Wegwerpcultuur: Zweden wil reparaties meebetalen


Ja ik denk ze hebben mijn boek gelezen (Toxic Capitalism). Men koopt teveel (rommel), gebruikt het slecht en werpt het weg bij het minste “probleem”. Bij ons komen de Repair Cafes verder op, een prachtig initiatief:
Zie https://www.unirizon.com/2016/09/28/repair-cafes-gaining-popularity/

Mensen zijn al te lui om hun koffietoestel te ontkalken… Gooien het weg…

Weg met de wegwerpcultuur: Zweden wil reparaties meebetalen (03/10/2016)

Reparaties tegen Wergwerpcultuur

Wat is goedkoper: je oude schoenen laten herstellen of een nieuw paar kopen? In onze huidige maatschappij met haar massaproductie is het duidelijke antwoord helaas vaak dat laatste. Zweden wil dat nu echter tegengaan door de belastingen op herstellingen te verlagen.

Floating wind farms, a potential to be explored

Wind farms are not always popular

People complain about pollution, about nuclear, about so many things. But when efforts are made to promote sustainable energy such as through wind farms, people again complain. It is “disturbing the landscape”. So, we should also destroy the windmills in Belgium and Holland?

I personally don’t feel “offended” by wind turbines, they are rather elegant. The complaints about noise and hurting birds are also exaggerated. If people love birds then they should not have windows because many birds fly right into those, being misled by the reflection. Just recently a lovely bird crashed into my Beijing window. I tried to take care of it but I am afraid its legs were paralyzed and it would not recover.

Floating wind farms

A newer technology, offshore floating wind farms might accommodate some of the complaints.
See interesting article:
Offshore Wind Farms See Promise in Platforms That Float
By Diane Cardwell, NYT 29 September 2016:

What are floating wind farms?

Right now, almost all offshore wind turbines require fixed platforms built into the seafloor. Floating turbines, with anchors, would mean new flexibility in where wind farms could be placed, with potentially less impact on marine life. Also, less opposition from the human neighbors on shore.
Developers can locate the farms farther out at sea, where they would not be visible from land, and their anchoring mechanisms have a smaller, more flexible footprint than the embedded foundations of conventional wind turbines. That could result in less environmental disturbance and easier transportation and installation.

Conventional offshore wind developments, with foundations deep beneath the ocean floor, are increasingly common in Europe. But partly because of public opposition, fixed offshore turbines are just starting in the United States, with the first such farm set to begin operation by November near Rhode Island.
Statoil, the Norwegian oil and gas giant, is already developing what could become the first commercial-scale floating wind farm, off the coast of Scotland.
Trident Winds, a company based in Seattle, is pursuing a federal lease to install about 100 turbines more than 30 miles out from Morro Bay on the central California coast.

With the floating concept, you can use the same turbine everywhere, so you can see the potential for mass production. The beauty of this is, every 20 years — which is typically when the turbine reaches the end of its life — you can tow this back to shore, put a new turbine on and take it back.

Read the full story in the NYT.

Viability of carbon capture and storage

Canadian Embassy event

The Embassy of Canada organized another “Canada in Conversation” event on the viability of carbon capture and storage. The seminar was chaired by Ms. Cindy Termorshuizen, Chargé d’Affaires of the Embassy.
It took place on 22 September 2016 at the Embassy.
The Saskatchewan Premier Brad Wall gave a keynote address and participated in a panel discussion featuring Mike Monea, SaskPower’s President of Carbon Capture and Storage Initiatives, along with Chinese experts, chaired by Ms. Xu Qinhua of Renmin University.
A networking reception at the Official Residence followed the panel discussion.

Background on carbon capture and storage

Coal is an energy source that generates about 40% of the world’s electricity and about 25% of its greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. As global population increases and developing countries continue to industrialize and increase their standard of living, carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions will continue to rise. It is critical to find ways to reduce GHGs and mitigate the impacts of climate change, while ensuring sustainable economic growth.

One key option for the near term is carbon capture and storage (CCS), a technology that can capture, transport and safely store up to 90% of the CO2 emissions produced from coal and other fossil fuels in electricity generation and industrial processes – and stop it from entering the atmosphere.

Current CCS projects underway in the province of Saskatchewan, including the world’s first post-combustion coal-fired CCS project integrated with a power station, are positioning Canada as a global leader in turning the corner on climate change and developing clean technologies that recognize dependencies on energy derived from fossil fuels.

