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The Six Things That Make Stories Go Viral Will Amaze, and Maybe Infuriate, You

The Six Things That Make Stories Go Viral Will Amaze, and Maybe Infuriate, You | Investing in Renewable Energy |

"When Jonah Berger was a graduate student at Stanford, in the early aughts, he would make a habit of reading page A2 of the Wall Street Journal, which included a list of the five most-read and the five most-shared articles of the day. “I’d go down to the library and surreptitiously cut out that page,” he recalls. “I noticed that what was read and what was shared was often different, and I wondered why that would be.” What was it about a piece of content—an article, a picture, a video—that took it from simply interesting to interesting and shareable? What pushes someone not only to read a story but to pass it on?"

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Via Gregg Morris
Marc Kneepkens's insight:

This very detailed article tells you how things go viral, with examples, great information. You may pick up a few ideas on how to do better with your own posts or articles. It looks's not.

APIntd's curator insight, March 10, 4:42 PM

Une (petite) leçon à garder en tête pour la diffusion d'information

Jody MacPherson's curator insight, March 10, 5:36 PM

I think this sums up social media quite nicely:

"The irony, of course, is that the more data we mine, and the closer we come to determining a precise calculus of sharing, the less likely it will be for what we know to remain true. "

Welcome to reality. 

Atul's curator insight, March 27, 6:54 AM

Good Read

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Largest Solar-Powered Car Makes U.S. Debut

Largest Solar-Powered Car Makes U.S. Debut | Investing in Renewable Energy |
'Stella' began as a school project and evolved into a prize-winning solar-powered racecar

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Triangle Software's curator insight, October 15, 5:00 AM

add your insight...

Russell R. Roberts, Jr.'s curator insight, October 15, 8:52 PM

Fascinating story of how a student project turned into a prize-winning solar-powered race car.  "Out of the box" thinking at its best.  Aloha, Russ.

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How Wolves Change Rivers - YouTube

Visit to explore the world of sustainability. For more from George Monbiot, visit and for more on "rewildi...

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Via Official AndreasCY
Marc Kneepkens's insight:

Much more than rivers. One aspect in the whole equilibrium called 'Nature' can change the whole picture. This little video is amazing. Imagine what you can do yourself when 'making a difference'.

Official AndreasCY's curator insight, October 8, 2:17 AM

The Domino Effect in Nature: How One Small Step can Change the World

Watch this video. It's the most profound short science video we've seen in a very long time. It shows how the re-introduction of wolves after a seventy-year absence led to...the river courses changing. Yes, that's right. The rivers responded to the presence of a few dozen wolves. Find out how in the video.

The metaphorical implications are enormous, almost too large to hold in our heads. If we can find the right domino to knock over, the resulting cascade of reactions can change the world. Scientists call it trophic cascades

Imagine how we can make use of this in our personal lives: Make an incremental change (and stick with it, and be patient), and you can change your life and those around you. 

And in our environment: A few of the right incremental changes could restore a healthy balance to the entire planet.

Even in politics: What if we elect more non-party candidates who bring reason rather than polarity to issues?

And what a great gift for novelists: It gives a greater leverage to the plot question, What if...?

Russell R. Roberts, Jr.'s curator insight, October 9, 12:09 AM

This video will change your mind on how one animal species can change nature.  The implications for human society and our ability to work together are huge. Fascinating presentation.  Aloha, Russ.

Ms. Stephens's curator insight, October 9, 10:20 AM

How the introduction of wolves into Yellowstone changed the course of a river.

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Chile could be one of the first real, non-incentivized solar markets in the world | CaseWorthy

Chile could be one of the first real, non-incentivized solar markets in the world | CaseWorthy | Investing in Renewable Energy |

“We are betting we will produce power at less than the going rate.”

Someday solar electricity generation won't require subsidies, incentives, tax breaks, feed-in tariffs or even a power purchase agreement to reach a customer. Solar power producers will simply bid into power or energy markets and compete head to head with coal, gas, and nuclear.

It's happening today in Chile.

Total and Etrion Corporation claim that their proposed Project Salvador is "the world’s largest solar power project based on spot market electricity (“merchant”) revenues." Power will be sold to the Sistema Interconectado Central electricity network.

The 70-megawatt deployment is in the Atacama region of Chile, a high-altitude region with some serious DNI. The Atacama Desert is more than 40,000 square miles and has the earth's most intense sunlight.

GTM Research has the data on the region: "With an energy-intensive mining sector accounting for one-third of the world's copper and a massive dependence on imported fossil fuels, Chile's electricity prices are very high. In 2012, some consumers were paying an average of $0.25 per kilowatt-hour on the spot market. Solar companies recognizing the need for cheaper, domestic generation in Chile have planned for more than 6 gigawatts of projects -- some of which could cost less than $2 per watt to develop."

The project will be built and maintained by Total’s affiliate, SunPower (SPWR).

We spoke with SunPower CEO Tom Werner this week. He defined "merchant solar" as essentially meaning that there's no PPA and said, "We are betting we will produce power at less than the going rate." Werner called this project a team effort that produced on the promise of Total's international reach.

Werner noted that the combination of Chile's high electricity prices and high DNI puts Chile in "a position to emerge as one of the leaders in the Latin American market for renewable energy -- in particular, ground-mounted solar PV," according to SunPower. Chile also has net metering and a 20 percent by 2015 Renewable Portfolio Standard. Werner said conditions on this project were ideal for interconnect and water availability.

Werner noted that most merchant solar projects were done on a much smaller scale. He also pointed out another first: Total has a 10 percent equity stake in the project, further demonstrating Total's commitment.

The Overseas Private Investment Corporation, the U.S. government’s development finance institution, is financing 70 percent of the $200 million project with the balance funded by Etrion, Total and Solventus. According to a release, Chile has an investment-grade rating, and the OPIC debt is "non-recourse project debt with a 19.5-year tenor."

“Project Salvador is an important step in the process of transforming the capabilities of solar power in the world. This merchant project confirms that solar energy is becoming competitive with other conventional energy sources,” said Philippe Boisseau, President of Marketing & Services and New Energies and a member of the Executive Committee of Total in a release.

