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The Role of E-mobility Trends in Decarbonizing Transport

Decarbonizing the Transportation Sector with E-mobility |

It’s no secret that transportation is a major source of greenhouse gas emissions. In fact, according to the Environmental Protection Agency, transportation accounted for 27% of all U.S. emissions in 2020. The good news is that there are a number of trends that are helping to decarbonize the transportation sector. One of the most promising is the rise of electric vehicles and other e-mobility options, like electric bikes and scooters.

Here, we take a look at what e-mobility actually means, and why, along with cycling, it can help us move towards decarbonizing transport and thus reducing our carbon footprint.

What is e-mobility?

E-mobility is a term that describes the use of electronic devices and systems to power vehicles. This includes everything from electric cars, e-bikes, and electric scooters to electric buses and trains. These trends are helping to decarbonize transportation, and they’re only going to increase.

The benefits of e-mobility include reduced emissions, lower running costs, and improved energy efficiency. E-mobility is seen as a cleaner, more efficient alternative to traditional petrol and diesel-powered vehicles. As the world looks for ways to reduce its reliance on fossil fuels, e-mobility is expected to play an increasingly important role in the transportation sector.

What’s so good about e-mobility?

Electric cars are much more energy-efficient than motorised vehicles, so you can feel good about reducing your carbon footprint, as they use less energy. 100%-EVs are the more environmentally friendly choice as they themselves produce zero emissions (depending on the power source that powers the grid where the EV is charged, the EV can be entirely zero-emission if the grid is powered by renewable energy). They’re also much cheaper to operate since you’ll only need to charge the battery rather than buying gas or oil. 


For more on electric vehicles, please see:

Benefits of Plug-in Hybrids and Electric Vehicles


Free photos of ElectricalIn addition to electric vehicles, electric bikes have become an emerging popular trend in e-mobility.  Cycling is an efficient and low-emission way to travel, and it’s becoming more popular all over the world, as both a hobby and a way to get to work in a speedy and eco-friendly way.

However, many people are now seeking out even better alternatives to allow them to get around without having to use quite as much effort. As a result, electric bike options are also becoming more popular. Cyclists and businesses are investing in e-bikes and also in quality storage solutions to keep these valuable methods of transportation safe.

Electric bikes free up the road for other road users and are often faster in city traffic. This reduces the number of petrol cars sitting in traffic generating harmful emissions. To take this even further, this guide estimates that an e-bike generates around 134kg of CO2e during the manufacturing process. This is significantly smaller than the carbon footprint of manufacturing a car, which comes in around 5.5 tonnes of CO2 at a minimum.

How can you get the most out of your e-options?

To improve the eco-credentials of your e-bike or electric vehicle, make sure to get yourself on a renewable energy tariff, or generate your own renewable energy. This way, you can be assured that you’re reducing the overall carbon footprint of your transport even further.

To sum up

Electric vehicles, electric bikes, and other e-mobility methods are important trends to watch as we work towards decarbonizing transport. They offer a number of benefits for individuals, cities, and the environment. We hope that this article has given you a better understanding of these two modes of transportation and their role in our sustainable future.


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5 Ways Cities Can Handle Waste More Sustainably

Sustainable Waste Management


5 Ways for Cities to Implement Sustainable Waste Management |

Article by Jane Marsh |

Global and national policies for more sustainable waste management are years away, so cities must take on the responsibility of enacting change. Countless places worldwide are using advances in technology to help combat the waste crisis.

Cities are setting their own guidelines for change and focusing on working toward a zero-waste system. Managing garbage and keeping it from landfills is the primary concern. San Francisco, a zero-waste leader in the United States, has worked hard to keep 80% of its trash out of landfills.

As cities worldwide test new waste management ideas, they learn what does and does not work. Sharing these advances can help move global initiatives further forward. Here are just a handful of ways various places are answering the waste crisis.

  • Generate Energy From Waste

Copenhagen, Denmark

One way of diverting trash from landfills is to burn it. Power plants that would typically rely on fossil fuels can instead use garbage to generate electricity and heat. Though a seemingly simple solution, critics argue that the disposal method is not worth the cost — high quantities of greenhouse gas emissions.

A plant in Denmark may have found a solution. Copenhagen is home to a waste-to-energy power plant called Copenhill that features a large green slope used for skiing in winter and hiking in warmer months. Copenhill burns 450,000 tons of trash into energy each year, providing over 30,000 homes with electricity and 72,000 with heat.

Copenhill is different from other waste-to-energy power plants because it’s working on ways to capture carbon gas emissions and store or recycle them. Copenhill heats about 99% of the buildings in Copenhagen. It is also working to reduce its use of fossil fuels, which are scarce resources. The success in Denmark prompts other cities to consider implementing this system as well.

  • Enact Pay-as-You-Throw Programs

Pay-as-you-throw programs are growing in popularity. Communities without these initiatives in place fund waste removal with property tax money. There is no incentive for households to reduce the amount of garbage they produce. Pay-as-you-throw programs charge residents by the bag. People must either purchase special colored trash bags or tags to attach for $1-$2. Setting fees for waste removal is no different than charging for other utilities. It helps make consumers aware of their consumption and can make a significant impact.

New Hampshire is already seeing benefits from its pay-as-you-throw program. It compared data from 34 towns with this program in place to those that did not and found it decreased waste by 42%-54%. This simple plan makes individuals more accountable for their trash and helps reduce the burden on landfills.

  • Find Ways to Recycle Hazardous Waste

Hazardous waste is difficult to dispose of and adds harmful chemicals into the atmosphere. Part of the problem is that many consumers do not know what constitutes a dangerous material and can be throwing potentially harmful items into their regular trash. These products can leach toxic metals and chemicals into the atmosphere and soil, affecting air, food, and water quality. In order to protect the environment, hazardous waste must be managed sustainably.

Cities need to educate residents about the dangers of throwing these everyday items in their garbage. Common hazardous items include printer cartridges, lightbulbs, car fluids, batteries, and nail polish. The best way to recycle these products is to take them to a location designed to treat them properly. For instance, some hardware stores take batteries for recycling. Putting better and more consistent systems in place for households to recycle their hazardous items could make a huge difference.

Additionally, the same sort of care in managing waste from households applies to healthcare. Medical waste needs to be managed sustainably, including the use of color-coded bins and recyclable products, when possible. Managing waste from healthcare also can protect the environment from toxins generated by hazardous medical waste.

  • Install AI-Powered Dumpsters

One problem with typical waste management is that dump trucks collect dumpsters on a set schedule, often a few times a week, regardless of whether they are full and ready to be emptied or not. The different types of items thrown into these dumpsters also pose an issue. Hazardous materials, food waste, and recycling often end up in these receptacles when there are better, safer ways to dispose of them.

Miami has been testing a new system for waste management at the level of the dumpster. It has installed AI-powered dumpsters throughout the city that monitor when they are full and what types of garbage are inside. This new method means trucks only collect trash when the receptacle is full, saving carbon emissions from driving when unnecessary. Miami has also used this technology to educate residents of buildings that continually put trash in the dumpster that should be recycled, composted, or disposed of properly.

  • Improve Waste Sorting Systems

Finding improved methods for sorting garbage from materials that can be reused and recycled would go a long way toward reducing the burden on landfills. Removing recyclables, disposing of hazardous waste properly, and saving food for composting are all helpful. Still, cities struggle with implementing a system that covers all the different types of trash.

Songdo, South Korea, has made great strides in becoming zero waste. It accomplishes this through a system of pipes that lead from homes to the necessary trash processing areas. Different lines are for various types of garbage.

Closer to home, San Franciso has improved its trash collection system by having three garbage bins curbside instead of one. There is a container each for refuse, recyclables, and compost.


We Must Do Our Part

Cities can only do so much on their own. Many of these programs come to a standstill without public buy-in. It takes individuals who are willing to implement new systems for separating their trash to make a change. Try composting on your own or use a service provided by your city. Check to make sure you aren’t throwing out hazardous materials and do your due diligence to dispose of them properly. Small steps like this enable citywide improvements that can then expand to national and global levels. It all starts with you.


Article by Jane Marsh

Author bio:

Jane works as an environmental and energy writer. She is also the founder and editor-in-chief of

Environment.co


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GCT featured articles Green City Times green city Sustainability News Sustainable Cities

10 Ways Smart Cities Improve Worker Safety

Green Tech to Improve Public Health and Safety


10 Ways IoT Technologies Benefit Sustainable Smart Cities

by Jane Marsh |

As the conversation around greenhouse gas emissions and climate change intensifies, cities are implementing green initiatives to make life easier and healthier for the planet and citizens. 

Innovative communications and Internet of Things (IoT) technologies have pioneered the shift towards “smart cities” and a supportive digital landscape that promotes sustainability, optimal well-being, and public safety.

In essence, a smart city is a metropolitan area that utilizes information technology to improve quality of life and urban operations on a social, economic, and cultural basis.

