Koru’s Weekly News Round-Up – February Week 4

Missed the news last week? Not to worry – here, we will recap and link to the most topical stories over the past seven days.

Dutch plan to build giant offshore solar power farm

“An offshore seaweed farm in the North Sea will be turned into a large solar power farm that aims to pipe energy to the Dutch mainland in roughly three years. The project comes at a critical time for the Netherlands, which is struggling to curb fossil fuel use and meet greenhouse gas emission targets after years of underinvestment in renewable energy sources. After an initial pilot next year, a consortium comprising energy producers, scientists and researchers plans to ultimately operate 2,500 square metres of floating solar panels by 2021, said Allard van Hoeken, founder of Oceans of Energy, which devised the project. The pilot, which will have 1.2 million euros ($1.48 million) in government funding, will operate 30 square meters of panels from this summer. It will test equipment, weather conditions, environmental impact and energy output. Utrecht University will examine energy production at the offshore prototype, located around 15 kilometres (nine miles) off the coast of Dutch city of The Hague at a testing zone known as the North Sea Farm…” via Reuters

Government loses clean air court case

Campaigners have won a third High Court victory over the UK government’s plans to tackle air pollution. The judge in the case said the government plan was “unlawful” and that more action was needed in 45 English local authority areas. He said ministers had to ensure that in each of the areas, steps were taken to comply with the law as soon as possible. The case was brought by ClientEarth, a group of activist lawyers. Mr Justice Garnham said: “Because the obligation is zone-specific, the fact that each of the 45 local authority areas will achieve compliance in any event by 2021 is of no immediate significance. “The Environment Secretary must ensure that, in each of the 45 areas, steps are taken to achieve compliance as soon as possible, by the quickest route possible and by a means that makes that outcome likely.” He added: “In effect, these local authorities are being urged and encouraged to come up with proposals to improve air quality over the next three years, but are not being required to do so. In my judgment, that sort of exhortation is not sufficient…”” via BBC

Greenwashing the property market: why ‘green star’ ratings don’t guarantee more sustainable building

“Nothing uses more resources or produces more waste than the buildings we live and work in. Our built environment is responsible for half of all global energy use and half of all greenhouse gas emissions. Buildings consume one-sixth of all freshwater, one-quarter of world wood harvests and four-tenths of all other raw materials. The construction and later demolition of buildings produces 40% of all waste.The sustainability of our buildings is coming under scrutiny, and “green” rating tools are the key method for measuring this. Deakin University’s School of Architecture and Built Environment recently reviewed these certification schemes. Focus group discussions were held in Sydney and Melbourne with representatives in the field of sustainability – including government, green consultancies and rating tool providers…” via The Conversation


Taller than the Shard:£4 billion plans unveiled to build the world’s tallest wooden skyscraper in Tokyo

“The world’s tallest wooden skyscraper is to be built in Japan, providing 8,000 apartments with trees and foliage on balconies at every level. The 350-metre high-rise building in Tokyo is expected to cost £4 billion to build and is due to be completed by 2041, the 350th anniversary of the foundation of the company that hopes to build it. The tower will be seven times taller than the 17-storey block of student flats in Vancouver that holds the title of world’s tallest wooden skyscraper and 40 metres taller than London’s Shard, by far the capital’s highest building. Sumitomo Forestry intends to use wooden materials to construct 90 per cent of the 70-storey building. Because there are frequent earthquakes in Japan, a steel frame with vibration control braces will be part of the structure, but the interior will be entirely wooden, “producing a calm space that exudes the warmth and gentleness of wood”, say the planners…” via Homes and Property.

World’s first floating wind farm performing better than anticipated

The 30 megawatt Hywind Scotland floating wind farm started operating last fall, and Statoil recently said the farm “performed better than expected in its first three full months in production.” The floating farm has already survived a winter storm, a hurricane, and wave heights of around 27 feet while powering around 20,000 households in the United Kingdom. 45 to 60 percent is the “the typical capacity factor for a bottom fixed offshore wind farm” during the winter, according to Statoil. But Hywind Scotland beat that figure with an average of around 65 percent in November, December, and January, the Norwegian power company said. This means the floating wind farm “was producing 65 percent of max theoretical capacity.” That’s a win for the floating power plant, which has already encountered brutal winter weather. Hurricane Ophelia in October saw wind speeds of 80 miles per hour, and Storm Caroline in December saw gusts of 100 miles per hour and waves of around 27 feet. The wind turbines were switched off for safety during the worst winds, Statoil said, but automatically started operating quickly after. According to the company, “A pitch motion controller is integrated with the Hywind turbine’s control system and will adjust the angle of the turbine blades during heavy winds which mitigates excessive motions of the structure…” via Inhabitat

How to: Turn your food waste into clean energy 

“Each year, 1.3 billion tons of food ends up lost or wasted — 46 percent of the world’s garbage. While the global food waste situation is what you’d call a “doozy,” consumers and companies like HomeBiogas are determined to turn food waste into clean, usable energy… HomeBiogas is one of several successful projects to come about from Kickstarter. The Israeli company, which began its crowdfunding efforts in 2015, focuses on turning everyday food waste into energy for your home. How do they do it? With compact, household-sized biogas digesters that support anaerobic digestion, a process with zero oxygen and hungry bacteria that are ready to dive into last week’s moldy bread. Since the company’s launch in 2015, consumers have responded enthusiastically to their efforts. In fact, they blew past their crowdfunding goal for both biogas products. The second version, HomeBiogas 2.0, exceeded its initial goal by more than 400 percent. In dollars and cents, that translates to more than $490,000…” via Inhabitat

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