cross thick road networks in the state. These structures will help reduce the high rate of wildlife collisions across the U.S. It is estimated that  about 1 to 2 million crashes  between cars and large wild animals, such as deer, occur every year. These result in over 26,000 injuries, 200 human deaths, and huge losses in terms of property damage and wildlife deaths. The crashes contribute to a reduction in animal populations, including endangered species. “Ten years ago, wildlife bridges were experimental. We didn’t know whether they would work or not. Now they’ve shown they get huge reductions in collisions. In some cases, 85% to 99% reductions,” said Rob Ament, a road ecology expert at Montana State University. “You can design them for many species. Even out in the plains, we’re getting moose crossings in North Dakota.” Today, wildlife bridges are found nearly everywhere in the world. There are organized animal crossing structures on all continents, and more are coming soon. Notable structures globally include the elephant crossing underpass near Mount Kenya in Kenya and The Alligator Alley in Florida, which helps alligators, deer and the endangered Florida panther cross the roads across the Everglades. Other wildlife crossings include the “tunnel of love” in Australia and India’s tiger corridor. All these ecoduct projects provide safe passage for diverse animal species. In Costa Rica, canopy bridges made of thick ropes help sloths and monkeys cross the roads and avoid attacks from dogs. Via The Guardian Lead image via Pixabay

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The smart, simple way ecoducts help animals survive

Electric bus network expected to be in the US in 2022

December 23, 2021 by  
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Over Thanksgiving weekend, FlixBus USA made transit history by transporting a busload of passengers on the first interstate fully electric bus journey. “The driver said there was just this kind of bit of a glow in the bus,” said Pierre Gourdain, managing director of FlixBus USA . “People were really proud. It’s a historic moment.” Related: 20 new electric vehicles driving onto the scene in 2022 But don’t try to book your electric bus ticket yet. The Seattle to Eugene, Oregon trip last month was part of a pilot program. It’s going to take a lot of money and infrastructure buildout before electric buses are plying the nation’s interstates on long-haul journeys. Gourdain talked to Inhabitat about how we might get there and about FlixBus’ place in U.S. transit. FlixBus 101 FlixMobility, the umbrella group that owns the FlixBus and FlixTrain brands, launched in Germany in 2013. The three founders Jochen Engert, Daniel Krauss and André Schwämmlein aimed to combine e-commerce with technological advances and sustainable transportation. The company quickly took off in Europe , becoming the continent’s largest intercity bus network and now running in more than 30 countries. In 2018, FlixBus USA began to conquer the new world, starting in the southwest. Its patchwork expansion around the U.S. accelerated over the next few years. In October of 2021, FlixMobility showed the depth of its commitment to U.S. bus lines by buying Greyhound. For now, Gourdain says, Greyhound and FlixBus will operate as separate brands. “We have a majority of women riding our buses,” Gourdain said. “And the rest of the industry has a majority of men riding in the buses. Ours probably skews a bit younger. We have a lot of students, but also a lot of young professionals. It’s also a bit more urban and less rural. It’s a bit more point to point.” While Greyhound customers may stagger up to a counter in a bus station and pay in cash, FlixBus riders are buying tickets through their phones. Gourdain emphasized that FlixBus is tapping into a whole new market of Americans who want a long-haul alternative to cars or planes. Partnerships with bus companies Now here comes the confusing part. FlixBus doesn’t actually own all those green buses zooming through the highways. In Europe, hundreds of individual bus companies are driving for FlixBus, from Portugal to Norway. FlixBus USA has about 50 private bus company partners. These are the kinds of businesses you call when you want to charter a bus for your high school football team or your church group. “It works a bit like a franchise ,” Gourdain said. “So basically, a partner will come to FlixBus and say, ‘Hey, I really want to get into this long-distance bus game.’” The bus companies themselves buy the coaches, hire the drivers and operate the routes. FlixBus sells the tickets, plans and markets the routes and builds the brand. In the pacific northwest, MTRWestern operates the routes, and drove the Thanksgiving weekend pilot electric run from Seattle to Eugene. The Seattle -based bus company hopes to be FlixBus’ first partner in developing regular electric bus service. Building an electric bus network So what is it going to take to build out a full electric bus network connecting U.S. cities? Well, first you need the buses. Then you need places to charge them. “Those buses are not for sale yet, so you can’t really put your hands on them,” Gourdain said. “And they’re also super costly.” MTRWestern has applied for a grant with the state of Oregon that will pay part of the cost of new electric coaches as they retire old, polluting diesel buses. Next problem, the approximately 200-mile range. This works okay for transit systems operating within a city, where only one charging station is needed, the buses are always close to their power source and the transit operator buys in bulk. Out on the open roads, it’s another matter. While Gourdain says it’s possible to power a bus from an electric car charger, it’s going to take a while. Driving 200 miles, then taking an eight hour charging break is not going to thrill long-haul travelers . FlixBusUSA is counting on the infrastructure bill passed in November allocating $65 billion to improve the U.S. power grid and $39 billion allocated to public transit systems. Advancing technology should drive charging times down further, battery ranges will increase and more public power stations for large vehicles will become available. The recent pilot run from Seattle to Eugene was possible because of Portland’s Electric Island, a heavy-duty electric truck charging site. Daimler Trucks North America and Portland General Electric opened the eight-vehicle charging station in April. It powers up electric cars, buses and even semi-trucks and is open to the public. Helping its operating partners get electric buses and finding charging stations are two very large challenges. Still, FlixBusUSA intends to have a full-time electric bus route up and running in 2022, probably in Oregon. And if that proves successful, it can spiderweb across the U.S. as buses and charging stations become available. “Today, clean transportation is an elite thing,” Gourdain said. “The entry to ride electric with FlixBus is $19. We are already the cheapest way to travel in the U.S. compared to anything else. There’s nothing cheaper than Flixbus. We want that experience, the cheapest, to also be clean and electric.” + FlixBus Images via FlixBus

