Category Archives: Environmental

News and current work being carried out that could potentially damage the environment and or planet.

Ukraine: Energy hackers share energy-saving ideas at TeslaCamp #Solar #GreenTechnologies #RenewableEnergy


 Anastasia VlasovaIryna Matviyishyn.Volunteers of Greencubator register guests at the outdoor TeslaCamp near Kyiv on Aug. 30, 2014. © Anastasia VlasovaVolunteers of Greencubator register guests at the outdoor TeslaCamp near Kyiv on Aug. 30, 2014. © Anastasia Vlasova.

On Aug. 29-30 Ukrainian energy hackers came up with new ideas of improving energy efficiency in Ukraine.  The outdoor, solar-powered hackathon, a collaborative  event attended by software developers and other specialists, called TeslaCamp, took place in Oseshchyna village, in Kyiv Oblast. It was organized by the Greencubator community, a group that promotes energy saving projects, ideas and efforts.

Progressive specialists and young innovators from the energy sector shared their diverse vision of saving and reproducing energy, simultaneously introducing new inventions that could be used in everyday life.

KhackerSpace inventors from Kharkiv fix their new device, a three-dimensional printer aggregated at $500-600.</em> © Anastasia Vlasova.KhackerSpace inventors from Kharkiv fix their new device, a three-dimensional printer aggregated at $500-600. © Anastasia Vlasova.

Roman Zinchenko, 37, a co-founder of Greencubator, is sure that any transformation is possible with human potential: “The energy corps is a very important task for our organization (Greencubator), and now we consider the aspect of energy leadership as well. In these terms our entire state policy is an idea of exposure. In order to cope with all the jumble of problems Ukraine’s got, we need new perspective leaders who can offer fresh and effective ideas.”

Besides talks about the cross-section of information technology and energy sectors, TeslaCamp attracted green innovators like Dmytro Briukov, 25.  A member of HackerSpace (Kharkiv), he demonstrated a modern self-constructed 3-D printer. “This device works due to the MDM (Mobile device management) technology but is original in the process of printing as it augments the form layer by layer instead of clipping it,” Briukov comments.

Solar panels in the technical zone of TeslaCamp, a solar-powered hackathon. © Anastasia VlasovaSolar panels in the technical zone of TeslaCamp, a solar-powered hackathon. © Anastasia Vlasova

It took him a half year to implement his idea into reality and he believes his technology is less costly and faster than other 3-D samples. Although it needs more time to become practically popular, it could be very beneficial in medicine, defense and the space industry.

Greencubator invited not only start-ups but people whose conceptions of energy efficiency have received recognition. Olesya Arhypchuk, 28, from Radekhiv (Lviv Oblast) promotes her father’s development that helps to save gas with burning off natural resources and, moreover, in such way to produce coal. “In fact, my father, Anatoliy Arhypchuk, an entrepreneur, made out the way how to profitably heat hospitals, schools, et cetera with biogas getting bio-raw staff which further can be sold. The system can be easily connected to city boilers and is definitely lucrative,” the woman says.

During the Hackathon, an event when software developers and other specialists collaborate, developers introduced a new 3-D printer.</em> © Anastasia VlasovaDuring the Hackathon, an event when software developers and other specialists collaborate, developers introduced a new 3-D printer. © Anastasia Vlasova

Another practical device being already ordered is a satellite with an interceptor that diverts mobile phone signals and distributes Wi-Fi in distant areas like mountains. Diana Dobronogova, a deputy head of IMC in commercial issues, says their development can work autonomously and has no analogues working in any conditions: “The advantage of our device is offline work which is possible even underwater, without recharging for a week,” Dobronogova says.

The inventions of the Greencubator participants may influence Ukraine’s energy system in the future. “This year is crucial for the energy system too. We have to deal with our dated methods and shift to sustainable energy solutions,” Zinchenko states.

A volunteer of Greencubator, a group that promotes energy efficiency and members of KhackerSpace examine an energy saving development.A volunteer of Greencubator, a group that promotes energy efficiency and members of KhackerSpace examine an energy saving development. © Anastasia Vlasova

(Kyiv Post staff writer Iryna Matviyishyn can be reached at ira.matviishyn@gmail.com).


Kyiv Post.

Renewable energy capacity grows at fastest ever pace #Wind #Solar #GreenTechnologies #RenewableEnergy


“Green technologies now produce 22% of world’s electricity”. 

. Wind turbines in China. Investment in renewable energy exceeded $250bn last year. Photograph: Carlos Barria/ReutersWind turbines in China. Investment in renewable energy exceeded $250bn last year. Photograph: Carlos Barria/Reuters.

Wind, solar and other renewable power capacity grew at its strongest ever pace last year and now produces 22% of the world’s electricity, the International Energy Agency said on Thursday in a new report.

