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Profiles in Sustainable Cities – San Diego, California

San Diego, California – America’s Finest City |


San Diego skyline

Sustainable cities, like San Diego, have eco-city designs that prioritize consideration of social, economic, and environmental impacts of climate mitigation policies and sustainability policies. Green cities also prioritize resilient, thriving urban habitats for existing residents.

Among the top of any list of these clean, green eco-cities is San Diego, California. The city of San Diego has a citywide 100% renewable energy program, is implementing a zero-waste plan, and is changing policy to have a majority of the city’s public transit fleet become electric vehicles.

San Diego bills itself as “America’s Finest City”,  and a sustainability powerhouse. Factors leading to San Diego becoming a city that runs entirely on renewable energy include the higher-than-average amount of sunshine in the area, along with the consensus among city leaders to pursue sustainability as a top priority. Additionally, California’s push for 100% renewable energy (100RE) throughout the state has allowed San Diego to attempt to reach 100RE fairly quickly. To this end, San Diego has pushed ahead with its San Diego Climate Action Plan.


Sunny San Diego

San Diego Bay

San Diego is famous for its year-round mild climate, its bays and harbors, and popular beaches.

The city is also known for its US military ports and bases (especially for the Navy in downtown SD & the Marines in Camp Pendleton, North San Diego County – but also for bases of other military branches).

In recent decades, San Diego has become increasingly internationally recognized for its emergence as a global center for clean energy, healthcare, biotechnology, and technological research & development.

Coronado Bridge, San Diego

The San Diego Convention Center, and hotels in Coronado, host many national and international conferences including; many medical conferences, Politifest, the Global Investment Forum, and the Food Waste Solution Summit.

There are also many smart tech. and sustainability conferences put on by CleanTech San Diego. CleanTech San Diego is a non-profit trade organization and think-tank that promotes San Diego as a global leader in clean and sustainable technologies.  

Cleantech San Diego is uniquely suited to support industry by fostering collaborations across the private-public-academic landscape, leading advocacy efforts to promote cleantech priorities, and encouraging investment in the San Diego region.” – CleanTech San Diego.



San Diego’s Sustainability Initiatives

The City of San Diego is a leader of sustainability in the United States. An organization that represents the city’s substantial contribution to sustainability was launched by Cleantech San Diego in 2011 – Smart Cities San Diego. Smart Cities San Diego is a public-private organization that advances sustainable, energy efficient technological development throughout San Diego county, renewable energy technologies, and water efficiency.

Smart Cities San Diego also has initiatives to support greenhouse gas reduction and lowering the carbon footprint of San Diego.


San Diego Climate Action Plan (CAP)

view of downtown San Diego

The push for 100RE is a major part of the San Diego Climate Action Plan (CAP); adopted citywide in December 2015. San Diego’s CAP is billed as a continuing push to make San Diego, “America’s Finest City”, now also its most sustainable city. San Diego plans to eliminate half of all greenhouse gas emissions (reach 50% GHG reduction by 2035 compared to 2010 levels) from the city and run entirely on renewable energy by 2035.

The city had an interim goal of 15% reduction by 2020 – in fact, they got well above that mark – to 24% GHG reduction citywide. San Diego was the first major city in the United States to commit to 100RE, and San Diego County has the highest number of cities countywide that have made 100RE pledges for any county in the nation.


San Diego’s zero-waste goals

In addition to San Diego’s CAP, the city has ambitious zero-waste goals:

The San Diego City Council recently adopted a zero waste plan that sets goals of 75 percent waste diversion by 2020; 90 percent by 2035, a goal consistent with the proposed Climate Action Plan; and “zero waste” by 2040.  FROM –  sandiegouniontribune.com/san-diego-aggressive-recycling


SDG&E and 100RE

The utility that is the lone energy provider to San Diego, San Diego Gas and Electric (SDG&E), is one of only several utilities nationwide to offer a 100RE option. San Diego’s sole utility (a de-facto monopoly), SD&E, offers an option for 50% or 100% solar energy as part of their “EcoChoice” plan. The EcoChoice plan offered straight from SDG&E, not a company providing the renewable energy service as an option for residents and businesses to the utility, an “aggregator” energy service.

Community Choice in San Diego

An alternative energy service to the utility is an aggregator energy company; for example the San Diego and statewide “Community Choice” program. Community Choice operates throughout California, including San Diego, and also offers 50% and 100% options to supply residents/ businesses with power from renewable energy, but SDG&E still provides the actual energy maintenance service.