In the workplace, these eco-friendly cities worldwide are even improving occupational welfare.


Here are ten ways sustainability and new IoT technology prove invaluable for worker safety, as well as public health and safety in general>>>

Improves Indoor Air Quality

Scientific evidence has indicated that indoor air quality has been more polluted than outdoor air. Since most people spend 90% of their time inside, it’s not unlikely they’re at a greater risk for illness and respiratory issues.

Poor indoor air quality often leads to sick building syndrome (SBS)—cold symptoms, allergies, and other chronic conditions that derive from toxic building materials, volatile organic compounds (VOCs), asbestos, and other chemical and material treatments.

However, smart cities are using special IoT software to combat SBS. Currently, tech companies are developing a sensory system that can be integrated into existing buildings to monitor and improve air quality indoors in real-time.

Reduces Workplace Accidents

IoT technologies also aim to reduce workplace accidents. For example, improving air quality should eventually reduce absenteeism at work, leading to fewer injuries. Even current research shows that healthier workers are less likely to have accidents on the job.

Actual examples of IoT software that are currently improving worker safety include:

Boosts Employee Retention

Since the world’s reopening from the coronavirus pandemic, companies have experienced an exodus of employees known as the Great Resignation.

In January 2022, 4.3 million employees quit their jobs while organizations scrambled to fill 11.3 million openings. Finding skilled workers is a time-consuming and expensive process, making employee retention all the more critical.

According to a 2021 IBM Institute for Business Value (IBV) survey, 71% of employees and job seekers want to work for a sustainable company. Another survey found that 10% of millennials would take a $5,000 to $10,000 pay cut to work for a company with a strong sustainability plan.

Ultimately, green companies keep employees engaged and committed to their work, resulting in (and due to) healthier and safer workplaces.

Use of Public Transportation

Many green cities have implemented IoT systems to upgrade sustainable public transportation and commuter safety, reducing the occurrence of vehicle collisions and accidents, such as:

  • Electric car-sharing programs that reduce vehicle congestion and use sensors to understand driver behaviors for future infrastructure planning
  • Smart sensors that enable greater control over airplanes, making it easier to maintain, secure, and comply with Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) guidelines
  • Cars that integrate built-in navigational systems and Bluetooth technology to connect smartphones
  • Smart buses that increase safety and optimize routes, allowing passengers to track bus locations and pick-up times
Reduces Mental Fatigue

Implementation of green infrastructure in cities helps alleviate mental fatigue. Considering sustainable cities aim to improve the quality of life for their citizens, interactions with green spaces are beneficial for employees.

Studies show that having ample vegetation in and around workplaces can reduce stress and boost focus and productivity.

When workers have easy access to nature throughout the day, whether spending their breaks outdoors or having a view of a park from their office window, they can experience its many therapeutic benefits.

Lean Operations Decrease Risks

The idea behind lean operations is performing better work with fewer resources. IoT systems improve occupational safety and promote more promising manufacturing practices through automation, such as:

  • Sensors that automatically turn heavy machinery off when it’s not in use
  • Advanced robotics to reduce greenhouse gas emissions
  • Transfer of employees from high-risk labor jobs to safer higher-paying positions
  • Increased productivity while reducing physical harm to humans and the environment
  • Lean operations also encourage organizations to develop more robust long-term sustainability plans with employee safety at the forefront.

Green cities utilizing IoT systems enhance municipal workers’ safety, in particular. For example, pipe crawlers are small robots with attached cameras that crawl hard-to-reach pipes to detect sedimentation, cracks and leaks, dents, and other blockages. This prevents workers from having to climb into unsafe, germ-infested areas.

Prevents Gas Leak Exposure

Innovative city technology is a critical component for municipal occupational safety in additional ways. Green cities may employ devices that detect methane gases, pole tilt sensors, or air quality monitors to ensure public safety.

These IoT systems allow the city to predict potential hazards and respond to disasters more effectively. When it comes to gas leaks, advanced meters can detect open fuel lines or unusual flow conditions, setting off an alarm.

Considering utility workers are typically the first responders to a gas leak, IoT technology can shut off gas remotely before worker exposure at the site.

Access to Healthier Food

Green cities that implement urban agriculture enhance worker and public safety by providing access to healthy, affordable food.

Emerging agricultural technologies include vertical farming, IoT sensors in open fields, and smart greenhouses. Farmers that use IoT systems can remotely monitor moisture and temperature levels, security, and irrigation.

Likewise, smart greenhouse technologies can reduce electrical costs by 33% while predicting natural sunlight for optimal plant growth. These innovative greenhouse IoT systems may also include automated climate control that enables greenhouses to enhance crop reduction regardless of outdoor weather conditions.

Through IoT tech combined with cutting-edge food technology, there is a year-round organic food source in metropolitan areas for improved public health.

Cybersecurity Enhances Workplace Security

Industries like information technology and web development can benefit from innovative office solutions the most, such as utilizing personal devices and cloud computing. However, with the rise of wireless technology comes the need for enhanced security.

Green cities employ IoT systems to protect the cybersecurity of their networks, and many municipal departments and other companies are doing the same. Without it, corporations risk distributing and losing sensitive data.

According to the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM), 46% of companies use a biometric authentication system to protect data collected on devices. Some forms of biometric authentication include face recognition, fingerprint recognition, iris scanning, and voice recognition.

Reduced Energy Consumption

IoT technology can reduce energy emissions throughout offices and green cities. Smart thermostats and lighting, for example, boost building sustainability.

Commercial spaces that operate smart technologies can monitor energy inputs and outputs while improving efficiency, essentially cutting costs.

Concerning improving air quality indoors, implementing IoT automation in offices helps monitor workplace air conditioning, machinery, water heating, and refrigeration—all ways green cities can further protect worker safety.

According to the International Energy Agency (IEA), greater energy efficiency can improve physical health, including rheumatism, respiratory and heart diseases, arthritis, and allergies.


Workplace Safety Benefits Everyone

Green cities that focus on occupational safety benefit everyone, from employees to upper management. Workplace injuries and disease are costly, but the utilization of advanced technologies is improving health and safety in more ways than previously anticipated.


Author bio:

Jane works as an environmental and energy writer. She is also the founder and editor-in-chief of

Environment.co


 

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10 Sustainable Technologies Improving Air Quality in Cities

GREEN Tech for Healthy Air


10 Technologies Improving Air Quality in Cities

Article by Jane Marsh 

Cities are the heart of every global region. They house generations of families, are often headquarters for the world’s biggest companies, and provide universities that produce the most innovative minds. It’s no wonder why so many people throughout the world want to live in a city.

However, an increase in residents also creates additional air pollution that harms everyone’s health. These are some of the technologies improving air quality in cities to make them better places to live and work.


1. Electric Vehicles (EVs)

Many people sell their cars when they move to a populated downtown area, but everyone will still require some kind of vehicle for transportation.

Whether you take a conventionally-fueled (fossil fuel-based) bus or drive yourself around the city in a vehicle with an internal combustion engine (ICE), the transportation method will burn gas and create carbon dioxide (CO2) that intensifies global warming. ICE vehicles also create many forms of pollution that adversely affect public health and the environment.

The number of EV models will double in 2022 and continue rising in 2023. More people will have access to vehicles with electric motors that eliminate tailpipe emissions and therefore tailpipe pollution, and which prevent CO2 from entering the planet’s atmosphere.

2. Vehicles Designed for Hydrogen Fuel

In addition to electric cars, engineers, scientists, and vehicle manufacturers are also developing vehicle motors powered by hydrogen gas. Hydrogen doesn’t create carbon dioxide or harmful emissions when burned, so it would be a 100% clean energy alternative. The U.S. Department of Energy is leading research to make FCEVs safe, affordable, environmentally-friendly vehicle options. Hydrogen fuel cell electric vehicles (FCEVs) produce no tailpipe emissions (other than water vapor), and FCEVs are more efficient than conventional ICE vehicles. 

3. Rentable Electric Bikes

Bicycles are another alternative sustainable technology for transportation purposes. Many cities pave their roads with bike lanes included, and some cities even rent out e-bikes and other electric micro-mobility devices (e-scooters, e-skateboards, etc…) to increase sustainable transit options.

Publicly available or rentable bikes will get people across the few blocks they need to travel without burning fossil fuels. It’s a pollution-free form of transportation that immediately makes the surrounding air safer to breathe.

4. Personalized HVAC Systems

Urban airborne pollution also involves everyone’s homes. Every ounce of air in your home can contain up to 40,000 dust mites or more if the house isn’t clean.

It’s so important to tailor your HVAC unit to your household because some families breathe more air pollutants than others. Getting professional advice will point you toward the most suitable air filters and a cleaning schedule that will make your system last longer.

5. Construction Site Filtration Machines

Research shows that 23% of urban air pollution originates from ongoing construction projects. This is an especially pressing concern in cities because there’s always ongoing construction.