Boisseau told us in an earlier interview, "‘We have some projects in South Africa and in Chile that we're bringing to SunPower. That's another one of the benefits we are bringing: access to the world where it is economical with no subsidy to produce electricity.” Boisseau commented to GTM yesterday that “[t]his is the first solar project in Chile for Total and SunPower. It is a proof of the strong collaboration between our teams. Total is leveraging its international footprint, with activities in 130 countries, to develop SunPower solar projects around the world.”

First Solar (FSLR) also regards Chile as a growth market. Earlier this year, First Solar acquired Solar Chile, a five-person Santiago-based solar developer with a 1.5-gigawatt early-stage pipeline of PV power projects in northern Chile, including the Atacama Desert. The thin-film solar panel manufacturer and project developer has applied for permits for the $370 million, 162-megawatt Luz del Norte project, according to a filing with Chile’s environmental licensing department. The project will use more than 1.7 million panels, with construction slated to start in June 2014.

Chile could be one of the first real, non-incentivized solar markets in the world. Its relatively unreliable and expensive electricity has made Chile an early adopter of energy storage technology in the mining industry, as well.

Stephen Lacey's recent article on Chilean power markets pointed out that:

- Installations will grow strongly in Chile, but it will take many years for the 6 gigawatts of project announcements to materialize.

- Initial development will focus on the mining sector, but larger projects will sell into the spot market. SunEdison recently signed an agreement with the Chilean mining company CAP to supply electricity from a 100-megawatt plant -- the largest so far in Latin America. OPIC was involved in financing this project as well.

- Only the most sophisticated companies will be able to navigate Chile's complicated electricity market. 

SunPower will deploy the Oasis single-axis tracker module, with construction expected to start before the end of the year.

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99.999% certainty that humans drive global warming, study finds

99.999% certainty that humans drive global warming, study finds | Investing in Renewable Energy |

December 2013 was the 346th consecutive month where global land and ocean average surface temperature exceeded the 20th century monthly average, with February 1985 the last time mean temperature fell below this value. Even given these and other extraordinary statistics, public acceptance of human induced climate change and confidence in the supporting science has declined since 2007. The degree of uncertainty as to whether observed climate changes are due to human activity or are part of natural systems fluctuations remains a major stumbling block to effective adaptation action and risk management.

Previous approaches to attribute change include qualitative expert-assessment approaches such as used in IPCC reports and use of ‘fingerprinting’ methods based on global climate models. In this recent study, a team of scientists developed an alternative approach which provides a rigorous probabilistic statistical assessment of the link between observed climate changes and human activities in a way that can inform formal climate risk assessment. They constructed and validated a time series model of anomalous global temperatures to June 2010, using rates of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, as well as other causal factors including solar radiation, volcanic forcing and the El Niño Southern Oscillation. When the effect of GHGs was removed, bootstrap simulation of the model revealed that there is less than a one in one hundred thousand chance of observing an unbroken sequence of 304 months (our analysis extends to June 2010) with mean surface temperature exceeding the 20th century average. They also were anle to show that one would expect a far greater number of short periods of falling global temperatures (as observed since 1998) if climate change was not occurring. This approach to assessing probabilities of human influence on global temperature could be transferred to other climate variables and extremes allowing enhanced formal risk assessment of climate change.

The stochastic modeling exercise described above is the first demonstration of an extremely high probability for the link between GHGs and global warming using defensible statistical modeling techniques and observational data. In this regard it complements and extends existing climate change detection and attribution research using dynamic global climate model simulations and optimal fingerprint analysis (Hegerl et al., 1977Berliner et al., 2000Allen et al., 2000Hansen et al., 2010 and Easterling and Wehner, 2009) and professional assessments of the literature (IPCC, 2007).

The results of their statistical analysis would suggest that it is highly likely (99.999 percent) that the 304 consecutive months of anomalously warm global temperatures to June 2010 is directly attributable to the accumulation of global greenhouse gases in the atmosphere. The corollary is that it is extremely unlikely (0.001 percent) that the observed anomalous warming is not associated with anthropogenic GHG emissions. Solar radiation was found to be an insignificant contributor to global warming over the last century, which is consistent with the earlier findings of Allen et al. (2000).

During the period January 1950 to June 2010 there were 11 periods when global 10-year temperatures declined. This study shows that in the absence of global warming an average of 25 such periods could have been expected. There is only a 0.01 percent chance of observing the recorded 11 events (or fewer) in the absence of recent global warming. Even when GHG emissions are included, the observed number of cooling periods is low compared with an average of 15 events simulated. Thus, rather than being an indicator that global warming is not occurring (Plimer, 2009), the observed number of cooling periods reinforces the case in support of recent global warming due to human influence. Furthermore it was found that the occurrence of either these cooling events or the anomalous record temperature event is highly improbable if climate similar to that between 1882 and 1949 had continued through to 2010. This result lends very strong supports to the conclusion that such anomalous climate events would not have occurred without the GHG emissions and climate change of recent decades.

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Via Dr. Stefan Gruenwald
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A scientific study confirms what we already knew, and maybe didn't want to hear.

Marco Pozzi's curator insight, September 4, 11:52 AM

Molto interessante!

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Germany's Grid: Renewables-Rich and Rock-Solid - IEEE Spectrum

Germany's Grid: Renewables-Rich and Rock-Solid - IEEE Spectrum | Investing in Renewable Energy |

Last Friday Germany’s grid regulator released the 2013 data for grid reliability, and the figures have renewable energy advocates crowing. The latest numbers (released in German) reveal no sign of growing instability despite record levels of renewable energy on the grid — 28.5 percent of the power supplied in the first half of 2014. In fact, Germany's grid is one of the world's most reliable.

According to the Bundesnetzagentur, unplanned outages left the average German consumer without electricity for 15.32 minutes in 2013, down from 15.91 minutes in 2012 and 21.53 minutes in 2006. The performance, using the power industry's System Average Interruption Duration Index (SAIDI), affirms Germany's place in the top five for grid reliability for European countries.

German grid reliability, meanwhile, far outstrips the best SAIDI results delivered by U.S. and Canadian utilities. The top quartile of SAIDI results captured by last year's North American reliability benchmarking exercise by the IEEE Power & Energy Society, for example, had consumers without power for an average of 93 minutes — six times longer than outages experienced by the average German consumer.

