Dropping costs in renewable tech spurs rapid shift to clean energy

April 7, 2017 by  
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Welcome to the clean energy revolution – with or without Trump. A new report from the United Nations Environment Programme , Bloomberg New Energy Finance (BNEF), and Frankfurt School – UNEP Collaborating Centre for Climate & Sustainable Energy Finance reveals plunging costs in renewable technology have generated a whole new world of power. Unsubsidized renewables in more countries are now the cheapest new form of energy . Renewable energy detractors love to claim it’s too expensive, but that criticism simply doesn’t hold up anymore, according to the new report. Per megawatt, the average dollar capital expenditure fell by more than 10 percent for wind and solar . The report also revealed worldwide solar generation costs fell by an average of 17 percent in one year. Onshore wind dropped by 18 percent, and offshore wind plummeted by 28 percent. Related: Average cost of solar and wind energy could fall by 59% in the next decade BNEF advisory board chairman Michael Liebreich said in the report, “The question always used to be, ‘Will renewables ever be grid competitive?’ Well, after the dramatic cost reductions of the past few years, unsubsidized wind and solar can provide the lowest cost new electrical power in an increasing number of countries, even in the developing world – sometimes by a factor of two. It’s a whole new world…instead of having to subsidize renewables, now authorities may have to subsidize natural gas plants to help them provide grid reliability.” 138.5 gigawatts (GW) of new renewable energy capacity came online in 2016, greater than 2015’s 127.5 GW, but the 2016 GW were built with investment 23 percent lower than 2015. Investors now get more bang for their buck, according to the report’s foreword. “Moving from fossil fuels to renewable sources such as solar and wind is key to achieving social, economic, and environmental development,” according to the report. Renewable energy creates jobs, provides electricity for people who didn’t have it before, and reduces air pollution , all at an increasingly low cost. Via ThinkProgress Images via TAFE SA TONSLEY on Flickr and Wikimedia Commons

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Dropping costs in renewable tech spurs rapid shift to clean energy

Arctic Ocean undergoes ‘massive shift,’ becoming more like Atlantic

April 7, 2017 by  
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Increasing temperatures aren’t the only factor to blame for dramatic Arctic sea ice loss. An international team of 16 scientists led by the International Arctic Research Center in Alaska discovered warm currents from the Atlantic Ocean are snaking up to the Arctic and melting ice from below. They call this phenomenon the Atlantification of the Arctic. Scientists placed sensors in the Arctic seas in 2002, and the information they’ve gathered isn’t good. The Arctic Ocean’s behavior has undergone a massive shift, according to physical oceanographer Finlo Cottier of the Scottish Association for Marine Science, who was not part of the study. Related: Scientists hatch crazy $500 billion plan to refreeze the Arctic Warm Atlantic currents have a lot to do with this change, according to research published online by Science yesterday. The scientists looked at the Eurasian basin, or one of two basins in the Arctic Ocean divided by a ridge far beneath the surface. The Eurasian basin is north of Europe and Asia. Scientists have long known warm Atlantic currents prevent ice formation on the western side of the Eurasian basin north of Scandinavia . But now it seems those currents are working against ice on the eastern side north of Siberia too. Atlantic currents stream into the Arctic at depths of around 656 to 820 feet, with temperatures around four degrees Celsius higher than surface water. When they mix with surface water, which cools and falls in winter, the mixed water is a little warmer overall so the ocean has little sea ice. On the Eurasian basin’s eastern side a barrier known as the cold halocline layer (CHL) used to prevent much of that mixing. But now the eastern side is becoming more like the western side. Summer sea ice once helped form the CHL, but without that ice the ocean mixes more – and then not as much ice forms. Study lead author Igor Polyakov of the University of Alaska in Fairbanks told Science , “Previously this monster, Atlantic warm water, was well covered from the surface” by the CHL. “The new data show this layer has disappeared in winter.” Cottier told Science , “Here we’re seeing an ocean basin changing on a generational timescale – or less.” Via Inverse and Science Images via NASA Goddard Space Flight Center on Flickr and Wikimedia Commons

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Arctic Ocean undergoes ‘massive shift,’ becoming more like Atlantic

Wind energy goes big in Texas

April 4, 2017 by  
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Renewable wind energy is responsible for over 22,000 jobs, $60 million in land lease payments and more than 12 percent of electricity in Texas.

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The trials and triumphs of offshore wind

March 1, 2017 by  
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Offshore wind is making big waves in Europe. Why is the U.S. staying on dry land?

