BBC – Future – How brain biases prevent climate action

Cognitive biases that ensured our initial survival now make it difficult to address long-term challenges that threaten our existence, like climate change. But they can help us too.

We know that climate change is happening. We also know that it’s the result of increased carbon emissions from human activities like land degradation and the burning of fossil fuels. And we know that it’s urgent.

Source: BBC – Future – How brain biases prevent climate action

Vast subsidies keeping the fossil fuel industry afloat should be put to better use

Capitalism has often been identified as the underlying cause of the climate crisis. A leading voice on the subject is Naomi Klein, one of the climate movements most influential thinkers, whose seminal book on climate change was subtitled Capitalism vs. the Climate. She is one of many voices identifying capitalism as the cause of climate change.

Often central within the capitalism versus the climate framing is the idea that the heart of capitalist ideology—free market fundamentalism—has fueled the climate crisis. But this line of argument often glosses over the fact that energy markets are not free from government intervention. In fact, the fossil fuel industry is deeply and increasingly reliant on government support to survive.

Source: Vast subsidies keeping the fossil fuel industry afloat should be put to better use

Compare EVs: Guide To Range, Specs, Pricing & More

Compare EVs: Guide To Range, Specs, Pricing & More

Understanding all the choices when it comes to plug-in electric vehicles can be a daunting task. Luckily, we’ve done a lot of the lifting work for you.

More Details – Over 50 Plug-In EVs Compared: Price, Range + More

Which EV costs the least?  Which one goes the furthest? How much federal tax incentive will that vehicle quality for?  How quick is it?  The list of possible criteria goes on and on. Here are some handy specs, all laid out side-by-side, to make comparing EVs much easier for you:

See Our Plug-In Electric Car Sales Scorecard Here

Source: InsideEVs

New Solar + Battery Price Crushes Fossil Fuels, Buries Nuclear

Los Angeles Power and Water officials have struck a deal on the largest and cheapest solar + battery-storage project in the world, at prices that leave fossil fuels in the dust and may relegate nuclear power to the dustbin.

Later this month the LA Board of Water and Power Commissioners is expected to approve a 25-year contract that will serve 7 percent of the city’s electricity demand at 1.997¢/kwh for solar energy and 1.3¢ for power from batteries.

“This is the lowest solar-photovoltaic price in the United States,” said James Barner, the agency’s manager for strategic initiatives, “and it is the largest and lowest-cost solar and high-capacity battery-storage project in the U.S. and we believe in the world today. So this is, I believe, truly revolutionary in the industry.”

Source: New Solar + Battery Price Crushes Fossil Fuels, Buries Nuclear

Just 100 companies responsible for 71% of global emissions, study says

Just 100 companies have been the source of more than 70% of the world’s greenhouse gas emissions since 1988, according to a new report.

The Carbon Majors Report (pdf) “pinpoints how a relatively small set of fossil fuel producers may hold the key to systemic change on carbon emissions,” says Pedro Faria, technical director at environmental non-profit CDP, which published the report in collaboration with the Climate Accountability Institute.

The report found that more than half of global industrial emissions since 1988 – the year the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change was established – can be traced to just 25 corporate and state-owned entities. The scale of historical emissions associated with these fossil fuel producers is large enough to have contributed significantly to climate change, according to the report.

ExxonMobil, Shell, BP and Chevron are identified as among the highest emitting investor-owned companies since 1988. If fossil fuels continue to be extracted at the same rate over the next 28 years as they were between 1988 and 2017, says the report, global average temperatures would be on course to rise by 4C by the end of the century. This is likely to have catastrophic consequences including substantial species extinction and global food scarcity risks.

Source: Just 100 companies responsible for 71% of global emissions, study says | Guardian Sustainable Business | The Guardian

What’s Worrying the Plastics Industry? Your Reaction to All That Waste, for One

HOUSTON — One by one, they stepped to a clear plastic lectern at the Global Plastics Summit here and talked about what their companies were doing in response to the world’s crisis in plastics waste.

