Tuesday, July 31, 2018

Climate Change Breakthrough: Large-scale capture of atmospheric CO₂/For tomorrow's Show/RNN

Our guest will be David Keith, Executive Chairman of Carbon Engineering, and we will look at the fascinating, and potentially hugely profitable, world of carbon capture and reuse.

The implications of CE’s proven DAC technology on climate strategy are twofold – it allows the removal of existing CO₂ from the air to counteract emissions too challenging or costly to eliminate at source, and enables the production of clean fuels that can significantly reduce transportation emissions. These outcomes accelerate the shift to a “net zero” world that avoids the risks of climate change while affordably delivering clean energy.
The research was led by David Keith, a Harvard Professor and founder of CE, and published by Joule, a leading scientific journal dedicated to ground-breaking energy research. The findings are based on three years’ research from CE’s pilot plant located in Squamish, B.C.
Keith explains, “Until now, research suggested it would cost $600USD per ton to remove CO₂ from the atmosphere using DAC technology, making it too expensive to be a feasible solution to removing legacy carbon at scale. At CE, we’ve been working on direct air capture since 2009, running our pilot plant since 2015, and we now have the data and engineering to prove that DAC can achieve costs below $100USD per ton. No prior research in the peer-reviewed literature provides a design and engineering cost for a complete DAC system– and this paper fills that gap.”
CE is now commercializing DAC technology through integration with the company’s AIR TO FUELS™ process, which uses water electrolysis and fuels synthesis to produce clean liquid hydrocarbon fuels that are drop-in compatible with existing transportation infrastructure. CE has proven both DAC and AIR TO FUELS™ technologies and has been capturing CO₂ from the atmosphere since 2015 and converting it into fuels since December 2017.
“CE’s vision is to reduce the effects of climate change by first cutting emissions, then by reducing atmospheric CO₂,” says Steve Oldham, CEO of CE. “Our clean fuel is fully compatible with existing engines, so it provides the transportation sector with a solution for significantly reducing emissions, either through blending or direct use. Our technology is scalable, flexible and demonstrated. Today, we’re actively seeking partners who will work with CE to dramatically reduce emissions in the transportation sector and help us move to a carbon-neutral economy.”
Noah Deich,  Executive Director, Center for Carbon Removal, says: “Direct air capture technology offers a highly-scalable pathway to removing carbon from the atmosphere. This analysis demonstrates the potential for Carbon Engineering’s technology to fall to a cost that would drive significant investment and corporate adoption in the near future.”

Monday, July 30, 2018

Winter weather continues to delay anaerobic digester start/PBN

This story incorporates two aspects of sustainability that are, many times, misunderstood:  anaerobic digestion and attacking food waste.  Both important topics.

Here we see the installation of a pretty major digester delayed because of New England's harsh winters.  Yet the state has pretty aggressive compost rules in place.  This technology would be a big win on both issues--using food waste and creating local energy...3.2MEGS

The road to efficiency is much quicker when we merge technologies and see one problem as a possible solution in other areas.  We will not stop the onslaught of leftovers.  Yet that issue can lead to creative recapture and reuse, as seen here.

WHILE LICENSED TO OPERATE, the anaerobic digester located at the Central Landfill in Johnston and built by Blue Sphere Corp., is still not operating anywhere near full capacity, citing issues with cold winter weather. / COURTESY BLUE SPHERE CORP.

WHILE LICENSED TO OPERATE, the anaerobic digester located at the Central Landfill in Johnston and built by Blue Sphere Corp., is still not operating anywhere near full capacity, citing issues with cold winter weather. / COURTESY BLUE SPHERE CORP.
JOHNSTON – Anaerobic digestion was meant to be the answer to Rhode Island’s 2016 food-waste ban, but more than six months after the licensure of a digester in Johnston meant to generate 3.2 megawatts of electricity, the state’s first, and so far only, facility of this type, there is no such industry to be found.
Citing incompatibility with the local climate, R.I. Department of Environmental Management Spokesperson Mike Healey said in an emailed statement Wednesday it will be “at least another year until the [anaerobic digester] is fully functional.”
Healey’s explanation for the delay cited the infrastructure’s “piping not being sufficiently winterized.”
This is not the first time New England’s climate has been cited for delaying the facility’s operational status.
By late 2015, Blue Sphere Corp., the Charlotte, N.C.-based owners of the anaerobic digester, expected the facility would come online “by Jan. 1 [2016].”
Providence Business News at the time reported industry experts, including Earth Care Farm, the state’s sole licensed commercial compost plant, and R.I. Resource Recovery Corp. representatives, expressed concern the energy company would meet its self-imposed deadline.
In fact, a year later, the early 2016 deadline long passed, the facility’s opening had been pushed out to an undetermined future date, according to a statement from Blue Sphere at the time.
Blue Sphere Corp. did not return multiple requests for comment.
DEM’s associate director for environmental protection, Terrence Gray, said the facility is online but only “accepting a limited amount of materials” while it finalizes testing.
While DEM could not state when the anaerobic digester first went online, records reflect construction on the site began in 2015, and it was awarded a license to operate on Nov. 15, 2017.
DEM did not immediately return requests for information on the state’s anaerobic digester request for proposal process.


In early 2016, when the state’s food-waste ban went into effect, entities which produced more than 102 tons of food waste per year were now required to redirect those materials from the landfill to “an authorized, composting facility or anaerobic digestion facility.” The reason is that the state Central Landfill is expected to reach capacity by 2034, which does not leave a long time period for the buidling and licensing of a new state landfill.
As of July 2018, the anaerobic digester is one of two facilities licensed to accept food waste, the other being Earth Care Farm, a composting facility in Charlestown.
However, the ban was designed with a clause which stipulates that if an authorized facility is not able to accept materials, which is the current situation at the anaerobic digester, food waste generators will not be required to abide by the regulation and could continue to direct food waste to the landfill.


