Tag Archives: renewable energy

world energy mix

Shortfall in International GHG Pledges

There is a shortfall between the pledges that the nearly 200 countries independently, and internationally as a whole, have made at the COP 21 in Paris last November, compared to the reality of what the planet has in its future. There is also a genuine effort to limit global temperature rise to 2 degree celsius average global temperature increase above the normal numbers (using historical numbers as a baseline for comparison) by the end of this century – the number that represents saving the planet from the worst effects of climate change.

In order to prevent the most damaging effects of climate change, the international community has pledged, in Paris, to increase the use of such sustainability technologies as renewable energy and energy efficiency measures, while decreasing fossil fuel use, in order to mitigate GHG (greenhouse gas) emissions…emissions which lead to global temperature rise. The idea is to keep global temperature rise to under 2 degrees celsius above normal (compared to historical values) by the end of this century.

scoreboard banner: result of international climate change action

The reality is that the average global temperature rise will be significantly greater than what was promised at Paris. A 5-8+ degrees fahrenheit rise in average temperature would result if the world simply maintains the status quo. The pledges in Paris, as well as actions by nations and private investors before and after COP21, demonstrate a genuine global effort in the research, development and effective use of sustainable technologies and measures. Of course, this is great, but global temperature rise still will be over the global temperature goals committed to in Paris.

In other words, at least 2+ degrees celsius change over the acceptable 2 degrees limit by the end of this century will result, even if all pledges by all countries are actually met. Even in this positive scenario (and the best-case scenario discribed below), as of now, there is still a shortfall – this NYTimes infographic clearly illustrates this problem — http://tinyurl.com/gct333

If all nearly 200 nations keep all of their promises from COP21, temperature rise will be limited to just 0.035°C (0.063°F) annually (best case). Even if every government on the planet that participated not only keeps every Paris promise, reduces all emissions as promised by 2030 (2030 was the year of note discussed in Paris), and shifts no emissions to other countries, but also keeps these emission reductions going throughout the rest of the century, temperature rise will be kept to just 3°C (5.4°F) by the year 2100.

Obama’s Clean Power Plan, his moratorium on drilling for oil in the Atlantic, the U.S.’s 3 year moratorium on building coal mines on federal land, China’s 3 year ban on building new coal mines, and their shutting down of thousands of older coal power plants are all very positive signs. Other promising signs include the U.S.’s increased development and use of renewable energy and energy efficiency technologies (as well as in China, India and much of the developing world). Europe has been leading the way for many years, in many respects, in terms of sustainability technologies. However, optimism, in the face of the undeniable math of climate change which clearly tells us more needs to be done, should be weighed carefully against climate change realities.

Green City Times is a resource on sustainability, urban planning, renewable energy, sustainable mass transportation, energy efficiency and green building. Find facts on renewable energy including: hydroelectric (from dams, mills, waves, currents and tides), solar, wind, geothermal, biomass (and biofuel). Also get info. about everything from recycling to clean coal…

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coal plant

Stabilize greenhouse gasses

There are numerous ways that we can stabilize greenhouse gasses, thereby “stopping” climate change. Governments of 1st world and even developing nations must implement some of the following policies (and most might, at least implement some of the following, especially after the upcoming COP meeting of the UNFCCC in Paris). Clearly, the path to stabilize GHG emissions includes making it a priority for governments to financially invest in at least some of these solutions:

 

1. A carbon tax, or carbon cap-and-trade system, or both

2. Further investment in, and development of all forms of renewable energy including: wind, solar, geothermal and biomass/biofuel etc…

3. Carbon capture and storage

4. Widespread adoption of hybrids, plug-in hybrids and electric vehicles, as well as sustainable mass transportation using biofuel or electricity (bus systems, light rail etc…)

5. More use of, and development of smart grid infrastructure – smart meters, home energy management systems etc…

6. Energy, especially renewable energy, storage

 

 

This is certainly an incomplete list, so please feel free to add points.

US LEED and LEED 2009 BD+C ACP’s

LEED certified buildings exist to save money and other resources. LEED certified houses give the occupants better health and wellness while being able to promote renewable and clean energy. LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) is one of the best green building certification programs in the world right now.

