Roundup: Google’s Alphabet Looks To Erect Smart Cities

The Top Sustainable Investment News Roundup:

Google’s Alphabet Looks To Erect Cities

Google executives are evaluating a plan by Alphabet’s own urban tech-focused subsidiary, Sidewalk Labs, to build brick and mortar cities within struggling cities, reports the Wall Street Journal.

Sidewalk Labs would partner with cities that have available land to construct technological-savvy districts that can serve tens of thousands of residents and employees, the story says, citing people familiar with the plan.

 ExxonMobil Partners On Carbon Capture Venture

ExxonMobil is teaming up with fuel-cell developer FuelCell Energy on a way to capture carbon that would clean and then store the carbon, instead of releasing it in the air, MIT Technology Review reports.

Large oil, gas and coal producers have long aimed to find ways to capture and store carbon, but have struggled to do so on a large-scale way.

“The FuelCell Energy technology would use what’s known as a carbonate fuel cell, which uses carbon dioxide as one of its inputs, to capture the carbon dioxide and concentrate it into a form that can be transported and stored, most likely in deep underground repositories,” MIT reports.

DNV GL Says Wind-Powered Oil Recovery A Go

DNV GL’s joint project with the renewable energy and the oil and gas industries, WIN WIN, is showing promise, the firm says. DNV GL is an is an international certification body and classification society with main expertise in technical assessment, advisory, and risk management.

WIN WIN stands for Wind-powered water injection. Over the past year, the participating groups have worked to “develop the concept of using floating wind turbines to power a water injection system in detail, and assess its technical and commercial feasibility,” an announcement from DNV GL says.

“By utilizing the recent developments of floating offshore wind turbines, this concept can offer a clean, reliable, and cost effective alternative for powering water injection in offshore locations,” DNV GL group president and CEO Remi Eriksen says.

Caterpillar Sees Promise In Microgrid Technology

Caterpillar has launched a way to bring together solar PV and energy storage with the construction and mining equipment giant’s power generation equipment, PVTech reports.

“Cat Microgrid Technology is available in a range from 10kW to 100MW of modular solutions,” PVTech notes. “It can be configured to include thin-film solar panels, Caterpillar generator sets and a selection of energy storage technologies, including ultracapacitors and lithium-ion batteries.”

Los Angeles Sets High Bar For Water Efficient Buildings

The city of Los Angeles has raised the bar among U.S. cities when it comes to water efficiency for new buildings, the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) reports.

Los Angeles put in place an ordinance to mandate all new buildings cut down indoor portable water use by 20 percent. The NRDC was among a group of stakeholders who advocated for changes. It acknowledged not getting everything it wanted, but notes the ordinance establishes Los Angeles “as an environmental leader” and hopes other cities follow its lead in upgrading buildings.

Silicon Wafer Co. 1366 Technologies Gets $10M Funding for New Factory 

1366 Technologies, which develops cost effective silicon wafers for solar cells, received $10 million from Korea’s Hanwa Investment Corp. on May 5 to help build its first large-scale commercial factory in upstate New York, scheduled to be online in 2017.  1366  also received $4 million in ARPA-E funding and a $150 million federal Energy Department loan guarantee, says the Boston Globe.  1366 claims that it has the potential to cut the cost of PV installations by 50 percent, and has customers committed to buying 60 percent of the wafers that will be made in the new factory, says Fortune. The factory will reportedly require $700 million in total to build.

Food Waste to Create Energy for Supermarket Chain

Ahold’s Stop & Shop grocery chain announced the installation of an anaerobic digestion system to turn unsold food waste into green energy for 212 of its New England supermarkets.  Stop and Shop’s Green Energy Facility can process 34,000 tons of waste per year and will create approximately 1.25 MW of clean electricity.  It received funding from MASS CEC ($400,000) and Eversource Energy for the project, says Waste360.

China Halts Coal Plant Approval in Some Areas 

China is suspending coal-fired power plant approvals in some provinces with surplus power supply, outlined by China’s top economic planner, the National Development and Reform Commission, says the WSJ. This move is expected lead to lead to a decline in coal-demand growth and drive further clean energy generation from existing renewable power plants, reports Bloomberg.

China Power Plants Turn to Biomass 

Driven by new clean energy policies, power plants across China are turning to biomass, according to Xinhua News Agency.  One power plant in Shandong Province has replaced coal with biomass from local farmers, taking in 300,000 tons of waste annually, to generate 230 million kilowatt hours of electricity while using 170,000 tons less coal. The  plant also produces 1,500 tons of sulfur dioxide and 200,000 tons of carbon dioxide less than conventional power plants, according to the new plant’s developer.

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