Throughout the year, we constantly ask for more when it comes to clean energy. We'll never get tired of additional jobs, investments and policies that strengthen the cause for renewables while decreasing our reliance on fossil fuels.
However, Thanksgiving offers a time to reflect on the progress already made in 2013. Here are 10 clean energy stories to be thankful for from the Sierra Club:
1. Oklahoma Energy Customers Save Money with Wind Power
The fall of wind prices this year made it cheaper than any other source. As a result, more utilities are investing in it, bringing savings to consumers. Earlier this year, as a result of a settlement with the Sierra Club, American Electric Power announced it would add enough wind energy to power 200,000 homes in Oklahoma. AEP decided to increase its investment after seeing how wind "would provide substantial savings to our customers."
2. Colorado Doubles Down on Renewable Energy
Colorado elevated clean energy in the Rocky Mountains when Gov. John Hickenlooper signed into law new legislation that will double the state's renewable energy standard. Now, 20 percent of the state's energy will come from clean sources.
3. Solar Incentives Make Way for Big Victory in Minnesota
Minnesota is prepared to make a huge leap in clean energy by the next decade, thanks to comprehensive legislation passed the state legislature earlier this year. The state will boost its solar electricity from 13 megawatts (MW) to 450 MW by 2020—an increase of more than 1,200 percent. The legislation also provides new solar incentives to make the power more accessible. This past spring, more than 62 groups held a Day of Action at the Minnesota statehouse to urge elected officials to expand renewable energy in the state. More than 700 people turned out to the rally, including Governor Mark Dayton, the Service Employees International Union and U.S. Rep. Keith Ellison.
4. Facebook "Likes" Renewable Energy
The social network with more than 1 billion users announced this year that its Altoona, IA data center will be fully powered by wind by early 2015 when construction is complete and the center is operational. Facebook's power will come from a 138 megawatt wind farm in Wellsburg, IA to be built by MidAmerican Energy in 2014.
5. Nebraska Could be a Winner in Wind Power
The National Renewable Energy laboratory estimates that Nebraska wind could supply the state's electricity needs 120 times over. Still, the state lagged behind neighbors in wind power accessibility. After advocates applied pressure, Gov. Dave Heineman signed progressive legislation this year, with aspirations of tripling wind energy in Nebraska within just two years.
6. Solar Energy Beats Out Coal in Nevada
The Nevada state legislature passed landmark legislation to retire the Reid Gardner coal-fired power plant in Nevada, one of the state's dirtiest. The state also agreed to end the importing of coal power from Arizona and expand local clean energy development. Moapa Paiutes walked 50 miles over three days from their reservation to Las Vegas during the prior year to protest the Reid Gardner coal plant’s pollution and bring attention to the tribe’s efforts to develop solar energy.
7. So Many Solar Rooftops in California
California is known for many things, but perhaps none more than the sunshine that beams down on rooftops in the Golden State throughout the year. The state's abundant sunshine has been a boon for local, clean energy like rooftop solar. In June, California's growing solar industry reached a major milestone when it was announced the state had passed 150,000 homes and businesses with rooftop solar installations.
8. Coal Trending Down in Georgia
In one of the year's more surprising moves, environmental groups and Georgia's Tea Party teamed up to create the Green Tea Coalition. The group pushed for the Georgia Public Service Commission to approve Georgia Power's proposal to retire 20 percent of its coal plants and add 525 MW of solar power to Georgia by 2016. Georgia Power also withdrew a proposal to charge solar customers extra if they would have installed panels after Jan. 1.
9. Empire State of Mind
The Long Island Power Authority voted to invest in 100 MW of new solar power on the island, which is enough to power 20,000 homes. Just weeks later, the utility announced new plans to move forward with an additional 280 MW of renewable energy, enough to power 80,000 homes. The investment represents the single largest investment in renewable energy in New York history. New York City also got in the act this week, announcing a 10 MW project at Staten Island's Freshkills Park, which was once known as the world's largest landfill.
10. Offshore Wind Coming to Maryland
For more than three years, activists in Maryland have fought to push their elected leaders to harness the state's most abundant natural resource: offshore wind. On March 12, after years of organizing, the Maryland Offshore Wind Energy Act of 2013 reached final passage in the House of Delegates, securing the future for an offshore wind industry in Maryland that will provide clean energy for the state. The green icing on top came months later on the local level when Prince George's County Council voted to require renewable energy in all new and renovated governmental facilities.
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Wisdom the mōlī, or Laysan albatross, is the oldest wild bird known to science at the age of at least 70. She is also, as of February 1, a new mother.
<div id="dadb2" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="aa2ad8cb566c9b4b6d2df2693669f6f9"><blockquote class="twitter-tweet twitter-custom-tweet" data-twitter-tweet-id="1357796504740761602" data-partner="rebelmouse"><div style="margin:1em 0">🚨Cute baby alert! Wisdom's chick has hatched!!! 🐣😍 Wisdom, a mōlī (Laysan albatross) and world’s oldest known, ban… https://t.co/Nco050ztBA</div> — USFWS Pacific Region (@USFWS Pacific Region)<a href="https://twitter.com/USFWSPacific/statuses/1357796504740761602">1612558888.0</a></blockquote></div>
By Hui Hu
Winter is supposed to be the best season for wind power – the winds are stronger, and since air density increases as the temperature drops, more force is pushing on the blades. But winter also comes with a problem: freezing weather.