Massive filtration machines at technologically advanced sites pull air through filters during the workday and push out clean air for workers to breathe. They removes dust and other contaminants that people might breathe while working on the site or walking past.

6. Air Quality Sensors

Sometimes city air is safer to breathe than others, so people can check websites or apps to see the current pollution level where they live. Numerous cities installed air sensors to provide accurate instant readings.

Chicago installed their sensors on lampposts in 2014 to track four common pollutants like carbon dioxide and particulate matter. The chips will upgrade to add volatile organic compounds (VOCs) when the technology is available. The ability to upgrade without reinstalling new technologies is one of the many benefits of using emerging tech to improve air quality in cities.

7. Wet Deposition Sprinklers

When it rains or snows over a big city, the water particles capture air pollutants and chemicals before bringing them down to earth. Longer periods of rain in one place capture more pollution, but rain systems have varying lengths and move through regions quickly.

Wet deposition sprinklers recreate this helpful process by operating as long as people need. They’re especially helpful in areas with high amounts of airborne pollution.

8. Biomass Household Stoves

The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates 2.6 billion people cook with kerosene, which puts them at risk of inhaling fatal gases. It’s most common in developing countries, but biomass fuel is an easily accessible alternative. It contains naturally degradable compounds like wood, farming waste, and animal dung. People can access all three components where they live and make the fuel at home.

There is a concern for anyone using biomass stoves long-term. Although the fuel doesn’t create carbon monoxide, it can release carbon dioxide fumes that are poisonous in spaces that lack ventilation. Air cleaning technologies will continue to develop and meet people where they live in these regions.

9. Pollution-Vacuuming Pods

Cities with massive highway infrastructure put more focus on airborne pollutants created by vehicles. Many have set up pollution-vacuuming pods that sit under each road in response to that. Pipework connects the pod to the upper street and sucks in air to remove ozone, hydrocarbons, and carbon monoxide.

It’s another new technology that makes city air safer to breathe, especially for pedestrians walking along high-traffic streets.

10. Self-Cleaning Structural Concrete

Concrete buildings are fire-proof and withstand extreme weather, so they’re an optimal urban construction solution. They’re an even better choice when construction teams use self-cleaning concrete to cover the outer walls and roof. It uses photocatalysis to break down pollutants with sunlight redirected off the concrete.

Because this technology can also create urban necessities like parking decks and sidewalks, it’s a widespread pollution solution.


Urban leadership and residents should adopt technologies that improve air quality in cities, such as sustainable transit alternatives and household upgrades. Sustainable technologies make a significant difference in reducing airborne pollutants that harm city residents and the planet.



Author bio:

Jane works as an environmental and energy writer. She is also the founder and editor-in-chief of

Environment.co


Central Park, New York City

Additional “technologies” that vastly improve urban air quality are the ancient “technologies” of planting trees and maintaining green spaces – as described in the Green Urban Planning article on GCT. Here’s an excerpt from the Green City Times’ Urban Planning article:

“Urban roads should feature natural landscapes nearby; thus increasing the positive environmental influence of nature on public healthTrees and green spaces serve to create healthier air by filtering urban pollutants, in addition to providing aesthetic value and numerous other benefits. Planting trees and other greenery in cities also cool urban environments (as well as other smart urban growth solutions like green and cool roofs), helping to reduce the heat island effect in cities.” from –  greencitytimes.com/urban-planning


 

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5 categories of change in climate

What ARE the major changes in GLOBAL climate?


Climate change is adversely affecting all parts of the earth. There have been dramatic increases in greenhouse gas emissions (GHGs) globally since the industrial revolution of the 19th century. The planet warms faster as more GHGs are added to the earth’s atmosphere.

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, expressing the global scientific consensus on the matter, warns that “global net human-caused emissions of carbon dioxide (CO2) need to fall by about 45% from 2010 levels by 2030, reaching ‘net zero’ around 2050. This means that any remaining emissions would need to be balanced by removing CO2 from the air…The decisions we make today are critical in ensuring a safe and sustainable world for everyone, both now and in the future.”

With GHGs (CO2, methane, nitrous oxide, other gases – see epa.gov/ghgemissions/overview-greenhouse-gases) continually added to the earth’s atmosphere, the planet continues to warm at an increasing rate. Unfortunately, much larger changes to the earth’s climate are projected despite the current pace of global climate change mitigation.

Thus, an increase in the pace of climate change mitigation (such as increased global investment in, and implementation of, clean and sustainable energy technologies) is imperative to slow the pace of climate change. In this article, the focus is on just a few (of many) categories of climate change, all of which represent significant adverse impacts to people and ecosystems.

Adverse climate feedback loops will lead to ‘tipping points‘ that might cause ‘runaway climate change‘. The way to avoid this scenario is for governments, industries, and the private sector throughout the world to increase investments exponentially in climate mitigation technologies.


Adverse Climate Feedback Loops

As the planet’s temperature rises, ocean temperature also rises in some regions globally, while simultaneously droughts and wildfires increase in other regions, and adverse climate feedback loops occur globally. For example, as the earth’s temperature and ocean temperature rise, there is also an increase in the size and frequency of intense storms and flooding. The increase in extreme storms leads again to an increase in the very factors that lead to more extreme wet weather in the first place (evidence of an increase in adverse climate feedback loops).

At the same time that extreme storms pummel some regions, global warming leads to extreme drought in other parts of the planet, and severe wildfires result. The larger wildfires and drought dry out land and make way for more adverse climate feedback loops (higher average temperatures, more extreme drought, more extreme wildfires, etc…). An increase in severe drought globally also has knock-on effects, such as devastation to agricultural food crops throughout entire regions of the planet.

From the United Nations Food and Agricultural Organization: “The percentage of the planet affected by drought has more than doubled in the last 40 years and in the same timespan droughts have affected more people worldwide than any other natural hazard. Climate change is indeed exacerbating drought in many parts of the world, increasing its frequency, severity and duration. Severe drought episodes have a dire impact on the socio-economic sector and the environment and can lead to massive famines and migration, natural resource degradation, and weak economic performance.”    FROM  –    fao.org/land-water/droughtandag


Atmospheric Changes/ Global Warming

Graphs of Global Warming Scenarios with More GHGs and with Less GHGs

Global warming presently is primarily due to human-caused GHGs from the combustion of fossil fuels. Essentially, rises in GHGs will continue to increase average global temperatures at a continuously higher rate.

The impacts and pace of global warming simultaneously accelerate adverse feedback loops, which have the effect of increasing the pace of global temperature rise.

Thus, the hope to reduce the consequences of climate change is tied to the successful global effort to reduce GHGs.

Consequences of global warming and related adverse climate feedback loops include increases in extreme weather events of all kinds, such as:

  • increased severity of hurricanes, typhoons, and cyclones
  • disruption of global weather patterns, such as jet stream disturbances that send colder weather further south (i.e. ‘polar vortex‘)
  • chaotic increases in rainfall and flooding in parts of the world, while simultaneously other parts of the world experience –
  • drought, heatwaves, wildfires, and devastation to agriculture 
  • increases in toxic algal blooms; especially in freshwater ecosystems such as lakes, but also in coastal marine habitats
  • extinction of wildlife species and ecosystems; degradation of wildlife habitats and biodiversity globally
  • ocean acidification

Read more about global warming here


Arctic Warming/ Sea Level Rise

Hundreds of billions of tons of melting glaciers and sea ice occur continuously year-round due to Arctic warming. The consequences of melting glaciers and sea ice have worldwide implications including rising ocean water levels. Icebergs and other smaller ice formations throughout the sea are melting due to global warming, in addition to glaciers in Greenland, and throughout the world and Arctic.

Sea level rise is already threatening some regions of the planet, especially during extreme high tide and flooding events, and especially for low-lying communities on coasts and islands. Melting ice of all sizes, and warming oceans, adversely affects the lives of marine wildlife species and ecosystems. Read more about the adverse effects on marine wildlife from global warming below.


Adverse Marine Changes

Changes to global ocean habitats are making life difficult for vast amounts of marine species. Fish and marine wildlife species’ diversity ranges and distribution are changing significantly due to global warming. These adverse effects on marine species correspond to climate changes to the planet; rising sea levels due to melting glaciers & polar ice melt, and composition changes in oceans such as increasing ocean acidification.

Ocean acidification has led to mass die-offs of coral reefs, home to a diverse set of marine species. Compounding adverse marine changes have affected coastal ecosystems, island-nations, and communities, causing them to face increasing exposure to storms, floods, as well as the aforementioned marine ecosystem issues. All of these factors have led once-thriving marine ecosystems and coastal communities to be in a state of distress, struggling for survival.


Increase in Wildfires

Wildfires are forecast to continue to increase in frequency, duration, and range. Increasing global temperatures will continue to increase the number and level of wildfires worldwide. The increasing number of wildfires will, in turn, cause a continued increase in global temperatures. This is a diabolical adverse feedback loop of increased atmospheric GHGs and adverse effects of global warming; a continuous cycle of global environmental devastation.