What makes Germany's grid reliability notable is the repeated insistence by critics of renewable energy that blackout risk is rising under the German Energiewende or 'energy transition'. As Craig Morris, lead author of the Berlin-based German Energy Transition, writes this week: "The news may come as a surprise to international critics of the Energiewende."

Morris highlights one critical piece published by the Washington, D.C.-based Institute for Energy Research on the day that the Bundesnetzagentur released its data. The free market, fossil fuel-oriented group argues that German laws driving the installation of relatively clean but intermittent energy sources such as wind turbines and solar panels have already caused a "destabilization of the grid."

The outcome of the Energiewende, predicts the group, will be "a higher potential for blackouts." As Morris' post this week notes, the most likely reason for Germany's grid reliability is the preponderance of underground lines in the distribution networks. Over 80 percent of Germany's low-voltage lines and over 90 percent of its medium-voltage lines are underground. Other European countries scoring high on SAIDI have similar preponderance of underground distribution, including Denmark, Switzerland and the Netherlands, according to a December 2013 reliability assessment from the Brussels-based Council of European Energy Regulators.

For Germany to maintain its reliability, it may ultimately need a lot more lines. A December 2012 study by the Berlin-based German Energy Agency or DENA found that continued growth in renewables would require 135,000-193,000 kilometers of new lines by 2030, and the upgrading of another 21,000-25,000 km. Stephan Kohler, DENA's CEO, raised doubts that distributors could handle that €27.5-42.5 billion investment, despite financing mechanisms provided by the Bundesnetzagentur to spur investment: “The Federal Network Agency legally mandated an attractive profit. However, our study reveals that in practice the profits from increasing integration of renewable energy systems ... are not adequate for the distribution grid operators to survive."

Upgrades are, however, proceeding at the transmission level. Germany's transmission operators are planning a set of internal high-voltage direct current (HVDC) lines that are expected to help distribute wind power generated in the North to consumers in the South, and to help push excess solar generation in the opposite direction.

The controllability of those HVDC lines should also be a boon for Germany's neighbors. North-South power flows regularly loop out of Germany's grid and hitch a ride over neighboring transmission grids instead. That's an added burden that Poland, in particular, doesn't need. While German consumers enjoy the highest levels of reliability, those in neighboring Poland suffered through an average of 254 minutes of unplanned outages in 2012. In other words, Poland's grid operators have all the work they need just managing their internal system challenges.

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Via Official AndreasCY
Marc Kneepkens's insight:

Germany is an example for all when it comes to renewable energy.

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New transparent solar cells can be used on windows, smartphone screens

New transparent solar cells can be used on windows, smartphone screens | Investing in Renewable Energy |

Named a transparent luminescent solar concentrator and developed by researchers in Michigan State University in the US, this material can be used to cover anything that has a flat, clear surface. Transparent solar cell technology has been attempted before, but the energy the cells produced was poor and the materials they were made out of were highly coloured.

"No one wants to sit behind coloured glass,” said one of the researchers behind the technology, chemical engineer Richard Lunt, in a press release. "It makes for a very colourful environment, like working in a disco. We take an approach where we actually make the luminescent active layer itself transparent.”

The new transparent solar cells are made from tiny organic molecules that absorb invisible wavelengths of sunlight such as ultraviolet and near infrared light. This invisble light is then guided to the edge of the solar panel, where thin strips of photovoltaic solar cells pick it up and convert it into energy. "Because the materials do not absorb or emit light in the visible spectrum, they look exceptionally transparent to the human eye," Lunt said.

Not only are they transparent, these solar cells are also flexible. The researchers are now working on scaling the technology up for commercial applications such as window coverings for residential and office buildings, smartphone and tablet screens, electronic signs, and car windows.

"It opens a lot of area to deploy solar energy in a non-intrusive way,” said Lunt. "It can be used on tall buildings with lots of windows or any kind of mobile device that demands high aesthetic quality like a phone or e-reader. Ultimately we want to make solar harvesting surfaces that you do not even know are there."

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Global Renewable Energy Status Uncovered

Global Renewable Energy Status Uncovered | Investing in Renewable Energy |

More than a fifth of the world's electrical power production now comes from renewable sources and in 2013 renewables accounted for more than 56 percent of all net additions to global power capacity. These remarkable conclusions come from this year’s Renewables Global Status Report ) (GSR) from REN21. This highly-regarded annual analysis — the 2014 edition was released this summer — concludes that renewable electricity capacity jumped by more than 8 percent overall in 2013, to produce some 22 percent of all global power production. Total global installed renewable electricity capacity reached a staggering 1,560 GW in 2013. More details here:

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Marc Kneepkens's insight:

Great progress.

MANAGED GREEN's curator insight, August 17, 1:03 PM

Progress takes time.  Let us help add #Green to your bottom line.  Give us a call today 714.512.5820

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Ocean Energy Turbine project aims to harness energy from the ocean

Ocean Energy Turbine project aims to harness energy from the ocean | Investing in Renewable Energy |

We've grown accustomed to seeing wind turbines peppered across open patches of land, but researchers working under Crowd Energy are eyeing a different location for generating energy: the depths of the ocean. If successful, a single 100-foot turbine could generate 13.5 megawatts of power.

The project was detailed to the folks at Livescience, with the goal being to create turbines deep in the ocean that use currents to generate power. Crowd Energy was founded by Todd Janca, who came up with the idea and discussed it in detail recently.

The turbine developed by Crowd Energy is a slowly-rotating unit with three large blades that have center-most parts composed of shutters. Depending on water flow, these shutter sections will open or close, resulting in a current rotating the blades in much the same way air works with wind turbines.

Crowdfunding is being used to fund the project, with the goal being to build a turbine with a 100-foot wingspan that could, says the developers, result in 13.5 megawatts of energy. This would greatly outpace the energy produced by wind turbines, and would power thousands of homes.

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Interesting concept for generating energy, combined with crowdfunding.

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This Supermarket Runs on Its Own Food Waste! ~ Brenna Fischer

This Supermarket Runs on Its Own Food Waste! ~ Brenna Fischer | Investing in Renewable Energy |
It seems the UK supermarket chain, Sainsbury's, has figured out a way to power themselves entirely by their own food waste.

