What Are the Health and Environmental Benefits of Solar Energy?

Sunlight is free, infinite, and easily accessible, making it a perfect source for generating energy—particularly when compared to fossil fuels, which need to be mined, extracted, and transported, leaving behind a trail of pollution and environmental degradation.

For homeowners and commercial business owners, switching to solar energy provides a clean, affordable, and sustainable way to cover electricity requirements. One of the main reasons most people decide to go with solar are financial advantages such as lower utility bills and increased home value.

But at the same time, as the name “clean energy” suggests, there are also important health and environmental benefits of solar energy that you may not have even taken into account before. Continue reading to learn more about them.

Read entire article What Are the Health and Environmental Benefits of Solar Energy? | Sara Slavikova | Greentumble

ISO standards help develop new toilet technology that will save millions of lives

“International Standards are key to the progression of new sanitation technology and developing an industry that saves lives,” said ISO Secretary-General Sergio Mujica at the Reinvented Toilet Expo held today in Beijing, China.

Mujica was speaking on a high-level panel as part of the opening plenary that featured Bill Gates, Co-Chair of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, and Dr Jim Yong Kim, President of the World Bank, as well as other leading representatives from industry and government.

The panel, which is part of the three-day Reinvented Toilet Expo summit, discussed commitments to non-sewered sanitation and actions required to develop the industry, including standardization. Reinvented toilet technology is all about stand-alone sanitation systems that safely treat waste without the need to be connected to a traditional sewerage system. It is designed to revolutionize the lives of billions of people around the world who lack sufficient clean sanitation systems, saving lives and improving well-being.

> Read entire article ISO standards help develop new toilet technology that will save millions of lives | Katie Bird | ISO.org

Why you have (probably) already bought your last car

I’m guessing you are scoffing in disbelief at the very suggestion of this article, but bear with me.

A growing number of tech analysts are predicting that in less than 20 years we’ll all have stopped owning cars, and, what’s more, the internal combustion engine will have been consigned to the dustbin of history.

Yes, it’s a big claim and you are right to be sceptical, but the argument that a unique convergence of new technology is poised to revolutionise personal transportation is more persuasive than you might think.

The central idea is pretty simple: Self-driving electric vehicles organised into an Uber-style network will be able to offer such cheap transport that you’ll very quickly – we’re talking perhaps a decade – decide you don’t need a car any more.

> Read entire article Why you have (probably) already bought your last car | Justin Rowlatt | BBC

Smart Cities and a Sustainable Future

One of these latest “hot terms” is Smart Cities but what exactly is a Smart City and how can a Smart City deliver a sustainable future?

Firstly, it is worth saying that sustainability can mean many things but in general the aim is to ensure that going forward into the future people can lead a healthy, prosperous life without damaging the environment and compromising resources and opportunities for future generations. The United Nations (UN) Sustainable Development Goals give a good view into the wide spectrum of issues that sustainability can cover.

The following numbers from the UN give some ideas of the challenges ahead:
  • 50% of today’s world population lives in urban areas (3.5 Billion), and by 2030, 60% of the population is projected to be urban;
  • 60% in 2030 will be much greater than 60% today;
  • By 2050, 75% of the world’s population will live in cities;
  • 1 in 8 currently live in one of the world’s 28 “Mega Cities”;
  • By 2050 it is predicted that 64% of the developing world and 86% of the developed world will be “urbanized”;
  • 95% of Urban Growth by 2050 is expected to take place in developing countries;
  • Cities account for more than 70% of global CO2 emissions;
  • 75% of urban settlements are at risk from climate change impacts.

The challenges associated with these numbers include a greater demand for resources like water and energy, increased demand on services such as healthcare and education and an increasing pollution and impact on biodiversity. Equally increased demand on housing can lead to rises in crime and social problems. From an energy perspective, it is worth considering that cities take up 2% of Earth’s land surface but account for 80% energy use and 75% carbon emissions (UN 2014).

‘‘An urban ecosystem that uses information and data to anticipate problems and better utilize resources across multiple disciplines.’’ And the applications of data and analytics across the domains of an urban setting led to the term “Smart Cities”.

The idea of a Smart City is of one that tackles these real problems head-on in creative ways, not just by using technology but through new approaches, ideas and citizen engagement. It is quintessential to take a holistic approach when dealing with complex problems. A definition that further captures the dynamics of a Smart City development is the one adopted by the New Urban Informatics, a specialist in Smart City development.


