More People are Employed in Green Energy Than in the Tar Sands

Despite the fact that the tar sands get more subsidies than green energy solutions in Canada, the green energy providers employ more people. Clean Energy Canada released a report today that examines the state of green energy in Canada and they have some remarkable findings.

“Clean energy has moved from being a small niche or boutique industry to really big business in Canada,” said Merran Smith, director of Clean Energy Canada. The investment it has gleaned since 2009 is roughly the same as has been pumped into agriculture, fishing and forestry combined, she said. The industry will continue to show huge growth potential, beyond most other business sectors, she added.

While investment has boomed, the energy-generating capacity of wind, solar, run-of-river hydro and biomass plants has expanded by 93 per cent since 2009, the report says.

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Growing the Green Roof Industry in North America

Green roofs are great! They help alleviate a lot of issues that arise in urban living while making cities more beautiful. There is growing interest in making sure that urban green roofs take off and it looks like it is working.

While other countries like Germany have been using green roofs since the 1980’s, North America has been playing catch up. Toronto, however, is a city enamoured with renewable energy and sustainability. Ryerson’s engineering building on Church St., the new Forensic Services and Coroner’s Complex and Toronto City Hall are all notable examples of green roof early adopters.

A pioneer in North America, the city requires all new builds with a minimum gross floor area of 2,000m2 to include a portion of vegetation on roof surfaces. It also offers a grant of up to $75/square metre to offset the cost of green-roof installation. Similar incentive programs are being instated in Washington DC, NYC and Chicago, but Toronto is the first to actually mandate builders to include a vegetated roof – or face a hefty fine.

And with good reason. Green roofs divert waste, help manage storm water, moderate ‘urban heat island’ effects and improve air quality. They also reduce noise and can save significant amounts of money. In a warehouse complex, for example, the evaporation characteristics of a green roof can lower the inside temperature from between three to five degrees celsius.

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New York City’s Simple, and Green, Flood Prevention

New York, like other large cities, has a lot of impermeable services which means that when it rains there is little to contain the water. By using green infrastructure of soil, broken stone, shrubs, trees, etc. the bioswales can capture a lot of water. This green infrastructure is good for water management and obviously benefits the local environments through cleaner air and more pleasant views.

The Big Apple’s pretty new bioswales, built into city sidewalks much like standard tree pits and more modest in size than their suburban brethren, will join about 250 of these aesthetically pleasing drainage ditches that have already popped up around the city as part of the city’s stormwater management-focused Green Infrastructure Program. The price tag attached to this aggressive — and much needed — onslaught of vegetated swales is $46 million.
While that might seem like a hefty wad of cash for the city to dedicate to curbside rain gardens, it’s nothing compared to the costs associated with upgrading New York’s aging combined sewage system (a system that handles both storm runoff and domestic sewage) and cleaning up after perfectly foul combined sewage overflow (CSO) events that strike following heavy rainstorms (and, of course, hurricanes).

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Thanks to Shealyn!

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China and US Agree to Cut Emissions

The world’s largest polluters have agreed that they have a problem and they need to stop it. The USA and China have come to terms with the fact that they are the worst polluters and have both decided to take action using various policy tools and joint cooperation. This is important for many reasons, for one not only does this mean the largest economies will become more efficient and less damaging to the plant. Another reason is that smaller economies (looking at you Australia and Canada) copy American policy, so hopefully the climate change denying government elsewhere will wake up and take action.

Better late than never.

According to the plan, the United States will reduce carbon emissions 26-28 percent below 2005 levels by 2025, nearly twice the existing target—without imposing new restrictions on power plants or vehicles.

Tuesday’s announcement is equally remarkable for China’s commitment. For the first time, China has set a date at which it expects its emissions will “peak,” or finally begin to taper downward: around 2030. China is currently the world’s biggest emitter of carbon pollution, largely because of its coal-dependent economy, and reining in emissions while continuing to grow has been the paramount challenge for China’s leaders

It involves a series of initiatives to be undertaken in partnership between the two countries, including:

  • Expanding funding for clean energy technology research at the US-China Clean Energy Research Center, a think tank Obama created in 2009 with Xi’s predecessor Hu Jintao.
  • Launching a large-scale pilot project in China to study carbon capture and sequestration.
  • A push to further limit the use of hydroflourocarbons, a potent greenhouse gas found in refrigerants.
  • A federal framework for cities in both countries to share experiences and best practices for low-carbon economic growth and adaptation to the impacts of climate change at the municipal level.
  • A call to boost trade in “green” goods, including energy efficiency technology and resilient infrastructure, kicked off by a tour of China next spring by Commerce Secretary Penny Pritzker and Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz.

Read more at Mother Jones.

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Visualizing Energy Generated from Wind

Renewable energy debates can suffer obfuscation through abstraction and disingenuous allegations like renewable is limited in it’s generation times. For example, wind power is often argued to be useless because we cannot control the wind. We can’t control it, but we can predict it.

To demonstrate the effectiveness of wind power in the UK a new digital design company created a demonstration of using visualization to impact how people think of wind power.

We wanted to make MWh something more tangible, so we’ve taken some data* on the average energy usage of domestic products to hopefully bring those big numbers to life.

We also wanted to show the increasing importance of wind in the energy mix over time and the graph allows us to do that in a simple way as well as giving us a means of navigating across time. You can change the date range on the graph to show longer term trends.

We are aware that numbers can be used to tell all sorts of stories, and that this is just one narrative among many possible ones. We choose to shine a positive light on the amount of energy being generated by wind. For a more rigorous interpretation of energy data, you should read David Mackay’s Sustainable Energy – Without Hot Air.

Check it out!
Thanks to Fraser!

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