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10 New Energy Pioneers Driving Our Future

Löfbergs coffee roasting house in Karlstad, Sweden is home to the world’s first large-scale testing facility with SaltX salt-technology solar panels for heating and cooling on the roof of the roasting house. (Photo courtesy SaltX) Posted for media use

Löfbergs coffee roasting house in Karlstad, Sweden is home to the world’s first large-scale testing facility with SaltX salt-technology solar panels for heating and cooling on the roof of the roasting house. (Photo courtesy SaltX) Posted for media use

By Sunny Lewis

NEW YORK, New York, April 17, 2018 (Maximpact.com News) – The top 10 innovators revolutionizing the energy, transport, and technology sectors were unveiled April 9 at Bloomberg New Energy Finance’s Future of Energy Summit in New York City .

The 2018 New Energy Pioneers, as they are known, are responding to changes and disruption in the energy system, and are pursuing new opportunities in storage, EV charging, digitalization, heat recovery, and blockchain.

By recognizing innovators, Bloomberg New Energy Finance (BNEF) aims to highlight and accelerate the transition that is underway in today’s new energy economy, towards new business models, technologies, market structures and commercial opportunities.

An independent panel of industry experts, assisted by BNEF’s analysts and technology specialists, selected the 10 winners from more than 160 applicants from 47 countries.

Each candidate was assessed on three criteria: technology or business model innovation, and what novelty it brings to the market; evidence of substantive progress in the form of strong commercial partnerships, the distribution channels in place and sales growth; and the potential to scale and have a global impact.

The 2018 New Energy Pioneers are:

  • Advanced Microgrid Solutions (U.S.) designs, develops, and manages portfolios of distributed energy resources providing dynamic grid management and value to wholesale markets.

“Being recognized as a New Energy Pioneer is a great honor for AMS,” said Susan Kennedy, CEO, Advanced Microgrid Solutions. “This award really is a signal that the era of trans-active energy management has arrived.”

  • Bidgely (U.S.) is a load disaggregation company that uses machine learning and data analytics to process smart meter data and provide its users with insights about their energy consumption.

“Bidgely leverages Artificial Intelligence to help utilities personalize the energy experience for consumers around the world,” said Abhay Gupta, CEO, Bidgely. “We celebrate becoming a Bloomberg New Energy Pioneer, an honor which recognizes our ability to solve real-world utility business challenges like digital transformation and a rapidly evolving energy landscape.”

  • BURN (Kenya) has designed and manufactured over 370,000 clean cook stoves, improving both air quality and access to power for low-income households.

Peter Scott, CEO, BURN, said, “To win an award from an organization I admire so much is humbling. Recognition as a Bloomberg New Energy Pioneer means that BURN is able to share its story with the world. It gives a boost to our mission of saving forests and lives in the developing world through improved cooking solutions.”

  • Climeon (Sweden) has commercialized the extraction of electricity from low-temperature heat (70-120 degrees Celsius), used in the context of waste heat or geothermal power.

“Climeon’s vision is to become the Number 1 climate solver. To reach this we have to be true pioneers. Becoming a Bloomberg New Energy Pioneer confirms that we are on the right path and it really makes us very proud,” said Climeon CEO Thomas Ostrom.

  • Enbala (U.S.) operates a real-time energy-balancing platform creating controllable and dispatchable energy resources from flexible loads, energy storage and renewable energy sources.

Said Arthur (Bud) Vos, CEO and President, Enbala, “We exist for one reason: to create an energy future that’s sustainable and balanced. It’s gratifying to me personally and to everyone who works at Enbala to have our energy balancing technology recognized by such a prestigious and well-respected organization.”

  • Greenlots (U.S.) is a hardware-agnostic provider of electric vehicle network management software and services. These give utilities, cities, communities and automakers the ability to control grid loads through smart charging and demand response.

“At Greenlots, we’re dedicated to delivering cutting-edge technology to our customers, allowing them to optimize and manage their EV charging infrastructure, and provide drivers a seamless, reliable charging experience, said Greenlots CEO Brett Hauser. “This recognition from Bloomberg New Energy Finance is a key indicator of the significance of our work to make EVs a part of everyday life across the globe, while creating new market opportunities at the grid edge.”

  • Limejump (U.K.) is an energy tech company that connects data capabilities and renewable energy generation to the national grid, optimizing assets’ value and supporting sustainability using proprietary software to aggregate and manage a distributed fleet of flexible assets.

“We see Bloomberg as a key ally in providing our customers with insight and information which is needed to ensure we all build this new energy market bottom up,” said Erik Nygard, CEO, Limejump.

  • LO3 Energy  (U.S.) is an early mover in peer-to-peer energy trading using blockchain technology, and is developing other applications for its blockchain platform.

“A blockchain is a decentralized, distributed and public digital ledger that is used to record transactions across many computers so that the record cannot be altered retroactively without the alteration of all subsequent blocks and the collusion of the network,” according to Wikipedia. “The result is a robust workflow where participants’ uncertainty regarding data security is marginal.”

“Making energy is about one of the dirtiest things we do on the planet. It puts more toxins and pollution in the air than just about any other industry,” said Lawrence Orsini, CEO, LO3 Energy. “We are honored that BNEF chose to recognize the impact LO3 Energy is making today with its blockchain technology. Empowering prosumers and bringing choice to consumers, together we are making fundamental changes that will affect the energy sector’s advancement in clean energy forever.”

  • SaltX (Sweden) is an innovator in storing heat chemically, using a proprietary salt-based technology. This uses a nano coating and graphene to prevent salt crystals from growing when energy is stored, greatly improving the number of storage cycles whilst also reducing corrosion.

“Being a BNEF New Energy Pioneer means of course a great honor and helps putting SaltX on the map, but it also means a great responsibility for making the sustainable energy revolution happen,” said Karl Bohman, CEO, SaltX. “We at SaltX promise to work tirelessly – and we will not stop – until our low-cost, scalable and natural energy storage technology is used on a global basis.”

  • WiTricty (U.S.) has developed wireless charging through magnetic resonance technology, allowing high-efficiency power transfer for the electric vehicle industry.

WiTricity CEO Alex Gruzen said, “WiTricity is the pioneer in developing wireless charging for electric vehicles that is as fast and efficient as plugging in. Global automakers are accelerating development of EV platforms, and WiTricity is focused on improving the ownership experience—no more cables, no mess, and no worry about remembering to charge. We also recognize that the future of mobility is electrified, autonomous and shared, and wireless charging is an essential enabler for fleets of robotaxis where there is no driver to plug in.”

Bloomberg New Energy Finance is an industry research firm focused on helping energy professionals generate opportunities. With a team of 200 experts spread across six continents, BNEF provides independent analysis and insight, enabling decision-makers to navigate change in an evolving energy economy.

Michael Wilshire, selection committee chair and head of strategy at Bloomberg New Energy Finance, said, “We have seen a sharp uptick in the number of applicants that use digital technologies and software to help make the electricity system more resilient, flexible and efficient – all critical elements of a more decentralized and renewable energy system.”

“Emerging technologies such as machine learning and blockchain are being used to improve decision making and to make operations more efficient, as well as to create new capabilities, such as peer-to-peer energy trading and the ability to manage complex sets of distributed assets,” he said.

“Transport is being transformed, with two of this year’s Pioneers developing infrastructure, software, and services to support the rollout of electric vehicles,” said Wilshire. “We are very encouraged by the innovation, determination and creativity shown by these Pioneers and by the potential that they have to help transform the energy and transport systems.

Featured Image: In summer 2016, California State University enlisted Advanced Microgrid Solutions to install the first fleet of Hybrid Electric Buildings® at an educational institution. Hybrid Electric Buildings® store energy when it is cleaner and more plentiful, and shift building loads from the electric grid to battery power when demand is high. (Photo courtesy Advanced Microgrid Solutions) Posted for media use


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Which U.S. States Care About The Planet?

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Houston, Texas January 12, 2018 (Maximpact.com News) Energy companies, around the globe are paying attend to environmental issues, as much as countries, states and cities are showing a renewed interest in green energy.

Amigo Energy a electric company from Texas recently ran an analysis of Google Trends data and state statistics related to the planet and environmental issues.

Below are the results of their compiled research as written by Mike Strayer, Amigo Energy blog writer.

Recycling and Reusing

How to recycle in Washington, as it turns out, is rather easy. 87 percent of Washingtonians have access to curbside recycling, while the remaining 13 percent of the population has access to 109 drop-off locations throughout the state. In Texas, how to reuse waste seems to be on everyone’s mind. The City of Irving’s Green Seam Project—which takes scraps of fabric and turns them into reusable bags—is a real-world example of just how scrappy one Texas town is.

Renewable Energy

Home to the wind-swept Badlands, wind power is on the rise in North Dakota. Combine that with a higher concentration of Internet searches in the region and it looks like fracking has a cleaner rival poised to power more Roughrider State homes and businesses.

While you may have guessed that sunny places like Hawaii would rank high for solar power, Leesburg, Virginia probably didn’t come to mind. It’s strange, but community efforts like Solarize NOVA (Northern Virginia) may account for Leesburg’s ranking.

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Energy Efficiency

Solar power is hot in California. According to data from 2015, California generated the most solar energy in the US, which might help explain why so many Californians are curious about installing residential solar panels.

We all know that Virginia is for lovers, but did you know that Virginians love to save energy? Maybe that’s because saving energy has boosted business—energy efficiency in Virginia is a $1.5B industry that employs over 75,000 people.

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Air Quality

Utah is famous for its national parks and powdery mountains. Counterintuitively, the region also has the worst air quality in the US, which probably accounts for tons of Utahns searching for information on air quality.

It’s no secret: traffic in California can really suck. Luckily, carpooling is more convenient than ever with programs like 511 SF Bay that make commutes easier by connecting residents via cutting-edge technology.

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Sustainability

Because Google Trends calculates the relative popularity of keywords, tiny towns like Drexel often rank higher than big cities. Perhaps the city’s number one ranking is due to the Western Piedmont Community College Program in Sustainable Agriculture, which features a 40-acre student-run farm.

Colorado may be known for a different sort of “green,” but Coloradans also search more for “sustainable living” than any other state. This might be because of the Sustainable Living Association based out of Fort Collins, which specializes in educating people about sustainable choices.

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Planting and Composting

Those who know Portland may not be surprised by the city’s ranking. You could probably even say that gardening is a town pastime—the city maintains nine community garden sites with plots costing only $15-50 a year to lease. Aside from preserving pristine beaches and forests, Oregonians are interested in greening their homes, too. That may be because the state runs its own environmentally-friendly programs like this super useful composting resource page.

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If Internet searches are any indicator, it looks like Americans are becoming more and more interested in greening our country. For more information on how to go green in Texas, check out the Amigo Energy Blog—we’ve got helpful resources and interesting information that can help you green your life today.


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Climate-Neutral COP23 Aims for Sustainability

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Bonn’s electric buses will transport conference attendees around the city free of greenhouse gas emissions. (Photo courtesy UNFCCC) Creative Commons license via Flickr

By Sunny Lewis

BONN, Germany, November 7, 2017 (Maximpact.com  News) – This year’s UN Climate Change Conference in Bonn, which opened Monday and continues through November 17 under the presidency of Fiji, gives nations an opportunity to showcase their own climate actions at this “climate-neutral” event.

Up to 25,000 people are expected to participate in the 23rd Conference of the Parties to the UNFCCC, known as COP23, including government delegates, representatives of observer organizations, businesses and journalists.

One year has passed since the entry into force of the Paris Agreement on climate change, adopted by the 196 Parties to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) in December 2015. The agreement allows countries to make individual pledges of action to reverse climate change, called Nationally Determined Contributions.

The Paris Agreement aims to limit the rise of the global temperature to less than 2 degrees Celsius and, if possible, below 1.5 degrees Celsius over pre-industrial levels.

These goals appear increasingly difficult to achieve. Last week, the World Meteorological Organization announced that atmospheric levels of the greenhouse gas carbon dioxide, CO2, had surged at “record-breaking speed” to new highs in 2016.

A new report from the UN Environment agency finds that even full implementation of current unconditional and conditional Nationally Determined Contributions makes a temperature increase of at least 3 degrees C by 2100 very likely.

The 8th edition of UN Environment’s Emissions Gap report, released ahead of the UN Climate Change Conference in Bonn, finds that national pledges only bring a third of the reduction in emissions required by 2030 to meet climate targets, with private sector and sub-national action not increasing at a rate that would help close this worrying gap.

This means that governments must deliver much stronger pledges when they are revised in 2020.

The organizers of COP23 have made sustainability the watchword of this year’s annual conference. In this context, unless stated differently, organizers say, the term sustainability refers to the environmental dimension of sustainable development as defined in 1987 by “Our Common Future,” the Brundtland Report, from the UN World Commission on Environment and Development.

The Brundtland Commission defined sustainable development as “development which meets the needs of current generations without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.”

To that end, COP23 organizers are managing transport, waste management, catering, energy and offsetting, providing clean transportation and clean electricity to the greatest extent possible.

The COP23 Sustainability Taskforce estimates that most emissions caused by COP 23 are the result of transport, with delegates’ international travel responsible for the largest share.

Emissions from local travel will be reduced by renewable energy-powered electric vehicle shuttles that will transfer delegates between the two conference zones, Bula and Bonn.

The conference venue itself will be managed sustainably, including its use of resources such as energy, waste and water.

“The most important aspect is that local public transportation is free of charge for all registered participants from Parties, observer organizations and media,” says Dennis Winkler, who heads the COP 23 Sustainability Taskforce and is responsible for the sustainability of UN climate change conferences.

“Also, 600 bikes will be provided free of charge for participants to get from one conference zone to another, or even to the city,” Winkler said.

The city of Bonn has several electric and hybrid buses in service and special electric COP 23 shuttles, running on 100 percent renewable energy, will connect a brand-new UN Campus train stop with the nearby metro stop and the two conference zones.

“We think it is important for there to be electric transport at the Bonn Climate Change Conference, as it absolutely meets the key goals of COP23,” says Anja Wenmakers of Bonn’s public transport provider, Stadtwerke-Bonn. “We are committed to supporting climate action goals and believe that public transport in general can make an important contribution to quickly achieving these goals.”

In addition, a shuttle service with smaller electric vehicles through the Rheinaue Park will be organized by the German Environment Ministry. Electric buses will be clearly identified with a special label.

In an effort to use energy efficiently, COP23 organizers are seeking to keep all indoor areas at an average temperature of 21 degrees Celsius, and not warmer. Participants are requested to turn off room lights and ventilation as well as ICT equipment when not in use.

In addition to maximizing energy efficiency, the organizers are making sure that the energy that is used in buildings is from renewable sources when possible.

“We have a target of 80 percent renewable energy all over the conference,” said Winkler. He and his team will have to make an assessment of whether this target has been reached at the end of the conference.

The UNFCCC Secretariat runs on 100 percent renewable energy, some of it sourced from solar panels on the roof of its headquarters building.

In a another effort to contribute to reducing greenhouse gas emissions from transport, the UNFCCC has announced a partnership with Ethanol Europe Renewables Ltd, which aims to promote the use of biofuels as lower-carbon alternatives to fossil fuels.

When COP23 is over on November 17, the UNFCCC Sustainability Taskforce will calculate the overall greenhouse gas footprint of all aspects of the conference, including travel, food, local transport and accommodation.

Their calculations will be verified under the Eco-Management and Audit Scheme. All unavoidable emissions resulting from COP23 will be offset.

The Government of Germany has committed to the purchase of certified emission credits, preferably from Clean Development Mechanism projects registered in small island developing States, in recognition of the Fijian Presidency of COP 23.

“The human suffering caused by intensifying hurricanes, wildfires, droughts, floods and threats to food security caused by climate change means there is no time to waste,” said Frank Bainimarama, the Prime Minister of Fiji, who took over as president of the COP23 conference from Morocco during the opening.

“We must preserve the global consensus for decisive action enshrined in the Paris Agreement and aim for the most ambitious part of that target – to limit the global average temperature rise to 1.5 degrees above that of the pre-industrial age,” he said. “Wherever we live, we are all vulnerable and need to act.”

COP23 is structured according to the principle of one conference, two zones. The UN intergovernmental negotiations take place in Zone Bula, a Fijian word expressing warm welcome.

Negotiating countries plan to design and launch the Talanoa dialogue, named after the spirit of open exchange and constructive debate of Pacific island nations, to run during 2018.

The dialogue will conclude at COP24 in Poland next year with the aim of setting the stage for a more ambitious response that better reflects the scientific state of climate change during 2019-2020.

