Growing Greens in the Arctic and Battery Farms in Australia– Top 5 Happy Eco News – 2021-04-19
Thanks for reading the Happy Eco News Weekly Top 5 newsletter. This week we have a blog post from Carley Basler the Sustainability Coordinator at the Churchill Northern Studies Centre. She talks about the Rocket Greens program – a hydroponic garden grown in a shipping container and how they provide fresh herbs and greens to the community. We also have stories about Elon Musk’s second battery farm, the United States’ plan to expand wind power, a massless structural battery, how the University of Michigan is diverting from fossil fuels, and a ban on trawl fishing to restore kelp forests.
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I first learned about the hydroponic shipping container while standing around in the airport waiting for a plane to arrive. Like many remote small towns, some of Churchill’s best information exchanges happen while doing just that! It was early fall in 2017 and Churchill was mid-way through its first year without rail access due to some unprecedented spring flooding that rendered its rail link to the south unusable. Political posturing and the extreme cost of the necessary repairs brought any progress on that to a standstill and Churchill was thrust into its first long-term experience as a fly-in only community. Fresh food was being flown in and subsidies were trying to keep up, but the availability of fresh food and other goods was sporadic and the limited space on the three cargo shipping vessels destined for Hudson Bay were being scooped up quickly.
I was told that the ‘garden’, a 40’ shipping container retrofitted with state-of-the-art hydroponic growing condition and branded as The Growcer would be arriving on the last cargo ship of the season and was destined for the Churchill Northern Studies Centre (CNSC). It was a surprising bit of news!… [read more]
The Happy Eco News Weekly Top 5
Elon Musk and Neoen are collaborating on the supersized sequel to Tesla’s existing battery farm in South Australia. The Hornsdale Power Reserve has been a huge success, and the new battery is multiple times larger. The renewable future will include a variety of sources to cover all times of day and conditions. After the undeniable success of Elon Musk’s battery farm, the Tesla head honcho and the government of Victoria, Australia are following it up by building a new, much larger, 300-megawatt battery farm. You like Elon Musk. So do we. Let’s nerd out over his creations together. As a refresher, in 2016, South Australia experienced a near total blackout after a crazy storm brought 80,000 lightning strikes and at least two tornadoes to the area. When a politician blamed the blackouts on the push for renewable energy, Musk and Tesla bet they could power the area with the company’s PowerPacks within 100 days—and did it in 60. In just two years, the Neoen -owned Hornsdale Power Reserve —literally a facility full of PowerPacks that receives and stores energy from nearby wind and solar farms—has worked as advertised, saving South Australia more than $100 million… [read more].
Power-generating Siemens 2.37MW wind turbines are seen at the Ocotillo Wind Energy Facility California, US [File: Bing Guan/Reuters] The White House has announced plans to expand offshore wind energy in the coming decade by opening new areas to development, speeding environmental permitting, and boosting public financing for projects. The plan is part of President Joe Biden’s broader effort to rapidly transition the US economy to net zero greenhouse gas emissions to fight climate change. “President Biden believes we have an enormous opportunity in front of us to not only address the threats of climate change but use it as a chance to create millions of good-paying, union jobs that will fuel America’s economic recovery, rebuild the middle class, and make sure we bounce back from the crises we face,” Gina McCarthy, national climate adviser, said in a statement on Monday. “Nowhere is the scale of that opportunity clearer than for offshore wind,” she said. Secretary of Interior Deb Haaland, the first Indigenous person to serve as a cabinet secretary, said it is important to confront climate issues, as its fallout disproportionately affects people of colour [File: J Scott Applewhite/AP Photo] The plan would create jobs for more than… [read more].
Scientists have made a massless structural battery 10 times better than before. The battery cell performs well in structural and energy tests, with planned further improvements. Structural batteries reduce weight and could revolutionize electric cars and planes. In groundbreaking new research, scientists have made a structural battery 10 times better than in any previous experiment. You think science is badass. So do we. Let’s nerd out over it together. What’s a structural battery, and why is it such a big deal? The term refers to an energy storage device that can also bear weight as part of a structure—like if the studs in your home were all batteries, or if an electric fence also held up a wall. In the new paper, researchers from Chalmers University of Technology and KTH Royal Institute of Technology in Sweden reveal how their “massless” structural battery works. The main use case is for electric cars, where a literally massive amount of batteries take up a ton of room and don’t contribute to the actual structure of the car. In fact, these cars must be specially designed to carry the mass of the batteries. But what if the frame of the car… [read more].
If you want proof of how decisively the climate zeitgeist has begun to shift, you could look to Washington and the transition between the Trump and Biden eras. But you could also look further west, to Ann Arbor, home to the University of Michigan, which routinely tops the rankings of America’s best public universities. It’s a massive institution whose faculty and graduates have collected scores of Nobel, Pulitzer and MacArthur prizes; somewhere on the surface of the moon there’s a plaque marking its first extraterrestrial alumni chapter, because all the astronauts on Apollo 15 had studied there. It couldn’t be more middle-American, with deep ties to, among other things, the state’s world-leading automotive industry. And so, in 2015, it came as no great shock when the university’s president, Mark Schlissel, rejected student calls for divestment from fossil fuel companies. “Fossil fuels enable us to operate the university, to conduct research and to provide patient care,” he said. “At this moment, there is no viable alternative to fossil fuels at the necessary scale. In addition, most of the same companies that extract or use fossil fuels are also investing heavily in a transition to natural gas or renewables, in response… [read more].
Damaging trawl fishing has been banned in more than 100 square miles of seabed off Sussex to help once vast kelp forests recover. A new bylaw has been approved to prohibit trawling year round over large areas along the entire Sussex coast closest to the shore, to help habitats regenerate and improve fisheries, Sussex Inshore Fisheries and Conservation Authority (IFCA) said. Wildlife groups hope that the move, which they said will protect 117 square miles (304 square kilometres) of coastal seabed, will help with “rewilding” the sea by allowing the underwater seaweed forests to regenerate. It follows a campaign to protect kelp, supported by Sir David Attenborough , who has described the approval of the new bylaw as a “landmark decision” for the management of UK coastal waters. Attenborough said: “Sussex’s remarkable kelp forests will now have a chance to regenerate and provide a home for hundreds of species, creating an oasis of life off the coast, enhancing fisheries, and sequestering carbon in our fight against climate change.” The broadcaster and naturalist also described the new protection as a “vital win” in the fight against the nature and climate crises before the major international climate summit, Cop26, being hosted… [read more].
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