Energy Efficiency and Climate Change news from TreeZero

Google Now Sources 100% of Its Energy From Renewables Google recently signed contracts for three wind power plants

For a total of 535 MW — which put their total energy infrastructure investment at over $3.5 billion, according to Electrek; a move which also gives the company over 3 gigawatts in total solar and wind capacity. Google says that this is enough to power 100 percent of its products and services. In a post on his personal LinkedIn page, Sam Arons, senior lead for Google’s Energy & Infrastructure, gave a bit more detail about the recent purchases. “2*98 MW with Avangrid in South Dakota, 200 MW with EDF in Iowa, and 138.6 MW with GRDA in Oklahoma — cementing Google as the largest corporate purchaser of renewables on the planet @ 100% renewable in 2017!”

Soil Power! The Dirty Way to a Green Planet

By Jacques Leslie
The earth possesses five major pools of carbon. Of those pools, the atmosphere is already overloaded with the stuff; the oceans are turning acidic as they become saturated with it; the forests are diminishing; and underground fossil fuel reserves are being emptied. That leaves soil as the most likely repository for immense quantities of carbon. Now scientists are documenting how sequestering carbon in soil can produce a double dividend: It reduces climate change by extracting carbon from the atmosphere, and it restores the health of degraded soil and increases agricultural yields. Many scientists and farmers believe the emerging understanding of soil’s role in climate stability and agricultural productivity will prompt a paradigm shift in agriculture, triggering the abandonment of conventional practices like tillage, crop residue removal, mono-cropping, excessive grazing and blanket use of chemical fertilizer and pesticide. Carbon sequestration in soil and vegetation is an effective way to pull carbon from the atmosphere that in some ways is the opposite of geoengineering. Instead of overcoming nature, it reinforces it, promoting the propagation of plant life to return carbon to the soil that was there in the first place — until destructive agricultural practices prompted its release into the atmosphere as carbon dioxide. That process started with the advent of agriculture about 10,000 years ago and accelerated over the last century as industrial farming and ranching rapidly expanded. Among the advocates of so-called regenerative agriculture is the climate scientist and activist James Hansen, lead author of a paper published in July that calls for the adoption of “steps to improve soil fertility and increase its carbon content” to ward off “deleterious climate impacts.” Rattan Lal, the director of the Carbon Management and Sequestration Center at Ohio State, estimates that soil has the potential to sequester carbon at a rate of between 0.9 and 2.6 gigatons per year. That’s a small part of the 10 gigatons a year of current carbon emissions, but it’s still significant. Somewhat reassuringly, some scientists believe the estimate is low. Because of carbon’s climate change connection, we’ve been conditioned to think of it as the enemy, when in fact it’s as vital to life as water. The way to make amends is to put it back in the soil, where it belongs.

Solar powered smart windows break 11% efficiency – enough to generate more than 80% of US electricity

By John Fitzgerald Weaver
The National Renewable Energy Laboratory, (NREL), has demonstrated a prototype of a solar powered smart window. The smart window lowers building temperatures by shifting from clear to opaque under strong sunlight. When the shift to opaque occurs, the solar prototype begins electricity production. The prototypes tested reached up to 11.3% efficiency. The solar cell is based on the lab/headline favorite material perovskite. One potential smart window feature is darkening of windows to minimize heat coming into a structure. Heating, cooling, and ventilation of commercial structures is up to 80% of their energy costs. In the USA, up to 80% of residential units and 50% of commercial units, use some sort of ‘Low-E’ (low heat emission) glass. In this particular hardware, the smart darkening process begins the electricity producing magic when the glass becomes a solar cell via a heat driven chemical reaction.

Learn about emerging solutions and debate best approaches to climate action in this free massive open online course.

Among the topics covered in Climate Action: Solutions for a Changing Planet:

  • The science behind reducing global greenhouse gas emissions
  • What businesses and government can do to decarbonize the economy
  • The role of agriculture in reducing emissions
  • How satellites are being used to identify high-emissions areas
  • Case studies of emissions reduction from Russia and Australia
  • The actions communities and individuals can take to make climate action a reality

This course is for:

Graduate students and advanced undergraduate students interested in the key concepts and practices of this growing field.
Climate change activists who want a concise overview of the current science and emerging solutions.
Sustainable development practitioners – as well as private-sector actors, such as corporate sustainability and responsibility groups and those who work in renewable energy – who need to understand how climate change solutions are being implemented and made successful.

