Technology News

How the Dutch Are Moved By Wind

(3BL Media/Justmeans) — Man’s first use of wind technology goes back some 5,000 years when wind-powered boats were first seen on the Nile. For centuries wind-driven ships plowed the waves, as some still do. In time, wind was put to work pumping water and grinding grain. The Dutch refined this technology in the 15th Century, using it to drain lakes and reclaim land that had eroded into the ocean, creating polders, where millions now live. The first wind turbine for electric generation was invented by Charles Brush, in Cleveland, Ohio in 1888.

Wind power. Transportation. Holland. In a nutshell, that’s our story for today.

The Royal Schiphol Group, the aviation company that owns and operates several major airports in the Netherlands, including the Amsterdam airport bearing its name, the 14th busiest in the world, has just made an announcement. As of January 1, 2018, all their business units will run on sustainable power.

The announcement states that the group will purchase 200GWh of electricity from Eneco Group of Rotterdam for the next 15 years. The intent is that, in time, all of the wind power will be produced in the Netherlands. Eneco, while not well known in the US, has interests in Germany as well. The company was ranked #8 in the 2017 Sustainable Brands Top 100.

Included in this agreement are Schiphol (Amsterdam), Rotterdam The Hague Airport, Eindhoven Airport and Lelystad Airport. All will receive sustainable power. Together, the airports consume around 200 GWh, which is roughly equivalent to the consumption of 60,000 households.

Renewables on the Rise: A Look at How Far We’ve Come

(3BL Media/Justmeans) — When you’re climbing a big mountain, sometimes it’s good to turn around and see how far you’ve come, even if you still have a long way to go. Certainly, the transition to a clean energy economy is a huge mountain, but the folks at the Environment New York Research & Policy Center, have given us a breathtaking look back on what has been accomplished on this climb over the past ten years. At a time when so little is getting done in Washington, and what little movement there has been, has been in the wrong direction, it’s heartening to see how much has been accomplished, primarily as the result of efforts by other actors.

The group reports in Renewables on the Rise, that “Clean energy is sweeping across America, and is poised for further dramatic growth in the years ahead. “

Here are some highlights.

  • America produced almost 8 times as much electricity from sun and wind as we did in 2007, and those two sources combined to produce 10% of the nation’s total for the first time this past March.
  • At the same time, the country is using nearly 10% less energy per capita than a decade ago. Nearly all of that decline was in fossil fuels. [in 2007, fossil fuel consumption was 85.927 quads, compared to 2016 when it was 78.569].
  • Breaking it down further, solar produced 43x more power than ten years ago, while wind produced 7x as much.
  • Energy consumption fell 14% relative to GDP, which should put to rest the idea that more energy is needed to grow the economy.
  • Electric vehicle sales surged in 2016 by 40% to 157,000 vehicles
  • Utility scale energy storage grew twenty-fold between 2007-2016.

The report also breaks down the data along several dimensions including geography. Not only did no one region of the country dominate the renewable scene, neither did political affiliation. A number of traditional “Red states,” including Oklahoma, Texas, Arizona and North Carolina played leading roles in the deployment of solar or wind technology.

Tata Helps Boost America’s Economy With More Diversity And Tech Skills

(3BL Media/Justmeans) – America’s Bureau of Labor Statistics forecasts that there will be 4.4 million jobs that will need computer science and information technology skills by 2024. This demand for technology professionals is fueled by growth in mobile solutions, cloud computing, connected devices and big data.

How Green Mountain Power Makes Grid Defection Work for Them

(3BL Media/Justmeans) — Why would a utility company encourage its customers to produce their own power with the ability to completely disconnect from the grid? The fact that one New England power company is doing just that, and doing well as a result, is a testament to just how convoluted the electricity game has become, now that rooftop solar has literally turned everything upside down.

For starters, it’s not your average utility. Vermont’s Green Mountain Power (GMP) was founded in 1997 with the mission to “use the power of consumer choice to change the way power is made.” They are “committed to sustainability every step of the way,” and offer only products with an environmental benefit and … a zero-carbon footprint.”