See the introduction of the event: 160922-canada-invitation

See here the previous session I had attended:
Embassy of Canada: a view on the Arctic:

Carbon capture and storage: a Canadian success story

The presentation was pretty convincing, many like me are not always convinced underground storage works, the CO2 does not filter back to the service and it is economically doable.
Of course the Canadian project has some great advantages to make it work. They sell the gas to oil companies – who pay money – so they can use it to maximize oil recovery from their wells. And as Mike Monea explained, the oil wells work as perfect seals to keep the gas underground. Only a rather small part of the carbon is stored by the power plant.
There was a great interest from the Chinese side: I was one of the very few “foreigners” in the audience.

Details on the carbon capture and storage project

The full report:
‘IEAGHG, “Integrated Carbon Capture and Storage Project at SaskPower’s Boundary Dam Power Station”, 2015/0 , August 2015’
The full report was given to all participants received during the seminar: (85.3 MB):
IEA GHG_BoundaryDamReport_English.pdf

Their website: http://www.ieaghg.org/

Details of the power plant:

Creative recycling can be fun

Creative recycling can be cute, fun and useful.

See some images I collected from different corners.
They prove recycling can be more fun than just sorting out the trash in five different bags.

Be creative, look around and think a bit before throwing out stuff.

Wave energy, less well known

Wave energy in the world

By some estimates, the ocean’s endless motion packs enough power to meet a quarter of America’s energy needs. But wave energy technology lags well behind wind and solar power, with important technical hurdles still to be overcome.
See here the full article:
America’s First Wave-Produced Power Goes Online in Hawaii (19 September 2016)
By Cathy Bussewitz, Associated Press

Developers are still working to come up with the best design. Some buoys capture the up-and-down motion of the waves, while others exploit the side-to-side movement. Industry experts say a machine that uses all the ocean’s movements is most likely to succeed.
Also, the machinery has to be able to withstand powerful storms, the constant pounding of the seas and the corrosive effects of saltwater.
Wave energy technology is at about the same stage as the solar and wind industries were in the 1980s.
it is said the USA are a decade behind Europe. The European Marine Energy Centre in Scotland, for example, has 14 grid-connected berths that have housed dozens of wave and tidal energy devices from around the world over the past 13 years, and Wave Hub in England has several such berths. China, too, has been building and testing dozens of units at sea.

But while the U.S. government and military have put about US$334 million into marine energy research over the past decade, Britain and the rest of Europe have invested more than $1 billion, according to the Marine Energy Council, a trade group.

Wave energy in Hawaii

The U.S. Navy has established a test site in Hawaii, in Kaneohe Bay with hopes the technology can someday be used to produce clean, renewable power for offshore fueling stations for the fleet and provide electricity to coastal communities in fuel-starved places around the world.
Hawaii would seem a natural site for such technology. It is blessed with powerful waves.

Jose Zayas, a director of the Wind and Water Power Technologies Office at the U.S. Energy Department, which helps fund the Hawaii site, said the United States could get 20 to 28% of its energy needs from waves without encroaching on sensitive waters such as marine preserves.

Though small in scale, the test project near Kaneohe Bay represents the vanguard of U.S. wave energy development. It consists of two buoys anchored a half-mile to a mile offshore.
One of them, the Azura, which extends 12 feet above the surface and 50 feet below, converts the waves’ vertical and horizontal movements into up to 18 KW of electricity. The company involved, Northwest Energy Innovations of Portland, Oregon, plans a version that can generate at least 500 KW.

Wind and solar in China

Green growth through wind and solar

After a boom in China, installing more wind and solar farms than anywhere else, China is reducing the pace of growth in an industry that has helped lower the costs of green energy worldwide.
There is a need to consolidate the industry, clean out the weaklings and improve the grid. Overall China will forge ahead.
See the original and complete article:
China to Slow Green Growth for First Time After Record Boom – 23 September 2016


A slowdown

Installations of new wind and solar farms are expected to drop 11% in 2017 from a record high in 2016.
China’s electricity demand is stagnating along with a pause in the nation’s economic expansion. The government has started re-calibrating subsidies for the business, a move that’s likely to hit the industry’s leading manufacturers, Xinjiang Goldwind Science & Technology Co. and Trina Solar Ltd.
China has been the single largest developer of the technology for eight years. Its demand for panels and turbines has pushed manufacturers to build factories throughout Asia, and the scale of its projects helped bring down the cost of electricity from low-polluting sources everywhere.
China’s wind and solar capacity will grow 41.8 GW in 2017, down from a record 46.9 GW in 2016.
I also believe that In the long run, there is no question where China is headed: China is committed to a low-carbon future.