Regionally, Connecticut and Massachusetts are also developing anaerobic digestion industries.
There are five anaerobic digesters across Massachusetts, per an October 2017 Mass. Department of Environmental Protection map, one of which is located in New Bedford.
One anaerobic digester is operational in Connecticut, and has been online since December 2016, with two others under construction and a fourth on the docket.
Emily Gowdey-Backus is a staff writer for PBN. You can follow her on Twitter @FlashGowdey or contact her via email, gowdey-backus@pbn.com

Wednesday, July 25, 2018

Bananas on the brink? Fruit faces extinction risk

If we continue to put our food supply near extinction, we do the same to ourselves.  Our unhealthy habits continue to catch up with us.

Bananas on the brink? Fruit faces extinction risk

by Jennifer Earl 
Scientists are racing to save bananas from a tropical disease that is threatening crops across the world.

The Panama disease, a type of fungal infection that invades the soil, is currently spreading throughout Africa and Asia. If it makes its way to South America — the biggest supplier of a type of commercially grown banana known as Cavendish — scientists fear it could spell the end for the tasty fruit.

But hope lies deep in the jungles of Madagascar, where lives a wild banana that may be able to save the species.

The Madagascan banana, an inedible fruit with large seeds in the middle of it, is somehow immune to the deadly plant disease.

"It doesn't have Panama disease in it, so perhaps it has genetic traits against the disease," Richard Allen, senior conservation assessor at the Kew Royal Botanic Gardens in the U.K. told the BBC. "We don't know until we actually do research on the banana itself, but we can't do the research until it's saved."

The problem: only five mature banana trees remain in Madagascar.

Hélène Ralimanana, team manager at the Kew Madagascar Conservation Centre, told the news station that it's critical to research the makeup of the Madagascan banana to figure out what genes protect it from Panama disease, which shows no signs of slowing down.

"It is very important to conserve the wild banana because it has large seeds which can offer an opportunity to find a gene to improve the cultivated banana," she told the BBC.

For now, you will likely still see bananas at your local grocery store. But if disease spreads before researchers successfully cross-breed the fruit, then the popular Cavendish banana may be hard to find — and eventually, the fruit could disappear altogether.

R.I. falling behind clean-energy goals report finds, state officials disagree/PBN

Very interesting look at a state known as a success in the renewable energy space, and, in fact, host the first major off-shore wind farm on the East Coast, but is falling short on their internal clean energy goals.  What does that mean?  Is it important?

We think it is.  This state has lots of great natural capital.  Their policies are aggressive and many smart investors have come into their program.  They did set, no doubt, very ambitious goals.  However, it proves again the government cannot hit goals independently.  All leaders, all sectors, including home owners who need to make the same investments in solar, must come to the table and participate if our general and specific goals around dropping the use of fossil fuel are to be met.

MOST OF THE energy produced at the Block Island Wind Farm, developed by Deepwater Wind LLC, wasn't factored into a new report critical of clean-energy programs in Rhode Island and other states. / COURTESY DEEPWATER WIND LLC

PROVIDENCE – With its wind and solar projects, Rhode Island is known for doing its part in the march toward so-called “clean” energy production. However, a report released Tuesday found the Ocean State is on pace to fall far short of its renewable-energy goals.
Rhode Island received a “D” grade in the report from Food & Water Watch, a Washington, D.C.-based group that advocates for corporate and government accountability. Rhode Island was one of 29 states with clean-energy initiatives that were evaluated. Neighboring Connecticut and Massachusetts received “D” and “F” grades, respectively.
Rhode Island energy officials, meanwhile, disagreed with the state’s poor grade, saying the report doesn’t reflect recent ongoing efforts to boost clean-energy output.
“We are making unprecedented strides in renewable energy,” said Robert Beadle, a spokesman for the state Office of Energy Resources.
Gov. Gina M. Raimondo “recently announced enough offshore wind to power half of Rhode Island’s homes; the Office of Energy Resources just announced initiatives to encourage the expansion of solar power on brownfields, rooftops and parking structures,” he said.
Often through legislation, Rhode Island and 28 other states have adopted mandatory Renewable Portfolio Standard, or RSP, programs to encourage renewable-electricity generation – producing electricity through “clean” sources such as solar, wind and geothermal energy as an alternative to producing it by burning fossil fuels.
The programs require utilities to purchase or generate a minimum percentage of electricity from renewable sources.
“Unfortunately, most RPS programs have not been robust enough to foster a rapid transition to clean, renewable energy,” the report states.
“About half the states aimed to achieve only up to 25 percent renewable power,” it adds. “And almost all states allowed combustion-based energy sources, including wood burning and the burning of waste methane – so-called ‘biogas’ – to meet RPS goals.”
Lobbying by the fossil-fuel industry is partly the reason for the lagging transition to clean energy, said Patrick Woodall, Food & Water Watch’s research director.
“There’s extreme pushback from the fossil-fuel industry” to efforts to expand the use of renewable energy, he said.
Perhaps a more prevalent reason, however, is the energy grid’s existing infrastructure, dominated by fossil-fuel-burning power plants with dozens more now in development, creating too great of an investment to simply abandon, Woodall said.
“Once an [oil or gas] pipeline and a plant are built, it absorbs all the investment opportunity” in a given area for renewable-energy projects, he added.
Rhode Island’s RPS program calls for 40 percent of the state’s electricity production to come from solar, wind and other clean-energy sources by 2035. However, the report found Rhode Island is on pace to produce just 2 percent of its electricity from clean-energy sources by 2035.
To reach those projections, researchers collected federal data of each state’s power generation and retail sales from 2007 through 2016 and used the information to extrapolate future clean-energy production levels in each state.
The data examined for Rhode Island, however, would have captured only a small part of the power produced by the Block Island Wind Farm, the nation’s first offshore wind-energy turbines, which started operating in December 2016.
When factoring in the full annual potential output of the Block Island Wind Farm, Woodall said, Rhode Island’s projection for clean-energy-produced electricity would roughly double to 4 percent.
“These projections will increase as more of these projects come on line,” he said.
Another problem with the RPS programs, the report pointed out, is that many states loosely define what is acceptable as clean or renewable energy.
Rhode Island’s RSP plan, for example, allows three sources of “dirty” energy – wood burning, waste methane and renewable-energy credits, the report states. Rhode Island allows utilities to purchase the credits instead of producing actual renewable energy while continuing to generate the same amounts of fossil-fueled electricity.
“Counting filthy energy as clean, renewable power is a cynical, hazardous ploy to reward polluting industries while avoiding the real work required to transition Rhode Island to a real clean-energy future,” said Wenonah Hauter, Food & Water Watch’s executive director.
The state Office of Energy Resources, meanwhile, said Rhode Island is making more progress than the report reflects.
“While we disagree with the [D] grade, we remain focused on the governor’s charge to accelerate our progress toward clean energy,” Beadle said. “The vast majority of our current and proposed clean energy comes from wind and solar.”
The Food & Water Watch report, Beadle said, “is based solely on the statute [establishing the RSP goal] and a 10-year look back, and in no way reflects the governor’s 1,000 megawatts of clean energy goal [by 2020] and our rapid progress toward it in 2018.”
Scott Blake is a PBN staff writer. Email him at Blake@pbn.com.

