Posts

Greenest Big Companies Go 100% Renewable

Solar panels cover the roof of Sony's Jimmy Stewart Building in Culver City, California, 2018 (Photo courtesy Sony Pictures) Posted for media use.

Solar panels cover the roof of Sony’s Jimmy Stewart Building in Culver City, California, 2018 (Photo courtesy Sony Pictures) Posted for media use.

By Sunny Lewis

CUPERTINO, California, October 17, 2018 (Maximpact.com News) – Not every company, of course, but increasing numbers of corporations, led by some of the world’s largest tech firms, are taking responsibility to protect people and planet with renewable energy and other forms of low-carbon development.

As part of its commitment to combat climate change and create a healthier environment, Apple announced in April that its global facilities are powered with 100 percent clean energy. This achievement includes retail stores, offices, data centers and co-located facilities in 43 countries, including the United States, the United Kingdom, China and India.

The company also announced nine additional manufacturing partners have committed to power all of their Apple production with 100 percent clean energy, bringing the total number of supplier commitments to 23.

“We’re committed to leaving the world better than we found it. After years of hard work we’re proud to have reached this significant milestone,” said Tim Cook, Apple’s CEO.

Apple currently has 25 operational renewable energy projects around the world, totaling 626 megawatts of generation capacity, with 286 megawatts of solar PV generation coming online in 2017, its most ever in one year.

The company has 15 more renewable projects under construction. Once built, over 1.4 gigawatts of renewable energy generation will be spread across 11 countries.

Cook said, “We’re going to keep pushing the boundaries of what is possible with the materials in our products, the way we recycle them, our facilities and our work with suppliers to establish new creative and forward-looking sources of renewable energy because we know the future depends on it.”

Just days ago, a little further north, T-Mobile signed on to Puget Sound Energy’s Green Direct program, giving the communications giant access to a blend of local wind and solar renewable energy sources. Relying on these sources, T-Mobile plans to power its Bellevue, Washington, headquarters with 100% renewable energy by 2021.

“At T-Mobile, we really mean it when we say we’re going to clean up wireless for good … and in this case that means cleaning up our impact on the planet by making a BIG commitment to renewable energy,” said John Legere, CEO of T-Mobile.

“We’ve put a stake in the ground to go 100% renewable by 2021,” he said, “because it’s the right thing to do and it’s smart business.”

The wireless company has been commended by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the Center for Resource Solutions for its industry-leading green energy initiatives.

“T-Mobile’s choosing green power because it makes sense for the planet and for our customers – plus it’s helping grow America’s green energy market big-time,” said Legere. “I’m incredibly proud of our team for earning recognition for their hard work – but there’s lots more to be done and you can be sure, we won’t stop!”

The move will help T-Mobile save millions of dollars in energy costs, while also putting it one step closer to its RE100 clean energy commitment to use 100% renewable energy across the entire company by 2021.

RE100

Businesses like the benefits of saving on energy costs, and so RE100 was officially launched in New York City at Climate Week NYC 2014.

Today, it’s a global, collaborative initiative of influential businesses committed to using 100% renewable electricity. RE100 members are companies large and small with operations all over the world, spanning a wide range of sectors, from telecommunications and IT to cement and automobile manufacturing.

RE100 shares the compelling business case for renewables and showcases business action, while working with others to address barriers.

Companies gain a better understanding of the advantages of going 100% renewable, and benefit from peer-to-peer learning and technical guidance, as well as greater public recognition of their ambitions and achievements as they work towards their goals.

RE100 is organized by The Climate Group in partnership with the Carbon Disclosure Project, or CDP as it is known today, as part of the We Mean Business coalition. The organizers believe it will accelerate the transformation of the global energy market and aid the transition toward a net-zero economy.

Sony Promises to Go 100% Renewable by 2030

RE100 member Sony  has brought forward its target year for reaching 100% renewable electricity in the United States to 2030.