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The trials and triumphs of offshore wind

The corporate case for a healthy workforce

March 1, 2017 by  
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Why employee health and safety is a key component of business sustainability performance.

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The corporate case for a healthy workforce

Wind energy supplied all of Denmark’s power needs one day last week

February 27, 2017 by  
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Renewable energy can generate enough power for entire countries–a fact Denmark can confirm. Last week on Wednesday, the nation met all of its power needs via wind energy , according to information from wind power trade organization WindEurope . The group said the energy Denmark produced from onshore and offshore wind was sufficient to power 10 million European Union (EU) households. Denmark produced 27 GWh via offshore wind and 70 gigawatt-hours (GWh) via onshore wind on February 23, according to WindEurope. This isn’t the first time wind power has achieved renewable energy feats in the country; 2015 saw several big days for wind energy. By the end of that year, 1,271 megawatts (MW) of offshore wind and 3,799 MW of onshore wind was installed in Denmark, amounting to a little over five gigawatts (GW) of wind energy. Related: Germany generated so much renewable energy last weekend electric prices went negative The industry did experience a slight slump in 2016, owing mainly to low winds. Before that year, Danish Wind Industry Association CEO Jan Hylleberg said since 2008 they’d “experienced continuous growth in the wind energy production and each year set a new world record.” Although the industry expected the trend wouldn’t continue in 2016, Hylleberg said the fact they didn’t maintain that upward movement was frustrating, but it appears 2017 is off to a soaring start. MHI Vestas Offshore Wind ‘s new nine MW wind turbine already smashed the record for energy generation in a 24 hour period during testing at a test field off Denmark’s coast. Hylleberg described Denmark as world champions at harnessing wind. But the Nordic country wasn’t the only nation to obtain a large amount of power via wind energy last week. WindEurope also reported Germany and Ireland respectively met 52 and 42 percent of their electricity needs with wind. According to the organization, “Wind power in the EU as a whole covered almost 19 percent of the bloc’s electricity needs.” Via CleanTechnica Images via Wikimedia Commons ( 1 , 2 )

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Wind energy supplied all of Denmark’s power needs one day last week

Green-roofed house for a pilot looks like a temporarily grounded aircraft

February 27, 2017 by  
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This unique home for a young pilot and his family in South Korea looks like an aircraft that has been grounded. Appropriately called the Flying House, it was designed by IROJE KHM Architects , who drew inspiration from traditional Korean architecture to create a delicate balance between sky and land. The architects combined the elements of yard, garden and rumaru, a traditional courtyard with a canopy , to create a space which connects the ground to the roof surface. The resulting sloped roof garden allows the house to coexist with nature, with a flowing design that establishes a strong connection to the ground. Related: IROJE KHM’s green-roofed house in Seoul blooms like a flower A limited budget influenced the choice of materials. By leaving the concrete framework surfaces exposed, the architects managed to utilize the structural material as the finishing material and lower the total construction cost of the building. + IROJE KHM Architects Via Archdaily Photos by Sergio Pirrone

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Green-roofed house for a pilot looks like a temporarily grounded aircraft

California introduces its own 100% renewable energy bill

February 22, 2017 by  
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Massachusetts recently introduced a bill to derive 100 percent of the state’s energy from renewables , and now California is following suit. A new bill introduced by state Senate leader Kevin de León would require the state to obtain 100 percent of its electricity from renewable sources by 2045. Under de León’s bill, SB 584 , California would need to reach 50 percent renewable energy use by 2025, five years earlier than the state’s current target of 2030, and cease using fossil fuels completely by 2045. Related: Massachusetts lawmakers sponsor 100% renewable energy bill In 2016, the state obtained 27 percent of electricity via wind , solar, and other clean sources, and California’s deserts offer potential spaces for more renewable energy plants. The solar industry has created 100,000 jobs in California. Experts say the state could reach the 100 percent goal since costs for solar and wind power are falling – in many areas of the state solar is already the cheapest option, according to The Desert Sun. Some people wondered if de León’s bill as a reaction to Donald Trump’s energy policies. Large-scale Solar Association president Jim Woodruff, who worked with de León on the legislation, told The Desert Sun, “Whether it’s a direct response to what’s happening in Washington, I don’t know, but it’s certainly an indication that California will continue to lead in this area. It’s the sixth-largest economy in the world. I think by putting these goals out, it’s making a pretty powerful statement, not only in the U.S., but globally, that if we set out the goals and put the resources to it, those goals can be achieved.” The Desert Sun said it’s not yet clear if de León will move forward with the bill; as he filed it right before the state’s deadline to file bills on Friday, it could act as a placeholder until legislation more detailed can be written. Massachusetts recently introduced a similar bill , but it’s slightly more ambitious than California’s. Under the 100 Percent Renewable Energy Act , Massachusetts would transition to obtaining all their electricity from renewable energy by 2035, and would grant sectors like heating and transportation a 2050 deadline. The California bill gives its state’s electricity sector an extra ten years to reach that 100 percent target. Via The Desert Sun Images via Pixabay and Wikimedia Commons