The simplest way to grasp the concept of sustainability in the context of a city is to overview two examples:

1. Stockholm Carbon Reduction Strategy – Congestion Charging

Whilst the concept of congestion charging is politically controversial, Stockholm demonstrated how such an approach can actually lead to improvements in air quality and a drop in airborne pollutants. The aim of the project was designed to reduce congestion, emissions and improve health and well-being. One of the major points about this plan was the fact that it was established via a political consensus. Ensuring citizen support and engagement for any smart city initiative is imperative for success. There are many cases where solutions implemented top-down by the government have been treated with suspicion or not even utilised due to a lack of awareness, and conformity.

The solution included the implementation of the Automatic Number Plate Recognition (ANPR) technology to track vehicles traveling in and out of the designated central zone. Policies were adjusted to charge users based on vehicle type and exemptions for “green cars.” This also stimulated the market for electric and hybrid vehicles. Since the implementation of the ANPR, Stockholm has experienced a 10-14% drop in the airborne pollutants and an 8.5% reduction for (NOx).

2. London Heygate Estate Redevelopment (Elephant Park)

The Heygate Estate in London was a well-known residential area due for re-development. In this case, the major project to regenerate a housing estate had sustainability at its heart with clear sustainable construction principles. The project included ensuring that all construction was formed from energy efficient materials, and the solar energy was utilized for power generation with LED efficient lighting. It also incorporated the development of green spaces with 283 new trees and communal “grow gardens” to encourage community building and provide access to fresh local food markets.

The project was recognized by C40 cities as a climate positive development with the aim to be climate positive for 2020, meaning that the redevelopment will be carbon neutral by 2020.

The Heygate Estate in London was a well-known residential area due for re-development. In this case, the major project to regenerate a housing estate had sustainability at its heart with clear sustainable construction principles.
Potential Opportunities

The two examples above give a view of a smart city approach to sustainability but there are many others driven either by city authorities or governments, or citizens themselves. Ideas include:

  • Smarter public transportation and mass transit solutions;
  • Provision of alternative vehicle technology to reduce or eliminate emissions;
  • Use of sensor technology to measure real-world emissions allowing policy actions to be taken on factual data. This approach gives rise to the potential positive use of blockchain technology to accurately capture and measure such data and provide rewards for positive behavior e.g. Solar Coin;
  • Improved urban planning and public policy ideas to move living and workspace closer together, while reducing movements as well as improving green spaces to provide more carbon sinks. The development of urban agriculture such as vertical farming reducing the need for intensive farming and high food miles;
  • Improved water management means more supply of potable water, less energy spent on production, less pollution, and damaging climate impacts. Additionally, better quality of water means less diseases (A significant percentage of all human diseases is connected to water);
  • Improving reuse policies (and by extension recycling) results in less landfill and consequently a reduction in Methane and other greenhouse gas emissions. Equally this policy leads to more reclaiming on basic raw materials (glass, metals) resulting in less energy being spent on extraction/mining.

So, a Smart City is not simply a technology, its an approach aided by technology to tackling some of the major issues in cities, towns and municipalities which when adopted in the right way can increase efficiency, citizen engagement and quality of life and can help us directly tackle major challenges such as climate change and air pollution head-on.

Renewable Energy 101 – National Geographic

There are many benefits to using renewable energy resources, but what is it exactly? From solar to wind, find out more about alternative energy, the fastest-growing source of energy in the world—and how we can use it to combat climate change.

UPS is building its own fleet of electric delivery trucks

UPS is to deploy 50 plug-in electric delivery trucks that will be comparable in acquisition cost to conventional-fueled trucks without any subsidies, and says it is an industry first that is breaking a key barrier to large scale fleet adoption.

Posted on Supply Chain Digital | By James Henderson

Electric vehicle technology is rapidly improving with battery, charging and smart grid advances that allow us to specify our delivery vehicles to eliminate emissions, noise and dependence on diesel and gasoline,” said Carlton Rose, President, Global Fleet Maintenance and Engineering for UPS.

With our scale and real-world duty cycles, these new electric trucks will be a quantum leap forward for the purpose-built UPS delivery fleet. The all electric trucks will deliver by day and re-charge overnight. We are uniquely positioned to work with our partners, communities and customers to transform freight transportation.