Cities Are Ready for 100% Clean Energy

At the time of this publication from Sierra Club, nearly 50 cities in the United States have committed to 100% renewable energy in one or more energy-use sector: electricity, buildings, or transportation. These 100% clean energy commitments build on the leadership of early adopters like Greensburg, Kansas, a town that rallied around clean energy to rebuild “stronger, better, greener” after it was nearly wiped off the map by a massive tornado in May 2007. Greensburg became one of the first cities in the United States powered entirely with clean, renewable sources of energy like wind and solar.

Power Shift: How Natural Gas and Renewables Dethroned King Coal. Natural gas is now the No. 1 source of electricity in the U.S., and wind and solar are coming on strong.

By Erin Ailworth
American electricity production is changing dramatically. For decades, burning coal was the primary way power companies generated the electricity to cool homes, run factories, and brighten streets. But coal has been steadily losing market share to natural gas and renewable energy. Natural gas last year surpassed coal as the leading source of electricity in the U.S. for the first time in more than half a century. See…

Ecofys assessed global potential for renewables on country level

Ecofys, a Navigant company, has assessed the global potential for renewable energy technologies on country level. The previously performed research has now been published as part of Shell’s recently launched Global Energy Resources database. The database allows the user to explore the world’s energy resources by region, country and energy source.The renewables assessment by Ecofys which fed into the database includes solar PV on land and buildings, wind on and offshore, concentrated solar power (CSP), as well as a meta study of hydro- and geothermal electricity and an estimate of biofuel potential. The experts identified a realistically achievable potential for all sources which is comparable across technologies for a medium case scenario in 2030. The scenario shows that renewable technologies could provide up to ~1,600 EJ/a of electricity globally in 2030. Today’s global electricity demand (65 EJ/a) is well covered by this potential, but constraints may occur in the long run locally. Amongst large countries, Nigeria and India may need imports to meet electricity demand depending on demand growth.


The university recently completed a retrofit project for outdoor LED lighting. The result? A projected $10.5 million in lifetime cost savings, 70,000 tons of reduced carbon dioxide emissions, and improved safety and beauty on campus. ARIZONA STATE UNIVERSITY Along with using carbon offsets, ASU has installed 88 solar systems to help meet its goal of carbon neutrality by 2025. UNIVERSITY OF CALIFORNIA AT IRVINE – UC Irvine has been a pioneer for LEED buildings on campus, constructing new facilities to be highly efficient while retrofitting old buildings to conserve energy. It was the first institution in the nation to meet goals outlined by President Obama’s Better Buildings Challenge in 2011, and it did so seven years ahead of schedule. COLORADO STATE UNIVERSITY It was first college to receive the coveted STARS platinum rating, and it was also the first to use solar energy to power an air conditioning and heat system. PLYMOUTH STATE UNIVERSITY PSU has committed to 100 percent renewable electricity by 2030.

Ingersoll Rand: How to use IoT to become more energy efficient – By SCOTT TEW

The US Department of Energy predicts that for every degree a homeowner raises their thermostat, they can possibly reduce their overall energy costs by about two or three percent. A smart thermostat will be central to managing your energy usage, as heating and cooling accounts for almost half of the energy use in a typical US home. Smart home automation systems like Nexia, for example, can help you control all of your smart features from one application when you’re at home and when you’re away.

Webinar on the World Energy Outlook-2017 – The outlook for Power, Renewables and Energy Efficiency

Paris, France: 7 December 2017; Time: 3:00 PM – 4:00 PM CET; The new IEA World Energy Outlook (WEO) was released on 14 November, full of insights about an energy world in transformation. The work is structured around two main scenarios that provide different perspectives on the future of global energy: the New Policies Scenario outlines the direction in which today’s policy and technology momentum is leading the energy system; the Sustainable Development Scenario identifies a pathway to achieve internationally-agreed goals for climate, air quality and energy access. The various fuels and energy technologies, including energy efficiency, face very different opportunities and pressures in the two scenarios. In this webinar you will have the chance to hear from, and question, some of the WEO’s lead authors. The annual World Energy Outlook is the IEA’s flagship publication and a vital guide to future energy trends. In these webinars, we’ll be responding to your questions and comments, submitted either online during the event or in advance by email to