The Hottest Amenity From Developers? A Power Plant Made of Batteries.

Charged via rooftop solar panels, the cells form a network that provides a building with backup electricity and that utilities can tap during peak periods.

#alternative-and-renewable-energy, #batteries, #electric-light-and-power, #real-estate-commercial, #real-estate-and-housing-residential, #rocky-mountain-power, #solar-energy, #sonnen-gmbh

0

Why Texas Republicans Fear the Green New Deal

Small government is no match for a crisis born of the state’s twin addictions to market fixes and fossil fuels.

#abbott-gregory-w-1957, #cuomo-andrew-m, #friedman-milton, #green-new-deal, #ocasio-cortez-alexandria, #oil-petroleum-and-gasoline, #privatization, #regulation-and-deregulation-of-industry, #solar-energy, #texas, #weather

0

The Lessons of the Texas Power Disaster

The entire nation’s energy delivery system needs an overhaul.

#alternative-and-renewable-energy, #biden-joseph-r-jr, #global-warming, #solar-energy, #texas, #wind-power

0

Texas Storms, California Heat Waves and ‘Vulnerable’ Utilities

Power failures have cast a spotlight on whether energy companies and regulators are doing enough to prepare for climate change and natural disasters.

#alternative-and-renewable-energy, #california, #electric-light-and-power, #energy-and-power, #power-failures-and-blackouts, #regulation-and-deregulation-of-industry, #solar-energy, #texas, #weather, #wind-power

0

Texas Could Have Kept the Lights On

Republicans are blaming renewable energy, when it’s the state’s powerful utilities that failed to prepare for the worst.

#abbott-gregory-w-1957, #entergy-corporation, #oil-petroleum-and-gasoline, #power-failures-and-blackouts, #republican-party, #solar-energy, #wind-power

0

Book Review: ‘How to Avoid a Climate Change Disaster,’ by Bill Gates

In “How to Avoid a Climate Disaster,” the billionaire Microsoft founder lays out his concerns for the earth and some concrete ideas for the future.

#alternative-and-renewable-energy, #books-and-literature, #gates-bill, #global-warming, #how-to-avoid-a-climate-disaster-the-solutions-we-have-and-the-breakthroughs-we-need-book, #microsoft-corp, #solar-energy

0

Use today’s tech solutions to meet the climate crisis and do it profitably

Five years ago I landed the Solar Impulse 2 in Abu Dhabi after flying around the globe powered solely by solar energy, a first in aviation history.

It was also a milestone in energy and technology history. Solar Impulse was an experimental plane, weighing as little as a family car and using 17,248 solar cells. It was a flying laboratory, full of groundbreaking technologies that made it possible to produce renewable energy, store it and use it when necessary in the most efficient manner.

The time has come to use technology again to address the climate crisis affecting us all. As we enter the most crucial decade of climate action — and most likely our last chance to limit global warming to 1.5°C — we need to ensure that clean technologies become the only acceptable norm. These technologies exist now and they can be profitably implemented at this crucial moment.

Hundreds of clean tech solutions exist that protect the environment in a profitable way,

Here are just four innovations from our solar-powered plane that the market can start using now before it’s too late.

From insulating the cabin to insulating our homes

The building sector is one of the largest energy consumers in the world. Next to a reliance on carbon-heavy fuels for heating and cooling, poor insulation and associated energy loss are among the main reasons.

Inside Solar Impulse’s cockpit, insulation was crucial for the plane to fly at very high altitudes. Covestro, one of our official partners, developed an ultra-lightweight and insulating material. The cockpit insulation performance was 10% higher than the standards at the time because the pores in the insulating foam were 40% smaller, reaching a micrometer scale. Thanks to its very low density of fewer than 40 kilograms per cubic meter, the cockpit was ultra-lightweight.

This technology and many others exist. We now need to ensure that all market players are motivated to make hyperefficient building insulation their standard operating procedure.

From propelling an electric aircraft to propelling clean mobility

Solar Impulse was first and foremost an electric airplane when it flew 43,000 km without a single drop of fuel. Its four electric motors had a record-beating efficiency of 97%, far ahead of the miserable 27% of standard thermal engines. This means that they only lost 3% of the energy they used versus 73% for combustion propulsion. Today, electric vehicle sales are soaring. According to the International Energy Agency, when Solar Impulse landed in 2016, there were approximately 1.2 million electric cars on the road; the figure has now risen to over 5 million.