Workhorse claims these vehicles provide nearly 400% fuel efficiency improvement as well as optimum energy efficiency, vehicle performance and a better driver experience. Each truck will have a range of approximately 100 miles between charges, ideal for delivery routes in and around cities.

UPS is building its own fleet of electric delivery trucks

Read entire article UPS to deploy 50 ‘industry first’ electric delivery trucks

Rural Rwanda is home to a pioneering solar power idea

The story of a group of London graduates who, apparently against the odds, have helped thousands of people in Africa access energy from the Sun. Could their idea teach power providers in the West a thing or two?

Posted on BBC | By Rachel Nuwer

Fidel Mberabagabo lives down a dirt path in a modest, hand-built mud and concrete home surrounded on either side by hazy, gently cresting green hills. Like most people in this part of Rwanda’s rural Rwamagana district, he is a farmer. Also like them, finances are strained; he never knows just how much he will make in a given month. But Mberabagabo’s life does now differ from that of many of his neighbours in one important way: he has electricity.In the developed world, people take for granted that light bulbs will turn on with the flick of a switch; that they can access unlimited power to charge copious devices; and that their well-stocked fridges and artificially cooled and heated homes will maintain just the right temperature.

Africa will largely bypass the grid and leapfrog over Europe and North America straight into solar
But as anyone who has weathered the aftermath of a hurricane or found themselves in the midst of a major blackout will attest, if these precious amenities are taken away, life largely comes to a halt.
Yet for all our dependency on power, some 1.2 billion people around the world – 16% of the global population – do not have access to it at all.Back in Rwanda, for example, less than 20% of the population live in homes that enjoy electricity – a fact that stymies development and reinforces poverty. It’s a huge problem that defines many of the problems we face in the 21st Century.

To some, however, such statistics ring not of hopelessness, but of opportunity.

New draft of ISO 50001 Energy Management standard

Since 2011, organizations have been able to follow a systematic approach in achieving continual improvement of energy performance, including energy efficiency, energy use and consumption, thanks to ISO 50001.

Like all International Standards, ISO 50001 has come under periodic review to ensure that it continues to meet the rapidly changing needs of the energy sector. This work is being carried out by the ISO technical committee responsible for energy management and energy savings (ISO/TC 301), whose secretariat is held by ANSI, ISO’s member for the USA, in a twinning arrangement with the ISO member for China, SAC.

Here, we explain the main changes with the help of Deann Desai, Professor at the Georgia Institute of Technology and Convenor of the working group tasked with revising the standard.

ISO 50001:2011 – Energy Management System (EnMS)
Using energy efficiently helps organizations save money as well as helping to conserve resources and tackle climate change. ISO 50001 supports organizations in all sectors to use energy more efficiently, through the development of an EnMS.

Perhaps the most important change for the 2018 version is the incorporation of the high-level structure, which provides for improved compatibility with other management system standards.” The high-level structure (HLS) is a simple and effective concept. “Because organizations often implement a number of management system standards, the use of a shared structure, as well as many of the same terms and definitions, helps to keep things simple,” explains Prof. Desai.

This is particularly useful for those organizations that choose to operate a single (sometimes called “integrated”) management system that can meet the requirements of two or more management system standards simultaneously.

Prof. Desai continues: “There are other improvements in the 2018 version to help ensure that the key concepts related to energy performance are clear for small and mid-sized businesses (SMEs).

The Draft International Standard ISO/DIS 50001 was approved in November 2017, and the new version of ISO 50001 is expected to be published in 2018.

Read complete article
New draft of ISO 50001 energy management standard | ISO.org

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Five grand ideas that will shape this century – in charts

Asteroid mining, lab-grown meat, and more: these five watershed moments in science and technology will change the world – and some sooner than we may think.

1. What if meat was more environmentally friendly?

The eco-burger of the future will be grown in a vat, by taking animal stem cells and feeding them nutrients until they grow into pieces of tissue large enough to eat.

This is the technology behind lab-grown meat, also known as cultured or ‘clean’ meat. While it may not sound exactly appetising, it’s much kinder than traditionally-reared meat: the donor animals need not be slaughtered.