Representing businesses all along the supply and packaging chain, the speakers suggested solutions ranging from new technology that would take plastic back to its molecular building blocks for repeated recycling to redesigning plastic bottles with caps that stay connected to the bottle.

But none of that is happening fast enough to keep pace with the global production of plastics, an analyst from IHS Markit told some 270 people attending the 2019 Global Plastics Summit.

Source: What’s Worrying the Plastics Industry? Your Reaction to All That Waste, for One | InsideClimate News

Energy storage hits the fast track, doubling year-over-year installations

Fueled by increased interest in grid service applications like time-of-use (TOU) shifting, self-consumption and backup power, the U.S. market for energy storage doubled in 2018 and is expected to double again by the end of the year. Of the 777 MWh of energy storage deployed in the United States in 2018 (which was an 80% growth over 2017 installs), 47% came from front-of-the-meter (FTM) projects, or those built and operated by utilities. Behind-the-meter (BTM) storage systems, including residential, accounte

Source: Energy storage hits the fast track, doubling year-over-year installations

Climate Change Poses Major Risks to Financial Markets, Regulator Warns

WASHINGTON — A top financial regulator is opening a public effort to highlight the risk that climate change poses to the nation’s financial markets, setting up a clash with a president who has mocked global warming and whose administration has sought to suppress climate science.

Rostin Behnam, who sits on the federal government’s five-member Commodity Futures Trading Commission, a powerful agency overseeing major financial markets including grain futures, oil trading and complex derivatives, said in an interview on Monday that the financial risks from climate change were comparable to those posed by the mortgage meltdown that triggered the 2008 financial crisis.

“If climate change causes more volatile frequent and extreme weather events, you’re going to have a scenario where these large providers of financial products — mortgages, home insurance, pensions — cannot shift risk away from their portfolios,” he said. “It’s abundantly clear that climate change poses financial risk to the stability of the financial system.”

Mr. Behnam was appointed by President Trump to a seat on the commission that, by law, must be filled by a Democrat. He said that unusual status gave him a measure of political protection that other appointees within the administration might not benefit from.

Source: Climate Change Poses Major Risks to Financial Markets, Regulator Warns – The New York Times

Where Batteries are Replacing Power Plants

A curious thing recently happened in Southern California. One of the largest utilities in the country scrapped a proposal to build a new peaker plant, opting instead to build a battery system that could store excess electricity from solar and wind when conditions are good and cleanly dispatch it when needed.

Batteries paired with wind and solar may not yet be competitive with the biggest natural gas plants in all markets, but they’re replacing one crucial sector of the gas market.

Source: Why California Nixed a Natural Gas Power Plant in Favor of Batteries | National News | US News

 

Just Add Water: New Salt Battery Could Help Spell the End of Fossil Fuels

Could CPS Energy be doing this type of research?

This groundbreaking new project in Germany is testing the use of salt as an ingredient for a fossil fuel-free future.

The Reuter power plant in Berlin recently launched a new system of technology that is using calcium oxide, also known as quicklime, to store heat for long periods of time.

Germany already has the renewable energy capacity to power more than half of the country, but since many green energy sources are dependent on consistent weather conditions, the nation is forced to continue using fossil fuels as backup energy sources.

Quicklime, on the other hand, generates large amounts of heat when it is simply exposed to water.

The salt technology, which was developed by Swedish startup SaltX, works similarly to a battery except that it stores heat instead of electricity. Since more than half of Germany’s energy consumption is used on heating, the salt can be used to generate, store, and convert heat whenever the nation’s renewable energy sources fall short of the grid’s demands.

The technology is also far more efficient at storing heat compared to water storage systems that are notorious for gradually losing their heat over time.

source https://www.goodnewsnetwork.org/new-salt-battery-could-spell-end-of-german-fossil-fuels/

These Shipping Container Pools Are Cheaper Than Your Average In-Ground Pool

Thanks to the Canadian company Modpools, your dream of having an expansive pool—or hot tub—might be more affordable and eco-friendly than you’d otherwise assume. They are turning shipping containers into swimming havens, and we’re all about it.

