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Sunday 31st May 2020

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Celebrating 50 Years of Earth Day from Home

Earth Month is in full swing and with most of us cooped up at home, unable to gather in our communities, people may be wondering how they can commemorate it or do their part from home. What makes [...]

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  Renewable Energy News

New Research Finds Hydrogen on Demand One Step Closer

Toyota Hydrogen Fuel Cell Concept Car Scientists have developed a way to produce Hydrogen power on demand. Researchers from the Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing and Tsinghua University, found a way to create a higher conversion efficiency that starts rapidly and runs quietly with the only byproduct being water. “The researchers used an alloy -- a combination of metals -- of gallium, indium, tin and bismuth to generate hydrogen. When the alloy meets an aluminum plate immersed in water, hydrogen is produced. This hydrogen is connected to a proton exchange membrane fuel cell, a type of fuel cell where chemical energy is converted into electrical energy.” - Science Daily Hydrogen has long been seen as a feasible alternative to fossil fuel use, but has had difficulty overcoming the obstacles of transportation and its slow and energy intensive on-board generation. This research could pave the way for more broad use of Hydrogen. Key remaining obstacles include the ability to recycle bismuth and optimization of heat dissipation. Written by Justin Stanphill

By |February 4th, 2020|

Scotland is on Track to Reach 100% Renewable Energy Target by the End of 2020

Scotland is on track to reach 100% renewable energy target by the end of 2020. In 2016, the country closed down its last coal fired power plant. The plant once powered 25% of homes in the country and was once the largest coal plant in all of Europe. The majority of renewable energy is now produced by onshore wind energy. The country also creates heat with waste to energy technology. The United Nations international climate talks will take place in Scotland in November. For the most part, most countries aren’t even close to reaching the goals of the Paris Climate Agreement. The United States, the 2nd largest emitter, withdrew from the accords. Russia, the 5th largest emitter, didn’t make a pledge at all. It is clear that the world isn’t even close to where it should be to combat climate change. Scotland is a light and is now clearly one of the leaders and countries others should aspire to and learn from. Written by Justin Stanphill

By |January 30th, 2020|

Perovskite May be an Important Aspect of Future Solar Panels

Photo: Wikipedia A new mineral is being used for solar panels that could greatly improve the efficiency of solar panels. Perovskite is a calcium titanium oxide mineral found in the Ural Mountains of Russia in the 1800’s. Excitement about this mineral has grown due to its efficiency, unusual properties, and its low cost. Perovskite reacts to a wider range of visible light frequencies, ultimately meaning it can convert more sunlight to energy than a typical silicon-based Photovoltaic (PV) cell. PV panels are currently seeing efficiency rates of around 19%-21% with the possible limit of around 29%. Perovskite panels could see efficiency rates as high as 35% or more. The Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA) announced funding to support Research and Development for PV energy applications, including perovskite. It is currently cheaper to produce Perovskite but it is less durable than traditional silicon-based photovoltaics. Hybrid panels could allow for greater panel efficiency while still delivering a long life. Written by Justin Stanphill

By |January 21st, 2020|

60-Second Science is a Great Way to Consume Science Information on the Go

Scientific American 60-Second Science podcast is a great resource for obtaining a conversational knowledge of various scientific studies and happenings. A recent episode highlights science and technology news from around the globe from Spain’s uncovered Dolmen of Guadalperal due to the summers powerful drought to the discovery of a new species of electric eel in Brazil. Scientific American is the longest continuously published magazine in the United States having been around for 170 years. 60-Second Science is a great way for people on the move to learn about important scientific news occurring around the world, in a way that is easy and palatable to the average non-scientist and professional researcher alike. Add this podcast to your repertoire of science information.   Written by Justin Stanphill

