Category Archives: Sustainability in the World
Landmarks have always played a key role in a city’s economics because they draw tourists, which in most cities like Paris, Rome, and London plays a huge part in their yearly income. However, the unexpected cost of keeping these landmarks light up, running and awe-inspiring is the environmental impact. The Waste to Energy Systems team wanted to highlight those landmarks that are making the effort to stop making a negative impact and become an attraction for their green initiatives as well.
From the Huffington Post article, “The Eiffel Tower Just Became A Little More Green. Here Are 8 Other Landmarks That Did It First”.
The White House
President Jimmy Carter famously had solar panels added to the White House roof in 1979. The panels, which were intended to heat water, were removed after Ronald Reagan took office. With little fanfare, the George W. Bush administration installed the White House’s first active solar electric system in 2002. President Barack Obama installed another set of panels in 2014.
The Eiffel Tower
Two wind turbines have been successfully installed on the Eiffel Tower to offset some of the structure’s energy use, are expected to produce 10,000 kWh annually. This will offset the power used by commercial activities on the tower’s first floor. The project is part of a larger efficiency upgrade that also includes LED lighting and rooftop solar panels on a visitor pavilion.
Solar Panels were installed on the roof of the 6,300-seat Paul VI Audience Hall in the Vatican in 2008. During his papacy, Benedict XVI made calls for greater environmental protection, and his successor, Pope Francis, has acknowledged manmade climate change and lamented a “culture of waste.”
London’s Tower Bridge
In 2012, London upgraded the lights on its iconic Tower Bridge to more energy-efficient LEDs. “The spectacular view of Tower Bridge from my office in City Hall is one of my favorites in London,” London Mayor Boris Johnson said in a 2011 statement announcing the project. “It’s fantastic to now be able to crack on with this work to make it even better, brighter and greener and at no cost to the taxpayer.”
The Empire State Building
New York City’s Empire State Building underwent a significant renovation in 2009 that included retrofitting the skyscraper to be more energy efficient. It received LEED Gold certification in 2011, making it the tallest LEED-certified building in the United States. The building’s retrofit reduced energy consumption by an estimated 38 percent, and put it in the top 25 percent of the most energy-efficient U.S. office buildings.
Built in the late nineteenth century, the home of Germany’s parliament was damaged in a 1933 fire and by allied bombing during World War II. It fell into disuse after the war, but a rebuilding was completed in 1999 and it once again hosts the legislature of a unified Germany.
Along with a glass dome that lets in natural light, the building has a biofuel-powered combined heat and power system that produces about 80 percent of the building’s electricity and 90 percent of its heat. The building also has photovoltaic solar panels on the roof and low-flow water fixtures.
George Washington Bridge
In 2009, the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey finished upgrading the George Washington Bridge’s light “necklace” to energy efficient LEDs. The Port Authority estimated that the upgrade would cut 260,000 pounds of carbon dioxide emissions annually.
Sydney Opera House
The Sydney Opera House has implemented several steps to improve the facility’s sustainability, including more efficient air conditioners and lighting, along with a cooling system that uses seawater and saves millions of gallons of drinking water annually.
As the population grows, so will our need for waste management. The current situation in the US alone may be surprising to most people. Americans generate 250 million tons of garbage a year, and some reports show over 400 million tons and only about 1/10th of all solid garbage in the U.S. gets recycled. These numbers combined with agricultural waste and other industry waste leaves the U.S. with a staggering number. This data lead many companies, including Waste to Energy Systems, to develop alternative energy systems to begin chipping away at the world’s environmental issues. A recent online article discusses how gasification can play a role in turning around these issues.
From “Gasification of MSW may save Mother Earth” published on www.wastedive.com
(Above Image): Gasification can greatly reduce landfill capacities.
To keep up with the amount of trash, hundreds of municipalities request permits to expand their landfill capacities. Geologist Walter Leise recently described expansion initiatives as building a mountain of trash on top of another mountain of trash, offering a vivid description of the concept. As landfills get bigger and expansions become more controversial, do officials have a better option for the disposal of municipal solid waste?
