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Abundance Generation’s Karl Harder on being part of the bigger conversation

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Karl Harder speaks to Blue & Green Tomorrow about his upcoming sustainable energy debate at Sustainable September and why he thinks the renewable energy investment sector is so important.

Harder is the co-founder and operations director at renewable energy crowdfunding platform, Abundance Generation. He will be arguing against the motion, “Shale gas and nuclear power will address carbon emissions in the immediate term, far more effectively than unproven renewables” at Blue & Green Tomorrow’s Sustainable September Energy Debate.

Abundance Generation aims to make sustainable investment more accessible for everyone and Harder is looking forward to the conversations the Sustainable September talks will open up.

He said, “I think very simply we need to be talking about this stuff and engage with people in different ways. We need to open up the debate regarding what our options are for the future and the choices we’ve got to make today.

“It’s at the heart of what Abundance is trying to do in terms of allowing people to use their money to shape the future. It’s a good opportunity to be involved with, to talk to different people about sustainability.”

Harder wants people to leave the debate with, “an excitement that a renewables-based economy is possible and that we are on track to get to that point”.

I’ll hopefully leave people with a sense that a full transition is possible as well as providing an understanding of the hurdles that we still need to overcome. It took 70 years to fully electrify the UK, we are going through a similar scale of transition now but we are arguably only 20 years into the process. The exciting thing is that momentum is with us and though it may still take 50 years to complete the transition, the technologies and knowledge exist to manage this change.”

Harder was previously a parliamentary researcher on renewable energy before he helped set-up Abundance Generation, which launched in 2012. The company allows people to invest their money directly into renewable energy projects, helping the planet along with generating a return.

He says people should think carefully about where they want to invest their money.

Harder explained, “Your money can shape the world you live in. In 30 years time when you have children or grandchildren do you want to look back and feel that your money contributed to the destruction of our world or do you want to see that your money supported the growth of the new economy you believe in?”

One of the aims of Abundance is to encourage more direct investment into projects that you can see. Harder believes this isn’t very common at the moment but would like to see it become more “culturally acceptable”.  

“We want to make it normal for every person to be able to invest directly in things that are around them and get a good return on their money,” he added.

He says people also become more informed about renewables through investment and they become “better advocates of the industry”. He also raises the interesting point that the investment market has been traditionally mainly available to high net worth investors, but through Abundance he wants to make it easier for ‘people on the street’ to invest.

“I would probably go as far as saying one of the reasons as to why the split between the rich and the poor continues to increase is that the wealthy get access to the best investments and you therefore have your money and can make much more money,” Harder says.

“People with less money to invest traditionally get less access to good investments, this something that we hope to change. We aim to democratise finance making it easier for people to invest directly into good projects.”

Harder will be debating alongside others at the Siemens Crystal on September 16. Tickets are available here.

Further reading:

Leggett, Harder and Powell confirmed for Sustainable September energy debate

Tickets on sale for Blue & Green Tomorrow’s Sustainable September events

Siemens Crystal to host Sustainable September Energy debate

Abundance Generation raises £665,000 investment for solar farms in Kent

Abundance and Ecotricity among winners at Ashden Awards

Energy

7 New Technologies That Could Radically Change Our Energy Consumption

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Energy Consumption
Shutterstock Licensed Photo - By Syda Productions | https://www.shutterstock.com/g/dolgachov

Most of our focus on technological development to lessen our environmental impact has been focused on cleaner, more efficient methods of generating electricity. The cost of solar energy production, for example, is slated to fall more than 75 percent between 2010 and 2020.

This is a massive step forward, and it’s good that engineers and researchers are working for even more advancements in this area. But what about technologies that reduce the amount of energy we demand in the first place?

Though it doesn’t get as much attention in the press, we’re making tremendous progress in this area, too.

New Technologies to Watch

These are some of the top emerging technologies that have the power to reduce our energy demands:

  1. Self-driving cars. Self-driving cars are still in development, but they’re already being hailed as potential ways to eliminate a number of problems on the road, including the epidemic of distracted driving ironically driven by other new technologies. However, even autonomous vehicle proponents often miss the tremendous energy savings that self-driving cars could have on the world. With a fleet of autonomous vehicles at our beck and call, consumers will spend less time driving themselves and more time carpooling, dramatically reducing overall fuel consumption once it’s fully adopted.
  2. Magnetocaloric tech. The magnetocaloric effect isn’t exactly new—it was actually discovered in 1881—but it’s only recently being studied and applied to commercial appliances. Essentially, this technology relies on changing magnetic fields to produce a cooling effect, which could be used in refrigerators and air conditioners to significantly reduce the amount of electricity required.
  3. New types of insulation. Insulation is the best asset we have to keep our homes thermoregulated; they keep cold or warm air in (depending on the season) and keep warm or cold air out (again, depending on the season). New insulation technology has the power to improve this efficiency many times over, decreasing our need for heating and cooling entirely. For example, some new automated sealing technologies can seal gaps between 0.5 inches wide and the width of a human hair.
  4. Better lights. Fluorescent bulbs were a dramatic improvement over incandescent bulbs, and LEDs were a dramatic improvement over fluorescent bulbs—but the improvements may not end there. Scientists are currently researching even better types of light bulbs, and more efficient applications of LEDs while they’re at it.
  5. Better heat pumps. Heat pumps are built to transfer heat from one location to another, and can be used to efficiently manage temperatures—keeping homes warm while requiring less energy expenditure. For example, some heat pumps are built for residential heating and cooling, while others are being used to make more efficient appliances, like dryers.
  6. The internet of things. The internet of things and “smart” devices is another development that can significantly reduce our energy demands. For example, “smart” windows may be able to respond dynamically to changing light conditions to heat or cool the house more efficiently, and “smart” refrigerators may be able to respond dynamically to new conditions. There are several reasons for this improvement. First, smart devices automate things, so it’s easier to control your energy consumption. Second, they track your consumption patterns, so it’s easier to conceptualize your impact. Third, they’re often designed with efficiency in mind from the beginning, reducing energy demands, even without the high-tech interfaces.
  7. Machine learning. Machine learning and artificial intelligence (AI) technologies have the power to improve almost every other item on this list. By studying consumer patterns and recommending new strategies, or automatically controlling certain features, machine learning algorithms have the power to fundamentally change how we use energy in our homes and businesses.

Making the Investment

All technologies need time, money, and consumer acceptance to be developed. Fortunately, a growing number of consumers are becoming enthusiastic about finding new ways to reduce their energy consumption and overall environmental impact. As long as we keep making the investment, our tools to create cleaner energy and demand less energy in the first place should have a massive positive effect on our environment—and even our daily lives.

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Energy

Responsible Energy Investments Could Solve Retirement Funding Crisis

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Energy Investments
Shutterstock / By Sergey Nivens | https://www.shutterstock.com/g/nivens

Retiring baby-boomers are facing a retirement cliff, at the same time as mother nature unleashes her fury with devastating storms tied to the impact of global warming. There could be a unique solution to the challenges associated with climate change – investments in clean energy from retirement funds.

Financial savings play a very important role in everyone’s life and one must start planning for it as soon as possible. It’s shocking how quickly seniors can burn through their nest egg – leaving many wondering, “How long your retirement savings will last?

Let’s take a closer look at how seniors can take baby steps on the path to retiring with dignity, while helping to clean up our environment.

Tip #1: Focus & Determination

Like in other work, it is very important to focus and be determined. If retirement is around the corner, then make sure to start putting some money away for retirement. No one can ever achieve anything without dedication and focus – whether it’s saving the planet, or saving for retirement.

Tip #2: Minimize Spending

One of the most important things that you need to do is to minimize your expenditures. Reducing consumption is good for the planet too!

Tip #3: Visualize Your Goal

You can achieve more if you have a clearly defined goal in life. This about how your money can be used to better the planet – imagine cleaner air, water and a healthier environment to leave to your grandchildren.

Investing in Clean Energy

One of the hottest and most popular industries for investment today is the energy market – the trading of energy commodities. Clean energy commodities are traded alongside dirty energy supplies. You might be surprised to learn that clean energy is becoming much more competitive.

With green biz becoming more popular, it is quickly becoming a powerful tool for diversified retirement investing.

The Future of Green Biz

As far as the future is concerned, energy businesses are going to continue getting bigger and better. There are many leading energy companies in the market that already have very high stock prices, yet people are continuing to investing in them.

Green initiatives are impacting every industry. Go Green campaigns are a PR staple of every modern brand. For the energy-sector in the US, solar energy investments are considered to be the most accessible form of clean energy investment. Though investing in any energy business comes with some risks, the demand for energy isn’t going anywhere.

In conclusion, if you want to start saving for your retirement, then clean energy stocks and commodity trading are some of the best options for wallets and the planet. Investing in clean energy products, like solar power, is a more long-term investment. It’s quite stable and comes with a significant profit margin. And it’s amazing for the planet!

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