Despite the seemingly unusual high frequency of the raging wildfires that took place recently, it is alarming that there are many more large wildfires predicted over the coming couple of years. In California and Australia, as well as throughout the entire planet; warmer temperatures, drier land conditions, and extreme dry gusty wind are expected to expand the length and increase the intensity of wildfires.


Thawing Permafrost

Thawing permafrost will release large amounts of potent GHGs, such as methane, increasing global warming. Thawing ground (for example, in Siberia) is also likely to disrupt municipal building sectors and other infrastructure on a regional basis; for regions where human activity and permafrost are both present. The recent Arctic fires are an example of an adverse climate feedback loop; the fires set loose significantly high amounts of the potent GHG methane that had been locked in permafrost; increasing global warming and the potential for more severe Arctic fires.

GHGs continue to increase on a global basis, accelerating global warming. However, concerned people, countries, and cities, can help limit the effects of climate change, as seen in the cases of Green City Times’ featured sustainable cities.



Please also see:

GCT’s Plan to Reduce Greenhouse Gas Emissions

See Also: climate.nasa.gov/effects


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California – Current Progress of a Climate Champion

California – A Climate Leader


Learning From California’s Struggle to Balance Decarbonization With Energy Resilience

Since California passed the Global Warming Solutions Act of 2006, marking its commitment to reducing greenhouse gas emissions (GHGs), the state has continued to align itself with ongoing climate change initiatives and policies.

After the first decade of the initial policy’s implementation, California boosted its economy while diminishing carbon pollution with clean energy and new green technologies. However, more work needs to be done for California to reduce emissions 40% below 1990 levels by 2030.

Despite a few shortcomings, California’s success in combating climate change can teach other states a critical lesson in applying similar climate action measures.


California: A Work in Progress

California is no stranger to the effects of climate change. In 2021, California Fire and the U.S. Forest Service responded to 8,786 wildfires spanning 2,568,941 acres. The consequences of these frequent fires include lower air quality, reduced soil quality, and the destruction of the state’s ecosystems, homes, and livelihoods.

In other parts of the state, like the Sierra Nevada, hotter temperatures are melting the snow and releasing about 15 million acre-feet of water all at once. With this event occurring more frequently and earlier in the year, the state’s water storage facilities face increased pressure and generate fear of worsening floods and water shortages.

California has recognized the importance of securing its precious resources, including its energy. More fires and extreme temperatures are unavoidable due to climate change in the years to come.

The energy sector has changed dramatically over the years, from depending on natural sunlight to electrical grids to investments in renewable energy technologies. Populations and heavy industry have increased worldwide, and the demand for greener initiatives has, as well.

California has done the following in its effort to become more energy-efficient:

Powerful storms, strong winds, fires, tornadoes, and other natural events can knock out electricity grids for days, weeks, and even months on end. However, it’s essential to create substantial emissions-reducing legislation that tackles the climate crisis and allows for a more resilient power source.

What else can be done to progress the decarbonization of California and other states across the nation?


The Next Step: Decarbonizing Buildings

Buildings are responsible for generating nearly 40% of the world’s global greenhouse gas emissions, a majority of which are produced by operations and materials. California recently launched the Building Decarbonization Coalition (BDC) to continue balancing energy resilience with decarbonization.

Residential and commercial properties account for 25% (roughly) of California’s GHGs, including on-site fossil fuels and refrigerants for space cooling.

The BDC aims to cut 40% of structural emissions and adopt zero-emissions building codes by 2030. It has gathered experts in the energy sector, public interest advocates, building contractors, construction workers, local government officials, real estate agents, and investors for their input and industry knowledge.

The BDC released a guide that details set goals, philosophies, policies, and strategies that California intends to meet in its path toward building decarbonization. Highlights and recommendations from the report include:

  • Adopt an emissions-free building code for all new construction, removing the reliance on fossil fuels and shifting toward renewables instead.
  • Replace heat and hot water appliances in existing buildings with zero-emission alternatives over time.
  • Help increase the market share of clean, electric appliances by replacing all fossil fuel-burning appliances.
  • Ensure that building decarbonization is conducted in a cost-effective, equitable way to prevent burdening disadvantaged communities with excess costs.
  • Guarantee that efforts to decarbonize buildings aid the grid by incorporating renewable energy into the state’s power supply.

Barriers to Building Decarbonization

While California’s building decarbonization pursuits could be applied to emissions-reducing objectives in other states, the BDC and stakeholders recognize that several barriers need to be addressed for the state to reach its goals by 2030:

  • Government officials, industry experts, and the public currently lack interest in and understanding of building decarbonization technologies.
  • Gas utility companies and various labor unions are likely to deliver political resistance, particularly to decarbonizing commercial buildings.
  • A lack of coordination exists between like-minded emissions-reducing organizations throughout the state.
  • Customers and contractors are faced with higher upfront costs and little financial assistance or incentives to back renewable technologies for building decarbonization.
  • Many building decarbonization technologies aren’t available yet, requiring more states to manufacture green technologies, as well.
  • Existing energy policies and building codes need to be updated to meet the newer emissions-reducing goals of decarbonization initiatives.
  • Businesses and organizations don’t understand how they could realize energy savings through decarbonization.

The state needs to seek solutions to these obstacles for the next phase of California’s decarbonization actions to work.


A Model of Success

Climate change will continue to worsen and affect states differently. However, California continues to lead in its approach to decarbonization and energy resilience.

California’s climate policies’ collective political, economic, and social foundation serves as a model of its success. Other states can learn from it and replicate parts of its action plans.



Article by Jane Marsh

Jane works as an environmental and energy writer. She is also the founder and editor-in-chief of –

Environment.co

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Climate Solution- Sustainable Ag.

Modern Farming


Benefits of Sustainable Agriculture

Sustainable agriculture turns farms into thriving ecological lands that produce food crops, in addition to using plants that increase farms’ biodiversity while sequestering atmospheric carbon. The health of ecosystems, including soil nutrition, on the farm, is a top priority when agriculture is managed sustainably

In most traditional farming of the past, a significant amount of nutrients are removed from the soil without being replaced. Major contributing factors to the depletion of healthy soil on farms globally are:

  • over-tilling the land
  • monoculture (just growing one type of crop on sections of farmland, not implementing crop rotation and planting a variety of crops)
  • synthetic fertilizers and pesticides

From processes like these, there is constant degradation of soil nutrients, leading to poor fertilization from year to year. On farms that use these unsustainable farming practices, there is an increase in weeds, bugs, and vermin. Basically, the farmer slowly loses control of the farm as a whole when the quality of the soil is not managed over time.

The solution to these ecological problems is sustainable agriculture. Sustainable ag. involves land-use practices that restore, protect, and maintain ecosystems and biodiversity on farms. Conventional farmlands are thus transformed into ecologically thriving carbon sinks.


Sustainable Ag. Techniques; Cover Crops, Polyculture, and more

It is important for the farmer implementing sustainable agriculture techniques to understand the relationship between all of the farm’s organisms and the farm’s environment. This understanding is needed in order to create biodiversity on the farm optimally. The sustainable farmer must focus efforts on maintaining nutrients within the farm’s soil, water, and air.

A few sustainable agriculture practices that increase soil health are:

  • seasonal use of cover crops
  • concerted efforts to maintain proper soil nutrition
  • no-till or low-till farming
  • crop rotation
  • polyculture (vs. monoculture)

Cover crops refer to a variety of crops grown on farmland during off-seasons in order to maintain soil health. Examples of cover crops include legumes like alfalfa, various grasses, and cereal crops like rye, oats, and barley, brassicas like turnips and radishes, and turnips and non-legume broadleaves like flax and spinach.

Polyculture is also a practice of introducing a variety of crops on farmland, including multiple species of plants. In the case of polyculture, crops and plants are rotated to different sections on the farmland year-round. Even if polyculture is implemented on a farm, crop rotation and low/ no-till farming should be continually practiced year-round in order to ensure the health of a farm’s ecosystems and soil.

Biodiversity of a farm’s crops, plants on the farm, and other ecosystems on the farm, as well as proper soil nutrition – deter pests. Polyculture also helps maintain a farmland’s healthy ecosystems; also reducing the need for synthetic fertilizers and pesticides.


Creating Carbon Sinks

Real-world examples of sustainable agriculture predominantly include farms that work to satisfy human food demand; while maintaining biodiversity and healthy ecosystems on the farmland. Sustainable agriculture transforms otherwise conventional farmland into environmentally-friendly carbon sinks.

Sustainable farms enhance environmental quality and agricultural economy through the enhancement of the health of a farmland’s natural resources. For example, carbon farming is a sustainable agriculture practice that maintains healthy soils and is common practice in most organic farming. Practices to maintain soil health are found in regenerative agriculture, as well as permaculture (see the section on permaculture below, and please see Green City Times’ article on Regenerative Agriculture). 