Nevertheless, this acceleration is far from enough. Power sockets are still far from replacing petrol pumps. The transport sector still accounts for one-quarter of global energy-related CO2 emissions. Electrification must happen much more quickly to reduce CO2 emissions from our tailpipes. To do so, governments need to boost the adoption of electric vehicles through clear tax incentives, diesel and petrol engine bans, and major infrastructure investments. 2021 should be the year that puts us on a one-way road to zero-emission vehicles and puts thermal engines in a dead end.

An aircraft microgrid can work for off-grid communities

To fly for several days and nights, reaching a theoretically endless flight potential, Solar Impulse relied on batteries that stored the energy collected during the day and used it to power its engines during the night.

What was made possible with Si2 on a small scale should guide the way to future-proofing power-generation systems that are made up entirely of renewable energy. In the meantime, microgrids, like those used in Si2, could benefit off-grid systems in remote communities or energy islands, allowing them to abolish diesel or other carbon-heavy fuels already today.

On a larger scale, we are looking at smart grids. If all “stupid grids” were replaced by smart grids, it would allow cities, for example, to manage production, storage, distribution and consumption of energy and to cut peaks in energy demand that would reduce CO2 emissions dramatically.

Energy efficiency in the air and on the ground

Solar Impulse’s philosophy was to save energy instead of trying to produce more of it. This is why the relatively small amount of solar energy we collected became enough to fly day and night. All the airplane parameters, including wingspan, aerodynamics, speed, flight profile and energy systems, had therefore been designed to minimize energy loss.

Unfortunately, this approach still stands out against the inefficiency of most of our energy use today. Even though the IEA found energy efficiency improved by an estimated 13% between 2000 and 2017, it is not enough. We need bolder action by policymakers to encourage investors. One of the best ways to do so is to put strict energy efficiency standards in place.

For example, California has set efficiency standards on buildings and appliances, such as consumer electronics and household appliances, estimated to have saved consumers more than $100 billion in utility bills. These measures are as good for the environment as they are for the economy.

Si2 was the future; now, it should define the present

When we used all these different innovations to build Solar Impulse, they were groundbreaking and futuristic. Today, they should define the present; they should be the norm. Next to the technologies mentioned above, hundreds of clean tech solutions exist that protect the environment in a profitable way, many of which have received the Solar Impulse Efficient Solution Label.

Just as for the Si2 technologies, we must now ensure that they enter the mainstream market. The faster we scale them, the faster we will set our economy on track to achieve the Paris Agreement goals and attain sustainable economic growth.

#aerospace, #biotech, #column, #consumer-electronics, #electric-vehicle, #energy, #greentech, #opinion, #renewable-energy, #solar-energy, #solar-power, #tc, #transportation, #venture-capital

0

Joe Biden and Tom Vilsack’s Big Plan to Save Rural America

Joe Biden and Tom Vilsack plan to take swift action on climate change proposals.

#agriculture-and-farming, #agriculture-department, #biden-joseph-r-jr, #carbon-capture-and-sequestration, #democratic-party, #farm-bill-us, #global-warming, #greenhouse-gas-emissions, #iowa, #rural-areas, #solar-energy, #united-states, #vilsack-tom, #wind-power

0

Home Solar Is Growing, but Big Installers Are Still Losing Money

Some companies are having trouble surviving and making money installing panels because of intense competition and the high costs of doing business.

#batteries, #berger-william-john, #building-construction, #coronavirus-2019-ncov, #electric-light-and-power, #global-warming, #jurich-lynn, #mergers-acquisitions-and-divestitures, #small-business, #solar-energy, #stocks-and-bonds, #sunnova-energy-international, #sunrun-inc, #tax-credits-deductions-and-exemptions, #united-states

0

The Climate Desk Looks Ahead to 2021

After a year when climate-related disasters seemed to become the norm, the team will be monitoring a 2021 that is pivotal for the world.