Community Choice is similar to SDG&E’s “EcoChoice”, but the customer pays the private energy aggregator to generate renewable energy, while SDG&E still maintains the actual energy service. Under Community Choice, for example, SDG&E still maintains the grid infrastructure, but instead of paying SDG&E for solar from exclusively large utility-scale solar farms, the customers pay Community Solar and support solar from a variety of local and state-wide renewable energy projects. By paying SDG&E directly through EcoChoice, residents and businesses are paying the utility directly to generate renewable energy. Both services help support renewable energy. 



Additionally, please see: Cleantech San Diego: Smart City


Here are a couple of excerpts from the San Diego Climate Action Plan:

Coronado Bridge

The plan identifies steps the City of San Diego can take to achieve the 2035 [climate] targets. That list includes creating a renewable energy program, implementing a zero-waste plan, and changing policy to have a majority of the City’s [public transit] fleet be electric vehiclesthe city has committed to slashing its greenhouse gases 15% below 2010 levels by 2020 and 50% below that benchmark by 2035. The goals are intended to mirror the state targets of reducing emissions to 40% below 1990 levels by 2030.”

“…in 2016 the city had already cut its emissions by 19%, a 2% improvement from the previous year. The report largely attributed that progress to the state’s strict vehicle-emissions standards and renewable energy requirements (for the city’s utility, SDG&E)…”  – San Diego CAP 2016 PDF



Sustainability initiatives in San Diego (including a couple of potential initiatives)

San Diego Trolley, Harbour Dr., in front of the Convention Center

Public transportation options in San Diego include the MTS bus system, commuter rail (The Coaster), and light rail (The San Diego Trolley). Public transit in San Diego accounts for only 3.5% of county residents for all transportation in, and to & from, the city, for people living within 90 minutes of the city. The majority of people drive alone to work in the city, with a modest amount (<10%) choosing to carpool. Far fewer people walk or bike to work in San Diego city, generally people that already live in the area. There is potential for further development of public mass transit and alternative transit like biking, walking, and electric micro-mobility.

By focusing on developing, and increasing the use of, public transportation and sustainable alternative transit in San Diego, the city can most effectively reduce its carbon footprint. This is especially true of light rail in the city, which runs entirely on electricity. 

California mandates that every city in the state is to run on 100% clean energy by 2045. This is part of an effort by a group of bipartisan lawmakers within the state to have California make good on the state’s pledge to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by 50% by 2045. The opposition and legal challenges to this effort are from fossil fuel companies, lawmakers who side with the fossil fuel companies, and California counties and cities that want to continue to keep natural gas in the energy mix for their municipalities beyond 2045. San Diego is already committed to 100% renewable energy, and seeks more than California’s GHG reduction goal – aiming for net zero GHGs by 2035

San Diego County already has a few cities that have made 100RE pledges, and has the highest number of 100RE pledges for any county in the nation.


Here’s the PDF for the full 74-page San Diego Climate Action Plan that was adopted in December 2015 (the San Diego CAP has been updated since passage, and some of those updates are reflected in this article and the PDF of the plan Green City Times links to here): sandiego.gov/final_july_2016_cap.pdf 




 

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Kamuthi Solar Project; and the largest solar PV farms in India, China, and other countries

What are the World’s Largest Solar Projects?


Featuring over 2.5 million individual solar PV modules, and on 2,500 acres, in the town of Kamuthi in the Ramanathapuram district; the Kamuthi Solar Power Project supplies energy to ~300,000 homes. The Kamuthi Solar Power Project is a 648 MW solar photovoltaic (PV) farm in Tamil Nadu, India. However, as you will see in this article, there are actually a few larger solar projects in India, China, and elsewhere worldwide.


Kamuthi Solar Project

A lone solar worker strides along PV panels of Kamuthi Solar Power Project>>>


Crown Jewel of Tamil Nadu

Kamuthi cost US $710 million, and became operational in 2016. As a result, India became the #3 country in the world for operational utility-scale solar PV parks, behind only China and the United States. To reach the third spot, India had to leapfrog the United Kingdom, and this solar farm gave them just enough edge.

Tamil Nadu, home to the Kamuthi Solar Plant, is a relatively large state in India at the South-east tip of India, and the capital is Chennai. Known as the most urbanized state in India, Tamil Nadu is industrialized and produces a significant quantity of manufacturing. However, the Kamuthi Solar Plant remains the crown jewel of Tamil Nadu.