Governments will work on the Paris Agreement’s operating system – the detailed ways and means to assist all governments to meet the goals of the Paris Agreement now and in the future.

“Fiji is helping build a Grand Coalition for decisive, coordinated action by governments at every level, by civil society, the private sector and all citizens on Earth,” said Bainimarama. “That’s why we installed an ocean-going Fijian ‘drua’ canoe in the entrance here to remind everyone of the need to fill its sail with collective determination to make COP23 a success and confront the biggest challenge humanity has faced.”

Featured Image: COP23 dignitaries ride bicycles through the streets of Bonn, Germany ahead of the 23rd Conference of the Parties to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). From right: Frank Bainimarama, the Prime Minister of Fiji and COP23 president; Patricia Espinosa, executive secretary of the UNFCCC. Nov. 5, 2017 (Photo courtesy UNFCCC) Creative Commons license via Flickr


Hi-tech Plastic Trees Generate Power

Diagram of how an energy tree will function. (Graphic courtesy Solar Botanic)

Diagram of how an energy tree will function. (Graphic courtesy Solar Botanic)

 

By Sunny Lewis

LONDON, UK, August 8, 20127 (Maximpact.com News) – Clean tech meets art meets life in a new energy tree with nanoleaves that absorb sunlight and quiver in the breeze to produce solar and wind power. A natural-looking, energy generator that looks like a real tree, the emerging new technology could completely change how homes are powered.

The energy tree stands 16 foot (4.87 meter) tall and can generate nearly three times the electricity an average family uses in a year.

A typical three bedroom house in the UK uses 3,300 kilowatt hrs of energy a year, according to The Carbon Trust and National Energy Agency. The energy tree can generate at least 12,000 kilowatt hours a year, its creators say.

They estimate that each tree would cost about £15,000, with the leaves themselves at less than £3 each.

Design and engineering students at Brunel University London have developed the tree concept and tested the e-leaves prototype for the London-based renewable energy start-up, Solar Botanic.

“We wanted the leaves to look like leaves, so we used a green plasma coated solar cell,” said Dr. Zahir Dehouche, a sustainable energy specialist at Brunel University London.

“The idea is for people to see a leaf. It’s very attractive, an art installation almost that combines design and an energy system,” Dr. Dehouche said.

Inspired by photosynthesis, the energy tree copies the Earth’s natural aesthetics to create a beautiful complement to modern surroundings. The technology is based on biomimicry, an approach that seeks sustainable solutions that emulate natural functions.

The energy tree’s nanoleaves are made of a thin sunlight-activated photovoltaic film, covered in a protective green layer flexible enough to shimmer in the breeze.

The branches, twigs and leafstalks carry high-resistance piezoelectric ribbons that harvest kinetic energy as they move, so sunlight, raindrops and wind all create energy as they come in contact with the tree.

Once produced, the electricity travels down a trunk made of high-strength recycled polymers and synthetic resin.

It works as a giant solar panel and wind turbine, so the stronger the sun and the windier the day, the more power it produces.

The combination of nanoleaves and piezoelectric ribbons ensures a harvest of electricity throughout the seasons – rain or shine.

The idea has been gestating for 15 years in the mind of Solar Botanic owner Alex van der Beek. While on a train ride to visit his sister in the Netherlands in 2002, where wind turbines mark scenic views, van der Beek thought that electricity could be generated by something more beautiful, a fake tree, he told “Scientific American” in 2009.

Van der Beek founded Solar Botanic, Ltd., in London in 2008 based on the concept of an energy tree that combines three different technologies that can generate electricity – photovoltaics, or solar power, electricity from visible sunlight; thermoelectrics, electricity from heat; and piezoelectrics, electricity from pressure – all in the shape of a leaf on a  stem.

When thousands of these units, which he calls nanoleaves, are placed on a natural-looking plastic tree, electricity can be produced without spoiling natural landscapes, van der Beek says.

Solar Botanic aims to start building its first full-scale tree at the end of this year.

Plans call for electricity generated by the energy trees to go directly into homes through underground cables. Excess power can be stored in batteries and sold to the national grid.

The tree’s recyclable trunk can be fitted with street lights, or packed with generators to charge electric cars, mobile phones or robots.

Van der Beek envisions forests of energy trees. With the proper installation, a group of trees could power a neighborhood.

Planted next to newly built homes, energy trees could raise property values by 20 percent by removing the need for heavy solar panels, says Dr. Dehouche.

In developing countries, which often have brighter sunlight than shines on London, the trees would be extra efficient, helping to supply power as demand spikes.

The team sees the sturdy, organic-looking structures as enhancing high streets, sea fronts and business parks.

“The tree is a sculpture that invites people to connect with renewable energy,” said Elise Hounslow, a Brunel University design and industrial technology graduate.

“It shows green energy doesn’t have to be ugly or intrusive,” she said, “it can be beautiful and make us feel positive about changing our ways for a brighter future.”


Featured Image: Energy trees could look like this real tree. (Photo courtesy Solar Botanic)

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China Leads the New Clean Energy Reality

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Jim Carr, Minister of Energy, Canada; Wan Gang, Minister of Science and Technology, China; Dr. Fatih Birol, Executive Director, International Energy Agency; Rick Perry, Secretary of Energy, USA; Terje Søviknes, Minister of Petroleum and Energy, Norway (Photo courtesy IEA) Posted for media use.

By Sunny Lewis

BEIJING, China, June 8, 2017 (Maximpact.com) – Now that President Donald Trump has announced that he will exit the Paris Agreement on climate, the world’s major emerging economies, including China and India, are replacing the United States at the center stage of the clean energy transition.

By betting on energy efficiency, wind, solar and other renewables, these countries are increasingly leading the way, while the United States falls behind as Trump moves the country towards greater reliance on coal and oil.

The International Energy Agency projects that all of the growth in energy demand in the next 25 years will take place in emerging and developing countries.

“There is a new reality in clean energy,” says Christian Zinglersen of the International Energy Agency (IEA), who heads the new Clean Energy Ministerial Secretariat. Based at the IEA headquarters in Paris, the Clean Energy Ministerial is a global forum that promotes clean energy policies.

This is the importance of the top-level meeting of energy ministers from the world’s biggest economies taking plan in Beijing this week, said Zinglersen, formerly deputy permanent secretary at the Danish Ministry of Energy, Utilities and Climate.

“The fact that representatives from fossil-fuel producers like Mexico and Saudi Arabia will join renewable-energy pioneers like Denmark and Germany for a top-level meeting in China is not a coincidence,” he said. “We are witnessing a global consensus that the key to the energy transition will reside with decisions made in emerging economies.”

China, the world’s biggest emitter of heat-trapping greenhouse gases, is changing its coal-burning ways. “China is now the undisputable global leader of renewable energy expansion worldwide, and the IEA forecasts that by 2021, more than one-third of global cumulative solar PV and onshore wind capacity will be located in China,” said Zinglersen.

India was the first country to set comprehensive quality and performance standards for light emitting diodes (LEDs), and it expects to save as much as 277 terawatt-hours of electricity between 2015 and 2030, avoiding 254 million metric tons of carbon dioxide emissions – the equivalent of 90 coal-fired power plants.

On June 6, during a side event on efficient lighting at the Clean Energy Ministerial, 13 companies announced new commitments to the Global Lighting Challenge totaling nearly six billion LED lighting products.

The Global Lighting Challenge has now reached 14 billion high-efficiency, high-quality lighting products committed, surpassing its 10 billion light goal set at the sixth Clean Energy Ministerial two years ago.

Twelve Chinese solid-state lighting companies committed to deploy 3.29 billion LED Lamps and 5.77 million LED streetlights by the end of 2018.

Based on these commitments, the total cumulative energy savings from 2017–2018 is estimated at more than 45 billion kWh, which is roughly half of the Three Gorges Hydropower Station’s annual power generation (93.5 billion kWh in 2016).

These energy savings lead to CO2 a emissions reduction estimated at more than 40.5 million tons.

LEDVANCE, an international company for lighting products and networked light applications based in Germany, announced its commitment to sell 2.5 billion LED lamps by 2023.

LEDVANCE’s goal will save the equivalent amount of energy produced by 75 medium-sized coal-fired power plants, the company estimates.

“We made a very conscious choice in pledging this commitment and are very proud in taking part in the Global Lighting Challenge,” said Thomas Dreier, global head of research and development at LEDVANCE.

“LED lamps are not only ecologically sensible but also economically. In combination with smart lighting solutions, LED lamps in the current generation have a potential of reducing energy consumption and costs by 90 percent,” Dreier said.

“At LEDVANCE, we have been investing a lot in researching the potential of tomorrow’s LED lamps, which will continue to increase the scope of what is possible in energy efficiency.”

The number of electric cars on the roads around the world rose to two million in 2016, following a year of strong growth in 2015, according to the latest edition of the International Energy Agency’s Global EV Outlook.

China remained the largest market in 2016, accounting for more than 40 percent of the electric cars sold in the world.

With more than 200 million electric two-wheelers and more than 300,000 electric buses, China is by far the global leader in the electrification of transport. China, the United States and Europe made up the three main markets, totaling over 90 percent of all electric vehicles sold around the world.

Four large U.S. cities: Los Angeles, Seattle, San Francisco and Portland, are leading a partnership of over 30 cities to mass-purchase EVs for their public fleets including police cruisers, street sweepers and trash haulers. The group of cities is currently seeking to purchase over 110,000 EVs, a significant number when compared to the 160,000 total EVs sold in the entire United States in 2016.

U.S. Department of Energy Secretary Rick Perry told his counterparts in Beijing, “I don’t believe you can have a real conversation about clean energy without including carbon capture, utilization and storage (CCUS). The United States understands the importance of this clean technology and its vital role in the future of energy production.”

Perry made these comments at a meeting of the energy ministers of Canada, China, Norway, and the United States, as well as heads of delegation from Australia and the European Commission, business leaders and civil society organizations held ahead of the Clean Energy Ministerial in Beijing.

Carbon capture, utilization and storage is a process that captures CO2 emissions from sources like coal-fired power plants and either reuses it or stores it so it will not enter the atmosphere.

The ministers were invited by the International Energy Agency and China to review how to increase collaboration to drive further deployment of carbon capture, utilization and storage (CCUS).

The meeting was held ahead of the 8th Clean Energy Ministerial (CEM8), in Beijing.

“We have already seen the success of projects like Petra Nova in Texas, which is the world’s largest post-combustion carbon-capture system,” Perry said. “Our experience with CCUS proves that you can do the right thing for the environment and the economy too.”

The system at Petra Nova can capture 1.6 million tons of CO2 each year from an existing coal-fired power plant unit, a capture rate of up to 90 percent from a supplied slipstream of flue gas. By using CO2 captured from the plant, oil production at West Ranch oilfield is expected to increase from around 500 barrels per day to up to 15,000 barrels per day.

Jim Carr, Canada’s Minister of Natural Resources said, “Carbon capture, use and storage holds enormous potential to enable economic growth and create jobs, while ensuring the environment is protected.”

“Canada hopes to continue working with domestic and international partners, including through the Clean Energy Ministerial and Mission Innovation, to help us all address the technical and policy challenges around wide scale implementation of this important technology,” Carr said.

“There are many reasons to stand for clean energy today,” said Zinglersen. “These can range from reducing greenhouse gas emissions but also battling the scourge of air pollution, improving energy security by reducing the dependency of fossil fuels, diversifying supply, creating high-tech jobs or fostering innovation. As such, approaches to clean energy will vary from country to country.”

By committing to these new clean technologies, he said, countries like China are helping drive down costs for the benefit of the world.


Featured Image: Dabancheng is said to be China’s the wind power capital. The Dabancheng Wind Farm is situated on the road from Urumqi to Turpan in northwestern China. (Photo courtesy Asian Development Bank) Creative commons license via Flickr

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Fortune 500 Firms Embrace Clean Energy

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With over 500 dual-axis, pedestal mounted tracker assemblies, each producing 60 kW, the Alamosa Solar Generating Project is the largest high-concentrating solar photovoltaic power generation system in the world, 2014, Alamosa, Colorado (Photo by Dennis Schroeder / NREL) Public domain

By Sunny Lewis

WASHINGTON, DC, May 2, 2017 (Maximpact.com News) – A growing number of Fortune 500 companies are taking ambitious steps to slash their greenhouse gas emissions, buy more renewable energy and shrink their energy bills through energy efficiency, finds a new report from World Wildlife Fund, Ceres , Calvert Research and Management  and CDP, formerly the Carbon Disclosure Project.

Findings from the new report, “Power Forward 3.0: How the largest U.S. companies are capturing business value while addressing climate change,” are based on 2016 company disclosures to CDP, which holds the world’s largest collection of self-reported corporate environmental data, and other public sources.

“CDP and the investors we work with, representing over US$100 trillion in assets, engage thousands of the world’s largest companies to measure and manage climate-related risks” said Lance Pierce, president of CDP North America.

“Voluntary corporate disclosure highlights the compelling business case for corporate clean energy procurement and clearly demonstrates the transition underway in the energy markets,” said Pierce. “Companies in turn have benefited, identifying billions of dollars in savings and new opportunities through their disclosures to CDP.”

The numbers tell the story.

Sixty-three percent of the largest companies, the Fortune 100, have set at least one clean energy target.

Nearly half of Fortune 500 companies, 48 percent, have set at least one climate or clean energy target, up five percent from an earlier 2014 report.

A greenhouse gas reduction goal is the most common target, set by 211 companies.

Roughly 80,000 emission-reducing projects by the 190 Fortune 500 companies reporting data showed nearly $3.7 billion in savings in 2016 alone.

Many large companies are setting 100 percent renewable energy goals and science-based greenhouse gas reduction targets that align with the global goal of limiting global temperature rise to below two degrees Celsius set by the Paris Climate Agreement.

More than 20 Fortune 500 companies such as industry giants Wal-Mart, Bank of America, Google and Facebook, have committed to powering all corporate operations with 100 percent renewable energy, compared to only a few mega-companies just a few years ago.

Google announced in December that renewable energy will power 100 percent of its global operations in 2017, a year ahead of schedule. Nearly all of this renewable energy will come from wind power.

“American businesses are leading the transition to a clean economy because it’s smart business and it’s what their customers want,” said Marty Spitzer, World Wildlife Fund’s senior director of climate and renewable energy. “Clean energy is fueling economic opportunity from coast to coast without regard for party line. Washington policies may slow this boom, but these companies are making it very clear that a transition to a low-carbon economy is inevitable.”

American corporate giants are taking these steps despite the climate denial policies of President Donald Trump and his cabinet. Trump has threatened to pull the United States out of the Paris Climate Agreement, for which President Barack Obama was a leading voice. Adopted by consensus of 195 world governments in December 2015, the pact has been ratified by 144 countries and took effect on November 4, 2016.

Trump has appointed climate change deniers Scott Pruitt to head the Environmental Protection Agency and Rick Perry to head the Department of Energy. Pruitt last week ordered removal of all Obama-era climate change data from the EPA website, calling it “outdated.”

On March 28, Trump signed an executive order to dismantle President Barack Obama’s Clean Power Plan, which would have moved the nation away from burning coal and toward cleaner energy sources such as natural gas and renewables.

More than 200,000 people marched in the streets of Washington, DC on Saturday in protest of these moves and tens of thousands more took part in climate marches across the country.

But the large corporations are not embracing renewables and energy efficiency in response to Trump policies or to public condemnation of them. Instead, they are doing so to benefit their bottom lines.

The report highlights the financial benefits companies are receiving from their clean energy investments. The emission reductions from these efforts are equivalent to taking 45 coal-fired power plants offline every year.

The growth in the number and ambition of renewable energy commitments is mainly the result of recent sharp declines in renewable energy costs, which saves companies money, and of price certainty that comes with renewable energy, the report finds.

Praxair, IBM and Microsoft are among the companies saving tens of millions of dollars annually through their energy efficiency efforts.

“We are encouraged to see significant improvement in both the number of Fortune 500 companies setting climate and clean energy goals and the ambition of those goals – in particular commitments to setting science-based and 100 percent renewable energy targets,” said Anne Kelly, senior director of policy and the BICEP network at Ceres, a sustainability nonprofit organization based in Boston, Massachusetts.

“But in order to meet our national and global emissions goals, more companies will need to join the champions highlighted in this report, both in setting goals and in becoming vocal advocates for continued federal and state policies in support of climate and clean energy progress,” said Kelly.

