ADB Supports First Solar Power Plant to Boost Renewable Energy in Afghanistan

The Asian Development Bank (ADB) has approved a $44.76 million grant to develop Afghanistan’s first 20 megawatts (MW) on-grid solar photovoltaic plant and boost the country’s renewable energy generation and supply.

“The demand for power is rapidly growing across Afghanistan and economic development and income opportunities depend on sufficient energy supplies,” said Samuel Tumiwa, ADB Country Director for Afghanistan. “The new on-grid solar power generation project, which is the largest of its kind in Afghanistan, will not only provide access to a clean and reliable power supply, but also demonstrate the viability of future renewable energy investments through public-private partnerships.”

Despite significant progress since 2002, Afghanistan still relies on energy imports from neighboring countries to meet its domestic demand. Only about 32% of the population has access to grid-connected electricity and the demand for electricity in major load centers is growing by 25% annually. Reliance on energy imports, lack of enough power generation capacity, small domestic market, and financing weaknesses leave energy security highly vulnerable.

Afghanistan’s renewable energy resource potential is estimated to be over 300,000 MW, with over two-thirds of potential supply coming from solar, with the country benefitting from about 300 sunny days annually.

The project will finance the construction of a 20 MW on-grid solar photovoltaic plant in Naghlu, located in the capital Kabul’s Surobi district. The project will generate at least 43,000 megawatt-hours of solar power and avoid at least 13,000 tons of carbon dioxide equivalent in the first full year of operation.

The project will partially fill the demand-supply gap and improve sustainability of the northeast grid covering Kabul, Nangarhar, and Laghman provinces. In addition, the project will provide power transformer and support facilities, upgrade the capacity of the existing substation, and operation and maintenance services for 3 years. The project will also prepare the site and substation to accommodate 10 MW of additional photovoltaic plant for future financing. The project may be expanded to 30 MW or 40 MW if additional financing from other development partners or the private sector is realized.

Capacity building support will be also provided for the Ministry of Energy and Water, and government-owned energy utility Da Afghanistan Breshna Sherkat staff on solar photovoltaic plant design, technical evaluation, grid integration, and operation and maintenance. The project is in line with the targets of the National Energy Supply Program of the Government of Afghanistan and the Afghanistan Renewable Energy Policy.

ADB is Afghanistan’s largest on-budget development partner in the energy sector. ADB has helped deliver electricity to more than 5 million people in Afghanistan.

Over the coming years, ADB will support the increase in the country’s electrification rate from 30% to 83% and lift the share of domestic generation from 20% to 67% by 2030. ADB will also play a major role in power transmission both regionally and domestically, and promote clean energy, including through solar power.

ADB, based in Manila, is dedicated to reducing poverty in Asia and the Pacific through inclusive economic growth, environmentally sustainable growth, and regional integration. Established in 1966, ADB is celebrating 50 years of development partnership in the region. It is owned by 67 members—48 from the region. In 2016, ADB assistance totaled $31.7 billion, including $14 billion in cofinancing.

Microsoft cutting emissions by 75% by 2030

Tech companies have realized that small commitments and efforts to use more renewable energy and reduce their emissions aren’t going to cut it anymore. Companies are making more ambitious pledges, like this week, Microsoft has pledged to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions by 75 percent by 2030.

Back in 2009, Microsoft made it’s first pledge to reduce emissions. At the time, the company aimed to “reduce its carbon emissions per unit of revenue by at least 30% compared with 2007 levels by 2012.” After accomplishing that, it then put an internal global carbon fee in place that allowed it to operate fully carbon neutral as of last year. The company has also committed to getting 50 percent of its energy from renewable sources by 2018 and 60 percent in the next decade.

This latest pledge will have the company reducing their carbon emissions by 75 percent, using a 2013 baseline, by 2030. This commitment puts the company in line with the goals in the Paris climate agreement and will avoid more than 10 million metric tons of carbon emissions by 2030.

Through its previous efforts, the company has already cut its emissions from its 2013 level of 900,000 metric tons of carbon dioxide per year to only 230,000 tons this year, so it doesn’t have that much farther to go in order to reach its goal.

The company will have its work cut out for it though. Electricity demand is expected to grow as its cloud computing operations expand, so it will need to become even more aggressive about procuring renewable energy for its operations. In Greenpeace’s latest Guide to Greener Electronics, Microsoft scored an already grade of C- due to a need for greater renewable energy commitments and better product design for longevity and repairability.