Green Mountain Power, the first energy utility to become a certified B-Corp, is a wholly owned subsidiary of GazMetro, a publicly traded Canadian corporation. Earlier this year, GMP was named one of Fast Company’s ten most innovative companies in the energy sector.

On their website’s home page, they advertise Tesla’s Powerwall battery.

The idea of encouraging customers to put solar on their rooftops and install Tesla Powerwall batteries, so that they can run independently, was the brainchild of Mary Powell, who became CEO in 2008. Powell was recently named one of the 25 most influential women of the Mid-Market by CEO Connection, based on her ability to influence innovation and change. She recognized that by allowing customers to produce their own power during peak daytime hours, when the sun is shining, the utility could reduce the amount of external power that they purchase from the regional transmission system, at the time when it is most expensive. The utility also has the ability to draw power from the network of residential batteries when needed. This give-and-take system, in which provider and customers essentially work together to ensure that demand is met, also saves the utility the expense of investing in large scale energy storage.

Generation Artificial Intelligence

(3BL Media/Justmeans) – The future is ever changing. The next generation, born in 2010 and through 2025, known as Generation Alpha, will be the most tech-infused demographic. But what do their Millennial parents actually think about their children (seven years-old or younger) growing up with Artificial Intelligence (AI)?

NRG Sustainability Commitments Stronger Than Ever

Guest blog by Bruno Sarda, NRG

I proudly joined NRG exactly one year ago as the new head of sustainability, knowing I was joining the power sector at a time of rapid transformation. It’s an exciting time of technology and business model innovation, but it’s also a time of uncertainty. The surest thing we know about the future of power is that it won’t look like the past.

Britain Joins the Green Wave in Swearing Off Combustion Engines

(3BL Media/Justmeans) — A surprising announcement has come out of London—to ban the sale of new gasoline and diesel-fueled cars and vans, beginning in the year 2040. The plan was announced in response to concerns about public health as the result of air pollution. Ministers claim that air pollution is the number one public health risk with costs in recent years reaching $3.5 billion annually .

The announcement is similar to the one made by France on July 6,  but different in that, while the French ban was primarily intended to address climate change, with public health as a secondary benefit, the British ban is being framed more in terms of public health. The French announcement came just one day after Volvo announced that it would stop producing gasoline or diesel cars beginning in 2019. But while Volvo plans to continue making hybrid cars, along with all-electrics, the UK ban includes hybrids as well, as does the French plan. India has proposed a similar ban.

While the ban might seem like a drastic measure, many analysts, like Stanford economist Tony Seba, whose recent report predicts the collapse of  internal combustion engine and the oil industry, said that “Banning sales of diesel and gasoline vehicles by 2040 is a bit like banning sales of horses for road transportation by 2040: there won’t be any to ban.”

Likewise, many in England felt the move would not produce results quickly enough. Some had lobbied for vehicles to be charged a fee in order to enter "clean air zones," but ministers have been reluctant to add new taxes and fees.

‘AI for Earth’ Program from Microsoft to Support Environmental Projects

(3BL Media/Justmeans) – Large technology companies are increasingly investing in AI and machine learning. According to a recent McKinsey report, in 2016, companies such as Google, Facebook and Baidu spent between $26 and $39 billion on AI research.

New Senate Energy Bill is Mostly a Fossil Fuel Giveaway

(3BL Media/Justmeans) — In the midst of all the distraction over Russia and the Healthcare bill, the Senate has introduced a new energy bill. Called the Energy and Natural Resources Act of 2017. S. 1460, it’s a bipartisan bill that was introduced by Senators Murkowski (R-AK) and Cantwell (D-WA). Could the timing be a matter of trying to slip something through unnoticed?

Lloyd’s Hackathon Challenge Inspires Collective Citizen Impact

(3BL Media/Justmeans) – Our societies need thriving young people - children and young adults who want and are able to positively shape the world around them. They need opportunities to develop as people and citizens, to create their own path and a positive personal identity to develop empathy so they can live and contribute alongside others.

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