Ten percent (53) of companies have set renewable energy targets, and almost half of those (23) have committed to power 100 percent of their operations with renewable energy – among those, Wal-Mart, General Motors, Bank of America, Google, Apple and Facebook.

“Corporate commitment to energy efficiency and renewable energy is an accelerating trend that illustrates broader recognition within the business community of the importance of clean energy and the financial benefits it can yield,” said Stu Dalheim, vice president of corporate shareholder engagement for Calvert.

“Many of the largest companies in the U.S. are achieving significant cost savings through clean energy programs and mitigating longer-term risks associated with energy price volatility,” he said.

Some of the strongest efforts are among Fortune 100 companies, with 63 percent adopting or retaining goals.

The report also shows strong improvement among the smallest 100 companies in the Fortune 500, with 44 percent setting goals in one or more categories, up 19 percentage points from the same group’s 2014 report, “Power Forward 2.0: How American Companies Are Setting Clean Energy Targets and Capturing Greater Business Value.

The report shows a spread in target setting among different sectors, with Consumer Staples (72%), Materials (66%), and Utilities (65%) sectors leading in setting clean energy goals and the Energy sector (11%), including oil & gas companies, lagging.

The report includes three key recommendations for companies, policymakers and investors to continue to scale clean energy efforts.

  •  Companies should continue to set, implement and communicate clean energy targets, while supporting local, state and national policies that make it easier to achieve their climate and energy commitments.
  •  Federal and state policymakers should establish clear, long-term low-carbon polices that will help companies meet their clean energy targets while helping the United States meet its carbon-reducing commitments under the Paris Climate Agreement.
  • Investors should consider allocating their investments to companies well-positioned for the low-carbon economy. Investors should continue to file shareholder resolutions and engage in dialogues with companies to encourage them to set climate and energy efficiency targets and position themselves for a low-carbon future.

Featured image : Wind turbines at the National Renewable Energy Lab facility in Golden, Colorado. (Photo courtesy NREL) Public domain

CapacityBuilding

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2016 a Record Year for Renewables, Latest IRENA Data Reveals

2016 a Record Year for Renewables

Solar outpaces wind for new power capacity

Abu Dhabi, UAE, 30 March 2017 — Global renewable energy generation capacity increased by 161 gigawatts (GW) in 2016, making the strongest year ever for new capacity additions, according to data released today by the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA). Renewable Energy Capacity Statistics 2017, estimates that by the end of last year the world’s renewable generation capacity reached 2,006 GW, with solar energy showing particularly strong growth.

We are witnessing an energy transformation taking hold around the world, and this is reflected in another year of record breaking additions in new renewable energy capacity,” said IRENA Director-General Adnan Z. Amin. “This growth in deployment emphasizes the increasingly strong business case for renewables which also have multiple socio-economic benefits in terms of fueling economic growth, creating jobs and improving human welfare and the environment. But accelerating this momentum will require additional investment in order to move decisively towards decarbonising the energy sector and meet climate objectives. This new data is an encouraging sign that though there is much yet to do, we are on the right path,” Mr. Amin added.

IRENA’s new data shows that last year’s additions grew the world’s renewable energy capacity by 8.7 per cent, with a record 71 GW of new solar energy leading the growth. 2016 marked the first time since 2013 that solar growth outpaced wind energy, which increased by 51 GW, while hydropower and bioenergy capacities increased 30 GW and 9 GW respectively —the best ever year for growth in bioenergy capacity. Geothermal energy capacity increased by just under 1 GW.

Asia accounted for 58 per cent of new renewable additions in 2016, according to the data, giving it a total of 812 GW or roughly 41 per cent of the global capacity. Asia was also the fastest growing region, with a 13.1 per cent increase in renewable capacity. Africa installed 4.1 GW of new capacity in 2016, twice as much as 2015.

This year’s edition of Renewable Energy Capacity Statistics contains for the first time data specifically for off-grid renewables. IRENA shows that off-grid renewable electricity capacity reached 2,800 megawatts (MW) at the end of 2016. Roughly 40 per cent of off-grid electricity was provided by solar energy and 10 per cent from hydropower. The majority of the remainder came from bioenergy. It is estimated that globally as many as 60 million households, or 300 million people, are served with and benefit from off-grid renewable electricity.

Highlights by technology:

Hydropower: In 2016, about half of new hydro capacity was installed in Brazil and China (14.6 GW in total). Other countries with major hydro expansion (over 1 GW) included: Canada; Ecuador; Ethiopia and India.

Wind energy: Almost three-quarters of new wind energy capacity was installed last year in just four countries: China (+19 GW); USA (+9 GW); Germany (+5 GW); and India (+4 GW). Brazil continued to show strong growth, with an increase of 2 GW in 2016.

Bioenergy: The majority of bioenergy capacity expansion occurred in Asia last year (+5.9 GW) and Asia is fast approaching Europe in terms of its share of global bioenergy capacity (32 per cent compared to 34 per cent in Europe). Europe (+1.3 GW) and South America (+0.9 GW) were the other two regions where bioenergy capacity expanded significantly.

Solar energy: Asia saw the most growth in solar capacity last year, with capacity of 139 GW (+50 GW). Almost half of all new solar capacity was installed in China in 2016 (+34 GW). Other countries with significant expansion included: USA (+11 GW); Japan (+8 GW) and India (+4 GW). Capacity in Europe expanded by 5 GW to reach 104 GW, with most expansion occurring in Germany and the UK.

Geothermal energy: Geothermal power capacity increased by 780 MW in 2016, with expansions in Kenya (+485 MW), Turkey (+150 MW), Indonesia (+95 MW) and Italy (+55 MW).

Renewable Energy Capacity Statistics 2017 offers the most comprehensive, up-to-date and accessible figures on renewable energy capacity statistics. It includes figures from 2000 to 2016, and contains data from more than 200 countries and territories.

Access Renewable Energy Capacity Statistics 2017: Here

About the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) 
IRENA is mandated to be the global hub for renewable energy cooperation and information exchange by 150 Members (149 States and the European Union). 27 additional countries are in the accession process and actively engaged. IRENA promotes the widespread adoption and sustainable use of all forms of renewable energy, in the pursuit of sustainable development, energy access, energy security and low-carbon economic growth and prosperity.


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Transforming Africa

TanzaniaChildren

Children in Tanzania wait for peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. (Photo by Derek Hansen) Creative Commons license via Flickr

 By Sunny Lewis

BADEN BADEN, Germany, March 21, 2017 (Maximpact.com News) – Following a meeting with G20 finance ministers and central bank governors on Sunday in Baden Baden, World Bank Group President Jim Yong Kim announced a record US$57 billion in financing for Sub-Saharan African countries over the next three years.

KimJimYong

President of the World Bank Group Jim Yong Kim of the United States (Photo by Simone D. McCourtie/World Bank) Creative Commons license via Flickr

Kim said the fresh infusion of funds will scale up investments and de-risk private sector participation for accelerated growth and development across Sub-Saharan Africa .

This represents an unprecedented opportunity to change the development trajectory of the countries in the region,” he said.

With this commitment,” he said, “we will work with our clients to substantially expand programs in education, basic health services, clean water and sanitation, agriculture, business climate, infrastructure, and institutional reform.

Kim then left to visit Rwanda in the central Sub-Saharan region and Tanzania in the east to emphasize the Bank Group’s support for the entire region.

With a population of just over one billion people, Sub-Saharan Africa is defined as those African countries situated south of the Sahara Desert.

Economic growth in Sub-Saharan Africa remains strong,” the World Bank stated three years ago, in March 2014. “Almost a third of countries in the region are growing at six percent.

But income inequality is extreme in the Sub-Saharan region. Some of these countries, such as Nigeria and South Africa, are rich in oil or mineral wealth, but many others are desperately poor.

First Priorities: Food and Water

Earlier this month, the World Bank president issued a warning on the “devastating levels of food insecurity” in sub-Saharan Africa and Yemen. “Famine is a stain on our collective conscience,” Kim said. “Millions of lives are at risk and more will die if we do not act quickly and decisively.

We at the World Bank Group stand in solidarity with the people now threatened by famine,” Kim said March 8. “We are mobilizing an immediate response for Ethiopia, Kenya, Nigeria, Somalia, South Sudan, and Yemen. Our first priority is to work with partners to make sure that families have access to food and water.

Much of the newly announced financing, $45 billion, will come from the International Development Association (IDA), the World Bank Group’s fund for the poorest countries.

In December, development partners agreed to a record $75 billion for IDA, based on an innovative move to blend donor contributions to IDA with World Bank Group internal resources, and with funds raised through capital markets.

The IDA financing for Africa is targeted to addressing roadblocks that prevent the region from reaching its potential. The scaled-up IDA financing will build on a portfolio of 448 ongoing projects across the continent.

A $1.6 billion financing package is being developed to tackle the impending threat of famine in parts of Sub-Saharan Africa.

Expected IDA outcomes include essential health and nutrition services for up to 400 million people, access to improved water sources for up to 45 million, and 5 GW of renewable energy generating capacity.

Next: Building Resilience

In support of countries’ own development priorities, the scaled-up investments will focus on tackling conflict, fragility, and violence; building resilience to crises including forced displacement, climate change, and pandemics; and reducing gender inequality.

The new financing for Sub-Saharan Africa will include an estimated $8 billion in private sector investments from the International Finance Corporation (IFC), a private sector arm of the World Bank Group.

IFC will deepen its engagement in fragile and conflict-affected states and increase climate-related investments.

In addition, there will be $4 billion in financing from the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development (IBRD), its non-concessional public sector arm.

IBRD priorities will include health, education, and infrastructure projects such as expanding water distribution and access to power.

Efforts will also promote governance and institution building, as well as jobs and economic transformation.

This financing will help African countries continue to grow, create opportunities for their citizens, and build resilience to shocks and crises,” Kim said.

While much of the estimated $45 billion in IDA financing will be dedicated to country-specific programs, Kim says significant amounts will be available through special “windows” to finance regional initiatives and transformative projects, support refugees and their host communities, and help countries in the aftermath of crises.

This will be complemented by a newly established Private Sector Window, especially important in Africa, where many sound investments go untapped due to lack of capital and perceived risks.

The Private Sector Window will supplement existing instruments to spur sound investments through de-risking, blended finance, and local currency lending.

The priorities for private sector investment will include infrastructure, financial markets, and agribusiness.

Powering Africa, Both On and Off the Grid

In the western sub-Saharan African country of Côte d’Ivoire last week, former UN Secretary-General

Kofi Annan, secretary-general of the United Nations from 1997 to 2006, was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 2001. Born in Ghana, was the first UN Secretary-General from Sub-Saharan Africa. Annan now heads the Africa Progress Panel, and serves as chair of the Kofi Annan Foundation and chair of The Elders. (Photo courtesy Africa Progress Panel) Posted for media use

Kofi Annan, secretary-general of the United Nations from 1997 to 2006, was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 2001. Born in Ghana, was the first UN Secretary-General from Sub-Saharan Africa. Annan now heads the Africa Progress Panel, and serves as chair of the Kofi Annan Foundation and chair of The Elders. (Photo courtesy Africa Progress Panel) Posted for media use

Kofi Annan issued a new report, “Lights Power Action: Electrifying Africa” that calls for investment in quickly solving Africa’s energy crisis.

Speaking March 13 at African Development Bank headquarters in Abidjan, Annan said, “Achieving universal access to modern energy is critical to Africa’s transformation.”

Nearly two-thirds of Africans – 620 million people – still do not have access to ‘affordable, reliable, sustainable and modern electricity,‘” said Annan, the energy goal that is central to Agenda 2030 for Sustainable Development.

The core message of “Lights Power Action” emphasizes that grid-connected mega projects such as large dams and power pools are essential to scale up national and regional energy generation and transmission, but they are slow and expensive.

Through the report, Annan is urging governments to increase investment in off-grid and mini-grid solutions, which are cheaper and quicker to install.

What we are advocating is for African governments to harness every available option, in as cost-effective and technologically efficient a manner as possible, so that everyone is included and no one is left behind” said Annan, who chairs the Africa Progress Panel that wrote the report.

Of the 315 million people who will gain access to electricity in Africa’s rural areas by 2040, it is estimated that only 30 percent will be connected to national grids. Most will be powered by off-grid household or mini-grid systems.

Annan told the audience in Abidjan, “As well as leading the way in promoting wider use of off-grid and mini-grid technology, African governments must continue to work hard to transform national energy grids that are often unreliable and financially fragile.

Many energy utilities are mismanaged and inefficient. A lack of accountability and transparency in their governance also nurtures corruption,” he warned.

Electricity theft at staggering scale is often the result of this malpractice; rolling black-outs are the result of mismanagement,” said Annan. “All continue to feed a deep sense of frustration among citizens.”

It’s not just energy mismanagement, Annan explained. “Poor energy governance reflects the wider governance deficit that threatens to derail development efforts in a number of countries.

Governments need to intensify their efforts to put in place regulatory environments that give the energy sector incentives to deliver on its transformative potential,” he said.

Africa’s leadership, in both public and private sectors, need to “champion the energy for all agenda,” Annan urged.

The private sector, African and non-African,” said the former secretary-general, “should be encouraged to enter energy generation, transmission and distribution markets, deepen linkages throughout the value chain, and build the investment partnerships that can drive growth and create jobs.

He is not saying countries should immediately stop using fossil fuels and switch to renewables. The cost of transitioning to renewables may be prohibitively high in the short term, especially for countries that use their sizable endowments of coal and other fossil fuels to generate energy.

The report advocates that African governments harness every available energy option, so that no one is left behind. Said Annan, “Each country needs to decide on the most cost-effective, technologically efficient energy mix that works best for its own needs.

As widespread adoption of mobile phone technology has already helped Africa leapfrog over conventional technology and improve financial and social inclusion, Annan predicts that “innovation will bring millions of Africans into the energy loop,” setting the stage for improved quality of life.

The ultimate goal should be to interlink Africa’s numerous and fragmented power initiatives to create a single pan-African power grid,” he said in Abidjan.

We know what is needed to reduce and ultimately eliminate Africa’s energy deficit,” declared Annan. “Now we must focus on implementation. The time for excuses is over. It’s time for action.


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Abu Dhabi Sustainability Week Glitters in the Sun

AbuDhabiSustainabilityWeek

The International Renewable Energy Agency exhibit at the World Future Energy Summit 2017, a part of Abu Dhabi Sustainability Week, January 16, 2017 (Photo courtesy IRENA) Creative Commons license via Flickr.

By Sunny Lewis

ABU DHABI, United Arab Emirates, January 19, 2017 (Maximpact.com News) – The oil-rich Middle East’s largest gathering on sustainability is happening this week, featuring the rock star business and opinion leaders who are shaping the present and future clean energy world.

An estimated 35,600 people representing 170 countries are attending Abu Dhabi Sustainability Week (ADSW) under sunny skies, including 80 government ministers, 382 exhibiting companies, and more than 200 high-level speakers.

As a global platform for addressing the interconnected challenges of clean energy, water and sustainable development, Abu Dhabi Sustainability Week has developed lasting partnerships with many of the world’s most admired experts and opinion formers on sustainability issues,” said Mohamed Jameel Al Ramahi, chief executive officer of Masdar, Abu Dhabi’s renewable energy company and the host of ADSW.

ADSW 2017 explores the theme “Practical Steps Towards a Sustainable Future” from January 12-21 with presentations, discussions and workshops on clean energy, water and waste.

From the podium, Mexico’s President Enrique Pena Nieto said, “Abu Dhabi Sustainability Week is a testament to the commitment of the United Arab Emirates to sustainable development and a new diversified, low carbon economy. Similar to how Mexico is leading the way as a developing country, the UAE was in fact the first country in the Middle East to set renewable energy targets at a time when there was widespread doubt about renewable energy’s viability and value.

Workshops are considering strategies to drive investment, implementation of the Paris Agreement on climate, and the challenges of adapting existing infrastructure to the new market reality of small-scale, distributed power.

Another critical new market reality was detailed by Michael Liebreich, founder and chairman of the Advisory Board, Bloomberg New Energy Finance, and Board member, Transport for London.

Developing countries are overtaking the wealthiest economies in attracting clean energy investment, with the Middle East & North Africa playing a growing role,” said Liebreich, citing research by Bloomberg New Energy Finance.

The global profile of ADSW is valuable in bringing emerging market opportunities to a wider stage,” he said, “thereby enabling greater cooperation between developed and developing economies.”

All kinds of clean energy investments are being forged in Abu Dhabi this week. “The clean energy sector has moved from the margins into the mainstream as a dynamic, commercially viable growth market,” Al Ramahi said.