Thursday, July 19, 2018

Daimler Trucks Unveils Two Freightliner Electric Vehicle Models & Freightliner Electric Innovation Fleet/RNN

Good news on the transportation side.

Freightliner Trucks premiered two fully electrified commercial vehicles, a Freightliner eCascadia™ heavy-duty truck and a Freightliner eM2 106 medium-duty truck today, during the Daimler Trucks Capital Market and Technology Day here. Freightliner plans to deliver an Electric Innovation Fleet of 30 vehicles to customers later this year for further testing under real-world operating conditions.
Both electrified Freightliner models are designed to fit specific applications, carefully identified through an extensive co-creation process with customers. The goal is to build and deliver commercial electric vehicles that support the business and sustainability goals of our customers.
The eCascadia has up to 730 peak horsepower. The batteries provide 550 Kwh usable capacity, a range of up to 250 miles and have the ability to charge up to 80 percent (providing a range of 200 miles) in about 90 minutes. The Class 8 tractor is designed for local and regional distribution and drayage. The eM2 has up to 480 peak horsepower. The batteries provide 325 Kwh of usable capacity, a range of up to 230 miles and have the ability to charge up to 80 percent (providing a range of 184 miles) in about 60 minutes. The eM2 is Freightliner’s electrified solution for local distribution, pickup and delivery, food and beverage delivery, and last-mile logistics applications. The announcement comes as Daimler Trucks North America (DTNA) explores proprietary solutions to meet the most promising target applications for electrified commercial vehicles, with the goal of starting production in 2021.
“The Freightliner eCascadia and eM2 are designed to meet customer needs for electrified commercial vehicles serving dedicated, predictable routes where the vast majority of daily runs fall between 45 and 150 miles,” said Roger Nielsen, president and chief executive officer of DTNA. “These innovative trucks reflect DTNA’s commitment to bring practical, game-changing technology to market. The eCascadia, utilizing North America’s bestselling Class 8 platform, and eM2 106, based on one of the most in-demand medium-duty truck designs, are built on validated, series production trucks in extensive use by our customers every day.”
The Freightliner eCascadia with 80,000 lb. gross combined weight rating (GCWR) and eM2 with 26,000 lb. GCWR are part of Daimler Trucks’ global electrified truck initiative. The Mercedes-Benz eActros, with a range up to 124 miles and a 55,000 lb. GCWR, is now entering testing for distribution applications with customers in Europe, while the E-FUSO Vision One, a Class 8 concept truck in Japan with a range of 220 miles and a 51,000 lb. GCWR, gives an outlook on the electrification of the Fuso portfolio. The FUSO eCanter, a light-duty truck, is already available in series model production as a fully electric truck from Daimler Trucks.
“Our primary goal at DTNA is bringing vehicles to market that are safe, reliable and efficient. Heavy-duty electric vehicles present the greatest engineering challenges, but they also are the best learning laboratories,” Nielsen said. “We have decades of experience in successfully producing durable commercial vehicles in high volumes that stand up to the demands our customers place on them. We now bring this unmatched experience and expertise to the electric truck category.”
“DTNA is striving to develop electric commercial vehicles that reduce emissions and enhance our customers’ bottom lines through improved uptime and lower operating costs,” said Richard Howard, senior vice president, sales and marketing, Freightliner Trucks. “With the largest dealer and service network in North America, we will offer unparalleled access to factory-trained technicians, parts and support. We will leverage this network to support the Freightliner Electric Innovation Fleet and, as more electric commercial vehicles are delivered to our customers, we will provide the superior support they expect from Freightliner.”
DTNA understands the success of electric commercial vehicles requires extensive knowledge and support on the infrastructure side, and is leading the initiative to develop a commercial vehicle charging infrastructure for North America. Daimler AG, DTNA’s parent company, is a founding member of CharIN, the Charging Interface Initiative – an effort to develop a standard charging system for battery-powered vehicles. DTNA is heading a CharIN taskforce to develop a new electric commercial vehicle charging standard globally, collaborating with utilities and service providers to foster a supportive environment for high-voltage charging networks and serve as a trusted consultant for customers.
Martin Daum, member of Daimler Board of Management for trucks and buses: “We are the undisputed global leader of the trucking industry and we want to remain in that position also with regards to electric trucks. We were first-movers on electric trucks and we strive to provide the leading electric truck in each relevant segment. With the foundation of the global ‘electric mobility group’, we maximize the impact of our investments in this key strategic technology field. Thus, we can go for the best solutions in batteries, charging solutions and energy management.”
The eCascadia and eM2 join the Thomas Built Buses all-electric Saf-T-Liner® C2 JouleyTM school bus and the FUSO eCanter to establish Daimler Trucks as the leader in North America with the widest range of commercial electric vehicle models.
“DTNA’s electric truck initiative is a direct result of the global collaboration at Daimler,” said Frank Reintjes, member of the divisional board, Daimler Trucks. “We are shaping the future of road transportation, and no matter the drivetrain, we strive to be the undisputed global market leader in commercial vehicles – always focusing on the real needs of our customers. At the same time, we create valuable synergies for Daimler Trucks.”
Daimler Trucks commercial electric vehicles breakthroughs already entering the market include:
  • Thomas Built Buses Saf-T-Liner C2 electric school bus, Jouley, with a range of up to 100 miles that starts limited production in 2019.
  • More than 100 electric vehicles built by Freightliner Custom Chassis Corp. in 2012 with supplier Electric Vehicles International (EVI) on the MT-55 walk-in van chassis are still on the roads today.
  • The FUSO eCanter, a fully electric Class 4 light-duty truck in series production with electric urban delivery vehicles being delivered to various customers in North AmericaAsia and Europe.
  • The fully electric Mercedes-Benz Citaro is based on the global bestseller Mercedes-Benz Citaro, going into series production in late 2018.
  • The Mercedes-Benz eActros is a fully electrified heavy-duty distribution truck starting operations with the first customers in the second half of 2018.

