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Sustainable futures and the status quo bias

Sustainable futures and the status quo bias | Digital Sustainability | Scoop.it
The tendency of humans to stick with what they know and avoid change could prevent us moving in to a more sustainable future, says Joss Tantram
Digital Sustainability's insight:

Sustentabilidade tornou-se um conceito que, por determinadas medidas, a tendência dominante. Tornou-se uma expectativa, em vez de uma exceção, que as empresas de significado (e menores) global têm pessoal e esforço despendido para alguma forma de cidadania sustentável, responsável ou relacionado esforço.

No entanto, isso não significa que a "guerra" para a protecção e valorização do ambiente global foi vencida. Ao contrário, todas as evidências científicas nos diz que as tendências globais esmagadora na qualidade ambiental são para baixo (com o estranho pedaço de menos más notícias ).

De uma perspectiva psicológica e neurológica, existem alguns fatores interessantes no trabalho.

As forças da reação e as forças de protecção

Além das forças da reação - aqueles que acreditam que os ambientalistas estão errados, são equivocada, ou que tenham voluntariamente ou ingenuamente interpretado de dados, e para além das forças do protecionismo - aqueles que podem privada concordam que os ambientalistas têm um ponto, mas estão tendo muito bom um tempo de querer mudar, há um outro desafio que enfrentamos na construção de um mundo sustentável - viés status quo.

Viés status quo - o melhor de todos os mundos possíveis?

Viés status quo é o fenômeno (apoiada por alguns evidência significativa ) que os seres humanos têm uma preferência objetivamente não-racional para o status quo. Um estudo de 2009 publicado pela National Academy of Sciences EUA descobriram que, quando confrontados com escolhas difíceis, as pessoas são mais propensos a escolher o status quo. Além disso, o estudo também observou que essas escolhas não eram muitas vezes os "melhores", mas que a dificuldade de tomar a decisão foi um fator na condução de pessoas para ficar com o familiar.

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Mercor's curator insight, February 15, 2013 9:20 AM

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Novo Site - Sustentabilidade Digital

Novo Site - Sustentabilidade Digital | Digital Sustainability | Scoop.it
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New green lease guidelines focus on people

New green lease guidelines focus on people | Digital Sustainability | Scoop.it
The Building and Construction Authority has launched a new toolkit to improve transparency and accountability of ‘green lease’ agreements between building...
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Singapore’s Building and Construction Authority (BCA) on Friday launched a new set of guidelines to help commercial building owners and their tenants improve their sustainable green building practices.

The government agency aims to promote the concept of ‘green lease’ agreements, which is about enabling landlords and tenants to work together on increasing energy efficiency, water efficiency and other measures that will make a building more sustainable. This new guidelines will also help improve transparency and accountability between building owners and tenants.

Second Minister for the Environment and Water Resources and Foreign Affairs Grace Fu launched the new ‘green lease’ toolkit during the Green Building Exhibition, which was held at Singapore’s Marina Square on Friday until Sunday.

Singapore is currently working on its 3rd Green Building Masterplan, which places people at the heart of the sustainable building agenda and the ‘green lease’ agreement is one way to engage landlords and tenants to collaborate on managing buildings sustainably, Fu told industry professionals during her speech.

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Hertz And Zem2All Partner To Create Additional City Mobility

Hertz And Zem2All Partner To Create Additional City Mobility | Digital Sustainability | Scoop.it
Hertz and electric charging operator Zem2All have announced a partnership that aims to put more sustainable vehicles on the city streets of Malaga and elsewhere across Spain.
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Hertz and electric chargingoperator Zem2All have announced a partnership that aims to put more sustainable vehicles on the city streets of Malaga and elsewhere across Spain.

“As a leader in the car rental industry, Hertz is well positioned to help customers and cities to gain first-hand experience with electric vehicles, said the company’s Michel Tirade. “We strongly believe that investing in innovative and convenient solutions that reduce the environmental impacts of travel is an important step towards sustainable transport on a global scale. In partnership with Zem2All, we will be working to create a compelling electric drive transport model that can be easily exported to other cities.”

The Hertz program will deliver zero-emissions electrical rental vehicles at a number of major locations across the city including its airport, various hotels and standalone outlets. The commercial rental program will employ the Nissan Leaf sedan, and will be based on an initial fleet of 160 vehicles.

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Green investors favor Apple after environmental reforms

Green investors favor Apple after environmental reforms | Digital Sustainability | Scoop.it
By Ross Kerber | 17 June 2014 (Reuters) – Apple Inc, criticized in the past for greenhouse gas emissions, use of toxic materials and the hiring of underage workers, has …
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Apple Inc, criticized in the past for greenhouse gas emissions, use of toxic materials and the hiring of underage workers, has improved its practices and earned better scores from groups such as Greenpeace. That’s good news for environmentally-aware mutual funds that hold Apple for another big reason – it makes money.

The Cupertino, California-based maker of the iPhone, the world’s biggest public company by market capitalization, has adopted a slew of green policies such as expanded product recycling and using solar power at its data centers. For managers who have made it a favorite of the largest “green” mutual funds tracked by Thomson Reuters’ Lipper unit, the improvements bolster the appeal of a stock that’s risen 15 percent this year, 19th best among the Standard & Poor’s 100 index.

The confluence of a rising price and improving environmental performance make Apple “the one stock you just can’t ignore,” said Anthony Tursich, senior portfolio manager of the $498 million Portfolio 21 Global Equity Fund, a green fund that bought Apple in 2011 after the company began providing more emissions data.

Tursich’s biggest holding is Google Inc, which he bought only after it made progress on renewable energy, reflecting how top U.S. corporations are embracing green goals, and how the funds jump on those firms once they start making those environmental moves.

Environmental fund managers may be broadening their shopping lists in part because they have more money to deploy: For the 12 months ended April 30 investors put $1.9 billion of new money into the 72 funds tracked by Lipper that use environmental criteria in their investment decisions. That’s still tiny relative to the $247.6 billion that went into all U.S. equity funds, but represents a 5 percent inflow that Lipper research head Tom Roseen said was significant. The bulk of the new money, more than $1 billion, went into the dominant $9.5 billion Parnassus Core Equity Fund, Lipper said..

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Five eco-friendly gadgets to use in our daily lives

Five eco-friendly gadgets to use in our daily lives | Digital Sustainability | Scoop.it
Going green has become a necessity now to save the planet and if our day-to-day gadgets can be made sustainable then it will mean a lot in saving our environment. Apart from being eco-friendly thes...
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Google Self-Driving Cars May Get A New Laser Measurement System

Google Self-Driving Cars May Get A New Laser Measurement System | Digital Sustainability | Scoop.it
The Light-Radar (LIDAR) measurement system in Google’s self-driving cars is central to the drivability of the self-drive, since it identifies both the location and distance of relevant obstacles in real-time, thereby allowing the vehicle to avoid collisions as it moves across its appointed waypoint map.
Digital Sustainability's insight:

Part of the challenge associated with high-risk research and development is considering the cost of systems that evolve over time. It is difficult to create something ‘new and innovative’, when critical systems have never seen the light of product shelves either, and instead exist only as one-off components that may, or may not work the first time ‘round.

This is true in the case of the recently re-discovered Google’s self-driving cars, and particularly, its Light-Radar (LIDAR) measurement system. This component is central to the drivability of the self-drive, since it identifies both the location and distance of relevant obstacles in real-time, thereby allowing the vehicle to avoid collisions as it moves across its appointed waypoint map.

