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COP21: Modi and Hollande Launch International Solar Alliance



As the Paris climate summit begins, Prime Minister Modi is poised to unveil a solar partnership, leading a group of over a hundred countries for a radical solar energy plan that can inject momentum in the tricky negotiations; most of which rest on securing the rights of countries to develop. Solving the energy conundrum is central to the global climate challenge; and a first of its kind solar club could bring countries together for faster energy access through clean and renewable energy.

The proposed Solar Alliance – International Agency for Solar Technologies and Applications, (IASTA)- to be launched by Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi in the presence of French President François Hollande, and UN Secretary General Ban-ki Moon on the first day of the COP21 will be a unique club of more than a 100 countries located between the Tropics of Cancer and Capricorn. Observers said that the objective of this alliance should be able to offer cooperation for better technology diffusion, faster costs reductions, and sound policy lessons to partners of the coalition.

Jennifer Morgan, Global Director, Climate Program, WRI said:  “Spearheaded by Prime Minister Modi, this global collaboration between developing and developing countries is critically important to boosting universal energy access and spurring economic development. This bold effort could bring affordable solar power to tropical villages and communities worldwide.’’

Arunabha Ghosh, CEO, CEEW (Council for Energy, Environment and Water), India said: ‘’The launch of the International Solar Alliance (ISA) is a historic step for global cooperation and a much needed boost for a low-carbon future.’’

‘’Under India’s leadership, the ISA could inspire and support several developed and developing countries to advance on a clean energy pathway by lowering financing costs, developing common standards, encouraging knowledge sharing and facilitating R&D collaborations and co-development of technologies to meet the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) announced earlier this year.’’

‘’India has emerged as the natural leader for this alliance, with its ambitious targets to install 175 GW of renewable energy by 2022, and non-fossil fuel electricity generating systems accounting for 40% of the cumulative installed capacity by 2030.’’

Richard Benyon, MP for Newbury and former UK Minister for the Natural Environment and Fisheries, said: “This initiative is very welcome, indicating that developing countries are seeing the rich potential of renewable energy and grasping that potential for themselves.

“It promises to accelerate the solar surge that we’re already seeing, bringing affordable electricity and hence better health and education to many of the world’s poorest people, without contributing to climate change.

“President Modi is to be commended for his initiative and for basing it on the principle of unlocking innovation, which in the end is the engine of all economic growth.”

James Watson, CEO of Solar Power Europe, who is attending the launch, said; “We commend Prime Minister Modi and India as a whole for spearheading this collaborative initiative which recognises solar as a key solution to fight climate change whilst providing clean and affordable energy to millions of people. We wish the International Solar Alliance a fruitful two weeks in Paris and look forward to future cooperation.”

The scale of potential global opportunities in the solar market for UK plc was recently illustrated by British solar company Lightsource Renewable Energy Ltd agreeing a £2billion investment plan in India to build over 3GW of solar electricity infrastructure through a partnership with Srei Infrastructure Finance Ltd.

British Solar Renewables Ltd, another UK solar company, has already expanded its business into India, which is aiming to install 100GW of solar power in the next five to seven years.

However, only a handful of the largest British solar companies are in a position to take advantage of the massive international opportunities in solar, which will be boosted by the International Solar Alliance launched today. Barclays analysts predict a $30trillion boom in new technology and renewables investment to 2040, with the dropping cost of renewable (in particular solar power) ‘changing everything’.

The solar PV sector expects that critical decisions on the fate of the solar Feed-in Tariff in the UK could come within days of the end of the Paris conference. Most British solar companies require only a few more years of stable support to reach competitiveness but are now faced with uncertainty. The UK Government has proposed spending just £7million to support the British solar industry over the next three years, despite international momentum growing strongly behind the technology.

A survey published by the STA today shows that a further 576 jobs have been lost in smaller firms across the UK, bringing the total of redundancies due to the proposed cuts to 1,800.

Leonie Greene, Head of External Affairs at the Solar Trade Association, said: “The UK will pay a very heavy price in lost economic opportunities if we marginalise ourselves from the extraordinary global rise of solar power. Solar markets are expected to accelerate after the Paris climate conference as strengthened international commitments give clearer signals to investors.”

“David Cameron has expressed support for Modi’s new solar alliance, but that could ring hollow if his government effectively abandons the technology here in the UK. We hope he will see how prominent solar power is as a solution to climate change at the Paris conference and act quickly to secure British solar power on his return.”

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Is Wood Burning Sustainable For Your Home?



sustainable wood burning ideas

Wood is a classic heat source, whether we think about people gathered around a campfire or wood stoves in old cabins, but is it a sustainable source of heat in modern society? The answer is an ambivalent one. In certain settings, wood heat is an ideal solution, but for the majority of homes, it isn’t especially suitable. So what’s the tipping point?

Wood heat is ideal for small homes on large properties, for individuals who can gather their own wood, and who have modern wood burning ovens. A green approach to wood heat is one of biofuel on the smallest of scales.

Is Biofuel Green?

One of the reasons that wood heat is a source of so much divide in the eco-friendly community is that it’s a renewable resource and renewable has become synonymous with green. What wood heat isn’t, though, is clean or healthy. It lets off a significant amount of carbon and particulates, and trees certainly don’t grow as quickly as it’s consumed for heat.

