Cleantech News Roundup: New Formula E Car, Greener Aluminum, Indian Solar, Plastic Pollution, Emissions-Sniffing Drones…

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We’ve got stories about emissions-sniffing drones, the new Formula E race car, Volvo’s carbon neutral engine plant, a dual-motor AWD Tesla Model 3, Shell’s investment in solar, lower-carbon aluminum production, Indian solar news, DIY shaving cream, natural hangover remedies, and more in today’s cleantech news roundup.

In today’s fast-paced internet media environment, you’re bound to miss a lot of news if you aren’t obsessively following cleantech and clean transport topics across a great many sites. The good news is that in addition to the obsessive coverage we maintain here on CleanTechnica, the team at Important Media also publishes their work on a handful of our other sites as well, which is where you’ll find stories that don’t necessarily fit perfectly on CleanTechnica, but which are still relevant to the bigger picture of building a cleaner and healthier future for us all. And if you want even more cleantech news, join our LinkedIn group CleanTech Enthusiasts.

Let’s get the not so good news out of the way first:

(Un) Clean Tech

Katowice (Poland) Is Using Drones To Locate Illegal Emissions Sources

The city of Katowice in Poland has begun using drones outfitted with various air quality sensors as a means of locating illegal emissions sources — and thus as a way of locating otherwise hard to locate offenders.

EPA Rolls Back Harley Davidson Emissions Cheating Fines

In the settlement, Harley agreed to pay a fine of $12 million. It also agreed to contribute an additional $3 million to a program to replace conventional wood burning stoves in certain communities with more environmentally friendly stoves. The DOJ says new policies instituted by Attorney General J. Beauregard Sessions make it necessary to roll back that last part of the deal, bringing gladness to the hearts of the Harley faithful but provoking outrage from officials in 10 states and the District of Columbia.

Pope Francis Calls For Amazon To Be Protected From Big Business & “Consumerist Greed”

Pope Francis recently gave a passionate call for the Amazon to be protected from big business and “consumerist greed” — while in Peru, on a tour of Latin America.

Ocean Dead Zones Multiplying Rapidly, Threatening Food Source For Hundreds Of Millions

The latest research, published in the journal Science on January 5, says, “Major extinction events in Earth’s history have been associated with warm climates and oxygen-deficient oceans.”

Norwegian Court Rules Against Lawsuit Calling For End To Arctic Oil Exploration — Arctic Oil Development Is A Go

The lawsuit that was filed by environmental groups in response to Norway’s announcement of plans to continue oil exploration in the Arctic has been dismissed by a court in Oslo. What that means is that the court ruled that the argument that such oil exploration was in violation of “people’s right to a healthy environment” wasn’t true — so, full-steam ahead for Arctic fossil fuel development, in other words.

Plastic Pollution Is Sickening World’s Coral Reefs, Study Finds

The world’s coral reefs are being sickened by plastic and micro-plastic pollution and debris — everywhere from the Great Barrier Reef to the Caribbean — according to a new study published in the journal Science.

New York City Files Multibillion-Dollar Lawsuit Against 5 Major Oil Firms

Five of the world’s largest oil companies are now in the process of being sued by New York City for their “contributions to global warming,” Comptroller Scott Stringer has revealed.

World Is Still Overshooting 2°C Target Despite Oil

Schroders Climate Progress Dashboard has highlighted the fact that, despite headway made by the oil and gas industries, a drop in clean energy investment means we are still overshooting efforts to reduce global warming to 2°C.

Large Protests In Pristina, Kosovo, Over Deadly Air Pollution

The recent (and ongoing) occurrence of dangerously high air pollution levels in the city of Pristina in Kosovo triggered a ban of cars from the city center, and a fairly large protest (for the country) as well, according to recent reports.

Monarch Butterfly Count In California At 5-Year Low, Despite Record Number Of Volunteers Counting

Despite the presence of a record number of people working to count the insects, this year’s population census for monarch butterflies wintering in California has fallen to a 5-year low, according to a new report from the Xerces Society for Invertebrate Conservation.

Clean Transport

The Top 15 Cars People Keep Driving for 15 Years

One of the most basic tenets of any “green” philosophy is that you don’t want to buy something that’s disposable. It’s reduce, re-use, and recycle, after all. With cars and homes, especially- commodities that require a massive amount of energy to build- you want to buy something that lasts and keep it on the road for as long as you can. That’s what makes this list so interesting: the 15 cars people keep driving for 15 years.