 

Currently the Google LIDAR system costs approximately $80k per unit. That would be an acceptable cost if Google’s development vehicles were likely to be used only in a purely closed-course basis going forward. But now, with the recent conclusion of a series of practical city-test agreements in California and Nevada, the nature of the test program will require more budget-minding, as the company’s heretofore prototypes begin to evolve toward more productized variants.

That said, however, a group of developers at UC Berkeley have come up with a ‘smarter’ approach to the challenge of real-time laser measurement, by proposing to eliminate Google’s current rotating electro-mechanical ‘top-hat’ system, in favor of what they refer to as frequency-modulated continuous-wave (FMCW) packaging. According to the group, the FMCW system will provide the self-drive with the same level safety measurement at a considerably lower price point.

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Trucks Convoy under Computer Control to Save Gas

Trucks Convoy under Computer Control to Save Gas | Digital Sustainability | Scoop.it
A recent demonstration involving two trucks tethered by computer control shows how automation and vehicle-to-vehicle communication are creeping onto the roads.
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A pair of trucks convoying 10 meters apart on Interstate 80 just outside Reno, Nevada, might seem like an unusual sight—not to mention unsafe. But the two trucks doing this a couple of weeks ago were actually demonstrating a system that could make trucking safer and much more efficient.

While the driver in front drove his truck normally, the truck behind him was partly operated by a computer—and it stuck to its leader like glue. When instructed to do so, the computer controlled the gas and brakes to pull to within 10 meters (roughly three car lengths) of the truck ahead. The computer then kept the two trucks paired at this precise distance, as if linked by some invisible cable, until the system was disengaged. If the truck in front stopped suddenly, the one behind could have reacted instantaneously to avoid a collision.

Most automobile companies are working on full vehicle automation, but they need to overcome significant challenges before they can deploy those technologies (see “Driverless Cars Are Further Away Than You Think”). The technology demonstrated in Nevada, in contrast, could be deployed today, since the system is only partially automated (the driver behind still steers, with the aid of a camera that shows the view ahead of the truck in front). So it is covered by the same guidelines and regulations as adaptive cruise control, a feature in some cars that automatically keeps vehicles on the highway a safe distance from the ones around them.

This kind of “platooning”—as it is known—reduces the wind drag on both trucks, and could therefore save trucking companies millions of dollars in fuel every year. The trucks were fitted with technology developed by a startup calledPeloton Tech (“peloton” is the French word for platoon). Peloton’s system consists of radar sensors, a wireless communications system, and computers connected to each truck’s central computer. Video screens in both cabs show the drivers views of blind spots around the two vehicles.

Joshua Switkes, CEO of Peloton Tech, says the fuel savings are 4.5 percent for the front truck and 10 percent for the rear truck. This could amount to $100,000 each year. “For truck companies, these savings are enormous,” Switkes says. He adds that the technology could even allow competing companies to platoon together to get these savings.

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Charging a Smartphone, No Wires Required

Charging a Smartphone, No Wires Required | Digital Sustainability | Scoop.it
A startup called Energous aims to let you charge your gadgets without plugging them in.
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“Do you want us to charge your phone?” George Holmes asks. Normally, that would be an odd question. But Holmes is the vice president of sales and marketing for Energous, a company that is developing technology called WattUp that will allow you to charge smartphones, tablets, and other small gadgets from across a room without wires.

Energous hopes other companies will license this technology and build it into all kinds of products and places, so you can easily power your iPad while sitting on the couch browsing Instagram, or top off your phone while buying a coffee or playing Candy Crush in an airport. It will face competition, however, from a startup called Witricity that uses a different method, and already has the backing of some major electronics companies.

For now, WattUp’s technology is still in the demo stage, which means it’s not very good-looking. But it works, and during a visit to my San Francisco office, Holmes wants to show it off.

Devices can be charged wirelessly if they are connected to an external receiver, or slotted into a special protective case. Holmes plugs my iPhone into a white device shaped like a smartphone atop a little stand. Another iPhone sits on the table, wearing a bulky Energous case. Across the table, a briefcase-sized wireless energy transmitter sits on another tripod and a plug dangling from it is plugged into the wall.

Holmes picks up an iPad running a WattUp app that shows the two devices that are enabled for charging—mine, and the other iPhone in the case. He taps the app to tell the transmitter to find the devices and start the power-up process. My phone, which is 53 percent full, buzzes to indicate it is charging. Recharging works more than 10 feet from where the power is emitted, and you can move the device around while it’s charging.

Energous is the latest in a long line of companies fixated on the idea that life would be easier if we didn’t have so many wires and gadgets to plug in. Yet many of the wireless charging products that have come to market have relied on special charging mats that juice up devices at a short distance, and they’re still not that popular with consumers. “There’s not very many people that want to take their phone and go leave it somewhere while it charges,” Energous CEO Stephen Rizzone argues. “If they’re going to leave it somewhere while it charges, they’re going to plug it into a wall.”

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Caltech announces new, disruptive innovation

Caltech announces new, disruptive innovation | Digital Sustainability | Scoop.it
19 May 2014 Dr. Harry Atwater of Caltech is one of the world’s leading researchers of Applied Physics and Materials Science, specializing in technology related to photovoltaics and solar energy …
Digital Sustainability's insight:

Dr. Harry Atwater of Caltech is one of the world’s leading researchers ofApplied Physics and Materials Science, specializing in technology related tophotovoltaics and solar energy (1).   As director of Caltech’s Resnick Sustainability Institute, he is also the visionary and catalyst behind a new set of awards (the Resonate Awards) to recognize unsung heroes in scientific advances related to sustainability. Thomson Reuters Sustainability sat down with him to find out about this exciting initiative to bring daylight to breakthrough achievements in energy science and sustainability. Below are the Resonate Award winners for 2014:

2014 Resonate Award: A renewable power grid, when it’s not sunny or windy.

Dr. Atwater: Let’s start with Javad Lavaei who is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Electrical Engineering at Columbia University. He is receiving the 2014 Resonate Award for his work on incorporating solar, storage and other energy resources into the electricity grid in an efficient and cost-effective manner. Essentially, he has developed a robust system or model which would allow a diverse set of power generation and distribution without creating instability for the end user of electricity, even if the sun is not shining or the wind is not blowing. His grid model opens the door for a fundamental shift towards renewable power integration into our electricity grid. It also potentially moots the need for much of the energy storage and infrastructure planning which now exists.

Sustainability: How about Dr. Jaramillo?

2014 Resonate Award: Solar power for your gas tank.

Dr. Atwater: Tom Jaramillo is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Chemical Engineering at Stanford University. Tom’s award winning work focuses on taking carbon dioxide emission out of the process to produce liquid fuels for the trains, planes and automobiles we all use. His endeavors have led to the discovery of a catalyst for the production of hydrogen using solar power and very commonly occurring natural materials. Hydrogen can then be easily combined with other compounds to create liquid fuels and chemicals in a sustainable manner, improving the economics of renewable energy sources with the potential to replace petroleum-based liquid energy.

Sustainability: Please tell us about Shinichi Komaba’s achievement.

2014 Resonate Award: A super-battery for cars.

Dr. Atwater: Dr. Komaba is a Professor of Applied Chemistry at Tokyo University and a Project Professor at Kyoto University. He is receiving the 2014 Resonate Award for his research in the field of electrochemical energy storage and conversion, developing materials for sodium-ion batteries and safer lithium-ion systems. His breakthroughs in these systems show huge promise toward realizing zero-emission vehicles by developing new advances which allow for significantly smaller, safer and more energetic battery systems.

Sustainability: Please tell us about Jay Whitacre’s work.