Though turning food waste into energy is nothing new, the fact that a huge chain like Sainsbury’s is using it exclusively to power their store, is huge! They have succeeded in producing zero operational waste going to the landfills.

According to BBC News, the head of Sainsbury’s sustainability department, Paul Crewe, said:

“Sainsbury’s sends absolutely no waste to landfill and we’re always looking for new ways to re-use and recycle.” 

How are they doing it?

Here’s the break-down:

First, if it’s still good for human consumption, the produce that hasn’t been purchased by the end of the day gets marked down (smart, right? I don’t know why stores don’t do this already). After that’s done, anything left over is picked up by charitable organizations and re-distributed.

Next, if it’s not fit for humans it moves onto the next stage and is turned into animal feed.

If the food waste makes it past these two stages without getting used, it’s picked up by Biffa—the waste management company—and taken to an anaerobic digestion plant.

Ok, so pay attention here, because this is really cool.

Biffa and Sainsbury have devised giant silos that act like human stomachs and actually break this food down into bio methane gas, and this gas can actually generate electricity!

Finally, in order to re-route the energy back to the store, Sainsbury has installed a 1.5km electricity cable that runs directly to the store. On top of that, if too much energy is created for the store to use, it all goes back onto the National Grid—talk about sustainability!

Fun fact: Sainsbury’s generates enough energy to power 2,500 homes each year.

Think of what we could do with that kind of energy production.

Hearing this news fills me with hope and excitement about where our future is headed. Knowing that these corporations are starting to move in the direction of sustainability speaks loudly of our voice as consumers.

Decisions at this level are based on what the costumer wants and, let’s face it, what they demand. It’s nice to see that we, as costumers, are starting to demand a better place to live.

I never liked the phrase, “The costumer is always right.” It implies the right to act like a jerk and skit responsibility, just because money is involved. However, it seems in this case we’ve finally decided to use our consumer-powers for good rather than evil.



All supermarkets should do this!


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Marc Kneepkens's insight:

Great idea, ready to be duplicated all over the world. Entrepreneurs?

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Support for carbon tax grows when revenue fuels renewable energy

Support for carbon tax grows when revenue fuels renewable energy | Investing in Renewable Energy |
A carbon tax with revenues used to fund renewable energy programs gained support from 60 percent of Americans, according to a University of Michigan poll.

That's the highest among tax options presented and one that crossed the political divide with majorities of Democrats, Republicans and Independents saying they would support the tax, according to the National Surveys on Energy and Environment.

The survey is a joint effort of the Center for Local, State, and Urban Policy at U-M's Gerald R. Ford School of Public Policy and the Muhlenberg Institute of Public Opinion at Muhlenberg College in Allentown, Pa.

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Support for carbon tax is growing.

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A world without water -

A world without water - | Investing in Renewable Energy |
“The marginal cost of water is rising around the world,” says Christopher Gasson, publisher of Global Water Intelligence. “Previously, water was treated as a free raw material. Now, companies are realising it can damage their brand, their credibility, their credit rating and their insurance costs. That applies to a computer chipmaker and a food company as much as a power generator or a petrochemicals company.”

To read the full article, click on the title or image.

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Via Marty Koenig
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Comprehensive article from the Financial Times covering the increasing water problems corporations deal with.

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HP, Intel, GM and Walmart demand changes to renewable energy industry

Frustrated by a lack of renewable energy and a purchasing system that's too complicated, a dozen major US companies have joined an initiative to force the government and utilities to change.

Marty Spitzer, director of U.S. Climate and Renewable Energy Policy for the World Wildlife Fund (WWF), said there is plenty of renewable energy demand from U.S. corporations, but there is not anywhere near enough supply. Additionally, setting up contracts for renewable energy is complex, time consuming and typically not achievable at the scale large corporations want."They want everyone in the utilities market to know they have significant...renewable energy goals and they're here for the long run," Spitzer said. "This isn't a passing fad."

To read the full article, click on the title or image.

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Once the corporations start to demand renewable energy, the sector will advance significantly.

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(Florida & Louisiana Watch Out!) Bipartisan Report Tallies High Toll on Economy From Global Warming

(Florida & Louisiana Watch Out!) Bipartisan Report Tallies High Toll on Economy From Global Warming | Investing in Renewable Energy |
Treasury secretaries dating to the Nixon years backed a new report predicting a heavy loss of coastal properties, a shift of farming northward, and dangerous outdoor conditions because of climate change.

More than a million homes and businesses along the nation’s coasts could flood repeatedly before ultimately being destroyed. Entire states in the Southeast and the Corn Belt may lose much of their agriculture as farming shifts northward in a warming world. Heat and humidity will probably grow so intense that spending time outside will become physically dangerous, throwing industries like construction and tourism into turmoil.

That is a picture of what may happen to the United States economy in a world of unchecked global warming, according to a major new report released Tuesday by a coalition of senior political and economic figures from the left, right and center, including three Treasury secretaries stretching back to the Nixon administration.

To read the full article, click on the title or image.

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Via Linda Alexander
Marc Kneepkens's insight:

Global warming is happening. Corporations and lobbyists have been trying to prove the opposite. However, more and more evidence is unfolding. Top 'ex'-politicians are speaking out.

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World of clean energy 'feasible' by mid-century

World of clean energy 'feasible' by mid-century | Investing in Renewable Energy |

International researchers, in what they believe is the most comprehensive global assessment of clean energy’s potential, report that a low-carbon system could supply the world’s electricity needs by 2050.

LONDON, 10 October, 2014 − A global low-carbon energy economy is not only feasible, it could double electricity supply by 2050 while actually reducing air and water pollution, according to new research.

Even though photovoltaic power requires up to 40 times more copper than conventional power plants, and wind power uses up to 14 times more iron, the world wins on a switch to low-carbon energy.

These positive findings are published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences by Edgar Hertwich and Thomas Gibon, of the Norwegian University of Science and Technology Department of Energy and Process Engineering.

Life-cycle assessment

They and international research colleagues report that they have made – as far as they know – the first global life-cycle assessment of the economic and environmental costs of renewable and other clean sources of energy in a world that responds to the threat of climate change.

Other studies have looked at the costs in terms of health, pollutant emissions, land use change or the consumption of metals. The Norwegian team set out to consider the lot.