Traditional in-ground pools are notoriously a headache to install: the digging, the molding, the waiting. None of that is a factor with Modpools. According to the company’s website, you can be swimming the same day your pool is delivered. Prices range from $16,500 to $39,900, depending on the size (HomeAdvisor notes that an average in-ground pool can cost from $35,883 to $62,882)

Book-Sized Solar Panels Could Power a Whole Home in New Breakthrough

Scientists have developed a pioneering new technique that could generate enough electricity to power an entire home – all by using solar panels that are much smaller than current models.

A team of experts from the University of Exeter has discovered an innovative way for generating photovoltaic (PV) energy – or ways in which to convert light into power. The new technique relies on ‘funneling’ the sun’s energy more efficiently directly into power cells, such as solar panels or batteries.

In the research, the team of physics experts developed a process to ‘funnel’ electrical charge onto a chip. Using the atomically thin semiconductor hafnium disulphide (HfS2), which is oxidized with a high-intensity UV laser, the team was able to engineer an electrical field that funnels electrical charges to a specific area of the chip, where they can be more easily extracted.

While current solar cells are able to convert around 20% of the energy received from the sun, the new technique has the potential to convert around 60% of it by funneling the energy more efficiently.

https://www.goodnewsnetwork.org/book-sized-solar-panels-could-power-a-whole-home-in-new-breakthrough/

The Plan to Grab the World’s Carbon With Supercharged Plants

In humanity’s battle against man-made climate change, the Earth itself provides one of the most important weapons, a natural system that breathes in Earth-warming CO2 and exhales oxygen.

Yes, I’m talking about plants, engineered by nature itself over the course of millennia to harness the Earth’s natural conditions to turn sunlight and CO2 into oxygen and organic matter. Plants are the key to many climate-change-fighting tactics. Want to cut down on the methane gas that’s contributing to global warming? Eat more plants (and fewer farting cows). Want to offset some of the carbon emissions from your airline or consumer retail company? Buy a forest of oxygen-emitting trees. Want to create a natural fuel that won’t puff black clouds full of CO2 into the air? Consider vegetable oil (or photosynthesizing algae, which isn’t a plant but has a lot in common with them).

Plant biologist Joanne Chory thinks plants can do more. She has studied the genetics of plants at the Salk Institute in San Diego for more than 30 years, and she and the rest of the five-person Harnessing Plants Initiative team are convinced that photosynthesis itself can be exploited to create a biological solution to carbon capture.

Source: The Plan to Grab the World’s Carbon With Supercharged Plants | WIRED

Plastic Packaging Alternatives

Tired of plastic pollution? There are many alternatives. Why should we and brands care about plastic pollution?

Plastics is one of the biggest challenges the world is facing right now. Thanks to David Attenborough’s Blue Planet, consumers are suddenly aware of the thousands of tonnes of plastic filling the ocean.

As plastic is so prolifically used, especially in packaging, brands are going to need to act quick to find plastic alternatives. In fact, 25% of consumers are extremely concerned about plastic packaging, 42% think manufacturers should prioritize making packaging recyclable and 21% think the industry should work toward entirely plastic-free packaging (Kantar). This number is only going to grow as plastic continues to get covered daily in the press. Brands will need to be seen to be taking a responsible approach, otherwise they will risk damaging their hard-earned equity.

With so many plastic alternatives being developed, we’ve rounded up some of the most exciting innovations in plastic replacement. The following are some good sources to learn about many of the available alternatives to plastic.

And think about all the good paying green jobs this new industry has to offer in our communities.

That said, keep in mind not all that’s claimed to be green is golden. So take a closer look to distinguish between the green sheen of greenwashing from the real thing: 

Source: 13 Plastic Packaging Alternatives – Innovation Excellence

Power-Hungry Texas Oil Drillers Get a Little Help From Solar

Texas, home to the world’s largest oil reserve and America’s biggest source of coal-fired power, is on the verge of a clean-energy boom.