2014 Resonate Award:A super-battery for houses.

Dr. Atwater: Jay Whitacre is an Associate Professor at Carnegie Mellon University and Founder and CTO of Aquion Energy. He is a really interesting character, as he works in both the policy and technology arenas. Professor Whitacre’s receipt of the 2014 Resonate Award honors his contribution to the grand challenge of finding safe, reliable, cost-effective, sustainable energy storage solutions. He developed a novel electrolyte battery technology based on low cost functional materials, which have the potential to be used for storage of massive amounts of energy at the electrical grid level. This breakthrough work helps to facilitate the introduction of renewable energy sources into the grid such as solar and wind, which require energy storage for when the sun isn’t shining or the wind isn’t blowing.

Sustainability: These kinds of advances have clear relevance for some types of investors, and their ability to drive change. Is that part of the idea behind recognizing the work of Ms. Kearney?

2014 Resonate Award: New funding for transforming the world.

Dr. Atwater: Yes. Ms. Sarah Kearney is the Founder and Executive Director of PRIME Coalition, a membership-based nonprofit that connects philanthropists and private investors to high-risk, high-reward startups that address climate change and other global social problems. Progress will be way too slow if funding for this kind of long-duration work continues to come from traditional sources like government and universities. Her work develops a philanthropic-venture marketplace which allows investors to identify and measure investment opportunities. It’s about connecting new pools of capital with high rates of return in an “energy breakthrough fund”, particularly focused on foundations and philanthropic organizations. It’s similar to the private equity and venture capital world, but with metrics around the effect desired on the world, and a financial return.

Sustainability: This is really exciting stuff!

Dr. Atwater: Now you know how I felt when reading the applications!   These are significant scientific applications which the world needs to know about.

 
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New online sales tool for the efficient trading of solar projects to be showcased at Intersolar

New online sales tool for the efficient trading of solar projects to be showcased at Intersolar | Digital Sustainability | Scoop.it
New online sales tool for the efficient trading of solar projects to be showcased at Intersolar - Renewable Energy Magazine, at the heart of clean energy journalism
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The tool allows companies to upload and update details of the projects that they are selling via a user-friendly online input screen. Using a customized design, these projects are then published on both the company’s own website and on MilktheSun.com, one of the leading online marketplaces for existing PV installations.

This boosts the sales reach of each project and enables it to attract new groups of investors, MIlk the Sun says.

As a plug-and-play application, the sales tool is easy to set up and users are not faced with any complicated, time-consuming programming work, the company says. Milk the Sun adapts the tool’s design to the corporate website of each of its individual users, before sending them an HTML code for an iframe that can be integrated into their websites. The sales tool is then live. It’s as simple as that.

Milk the Sun has teamed up with industry experts to develop a practical, standard method of presenting and organizing project data online. This standard method is used for both Milk the Sun’s marketplace and the bespoke online sales tools. It is also used to create standardized data rooms, where supplementary information, such as contracts, plans and other documents can be stored.

“The new software solution was created at the request of numerous Milk the Sun partners. Thanks to it, companies can now trade projects in a proven and standardized format," says Felix Krause, CEO of Milk the Sun. "Potential business partners are able to view all installation details online, saving companies the hassle of creating and sending data heavy emails. This reduces sales costs and considerably increases the value of the entire website.”

The tool is currently available in English, German, Italian, Spanish and French.

The monthly user fee for the standard package is €100. A one-off fee of €2,500 is charged for customizing and setting up the online sales tool.

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NASA Reveals the Unstoppable Rate At Which Antarctica Is Melting!

NASA Reveals the Unstoppable Rate At Which Antarctica Is Melting! | Digital Sustainability | Scoop.it
Most of the doomsday predictions across the globe involve the oceans finally taking over land and if NASA’s latest reports are indeed true, that day may no
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Most of the doomsday predictions across the globe involve the oceans finally taking over land and if NASA’s latest reports are indeed true, that day may not be far off!

A NASA study looking at 40 years of ground, airplane and satellite data shows that the West Antarctic ice sheet is melting at a rate that is far above the normal projections and the damage done here is irreversible.

 

The West Antarctic-underbelly is indeed melting at a rate much greater than predicted by most climate change experts and NASA reveals that it might already be too late to avert future disasters.

While the process was started by carbon emissions and ozone depletion, it seems like a simple cut back in these will not stop it melting completely.

Scientists say that the West Antarctic ice sheet has already gone beyond the threshold point of disintegration and current reduction on carbon emissions can only help slow the melting down, but not stop it entirely.

 

“It does seem to be happening quickly and the system is in sort of a chain reaction that is unstoppable.

Every process in this reaction is feeding the next one,” said University of Washington glaciologist Ian Joughin, lead author of one study.

This is because the grounding line that stops these gigantic glaciers from complete damage has been already breached.

The team concentrated on the Thwaites glacier that has a huge impact on all the others around it and found that the ground data backed the satellite images.

This means the next few decades could see a surge in sea levels that will threaten low-lying areas across the globe even more.

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Connecting Data and Technology for Smarter Transport Systems

Connecting Data and Technology for Smarter Transport Systems | Digital Sustainability | Scoop.it
Emerging technologies, together with big data, are tools that allow us to better plan our cities and revolutionize the efficiency and quality of our transport systems. We are seeing threads of this already, as millions of people use smart cards to board the bus or metro.
Digital Sustainability's insight:

Emerging technologies, together with big data, are tools that allow us to better plan our cities and revolutionize the efficiency and quality of our transport systems. We are seeing threads of this already, as millions of people use smart cards to board the bus or metro and carrying smart-phones that provide route guidance in cities like Bogotá, New York City, or Kuala Lumpur. Yet, these two technologies are not effectively linked. Although transport globally is faster and more automated than ever, accessibility and quality of service remain key issues. Connectivity between these emerging technologies can unlock the potential for big data to expand access and improve the quality of transport systems in cities around the globe.

Smart cards: Convenient for users, vital for planners

Smart cards, which have magnetic strips that allow users to load money onto them like a debit card, make boarding and paying for bus and rail services more efficient. Although it might only save each individual a few minutes over the course of the day, over the course of a year this adds up to hours, and for the entire system the efficiency gains are immense. For planners, when users swipe their smart cards, it allows them to see in real time peaks in demand. This means planners do not need to expend as many resources collecting outdated or inaccurate data and can spend more time adjusting routes to meet the needs of everyday transport users.

Connective networks allow for more informed choice

At the same time, the rise and proliferation smart phones is allowing allows for nearly ubiquitous Internet connection. This trend seems poised to continue, with emerging 5G networks likely to operate 80 times faster than existing 4G networks. This means that phones will be able to process increasing amounts of data in real time. More real time data means more informed decisions and a wider variety of transport options for urban residents, improving mobility and access in the city. For example, the Wazeapplication, a community-based mapping app with platform similar to Google Maps, uses crowd-sourced data to notify users of traffic crashes and other obstacles, and helps them find alternate routes.  Even this small contribution helps the entire system become more efficient.

Connecting cards and networks for better transport

Until recently, however, smart card and mobile technologies have not been effectively integrated. Taking cues from they way an app like Waze uses both GPS capabilities built into phones as well as data from surrounding Waze users, transport systems can also become more intelligent. For example, knowledge of their typical users’ mobility patterns – that they use metro three days out of the week, walks one day, and use a combination of bus and bike the other three, for instance – allows transport planners and operators to tailor routes and times to meet users’ needs and increase system efficiency.

The integration of big data with mobile technologies is essentially unlimited. Each transport system can potentially relate to each user individually, offering them the best transport mode based on what events they have on their calendar, the congestion on roadways, weather, their weight loss goals, and other individual considerations. The more users, cities, and application developers that join this system, the more it can provide. Although this system may sound like science fiction, it actually already exists.JMP Consultants created a small microcosm of this model for York, England. Within this city, citizens have virtual profiles and their mobile phones guide them through every stage of the transport system.