11-million-ton glacier threatens Greenland village

11-million-ton glacier threatens Greenland village

By Amanda Schmidt

An 11-million-ton iceberg hovers over the town of Innaarsuit in Greenland. The massive iceberg floats dangerously close to shore, approximately 500 to 600 feet offshore as of Sunday, July 15.
Town council members told local outlet KNR that this isn't the first glacier to loom over their homes, but it's one of the largest. The iceberg is approximately 300 feet tall.

Satellite images showed the iceberg approaching land on Monday, July 9. The town of 160 residents was partially evacuated and fishing boats were pulled to shore by Friday, July 13.

The low-lying areas of the town remain evacuated as the authorities monitor the situation.
“Everybody is waiting to see what happens to the weather," Kenneth Elkjaer, a radio journalist, said Sunday to AP News.
greenland iceberg 7-12-18
Residents evacuated their homes on the coast of Innaarsuit, off western Greenland, as a 300-foot-tall iceberg came dangerously close to the island, floating within 100 meters of their village on July 12. (Oline Nielsen)

The main threat from an iceberg this large is the risk of large pieces breaking off and causing a mini-tidal wave of water that can flood a low-lying, small coastal town, according to AccuWeather Senior Meteorologist Brett Anderson.

It is uncertain whether this will happen with this particular iceberg.
"One thing that can reduce the threat is if the wind gets strong enough from a certain direction to direct the iceberg farther away from the village," Anderson said.

While large icebergs moving close to coastal villages of Greenland are not uncommon during the warm season, this particular iceberg is unusually large. Thus, it poses a greater risk than usual.
Greenland loses roughly 270 billion tons of ice every year as it cycles through seasonal warming and cooling periods.

The one floating near Innaarsuit is just one-10,000th of Greenland's annual ice loss, University of Buffalo glaciologist Kristin Poinar said to National Geographic.

"Large icebergs are becoming increasingly common in the waters off Greenland and Atlantic Canada since the 1990s," Anderson said.
Warmer ocean waters below the outer edge of the land ice can increase the risk of larger pieces of ice breaking off from Greenland. These ice chunks then flow into the ocean, according to Anderson.
The main threats from icebergs are toward shipping, although advanced technology has greatly reduced the threat of collisions.

Sea ice is relatively thin, and most of it completely melts by the end of the summer. The remaining sea ice is not nearly as thick as typical icebergs, which are the product of land ice, and can usually be broken up by specialized ships, according to Anderson.

The melting sea ice does not contribute to sea level rise. Melting land ice, icebergs, do contribute to sea level rise, which is steadily increasing globally, according to experts.
The main risks from global sea level rise are increasing risks for coastal flooding in many low-lying areas across the world, Anderson said.
Greenland iceberg satellite 07-2018
The satellite image, which was captured by Sentinel-2A on July 9, 2018, provided by European Space Agency esa on Tuesday, July 18, 2018 shows a huge iceberg perilously close to the village of Innaarsuit on the west coast of Greenland. If the berg breaks apart, waves resulting from the falling ice could wash away parts of the village. (esa via AP)

Glaciers are typically found in remote mountainous areas, where they do not pose a direct threat to human populations.

However, some are found near cities or towns and sometimes present a problem for surrounding communities, such as the current iceberg near Greenland, according to the National Snow and Ice Data Center (NSIDC).

On land, lakes formed on top of a glacier during the melt season may cause floods, know as glacier lake outburst floods.
For example, Hubbard Glacier in Alaska surged and blocked the outlet of Russell Fjord, entrapping a large lake. Over the summer, snowmelt continued to fill the lake in spring 1986.
In October, the glacier-created dam gave way. The fjord reconnected to the ocean, only after releasing an enormous gush of water equivalent to about 35 Niagara Falls, according to NSIDC.