Project Drawdown recognizes these sustainable practices as top climate solutions – all of which serve to create agricultural carbon sinks:

  • “Land is a critical component of the climate system, actively engaged in the flows of carbon, nitrogen, water, and oxygen—essential building blocks for life. Carbon is the core of trees and grasses, mammals and birds, lichens and microbes. Linking one atom to the next, and to other elements, it’s the fundamental material of all living organisms.” FROM  –  drawdown.org/sectors/land-sinks
  • “Plants and healthy ecosystems have an unparalleled capacity to absorb carbon through photosynthesis and store it in living biomass. In addition, soils are, in large part, organic matter—once-living organisms, now decomposing—making them an enormous storehouse of carbon. Land can therefore be a powerful carbon sink, returning atmospheric carbon to living vegetation and soils. While the majority of heat-trapping emissions remain in the atmosphere, land sinks currently return a quarter of human-caused emissions to Earth — literally.”   FROM   –   drawdown.org/sectors/land-sinks
  • “Multistrata agroforestry systems mimic natural forests in structure. Multiple layers of trees and crops achieve high rates of both carbon sequestration and food production.”    FROM  –   drawdown.org/solutions/multistrata-agroforestry
  • “An agroforestry practice, silvopasture integrates trees, pasture, and forage, into a single system. Incorporating trees improves land health and significantly increases carbon sequestration.”    FROM   –   drawdown.org/solutions/silvopasture
  • “Pumping and distributing water is energy intensive. Drip and sprinkler irrigation, among other practices and technologies, make farm water use more precise and efficient.”  FROM  –   drawdown.org/solutions/farm-irrigation-efficiency
  • “Building on conservation agriculture with additional practices, regenerative annual cropping can include compost application, green manure, and organic production. It reduces emissions, increases soil organic matter, and sequesters carbon.”  FROM   –   drawdown.org/solutions/regenerative-annual-cropping

Shropshire Agroforestry Project – Shropshire, England



Soil Nutrition
The degradation of agricultural natural resources is the leading issue in depleting a farm’s soil nutrient levels and the health of farmland ecosystems. Sustainable agriculture makes efficient use of non-renewable natural resources. Synthetic pesticides, excessive tilling of the soil, and monoculture (re-planting the same crop, or same type of crop, on the same land season after season, lack of crop rotation) lead to degradation of a farm’s soil health.
A successful sustainable farm must focus a substantial amount of time year-round on healthy soil nutrition to help maintain long-term quality crop and plant growth.
Carbon, nitrogen, phosphorous, potassium, phosphates, and other soil nutrients, are necessary proper for good soil nutrition. A healthy soil PH level, and healthy salt content in soils, as well as proper soil nutrients; all can be enhanced in farm soil simply by optimally reusing crop leftovers, farm plant debris, or even some ‘green’ livestock manure for natural fertilization.
Other important techniques to improve soil health on farms include the implementation of polyculture, cover crops (to keep the land productive vs. barren during off-seasons), and no-till or low-till farming. These sustainable agriculture techniques not only improve the health of a farm’s ecosystems but help fight climate change by sequestering carbon from the atmosphere; creating both healthy farmland and a healthy planet.

What are easy ways to reduce a farm’s carbon footprint?
In focusing on possible, easily overlooked, improvements in farms trying to successfully implement sustainable agriculture – issues with poor irrigation, and other water quality issues can always reduce the quality of agriculture. The use of treated, reclaimed rainwater and greywater, on a farm, are easily implemented sustainable agriculture practices; that also serve to save water resources. 
Another example of sustainable farming is the independent production of nitrogen through the Haber process; which uses hydrogen produced from natural gas or possibly created with electricity (ideally from renewable energy) via an electrolyzerThese farming techniques are a part of the emerging regenerative agriculture process.
In sustainable agriculture, it’s important to manage long-term crop rotations to improve soil nutrition. Sustainable farming still entails improving the farmer’s carbon footprint and the quality of ecosystems in their farmland. Natural fertilizer processes help with creating healthy soil. Natural resources are also an important consideration.
Farmers must manage natural resources (crops, plants, trees, rainwater, etc…), and manage the level of non-renewable energy resources used on the farm. With added efficiency on the farm, certain crops, plant and animal waste, tree, and plant croppings, etc… can also be used as sources for biomass/ biofuel production.

For information on how agricultural renewable resources (i.e. biomass) can be developed and optimally produced on farms, please see the following Green City Times’ articles: 

Cellulosic biofuel – fuel solutions

Anaerobic digestion – a proven solution to our waste problem

Renewable energy: biomass and biofuel


Besides increasing biodiversity on farms (through polyculture and agroforestry techniques, for example), maintaining healthy farm ecosystems, and a focus on soil nutrition; other critical considerations in sustainable agriculture are:

  • Managing water wisely
  • Minimizing air, water, and climate pollution
  • Rotating crops and embracing diversity. Planting a variety of crops can have many benefits, including healthier soil and improved pest control. Crop diversity practices include intercropping (growing a mix of crops in the same area) and complex multi-year crop rotations.
  • Planting cover crops. Cover crops, like clover or hairy vetch, are planted during off-season times when soils might otherwise be left bare. These crops protect and build soil health by preventing erosion, replenishing soil nutrients, and keeping weeds in check, reducing the need for herbicides.
  • Reducing or eliminating tillage.  Traditional plowing (tillage) prepares fields for planting and prevents weed problems, but can cause a lot of soil loss. No-till or reduced till methods, which involve inserting seeds directly into undisturbed soil, can reduce erosion and improve soil health.
  • Applying integrated pest management (IPM). A range of methods, including mechanical and biological controls, can be applied systematically to keep pest populations under control while minimizing use of chemical pesticides.
  • Integrating livestock and crops. Industrial agriculture tends to keep plant and animal production separate, with animals living far from the areas where their feed is produced, and crops growing far away from abundant manure fertilizers. A growing body of evidence shows that a smart integration of crop and animal production can be a recipe for more efficient, profitable farms.  [BULLET POINTS FROM  – ucsusa.org/what-sustainable-agriculture]


[As noted above, regenerative agriculture techniques and sustainable agriculture practices are key to reversing the global effects and negative trends of unsustainable ag. practices. Sustainable agriculture practices include increasing the use of permaculture; as well as urban and community gardening.]


Permaculture



The simulation of natural ecosystems, both in agriculture and green urban planning, has the potential to help reduce man’s carbon footprint on the earth.

Some fields of permaculture and urban gardening include Ecological Design, Ecological Engineering, Environmental Design, Integrated Water Resource Management, and Sustainable Architecture. All of these professions work with nature rather than against; working toward the goal of sustaining both nature and society for future generations.

The depletion of the earth’s resources due to the processes of mass production and consumption, inefficient waste management, and the destruction wrought on nature due to fossil fuel infrastructure development are reasons for the need for permaculture and urban gardening techniques in agriculture.

The need to work with existing resources in order to save the environment, and people alike, is a goal that has many nations working toward carbon neutrality in agriculture, as well as eco-conscious techniques in agriculture to preserve biodiversity. Chemical fertilizers and other environmentally hazardous methods like pesticides are the way of the past in agriculture. The future of gardening/ agriculture lies in sustainable methods like urban gardening (techniques that can easily be applied to larger-scale agriculture/ farms).


Urban gardening

Urban gardening, or urban agriculture, includes elements of the following practices:

  • Gardening for your residence
  • Rain gardening
  • Community, school, and rooftop gardens
  • Indoor gardening
  • Vertical farming

Here is a handy guide to urban gardening:

“City gardens need not be limited to growing just a few plants on the windowsill. Whether it’s an apartment balcony garden or a rooftop garden, you can still enjoy growing all your favorite plants and veggies. In this Beginner’s Guide to Urban Gardening, you will find the basics of city gardening for beginners and tips for handling any issues you may come across along the way.”

Read more at Gardening Know How: Urban Gardening: The Ultimate Guide To City Gardening


Other sustainable solutions for the global conservationist community; carbon offsets

In addition to sustainable agriculture practices by farmers, steps that can be taken by individuals to help with environmental sustainability include: going paperless, going vegetarian (or at least eating less red meat), recycling and buying recycled products, and using Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) certified wood products.

Other personal lifestyle solutions to help with global sustainability efforts include using more cloth and alternative products (like bamboo products for sustainable lifestyles), eating less fast food, and eating vegan meals as often as possible instead of meat.

Going with a more sustainable diet is a way of supporting the use of agricultural land for regenerative farming ultimately used in diet and manufacturing of consumer products. Regenerative ag. produces organic foods sold at farmer’s markets. Another easy way to support sustainability efforts is by shopping at, and supporting, farmer’s markets.

Paper products were once trees, so reducing your use of paper products in your daily life will really translate into saving trees. Additionally, meat, and fast-food restaurants, contribute to deforestation because deforested land is often land used for cattle grazing.