WSI Management seems to think so. The Plant City, FL-based waste management company focuses on two objectives: the need for environmentally safe and economically sound management of municipal solid waste, and the quest for clean, renewable energy. WSI Management’s Vice President Matt Linda explained to Waste Dive that the company does not look to dispose of solid waste through plasma technology, or anaerobic digestion, or incineration. Instead, the company has mapped an “intellectual blueprint” to turn MSW into fuel cubes and bioplanks through gasification.
According to a report published by the Gasification Technologies Council (GTC), gasification combines carbon-based materials in MSW (known as feedstocks) with oxygen to break them down into a mixture of carbon monoxide and hydrogen, while removing pollutants. This process leaves clean, “synthesis gas” that can be converted into usable energy or products.
Despite common belief, the process of gasification is not the same as incineration. GTC defines incineration as using MSW as a fuel, “burning it with high volumes of air to form carbon dioxide and heat.” Gasification uses the MSW as a feedstock to create syngas, which is then turned into “higher valuable commercial products” instead of just heat and electricity.
“Instead of paying to dispose of and manage waste for years in a landfill, using it as a feedstock for gasification reduces disposal costs and landfill space, and converts those wastes to electricity and fuels,” the report states. Linda notes that the use of such gasification systems can solve disputes over landfill expansions and how to properly dispose of waste.
“Keystone Landfill in Pennsylvania is permitted for 7,200 tons [of MSW] a day. 7,200 tons a day that’s going into Mother Earth,” Linda says. “And now because of the expansion permits, the residents don’t want the permit and they’re up in arms. There’s another landfill expansion in Ontario, NY. You’ve got Saugus, MA; Suacon Township in PA … Prehistoric landfills don’t exist anymore and incineration just spews material into the atmosphere, which is not good for anyone. There are technologies out there that could fix all of these boo-boos, and WSI [technology] just happens to be one of many.”
Gasification will continue to be a growing source of responsible waste disposal for both waste management companies and municipalities to consider. “It’s good for the industry, good for taxpayers, and supports this Government’s long-term plan for a stronger economy,” said Maude.
A continuation of the Guardian’s article “Is Hillary Clinton’s ambitious solar energy goal for the US workable?”. We pick up again in the article with the second goal in the plan.
Speaking to reporters on Monday, Clinton noted that further federal investment would be needed to incentivise the sector’s push to 33%. In a fact sheet, the campaign flagged the resuscitation of tax credits and some innovation and regulatory incentives.
“That [the return of tax credits] is hardly a sure thing, given that at least one chamber of Congress will inevitably be Republican controlled during at least the first two years of any new president’s term,” said Zindler.
People in the US may care less about climate change than they do about cost
Jürgen Weiss, Brattle Group consultancy Jürgen Weiss, head of climate change at the Brattle Group consultancy, said incentives were important as the industry remained relatively tiny, with low public awareness. A large percentage of costs for installers of residential solar are wrapped up in selling the technology to a sceptical public who have relatively low electricity costs and little concern for climate change. “The big part is convincing people to sign up in the first place. People in the US may care less about climate change than they do about cost,” he said.
Although the technology, regulatory and labour costs are roughly similar, the price of installing residential solar in Germany (where high electricity costs, strong public acceptance and large government incentives have driven a huge push to solar) is around $1.50 (£1) per watt cheaper than in the US. Even if half of Clinton’s target of 140GW of solar by 2021 were to come from residential (as opposed to utility) solar panels, that equates to a cost difference of more than $100bn, mostly spent on advertising and sales.
John Reilly, an energy economist at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, said the targets would be a challenge “in terms of providing incentives to build that much”.
Weiss said: “I do think those costs will come down as the market matures and people get more informed.” The danger, he said, was providing too much tax-payer funded incentive early on. In Germany and the UK, the solar industry has come under political pressure for being too successful when subsidies were high and now suffers from accusations of being a ‘subsidy junky’.
It’s important to clear up some ambiguity in the Clinton rhetoric. From her renewables campaign video, “a 10-year goal of generating enough renewable energy to power every single home in America” does not mean every home is going to have its own clean energy supply. The residential sector uses roughly a third of the total electricity generated. So a 33% renewable goal means the country will be generating this much clean energy, but not all of it will end up in homes.
