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Category Archives:

Technology

Just in Time for Earth Day, NY-Sun Initiative Expansion Is Approved

Governor Kathy Hochul announced a new framework for New York State to increase its distributed solar capacity to 10 gigawatts by 2030- enough to power 700,000 homes. NYSERDA and the Public Service Commission have created a new roadmap to show how these numbers can be achieved, making the NY-Sun Initiative one of the largest and most inclusive programs of its kind in the US.

“The existential fight against climate change demands historic investments in renewable energy to bring us closer to a brighter, greener future,” Governor Hochul said. “This roadmap to expand the NY-Sun initiative into a nation-leading blueprint for the development of distributed solar meets the moment to supercharge our economy and advance our climate goals.”

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Black Contributions to Sustainable Agriculture Have a Long History

Photo: Corinne Singer/Edible Magazine

As we come to the end of another Black History Month in the US and Canada, it’s a great time to reflect on the enormous contributions that people of African descent have made in the realm of agriculture and farming. Since the colonial period, when so many Africans were forcibly brought to the Americas to provide slave labor, Black people have influenced and created innovative and highly successful farming techniques and practices, and introduced new foods- despite controlling less than 2% of the farmland in this country to this day.

While concepts such as sustainable agriculture and community farming may seem like recent developments, they are rooted in ancient land practices that Black and Indigenous farmers have been perfecting for centuries, and in many cases, we have BIPOC activists to thank for keeping those traditions alive and relevant in the present day.

This photo, taken by Dorothea Lange for the Works Progress Administration in the 1930s, shows a man and his son watering their mules on their family farm, owned by the man’s father. While some of the Black farmers Lange photographed in this series shot in North Carolina were tenant farmers and sharecroppers, others owned their own farms and worked their own land.

Here are some of the innovations that we can thank Black farmers and activists for introducing to our agriculture system:

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The End Is Near for Gas Power in New Buildings in NYC

Ravenswood PlantIn December, NYC became the largest city in the country to agree to phase out the use of fossil fuels in all new buildings. The New York City Council has passed a bill prohibiting natural gas hookups in new buildings, beginning next year.

NYC’s largest source of carbon emissions is from buildings- at 27%, more than double the amount that building emissions account for in other places (13% in the US as a whole), more than transportation, waste or any other category.

Appliances that run on gas — stoves, furnaces, boilers, and water heaters — also come at another cost. When natural gas combusts indoors, a mix of particulate matter, nitrogen and sulfur oxides, and volatile organic compounds is released — air pollutants that have harmful effects on respiratory and cardiovascular health. Gas-fueled appliances are also frequent emitters of methane, a more impactful greenhouse gas than carbon dioxide.

With the new bill, New Yorkers can expect to see some changes by the end of 2023, when developers of new buildings under seven stories won’t be allowed to put in natural gas-powered stoves, boilers, or water heaters. Instead, these buildings will use electricity, relying on a mix of technologies like heat pumps and induction stoves to replace gas and oil.

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A Tale of Two Grids & the Plan to Connect Them

New York’s climate goals are some of the most ambitious in the nation: by law, the state needs to reduce its dependence on fossil fuels and shift to a completely clean, emissions-free electricity economy by 2050, and get to 70% renewable generation by 2030. And to reach that goal, state agencies and private companies have been ramping up renewable energy sources like wind and solar farms. Solar One has been involved in this change almost since its inception, playing a role in getting New York’s first net metering law passed, which paved the way for a renewable revolution, and our Here Comes Solar, Green Design Lab and Workforce Training programs have all  been playing roles in this historic transition ever since, as have our staff who work on NYSERDA’s Clean Energy Communities program at the Mayor’s Office of Sustainability.

Sounds pretty promising, doesn’t it? However, there’s a catch. Most of the renewable generation being developed in New York is located upstate, where space is plentiful and land is relatively cheap. But the need for power is greatest in NYC, and the transmission lines tasked with moving the power down to us just can’t handle that many electrons.

In September, Gov. Kathy Hochul announced two huge transmission-line projects to help bridge that divide, a step that environmental advocates hope is a sign that she is accelerating the state’s efforts to address climate change and environmental inequities.

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Celebrating Hispanic/Latino/Latinx STEM Heroes for National Hispanic Heritage Month

In the US, the monthlong period from September 15-October 15 is designated as National Hispanic Heritage Month, a great time to pay tribute to the Mexican-American, Puerto Rican, Colombian-American, Argentinian-American, Peruvian-American and Cuban-American (among many other) scientists, researchers, astronauts, doctors, mathematicians and physicists who have done so much work in the fields of science, technology, engineering and mathematics.

This list from WeRepStem.com includes Nobel prize winners (Luis Walter Alvarez, Severo Ochoa, and César Milstein), the first Latinx woman to be elected president of the American Health Association (Helen Rodríguez-Trías), and two NASA astronauts (Ellen Ochoa and Carlos I. Noriega), among many distinguished and influential professionals.

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From 4% to 45%: US Energy Dept Recommends Huge Solar Expansion

The Biden administration on Wednesday released a plan to produce almost half of the nation’s electricity from the sun by 2050 as part of its effort to combat climate change.

Solar energy provided less than 4 percent of the country’s electricity last year, and the administration’s target of 45 percent would represent a huge leap and will most likely take a fundamental reshaping of the energy industry. In a new report, the Energy Department said the country needed to double the amount of solar energy installed every year over the next four years compared with last year. And then it will need to double annual installations again by 2030.

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