Of course, wood is a much less harmful source of heat than coal, but for scientists interested in developing green energy sources, it makes more sense to focus on solar and wind power. Why, then, would they invest in improved wood burning technology?

Homegrown Technology

Solar and wind technology are good large-scale energy solutions, but when it comes to small-space heating, wood has its own advantages. First, wood heat is in keeping with the DIY spirit of homesteaders and tiny house enthusiasts. These individuals are more likely to be driven to gather their own wood and live in small spaces that can be effectively heated as such.

Wood heat is also very effective on an individual scale because it requires very little infrastructure. Modern wood stoves made of steel rather than cast iron are built to EPA specifications, and the only additional necessary tools include a quality axe, somewhere to store the wood, and an appropriate covering to keep it dry. And all the wood can come from your own land.

Wood heat is also ideal for people living off the grid or in cold areas prone to frequent power outages, as it’s constantly reliable. Even if the power goes out, you know that you’ll be able to turn up the heat. That’s important if you live somewhere like Maine where the winters can get exceedingly cold. People have even successfully heated a 40’x34’ home with a single stove.

Benefits Of Biomass

The ultimate question regarding wood heat is whether any energy source that’s dangerous on the large scale is acceptable on a smaller one. For now, the best answer is that with a growing population and limited progress towards “pure” green energy, wood should remain a viable option, specifically because it’s used on a limited scale. Biomass heat is even included in the UK’s Renewable Heat Initiative and minor modifications can make it even more sustainable.

Wood stoves, when embraced in conjunction with pellet stoves, geothermal heating, and masonry heaters, all more efficient forms of sustainable heat, should be part of a modern energy strategy. Ultimately, we’re headed in the direction of diversified energy – all of it cleaner – and wood has a place in the big picture, serving small homes and off-the-grid structures, while solar, wind, and other large-scale initiatives fuel our cities.

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7 Benefits You Should Consider Giving Your Energy Employees



As an energy startup, you’re always looking to offer the most competitive packages to entice top-tier talent. This can be tough, especially when trying to put something together that’s both affordable but also has perks that employees are after.

After all, this is an incredibly competitive field and one that’s constantly doing what it can to stay ahead. However, that’s why I’m bringing you a few helpful benefits that could be what bolsters you ahead of your competition. Check them out below:

Financial Advising

One benefit commonly overlooked by companies is offering your employees financial advising services, which could help them tremendously in planning for their long-term goals with your firm. This includes anything from budgeting and savings plans to recommendations for credit repair services and investments. Try to take a look at if your energy company could bring on an extra person or two specifically for this role, as it will pay off tremendously regarding retention and employee happiness.

Life Insurance

While often included in a lot of health benefits packages, offering your employees life insurance could be an excellent addition to your current perks. Although seldom used, life insurance is a small sign that shows you care about the life of their family beyond just office hours. Additionally, at such a low cost, this is a pretty simple aspect to add to your packages. Try contacting some brokers or insurance agents to see if you can find a policy that’s right for your firm.

Dedicated Time To Enjoy Their Hobbies

Although something seen more often in startups in Silicon Valley, having dedicated office time for employees to enjoy their passions is something that has shown great results. Whether it be learning the piano or taking on building a video game, having your team spend some time on the things they truly enjoy can translate to increased productivity. Why? Because giving them the ability to better themselves, they’ll in turn bring that to their work as well.

The Ability To Work Remotely

It’s no secret that a lot of employers despise the idea of letting their employees work remotely. However, it’s actually proven to hold some amazing benefits. According to Global Workplace Analytics, 95% of employers that allow their employees to telework reported an increased rate of retention, saving on both turnover and sick days. Depending on the needs of each individual role, this can be a strategy to implement either whenever your team wants or on assigned days. Either way, this is one perk almost everyone will love.

Health Insurance

Even though it’s mandated for companies with over 50 employees, offering health insurance regardless is arguably a benefit well received across the board. In fact, as noted in research compiled by KFF, 28.6% of employers with less than 50 people still offered health care. Why is that the case? Because it shows you care about their well-being, and know that a healthy employee is one that doesn’t have to worry about astronomical medical bills.

Unlimited Time Off

This is a perk that almost no employer offers but should be regarded as something to consider. According to The Washington Post, only 1-2% of companies offer unlimited vacation, which it’s easy to see why. A true “unlimited vacation” program could be a firm’s worse nightmare, with employees skipping out every other week to enjoy themselves. However, with the right model in place that rewards hard work with days off, your employees will absolutely adore this policy.

A Full Pantry

Finally, having a pantry full of food can be one perk that’s not only relatively inexpensive but also adds to the value of the workplace. As noted by USA Today, when surveying employees who had snacks versus those who didn’t, 67% of those who did reported they were “very happy” with their work life. You’d be surprised at how much of a difference this could make, especially when considering the price point. Consider adding a kitchen to your office if you haven’t already, and always keep the snacks and drinks everyone wants fully stocked. Doing so will increase morale tremendously.

Final Thoughts

Compiling a great package for your energy company is going to take some time in looking at what you can afford versus what’s the most you can offer. While it might mean cutting back in other areas, having a workforce that feels like you genuinely want to take care of them can take you far. And with so many different benefits to include in your energy company’s package, which one is your favorite? Comment with your answers below!

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