Ten Sustainable Energy Saving Tips

Managing you Electricity Costs and Energy Spending
by Valentin Uzunov

Become familiar with the information on your electricity bill. Aside from the obvious information like Meter number, which identifies you home meter, typically displayed outside and inspected periodically. Energy Charges, the kilowatt-hours (kWh) of electricity provided over a billing cycle, Current Charges and the Due date. Your electricity bill should also show the breakdown the cost components in your bill. For example, Portland General Electric (PGE) in Oregon has a "Basic Charge", a fee for the service and ancillary services, like online access, they provide (about 11.7% for winter months). "Energy Use Charges", the cost of the actual electricity used (48.6%). "Transmission Charge", the cost to transmit that power to the electric distribution grid (1.6% of my bill). "Distribution Charge", the cost to deliver that electricity to my home (32.1%). "*Green Source", an additional optional cost for making sure that 100% the electricity we use, is provided by renewable sources (6.0%l). Over half of my energy bill is for getting electricity to my home, not the electricity itself. These costs highlight the importance of an efficient energy transmission and distribution network.

Find out if your electricity provider offers any renewable energy programs and consider signing up. Consumer demand will drive the price down for renewable energy and it will ultimately lower total energy costs because renewable energy is becoming cheaper and cheaper to generate.

Plan your energy use. The cost of energy varies in real time so it can be worthwhile to find out your electric companies off-peak periods (eg. 10pm to 6am), when the rate of "energy use charges" per kWh are lowest. These are the times when it is most cost-effective to do really energy-hungry work. At the very least try and avoid high power consumption activities during On-Peak (eg. 3pm to 8pm) time, when charges are near *three times more expensive relative to off-peak. In between are the Mid-Peak rates (eg 6am to 3pm).
    * refers to PGE charges listed in their Residential Service Tariff policy

Unplug devices not being used from the outlets. Every electric device connected to your home power outlets slowly drains some electricity as it's on standby (aka vampire power).

Switch to LEDS, LED lights "use at least 75% less energy, and last 25 times longer, than incandescent lighting". Because LEDs are more efficient less energy is required to get the same results previously achievable by incandescent light bulbs.  According to the Department of Energy " widespread use of LED lighting has the greatest potential impact on energy savings in the United States. "

Invest in a programmable thermostat. setting a programmable thermostat to a lower setting when you are not at home can help reduce your energy costs by approximately 10 percent. For each degree you lower you save 2% on your heating costs. When you leave the house, set your thermostat to 60-56 F (13.3 C). By turning your thermostat back 10 to 15 degrees for eight hours, you can save five to 15 percent over the course of a year on your total heating costs.

Find out what are your biggest energy expenses are and track your habits. By figuring out what are the biggest energy hogs in your home, you can adjust your usage of those devices. Calculating the energy cost of running an electric device is fairly easy. First find out how many watts (W) it uses, typically this value is listed on a sticker label or in the owner's manual. Now multiply the watts by how long the device is in use in hours and divide by one thousand. This gives you how many kilowatt-hours you used in that time. Now multiply this value by the "energy use charge" rate listed on your electricity bill to find out roughly how much it cost to run that device. Eg. A typical kitchen microwave in the use is about 1000 watts to operate (W). A 30 second warmup that is 0.0083 kWh. My bill lists my energy use charge rate at 6.65 cents per kWh, so the cost of running my 1000 watts microwave for 30s is 0.055 cents. Seems little but when I think about how many times I use the microwave for at least a minute at high which consumes more than 1000 watts. Those cents quickly add up into dollars over a month.

Caulk gaps and cracks around drafty doorframes and windows to prevent cold air from entering your home. Caulk is inexpensive and can be purchased at most hardware stores, where you can also learn how to apply it. 

Lower you water heater temperature to 120 F (49 C) or Warm. That is plenty hot for all home purposes. 

Buy or replace with energy efficient devices (When you can). The savings over the course of the devices lifetimes can often pay for itself. But look out for the greenwashing

Community-Based Wildlife Conservation Efforts Succeeding in Tanzania

- by Dain Helmers

When we look at the latest environmental news items, we unfortunately don't really expect there to be a lot of good news.  However, wildlife conservation efforts in Tanzania are yielding just that.