Meet the New Formula E Race Car for Season 5 (Gallery)

The wait is over. This is the new Formula E race car for Season 5, and, yeah. As promised, it looks kind of like a Batmobile. Sure. Not the one I’d have chosen, but it’s Batmobile-y.

BP Putting $5 Million Into EV Charging Firm FreeWire

The oil giant BP will be investing $5 million into the US-based mobile electric vehicle charging tech firm FreeWire, it has announced. While the move is notable, you’ll also probably notice that $5 million is essentially just chump change to BP — so the investment probably doesn’t amount to much but PR from the BP side of things.

Of Course the New Volvo XC60 was 2017’s Safest Car

Subaru may have better commercials, but the European NCAP test scores are undeniable. The safest new car that came out in 2017 is the 2018 Volvo XC60. And, frankly, it’s not even close- the XC60 showed a clear advantage in Safety Assist with a score of 95%. A score that was a full 20 points higher than the nearest competitor in its class.

California Governor Signs Executive Order Meant To Increase EV Sales

Following the signing of a new executive order by California Governor Jerry Brown, the official target for all-electric vehicle sales in the state is now: 5 million by 2030. That target builds on the earlier target of 1.5 zero emissions vehicles by 2025 by quite a bit — demonstrating that Governor Brown’s previous comments about pursuing further actions to support cleantech regardless of federal policies weren’t just glib talk.

Old School Cool: NASA Aerodynamic Truck Studies

Back in the 1970s and early 80s, NASA conducted a series of tests to determine how aerodynamic changes could impact a truck’s fuel economy. Tests like this were, in part, part of the government’s response to that decade’s oil crises. The results of the tests, too, were hugely interesting.

La Bandita Concept is a New-age Porsche Spyder (w/ Video)

If you’re looking a for a thoroughly modern, forward-looking take on James Dean’s iconic “lil’ Bandit” 550 Porsche Spyder, this crowdfunded concept is for you. Meet “La Bandita,” an ultra lightweight, 550-inspired electric supercar built by the guys who brought you From Dust to Glory.

Official: Volvo Engine Plant is Now Carbon Neutral

Volvo Cars’ engine factory in Skövde, Sweden, has become the company’s first carbon neutral manufacturing plant, having switched to renewable heating as of 1 January 2018.

China 100% Electric Bus Sales Drop To ~89,546 In 2017

The Chinese market for pure electric buses had approximately 89,546 sales last year. This is down from 115,700 sales in 2016. This means that year on year, the market sales decreased by 23%. Reports indicate that this decrease is down to multiple factors, but mainly due to changes to electric bus subsidies from Chinese national and local governments.

New Airstream Globetrotter is Ready for Off the Grid Glamping

For the uninitiated — and, frankly, anyone else who can afford it — there is no better way to experience nature than from the comfy confines of a luxury RV. A luxury RV like the new Airstream Globetrotter, for example, that the company launched a few weeks ago featuring Bluetooth connectivity throughout, integrated USB charging, and wireless internet technology.

Morgan EV3 Junior for Mini EV Enthusiasts

The Morgan EV3 is the stuff of eco-conscious gearhead dreams. The ultra lightweight trike is capable of sprinting to 60 MPH in under 8 seconds with a top speed of over 100 MPH. It’s no Ludicrous-speed Tesla, sure- but the bantamweight EV was always about motoring. And, for that purpose, it has no equal. Or, it didn’t, until Morgan launched this: the Morgan EV3 Junior.

Dual-motor, AWD Tesla Model 3 Confirmed by Configurator

With less mass than the Model S, the Tesla Model 3 has some serious sporting potential- and that would be especially true if the car was offered with the same dual-motor, AWD setup found in the ludicrously fast Model S. Tesla hasn’t officially confirmed that a hi-po Model 3 is coming, of course, but one intrepid Redditor found an image which depicts a Model 3 fitted with two motors that are handily highlighted in red.

Mazda Says New SkyActive 3 Engines Will Be As Clean As Electric Cars

Recently, Mitsuo Hitomi, Mazda’s managing executive officer in charge of powertrain development, announced his company is working on new internal combustion technology that will equal electric cars in well to wheel carbon emissions. It will be called SkyActive 3 and will follow close on the heels of the SkyActive X engine that has just been unveiled. The X specification is a gasoline engine with many of the characteristics of a diesel, including better fuel efficiency but with lower emissions.