The UAE Ministry of Energy, SKM Air-Conditioning and the Masdar Institute Wednesday signed an agreement to develop advanced energy-efficient building chillers specific to the Gulf Cooperation Council region.

If adopted nation-wide, the new efficient chillers could provide the UAE with national energy savings of over 20 percent while lowering life-cycle cooling plant costs. Currently 50 percent of the UAE’s electricity consumption goes towards cooling energy requirements, which can rise to as high as 75 percent during peak-day electricity use in the summer.

On another front, the United Arab Emirates announced a landmark new US$50 million grant fund for renewable energy projects in Caribbean island countries. 

Launched by Reem Al Hashimy, minister of state for international cooperation, the UAE-Caribbean Renewable Energy Fund is one of the largest-ever single investments in the region’s clean energy sector. It represents a significant deepening of bilateral relationships between the UAE and Caribbean countries.

Grant funding is provided by the Abu Dhabi Fund for Development, with the UAE Ministry of Foreign Affairs managing the initiative and Masdar leading implementation.

The announcement, which brings UAE development assistance for renewable energy to almost US$1 billion since 2013, was made on the sidelines of Abu Dhabi Sustainability Week, as part of the annual General Assembly meeting of the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA).

AminAbuDhabi

International Renewable Energy Agency Director-General Adnan Z. Amin at the World Future Energy Summit 2017, a part of Abu Dhabi Sustainability Week (Photo courtesy IRENA) Creative Commons license via Flickr.

IRENA Director-General Adnan Z. Amin anticipates great success ahead for renewable energy. “Renewables are gaining ground by nearly every measure,” he said. “Accelerating the pace of the energy transition and expanding its scope beyond the power sector will not only reduce carbon emissions, it will improve lives, create jobs, achieve development goals, and ensure a cleaner and more prosperous future.

Introducing the third and latest annual issue of IRENA’s report, “REthinking Energy,” Amin said that the falling costs of renewable energy, driven by innovations in technology and policy, is behind the rapid spread of renewables and an accompanying host of socioeconomic benefits.

As we advance deeper into a new energy paradigm, we need to pick-up the pace of our decarbonization efforts. Policies and regulations continue to remain crucial to this end and to develop the renewables market,” explained Amin. “We are seeing more and more countries hold auctions to deploy renewables, and as variable and distributed sources of renewables take-on a greater role, regulators have implemented changes to enable grid integration at scale.”

Heating and cooling, and the potential of renewables for transport, are areas where future efforts are needed,” Amin said.

REthinking Energy,” provides insights on the innovations, policy and finance driving further investment in sustainable energy system, finding that:

  • Renewable energy auctions are gaining popularity in both developed and developing countries, generating record-breaking low energy prices;
  • Demand for battery storage is increasing rapidly and playing a larger part in integrating variable renewables;
  • New capital-market instruments are helping increase available finance by offering new groups of investors access to investment opportunities;
  • Institutional investors are moving into renewable energy as it offers stable returns over the long term;
  • New business models promise new ways to finance renewable energy.

Of the clean energy technologies, the report finds that solar photovoltaics will grow the fastest in terms of capacity and output, and new ways to store electricity will be a game changer for growing variable renewable energy generation.

IRENA estimates that battery storage for electricity could increase from less than 1 GW today to 250 GW by 2030.

Cost-effective off-grid renewables already provide electricity to an estimated 90 million people worldwide. “REthinking Energy” describes how off-grid solutions can provide modern energy to hundreds of millions more people to help the world achieve its sustainable development goals.

Achieving universal electricity access by 2030, will require us to boost global power generation – nearly 60 percent of that will have to come from stand-alone and mini-grid solutions,” said Amin. “Meeting this aim with off-grid renewables depends on the right combination of policies, financing, technology and institutional capacity.

At the World Future Energy Summit 2017, a part of Abu Dhabi Sustainability Week that aims to build the business case for renewable energy, India’s solar power industry is showcasing an unprecedented range of investment opportunities, after the Indian government’s announcement of its plans to add an additional 175 GW of renewable energy to the nation’s electricity supply by 2022.

The Indian Ministry of New and Renewable Energy plans to install 100 GW of solar power, including utility-scale and rooftop solar. The remaining capacity will include 60 GW of utility-scale wind energy, 5 GW of small hydro, and 10 GW of bioenergy.

Private sector investors are showing new interest in Saudi Arabia’s solar energy market, after the nation’s leadership included plans to add 9.5 GW of renewables to the energy supply as part of Saudi Vision 2030, a strategy announced last April.

The Vision 2030 strategy sets 9.5 GW as an “initial target” to help build the Saudi renewables sector, noting that energy consumption will triple in the next 14 years. The Saudi government confirms that it aims to achieve that target by 2023, a rapid increase from the nation’s 25 MW of installed renewable energy capacity at the end of 2015.

Saudi Arabia’s plans are supported by a comprehensive restructuring of government departments responsible for energy. Vision 2030 calls for a complete review of the country’s legal and regulatory framework to allow the private sector to buy and invest in the renewable energy sector.

The projects that will flow from Saudi Arabia’s renewable energy plan create a landmark opportunity for technology manufacturers, developers and investors in solar energy, setting out a very real, very achievable ambition,” said Roberto de Diego Arozamena, CEO of Abdul Latif Jameel Energy, the largest GCC-based solar photovoltaic developer and one of the largest in the world.

A highlight of Abu Dhabi Sustainability Week took place on Monday with the awarding of this year’s Zayed Future Energy Prize to nine pioneers in renewable energy and sustainability.

Founded in 2008, the Zayed Future Energy Prize has lit up the world for more than 289 million people through the actions of its international community of winners.

This year’s Zayed Future Energy Prize winners:

Li Junfeng, director general of China’s National Center of Climate Strategy Research, won the Lifetime Achievement award for his commitment to the adoption of renewable energy in China.

General Electric won the Large Corporation award for leadership in the wind and solar energy markets. GE’s wind business alone has commissioned 41.3 GW of total generating capacity and installed more than 30,000 wind turbines to date.

Sonnen, the German smart home and commercial energy storage system manufacturer, was awarded the prize in the Small and Medium Enterprise category for leadership in providing battery storage solutions.

In the Non-Profit Organization category, UK-based Practical Action was recognized for its work in providing deprived communities with clean energy in Africa, Asia and Latin America.

Joining them were the winners in the Global High Schools category, five schools spanning five regions of the globe: Starehe Girls’ Center, Kenya for the Africa region; Green School Bali, Indonesia for the Asia region; Bolivia’s Unidad Educativa Sagrado Corazón 4 for the Americas; Belvedere College in Ireland for Europe; and Huonville High School, Tasmania, Australia for the Oceania region.

Dr. Sultan Ahmed Al Jaber, UAE Minister of State, took great satisfaction in announcing the winners. “The Zayed Future Energy Prize continues to honor the legacy of sustainability advocated by the UAE’s late founding father Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan,” he said. “With each awards ceremony, the UAE leadership accelerates the pursuit of innovation, reinforces the significance of sustainability at the top of the global agenda, and gives opportunities and far-reaching benefits to communities around the world.

Since the start of the Zayed Future Energy Prize awards, over 25 million people in Africa and Asia have been provided with access to modern, clean energy, off-setting more than one billion tons of carbon emissions, and ensuring that 17 million school age children can study at night using innovative solar-powered utilities.

Chair of the Zayed Future Energy Prize Jury Ólafur Ragnar Grímsson, former president of the Republic of Iceland, said, “Through the sustainable actions of its winners, the Zayed Future Energy Prize is a model example for how far the world has come in the last nine years. It is extraordinary that, through the impact of each winner and the lives they continue to improve, we now see a growing strength in being able to deliver a sustainable future.


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Vitamin B2 Inspires Batteries for Solar, Wind

FlowBattery

By using modified vitamin B2 molecules, researchers have created a rechargeable flow battery that could help solve large-scale electricity storage problems (Photo by Kaixiang Lin / Harvard University) Posted for media use.

By Sunny Lewis

CAMBRIDGE, Massachusetts, August 4, 2016 (Maximpact.com News) –  Harvard scientists have identified a new class of high-performing organic molecules, inspired by vitamin B2, that can safely store electricity from intermittent energy sources like solar and wind power in large batteries.

The team has developed a “high-capacity flow battery” that stores energy in organic molecules called quinones and in the food additive ferrocyanide.

 To accomplish this, the Harvard team replaced metal ions used as conventional battery electrolyte materials with quinones, molecules that store energy in plants and animals.

Now, after considering about a million different quinones, we have developed a new class of battery electrolyte material that expands the possibilities of what we can do,” said Kaixiang Lin, a Ph.D. student in chemistry at Harvard and first author of the paper.

 That advance was a game-changer, and the Harvard team now is delivering what they call “the first high-performance, non-flammable, non-toxic, non-corrosive, low-cost chemicals that could enable large-scale, inexpensive electricity storage.

Its simple synthesis means it should be manufacturable on a large scale at a very low cost, which is an important goal of this project,” said Lin, a chemistry graduate student.

Vitamin B2, also called riboflavin, is one of eight B vitamins. All the B vitamins help the body to convert carbohydrates in food into fuel in the form of glucose, which is used to produce energy, and metabolize fats and protein.

The key difference between B2 and quinones is that nitrogen atoms, instead of oxygen atoms, are involved in picking up and giving off electrons.

With only a couple of tweaks to the original B2 molecule, this new group of molecules becomes a good candidate for alkaline flow batteries,” said Dr. Michael Aziz, a Harvard professor of materials science.

Lin explained, “They have high stability and solubility and provide high battery voltage and storage capacity. Because vitamins are remarkably easy to make, this molecule could be manufactured on a large scale at a very low cost.

 “We designed these molecules to suit the needs of our battery, but really it was nature that hinted at this way to store energy,” said Dr. Roy Gordon, co-senior author of the paper and a Harvard professor of chemistry and materials science. “Nature came up with similar molecules that are very important in storing energy in our bodies.

The team will continue to explore quinones, as well as this new universe of molecules, in pursuit of a high-performing, long-lasting and inexpensive flow battery.

Harvard’s Office of Technology Development has been working with the research team to navigate the shifting complexities of the energy storage market and build relationships with companies well positioned to commercialize the new chemistries.

The ability to inexpensively store large amounts of electrical energy is of increasing importance, with the growing fraction of electric generation from intermittent renewable sources such as wind and solar, the study’s authors recognize.

As this fraction increases, problems associated with the mismatch between power supply from wind and solar and grid demand become more severe, they say.

While the versatile quinones show great promise for organic flow batteries, the Harvard researchers continue to explore other organic molecules in pursuit of even better performance.

The work was partly funded by a Department of Energy ARPA-E award, the National Science Foundation and the Massachusetts Clean Energy Technology Center and funded in part through the Harvard School of Engineering and Applied Sciences. The research also was supported by the Odyssey Cluster and Research Computing of Harvard University’s Faculty of Arts and Sciences.

Theoretical work was funded in part through the Extreme Science and Engineering Discovery Environment, which is supported by the National Science Foundation.

 Süleyman Er performed work as part of the Fellowships for Young Energy Scientists program of the Foundation for Fundamental Research on Matter, which is part of the Netherlands Organization for Scientific Research.

The new research is published in the journal “Nature Energy“.


Featured image : Dr, Michael Azia is the Gene and Tracy Sykes Professor of Materials and Energy Technologies at Harvard, he is a participant in the Materials Research Science and Engineering Center, a faculty associate, Center for Nanoscale Systems, and a faculty associate, Harvard University Center for the Environment (Photo courtesy Harvard University) Posted for media use.

Innovative Nuclear Reactors Attract Investors

By Sunny Lewis

CAMBRIDGE, Massachusetts, July 21, 2016 (Maximpact.com News) – Private investors such as Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates, Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos, Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg and Chinese billionaire Jack Ma are among many from around the world who are backing new types of nuclear reactors that will be safer and more efficient than those operating today.

They have formed the Breakthough Energy Coalition, an influential group of investors, committed to investing in technologies that can help solve the urgent energy and climate challenges facing the planet.

The University of California (UC) is the sole institutional investor among the 28 coalition members from 10 countries.

UC’s Office of the Chief Investment Officer has committed $1 billion of its investment capital for early-stage and scale-up investments in clean energy innovation over the next five years, as well as an additional $250 million to fund innovative, early-stage ideas emerging from the university.

The University of California, with its 10 campuses and three national energy labs, is home to some of the best climate scientists in the world and as a public research institution we take the imperative to solve global climate change very seriously,” said UC President Janet Napolitano. “With access to the private capital represented by investors in the Breakthrough Energy Coalition we can more effectively integrate our public research pipeline to deliver new technology and insights that will revolutionize the way the world thinks about and uses energy.”

We can’t ask for a better partner than the University of California Office of the President and the Office of the Chief Investment Officer to help accomplish the Breakthrough Energy Coalition’s ambitious goal,” Gates said. “The UC system – with its world leading campuses and labs – produces the kinds of groundbreaking technologies that will help define a global energy future that is cheaper, more reliable and does not contribute to climate change.”

High costs, together with fears about safety and waste disposal, have stalled construction of new nuclear plants, although construction continues in some countries. China is building 20 new reactors, South Korea is building four; even Japan is restarting some of the nuclear plants shut down after the 2011 Fukushima meltdown disaster and is building new reactors.

But the excitement in the nuclear industry is being generated by emerging new technologies, such as a traveling wave reactor, a new class of nuclear reactor that utilizes nuclear waste to generate electricity.

Gates is founder and chairman of TerraPower, a company based in Bellevue, Washington that designed the traveling wave reactor.

Conventional reactors capture only about one percent of the energy potential of their fuel. The traveling wave reactor is “a near-term deployable, truly sustainable, globally scalable energy solution,” TerraPower says on its website.

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TerraPower’s new traveling wave reactor is based on an original design by Saveli Feinberg in 1958. (Image by TerraPower. Posted for media use)

Unlike the existing fleet of nuclear reactors, the traveling wave reactor (TWR) burns fuel made from depleted uranium, currently a waste byproduct of the enrichment process. The TWR’s unique design gradually converts this material through a nuclear reaction without removing the fuel from the reactor’s core. The TWR can sustain this process indefinitely, generating heat and producing electricity.

The TWR offers a 50-fold gain in fuel efficiency, eliminates the need for reprocessing and reduces and potentially eliminates the long-term need for enrichment plants. This reduces nuclear proliferation concerns and lowers the cost of the nuclear energy process.

As the TWR operates, it converts depleted uranium to usable fuel. As a result, says TerraPower, “this inexpensive but energy-rich fuel source could provide a global electricity supply that is, for all practical purposes, inexhaustible.”

TerraPower aims to achieve startup of a 600 megawatt-electric prototype of the TWR in the mid-2020s, followed by global commercial deployment.

Transatomic Power, a Massachusetts Institute of Technology spinoff, is developing a molten-salt nuclear reactor that co-founders Mark Massie and Leslie Dewan, PhD candidates at MIT, estimate will cut the overall cost of a nuclear power plant in half.

Highly resistant to meltdowns, molten-salt reactors were demonstrated in the 1960s at Oak Ridge National Lab, where one test reactor ran for six years, but the technology has not been used commercially.

The new molten salt reactor design, which now exists only on paper, would produce 20 times as much power for its size as the Oak Ridge technology.

Transatomic has modified the original molten-salt design to allow it to run on nuclear waste.

And it’s safer than today’s water-cooled nuclear power plants. Even after a conventional reactor is shut down, it must be continuously cooled by pumping in water. The inability to do that is what caused the hydrogen explosions, radiation releases and meltdowns at Fukushima.

Using molten salt as the coolant solves some of these problems. The salt, which is mixed in with the fuel, has a boiling point much higher than the temperature of the fuel, giving the reactor a built-in thermostat. If it starts to heat up, the salt expands, spreading out the fuel, slowing the reactions and allowing the mixture to cool.

In the event of a power outage, a stopper at the bottom of the reactor melts and the fuel and salt flow into a holding tank, where the fuel spreads out enough for the reactions to stop. The salt then cools and solidifies, encapsulating the radioactive materials.

It’s walk-away safe,” says Dewan, the company’s chief science officer. “If you lose electricity, even if there are no operators on site to pull levers, it will coast to a stop.

Transatomic envisions small, powerful, reactors that are built in factories and shipped by rail instead of being built on site like costly conventional ones.

Both government and private sector organizations are working towards nuclear innovations.