Adani ventures into solar energy with Kamuthi

Kamuthi was built and funded by Adani power, a company that was founded in 1996 as an energy trading company; and since became India’s largest private energy company. In 2011, Adani became the largest private thermal power generating company in India.

Adani took their first step into power generation with a massive coal power project in Mundra (built in 4+ stages between 2009-2012). This huge solar energy plant – Kamuthi – was Adani’s first venture into massive solar projects; and as Adani begins to look beyond coal, into sustainable energy, so too does the whole country of India seek a greener energy future.


How Long Did it Take to Build Kamuthi?

The Kamuthi Solar Power Project is a massive structure, however, it was built in only eight months. This feat was accomplished through the dedication of 8,500 team members, who worked 24 hours a day to complete the project. Perhaps as a result of the quick and efficient build, this project cost significantly less than the Topaz Solar Plant, an only slightly smaller sized plant than Kamuthi, but still a relatively large solar plant, in the Mojave desert.


Who Had the World’s Largest Solar Farm Prior to Kamuthi?

The record for the world’s largest individual solar PV farm prior to Kamuthi belonged to the Topaz Solar Plant in California, which has a total capacity of 550 megawatts, took 2 years to build, and cost $2.5 billion. The Kamuthi plant, by comparison, has a capacity of 648 megawatts. Kamuthi took ~1/3 less time to develop than Topaz, at ~1/3 the price. However, both of these solar plants have since been surpassed by subsequent developments of even larger solar PV parks; in India, China, and other parts of the world.

Both the Kamuthi and Topaz solar farms have been eclipsed in size by even bigger solar parks, again mostly in India (although some of the largest solar PV parks are elsewhere in the world; most substantially in China). China, the US, and India, stand as world leaders in the production of large solar farms, but other countries also have significant large solar projects.

Even larger than Kamuthi, is the Longyangxia Dam Solar Park in China, at 850 MW, which went operational in February 2017. And bigger still, is the 1GW Yanchi Ningxia solar park located in Ningxia, China, The 1 GW Kurnool Ultra Mega Solar Park in the south Indian province of Andhra Pradesh became fully operational in July 2017.

Bhadla Solar Park

The Noor solar plant in Abu Dhabi has a capacity of over 1 GW and was fully functional as of June 2019. Tengger Desert Solar Park takes up over 10,000 acres in China’s northwestern Ningxia province and has a total capacity of 1,547 MW. India has a couple of solar PV parks that have around 2 GW of capacity: Bhadla Solar Park and Pavagada Solar Park. Read more about the>>> the 2 GW Pavagada Solar Park in Karnataka’s Tumakuru district.

The following list has some of the largest PV parks in the world [note: this list was generated before solar parks like Noor, Bhadla, and Pavagada, were completed]:
  • Tengger Desert Solar Park, China – 1,547MW
  • Sweihan Photovoltaic Independent Power Project, UAE – 1,177MW
  • Yanchi Ningxia Solar Park, China – 1,000MW
  • Datong Solar Power Top Runner Base, China – 1,070MW
  • Kurnool Ultra Mega Solar Park, India – 1,000MW
  • Longyangxia Dam Solar Park, China – 850MW
  • Enel Villanueva PV Plant, Mexico – 828MW
  • Kamuthi Solar Power Station, India – 648MW
  • Solar Star Projects, US – 579MW
  • Topaz Solar Farm / Desert Sunlight Solar Farm, US – 550MW                  FROM:  power-technology.com/features/the-worlds-biggest-solar-power-plants

How Green is India?

India was the first country worldwide to set up an official government department of non-traditional energy resources, India’s Ministry of New and Renewable Energy. India has been working towards more sustainable energy sources since the 1980s.

The Ministry of New and Renewable Energy, whose mission statement is to “increase the share of clean power, increase the availability of energy and improve its access, improve energy affordability, and maximize energy equity”, plans for India to generate 40% of the country’s electricity from renewable resources by 2030. Renewable energy currently accounts for over 1/3 of electrical generation in India, and well over 1/3 of energy production capacity in the country. India has a goal of powering over 60 million Indian homes with solar energy by 2022.


What Plans Does India Have for More Solar Plants?

