A federal court in Washington, D.C. has struck down the Dakota Access Pipeline, following years of campaigning by the Standing Rock Sioux tribe.
Denmark is home to the school with the world’s largest solar facade
Dodicimila piastrelle colorate per la facciata solare del Copenhagen International School che producono il 50 per cento dell’energia necessaria
The facade of the Copenhagen International School, Denmark, is covered by 12,000 solar glass panels, making it the world’s largest solar facade. The panels are able to produce 300 MW hour of electricity per year, meeting half the energy needs of the school.
The panels are coloured by light
Besides being an efficient energy solution, the solar facade has redefined the style of the building, turning it into an architectural work. The colour of the solar glass panels is sea green, the same of Copenhagen’s symbol: Andersen’ mermaid, which welcomes tourist in the Danish capital. The unique sea-green hue of the panels was created by the Ecole Polytechnique Federale in Lausanne (EPFL) after more than a decade of development.
By using the process of light interference, the researchers achieved the solar glass panels’ distinctive colour. This effect can be observed in soap bubbles, in the wings of some butterflies and in the layer of oil on a water surface. “The iris effect creates a colourful rainbow on a very thin layer. We used the same principle and adapted for glass,” said Jean-Louis Scartezzini, the head of the Solar Energy and Building Physics Laboratory (LESO-PB).
The process is only appearantly easy, as controlling the light reflected by solar panels in order to produce one single colour without reducing the energy efficiency is rather challenging. Indeed, it took 12 years of research to realise the panels. The researchers developed special filters that determine which wavelengths of light will be reflected as visible colour, while the rest of the sunlight is absorbed by the solar panel and converted into energy. Without using any pigments, but ensuring that only certain wavelengths are reflected, the solar panels are brick red, royal blue, golden yellow or sea green.
Building renovation for energy efficiency
Old buildings, built at a time when energy efficiency wasn’t much considered, are a robust part of Europe’s heritage, and their renovation is an ongoing debated issue all over Europe. On average, the renovation rate of EU buildings is about 1 per cent per year. This means that it would take 100 years to renovate all European old buildings. In order to accelerate this process, which would have positive effects in terms of energy efficiency, environment protection and a better health for citizens, the European Union has launched the Climate-KIC initiative. The aim is connecting universities and companies in order to develop innovative technologies in the energy efficiency field and create building materials that allow decarbonising buildings.
Facades that adapt to buildings’ needs
The technology developed by the Ecole Polytechnique Federale in Lausanne is not the only one in Europe that combines building renovation and energy efficiency. The Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Zurich, Switzerland, developed an “adaptive solar façade” that can be installed on glass facades to produce energy in existing buildings. Panels allow sunlight to enter the building and, when necessary, can be moved and used to shade.
How old houses can become energy-neutral
The University of Technology in Delft, Netherlands, is testing a technology that works like a “second skin”. It uses prefabricated materials to be installed in buildings while people keep working and living in them. The first test of this technology has been carried out on a copy of a townhouse built in the 1960’s, demonstrating how these houses, which are energy-consuming, can become energy neutral.
The Scottish island of Eigg is self-sufficient for its energy needs, relying almost entirely on renewable sources, especially thanks to a coordinated community effort.
President Magufuli in unmovable in going ahead with the Stiegler’s Gorge dam despite conservationists’ warnings of the damage it will cause the Selous Game Reserve’s ecosystem and wildlife.
A large dam along the Luangwa River in Zambia would have posed a serious risk to local people and wildlife, leading hundreds of thousands to oppose it. A call to which the government responded by halting plans to build it.
The first one megawatt solar power plant in the Chernobyl exclusion zone has become operational. This is the first step in a renewable energy development project promoted by the Ukrainian government in the area.
Gas explosions are frequent in Nigeria, where safety standards are poor. In the latest incident, a gas tanker blast killed 35 people in Nasarawa state.
The largest tidal power plant in the world will be built in the Larantuka Straits. It will serve 100,000 people and help overcome some of the challenges of energy provision in Indonesia.
Robben Island’s solar energy micro-grid project will produce almost one million kilowatt hours of electricity annually, significantly reducing the cost and impact of buying diesel.
The Balikpapan oil spill off the coast or Borneo in Indonesia covers 120 square kilometres. It has caused the death of 5 people, health and economic problems for local communities, as well as threatening wildlife and local ecosystems.