Climate solutions depend on rare earths. Here’s how they can be sourced responsibly

February 21, 2019 by  
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These elements are necessary for solar energy, wind energy and electric vehicles — and so is the way we secure them.

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Climate solutions depend on rare earths. Here’s how they can be sourced responsibly

Spain launches plan for 100% renewable electricity by 2050

November 15, 2018 by  
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Spain’s social democratic government has launched an ambitious plan to change the country’s electricity system by 2050. In an effort to completely decarbonize its economy, Spain will be transferring its entire electricity system to renewable sources over the next 30 years with a goal of slashing greenhouse gas emissions by 90 percent compared to 1990 levels. This plan is part of Spain’s draft climate change and energy transition law, and the government is committing to installing a minimum of 3,000 megawatts of wind and solar power capacity each year for the next 10 years. The European nation is banning new licenses for fossil fuel drills, hydrocarbon exploitation and fracking wells. It is also committing one-fifth of the state budget to measures that will curb climate change. Christiana Figueres, former executive secretary of the UN’s framework convention on climate change (UNFCCC), said the draft law is “an excellent example of the Paris agreement . It sets a long-term goal, provides incentives on scaling up emissions technologies and cares about a good transition for the workforce.” According to The Guardian , there will be “just transition” contracts drawn up that will shut down most Spanish coal mines in return for early retirement packages, training for clean energy jobs and environmental restoration. The government will partly finance these deals via auction returns from the sale of emissions rights. The Spanish government has also scrapped a controversial “sun tax” that stopped the country’s booming renewable energy sector. The new law will also mandate a 35 percent electricity share for green energy by 2030. SolarPower Europe chief executive James Watson said that this law should be “a wake-up call to the rest of the world.” Within 11 years, energy efficiency will improve by 35 percent, and government and public sector authorities will be leasing buildings that nearly reach zero-energy. Spain has its sights on going carbon neutral, and it is leading the charge in the battle against climate change . Via The Guardian Image via Ian Mackenzie

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Spain launches plan for 100% renewable electricity by 2050

The City of London will be powered with 100% renewable energy by October 2018

June 18, 2018 by  
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The City of London, the historic “Square Mile” central district of London , will soon switch to clean energy in a big way. Starting in October 2018, the City of London will source 100 percent of its power needs from renewable energy sources by installing solar panels on local buildings, investing in larger solar and wind projects and purchasing clean energy from the grid. Though no longer a square mile, closer now to 1.12 square miles, the City of London is a major financial center within the city and the world. Its green energy transformation sends a clear message that London intends to take strong action against climate change. In its plans to transform the neighborhood’s energy system, the City of London Corporation will partner with several sites throughout London, such as schools , social housing, markets and 11,000 acres of green space , at which renewable energy capacity will be installed. “Sourcing 100 percent renewable energy will make us cleaner and greener, reducing our grid reliance, and running some of our buildings on zero carbon electricity,” Chairman of the City of London Corporation’s Policy and Resources Committee Catherine McGuinness said in a statement . “We are always looking at the environmental impact of our work and hope that we can be a beacon to other organisations to follow suit.” Related: London considers car-free days to fight air pollution The City of London is among the many municipalities around the world that are stepping up to fulfill the pledges made in the Paris Agreement , even when national governments are not doing enough. “By generating our own electricity and investing in renewables, we are doing our bit to help meet international and national energy targets,” McGuinness said. “This is a big step for the City Corporation and it demonstrates our commitment to making us a more socially and environmentally responsible business.” Via CleanTechnica Images via Depositphotos (1, 2)

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The City of London will be powered with 100% renewable energy by October 2018