It should be noted that there are several possibilities for abuse of these technologies, both by governments and private citizens. Users must be able to opt of out of such a connected system for their own privacy, and all safeguards must be taken to protect individuals’ data. Yet, the possible gains in efficiency, sustainability, and quality of life for everyone in the system outweigh these possible abuses. With connected systems, cities will be able to increase the quality of their transport systems, avoiding major new construction and the financing barriers that come with them. This opens up significant opportunities to create safer, faster, more enjoyable transport systems for all cities, and moves one step closer to access to sustainable transport for all.

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10 companies paving the way in commuter transit

10 companies paving the way in commuter transit | Digital Sustainability | Scoop.it
From folding bikes to self-driving vehicles, there are more ways than ever to leave cars at home — if you even own one in the first place.
Digital Sustainability's insight:

Supporting remote work arrangements is one great way to help your company reduce the environmental impact of employee commutes — but the reality is that many organizations need their staff on-site where teams can work face to face.

This fact has kindled investments in infrastructure upgrades and public transportation options including light-rail lines, trains and buses. Indeed, an interest in supporting in-person collaboration was a major factor in Panasonic's recent decision to relocate its North American headquarters from relatively difficult-to-reach Secaucus, N.J., to a new location in Newark that is located centrally near a major transit hub.

Practically speaking, though, it's not possible for every company to pick up and move simply so their employees have to travel a shorter distance to work. Nor is it feasible for cities and counties to place a station or stop next to every business. And what about corporate campuses that are so big that employees have to drive their own vehicles just so they have a way of getting from building to building?

This perpetual logistical challenge has been dubbed the "last-mile commuting" problem — so named because transit solutions tend to stop every mile, so geographically, most of an urban area won't be within walking distance to a stop. And the problem isn't going away anytime soon.

If anything, the need to address this is becoming more acute, especially as companies increasingly try to attract millennial workers ages 18 to 34. In a survey released in April by The Rockefeller Foundation and Transportation for America, more than half of the respondents (54 percent) in 10 major cities indicated that they would consider moving to another city if the new location had better options for getting around. A whopping 86 percent of the ones living in "mature" cities such as Chicago, New York and San Francisco said it was important for their city to make it easy to get around without relying on a car.

"These findings confirm what we have heard from the business and elected leaders we work with across the country," said James Corless, director of Transportation for America, commenting about the survey. "The talented young workforce that every region is trying to recruit expects to live in places where they can find walkable neighborhoods with convenient access to public transportation."

Of course, there's also plenty that the private sector can do to help. Two decades ago, when I worked on suburban Long Island and lived in Queens, my forward-thinking company used a van to drive more than a dozen of us back and forth to the station at the beginning and end of every workday. These days, myriad options are emerging or evolving to address the last-mile dilemma. Here are 10 companies paving the way to new commuting approaches — ranging from makers of foldable bicycles and other newfangled vehicles to ride-sharing options powered by Web services.

1. Alta Bicycle Share

Around since 2009, Alta Bicycle Share has experienced its share of controversy over the past five years, especially when its primary equipment supplier Public Bike Systems (aka Bixi) declared bankruptcy in January . But in early April, Bixi got a new owner, which many believe has set the stage for continued expansion.

Alta is behind high-profile bike-sharing programs in New York, Washington, D.C., Boston, Chicago, San Francisco, Toronto, Montreal, Melbourne, Australia and Chattanooga, Tenn.

Technically speaking, Alta's competitor B-cycle (owned by well-respected Trek Bicycle) can claim a presence in more locations, with 30 cities across North and South America. The company is targeting potential expansion areas by encouraging people to vote on an interactive map displayed on its Web site. (As of press time, Toledo, Ohio, was No. 1. )

2. Brompton Bicycle

The concept of folding bicycles that riders can transport in buses or trains has intrigued designers for several decades. One of the best-known companies in this market is British manufacturer Brompton Bicycle.

The company started production in the early 1980s, and has an almost cult-like following — even clubs and races are dedicated to it.

With prices starting at $1,250, Brompton bikes come in one-, two-, three- or six-speed models. Last year, the company sold more than 45,000 of them in places including the United Kingdom, Germany, Hong Kong, Singapore and Japan. But only 3,000 of them made it to the United States.

3. Scoot

Can't really be bothered with renting a car and don't feel like pedaling a bike? Commuters who live in San Francisco might benefit from electric motorscooter networks being created and beta tested by Scoot, a membership service catering to people seeking quick rides to public transit stations or for running errands.

You need a smartphone app for either Android or Apple iOS to unlock and sign up for a specific scooter; there's also a reservation feature to make sure one is available where you want it to be, although we're talking only dozens of vehicles right now.

There are several pricing tiers, starting with Scoot Pass, which is $29 per month (including training, helmets, maintenance fees associated with scooter upkeep and liability insurance). If you can't be bothered to sign up, you'll pay $10 for the first half-hour, plus $3 for additional half hours. The scooters themselves can travel at top speeds of 25 to 30 mph, for ranges of 10 to 15 "city miles" per charge.

Scoot is planning a similar service for electric motorcycles, and is exploring expansion into San Francisco and other cities.

4. car2go

Akin to car-sharing pioneer Zipcar, car2go is a membership network started by Daimler AG in 2008. The company — which offers corporate arrangements — provides point-to-point rentals of Smart Fortwo vehicles for a published U.S. price of 41 cents per minute or a maximum of $84.99 per day.

As of February, the service had 10,000 cars on the road in the United States and Europe, serving 26 cities with more on tap. Car2go recently introduced regional pricing, which makes it easier for members to use its services from city to city. 

5. Flywheel

The focus of this mobile app for Android and Apple iOS, available in Los Angeles, San Francisco and Seattle, is on connecting people with local taxi companies and available vehicles quickly. The company (formerly called Cabulous) positions itself as an alternative to ride-sharing services such as Lyft, Sidecar and Uber that have been disrupting traditional transportation companies. Its backers include Craton Equity Partners, RockPort Capital, Shasta Ventures and Sand Hill Angels.

6. Induct Technology

Founded in 2004 near Paris, France, this robotic automobile company is behind Navia (pictured), an electric, self-driving shuttle that travels up to 12.5 miles per hour and can carry up to eight passengers.

The technology is pitched as an option for widespread industrial sites, airports, shopping complexes, even city streets. It is already in use in places such as Singapore, Switzerland and the United Kingdom. Navia recharges via induction using magnetic fields.

"The average cost of running a regular shuttle service with driver in the United States is $200,000 per year," said Induct CEO Pierre Lefevre, in a statement when Navia was introduced in the country in January. "With Navia, we are able to offer a safe, environmentally friendly solution and reduce the operational costs by 40 percent to 60 percent." Navia's own price tag is about $250,000.

7. MetroBee

This nascent initiative near San Francisco proposes to create a system of shared "bee" vehicles that travel back and forth from "hive" locations, such as the metro station. The idea is to reduce traffic while ensuring a 15-minute, fix-rate guaranteed ride, using GPS-directed vehicles to connect with commuters seeking a lift.

The fleet drivers will be employees of the service, which is eyeing Oakland and East Bay neighborhoods in California for tests of the concept. The company doesn't say what type of vehicles its fleet plans to use.

8. RideScout

Finding the best ground transportation options in a given city isn't always easy. This was the inspiration for the RideScout mobile application, which helps commuters research different services that are available around them — including public, private and "social" options.

The free app (available for both Android and Apple iOS) lets people look for options in several ways, including point-to-point searches or simply by looking to see what's available based on their existing location.