Wind already supplies about 15 percent of Texas’s electricity, and now developers are about to quadruple the state’s solar capacity, adding enough panels by 2022 to light up all of Dallas. But they won’t just power homes. Solar developers are responding to demand from oil and gas drillers, whose booming operations are gobbling up electricity and pushing prices spiking above $1,000 a megawatt-hour.

The fact that Texas is turning to solar for help when it’s home to some of the cheapest energy resources in the world is the best evidence yet that the technology can compete head on with fossil fuels. Solar is getting built based purely on economics in the state, which isn’t offering the types of incentives that have spurred clean-energy booms elsewhere.

“People are trying to get in as much solar in Texas as they can,” Mike Garland, chief executive officer of San Francisco-based clean energy developer Pattern Energy Group Inc., said in an interview.

Building a solar farm in Texas currently costs about $32 per megawatt-hour, spread over the lifetime of the plant, according to BloombergNEF. Compare that to $38 for a high-efficiency gas plant. Plus, solar farms can be built in six months, while gas plants can take years. That’s crucial for Texas, which needs more power plants as soon as developers can put them up.

Source: Power-Hungry Texas Oil Drillers Get a Little Help From Solar – Bloomberg

“Prescribing” healthy foods would save $100 billion in medical costs

Perhaps it’s time for doctors to start prescribing more produce than pills. That’s, at least, what researchers argue in a new study that finds “prescriptions” for healthy foods could save more than $100 billion in healthcare costs.

Researchers at Tufts University made the case that subsidized fruits and vegetables could prevent millions of cases of chronic diseases. Roughly 70% of diseases in the U.S. are chronic and lifestyle-driven, according to the CDC, and nearly half of the population has one or more chronic health conditions, such as diabetes, asthma, heart disease, obesity, or cancer.

Source: “Prescribing” healthy foods would save $100 billion in medical costs

The military is cutting its dangerous dependence on diesel – with solar power and microgrids

The US Army is not particularly shy about adopting the latest high-tech gadgets, and renewable energy is a case in point. Despite all the fossil friendly rhetoric emanating from the White House, the Army is still pursuing microgrids with renewable solar energy to improve operations and cut costs at its domestic bases here in the US and at forward operating bases overseas, too.

That’s improving operations as compared to relying on diesel generators for back-up power and transportable power generation, by the way.

The latest development in the forward operating base category is a new contract with the microgrid company Go Electric, to develop a “portable, modular, self-forming microgrid solution” that can withstand whatever punishment the US Africa Command can dish out while maximizing fuel efficiently and improving reliability over diesel generators. Sounds like magic, right?

The Return Of The SPIDERS Microgrid

Well, it’s not magic. Just a lot of elbow grease and years of R&D.

If the name Go Electric rings any bells, you may be thinking of the company’s role in the cutting edge SPIDERS microgrid project.

SPIDERS stands for Smart Power Infrastructure Demonstration for Energy Reliability and Security. It’s a three-phase, $30 million project under the umbrella of the US Department of Energy’s Sandia National Laboratories. The aim is to deploy microgrids with renewable energy as a more efficient, more reliable, and more secure replacement for conventional diesel generators.

Source: The military is cutting its dangerous dependence on diesel – with solar power and microgrids | Red, Green, and Blue

San Antonio Chicken Walk Coop Tour | Food Policy Council of San Antonio

The Food Policy Council of San Antonio‘s 2nd Annual San Antonio Chicken Walk coop tour will be held Saturday, April 13th, with great coops in north central San Antonio. The provide a map and passport to pre-registered visitors by email, but you can register on the day of the tour.

This tour celebrates the October 2017 change to the San Antonio animal ordinance, raising the limit of backyard chickens allowed without a permit from 3 to 8. The San Antonio Express-News covered the inaugural event last year online and in the print edition, view the online Coop Tour Article.

Last year more than 140 people took the tour, and many people gathered afterward at Pittman Sullivan Community Garden for food, music, and raffle prizes. Use the hashtag #SAChickenWalk to share your photos on social media.

