Small Algae Canopy Produces as Much Oxygen as a Forest

Algae is amazing and as we find more ways to use the powerful, small, creatures we’ll improve our carbon footprints. Already algae is used to clean sewage, clean landfills, and so much more.

This week at the Milan Expo EcoLogics Studio revealed their algae canopy for urban centres. The canopy provides shade while cleaning the air in a very efficient way!

Created by EcoLogics Studio and demonstrated in Milan, Italy, this “world’s first bio-digital canopy integrates micro-algal cultures and real time digital cultivation protocols on a unique architectural system,” with flows of water and energy regulated by weather patterns and visitor usage. Sun increases photosynthesis, for example, causing the structure to generate organic shade in realtime. In addition to CO2 reduction, the canopy as a whole can produce over 300 pounds of biomass daily, all through a relatively passive system that requires far less space and upkeep than conventional civic greenery.

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Infrastructure That Cleans the Air

Barcelona is going to build a road bridge which may be the cleanest bridge yet. Of course it’ll have pedestrian walks and bike paths, however, what makes the bridge really noteworthy is that it will clean the air.

Concrete is notoriously energy-intensive to create so any carbon offset is beneficial. The Barcelona bridge will make use of photocatalytic concrete.

But the real prize of this thing is its basic building material, photocatalytic concrete. The principal of photocatylitics is that ultraviolet light naturally breaks down dirt, both natural and synthetic. It’s that old adage about sunlight being the best disinfectant. Photocatalytic concrete is used with titanium dioxide, which helps accelerate the natural UV-breakdown process, turning the pollution into carbon dioxide, and oxygen and substances that actually belong in the atmosphere.

The actual process has to do with semiconductors and electrons and other things that you may or may not care to read about. (At any rate, the Concrete Society of the United Kingdom does a better job of explaining it.)

An air-cleaning bridge makes for a neat news story and a sci-fi-ish novelty that environmentalists can blog about. But the important point is that Barcelona has taken a piece of infrastructure that exists solely to accommodate car culture, and re-invented it to partially offset the effects of car pollution.

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Ontario Joins California and Quebec’s Cap and Trade Program

Ontario is launching a cap and trade carbon program that matches with the existing programs in Quebec and California. This is a good thing for adoption of carbon-conscious economics even if the system isn’t perfect. The program is being praised by Greenpeace and other environmental NGOs.

And this program is happening despite the obvious incompetence of Canada’s federal government, including their support of the shameful tar sands.

The plan would increase the scope of the market to 61 million people and half of Canada’s economy.

Premiers and territorial leaders are poised to meet in Quebec City Tuesday to discuss an environmentally responsible Canadian energy strategy, which they agreed to in Charlottetown last August. Their goal is to flesh out the strategy before UN climate talks in Paris in December.

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Faster Than Oil, Clean Energy on the Rise

Economists are really bad at predictions, but their views carry sway over large amounts of capital. Their most recent inaccuracies have been in the energy sector. Clean, renewable, energy is making faster progress than previously predicted.

Renewables have seen faster implementation, more investment, and quite massive technical gains in the past few years. And all of these gains have happened despite the fact that oil is so cheap (in terms of money, not carbon).

Each of these trends — cheaper batteries and cheaper solar electricity — is good on its own, and on the margin will help to reduce our dependence on fossil fuels, with all the geopolitical drawbacks and climate harm they entail. But together, the two cost trends will add up to nothing less than a revolution in the way humankind interacts with the planet and powers civilization.

You see, the two trends reinforce each other. Cheaper batteries mean that cars can switch from gasoline to the electrical grid. But currently, much of the grid is powered by coal. With cheap solar replacing coal at a rapid clip, that will be less and less of an issue. As for solar, its main drawback is intermittency. But with battery costs dropping, innovative manufacturers such as Tesla will be able to make cheap batteries for home electricity use, allowing solar power to run your house 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.

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Costa Rica Only Powered by Renewables

Costa Rica has been 100% powered by renewable energy for the first quarter of the year and this may continue. This is fantastic for the central american country as it has been making huge strides as a an eco-friendly tourist destination. You can see the beginnings of the country’s environmental focus when we looked at it back in 2006.

Costa Rica continues to impress!

This year has been a pretty special one for Costa Rica — for the first quarter, the country’s grid has required absolutely no fossil fuels to run, the state-run power supplier the Costa Rican Electricity Institute (ICE) has announced. It relied almost entirely on four hydropower plants, the reservoirs of which were filled by fortunate heavy rainfall. The remaining power needs were met by wind, solar and geothermal plants.

Costa Rica, although small at just 4.87 million people, joins a growing number of countries relying on renewable energy. Iceland’s electricity consumption is almost 100 percent covered by renewable energy. Paraguay and Brazil share the Itaipú hydroelectric dam, which serves almost 100 percent of Paraguay’s needs and around 85 percent of Brazil’s. Lesotho, Norway and Albania also rely on renewable energy, with a longer list of countries well on the way of getting there.

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