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The latest products, services and cleantech applications and how they are tackling some of our most pressing social and environmental issues.

Reports: Renewables, Energy Efficiency Can Help Avert Water Crisis

Dependency on fossil fuel-based energy will lead to a global water crisis by 2040 unless power generators increase efficiency and the use of renewables, according to two new reports by CNA Corporation, a nonprofit research and analysis organization.The research, which explores the links between electric power generation and water use, also offers recommendations for strategic steps that can be taken to reduce power companies’ heavy dependence on water, which can enhance the reliability of power generation.

Macy’s Cuts Electricity Usage By 38%, Sets New Sustainability Goals

Since 2002, Macy’s has reduced its electricity usage by 38 percent and achieved a 95 percent adoption rate of recycled or certified paper used in marketing materials, according to a recent announcement.The retailer says it already has implemented more than 100 new sustainability ideas over the past six years. As often is the case, innovation has begotten innovation, and the company is looking to take further actions to improve its sustainability performance. Some of these actions include installation of additional electric vehicle (EV) charging stations, continued rollout of LED lighting and solar, and new efforts to reduce packaging waste.EVs, LEDs and Renewables

Caesars Adds EV Charging Stations at 13 Resorts, Soon to Be Nationwide

Caesars Entertainment announced today that guests of 13 of its resorts and casinos can now literally “relax and recharge” with the addition of new EV charging stations, thanks to the company’s partnership with NV Energy.A total of 48 charging ports have been installed in guest parking lots and valet areas at most of Caesars’ Northern and Southern Nevada resorts and casinos, as well as Harrah’s Resort Southern California, and are available for guests to use at no cost.

Panasonic Provides Daytime Power to Indonesian Island with PV Power Package

Panasonic Corporation announced Tuesday it has installed the “Power Supply Container” (PSC), a stand-alone photovoltaic (PV) power package that it developed, at the National Elementary School Karimunjawa 01 in Karimunjawa Island, Jepara District, Central Jawa Province, Indonesia. On July 17, a handover ceremony was held jointly with project partner Koperasi Pundih Artah and the Institute of Business and Economic Democracy Foundation (IBEKA), an Indonesian NGO.

Major US Companies Band Together to Assert Market Demand for Renewables

Looking to increase availability of cost-competitive renewable energy to run their businesses, this week 12 leading US companies signed the Renewable Energy Buyers’ Principles, created by the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) and the World Resources Institute (WRI), to better communicate their purchasing needs and expectations to the marketplace.

Timberland Cuts GHGs 50%, Exceeds Renewable Energy Goal

Timberland announced Wednesday it has reduced its greenhouse gas emissions (GHGs) by 50 percent since 2006 (achieving almost half of that [23 percent] in 2013) — meeting its 2015 emissions-reduction goal two years ahead of schedule — and it now derives 26 percent of its energy from renewable sources, exceeding its 2013 target of 23 percent.Timberland attributes these accelerated results in 2013 to a higher use of renewable energy sources in its European headquarters and distribution centers, such as its 100 percent wind-powered, BREEAM-certified (the European equivalent of LEED) distribution center in Eschede, Holland.

Company Promises to Produce World’s Most Affordable Solar Panels

Solar company Siva Power has announced a new technology roadmap that projects the cost of its thin film solar modules dropping to a record low of $0.28/watt.The company says that its advanced manufacturing approach means projected costs are geography-agnostic, and can be achieved in China, the United States or any other location. The company expects to be in production within four years, with a 300-MW-capacity facility."Silicon photovoltaic (PV) technology still relies on brute force replication of small production lines. The next wave of solar will require advanced manufacturing, high-speed automated production lines based on thin film PV," said Brad Mattson, CEO of Siva Power.

North Carolina's Largest Bioenergy Plant Powered by Pigs

The 600-kW Storms Hog Power plant at Storms Hog Farm near Bladenboro, NC has been operating at full capacity for the past 90 days, according to Renewable Energy Focus. North Carolina’s largest swine waste-to-energy system, Storms Hog Power says it is generating enough clean renewable electricity to the local utility to offset the electricity consumption of almost one-third of the homes in the area.

USC Scientists Develop Affordable Organic Battery

Scientists at the University of Southern California (USC) have developed a new water-based organic battery that is long-lasting and built from inexpensive, eco-friendly components.The new battery uses no metals or toxic materials and is intended for use in power plants, where it can make the energy grid more resilient and efficient by creating a large-scale means to store energy for use as needed.The batteries could pave the way for renewable energy sources to make up a greater share of the nation’s energy generation, USC says. Solar panels can only generate power when the sun’s shining, and wind turbines can only generate power when the wind blows. That inherent unreliability makes it difficult for power companies to rely on them to meet customer demand.

SAP Converting Company Fleet to 20% Electric, Powered by Renewables, by 2020

SAP AG today announced plans to increase the electric vehicle (EV) contingent in its company car fleet to 20 percent by 2020. The initiative launched officially today at SAP headquarters in Walldorf, Germany.To mark the occasion, Peter Rasper, EVP and head of global finance infrastructure, and Daniel Schmid, Chief Sustainability Officer, handed over the keys to the owner of the 10th electric company car at SAP — the company says 50 more electric cars are set to join the fleet by the end of the year.

