Bloomberg: Flying Wind Turbines Make Their First Trip Offshore in Norway

Shell’s kite wind project deployed in the North Sea. Source: Makani Power Inc.

A carbon-fiber kite tethered to a buoy floating in waters 220 meters (761 feet) deep took flight in a test to prove that the future of offshore wind power might fly through the air.

The kite, owned by the Alphabet Inc.-subsidiary Makani and backed by Royal Dutch Shell Plc, completed its first demonstration about 10 kilometers (6.2 miles) off the coast of Norway in the North Sea. Continue reading “Bloomberg: Flying Wind Turbines Make Their First Trip Offshore in Norway”

New US Legislation will Extend Tax Credits for Bioenergy Investments

New legislation was introduced on 13 August to extend tax credits for investments in qualified renewable energy production.

The bill, named the Renewable Electricity Tax Credit Equalisation Act, was introduced by US Representatives Elise Stefanik and Scott Peters and covers investments in renewable energy production including closed-loop biomass, open-loop biomass, municipal solid waste, geothermal, qualified hydropower and marine and hydrokinetic. Continue reading “New US Legislation will Extend Tax Credits for Bioenergy Investments”

Forestry Sector Cultivates Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) Action Plan

Image: Shutterstock

With scrutiny around corporate strategies related to deforestation intensifying, a select group of companies representing the forestry sector have published the latest in a series of industry-specific guides meant to help meaningful corporate action take root.

The Forest Sector Roadmap, launched in mid-July during a gathering in New York, is the latest in a series of publications coordinated by the World Business Council for Sustainable Development and intended to help companies map their sustainability agendas to the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). The goals are to be met by 2030, and policymakers all over the world are working to meet that deadline with the support of private-sector partners. The forestry roadmap, meant to accelerate corporate action among pulp and paper companies primarily, was the result of a year and a half of collaboration between WBCSD member companies, NGOS and other stakeholders.

Francisco Ruiz-Tagle, CEO of multinational forestry company CMPC, and one of the 11 paper and forestry companies that make up the WBCSD’s Forest Solutions Group, believes that companies like his, especially within the forest sector, can be powerful allies to policymakers in meeting the SDGs — when they choose to take action. Continue reading “Forestry Sector Cultivates Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) Action Plan”

Saudi group to invest $1bn in UK renewable energy sector

Saudi Arabia’s Alfanar Group has announced plans to open a renewable energy investment vehicle in London to push ahead with a $1 billion programme to develop six waste-to-energy plants in the UK.

UK renewable energy

The Saudi conglomerate announced the establishment of its UK-based energy venture Alfanar Energy UK during a visit from Graham Stuart, Britain’s Minister for Investment to the Saudi capital Riyadh.

“Alfanar has been working in the UK market since 2006, and today’s announcement demonstrates their confidence in the UK economy and our world-leading renewable energy sector,” Stuart said during a press event in Riyadh. “Their investment will create new jobs and help support the government’s ambition to hit ‘net zero’ greenhouse gas emissions by 2050.” Continue reading “Saudi group to invest $1bn in UK renewable energy sector”

Renewable energy is good money, not just good for the earth

Climate change has been framed as an ethical issue for years now, with mixed success. But now the calls for socially responsible investing to save the planet are increasingly being reinforced by cold economic logic.

Mainstream institutional investors are recognising that climate change is not just a threat to the health of the planet, but also a threat to the wealth of their clients.

The oil industry is on the front lines of rising investor fears about the long-term returns of fossil fuel energy sources. That is partly because of bitter experience. The European utility sector has seen hundreds of billions of euros wiped off its market capitalisation by the roll out of wind and solar power in the past decade.

The reason why wind and solar energy pose such a threat to the energy system established over the past 100 years is simple: they have a short-run marginal cost of zero. Continue reading “Renewable energy is good money, not just good for the earth”

Amazon heats up renewable energy efforts

Amazon will open a new solar farm in the U.S. and a new wind farm in the E.U.

The e-tail giant is investing in its 65th and 66th renewable energy projects. Amazon’s newest renewable energy project in the U.S. will be located in Pittsylvania County, Virginia, and will be the seventh Amazon solar farm in the state. Once complete, the new Amazon solar farm will provide 45 megawatts (MW) of renewable capacity and is expected to generate 100,000 megawatt hours (MWh) of clean energy annually.

