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Five Top Headlines that Showcase the World’s Progress in the Climate Fight

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Before the sensation of New Year’s completely wears off, it pays to look back on what was a no-nonsense year in humanity’s attempt to prevent the planet from warming 1.5°C.

A lot of the big players stepped up with major adoption of climate technologies, and past efforts to mitigate or reduce emissions are now shown to be working.

It doesn’t seem to be all token gestures either, as the International Energy Agency said that the progress made this year may actually help achieve the 2030 goals agreed to in the Paris climate agreement.

Let’s take a look back before a great leap forward.

1) Solar investment shines

Nowhere were these sunny headlines more true than in China, which led the world in the installation of new solar farms. The PRC was already the world’s largest market for solar panels and solar power, and it’s estimated that the government has overseen the installation of between 90 and 120 gigawatts of solar power—a truly remarkable figure.

It represents a 30% rise year-over-year in the installation of new solar energy, with 87.1 gigawatts brought online in 2022.

2) Renewables might beat out global warming

China led the way in renewable energy installation, but only in the way that one bicycle sits at the top of a peloton. At COP last year, 200 countries signed an agreement to triple the global renewable energy capacity to 11,000 gigawatts by 2023.

A subsequent report from the IEA found that such an increase is around where humanity needs to be to prevent 1.5°C of warming by 2030.

The key to this goal, some have speculated, is the complete buy-in from the world’s superpowers.

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Students Build World’s First Off-Road Solar-Powered SUV–and Drive it Across Morocco

in Technology 353 views

Students in The Netherlands have designed a solar-powered SUV that doubles as a small camper van to produce the ultimate concept car for off-grid adventure in sunny climes.

Driving it 620 miles (1,000 kilometers) across Morocco, the Stella Terra as it’s called showed a wide variety of advantages over existing electric SUVs.

“Morocco has a huge variety of landscapes and different surfaces in quite a short distance,” says Thieme Bosman, events manager for the TUE team. He told CNN the car was tested “on every type of surface that a car like this could encounter.”

The wide sloping roof has inbuilt solar panels that charge the electric battery while the car is driving. This allowed the creators, students from Eindhoven University of Technology (TUE), to shave off the weight of the battery packs, creating a lighter car that used less electricity to power.

By shaving off weight wherever possible and crafting the Stella Terra’s body panels to have an aerodynamic shape, the car is just 2,645 pounds (1,200 kilograms), about 25% less than similar electric SUVs.

It’s also added up to a longer range of around 710 kilometers (441 miles) on roads, and around 550 kilometers (342 miles) off-road, plus or minus 50 for cloudy or sunny weather, plus or minus a bit more because car makers are notoriously untrustworthy when reporting range.

The team drove it from Tangier through the Rif Mountains, down to Fes and up the high mountain tracks near Midelt, Morocco’s highest town, and back down to the Sahara Desert area where it faced loose sandy tracks.

When it was time to call it a day, the rooftop solar array expanded outward to maximize recharging in the remaining daylight as well as creating an awning like one would find in a camper van. The seats also fully recline to form a bed.

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Ingenious Snow-Proof Solar Panels Can Work in All Weather: ‘Game-Changing Tech’

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Snow accumulation atop solar panels causes energy losses of between 5% and 15% every Winter in northern climates around the world, with some heavy snowfall even leading to mechanical loads that damage PV modules.

Keeping solar panels snow-free has been a costly and inefficient proposition—until now.

Materials and engineering scientists at the University of Toledo have developed an ingenious solution that is winning awards and satisfying the demand of 150 solar plant operators in their latest pilot tests.

The product is a novel strip that is applied to only the lower edge of the panel, which causes the melting of the snow without interfering with the absorption of sunlight.

In a video demonstrating Snow-Free Solar, the Ohio innovators say the easy-to-apply strip “does not cause any partial shading or hot spots on the panel and does not invalidate module warranty.” It can, in fact, improve the life expectancy of the panels.

The flexible strip doesn’t require any energy to operate and the coatings are “extremely durable, strongly adhering to the PV.”

“There is no need for power—it is passive,” says Hossein Sojoudi, the Associate Professor and Technical Advisor who founded Snow-Free Solar. “You apply it to the lower bottom and it works from there.”

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New Florida Community Designed for Resilience Survived Hurricane Ian Virtually Unscathed

in Housing 174 views

Even as two million Floridians lost power during the recent Hurricane Ian, one unique community survived intact.

Despite being located around 20 miles from Fort Myers, the heart of the devastation, Babcock Ranch’s blend of solar power, native flora, and built-to-code construction has meant that apart from ripped up pool coverings, broken fence posts, and a missing shingle or two, they never even lost power.

Roughly 4,600 residents live in Babcock Ranch, billed as a storm-resilient and 100% solar-powered town.

“They were told that Babcock Ranch was built to stand up to storms—but you never really know for sure until you see how everything performs when a storm comes,” Lisa Hall, a community representative, told CBS news. “Ian put it to an extreme test.”

Built around 25-feet higher on average than surrounding communities, Babcock Ranch is beyond the reach of storm waters, and with buildings specified for Cat 4 hurricane winds of 145 mph, Babcock passed the test and how.

Built in 2018 specifically for climate resiliency, the town has its own wastewater plant and water system that penetrates deep into an underground aquifer. Drinking water wasn’t contaminated and never shut off.

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