Green power will officially overtake fossil fuels in 2019 for the first time since the Industrial Revolution, mobile phone giant Nokia commits to a “positive incentive” loan linked to its greenhouse gas emissions, and rural communities across the UK get a £10 million funding boost for clean energy. Meanwhile, a giant plastic trap has been redeployed to help clear the ‘Great Pacific garbage patch’ of 1.8 trillion pieces of plastic, and ‘extinct’ creatures have been found alive by scientists deep within a rainforest in Honduras. Lori Campbell rounds up the top sustainable stories of the week.
Green power to overtake fossil fuels for first time since Industrial Revolution
Britain will produce more electricity from clean energy sources this year than from fossil fuels for the first time since the Industrial Revolution.
The National Grid says the UK will hit the historic milestone as our reliance over the last decade on zero-carbon sources such as wind, solar and nuclear power overtakes fossil fuels.
In May, Britain clocked up its first coal-free fortnight and generated record levels of solar power for two consecutive days, powering more than a quarter of the UK’s daily electricity consumption.
It comes as a new report by BloombergNEF revealed nearly half the world’s electricity will come from renewable energy by 2050 as costs of wind, solar and battery storage continue to plummet. The titanic shift over the next three decades will come as electricity demand increases 62 per cent and investors pump $13.3 trillion (£10.45 trillion) into new projects.
Meanwhile, a £100 million fund has been launched by the Offshore Wind Industry Council to help UK firms capitalise on the boom in offshore wind.
Nokia takes out £1.6 billion green loan linked to its greenhouse gas emissions
Mobile phone giant Nokia has committed to a £1.6 billion green loan linked to its sustainability targets.
The five-year revolving credit facility will bind the telecoms company to a set of targets for reducing greenhouse gas emissions. The cost of the “positive incentive” loan rises or falls depending on how Nokia is progressing with greenhouse gas emissions from its own operations, as well as those attributable to its customers’ use of its products.
Nokia is aiming for a 41 per cent reduction in emissions by 2030, compared with its 2014 output, and a 75 per cent fall in emissions from products it has sold.
Rural renewables get £10 million funding boost
The UK government has launched a £10 million clean energy fund to help rural sports clubs, schools and churches power their buildings with green electricity.
The Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) says the money, sourced from the Rural Community Energy Fund (RCEF), aims to help countryside communities in the transition to a low carbon energy system.
The fund has already helped more than 150 rural communities produce enough of their own electricity to power the equivalent of nearly 30,000 homes.
A project in Somerset installed more than 200kW of solar capacity, enough to power 2,000 light bulbs and cut its carbon footprint by 333 tonnes. It also generated £70,000 for the local community by allowing them to sell surplus solar electricity back to the grid.
Businesses are now able to apply for feasibility grants of up to £40,000, with viable proposals to be considered for further grants of up to £100,000.
Giant plastic trap redeployed to clear Great Pacific garbage patch
A giant floating device designed to catch plastic waste has been redeployed in a second attempt to clean up a huge island of garbage swirling in the Pacific Ocean.
The 600 metre-long floating boom, that broke apart on its first waste mission last year, has been sent back to the Great Pacific garbage patch by The Ocean Cleanup after four months of repair.
A ship has towed the U-shaped barrier from San Francisco to the patch between California and Hawaii where it aims to trap some of the 1.8 trillion pieces of floating plastic. Fitted with solar-powered lights, cameras, sensors and satellite antennas, the device should communicate its position constantly, allowing a support vessel to fish out the collected plastic every few months and transport it to dry land.
The plastic barrier with a tapered three metre-deep screen acts like a coastline, trapping plastic while allowing marine life to safely swim beneath it.
‘Extinct’ creatures found alive deep within Honduras rainforest
A team of scientists has discovered rare and endangered species, including some that were thought to be extinct, in a “lost city” deep within a rainforest in Honduras.
Conservatists spent three weeks exploring an ancient settlement, known as the “Lost City of the Monkey God” or “White City”, in the Mosquitia rainforest.
They found a diverse hub of wildlife, including hundreds of species of butterflies, bats and reptiles. They also rediscovered three species that were thought to be no longer living in Honduras: the pale-faced bat, the False Tree Coral Snake and a tiger beetle which had only been recorded in Nicaragua and was believed to be extinct.
Trond Larsen, the director of Conservation International’s Rapid Assessment Programme (RAP), said: “The ‘White City’ is one of the few areas remaining in Central America where ecological and evolutionary processes remain intact.”
The RAP also discovered 22 species that have never been recorded in Honduras before, such as the endangered Great Green Macaw, and a livebearing fish that researchers believe is new to science.