Wildlife populations in Tanzania have been in decline for several decades, as animals have been poached extensively and their habitats degraded by the expansion of farming and mining.  In the past, most wildlife management areas in Tanzania (as well as in most other places) have been managed by central governments.  This had often lead to inefficiency and mixed results, as well as the needs of the local people being ignored.  However, Tanzania (as well as many other countries) have been shifting towards decentralizing these efforts and turning resource management and user rights over to the communities that are affected.  The residents have set aside land to be designated as Wildlife Management Areas, in exchange for the majority of the tourism revenues from those areas.  (Eco-tourism is the largest sector of the Tanzanian economy)

Scientists from the Wild Nature Institute (WNI) have documented significant increases in the density of giraffes and dik-diks, and a marked decrease in livestock density.  Dr. Derek Lee of WNI said that "There have been social and economic critiques of WMAs, but the ecological value or success of WMAs for wildlife conservation had never been quantified. Our data demonstrated that WMA establishment and management had positive ecological outcomes in the form of higher wildlife densities and lower livestock densities. This met our definition of ecological success, and hopefully these results will encourage more community-based conservation efforts."

This shows that community-based conservation efforts can be both effective at accomplishing their intended goal, while also being beneficial to the people that live in the area.  Too many times, conservation efforts have unfortunately stripped people of their land or removed agency from them in another way. A community-based solution makes sure that necessary steps can be taken while also ensuring that humans do not suffer economically as a result.  Biodiversity can be maintained in a mutually beneficial way, and I hope that the positive societal trend in community conservation continues.

Read more at: https://phys.org/news/2018-02-ecological-success-community-based-wildlife-tanzania.html#jCp

Diesel Ban in Germany

Diesel Ban in Germany
       By: Claire Breashears

       Germany is making waves with their announcement of their ability to now be able to ban diesel cars in cities. This comes after a top administrative court ruling, but German officials still oppose the ban, but felt extreme pressure from the EU to push the court decision through in order to reduce pollution. The ban is not a country wide ban but rather on a city to city basis, which states that cities are able to place bans in place for diesel vehicles.
        Why is the ban such a success for the EU? Because Germany has exceeded the maximum levels of of air pollution and this is the first major change that the EU has seen from the German government. As with any ruling comes opposition, which in the case comes most heavily from the car industry for very obvious reasons.

        Although the opposition against the ruling has merit, the facts are that German cities such as Hamburg have exceeded nitrogen oxide limits that have been known to cause respiratory disease in citizens. This means that although the car industry will be losing out on money, it means that with these diesel bans there will be a significant improvement on the quality of life in Germany.
        This new wave of banning diesel cars, has showed other countries that it is possible and is leading the way so that other countries can make these improvements as well. Other countries that have now said that they will take action in banning diesel cars are: Paris, Madrid, Mexico city, and also Athens. These improvements will do nothing but help the quality of air and in turn the quality of life and are amazing actions to help improve air quality in 2018.

References: https://www.reuters.com/article/us-germany-emissions/diesel-cars-can-be-banned-from-german-cities-court-rules-idUSKCN1GA2XD



Cape Town water shortage

By Asako Takahashi

A rapidly changing climate is affecting globally although there are certain places that are getting damages more quickly than the rest of places in the world.

Cape Town is one of those places that has been struggling with the water shortage for the longest time. Despite Cape Town is the second largest city in South Africa, people living in the city is in the situation where they recycle bath water to flush toilets. Shower time there is limited and it is not rare to see the unwashed hair of the citizens there.

Cape Town faces severe drought

They struggle with the drought problem for over a decade and the rapid growth in the city's population is not helping with the problem.

The article on CNN reports that the residents there will have 50 liters only per day to use starting on February 1st. The picture below shows what you can do with that much of money.

A campaign to help Cape Town avoid "Day Zero" offers residents some water-saving tips.