A similar situation occurred in Peru in 1941 when a glacial lake suddenly burst through its dam. The burst flooded the town of Huaraz below it and caused the death of about 6,000 people.
Ice avalanches from glacier snouts, the end of a glacier, have been recorded in the Swiss Alps for centuries, and they still occur despite attempts to prevent them.

For example, the government of Switzerland was constructing a dam above the town of Mattmark In 1965, when an enormous mass of ice from the nearby Allalingletscher broke off and caused an avalanche. The avalanche buried much of the construction camp, killing 88 workers.
Icebergs that have broken off, or calved, from ice shelves and tidewater glaciers pose a significant threat to sea lanes worldwide.

The Titanic is one of the most famous examples. The ship collided with an iceberg in April 1912, causing the infamous shipwreck.

Shipping lanes along the coasts of Greenland and Newfoundland are historically iceberg-infested waters.

Tuesday, July 17, 2018

Bloomberg Center at Cornell Tech Campus Now Powered by The Sun/RNN

Good news from Cornell University as major schools continue the brick and mortar of building out a bight future.  And, in the meantime, they enjoy real financial benefits from locally producing energy.

Solar generation at the Cornell Tech campus in NYC began live operations on Friday, May 11.  The system deploys 2,093 panels over two buildings and will generate 995 MWhs of electricity each year – all powered by the sun.
Distributed Sun (“DSUN”) was selected in 2012 to work with Cornell Tech and construction manager Barr & Barr and advise on renewable energy technologies for the campus. Cornell and DSUN collaborated to design and develop the solar capability for the Cornell Tech campus and on the campus in Ithaca.
On Roosevelt Island, DSUN served as Cornell’s partner, coordinating design, engineering and development activities with the builders and architects of The Bloomberg Center and the neighboring Tata Innovation Center: Forest City New York, Morphosis and Weiss/Manfredi. DSUN advised on selecting the builder, EnterSolar, and the solar panels, by Solaria, to optimize the installation, and worked with Cornell to manage the construction stages.
Cornell appreciates the engineering expertise and electrical systems guidance that Distributed Sun provided as we developed and opened the first phase of our brand-new Roosevelt Island campus,” said Diana Allegretti, Director of Design and Construction at Cornell Tech. “Their teams supported Cornell to accomplish the best design and electrical engineering to fit these unique solar rooftop canopies.”
Cornell Tech is a campus built for the digital age. It brings together faculty, business leaders, tech entrepreneurs and students in a catalyzing learning environment that aims to reinvent the way we live in the digital age. Cornell Tech was named the winner of the City’s Applied Sciences competition in 2011, and the first phase of the campus opened September 2017. The first phase includes three buildings – the Emma and Georgina Bloomberg Center, the first academic building, the Tata Innovation Center, where companies locate on campus, and The House, a residential building for students, faculty and staff. The campus features innovative architectural designs that implement green building best practices to maximize energy efficiency and minimize the campus carbon footprint.
The Bloomberg Center and the Tata Innovation Center buildings host high-performance solar canopies, contributing to the aspiration of getting to net zero energy usage at The Bloomberg Center. These arrays are integral to the university’s sustainability goals within the built environment. High energy yield solar panels provide attractive appearance, excellent value and reliable performance. With its strong commitment to clean energy innovation, Cornell Tech has raised the bar for new construction.

Thursday, July 12, 2018

Scott Pruitt, the most controversial EPA Director ever, so far/RNN

We believe that governments of all types--local, state, federal, set the playing field for our success in quickly migrating--or not--to a cleaner, brighter future.  Scott Pruit's run was fraught with many personal and professional setbacks.

We look forward to a new beginning in Washington, and better days ahead.

What were you doing the day after the 4th of July? Well, we can tell you what Scott Pruitt was doing- resigning. There is no question that his legacy will be remembered as one filled with conflicts of interests, scandals and of course odd behavior, such as the time he purchased his very own cone of silence phone booth for $43,000.00. If you look at the long list of bizarre behavior and poor decision making, you really start to wonder how this man ever got to where he was. The question now is where do we go from here?
RNN is a non-political source for information and news and we have never reported on Pruitt’s unacceptable behavior in the past, the one story we did follow and were very concerned about was Alaska’s Bristol Bay which jeopardize possibly the world’s greatest resource of sockeye salmon for the interest of big mining. In this case, Pruitt did the right thing by putting the brakes on those supporting mining in the area, but this should never rose to even be an issue. If it weren’t for the excellent coverage by almost every media outlet imaginable we feel Pruitt would have put the interest of the mining industry first and the world may have lost an irreplaceable natural resource. Pruitt’s dismantlement of the Clean Power Plan indicates that the EPA, under his rule, was not a friend to clean energy.
So where do we go from here? On the same day as Pruitt announced his resignation, President Trump tweeted out his replacement, Andrew Wheeler, a former coal lobbyist who worked for Murray Energy. The New York Times and others have suggested that Wheeler may be particularly effective at dismantling regulations, as he keeps a lower profile and is unlikely to become embroiled in the personal scandals that his former boss had a penchant for.
One thing that we can see with the tenure of Director Pruitt, is that both those who work within government and those it’s meant to serve held him accountable and this is something that we’re sure the new EPA Director, Andrew Wheeler will also experience and rightfully so.

Climate Change Breakthrough: Large-scale capture of atmospheric CO₂/RNN

Our latest update on carbon capture.  This will be a significant part of our clean air strategy going forward, and represents, a huge leap in technology and general ability to faster pull emissions out of our eco-system.