But factories and office buildings don’t vote and the promise, as my colleague Suzanne Goldenberg points out, allows Clinton to sound like she’s liberating bill payers from utilities. It is also clear that Clinton’s focus on solar (as opposed to wind) is aimed at the voting bill payer. Solar even garners support among some Republicans because of the freedom it offers from regulation and bills.
The Department of Energy has found that wind energy can affordably reach 20% of electricity generation by 2030. And, under Obama’s Clean Power Plan, the Energy Information Administration (EIA) predicts it will be the biggest contributor of new renewable capacity throughout the 2020s.
As part of her announcement, Clinton pledged to uphold the Obama administration’s heavily-opposed restrictions on the carbon emissions of power stations, which are expected to accelerate the already rapid shut-down of coal plants across the country. This capacity will mostly be taken up by cheap gas, but there will be space for renewables if they can compete.
The Presidential Campaigns are upon us and one of the first big issues is the environment and renewable energy. The Waste to Energy Systems team is proud to be a part of the environmental movement and excited that it is one of the first topics being discussed by many candidates. The one receiving the most press for her renewable energy plan is Hillary Clinton with her aim to have 33% of the U.S. energy coming from renewable sources by 2027… that’s only 12 years away with a 20% increase. Below, the main two goals of Hillary Clinton’s plans are discussed.
From the Guardian article “Is Hillary Clinton’s ambitious solar energy goal for the US workable?”
On Sunday, Hillary Clinton took a first swing at the many-headed carbon hydra. By the end of her first term, she said, the US would have seven times more solar energy capacity than it does today. And by 2027, renewable energy would supply a third of the nation’s electricity.
Clinton’s announcement, which the campaign said would be the first of many on climate change from the presidential hopeful, extends the carbon-saving ambition in a significant sector of the economy. Burning fossil fuels for electricity accounts for 31% of US greenhouse gas emissions. One estimate found Clinton’s 33% renewable target could slice another 4% off the US’s existing pledge to cut emissions by 26-28% by 2025.
Bloomberg New Energy Finance’s Americas chief, Ethan Zindler, said the ambition was high, but within reach. “It appears to be on the upper end but it’s entirely doable given the rapidly improving economics of renewables generally and solar particularly.” The momentum is already swinging towards low carbon electricity. Barack Obama’s Clean Power Plan, due for activation in August, is predicted to push the renewable sector from its current 13% share of the electricity market to 25% by 2027.
In 2015, solar photovoltaic installations are forecast to rise by 27%, according to the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA). This rise has been aided by the soon-to-expire solar investment tax credit (ITC), which the industry said Clinton will have to revive.
“Clinton’s ambitious goal for solar is only possible if solar continues its impressive trajectory. SEIA is working to extend the solar ITC and remove statewide barriers that inhibit the growth of solar,” said SEIA president and CEO, Rhone Resch.
Stay tuned for our next blog and the rest of the article.
If we stop and think about the connection between health and pollution, it raises the question “Could preventing climate change have a huge impact on global health costs?” It is a different perspective than most would take on the reason to become more environmentally friendly, but it is a sound reason to motivate the public toward a greener way of life. Waste to Energy Systems believes that switching the world over to renewable energy sources like its downdraft gasification system, bioHearth®, will create a healthier planet and population. A recent article on Scientific America discusses this question.
Every renewable energy project is just as important as the next when it comes to changing the world’s view on its energy sources. But in this blog, the Waste to Energy Systems team wanted to recognize the amazing projects that make up the Largest Renewable Energy Projects in the World.
1. World’s Largest Solar PV Plant: The giant Topaz Solar Farms in the Carrizo Plains in California claims the title for Largest Solar PV Plant in the world. It is composed of 9 million solar panels and creates 550 MW of electricity. That is enough to power 160,000 homes!
2. World’s Largest Biomass Plant: Dry Biomass-Fired Power Plant Oy Alholmens Kraft in Pietarsaari, Finland is known as the largest biomass plant in the world. The plant produces 550 MW of heat, 240 MW of electricity and 160 MW of steam.
3. World’s Largest Wave Power Plant: The world’s first and biggest wave plant is the 2.25 megawatt Aguçadoura in Portugal. Even though it does not have competition, it is still an amazing size for being the first of its kind.
