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8 Businesses Granted $12 Million to Help 150 Million Americans Go Solar
Eight companies, universities and nonprofits have been challenged—and awarded grants—to make it easier for nearly 150 million Americans to go solar.
The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) announced $12 million in grants today to the organizations as part of the second round of the Rooftop Solar Challenge. The recipients are: Broward County in Florida, California Center for Sustainable Energy, City University of New York, Clean Energy States Alliance, Iowa Economic Development Authority, Mid-America Regional Council (MARC), Optony Inc. and the Washington State Department of Commerce.
The Rooftop Solar Challenge, in its second year, aims to "reduce the cost of rooftop solar energy systems through improved permitting, financing, zoning, net metering, and interconnection processes for residential and small commercial photovoltaic (PV) installations," according to the DOE. Each awardee has proven the ability to cut the red tape in getting more commercial and residential solar systems in their region. Now, the challenge is for each winner to help eight "teams" across the country that have the potential for greater solar expansion.
“Today, solar modules cost about one percent of what they did 35 years ago, and permitting and interconnection are an increasingly large portion of overall solar system costs," DOE secretary Ernest Moniz said. "Through the Rooftop Solar Challenge, the Energy Department is helping to make the deployment of solar power in communities across the country faster, easier and cheaper–saving money and time for local governments, homeowners and businesses.”
The eight teams announced today will help further expand the reach of innovative strategies that are making it easier, faster and cheaper for more homeowners and businesses to finance and install solar systems, according to the DOE. These awardees will develop and replicate creative solutions that help standardize complicated permitting and interconnection processes that often vary from jurisdiction to jurisdiction; facilitate easy, cheaper bulk purchasing; and support user-friendly, fast online applications.
Here are three of the eight grant awardees that can impact the most people, according to the DOE:
- Population Impact: 60 million
- Amount: $1,199,598
- Location: California, Nevada, Utah, Idaho, Colorado, Hawaii, Texas, Florida, Iowa, Missouri, Washington, D.C., Virginia, Maryland, Delaware, Pennsylvania and New York
- Partners: Solar Electric Power Association, Strategic Energy Innovations, US Photovoltaic Manufacturers Consortium, Rocky Mountain Institute, Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments, Northern Virginia Regional Commission and Central New York Regional Planning and Development Board
- Highlights: The American Solar Transformation Initiative will use an innovative online Solar Roadmap platform and hands-on engagement to assist more than 400 jurisdictions where solar potential is abundant, but resources and information are scarce. The project will improve permitting processes, establish solar friendly planning and zoning guidelines, streamline the interconnection process, expand financing options, and ultimately develop strong solar markets across the country.
California Center for Sustainable Energy
- Population Impact: 37 million
- Amount: $1,299,522
- Location: California
- Partners: California Governor's Office of Planning and Research, Energy Policy Initiatives Center at University of San Diego, Contra Costa Economic Development Authority, Optony, Energy Solutions, Southern California Regional Energy Network and local jurisdictions
- Highlights: The Golden State Solar Impact project will transform California's solar market by making permitting and interconnection processes more uniform, rapid and transparent across the state. The project will implement a standardized permitting process and develop tools such as a statewide interconnection and data portal to dramatically reduce soft costs in California.
Clean Energy States Alliance
- Population Impact: 13 million
- Amount: $1,500,000
- Location: New Hampshire, Massachusetts, Connecticut and Vermont
- Partners: Clean Energy Finance and Investment Authority (CEFIA), Massachusetts Department of Energy Resources (MA-DOER), New Hampshire Office of Energy and Planning (NH-OEP), Rhode Island Office of Energy Resources (RI-OER), Vermont Public Service Department (VT-PSD), and local jurisdictions
- Highlights: The New England Solar Cost-Reduction Partnership will build a thriving regional solar market by: increasing coordination across Connecticut, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, and Vermont; refining and deploying innovations developed in Connecticut and Massachusetts during Rooftop Solar Challenge I; and more widely implementing best practices across the region, including online permitting and group purchasing programs.
The DOE awarded the representatives of 22 regional teams during the first round of the Challenge in 2012 to reduce the soft costs of solar installation. The agency said those efforts helped cut permitting time by 40 percent while reducing fees by more than 10 percent making it faster and easier for more than 47 million Americans to install solar systems. The representatives created group purchasing programs to drive down costs and streamlined the permit process by instituting online systems in communities that lacked them.