Lab-grown meat has a much smaller environmental footprint, too. A 2011 study calculated that growing 1kg (2.2lb) of meat from cells used over 200 times less land and around 30 times less water than raising a cow for 1kg of beef – and around half the energy. (A more recent, less optimistic analysis suggests lab-grown meat could actually be more energy-intensive than chicken, though still better than beef.)

Puerto Rico’s solar future takes shape with Tesla batteries

Tesla announces ‘first of many’ solar-plus-storage projects in Puerto Rico.

It’s one of several efforts to repower the island with renewable energy post-hurricane.

Solar panels began filling a parking lot outside a children’s hospital this week as Elon Musk’s first major solar-plus-storage project in Puerto Rico took shape, demonstrating how quickly solar microgrids can be established for long-term clean, resilient power.
It’s one small but telling step in a U.S. territory of 3.4 million people still largely in the dark five weeks after Hurricane Maria struck.

Musk, the chief executive of Tesla and SolarCity, launched a conversation about bringing solar microgrids to the island a little over two weeks ago in a Twitter exchange with Puerto Rico Gov. Ricardo Rossello.

Musk suggested that pairing solar panels with battery systems had worked for other islands and could help Puerto Rico rebuild from the hurricane, too. Rossello’s quick response: Let’s talk.

Pipeline payday: how builders win big, whether more gas is needed or not

Close corporate relationships between pipeline builders and gas buyers are allowing companies to reap higher profits while locking in emissions for years to come.

The real fight over America’s energy future isn’t in coal. Rather, dozens of pipeline projects, making up one of the largest expansions of natural gas infrastructure in U.S. history, are where the fossil fuel action is.

At a cost of billions of dollars, these pipelines will tap the rich reservoir of fracked natural gas flowing out of the Marcellus-Utica shale basin that lies under much of Pennsylvania, Ohio and West Virginia.

But are all these new gas pipelines really needed?

Critics say that the financial interests of gas and electric companies—not market demand—are driving most of the new pipelines proposed for the region. Those profits are approved by FERC, an agency that is charged with ensuring public interests, but that nurtures “an exceptionally cozy relationship” with industry, as described in a comprehensive investigation published last month by the Center for Public Integrity and StateImpact Pennsylvania, with National Public Radio.

“At every turn, the agency’s process favors pipeline companies,” the review found after the groups interviewed more than 100 people, reviewed FERC records, and analyzed nearly 500 pipeline cases.

It also noted another cozy relationship: the tight corporate links between the companies building the pipelines and those buying the natural gas, either to deliver it to homes and businesses or to use it to make electricity.

major pipelines

These close relationships, explored in greater depth here by InsideClimate News, not only set up surefire profits at the expense of consumers, critics say; they also lock in long-term incentives—in the form of physical infrastructure and financial rewards—to keep burning the fossil fuels that are warming the planet.

“It’s bad for ratepayers, it’s bad for the climate, it’s bad for the environment, but it’s really good for companies that are going to make profits,” said Amy Mall, a senior policy analyst for the Natural Resources Defense Council.

Source: InsideClimate News

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Why oil giant Shell announced it will invest $1 Billion in clean energy

Even oil companies understand that solar is the future.

The massive oil conglomerate is pumping money into renewable energy.

On Monday, Shell CEO Ben Van Beurden said that the company plans to spend as much as $1 billion per year on its New Energies division that will focus on developing projects like hydrogen fuel-cells and next generation biofuels.

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According to Bloomberg, Van Beurden also noted the most important development in clean energy — that the costs for creating wind and solar power are falling dramatically. “All of this is good news for the world and must accelerate,” Van Beurden said.

Renewable energy is becoming so cheap, in fact, that analysts predict that the U.S. will hit carbon emissions targets set by the Paris Accords even after President Donald Trump’s decision to withdraw.

Most of the time, the conversation around renewable energy centers around giant Tesla batteries in Australia or developed nations investing in solar, but the real opportunity for change will come parts of the developing world.

Fossil fuel companies know better than anyone that their primary product — refined petroleum — is a finite resource. While many of them are funneling resources to climate change denialism, they also realize that there’s a tremendous amount of money to be made in renewable energy.

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In the developing world, Van Beurden is saying that putting resources toward new energies could win over millions of new customers with growing energy demands, ensuring future revenue streams for the company. If the environment gets a little better as a side effect, well, that’s just a bonus.

Source: Inverse Innovation

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