RideScout got its start in Washington, D.C., in late 2013 and in recent months expanded its services to Boston, San Francisco and Austin, Texas, with additional cities planned through 2014. The information shared within the app comes from the company partners, which include both traditional ground transportation options as well as emerging alternatives such as ride-sharing service Sidecar, backed by the likes of Lightspeed Venture Partners and Google Ventures, and Scoot.

9. Roadify

Technically speaking, you could put this technology into the category of smart traffic information services. But the Roadify service is really tailored for urban commuters who don't want to have to use a dozen Web sites or apps to figure out a practical route to work.

With a focus on New York, the initial mobile app for Apple iOS aggregates information from local public transportation options, as well as the car2go one-way rental service.

 

10. URB-E

 

Described as the ultimate last-mile option, URB-E is a lightweight, battery-powered, foldable bicycle (about 27 pounds) made out of recyclable aircraft-grade aluminum designed by a company called EgoLogical Mobility Solutions.

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New green lease guidelines focus on people

New green lease guidelines focus on people | Digital Sustainability | Scoop.it
The Building and Construction Authority has launched a new toolkit to improve transparency and accountability of ‘green lease’ agreements between building...
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Singapore’s Building and Construction Authority (BCA) on Friday launched a new set of guidelines to help commercial building owners and their tenants improve their sustainable green building practices.

The government agency aims to promote the concept of ‘green lease’ agreements, which is about enabling landlords and tenants to work together on increasing energy efficiency, water efficiency and other measures that will make a building more sustainable. This new guidelines will also help improve transparency and accountability between building owners and tenants.

Second Minister for the Environment and Water Resources and Foreign Affairs Grace Fu launched the new ‘green lease’ toolkit during the Green Building Exhibition, which was held at Singapore’s Marina Square on Friday until Sunday.

Singapore is currently working on its 3rd Green Building Masterplan, which places people at the heart of the sustainable building agenda and the ‘green lease’ agreement is one way to engage landlords and tenants to collaborate on managing buildings sustainably, Fu told industry professionals during her speech.

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Recharge Wrap-up: Formula E comes to London, hydrogen fueling comes to Denmark

Recharge Wrap-up: Formula E comes to London, hydrogen fueling comes to Denmark | Digital Sustainability | Scoop.it
Denmark gets new hydrogen stations, California's Low Carbon Fuel Standard upheld, London Formula E venue announced.
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Denmark will get four new hydrogen fueling stations from Air Liquide. The French company will put two of the hydrogen stations in Copenhagen, one in Aalborg and the fourth in Vejle. The new fueling stations are in addition to two already existing sites in Copenhagen and Holstebro. Read more at The Daily Fusion.

California's Low Carbon Fuel Standard (LCFS) stands, as the Supreme Court rejects oil and ethanol companies' request to review a previous ruling upholding the plan. LCFS would reduce carbon in California's transportation fuels by 10 percent by 2020. Earlier, California's Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals upheld LCFS, when Big Oil and Ethanol claimed the plan was discriminatory toward out-of-state companies. Read more at the Natural Resources Defense Council.

The FIA Formula E London ePrix will take place within the grounds of Battersea Park. Deputy Mayor of London Sir Edward Lister announced that the Wandsworth, South London location will be the venue for the final race of the inaugural season of the all-electric series. The season's 10 races will take place in city centers of major cities around the world. Formula E also announced BMW as its official supplier, its second female driver Michela Cerruti and a feature where fans vote for drivers to get a speed boost during the race. Read more in the press release below where you can also check out the video of Formula E cars tearing up the pavement of London's Westminster Bridge.

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Ljubljana wins European Green Capital Award for 2016

Ljubljana wins European Green Capital Award for 2016 | Digital Sustainability | Scoop.it
Slovenian capital Ljubljana has been named European Green Capital 2016 at a ceremony in Copenhagen, the current holder of the Green Capital title. Ljubljana was commended for raising environmental awareness amongst its citizens.
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Slovenian capital Ljubljana has been named European Green Capital 2016 at a ceremony in Copenhagen, the current holder of the Green Capital title. Ljubljana was commended for raising environmental awareness amongst its citizens. The jury also recognised its sustainability strategy 'Vision 2025', which brings together plans covering environmental protection, mobility, energy and electric transport.

In addition, Ljubljana has made significant progress in implementing green procurement policies covering 70 % of all city purchases.

Transportation in Ljubljana has changed dramatically over the past decade. From a city which was rapidly becoming dominated by the car, the focus has now shifted to eco-friendly alternatives. In 2013, Ljubljana modified the traffic flow within the city to limit motorised traffic and give priority to pedestrians, cyclists and public transport. Cycling is also increasing. By 2020 the city intends that public transport, non-motorised traffic and private vehicles should each account for a third of all transport.

Twelve cities applied to become European Green Capital 2016. Each entry was assessed by an international panel of 12 experts and five cities were shortlisted – Essen, Ljubljana, Nijmegen, Oslo and Umeå. All the finalists provided real-life examples of how respect for the environment, excellent quality of life and economic growth can all be successfully combined.

The European Green Capital Award is given to a European city that has a record of achieving high environmental standards, is committed to ambitious goals for future environmental improvement and sustainable development and can act as a model to inspire other cities.

Copenhagen, Denmark is the current (2104) Green Capital - www.sharingcopenhagen.dk

British city Bristol is the Green Capital 2015 - www.bristolgreencapital.org

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Really looks worth a visit

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Delhi Metro Commissions Its First Rooftop Solar Power Project

Delhi Metro Commissions Its First Rooftop Solar Power Project | Digital Sustainability | Scoop.it
Indian capital city's pride, the Delhi Metro Rail Corporation, has earned yet another achievement by commissioning its first rooftop solar power project at one of its stations.

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Singapore, Denmark continue collaboration in building sustainable cities

Singapore, Denmark continue collaboration in building sustainable cities | Digital Sustainability | Scoop.it
The Centre for Liveable Cities and the Danish Architecture Centre ink new agreements to extend urban governance exchange programmes.
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The Singapore government through the Centre for Liveable Cities (CLC) has renewed its partnership with the Danish Architecture Centre (DAC), marking the continuation of the two countries’ collaboration towards building sustainable and liveable cities.

The agreement, which was signed on June 3 on the sidelines of the four-dayWorld Cities Summit in Singapore, looks to extend the urban governance exchange programmes that the two centres have started last year, a statement from the summit said.

The CLC runs various urban governance programmes for city leaders, policy makers, and urban planners who would want to gain more understanding about Singapore’s city planning model. Through its Leaders in Urban Governance Programme (LUGP), CLC teamed up with DAC, which also runs a similar programme called Strategic Urban Governance Programme (SUG). The exchange programme gave opportunity for local public officials enrolled in both programmes to participate in site visits to both countries.

CLC, which was established by Singapore’s Ministry of National Development and the Ministry of the Environment and Water Resources in 2008 and one of the main organisers of the summit, is involved in research and capability development on how to make Singapore a more progressive and environmentally responsible city.

Meanwhile, DAC is public-private partnership

 

About 65 government directors from Singapore and Denmark have benefitted in the exchange programme, the statement added.

The partnership also paved way fordialogues in Singapore with notable urban leaders, such as Copenhagen’s mayor of administration and chair of the culture and leisure committee Pia Allerslev and world-renowned architect and professor Jan Gehl, CLC said.

Subsequently, CLC hosted 19 Danish executives for site visits in Marina Barrage, the city-state’s largest reservoir, as well as the famous Southern Ridges nature park as part of the inaugural exchange programme. This year, 15 government officials from Denmark also participated in a study visit and attended the summit.