Until recently, some of these features have only been LEED certified in certain countries. However, with recent developments, LEED has begun to spread these certifications to other countries, such as Europe. Many people in Europe want to change the way houses are built, and new developments have taken root and made these programs possible in Europe. This means that more people will have access to the amazing LEED program and reap the benefits for years to come.

Features of LEED

LEED homes and buildings are sustainable and provide people with an environment that is healthy, and that will save energy at the same time. When you get a LEED built house, you are quite literally getting the best of the best. Some of the basic features of a LEED building are:

indoor air quality

– well insulated and air sealed buildings

daylight & views, daylighting up to 75% of spaces

– this provides some of the heat for the building and overall well-being for the people inside

construction waste management and use of renewable or recycled materials
energy efficient lighting

optimize energy performance

and

water efficiency and storm water management

Rating System

Each project that LEED does has different prerequisites and aspects to rate. LEED has many different rating levels, here are a few:

“BD+C” means building design and construction. This deals with new constructions or major renovations that will dramatically change the existing structure. “ID+C” means interior design and construction, which deals with projects that make changes the interior.

The “O+M” rating deals with operations and maintenance, which only applies to buildings that already exist. There is only improvement work and little to no construction involved. LEED can also give a building a “ND”, which is neighborhood development. This deals with more than one building or home.

LEED BD+C 2009 ACPs Europe

In February of 2014, the USGBC hired the Sweden Green Building Council, and members of the LEED International Roundtable came together to introduce a special, Europe-specific program for the LEED BD+C. This is called the Alternative Compliance Paths (ACPs), and it will make a lot of things that were not possible before possible in Europe.

 

For the whole article, please see: http://www.greencitytimes.com/Sustainability-News/us-leed-and-leed-2009-bd-c-acp-s.html

 

Other recent articles on LEED:

http://www.greenbiz.com/blog/2014/09/10/new-usgbcember-strategies-study-unpacks-leed-plaque

http://www.archdaily.com/509690/competition-for-leed-gbi-s-green-globes-shakes-up-building-certification/

 

micro-grids: powering the future

Micro-grids spread across Africa

Communities in developing countries (such as India and countries in Africa), especially those in remote locations, benefit from the deployment of micro-grids. As African nations push for rural electrification, they look to micro-grids as a solution to the problem. Micro-grids that use renewable energy are more cost effective and safer compared to diesel generators and kerosene, that are widely used in Africa today. Kerosene often uses up to 20% of an average African’s income, can cause fires, and unhealthy air quality.

A medium-sized solar power system with battery storage, on other hand,  can be easily used by over 50 households, an entire village, in many rural locations in Africa. Smaller, individual units, can power single, or a few, households. The power can be used for lighting, cell phone charging, cooking, etc…

Micro-grids are important for remote communities in Africa. Electrification of rural villages has been made possible through them. Power needed for water pumping, and purification, is done with the help of various micro-grids in Africa and other parts of the world. Mobile communication has a wider reach in the continent through telecom towers that are powered with micro-grids.

Micro-grids are cheaper than building power lines into forests and mountains, especially in the most remote locations in Africa. Poor communities in other third world countries will also benefit from having micro-grids installed, especially when the utility grids don’t want to build long power lines to connect them to the grid.

Many African rural communities have already built micro-grids as their energy source. Every time a new installation is made, the skill base of the locals is developed. Their infrastructure is improved as well. However, despite the recent momentum of micro-grids, one of the reasons there are not enough micro-grids in Africa is because of the prohibitive cost and lack of reasonable financing. Policy is needed to ensure that they are more affordable to the poor, remote villages in the continent.

 

Please see: http://www.greencitytimes.com/Sustainability-News/micro-grids-powering-the-future.html for the whole article.

 

Other recent articles on micro-grids in Africa:

http://cleantechnica.com/2014/12/20/largest-microgrid-africa-assisted-eaton/

http://www.wallstreetsectorselector.com/investment-articles/editors-desk/2014/11/village-micro-grids-provide-power-rural-areas/

Ivanpah Solar Electric Generating System (ISEGS)

Ivanpah Solar Electric Generating System (ISEGS)

Jointly owned by NRG Energy, Google, and BrightSource Energy, the Ivanpah Solar Electric Generating System (ISEGS) sprawls across the California and Nevada border in the Mojave Desert. This 377 to 400 megawatt solar complex is revolutionizing the solar energy industry, proving that large scale renewable energy projects are not only possible, but can both thrive and surpass expectations. With just three plants, the ISEGS produces enough clean, renewable electricity to power 140,000 homes during peak hours, and double that amount during off hours. In fact, ISEGS produces double the amount of commercial solar thermal energy than any other plant in the United States.