Sony joined RE100 in September with a goal of going 100% renewable globally by 2040. By setting an earlier target for its US operations, the tech giant is demonstrating it is possible for businesses to go further and faster.

Sam Kimmins, head of RE100, The Climate Group , welcomed the news, coming as it does right after a new report released by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) showing that limiting global warming to 1.5°C will require rapid and profound transitions in energy systems everywhere.

“In a week when scientists are telling us we need to do more to keep global warming under 1.5 degrees Celsius, you couldn’t have a more powerful message than one of the world’s largest electronics and entertainment companies stepping up the pace on climate action,” said Kimmins.

“This shows the business community what can be done, and we encourage all major companies to follow suit,” he said.

Executive Vice President with the Sony Corporation of America Mark Khalil said, “Our commitment to achieve 100% renewable electricity usage in the North American region by 2030 is a step toward our global goal. By joining RE100 and establishing global and regional targets, we hope to accelerate the usage of renewable electricity at Sony and inspire other companies to do the same.”

In 2001, Sony Pictures Studios (SPS) was certified under the international environmental standard ISO 14001 and has maintained and expanded it each year since, the first and only major studio to do so.

Sony installed solar photovoltaic cells on the roof of its Jimmy Stewart Building and is using 100 percent renewable energy in its Arizona data center. Combined, this will reduce the company’s carbon footprint by  1,000 tons over three years.

Sony Pictures Entertainment renovated and expanded the Central Plant on the Studio Lot to incorporate additional buildings in this efficient HVAC loop. This has avoided 550 tons of the greenhouse gas carbon dioxide (CO2) annually.

L'Oreal products get sustainable packaging treatment, April 30, 2017. (Photo by Maria Martinez Dukan) Creative Commons license via Flickr.

L’Oreal products get sustainable packaging treatment, April 30, 2017. (Photo by Maria Martinez Dukan) Creative Commons license via Flickr.

Greener French Cosmetics

L’Oréal S.A., the French cosmetics company headquartered in Clichy, Hauts-de-Seine with a registered office in Paris, is the world’s largest cosmetics company. Hair color, skin care, sun protection, make-up, perfume and hair care – L’Oréal makes and markets them all.

It was also “Newsweek” magazine’s #1 ranked Green Company last year, a ranking based partly on L’Oréal’s sustainable packaging policy.

“Today, for certain products, up to 100% of the plastic used in our packaging has been recycled,” says Philippe Thuvien, managing director of packaging and development at the L’Oréal Group, referring to the bottles of new shampoos from the Redken, Kiehl’s and Pureology brands.”

“In total, the amount of recycled plastic in our packaging increased by 33% in 2017,” said Thuvien.

“As an industry leader invested in the future of sustainable packaging,” he said, “the Group has been working with a specialist environmental consultancy, Quantis, to launch the Sustainable Packaging Initiative for Cosmetics (SPICE), which is designed to help the industry commit to more responsible packaging and improve the environmental performance of the entire packaging value chain.”

Unilever Adores Animals

Unilever, the British-Dutch transnational company, the world’s largest consumer goods firm, says that on any given day, “2.5 billion people use Unilever products to feel good, look good and get more out of life – giving us a unique opportunity to build a brighter future.”

Earlier this month Unilever announced its support for a global ban on animal testing for cosmetics as part of an ambitious new collaboration with the animal protection nonprofit Humane Society International.

David Blanchard, chief research and development officer at Unilever, explained, “Animal testing for cosmetics has been banned in the EU since 2013, and we hope that an adoption of similar bans in other countries will accelerate the regulatory acceptance of alternative approaches and thereby remove any requirements for any animal testing for cosmetics anywhere in the world.”

Unilever will support HSI’s global #BeCrueltyFree initiative, which is leading legislative reform in key beauty markets to prohibit cosmetic animal testing and trade, consistent with EU model.

Dove, Unilever’s largest beauty and personal care brand, has gained accreditation by People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA). Dove’s cruelty-free status recognizes the brand’s commitment to not conduct any tests on animals anywhere in the world. PETA’s cruelty-free logo will begin to appear on Dove packaging from January 2019.