John Kotek, acting assistant secretary for the U.S. Department of Energy’s Office of Nuclear Energy, recalled that last November the White House held a summit announcing the Gateway for Accelerated Innovation in Nuclear (GAIN), “an organizing principal meant to transform the way we execute public-private partnerships.

GAIN is a new framework for how the Office of Nuclear Energy, in partnership with the Idaho, Argonne, and Oak Ridge National Labs, to leverage people, facilities, and capabilities to better support advancing nuclear technologies.

Kotek said, “We are already seeing huge payoffs from this new approach, including the issuance of a Site Use Permit for identifying potential locations for the first small modular reactor.

The nonprofit Nuclear Innovation Alliance (NIA), launched last November in Cambridge, Massachusetts, aims to improve the overall policy, funding and market environment essential for rapid commercialization of safer, lower cost and more secure nuclear technologies.

Motivated by the urgency of reducing carbon dioxide emissions responsible for climate change, the NIA brings together nuclear energy stakeholders, technical experts, nuclear technology companies, investors, environmental organizations and academic institutions.

The consensus emerging from nearly every scientific study on combating climate change is clear,” said Armond Cohen, NIA co-chairman. “In addition to energy efficiency, renewables and carbon sequestration, the world will need a lot more nuclear energy to sufficiently decarbonize our society’s energy consumption.”

“Emerging innovative reactor designs promise to be safer, more economical and faster to build, with less waste and lower proliferation risk,” Cohen said.

Christofer Mowry, NIA’s other co-chairman, said, “Real change to energy regulation and policy is needed to make these advanced designs commercially available in time to help limit climate change to an acceptable level.

Investors and developers need to see a clearer and lower risk path to their deployment,” said Mowry, “including an innovation-enabling licensing framework and more substantive public-private partnerships for rapid deployment.

At the same time, some of the largest environmental groups are easing their negative positions on nuclear power.

The “Wall Street Journal” reported in June that the Sierra Club, the Environmental Defense Fund (EDF) and the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) are concentrating more on preventing runaway climate change and less on the dangers of nuclear power than they have in the past.

Greenpeace and other environmental groups continue to urge the shutdown of existing nuclear plants, for fear that the environmental dangers outweigh the climate benefits.


 

Rio Summer Olympics ‘Embrace’ Sustainability

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The Estádio do Maracanã is a 78,838 seat open-air stadium in the city of Rio owned by the Rio de Janeiro state government. South America’s largest stadium, it will be the venue for the Rio Olympics opening ceremonies on August 5 and closing ceremonies on August 21. (Photo by Luciano Silva) Creative Commons license via Flickr

By Sunny Lewis

RIO de JANEIRO, Brazil, July 14, 2016 (Maximpact.com News) – A new set of sustainability measures to support the greening of the Rio Summer Olympic Games were agreed by the UN Environment Programme (UNEP) and the 2016 Olympics and Paralympics Organizing Committee as far back as 2013.

Expressing its commitment to achieving sustainability, the “Embrace” Rio 2016 plan is based on three pillars: Planet, People and Prosperity, and has been established with the input of the federal, state and municipal governments.

The slogan “Embrace” Rio 2016 is being used in all Games communications related to the Sustainability Plan. The idea behind the name is to engage people, inviting them to be part of the transformation promoted by the event, which opens on Friday, August 5 and ends on Sunday, August 21.

A technical cooperation agreement with the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) was signed at the launch of the sustainability program in August 2013. It expected to provide an evaluation plan and mediation around the subject of sustainability between Rio 2016 and the people of Brazil.

Denise Hamú, UNEP’s representative in Brazil, said, “Our goal is to integrate sustainability in all organizational processes, reducing the impact of the Games and setting an example of good practice for society as a whole. Together, sports and environment are powerful tools for sustainable development. For this reason, the UNEP has worked in partnership with the Olympic Movement over the last two decades.

Sustainability round tables originated during dialogue between the Organizing Committee and civil society groups in 2013. They began in 2014 and examined six topics in depth: urban mobility, climate change, sustainability education, protection of children and teenagers, diversity and inclusion, and transparency.

The Games will inevitably generate environmental impacts,” says the Organizing Committee. “We are talking about high consumption of water, energy, raw materials, food and so on. Rio 2016 undertakes to use all resources conscientiously and rationally, prioritizing certified, reusable and recyclable materials.”

 Discussions led to awareness, and the Organizing Committee has acted responsibly in many ways during planning and preparation for the 2016 Summer Olympic Games.

  • 100 percent certified wood: Rio 2016 undertook to buy all the timber items required for the Games from sources with chain of custody certification. That means that the timber is logged sustainably and traceability is guaranteed from the time the timber leaves the forest through to the end user.
  • Sustainable headquarters: Rio 2016 has its headquarters in a temporary building. After the Olympics are over, it will be taken down, and 80 percent of the material will be reused in future structures. While in use, the building consumes 70 percent less energy than ordinary buildings. Timers on bathroom wash basins, intelligent flushes and a rainwater collection system enables the Organizing Committee to cut water consumption.
  • Material life-cycle analysis: The Organizing Committee has analyzed the life-cycles of 106 materials being used by the Games visual identity team to ensure conscientious and sustainable choices and minimize their environmental impact.

With the intention of delivering low-impact Games, the Organizing Committee has completed a study of the carbon footprint of the Rio Games and defined an emissions management strategy, based on impact measurement, cutting emissions, mitigation where possible and offsetting what cannot be mitigated.

To avert some of the consequences of energy use at the Games, Rio 2016 and Worldwide TOP Partner Dow announced the most comprehensive carbon dioxide (CO2) offset program in Olympic Games history. As the Official Carbon Partner of Rio 2016, Dow will mitigate 500,000 tons of CO2 equivalents through third party-verified emissions reductions somewhere else.

  • Technology-based carbon mitigation plan: This plan aims to mitigate 100 percent of the emissions generated by the Rio 2016 Games, which will amount to 500,000 tonnes of co2eq direct emissions from operation of the Games and 1.5 million tonnes of co2eq from spectators. Mitigation projects involve the agriculture, manufacturing and civil engineering sectors, and they will reap short, medium and long-term benefits.
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One of Rio’s new state-of-the-art trams makes its way through the new-look waterfront district (Photo by Bruno Bartholini / Porto Maravilha) Posted for media use

Known as the VLT, Rio’s new light rail system started running in June. The high-tech trams have transformed public transport in the city center and given a futuristic look to the business district. The trams connect Santos Dumont domestic airport to the long-distance bus station, running through the waterfront district and stopping along the way at new museums and the busy cruise ship terminal. More than 200,000 people have already used the service.

Fleets of buses and trucks will be fueled by diesel containing 20 percent recycled cooking oil. Biodiesel emits less carbon and sulphur than petroleum diesel. It is estimated that 20,000 oil collectors will be involved, boosting the development of this production chain.

  • Logistics efficiency program: Logistics are a major factor in boosting the Games’ CO2 emissions. Rio 2016 is designing an intelligent route model to cut transportation time, fuel consumption and carbon emissions for the more than 30 million items to be brought in for the Games.

Allowing for public involvement has been an key part of the Organizing Committee’s work. Initial dialogue with civil society took place in 2013 and brought together 34 representatives of 24 organizations to assess the content of the Sustainability Management Plan. These meetings were held annually until this year. Organizers hope they will encourage a strong and effective post-Games transformation network.

  • Rio Alimentação Sustentável: Since 2013, Rio 2016 has been working in partnership with this voluntary organization focusing on healthy, sustainable foods. It is proposed that the Games act as a driving force to improve this sector in Brazil.

Rio 2016 has entered into partnerships with the Marine Stewardship Council and Aquaculture Stewardship Council so that suppliers can obtain sustainability certification for fish and seafood to be eaten during the Games.

For Rio 2016, one of the key points is waste management, since large volumes of waste will be generated daily during the Games. The great challenge is to minimize waste and raise awareness among spectators, athletes, volunteers about the best way to dispose of and recycle waste.

  • Rio 2016 headquarters waste management: The Organizing Committee has been operating without buying plastic cups, reducing the number of printers available and not providing individual waste bins.
  • Guide to sustainability for packaging: One of the critical points in the generation of waste is packaging. With this in mind, in April 2013, Rio 2016 published a guide to sustainable packaging, in which the committee laid down sustainability options and mandatory requirements for this category of items, including labeling, eco-design, accessibility of information and packaging materials.
  • Games waste management strategies: The strategy began during the preparatory phase and will end when the venues are dismantled. Recycling cooperatives will be involved, and the strategy is based on this sequence: waste generation avoidance → minimizing volume → managing inevitable waste → promoting behavioral change. The strategy also includes treatment of organic waste through composting, in order to reduce the amount that is sent to landfills.
  • Olympic Games Impact (OGI) study: In 2014, the Organizing Committee published its first OGI study, carried out by the Rio de Janeiro Federal University School of Engineering and containing an analysis of 22 environmental, 76 socio-cultural and 25 economic indicators. The first edition relates to the period 2007-2013. A further three reports are to be published, covering impacts up to 2019.

After successfully hosting 44 test events, the Rio 2016 team and the venues are ready for action, with all the facilities receiving their final Olympic touches before the athletes start to arrive. The velodrome and equestrian venues, which were being monitored closely by the organizers, are in the final stage of preparation, and will be ready for the Games.

Golf as an Olympic sport was added just this year, and Rio created a golf course in the previously degraded area of Marapendi, west of Rio to host the new sport. Before the start of work, about 80 percent of the golf course land was degraded by sand extraction, and by the manufacturing and storage of pre-cast concrete.

Over at the Olympic Golf Course, Rio 2016 Sustainability Coordinator Carina Flores says the fresh vegetation has led to “a positive spiral for the development of wildlife.”

 Records indicate the presence of 263 animal species in the region today, as compared with 118 mapped before construction.

 An inspection of the golf course was conducted in December 2015, after a public civil action was filed by state prosecutors who questioned the environmental impact of the golf course construction work. Prosecutors, legal advisors and technicians environmentalists were among the inspectors.

 The forensic report from Brazil’s Court of Justice concluded, “The environmental gain in the region with the construction of the golf course is visible. In addition to the flora, which increased extensively, we can observe the different animal species that have returned to the area.

Rio 2016 is ready to welcome the world,” said International Olympic Committee Coordination Commission Chair Nawal el Moutawakel.

The Olympians of 2016 can look forward to living in an outstanding Olympic Village and competing in absolutely stunning venues,” she said. “From views of the Corcovado and Sugar Loaf Mountain to the new state-of-the-art facilities in Barra or Deodoro and the iconic Maracanã Stadium and Copacabana Beach, I cannot imagine more spectacular backdrops for the world’s top sportsmen and women to showcase their talents to a watching world.


India, World Bank Empower Sunshine Nations

India, World Bank Empower_Sunshine Nations

India One, a 1 megawatt solar thermal power plant in Rajasthan, India is due for completion in 2016. It uses 770 newly developed 60m2 parabolic dishes and features thermal storage for continuous operation. The plant will generate enough heat and power for a campus of 25,000 people and is a milestone for clean power generation in India. (Photo by Brahma Kumaris) Creative Commons license via Flickr

By Sunny Lewis

NEW DELHI, India, July 13, 2016 (Maximpact.com News) – Solar power prospects are brightening with a new global focus on renewable energy to avert climate change. A burst of financial power was added at the end of June as the World Bank Group signed an agreement with the International Solar Alliance (ISA) – 121 countries led by sunny India – with the goal of mobilizing US$1 trillion in investments by 2030.

 The ISA was launched at the UN Climate Change Conference (COP21) in Paris on November 30, 2015 by Prime Minister Modi and French President Francois Hollande. Most of the sunshine countries lie between the tropics of Cancer and Capricorn, including Mexico, Peru, Chile, Argentina, Paraguay, Brazil, Australia, New Zealand and China. The United States and European Union also are involved.

KimModi

World Bank Group President Jim Yong Kim, left, meets with Prime Minister of India Narendra Modi before attending the General Assembly of the United Nations in New York City, September 25, 2015. (Photo by Dominic Chavez / World Bank) Creative Commons license via Flickr

On a two-day trip to New Delhi at the end of June, World Bank Group President Jim Yong Kim established the Bank as a financial partner for the ISA and pledged to collaborate on expanding the use of solar energy in India.

After meeting with Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, World Bank Group chief Kim said with a smile, “One of the reasons that I always appreciate my meetings with the Prime Minister is that he always pushes us to move faster and faster – to keep pace with him. We promised that we would do so, and in particular talked about supporting his government’s pace on expanding renewable energy sources.

The Prime Minister emphasized the importance of adequate climate change financing for countries like India which are “consciously choosing to follow an environmentally sustainable path.

India’s plans to virtually triple the share of renewable energy by 2030 will both transform the country’s energy supply and have far-reaching global implications in the fight against climate change,” the banker said.

The International Energy Agency calculates that India is set to contribute more than any other country to the projected rise in global energy demand. Steep rises in power production and consumption are expected to accompany India’s economic growth.

 “Prime Minister Modi’s personal commitment toward renewable energy, particularly solar, is the driving force behind these investments,” said Kim. “The World Bank Group will do all it can to help India meet its ambitious targets, especially around scaling up solar energy.”

Kim said he envisions the ISA as using its global development network, global knowledge and financing capacity to promote the use of solar energy throughout the world.

 India’s Ministry of New and Renewable Energy identified the initial joint projects to actualize the new agreement as:

  • Developing a roadmap to mobilize financing.
  • Developing financing instruments including credit enhancement, reduce hedging. costs/currency risk, bond raising in locally denominated currencies etc. which support solar energy development and deployment.
  • Supporting ISA’s plans for solar energy through technical assistance and knowledge transfer.
  • Working on mobilization of concessional financing through existing or, if needed, new trust funds.
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Solar panels on the rooftop of the Reserve Bank of India in Jaipur. (Photo by Kirti Solar Limited) Posted for media use by India PRwire

In addition, India will receive a loan of more than US$1 billion dollars to support expanding solar power through investments in solar generation.

 Projects now under development include solar rooftop technology, infrastructure for solar parks, bringing innovative solar and hybrid technologies to market, and transmission lines for sun-rich Indian states.

As part of our $1 billion dollar solar commitment to India, today we signed an agreement with the Government of India for a $625 million dollar grid connected rooftop solar program,” said Kim.

The project will finance installation of at least 400 megawatts of solar photovoltaic installations.

These investments for India will together become the Bank’s largest financing of solar projects for any country in the world. The banker said. “India has become a global leader in implementing the promises made in Paris for COP21 and the global efforts to tackle climate change.”

 India’s pledge to the Paris summit offered to bring 40 percent of its electricity generation capacity, not actual production, from non-fossil sources – renewable, large hydro, and nuclear – by the year 2030.

India has capacity of 4GW and the Modi Government has set a target of adding 100 GW of solar power by 2022.

In January, Modi and Hollande jointly laid the foundation stone of the International Solar Alliance headquarters and inaugurated the interim Secretariat of the ISA in National Institute of Solar Energy in Gwal Pahari in the Gurgaon District of Haryana state in northern India.

At that ceremony, the Indian Renewable Energy Development Agency and the Solar Energy Corporation of India (SECI) each announced a contribution of US$1 million to the ISA.

Prime Minister Modi has described the ISA as “the sunrise of new hope, not just for clean energy but for villages and homes still in darkness, for mornings and evening filled with a clear view of the glory of the Sun.


 Featured image: Solar Panels | by Jeremy Levine Design flickr.com

Building in Many Shades of Green

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LEED Platinum Certified airlines office building, Schiphol, Haarlemmermeer, North Holland, the Netherlands, November 2015 (Photo by Jeroen P.M. Meijer) Creative commons license via Flickr

 

By Sunny Lewis

BRUSSELS, Belgium, March 22, 2016 (Maximpact.com News) – “When you ask me, ‘what is a green building?’ I don’t have a very good answer,” confesses Josefina Lindblom, European Commission Policy Adviser on resource efficiency in the building sector.

Speaking in the second episode of the “Construction Climate Talks” series released on YouTube March 15, Lindblom says, “The building sector is one of the biggest resource users in our society. It uses about 50 percent of our extracted materials and more than 50 percent of our energy. A third of our water use goes to buildings, and more than a third of our waste is construction and demolition waste.”

“A wider approach to the use of buildings is necessary,” says Lindblom. Not only extraction and production of materials, to construction and use of the building, she says, “but also the end of life phase and what happens then.”

The web video series is a project of the Construction Climate Challenge Initiative, hosted by Volvo Construction Equipment.

