A year ago, no one living in Môle-Saint-Nicolas, Haiti, had electricity. By the spring of 2016, the town had a brand new grid, and it will soon run completely on solar and wind energy.
“In six months, we built from scratch the entire electrical grid of a town of 5,000 people,” says Andy Bindea, founder and president of Sigora International.
By the end of 2017, the company plans to get electricity to 300,000 people in throughout Haiti. By the end of 2018, they hope to reach a million people. It’s a massive task: As the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere, roughly 75% of Haiti’s population is off the grid now. For those who do have power, it often only works two to six hours a day.
Learn more (via FastCompany) >>
There are moments when, suddenly, big change looks much more possible than previously imagined.
For advocates of renewable energy, one of those moments came two years ago when executives from a few major corporations met with officials from a half-dozen utilities. It was the first meeting organized by the Renewable Energy Buyers Alliance (REBA).
REBA — a collaboration between the Rocky Mountain Institute’s Business Renewables Center, Business for Social Responsibility’s Future of Internet Power intiative, the World Resources Institute’s Charge Initiative and WWF’s Corporate Renewable Energy Buyers’ Principles, which is also supported by WRI — had already made it easier for corporations to buy renewable power through creating a methodology for power purchase agreements with energy producers.
Now, it’s making it easier for companies to deal directly with utilities to get that power. As a result, 13 utilities operating in 10 states now offer green tariffs for procuring renewable power.
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Kite Power Systems, the company developing innovative kite-powered energy generation technology in Scotland, has secured its latest round of investment funding, a £2 million equity investment from the Scottish Investment Bank.
Kite Power Systems is a Scotland-based British company developing kite power technology that uses kites deployed in deep water locations to generate electricity.
The company consolidated its work in Scotland earlier this year, moving from a previous home-base in Essex, England. The move was made in part following the announcement that the company would establish a research and test facility on a Military of Defence range near Stranraer, and a £5 million investment round from E.ON, Schlumberger, and Shell Technology Ventures (STV) in December of last year.
The new round of financing announced this week — a £2 million equity investment from the Scottish Investment Bank (SIB), the investment arm of Scottish Enterprise — will help the company further work on its kite power system, which is made up of two kites which fly up to an altitude of 1500 feet, and which generate electricity through a winch system.
Learn more (via Clean Technica) >>
Germany is set to introduce the world’s first zero-emission passenger train to be powered by hydrogen.
The Coradia iLint only emits excess steam into the atmosphere, and provides an alternative to the country’s 4,000 diesel trains.
Lower Saxony has already ordered 14 of them from French company Alstom, and more are likely to be seen around the country if they are judged a success, reports Die Welt.
Testing is set to be carried out by the end of the year, before it opens up to the public in December 2017.
The train was first presented at Berlin’s InnoTrans trade show in August, and it is set to be the first hydrogen-powered train to regularly ferry people over long distances.
The Netherlands, Denmark and Norway have expressed interest.
Learn more (INDEPENDENT) >>
If you live in Detroit and make only $10,000 a year, you still might be able to buy a newly constructed house. On two vacant blocks in the city’s northwest side, a new neighborhood of tiny houses was designed to help people living in poverty become homeowners.
Through a rent-to-own program, residents will pay $1 per square foot in rent each month. For a 250-square-foot house, for example, rent is $250, when a similar home in Detroit might normally cost twice as much. After a maximum of seven years, the house can be fully paid off.
Learn more (via FastCompany) >>
Electric bus upstart Proterra shifted into a higher gear Tuesday with another substantial funding round: a $55 million infusion led by Al Gore’s Generation Investment Management and the corporate venture arm of German automaker BMW.
The new backing is intended, at least in part, to fuel Proterra’s investments in additional manufacturing capacity at its plants in Los Angeles and Greenville, South Carolina, said Toby Kraus, vice president of finance and strategy for the 13-year-old company.
Proterra previously raked in about $290 million, including a $140 million round disclosed in January. So far, the company has delivered about 100 electric buses to nearly 40 public transit agencies in locations ranging from big cities such as Seattle to smaller communities in Florida, Tennessee and South Carolina. As of early June, it was sitting on orders for 300 more of them.
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Before his abrupt death a year ago, the pop musician Prince made an investment in green energy that’s now helping solar start-ups weather an assault from President Donald Trump.
It started with a conversation in 2011 between Prince and his friend Van Jones, a CNN commentator and California human rights agitator and onetime green-jobs adviser to President Barack Obama.
“He asked, ‘If I have a quarter-million dollars, what can I do with it?’” Jones recalled in an interview. “My wife said he should put solar panels all over Oakland.”
That led to the creation of Powerhouse, a rare for-profit incubator dedicated to putting clean-tech entrepreneurs together with investors. The company has helped 43 start-ups get on their feet in an era when venture capital funding for renewables has plunged and Trump is working to slash funds for early-stage entities from the U.S. Department of Energy.
Learn more (via Bloomberg) >>
Saving the planet might sound like reason enough to change our ways. But the circular economy is as much about creating value, profits and jobs.
For instance, a circular economy could bring estimated net savings of €600bn (£523bn) to European companies. In Finland alone circular solutions could provide €2bn-3bn (£1.7bn-2.6bn) added value annually.
Finland is at the forefront of the shift to a circular economy. Leaders and experts from 90 countries meeting at the World Circular Economy Forum in Helsinki this week.
Learn more (via The Guardian) >>
The global electric vehicle (EV) revolution reached another milestone last month as EVs made up 37 percent share of Norway’s car market.
In December, the country hit 100,000 zero-emission EVs on the road, projected to quadruple to 400,000 by 2020. These numbers are especially remarkable for a country of only 5.2 million people. Over five percent of all of Norway’s cars are EVs, up from one percent two years ago.
Norway’s transportation minister says it is “realistic” that sales of new fuel-burning cars could end by 2025. EVs may win on straight economics then, but the country — and others — have been considering outright bans.
Learn more (via ThinkProgress) >>
For the environmentally conscious eater, they are among the most inconvenient truths: Too much food goes to waste. Too much packaging comes with the food. And too much of the packaging is made to last for ages.
Now there may be a single answer to all three problems: using excess food to make the packaging.
A growing number of entrepreneurs and researchers are working to turn foods like mushrooms, kelp, milk and tomato peels into edible — if not always palatable — replacements for plastics, coatings and other packaging materials.
Learn more (via The New York Times) >>