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Electric bus network expected to be in the US in 2022

Eco-innovations tackling food waste at every level

December 21, 2021 by  
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At first glance, food waste may not seem like a big issue. You toss a partial head of cabbage and the last few carrots, but you compost them so it just goes back into the natural circle of the ecosystem, right? Not exactly. In fact, food waste is a massive problem. In the United States alone, estimates are that around one-third of all food is tossed. The waste is a problem, considering non-plant-based foods can’t be composted. That means meats, dairy and myriad other products end up in the landfill.  But the end waste doesn’t even represent the real problem of wasted food. Think about the process of getting food to your table. It’s a lengthy and resource-consuming process that starts with massive water requirements for animals and plants. It also introduces fertilizers and other products into the process. Related: Thoughtful Human makes zero-waste cards for every occasion Then the food moves to the manufacturing step, where more resources are used to produce secondary products and packaged goods. Next, we have the impact resulting from transport and storage before we even see the goods at our local market. From there, we have our own carbon footprint of driving to and from the store. So when food is tossed, it carries the weight of its entire life before that time.  As the issue is put into the spotlight, companies from every part of the product cycle are jumping in to provide solutions. While we can be more vigilant at home by making a meal plan, only buying foods we need, making use of scraps and focusing on proper storage so foods last longer, larger organizations with substantial impacts are stepping up to reduce consumption and focus on smarter acquisition of foods. Some practices include better inventory control, upcycling of expired foods and improved food preservation. Fisheries Development and Environmental Conservation (FIDEC) Coming out of Tanzania, this organization has developed a way to reduce food waste and battle malnutrition through a process that dries and grinds sardines into a powder. The idea is already spreading to other countries in Africa to address the ongoing food insecurity issues. Holganix Getting in at the ground level, Holganix is a company on a mission to continually develop natural products to enhance the soil and the resulting crops. It basically helps the plants act more like native plants that require less water, while being more resilient to pests. The company relies on 800 species of bacteria and 20 species of fungi to generate a 100% organic fertilizer.  Apeel Apeel works with conventional and organic suppliers to lengthen the lifespan of products without chemical preservatives. The product is a plant-based film that coats fruits and vegetables in an invisible layer that keeps oxygen out and moisture in. This recipe keeps the produce fresh longer on the truck, in the store and at your home.  Mori Similarly, Mori has developed a silk-based coating with the same effect. In addition to produce, it can be used on meats, produce and seafood to reduce spoilage. The natural ingredients protect as an alternative to fungicides, wax and single-use plastic.  Hazel Rather than coating the food, Hazel is a sachet suppliers drop into boxes of produce . Yet, it has the same preservative effect as Mori and Apeel.  