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Green Or Gone

A/C And Global Warming: A Northern Call To Embrace Air Conditioning

Misguided arguments about air conditioning's environmental impact are stopping people from installing systems in homes and offices. But in the age of solar power, there's no need to stew in your own sweat "for the sake of the planet."

-Analysis-

BERLIN — The maps on TV weather reports were a glowing swathe of red. As the summer heatwave took hold in Germany, the country experienced record temperatures, with the mercury rising to over 35 °C in many places.

Every year, this time sees a fall in unemployment rates and a rise in heat-related deaths. But why do we take it for granted that the fierce heat outside must be reflected indoors?

In winter we have no problem with turning the heating on to keep our homes warm. In summer, there is also a simple technological solution – air conditioning. It costs relatively little, can be easily installed and creates a comfortable indoor temperature at the click of a button. It comes as standard in cars, but is rare in offices and homes in Germany. Only 3% of all homes in the country have air conditioning, whereas in the U.S. it is around 90%.

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Fighting For Puerto Rico's Solar Revolution — And Against Sexism

Can Puerto Rico’s abundant sunshine and ambitious women unlock its renewable energy potential?

OROCOVIS, PUERTO RICO — Every few weeks, Yadira Sánchez Fuentes fearlessly descends waterfalls and slippery caverns, often the only woman among a group of caving enthusiasts. The rest of the month, with that same strength, smile and sense of satisfaction, the petite brunette confidently scales rooftops to help install solar panels, simultaneously tackling two outdated problems: Puerto Rico’s energy grid and gender stereotypes.

“We have to create leaders, not followers,” the 44-year-old says.

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Egypt Should Stop Dragging Its Feet On Renewable Energy

With its abundance of sunshine and adequate wind, Egypt is well suited to embrace green-energy alternatives. Instead it's opting for old-fashioned coal.

-OpEd-

CAIRO — High prices of renewable energy are consistently used to justify Egypt's modest renewable energy ambitions, despite the country's natural assets such as high solar radiation and adequate wind speeds.

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Can Chinese Solar Panels Keep The Lights On In Ghana?

ACCRA — It's a hot and humid night in this capital city and a long line waits at the entrance of Papaye, Ghana's top fast-food chain and a symbol of the country's burgeoning middle class. But the restaurant seems closed, its neon lights turned off.

The restaurant's staff struggle to turn on the generator. A light flickers on, briefly illuminating two large halls full of patrons eating plates of fried chicken and rice. Seconds later, darkness once again envelops the Papaye outlet.

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Spain

Could A Glass Sphere Revolutionize Solar Power?

A German-Spanish startup has created technology it says is so effective turning light into energy that it can also utilize moonbeams and office building windows.

BARCELONA — Looking into a glass ball has always meant looking into the future, speculating, daring to be visionary. But André Brössel, the German-born head of a Barcelona-based start-up called Rawlemon, has given the term a whole other meaning.

His firm has developed futuristic solar collectors — collectors that look very different from the usual installations. They are not flat, right-angled panels, but spheres. The role of the glass balls turns out to be much the same as that of classic collectors: to turn light into electrical current.

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Smarter Cities
Rebecca Henschke

In A Remote Corner Of Indonesia, A Model Of Clean Energy Use

WAINGAPU — In a remote western village on the Indonesian island of Sumba, 37-year-old Rambu Cinta sits on the porch of her thatched roof house chewing beetle nut.

For most of her life she has lived without electricity. “Before at night we didn’t have anything to do. So after we had eaten dinner we just went to sleep,” she says with a laugh.

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Germany
Andre Tauber

BMW Wants To Use Old Electric Car Batteries To Store Solar Energy

BERLIN — BMW plans to introduce its electric i3 car this year, which raises the question of what’s going to happen to the old batteries that, for the purpose of powering electric cars, must be discarded well before they have actually been depleted. It’s a riddle the car company is hoping to solve together with the question of how to store surplus renewable energy.

The maker of “the ultimate driving machine” says that one of the goals when it comes to old batteries is to use them in electric car charging stations or in solar panels. The company is working with the electricity company Vattenfall to research how that could be possible and practical.

The move toward more renewable energy sources over the past several years has led to a situation where there is too much energy available on sunny days, and not enough storage capacity. The same problem exists for wind energy.

In the future, the old batteries from electric cars could be used to store the electricity from wind and solar installations.

The effort could be worth it for green energy producers. Using the old batteries this way would mean an ability to charge higher prices because they would be storing it for times when demand is high but supply is low.

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