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Posts by Ramon Arratia

Is Tesla’s Powerwall A Real Game Changer?

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Tesla Last week Elon Musk from Tesla announced the Powerwall, their home battery pack power unit. The core idea is that you can draw and store energy from solar and other power sources when available and/or at lowest cost.

I have no doubt that energy storage is a great strategic play in the micro generation market but these kinds of products have been around for several years, so why have they not taken off before? And is this really going to be a game changer for us and the energy industry?

It raises many further questions, some of which I will try to answer:

Price – At $3500 and $3000 for the 10kw and 7kw respectively – is this the right price point? Well the battery is cheap, much more so than the competition (roughly 1/3 the price) but this does not include the inverter to convert the DC to AC to suit your home, solar PV, or installation. When you do the full ownership maths it’s not all that cheap if you’re already using a decent renewables based supplier.

How sustainably sourced/produced are these units? How are they built, applied and recycled? – It’s too early to really know but the life and process cycle of lithium-ion is well understood. It would be a PR disaster if there were serious holes in their thinking but lets see. They are guaranteed for 10 years but at what efficiency at the end of that life-cycle?

Integration – Are they easy to install and maintain? We don’t know yet. We do know that the Deliveries start this summer so we’ll expect to hear more very soon. I think the key here is to apply this solution with solar, if you’re able.

Energy cost and savings – Early estimates suggest 15c to 25c per kwh which is ok’ish but in no way game changing. In the US energy costs can be as low as 10c but in Hawaii for example you can quadruple that. However – if nothing else, this product release may budge other service providers to offer more sustainable solutions at more reasonable prices and service levels. I appreciate this may sound a little naive, but the ego fuelled board rooms of big power companies may just feel some of the pinch.

Tesla’s brand power - Every new market needs the maverick and the executer. Elon Musk appears to be both. He’s shaken up the auto industry at exactly the right time and their brand power may just be enough to get us all thinking about where and how our electricity is generated.

Developing countries – I can’t see at this price point how it will benefit the developing world but maybe it will bridge some of the gap for the more affluent or more vital services in remote or power poor areas.

Tesla BatterySpecs

Technology – Wall mounted, rechargeable lithium ion battery with liquid thermal control.
Models – 10 kWh $3,500For backup applications7 kWh $3,000For daily cycle applications
Warranty – 10 years
Efficiency – 92% round-trip DC efficiency
Power – 2.0 kW continuous, 3.3 kW peak
Voltage – 350 – 450 volts
Current – 5.8 amp nominal, 8.6 amp peak output
Compatibility – Single phase and three phase utility grid compatible.
Operating Temperature – -4°F to 110°F / -20°C to 43°C
Enclosure – Rated for indoor and outdoor installation.
Installation – Requires installation by a trained electrician. DC-AC inverter not included.
Weight – 220 lbs / 100 kg
Dimensions – 51.2″ x 33.9″ x 7.1″ - 1300 mm x 860 mm x 180 mm
Certification – NRTL listed to UL standards

WIRED’s writer Brent Rose takes a more ‘real world’ look:

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Heineken’s Blippar Campaign – Where tech, retail and #sustainability meet

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Heineken sustainabilitySome of this may well be #greenwash (let’s assume not) but you have to give it to Heineken for producing a great campaign that will hopefully educate the wider public about resource efficiency, as well as the wider sustainability agenda. It’s engaging, fun and hopefully will make people think about where their products come from and how the ingredients are sourced.

Mark van Iterson, global head of design for Heineken, said:

“Sustainability is often seen to be complex and inaccessible for consumers. However, sustainability is at the heart of all that we do and we wanted to find a way to encourage consumers and all our stakeholders to easily engage with our Brewing a Better World programme.

“Legendary 7 challenges the status quo of sustainability reporting and helps consumers appreciate the sustainability thinking and all natural ingredients which go into the creation of their favourite brand.”

HEINEKEN has stated that it is committed to buy 50% of its main raw materials from sustainable sources by 2020 and the Legendary 7 campaign pays tribute to seven farmers from France, Germany, Greece, the Netherlands and the United Kingdom who produce high quality sustainable barley and hops used to brew Heineken® beer.

Consumers are asked to meet the 7 legendary farmers via Blippar - the augmented reality smartphone app – and a bottle of Heineken®. By scanning the Heineken® label using the Blippar app, consumers unlock exclusive content:

* An engaging animation film introducing the Legendary 7
* The story of each of those 7 farmers
* Access to our sustainability commitments and ultimately linking to HEINEKEN’s 2014 Sustainability Report.
* 7elfie – create your own Legendary 7selfie and share it on social media

For more information about HEINEKEN’s sustainability ambitions please go to

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Audi develops synthetic diesel from CO2

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It’s quite incredible to think about, but chemically and practically relatively straight forward. Audi have developed e-diesel, with the raw material being CO2.

The base product, called ‘blue crude’ is created using a 3-step process. The first step involves harvesting renewable energy from sources such as wind, solar and hydropower. They then use this energy to split water into oxygen and pure hydrogen, using a process known as reversible electrolysis.

This hydrogen is then mixed with carbon monoxide (CO), which is created from carbon dioxide (CO2) that’s been harvested from the atmosphere. The two react at high temperatures and under pressure, resulting in the production of the long-chain hydrocarbon compounds that make up the blue crude.