We want to play our part in tackling climate change and reduce the depletion of natural resources. It makes business sense to reduce our risk by securing sustainable sources of supply for raw materials, to cut costs through reducing packaging materials and higher manufacturing efficiencies, and to appeal to more consumers with sustainable, purpose-led brands.

The company said in a statement, “In 2017, our factory sites reduced CO2 emissions from energy by 47% per tonne of production compared to 2008. We have also increased our use of renewable energy within our manufacturing; in 2017, this increased to 33.6% compared to 15.8% in 2008. Additionally, 65% of all grid electricity used in our manufacturing operations was generated from renewable resources.”

Unilever has pledged to source 100% of its total energy from renewable sources by 2030.

Yet, all does not run smoothly, even in companies with the best of intentions. Unilever said in September that the greenhouse gas impact of its products has risen by 9% since 2010. Underlying sales growth over the same period was 33.1%, so, the company said, “…it is encouraging to see that we are decoupling our value chain greenhouse gas  impacts from our business growth.”

Featured Image: Apple’s new headquarters in Cupertino is powered by 100 percent renewable energy, in part from a 17-megawatt onsite rooftop solar installation. (Photo courtesy Apple) Posted for media use


Solar, Wind Power Create Hotter, Greener Deserts

Morocco’s Noor-Ouarzazate Solar complex hosts the launch of the World Bank Middle East and North Africa Concentrated Solar Power Knowledge and Innovation Program. March 8, 2017 (Photo by Michael Taylor / IRENA) Creative Commons license via Flickr

Morocco’s Noor-Ouarzazate Solar complex hosts the launch of the World Bank Middle East and North Africa Concentrated Solar Power Knowledge and Innovation Program. March 8, 2017 (Photo by Michael Taylor / IRENA) Creative Commons license via Flickr

By Sunny Lewis

CHAMPAIGN, Illinois, September 6, 2018 (Maximpact.com News) – Wind and solar farms are known to have local effects on heat and humidity in the regions where they are situated. A new climate-modeling study finds that a massive wind and solar installation in the Sahara Desert and neighboring Sahel would increase local temperature, precipitation and vegetation. Overall, the researchers report, the effects would likely benefit the region.

The study, “Climate model shows large-scale wind and solar farms in the Sahara increase rain and vegetation,” reported in the journal Science, is among the first to model the climate effects of wind and solar installations while taking into account how vegetation responds to changes in heat and precipitation.

Lead author Yan Li, a postdoctoral researcher in natural resources and environmental sciences at the University of Illinois, said, “Previous modeling studies have shown that large-scale wind and solar farms can produce significant climate change at continental scales. But the lack of vegetation feedbacks could make the modeled climate impacts very different from their actual behavior.”

The new study, co-led with Eugenia Kalnay and Safa Motesharrei at the University of Maryland, focused on the Sahara for several reasons, Li said.

“We chose it because it is the largest desert in the world; it is sparsely inhabited; it is highly sensitive to land changes; and it is in Africa and close to Europe and the Middle East, all of which have large and growing energy demands,” he said.

The Sahara is the largest hot desert and the third largest desert in the world after Antarctica and the Arctic. Its area of 9,200,000 square kilometres (3,600,000 sq mi) is comparable to the area of China or the United States.

The Berber people occupy much of the Sahara, and Tuareg nomads continue to inhabit and move across wide stretches of the Sahara today.

The wind and solar farms simulated in the study would cover more than nine million square kilometers and generate, on average, about three terawatts and 79 terawatts of electrical power, respectively.

“In 2017, the global energy demand was only 18 terawatts, so this is obviously much more energy than is currently needed worldwide,” Li said.

The model revealed that wind farms caused regional warming of near-surface air temperature, with greater changes in minimum temperatures than maximum temperatures.

“The greater nighttime warming takes place because wind turbines can enhance the vertical mixing and bring down warmer air from above,” the authors wrote.

