LINKS OF THE WEEK: Feb 12, 2024
Interesting stats on EVs and energy use in the US, developments in wind and tidal power, a plastic recycling microfactory, and an "unprecedented collapse" in EU fossil fuel generation.
Happy Monday! If you're looking to start your week with some good news on developments in sustainability and green tech, I've got you covered.
Today's "Links of the Week" stories include interesting stats on EVs and energy use in the US, developments in wind and tidal power, a plastic recycling microfactory, and an "unprecedented collapse" in EU fossil fuel generation.
Read on to learn more!
EU SEES RECORD DROP IN FOSSIL FUEL ELECTRICITY GENERATION
In what energy experts are calling “an unprecedented collapse,” coal-fired electricity generation fell by 26 percent in 2023, while gas-powered energy fell by 15 percent. Meanwhile, wind and solar produced a record 27 percent of the EU’s electricity and 2023 also marked the first time that wind generated more energy than gas.
You can read the full report here.
EV SALES INCREASE IN THE US – WHILE ELECTRICITY USE DROPS
Here’s an interesting stat: a record 1.2 million EVs were sold in the States last year, amounting to 7.6% of all vehicles sold, up from 5.9% the year before – and despite the leap, overall electricity consumption dropped. The decrease is apparently due mostly to improvements in efficiency, which seems like the biggest takeaway here. So much of our transition to a sustainable future is going to involve figuring out better ways to do more with less.
Efficiency doesn’t sound super sexy and transformative but it really is.
THE WORLD’S LARGEST BATTERY MAKER TO BUILD A $1.8B WIND FARM
Meanwhile, in China, the world’s largest battery maker, CATL, has announced plans to build a $1.8 billion wind farm to power its operations in Fujian province. CATL makes EV batteries and energy storage systems and saw a 48% jump in profits to $6.3bn last year.
Just in case you’re wondering how the renewable landscape is evolving in that part of the world.
TIDAL POWER IS COMING TO SOUTH-EAST ASIA
UK-based tidal power company Inyanga has been chosen to build South-East Asia’s first tidal power generation plant: a 1MW tidal power plant in the Philippines. The company’s scalable HydroWing technology will be integrated into a microgrid network coupled with solar photovoltaics and energy storage that will replace the 750 kW diesel plant currently being used.
Closer to home…
US INVESTS $15.5 MILLION IN TIDAL AND RIVER CURRENT ENERGY
The Biden government recently announced investments totalling $15.5 million on tidal and river current energy research and development projects. As the government announcement states, “Tides and currents are incredibly predictable, meaning these resources could help balance other sources of renewable energy and be important contributors to a 100% clean energy grid.”
Living as I do on the coast of a province that relies heavily on hydropower and is experiencing more frequent and longer droughts, I hope these projects yield promising results. Learning how to generate cost-effective tidal power seems like a very good thing.
THIS “MICROFACTORY” CONVERTS PLASTIC WASTE INTO NEW PRODUCTS
This new “first of its kind” plastics recycling microfactory in Phoenix, AZ is expected to create 10 jobs and save up to 550 tons of plastic from the landfill each year.
I love that the goal for the microfactory is to become a cooperative enterprise with ownership shared between the employees. We looked at a similar plastics recycling microfactory in NY a few months ago but I believe that one is more of a community project and less of a profit-driven business. Here’s hoping both ventures are successful and that more follow in their footsteps!
HOW NYC CAN HELP LANDLORDS MEET NEW BUILDING EFFICIENCY GOALS
New York is the first US city to impose sweeping energy regulations that include mandating carbon caps on all buildings larger than 25,000 square feet. This Fast Company article offers some good suggestions on how to get the public on board with this initiative and help landlords and tenants work together to meet the city's stringent energy efficiency goals.
EU RIGHT-TO-REPAIR LAW REQUIRES COMPANIES TO OFFER 12 MONTHS OF LIABILITY FOR REPAIRED PRODUCTS
The European Council and Parliament have reached a provisional deal on the Right to Repair legislation that is expected to be formally adopted and go into effect later this year.
This Ars Technica article looks at how legislation requires businesses to offer consumers the choice of having malfunctioning products repaired or replaced. For products that get repaired, the businesses must offer an additional twelve months of liability, so that consumers are encouraged to choose the repair option and keep products out of landfills for longer.
Fewer, better, longer, baby! (That’s what I’m guessing Captain Marvel would want our consumer rallying cry to be. 😁🦸♀🤘)
Speaking of laws & legislation…
CLIMATE SCIENTIST WINS $1 MILLION IN DEFAMATION CASE AGAINST DENIERS
Prominent climate scientist Michael Mann has won his 10+ year legal battle against right-wing bloggers who claimed he manipulated data and likened him to a convicted child molester. You love to see it! I hope the verdict inspires more scientists who have been defamed by climate deniers to seek justice.
PUERTO RICO STARTUP TURNS INVASIVE SEAWEED INTO ADVANCED BIOMATERIALS
I know this article basically reads as a press release for Carbonwave, but call me a sucker for a company that’s taking an overabundant natural resource and turning it into valuable products. Right now it looks like Carbonwave's most popular product is an ingredient for beauty products but they’re also looking to expand into fertilizer and vegan leather, which sounds interesting.
Finally, I wanted to close with a local story that's worth celebrating:
VANCOUVER’S GASTOWN NEIGHBOURHOOD GOING CAR-FREE THIS SUMMER
Super glad to see that Vancouver’s city council has voted to make Gastown car-free for July and August this year. Similar initiatives have shown that car-free neighbourhoods attract a lot more human traffic and businesses see a resulting surge in sales. Let’s see if the same happens for Gastown.
That's it for today! Hope your week is off to a great start – and if you see any interesting stories in sustainability or green tech, be sure to send them my way.