Once it’s been refined, the resulting e-diesel can be mixed in with our current diesel fuel, or used on its own to power cars in a more sustainable way.

Audi Synthetic Diesel

“After a commissioning phase of just four months, the research facility in Dresden started producing its first batches of high‑quality diesel fuel a few days ago. To demonstrate its suitability for everyday use, Federal Minister of Education and Research Prof. Dr. Johanna Wanka put the first five liters into her official car, an Audi A8 3.0 TDI clean diesel quattro*, this Tuesday. “This synthetic diesel, made using CO2, is a huge success for our sustainability research. If we can make widespread use of CO2 as a raw material, we will make a crucial contribution to climate protection and the efficient use of resources, and put the fundamentals of the “green economy” in place,” declared Wanka.”

Sources: Science Alert and Audi

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“Red Dot: Best of the Best” for top design quality and ground-breaking design goes to…

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Red Dot DesignMicrosfera! Our ground breaking carpet tile with the lowest carbon footprint ever wins another prestigious award.

We received the letter yesterday from Dr Peter Zec of Red Dot – we’re exceptionally pleased and proud.

This year there were 4,928 innovative entries from 1,994 participants across 56 countries and only 1.6 percent of all submitted products are awarded with the highest distinction “Red Dot: Best of the Best”.

“Your product possesses one of the globally most outstanding designs in 2015, therefore you will receive a very special honour – A Red Dot Trophy”


A Quick Net-Works Update In Numbers

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Nets-being-loaded-in-SubaThe Net-Works programme is an initiative delivered by us and ZSL designed to create a solid business solution with long-term positive impacts on marine and freshwater ecosystems, while also providing financial opportunities to some of the poorest people in the world.

Net-Works enables fishing communities in developing countries to sell waste nets back into a global supply chain. We receive a fully recycled source of nylon for carpet tile production, and the local community receives long-term incentives to protect their natural environment.

Here are the latest facts and figures, a special mention to the distance of nets metric, which I think is impressive.

Nets collected in the Philippines: 61.845kg

Distance of nets: 57,516km

Nets recycled into nylon: 41,800kg

No. of meals equivalent to nets collected: 194,500

Households reached: 892 (representing 4,460 people)

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How much does air pollution cost Europe?

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Air Pollution EuropeGreat report from the European Environmental Agency about the cost of polluted air.

Here are some key facts from the report with my thoughts added:

* The EEA looked at emissions from more than 14 000 facilities in Europe, for each one it estimated the damage costs to health and the environment. The EEA found that their emissions cost society and the economy between €59 and €189 billion in 2012.

* The power generation sector was responsible for around 70% of the total damage costs from industry.

* Of the top 30 facilities causing the highest damage, 29 were power-generating facilities, mainly fuelled by coal or lignite. Is the price of electricity generated by coal including these environmental and health related costs?

* Another interesting fact – of the 14ooo facilities monitored half of the damage costs related to less than 150 of them. Focused legislation and controls on those facilitates looks like the way forward.

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The European Environment – Status and Outlook 2015 report

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The European Environment Agency (EEA) has produced its 2015 report about the status and outlook of the European environment.

Some interesting facts from the report:

* The environment industry sector, which produces goods and services that reduce environmental degradation and maintain natural resources, grew by more than 50% in size between 2000 and 2011.  It looks impressive but I think it should have grown much faster.

* European greenhouse gas emissions have decreased by 19% since 1990 despite a 45% increase in economic output.

* Fossil fuel use has declined, as have emissions of some pollutants from transport and industry.

* The EU’s total resource use has declined by 19% since 2007, less waste is being generated and recycling rates have improved in nearly every country.

* Current policy is insufficient to bring the EU onto a pathway towards its 2050 target of reducing emissions by 80–95%.

* In 2011, about 430 000 premature deaths in the EU were attributed to fine particulate matter (PM2.5).

* Exposure to environmental noise is estimated to contribute to at least 10 000 premature deaths due to coronary heart disease and strokes each year.

* The growing use of chemicals, particularly in consumer products, has been associated with an observed increase of endocrine diseases and disorders in humans.

The European Environment - Status and Outlook 2015 report

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Is a National Resource Council the solution for the UK’s resource efficiency problem?

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The Government needs a National Resources Council to co-ordinate cross-governmental action on resources and channel political interest into policy development. An early act of this council should be to commission an independent review of resource risk to develop a strategy and framework for assessing where government intervention on resources is required.

“Profit warnings, excessive inflation and falling real wages have all been connected with the fluctuating cost of resources in the 21st century. These threats are motivating businesses and countries to reduce the quantity of resources they use and increase their productivity, to stay competitive in the global market.”

UK resource governance for the 21st century:

UK resource governance for the 21st century

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Carpet Tile with the lowest carbon footprint. Ever.

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Find out how we achieved the smallest carbon footprint ever with Microsfera. The carbon footprint is the single most significant impact of a carpet tile. That’s why we call it ‘the magic metric’. Over time various developments in the carpet industry have led to a shrinking carbon footprint. Microsfera is a big step forward. Even compared to a typical carpet tile using 100% recycled nylon, the carbon footprint of Microsfera is less than half the size.

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