Consolidation in wind and solar

Based largely in China, the solar manufacturing industry, has been opening new factories in Asia and elsewhere. Now the market is bracing for a glut, pressuring companies to cut prices and often leading to a merciless cut-out-the-weakest.
China needs to digest the wind and solar plants and connect those properly to the grid. A large percentage of the generated power is lost as the grid cannot or does not want to absorb it.

There is a new trend few have noticed in China: the government is now heavily promoting both wind and especially solar farms that are able to deliver 24/24 with storage capacities. That will be the technology of the future. I know some manufacturers of thermal solar who are doing brisk business as they deliver solar plants with storage, producing power in a more grid-friendly way.
The grid problems experienced in China are also becoming an issue in some European countries.

China and USA wind and solar

See here some interesting tables from Bloomberg:

Once again, those who criticize China on its generation modes should have a better look.

Repair cafes gaining popularity

Repair Cafes (aka Repair Cafés) are?

In my book Toxic Capitalism I talk about them, an initiative I love because it exactly promotes my point: to be a better consumer, waste less and help the environment. It started in Holland.
They are public events where people in the neighborhood get together, typically once a month, to repair your stuff. Another aspect: people connect socially in their neighborhood!
That can be about anything, like mending socks, giving the coach a second life, getting your toaster back to life and so on.

Repair Cafes multiply in Belgium

In one years the number of Repair Cafes has grown from around hundred to now 225, they pop up everywhere. Presently there are 135 in Flanders and 90 in Brussels and Wallonia.
Interesting to see the details in the original article, like the fact 20% of the visitors become “repairmen” themselves.
I have my own repair station in my Beijing home…
See here the article in Dutch:

22/09/16 – Repair Cafes zitten in de lift (edited)


Repair Cafés hebben de wind in de zeilen in België. Op één jaar tijd is hun aantal verdubbeld, van een honderdtal eind 2015 naar 225 nu.
Na het succes van het eerste Repair Café in Antwerpen, duiken overal in Brussel en Vlaanderen nieuwe Repair Cafés op.
Repair Cafés zijn gratis, voor iedereen toegankelijke bijeenkomsten, waarbij buurtgenoten elkaar, over het algemeen één keer per maand, helpen bij het herstellen van allerhande voorwerpen.
Volgens de statistieken wordt 70% van de voorwerpen die in een Repair Café worden binnengebracht, hersteld. Bij 15% is een nieuw stuk nodig, en 15% belandt in centra waar de voorwerpen uit mekaar worden gehaald. Twintig procent van de bezoekers van een Repair Café wordt zelf hersteller.

China sets pace for green energy

The China Daily article: “China sets pace for green energy” gives a better image of what China is doing. Dated 11 July 2016.
China Daily article

See here the main points:

China has cut coal consumption by 1.57 billion metric tons from 2010 to 2015 to reduce carbon emissions by 3.6 billion tons. And it has shown a commitment to green energy by becoming the largest country with renewable power capacity in 2015.

An estimated 147 GW of renewable power capacity was added worldwide in 2015, the largest annual increase ever, the annual Global Status Report on Renewables 2016 said.
Among the global players, China has been especially active. It leads the list of 148 countries covered in the report, with the largest renewable power capacity by 2015, according to the Global Forum on Sustainable Energy.
With the increasing investment on solar, wind and hydropower, China will see a larger growth of nonfossil fuels, “with a high possibility to exceed the set targets of 15% by 2020,” said Li Junfeng of the Chinese Renewable Energy Industries Association.

Nonfossil fuels accounted for 12% of China’s primary energy mix in 2015, growing from 7.4% in 2005, and it’s expected to account for 20% by 2030, said Xie Zhenhua, China’s chief climate negotiator and former deputy chief of the National Development and Reform Commission.
“In 2015, China saw its GDP hit 67.7 trillion yuan ($10.1 trillion), 148% above 2005, but the carbon dioxide emission per unit of GDP has been reduced by 38% compared with 2005; China is committed to reducing carbon intensity 60-65% by 2030, and aims to reach peak carbon dioxide emissions earlier than the deadline of 2030”, Xie said.