“We want to promote sustainability throughout the entire construction industry,“ says Niklas Nillroth, vice president, environment and sustainability at Volvo CE. “We are hopeful that our film series will work as a contributing factor in the matter of making people aware and to enhance cross-sector collaboration throughout the construction industry value chain.”

In November 2015, Construction Climate Talks premiered with the first episode, three minutes featuring Professor Johan Rockström. Executive director of the Stockholm Resilience Centre, he teaches natural resource management at Stockholm University.

“If we continue with business as usual,” says Rockström on camera, “even a conservative assessment concludes that we are on an average pathway towards a four degree Celsius warming by the end of this century. We would have sea levels irreversibly moving beyond one meter of height, we would have new kinds of pandemics, heat waves, disruptions such as droughts and floods. Unless we have a good, stable planet, everything else would be unachievable anyway.”

But some still have “an obsolete, erroneous logic” that sustainability could threaten the economy,” he said. “Nothing could be more wrong.”

Even though many people still resist change, Rockström is optimistic that “the grand majority” sees that “sustainability is a vehicle for success, not an impediment to success.”

“We should move with the coalitions of the willing,” says Rockström, “and show by doing that this is actually something that benefits business, gets better profit, gets better reputation and is even more attractive.”

While energy use is only part of the green building equation, it’s an important part.

Across the European Union, energy efficiency regulation for greener commercial buildings is fast approaching, in line with the terms of the Paris Climate Agreement reached by 195 governments at the annual United Nations climate conference in December.

“A decree in France is expected in June for commercial buildings. They will be required to reduce their energy use by 25 percent by 2020. No question that most of European countries will follow in the coming years,” wrote Siham Ghalem-Tani, executive assistant and partnership relations officer with the French Institute for Building Efficiency (IFPEB) on March 14. This business-led coalition is intended to implement “an ambitious and efficient energy and environmental transition” in the European real estate and building sectors.

The European energy competition CUBE 2020, now in its third year, is serving as a catalyst for tenants of commercial buildings to meet the EU’s energy reduction objectives. This year, the 123 candidates, located in France, Belgium and Luxembourg, are on track for an expected outcome of 10 percent energy savings from July 2015 to July 2016.

Julien Cottin, manager of the Energy and Environmental Studies Centre of the Bordeaux metropolitan area, said, “Prior to our registration of four buildings in the CUBE 2020 competition, we had prioritized major works on our buildings, such as thermal renovation operations or improving energy efficiency. Our participation afforded us an opportunity to look at the uses of buildings and to adopt a new mindset.”

Cottin said, “The ‘competition’ aspect to CUBE 2020 provides a real dynamic for working on the behavior of the users of a building. The results are conclusive and motivating!”

Green building standards are becoming increasingly important to investors.

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Worker installs siding during construction of environmentally-friendly green barracks on Fort Eustis, Virginia, USA. All new construction in the Department of Defense must qualify for Silver certification under the U.S. Green Building Council’s Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design standard, 2009. (U.S. Army Environmental Command photo by Neal Snyder) public domain.

Last week, the Global Real Estate Sustainability Benchmark (GRESB) survey, the first global effort to assess the environmental and social performance of the global property sector, announced the launch of a Health and Well-being Module.

This optional supplement to the GRESB annual survey for institutional investors evaluates and benchmarks actions by property companies and funds to promote the health and well-being of employees, tenants and customers. It features 10 new indicators, including: leadership, needs assessment, implementation and performance monitoring.

“The design, construction and operation of our built environment has a profound impact on individuals and populations,” said Chris Pyke, chief operating officer with GRESB, which has offices in Washington, Amsterdam and Singapore.

The GRESB Health and Well-being Module is now available in pre-release on the GRESB website and will be open for submission starting April 1.

“The GRESB Health and Well-being Module will make real estate companies and funds more transparent and make comparative information more accessible and actionable for investors. This represents an important step toward resolving long-standing market failures and making health an investible attribute of real estate,” says Dr. Matt Trowbridge, associate professor, associate research director, Department of Public Health, University of Virginia School of Medicine.

In the United States, green buildings abound, encouraged by the nonprofit U.S. Green Building Council, co-founded by current CEO Rick Fedrizzi and partners in 1993. Fedrizzi also sits on the GRESB Board.

The U.S. Green Building Council pioneered the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) green building certification program, now used worldwide.

LEED offers four certification levels for new construction: Certified, Silver, Gold and Platinum. These correspond to the number of credits achieved in five green design categories: sustainable sites, water efficiency, energy and atmosphere, materials and resources and indoor environmental quality.

In addition to its many other activities, the U.S. Green Building Council is a contributing partner to the Dodge Data & Analytics World Green Building Trends 2016 SmartMarket Report.

Released in February, the SmartMarket Report, covers nearly 70 countries. It shows that global green building continues to double every three years.

New commercial construction was the top sector for expected green building projects in Mexico, Brazil, Colombia, Germany, Poland, Saudi Arabia, China and India.

The United States shared the lowest expected levels of green commercial building with Australia.

Still, 46 percent of U.S. respondents indicated they expected to embark on new institutional green projects in the next three years.

Across all regions, many survey respondents forecast that more than 60 percent of their projects will be green by 2018.

“International demand for green building, due in great part to the LEED green building program’s global popularity, has grown steadily over the years,” said Fedrizzi.

“Countries are looking for tools that support stable and sustainable economic growth. International business leaders and policymakers recognize that a commitment to transforming the built environment is crucial to addressing major environmental challenges,” he said.

The SmartMarket report shows that increasing consumer demand has pushed the world’s green building market to a trillion-dollar industry, a surge that has led to a parallel increase in the scope and size of the green building materials market, now expected to reach $234 billion by 2019.

It appears that the European Commission’s Lindblom is going to get the “wider approach” to green building she has been seeking.


Featured image: BMW Head Office, Midrand, Johannesburg, South Africa. Designed by Hans Hallen, the building has recently been refurbished and modernized, implementing green principles. Thermal comfort and energy efficiency were addressed with lighting, ventilation, hot water supply and back-up solutions which required the construction of a satellite Energy Centre. The building achieved a 5-star As Built Green Star South Africa rating, December 2015. (Photo by Colt Group) Creative Commons license via Flickr.

U.S. Teaches Its Power Grid Interoperability

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By Sunny Lewis

WASHINGTON, DC, February 16, 2016 (ENS) – The Smart Grid Interoperability Panel (SGIP) has been chosen to participate in four projects that will build a modern, responsive electricity grid across the United States capable of supporting a two-way flow of both electricity and information.

This nonprofit industry consortium includes: utilities, vendors, investment institutions, industry associations, regulators, government entities, national labs, services providers and universities.

The four SGIP projects are among those that will be funded by the U.S. Department of Energy’s new $220 million in grid modernization awards to DOE’s national laboratories and their partners.

SGIP is focused on accelerating grid modernization and the energy Internet of Things through policy, education, and promotion of interoperability. That means the many components of the grid working together even when they are technically different and are managed by different organizations.

According to the 2015 Quadrennial Energy Review published by the U.S. Department of Energy, the U.S. electricity grid connects more than 19,000 individual one-megawatt or larger generators, sited in some 7,000 operational power plants, with more than 642,000 miles of high-voltage transmission lines, and 6.3 million distribution-system line miles.

America’s electricity grid is built with legacy and proprietary technology, and today it is not completely interoperable.

The challenge is to modernize the power grid so that it becomes smart – able to incorporate information technology to deliver electricity efficiently, reliably, sustainably, and securely, enabling a sustainable energy future.

"We are well positioned for this challenge," said SGIP President and CEO Sharon Allan.

“We are well positioned for this challenge,” said SGIP President and CEO Sharon Allan.

“We are well positioned for this challenge,” said SGIP President and CEO Sharon Allan. “DOE’s funding investment will help ensure that the rapidly emerging needs of the grid can be met. We look forward to the potential of working with the selected national labs and the other partners.”

Unlike the grid of the 20th century, which delivered electricity in a one-way flow from generator to outlet, the modernized smart grid permits the two-way flow of both electricity and information.

Interoperability is the essential quality that all modern components, such as solar power or energy storage, must have to be integrated into the existing electricity grid.

The U.S. energy industry is investing at least $400 billion to revamp and modernize the nation’s electric system, and to develop a kind of digital security blanket to protect the system from cyber terrorism.

The DOE’s $220 million three-year grid modernization funding initiative will support research and development in advanced storage systems, clean energy integration, standards and test procedures, and other key grid modernization tasks.

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The Smart Grid Interoperability Panel was named to participate in four projects:

  •  1) Grid Architecture – This project aims to build a new stakeholder-driven architecture for grid modernization, provide it to the industry along with the tools industry players need to adapt it to their needs, and use it to inform the playbook for Grid Modernization Laboratory Consortium program managers.

Partners with SGIP on this project are: GE-Alstom, Electric Power Research Institute, United Technologies, the Omnetric Group, and the California ISO. Eight national laboratories are involved.

  •  2) Interoperability – This project provides strategic vision for interoperability endorsed by stakeholders with tools to measure interoperability maturity and the progress of related investments. It prioritizes interoperability gaps and develops an overarching roadmap for stakeholder endorsement.

Partners with SGIP on this project are: the GridWise Architecture Council, Electric Power Research Institute, and the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), (NIST Beginners Guide). Under federal law, NIST has been given the key role of coordinating development of a framework for U.S. smart grid standards.

Also participating in this project will be standards-development organizations, utilities, and vendors as well as several national laboratories.

Hundreds of standards will be required to ensure the building of an efficient and effective smart grid. “For comparison purposes, one of today’s smartphones incorporates over 150 standards,” says NIST. “For the smart grid, we are still in the early stages of developing the framework for the standards and the lists of specific standards.”

  • 3) Grid Modernization Laboratory Consortium Testing – This is a two-part project that will:
  •  Establish a Grid Modernization Laboratory Consortium – Testing Network (GMLC-TN); federated lab-based resource for standards-based testing and validation of grid devices and systems.
  •  Develop and establish a Grid Modernization Laboratory Consortium – Open Library (GMLC-OL) public repository for validated component models, simulation tools and testing resources.

Partners with SGIP on this project are the same organizations that will participate in project 2 above.

  • 4) Standards and Test Procedures for Interconnection and Interoperability – This project will build on prior efforts and leverage existing activities spanning multiple Department of Energy programs that are developing interconnection and interoperability standards and test procedures to harmonize requirements across jurisdictions, eliminate conflicting requirements across technology domains, and streamline conformance test procedures.

Partners on this project include: NIST, the GridWise Architecture Council, Electric Power Research Institute, the Utility Variable-Generation Integration Group, and Bryndan Associates, a consultant to the electric power industry, as well as national laboratories, standards organizations, utilities, and vendors.

“SGIP is contributing valuable expertise toward the complexities of modernizing the grid, reflecting two of our core priorities – tackling issues that are inhibitors to grid modernization and driving innovation through collaboration,” Allen said. “We are pleased to be the central go-to convener of multi-stakeholders to address these issues.”


Main image and featured image: U.S. Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell tours Sandia National Lab’s solar tower facility and announces approval of the SunZia Southwest Transmission Project, a major electricity infrastructure project for the American West, Jan. 2015. (Photo by Randy Montoya courtesy Department of the Interior) public domain.
Image 01: Transmission lines carry electricity across the state of New Jersey (Photo by Lisa Campeau) creative commons license via Flickr

Image 02: Smart Grid Interoperability Panel President and CEO Sharon Allan (Photo courtesy SGIP)

Award-winning journalist Sunny Lewis is founding editor in chief of the Environment News Service (ENS), the original daily wire service of the environment, publishing since 1990.

Press Release : UN News Network – Philippines Solar Energy

Solar Power Plant Surallah/Philippines

Official inauguration of Mindanao´s currently largest diesel replacement solar power plant

(PresseBox) nv vogt Philippines Solar Energy One, Inc. inaugurated the Surallah solar power plant in Mindanao/Philippines last Saturday. The plant with a capacity of 6.23 MWp was commissioned in November 2015 and is the largest one operating in Mindanao to date. The project was developed by nv vogt and its joint venture partner ib vogt GmbH, based in Berlin/Germany. ib vogt GmbH was the off-shore EPC contractor, working together with its local partner ADV Builders as the on-shore EPC. The funding for the construction was provided by Armstrong Asset Management (AAM).

Covering an area of about 8 hectares, the 23,520 installed modules will generate over 9.5 GWh per annum – or sufficient electricity to power the monthly needs of 8,740 households*1. Lifetime carbon dioxide (CO2) savings generated by the plant compared to fossil fuel generation alternatives are calculated to be around 180 million tonnes*2.

The project development and permitting has been an extensive process. Construction of the plant was rapid – taking less than 2 months from when the first posts were rammed until the last module was installed, due the excellent infrastructure and cooperation of all project participants.

nv vogt is developing and constructing several projects in the Philippines and Southeast Asia together with its joint venture partner ib vogt. At the moment, solar power plants with a capacity of around 16 MWp are under construction, while a pipeline of 150 MWp is also under development. Vivek Chaudhri, Director of Philippines operations, said “with the building of the Surallah plant, we have now demonstrated our ability to produce a world class solar production facility locally. We are committed to further development and to being a significant player in the local solar market. We are focused on Mindanao and will come up with a specific plan for that part of the country.”

Anton Milner, Managing Director of ib vogt GmbH, says “we see a strong potential for photovoltaic technology to bring much needed, cost effective and clean electricity with all its benefits to the country and its population, and to help meet the increasing energy needs of the country in an environmentally and socially sustainable manner. This is the first of our projects in the Philippines and we are very proud to have completed the project in such a short period of time. We, as nv vogt, are actively investing in a number of such future-oriented projects and hope that this is one of a series of such developments over the coming years, where major benefits, investment and employment can be achieved to the benefit of the country and the region.”

“Armstrong Asset Management is proud to be a financing sponsor to the Surallah project that represents the achievement of many firsts in more ways than one. It is the first operating solar power plant in South Cotabato; an important milestone for energy security and the development of renewable energy in the region. It is also the first project to have been built by German contractor ib vogt in the Philippines. Last but not least, the Surallah project is the first solar project to be completed under the Armstrong-nv vogt partnership,” said Andrew Affleck, Managing Partner of Armstrong Asset Management.

Armstrong and nv vogt are continuing their efforts to develop more solar projects in the county and are currently working together to complete an additional 45 MW of solar projects in the Philippines. While the Surallah project marks the milestone of many firsts today, it is only a collective first step towards a cleaner, greener future in the Philippines.

  1. Based on the average household consumption of 90.54 kWh / November 2015 in Surallah, South Cotabato, Philippines – Source: South Cotabato I Electric Cooperative, Inc.
  2. Based on the average production of 0.76 kg CO2 emissions per kWh from electricity generation by diesel fuel, 161.386 pounds of CO2 emissions per million British thermal units (Btu) by diesel fuel, considering a heat rate of 10,334 Btu per kWh – Source: U.S. Department of Energy (EIA)
About nv vogt

nv vogt Singapore Pte Ltd is focusing on the Development, Design, Financing, Construction Management and Operation of solar power plants in India and SE Asia. The founders of nv vogt are pioneers of the solar industry with extensive experience in developing and operating solar power plants in Europe and Asia. The primary customer focus for nv vogt is energy-intensive industry, which is underserved by the grid and is heavily reliant on diesel power. nv vogt invests in its own projects as well as offering a flexible model for co-investors. Initially, the company is focusing on the Philippines and India and will be expanding in Thailand and Indonesia as the next stage. The company is developing a portfolio of projects that combine excellent engineering with financial optimization, in order to generate superior returns, both for customers and investors. Technologically, its projects are optimized to minimize LCOE (levelized cost of energy) while maintaining long-term reliability. Financially, its projects are structured to ensure bankability and investment-grade returns. ib vogt GmbH is a 40% owner of the Singapore-based nv vogt.

About Armstrong Asset Management (AAM)

Armstrong Asset Management is an independent asset manager, based in Singapore, focusing on the clean energy sector in South East Asia’s emerging markets. Armstrong invests in infrastructure projects and achieved a final close on its debut clean energy fund of US$164m in November 2013, with institutional investors such as IFC, DEG, FMO, Proparco, SIFEM, GEEREF and Unigestion. Operating with a multidisciplinary team of investment professionals, all of whom possess deep sector knowledge and a collective 80 years of experience operating in South East Asia, Armstrong Asset Management integrates strict environmental, social and governance compliance into its investment process to deliver tangible benefits and reduce risks for all of its stakeholders.