Precipitation also increased as much as 0.25 millimeters per day on average in regions with wind farm installations.

“This was a doubling of precipitation over that seen in the control experiments,” Li said.

In the Sahel, average rainfall increased 1.12 millimeters per day where wind farms were present.

“This increase in precipitation, in turn, leads to an increase in vegetation cover, creating a positive feedback loop,” Li said.

Solar farms had a similar positive effect on temperature and precipitation, the team found. Unlike the wind farms, the solar arrays had very little effect on wind speed.

“We found that the large-scale installation of solar and wind farms can bring more rainfall and promote vegetation growth in these regions,” Kalnay said. “The rainfall increase is a consequence of complex land-atmosphere interactions that occur because solar panels and wind turbines create rougher and darker land surfaces.”

And the development of solar power in the northern Sahara Desert has already begun on the dunes below Morocco’s sun-scorched High Atlas mountains.

Thousands of curved mirrors, each taller than a human, stand in rows as part of the Noor solar-power generating plant that is changing how the African continent produces its electricity.

The mirrors cover an area of roughly 1.4 million square metres. The first phase of this plant, which came online in 2016, generated enough electricity to supply 650,000 people.

By 2020, or possibly sooner, the US$9 billion solar power plant is expected to generate 580 megawatts (MW), enough electricity to power over a million homes.

It’s a game-changer for Morocco, a country that until recently imported 97 percent of its energy. In the near future, Morocco aims to become an exporter of power supplies to Europe, elsewhere on the African continent and the wider Arab-speaking world.

And the environmental effects of the solar installation are likely to benefit the region where it is located.

“The increase in rainfall and vegetation, combined with clean electricity as a result of solar and wind energy, could help agriculture, economic development and social well-being in the Sahara, Sahel, Middle East and other nearby regions,” Motesharrei said.

That help is much needed. According to a study published in March in the “Journal of Climate,” the Sahara Desert has grown by roughly 10 percent over the past century.

A research team from the University of Maryland analyzed data collected since 1923 and concluded that while the greatest causal factor of the growth of the desert that is roughly the size of the United States is due to naturally-occurring changes, a third of the expansion can be linked directly to climate change.

The expansion is not good news, particularly for inhabitants of the neighboring Sahel border region, as the increased heat changes fertile farmlands to dry, barren land.

This is the first study to take a century-long look at the world’s largest desert. The authors suggest other deserts may be expanding as well because of global warming.

“Our results are specific to the Sahara, but they likely have implications for the world’s other deserts,” Sumant Nigam, senior author of the study and professor of atmospheric and oceanic sciences at University of Maryland, said in a statement.

The Sahara Desert expanded over the 20th century, by 11 percent to 18 percent depending on the season, and by 10 percent when defined using annual rainfall.

The desert expanded southward in summer, reflecting retreat of the northern edge of the Sahel rainfall belt, and to the north in winter, indicating potential impact of the widening of the tropics.

The evaluation shows that modeling regional hydroclimate change over the African continent remains challenging, warranting caution in the development of adaptation and mitigation strategies.

The study points to far-reaching implications for the future of the Sahara and other subtropical deserts like it. With inadequate rainfall to support crops, there will be “devastating consequences” for the world’s growing population, the scientists said.

Natalie Thomas, a graduate student in atmospheric and oceanic science at University of Maryland and lead author of the research paper, said the next step for the team is to look at the rainfall and temperature trends that are driving the expansion of the Sahara and other deserts.

“The trends in Africa of hot summers getting hotter and rainy seasons drying out are linked with factors that include increasing greenhouse gases and aerosols in the atmosphere,” said Ming Cai, a program director in the National Science Foundation’s Division of Atmospheric and Geospace Sciences, which funded the research on the Sahara Desert. “These trends also have a devastating effect on the lives of African people, who depend on agriculture-based economies.”

