Lessons Learned From Eco-Cities In China.

Tianjin Eco-City Tianjin Eco-City - Solar panels in front of building.Wouldn’t it be great if we could have a do-over? China has been looking to redo by re-thinking their future cities and developing eco-cities like Tianjin Eco-city. When it’s complete some time after 2020, Tianjin Eco-city will be home to 350,000 residents where 90% of in-city travel can be accomplished by foot, bike or public transportation. Green buildings will be the norm and renewable power will supply 15% of the eco-city’s electricity needs. What’s the motivation? From the NY Times:

“Today, facing challenges like runaway urbanization, soaring energy consumption and environmental degradation, China is hoping to establish a different set of paragons. With its cities expected to swell by another 350 million residents in the next 25 years, according to World Bank estimates, the government is scurrying to find sustainable urban solutions. To that end, it hopes to have 100 model cities, 200 model counties, 1,000 model districts and 10,000 model towns by 2015.”

One interesting fact about the Tianjin Eco-city project is that when construction started in 2008, EV charging stations where never included in the plans. Maybe a good lesson that can be learned from China’s experience is to build future eco-cities that are simple and flexible. They didn’t plan for electric vehicles and now, just like every non eco-city, they have to update their infrastructure to account for them.

Check out the NYT article for more information on the goals and challenges of building an eco-city. [NY Times]

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Global Solar Capacity Now Exceeds 100 Gigawatts. Wind Farms Break Records And Want Some Lovin Too.

Record breaking solar and wind power capacity.Not too shabby. Since 2011, over 60 gigawatts (GW) of solar capacity has been installed worldwide. The last 30 GW installed in 2012 push the total solar capacity to 102 GW total. From Smart Planet:

“The preliminary results of the EPIA report shows that growth isn’t just concentrated in well-known solar regions, such as Germany. This year, there was a shift towards a more global PV market, with 13 GW of PV installations occurring outside of Europe, compared to just under 8 GW in 2011. The top three non-European markets were China with at least 3.5 GW and possibly as much as 4.5 GW, the United States with 3.2 GW and Japan with 2.5 GW.”

And not to be forgotten, wind farms added 44.7 GW of capacity in 2012 – beating the industry’s single year record, set in 2011, by 10%. Great to know 2012 was win win for renewable energy and not the end of the world. [Smart Planet and Smart Planet]

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Growing Solar Power Industry Leads To An Increase In Hazardous Waste.

Solar Panel FarmShould you go solar or not? If you read through the AP story, “Solar power boom fuels increase in hazardous waste sent to dumps,” it’s hard to tell which way to go. Here’s an excerpt:

“While solar is a far less polluting energy source than coal or natural gas, many panel makers are nevertheless grappling with a hazardous waste problem. Fueled partly by billions in government incentives, the industry is creating millions of solar panels each year and, in the process, millions of pounds of polluted sludge and contaminated water.”

Translation: renewable solar power is far less polluting than coal and natural gas but thanks to $$$ in government incentives, demand and production are up and so is the associated pollution.

In related news, Scientists in Brazil have determined that “if a frog had wings, he wouldn’t bump his ass when he’s hopping.” [Grist and Newser]

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Climate Inaction Is Like A Global Ponzi Scheme That Is Paid Into By Future Generations.

Before and After: Tar sands extraction

Uncle Charlie (Ponzi) would be so proud.

There’s a great article, “Global Ponzi Scheme Revisited: How Climate Inaction Betrays Our Children And Future Generations,” by Joe Romm on ThinkProgress. From the article:

“Fundamentally, homo ‘sapiens’ sapiens has constructed the grandest of Ponzi schemes, whereby current generations have figured out how to live off the wealth of future generations. We are all in essence Bernie Madoffs (many wittingly, most not) or at least his most credulous clients.”

It’s an update to an article Mr. Romm wrote in 2009 and the comparison is still spot on. Another powerful quote from the article:

“Madoff is reviled as a monster for targeting charities. We are targeting our own children and grandchildren and on and on. What does that make us?”

[Think Progress]

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Drink Coaster’ish Epiphany onE Puck Charges Your Mobile Phone With Hot And Cold Drinks.

Epiphany onE Puck mobile phone charger.The Epiphany onE Puck from Epiphany Labs uses a small Stirling engine to recharge any USB device drawing 1000 mA or less (iPods, iPhones and Android devices). Stirling engines have been around for almost 200 years and they quietly work exhaust-free by turning heat differences into energy.

Here’s the Epiphany onE Puck video:

Seems pretty simple – place a warm drink on the red side or a cold drink on the blue side to charge your mobile device. Epiphany Labs is on Kickstarter where a $115 pledge will get you a Epiphany onE Puck, t-shirt and window sticker. It’s not mentioned on their Kickstarter page but I assume the Epiphany onE Puck will also charge your mobile device if you defrost an item or let a pan cool on it. There’s no mention of an internal battery.

Would I buy an Epiphany onE Puck? No. In a pinch, a $25 solar or hand-cranked charger would be more practical. Being on the road and having to purchase a cold/warm drink in order to charge my phone seems a little backwards. I might as well bring my phone’s USB cable and adapter to get a quick charge everywhere rather than paying for several beverages to get a partial charge. [Gizmag]

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Siemens Builds World’s Largest Offshore Wind Turbines And DONG Will Operate The Wind Farm.

World's Largest Wind Turbine - SiemensSiemens is building the massive 6-megawatt wind turbines and DONG Energy will manage the project off the Yorkshire coast. DONG’s long term plan is to install 300 of the Siemen’s wind turbines around the UK. It’s great to see DONG and Siemens working so well together. [e360]

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