#air-pollution, #australia, #california, #content-type-service, #disasters-and-emergencies, #global-warming, #greenhouse-gas-emissions, #hurricanes-and-tropical-storms, #methane, #natural-gas, #oil-petroleum-and-gasoline, #presidential-transition-us, #solar-energy, #united-nations-framework-convention-on-climate-change, #united-states-politics-and-government, #weather, #wildfires, #wind-power

0

A Power Couple Finds the Spark Once Again

Laura Stachel and Hal Aronson had a Jewish ceremony in 2000, but they never had a legal wedding. Twenty years later, it finally seemed time.

#content-type-personal-profile, #marriages, #nonprofit-organizations, #solar-energy

0

Al Gore: I Have Hope on the Climate Crisis. America Must Lead.

The Biden administration will have the opportunity to restore confidence in America and take on the worsening climate crisis.

#alternative-and-renewable-energy, #biden-joseph-r-jr, #coronavirus-2019-ncov, #energy-and-power, #global-warming, #greenhouse-gas-emissions, #intergovernmental-panel-on-climate-change, #international-energy-agency, #labor-and-jobs, #paris-france, #presidential-election-of-2020, #solar-energy, #trump-donald-j, #united-nations-framework-convention-on-climate-change, #united-states

0

‘Is Exxon a Survivor?’ The Oil Giant Is at a Crossroads.

Exxon Mobil is struggling to find its footing as demand for oil and gas falls and world leaders and businesses pledge to fight climate change.

#alternative-and-renewable-energy, #carbon-dioxide, #coronavirus-2019-ncov, #dow-jones-stock-average, #exxon-mobil-corp, #global-warming, #greenhouse-gas-emissions, #hydrocarbons, #natural-gas, #oil-petroleum-and-gasoline, #raymond-lee-r-1938, #shale, #solar-energy, #stocks-and-bonds, #texas, #tillerson-rex-w, #united-states, #wind-power, #woods-darren-w-1965

0

SunCulture wants to turn Africa into the world’s next bread basket, one solar water pump at a time

The world’s food supply must double by the year 2050 to meet the demands from a growing population, according to a report from the United Nations. And as pressure mounts to find new crop land to support the growth, the world’s eyes are increasingly turning to the African continent as the next potential global breadbasket.

While Africa has 65% of the world’s remaining uncultivated arable land, according to the African Development Bank, the countries on the continent face significant obstacles as they look to boost the productivity of their agricultural industries.

On the continent, 80% of families depend on agriculture for their livelihoods, but only 4% use irrigation. Many families also lack access to reliable and affordable electricity. It’s these twin problems that Samir Ibrahim and his co-founder at SunCulture, Charlie Nichols, have spent the last eight years trying to solve.

Armed with a new financing model and purpose-built small solar power generators and water pumps, Nichols and Ibrahim, have already built a network of customers using their equipment to increase incomes by anywhere from five to ten times their previous levels by growing higher-value cash crops, cultivating more land and raising more livestock.

The company also has just closed on $14 million in funding to expand its business across Africa.

“We have to double the amount of food we have to create by 2050, and if you look at where there are enough resources to grow food and a lot of point — all signs point to Africa. You have a lot of farmers and a lot of land, and a lot of resources,” Ibrahim said.

African small farmers face two big problems as they look to increase productivity, Ibrahim said. One is access to markets, which alone is a huge source of food waste, and the other is food security because of a lack of stable growing conditions exacerbated by climate change.

As one small farmer told The Economist earlier this year, ““The rainy season is not predictable. When it is supposed to rain it doesn’t, then it all comes at once.”

Ibrahim, who graduated from New York University in 2011, had long been drawn to the African continent. His father was born in Tanzania and his mother grew up in Kenya and they eventually found their way to the U.S. But growing up, Ibrahim was told stories about East Africa.

While pursuing a business degree at NYU Ibrahim met Nichols, who had been working on large scale solar projects in the U.S., at an event for budding entrepreneurs in New York.

The two began a friendship and discussed potential business opportunities stemming from a paper Nichols had read about renewable energy applications in the agriculture industry.

After winning second place in a business plan competition sponsored by NYU, the two men decided to prove that they should have won first. They booked tickets to Kenya and tried to launch a pilot program for their business selling solar-powered water pumps and generators.