Residents in Cape Town have become creative with the way they use limited water. All wastewater like after washing dishes is saved in the buckets and used to water plants.

The crucial problem is their drinking water. There are supplied water that they get in line. Although there is a problem with the quality of the water and it is resulting in health issue. The problem around this supplied water is reported although the response from the authority has not arrived yet that there seems to be no improvement in the near future.


Seasonally Sustainable Foods

Not many of us know what we are purchasing at our local grocery stores. Although we buy fruits and vegetables that seem to be a healthy choice, is that really what we end up with?

When purchasing foods from the grocery store what your actually getting is skewed from what they are probably advertising or what you believe in in these fruits and vegetables. The food system that grocery stores use today works wonders for us who like to have all kinds of fresh foods year round. The downside to this system is that these foods are stripped from natural and delicious flavors. Aside from loss of flavor these foods are also missing important nutrients.

Fixing this issue is quite simple because there are multiple solutions. The first solution is to buy foods such as fruits and vegetables from a local farm. The second solution is to grow your own.

What is Micro-Hydro Power & Does It Work?

By Stephen Lawrence

In the United States, 100% of people living within the country have access to electricity in some capacity (1), so it seems a bit far fetched for many Americans to think about how many people across the globe are still in the dark when it comes to electricity and the access they rightfully deserve. Additionally, when we really think about the numbers of people living without electricity, about 1 in 7 people do not have access to any form of refrigeration systems, lighting or electric cooking methods.

Fortunately, as the numbers continue to rise of individuals living without electricity, a simple and inexpensive system has been formed that helps many people, specifically in third world countries, gain access to electricity: micro-hydro power.

According to Home Power, micro-hydro power is the process of using running water and a vertical drop to gain continuous flow to renewable energy (2). The individuals who install these systems simply put in a turbine into a river or stream and connect the system to electrical wiring that pumps electricity throughout the area. This system works specifically well for small communities of people who do not need a high amount of electricity, but could still benefit from it.

While there have been critique to the micro-hydro power systems, as some people claim it disrupts the natural flow of rivers and streams, the benefits of micro-hydro systems have been beneficial for local, small communities of people in rural countries. These systems are easily functional, allowing locals to work to maintain them, and allow for diseases to stop spreading, as refrigeration becomes an option for locals.

The system may not be perfect, but in many third world countries, this system has greatly impacted the success of the community and allowed many individuals to thrive with electrical access. For more information about ways that micro-hydro power systems are being used, check out the Green Empowerment website, which explores the ways that micro-hydro systems are used in real world communities:




(1) https://data.worldbank.org/indicator/EG.ELC.ACCS.ZS

(2) https://www.homepower.com/articles/microhydro-power/basics/what-microhydro-power


The Risks of Deregulation - a Short History of Urban Smog

by Sean Vandehey

Our story begins, as befits our era, with a Trump Tweet.  On 14 December President Trump proudly tweeted that he was beginning the process of cutting down the Code of Federal Regulations from it’s current size of 180k pages back towards it’s 1960 size of just 20k.  To quote the President, “Today, we CUT THE RED TAPE! It is time to SET FREE OUR DREAMS and MAKE AMERICA GREAT AGAIN!”

The problem, of course, is that every single line in the official Code of Federal Regulations was put there on purpose - every line represents someone, somewhere, who cut corners on safety rules, and someone else who paid the price.  As Joy Reid put it in her response to the President’s tweet, “Every one of those pages protects your food from being filled with rat droppings, [...] & corporations from polluting the air you breathe...”.  

Case in point - this was the view of NYC from the World Trade Center as recently as 1988.