 

 

Russia’s Bright Renewable Energy Future

RussiaSolarPanelsa

By Sunny Lewis

MOSCOW, Russia, January 7, 2016 (Maximpact.com News) – A fully renewable energy system for Russia and Central Asia by 2030 is achievable and economically viable, finds newly published research by Finnish scientists.

Although fossil-fuel rich Russia is now the world’s largest exporter of oil and natural gas, a completely renewable energy system for the region would be half the cost of a system based on carbon capture and storage or even on the latest European nuclear technology, the Finns calculate.

Researchers from Lappeenranta University of Technology modeled a renewable energy system for Russia and Central Asia. Results show that renewable energy is the cheapest option for the continent and can make Russia an energy competitive region in the future.

“We think that this is the first ever 100 percent renewable energy system modeling for Russia and Central Asia,” said Professor Christian Breyer, co-author of the study.

“It demonstrates that Russia can become one of the most energy-competitive regions in the world,” Breyer said.

Moving to a renewable energy system is possible due to the abundance of various types of renewable energy resources in the study area. It would enable the building of a Super Grid, connecting the different energy resources – wind, hydropower, solar, biomass and some geothermal energy.

Wind power amounts to about 60 percent of Russia’s renewable energy production, while solar, geothermal, biomass and hydropower make up the remaining 40 percent.

The total installed capacity of renewable energy in the system today is about 550 gigawatts.

While hydropower is the most used form of renewable energy in Russia, geothermal is the second most used form of renewable energy, but it represents less than one percent of the country’s total energy production.

The first geothermal power plant in Russia was built at Pauzhetka, Kamchatka, in 1966, with a capacity of 5 MW. By 2005, the total geothermal installed capacity was 79 MW, with 50 MW coming from a plant at Verkhne-Mutnovsky.

Russia has developed a new 100 MW geothermal power plant at Mutnovsky and a 50 MW plant in Kaliningrad.

The Mutnovsky geothermal steam field has been under exploration for 20 years, and to date more than 90 wells have been drilled.

Most geothermal resources are used for heating settlements in the North Caucasus and Kamchatka. Half of the geothermal production is used to heat homes and industrial buildings, one-third is used to heat greenhouses and 13 percent is used for industrial processes.

In October 2010, Sergei Shmatko, then Russia’s energy minister, said that Russia and Iceland would work together to develop Kamchatka’s geothermal energy sources. Russia is also investigating foreign investment possibilities for developing geothermal energy in the Kuril Islands.

The geographical area of the Finnish research covers much of the northern hemisphere. In addition to Russia, the research area includes Belarus, Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan as well as the Caucasus and Pamir regions including Armenia, Azerbaijan and Georgia, and Kirgizstan and Tajikistan.

Many of the countries in the area are currently reliant on the production and use of fossil fuels and nuclear power.

One of the key insights of the research is that energy sectors’ integration lowers the cost of electricity by 20 percent for Russia and Central Asia.

The more renewable capacity is built, the more it can be used for different sectors: heating, transportation and industry. This flexibility of the system decreases the need for storages and lowers the cost of energy.

The research was done as part of Neo-Carbon Energy research project, which has previously shown that a renewable energy system is also economically sensible in North-East Asia, South-East Asia, South America and Finland.

Russia’s renewable energy sector may be tiny today, but it’s growing.

On December 20, Russia’s largest wind power developer, Wind Energy Systems LLC, announced that it joined the Russian Association of Wind Power Industry (RAWI).

Established in 2009 as non-commercial partnership, today RAWI membership includes more than 40 Russian and foreign organizations as members, working toward development of the Russian wind power market.

RAWI aims to develop the wind power market in Russia as development of wind farms, and the localization of production of wind turbines in Russia.

RAWI members and partners include major international manufacturers of wind turbines, developers and expert companies, educational institutions and administrative and diplomatic organizations.

Solar power is attracting attention, and funding too.

On December 18, the trading system administrator OJSC ATS, a subsidiary of the NP Market Council, announced the results of selection of investment projects for the construction of generating facilities using renewable energy sources for the years 2016 – 2019.

Russia approved 280 megawatts (MW) of solar and 35 MW of wind power projects in its third renewable energy tender.

The government has authorized eight solar projects with a combined capacity of 95 MW by Avelar Solar Technologies, a unit of Hevel Solar.

Also, Solar Systems and T Plus won contracts for 50 MW and 135 MW, respectively.

At the same time, Fortum OAO was awarded a 35-MW wind project in Russia’s Ulyanovsk Oblast. In addition, the government approved two 24.9 MW hydropower projects.

According to a recent report by GlobalData, Russia’s cumulative installed non-hydro renewable power capacity is expected to grow to 2.87 GW by 2025, with the country realizing a tiny portion of its potential.

Last year, the country approved 557 MW of renewable energy projects, most of which were solar.

Viktor Vekselberg, Technopark-Skolkowo MOU 05

Viktor Vekselberg, one of Russia’s oil billionaires, has been developing solar power with his Hevel solar venture.

Hevel LLC, a joint venture of Vekselberg’s Renova Group and state-owned Rusnano founded in 2009, is the largest integrated solar power company in Russia. Hevel Solar is expected to construct 22.5 billion rubles ($450 million) worth of solar projects through the year 2018.

In 2015 Hevel launched Russia’s first full-cycle plant for the manufacture of solar cells. Located in Novocheboksarsk, Chuvash Republic, it has the capacity to manufacture 97.5 MW annually of thin-film solar modules.

The new plant will produce thin-film solar cells by deposition of nanolayers, reducing use of silicon – the main raw material in solar energy equipment – by up to 200 times.

These solar cells can generate electricity even in cloudy weather, which makes them well suited to the Russian climate.

The Hevel modules will be used for the construction of solar power plants for people living in remote areas of Russia. The company expects to build solar power plants with a total capacity greater than 500 megawatts by the end of 2020.

On October 29, 2015 Hevel and Rusnano launched the first stage of a 10 MW solar power plant in Buribay, Republic of Bashkortostan. The launch command was given via TV bridge by the Minister of Energy of Russia Aleksander Novak, High-Tech Assets Development Director of Renova Group Mikhail Lifshitz and Chairman of the Executive Board of Rusnano Anatoly Chubais from the Open Innovations Forum.

The Kosh-Agach solar power plant in Russia’s Altai Republic is already operational, and design and construction work is now underway on large solar power plants in the Orenburg and Saratov regions and also in other parts of the country.

To set up a solar power R&D center, Hevel is partnering with the Ioffe Science and Technology Center in St. Petersburg, the only scientific organization in Russia that conducts solar energy research and development.

One of the main drivers behind the push to renewables is the idea that diversifying power generation will benefit the country.

In fact, overall, Russia appears to be paying more attention to environmental issues.

On January 5, President Vladimir Putin signed an Executive Order resolving to hold the Year of the Environment in the Russian Federation in 2017. Putin said the Year of the Environment would help to attract public attention to Russia’s environmental issues, preserving biodiversity and ensuring environmental security.

RussiaSolarPanelsSunlight copy


Award-winning journalist Sunny Lewis is founding editor in chief of the Environment News Service (ENS), the original daily wire service of the environment, publishing since 1990.

Featured image: The sun shines on icy, snowy Russia as Avelar Solar executives cut the ribbon, opening a new solar power facility. (Photo courtesy Avelar Solar Technologies)
Head image: Russian snows are now dotted with solar arrays. (Photo courtesy Avelar Solar Technologies)
Image 01: Viktor Vekselberg, Russian oil billionaire and solar power mogul, 2010 (Photo by Jürg Vollmer) under creative commons license via Flickr
Image 02: The company Avelar Solar Technology, a division of Hevel LLC, was established in 2011 to promote projects in the field of solar energy in Russia and the CIS countries.

Climate Polluters Collaborate on Nuclear Fusion

ITERComplete

by Sunny Lewis,

PARIS, France, December 17, 2015 (Maximpact.com News) – The breakthrough Paris Climate Agreement approved December 12 commits all countries to cut their greenhouse gas emissions to avert catastrophic climate change.

Now, the world is focused on finding clean sources of energy to replace the coal, oil and gas that, when burned to generate electricity, emit heat-trapping greenhouse gases.

All the countries that top the greenhouse gas emissions list are among those cooperating on a long-term energy project that some say is also a long shot – nuclear fusion.

The opposite of the nuclear fission that splits atoms to power all current nuclear generating stations, fusion is the process that powers the Sun and the stars.

When light atomic nuclei fuse together to form heavier ones, a large amount of energy is released. Fusion research is aimed at developing a safe, abundant and environmentally responsible energy source.

The International Thermonuclear Experimental Reactor, or ITER, which in Latin means the way, is one of the most ambitious energy projects in the world today. Like the Paris Climate Agreement, ITER is also a first-of-a-kind global collaboration.

In Saint-Paul-lez-Durance, in the south of France, 35 nations are collaborating to build the world’s largest Tokamak. This magnetic fusion device is designed to prove the feasibility of fusion as a large-scale and carbon-free source of energy.

ITERconstruction

Thousands of engineers and scientists have contributed to the design of ITER since the idea for an international joint experiment in fusion was first launched in 1985.

The seven ITER Members – China, the European Union (plus Switzerland, as a member of EURATOM), India, Japan, Korea, Russia and the United States – are now engaged in a 35-year collaboration to build and operate the ITER experimental device, and together bring fusion to the point where a demonstration fusion reactor can be designed.

ITER is financed by the seven Members. Ninety percent of contributions will be delivered “in-kind.” That means that in the place of cash, the Members will deliver components and buildings directly to the ITER Organization.

The ITER Organization estimates the cost of ITER construction for the seven Members at roughly €13 billion, if all the manufacturing were done in Europe.

But each Member State is producing its contributions in its own country. “As production costs vary from Member to Member, it is impossible to furnish a more precise estimation,” says the ITER Organization.

Europe is contributing almost half of the costs of ITER construction, while the other six Members are contributing equally to fund the rest.

Organizers say the ITER project is “progressing well despite delays.”

On Monday, scientists at Germany’s Max Planck Institute for Plasma Physics said they have reached a milestone in the quest to derive energy from nuclear fusion.

They started up one of the world’s largest nuclear fusion machines for the first time and briefly generated a super-heated helium plasma inside a vessel, a key point in the experimental process.

The 16-meter-wide machine is the Wendelstein 7-X, a type of nuclear fusion device called a stellarator. Scientists have been talking about the enormous potential of stellarators for decades, but this is the first time a team has shown that it can produce and control plasma.

The first plasma in the machine lasted one-tenth of a second and reached a temperature of around one million kelvins. “We’re very satisfied,” said Hans-Stephan Bosch, whose division is responsible for the operation of the Wendelstein 7-X. “Everything went according to plan.”

At its 17th Meeting, held on November 18-19, the ITER Council reviewed the progress made by the ITER Organization Central Team and the Members’ Domestic Agencies from the ITER design and early construction phase to the current phase of full construction.

The Council recognized the “tangible progress” made during the past eight months on construction and component manufacturing.

Onsite, in Saint-Paul-lez-Durance, the European Domestic Agency has completed the framing of the Assembly Hall and the platform for the first level of the Tokamak. There has also been progress on magnets, the neutral beam injector, remote handling, and other ITER components.

India has completed the fabrication, pre-assembly, and shipment of the initial components of the ITER cryostat, for assembly in the already completed cryostat building onsite, as well as the first cooling water piping for ITER’s chilled water and heat rejection systems.

Four 400kV transformers procured from the United States have been shipped and installed onsite, and the U.S.-procured drain tanks for the cooling water and neutral beam systems have arrived onsite.

China has completed the manufacturing and testing of the first batch of pulsed power electrical network equipment. China also has reached qualification milestones in the manufacturing of magnet feeders, correction coils, and the blanket first wall.

Japan has started the series production of the toroidal field coils. Full-tungsten prototypes of plasma-facing components for the ITER divertor have been manufactured and shipped, and required performance for ITER has been demonstrated.

Russia has fully met its obligations for delivery of superconductor cable for ITER magnets. At Russia’s Divertor Test facility, high heat flux testing is also underway for divertor plasma-facing components from Japan, Europe, and Russia. Beryllium fabrication has begun, and the gyrotron complex prototype facility has passed its acceptance tests.

In Korea, manufacturing is ongoing for the ITER vacuum vessel and thermal shield, and design milestones have been achieved for many of the purpose-built tools ITER will need for assembly.

The Council noted the completion of superconductor production, which has been a coordinated effort involving laboratories and companies of ITER Members in 12 countries.

This complex process involves the multinational harmonization of design attributes, production standards, quality assurance measures, and testing protocols.

The Council recognized “the substantial benefit this will create for all ITER Members, positively impacting the capacity for cross-border trade and innovation, not only in energy industries but also in fields such as medical imaging and transportation applications.”

If ITER is successfully completed, it will be able to claim many firsts. ITER will be the first fusion device to produce net energy. ITER will be the first fusion device to maintain fusion for long periods of time.

And ITER will be the first fusion device to test the integrated technologies, materials, and physics regimes necessary for the commercial production of fusion-based electricity.

MaxPlancktechniciann


Award-winning journalist Sunny Lewis is founding editor in chief of the Environment News Service (ENS), the original daily wire service of the environment, publishing since 1990.

Featured image: Visualization of the completed ITER Tokamak courtesy of Jamison Daniel, Oak Ridge Leadership Computing Facility, Oak Ridge National Lab, United States
Image 01: Construction is underway at the 42-hectare ITER site in Saint-Paul-lez-Durance, in southern France, where building began in 2010.
Image 02: A technician at the Max Planck Institute for Plasma Physics works inside the Wendelstein 7-X stellarator.

Climate Crisis! Energy Efficiency to the Rescue

PARIS, France, November 30, 2015 (Maximpact News) – “Mobilising energy efficiency is an urgent priority,” says Fatih Birol, executive director of the International Energy Agency (IEA).

“To transition to the sustainable energy system of the future, we need to decouple economic growth from greenhouse gas emissions. Energy efficiency is the most important “arrow in the quiver” to achieve this,” writes the Turkish economist and energy expert in the IEA’s new Market Report.

Encouragingly, the IEA report estimates that 40 percent of the emissions reductions required by 2050 to limit the global temperature increase to the world’s agreed target of less than 2 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels could potentially come from energy efficiency.

“energy efficiency is poised to be a key component of global inclusive growth along the transition to a sustainable energy system.”

The IEA’s 2015 Energy Efficiency Market Report shows how businesses, households and policy-makers generate the investments that drive the energy efficiency market and how this market impacts the world’s energy system.

As negotiations to achieve a universal climate protection agreement open today in Paris, Birol says “energy efficiency is poised to be a key component of global inclusive growth along the transition to a sustainable energy system.”

Energy efficiency is a way of managing and restraining the growth in energy consumption. Something is more energy efficient if it delivers more services for the same energy input, or the same services for less energy input.

For example, when a compact florescent light (CFL) bulb uses one-third to one-fifth less energy than an incandescent bulb to produce the same amount of light, the CFL is considered to be more energy efficient.

The International Energy Agency is pursuing many strategies to improve energy efficiency both among its 29 member governments and with partner countries.

Per capita energy consumption in the IEA countries has dropped to levels not seen since the 1980s, yet income per capita has never been higher, according to the Market Report.

“The ongoing, steady improvement in energy efficiency over the past four decades has been one of the most pronounced and significant changes to the global energy system, yet its impacts go largely unnoticed,” writes Birol in his Foreword to the report.

“Per capita energy consumption in IEA countries has dropped to levels not seen since the 1980’s yet income per capita is at its highest level and access to energy services is continually expanding. This is why energy efficiency is so important. It is improving prosperity with a domestic, clean ‘source’ of energy,” he writes.

BirolAbe

The IEA Market Report states that energy efficiency investments over the last 25 years are the primary reason for this uncoupling of energy consumption from economic growth.

These investments have enabled consumers in IEA countries to spend US$5.7 trillion less on energy, while at the same time receiving higher levels of energy service.

The returns from energy efficiency investments have not been limited to financial gains. The report examines the strategic returns to consumers, industries, utilities and governments from improvements in energy productivity and energy security as well as reductions in greenhouse gas emissions.

In 2014, the estimate of avoided total final consumption (TFC) from energy efficiency investments increased to over 520 million tonnes of oil equivalent (Mtoe).

The IEA reports that “the energy efficiency market is anticipated to grow in the medium term – even in the current context of lower oil prices,” if this market is supported by policies that deliver “strategic returns.”