4. World’s Largest Wind Farm: With an end goal of 20,000 MW by 2020, the Gansu Wind Farm in China will continue to be the World’s Largest Wind Farm as it grows. It is currently the largest with a capacity of 6,000 MW.
5. World’s Largest Landfill Gas Capture Plant: Located in Puente Hills in Whittier, California, the largest landfill also hosts the largest landfill gas capture plant. It creates on average 50 MW a year of electricity and has not yet hit its peak capabilities.
6. World’s Largest Hydroelectric Dam: China, yet again, is home to one of the largest renewable energy projects, the Three Gorges Dam. Located on the Yangtze River, it produces 22,500 MW of electricity. It measures 600ft tall by 7600ft long.
With wildfires rampaging across parts of Alaska, British Columbia and California, we have to stop and truly ask ourselves if this is a huge red flag for climate change. So far this year, 4.4 million acres in Alaska alone have burned so far this year. This season of wildfires is 6th on the list of worst burn seasons to date with it expected to increase to the 5th worst and it is only mid July! Between the Canadian and Alaskan wildfires, over 11 million acres have burned… to add perspective that is 3 times the size of Connecticut.
Some may argue that wildfires are a natural part of the ecosystem and they are. They help clear floor vegetation in forest, provide space for regeneration of new shrubbery and plants for animal habitats and aid in killing off disease that harm vegetation and wildlife.So, what is the big deal about the wildfires we are seeing today? First off, the severity and intensity of the burn is much higher than the natural, cyclical burn when the ecosystem is balanced. Higher spring and summer temperatures and earlier spring snow-melt typically cause soils to be drier for longer, increasing the likelihood of drought and a longer wildfire season, particularly in the western United States.
While severe wildfires have been observed to occur more frequently and this trend is projected to continue throughout the 21st century, it is worth noting that not every year has an equal likelihood of experiencing droughts or wildfires. Natural, cyclical weather occurrences, such as El Niño events, also affect the likelihood of wildfires by affecting levels of precipitation and moisture and lead to year-by-year variability in the potential for drought and wildfires regionally. Nonetheless, because temperatures and precipitation levels are projected to alter further over the course of this century, the overall potential for wildfires in the United States, especially the southern states, is likely to increase as well.
Taking actions to stop climate change like renewable energy technology will aid in decreasing our changes of strengthened wild fires. The environment can return to its natural cyclical process that maintains the health of the world’s forests and ecosystem.
In your every day life, you probably hear or see the word sustainable at least once a day. At the grocery store, items say they are from sustainable fishing or farming. Businesses claim to have sustainable practices. On this blog and our Facebook, we use the word often. However, does everyone truly understand the meaning behind a sustainable practice? Or is it just another trendy word to describe a product to increase sales? Understanding what lies behind this motivating ideal will help each individual make smart choices that actually further the “sustainable” movement. The following article explains these questions.
“What does sustainability mean exactly? Is it about people and culture, our environment, or jobs and money? Is it about cities or the country? Is it about you and me or is it something for other people to worry about? Sustainability is about all of these things and more. Sustainability could be defined as an ability or capacity of something to be maintained or to sustain itself. It’s about taking what we need to live now, without jeopardizing the potential for people in the future to meet their needs.
If an activity is said to be sustainable, it should be able to continue forever.
Some people say it is easy to recognize activities that are unsustainable because we know it when we see it. Think of extinction of some species of animals, often due to the activities of humans. Or salinity (salt) in our rivers due to changed land management practices. And at home, the amount of packaging you put in the bin that has to go into landfill.
Living sustainably is about living within the means of our natural systems (environment) and ensuring that our lifestyle doesn’t harm other people (society and culture). It’s a big idea to get your head around, for all of us. It’s really about thinking about where your food, clothes, energy and other products come from and deciding whether you should buy and consume these things. Increasingly our lifestyle is placing more and more pressure on natural systems. Scientists continue to investigate how human interactions with natural systems can be improved and sustained.
A good example of a sustainable practice is timber harvesting from native state forests. Native forests have many uses and values. They provide us with timber, clean water and air and we value the biodiversity they contain, their beauty and links to Aboriginal culture. Timber is harvested from the same native forests over and over again. These forests continue to provide us with timber. How? No more timber is cut than the forest can regrow.