Better Origins Making use of food waste, Better Origins relies on the natural skills of the black soldier fly larvae to convert waste into animal feed. Upcycling Several companies have committed to making use of produce and other goods that would otherwise probably have been thrown out. Cucumbers are turned into pickles , not-so-pretty potatoes can become chips and many fruits can be dried. But food scraps such as apple cores, citrus rinds and vegetable peelings are also being converted into bioplastic for packaging, leather alternatives and woven fabrics. Bakeys This Indian company has developed a system to convert food scraps, mostly grains, into biobased cutlery that provides an alternative to single-use plastic . Bio-bean Coffee grounds are a byproduct that has drawn a lot of attention in recent years. Bio-bean makes use of discarded grounds by converting them into biofuels. The resulting coffee pellets can be used in industrial boilers and significantly reduces the need to harvest virgin wood . It also produces coffee logs that are fuel for wood stoves, pizza ovens and other uses.  Better inventory management Restaurants and grocery stores order food with the best intentions to use it all, but a large portion of food waste is produced at this level. Similarly, large companies purchase more than they need for office kitchens and employee restaurants . ReFED Insights Engine offers a solution with software that provides a cost-benefit analysis for different food-waste reduction options. Canadian-based Provision Coalition and Enviro-Stewards both address the issue as well.  Via Bio Market Insights , Apeel , Mori , Hazel , Better Origin and Food Unfolded Lead image via Unsplash

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Massive electric vehicle charging system coming to L.A.

November 8, 2021 by  
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The Los Angeles Department of Transportation (LADOT) has been awarded a $6 million grant to build one of the largest electric vehicle fleet charging systems in the United States. The system will be fully powered by a solar and storage microgrid. The grant, provided by the California Energy Commission, intends to help the state transition into clean energy transport and move closer to its net-zero targets. Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti said that the project aims to put more electric vehicles on the road to lower emissions. Related: Kalk anti-poaching e-bikes join the battle in the African bush “Los Angeles is on track to achieve a zero-emission future and our investments in clean transportation systems are driving that progress,” said Garcetti. “The more electric vehicles we put on our streets today, the more we can lower emissions to ensure a healthier, more sustainable tomorrow.” LADOT has a plan that will see it transition to a fully electric fleet by 2028. Solar power will help the agency adopt more electric buses to help with the smooth transition into the electric vehicle phase. The system’s microgrid will come fully paired with 104 EV chargers. The agency has settled on Proterra and Apparent to install the EV charging microgrid at the Washington Bus Yard, which will handle EV charging for over 100 buses. “Meeting our climate and sustainability goals requires persistent investment and urgent action,” said Seleta Reynolds, LADOT General Manager. “This grant provides an essential support facility as we move closer to our goal of a fully electric fleet.” To achieve its targets, LADOT will deploy 1.5 megawatts of rooftop and bus canopy. The solar will be supported by 4.5MWh worth of energy storage at the Washington Bus Yard provided by Apparent. The power will be deployed cumulatively to recharge buses at the station, thanks to Proterra’s 1.5-megawatt fleet chargers. With 104 remote EV dispensers, the yard will provide one of the largest electric car charging points in the country. “Transit agencies and fleet operators need resilient, reliable charging solutions to help power the switch to electric fleets. This innovative project is a model for how we can power commercial electric vehicle fleets and support a sustainable, clean transportation future with renewable energy solutions,” said Gareth Joyce, President of Proterra. “We are excited to extend the benefits of our technology to help power Los Angeles’s transition to zero-emission, electric transit buses.” + LADOT Lead image via Pixabay