Featured Images:  A traveler walks the Erg Chebbi dunes at sunset in Morocco’s part of the Sahara Desert. October 8, 2017 (Photo by Brian Geltner) Creative Commons license via Flickr


Fund_NGO

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)

WASH-TOT-Program-Linkedin

Green Bond Market Shoots Up

greenshootsengland

By Sunny Lewis

 WASHINGTON, DC, October 27, 2016 – (Maximpact.com News) – The green bond market reported a worldwide milestone in August when aggregate green bond issuance topped US$150 billion for the first time since the World Bank issued the inaugural green bond in 2008. It was a US$400 million four-year bond issued in Sweden during the depths of the 2008 financial crisis.

 Green bonds finance projects that achieve energy efficiency, pollution prevention, sustainable agriculture, fishery and forestry, the protection of aquatic and terrestrial ecosystems, clean transportation, sustainable water management, and the cultivation of environmentally friendly technologies.

 Green bonds are similar to traditional bonds in terms of deal structure, but they have different requirements for reporting, auditing and proceed allocations.

A green bond is distinguished by its “use of proceeds” pledge, which earmarks the proceeds from sale of the bonds for specific projects with environmental benefits. Marketing and branding values not available to traditional bonds arise from this difference.

With the heightened awareness of global environmental and climate challenges, green bonds are increasingly seen as a tool that could allow the private sector to take an active part in raising the funds needed to put our society on a more environmentally sustainable footing,” wrote Charles Smith in an article ‘How the green bond market works‘ for the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) earlier this month.

 The EBRD first started issuing green bonds in 2010, and its portfolios of green projects now include 261 investments worth a total of €2.7 billion.

Smith, who is responsible for the day-to-day running of green bond issuance for the EBRD, views green bonds as “a new tool for helping the private sector green the world.”

Mobilising green projects is the goal but, ultimately, I think it is a much larger transition process,” Smith told a roundtable organized by the publication “Environmental Finance” last November. “It is about changing the way companies and entire societies think about and engage with the environment. And that is not done in a day.

At the same roundtable, some of the challenges were outlined by Yo Takatsuki, associate director, Governance and Sustainable Investment, BMO Global Asset Management. BMO Financial Group is a service mark of the Bank of Montreal.

I think one of the challenges is that the underlying assets that are being financed through green bonds are mostly renewable energy or energy efficiency. If we want a broader range of corporates to come to the market we need to encourage opening up the focus of projects beyond just climate change,” said Takatsuki.

I think people are struggling with impact reporting,” Takatsuki said. “For renewable energy, it is relatively straightforward, but for other types of projects the impact reporting is either not agreed or is not sufficiently established.

Smith comments on this issue in his article on the EBRD site, writing, “The reporting is made more complicated by the broadening range of issuer types – from banks to corporates in various industries – with different green assets and operating in dissimilar regions.

This makes comparing the bonds challenging to say the least, and the reputational risk for the issuer in making a mistake in the reporting could be considerable,” Smith writes.

Despite the challenges, the green bond market is growing quickly.

In 2015, green bond issuance hit what was then a record high, amounting to US$41.8 billion worth of investment worldwide. Compare that to 2012, when green bond issuance worldwide amounted to just $2.6 billion.

Of all the green bonds issued in 2015, $18 billion worth was issued in the European Union and $10.5 billion was issued in the United States, making these regions the leaders in the green bond initiative.

India and China are expected to get more involved in this type of investment in the near future.

The World Bank is a important issuer of green bonds. The bank has been very active through the first half of 2016, especially in the United States, where its issuances total over US$496 million and in India, where its issuances total over US$2.7 billion Indian rupees.

World Bank green bonds finance projects such as India’s Rampur Hydropower Project, which aims to provide low-carbon hydroelectric power to northern India’s electricity grid.

The World Bank Green Bond raises funds from fixed income investors to support World Bank lending for eligible projects that seek to mitigate climate change or help affected people adapt to it.