In many cases, carbon offsets are purchased by international companies in industries running polluting factories, using carbon-intensive fuel for energy, and manufacturing fossil fuel-intensive products; and this often includes companies involved in deforestation. However, carbon offsets can also be purchased by individuals – online, at retail outlets, gas stations, etc…


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The future generation of batteries

What are future generation of batteries going to be?


Advanced li-ion batteries

Next-generation lithium-ion (li-ion) batteries are being developed, and varieties are already currently in the marketplace. These next-gen li-ion batteries have 2-7X the efficiency of current batteries, often while reducing costs. New varieties of advanced li-ion batteries maintain a stable capacity for 20+ years. Next-gen li-ion batteries can charge in minutes, are rechargeable, have a higher capacity, and are more cost-efficient than previous battery generations.

The most common type of high capacity, widely used, advanced batteries being developed today are li-ion batteries made in combination with other metals. Developing advanced batteries ends up creating a unique battery technology (like li-ion cobalt oxide, which is frequently used today in portable devices – cell phones, laptops, etc…).

[Another metal commonly used in batteries for a wide variety of products and electric vehicles (EVs), and often combined with other metals and elements – is nickel. “Nickel (Ni) has long been widely used in batteries, most commonly in nickel-cadmium (NiCd) and in the longer-lasting nickel-metal hydride (NiMH) rechargeable batteries…”.]


Next-gen battery technologies

Here are a few other examples of advanced li-ion next-gen battery technologies currently in the market (but less widely commercially available than li-ion cobalt varieties. (Here is a YouTube video on li-iron phosphate batteries, also known as LFP batteries). Lithium-iron-phosphate batteries are currently a popular battery solution for some stationary battery applications. Other advanced battery technologies currently in development include:

All of these promising, best-in-class batteries based on advanced li-ion chemistry are more efficient than the products of previous li-ion battery generations; and are also lighter, longer-lasting, often still rechargeable while also developed to charge quickly; and have a higher energy capacity.

These cutting-edge li-ion batteries based on the latest battery chemistries are emerging into the mass marketplace; as they transition from R&D, beta-testing, and demonstration phases. Advanced next-gen li-ion batteries could revolutionize battery technology for:

  • smartphones, computers, tablets
  • EVs
  • grid energy storage
  • commercial/ municipal buildings
  • RVs, boats
  • aerospace applications, other industrial applications, and much more.

Battery recycling

The next step in ensuring that future generations of li-ion batteries are actually a sustainable solution is a concerted effort by battery manufacturers to develop batteries with future recycling options built-in the battery design. Here’s a snippet from C&EN about the importance of having future recycling requirements in mind as a priority for battery manufacturers:

Lithium-ion batteries have made portable electronics ubiquitous, and they are about to do the same for electric vehicles. That success story is setting the world on track to generate a multimillion-metric-ton heap of used Li-ion batteries that could end up in the trash. The batteries are valuable and recyclable, but because of technical, economic, and other factors, less than 5% are recycled today.

The enormousness of the impending spent-battery situation is driving researchers to search for cost-effective, environmentally sustainable strategies for dealing with the vast stockpile of Li-ion batteries looming on the horizon.   FROM –  cen.acs.org/materials/energy-storage/time-serious-recycling-lithium


Cobalt controversy

One glaring issue with li-ion batteries is the lack of sustainability in sourcing the critical rare earth metals used in li-ion batteries. Especially problematic is cobalt sourced from Congo (cobalt is frequently found in batteries in smartphones, portable computers, and EVs).

Cobalt sourced from Congo (which supplies roughly 2/3 of the world’s cobalt), and then used in li-ion cobalt oxide batteries (as well as other batteries – for issues such as battery durability and the like) are unsustainably and unethically sourced. Cobalt from Congo is the product of cobalt mining rife with human rights abuses (child labor, labor for insufficient wages, labor in hazardous, unregulated conditions), unmitigated environmental and social injustices, and other unsustainable practices.

Cobalt is found in many varieties of li-ion batteries, and even nickel-based batteries, and other batteries that use a combination of metals and elements. However, there are batteries with no cobalt or other unsustainable rare earth metals (such as those promising battery types mentioned above in this article). There are manufacturers producing li-ion cobalt-free batteries, as well as many battery manufacturers committed to using cobalt that is not sourced from Congo; but rather other parts of the world that do not have human rights abuses in cobalt mining.

Since child and slave labor have been repeatedly reported in cobalt mining, primarily in the artisanal mines of DR Congo, technology companies seeking an ethical supply chain have faced shortages of this raw material and the price of cobalt metal reached a nine-year high in October 2017, more than US$30 a pound, versus US$10 in late 2015. After oversupply, the price dropped to a more normal $15 in 2019. As a reaction to the issues with artisanal cobalt mining in DR Congo a number of cobalt suppliers and their customers have formed the Fair Cobalt Alliance (FCA) which aims to end the use of child labor and to improve the working conditions of cobalt mining and processing in the DR Congo.

Members of another ethical cobalt mining organization, the Responsible Cobalt Initiative, include FairphoneGlencore, and Tesla, Inc. Research is being conducted by the European Union on the possibility to eliminate cobalt requirements in lithium-ion battery production. As of August 2020 battery makers have gradually reduced the cathode cobalt content from 1/3, to 2/10, to currently 1/10, and have also introduced the cobalt free LFP cathode into the battery packs of electric cars such as the Tesla Model 3. In September 2020, Tesla outlined their plans to make their own, cobalt-free battery cells.FROM  –    wikipedia.org/wiki/Cobalt#Batteries


Summation of Current Advanced Battery Technologies

Widely commercially available advanced li-ion batteries (such as li-ion cobalt oxide, or the promising LFP batteries gaining popularity for home energy storage and EVs) remain the most prominent high capacity batteries widely available in today’s market. These advanced batteries are produced for smartphones, laptops, EVs; as well as small-scale (residential/ commercial building), and large-scale (grid, industrial) energy storage.

However, sodium-ion batteriesgraphene-based batteries, and zinc-air batteries represent cheaper, more abundant, more environmentally-friendly material than lithium; that could produce a less expensive battery with possibilities for long-term energy storage and applications for a wide range of products – if R&D in these technologies yields batteries that can be widely commercially marketed.

Lithium-vanadium phosphate batteries are a next-generation battery solution that shows promise; as they can extend the range of EVs, for example. These batteries potentially have greater power than advanced batteries found in many EVs today, but also greater safety than the batteries found in smartphones and laptops.

In addition, recharging lithium-vanadium batteries could be faster than batteries currently used in EVs and computers. Other promising advanced next-gen battery types with varying degrees of research and development, and at different levels of marketability, include various types of flow batteries.


Flow batteries

Flow batteries, such as vanadium flow and zinc-iron redox flow, have a longer battery life than conventional li-ion batteries. Flow batteries have a battery life of over 20 years, quickly charge and discharge; and easily scale up from under 1 MW to over 10 MW. Vanadium flow batteries represent high capacity energy storage, can be idle when solar and wind aren’t producing, and then discharge instantly. They have the unique ability to charge and discharge simultaneously and to release large amounts of electricity quickly.

As they are inexpensive to scale up, vanadium flow batteries represent an opportunity for reliable, affordable large-scale energy storage. At this point, many types of flow batteries are still in the R&D phase due to the expense of manufacturing these batteries; with only limited commercial availability. However, commercial deployment of flow batteries is seen in some areas worldwide today, including some large markets – such as throughout Australia and Asia.

Unlike vanadium flow batteries, which currently represent a great, realistic battery alternative, lithium-air batteries only theoretically represent a great battery alternative. Lithium-air batteries could triple the range of EVs; and could give fully charged EVs the same range as maximum range gasoline cars with a full tank. However, whereas vanadium flow batteries can charge and discharge repetitively with no problem, it has been notoriously difficult to manufacture rechargeable varieties of lithium-air batteries.



New, promising batteries are currently being manufactured with everything from:

  • li-ion + cobalt, phosphate, manganese, silicon
  • combining these elements, along with nickel – for lithium nickel manganese cobalt oxides, or NMCs as these batteries are known)
  • batteries based on vanadium, zinc, sodium, or even graphene.

Advanced R&D is being done on “superconductors“, flow batteries, solid-state batteries, and various metal or air-flow type batteries. Additionally, there are experimental combinations such as lithium-sulfur, lithium-nickel-manganese-cobalt, and lithium-titanate oxide. New advanced next-gen batteries are quickly gaining ground both in terms of R&D, as well as deployment. Advancements in next-gen batteries will help add renewable energy storage to the grid, add charging capacity to our cell phones and laptops, and help extend the range of electric cars to compete with gasoline ones.