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How COP fails — by proxy

October 20, 2021 by  
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As COP26 beckons, the United States is being held hostage. Is there hope?

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How COP fails — by proxy

The ‘Big Lag’ Index

October 20, 2021 by  
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How much additional pain or effort it will take to act tomorrow if we procrastinate today?

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The ‘Big Lag’ Index

Top 20 greenest schools in America 2021

October 5, 2021 by  
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Sierra Club is America’s largest grassroots environmental organization with a membership around 3.5 million. It’s mission is to encourage people to enjoy the many benefits of the outdoors, while lobbying for wildlife protection, clean energy, health and safety and environmental preservation. Spotlighting on these issues, the Sierra Club ranked the green aspects of 328 colleges and universities across the United States and Canada. The results of the 15th annual “Coolest Schools” evaluation were recently released by “Sierra,” the organization’s national magazine.  Related: New LEED-targeted student housing supports net-zero goals The rankings are based on a criteria that reflects a commitment to eco-friendly actions and messaging in the curriculum. Each school in the top 20 has taken actions toward addressing climate change through architectural material selection, campus planning initiatives, operational standards and energy efficiency .  The researchers also looked at the courses offered through each institution and placed a value on environmentally-focused curricula, including environmental activism, renewable energy, waste management and protection of nature. The number one spot went to Arizona State University , which has placed in the top five for the past several years. “Sustainability at ASU is an enterprise-wide effort,” said Morgan Olsen, ASU executive vice president, treasurer and chief financial officer. “It’s not just recycling and energy conservation. It’s integrating sustainability in everything we do: academic offerings, the research we conduct, the way we operate campus, student experiences, investments we make with our endowment and even the food we serve.” The campus honors this commitment with 37 percent of all food and drink offerings being plant-based (some sourced from the on-campus educational garden). It also developed a protective habitat for burrowing owls and planted a forest to provide education about how trees capture carbon. Nearly 95 percent of the academic departments offer coursework on the topic of sustainability.  With similar initiatives, campuses across California reflected the environmental protection ideology prevalent throughout the state. Campuses in Irvine, Berkeley, Merced, Santa Barbara and Davis all made the short list. Also representing the west coast is Seattle University, placing 14th.   Schools in the eastern portion of the United States also represented well, placing in nine of the top 20 spots across campuses in New York , Connecticut, New Hampshire, Pennsylvania, Massachusetts, Maine and District of Columbia. Rounding out the top 20 from the center-left of the country is number 10: Colorado State University.  Canada showed a shared passion for environmental protections and the responsibility to educate students about eco-issues with Thompson Rivers. In British Columbia, it took the number three spot. Université de Sherbrooke (#11) and Université Laval (#13), both in Quebec, also made the list. Katie O’Reilly, Sierra’s lifestyle and adventure editor summarizes how the landscape of conscientious environmentalism has expanded in recent decades. “In the past 15 years, Cool Schools has evolved dramatically—we used to hear about light-green initiatives like double-sided printing and Earth Day parties,” she said. “Today, schools have dedicated sustainability professionals who innovate pathways toward audacious zero-carbon and zero-waste and circular goals. This year, I was particularly impressed by how campus sustainability offices used pandemic downtime to examine what it means to ‘come back’ and how sustainability and equity could be further integrated into every aspect of campus life and operations. They exhibited a real ‘let no crisis go to waste’ ethos.” Sierra’s top 20 green schools of 2021 are: Arizona State University (Tempe, Arizona)  University of California, Irvine (Irvine, California)  Thompson Rivers University (Kamloops, British Columbia) Cornell University (Ithaca, New York) State University of New York, College of Environmental Science and Forestry (Syracuse, New York) University of California, Berkeley (Berkeley, California) University of California, Merced (Merced, California)  University of Connecticut (Storrs, Connecticut) University of New Hampshire (Durham, New Hampshire) Colorado State University (Fort Collins, Colorado) Université de Sherbrooke (Sherbrooke, Québec) Colby College (Waterville, Maine) Université Laval (Québec City, Québec) Seattle University (Seattle, Washington)  Chatham University (Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania) University of California, Santa Barbara (Santa Barbara, California)  Dickinson College (Carlisle, Pennsylvania) University of Massachusetts Amherst (Amherst, Massachusetts) American University (Washington, District of Columbia) University of California, Davis (Davis, California)  The Sierra Club recognizes it’s nothing new for youth to be passionate about the environment and sees the opportunity to support efforts to take action. Coupled with the support of college and university campuses, students have the opportunity to initiate lasting change. In addition to offering educational resources to students on topics related to the environment, these green schools set an example through campus policies aimed at green construction, recycling efforts, water savings, passive design elements and the use of solar power.  “Youth and students have always been at the forefront of movements for change, from the civil rights movements of the 60s and 70s to the youth-led climate strikes of today,” said Eddie Junsay, Youth Leadership Director of the Sierra Club. “School campuses play an important role providing the environment for students to collectively develop their political analysis and learn how to advocate for the world they want to see. This issue is a chance for schools to heed the calls of their students, to be leaders for climate and social justice.” The full ranking of 328 colleges and universities is online . Via Sierra Club Images via Sierra Club