The product was designed in partnership with Skandinaviska Enskilda Banken (SEB) to respond to specific investor demand for a triple-A rated fixed income product that supports projects that address the climate challenge.

 Since 2008, the World Bank has issued over US$9 billion equivalent in green bonds through more than 125 transactions in 18 currencies.

World Bank Vice President and Treasurer Arunma Oteh said, “We have a responsibility to our clients to help them both recognize and respond to the risks that climate change poses.” 

To date, green bond issuer groups include supranationals, government agencies, cities, states, and also corporate entities.

Investors have expressed a desire for more choice of products for their growing portfolios – green bonds from more issuers and more diverse types of green bond products that offer different risk profiles, according to the World Bank.

panamawindfarm

Green-bond supported wind farm in Penonome, Panama. (Photo by Alessandra Bazan Testino / International Finance Corporation) Posted for media use

There are several types of tax incentives policy makers can put in place to support the issuance of green bonds. The incentives can be provided either to the investor or to the issuer.

With tax credit bonds, bond investors receive tax credits instead of interest payments, so issuers do not have to pay interest on their green bond issuances.

An example of tax credit bonds in the area of clean energy is the U.S. federal government Clean Renewable Energy Bonds (CREBs) and Qualified Energy Conservation Bonds (QECBs) program. The program allows for the issuance of taxable bonds by municipalities for clean energy and energy conservation, where 70 percent of the coupon from the municipality is provided by a tax credit or subsidy to the bondholder from the federal government.

With direct subsidy bonds, bond issuers receive cash rebates from the government to subsidize their net interest payments.

This structure also is used under the U.S. federal government CREBs and QECBs program.

With tax-exempt bonds, bond investors do not have to pay income tax on interest from the green bonds they hold, so the issuer can get a lower interest rate. An example is tax-exempt bond issuance for financing of wind projects in Brazil.

Green bond issuers report both use of proceeds and the impact achieved. Still, specific reporting requirements are under development and currently non-standard.

A coalition of organizations including leading issuers and buyers are working together to establish reporting procedures. Anticipated reporting standards include third party review by an auditor of the sustainability of qualifying projects, and annual reporting on a universal template.

Meanwhile, the Green Bond Principles (GBP) are voluntary process guidelines that recommend transparency and disclosure and promote integrity in the development of the Green Bond market by clarifying the approach for issuance of a Green Bond.

The Green Bond Principles are intended for broad use by the market, according to the World Bank. They provide issuers guidance on the key components for launching a credible Green Bond; they aid investors by ensuring availability of information for evaluating the environmental impact of their Green Bond investments; and they assist underwriters by moving the market towards standard disclosures that will facilitate transactions.


Billboard- 970x250-min-min

Image: Green shoots growing in the kitchen gardens, Tatton Park, Cheshire, England, May 2010 (Photo by Will Clayton) Creative Commons license via Flickr

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.

Floating Windfarms to Generate Power for Europe

PortugalVestasWindFloatBy Sunny Lewis

LISBON, Portugal, November 19, 2015 (Maximpact News) – Windfloat Atlantic, Europe’s second floating windfarm, will be built off Portugal’s northern coast under plans outlined this week by an international consortium of energy utilities and engineering companies.

Energias de Portugal Renewables (EDP), the French multinational electric utility company Engie, Japan’s Mitsubishi Corp and Chiyoda Corp, and the Spanish energy group Repsol are buying in by acquiring a stake in the Portuguese corporation that owns the project, Windplus, S.A.

The three or four turbines that will make up the 25 megawatt facility will float in the ocean 20 kilometers off the Portuguese coast at Viana do Castelo. Operational startup is planned for 2018.

The project will be the second floating offshore windfarm pilot in Europe, after Norway’s Statoil said this month it would invest about US$236 million in a 30 megawatt, five-turbine floating windfarm off Scotland.

PortugalWindFloatMap

In Portuguese waters, the consortium will use the WindFloat technology, an innovative semi-submersible foundation developed by Principle Power, Inc.