Apple Wants To Make Its Products From 100% Recycled Materials

On every Apple product page and at the end of every Apple product announcement, the Cupertino company loves to boast at how green they are when it comes to building their products and the packaging used for its products. However as it stands sometimes raw materials and rare metals are still required

This is something that Apple wants to change, according to Apple’s VP of Environment, Policy, and Social Initiatives Lisa Jackson. Speaking to, Jackson was quoted as saying that Apple’s goal is to one day eventually be able to make products from 100% recycled and renewable materials in a bid to reduce their dependence on raw materials

According to Jackson, “What we’ve committed to is 100 per cent recycled material to make our products, or renewable material. We’re working like gangbusters on that.” She adds, “As far as I know, we’re the only company in the sector trying to figure that out. Most people talk about recycling electronics but the material is not necessarily used in new electronics.”

Like we said, Apple’s green initiatives are pretty well-known. The company has won the title of “Greenest Tech Company” for multiple years in a row, and seems to be producing excess energy from their green energy efforts that they can actually afford to sell them to energy providers. When exactly we’ll see the day that an iPhone or MacBook is made entirely out of recycled/renewable materials is unclear, but it is a future worth looking forward to.

World’s first 2,000-ton all-electric ship enters water in South China

The world’s first 2,000-ton all-electric ship, which was developed by a Chinese enterprise, entered the water in Guangzhou, southern China’s Guangdong Province, on Nov. 12, China News reported.

The ship can cruise for 80 kilometers on a 2-hour charge, according to Guangzhou Shipyard International Company Ltd., developer of the ship.

The ship, which is 70.5 meters long, 13.9 meters wide, and 4.5 meters deep, fills the gap in building electric bulk cargo ships.

The total battery capacity of the ship is 2,400 kilowatt hours, equivalent to that of 40 vehicles of BYD’s model E6 “Forerunner.”

In addition, the ship can be widely promoted in the future, as it consumes no oil and produces no waste.

South Korea says to fine BMW, Mercedes, Porsche units on emission rules breach

SEOUL (Reuters) – South Korea plans to impose a combined fine of 70.3 billion won ($63.1 million) on units of automakers BMW AG, Mercedes-Benz and Porsche citing violation of emission rules, the environment ministry said on Thursday.

Seoul Main Customs, part of the country’s customs agency, have also asked prosecutors to probe the three units for violation of customs law such as illegal imports, the ministry added.

The BMW unit will be fined 60.8 billion won for “falsifying” documents on emission test results and not obtaining approval for changes in emission-control components before their cars were sold, the Ministry of Environment said in a statement.

The Mercedes-Benz and Porsche units will be fined about 7.8 billion won and 1.7 billion won respectively for not obtaining approval for changes in emission-control components before cars were sold.

Certificates of fuel efficiency will be canceled by mid-November and sales to be stopped for 28 BMW models, the ministry said. This measure will not affect cars that have already been sold, it added.

The BMW unit said it is “faithfully cooperating” with the government on their probe into certificate documentation errors, and will take necessary measures.

A few of the 200,000 cars that had been imported through customs between 2012-2017 had been declared for customs before approval was given or changes in components were reported, the Mercedez-Benz unit said.

Internal processes will be strengthened to prevent such instances in future, it added.

A spokeswoman for the Porsche unit said the ministry’s measure will not have any impact on their business, as the fine addresses component changes between 2010 and 2015, and all cars being sold now are properly certified.

Research aims to help renewable jet fuel take flight

Researchers at the University of Delaware’s Catalysis Center for Energy Innovation — an Energy Frontier Research Center supported by the US Department of Energy — are advancing the development of renewable jet fuel made from corncobs and wood chips vs. petroleum.

Airplanes zoom overhead, wispy-white contrails streaming behind them. The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) handled 43,684 flights, on average, every day last year, and U.S. military and commercial flights together used over 20 billion gallons of jet fuel.

All those emissions add up. World air travel contributed 815 million tons of CO2 emissions in 2016 — two percent of the global humanmade total, according to the International Air Transport Association. And global air traffic is not slowing down. IATA predicts that 7.2 billion passengers will travel by air in 2035, nearly doubling the 3.8 billion that flew in 2016.

So how do we make air travel easier on the environment? University of Delaware researchers are working to develop an alternative jet fuel. Instead of petroleum, UD researchers want to power planes with corncobs and wood chips — stuff you generally don’t care much about unless you’re a groundhog or a beaver looking for leftovers.

In UD’s Harker Interdisciplinary Science and Engineering Laboratory, researchers are transforming such plant material, known scientifically as lignocellulosic biomass, into green products, including new fuels and chemicals. The scientists are affiliated with the Catalysis Center for Energy Innovation (CCEI), an Energy Frontier Research Center supported by the U.S. Department of Energy. Based at UD, the center brings together scientists from nine institutions to work on clean energy challenges.