India will soon have developed the world’s newest, largest solar power parks with other ultra-high capacity solar power parks – Pavagada and Bhadla Solar Parks. India is developing approximately 25 more large solar parks, with capacities around, or over, 1 GW; and now even two 2+GW solar parks (the Bhadla Solar Park, and the Pavagada Solar Park). India is also focusing on bringing clean electricity to remote villages and is taking on many other environmental sustainability initiatives.

India, along with China, is continuing to work on environmental sustainability measures like solar farms and other renewable energy projects as part of the transition these countries are in the process of making; from coal-based energy generation to supply a large share of these countries’ electricity needs, to renewable energy like solar power. Newly developed large solar farms in India, and throughout Asia and the Middle East, will have a substantial, positive impact on the environmental health of the planet.



Please also see:

The 550-megawatt Topaz Solar Plant, and Ivanpah Solar Electric Generating System



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Breakthroughs in Solar Photovoltaic (PV) and Solar Thermal Technology

SHINING Future of Solar


Solar – the most abundant renewable energy on the planet |

Recently there have been dramatic breakthroughs in solar energy that will help advance the mainstream use of photovoltaic (PV) technology. Here is a guide on top solar companies as well as in-depth explanations of various solar projects. This guide offers different recommendations depending on what solar services are needed (comparing cost, customer satisfaction data, and technology).

Recent technological advancements are bringing solar PV down to a more affordable cost. In the case of utility-scale PV (solar farms), solar energy is at an even lower cost: cheaper when compared to fossil fuel energy (given an ideal location for the solar farm).

Breakthroughs in solar are not limited to PV, there are also breakthroughs in solar thermal technologies (CSP towers, solar parabolics, solar water heaters). Solar is the most abundant energy source available on the planet and is steadily dropping in cost while rising in efficiency.

A key development that will enable the widespread use of solar is the production of cells using less expensive, and readily available materials. Silicon has traditionally been the preferred material for PV, however, cadmium telluride, among other PV cell materials, is now also used to produce PV cells as flexible thin-film cells or brittle crystalline structures. These materials are used to produce highly efficient, low-cost cells with far fewer raw materials needed.

Advanced solar PV technology, along with nano PV, is found in utility-scale thin-film solar farms, as well as most modern solar PV farms, rooftop PV, and solar arrays of every size.

Nano solar cell

Nano PV

Nano PV cells result in much more compact, thinner, more efficient solar panels. Nanotechnologies in PV with from 4 to 7 times (or more) the efficiency of standard photovoltaic cells are in the R&D phase today, with limited commercial availability. 

However, there are nano and alternative material PV cells with substantially higher efficiency than the traditional standard in the solar market (double to triple the efficiency of common solar cells that have typically had up to 19% efficiency). 

The solar arrays now being produced could be exponentially improved with the development, refinement, and implementation of nanotechnology. For more information on materials used to make modern solar cells, please see Renewable Energy: Solar.


Solar Thermal |

In addition to advancements in traditional photovoltaic technology, there have been exponential advancements in the field of solar thermal energy. Instead of simply converting energy from the sun into electricity as with PV, solar thermal technology uses energy from the sun to heat water, molten salt, or another working fluid. That heated liquid produces steam, which drives a generator to create electricity. Solar thermal represents an advancement in solar energy with 4 to 5 times the power density of PV.

Ivanpah Solar Electric Generating System

CSP

Concentrated solar power (CSP) systems are examples of large-scale solar thermal projects. CSP solar tower generators consist of a central solar energy collector positioned on a tower (solar power tower) and used to concentrate solar energy in order to heat a working fluid. The concentrated solar power is beamed solar power tower from thousands of mirrors (heliostats). Ivanpah Solar Electric Generating System is a good example of a successful large-scale CSP tower operation. Some of the most promising new projects in the world of solar power are in CSP.

solar dish, solar trough, and CSP tower
Solar Parabolics

Another type of solar thermal energy system is a parabolic solar installation. Solar parabolic systems consist of solar dishes and troughs; and are used as grid-scale energy generators, as well as for large-scale energy storage. Additionally, other solar thermal technologies have found great use in the emerging field of thermal energy storage (see Science Direct link). See this link for a detailed description of the various types of solar thermal systems touched on in this article, and more on solar thermal storage using molten salt; as well as more on solar water heating systems – sciencedirect.com/topics/engineering/solar-thermal-storage


Solar water heaters

Another commercially successful application of solar power is the solar-powered water heater. Solar-powered water heaters are mandatory in most new residential buildings and homes in the country of Israel, and now, in the state of Hawaii. Some of the other new applications of solar thermal energy include power generation and solar space heating, as well as solar water heating; in industrial buildings, schools, hospitals, and even in remotely situated buildings.