Conceptually solar water pumping systems have been around for decades. But as the costs of solar equipment and energy storage have declined the systems that leverage those components have become more accessible to a broader swath of the global population.

That timing is part of what has enabled SunCulture to succeed where other companies have stumbled. “We moved here at a time when [solar] reached grid parity in a lot of markets. It was at a time when a lot of development financiers were funding the nexus between agriculture and energy,” said Ibrahim.

Initially, the company sold its integrated energy generation and water pumping systems to the middle income farmers who hold jobs in cities like Nairobi and cultivate crops on land they own in rural areas. These “telephone farmers” were willing to spend the $5000 required to install SunCulture’s initial systems.

Now, the cost of a system is somewhere between $500 and $1000 and is more accessible for the 570 million farming households across the word — with the company’s “pay-as-you-grow” model.

It’s a spin on what’s become a popular business model for the distribution of solar systems of all types across Africa. Investors have poured nearly $1 billion into the development of off-grid solar energy and retail technology companies like M-kopa, Greenlight Planet, d.light design, ZOLA Electric, and SolarHome, according to Ibrahim. In some ways, SunCulture just extends that model to agricultural applications.

“We have had to bundle services and financing. The reason this particularly works is because our customers are increasing their incomes four or five times,” said Ibrahim. “Most of the money has been going to consuming power. This is the first time there has been productive power.”

 SunCulture’s hardware consists of 300 watt solar panels and a 440 watt-hour battery system. The batteries can support up to four lights, two phones and a plug-in submersible water pump. 

The company’s best selling product line can support irrigation for a two-and-a-half acre farm, Ibrahim said. “We see ourselves as an entry point for other types of appliances. We’re growing to be the largest solar company for Africa.”

With the $14 million in funding, from investors including Energy Access Ventures (EAV), Électricité de France (EDF), Acumen Capital Partners (ACP), and Dream Project Incubators (DPI), SunCulture will expand its footprint in Kenya, Ethiopia, Uganda, Zambia, Senegal, Togo, and Cote D’Ivoire, the company said. 

Ekta Partners acted as the financial advisor for the deal, while CrossBoundary provided additional advisory support, including an analysis on the market opportunity and competitive landscape, under the United States Agency for International Development (USAID)’s Kenya Investment Mechanism Program

#africa, #agriculture, #alternative-energy, #articles, #co-founder, #east-africa, #economist, #electricity, #energy, #ethiopia, #financial-advisor, #food, #food-supply, #food-waste, #kenya, #nairobi, #new-york, #new-york-university, #renewable-energy, #senegal, #solar-energy, #solar-power, #tanzania, #tc, #uganda, #united-nations, #united-states

0

When Will Electricity Companies Finally Quit Natural Gas?

Wind and solar are better bets for investors and the planet.

#alternative-and-renewable-energy, #batteries, #coal, #duke-energy-corporation, #electric-light-and-power, #global-warming, #greenhouse-gas-emissions, #sierra-club, #solar-energy, #southern-company, #tennessee-valley-authority, #united-states, #wind-power

0

‘The Coal Industry Is Back,’ Trump Proclaimed. It Wasn’t.

The demise of coal-fired power plants in Arizona and Kentucky shows how the president, despite promises to restore jobs, failed to counter the forces decimating the industry.

#arizona, #bureau-of-reclamation, #cameron-scott-j, #coal, #craft-joseph-w-iii, #environmental-protection-agency, #gosar-paul-1958, #grand-canyon-ariz, #greenhouse-gas-emissions, #interior-department, #jewell-sally, #kentucky, #labor-and-jobs, #layoffs-and-job-reductions, #lazard-llc, #mcconnell-mitch, #mines-and-mining, #murray-energy-corp, #murray-robert-e, #navajo-generating-station, #navajo-indians, #obama-barack, #presidential-election-of-2020, #prine-john, #pruitt-scott, #shutdowns-institutional, #solar-energy, #tennessee-valley-authority, #trump-donald-j, #united-mine-workers-of-america, #united-states-economy, #united-states-politics-and-government, #wehrum-william-l, #wheeler-andrew-r, #zinke-ryan-1961

0

How Coal-Loving Australia Became the Leader in Rooftop Solar

Embracing solar panels to save money, homeowners have made the country a powerhouse in renewable energy.