Ben & Jerry’s backs onshore wind farms with gusty ice cream names

June 13, 2018 by  
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Cherry Gale-cia, anyone? How about some Strawberry Breeze-cake or Caramel Blew Blew? Ice cream company Ben & Jerry’s  has tweaked the names of some popular flavors with a gusty twist to rally support for onshore wind power in the United Kingdom, The Guardian reported . The company isn’t just changing flavor names, though; it’s also promoting a petition requesting that the government reconsider its opposition to onshore wind. Would you be surprised to hear that the vast majority of Brits support onshore wind? New government figures show 76% of us love it! Find out more & join us by signing the petition! https://t.co/5oANc1YOrL #windpower pic.twitter.com/5UtCUpyEg4 — Ben & Jerry's UK (@benandjerrysUK) June 13, 2018 76 percent of Brits support onshore wind farms , according to the findings of a UK government poll released in April. Despite that, construction on the farms has mostly ceased since the government stopped subsidies and put planning reforms in place. Ben & Jerry’s is supporting 10:10 Climate Action ‘s Blown Away campaign; the group’s petition calls on Minister for Housing, Communities, and Local Government James Brokenshire to remove additional planning requirements introduced in 2015, with the ultimate goal of unlocking onshore wind power in England. Over 26,000 people have signed the petition — you can sign it on 10:10’s website . The #UK needs onshore #windpower ! 25965 people have already signed the petition. Join us! https://t.co/Wf98ZlujDF pic.twitter.com/u1qPWviyhV — Ben & Jerry's UK (@benandjerrysUK) June 9, 2018 Related: Ben & Jerry’s launches vegan ice cream flavors Ben & Jerry’s, owned by Unilever, will sell renamed flavors at half price on what they’re calling windy Wednesdays. UK social mission manager Rebecca Baron told The Guardian, “If we want to move away from polluting fossil fuels and build a future based on clean energy , then wind power is a vital ingredient.” People could save around £1.6 billion, or $2.1 billion, on household power bills between 2019 and 2025 with new onshore wind, according to a report  from renewable energy consultants BVG Associates . This isn’t the first time Ben & Jerry’s has gotten involved in environmental or social issues; they launched a new flavor for climate action in 2015. They describe backing 10:10’s Blown Away campaign as the latest installment in their ongoing climate activism . + 10:10 Blown Away + 10:10 Climate Action Petition Via The Guardian Images courtesy of Ben & Jerry’s

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Ben & Jerry’s backs onshore wind farms with gusty ice cream names

New ‘agrihood’ coming to the Island of Hawaii

June 13, 2018 by  
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In a first for the Big Island of Hawaii, a new sustainable “ agrihood ” known as Kuwili Lani, Hawaiian for “to embrace the heavens,” has received final subdivision approval and properties in this new neighborhood are now available to the public. An agrihood is an organized sustainable community that, rather than being built around a pool or a golf course, is centered on spaces designed for community food production. Backed by Big Island Sustainable Homes, LLP, the Kuwili Lani project is the result of over ten years of research and organizing which are now bearing fruit. Now that the infrastructure in the gated community is complete, lots are available for purchase from mid-$200k to mid-$300k. Located on the Hamakua Coast in Laupahoehoe, Kuwili Lani is designed with sustainability in mind across the board. From the community’s independence from the energy grid, made possible by on-site wind and solar power generation, to each of the eleven one-acre lots being zoned for agricultural use, Kuwili Lani intends to offer its residents a unique, sustainable lifestyle only 25 miles from the nearby city of Hilo. The community’s careful use of natural resources is also reflected in its sustainable rain harvesting for outdoor, agricultural use; the potable county water supply will be piped into the community. Related: Hawaii just set the most ambitious climate goal of any US state: carbon neutral by 2045 Although there may be communal food production plots, individual plot owners are encouraged to grow their own food on their own lots. Neighbors may coordinate to determine what the community needs and then delegate, so that Kuwili Lani may be able to provide its own fruit, vegetables, and even seafood right on site. Overall, the new sustainable community is aimed at those who want to be good stewards of the Earth while also taking charge of their own lives. “Kuwili Lani is based on the principle of being independent and in charge of one’s own destiny,” Michael Whelan, managing partner for Big Island Sustainable Homes, LLP, said in a statement. “We wanted to create a path for people to follow who are aware of the way their lifestyle impacts our environment.” Via Kuwili Lani Images via Hawaii Life Real Estate Brokers

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Germany just approved 1,610 megawatts of offshore wind power