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Top 20 greenest schools in America 2021

Severe droughts cause 14% drop in US hydropower generation

September 24, 2021 by  
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In 2021, electricity production by hydropower plants across the U.S. will reduce by 14% compared to 2020 levels. This is due to the extreme drought conditions affecting western states. The U.S. Energy Information Administration stated in its latest Short-Term Energy Outlook (STEO) that the drought will significantly affect water levels, causing some rivers to dry. States such as California and those in the Pacific Northwest, which are major contributors to U.S. hydroelectric power, have faced “extreme and exceptional” drought conditions in 2021. The Columbia River, the country’s fourth-largest river by volume, contributes immensely to hydropower generation. Its watershed runs through four states, including Washington , Idaho, Montana and Oregon. In 2020, the hydropower generated in these states was 136 billion kWh, accounting for 54% of all hydropower generated in the U.S. Related: Hydropower demand is damaging Indigenous lands The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s National Water and Climate Center (NWCC) has provided data showing that reservoir storages in Washington and Montana are at or above average. Even so, reservoir storage in Oregon measured just 17%. Historically, reservoir capacity in the state averages 47%. Another drought -affected state, Idaho, reported a reservoir capacity of 34%, compared to its historical average of 51%. The low water levels in reservoirs threaten power generation. And the situation may get worse as droughts continue. After record-breaking heatwaves hit major areas of the Columbia River Basin, officials issued drought warnings in several counties across Washington, Oregon and Idaho. The critical role played by these states in hydropower generation has been under continuous threat in the past decade. While California alone accounts for about 13% of the U.S. hydroelectric power generation, plants in California only contributed 7% in 2020. With the state experiencing widespread drought, it is expected that the power generated this year will be even lower than last year. In August, the second-largest reservoir in California at Lake Oroville hit an all-time low of 35% capacity, forcing a temporary closure of the Edward Hyatt Power Plant. This was the first time the plant went offline since 1967. This year, the state’s power generation has fallen on the lower end of its 10-year range. Via Renewable Energy World Lead image via Pixabay

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Severe droughts cause 14% drop in US hydropower generation

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