On June 7, Carbon Engineering (CE), a Canadian-based clean energy company, has published new research that proves CO₂ can now be captured from the atmosphere for less than $100USD per ton. Released in a peer-reviewed paper, CE’s breakthroughs in Direct Air Capture (DAC) technology demonstrate, for the first time, a scalable and cost-effective solution for removing CO₂ from the atmosphere.
The implications of CE’s proven DAC technology on climate strategy are twofold – it allows the removal of existing CO₂ from the air to counteract emissions too challenging or costly to eliminate at source, and enables the production of clean fuels that can significantly reduce transportation emissions. These outcomes accelerate the shift to a “net zero” world that avoids the risks of climate change while affordably delivering clean energy.
The research was led by David Keith, a Harvard Professor and founder of CE, and published by Joule, a leading scientific journal dedicated to ground-breaking energy research. The findings are based on three years’ research from CE’s pilot plant located in Squamish, B.C.
Keith explains, “Until now, research suggested it would cost $600USD per ton to remove CO₂ from the atmosphere using DAC technology, making it too expensive to be a feasible solution to removing legacy carbon at scale. At CE, we’ve been working on direct air capture since 2009, running our pilot plant since 2015, and we now have the data and engineering to prove that DAC can achieve costs below $100USD per ton. No prior research in the peer-reviewed literature provides a design and engineering cost for a complete DAC system– and this paper fills that gap.”
CE is now commercializing DAC technology through integration with the company’s AIR TO FUELS™ process, which uses water electrolysis and fuels synthesis to produce clean liquid hydrocarbon fuels that are drop-in compatible with existing transportation infrastructure. CE has proven both DAC and AIR TO FUELS™ technologies and has been capturing CO₂ from the atmosphere since 2015 and converting it into fuels since December 2017.

Monday, July 9, 2018

Global Wind Energy Insight: Offshore Going Global

Global Wind Energy Insight: Offshore Going Global

Bac Lieu wind farm, Vietnam
We have all followed with great interest the extraordinary breakthrough in European offshore wind over the past few years. After struggling for a number of years with increasing prices as projects moved further offshore and into deeper waters, the first real breakthrough came in early 2015 with the Horns Rev 3 project where Vattenfall’s winning bid of €103/MWh foreshadowed meeting the industry’s target of €100/MWh by 2020. This was followed in 2016 with a number of bids in both Danish and Dutch tenders with prices well below that, and in 2017 and 2018 resulted in a number of bids for which all that was required was the wholesale price of power.

 While this is not the norm, it shows that the improvements in technology (especially larger and larger turbines) along with a well-developed supply chain, advances in installation and operation and maintenance strategies and experience (along with very low cost of capital) has made offshore wind a competitive source of power going forward in Europe.
One of the knock-on effects of this, of course, is that now what was a slow development of what was viewed as an expensive technology has attracted a great deal of attention outside Europe, in Asia, the Americas and even Australia.

“Free solar panels” is a marketing phrase you're likely to see bandied about if you're in the market for a residential solar energy system. “Buyer beware” is common wisdom, and that phrase should pop into your mind immediately if you come across a sales or marketing pitch touting free solar panels (or free anything really).

The main market outside of Europe for the past few years has, of course, been China. The Chinese offshore industry has struggled to build up a head of steam over the last 6-8 years, but now seems to be hitting its stride, installing 1,100 MW of offshore wind in 2017 for a cumulative total of nearly 2.9 GW — about 15 percent of the global market; and it seems to be on its way to hitting its latest 2020 target of 5 MW well ahead of time. Provincial governments, especially Jiangsu, Guangdong and Fujian have now gotten involved and have set their own targets, which add up to a pipeline of about 7.5 GW by 2020. For the long term, there are about 60 GW of projects identified.

Next on the list is Taiwan, with an ambitious program set out by the government to achieve a target of 5.5 GW by 2025. Fuelled by very generous feed-in tariffs, developers and OEMs are crowding into the market, and several small demonstration projects have been awarded. This is to follow by another roughly 3.5 GW under the feed-in tariff scheme, and then the procurement will switch to competitive bidding for the remaining 2 GW. Taiwan is set to become a key player in the region as the industry evolves.

Japan has been flirting with offshore for about 15 years, but post-Fukushima, the number of demonstration projects has increased, both floating and bottom-mounted, testing out both spar buoy and semi-submersible support structures. Japan’s first major commercial development is likely to be in the Akita region in the northwest of the main island of Honshu in the Sea of Japan, where an initial 70 MW is to be followed by 455 MW of bottom mounted installations. Japan currently has 65 MW installed offshore, 51 bottom-mounted and 14 MW floating.

South Korea put on a big push for offshore starting about 10 years ago, but so far there is only 28 MW installed, although there is another 60 MW under construction. The new government's aggressive renewable energy policy calls for about 12-13 GW of offshore to be installed by 2030.

After Deepwater Wind’s 30 MW Block Island project installed off of Rhode Island in late 2016, great expectations have arisen for the U.S. market. Massachusetts and Rhode Island have set the pace, awarding 1.2 GW of projects on the same day in late May of this year. Between Massachusetts, Rhode Island, New York, New Jersey, Maryland and Delaware between them are now committed to 5.5 GW, and federal waters already leased could support about 15 GW in total.

On the back of the GWEC-led FOWIND project, India has now launched a program aimed at receiving requests for proposals for up to 1,000 MW of offshore wind off the coast of the western state of Gujarat as early as the end of 2017. Vietnam already has 99 MW of (very) nearshore projects in the Mekong Delta. A 2-GW project off the coast of Victoria in SE Australia recently won new financial backing, and there is even talk of development now off the coast of Brazil!

The challenge in these new markets will be to get over the initial hump, where prices will be inevitably high as supply chains, ports, grids, vessels and infrastructure are developed to accommodate efficient offshore deployment.