“Denmark and Singapore are two small countries, but they are both absolutely world-leading in terms of making cities liveable and more sustainable and a great inspiration for cities around the world,” noted DAC chairman Fleming Borreskov, adding that the agreement particularly strengthens the good relationship between CLC and DAC.

Copenhagen ranks high among global liveability indices, while Singapore tops in Asia in quality of living surveys. Both countries are also highly commended for its initiatives to promote efficient public modes of transport. 

During the summit, CLC also reaffirmed its research collaboration with the Urban Land Institute (ULI) on how communities can be made more liveable and presented the results of their collaborative research work on ‘Active Mobility’ with Jan Gehl. The research revealed that through careful urban planning, hot and humid Singapore can possibly implement a robust cycling and walking culture.

More than 130 participants, including mayors and city leaders, researchers and urban planners, discussed and debated what makes a ‘smart city’ at the summit, the organisers said - and reached a broad agreement that a smart city must be ‘green’ and should be sustainable and liveable.

between philanthropy organisation Realdania and the Danish government, which focuses on the development and dissemination of knowledge about architecture and urban planning. 

CLC executive director Khoo Teng Chye noted on the success of the programme and the strong friendships built among participants. “After the successful exchange programme for Singaporean and Danish directors last year, we are pleased to work with DAC on the second edition this year,” explained Khoo.

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5 essential facts about emissions rules for power plants

5 essential facts about emissions rules for power plants | Digital Sustainability | Scoop.it
Confused by what the president's new climate rules mean? Here's the quick rundown.
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On Monday, President Obama unveiled the latest — and likely greatest — emissions reduction policy since he announced his Climate Action Plan last year: new rules to limit carbon dioxide pollution from existing power plants. With power plants accounting for around one-third of U.S. emissions, these rules will address the country’s single-largest source of greenhouse gas pollution.

Along with standards for new power plants, rules addressing methane emissions, and measures promoting energy efficiency, the forthcoming standards illustrate the way in which the president is using existing legislative authority to put the United States on a path toward meeting short-term and long-term climate commitments.

Unfortunately, there are a lot of misconceptions on what these standards are designed to achieve, the impact they will have and why they’re so important. This blog highlights some of the most important aspects of these crucial actions.

1. EPA has the authority and obligation to propose these standards

EPA is legally required to develop and enforce regulations to protect the public from air-borne pollutants under the Clean Air Act, which Congress passed with overwhelming bipartisan majorities in 1970, and further strengthened with subsequent amendments. Scientists agree that carbon pollution threatens American public health and welfare, and the Supreme Court affirmed in 2007 that the EPA has an obligation to protect the public from that threat. Currently we limit how much mercury, arsenic, soot and other air pollution power plants can dump into the air, but there are no limits on carbon pollution. EPA is doing now what it has done for decades — setting common-sense limits on harmful pollutants.

2. Transitioning away from uncontrolled coal is inevitable

Coal can be part of the future U.S. energy mix, but as the most carbon-intensive electricity source, it’s imperative that it rein in its pollution. Like other industries, coal can adapt by deploying technology to reduce its carbon footprint.

The U.S. power sector has been moving away from coal for years. It has accounted for only 5 percent of new capacity built since 2000, and only a handful of new coal plants are planned or under construction. Several of those will be outfitted with carbon capture technology.

Some pundits point to public health or environmental standards for the decline in coal industry jobs, but actually, the coal industry is using fewer miners to produce the same amount of coal. While coal jobs decreased by half since 1983, coal production in Kentucky and West Virginia held steady. New technology and techniques have driven this long-term trend.

The power plant rules also have the potential to create jobs in the efficiency and renewable industries. Studieshave shown that these industries support more jobs per megawatt-hour of electricity generation than fossil fuel industries.

3. States have many cost-effective carbon reduction opportunities

States are demonstrating that clean energy and efficiency policies create economic benefits and save electricity consumers money. For example, one study found that reducing Arkansas’s energy consumption by only 8 percent by 2020 would save consumers $1.8 billion, an average of $303 per household in that year. In Minnesota, the Department of Commerce found that the average cost of reducing electricity demand through the state’s Conservation Improvement Program is at least three times lower than building new generation from other energy sources. And studies by the Midwest Independent Service Operator (MISO) and the Illinois and Ohio Public Utility Commissions, among others, have found that increasing wind resources throughout the Midwest region will drive electricity prices down for customers.

4. America’s electric grid is ready for more clean energy

The grid is already able to handle more than 30 percent renewable generation in many places across the country. Over time, improved transmission and storage capabilities will allow for much more. Iowa, Colorado and Texas, for example, have absorbed a significant amount of new renewable energy supply in the last decade with no reliability issues. Furthermore, a recent report from the Analysis Group says that “reliability concerns are misplaced,” and that the president and EPA both acknowledge that emissions reductions from the power sector cannot jeopardize the reliable supply of electricity.

5. Other large emitters are already moving forward on climate action

Opponents of U.S. action on climate change often point to perceived inaction by other major emitters, notably China. Yet China is doing more to reduce its emissions than many realize. In 2013, China was once again the world’s No. 1 investor in renewable energy, with $54.2 billion, or 21 percent of the world’s total. And last year, China installed 12 GW of solar photovoltaic projects, 50 percent more than any country previously had installed in a single year. Other large emitters— such as Brazil and the European Union — are moving forward as well.

Many countries are waiting to see how determined the United States will be in setting reduction targets. A level of ambition that helps the United States meet its short-term climate goal (reducing emissions 17 percent below 2005 levels by 2020) and that lays out a longer-term trajectory for even deeper cuts will send a powerful signal to the rest of the world. It will show that the country is prepared to do its part in helping to avoid the worst impacts of a changing climate.

We need these rules to protect communities from climate change

In the face of increased sea level rise, dangerous heat waves and drought and costly extreme weather events, it’s clear that the impacts of climate change are already here. Significant emissions cuts are needed now to reduce the impacts we will see in the future. As the largest source of U.S. emissions, setting carbon pollution limits on power plants is a reasonable and essential step to address climate change.

With the right level of ambition, this new federal safeguard will not only curb power sector emissions. It also may spur the kind of innovation that will power America with clean energy in the 21st century.

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Wood-waste biofuel to cut greenhouse gas and transform shipping industry

Wood-waste biofuel to cut greenhouse gas and transform shipping industry | Digital Sustainability | Scoop.it
A sustainable biofuel made from Norwegian forest wood waste could help transform the shipping industry and reduce global greenhouse gas emissions. Alternative sustainable fuels are urgently needed in the marine transport sector due to stringent upcoming regulations demanding reduced sulphur and carbon content in diesels and oils from January 2015.
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Aston University (UK) scientists are involved in the ReShip Project, which will use low quality wood waste, chippings and unmerchantable wood left in forests after logging has occurred to produce new biofuels. Via the process of fast pyrolysis, where material is heated in the absence of oxygen, the wood will be converted into crude pyrolysis oil. Compared to petroleum-based oil, however, crude pyrolysis oil cannot be used for direct use in diesel engines as it is too unstable.

To counter this, the Aston team, led by Professor Tony Bridgwater, will look to stabilise freshly produced pyrolysis biofuel through mild, rapid, low temperature catalytic hydrogen treatment. In cooperation with the Paper and Fibre Research Institute in Norway they will also seek to blend the bio-oil with conventional diesel and surfactant to form a multi-component fuel.

The most promising fuels will then be engine tested to assess their quality and use for potential marine transport.