The Ray: 18-mile stretch of road is a testbed for a “regenerative highway ecosystem”

What will the highways of the near future look like? This road project aims to create “a corridor that reconnects and restores us.”


Clean Tech

Ørsted Expects 2017 Operating Profit To Hit DKK 22.5 Billion ($3.61 Billion)

Danish offshore wind energy giant Ørsted has announced that it expects its operating profit for 2017 to reach approximately DKK 22.5 billion, or around $3.61 billion, based on “preliminary and unaudited reporting” and topping off an already impressive financial year.

Uncertainty Looms At India’s Largest Solar Power Park As 1.2 Gigawatts Is Tendered

Confusion and uncertainty is looming over the execution of India’s largest solar power park at Pavagada in Karnataka, southern India. The park is facing multiple issues related to tariffs and domestic content requirements, which is now in violation of a September 2016 WTO ruling.

Shell Invests Big In Solar, Acquiring Major Stake In Silicon Ranch

Oil giant Shell has stepped up its investment in renewable energy, announcing this week that it has entered into an agreement to acquire a 43.83% stake in leading US solar developer, owner, and operator Silicon Ranch Corporation, a deal set to be worth up to $217 million.

Masdar Secures $188 Million Funding For Jordan’s Largest Solar Project

After a shock setback in the Saudi Arabia solar power tender, Masdar Clean Energy has something to cheer about as its solar power project in Jordan secured funding.

SunPower Sells Off 110 Megawatt Chilean Solar Plant To Actis

SunPower, one of the world’s leading solar companies, has announced this week it has sold off the 110 megawatt Pelicano Solar Plant in Chile to leading investor Actis.

300 MW Tahoka Wind Power Project Closes Financing

A 300 MW wind power project in Lynn County, Texas has closed its financing. The project is managed by Lincoln Clean Energy, which is owned by I Squared Capital. Morgan Stanley will provide construction and term financing and long-term tax equity will come from BHE Renewables, a subsidiary of Berkshire Hathaway Energy Company.

China’s CETC Plans 200 Megawatt Solar Fab In India

As the Indian government continues to look into anti-dumping and safeguard duties against imported modules, a Chinese company is planning to set up a solar module manufacturing unit in the country.

Vestas Agrees To Acquire Leading Energy Analytics Company Utopus Insights

Danish wind energy giant Vestas has announced its intention to acquire leading energy analytics and digital solutions company Utopus Insights in a move expected to be worth $100 million.

860 Megawatt Solar Tender In India Is 4X Over-Subscribed

Recent price rises in solar power modules and a sharp cut in maximum permissible tariff bids does not seem to be impacting the aggressive tender bidding in India.

China Is Leading International Clean Energy Investment According to IEEFA

While the western world is lingering in a limping economy and a chaotic political scene, China has used that advantage to invest in clean technologies around the world. Today it is considered to be the leading force in International cleantech investments.

Indian State Of Rajasthan To Achieve 7 Gigawatts Of Solar Capacity By March 2019

In just over a year’s time, the west Indian state of Rajasthan will have an installed solar power capacity of 7 gigawatts, government officials have said. The feat, if achieved, will be substantial, as only a handful of countries today have a solar power capacity of 7 gigawatts or more.

Hydro Begins Aluminum Production At HAL4e Pilot Facility — 15% Less Energy Use Than World Production Average For Aluminum

Aluminum production has now begun at Hydro’s HAL4e-process pilot facility in Karmøy (Norway), according to a new press release. The Hydro-developed HAL4e aluminum production process will reportedly allow for 15% less energy use, and a much lower carbon footprint.

Canadian Solar Modifies Q4 & FY17 Guidance, Increases Expected Module Shipments

Canadian Solar, one of the world’s largest solar power companies, has modified its financial guidance for the fourth quarter and full year 2017, resulting in increased total solar module shipments for 2017 of nearly 7 gigawatts.

$35 Million Funding Deal Signed For 750 Megawatt Solar Park In India

The entity responsible for the development of two solar power parks with a cumulative capacity of 1 gigawatts recently signed a funding agreement to finance the first phase of development.