(photo by  Dr. Edwin P. Ewing, Jr)
In fact, Los Angeles, once infamous for it’s midday smog, despite steady progress over the years has recently seen a spike in daytime ozone readings from a 2015 low.  The last two years have been such a significant increase, in fact - 145 days above federal limits in 2017, up from 132 in 2016, and 113 in 2015, with 2004 being the last year with more than 140 days above the limit - that environmentalists are wary to directly attribute the rise to weather patterns or climate change caused by global warming.  In fact, they’re specifically citing weak regulations as the root cause, suggesting that while officially LA has half as much smog-forming pollution coming out of cars and factories, city officials may well be underestimating emissions from economically important polluters like oil refineries and the ports. 
And Californian officials share their concerns - they have been actively resisting EPA director Scott Pruitt’s recent decision to delay the introduction of an Obama administration rule tightening air quality standards to below current limits.  "California is forging ahead with aggressive actions to reduce ozone levels, irrespective of EPA's delay," said California Air Resources Board spokesman Stanley Young last June, citing the longstanding problem with air pollution in the state, and existing plans to achieve a 70ppm goal regardless of the federal standard.  
Whose dreams exactly President Trump seeks to set free are unclear, but the old photos of NYC or LA from the 70s and 80s, with fuzzy buildings and invisible horizons, might suggest a counterargument to his fears of “burdensome” red tape.  
Think about the level of smog and pollution in your own community, and imagine how much worse it could get if we're not careful about which regulations are onerous and which are for the public good.  You can contact Scott Pruitt yourself here, and tell him we need more robust air quality regulations nationwide.  (President Trump can always be reached on Twitter.)

Cuts to National Monuments Mostly Bringing Uncertainty

by Sean Vandehey

(Metate Arch in the Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument - photo by Brian W. Schaller)
In November leaked documents suggested that Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke’s review of Federally managed national monuments would call for dramatic reductions to both the Bear-Ears and Grand Staircase Escalante National Monuments in Utah, and that’s just the beginning of his report’s recommendations.  Zinke’s assignment from President Trump was to review any monuments over 100k acres created in the last 21 years (since Clinton’s second term, for those counting) and seek to counteract ‘abuses’ by the Federal Government against local land rights.  The initial results are the surprise downsizing of Obama’s newly created Bear-Ears monument by 85% and the Clinton era Grand Staircase monument by nearly half.
Proponents of the move cite a combination of federal overreach by Washington over the last few decades, unfairly restricting local economic potential in various natural resource industries, resulting in reduced opportunities for local residents.  To quote President Trump, “some people think that the natural resources should be controlled by a small handful of very distant bureaucrats located in Washington. And guess what: They’re wrong.”  Opponents meanwhile have declared the move a giveaway to the oil and mineral industries at the cost of priceless archaeological and scenic treasures, which will only serve to hamstring the changing tourism economy in the region.  
Bear-Ears was only created at the end of Obama’s second term and has barely begun the transformation from public to federally managed land.  But Grand Staircase Escalante, created in 1996 by President Clinton, has had twenty years to transition to a tourism economy, and locals have been divided all along on whether the loss of a proposed coal mine in the late 90s and the shutdown of a lumber processing facility in the 2008 recession have been sufficiently counteracted by 78 million in annual tourism revenue.  As well, there is debate over whether monument status accomplishes one of the intended goals of wilderness and archaeological preservation.  The existing infrastructure already struggles to protect the sites from misuse by civilians, and whether a cut in federal enforcement funding will be counteracted by a reduction in tourism due to the installation of oil and coal operations is anyone’s guess.
In any case, the transformation of both monuments into several, much smaller monuments, marks a significant shift in direction for the Department of Interior under the Trump Administration.  Three months after the initial reports of the change came out, how that new land management policy change will take shape remains uncertain.  The last drilling rig to operate within monument boundaries was plugged in 1992, and despite the Trump Administration’s friendly attitude towards the coal industry, locals will point out that even during the 70s coal boom the local deposits were deemed unprofitable to extract.  A series of impending court challenges to the legality of the president’s power to retract previously declared monument borders, paired with the already long lead time on setting up mineral extraction technology, means it could be years before the consequences of this decision, positive or negative, are clear.
A copy of Zinke’s memorandum to the President can be read here.  If you've ever visited one of the 129 national monuments in the US, imagine what changes these new policies might bring to future generations' ability to enjoy our natural and cultural heritage.  We recommend contacting your representatives to let them know how you feel about the administration's new policies.