More than $250bn (£150bn) was invested in “green” generating systems in 2013, although the speed of growth is expected to slacken, partly because politicians are becoming nervous about the cost of subsidies.

Maria van der Hoeven, the executive director of the IEA, said governments should hold their nerve: “Renewables are a necessary part of energy security. However, just when they are becoming a cost-competitive option in an increasing number of cases, policy and regulatory uncertainty is rising in some key markets. This stems from concerns about the costs of deploying renewables.”

She added: “Governments must distinguish more clearly between the past, present and future, as costs are falling over time. Many renewables no longer need high incentive levels. Rather, given their capital-intensive nature, renewables require a market context that assures a reasonable and predictable return for investors.”

Hydro and other green technologies could be producing 26% of the world’s electricity by 2020, the IEA said in its third annual Medium-Term Renewable Energy Market Report. They are already used as much as gas for generating electrical power, it points out.

But the total level of investment in renewables is lower now than a peak of $280bn in 2011 and is expected to average only $230bn annually to the end of the decade unless governments make increasing policy commitments to keep spending higher.

The current growth rate for installing new windfarms and solar arrays is impressive but the IEA believes it is not enough to meet climate change targets, triggering calls in Brussels from green power lobby groups for Europe to adopt tougher, binding targets.

Justin Wilkes, the deputy chief executive of the European Wind Energy Association, said: “The IEA report hits the nail on the head when it comes to ambitious national targets for 2030. Not only is a 27% target too low but it doesn’t oblige member states to follow through. Europe’s heads of state need to agree in October on a binding 30% renewables target if real progress is going to be made to improve Europe’s energy security, competitiveness and climate objectives.”

The IEA – a Paris-based agency established to ensure reliable, affordable and clean energy for its 29 member countries – says that in Brazil, Chile and South Africa onshore wind is already a preferred option over new fossil fuel plants such as coal or gas.

Onshore wind, despite being the most economic of the renewable power technologies in Britain, is still opposed by parts of the Conservative party, while offshore wind remains controversial because of its high costs.

New figures released on Thursday by the industry body Energy UK show wind provided a little over 4% of Britain’s power generation in July compared with 42% for gas, 24% nuclear and 17% for coal.


The Guardian.

Australia: City spiders grow bigger and faster than country cousins


by NICK STOCKTON
Credit: Elizabeth Lowe/University of SydneyCredit: Elizabeth Lowe/University of Sydney

Something about city life appears to be causing spiders to grow larger than their rural counterparts. And if that’s not enough to give you nightmares, these bigger urban spiders are also multiplying faster.

new study published yesterday in PLOS One shows that golden orb weaver spiders living near heavily urbanised areas in Sydney, Australia tend to be bigger, better fed, and have more babies than those living in places less touched by human hands.

The study’s authors collected 222 of the creatures from parks and bushland throughout Sydney, and correlated their sizes to features of the built and natural landscape.

They dissected each specimen back at the lab, and determined its size, health, and fecundity by measuring four attributes: the length of the spider’s longest leg segment, the ratio of that leg segment to overall body weight, the amount of fat on the spider, and its ovary size.

To measure urbanisation, the authors looked primarily at ground cover throughout the city, at several scales, where they collected each spider: Are surfaces mostly paved? Is there a lack of natural vegetation? Lawns as opposed to leaf litter?

“The landscape characteristics most associated with larger size of spiders were hard surfaces (concrete, roads etc) and lack of vegetation,” said Elizabeth Lowe, a Ph.D student studying arachnids at the University of Sydney.

The largest and smallest spiders collected for the study (5 millimetres is about the length of an adult ladybug, which an orb weaver would probably eat)Elizabeth Lowe/University of SydneyThe largest and smallest spiders collected for the study (5 millimetres is about the length of an adult ladybug, which an orb weaver would probably eat) Elizabeth Lowe/University.

Humped golden orb weavers are a common arachnid along Australia’s east coast. They get their name from their large, bulging thorax, and the gold silk they use to spin their spherical webs. They typically spend their lives in one place, constantly fixing the same web (which can be a metre in diameter). Each web is dominated by a single female, though 4 or 5 much smaller males usually hang around the edges of the web, waiting for an opportunity to mate (only occasionally does the female eat them afterwards).

Paved surfaces and lack of vegetation mean cities are typically warmer than the surrounding countryside. Orb weavers are adapted to warm weather, and tend to grow bigger in hotter temperatures. The correlation between size and urban-ness manifested at every scale. Citywide, larger spiders were found closer to the central business district. And, their immediate surroundings were more likely to be heavily paved and less shady.