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California introduces its own 100% renewable energy bill

New York approves nation’s largest offshore wind farm

January 26, 2017 by  
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It’s official – New York just gave the green light for the nation’s largest offshore wind farm. The new South Fork Wind Farm will generate 90 megawatts of clean, renewable electricity from 15 turbines — enough energy to power more than 50,000 homes. Offshore developer Deepwater Wind, fresh off its successful completion of the Block Island Wind Farm in Rhode Island, won the contract to install the turbines 30 miles southeast of Montauk. The turbines will be connected to a substation in East Hampton by a 50-mile undersea cable. The Long Island Power Authority voted Wednesday to move forward with the state’s first commercial offshore wind development. The project is the second in the US after the 30-megawatt, 5-turbine Block Island Wind Farm – which began operating off the coast of Rhode Island six weeks ago. “New York leads the nation in pioneering clean energy innovation, and this bold action marks the next step in our unprecedented commitment to offshore wind, as well as our ambitious long-term energy goal of supplying half of all electricity from renewable sources by 2030,” New York Governor Andrew Cuomo said in a statement . “This project will not only provide a new, reliable source of clean energy, but will also create high-paying jobs, continue our efforts to combat climate change and help preserve our environment for current and future generations of New Yorkers.” Related: America’s first offshore wind farm is now powering 17,000 homes In his State of the State address in Albany earlier this month, the governor pledged to build 2,400 megawatts of offshore wind power by 2030 – enough to power 1.25 million homes. The $740 million project on the eastern end of Long Island is the first step in developing the 256-square-mile area that could potentially contain as many as 200 wind turbines generating up to 1,000 megawatts of clean, renewable electricity. The New York State Energy Research and Development Authority is working on an Offshore Wind Master Plan to be released this year that will identify additional New York coastal areas where offshore wind can be developed. “Offshore wind needs to be a significant part of the energy mix. It is key to putting the Empire State on a path toward an economy powered entirely by renewable energy,” Heather Leibowitz, director of Environment New York, said in a statement. “The 90-megawatts of energy produced off east Montauk will get us one step closer to this goal.” + South Fork Wind Farm Via Environment New York Images via UK Department of Energy and Climate Change , Vattenfall

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New York approves nation’s largest offshore wind farm

Revolutionary flapping wind turbine mimics hummingbirds to produce clean energy

January 23, 2017 by  
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A new flapping wind turbine from Tunisia marks a revolutionary breakthrough in the field of mechanics. Until recently, scientists have been limited in their ability to apply new understandings of animal and human motion to machines, according to Tyer Wind . In the wind energy sector, this limitation has resulted in fairly simple and relatively inefficient turbines. Using 3D Aouinian kinematics that he pioneered, Anis Aouini is disrupting that space with a unique wind turbine modeled on articulations of the only bird capable of sustained hovering– the hummingbird . https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4r4qnfLns_s Tyer Wind has replicated the mechanism that allows hummingbirds to fly in one place with their flapping wind turbine that moves in a figure 8 configuration. It has two vertical axis wings made from carbon fiber, each 5.25 feet long, that convert kinetic wind energy into emissions-free electricity. Combined, the two wings sweep an area of nearly 12 square feet, with a pre-industrial rated power output of 1kW. Hassine Labaied, partner and co-founder of Tyer Wind, told Inhabitat this is the first time a mechanical device has successfully mimicked the hummingbird’s motion, and that the video above illustrates a pilot machine currently being tested in Tunisia . The group says their initial tests for power efficiency, aerodynamic behavior, and material resistance are encouraging, and they will release the resulting data after a sufficient period of time. (Those interested in more technical details are encouraged to take a look at this PDF .) 3D Aouinian kinematics have applications in other technologies as well, according to Tyer Wind, including external combustion engines, internal combustion engines, pumps, and marine propulsion–among others. The biomimicry revolution may not be televised, but it is definitely underway. + Tyer Wind

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Revolutionary flapping wind turbine mimics hummingbirds to produce clean energy

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