Meanwhile, Amazon’s newest renewable energy project in the EU will be located in Cork, Ireland, and will be the second Amazon wind farm in the Republic of Ireland. The new Amazon wind farm will provide 23.2 megawatts (MW) of renewable capacity, with expected generation of 68,000 megawatt hours (MWh) of clean energy annually.

Both projects are expected to begin producing clean energy in 2020 and will supply clean energy to the company’s Amazon Web Services (AWS) datacenters, which power Amazon and millions of AWS customers globally. Continue reading “Amazon heats up renewable energy efforts”

China’s Voracious Appetite for Timber Stokes Fury in Russia and Beyond

After sharply restricting logging in its own forests, China turned to imports, overwhelming even a country with abundant resources: Russia.

From the Altai Mountains to the Pacific Coast, logging is ravaging Russia’s vast forests, leaving behind swathes of scarred earth studded with dying stumps.

The culprit, to many Russians, is clear: China.

Since China began restricting commercial logging in its own natural forests two decades ago, it has increasingly turned to Russia, importing huge amounts of wood in 2017 to satisfy the voracious appetite of its construction companies and furniture manufacturers.

“In Siberia, people understand they need the forests to survive,” said Eugene Simonov, an environmentalist who has studied the impact of commercial logging in Russia’s Far East. “And they know their forests are now being stolen.”

Russia has been a witting collaborator, too, selling Chinese companies logging rights at low cost and, critics say, turning a blind eye to logging beyond what is legally allowed.

Chinese demand is also stripping forests elsewhere — from Peru to Papua New Guinea, Mozambique to Myanmar. Continue reading “China’s Voracious Appetite for Timber Stokes Fury in Russia and Beyond”

Tree planting ‘has mind-blowing potential’ to tackle climate crisis

Research shows a trillion trees could be planted to capture huge amount of carbon dioxide.

Planting billions of trees across the world is by far the biggest and cheapest way to tackle the climate crisis, according to scientists, who have made the first calculation of how many more trees could be planted without encroaching on crop land or urban areas.

As trees grow, they absorb and store the carbon dioxide emissions that are driving global heating. New research estimates that a worldwide planting programme could remove two-thirds of all the emissions that have been pumped into the atmosphere by human activities, a figure the scientists describe as “mind-blowing”.

The analysis found there are 1.7bn hectares of treeless land on which 1.2tn native tree saplings would naturally grow. That area is about 11% of all land and equivalent to the size of the US and China combined. Tropical areas could have 100% tree cover, while others would be more sparsely covered, meaning that on average about half the area would be under tree canopy. Continue reading “Tree planting ‘has mind-blowing potential’ to tackle climate crisis”

Why Is U.S. Demand For Solar Panels Booming?

Solar modules prices in the United States have reversed in recent months the trend of steady declines of the past few years, as many U.S. solar companies are hoarding panels to take advantage of the full solar subsidy that is set to step down beginning next year.

Due to high demand, the price of solar modules has recently increased by 10 percent from earlier this year, Reuters’ Nichola Groom writes, citing data from energy consultancy Wood Mackenzie.

Although actual installations and in-service dates could be years away, solar power developers have been stockpiling panels in order to take advantage of the 30-percent solar Investment Tax Credit (ITC) in the United States, which, under current legislation, is set to step down to 26 percent in 2020, to 22 percent in 2021, and to drop to a permanent 10-percent beginning in January 2022.

Developers who begin construction or spend at least 5 percent of a project’s capital expenditure this year are eligible to get the 30-percent tax credit regardless of when their solar power plants actually start producing electricity. Continue reading “Why Is U.S. Demand For Solar Panels Booming?”

Canadian cities take wooden skyscrapers to new heights

Lighter and more efficient to use than other structural materials, engineered wood carries much less of an environmental footprint than concrete, which produces up to 8% of the world’s emissions.

British Columbia is no stranger to wooden giants. Along its western coast, Douglas fir and Sitka spruce trees topping 60 meters in height have in some cases weathered nearly a millennium of storms.

Now a growing chorus of architects, foresters and engineers want the province’s biggest city to grow another cluster of wooden giants: timber skyscrapers.

Already, Vancouver’s 18-storey Brock Commons tower stands as a testament to the vast possibilities of wood. Once the world’s tallest timber building, it was built cheaper, faster and with less environmental impact than a comparable steel and concrete structure would have been – offsetting an estimated 2,432 metric tonnes of carbon. Continue reading “Canadian cities take wooden skyscrapers to new heights”