Evian Vows 100% Recycled Plastic Use By 2025

Danone’s widely distributed Evian brand of bottle water will have transitioned to 100%-recycled plastic use by 2025, if recent announcements from company execs are to be believed.

India Issues Guidelines To All States Over WTO Solar Equipment Compliance

The Ministry of New & Renewable Energy in India has issued guidelines to all states related to the decision of the World Trade Organisation related to obligate use of Indian-made solar cells and modules.

Under2 Coalition Now Represents 205 Governments, 1.3 Billion People, & 40% Of Global Economy

Over the last 12 months of activity, the Under2 Coalition has grown its members to encompass 205 governments from around the world, representing 1.3 billion people and almost 40% of the global economy, and all of them have committed to reducing greenhouse gasses by 2050.

Buyers Line Up For 350 Megawatts Of SkyPower Solar Capacity In India

At least three major renewable energy developers in India are looking to buy the seven solar power projects awarded to SkyPower Global as the Canadian company plans to exit the highly competitive market.

Canadian Pension Fund Invests $144 Million In India’s ReNew Power

Goldman Sachs-backed renewable energy developer ReNew Power Ventures Limited recently announced that the Canadian Pension Plan Investment Board invested $144 million in the company.

CDP Names 58 Companies As Climate Leaders, Including Apple, Honda, & Microsoft

CDP has awarded 58 companies the title of “Supplier Engagement” leader as an acknowledgement of their climate leadership and approach to tackling the reduction of emissions in the supply chain.

Reducing Agricultural Emissions Through Reducing Food Waste & Modifying Diets

A new analysis of agricultural emissions published this week by Climate Action Tracker has pointed out that reducing agricultural emissions through farming practices alone won’t be enough to limit global warming to 1.5°C, but that reducing food waste and changing societies diet could deliver the necessary changes.

Fungi could help concrete heal its own cracks

Researchers are looking to fungi to help provide a fix for crumbling infrastructure, with promising results.

There’s No Place Like Home, Especially if It’s Made of Hemp

Now that several states have legalized the use of marijuana for some recreational and medical purposes, one of the biggest untapped markets for the cannabis plant itself — at least one variety — could be as a building tool. The most sustainable building material isn’t concrete or steel — it’s fast-growing hemp.

In Colorado, a glimpse of renewable energy’s insanely cheap future

Even with storage, new renewables beat existing coal.

Clean Living

Fluffy DIY Shaving Cream

This homemade shaving cream recipe smells amazing, feels amazing, is actually good for your skin, and it washes out of the razor in a normal, high-efficiency shower or sink stream!

How to Make Your Own Infused Water

Infused water (or spa water) is all the rage at health food stores and trendy restaurants these days. If you’re trying to stay away from soft drinks and other sugary beverages, you don’t need to spend a fortune on fancy water; you can easily make your own tasty infusions at home.

DIY (Almost) All-Purpose Cleaning Solution

This is a go-to, reach-for cleaner for almost any kind of grime almost anywhere in your house. It especially shines in those spots where nasty hand-grime builds up, like around cabinet door handles, around light switches, and the inside handle of your car door. And the best thing about this DIY cleaner is that the ingredients are probably already in your kitchen.

A More Sustainable Bedroom with Avocado Green Mattress

There are more natural bedding options than ever before on the market. One of the companies that piqued our interest is Avocado Green Mattress. This is a California-based company that makes mattresses ‘fresh’ (aka, made to order), and by multiple accounts, they seem to be doing business right.

5 Natural Hangover Remedies

All that beer (or whatever you were drinking) sounded good at the time, but now you’re paying the price. We’ve got you covered.

Ayahuasca Shaman Dreading Another Week Of Guiding Tech CEOs To Spiritual Oneness

A glass of whisky could help you get your head around deep time

For those of you who read all the way to the end of this epic roundup, here’s an inspiring green business story:

Grossing $350,000 on 1.5 Acres of High Intensity, No-Till Vegetable Production

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Derek Markham

Derek lives in southwestern New Mexico and digs bicycles, simple living, fungi, organic gardening, sustainable lifestyle design, bouldering, and permaculture. He loves fresh roasted chiles, peanut butter on everything, and buckets of coffee.

Derek Markham has 571 posts and counting. See all posts by Derek Markham