Solar power brings light to Tanjung Batu Laut

emergentfutures:

Tanjung Batu Laut seems to grow out of a mangrove swamp on an island off the coast of Malaysian Borneo. The houses, propped up over the water on stilts, are cobbled together from old plywood, corrugated steel, and rusted chicken wire. But walk inland and you reach a clearing covered with an array of a hundred solar panels mounted atop bright new metal frames. Thick cables transmit power from the panels into a sturdy building with new doors and windows. Step inside and the heavy humidity gives way to cool, dry air. Fluorescent lights illuminate a row of steel cabinets holding flashing lights and computer displays.

The building is the control center for a small, two-year-old power-generating facility that provides electricity to the approximately 200 people in the village. Computers manage power coming from the solar panels and from diesel generators, storing some of it in large lead-acid batteries and dispatching the rest to meet the growing local demand. Before the tiny plant was installed, the village had no access to reliable electricity, though a few families had small diesel generators. Now all the residents have virtually unlimited power 24 hours a day.

Full Story: Technology Review

unexpectedtech:

Ikea is setting itself up as a role model for sustainable business by announcing it will invest €1.5 billion in solar and wind power to ensure it is totally self-sufficient by 2020.

When the furniture company was founded its motto was to do things as cheaply and efficiently as possible (and of course, to create designs with simplistic Swedish style intact). Twenty-five years on and it now has outlets in 41 countries. Engineering a sustainable model, whereby the company can continue to keep costs low for both the consumer and the firm rather than competing with rising energy prices, is the logical next step.

Speaking to Reuters, the company’s chief executive Mikael Ohlsson said the move was sure to drive innovation in the industry and beyond. The “People and Planet Positive” campaign will see the €1.5 billion (£1.2 billion) spent on building on Ikea’s existing solar and wind farms to deliver 70 percent of the global firm’s energy by 2015, with total self-sufficiency slated for 2020. The target seems achievable, considering the 342,000 solar panels on its outlets and factories already generate 27 percent of its total energy. Add to that the fact that Ikea has wind farms in six countries across Europe and the fact that, since 2009, it has already invested half of that €1.5 billion figure, and it looks like the long-term strategy has been in the works for some time.

That strategy also includes planting as many trees as it uses in its furniture production by 2020, buying half its wood supply from Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) certified forests, selling energy efficient products like induction cookers, using LED lights across the company (which, it says, will cut emissions equal to those produced by the Netherlands), ensuring its other bought-in products are sustainable and helping supply clean water to the areas its factories are based.

Ikea to produce as much renewable energy as it consumes by 2020

There IS a Bicycle Economy

emergentfutures:

There IS a Bicycle Economy, Two Cities Find

Portland, Oregon and New York City, two very different cities, are finding something similar about cyclists and pedestrians – they tend to spend a bit more money in local economies.

Transportation Alternatives has been promoting the ‘bicycle economy’ in New York’s East Village, finding that:

“Streets that promote bicycling and walking mean more business for local shops and restaurants,” said Paul Steely White, Executive Director of Transportation Alternatives (TA). “When it comes to the impact bike lanes have on local businesses, it’s a case of ‘if you build it, they will come.”

Full Story: TreeHugger

“Streets that promote bicycling and walking mean more business for local shops and restaurants,”

“When it comes to the impact bike lanes have on local businesses, it’s a case of ‘if you build it, they will come.”