Canadian Challenge to Trump’s Solar Tariff

By Sean Vandehey

Last month when the Trump Administration revealed their new 30% tariff on solar panel imports into the US, there was debate on whether the small number of jobs to be saved in domestic manufacturing were going to be enough to counteract the significant blow this would deal to the rest of the domestic solar industry.  Per the New York Times, “more than 260,000 Americans are employed in the [solar] sector, but fewer than 2,000 of those employed in the United States are manufacturing solar cells and modules, according to the Solar Energy Industries Association.”  
At solar farms across the US, far more American labor takes the form of installation of panels and manufacturing of the steel racks that angle them into the sun.  Now the cost of one of their key materials is going up by 30% next year, a spike in costs that risks making the entire solar industry non-competitive in the US energy market.
The efficacy of Trump’s tariff plan aside, now a handful of Canadian solar panel manufacturers are claiming that Trump’s tariff is also a violation of NAFTA, and are taking the matter up in US courts.  Citing the high burden of proof required to impose tariffs on NAFTA member nations, and claiming that the Trump Administration has failed to prove that Canadian imports are harmful to the US industry, they are seeking an injunction against enforcement of the new tariff.  
Joining Canada in filing suit in the US Court of International Trade, China, Taiwan, South Korea, and Singapore have requested consultations with the WTO, the first step in dispute resolution for international trade matters, and likely a prelude to further lawsuits and direct challenges to the tariff.
You've probably seen solar panels cropping up on rooftops around your neighborhood, at bus stops or transit stations, possibly even a larger scale solar installation.  With this new tariff, that trend will slow significantly, potentially with long-term consequences for investment and expansion.  If you’d like to add your voice to the chorus speaking out against the tariffs, contact your Senator or Representative and ask them to take action in favor of all our solar industry workers.

Solar Panels for Everyone

By Molly Barnett

Imagine living in a world where there was no electricity. Unfortantly for a lot of countries this is their reality. 2.5 billion people go without power everyday. How? A lot of us can’t even imagine going a few hours without our iPhone. For a lot of countries this is the reality when it comes to poverty. There are so many necessities that come with power. Although there are many organizations trying to help out these countries there still is not enough help. But what if there was. 

The sun is a natural resource that everyone has access to, no matter where you are in the world. This is a resource that will never go away (well at least for a long time). So why not use it? This is where solar panels come into play. By using the one natural resource that everyone has it would not only bring power to countries it could even reduce the amount of fossil fuels that are being put out into the air. Some third world countries use fossil fuels as a source to power. This is not only bad for the environment but this will eventually run out. Just when we thought that it couldn’t get any better solar panels will create jobs as well. Once people start realizing all of the positive experiences this will create a bigger market for solar panels, there for creating more jobs. 

So why doesnt everyone have solar panels? Well for a long time the cost of solar panels was expensive and governments or other organizations did not want to pay for them. But in a recent study solar and wind power is the same or cheaper than fossil fuels. As costs begin to fall an it will be a more desirable solution for not just the wealthy but for everyone


The Cost of Electricity

Wholesale and Retail electricity prices

by Valentin Uzunov

Each method for generating electricity has its costs which are determined up to the point of connecting to the electricity grid or a load (home, industry, commercial ). This wholesale value takes into account the initial capitaldiscount rate, as well as the costs of continuous operationfuel, and maintenance for the entire lifecycle of the station. To equitably compare electricity generation on a consistent basis between different power sources, one useful metric is the leveling cost of electricity (LCOE). LCOE is regarded as the average minimum cost at which electricity must be sold in order to break-even over the lifetime of the generation project.