Both types of solar energy (PV and solar thermal) will continue to steadily lessen in cost as technological advancements are made. However, photovoltaic is projected to remain ahead of thermal in terms of cost of production and utilization. Solar thermal does have a couple of advantages that compensate for the higher cost. Solar thermal energy is produced consistently throughout the day, not relying on weather conditions. as the turbine will run on natural gas if there is no sun for an extended period of time. Solar thermal units fit easily with power storage systems and will continue to produce energy at night, using energy harnessed during the day.


Dropping cost of solar

This chart illustrates the future trend of dropping costs for solar, to a level much lower than fossil fuel energy. Solar energy is already cheaper than all fossil fuel energy for utility-scale thin-film solar PV farms in many locations ideal for solar.

 

At the end of 2019, solar produced just over 2% of global electricity. The chart above tells us that after two more doublings, when 2,400 GW of solar are producing roughly 8% of current electricity demand, solar costs (of the most recently built built & operational projects) will have dropped in half from today’s levels. In the sunny parts of the world with low costs of capital, labor, and land, we could routinely be seeing unsubsidized solar in the 1-2 cent range. In California (typical of the green line) we could be seeing unsubsidized solar at 2.5 cents per kwh. In northern Europe, we could be seeing utility scale solar routinely priced at 4-5 US cents per kwh.  FROM  –  rameznaam.com/solars-future-is-insanely-cheap-2020


Related links on solar energy:

understandingnano.com/solarcells

grist.org/solar-power/harnessing-the-suns-energy-for-water-and-space-heating

Here’s a snippet from a BBC article titled A breakthrough approaches for solar power about the rising efficiency of solar cells, and growing use of solar worldwide>>>

“Today’s average commercial solar panel converts 17-19% of the light energy hitting it to electricity. This is up from 12% just 10 years ago. But what if we could boost this to 30%? More efficient solar cells mean we could get much more than today’s 2.4% of global electricity supply from the sun.

Solar is already the world’s fastest growing energy technology. Ten years ago, there were only 20 gigawatts of installed solar capacity globally – one gigawatt being roughly the output of a single large power station. By the end of last year, the world’s installed solar power had jumped to about 600 gigawatts.”   FROM –  bbc.com/May2020

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Microgrids spread across Africa

Microgrids – Energy Solution


Developing Microgrids

Communities see tremendous benefits from microgrids, especially in developing countries and developing economies (e.g. countries in Africa, rural areas of countries – especially those in remote locations). More and more, as African nations push for rural electrification, they look to microgrids as a sustainable solution to the energy poverty problem. Microgrids are increasingly being invested in and developed throughout Africa, especially where utilities can’t reach, and/ or where local governments don’t want to invest in the utility infrastructure needed to deliver energy.

Over half of villages in Sub-Saharan Africa do not have access to electricity at all, dependent instead on dangerous and costly kerosene and diesel. The Brookings Institute estimates that electricity is not accessible in over 50% of households throughout Africa (only ~43% of African households have electricity).

Much of this problem is focused in poorer African countries. This lack of electricity in rural Africa is because utilities and local governments with control over utilities often don’t even try to invest in the grid infrastructure needed for energy to be available in rural villages.

An energy solution for rural Africa are microgrids (this is also a solution for any remote area in the world – as described in GCT’s main microgrid article). Microgrids can supply renewable energy (RE) + battery energy storage, or generate energy from fossil fuel sources coupled with RE + batteries (known commonly as hybrid microgrid systems).


Benefits of RE in Microgrids

Of the multiple fuel types run in various types of microgrids, RE-based microgrids are more cost effective and safer compared to diesel generators, kerosene, and biomass – power sources that are widely used for electricity/ light/heat/ power in Africa today. Kerosene often uses up to 20% of an average African’s income, can cause fires, and unhealthy air quality. Burning various sources of organic matter (wood, waste, other biomass…) for everyday household needs also results in unhealthy air quality and leads to serious health problems. Kerosene is especially toxic – causing health problems, burning people, giving off poor light, and can be up to 3-4 times as expensive as electrical light.