By |January 15th, 2020|

RENEW Wisconsin’s Ninth Annual Renewable Energy Summit Jan. 16 in Wisconsin

Non-profit RENEW Wisconsin hosts their ninth Annual Renewable Energy Summit January 16 in Madison, Wisconsin (WI), where more than 400 renewable energy sector experts and attendees will address this year’s theme for the state, “2020 Vision: The Path to 100% Clean Energy,” at the Monona Terrace Community and Convention Center. Held from 7:30 A.M. to 3:30 P.M. on Thursday, the summit will focus on the state’s future in renewable energy, and the steps required to make that vision a reality. Attendees—a mix of industry experts, government officials, utility professionals, advocates, and students—can participate in workshops, panels, and networking opportunities. This year’s presenting sponsors are Arch Electric, Invenergy LLC, and Zerology. The eco-friendly Monona Terrace venue is a Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Gold Certified structure first designed by architect Frank Lloyd Wright. This year’s keynote speaker is Katherine Hamilton, Chair of 38 North Solutions, a consulting firm specializing in business development and policy services for companies and organizations in the renewable energy industry. Hamilton’s speech will focus on the global renewable energy industry, before explaining how Wisconsin can accelerate its progression in clean energy. The summit will commence with brief “101” courses on renewable energy technologies and the electrical grid, before moving on to policy initiatives and explanations of successful renewable energy initiatives in Wisconsin. These will include presentations from Antonio Butts, Executive Director of the community development-focused Walnut Way Conservation Corp., and Scott Anderson, an engineer-turned-elementary-school-teacher who engages his students in real-life green energy projects to encourage stewardship. Other summit panels will focus on alternatives to the current petroleum-focused energy industry, such as biogas, wind, and solar energy, as well as the changes in education, energy storage, and energy distribution systems that Wisconsin will need in order to make 100% renewable energy a reality. Some of the summit’s many enlightening speakers include WI state senator Robert L. Cowles, Chair of the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources, and Lincoln Lande, the Senior Director of Business Development at EDF Renewables. A variety of forward-thinking businesses and organizations will attend the summit, including such entities as Sunrun, ENGIE North America, and SC Johnson. The full, detailed schedule can be seen here. A full list of speakers can be found here. A list of organization attendees can be found here. Registration can be found here. Written by Dilawar Naqvi

By |January 14th, 2020|
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  Climate Change News

Coronavirus May Lead to a Drop in Global Emissions

The Coronavirus has been continuing to spread throughout the world rapidly. While there aren’t a whole lot of positives from the outbreak, there may be one silver lining, carbon emissions. According to a study conducted by Carbon Brief, there is a slowdown of emissions linked to the coronavirus and the policies put into effect to limit travel and movement of people. China, the world’s largest emitter and ground zero for the virus, is currently emitting 25% less CO2 than previously. The slowdown is the largest since the financial crisis of 2008-2009. The demand for oil and coal has dropped dramatically as a result of large quarantines of entire cities and travel advisories. Around the world, large events have been canceled from South by Southwest to large sporting events which are all working toward further reducing emissions. Certainly, this reduction is emissions is temporary but it may buy the world just a little more time to solve the climate crisis. This new information also shows that the world does have the ability to reduce global emissions rapidly, with minimal effects on the economy, if enough people demand action. Information about the Coronavirus and the impact on society can help learn more about the adaptability of people and find better ways to approach climate action.     Written by Justin Stanphill

By |March 11th, 2020|

Methane Recycling is a Growing Industry in the United States

Methane recycling is a growing industry in the United States. Capturing methane is not a new technology, but one that is gaining steam recently, as a way to reduce greenhouse gases. Natural gas, a commonly used fuel, contains about 98% methane, which is normally derived from harmful drilling practices like Hydraulic Fracking. Methane, unlike other fossil fuels, can be captured from manure produced by the agriculture industry, sewage plants, as well as food waste. The company Brightmark Energy is implementing methane capture technology throughout the United States in various applications that fits the needs of each farm directly. The system works by collecting organic waste and materials from dairy farms. The waste is then placed in anaerobic digesters which release methane. The Methane is captured and processed into renewable energy gas (RNG) which is then distributed to consumers. The remaining materials from the process are turned into commercial fertilizers. Methane is a greenhouse gas, responsible for a significant amount of global emissions. The gas is up to 87 times more powerful than Carbon Dioxide in its first 20 years of life. The largest source of methane in the atmosphere is from the agriculture industry and the second largest producer is the energy sector. Creating a system where methane is able to reduce the impacts and emissions of both industries is critically important. Methane recycling may have the ability to significantly reduce global emissions and reduce other environmental impacts. RNG created using recycling systems are considered carbon neutral, as they don’t emit any more methane than would occur if the manure were allowed to decompose naturally. While this growing trend doesn’t necessarily encourage switching to more sustainable sources of energy, it could reduce the amount of natural gas that is being pumped out of the ground, which reduces negative environmental impacts and reduces emissions.       Written by Justin Stanphill

By |March 10th, 2020|

BEST PRACTICES: Wells Fargo Is Third Major U.S. Bank to End Arctic Oil Financing in Alaska’s Arctic National Wildlife Refuge

              Wells Fargo & Co. announced in March that they will not provide future investment for oil and gas projects in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge on Alaska’s North Slope region. The San Francisco-based bank joins JPMorgan Chase & Co. and the Goldman Sachs Group Inc. as the third major U.S. financial institution to refuse future investment for oil projects in the Arctic. Wells Fargo indicated in a statement that their recent announcement stems from their wider 2018 risk assessment-based decision to eschew transactions related to projects in that region, according to the Associated Press and U.S. News & World Report. Wells Fargo also stated that they will continue to maintain their pre-existing financial relationships with multiple companies involved in the oil and gas industry in the Alaskan Arctic region. Part of the U.S. National Wildlife Refuge System, the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge spans approximately 19.64 acres in northeast Alaska, protecting the wildlife residing in its land and water. There are no roads, campgrounds or marked trails. Written by Nicole Foulke

By |March 9th, 2020|
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