Within the last ten years there has been a surge in the production of energy by renewable sources (solar, wind, geothermal, and hydro) are a result of increased demand across the globe, likely a reflection of the slowly building increased awareness of the connection between climate change and fossil fuels. Consumer demand drives competition which lower the cost of supply. However it was only last year that the cost of renewable energy generation became cheaper than conventional means, as reported by Lazard, a global finance and asset management company, in its latest annual Levelized Cost of Energy Analysis (LCOE 11.0) report "a continued decline in the cost of generating electricity from alternative energy technologies, especially utility-scale solar and wind" (Figure 1)

Figure 1. Renewable energy sources outnumber conversational sources at equivalent or lower Leveling Cost of Energy (LCOE). Source: www.lazard.com/perspective/levelized-cost-of-energy-2017/

The cost to supply electricity actually changes minute by minute at the utility level. However, most consumers pay rates based on a fixed seasonal cost rather than at wholesale prices. These prices vary between different types of utility customers. 

With annual average residential and commercial consumer prices in the US being higher than others, as voltages at which electricity is transmitted has to be regulated in populated areas for safety reasons. In 2016, the annual average whole price of electricity in the United States was 10.28¢ per kilowatt hour (kWh). The annual average prices by major types of utility customers were however 12.55¢ per kWh for residential, 10.37¢ per kWh for commercial, 9.48¢ per kWh for transportation, and 6.75¢ per kWh for industry.

The actual price the consumer cares about though is the retail price of electricity. Retail prices is what is listed on your bill. It depend predominantly on construction costs, finance, maintenance, and operating costs of the power station and the electric grid infrastructure necessary. For profit utilities also include a financial return for owners and shareholders in their electricity prices. Investopedia quotes this at " 8-10% based on statistics from Yahoo Business". Typically, high profit margins like these increase competition driving market price down. However the  extremely high level of capital investment necessary to establish infrastructure along with local and federal government restrictions on new projects, means that already established utility companies have essentially pseudo-monopolies in the regions where they are established.

According to US Energy Information Agency (EIA) the key factors which influence the retail price of electricity are : (figure 2)
Fuel, to operate electricity generators during high demand. This also means that electricity prices are subject to crude oil prices which power those generators
Power plants, construction, maintenance, and operating costs.
Transmission and distribution system, maintenance costs and repair
Weather condition, extreme temperatures increase demand driving prices due to required fuel consumption
Regulations, In some states, Public Service/Utility Commissions fully regulate prices, while other states have a combination of unregulated prices (for generators) and regulated prices (for transmission and distribution

Figure 2. The electricity retail price breakdown . Source: https://www.eia.gov/energyexplained/index.cfm?page=electricity_factors_affecting_prices

To put this into some context, the annual power consumption in the US ranges between states, from 505 kWh per month in Hawaii, where annual average electricity prices are around 23.87¢ per kWh (highest in the US). To 1240 kWh per month in Louisiana, where electricity is the cheapest in the nation, at 7.46¢ kWh. The national average annual energy consumption is 897 kWh per month at an average retail price of 10.28¢ per kWh (at time of writing. That is equivalent to a monthly bill of around $92 dollars. Looking at my January electricity bill, which was unusually high at $105 for 812 kWh, actually works out to be about $3.28 a day, compared to $5.61 on average around the US. I am glad to be living in Oregon, where retail electricity prices are within the lower quartile of the nation, at 8.83¢ kWh, and just under half of all energy produced in Oregon is renewable.

Electricity is ostensibly bountiful in the US, only a switch flip away. However for 900 million people around the world are without access to electricity, that is 27% of the world's population. Take a moment to consider the implication of living without electricity for even a day… A Oregon based organizations like Green Empowerment however are trying to make a difference to those people's lives. Part of their mission is to help rural communities, those most in need, establish locally owned and sustainable access to electricity. Utilizing small hydropower, biomass, biogas, wind and solar technologies that can be designed, built, and maintained locally. While their task is monumental, they have already made significant strides connecting over 30,000 people to renewable energy access since 1997.

You can make a difference too, join the movement by promoting sustainable energy use and sustainable living practices.

South Africa Is Experiencing A Catastrophic Drought

- By Dain Helmers

South Africa has been experiencing a severe drought over the last three years, with dam levels dropping to record lows.  Three of South Africa's nine provinces have been terribly affected by this drought.  The city of Cape Town, population 3.7 million, is estimated to be less than four months away from "Day Zero" or
the day that the city will run dry.  Believe it or not, water conservation efforts coupled with a small amount of rain have improved the dire situation from earlier this month, at which time Zero Day was placed at the 12th of April.

