Energy is spent in a number of forms but not recycled. As a result, we rely heavily on energy generation methods that often result in pollution or consumption of resources. While renewable energy is taking strong roots, London’s underground system has a new approach to harvest enough energy to power up to 104 homes! The braking energy is drawn from Victoria line trains. The energy captured can effectively power up the entire Holborn station for more than two days a week. Currently, the London Underground is testing an inverter system on a trial basis. This alone promises savings of up to 6 million pounds each year. An additional advantage of harvesting braking energy is the reduction of heat produced from the brakes, which means the stations are cooler. In fact, this leads to a saving of up to 1 MWh of cooling power per day.
It all starts with the big players when it comes to trends in the business world. So it goes with inspiring clean energy and sustainable efforts to preserve the planet. Some of the largest American companies including Walmart, Salesforce, Nike and Starbucks have committed to using clean energy that is generated from solar and wind sources. Spearheaded by a non-profit group called The Climate Group and environment data firm CDP, the group of nine Fortune 500 companies pledged to join the RE100 campaign. The Climate Group had also hosted a week-long event in New York to focus on climate change around the same time.
Back in 2008, Norway, a country far away from all things amazon, decided to support Brazil’s rainforest with a payout of $1 billion to the latter. It’s been years and the Scandinavian nation is finally paying out its final $100 million to the Brazilian authorities with much pride and joy, all thanks to Brazil’s conservationists who have more than fulfilled their end of the bargain. The country has seen a reduction of amazon destruction rate by 75%. Brazilian farmers and rangers have saved more than 33,000 square miles of land, which equals nearly 14.3 million soccer fields, from being cut down. Since we’re talking numbers, the Norway-subsidized efforts in Brazil’s portion of the amazon has led to a reduction of 3.2 billion tons of carbon dioxide emissions. This is how much America would save by ridding its streets of cars for three years!
Do you remember the 2011 Geneva Motor Show where Rolls Royce showed off a concept called 102EX that was based on the Phantom? While it did match up to the legendary car to some degree it was powered up with two 194-horsepower electric motors and a 71 kWh battery that charged them up. This made it clear that the brand wasn’t averse to trying electric-powered cars. This model for instance could range an impressive 124 miles at start-off speeds of up to 60 miles per hour in under eight seconds. We didn’t hear much more about this beauty, maybe because the brand loyalists weren’t too impressed with the idea. Then we ask ourselves, what could be the reason for the brand to not pitch the idea in again? The company’s brand boss Torsten Müller-Ötvös said, “Suppose we find a battery technology that can offer ranges that are acceptable to our customers. I can definitely imagine a fully electric Rolls-Royce.”
The Indian state of Tamil Nadu has made it mandatory for all new high-rises to include a solar generation facility. The state has categorized all buildings above 4 floors as high rises. The rule will apply to all group development projects that contain over eight dwelling units. This will cover almost 90 percent of all residential and commercial establishments in buzzing cities such as Chennai and Coimbatore. Chennai has been a leading Indian state with a number of green initiatives spearheaded by the government. Back in 2001, they made rainwater harvesting mandatory for all buildings. The state has also managed to generate wind energy at a capacity of over 8,000 MW.
Electric cars had their moment some years ago and suddenly plummeted in numbers. Luckily we have them making a comeback, and how. Los Angeles will be leading the welcoming party for electric cars by announcing the lease of 160 electric vehicles as part of a Sustainable City Plan. The move, announced by Mayor Eric Garcetti, makes Los Angeles host to the biggest fleet of city-operated electric cars in the States. The fire, police and general services departments will be graced with the presence of fully-electric as well as hybrid cars. The LAPD is landing some rather cool cars, thanks to this decision. They will be loaned a Tesla Model S P85D and a BMW i3. How cool is that?
France has just done what pretty much the whole world should. A new law has been passed by the country that makes it necessary for new buildings and establishments to develop rooftops that either have a solar panel on them or plants, whichever is easier to maintain. This simple idea could inspire the way the world looks at tackling pollution and nonrenewable energy. Plants greatly contribute by creating an isolating effect to help reduce the energy needed to heat or cool houses. Another great advantage of having a garden on your rooftop is the ability of plants to absorb water and thus avoid leaks. Germany and Australia have already taken the challenge of expanding their use of solar panels.
The Prius by Toyota has oftentimes been the butt of many jokes. The forerunner in the world of hybrids has seen a generation of hybrid cars come in, and how. Toyota were well-braced for better looking and better performing competition along the way, which is why they went on to give the Prius an overhaul it deserves. Their renewed zeal is towards delivering greater fuel economy, lesser emissions and enhanced efficiency. From the looks of it, this fourth generation Prius sure wins in the hybrid pageant category. Under the hood, the car has efficiently managed to achieve more than 40 percent thermal efficiency. The size of the components have also been worked upon to create a clutter free environment and reduce the weight. The battery seems to be a better performer.
Sydney is now host to the world’s very first building to leverage solar energy to harness heating and electricity form the same source. Thin solar PV and solar thermal technologies have been combined in an array that doubles up as a roofing solution. The Australian steel manufacturer Bluescope made this possible thanks to their alliance with Australian Renewal Energy Agency. “Today we are witnessing an exciting new technology solution moving from the lab to be prototyped on everyday Australian rooftops for the first time,” explains Ivor Frischknecht, CEO of ARENA. “The old corrugated steel roof on this house in Glebe has been completely replaced with the first integrated photovoltaic (PV) thermal system in Australia, generating reliable renewable energy for the residents. A tile roof in the Illawarra region has also been replaced with the integrated PV system, demonstrating its versatility. In addition to PV panels, an innovative thermal duct system warms and cools air to supplement air conditioning in the homes. These first installations are an important step as the technology moves towards commercialisation and cost competitiveness with conventional rooftop PV.”
There is a fear that the not-so-distant future may be waterless. This acute shortage may have inspired something in the design of the WaterDrop, a conceptual solar-powered drop. The idea has been conceptualized by Ap Verheggen. The WaterDrop employs condensation to create water out of air by leveraging sunlight, which is commonplace in most ‘warm’ regions. “If temperatures rise, the air contains more water,” Ap said. “Normally, higher temperatures also mean more sunshine. So, why not focus on harvesting water out of the air, powered only by renewable solar energy? In this way drinking water and water for agriculture become available in most dry parts of the planet.”