One of the biggest hurdles to making renewable jet fuel, according to CCEI Associate Director Basudeb Saha, is increasing the speed and efficiency of two critical chemical processes — coupling and deoxygenation. Since the plant material the center works with has a low carbon content once it’s broken down from a solid into a liquid, the carbon molecules must be chemically stitched together or “coupled” to create high-carbon molecules in the jet fuel range. Then the oxygen must be removed from these molecules to form branched hydrocarbons. This branching is essential to improving the flow of fuel at the freezing temperatures of commercial flight.

“International planes may fly at an altitude of 35,000 feet, where the outside temperature could be as low as -14° Centigrade,” says Saha, who is leading a renewable jet fuel project at the center. “That’s the temperature at which a plane has to run, and the fuel can’t be frozen.”

Accelerating renewable jet fuel production

The demand persists for non-petroleum-based fuel for aviation. More than a decade ago, the FAA had set a target of using 1 billion gallons of renewable jet fuel by 2018. According to IATA, sustainable aviation fuels are integral to its pursuit of carbon neutral growth from 2020 on, and to a 50 percent reduction in net carbon emissions by 2050 (relative to 2005 levels). But not enough quantities of this alternative fuel are being produced, nor at a competitive cost.

Currently, several U.S. companies make renewable jet fuel from materials such as triglycerides extracted from used oil and grease, or from a combination of carbon monoxide and hydrogen called syngas. One company uses algae as its source material and even has an underground pipeline to the Los Angeles Airport (LAX), where a percentage gets mixed with conventional jet fuel, Saha says.

However, processing this non-conventional material requires high temperatures — 350°C (662°F) — and high pressure as well.

Not so with those wood chips and corn cobs at UD, where Saha and his colleagues have developed new catalysts — so called “chemical goats” — that kickstart the chemical reactions that can transform this plant material into fuel. One of these catalysts, made from inexpensive graphene, looks like a honeycomb of carbon molecules. Its unique surface properties increase the speed of the coupling reaction. It also operates at low temperature (60°C). Another catalyst removes oxygen in an energy-efficient way and produces high yields of branched molecules, up to 99 percent, suitable for jet fuel. Both catalysts are recyclable, and the processes are scalable.

“The low temperature and high selectivity of our process can enable cost-competitive and sustainable production of bio-based aviation fuels from lignocellulosic biomass,” Saha says.

How mobile phone addiction is linked to climate change?

Not long ago, only a few people could afford a cell phone. But today, even a kid who can barely talk, knows how to operate it. We are so engrossed in the unique numerous apps that we do not bother thinking about effect of them on our lives and environment. There is no denying that they connect us to the world where everything is advancing in glimpse of seconds, but have we ever considered the impacts of these wireless phones on the surroundings we live in? The aim of my writing is neither to go in depth of calculating carbon footprint of entire life cycle of mobile phone nor to address the issue of e-waste management. Rather, the prime focus is to make people conscious about their contribution for achieving global goals, by considering climate action as their key priority.

According to an estimate of Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA), the number of mobile subscribers, in Pakistan, was 63.16 million in the year 2007, and the number escalated to 139.76 million in 2017. Most recent statistics confirm that up till August 2017, the total number of cellular subscribers reached up to 139.97 million. It is projected that the number of subscribers would reach to almost 157 million by year 2020, but, more can be anticipated. Moreover, tele density has reached to 71.81 % in 2017, as compared to 44.06 % in 2006-07.

Every time we intend to call, text or look for the updates on social networking apps, we add to the global carbon footprint. The amount of green house gases emitted, by using mobile phones, can be assessed as equivalent to emissions of millions of metric tons of carbon dioxide, annually.

Furthermore, the power consumption during the charging of phone is linked to global climate as well, as we heavily rely on fossil fuels for energy generation. The average power consumed in charging a mobile phone is between 3.68 watts, as per summary provided by Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory. However, if a mobile phone is completely charged but the charger remains plugged in, the power consumption declines to 2.24 watts.

In case, you are in a rush and without turning off the power of the charger you unplug your mobile phone , then the charger is going to consume 0.26 watts of power supply. Now as far as annual calculations are concerned, you can imagine the energy consumption and cost of charging a cell phone. Hence, more energy demand means more utilization of fossil fuels, and increased emission of green house gases.

We are believers of the fact that we cannot take initiative on our own unless supported by some government or private organisation. But, this must not be the case. We should strive, even if the impact seems insignificant at the start, the collective action is certainly going to make it ever lasting. So next time when you charge your mobile phone , consider its impact on environment!