As of now, residents of Cape Town are limited to
50 liters (about 13 gallons) per day, for drinking, cooking, cleaning, bathing and all other purposes. This allows residents to take a very short shower and flush the toilet about once a day, to leave enough water for laundry or dishes once a week. (For comparison, the average American household uses 379 liters (100 gallons) per day.  This is the latest reduction of several during this drought; Cape Town has cut its water consumption in half in the last two years, now consuming 550 million liters per day compared to over a billion per day at the beginning of 2016.  Still, this is not enough to sustain the needs of a city of Cape Town's size.  Very soon, the water allocation per day will be reduced even further.  The drought has been declared a National Disaster by the South African government, who are working towards a solution to keep Cape Town and other parts of South Africa from running out of water entirely. 

Theewaterskloof Reservoir, 2014-2018.
Source: NASA Earth Observatory

As climate change marches on and droughts like this become more common, the need for sustainable resource management increases exponentially.  Think about your lifestyle, wherever you live.  How difficult would it be for you to use only the amount of water that Cape Town residents are allowed?

Do you want to help?  Please visit and donate to Drought Disaster Fund.

Source: BBC, "Cape Town Drought Declared a National Disaster" 
http://www.bbc.com/news/world-africa-43047833 13 February 18.

Photo credit: Jon Kerrin Photography

Solar Panels in Africa

Solar Panels in Africa
      By: Claire Breashears

 It's extremely apparent that fossil fuels will not be able to sustain humans forever, and also the negative effects they have had on the earth that have directly impacted human life are something we need to become more aware of and make effective changes to. When we discuss renewable energy, one of the most important to note is solar powered energy.

Large parts of Africa are still without any electricity, meaning that while some of us are concerned with how much fuel we are consuming, there are many others around the world that still don't have the same basic needs that we do, and solar energy can fix this problem. One example of this is the country Uganda who's 70 % of the population still doesn't have any electricity.

The UK government is on the forefront of energy transformation to provide those who are less privileged with access to clean energy. What the UK government decided to do about the lack of clean energy in Uganda is work with the United Nations and assist the Uganda Solar Energy Association or USEA. They created the UNCDF CleanStart program which invests with other financial institutions in distributing energy service companies and other providers of wholesale or retail financing for clean energy.

How can these solar powered systems change the lives of those that had once lived without? This would allow children to be able to study and read when it gets dark out, allow families to charge their phones, and even allow a family to have a fridge. All basic needs that we take for granted. How can we help is the question we must ask ourselves. There are many websites that you can donate to that provide these services for individuals such as websites like solar aid.    





Solar Powered

Solar Powered
By Sebastian Frost

As humanity inches closer to the depletion of the Earth’s natural resources, the need for using renewable forms of energy becomes more important by the day. Fortunately, the implementation and use of renewable forms of energy has become much more accessible. Decreasing costs and increasing scalability have fostered a significant uptick in the amount of solar energy sources available, worldwide.

Generally speaking, there are two types of solar energy sources: utility-scale or distributed. Distributed are generally seen in residential and non-residential environments, such as a business, and are limited to powering the space that they are physically attached to. Utility-scale, on the other hand, refers to larger solar farms that are geographically centralized, which allows for the power they generate to be consumed by many. Despite the increasing accessibility, solar energy is not necessarily available to everyone—especially individuals who do not own their residence. Fortunately, however, this is where community solar projects can shine some light.

A community solar project—also known as a solar garden—is a solar energy source that is shared by multiple homes or businesses. For individuals who do not want to, or are simply not able to, install solar panels on their property, signing up for community solar project can be an effective way of using solar energy. Doing so can not only decrease electricity costs for consumers, but it is also extremely important to creating a sustainable environment for our planet. For those who are interested, simply clicking here will take you to energysage.com and allow you to identify options for using a community solar project. We can all make the Earth a little greener, one click at a time.