There were some things they had to leave out: for instance, bioenergy, the conversion of corn, sugar cane or other crops to ethanol for fuel, because that would also require a comprehensive assessment of the food system; and nuclear energy, because they could not reconcile what they called “conflicting results of competing assessment approaches”.

But they tried to consider the whole-life costs of solar power, wind power, hydropower and gas and coal generators that used carbon capture and storage to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

They took into account the demand for aluminium, copper, nickel and steel, metallurgical grade silicon, flat glass, zinc and clinker. They thought about the comparative costs of “clean” and “dirty” power generation, and they considered the impact of greenhouse gases, particulate matter, toxicity in ecosystems, and the eutrophication– the overwhelming blooms of plankton − of the rivers and lakes.

They also assessed the impact of such future power plants on the use of land, and they made allowances for the economic benefits of increasing amounts of renewable power in the extraction and refinement of minerals needed to make yet more renewable power.

More efficient

Then they contemplated two scenarios: one in which global electricity production rose by 134% by 2050, with fossil fuels accounting for two-thirds of the total; and one in which electricity demand in 2050 rises by 13% less because energy use becomes more efficient.

They found that to generate new sources of power, demand for iron and steel might increase by only 10%. Photovoltaic systems would require between 11 and 40 times the amount of copper that is needed for conventional generators, but even so, the demand by 2050 would add up to just two years’ worth of current copper production.

Their conclusion? Energy production-related climate change mitigation targets are achievable, given a slight increase in the demand for iron and cement, and will reduce the current emission rates of air pollutants.

“Only two years of current global copper and one year of iron will suffice to build a low-carbon energy system capable of supplying the world’s electricity needs by 2050,” the authors say. – Climate News Network

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Google to build gigantic 120-megawatt data center in the Netherlands

Google to build gigantic 120-megawatt data center in the Netherlands | Investing in Renewable Energy |
The $772 million facility in Eemshaven will benefit from proximity to the landing point of major international submarine cables, as well as a good deal of renewable energy, reports say.

Google is set to build an enormous data center in Eemshaven, in the Dutch province of Groningen. It will invest €600 million ($772 million) in the project over four years.

The company already uses a TCN-owned, 20-megawatt data center in Eemshaven, which pitches itself as an ideal location for such things – it has access to many kinds of renewable energy (which Google says it will use), it’s a landing station for international internet cables, and it has a mild climate that’s conducive to cheaper cooling (the data center will be “free cooled”, using cold air and so-called gray water.)

According to a Google blog post, the company will continue using its rented facility in Eemshaven. The new 120-megawatt data center will create around 150 permanent jobs in Groningen. Construction will begin in 2016 and the facility should be fully operational by the end of 2017. Apple has also reportedly considered siting a new data center there, and Microsoft is also building a large new data center in Middenmeer, Noord-Holland.

Google already has three major European data centers of its own: in Hamina, Finland; St. Ghislain, Belgium; and Dublin, Ireland. The need to build out capacity in Europe comes not only from requirements for low latency from Google’s streaming media services, but also from unease — particularly among enterprise customers — over using services that are based in the U.S., due to the revelations of NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden.

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Scientists develop flexible solar cell that can be woven into fabric (Science Alert)

Scientists develop flexible solar cell that can be woven into fabric (Science Alert) | Investing in Renewable Energy |

Chinese scientists have developed a solar cell ‘textile’ that can be woven into clothes. It’s flexible enough to be bent more than 200 times, and can collect light on both sides.

Scientists have been trying for decades to develop functional, flexible solar cells, because they could be integrated into fabrics and used to coat irregular shapes and surfaces. And now scientists at Fudan University in Shanghai have developed polymer solar cells that are light, flexible, cheap to produce, and thin enough to be used in fabrics.

According to Jon Cartwright at Chemistry World, to create these new solar cells, they figured out that they could interweave microscopic metal wires - coated in an active polymer designed to absorb sunlight - with titanium dioxide nanotubes and a second type of active polymer to form a textile. Together these components work by having the metal wires absorb sunlight and generate electrons and their positive counterparts, known as 'electron holes'. The electrons are then conducted by the titanium dioxide nanotubes, and the electron holes are conducted by the second active polymer. To complete the circuit, says Cartwright, the team painted each side of the textile with transparent, conductive sheets of carbon nanotubes.

Publishing their design in the journal Angewandte Chemie, the team report that the textile has been made to be symmetrical so it can absorb light from either side. It’s also extremely flexible, able to be bent more than 200 times with barely any effect on its overall efficiency. The one downside? It’s only the size of your fingernail. ‘The main difficulties encountered are how to scale up the solar-cell textile while maintaining high energy-conversion efficiencies,” lead researcher Huisheng Peng told Chemistry World.

Independent expert and materials scientist Anyuan Cao from the Department of Advanced Materials and Nanotechnology at Peking University in Beijing commented that while there is certainly potential in the technology, it will not hit the market until it can be upscaled and made more efficient. And that's exactly what Peng and his team are working on now.

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Tesla expected to bypass California for 'Gigafactory' in Nevada

Tesla expected to bypass California for 'Gigafactory' in Nevada | Investing in Renewable Energy |

Tesla Motors on Thursday is expected to name Nevada as the site of the electric automaker's planned $5 billion "Gigafactory" for advanced batteries, following an intense competition among five states trying to land the massive project and its 6,500 jobs.

Tesla officials plan to join Nevada Gov. Brian Sandoval Thursday in Carson City to make "a major economic development announcement," company spokeswoman Liz Jarvis-Shean said Wednesday. The Wall Street Journal reported that the press conference would announce Tesla's decision to build its lithium-ion battery factory in the state.

While not a surprise, Tesla's choice comes as bitter news to officials in California, Arizona, New Mexico and Texas. Each state tried to woo the high-profile company with promises of tax breaks and speedy permitting, hoping to win that rarest of economic prizes - a large new manufacturing plant.

It's a particularly harsh blow for California, Tesla's home state. When the company, based in Palo Alto, first announced its short list of potential Gigafactory sites in February, California wasn't on it. State officials scrambled to get into the game, approving a tax break for battery manufacturers and floating ideas to speed up the state's notoriously slow environmental review process for construction projects.

But the state had been considered a long shot.

