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Renewables — Six degrees of energy news

A round-up of popular renewable energy stories, just steps apart.

solar farm

Whether it’s Kevin Bacon or energy news, the six degrees of separation theory works; you can connect anything and everything with six or fewer steps.

From solar powered planes to green manufacturing, the most talked about news stories recently have focussed on renewable energy, and the technology to widely implement it.

Here we’ve summarised six of these linking stories that have created a buzz amongst the energy industry, and consumers worldwide.

1) Flying Nanjing to Hawaii — strictly solar

Solar Impulse 2, a plane that is entirely solar powered, is preparing to cross the Pacific Ocean from Nanjing China, to Hawaii. The crossing will take up to 6 days with solo pilot André Borschberg only resting for 20 minutes up to 8 times a day, if the journey allows it.

In order to power the plane and charge its battery (for nighttime flying), Solar Impulse 2 reaches heights of 28,000 feet during the day, and just over 3,200 feet in the evening.

Borschberg is currently waiting for the perfect conditions to fly and start this most difficult leg of the round the world trip, which is purposed with the promotion of renewable energy, showcasing what it already has the ability to achieve.

2) Hawaii legally goes green but will require energy storage

Hawaii passed legislation to go 100% green by 2045, in an update to Hawaii’s Clean Energy Initiative. With advances in green technology now becoming increasingly frequent, it has been recognised as a realistic target for the state.

Hawaii suffers from depending on imported oil, this results in a 175% price increase from the average US energy bill. Becoming self-sufficient with renewables should lead to more palatable energy prices for the island’s inhabitants.

A large issue with such zealous plans regarding renewable energy, is scaleable energy storage for when electricity can’t be produced.

3) Energy Storage — Is Powerwall the answer for renewables?

The introduction of Tesla’s Powerwall was pitched by entrepreneur Elon Musk as a development towards the infrastructure for America to go off the grid.

For the present day however, the main purpose of the wall-mounted battery provides a place to store excess solar energy (among other forms), to then use at peak times when solar cannot be produced — for instance in the evening.

Since unveiling the creation to the public, 38,000 orders by early adopters have been registered for Powerwall, meaning the battery has now sold out. With such demonstrated interest in the creation, it bodes well for its continued popularity and eventual price decrease giving it more mass appeal.

With the roll-out of smart meters in the UK, we could all benefit in the future from storing some cheaper off-peak energy in a device like Powerwall, to then use at peak times.

4) Greenpeace, amongst other renewables champions, welcome Amber Rudd

Amber Rudd was appointed Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change following the Conservative government victory gained in the general election.

With fears over the party’s stance on renewables and climate change, green organisations were favourable of the appointment of Rudd. Greenpeace, the Solar Trade Association (STA) and Renewable Energy Association (REA) all gave positive reactions via press or twitter, as Rudd is known for her acknowledgement of climate change and pushing to reduce the UK’s carbon emissions.

As former junior energy minister, Rudd is a familiar face at the Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC), and will hopefully be able to continue its work to encourage switching and empowering consumers to save money.

5) Greenpeace 2015 Click Clean Report — Apple on top

Major tech companies have been ranked by Greenpeace in their Click Clean 2015 report. The report sets out to measure how green a company is focussing on consumption and where the energy they use comes from, including their deployment of renewables.

Apple beat the likes of Google, Amazon Web Services and Microsoft with 87% of its global operations running on renewable energy, with the intent to further this to 100% by implementing new schemes to produce the necessary energy for all their data centers and processes.

6) Apple wants to go greener in China

To further Apple’s green efforts, the company has revealed it wants to start working towards 100% of its Chinese manufacturing being run on renewable energy; this is with the aim to match the 100% of US operations run solely using renewable energy.