It might seem odd to put solar panels on the side of walls in a region with mountains, but that’s exactly what’s happening in Switzerland. One of the cantons in the country is looking to be powered by at least 40% renewables by 2035 (which is quite achievable); with terrain being scarce it’s hard to place large solar installations. However, retaining walls in some areas get a lot of sunlight depending on their orientations (south facing would generate more for example) and with geography like Switzerland’s there are a lot of retaining walls. The cantons of Appenzell Ausserhoden’s first installation generations 325kW which is the equivalent of 52 Swiss households.
The PV system was anchored on and in the masonry using an adhesive technique. An anchoring depth of a maximum of 90 mm could not be exceeded so that the retaining wall would not be adversely affected.
Due to the close proximity to the asphalt, the solar panels’ components are subject to exceptional corrosion requirements and are anodized for protection. Indirect components are made of aluminum – only the screw anchors are made of stainless steel.
Following similar legislation in other countries Canada has finally introduced a beneficial ownership requirement on Canadian companies. Federally registered companies will have to disclose who owns them, which means it’ll be harder to commit tax fraud. Plus, by having companies reveal who benefits from their existence it will be easier for authorities to track criminal behaviour and efforts around snow washing.
In 2017, an investigation by the Toronto Star and the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, based on ICIJ’s Panama Papers dataset, revealed how Canada had emerged as a popular tax haven, touted by corporate service providers as a “reputable” destination to hide wealth.
Transparency advocates welcomed the landmark reforms, which passed into law on Nov. 2 under an amendment to the Canada Business Corporations Act, following a years-long push for a legislative means to tackle money laundering and tax evasion.
When it comes to emissions from fuels methane is amongst the worst. The so-called natural gas is incredibly bad for the planet because it’s so effective at accelerating the greenhouse effect that is warming the Earth. Methane is an easy target as nations around the world are looking to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions because it’s so potent. Following that rationale, the USA has opted to better monitor methane emissions and police companies that are violating emission restrictions. America is one of the worst per capita emitters on the planet so this is a big step in the right direction.
“These are rules of the road,” said Ali Zaidi, the Biden administration’s national climate adviser. “There is no longer an excuse to let these emissions continue to proliferate. Industry has the tools. It has the workforce that’s excited to do this work. And it has every incentive to get after this challenge.”
The EPA also said the plan would prevent an estimated 58 million tons of methane emissions from 2024 to 2038, the equivalent of 1.5 billion metric tons of carbon dioxide, and will yield total net benefits of $97 billion to $98 billion from 2024 to 2038, after taking into account the costs of compliance and savings from recovered natural gas.
Extracting resources from under the ground is an expensive and environmentally harmful thing to do. It’s also political challenging in many places to open (or expand) new mining operations, the recent court ruling in Panama demonstrates this. For decades we’ve been tossing perfectly good metals into landfills, so why not mine landfills? In some parts of the world it is economically feasible to so, but in the USA subsidized fossil fuels make the business case to mine landfills more difficult. Still, it’s only a matter of time until landfill mining becomes profitable in North America.
This story showcases one of the issues facing landfill mining in the United States. In Europe, where they view landfills more negatively, they’ve been mining old landfill sites for decades. So why isn’t it more popular here? In simple terms, we have a separate set of motivations. Energy costs are still comparatively low because of the availability of fossil fuels and natural gas, so we don’t value the energy potential of waste buried in landfills. There is not a strong appetite for energy from waste in many locations that could benefit from the energy value of buried plastics and undegraded organic material. Landfill mining is expensive relative to the cost of developing a new landfill site or just transporting waste to a regional disposal facility in someone else’s backyard. The costs for excavation, physical screening, and managing odors and liquids can be significant barriers.
The popularity of landfill mining may increase over time, with some shifts in the factors above. In the meantime, we’ll continue to monitor Europe and Asia as they explore cost-effective methods. My 25 years of experience in landfills as a solid waste consulting engineer indicates that landfill mining is an intriguing proposition. But will it become a sizable portion of my practice in the next 15 years? Let’s just say I am not pinching my nose or holding my breath.
With renewables already cheaper than fossil fuels it’s not surprising that uptake in renewable energy is increasing. The benefits of renewable aren’t just a clean source of energy but also a cheap source of energy. Some countries around the world are on track to more than triple their renewable energy production and every nation can at least triple theirs with current technology. There’s no reason to build fossil fuel power generators anymore.
National targets do not account for the recent acceleration of renewables
Many government targets do not reflect the recent acceleration in renewables deployment worldwide. For example, 12 countries are set to add capacity in 2023 faster than the pace required to meet their 2030 target. In 22 countries the prospective project development pipelines for wind and solar exceed the renewable capacity needed to meet their 2030 targets. The world could achieve its current targets–a doubling of renewables–just by continuing the 500 gigawatts of estimated deployment in 2023 from 2024 to 2030, but all signs point to a more rapid growth curve.