More food also leads to bigger spiders, and the scientists believe that human activity attracts a smorgasbord of orb weavers’ favourite prey. Although the study wasn’t designed to determine exactly how the spiders were getting bigger, the researchers speculate that things like street lights, garbage, and fragmented clumps of plant life might attract insects. They also believe that the heat island effect might let urban spiders mate earlier in the year, and might even give them time to hatch multiple broods.

The orb weavers could also be keeping more of what they catch. Because they are such prolific hunters, orb weavers’ webs are usually home to several other species of spiders that steal food. The researchers found that these little kleptos were less common in webs surrounded by pavement and little vegetation.

Lowe says quite a few species of spider are successful in urban areas, and she wouldn’t be surprised if some of these other species were also getting bigger. Despite how terrifying this sounds, she assures us that this is actually a good thing. “They control fly and pest species’ populations and are food for birds,” she said.

This article originally appeared on Wired.com


Wired UK.

#Swansea Bay: Manmade #Tidal #lagoon could #power 155,000 homes


Tidal LagoonTidal Lagoon.

A manmade lagoon in Swansea Bay could power more than 155,000 homes using tidal power, if plans go ahead.

Swansea Bay has a tidal range of up to 10.5 metres in height. This means there’s a 10.5-metre difference between high tide and low tide — the second highest tidal range in the world. A manmade tidal lagoon can harvest energy form the ebb and flow of this tide.

Tidal Lagoon Swansea Bay.

The tidal lagoon concept is based around a standard sand-core breakwater, similar to many seen in harbour walls or coastal defence systems. In the case of Swansea Bay, it would involve building a 9.5-kilometre wall. This is embedded with hydro turbines that have been used in river hydro power schemes already and in some tidal barrages. The turbines are mounted inside concrete housings and are permanently submerged — to the onlooker it would appear to be a ring-shaped harbour wall with one section of concrete casing.

As the sea outside the breakwater rises, it is held back and a difference in water levels is created. Once this reaches a sufficient height, “sluice gates” are opened and water flows into the lagoon through the turbines to generate energy. This process than occurs in reverse when the tide ebbs away. This means that there are energy-generating opportunities four times per day.

Tidal Lagoon

This would be the world’s first man-made, energy-generating lagoon and it could, if we are to believe the developers, have an energy production capacity of 320 MW and generate 90 percent of Swansea Bay’s annual domestic electricity use for 120 years. The group says that it would also bring investment to South Wales to the value of around £500 million and jobs for 1,900 people.

The devleopers hope that the lagoon could help the UK hit its commitments to delivering 15 percent of energy from renewable sources by 2020 — currently just five percent of power is renewably sourced.

Tidal Lagoon

A planning decision is expected to be made on the lagoon in early 2015. If it gets the go ahead, it would be build and connected to the grid by 2018.


Wired UK.

Finland: Ministers call for changes to solar energy tax


The solar energy tax regime has cooled business ardour for producing solar energy. Image: Jussi Kallioinen / YleThe solar energy tax regime has cooled business ardour for producing solar energy. Image: Jussi Kallioinen / Yle

Finnish Customs say that current legislation requires small-scale producers of solar energy to pay taxes, even if the power is used only for a household’s domestic consumption.

Environment Minister Ville Niinistö has said he will raise the matter in upcoming government budget negotiations. Finance Minister Antti Rinne also says that if customs officials are right, the law will have to change.

According to an Yle report Monday, Finnish Customs’ interpretation of current legislation on solar energy means that households will have to pay taxes even if solar power is produced solely for their own consumption.

The guidance from Finnish Customs on the taxation issue has eaten into the profitability of large-scale solar panel producers as members of the business sector have switched off solar power because of the tax exposure.

The Salo-based renewable energy company Areva Solar has observed the cooling enthusiasm of businesses for solar energy as a result of the taxation issue. Last winter the company planned a solar panel farm to be situated atop a local business park in response to growing demand for power. Those plans have since been put on ice.

Environment Minister Ville Niinistö told Yle that he intends to raise the matter during budget negotiations due at the end of August.

“Solar energy is becoming increasingly profitable in small-scale production but our outdated taxation practices are making business growth impossible or at least difficult,” Niinistö remarked.

Rinne: Situation “totally absurd”

Finance Minister Antti Rinne’s view on the matter lined up with those of the Environment Minister.

“This must change. In practice it means that if the interpretation of the law in your news is accurate, then it must be changed,” Rinne said in an interview on Yle’s Aamu-tv breakfast programme.

He said that the government had discussed net metering.

“In practice this means that producers could feed power into the (electricity) grid and earn income. Taxes would then be paid only on the income earned,” he explained.

Rinne said he did not expect any opposition to the proposal in the government’s budget discussions.

Yle Uutiset | yle.fi.