Please also see:

renewable energy storage


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Clean Hydrogen Power

Clean and GREEN H2 |


Hydrogen and the Clean Energy Transition

Hydrogen is one of the most promising emerging energy technologies to fill the rising global demand for clean low carbon and emission-free energy sources. The recent global societal shift towards environmental sustainability, and the global imperative for climate action, have significantly altered energy consumption patterns.

Clean and renewable energy companies are booming. Solar companies experienced their highest production and distribution rates in 2020, enhancing the national use of renewable power. In addition to solar, other renewable energies and emerging next-generation clean energy technologies (such as hydrogen and carbon capture) are also having breakthrough years. President Biden has influenced alternative energy sourcing by establishing ambitious sustainability standards in the U.S. – such as net zero by 2050, and a carbon-neutral electricity grid by 2035. The Biden administration also seeks to reduce greenhouse gases (GHGs) by 50-52% by 2030 (from 2005 levels).

Biden generated the Build Back Better (BBB) plan, seeking to invest in American society and the American clean energy sector. The proposed program allocates trillions of funding dollars for United States’ infrastructure (as well as other programs that benefit society), including funding for the clean energy industry, promoting technological advancements and system alterations.

The Build Back Better plan includes funding for hydrogen and carbon capture technological RD&D (as well as a variety of other next-generation clean energy technologies). Various parts of the BBB climate-related plan also include funding for clean energy infrastructure, EV charging infrastructure, financial incentives such as tax credits for renewable energy, and modernizing the US electrical grid (in addition to more clean energy programs). When the US diversifies production and use of clean energy (including clean hydrogen and carbon capture), national greenhouse gas emissions (GHGs) are effectively reduced.

Fortunately, Congress did end up passing a part of the original BBB plan – the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (IIJA). The IIJA does have some investment for technological measures described in this article and was signed into law by President Biden in November 2021. Unfortunately, it does not look like the rest of the original BBB will pass Congress during Biden’s first term. Still, both the development of hydrogen technologies and carbon capture technologies, have bipartisan support. The technological developments discussed in this article are set to continue advancing this decade (a bit more slowly than if the full BBB passed.)


Domestic Energy Production Challenges

Nearly 80% of America’s energy production and consumption (with the transportation sector included) is derived from fossil fuels. These finite natural resources (coal, oil, and gas) create atmospheric pollution during combustion (GHGs and other pollution). GHGs alter the planet’s natural temperature control process, degrading the global ecosystem. On the other hand, hydrogen represents clean energy; as hydrogen, itself, doesn’t release carbon or contribute to atmospheric pollution. 

The Earth absorbs sunlight, generating heat and warming the surface. The planet is capable of reabsorbing a finite amount of additional solar radiation or emitting it back to space. When GHGs invade the environment from the combustion of fossil fuels, they alter the atmosphere’s natural composition and change the process. GHGs have a higher sunlight-to-heat conversion rate and trap energy rather than sending it to space.

Over time, the entrapment and overproduction of heat raise Earth’s temperature. As the planet warms, the evaporation rate rises, oceans heat up, and global weather patterns are changed; resulting in extreme flooding in some global regions (from increasingly extreme storms), and elongated drought periods (causing wildfires, damage to agriculture, etc…) in others. Global warming also degrades aquatic ecosystems, causes rising sea levels, and adversely affects biodiversity worldwide (among other global adverse effects of climate change).

Hydrogen is a clean energy solution for energy storage and transportation to replace climate-change-causing fossil fuels. Right now, hydrogen can be used as a fuel source for cars and buses – and in the future, for long-haul shipping, heavy-duty trucks, and, hopefully, long-haul aviation.

Hydrogen can be used for energy storage. Hydrogen also represents a potential zero or low carbon emissions fuel source for HVAC in buildings; a zero carbon emissions solution for building heating. Hydrogen potentially performs all of these functions without contributing to global warming, air pollution, or climate change (zero carbon in the case of green hydrogen – whereas blue hydrogen represents a low carbon solution – see below for a description of the hydrogen production color spectrum).


What is Carbon Capture?

As the demand for zero and low carbon emissions energy sources rises, environmental engineers and scientists develop new clean production technologies. Carbon capture and storage (CCS) decreases GHGs in the process of producing hydrogen in natural gas power plants (as well as in energy generation from other fossil fuels, and other industrial processes). CCS + H2 production generates reliable low carbon power – hydrogen. After capturing the carbon emissions from methane reforming (in the blue hydrogen production process, described below), partial oxidation restructures the elements as they flow through a catalyst bed, creating clean hydrogen. The actual use of hydrogen for energy generates zero pollution and no carbon emissions.

Though carbon capture cannot directly generate hydrogen for sustainable energy uses, methane reforming in natural gas power plants can. Methane reforming in natural gas power plants combines Fahrenheit steam, combined with a catalyst. The process produces hydrogen and a relatively small amount of carbon dioxide (smaller than the natural gas energy-generating process). Carbon capture can be used to capture CO2 from the natural gas combustion, as well as the methane reforming cycle – a low carbon process to create clean hydrogen.

Environmental scientists and engineers develop carbon capture technology to reduce atmospheric pollution from manufacturing facilities and power plants. The technology can absorb 90% of carbon emissions, significantly decreasing GHGs.

Pre-combustion carbon capture turns fuel sources into a gas rather than burning them. Post-combustion capturing separates carbon dioxide from fossil fuel combustion emissions. The collection of CO2 travels to an alternate processing facility where individuals repurpose or store it, decreasing adverse ecological effects.


Hydrogen Production – the 3 Colors

Engineers have developed various methods of hydrogen production and differentiated them on a color spectrum. When companies create H2 from methane reformation without collecting carbon outputs, they generate grey hydrogen. This process releases 9.3 kilograms of GHGs for every kilogram of hydrogen. In order to create a sustainable, low carbon solution for future hydrogen production, the world must transition away from grey hydrogen to environmentally-friendly hydrogen production methods (grey hydrogen currently represents a vast majority of global hydrogen production).

Companies can capture carbon emissions in the methane reformation process, storing them to preserve the atmosphere, producing blue hydrogen. The CCS process can collect up to 90% of the CO2 emissions and place them underground for climate change prevention. The process is significantly more sustainable than grey hydrogen production.

The zero carbon emissions hydrogen production process uses renewable energy, electrolyzers, and water, generating green hydrogen. Advanced technological devices (electrolyzers) separate hydrogen (H2) from H2O using electrolysis. Solar panels and wind turbines power the systems, creating zero emissions throughout the practice.

Green hydrogen is the most sustainable version of the energy source. Industries can power their production using a 100% clean energy source (green H2), eliminating atmospheric pollution from the process.

The process of producing green H2 is much cleaner than the conventional, ecologically degrading hydrogen development practice of methane reforming. Traditionally, energy professionals generate H2 from fossil fuel sources, generating 830 million tons of GHGs annually. Producing green hydrogen from zero-emission sustainable sources can enhance its efficiency while reducing atmospheric degradation. Producing blue hydrogen still uses methane reforming, but by also using CCS technology, a cleaner method of producing hydrogen is being used.


Hydrogen Fuel Cell Energy
hydrogen fuel cell

The process of producing hydrogen can supply fuel for hydrogen-powered fuel cells, creating an alternate clean energy source for energy storage and transportation. The cells work like batteries, running off of the hydrogen inside of them. They contain one positive and one negative electrode, generating the cathode and anode.

The two electrodes contain an electrolyte. Hydrogen fuels the anode, and air powers the cathode, separating molecules into protons and electrons. The free electrons travel through a designated circuit, creating electricity. Excess protons move to the cathode, combining with oxygen and generating water as the output. Pure water is a sustainable alternative to other GHGs, and water is the only emission in hydrogen power generation.

hydrogen fuel cell bus – Berlin, Germany

Hydrogen fuel cells are used in energy storage, and hydrogen buses, as clean energy battery solutions. Read more about Europe’s extensive effort to expand the hydrogen bus presence on the continent here. The only emissions from hydrogen buses run by fuel cells are water.

Homeowners can also potentially utilize hydrogen fuel cells, shrinking their carbon footprints. Hopefully, hydrogen will be used in large home appliances in the future, such as electric HVAC units, electric furnaces, electric boilers, and other applications. Adopting electric home appliances can aid the transition away from fossil fuel-derived power sources. 

You can compare your carbon footprint and utility savings by first receiving an energy consultation. A professional energy consultant can unveil your property’s compatibility with hydrogen fuel cell power sources. They can also recommend energy efficiency practices, reducing your carbon footprint over time.


Benefits of CCS, Electricity, and Hydrogen Fuel Sourcing

President Biden set a national carbon-neutrality goal upon entering office. Meeting the objective requires a restructuring of the energy sector. Both hydrogen and carbon capture represent solutions to accelerate the low-carbon, clean energy transition. Biden plans on developing a carbon-neutral electric grid, sourcing 100% of U.S. electricity from clean energy sources.