Professor Bridgwater, Director of the European Bioenergy Research Institute at Aston University, said: “This project will establish a knowledge platform for cost-effective production of all new sustainable fuels which have the potential to completely alter marine travel. All of the wood sourced will be from Norwegian forests, which represent a significant resource for bioenergy production. There is a net positive increment in biomass in Norway – it is growing faster than it is being consumed.

“We hope to pave the way for large-scale biofuel production by 2020, in a way that is completely sustainable and doesn’t impact on land usage. Aston University’s experience in fast pyrolysis and biofuel production technologies for biomass and biofuel products will contribute considerably in making that goal a reality.”

In Scandinavia, fast pyrolysis oil production is rapidly becoming commercialised. Energy company Fortum is to invest €20m in an integrate bio-oil plant, while Swedish packing firm, Billerud, received €32m from the European Commission to build a new biofuel plant based on forest residues.

The ReShip project is being led by the Paper and Fibre Research Institute in Norway, who are partnered with Aston University and the Norwegian University of Science and Technology. The £321,000 project is funded by Norwegian industry partners and the Research Council of Norway and will run until 2017.

 
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Solar Farmers in Japan to Harvest Electricity With Crops

Solar Farmers in Japan to Harvest Electricity With Crops | Digital Sustainability | Scoop.it

Japan’s campaign to boost renewable power supplies since the Fukushima nuclear disaster is producing some unlikely winners: vegetable farmers.

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Japan’s campaign to boost renewable power supplies since the Fukushima nuclear disaster is producing some unlikely winners: vegetable farmers.

Makoto Takazawa and his father Yukio earned 1.7 million yen ($16,700) last fiscal year selling electricity from solar panels that hang in a giant canopy above their farm east of Tokyo. The cash was almost nine times more than they made from the crops growing in the soil below.

Harvesting dual incomes from sunlight was a godsend to the Takazawas. They’re among the majority of Japanese farmers who depend on a combination of outside work, pension payments and government subsidies to make a living. The easing of land-use rules and mandates for utilities including Tokyo Electric (9501)Power Co. to buy clean energy at premium prices is poised to fuel the spread of panels to more farms.

“I was racking my brain to figure out what to do on this land that I’ll take over from my father one day, because growing rice and vegetables doesn’t bring in much money,” Takazawa said. “Then I heard about solar sharing for farmland.”

The government is dismantling a subsidy system that’s supported Japan’s rice production for four decades. The country is under increasing pressure from trading partners to roll back import tariffs of 778 percent for the grain, along with levies of more than 300 percent on sugar and butter.

Takazawa, 51, still works full time in machinery sales while his retired father, 78, tends the farm in Chiba prefecture most days. Sixty-eight more farms across Japan have approval to follow in their footsteps and set up solar panels, according to JA Group, the country’s biggest agricultural organization.

 
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El frenado del metro carga coches eléctricos en veinte minutos

El frenado del metro carga coches eléctricos en veinte minutos | Digital Sustainability | Scoop.it
Train2Car es el nombre de un proyecto Innpacto del Ministerio de Economía y Competitividad que arrancó en 2011 con un presupuesto total de 2,1 millones euros para dar utilidad a esa energía sobrante.
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Con cada frenada del metro de Madrid, se obtiene energía que permite la carga rápida y de momento, gratuita, de coches eléctricos. Concretamente, en la calle Doctor Esquerdo, 48. Allí se encuentra la única metrolinera de España y una de las primeras del mundo, que aprovecha la energía cinética que se pierde al decelerar y la transforma en electricidad. 

Train2Car es el nombre de un proyecto Innpacto del Ministerio de Economía y Competitividad que arrancó en 2011 con un presupuesto total de 2,1 millones euros para dar utilidad a esa energía sobrante. 

Carlos Rodríguez, director de I+D de Metro de Madrid, explica a Sinc que “el sistema es pionero en el mundo”. De hecho, solo existe un programa piloto parecido en California, y se basa en la tecnología de acumuladores que la institución adquirió en 2004 a Siemens.

La firma alemana es uno de los integrantes del consorcio, liderado por Metro de Madrid, que ha desarrollado el prototipo. “Hemos operado como subcontratista nominado en colaboración con la empresa española SICA”, indica a Sinc Ricardo Sánchez Rebollo, responsable de electrificación ferroviaria de la filial española de la multinacional.

 

Energía cinética

“El acumulador de Siemens SITRAS SES, instalado en la estación de Sainz de Baranda, en Madrid, es una pieza clave. Su función básica es el almacenamiento de energía cinética generada por los trenes durante los ciclos de frenado y la devolución de esta energía almacenada cuando el vehículo vuelve de nuevo a acelerar”, explica el portavoz de la compañía.

Lo que quiso Metro de Madrid con Train2Car –añade– es sacar fuera este concepto con una metrolinera que pudiera reutilizar esta energía eléctrica remanente en la carga de vehículos eléctricos. Para ello, ha habido que adaptar la tecnología.

“Hemos tenido que hacer modificaciones en los niveles de tensión, en el tipo de corriente, la intensidad y cuidar mucho la seguridad y la protección de los usuarios porque las condiciones eléctricas cambian dependiendo del uso”, dice Sánchez Rebollo.

 

Carga rápida

El sistema permite una carga rápida en unos veinte minutos, frente a las varias horas que se tarda en los postes de corriente alterna.

En opinión de Sánchez, lo más innovador de la metrolinera es el aprovechamiento del excedente de energía del metro “para que en lugar de perderse pueda usarse como fuente energética alternativa”.

Otros integrantes de este proyecto Innpacto han sido la Universidad Pontificia de Comillas, que se ha encargado de realizar análisis, estudios, validaciones y auditorías, y el Centro de Investigaciones Energéticas y Medioambientales (Ciemat). Esta última institución ha desarrollado equipamiento y software de análisis para estudios y emulación en laboratorio.

Según Carlos Rodríguez, la fase de pruebas de la metrolinera finalizará el próximo mes de junio. Dependiendo de los resultados, podría extenderse a otros lugares de la red de metro de Madrid donde exista otro acumulador.

Los conductores de coches eléctricos pueden usar el punto de carga gratuito en la metrolinera entre las 8 y las 21 horas en un espacio cedido por la empresa Citroën, dice el responsable de I+D.

El servicio continuará siendo gratis hasta que acabe el periodo de pruebas el mes que viene. Metro de Madrid aún no ha decidido si empezará a cobrar a partir de ese momento.

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Panasonic Targets Factory Rooftops for Solar Expansion in Japan

Panasonic Corp. is aiming to sell more solar panels specifically designed for the rooftops of factories and warehouses, a market it sees ripe with potential as Japan introduces rules that threaten to stymie the development of larger solar farms built on open land.
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Panasonic Corp. (6752) is aiming to sell more solar panels specifically designed for the rooftops of factories and warehouses, a market it sees ripe with potential as Japan introduces rules that threaten to stymie the development of larger solar farms built on open land.

Panasonic will start selling panels in June that are able to be installed more efficiently on corrugated factory roofing, Kazuhiro Yoshida, who heads the Osaka-based company’s solar division, said in an interview yesterday. The newer products are designed to more than double generation capacity by fitting more panels on a single rooftop, Yoshida said.

The Japanese electronics maker had been focusing on residential and small-size rooftops in Japan with its HIT-brand solar cells. The company is now adding a segment ranging from 50 kilowatts to 500 kilowatts in capacity, Yoshida said.

“Space is no longer left for mega-solar projects and you may encounter grid connection problems,” he said, referring to utility-scale solar projects typically of 1 megawatt or larger. “We expect middle-sized projects will expand rather than mega-solars,” he said. One megawatt equals 1,000 kilowatts.