ISEGS officially broke ground on October 27, 2010 and opened for business in February of 2014. Despite being one large complex, the project was actually broken down into three separate plants, each with their own 400-plus foot tower affixed with water filled receivers / boilers. The specific technology used is known as Luz Power Tower 550, which was developed by BrightSource Energy with the goal of creating a unique take on traditional energy generation that harnessed and increased the power of the sun. Stretching across 3,500 acres, each plant relies on solar receivers filled with water nestled atop the towers. By using 300,000 mirrors, known as heliostats, to increase the sun’s energy and reflect the light directly onto the solar receivers at strategic angles, the water in the receivers is heated to such high temperatures that it dissolves into steam…

Please see http://www.greencitytimes.com/Sustainability-News/ivanpah-solar-electric-generating-system.html for the whole article.

 
Vancouver - Greenest City 2020

Vancouver – Greenest City 2020

Vancouver is attempting to become the world’s greenest city by 2020. In order to achieve this, the city formed GCAT (Greenest City Action Team) from their city staff. The goals for GCAT are:

 

·       by 2020, create 20,000 new green jobs and become a center for green business

·       by 2020, reduce carbon emissions by 33% compared to 2007, and become a leading city in fighting climate change

·        by 2020, increase the use of renewable energy, and reduce the demand for energy (over 90% of the city’s energy already is r.e., mostly hydroelectricity)

·        by 2020, all new industrial/ municipal construction to be carbon-neutral, improve efficiency of existing buildings by 20%

·        by 2020, over 50% of commutes by walking, biking or public transport

·        by 2020, reduce waste heading to landfills or incinerator by 40%

·       by 2020, plant an additional 150,000 trees so every resident lives within 5 minutes of a beach, park, greenbelt or other open space

·        by 2020, reduce per-capita ecological footprint by 33%

·        by 2020, beat WHO’s (World Health Organization) drinking water standards

·        by 2020, beat WHO’s clean air standards

·        by 2020, reduce carbon footprint of food production by 33% – focus on organic, local food production

·        Wind and solar farms also are energy sources to be used in the plan – through clean energy, greenhouse gas emissions will be reduced by 1/3 by 2020

The priorities for implementing what are termed as “quick start actions” (initial actions to ensure Vancouver reaches the “greenest city” goal) are to reduce fossil fuel dependency and to create green jobs. Vancouver’s greenhouse gas emission targets are to get to 33% below 2007 by 2020 and 80% below 1990 by 2050. GCAT has begun to create their Green Economic Development Strategy (GEDS), implement a green jobs pilot project and begun to seek funding from the federal government and provincial governments for the new green economy…

 

 

Please see http://www.greencitytimes.com/Sustainability-News/vancouver-greenest-city-2020.html for the whole article.

Vauban's solar ship

Europe’s greenest city district

Vauban, Germany is a sustainable town for every other city in the world to emulate. Vauban is a “zero-emission” district in Freiburg, Germany.

The town is not completely carbon neutral, as cars are actually allowed, if you pay at least $23,000 USD for a parking spot on the outskirts of town. Thus, the majority of residents don’t own a car, choosing instead to use the tram, cycle or simply walk. Most streets don’t even have parking spaces.

The radical culture of Vauban has roots in its dramatic history. Ironically, Vauban was a military town through WWII and into the early 90’s. When the military left, the vacant buildings were inhabited by squatters. These vagabonds eventually organized Forum Vauban, organizing a revolutionary eco-community. Today, Vauban is modern, beautiful and represents the very cutting edge of sustainable living.

Careful urban planning helped to create a city layout which lends itself to cycling as the primary mode of transit. The terms “filtered permeability” and ”fused grid” refer to a plan that ultimately means connected streets throughout the town, as well as plenty of pedestrian and bike paths. Residents primarily live in co-op buildings, such as the “solar ship”, a large area of co-op buildings that run strictly on renewable energy…