Although still fairly expensive, clean hydrogen represents a highly efficient low-carbon power alternative. “Hydrogen can be re-electrified in fuel cells with efficiencies up to 50%, or alternatively burned in combined cycle gas power plants (efficiencies as high as 60%).”  [Quote from  –  energystorage.org/technologies/hydrogen-energy-storage]. We can effectively develop a carbon-neutral nation by diversifying our electricity sources.

Green and blue hydrogen development can provide sustainable support for the electric grid, be used in the transportation sector or energy storage (in hydrogen fuel cells), and even as a low carbon solution for HVAC units and other major appliances in buildings. CCS with hydrogen development (producing blue hydrogen) represents a low carbon source of clean hydrogen, while green hydrogen production represents a zero carbon source.

We can generate clean energy while eliminating further atmospheric degradation when we target significant pollution producers and replace dirty energy with clean energy sources like electricity and hydrogen. Both electric and hydrogen buses represent clean energy solutions. Utilizing electric vehicles (EVs) can increase society’s access to emission-less power. If you want to drive with zero emissions, you also have the option of choosing a hydrogen fuel cell car (although, currently, an EV represents the less expensive zero emissions option). With both electricity and hydrogen, ultimately the process of generating the energy must come from a low carbon or zero-emissions source in order to truly be a clean energy solution.

The process of using electricity and/ or hydrogen in buildings and transportation also reduces the enhanced greenhouse effect by decreasing atmospheric emissions. When we capture the elements before they reach the environment, we prevent the overproduction and entrapment of heat (as in blue hydrogen). Green hydrogen, or electricity powered by renewables, shrinks the carbon footprint of energy production closer to zero.


Enhancing Urban Sustainability

Many cities have recently increased their sustainability standards, regulating carbon emissions and pollution production processes. They are electrifying transportation, and buildings, requiring cleaner energy (as in renewable portfolio standards and clean energy standards). CCS used in combination with hydrogen power (blue hydrogen) production can support urban transformations towards clean, low-carbon energy. Green hydrogen power production can support the urban energy transition completely away from fossil fuel reliance towards zero-emission energy.


Article by Jane Marsh

Author bio:

Jane works as an environmental and energy writer. She is also the founder and editor-in-chief of

Environment.co



 

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Nuclear – necessary energy

Clean Energy


Both nuclear and renewable energy are needed in the global energy mix to help fight climate change

In order to cut down on the share of fossil fuels in the world energy mix, nuclear is necessary. A total of WELL OVER 40% of the world’s energy mix for renewable and nuclear energies combined is needed to reach significant greenhouse gas emission reduction targets. Over 40% is not a final goal, but represents a realistic initial goal on the path towards the target of over 70% clean, zero-emission global energy generation.

To achieve a significant GHG emissions reduction target for the planet, the world needs nuclear energy. Nuclear energy is going to have to augment truly environmentally-friendly, renewable energy in the effort to dramatically reduce fossil fuel use.


How much of the world’s energy is nuclear?

Nuclear reactors provided 10% of the world’s total energy sources, on average annually, during the last decade. 13 countries get at least 1/4 of their energy from nuclear, including France (which gets around 3/4 from nuclear), Belgium, Sweden, Switzerland, and Finland.

Nuclear energy is also put to great use in the US, France, China, Russia, and South Korea, among other countries. Now is probably as good of a time as any in this article to mention a couple of major drawbacks (to put it mildly) of nuclear energy.

Namely the danger- catastrophic disasters due to large-scale accidents like the one at Fukushima, Japan, enrichment of uranium in order to create nuclear weapons, and the difficult, expensive process of securely managing the disposal of nuclear waste.

The former major problems mentioned (and less waste generated by the nuclear process – Gen IV theoretically can just run on spent uranium) are resolved in the 4th generation nuclear reactor designs, discussed below.

Current reactors, mostly Gen I & II nuclear plants, along with several operational Gen III plants, rely on uranium and water (to cool the plants). Therefore, these nuclear plants still deplete water supplies, create nuclear waste, use a fuel source that can be enriched to convert the material into a bomb, and represent a source of potential danger.

The largest nuclear disaster in history was the Chernobyl disaster (although the risk of nuclear disaster is dramatically minimized in a Gen III plant, and eliminated in Gen IV nuclear. Some Gen IV designs dramatically cut the need for water to cool plants, as well).

Here’s a brief snippet from the World Nuclear Association summarizing nuclear energy’s current role in the global energy mix:

  • The first commercial nuclear power stations started operation in the 1950s.
  • Nuclear energy now provides about 10% of the world’s electricity from about 440 power reactors.
  • Nuclear is the world’s second largest source of low-carbon power (29% of the total in 2018). 
  • Over 50 countries utilise nuclear energy in about 220 research reactors. In addition to research, these reactors are used for the production of medical and industrial isotopes, as well as for training.  FROM  –  https://www.world-nuclear.org/information-library/current-and-future-generation/nuclear-power-in-the-world-today.aspx

Advanced nuclear reactors

Safer, cheaper, still energy abundant and emissions-free designs that use relatively benign energy sources (thorium or depleted uranium), and much less water for cooling the reactor than previous designs and current operational nuclear plants, are being envisioned in 4th generation nuclear, and are currently available in a few 3rd generation nuclear power plant designs.

Using a small fraction of the water as previous designs, Gen IV nuclear plant designs, are safe, cost-effective, environmentally friendly, and still offer tremendous potential for energy production. Molten salt reactors using depleted uranium, nuclear waste from other plants, or thorium as a complete replacement of uranium, are being planned in Gen IV nuclear plant designs. 4th generation designs (and many 3rd generation plants, both planned and operational) are autonomous, smart plants, with heightened safety measures.

Thorium is being looked at as a fuel source for new nuclear reactors, as it is abundant, much less radioactive than uranium, and creates by-products from burning the fuel source that can be used again in the reactor. There is a higher level of thorium than uranium on the planet.

Thorium, as well as depleted uranium, are being designed with relatively lower up-front capital costs. Little manpower is needed to run and maintain future, advanced 4th generation nuclear plants, due to the autonomous computer technology set to be deployed in the plants.


Summation of the benefits of advanced nuclear reactors

Nuclear reactors designed to run on thorium, and depleted uranium, have a very low chance of being used to develop nuclear weapons, produce less radioactive waste, are abundant fuel sources; and are safer, more cost-efficient in addition to being energy-efficient, and cleaner vis-a-vis energy generation compared to current widely deployed nuclear reactors.

Thorium, in particular, is being looked at by developing nations like China and India because of the relatively low cost, increased safety, an abundance of the material, and tremendous energy potential of this energy source. The U.S. has huge amounts of thorium, in places like Kentucky and Idaho (as well as depleted uranium); and there are large quantities in countries like India, Australia, and Brazil.

The U.S., Europe, and even some of the aforementioned developing countries, also have large stockpiles of depleted uranium. More depleted uranium is being produced every day, which would work in many of the 4th generation designs. A few 3rd generation nuclear plants are already operating, and some more are projected to be developed and ready for operation by 2025. 4th Gen nuclear promises to produce abundant, low-cost energy safely, and with little environmental impact.

In order to meet increased demand for low-emission, safer, lower up-front capital investment, high-efficiency energy sources, there has also been an increased global interest in light water small modular nuclear reactors (SMRs). Benefits of nuclear SMRs include-

Small modular reactors offer a lower initial capital investment, greater scalability, and siting flexibility for locations unable to accommodate more traditional larger reactors.  They also have the potential for enhanced safety and security compared to earlier designs. Deployment of advanced SMRs can help drive economic growth. From- USDOE Office of Nuclear Energy

One other “good” thing about nuclear energy production is that there are fairly low marginal costs. There are little to no negative externalities with regard to the actual energy production (i.e. little to no GHG emissions); however current nuclear power plants do generate toxic waste. Ongoing costs are fuel and maintenance of nuclear plants; the uranium to fuel the plants, and water to cool the plants, and toxic waste disposal facilities.

Large toxic waste disposal locations are necessary to bury the radioactive waste so people aren’t exposed to potentially cancer-causing radiation. Nuclear power plants do also carry high up-front capital costs.

The US Energy Information Administration estimated that for new nuclear plants in 2019 capital costs will make up 75% of the levelized cost of energy.

Even when looking at the downsides of current technologies for nuclear energy production, 4th generation nuclear promises to be safe, cost-efficient (cost of new nuclear fuel is low), and environmentally friendly, with a very high energy production capacity given a relatively small quantity of nuclear fuel need for energy production (whenever 4th-gen nuclear gets built).

New reactors can (theoretically) run on spent uranium and even thorium. 4th generation nuclear has entirely safe, cost-efficient designs. Actually, the levelized cost of energy production from new, advanced nuclear reactors that are already available, deployed, and generating nuclear energy, is looking viable.



For a comprehensive guide on public policy that increases nuclear energy globally, in order to help fight anthropogenic climate change, please see: Public policy proposal to stabilize greenhouse gas emissions


Please also see:

Renewable energy overview