Price: $10.00. Purchase your ticket now! For more details click this source: San Antonio Chicken Walk Coop Tour | Food Policy Council of San Antonio

What Laws Work Best to Cut Plastic Pollution?

Experts have recommended how the United States can drastically curb the use of throwaway plastics with new federal legislation. Read more about how do you solve a problem this big?

What Works

There are currently no federal laws restricting single-use plastics, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t good examples that could serve as useful templates.

According to Stein, Congress could shape federal policy by following existing local and state laws that have already been crafted to tackle plastic problems with bans on all types of single-use plastic items, from bags to expanded polystyrene foam food containers to straws. California made headlines in February after lawmakers proposed a phaseout of all plastic products that aren’t completely recyclable.

Such laws are grounded in scientific evidence that plastics are problematic because they don’t break down in the natural environment and pose a danger to wildlife and probably people.

There’s a precedent for using state and local laws to help craft national legislation: microbeads. After several states and municipalities banned the sale and manufacture of health and beauty products containing these ecologically damaging exfoliating plastic beads, the United States passed a federal act doing the same.

Most experts agree banning single-use plastic products is a more useful strategy for reducing plastic use and pollution than recycling, which is much less effective. A ban also tackles the issue at the source, helping to curb greenhouse gases coming from the rapidly expanding petrochemical industry that uses fossil fuels to produce plastic.

“Overall, we felt the reception was positive — plastic pollution is a topic that is on the minds of the American public and the congresspersons who represent them,” Stein says. “We’re hopeful that Save Our Seas 2.0 legislation in the Senate may provide a chance to think about comprehensive federal strategies to reduce plastic pollution.”

Source: What Laws Work Best to Cut Plastic Pollution? • The Revelator

Solar Panel Recycling in 2019: How it Works

Solar panel recycling is important for the future of solar. Solar panels have a lifetime of about 30 years. With the increasing number of solar panels being sold and installed in the United States each year, it’s only a matter of time before high volumes of silicon solar panels are at the end of their useful life and have to be disposed of. Solar panel recycling is still at a very early stage, but as the market continues to grow, it will have an important part to play in the solar industry.

Solar energy is inexpensive and environmentally friendly – until your solar panels have reached the end of their lifetime. After about 30 years, many crystalline silicon solar panels will start having significant dips in energy production and it may be time to replace them or dispose of them entirely.

Besides environmental protection, recycling solar panels will be economically impactful as well. Some of the rare elements in photovoltaic (PV) cells like gallium and indium are being depleted from the environment over time. If we were able to recover those elements, we can conserve the limited amount available on earth and continue to use them for solar panels and other products. Furthermore, a 2016 study by the International Renewable Agency (IRENA) estimated that $15 billion could be recovered from recycling solar modules by the year 2050.

What parts of solar panels can be recycled?

Recycling solar panels can only be effective if the materials used to build them are able to be used again, 30 or more years later. Solar panels are made from several components, including:

  • Silicon solar cells
  • Metal framing
  • Glass sheets
  • Wires
  • Plexiglas

Solar panels are good for the environment, and recycling is coming

While solar panel recycling isn’t widely available in the U.S. for all of the components in solar panels, there’s still a little time before the number of panels needing to be recycled gets too high. Groups like SEIA and Recycle PV are doing important groundwork for the industry, but there’s more to do in years to come.

California is in the process of determining how to divert solar panels from landfills, which is where they currently go, at the end of their life. When taking a product back to be recycled, reused or biodegradable it’ll be designed and engineered to accommodate for infrastructure by creating it’s own circular supply-chain infrastructure.

It is better to design and engineer sustainable circular economy solutions than simply create systems that are just another form of indulgence paid for our environmental sins while doing nothing about them. More circular solutions need to be created to counter the criticism of, “If Solar Panels Are So Clean, Why Do They Produce So Much Toxic Waste?

Source: Solar Panel Recycling in 2019: How it Works | EnergySage