LINKS OF THE WEEK: Oct 8-14, 2023
Wind-powered cargo ships, a "Climate Army" update, solar panel myths debunked, a solar-powered microfactory that transforms plastic into usable household items, and more.
It's been a great week for interesting stories in the renewable energy and sustainability sectors. Here are my choices for the top 10 links of the week – I hope you’ll find them interesting!
Meanwhile, in “The Youth Will Save Us”** news, the Biden administration's new American Climate Corps has attracted more than 42,000 signups in the few weeks since it was announced. Free training for decently paid jobs that could help combat climate change? I can see why so many are going for it.
**Not that the youth should *have* to save us – just that we haven't given them much of a choice. And it’s inspiring to see so many stepping up to the challenge!
The new law requires manufacturers to provide appropriate tools, parts, software, and documentation for seven years after production for devices priced above $100. Given that California is the world's fifth largest economy, this could have a big impact on the repairability of electronics everywhere.
Speaking of California legislation…
California governor Gavin Newsom signed a new wave and tidal energy bill into law last week, paving the way for a detailed assessment of the wave and tidal energy potential off California’s coastline.
Should be interesting to see what if anything comes of it. From what I’ve read, it sounds like this kind of technology is still decades away from being widely implementable – but as someone who lives on a rainy stretch of coastline, I really hope someone does figure out how to do offshore wind, wave, and/or tidal in a way that works for this part of the world.
Researchers at the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) in Colorado have just published a report that pushes back on two common myths about solar panels: the perceived toxicity of solar panels and the idea that widespread solar power adoption will result in mountains of waste that will have a devastating impact on the environment.
I love that the report mentions how recyclable solar panels are as well as the growing recycling industry that’s developing around reclaiming materials from used solar panels. A robust recycling system is key to creating a sustainable future.
Speaking of recycling…
Ever since reading Neal Stephenson's book, The Diamond Age, I've loved the idea of household recyclers that can transform an infinitely recyclable material into new products over and over. This microfactory is a long way from that but it scratches the same kind of itch. I love the idea of small communities being able to recycle old plastic into new & needed items without producing any emissions or waste. Cool stuff!
Here's an interesting Guardian article about "Culdesac," a new car-free community being developed outside Phoenix, Arizona. The 17-acre site will feature 760 living units that will house 1,000 residents along with amenities such as a grocery store, restaurant, yoga studio and bicycle shop all in easily walkable distance for residents.
I love the architectural focus on shared outdoor spaces and the fact that residents get discounts on Lyft as well as free use of the light rail system that runs right past the neighbourhood. The fact that the founder has *60* ebikes also made me laugh. 😆
Here’s some cool-looking technology that harnesses the power of wind for a new kind of ocean travel. “Windships” are massive cargo vessels with giant rigid sails that apparently can save a huge amount of fuel and reduce emissions in an industry responsible for 3% of global greenhouse gas emissions.
A couple of interesting tidbits from this NPR article – 1. due to EU laws kicking in next year, shippers will be forced to pay for their carbon emissions, and 2. starting in 2024, the UN’s International Maritime Organization will start grading ships based on how much CO2 they emit and forcing high-polluting vessels to take correction action or risk not being allowed to operate. (I mean, you’d think they would have already started doing that, but better late than never?)
OMG I love this so much… a 21-year-old Australian university student won the country’s prestigious James Dyson Award last month for his “Rapid Electric Vehicle Retrofit” kit that he originally designed for turning his 20-year-old Toyota Corolla into a hybrid vehicle.
Right now the technology is still at the prototype stage but I hope the inventor is able to make it work. Transforming already existing gas-powered vehicles into ones that run on electricity seems like a no-brainer way to shrink resource use.
Here’s an interesting Washington Post article about community solar projects in the U.S. that allow people to “subscribe” to solar power developments in their community and receive the cost-saving benefits of the extra energy provided even if they’re not able to install solar panels on their own rooftops. Apparently they’re hard to find and not all states offer this kind of subscription model opportunity, but are great if you can find them.
Finally, I leave you with an extremely important question :
I’m loving this LA Magazine article about an urban mushroom farm in downtown Los Angeles that’s working with local groups to use spent mushroom fruiting blocks to clean up toxins in contaminated sites throughout Los Angeles. Mushrooms: delicious AND beneficial for the environment! 🍄
That’s it for this week! Next week I’m off to San Francisco to check out the Micromobility America convention, which should be interesting. If you have any questions you think I should be asking people who work in micromobility-related organizations, please fire them my way at email@example.com.
In the meantime, keep on being awesome! 🤘