In terms of generating electricity it must be noted that, although not emissions-free like RE sources, natural gas is less much polluting than diesel. Natural gas still creates polluting emissions, as the only way to avoid emissions in an energy fuel source is to use RE. Fossil fuel based generators, kerosene lamps, the burning of wood and other organic matter to heat homes and to cook – results in environmental and health problems. RE avoids these problems.

By using RE in microgrids, as well as other distributed RE such as solar PV + LED/ USB charging kits – all polluting GHG emissions and particulates are avoided – resulting in a clean, healthy environment while generating affordable energy.

A medium-sized solar power system with battery storage can be easily used by over 50 households, or even an entire village, in many rural regions in Africa. The power can be used for lighting, cell phone charging, cooking, etc… And the power is affordable, efficient, reliable, environmentally-friendly, and has no public health problems like kerosene.


Investing in Microgrids

This brief snippet describes the growth of microgrids and distributed RE in Africa, and the role financing systems like PAYGo plays in the expansion of African microgrids

“Rapidly falling prices of renewable energy equipment and the development of new business models, such as pay-as-you-go (PAYGo) companies that utilize mobile money systems available in many African countries, have recently begun to usher in a new era of energy access via the off-grid solar lighting market. This could be an important stepping-stone to a more robust electricity infrastructure provided by microgrids. Off-grid devices – such as small solar-powered lanterns and self-contained solar home systems – provide enough electricity for minimal amenities such as lighting, cell phone charging and small appliances. The PAYGo business model has been a huge factor in the growth of this market because it allows people to pay for service when they can, in the same way that they have always bought most products.

Lighting Africa reports that as of 2017, “the global off-grid solar sector is providing improved electricity access to an estimated 73 million households.” According to the Lighting Africa report, the transition from kerosene and/or other conventional fuels to off-grid solar devices has saved people at least USD $5.2 billion during this time period, and significantly reduced greenhouse gas emissions.

Microgrid developers are often asked why they would want to compete with the fast-growing off-grid lighting sector. The answer is that the two technologies aren’t competing but are in fact complementary. Off-grid solar electricity has immediate appeal to householders because of its relative simplicity.

But, it cannot be scaled up to adequately power commercial businesses, health clinics, schools and other resources required for rural economic development. For that transition to occur, it’s necessary to take the next step up the energy ladder to microgrids, which can handle more robust electricity generation. Solar lighting is a worthy first step, but it’s likely that its users are going to discover – and want – the other amenities that electricity can bring.”   FROM –    microgridnews.com/improving-energy-access-in-rural-africa-depends-on-renewable-energy-microgrids

In addition to PAYGO, microgrids can be financed by public investment or private organizations; and avoid infrastructure costs that country-wide or regional grids represent. Microgrids represent both a worthy investment in communities, and a wonderful means of helping those communities access a safer, cleaner, more sustainable way of life


Summation of the Need for Microgrids in Rural Africa

Microgrids 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 microgrids in Africa and other parts of the world. Mobile communication has a wider reach in the continent through telecom towers that are powered with microgrids.

Microgrids 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 microgrids installed, especially when the utility grids don’t want to build long power lines to connect them to the grid.

Many microgrids, at least those based on RE and battery storage, don’t emit GHGs. There are no issues with pollution, environmental hazards, or health hazards, with RE microgrid technologies.

Many African rural communities have already built microgrids as their primary energy source. Every time a new installation is made, the skill base of the locals is developed. Rural village community infrastructure is improved as well (water systems, cell phone charging systems, telecom systems, and, of course, electricity systems).

However, despite the recent momentum of microgrids, one of the reasons there are not enough microgrids in Africa is because of the prohibitive cost and lack of reasonable financing for microgrid technologies. Policy is needed to ensure that they are more affordable to the poor, remote villages in the continent.

“The use of microgrids in rural electrification projects based on renewable energy sources are mostly associated with bringing basic services to communities. Microgrids are however also increasingly being used to power small businesses in rural areas. The development and availability of RE and microgrid technology makes the viability of a system that not only provides domestic electricity but reliable and sustainable power for small industry and businesses much more achievable than in the past. There are numerous initiatives aimed at providing access to energy in Africa…”   FROM  –  energy4impact.org/productive-use-energy-african-micro-grids


Other articles on microgrids in Africa:

The Microgrid Knowledge Africa Channel

The Borgen Project: African Miccrogrids


Please also see:

Microgrids: Powering the Future

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12 Ways You Can Help the Environment

It’s not hard to lower your carbon footprint, combat climate change, and help the environment. By doing just a few things differently every day, you can be kind to the planet.