Next challenge: floating offshore wind. This exciting new technology is still at the early stages, but with the first commercial project installed off Scotland last year, it has many supporters; and would dramatically increase the potential market for offshore wind in places like Japan and the U.S. West Coast, where the continental shelf slopes off steeply into deeper water. It will be another 5-10 years before the technology is widely taken up, but it could even surpass bottom-mounted in the long run. Key advantage: you can put the turbine where the best wind is, not constrained by the suitability of bottom topography and water depth. Watch this space!

Friday, July 6, 2018

R.I. Attorney General files lawsuit against fossil fuel companies for impact of climate change/PBN

Another monumental moment in our evolution from black to green.  Here we see real, potential accountability from those prospering from the exploration, refinement and distribution of fossil fuel.  Now the true accounting of environmental damage begins.

We will keep you updated on these cases.

R.I. ATTORNEY GENERAL Peter F. Kilmartin has filed a complaint against 21 fossil fuel companies for their alleged knowing contribution to climate change and sea-level rise, seeking to recoup some of the cost that climate change has on Rhode Island. / PBN FILE PHOTO/MICHAEL SALERNO

R.I. ATTORNEY GENERAL Peter F. Kilmartin has filed a complaint against 21 fossil fuel companies for their alleged knowing contribution to climate change and sea-level rise, seeking to recoup some of the cost that climate change has on Rhode Island. / PBN FILE PHOTO/MICHAEL SALERNO

R.I. Attorney General Peter F. Kilmartin has filed a complaint in Providence County Superior Court, suing 21 of the world’s largest fossil fuel companies for knowingly contributing to climate change, the Attorney General’s office announced Monday.
The lawsuit seeks to hold the companies accountable for damages associated with both sea level rise and changes to the water cycle above and below the ocean’s surface, known as the hydrologic cycle.
The complaint alleges that the companies knowingly contributed to climate change, failed to warn customers, consumers, regulators and the general public, refuted scientific knowledge generally accepted at the time and created pseudo-scientific theories that prevented consumers from forming an expectation that fossil fuels would cause climate changes.

“Defendants concealed the dangers, sought to undermine public support for greenhouse gas regulation and engaged in massive campaigns to promote the ever-increasing use of their products at ever greater volumes,” the complaint read.
“As we face the threat of climate change, we need to build more resilient infrastructure and we need to hold the people and companies most responsible for climate change accountable,” said Gov. Gina M. Raimondo in a statement. “Working families shouldn’t have to pay for the willful ignorance of big oil, big gas and big coal companies. I applaud Attorney General Kilmartin for taking action against oil companies. My team has worked closely with his from the start, and I pledge to offer any and all assistance necessary to make those responsible for climate change pay.”
The governor also issued a climate preparedness report Monday, ahead of Kilmartin’s announcement of the details of the lawsuit. The report is a strategy that identifies actions that will protect Rhode Island against sudden, unexpected severe weather events and address underlying chronic stresses, such as rising sea levels and aging infrastructure.
The lawsuit also alleges that the fossil fuel companies named in the complaint violated the state’s Environmental Rights Act by polluting, impairing and destroying natural resources of the state.
“Rhode Island is especially vulnerable to the effects of climate changes that is now on our doorstep with sea level rise and an increase in severe weather patterns, as seen by the extensive damage caused by storms in the past several years, including Super Storm Sandy and the floods of 2010,” stated Kilmartin. “The defendants’ actions for the past several decades are already having and will continue to have a significant and detrimental impact on our infrastructure, economy, public health and our eco-systems, and will force the state to divert already-limited resources to mitigate the effects of climate change, thereby diminishing resources for other vital programs and services.”
The complaint alleges significant impacts on: roads, bridges and infrastructure; energy infrastructure; ports; dams; beaches; water supply; wastewater management; and coastal communities.
The Attorney General will try to recoup costs related to the following:
  • Sea level rise
  • Changes to the hydrologic cycle, and increased air and ocean temperatures resulting from anthropogenic climate change that have and will result in injury to public, industrial, commercial, and residential assets within the state either directly, or through secondary and tertiary impacts that cause the state to expend resources in resiliency planning, responding to these impacts, and repairing infrastructure damage
  • Lost revenue due to decreased economic activity in the state
  • Injury to natural resources which the state holds in trust for the use and enjoyment of the people of Rhode Island as well as any other injuries to the state
The complaint also alleges that the defendants knew of their products’ impact on the environment and subsequently took steps to protect their own assets from rising sea levels and extreme storms. The companies are alleged to also have developed new technologies to profit from drilling in the “soon-to-be ice free Arctic,” instead of taking steps to reduce the threat of climate change.
Kilmartin specifically cited internal memos from Exxon Mobil that illustrate how that the company was aware of the potential of “severe” or “catastrophic” impacts from the use of their products.
The lawsuit includes BP PLC, Exxon Mobil Corp. and Royal Dutch Shell PLC, among other companies. Kilmartin’s office said that the lawsuit is the first of its kind.
“For a very long time, there has been this perception that ‘Big Oil’ was too big to take on, but here we are – the smallest state – taking on some of the biggest corporate polluters in the world,” he added. “The defendants have contributed greatly to the increased costs associated with climate change, and as such, should be held legally responsible for those damages.”
The Attorney General’s Office did not provide a specific estimate to the dollar figure for either the impact to Rhode island or the damages it is seeking in the complaint and was not immediately available for comment on the suit.
It was also unclear if Kilmartin expects other Attorneys General from around the nation to join him in his lawsuit against the fossil fuel companies.
All 21 companies named in the suit were not included in the press statement.
Following the lawsuit announcement, the National Association of Manufacturers, a Washington D.C.-based advocacy organization issued a statement denouncing the case as part of “the concerted, coordinated campaign being waged by plaintiffs’ lawyers, public officials, deep-pocketed foundations and other activists who have sought to undermine and weaken manufacturers in the United States.”
Lindsey de la Torre, executive director of NAM’s Manufacturers’ Accountability Project said in response to Rhode Island’s lawsuit, “Lawsuits targeting manufacturers do nothing to address climate change, and as history has demonstrated, these lawsuits stand little chance in the courtroom. Just last week, U.S. District Judge William Alsup dismissed similar lawsuits filed by San Francisco and Oakland, writing, ‘No plaintiff has ever succeeded in bringing a nuisance claim based on global warming.’”
NAM’s members include multiple defendants named in the Attorney General’s complaint.
Chris Bergenheim is the PBN web editor.

