A sustainable home doesn’t need to be off the gird, but for some people interested in sustainability they reach a logical conclusion that off the gird makes sense. Of course, that means not being part of the electric grid and, for some, not even part of a public water system for potable water and sewage. How does one go about creating such a home? Check out the video above for what’s needed to create an efficient off the gird place to live.
Kristina is a structural engineer who designed and helped build this off-grid passive solar home with solar panels, solar hot water heaters, rainwater collection, a composting toilet, and a greywater garden. It’s a pretty impressive and functional Earthship inspired home and she lives here with her partner Matt in Colorado.
Why don’t we just let it die already? Coal companies keep getting bailed out by governments around the world despite the climate crisis, this needs to stop. Over at Climate Town they have a great idea (above) that captures coal’s contentious use and how governments prop up the industry. The concept of clean coal was just a way to keep the carbon intensive industry running at the expense of all of us.
Already renewable sources are cheaper than coal and waaaaaaaaaaaay better for the planet and people’s health. It’s time to let the coal industry go the way of the knocker uppers.
Eliminating fossil fuel subsidies would save billions in revenue for the federal government. For climate advocates and budget hawks, eliminating these subsidies is a win-win. The Biden administration projected savings of $121 billion over a decade, which could be used to fund critical public health, education, infrastructure, and social initiatives instead of raising taxes.
Pricing fossil fuels efficiently would cause a dramatic decline in global emissions. The International Monetary Fund found that efficient oil, gas, and coal pricing by 2025 would lead to a 36% decline in global emissions. This puts us well on track to keep warming below 2 degrees Celsius. Current global fossil fuel subsidies reached $5.9 trillion in 2020, or $11 million every minute.
Fossil fuel companies spend public money on private lobbying. Fossil energy companies earn a greater than 13,000% return on investment while slashing thousands of jobs. In 2020, the oil, gas, and coal industries spent more than $115 million lobbying Congress in defense of their $15 billion in giveaways. Eliminating subsidies to the industry is a step toward fighting corruption and preventing the abuse of taxpayers’ hard-earned money.
Fossil fuel subsidies are economically inefficient policies. They price carbon at far below its social cost to society, and on a global scale, they are economically regressive policies that benefit the wealthiest 20%. Externalities from supporting the fossil fuel industry cost the U.S. $649 billion every year.
Ending fossil fuel subsidies is politically popular. According to polling from Data for Progress, 54% of voters are in favor of rolling back all tax incentives for fossil fuel companies, compared to only 30% opposed.
Historic sites that attract a lot of tourists know that if they loose their historical look that the tourists will stop coming, so how do you locally produce renewable energy while not looking modern? This question has been answered by the stewards of Pompeii with a simple solar solution. A local solar artisan found a way to manufacture solar panels that look like standard Roman roof tiles. They aren’t the most efficient solar panels but they work and they fit in with the aesthetic.
The traditional PV tiles are made from a polymer compound, which allows the sun’s rays to filter through. The photovoltaic cells are then integrated into it by hand and covered with a layer of the polymer compound. “We can also give it the look of stone, wood, concrete, and brick. As a result, such a solution can be installed not only on roofs but also on walls and floors,” says Quagliato.
Dyaqua’s clients are mainly local councils, owning assets that are subject to artistic or architectural constraints. Approved by the Italian Ministry of Culture, the traditional PV tiles have been also installed in Vicoforte, not far from Cuneo, and will soon be used in Rome’s renowned museum of contemporary art, Maxxi. In the coming months, they will also cover the roofs of some public buildings in Split, Croatia, and Evora, Portugal. Together with Alkmaar, in the Netherlands, the Portuguese city is one of the demo sites that are testing innovative solutions aimed at combining sustainability with the valorization of architectural and cultural heritage, within the European project Pocityf. The Italian company Tegola Canadese is among its technical partners.
Normal heat pumps make use of chemicals to modulate temperatures, in the future they may all use sound. A new French startup has announced they will sell a residential heat pump using acoustics. It’s not loud since the sound waves stay in the system to change the temperature, which also means the system can be quickly adjusted. Using acoustics for temperature control isn’t new (it’s used on the James Webb space telescope), this application of it in a residential system is novel.
Loyer said the heat pump can generate domestic water at up to 80 C. He claims that one of the key benefits of the acoustic heat pump, in comparison with traditional units using refrigerants, is its ability to reach very high or low temperatures.
“Traditional heat pumps use refrigerants with a temperature phase. They a have temperature limit, which is the temperature of the changing phase from liquid to gas of the refrigerant,” said Loyer. “In our core, the helium stays in gas form. Because helium remains a gas until -200 C, we can achieve higher temperatures inside our heat pump core.”
Fusion power has been just a decade away for decades, or at least that was the joke. Yesterday it became outdated because it was revealed that nuclear fusion was ignited, stabilized, and proven to work reliably. Fusion energy is carbon-free energy production which has the potential to revolutionize how we use electricity. Hopefully we will be able to replace major power plants with this carbon free fusion solution.
To be clear, there’s still a lot to do to get fusion energy connected to the grid. We still need to focus first and foremost on renewable energy sources.
“The pursuit of fusion ignition in the laboratory is one of the most significant scientific challenges ever tackled by humanity, and achieving it is a triumph of science, engineering, and most of all, people,”LLNL Director Dr. Kim Budilsaid. “Crossing this threshold is the vision that has driven 60 years of dedicated pursuit—a continual process of learning, building, expanding knowledge and capability, and then finding ways to overcome the new challenges that emerged. These are the problems that the U.S. national laboratories were created to solve.”