#alternative-and-renewable-energy, #australia, #batteries, #coal, #electric-light-and-power, #global-warming, #greenhouse-gas-emissions, #liberal-party-australia, #morrison-scott-1968, #politics-and-government, #queensland-australia, #solar-energy, #wildfires

0

Its Electric Grid Under Strain, California Turns to Batteries

When demand exceeded supply in a recent heat wave, electricity stored at businesses and even homes was called into service. With proper management, batteries could have made up for an offline gas plant.

#alternative-and-renewable-energy, #batteries, #california, #california-independent-system-operator, #california-public-utilities-commission, #electric-light-and-power, #natural-gas, #power-failures-and-blackouts, #regulation-and-deregulation-of-industry, #solar-energy, #wind-power

0

Oil and Gas Groups See ‘Some Common Ground’ in Biden Energy Plan

Some energy executives are pleased that the former vice president is not calling for a fracking ban and said they could work with him.

#american-petroleum-institute, #biden-joseph-r-jr, #carbon-capture-and-sequestration, #edison-electric-institute, #edison-international, #greenhouse-gas-emissions, #natural-gas, #oil-petroleum-and-gasoline, #presidential-election-of-2020, #solar-energy, #tellurian-incorporated, #trump-donald-j, #united-states-international-relations, #united-states-politics-and-government, #wind-power

0

Solar panel recycling has a long way to go, and silicon may be the key

Workers in hardhats install rooftop solar panels.

Enlarge (credit: Oregon DOT / Flickr)

Solar energy is really starting to get its wings, with utility and residential installation growing at a rapid clip. While these systems generally operate for two or three decades, there inevitably comes a time to take photovoltaic panels down for replacement. What happens then has a lot to say about solar’s long-term bottom line.

The opportunity is there to turn old PV panels into new ones, reducing the technology’s environmental footprint. But in a paper published in Nature Sustainability, a group led by Garvin Heath at the US National Renewable Energy Laboratory argues we have a long way to go—though they think they see the way.

A matter of purity

Currently, they say, standard practice is to hand solar panels to existing glass- or metal-recycling facilities—at best, batches of panels may be at least be run through on their own. That does little more than recover the aluminum in the frame, the copper in the wiring, and the glass sheet atop the photovoltaic cells. Laws mandating panel recycling haven’t advanced beyond the drawing board in many places yet, with the European Union and the state of Washington in the US as exceptions. The EU requires at least 75 percent of material to be recovered, and these processes can hit that mark.

Read 8 remaining paragraphs | Comments

#recycling, #science, #silicon, #solar-energy

0

Sunrun to Acquire Vivint in Shake-Up of Home Solar Market

Sunrun is acquiring Vivint in an all-stock deal, valued at $3.2 billion, leaving Tesla further behind as a provider of residential solar panels and batteries.

#electric-and-hybrid-vehicles, #mergers-acquisitions-and-divestitures, #solar-energy, #sunrun-inc, #tesla-motors-inc, #vivint-solar-holdings-inc

0

The Next Energy Battle: Renewables vs. Natural Gas

As coal declines and wind and solar energy rise, some are pushing to limit the use of natural gas, but utilities say they are not ready to do so.

#alternative-and-renewable-energy, #batteries, #coal, #dominion-energy, #electric-light-and-power, #environment, #great-river-energy, #greenhouse-gas-emissions, #los-angeles-department-of-water-and-power, #natural-gas, #solar-energy, #wind-power

0

Atlantic Coast Pipeline Canceled as Delays and Costs Mount

The natural gas project would have crossed the Appalachian Trail. Dominion Energy, one of the pipeline’s two partners, also announced the sale of its gas transmission and storage assets.

#berkshire-hathaway-inc, #dominion-energy, #duke-energy-corporation, #natural-gas, #pipelines, #solar-energy, #wind-power

0

The Sun Exchange raises $3M for crypto driven solar power in Africa

South Africa based renewable energy startup Sun Exchange has raised $3 million to close its Series A funding round totaling $4 million.