Energy Efficiency Market Report 2015 highlights

  • The energy intensity of countries belonging to the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) improved by 2.3 percent in 2014. OECD energy consumption is now as low as it was in 2000, while GDP has expanded by US$8.5 trillion, an increase of 26 percent.

“This suggests that these countries have successfully decoupled economic growth from energy consumption growth, with energy efficiency being the main contributing factor,” the report states.

  • Energy security in IEA countries is improving with increased energy efficiency. In 2014 alone, at least 190 Mtoe of primary energy imports were avoided in IEA countries, saving US$80 billion in import bills.
  • Energy efficiency improvements in IEA countries since 1990 have avoided a cumulative 10.2 billion tonnes of carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions, helping to make the 2 degree warming goal more achievable.
  • Investments worldwide in energy efficiency in buildings, which account for more than 30 percent of global energy demand, are estimated to be US$90 billion (+/- 10 percent) and are set to expand.
  • Electricity consumption in IEA countries has flattened partly as a result of energy efficiency improvements. In the face of flat electricity demand, many electricity utilities are diversifying into energy efficiency services businesses to increase profits.

National governments are increasing their energy efficiency.

For instance, in March, President Barack Obama issued an Executive Order setting new targets for the U.S. Government to cut greenhouse gas emissions by at least 40 percent from 2008 levels by 2025.

U.S. federal agencies have developed strategies to cut their emissions by reducing energy use in their buildings, making their vehicles more efficient, using clean energy sources like wind and solar, and employing energy savings performance contracts.

In the European Union, the 2012 Energy Efficiency Directive establishes a set of binding measures to help the EU reach its 20 percent energy efficiency target by 2020. Under the Directive, all EU countries are required to use energy more efficiently at all stages of the energy chain from its production to its final consumption.

EU countries were required to transpose the Directive’s provisions into their national laws by June 5, 2014.

New national measures have to ensure major energy savings for consumers and industry alike. Energy distributors or retail energy sales companies have to achieve 1.5 percent energy savings per year through the implementation of energy efficiency measures. Large companies must audit their energy consumption to help them identify ways to reduce it.

The IEA reports that subnational governments such as cities and states are emerging as key actors in the efficiency market. The agency gives four examples:

In Paris, France actions taken by the city since 2008 under the Paris Climate and Energy Action Plan have resulted in the saving of about 130 gigawatt hours of power. The Plan stimulated investment of €640 million, creating 1,300 local jobs and 420 jobs elsewhere, according to the IEA report.

The U.S. state of Massachusetts invested US$680 million in energy efficiency programmes in 2013. The state estimates that its main efficiency programme, Mass Save, generated US$2.8 billion in benefits in 2013 through almost 3.3 million programme participants. This supported a state-level energy efficiency labor market of over 65,000 jobs.

Seoul, Korea’s “One Less Nuclear Power Plant” plan reduced municipal energy consumption by 2 Mtoe between 2012 and 2014. The plan promoted energy efficiency as a means to avoid the same volume of energy as could be supplied by a new nuclear plant. Energy efficiency efforts have leveraged over US$1 billion in private energy efficiency investment since 2008.

Tokyo, Japan has implemented transport policies that added 4.9 billion passenger-kilometres while reducing transport energy consumption by 35 percent. Investments in energy efficient public transport in tandem with dense residential and commercial developments have allowed the city to achieve some of the lowest energy intensities of buildings and transport in the OECD.

Developing countries too are making energy efficiency efforts. As fast-developing countries such as China and India grow, “their energy efficiency markets may have the most promise and greatest importance” for limiting climate change, finds the report.

“As this report describes, the breadth, scale and effect of the energy efficiency market is sizable but it is still only a start,” writes Birol. “We need more more investment, but also more political will and leadership at all levels to grow this market.”

“The potential is there, the benefits are ready to be realised, and the imperative to act is clear,” he writes. “Energy efficiency is poised to be a key component of global inclusive growth along the transition to a sustainable energy system.”

International Energy Agency Member countries: Australia, Austria, Belgium, Canada, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Korea, Luxembourg, The Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Slovak Republic, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Turkey, United Kingdom, United States


Award-winning journalist Sunny Lewis is founding editor in chief of the Environment News Service (ENS), the original daily wire service of the environment, publishing since 1990.

Featured image: Compact fluorescent bulbs come in many colors (Photo by AZ Adam under creative commons license via flickr)

Slide images: A. ThermoLift, recipient of a grant from the U.S. Energy Department’s Buildings Technology Office, uses thermal energy from natural gas to heat and cool efficiently, reducing energy costs by up to 50 percent. (Photo by Matty Greene / U.S. Department of Energy) B. At the 2015 IEA Ministerial meeting Chair U.S. Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz picks out the next speaker, with IEA Executive Director Fatih Birol and Deputy Executive Director Paul Simons to his left and US Department of Energy Assistant Secretary for the Office of International Affairs Jonathan Elkind to his right.

Image 01: IEA Executive Director Fatih Birol with Prime Minister Shinzo Abe of Japan during their meeting in Tokyo, September 15, 2015. (Photo courtesy IEA via Flickr)

Nonprofit Lawyers: It’s not an Oxymoron, It’s ELAW

ELAWlawyersBy Sunny Lewis

EUGENE, Oregon, October 19, 2015 (Maximpact News) – The nonprofit Environmental Law Alliance Worldwide (ELAW) is the go-to organization for 300+ lawyers in more than 70 countries who act as environmental defenders.

Based in an historic house in downtown Eugene, the ELAW Secretariat helps its partners around the world gain skills and build strong organizations of their own that will work to protect the environment for years to come.

ELAW Executive Director Bern Johnson says, “Our work is better known in Jakarta or Mexico City or New Delhi than it is in Eugene.”

Since 10 lawyers started ELAW in 1989, the organization has offered the legal tools to help associates strengthen existing environmental laws, bring enforcement actions, critique proposed statutes, and replicate model laws.

These advocates rely on ELAW staff scientists to critique plans for proposed developments, develop systems to monitor environmental conditions, provide expert testimony, and recommend cleaner alternatives.

ELAW has hosted more than 100 lawyers for fellowships. They come to Eugene to gain language skills, tap legal and scientific resources, work closely with ELAW staff, and learn from U.S. efforts to protect communities and the environment.

Funded by donations from foundations and private citizens, ELAW has a budget for helping lawyers challenging injustice, who often face serious legal or other consequences for their advocacy.

 

IndiaPollutedRiver

Clearing India’s Ganges River of Industrial Polluters

For 30 years, ELAW partners in India, led by the pioneering Goldman Prize winner M.C. Mehta, have fought to clean up the Ganges River. Contamination in the Ganges far exceeds World Health Organization standards.

A case that began in 2013 when ELAW partners Rahul Choudhary and Ritwick Dutta filed a suit in the National Green Tribunal (NGT) against a single polluter in the town of Simbhaoli has mushroomed into a case against some 1,000 industrial polluters along the Ganges River in five states.

Last fall, the Supreme Court gave the NGT exclusive jurisdiction to clean up the Ganges, and the NGT responded by sending teams of inspectors to investigate each polluting industry.

ELAW Staff Scientist Mark Chernaik is reviewing inspection reports and helping partners identify which polluters are violating the law and harming the Ganges.

This approach is yielding results. More than 60 industries that had been operating without wastewater pollution controls have been closed, including dozens of tanneries in the notorious Jajmau industrial district of Kanpur.

Read a report from ELAW on Cleaning up the Ganges.

 

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Ukraine’s Rivers Dammed to Trickles

Remote rivers in Ukraine’s Carpathian Mountains are among the world’s most beautiful, but ELAW advocates allege that “corrupt investors” are “installing small hydropower projects that are reducing rivers to a trickle, stranding fish.”

More than 300 small hydropower projects are proposed for the region.

ELAW Staff Scientist Heidi Weiskel traveled to Verkhovyna in the Ivano-Frakivsk region in August to help Ukrainian partners protect the rivers.

Joining her were staff scientist Petro Testov and staff attorneys Marta Pankevych and Nataliia Kuts from ELAW’s partner organization, Environment-People-Law.

“What we saw was devastating,” Weiskel exclaimed. “Dams and pipes were siphoning most of the water out of rivers, leaving small fish ladders so poorly constructed that fish had no chance of survival. Sediment-filled water dumped by powerhouses compromised water quality for hundreds of meters downstream.”

The Carpathians are being destroyed, she says. “In the wake of the new roads servicing the dams and powerhouses, we saw illegal logging, fragmented landscapes, and the disruption of natural migration for many species.”

At a September 7 roundtable in the Ukrainian city of Lviv, Environment-People-Law Executive Director Olena Kravchenko called for a moratorium on small hydropower “until the government, investors, and developers can meet strict criteria to protect the viability of this watershed.”

Globally, water pollution is getting worse as the population grows.

The United Nations says 80 percent of all sewage in developing countries is discharged untreated into waterways. There is the legacy pollution of abandoned mines and drill sites, and polluting industries, such as leather and chemicals, seek to set up shop in emerging economies.

Read the UN report “Sick Waters? – The Central Role of Wastewater Management in Sustainable Development”

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Safeguarding Guatemala’s Clean Water

The Motagua River flows from Guatemala’s Western Highlands, gathering the waters of 29 other rivers as it runs to the Gulf of Honduras. But today it does not flow as cleanly as it has for centuries.

“Tons of domestic and industrial waste, untreated effluent, and sewage from urban and rural communities go right into the river,” says ELAW Staff Scientist Meche Lu who toured the Motagua this summer. “The neglect and level of contamination is appalling.”

In Guatemala, an ELAW staff scientist is working with the Guatemalan organization Environmental and Water Law Alliance to raise awareness about Motagua River pollution and engage citizens and government authorities in conservation

“Cleaning up the Motagua is not just about protecting nature, it’s about giving local people dignity,” says Lu.

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De-Oiling Peruvian Rivers

Since 2002 ELAW has helped advocates in Peru protect indigenous communities and rivers of the Peruvian Amazon – the Corrientes, the Tigre, the Pastaza, and the Marañón rivers – from toxic oil industry pollution.

In the early 1970s, multinational oil companies, such as Oxy and PlusPetrol, began drilling for oil in these watersheds. Many pipelines have ruptured and the companies have released contaminated by-products into the water.

The contamination has harmed Quechuea, Achuar, and Cocama Cocamilla indigenous communities, who rely on these rivers for clean water and fish.

The contamination in the four river basins has become so severe that Peruvian authorities declared an environmental emergency in September 2013.

Lu has been helping the indigenous federations in collaboration with PUINAMUDT, an umbrella organization formally named Observatorio Petrolero de la Amazonia Norte.

She has interpreted dozens of water quality reports containing evidence of how the Corrientes, Tigre, Pastaza, and Marañón rivers have been harmed by oil and gas activities and presented this evidence at workshops with community leaders and government representatives.

In April, after lengthy debate, the Peruvian Congress set aside US$50 million to clean up contamination in these watersheds and plan to prevent and respond to future spills.

Now Lu is helping ELAW’s Peruvian partners design and implement a health and toxicology assessment of the affected communities.

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Fuming Over Coal in Egypt’s Cement Industry

Egyptians are concerned that without citizen input their government is moving to allow multinational cement corporations to switch from clean burning gas to polluting coal-fired kilns.

The cement companies are facing lack of access to a reliable natural gas supply. The switch saves corporate dollars but threatens public health.

“Natural gas-fired cement plants do not emit any particulate matter or sulfur dioxide,” says ELAW Staff Scientist Chernaik. “By switching to coal, the plants will emit twice as much CO2 [carbon dioxide], and add particulates and SO2 [sulphur dioxide] on top.”

ELAW partners at the Habi Center for Environmental Rights say the plans by Lafarge and Suez Cement “violate the environmental rights of citizens, especially their right to health, healthy clean environment, right to information and participation.”

Habi and eight local organizations are demanding that the companies make public the environmental impacts of switching to coal.

Lafarge is experimenting with municipal waste as a fuel. There’s no access problem. Cairo produces 15,000 tons of municipal waste each day, while the El Sokhna Lafarge plant uses just 15-20 tons a day.

To ensure quality and regularity of supply, Lafarge involved the Zabbaleen, the local informal network who have sorted and resold Cairo’s recyclable waste for the past 80 years. A team of Zabbaleen people was hired and trained to collect, treat and recycle waste for Lafarge Egypt.

Meanwhile, Egypt’s Environment Minister Khaled Fahmy agreed this month to assess the environmental impact of seven out of 19 cement companies that have conducted studies to use coal as an alternative source of energy.


Award-winning journalist Sunny Lewis is founding editor in chief of the Environment News Service (ENS), the original daily wire service of the environment, publishing since 1990.

Featured image: ELAW Logo
Header image: ELAW lawyers, partner advocates, scientists and staff at the 2015 ELAW Annual International Meeting, Yachats, Oregon, March 2015.  (Photo courtesy ELAW)
Image 01: Waterway in the Jajmau industrial district of Kanpur, India. (Photo by Mark Chernaik courtesy ELAW)
Image 02: One of the small hydropower dams being built in Ukraine’s Carpathian Mountains (Photo courtesy ELAW)
Image 03: Children Washing Hands at School Handwashing Station in Pahuit, Guatemala photo by Cecilia Snyder photo courtesy Flicker – Water For People/Nancy Haws
Image 05:  Egyptian cement bags courtesy PEi

 

Green Climate Fund Poised to Start Giving

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By Sunny Lewis

SONGDO, South Korea, September 8, 2015 (Maximpact News) – The multi-billion dollar international Green Climate Fund, committed to mobilize $100 billion a year by 2020 to help developing countries cope with climate change, is now ready to fund its first projects.

The GCF Board will take financing decisions on the first project proposals at its next meeting in Livingstone, Zambia in November, immediately before COP 21, the United Nations’ annual conference of the parties to the Framework Convention on Climate Change, UNFCCC.

There, world leaders are expected to agree on a universal, legally-binding deal to limit greenhouse gas emissions responsible for the planet’s rising temperature.

Green Climate Fund Executive Director Héla Cheikhrouhou says the GCF’s mandate is to promote “a paradigm shift to low-emission and climate-resilient development,” taking into account the needs of developing countries that are particularly vulnerable to the impacts of climate change, including Small Island Developing States, Least Developed Countries and African states.

In 2014 the GCF got its start with about US$10 billion equivalent in pledges from 35 countries – 60 percent of which now have been converted into signed contributions.

Speaking in Stockholm at World Water Week on August 24, Cheikhrouhou said, “We are now poised to support action on the ground in developing countries through targeted grants, concessional loans to governments, and private sector instruments.”

Cheikhrouhou, a Tunisian national educated in Tunisia and Canada, is fluent in English, French, Spanish and Arabic. She was previously director of the Energy, Environment and Climate Change Department at the African Development Bank, where she helped scale up the bank’s green growth and climate resilient investments through a blend of public and private finance.

At the GCF headquarters in Songdo, funds are already starting to flow.

“Resources have been requested by over 70 governments, and we are already committing funds to the first 10 countries,” she said.

The Fund has a small grants program of “readiness support” that prepares countries to mobilize GCF funding.

Pilot programs with a total budget of $900 million are intended to increase country ownership, support small and medium-sized enterprises and mobilize funding from the private sector.

Cheikhrouhou told Water Week delegates that investments in clean water and water infrastructure will be an integral part of GCF funding because more than one billion people live without access to safe drinking water or sanitation.

“Global demand for water, irrigation, domestic needs, manufacturing, and electricity is projected to increase by over 50 percent by 2050. And at the same time, the risks to our water ecosystem are increasing substantially as global greenhouse gas emissions continue to rise,” she warned.

“Water infrastructure projects must support both the goals of sustainable development, and build resilience in the face of inevitable climate change,” Cheikhrouhou declared. “Together, we need to ensure that quick access will be given to finance water projects that are both sustainable and replicable.”

The only international financing institution set up with the sole goal of keeping global warming below 2 degrees Celsius relative to pre-industrial levels, the Green Climate Fund was established in December 2011 by the Parties to the UNFCCC.

The Green Climate Fund is governed and supervised by a 24-member Board and was designated as an operating entity of the financial mechanism of the UNFCCC.

The Fund works with a wide range of established institutions. Its 20 accredited entities are drawn from the international, regional, national, public, private, and nongovernmental sectors, and Cheikhrouhou anticipates many more partners will join in the near future.

PHOTO: Green Climate Fund Executive Director Héla Cheikhrouhou (Photo courtesy Green Climate Fund)