April 30, 2018 by  
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Offshore wind turbines could soon provide more electricity for Germany — to the tune of 1,610 megawatts (MW). The country recently held an auction for companies that want to build offshore wind projects, ultimately granting six construction licenses. According to Reuters , the resulting wind energy parks will be able to produce as much power as a nuclear energy plant or two large gas- or coal-fired stations. Germany’s Federal Network Agency, or Bundesnetzagentur , recently announced the results of the offshore wind energy auction. The average price of winning bids was $46.60 Euros per megawatt-hour, according to Renewables Now , and the winning companies include Baltic Eagle, Iberdrola, Ørsted, KNK Wind, and Innogy. Three projects will be located in the North Sea and three in the Baltic Sea. The winners have the option to construct the offshore wind plants between 2021 and 2025, with rights to onshore connections and 25 years of plant operation. Related: World’s most powerful wind turbine installed off the coast of Scotland Wind energy appears to be soaring in Germany; according to the German Offshore Wind Energy Foundation , a recent study from Germany’s Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy found that 338,600 people were employed in the renewable energy field as of 2016 — a 10,000-employee increase compared to the year before. The wind industry was the driving force behind the rise in numbers; it employed nearly half of the 338,600 renewable energy workers, and 27,200 were employed in the offshore wind power sector. The German Offshore Wind Energy Foundation also cited a Deutsche WindGuard analysis stating that, as of December 31, 2017, “1,169 wind turbines with an installed capacity of 5,387 MW were connected to the grid.” The foundation cited industry representatives as saying, “…offshore wind turbines make an increasing contribution to the security of Germany’s energy supply. They deliver clean power almost around the clock, every day of the year.” Reuters said the next auction round will take place in 2021. Via Reuters , Renewables Now , and the German Offshore Wind Energy Foundation ( 1 , 2 ) Images via Depositphotos ( 1 , 2 )

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General Electric to debut world’s largest wind turbine in UK

April 24, 2018 by  
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General Electric just announced that it will begin testing the world’s largest wind turbine – the Haliade-X – at its facilities in Blyth, England. General Electric’s renewable energy department signed a five-year contract with the British government-funded Offshore Renewable Energy Catapult (OREC) to begin trials of the 12-megawatt turbine. “This is an important agreement because it will enable us to prove Haliade-X in a faster way by putting it under controlled and extreme conditions,” GE Offshore Wind president and CEO John Lavelle said in a statement . The United Kingdom plans to rapidly develop its offshore wind capacity, with an estimated growth to 30 gigawatts by 2030 – five times greater than its current capacity. Speaking to Reuters , British energy and clean growth minister Claire Perry cited the contract between GE and OREC as a shining example of the country’s advanced research and testing facilities. The largest currently operational wind turbine is also in the United Kingdom ; MHI Vestas’ 9 MW turbines generate power in the Vattenfall wind farm off the shore of Aberdeen, Scotland . Related: GE develops hybrid jet engine and battery to supplement California renewables In addition to the formal approval of testing, the agreement includes funding from Innovate UK and the European Regional Development Fund to create the world’s most powerful grid emulation system at OREC’s Blyth headquarters. General Electric ‘s move to develop the largest turbine follows a general trend in the industry, in which producers are aiming to create the biggest turbines to reduce the cost of energy produced and to increase the amount of energy generated at each turbine. With money to be made, the future of wind energy looks to be bigger than ever. Via Reuters Images via GE and Depositphotos

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General Electric to debut world’s largest wind turbine in UK

The future of energy on islands

March 2, 2018 by  
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Islands are places of exceptional biodiversity and economic value, not to mention their great natural beauty. However, because of their isolation from the mainland, they are also difficult to power. This fact is particularly poignant as Puerto Rico , several months after Hurricane Maria, struggles to turn the lights back on. To prepare for a world in which climate change continues to energize super-storms and sea level rise, islands, on which 10 percent of the world’s population lives, must rethink their energy systems for future success. Read on for several solutions that will allow island communities to thrive in the 21st century. Islands currently receive most of their energy from fossil fuels , with some using imported oil, an expensive energy source, to power their electrical grid. With their costs dropping every year, solar and wind could provide cleaner, localized, cheaper energy. Since islands must contend with a limited amount of land, large-scale wind farms may be the preferred utility-scale option. However, neither option will be particularly effective without a battery storage system. To serve this need, Tesla is rolling out battery systems in Puerto Rico , Nantucket and other island communities in hopes that they may someday become ubiquitous. Related: The sinking island nation of Tuvalu is actually growing For islands with the appropriate natural resources, such as Iceland , geothermal power is an attractive energy option. New drilling technologies, such as those developed by  GA Drilling  and  AltaRock Energy , could enable geothermal prospectors to dig deeper and ultimately provide greater energy output. While it has drawn criticism from some environmentalists in the past, nuclear power may also be an effective energy source for island communities. The incredible energy density of nuclear fuel translates into a much more effectively shipped power source than fossil fuels, while the newest Gen IV nuclear reactors are passively safe . Nuclear power plants could even be established on ships, similar to nuclear-powered ships and submarines in the United States Navy, allowing power generation to be moved where it is most needed. Via World Economic Forum Images via Depositphotos   (1)