EDP says the floating foundation is anchored to the seabed. Its stability comes from the use of “water entrapment plates” on the bottom of the three pillars, and a static and dynamic ballast system.

“WindFloat adapts to any type of offshore wind turbine. It is built entirely on land, including the installation of the turbine, thus avoiding the use of scarce marine resources,” EDP explained in a statement.

This technology has already been used in a first-of-its-kind prototype called WindFloat 1 close to Aguçadoura. There, a two-megawatt Vestas V80 commercial wind turbine is mounted on a WindFloat foundation and was connected to the grid in December 2011.

The prototype is the world’s first offshore wind deployment, floating or fixed, that did not require the use of heavy lift equipment offshore, and it is the first in open Atlantic waters.

This prototype has produced more than 16 gigawatts of power over nearly four years of operation, performing well even in extreme weather with with waves of up to 15 meters, according to EDP and Vestas.

The consortium says the aim of the Windfloat Atlantic project is “to demonstrate the economic potential and reliability of this technology, advancing it further in the path towards commercialization.”

Floating offshore windfarm technology makes it possible to generate electricity from parts of the ocean that are too deep for conventional offshore wind foundations.

The consortium estimates the total cost of the Windfloat Atlantic project at €121.4 million (US$130.1 million or 16 billion Japanese yen).

The project will receive financial help from the European Union.

In April 2015, the European Commission determined that the Portuguese floating windfarm project was in line with EU state aid rules.

The aid will be granted for 25 years in the form of a feed-in-tariff to compensate for the higher costs of the new technologies.

The cost estimates for ocean energy technologies submitted by Portugal show that the maximum feed-in tariff available under the scheme is “proportionate to the objective pursued,” limiting potential distortions of competition brought about by the state aid, the Commission decided.

The project will also benefit from investment aid and funding from NER300, the EU support program for innovative low-carbon energy demonstration projects.

“The development of new renewable technologies is crucial to help Europe meet its environmental commitments. Today’s approved scheme is an important step for bringing new technologies to the market.”

The Commission found that the project contributes to increasing Portugal’s share of renewable energy by developing new generation technologies.

EU Commissioner Margrethe Vestager, in charge of competition policy, said in April, “The development of new renewable technologies is crucial to help Europe meet its environmental commitments. Today’s approved scheme is an important step for bringing new technologies to the market.”

This year is already the biggest on record for European offshore wind, with a total of 584 electricity-generating turbines coming online across the Netherlands, the UK, and Germany in the first half of 2015, according to the European Wind Energy Association (EWEA).

“It has taken the offshore wind industry just six months to set the best year the sector has ever seen in terms of installed capacity,” said Kristian Ruby, chief policy officer at the European Wind Energy Association (EWEA).

“While this clearly shows a commitment to offshore wind development in Europe, a number of completed projects, explosive growth in Germany and the use of higher capacity wind turbines are major contributors to these numbers,” Ruby said.

France currently has no offshore wind installed – fixed or floating – but plans to install six gigawatts of offshore windpower by 2020.

Today, Europe’s 128.8 gigawatts of wind power can meet 10 percent of European power consumption in a normal wind year.

Wind energy will be the largest source of power supply in the EU by 2030 if governments apply the right level of ambition in their climate and energy policies, according to EWEA’s latest report, released November 17.

Wind power can exceed gas, coal and other forms of energy by the end of the next decade if European member states follow the ambitious end of the policy framework they have set for 2030, the report projects.

Giles Dickson, EWEA’s chief executive officer, said, “Wind power can be the foundation of the European energy system within the next 15 years.”


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 prototype WindFloat 1 in Portuguese waters near Aguçadoura (Photo courtesy Energias de Portugal)
Main image: A Vestas wind turbine on a floating platform is the first-of-its-kind Windfloat Atlantic prototype (Photo courtesy MHI Vestas Offshore Wind)
Map image: Map showing the location of the Windfloat Atlantic project off Portugal’s northern coast. (Map courtesy Chiyoda Corp.)