Reaction in California

"We are sad to learn of the decision, although we're not surprised," said Jim Wunderman, CEO of the Bay Area Council, a business group that lobbied Tesla to build in California. "In many conversations with Tesla, we knew they'd ultimately do what was in the interest of their business, even though I think they seriously considered what California was bringing to the table and the advantages we offer."

Each state kept the exact details of its bid secret. But Tesla executives said they expected the winner to offer incentives worth roughly 10 percent of the project's total cost, or $500 million. The high stakes prompted several public policy groups to complain that the states were engaged in a "race to the bottom," trying to outdo each other's tax breaks to a private company.

Nevada had been seen as the front-runner. Tesla representatives scouted the Reno area in February. And the company reported in July that it had broken ground at a "possible" Gigafactory site, in a technology park about 9 miles east of Reno. The location boasts easy rail and freeway access to Tesla's Fremont auto plant, where the company builds its popular Model S electric sedan. The nation's only active lithium mine lies in Nevada - another plus for the state.

Tesla has said that it was still studying other sites in other states and would pursue construction wherever it could secure permits first.

"We'll be doing something similar in one or two other states," Tesla CEO Elon Musk said in July. "It makes sense to have multiple things going in parallel."

Other factories possible

The company has also raised the possibility of building more than one Gigafactory, although financial analysts consider that move unlikely, at least in the short term.

It remains unclear whether Tesla will continue pushing forward on other sites outside Nevada. Several state government insiders said California's efforts now may be to ensure that California lands future Tesla factories. State Sen. Ted Gaines, R-Rocklin (Placer County), said his mission now is to make the state "the No. 1 destination for the next Gigafactory."

Gov. Jerry Brown signed a bill in July containing language that gives battery manufacturers a break on property taxes. And legislators created a placeholder bill that they could swiftly pass if any element of California's bid for the Gigafactory required legislative approval. The Legislature adjourned last weekend without any action on the bill.

"It never got to the stage where we were able to craft the details," said Gaines, one of the bill's authors. He said the state considered a mix of tax credits, expedited permitting and money for job training. Tesla, he said, played everything "very close to the vest."

"We did everything we could to make sure we were ready to go," Gaines said. "I'm just frustrated."

One of California's biggest hurdles was the state's extensive environmental review process, which often takes years for big construction projects. Musk explicitly pointed to that issue when discussing Gigafactory plans, saying it made the state an "improbable" location.

In response, California officials discussed finding ways to speed up the process, something they did last year for Sacramento's basketball arena.

Need for speed

Speed is a priority for Tesla. The company needs to build the plant on a tight timeline, opening it no later than 2017 to hit production goals. The Gigafactory will combine every aspect of battery manufacturing - from processing raw lithium to recycling spent batteries - in one facility. That will cut the cost of Tesla's batteries by at least 30 percent, according to the company. And that savings, in turn, will enable Tesla to offer its first electric car for middle-class customers, the $35,000 Model 3, expected to hit the market in 2017.

Chronicle staff writer Melody Gutierrez contributed to this report.

David R. Baker is a San Francisco Chronicle staff writer. E-mail: Twitter: @DavidBakerSF

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More factories to follow.

One man really can make a difference.

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Renewable Energy Momentum Has Passed The Tipping Point

Renewable Energy Momentum Has Passed The Tipping Point | Investing in Renewable Energy |

Editor's Note: This is a great summary piece on the renewable energy revolution from one of CleanTechnica’s daily readers. Unlike with many of the recent reader articles we’ve published, this one doesn’t come from a frequent commenter but from one of the many, many lurkers who read CleanTechnica daily and silently. I’m happy he jumped...

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3 Energy Companies Investing In Startups

3 Energy Companies Investing In Startups | Investing in Renewable Energy |

As recently reported, NRG Energy (NYSE: NRG) is acquiring Goal Zero, a company that makes portable solar battery chargers.

The deal is just the latest in a growing trend of energy companies acquiring innovative startups, in an effort to diversify and expand their markets. Here are some recent examples.

Royal Dutch Shell (NYSE: RDS-A)

Back in 2010, Shell acquired a stake in Virent Energy Systems -– a Wisconsin-based company that creates chemicals and fuels from “biomass-derived” sugars.

In 2012, using technology licensed from Virent, Royal Dutch Shell built a next-generation biofuels pilot plant at Shell's Westhollow Technology Center in Houston.

The pilot plant “allows us to explore further biofuels options as we continue to actively manage our advanced biofuels pathways to identify a feasible set of commercial solutions,” Luis Scoffone, Vice President, Alternative Energies at Shell, said at the time.

Virent also has partnerships with Cargill, Coca-Cola, the U.S. Navy, the USDA and the U.S. Department of Energy.

SolarCity (NASDAQ: SCTY)

While Elon Musk is best known for the Tesla electric car and his SpaceX chimerical space venture, he's also chairman of Solar City, one of America's largest installers of rooftop solar power systems.

And this past June SolarCity announced its acquisition of Silevo, a solar panel technology and manufacturing company.

In a blog co-signed by Musk, SolarCity said the company was in discussions with New York officials regarding the construction of a manufacturing plant in the state, a facility that within the next two years “will be one of the largest solar panel production plants in the world.”

“If we don’t do this, we felt there was a risk of not being able to have the solar panels we need to expand the business in the long term,” Musk said during a June conference call.

Pacific Gas and Electric (NYSE: PCG)

Also known as PG&E, the company is one of the biggest combined natural gas/electric utilities in the country -- supplying natural gas and electricity to an estimated 15 million people in north and central California.

In 2009 PG&E signed a contract with BrightSource Energy, a designer, developer and distributor of solar thermal technology, to create seven solar power projects that would produce an overall total of 1,310 megawatts (MW) of solar thermal power.

But the relationship hasn't always been to plan. Last year, PG&E canceled a plan to purchase power from two BrightSource plants, citing “uncertainty around the timing of transmission upgrades,”

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Five Environmentally Sustainable Startups Compete for $680,000 Prize

AMSTERDAM, Aug. 13, 2014 /PRNewswire/ -- Five eco-friendly startups from the Netherlands, the United Kingdom, France and Vietnam will compete in the finale of the Postcode Lottery Green Challenge, an annual worldwide competition for startups with environmentally sustainable business plans. One of these entrepreneurs will win €500,000 ($680,000 USD) to realize his or her business plan. On Thursday, Sept. 11, finalists Diego Acevedo, Devin Malone, Arthur Kay, Pierre-Yves Cousteau and Trang Tran will present their ideas in Amsterdam before a jury led by Ellen MacArthur, British ex-solo sailor and founder of the Ellen MacArthur Foundation.