Comparing rime ice and glaze ice shows how each changes the texture of the blade. Gao, Liu and Hu, 2021, CC BY-ND
Ice buildup changes air flow around the turbine blade, which can slow it down. The top photos show ice forming after 10 minutes at different temperatures in the Wind Research Tunnel. The lower measurements show airflow separation as ice accumulates. Icing Research Tunnel of Iowa State University, CC BY-ND
While traditional investment in the ocean technology sector has been tentative, growth in Israeli maritime innovations has been exponential in the last few years, and environmental concern has come to the forefront.
theDOCK aims to innovate the Israeli maritime sector. Pexels<p>The UN hopes that new investments in ocean science and technology will help turn the tide for the oceans. As such, this year kicked off the <a href="https://www.oceandecade.org/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">United Nations Decade of Ocean Science for Sustainable Development (2021-2030)</a> to galvanize massive support for the blue economy.</p><p>According to the World Bank, the blue economy is the "sustainable use of ocean resources for economic growth, improved livelihoods, and jobs while preserving the health of ocean ecosystem," <a href="https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0160412019338255#b0245" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Science Direct</a> reported. It represents this new sector for investments and innovations that work in tandem with the oceans rather than in exploitation of them.</p><p>As recently as Aug. 2020, <a href="https://www.reutersevents.com/sustainability/esg-investors-slow-make-waves-25tn-ocean-economy" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Reuters</a> noted that ESG Investors, those looking to invest in opportunities that have a positive impact in environmental, social and governance (ESG) issues, have been interested in "blue finance" but slow to invest.</p><p>"It is a hugely under-invested economic opportunity that is crucial to the way we have to address living on one planet," Simon Dent, director of blue investments at Mirova Natural Capital, told Reuters.</p><p>Even with slow investment, the blue economy is still expected to expand at twice the rate of the mainstream economy by 2030, Reuters reported. It already contributes $2.5tn a year in economic output, the report noted.</p><p>Current, upward <a href="https://www.ecowatch.com/-innovation-blue-economy-2646147405.html" target="_self">shifts in blue economy investments are being driven by innovation</a>, a trend the UN hopes will continue globally for the benefit of all oceans and people.</p><p>In Israel, this push has successfully translated into investment in and innovation of global ports, shipping, logistics and offshore sectors. The "Startup Nation," as Israel is often called, has seen its maritime tech ecosystem grow "significantly" in recent years and expects that growth to "accelerate dramatically," <a href="https://itrade.gov.il/belgium-english/how-israel-is-becoming-a-port-of-call-for-maritime-innovation/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">iTrade</a> reported.</p><p>Driving this wave of momentum has been rising Israeli venture capital hub <a href="https://www.thedockinnovation.com/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">theDOCK</a>. Founded by Israeli Navy veterans in 2017, theDOCK works with early-stage companies in the maritime space to bring their solutions to market. The hub's pioneering efforts ignited Israel's maritime technology sector, and now, with their new fund, theDOCK is motivating these high-tech solutions to also address ESG criteria.</p><p>"While ESG has always been on theDOCK's agenda, this theme has become even more of a priority," Nir Gartzman, theDOCK's managing partner, told EcoWatch. "80 percent of the startups in our portfolio (for theDOCK's Navigator II fund) will have a primary or secondary contribution to environmental, social and governance (ESG) criteria."</p><p>In a company presentation, theDOCK called contribution to the ESG agenda a "hot discussion topic" for traditional players in the space and their boards, many of whom are looking to adopt new technologies with a positive impact on the planet. The focus is on reducing carbon emissions and protecting the environment, the presentation outlines. As such, theDOCK also explicitly screens candidate investments by ESG criteria as well.</p><p>Within the maritime space, environmental innovations could include measures like increased fuel and energy efficiency, better monitoring of potential pollution sources, improved waste and air emissions management and processing of marine debris/trash into reusable materials, theDOCK's presentation noted.</p>
theDOCK team includes (left to right) Michal Hendel-Sufa, Head of Alliances, Noa Schuman, CMO, Nir Gartzman, Co-Founder & Managing Partner, and Hannan Carmeli, Co-Founder & Managing Partner. Dudu Koren<p>theDOCK's own portfolio includes companies like Orca AI, which uses an intelligent collision avoidance system to reduce the probability of oil or fuel spills, AiDock, which eliminates the use of paper by automating the customs clearance process, and DockTech, which uses depth "crowdsourcing" data to map riverbeds in real-time and optimize cargo loading, thereby reducing trips and fuel usage while also avoiding groundings.</p><p>"Oceans are a big opportunity primarily because they are just that – big!" theDOCK's Chief Marketing Officer Noa Schuman summarized. "As such, the magnitude of their criticality to the global ecosystem, the magnitude of pollution risk and the steps needed to overcome those challenges – are all huge."</p><p>There is hope that this wave of interest and investment in environmentally-positive maritime technologies will accelerate the blue economy and ESG investing even further, in Israel and beyond.</p>
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