Biking in Beijing, the future and now

Recently I had a Q&A session in Beida on the subject, see:

While the city of Beijing has indeed made some progress, like increasing the amount of bikes for rent, coming out with new models, as well as modestly making better biking lanes, a lot remains to be done.
China Daily explained some of the recent trends:
7 September 2016 – Bicycles on a roll again
China Daily article

The point is that a new wave of consumers choses biking as a new fashion statement, buying expensive models. They want to look “cool” while bikes are mostly regarded as for people who really have little or no money. Explains why the number of bikes seems still to go down but the market size of the industry shows a strong growth.
Companies like Natooke (Iness Brunn and her fixed gear bikes) are the nice symptoms: she has attracted a lot of attention. Others are going the bamboo way. Another custom-made shop I I know is making 40,000 RMB bikes, high-tech alloys.

See here NATOOKE:
Touring Wudaoying Hutong in Beijing

And this article:

Here a picture of a bike I saw in Sanlitun, I even had to look it up and yes, a Land Rover bike does exist! Could not figure out the model, they are on sale online. Not clear if this one has “assisted pedal power”.


But even “e-scooters”, meaning here the real big ones, are also finding a new niche through their superior power and technology: a bit like the e-version of a Harley Davidson. EVOKE is such a company. Their bike was displayed in our Rotaract Gala evening a few months ago, see:
“Rotaract Gala Event: see what you missed!”
The EVOKE bike:

The China Daily article:
7 September 2016 – Putting power and pizazz into bikes
China Daily article

Many call for increased use of bikes. Much in line with what I preach is in this China Daily article:
5 July 2016 – A short ride to clean, better life and future
China Daily article

It says:
Beijing is spending about 30 million yuan this year to improve the capital’s sidewalks and bicycle lanes, and keep them free of motor vehicles.
The Beijing municipal government is trying to ease traffic jams by imposing congestion fees on drivers. Since many are opposed to the move, the Beijing authorities should encourage more people to ride bicycles, because it is the best way to reduce the use of cars.
Urban planners in cities like Beijing want to emulate other cities that have admirable biking policies. A survey of the top 20 cities with the best bike systems shows Europe as the leader, with Japan as the runner-up. Beijing and other North China cities didn’t fare well in the rankings, even though China is known as a bicycle-friendly country.
But cities in North China cannot use cold weather as an excuse to turn their back on bikes, because 30 percent of urban Scandinavians ride to work through winter.

And as for me, hot or cold, sun or rain, I am on my bike in Beijing


Green Growth, Smart Growth

On 30 August 2016 we had as guest speaker in our Beijing Rotary Club Mr. Ralf Fücks, with the topic: “Green Growth, Smart Growth – A New Approach to Economics, Innovation and the Environment”.

The background (or call it teaser) was to be as follows:
How can we change the patterns of economic growth away from growing at the expense of ecosystems to a new paradigm based on growth with nature? We are living in an age of economic growth which has helped countries and societies to develop and to become more prosperous. Yet, the old model of growth based on fossil energies has proved to be environmentally destructive and is reaching its natural limits. Climate change, air pollution, massive losses of fertile soil and increasing water crisis in large parts of the world indicate an urgent need for action if we don’t want to jeopardize the livelihoods of future generations.
This is why a fundamental change is needed: A new paradigm based on growth with nature and not against it. Decoupling economic growth from an increase in greenhouse gas emissions and the exploitation of limited natural resources has to be a first important step. Establishing new indicators for measuring prosperity as well as changing our consumption patterns are equally important. This is a global challenge. Solutions have to be global too, involving a plurality of actors that range from politics and sciences to private business and civil society.

In his speech, Mr. Ralf Fuecks, Co-President of Heinrich-Boell-Foundation, and author of the book “Green Growth, Smart Growth” elaborated why this is not only an ambitious goal, but also how it could be achieved.

Well, let me be a bit disappointed for two main reasons:
First of all I failed to understand what real solutions he is proposing, except for the obvious. So, I learned nothing new.
Secondly I look at how the “public” reacts in awe to the whole speech as if “finally” they got the important message. Oh well seems most never read my book (or did not get the message). And yes, I propose solutions in my book. Like we say in Belgium (and I guess in other countries): “You are never a prophet in your own country”. Seems that applies to our little circle too, so I never had to give a talk. Yeah I know, I grumble a bit…

The pictures of the lunch are here:

Green Growth, Smart Growth