For the eighth year, the Dutch Postcode Lottery issued a worldwide call for inventions that reduce carbon emissions. The international competition aims to help green startups bring their innovative sustainable products and services to market. This year, the jury received 324 sustainable business plans from 57 different countries. The jury will award the €500,000 ($680,000) grand prize – intended to help the winner bring his or her product to market within two years – at the finale, taking place in Amsterdam. A runner-up prize of €200,000 ($272,000) is available for one or two other promising finalists.

The Finalists

Bio-bean ltd (United Kingdom): Arthur Kay

Arthur Kay is the co-founder of Bio-bean, a company that uses its patented process to upcycle waste coffee grounds into two advanced biofuel products, namely biodiesel and biomass pellets, used for powering buildings and transport systems. Bio-bean is acting in response to the need of the production of clean, cheap and local energy and responsible waste collection and disposal.

Bluerise (The Netherlands): Diego Acevedo 

Diego Acevedo is the co-founder of Bluerise. His company develops a technology that uses temperature differences in the oceans to generate electricity and cooling. Bluerise enables tropical islands and coastal regions to become 100 percent energy-independent and save up to 90 percent on cooling-related electricity use.

Fargreen (Vietnam): Trang Tran

Most of the world's rice is produced in Asia, where the most common method for rice straw waste disposal is burning. This process releases millions of tons of green house gases (GHG) every year. Trang Tran is co-founder of Fargreen, a company that works with local rice farmers to divert the straw from burning and, using Fargreen's technology, use it as a substrate to produce high quality mushrooms. In doing so, Fargreen stops the release of GHG and helps farmers escape poverty, increasing their income by 50 percent.

One Nights Tent (The Netherlands): Devin Malone

Tens of millions of people camp at music festivals annually. But when the music stops, 1 in 4 campers leave their equipment behind as waste. Devin Malone is the co-founder of One Nights Tent, a company that produces recyclable tents. Users pre-purchase their gear online and receive it right on the festival campsite. Afterwards, One Nights Tent recycles or composts anything left behind.

Turbosail (France): Pierre-Yves Cousteau
Pierre-Yves Cousteau is the co-founder of Turbosail™. This company develops an efficient wind propulsion technology for seagoing vessel operators, which is proven to deliver a 30 percent average reduction in fuel consumption as prototype. The Turbosail functions like an airplane wing, creating an aerodynamic power that lifts the vessel and pushes it forward.

Note to the editor:

For more information and photos:

  • General:
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For interview requests with the finalists or jury members please contact

About the Postcode Lottery Green Challenge
The Dutch Postcode Lottery has held the Green Challenge every year since 2007 as part of its efforts to make the world a greener place. The Postcode Lottery Green Challenge, the world's biggest annual sustainable innovation competition, is aimed at creative, innovative thinkers. Every eco-friendly product or service that cuts CO2 emissions and excels on design, user-friendliness and quality has a chance to win. Entrants submit detailed business plans for consideration by an expert preliminary jury. Previous winners have achieved success with their inventions, in part thanks to the publicity and contacts they obtained through the Postcode Lottery Green Challenge.

The Dutch Postcode Lottery was founded in 1989 to support charitable causes. Today, 2.5 million people in the Netherlands play every year, vying for hundreds of thousands of prizes each month. As they play, they're supporting charitable causes: half the price of each ticket is distributed among 90 charitable organizations. Since the Postcode Lottery's founding, it has donated more than €4 billion (roughly $5 billion USD) to organizations working on behalf of humanity and the natural environment.

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3 reasons why Tesla can scale where others have failed

3 reasons why Tesla can scale where others have failed | Investing in Renewable Energy |

Tesla rocked the automotive world last month with news that it plans to build a 5 GW lithium ion battery plant in the United States. That’s huge: 5 GW is equivalent to all of the world’s current battery production, so, Tesla will basically double global battery manufacturing.

This alone is not staggering; companies and industries scale rapidly all the time. What makes Tesla’s announcement so important is that it comes just a few years after battery companies such as A123 and Valence Technology filed for bankruptcy; big corporates such as Bosch and Dow Chemical left the industry, and electric car manufacturers Fisker and Bright Automotive closed their doors.

The battery business is a tough place to make money: capital is expensive, engineering costs are high, supplier qualification periods are long, supply chain economics are tight, and there never seems to be enough electric vehicle demand to get to production capacity. There are plenty of reasons why so many battery companies have struggled. And, since batteries are a sizable chunk of the cost of an electric vehicle (EV), EV manufacturers tend to flounder alongside their battery suppliers.

So, why can Tesla scale in an industry that was considered all but dead in the United States just a few years ago?

3 Reasons:

1.  Know and own your most expensive part

Tesla made the early decision to assemble its own battery packs. It struck a deal with Panasonic to buy small cylindrical battery cells and then assembled the cells and develop the thermal management system, software, electronics, and mechanical enclosure, on its own.

Around a quarter of the cost of a battery pack is in those non-cell components that Tesla is assembling. As volumes rise and designs mature, Tesla is able to directly benefit from any cost optimization.

Integrating a new third party battery pack into a vehicle can take at least 9 months of engineering time and resources. There are often communication hiccups between the battery management system and the vehicle system. Because Tesla designs its vehicles from the ground-up, it is able to optimize the battery pack with the vehicle design, thereby eliminating the time and resources involved in battery integration.

2. Don’t aim for radical technology disruption

New battery cell technology takes years of R&D and testing. Often results that are groundbreaking on a lab scale are not corroborated when the technology is scaled to production. It is very hard to scale new battery technology and maintain the performance, quality, and safety targets.

The Panasonic 18650 cells, which Tesla purchases, are standard small cells, about the size of those used in laptop computers. They are used widely across multiple industries and are already at production capacity. Tesla therefore benefits from volume pricing and logistics security. It has not had to go through the painful process of scaling a new technology and manufacturing plant to production capacity.