Also, many other factors are considered before any trees are cut down, including soil type, plants and animals and cultural heritage sites. Timber harvesting in native forests is carried out so that erosion is minimized, threatened species habitat and cultural heritage sites are protected, and trees remain to provide seed so the forest can regrow naturally after harvesting.”
So there you have it. Sustainability, like most things in nature, is all about not taking more than is needed to allow the perpetual cycle of the eco-system to continue. Sustainable forest practices are particularly important to us at Waste to Energy Systems, because they allow our bioHearth® downdraft gasification system to not only provide renewable energy but sustainable fuel sources.
Excerpts taken from http://www.landlearnnsw.org.au/.
After years of a poor job economy, seeing growth in this area is a welcome change. The growth may come in an unexpected industry for some. The International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) released their annual report showing that the Renewable Energy Industry employs 7.7 million people. This is an 18% increase from last year with a total of 6.5 million jobs. The employment levels that the Renewable Energy sector is creating makes it a heavy hitter in the global job market. Solar leads the way in number of jobs but biofuels are quickly catching up. Waste to Energy Systems is proud to be part of the 822,000 jobs worldwide in biomass, proving that the industry is growing.
Where these jobs are located is an equally important aspect to consider. Through the years, there has been a growing shift toward Asian countries. This year, four of the top ten countries with largest amount of green jobs were Asian countries. China has maintained the lead for the past few years. This years they topped out at 3.4 million jobs, making up nearly half of the global green job industry. The second largest green job market may come as a surprise. Brazil beat out the U.S. with 934,000 jobs. The dominant green industry in Brazil is biofuels. They are heavy producers of ethanol and biodiesel with a growing focus on wind energy. The U.S. is the 3rd largest green job market in the world with 724,000 jobs, an increase of 16% from 2013. The largest growth occurred in the solar sector with biomass and biofuels increasing as well.
The information reported by IRENA should build confidence in our Renewable Energy future, both locally and globally. Companies like Waste to Energy Systems will continue to grow, creating more and more jobs as types of renewable technologies such as biomass downdraft gasification become a mainstay.
#renewableenergyjobs #biomassgasification #sustainablejobmarket
When researching the greenest countries, it is no surprise to come across trend setters like Switzerland, Sweden and Singapore. They are the first to implement new trends and technologies. However, the times are changing. There are some up and comers breaking into the green movement ranks according to the latest Climate Change Performance Index 2015 (CCPI).
1. Morocco- North Africa’s Morocco is one of the few emerging markets that perform highly on clean energy. The country was commended for its increasing number of solar and wind projects. Notably, Morocco is building a vast 160MW solar polar installation called Noor I, in Ouarzazate, south east of Marrakesh.
2. Cyprus- Earlier this year, Yiorgos Lakkotrypis, minister of energy, commerce, industry and tourism for Cyprus, stated that his country had, “Installed, and connected to the grid, 146.7 megawatt of wind parks, 36.5MW of photovoltaic systems and 9.7MW of biomass utilization units.”
3. Portugal- The Mediterranean country is one of the world’s leading nations for use of renewable energy. In the first quarter of 2013, 70 percent of energy consumption in Portugal was supplied by renewables, according to domestic company Redes Energéticas Nacionais. Portugal is home to Alto Minho, one of the biggest onshore wind farms in Europe, with 120 turbines and a capacity of 240 megawatts.
4. France- The country is one of Europe’s largest producers of wind energy, although its wind power installations fell by 24 percent in 2013, according to the European Wind Energy Association. France is also at the cutting edge in solar energy production. This year, French company Neoen began constructing a solar energy park near Bordeaux that will have a capacity of 300 megwatts (MW) of energy on completion.
5. Costa Rica– Costa Rica, a small country has performed remarkably well in the ‘eco living’ aspects. They have implemented strict environmental sound policies to ban any kind of sound pollution. Renewable energy sources are used for power generation. The government of Costa Rican have set a goal to become carbon neutral by 2021. Reforestation is taking place and already over 5 million trees are planted in last five years.
Excerpts for this blog were taken from cnbc.com “Are These the Greenest Countries?”