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Scientist warns Elon Musk’s Starman could be a bio-threat to Mars

March 2, 2018 by  
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Starman, the “driver” of Elon Musk ‘s Tesla Roadster as it cruises through the cosmos, may be carrying the largest collection of terrestrial bacteria ever sent into space. “Even if they radiated the outside, the engine would be dirty,” scientist Jay Melosh said in a  statement . “Cars aren’t assembled clean. And even then, there’s a big difference between clean and sterile.” SpaceX has not yet commented on whether Starman and Musk’s Roadster were sterilized before being sent into space. Starman is not scheduled to land on a planet nor are most bacteria species able to survive in the extreme conditions of space. Nonetheless, life will find a way and, if certain circumstances arise, Starman may be the potential vehicle for bacterial colonization of Mars. When scientists send objects into space, they adhere to the most strict precautions to ensure that no terrestrial organisms could potentially stowaway onto another planet. NASA operates an  Office of Planetary Protection for this very purpose. Scientists are particularly concerned that Earth life could establish a foothold in Mars, then either colonize the planet or be mistaken for Martian life by researchers. “Would Earth’s organisms be better adapted, take over Mars and contaminate it so we don’t know what indigenous Mars was like, or would they be not as well adapted as the Martian organisms?” Melosh said. “We don’t know.” Related: NASA just unveiled a tiny nuclear reactor for future Mars residents While most terrestrial life would perish in the harsh environment of space, species like the tardigrade, which can survive in space and go up to 30 years without food or water . There is a very small chance that Starman and his Roadster will ever arrive on the Martian surface. Therefore, Starman is less an invasive Trojan Horse, more a curator of an interstellar museum of terrestrial life. “The load of bacteria on the Tesla could be considered a biothreat—or a backup copy of life on Earth ,” astronautics scientist Alina Alexeenko said in a statement. If life on Earth ever becomes extinct, there is a chance that Starman, crash-landing back on his home planet, could get the party started again. Via Motherboard Images via SpaceX and NASA

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Dutch utilityplans massive windfarm island

December 29, 2017 by  
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TenneT, the primary Dutch electric utility company, is planning to construct a “windfarm island” in the North Sea. This island would serve as an operational hub for a network of nearby offshore wind farms at a facility that would dwarf any current such centers. The plan, already in its advanced stages, proposes Dogger Bank, 125km (78 miles) off the East Yorkshire coast of England, as a potential location for the wind farm island. Once constructed, the hub would transmit electricity over a long-distance, underwater cable to the United Kingdom and the Netherlands, with eventual connections possible to Belgium, Denmark, and Germany .   As more desirable spots closer to shore are claimed, the maturing wind energy industry is making some bold moves to continue its growth. “It’s crucial for industry to continue with the cost reduction path,” Rob van der Hage, offshore wind grid development program manager at TenneT, told  the Guardian . “It’s logical we are looking at areas further offshore.” Though the windfarm island plan is ambitious, the specific details of running such a facility are still in development and its profitability remains to be seen. “As the industry matures, you’d very much expect them to start thinking outside the box,” energy analyst Peter Atherton told the Guardian . “Whether the economics pan out, whether you really can sell North Sea wind out to the continent, is questionable.” Related: World’s first 3D-printed bridge opens in the Netherlands The windfarm island would act as a hub for nearby wind farms , which would send electricity generated to the island along short-distance, inexpensive cables. Once stored, the electricity will be converted from alternate current to direct current, which is more efficient when sending electric power across long distances, for its journey back to the mainland. This allows greater flexibility in the wind market and ensures that a much higher percentage of wind energy is distributed to where it is needed. The Dutch are not daunted by the challenge of building their own windfarm island. “Is it difficult?,” asked Van der Hage rhetorically. “In the Netherlands, when we see a piece of water we want to build islands or land. We’ve been doing that for centuries. That is not the biggest challenge.” Via the Guardian Images via TenneT and Depositphotos

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