Now, Tesla is reported to be working on a second-generation cell design with Panasonic, but this will hit production after the company has already established its brand and has the flexibility to test a new product. Unlike its competitors, Tesla opted for a known technology that was already produced at volume, which lowered their technology risk, allowed volume pricing early on, and reduced the risk of supply chain disruptions.

3. Secure patient capital with a long-term view

The electric vehicle market is no place to make a quick buck. Although the market is growing, it takes five to eight years for most battery and vehicle platforms to see profitability. Indeed, it took Tesla 10 years.

Many investors in battery companies have had unrealistic expectations that stifled organic growth. Fisker Automotive, A123 and others received upwards of $130 million each in loans from the DOE to support their production. Many hailed these funds as the gateway to manufacture and get to market. However, these loans were chump change in such a capital-intensive industry. Fisker needed closer to $2 billion to be successful.

Tesla’s CEO, Elon Musk, has had no such illusions. In 2007, he spent his last $20 million to keep Tesla afloat, even when he was rumored to be living off of personal loans from friends. His strategy in fundraising was to set expectations on par with automotive industry standards, where everything – especially new technologies takes time, lots of time. Patience allowed Tesla to grow steadily with the market’s growth and bequeathed it the time it needed to optimize its production.

Shortly after Tesla announced its plans to build a 5 GW factory, the company opened up its patents to competitors, allowing any other car company to use the Tesla technology. These patents specify Tesla’s batteries, so Tesla was in effect catalyzing more demand for their batteries. This was another smart move, which simultaneously scales the electric vehicle ecosystem alongside the company’s own topline growth. Indeed, 5 GW may just be the beginning.

Mira Inbar is a business development consultant, specializing in bringing new technologies to market in the energy and advanced materials sectors. She was one of the founding member’s of Dow Chemical’s lithium ion battery business.

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  • Tesla Motors

Tesla's goal is to accelerate the world's transition to electric mobility with a full range of increasingly affordable electric cars. Palo Alto, California-based Tesla designs and manufactures EVs and EV powertrain components. Tesla ha... read more »

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What Musk is doing is really mind boggling. It's very disruptive in many ways. Hopefully the oil industry will allow him to do this.

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Sustainability's Mystery Metrics

Sustainability's Mystery Metrics | Investing in Renewable Energy |
How unjustified fears are holding back business.

Articles have been published recently making the case that for all of it's importance to corporate strategy, sustainability isn't valued yet by corporate investors and that the disconnect comes from a lack of clear metrics to report. While it may be true that a difference in reporting will better connect financial stakeholders to sustainability's value if you drill down you'll find that the underlying assumptions are a little silly and a lot counterproductive.

Tuesday's very well received post "The Sentence that Defines Your Sustainability Program" was all about metrics. For that reason you may expect agreement here with those articles, but internal value and value to in the eyes of investors are very different things. The case will be made that there are lots of critical business functions that add value but suffer from difficult and dis-uniform metrics.
Consider these three:

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Green start-ups challenged to develop green business plans for chance to win $680,000

The fast-growing clean energy and technology market has the potential to make our economies more sustainable and future-proof. Today’s innovators have the ability to unlock a “green revolution” that builds resilience, creates value and grows prosperity.

The Postcode Lottery Green Challenge challenges the innovators to submit their sustainable business plans. This contest is seeking CO2 reducing ideas from sustainable entrepreneurs. Entrants for the Green Challenge can win $680,000.

The Postcode Lottery Green Challenge is the largest annual worldwide competition for sustainable entrepreneurs who can instigate change. It is an effort of the Dutch Postcode Lottery to bring smart and innovative green products and services to the mass market and thereby helping to combat climate change. The competition aims to identify a product or a service that will reduce greenhouse gas emissions and is capable of being brought to the market within two years. People from all over the world can (free of costs) submit their sustainable business plan until June 3, at This year the Dutch Postcode Lottery organizes the eighth edition of the Green Challenge.

“Climate change presents a challenge for us all. The world needs help embracing a more sustainable way of life. One bright idea can make a big difference,” says Marieke van Schaijk, managing director of the Dutch Postcode Lottery. “We started the Green Challenge to promote the invention of great new green products and services. Simple, yet effective ideas that have a massive impact, can be executed rapidly and are ready to speed up the transition towards a low carbon economy. The answers to the issues of our time are already in front of us. But it takes brilliant and innovative entrepreneurs to raise those answers and get then out into the world.”

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Blue chips unite to drive renewable energy revolution

Blue chips unite to drive renewable energy revolution | Investing in Renewable Energy |
A group of 12 leading companies have signed up to the Renewable Energy Buyers' Principles in an effort to better communicate their expectations of the renewables marketplace. - edie news centre

Key targets

The Buyers' Principles include six criteria to help companies achieve their targets in renewable energy. These include:

1) Greater choice in procuring renewable energy 
2) Cost competitiveness between traditional and renewable energy rates 
3) Access to long-term, fixed-price renewables 
4) Access to new projects to help drive emissions reductions beyond 'business as usual'
5) Streamlined third-party financing 
6) Opportunities to work with utilities to expand buyer choice

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Los Angeles, Las Vegas, Phoenix and other cities headed for imminent water supply collapse; wave of drought refugees now inevitable

Los Angeles, Las Vegas, Phoenix and other cities headed for imminent water supply collapse; wave of drought refugees now inevitable | Investing in Renewable Energy |

Los Angeles, Las Vegas, Phoenix and other cities headed for imminent water supply collapse; wave of drought refugees now inevitable.

One bizarre trait that strongly characterizes modern human civilization is a widespread inability to plan ahead. On every issue imaginable -- debt spending, fossil fuels, health care costs, resource extraction and so on -- our citizens and political leaders demonstrate near-retarded cognitive function by failing to see where their actions might lead. (And it's almost as if they're proud to be so stupid, too.)

There's no better example of this than the city of Las Vegas, Nevada -- a city of 600,000 people who almost universally depend on one lake for their water.

And that lake is running dry at an alarming rate, after which there will be no more water for Las Vegas.

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Planning ahead, beyond their term, is not on a politician's agenda. Here are some pretty bad examples.