Here are 12 things you can do to help the environment:


Reuse Water Bottles & Mugs

Reuse Water Bottles

Every time you throw a cup away, you create waste; disposable water bottles are made of plastic, the majority of beverage cups are plastic, styrofoam, or paper – and these products just end up in landfills (unless they are recycled). Cutting down on the number of cups you throw away is a great way to conserve resources. Get in the habit of only using one or two reusable mugs, thermoses/ sports bottles, etc… each day. If you’re refilling it with water, tea, coffee or juice, over and over again, just wash it out & reuse it.

Use Energy Star and Smart Appliances

Appliances that require less energy when compared to their traditional counterparts, are more energy efficient, and/ or have the ability to shift into a smart energy saving mode when needed; receive an Energy Star mark. The Energy Star label is used on a wide range of appliances and products; indicating to the consumer that the item in question will reduce energy consumption when compared to items not carrying the label. Many products have additional sustainable requirements that must be met in order to receive the Energy Star mark. Additionally, consider a smart thermostat, smart HVAC, and other smart, wi-fi enabled appliances that help you conserve energy in the home.

Conserve Water

Save water by running faucets only when you really use water. Install low flow toilets and faucets where you can in your residence. Consider a smart irrigation system for your garden.

Stamp Out Energy Vampires

Unplug any appliances that you’re not using; including electronic devices like computers. Don’t keep chargers plugged in, either. These all suck up energy even when they’re not in use. An eco-friendly option for plugging in electronics is using smart power strips.

Stay In For Dinner

From the gas your car uses to bring you to the restaurant to the trucks needed to deliver the food to the kitchen, dining out is a significant cause of environmental distress. This is true even if the restaurant only serves environmentally sustainable food; better to just cook at home more.

Buy Local

Go to a farmer’s market rather than the grocery store for your produce. It will taste fresher; and you’ll be supporting local farms rather than fossil fuel-intensive national ones.

Turn Out the Lights/ Use Eco-friendly Lights

Use energy efficient LED or CFL lights when you can. Turn off lights in rooms/ on patios when not needed. Once a month, perhaps try a controlled brownout where you pretend that the electricity has gone out and you must make do in the dark; light candles and use flashlights while you save money and energy. 

Natural fiber shopping tote

BYOB

Not bring your own beer, but rather bring your own bags to the grocery store to reduce the number of plastic bags floating around. If you do use those free bags at the grocery, recycle the plastic or brown grocery bags in designated bins at your grocery store, or save them up at home and recycle them at the appropriate mixed paper/ mixed plastic dumpsters at your local recycling center; do the same with phone books and junk mail. Ideally, use reusable shopping totes made of natural fibers or bamboo whenever possible.

Recycle

Order as many multicolored, separate recycle bins as available from your municipality. Also, locate your local recycling center, and visit it to see how many different categories of goods you can recycle. Yes, you’ve probably been recycling your soda cans and milk jugs for decades, but did you know (in many areas) you can recycle batteries, TVs and computers, cardboard, and even many metal goods?

Grow a Garden

The planet likes it when you grow things. It helps filter out bad air and is a great sustainable practice. Plus, you can’t beat home-grown tomatoes or herbs.

Start a Compost Pile or Donate Food

We create an incredible amount of natural waste through peels, shells, grounds, leftovers etc… Instead of tossing all of that potential useful food waste in the trash, start a compost pile and recycle it through you municipal compost facility, or separate compost trash bin (if available in your city), or in your own yard/ garden. Another good thing to do with potentially wasted food is to donate food to a local food bank, homeless shelter, non-profit, or church.

Go Solar

If you’re not ready for solar panels on your roof, try solar garden/ patio lights to get your feet wet. Also, depending on your location, you might have community solar available in your neighborhood or clean energy/ renewable power option available from your utility.

  • Please see the “Energy Saving Ideas” & “Ideas for a Greener Lifestyle” in the bottom section of this website>>> Other sustainable living ideas include buying food from local, organic markets, weatherizing your residence (where available), and using smart thermostats and home energy management systems (where available).

#13 (Honorary Mention) – For information on how switching from using toilet paper to bidets can help the environment, please see: bidetmate.com/how-eliminating-toilet-paper-helps-save-the-earth


Here is an infographic with some simple, effective, cost-efficient energy efficiency solutions:

FROM – rocketmortgage.com/green-smart-homes


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