Posts filed under ‘Renewables’

Solar Power and Honey Bees Make a Sweet Combo in Minnesota

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Last year, when Minnesota passed a groundbreaking law on best practices for providing pollinator habitat at solar power sites, they also (unexpectedly) helped launch something called Solar Honey, in which solar companies and commercial beekeepers work together in a mutually beneficial arrangement.

On May 31, 2016, Minnesota Gov. Mark Dayton signed the Pollinator Friendly Solar Act into law, a first of its kind legislation that lays out voluntary standards for managing native habitat—think prairie grass and wild flowers—for pollinators, songbirds, and other beneficial critters. Solar developers and local governments can use these guidelines, which give recommendations on things like what seed mixes to use, the best options for laying out the plants, and how to maintain the site, in order to help provide these beneficial creatures with the a comfortable home. In return, they get bragging rights, so long as they can prove they’re following state regulations. They also have to make their site’s vegetation plan available to the public, among other requirements. The idea is catching fire among solar providers through Minnesota.

Read Solar Power and Honey Bees Make a Sweet Combo in Minnesota by Lorraine Chow at Modern Farmer.

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September 20, 2017 at 11:14 am Leave a comment

One of the biggest criticisms against wind and solar energy has been quashed

A worker inspects solar panels at a solar Dunhuang, 950km (590 miles) northwest of Lanzhou, Gansu Province September 16, 2013. China is pumping investment into wind power, which is more cost-competitive than solar energy and partly able to compete with coal and gas. China is the world's biggest producer of CO2 emissions, but is also the world's leading generator of renewable electricity. Environmental issues will be under the spotlight during a working group of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, which will meet in Stockholm from September 23-26. REUTERS/Carlos Barria (CHINA - Tags: ENERGY BUSINESS ENVIRONMENT) - RTX13UEF

One of the biggest criticisms of the renewable-energy industry is that it has been propped up by government subsidies. There is no doubt that without government help, it would have been much harder for the nascent technology to mature. But what’s more important is whether there has been a decent return on taxpayers’ investment.

A new analysis in Nature Energy gives renewable-energy subsidies the thumbs-up. Dev Millstein of Lawerence Berkeley National Laboratory and his colleagues find that the fossil fuels not burnt because of wind and solar energy helped avoid between 3,000 and 12,700 premature deaths in the US between 2007 and 2015. Fossil fuels produce large amounts of pollutants like carbon dioxide, sulfur dioxide, nitrogen oxides, and particulate matter, which are responsible for ill-health and negative climate effects.

The researchers found that the US saved between $35 billion and $220 billion in that period because of avoided deaths, fewer sick days, and climate-change mitigation.

Read One of the biggest criticisms against wind and solar energy has been quashed by Akshat Rathi at Quartz.

August 21, 2017 at 10:33 am Leave a comment

This Canadian Site Lets Anyone be a Clean Tech Investor

On CoPower, an investment platform for renewable energy and energy efficiency projects, you don’t have to make concessions between decent financial returns and decent environmental impact (as is often the case elsewhere). If you’re willing to put up at least $5,000, you’re promised 5% a year over five years, and your money goes to solar farms, geothermal installations, and building retrofits.

The only catch: Currently, you need to be a Canadian citizen to access the site.

“There are lots of market driven and profitable solutions to social and environmental problems and lots of investors seeking social and environmental returns,” says Trish Nixon, CoPower’s director of investments, in an interview. “The challenge is in connecting the two and having financial products that meet the needs of investors from a risk-return-impact and access standpoint. That’s the problem that CoPower is solving.”

Read the full article:  This Canadian Site Lets Anyone be a Clean Tech Investor by Ben Schiller at Fast Company.

July 5, 2017 at 11:01 am Leave a comment

Is 100% renewable energy realistic? Here’s what we know.

The world has agreed to a set of shared targets on climate change. Those targets require deep (80 to 100 percent) decarbonization, relatively quickly.

What’s the best way to get fully decarbonized? In my previous post, I summarized a raging debate on that subject. Let’s quickly review.

There are plenty of criticisms of current models of how climate change and human politics and economics interact. Let’s touch on a few briefly, and then I’ll get to a few takeaways.

Above all, the haziness of the long-term view argues for humility on all sides. There’s much we do not yet know and cannot possibly anticipate, so it’s probably best for everyone to keep an open mind, support a range of bet-hedging experiments and initiatives, and maintain a healthy allergy to dogma.

Read Is 100% renewable energy realistic? Here’s what we know. by David Roberts at Vox.

April 17, 2017 at 11:20 am Leave a comment

Despite Trump, Canada’s budget stays the course on climate change

Some industry groups and politicians worry about making a clean energy transition in Canada when President Trump still “digs coal.”

So perhaps the most important test for this budget was whether Canada would stick to its guns, or whether Trump’s influence would spur a change in course.

The budget’s clean technology section opens by saying that the “global campaign against climate change is an economic opportunity for Canada,” an opportunity where Canada “can be a true global leader.”

The government zeroes in on clean tech, along with digital industries and agri-food, as growing industries that are key to Canada’s economic success.

The clean power sector alone employed over 9 million people in 2015, according to the International Renewable Energy Agency (and including large hydro).

Canada has a strong clean tech foundation. According to data from Analytica Advisors, a consultancy tracking Canada’s clean tech sector, Canada had over 700 companies, $11 billion in revenues, and 55,600 people working in the sector in 2016. But we’ve also been losing market share to our peers, falling from 14th to 19th among the world’s top 25 clean tech exporters in 2016.

Read Despite Trump, Canada’s budget stays the course on climate change by Clare Demerse at cleanenergycanada.

March 27, 2017 at 10:56 am Leave a comment

Jeff Dahn, battery researcher wins $1M Herzberg Medal

A leading researcher of lithium-ion batteries has won the prestigious Gerhard Herzberg Canada Gold Medal for Science and Engineering.

We use lithium-ion batteries every day, in everything from our smartphones to laptops to electric cars to drills. Jeff Dahn has played a large part in making these batteries increasingly efficient.

Working now in collaboration with electric car company Tesla, Dahn aims to make a battery that lasts 30 years.

The focus of the new research is threefold: increasing the lifetime of cells; helping to reduce cost of cells; and increasing the energy density of the battery. If energy density is increased, the battery could maintain its size and weight but store more energy or store the same amount of energy with less weight or in a smaller package.

Read Jeff Dahn, battery researcher wins $1M Herzberg Medal by Nicole Mortillaro at CBC News.

 

February 22, 2017 at 11:49 am Leave a comment

Canadian investor profiles

solar88Canadians who want to invest in environmental solutions and clean technologies (cleantech) – the sector of companies that minimizes the impacts of non-renewable resource use – have several options. Some of these are available to retail investors wary of choosing individual stocks or volatile passive funds characterized by hype and cynicism.

Read Canadian investor profiles by Jason Visscher at Corporate Knights.

January 18, 2017 at 11:27 am Leave a comment

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