Half of Germany’s Power Can Come from Solar

Germany now can produce more than half of its energy from solar, according to Fraunhofer ISE research institute, which showed that the country produced a record 24.24 GW of solar energy during the first week of June.Due to better weather in Germany compared to last year, the production of solar power increased 34 percent during the first half of 2014.Much of Germany’s increase in solar energy has come from ordinary citizens installing photovoltaics onto their homes, rather than from large farms of solar panels. In fact, more than 90 percent of solar panels installed in Germany are on homeowners' roofs.

Shell joins EDF’s Methane Detectors Challenge

Cross-Posted from Collaboration. Shell has joined the Environmental Defense Fund’s (EDF) “Methane Detectors Challenge,” a collaborative project between EDF and five other oil and natural gas companies aimed at identifying and bringing to market cutting-edge technologies that could ultimately help reduce methane emissions from oil and natural gas operations.Shell joins Apache Corporation, BG Group, Hess Corporation, Noble Energy and Southwestern Energy as an industry partner in this effort to help catalyze new technologies for enhanced detection of oil and gas emissions.

Renewable Energy Can Create Economic Boom, But Better Policies Needed

Implementing the right policies and frameworks can achieve large-scale deployment of renewable energy that creates jobs, increases incomes, improves trade balances, and contributes to industrial development, according to a new report by the Clean Energy Ministerial's Multilateral Solar and Wind Working Group.

EPA Lays Out First Guidelines to Cut Carbon Pollution from Existing Power Plants

At the direction of President Obama and after an unprecedented outreach effort, the US Environmental Protection Agency is today releasing the Clean Power Plan proposal, which for the first time cuts carbon pollution from existing power plants, the single largest source of carbon pollution in the United States. Today’s proposal will protect public health, move the United States toward a cleaner environment and fight climate change while supplying Americans with reliable and affordable power.

Philips and Green Sense Farms Using LEDs to Grow Crops Indoors

Royal Philips and Green Sense Farms (GSF), a Chicago-area commercial grower, have partnered to develop one of the largest indoor commercial farms using LED grow lights. This farming method allows them to harvest 20-25 times a year by using ‘light recipes’ optimized for their produce and uses 85 percent less energy, Philips said in a release.

Biomass Boilers Could Reduce Scottish Bacardi Distiller’s CO2 Footprint by 90%

A Scottish Dewar's distillery owned by Bacardi Limited could reduce its carbon footprint by up to 90 percent by replacing heavy-fuel boilers with biomass boilers fuelled by sustainably sourced wood pellet fuel.The Aberfeldy Distillery raised £1.2 million through the UK Green Investment Bank (GIB) for energy-efficiency projects. Half of the funding is coming from an Equitix-managed fund, in which GIB is an investor, and the Equitix Energy Efficiency Fund. The investment is in partnership with Balcas Limited, a UK manufacturer of wood pellet biomass.Half of the funding for Aberfeldy is being provided by GIB, with the rest coming from the private sector. Both projects entail replacing existing heavy-fuel oil boilers in order to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

Idaho Startup Wants to Pave Roads With Glass Solar Panels

An Idaho couple has developed a modular paving system of solar panels that can be installed on roads, parking lots, driveways, sidewalks, bike paths, as well as playgrounds, and generate electricity to power homes and businesses connected via driveways and parking lots.Scott and Julie Brusaw, founders of Solar Roadways, envision a nationwide system that could produce more clean renewable energy than a country uses as a whole.

Organic Carbon Battery More Powerful Than Lithium Ion, Charges Twice as Fast

Japanese startup Power Japan Plus has launched a new battery technology that generates twice as much energy as a lithium ion battery and charges 20 times faster. The technology could lead to cheaper long-range electric vehicles (EV) that can travel hundreds of miles on a charge and be charged in minutes rather than hours.

GM Fuel Cell Fleet Surpasses 3 Million Miles

General Motors’ fleet of fuel cell vehicles has passed three million miles of hydrogen-powered, real-world driving, avoiding 157,894 gallons of gasoline consumption, according to a recent announcement.GM’s specially equipped fleet of Chevrolet Equinox Fuel Cell vehicles are part of the company’s 119-vehicle Project Driveway program, launched in 2007. Since then, more than 5,000 drivers have provided feedback on the functionality and drivability of fuel cell technology.

Toyota Funding Hydrogen-Fueling Infrastructure in California

Toyota has entered into a group of financial agreements with FirstElement Fuel Inc. (FE) to support the long-term operation and maintenance expenses of new hydrogen refueling stations in California, according to a recent announcement.Toyota says the amount of financial assistance will be determined by an analysis of the grant award to FirstElement by the California Energy Commission’s (CEC) Notice of Proposed Awards (NOPA) announced on May 1, and final approval of the NOPA, anticipated in June.As part of the agreement with Toyota, FirstElement will work to develop an integrated and reliable network of fueling stations across California in target market locations approved by Toyota, and consistent with the California Fuel Cell Partnership Road Map.