The company operates a peer-to-peer, crypto enabled business that allows individuals anywhere in the world to invest in solar infrastructure in Africa.

How’s that all work?

“You as an individual are selling electricity to a school in South Africa, via a solar panel you bought through the Sun Exchange,” explained Abe Cambridge — the startup’s founder and CEO.

“Our platform meters the electricity production of your solar panel. Arranges for the purchasing of that electricity with your chosen energy consumer, collects that money and then returns it to your Sun Exchange wallet.”

It costs roughly $5 a panel to get in and transactions occur in South African Rand or Bitcoin.

“The reason why we chose Bitcoin is we needed one universal payment system that enables micro transactions down to a millionth of a U.S. cent,” Cambridge told TechCrunch on a call.

He co-founded the Cape Town headquartered startup in 2015 to advance renewable energy infrastructure in Africa. “I realized the opportunity for solar was enormous, not just for South Africa, but for the whole of the African continent,” said Cambridge.

“What was required was a new mechanism to get Africa solar powered.”

Sub-Saharan Africa has a population of roughly 1 billion people across a massive landmass and only about half of that population has access to electricity, according to the International Energy Agency.

Recently, Sun Exchange’s main market South Africa — which boasts some of the best infrastructure in the region — has suffered from blackouts and power outages.

Image Credits: Sun Exchange

Sun Exchange has 17,000 members in 162 countries who have invested in solar power projects for schools, businesses and organizations throughout South Africa, according to company data.

The $3 million — which closed Sun Exchange’s $4 million Series A — came from the Africa Renewable Power Fund of London’s ARCH Emerging Markets Partners.

With the capital the startup plans to enter new markets. “We’re going to expand into other Sub-Saharan African countries. We’ve got some clear opportunities on our roadmap,” Cambridge said, referencing Nigeria as one of the markets Sun Exchange has researched.

There are several well-funded solar energy startups operating in Africa’s top economic and tech hubs, such as Kenya and Nigeria. In East Africa, M-Kopa sells solar hardware kits to households on credit then allows installment payments via mobile phone using M-Pesa mobile money. The venture is is backed by $161 million from investors including Steve Case and Richard Branson.

In Nigeria, Rensource shifted from a residential hardware model to building solar-powered micro utilities for large markets and other commercial structures.

Sun Exchange operates as an asset free model and operates differently than companies that install or manufacture solar panels.

“We’re completely supplier agnostic. We are approached by solar installers who operate on the African continent. And then we partner with the best ones,” said Cambridge — who presented the startup’s model at TechCrunch Startup Battlefield in Berlin in 2017.

“We’re the marketplace that connects together the user of the solar panel to the owner of the solar panel to the installer of the solar panel.”

Abe Cambridge, Image Credits: TechCrunch

Sun Exchange generates revenues by earning margins on sales of solar panels and fees on purchases and kilowatt hours generated, according to Cambridge.

In addition to expanding in Africa, the startup looks to expand in the medium to long-term to Latin America and Southeast Asia.

“Those are also places that would really benefit from from solar energy, from the speed in which it could be deployed and the environmental improvements that going solar leads to,” said Cambridge.

#africa, #alternative-energy, #articles, #berlin, #bitcoin, #ceo, #east-africa, #electricity, #energy, #latin-america, #m-kopa, #m-pesa, #mobile-phones, #nigeria, #renewable-energy, #richard-branson, #series-a, #solar-energy, #solar-power, #south-africa, #southeast-asia, #steve-case, #tc, #the-sun-exchange, #united-states

0

Coronavirus Pushes America’s Coal Industry to Once-Unthinkable Lows

For the first time, the United States is on track to produce more electricity from renewables than from coal this year, a climate milestone.

#alternative-and-renewable-energy, #coal, #coronavirus-2019-ncov, #energy-information-administration, #environment, #global-warming, #greenhouse-gas-emissions, #solar-energy, #wind, #wind-power

0

The Sunday Read: The Woman Who Might Find Us Another Earth

The star-crossed life of Sara Seager, an astrophysicist obsessed with discovering the possibility of other life in the universe.

#light, #massachusetts-institute-of-technology, #milky-way-galaxy, #planets, #seager-sara-1971, #solar-energy, #solar-system

0