LINKS OF THE WEEK: April 10-16, 2023

Electric school buses, carbon negative fashion, turning face masks into ethernet cables, ambitious new G7 targets for solar and wind, and China's "artificial sun" is in the news again!

LINKS OF THE WEEK: April 10-16, 2023
Photo by Jeff Meigs on Unsplash

ELECTRIFYING SCHOOL BUSES: Most US school buses run on diesel and emit 3.3 pounds of carbon dioxide equivalent (CO2e) per mile, which is more than double than a bus powered on the average U.S. electric grid. But companies such as Blue Bird have started making electric school buses and predict that electric buses will be the “primary choice of the industry by 2029.”

G7 MINISTERS SET AMBITIOUS NEW TARGETS FOR SOLAR AND WIND: I know, I know, never believe government officials when they set climate goals – especially when they have such a lousy track record of failing to achieve those goals. And yet I can't help but take just a wee bit of hope from the G7’s recent announcement re: commitments to wind and solar and the fact that they moved their "zero plastic pollution" date forward 10 years to 2040. It’s not often they collectively say, “Yeah, we can get that done faster.”

SHEEP INC: THE FIRST CARBON-NEGATIVE FASHION BRAND? – I appreciated this BBC article on a "regenerative wool" company that sources its merino wool from New Zealand's first carbon negative farm and uses solar-powered knitting machines to keep its carbon footprint as low as possible. I especially love that customers can return items to the company for mending and repair. Sustainability for the win!

TURNING FACE MASKS INTO ETHERNET CABLESResearchers at a university in Wales have come up with an environmentally friendly way to convert the carbon in discarded face masks into high-quality single-walled carbon nanotubes (CNT) that can be used to make broadband-quality Ethernet cable. I love seeing these efforts to eliminate waste and accelerate our transition to a circular economy.

YES! GIVE CROWN LANDS BACK TO FIRST NATIONS PEOPLE – Seems like the least we can do, given that colonists wiped out the large majority of Indigenous peoples back in the 1860s and have continued to actively terrorize their descendants in the decades that followed, right up to present day. True community requires real reconciliation.

USING AQUIFERS AS THERMAL BATTERIES  – This Wired article explores the possibility of using aquifers to store thermal energy storage and use the groundwater to heat and cool buildings. Sounds interesting – my big question is, would that water still be potable?

WHY CZECHS SHUT DOWN THEIR SOLAR PLANTS ON EASTER WEEKEND – The Czech Republic had to shut down its solar plants over Easter Weekend because they generated so much power the country's grid couldn't handle the surge. A perfect illustration of why we're seeing so many articles about advancements in energy storage systems these days...

BRICKS FOR THE WIN? – Speaking of energy storage, here's the MIT Technology Review talking about the thermal energy storage technology I posted about a couple of weeks ago. The article calls ceramic bricks the “hottest new technology” in heat storage and quotes John O’Donnell, CEO of California-based heat storage startup Rondo Energy.

APPLE COMMITS TO 100% RECYCLED COBALT BY 2025 – Speaking of moving toward a circular economy – Apple has just committed to using 100% recycled cobalt in all its batteries by 2025 as part of its ongoing effort to achieve 100% carbon-neutral products by 2030.

A SYSTEMIC APPROACH TOWARD A CIRCULAR ECONOMY – I appreciated this article from the Institute of Mechanical Engineers on taking a systemic approach to reducing plastic waste and moving toward a circular economy.

CHINA’S ARTIFICIAL SUN SETS A NEW RECORD – It's been a hot second since China's "artificial sun" was in the news. (Pardon the pun.) Looks like the Experimental Advanced Superconducting Tokamak (EAST) has broken another record – this time by generating and sustaining plasma for nearly seven minutes, which is four times longer than its previous record.

COLORADO PASSES THE FIRST US “RIGHT TO REPAIR” LEGISLATION – Colorado farmers will be able to legally fix their own equipment next year, with manufacturers including John Deere obliged to provide them with manuals for diagnostic software and other aids. Repairability & sustainability for the win!

WILL CHINA DOMINATE THE SODIUM BATTERIES MARKET? – This NY Times article is fretting they might. And this could put North America at a disadvantage if they want to compete in this fledgling segment of the battery industry. (I am certainly no expert in any of this but it really feels like advancements in battery & energy storage tech are happening faster than a lot of people realize. Which seems like good news for our transition away from fossil fuels!)

EBIKE SALES ARE BOOMING IN FRANCE – According to this article, ebike sales are booming in France, with 28% of all bikes sold last year being electric. The article also mentions that more than 50% of all bikes sold in the Netherlands last year were electric. Bring on our micromobility future!

WIND & SOLAR PRODUCED RECORD AMOUNT OF ENERGY IN 2022  – Wind and solar power generated 12 per cent of global electricity in 2022, up from 10 per cent the previous year, according to the report from clean energy think tank Ember. “It is the beginning of the end of the fossil age,” says lead author Małgorzata Wiatros-Motyka. “We are entering the clean power era.”

SHOCKER: MORE BIKE LANES = MORE BIKE KMS TRAVELED – A recent study in Copenhagen shows the city’s extensive network of bicycle lanes has caused the number of bicycle trips and the bicycle kilometers traveled to increase by 60% and 90% and has led to an annual benefit of €0.4M per km of bicycle lane due to changes in generalized travel cost, health, and accidents.

AMERICA IS MISSING OUT ON THE BIGGEST EV BOOM OF ALL – Across Asia and in other parts of the world, the vehicle type electrifying faster than any other doesn't run on four or two wheels – but on three. (Reminds me of Japanese delivery vehicles and exhilarating and sometimes terrifying tuktuk rides through the streets of Bangkok!)

SOLAR POWER EXPERTS CALL FOR 75 TERAWATTS OF PV BY 2050 – Solar power experts are calling for a commitment to install 75 terawatts or more of photovoltaic power worldwide by 2050 to meet global decarbonization goals. They say that lowballing projections for photovoltaic growth while waiting for a consensus on other energy pathways or the emergence of technological last-minute miracles "is no longer an option."

SUBMERSIBLE SEAWEED PLATFORMS – Can submersible seaweed platforms help regenerate marine ecosystems and provide economic returns? According to this article, initial trials are looking good!

EVS ARE GOING MAINSTREAM – JUST ASK WALMART – Walmart has added thousands of EV chargers to their parking lots. Meanwhile, US President Biden is investing in 500,000 more chargers and 7% of new vehicles being sold in the US are electric.

BACTERIA, BUT MAKE IT FASHION – Last week I posted about a start-up that makes customized clothing out of mycelium. Now here's a company making textiles from bacteria – which are grown on agricultural waste and produce super-strong  nanocellulose fibres that can be used to create a low-carbon, lightweight materials that require far less energy and water to make than current textiles (ie, cotton). This is one way that biotech could help us re-wild the planet. 🌎🙏  

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