A change announced earlier this year by Japan’s trade ministry may curb the expansion of utility-scale projects, Yoshida said. After finding hundreds of larger projects had been delayed, the ministry set a 6-month deadline for developers to secure land and equipment after getting approval, a requirement that is tougher for larger projects.

Solar Market

Japan’s solar market is expanding after the country began an incentive program for clean energy in July 2012. Japan will add 9,300 megawatts to 11,800 megawatts of capacity this year to become the second-largest solar market, according to a report by Bloomberg New Energy Finance in February.

Nonetheless, some Japanese panel makers are forecasting tougher times ahead as panel prices decline. Sharp Corp. is projecting a 5 billion yen ($49 million) loss at its solar unit for the year ending March 31, compared with a 32.4 billion yen profit a year earlier.

Kyocera Corp. this fiscal year forecasts a 9.6 percent profit drop at the business unit that includes solar products.

Panasonic said on April 28 that profit at its Eco Solutions unit is projected to fall due partly to declining panel prices in the 12 months ending March 31.

“Despite the booming Japanese market, competition among module suppliers is increasing, with Chinese suppliers offering the same product at a lower price,” said Takehiro Kawahara, an analyst with BNEF in Tokyo. “Module prices in Japan have historically been well above the global level, an unsustainable situation for a commodity product, and one which is being corrected,” he said by e-mail.

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Mercedes Announces Pricing for Its B-Class Electric Car

Mercedes Announces Pricing for Its B-Class Electric Car | Digital Sustainability | Scoop.it
Mercedes recently announced pricing for its first production-level all-electric car. The five-seat small luxury sedan, the B-Class Electric Drive, will go on sale this summer in the United States, with a starting price of $41,450—nearly an identical price to its primary competitor, the BMW i3. Together, the two cars represent the new wave of luxuryRead More
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Mercedes recently announced pricing for its first production-level all-electric car. The five-seat small luxury sedan, the B-Class Electric Drive, will go on sale this summer in the United States, with a starting price of $41,450—nearly an identical price to its primary competitor, the BMW i3.

Together, the two cars represent the new wave of luxury electric vehicles available in the U.S.—a market that has thus far been limited to the more expensive Tesla Model S.  As it happens, Tesla supplies the drivetrain and battery pack for the B-Class Electric Drive, which follows Tesla’s preference for sandwiching the battery pack between the floor of the car and the passenger space above.  The electric model is based on the conventional Mercedes B-Class, available in Europe and Canada, but coming to the United States for the first time.

The space configuration is one of the main distinctions between the B-Class and the BMW i3, which seats just four.  Another key difference is the i3’s optional range-extender, which allows that car to run on gas after its battery range is depleted.  The B-Class doesn’t offer the feature—which costs $4,000 extra on the i3.

Mercedes B-Class Electric Drive offers a range of 85 miles and can charge completely in about 3.5 hours on a 240-volt charger.

Both the B-Class and the i3 are way ahead of the pack of other small EVs in terms of performance. The B-Class nets 177 horsepower and 251 pound-feet of torque, while the i3 maxes out at 170 horsepower and 184 pound-feet of torque. By comparison, the Nissan LEAF is capable of just 107 horsepower.   The superb handling characteristics of the B-Class, and its interior fit and finish, are what you would expect from a Mercedes vehicle.

Mercedes will sell the B-Class electric in eight states to start: California, Connecticut, Maryland, New Jersey, New York, Oregon, Rhode Island and Vermont.  Sales in those states begin this summer, followed by the rest of the country sometime next year.

Thanks to the $7,500 federal tax credit for EVs, the B-Class can be had for $33,950—with residents of California and Marylandeligible for additional state credits of $2,500 and $2,000, respectively.  The B-Class also earns carpool lane access in California and New Jersey (which exempts EV buyers from paying sales tax on the purchase).

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eMotoRacing brings wheel-to-wheel electric motorcycle action to Sonoma Raceway

eMotoRacing brings wheel-to-wheel electric motorcycle action to Sonoma Raceway | Digital Sustainability | Scoop.it
Fledgling eMotoRacing series heats up in Sonoma, Eric Bostrom gets his first win.
Digital Sustainability's insight:

It's been a while since we've seen exciting wheel-to-wheel electric motorcycle road-racing action, but we're glad to say the drought has ended. It was just one simple camera attached to the Brammo Empulse R ridden by Ricky Orlando, but it captured an epic battle that played out on the asphalt of Sonoma Raceway during the fourth round of the newly-founded eMotoRacing series.

Wait, what? New e-moto racing series? Yes, let us quickly explain. Disappointed that the FIM eRoad Racing World Cup didn't include any events on this side of the Atlantic for 2014, and a desire to have a series with more rounds and a lower cost of entry, one Arthur Kowitz took it upon himself to start up eMotoRacing. Working with the American Historic Racing Motorcycle Association (AHRMA), the realtor/racer put together a 10-date calender with events all across the US at some of the country's best tracks in just a few short months. How awesome is that?

Things started off a bit slow, with only a pair of riders showing up for the first couple rounds, but participation has picked up, with five bikes at each of the most recent races. Mr. Kowitz tells us he expects the grid to soon become more crowded, with interest coming from university teams and other individuals. In fact, as he makes the return trip from California to his Florida home, he's bringing a new Brammo Empulse TTX to the South East for another competitor.

Back to this particular race, though. The annotated video begins at the very start of the contest and we can see Eric Bostrom, Shelina Moreda and Arthur Kowitz on their respective Brammos all lined up in the row ahead of Ricky Orlando's camera carrying machine. When the flag is dropped, Bostrom is off like a shot, leaving behind his electric compadres and the gas-powered bikes with which they concurrently race to battle amongst themselves. Orlando gets past Kowitz early and is soon trading places with Moreda – braided hair flapping in her helmet's slipstream – through multiple laps.

After studying the situation, Kowitz chose his moment.

Spoiler alert: if you don't want to read how it ends, skip downimmediately to the video, but come back later for the rest of the story. We don't see Bostrom again, who goes on to handily win the contest, but Kowitz makes a surprise reappearance on the last lap. It seems that early in the race he had hit a patch of clay absorbment on the track, put down to suck up some leaked oil, and gone off into the grass. He then spent the rest off the race trying to make up for the miscue, slowly making up the distance, picking off back markers along the way.

Finally, he had the Moreda-Orlando scrimmage in his sights. After studying the situation, Kowitz chose his moment and slid by Orlando on his left. Then, on a straight bit, he gathered up a sack of speedy electrons and cruised by Moreda on her right. Not one to easily give up a podium step, Miss Moreda fought back through the final series of turns but the wily veteran kept the door firmly closed.

Scroll below to experience all the action for yourself. The next eMotoRacing round is set for the June 6th weekend at Road America in Elkhart Lake, WI. You can learn more about the series at its website and get updates and see fresh photos by following them on Facebook.

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The Best Solar Cities in America

The Best Solar Cities in America | Digital Sustainability | Scoop.it

Who’s the most solar of them all? When it comes to U.S. cities, more than one can lay claim to the title, depending on how you slice it. Yesterday’s release of a report on solar cities had several municipalities proudly proclaiming their solar [...]

Digital Sustainability's insight:

The Environment Massachusetts report Shining Cities: At the Forefront of America’s Solar Energy Revolution, ranked 57 U.S. cities based on both installed capacity and per capita solar.

The findings? The top 5 cities by total installed capacity are Los Angeles, San Diego, Phoenix, San Jose, and Honolulu. Sure, those are all in sunny areas. Yet the fact that cities like Indianapolis, Portland, and Boston show up in the top 20 once again shows that policy can trump sunshine as a solar resource.

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