How a Solar Incubator Aims to Make Oakland the Industry's ‘Epicenter'
Danny Kennedy couldn't stop after seeing his own company, Sungevity, add more than 200 employees since 2009.
He has since created SfunCube, an incubator and accelerator that he believes could make Oakland, CA "the world’s epicenter for solar entrepreneurship." In a New York Times feature, the incubator's founders, inhabitants and even a California energy commissioner talk about the cluster of companies serving as California's next bundle of innovation—a green Silicon Valley of sorts.
“The whole point of the SfunCube is to bring in a whole bunch of solar companies, populate the whole square with a bunch of solar professionals and turn it into, like, a solar campus,” Kennedy told the publication. “If we succeed in our task, we’ll have thousands of solar industry workers here — they’ll want to walk to work or cycle. They’ll become the population that helps make that happen. The whole thing will be this nice, synergistic sort of lift-all-boats kind of deal.”
Kennedy Sungevity's co-founders developed the incubator with a collection of solar startups in Berkeley that included Mosaic, a crowdfunding site for the industry. Now, SfunCube includes the likes of solar customer information hubs (Sunible), panel makers (Sun Synchrony) and a data organizer for solar installers (Solar Nexus).
David Hochschild, the California energy commissioner in charge of environmental protection, told the newspaper that locating installation and financing options for solar has become as or more important than the actual energy itself. He commended offering those options and technologies at one place.
“The entire Bay Area-Silicon Valley space has actually served as a larger campus for this kind of innovation," he said. "But doing it on a single site like this is actually pretty unique.”
Kelley Kahn, Oakland's city’s economic and work force development director, added that the city wants to find ways to build on Kennedy's vision to possibly creator a new sector for its economy.
"The SfunCube presents an opportunity to help create a trillion-dollar industry with millions of workers nationally," according to its website. "The SfunCube will help reach this goal by supporting innovation, entrepreneurship, and job creation in the solar industry."
Visit EcoWatch’s RENEWABLES page for more related news on this topic.
At first glance, you wouldn't think avocados and almonds could harm bees; but a closer look at how these popular crops are produced reveals their potentially detrimental effect on pollinators.
Migratory beekeeping involves trucking millions of bees across the U.S. to pollinate different crops, including avocados and almonds. Timothy Paule II / Pexels / CC0<p>According to <a href="https://www.fromthegrapevine.com/israeli-kitchen/beekeeping-how-to-keep-bees" target="_blank">From the Grapevine</a>, American avocados also fully depend on bees' pollination to produce fruit, so farmers have turned to migratory beekeeping as well to fill the void left by wild populations.</p><p>U.S. farmers have become reliant upon the practice, but migratory beekeeping has been called exploitative and harmful to bees. <a href="https://www.cnn.com/2019/05/10/health/avocado-almond-vegan-partner/index.html" target="_blank">CNN</a> reported that commercial beekeeping may injure or kill bees and that transporting them to pollinate crops appears to negatively affect their health and lifespan. Because the honeybees are forced to gather pollen and nectar from a single, monoculture crop — the one they've been brought in to pollinate — they are deprived of their normal diet, which is more diverse and nourishing as it's comprised of a variety of pollens and nectars, Scientific American reported.</p><p>Scientific American added how getting shuttled from crop to crop and field to field across the country boomerangs the bees between feast and famine, especially once the blooms they were brought in to fertilize end.</p><p>Plus, the artificial mass influx of bees guarantees spreading viruses, mites and fungi between the insects as they collide in midair and crawl over each other in their hives, Scientific American reported. According to CNN, some researchers argue that this explains why so many bees die each winter, and even why entire hives suddenly die off in a phenomenon called colony collapse disorder.</p>
Avocado and almond crops depend on bees for proper pollination. FRANK MERIÑO / Pexels / CC0<p>Salazar and other Columbian beekeepers described "scooping up piles of dead bees" year after year since the avocado and citrus booms began, according to Phys.org. Many have opted to salvage what partial colonies survive and move away from agricultural areas.</p><p>The future of pollinators and the crops they help create is uncertain. According to the United Nations, nearly half of insect pollinators, particularly bees and butterflies, risk global extinction, Phys.org reported. Their decline already has cascading consequences for the economy and beyond. Roughly 1.4 billion jobs and three-quarters of all crops around the world depend on bees and other pollinators for free fertilization services worth billions of dollars, Phys.org noted. Losing wild and native bees could <a href="https://www.ecowatch.com/wild-bees-crop-shortage-2646849232.html" target="_self">trigger food security issues</a>.</p><p>Salazar, the beekeeper, warned Phys.org, "The bee is a bioindicator. If bees are dying, what other insects beneficial to the environment... are dying?"</p>
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