Thursday, July 5, 2018

Air pollution contributes significantly to diabetes globally/Science Daily

More direct links to pollution's direct impact on our health.

Air pollution hangs over Hong Kong.
Credit: © Stripped Pixel / Fotolia
New research links outdoor air pollution -- even at levels deemed safe -- to an increased risk of diabetes globally, according to a study from Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis and the Veterans Affairs (VA) St. Louis Health Care System.
The findings raise the possibility that reducing pollution may lead to a drop in diabetes cases in heavily polluted countries such as India and less polluted ones such as the United States.
Diabetes is one of the fastest growing diseases, affecting more than 420 million people worldwide and 30 million Americans. The main drivers of diabetes include eating an unhealthy diet, having a sedentary lifestyle, and obesity, but the new research indicates the extent to which outdoor air pollution plays a role.
"Our research shows a significant link between air pollution and diabetes globally," said Ziyad Al-Aly, MD, the study's senior author and an assistant professor of medicine at Washington University. "We found an increased risk, even at low levels of air pollution currently considered safe by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the World Health Organization (WHO). This is important because many industry lobbying groups argue that current levels are too stringent and should be relaxed. Evidence shows that current levels are still not sufficiently safe and need to be tightened."
The findings are published June 29 in The Lancet Planetary Health.
While growing evidence has suggested a link between air pollution and diabetes, researchers have not attempted to quantify that burden until now. "Over the past two decades, there have been bits of research about diabetes and pollution," Al-Aly said. "We wanted to thread together the pieces for a broader, more solid understanding."
To evaluate outdoor air pollution, the researchers looked at particulate matter, airborne microscopic pieces of dust, dirt, smoke, soot and liquid droplets. Previous studies have found that such particles can enter the lungs and invade the bloodstream, contributing to major health conditions such as heart disease, stroke, cancer and kidney disease. In diabetes, pollution is thought to reduce insulin production and trigger inflammation, preventing the body from converting blood glucose into energy that the body needs to maintain health.
Overall, the researchers estimated that pollution contributed to 3.2 million new diabetes cases globally in 2016, which represents about 14 percent of all new diabetes cases globally that year. They also estimated that 8.2 million years of healthy life were lost in 2016 due to pollution-linked diabetes, representing about 14 percent of all years of healthy life lost due to diabetes from any cause. (The measure of how many years of healthy life are lost is often referred to as "disability-adjusted life years.")
In the United States, the study attributed 150,000 new cases of diabetes per year to air pollution and 350,000 years of healthy life lost annually.
The Washington University team, in collaboration with scientists at the Veterans Affairs' Clinical Epidemiology Center, examined the relationship between particulate matter and the risk of diabetes by first analyzing data from 1.7 million U.S. veterans who were followed for a median of 8.5 years. The veterans did not have histories of diabetes. The researchers linked that patient data with the EPA's land-based air monitoring systems as well as space-borne satellites operated by the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA). They used several statistical models and tested the validity against controls such as ambient air sodium concentrations, which have no link to diabetes, and lower limb fractures, which have no link to outdoor air pollution, as well as the risk of developing diabetes, which exhibited a strong link to air pollution. This exercise helped the researchers weed out spurious associations.
Then, they sifted through all research related to diabetes and outdoor air pollution and devised a model to evaluate diabetes risk across various pollution levels.
Finally, they analyzed data from the Global Burden of Disease study, which is conducted annually with contributions from researchers worldwide. The data helped to estimate annual cases of diabetes and healthy years of life lost due to pollution.
The researchers also found that the overall risk of pollution-related diabetes is tilted more toward lower-income countries such as India that lack the resources for environmental mitigation systems and clean-air policies. For instance, poverty-stricken countries facing a higher diabetes-pollution risk include Afghanistan, Papua New Guinea and Guyana, while richer countries such as France, Finland and Iceland experience a lower risk. The U.S. experiences a moderate risk of pollution-related diabetes.
In the U.S., the EPA's pollution threshold is 12 micrograms per cubic meter of air, the highest level of air pollution considered safe for the public, as set by the Clean Air Act of 1990 and updated in 2012. However, using mathematical models, Al-Aly's team established an increased diabetes risk at 2.4 micrograms per cubic meter of air. Based on VA data, among a sample of veterans exposed to pollution at a level of between 5 to 10 micrograms per cubic meter of air, about 21 percent developed diabetes. When that exposure increases to 11.9 to 13.6 micrograms per cubic meter of air, about 24 percent of the group developed diabetes. A 3 percent difference appears small, but it represents an increase of 5,000 to 6,000 new diabetes cases per 100,000 people in a given year.
In October 2017, The Lancet Commission on pollution and health published a report outlining knowledge gaps on pollution's harmful health effects. One of its recommendations was to define and quantify the relationship between pollution and diabetes.
"The team in St. Louis is doing important research to firm up links between pollution and health conditions such as diabetes," said commission member Philip J. Landrigan, MD, a pediatrician and epidemiologist who is the dean for global health at Mount Sinai School of Medicine in New York and chair of its Department of Preventive Medicine. "I believe their research will have a significant global impact."
Story Source:
Materials provided by Washington University in St. Louis. Original written by Kristina Sauerwein. Note: Content may be edited for style and length.