China has been installing more renewable-power capacity than fossil fuels for several years, a gap that's growing. In 2015, China will install 15 gigawatts to 18 gw of solar power alone, double the solar deployment in the U.S., according to an analysis by Bloomberg New Energy Finance (BNEF).
The chart below shows how, in the next 15 years, China is on track to have more low-carbon electricity than the entire capacity of the U.S. power grid. "Think of what their grid will look like in 2030," Michael Liebreich, founder of BNEF, said at the organization's annual summit last week in New York. "A very competitive advantage."
I had posted earlier about Israel’s desalination and water conservation success. Now California is trying the same – from Fortune
California, now in its fourth year of a devastating drought, may follow a similar trajectory. In April, Gov. Jerry Brown made a Ben Gurion–like plea, ordering state agencies to accelerate the use of cutting-edge technologies to bolster the water supply. That call turned into a tacit blessing for efforts like the Carlsbad Desalination Project, just north of San Diego, the largest desalination facility in the Western Hemisphere. The plant has been in the works for nearly two decades, with construction costs of $1 billion so far. After years of permit purgatory and lawsuits, it will finally go live this fall. By 2020 it is expected to provide upwards of 50 million gallons of fresh water daily, meeting about 10% of San Diego County’s water demand.
“Powerwall is a home battery that charges using electricity generated from solar panels, or when utility rates are low, and powers your home in the evening. It also fortifies your home against power outages by providing a backup electricity supply. Automated, compact and simple to install, Powerwall offers independence from the utility grid and the security of an emergency backup.”
Measures to increase the supply and reduce the demand were accelerated, overseen by the Water Authority, a powerful interministerial agency established in 2007.
Desalination emerged as one focus of the government’s efforts, with four major plants going into operation over the past decade. A fifth one should be ready to operate within months. Together, they will produce a total of more than 130 billion gallons of potable water a year, with a goal of 200 billion gallons by 2020.(see video on massive Sorek reverse osmosis plant below)
Israel has, in the meantime, become the world leader in recycling and reusing wastewater for agriculture. It treats 86 percent of its domestic wastewater and recycles it for agricultural use — about 55 percent of the total water used for agriculture. Spain is second to Israel, recycling 17 percent of its effluent, while the United States recycles just 1 percent, according to Water Authority data.
Dervaes lives on a micro-farm in the middle of Pasadena, where she and her family depend mostly on the land to live. What they have: a chicken coop, dwarf goats, edible landscaping and a front-porch farmstand. With just one-fifth of an acre to work with, she, her siblings and her dad have been able to make a living growing vegetables and hosting workshops. Last year, they produced $60,000 worth of sales on their property.
“The backyard is the most wasted space in America. It’s been a learning process,” Jules Dervaes, the patriarch of the family, says. “To consistently produce a large amount of food for 10 years without depleting the soil has been difficult.”
The operation is called Urban Homestead, and it’s a city farm with an educational focus. Produce is sold on the front porch or online, and workshops, from making bone broth to fermentation, are held inside the house.
The walls, carved out of 270-million-year-old limestone deposits, help keep humidity low and temperatures at a constant 68 degrees, eliminating the need for air conditioning or heating. Tenants have reported saving as much as 70 percent on their energy bills, says Ora Reynolds, president of SubTropolis landlord Hunt Midwest. Rents run about $2.25 per square foot, about half the going rate on the surface. "It's also a question of sustainability," says Joe Paris, vice president at Paris Brothers, a specialty foods packager that employs about 200 workers underground. In addition to Paris Brothers, 51 tenants have rented nearly 6 million square feet of space. Others include LightEdge Solutions, a cloud computing company that uses the mild climate to help cool servers, and an underground archive that contains the original film reels to Gone with the Wind and Wizard of Oz.
The U.S. Postal Service keeps hundreds of millions of postage stamps in an underground distribution hub at SubTropolis. There's still plenty of space here, with about 8 million square feet of land to develop—almost 10 times the floor area of Kansas City's tallest building. To reach capacity, Hunt Midwest may have to consider additional uses. Underground real estate has been used to grow mushrooms in Pennsylvania and vegetables in London.
Agrihoods, as they’re known, such as the 359-home Prairie Crossing outside Chicago, began cropping up in the 1980s. What’s changed is the size and number of projects and the entry of large corporate developers. A restored 19th century farmhouse and 5-acre commercial farm sets Harvest apart from other subdivisions northwest of Dallas, according to Tom Woliver, Hillwood’s director for planning and development. “You need to attract some interest,” he says. “Food brings everyone together.”
At the Willowsford development in Virginia, Susan Mitchell says the outdoor stand selling community farm berries, asparagus, and carrots is a gathering place for neighbors. Mitchell, who bought a four-bedroom Hovnanian Enterprises house with her husband, can walk to the stand with her young sons, stopping along the way to pick flowers, pet goats, and chat with the resident farmer. “It’s having a little more nature in your backyard than the normal community,” she says.
Just as Toyota is working to replace the gasoline in its cars with hydrogen fuel cells, Japanese companies are leading the charge to convince homeowners they’re better off using hydrogen to power their lamps and TVs, too. The electricity is generated by so-called energy farms, or ene-farms, about the size of a refrigerator. They’re made by companies such as Panasonic and Toshiba and sold by leading utilities, including Tokyo Gas. Ene-farms dangle the promise that the most abundant element in the universe will offer a safer, cleaner, more efficient alternative to nuclear power or fossil fuels. Because a standard home unit costs about $16,700, most consumers have been hesitant to buy.
Since commercial sales began in 2009, more than 100,000 Japanese households have installed generators that use hydrogen. That’s a long way from where the government wants to be. Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has set a goal of 5.3 million hydrogen-powered homes, roughly 10 percent of Japan’s total, by 2030.
Apple® today announced a €1.7 billion plan to build and operate two data centres in Europe, each powered by 100 percent renewable energy. The facilities, located in County Galway, Ireland (see artist impression below) and Denmark’s central Jutland, will power Apple’s online services including the iTunes Store®, App Store℠, iMessage®, Maps and Siri® for customers across Europe.
The two data centres, each measuring 166,000 square metres, are expected to begin operations in 2017 and include designs with additional benefits for their communities. For the project in Athenry, Ireland, Apple will recover land previously used for growing and harvesting non-native trees and restore native trees to Derrydonnell Forest. The project will also provide an outdoor education space for local schools, as well as a walking trail for the community. In Viborg, Denmark, Apple will eliminate the need for additional generators by locating the data centre adjacent to one of Denmark’s largest electrical substations. The facility is also designed to capture excess heat from equipment inside the facility and conduct it into the district heating system to help warm homes in the neighboring community.
The Messrs. Grose intend to outfit the microbrewery with stationary bikes wired to produce the energy needed to brew beer. They estimate that Joe Sixpack can pedal at a rate to produce two to three beers an hour. Customers can shed calories and save energy before kicking back to drink some of the beer they helped create.