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Farms with just one or a handful of different crops encourage fewer species of pollinating and pest-controlling insects to linger, ultimately winnowing away crop yields, according to a new study.
Up to half of the detrimental impacts of the "landscape simplification" that monocropping entails come as a result of a diminished mix of ecosystem service-providing insects, a team of scientists reported Oct. 16 in the journal Science Advances.
Monocrop palm oil plantation Honduras.
SHARE Foundation / Flickr / CC BY-NC 2.0
"Our study shows that biodiversity is essential to ensure the provision of ecosystem services and to maintain a high and stable agricultural production," Matteo Dainese, the study's lead author and a biologist at Eurac Research in Bolzano, Italy, said in a statement.
It stands to reason that, with declines in the sheer numbers of insects that ferry pollen from plant to plant and keep crop-eating pests under control, these services will wane as well. But until now, it hasn't been clear how monocultures affect the number and mix of these species or how crop yields might change as a result.
Aiming to solve these questions, Dainese and his colleagues pulled together data from 89 studies cutting across a variety of landscapes, from the tropics of Asia and Africa to the higher latitudes of northern Europe. They tabulated the number of pollinating and pest-controlling insects at these sites — both the absolute number of individuals and the number of species — along with an assessment of the ecosystem services the insects provided.
In almost all of the studies they looked at, the team found that a more diverse pool of these species translated into more pollination and greater pest control. They also showed that simplified landscapes supported fewer species of service-providing insects, which ultimately led to lower crop yields.
The researchers also looked at a third measure of the makeup of insect populations — what they called "evenness." In natural ecosystems, a handful of dominant species with many more individuals typically live alongside a higher number of rarer species. The team found as landscapes became less diverse, dominant species numbers dwindled and rare species gained ground. This resulting, more equitable mix led to less pollination (though it didn't end up affecting pest control).
"Our study provides strong empirical support for the potential benefits of new pathways to sustainable agriculture that aim to reconcile the protection of biodiversity and the production of food for increasing human populations," Ingolf Steffan-Dewenter, one of the study's authors and an animal ecologist at the University of Würzburg in Germany, said in the statement.
The scientists figure that the richness of pollinator species explains around a third of the harmful impacts of less diverse landscapes, while the richness of pest-controlling species accounts for about half of the same measure. In their view, the results of their research point to the need to protect biodiversity on and around crops in an uncertain future.
"Under future conditions with ongoing global change and more frequent extreme climate events, the value of farmland biodiversity ensuring resilience against environmental disturbances will become even more important," Steffan-Dewenter said.
Reposted with permission from our media associate Mongabay.
Ivory Coast's rainforests have been decimated by cocoa production and what is left is put in peril by a new law that will remove legal protections for thousands of square miles of forests, according to The Guardian.
By Karin Kirk
Greenland had quite the summer. It rose from peaceful obscurity to global headliner as ice melted so swiftly and massively that many were left grasping for adjectives. Then, Greenland's profile was further boosted, albeit not to its delight, when President Trump expressed interest in buying it, only to be summarily dismissed by the Danish prime minister.
During that time I happened to be in East Greenland, both as an observer of the stark effects of climate change and as a witness to local dialogue about presidential real estate aspirations, polar bear migrations and Greenland's sudden emergence as a trending topic.
Heavy metals that may damage a developing brain are present in 95 percent of baby foods on the market. Cirou Frederic / PhotoAlto Agency RF Collections / Getty Images
Heavy metals that may damage a developing brain are present in 95 percent of baby foods on the market, according to new research from the advocacy organization Healthy Babies Bright Futures (HBBF), which bills itself as an alliance of scientists, nonprofit organizations and donors trying to reduce exposures to neurotoxic chemicals during the first three years of development.
By Kerstin Palme
Creepy-crawlies are among the oldest life forms on this planet. Before dinosaurs ever walked the earth, insects were certainly already there. Some estimates date their origins to 400 million years ago. They're also extremely successful. Of the 7 to 8 million species documented on Earth, around three quarters are likely bugs.
But several insect species could disappear for good in the next few decades and that would have serious consequences for humans.
Volvo introduced its first-ever all-electric vehicle this week, kicking off an ambitious plan to slash emissions and phase out solely gas-powered vehicles starting this year.
The report, released Wednesday, found that almost every European who lives in a city is exposed to unhealthy air, Reuters reported.