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Building a 21st Century Union requires staying on top of the latest goings on in Canada and around the world. News items, photos and more to keep you 'in the know'.

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Nation’s Largest Microgrid Online

Many myths about renewable energy refuse to die. In a recent interview with Bloomberg News, Thomas Pyle, president of the Institute for Energy Research (a group backed by the fossil fuel industry), describes renewable energy as a pipe dream, saying that solar energy is “ineffective, expensive and unreliable.”

Naysayers are also quick to point out that the electricity grid is so complex that it cannot function without the base level of power that coal and nuclear power plants provide. However, microgrids like the one at the University of California, San Diego (UCSD) that serve a specific geographic area and leverage customers’ ability to use power more intelligently, may be the ultimate solution that puts these myths to rest.

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Source: Rocky Mountain Institute 

Will a robot take your job?

All the humans in the U.K. are talking about a BBC show, Panorama, that is asking Could a Robot Do My Job? The BBC has also build an interactive site where you can enter your job and see what the odds are of you still having it in a few years. It's based on a study of American jobs, The future of employment: How susceptible are jobs to computerization? that evaluated jobs on the basis of nine skills:

social perceptiveness, negotiation, persuasion, assisting and caring for others, originality, fine arts, finger dexterity, manual dexterity and the need to work in a cramped work space.

Ultimately jobs that require empathy and interaction with people, like nurses and social workers, are pretty safe. So are those that require creative or original thinking like designers, and those requiring "a high degree of social intelligence" like managerial positions.

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Source: Mother Nature Network

Revolution Revelations: Top 10 Canadian Clean Energy Facts

1- In 2013, the rate of job growth in Canada’s clean energy sector outpaced that of every other sector in the country.

2 - Canada just had its best year ever; clean-energy generation investment jumped a significant 88 percent over the previous year.

3 - Ontario welcomed more than half of the nation’s clean-energy investment last year.

4 - Canada now ranks sixth in the world for investment in new domestic clean energy generation projects.

5 - Almost half of all new growth in solar PV capacity occurred at the residential and commercial scale, as homeowners and business owners bolted panels on rooftops.

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Source: Clean Energy Canada

Race to renewable: five developing countries ditching fossil fuels

Costa Rica, Afghanistan, China, India and Albania are allembracing renewable energy sourses - five experts give their opinion on what the future holds. 

Costa Rica has abundant hydro, wind and geothermal energy potential.

Afghanistan's upland areas have decent wind potential and its rivers can be harvested by small-scale hydroplants.


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Source: The Guardian


Solar energy that doesn't block the view

A team of researchers at Michigan State University has developed a new type of solar concentrator that when placed over a window creates solar energy while allowing people to actually see through the window.

It is called a transparent luminescent solar concentrator and can be used on buildings, cell phones and any other device that has a clear surface.

And, according to Richard Lunt of MSU's College of Engineering, the key word is "transparent."

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Source: Science Daily 

Converted shipping containers being used as high-tech mobile science labs in Arctic

The forces of nature that so often dictate how life unfolds in the Arctic may also help give Canadian scientists new opportunities to work in the North, particularly in remote coastal areas.

Small mobile labs capable of harnessing wind and solar power are arriving in the Nunavut communities of Cambridge Bay and Gjoa Haven for testing, with hopes they can be more fully used in the Kitikmeot region next year.

In setting up these facilities, there is also hope of forging stronger links with people who live in the local communities.

Shipping containers are being converted into the high-tech, movable outposts for science. They are being created through a multimillion-dollar project spearheaded by the Arctic Research Foundation, one of the non-government partners in the ongoing efforts to find and explore the 19th-century shipwrecks of the ill-fated Franklin Expedition.

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Source:CBC News

Canadian greenhouse gas emissions from electricity cut by 22% in 5 years

The electrical generating sector reduced greenhouse gas emissions by 5.8 per cent in 2014 and 22 per cent over the past five years, according to the Canadian Electricity Association's annual report.

The sector also decreased its emissions of nitrogen oxide, sulphur dioxide and mercury because of new technology to clean up emissions, the report said.

The shutdown of Ontario's coal-fired plants contributed significantly to the reduction in greenhouse gas emissions and was "one of the largest climate change initiatives ever undertaken in North America," the association said in its report.

It estimates 45 tonnes of carbon-dioxide-equivalent emissions were eliminated by time Ontario Power Generation finished closing the Nanticoke plant in 2014.

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Source: CBC News

Lubicon Lake First Nation using solar to power health centre

An indigenous community in northern Alberta is taking power into its own hands.

Lubicon Lake First Nation is setting up 80 solar panels to heat and light a community health center in Little Buffalo.

Activist and student Melina Laboucan says it's one small part of what she hopes will be a larger movement in the community to stop the overuse of oil and gas.

Laboucan said putting a community-owned solar installation in the middle of oil country sends a message to the Canadian and Alberta governments to move towards renewable energy. 

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Source: CBC News Edmonton 

EDF puts Canada plans in play

EDF EN Canada is developing a 100MW wind farm in southeast Ontario in anticipation of the province’s 565MW large renewable procurement program.

The early-stage St. Isidore project comprises more than 10,000 acres of privately owned land in the Nation Municipality, about 75km east of Ottawa. EDF proposes to erect 30 to 40 turbines. The preferred connection point to the provincial transmission grid is within the project area.

The Independent Electricity System Operator seeks 300MW of wind power, 140MW of solar, 75MW of hydro and 50MW of bioenergy. Bids are due by 1 September.

The IESO is expected to select the winners and award 20-year power purchase agreements in December or January.

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Source: reNEWS

Is Ontario destined to become a relic of the auto industry?

Ben Faiola drives his Michigan-made Chevy Volt into his garage, turns it off and just walks away. Usually, he’d have to do what nearly all electric vehicle owners must do to start their next trip on a fully charged battery: plug the car into a wall charger.

Not Faiola. He’s one of a handful of people in Canada who has installed a wireless EV charging system called Plugless, developed by Richmond, Virginia-based Evatran Group. The system just sits on the floor of Faiola’s garage. All he has to do is drive over it with the help of a wall-based unit that uses light signals to guide him in like an airplane on a runway.

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Source: Corportate Knights 

Freedom Cove, B.C. Float Home, Is A Whole New Level Of Off-Grid Living

Home is where the heart is, and for one Canadian couple, it's also where the boat docks.

Wayne Adams and Catherine King live on a massive float home made of 12 platforms in Cypress Bay, just northeast of Tofino, B.C. The couple appropriately named their vibrant creation "Freedom Cove."

The abode is completely off-grid, off-land, and off-the-chain as far as float homes go. Built in 1992, the property includes five greenhouses, a dance floor, an art gallery, a lighthouse tower for guests, a generator shed, and a studio where King and Adams live.

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Source: Huffingtgon Post

Canadian Solar completes 100-MW solar plant in Ontario

Connor, Clark & Lunn Infrastructure announced the completion of the 100-MW Grand Renewable Solar (GRS) power plant in the Canadian province of Ontario.

The GSR power station will be able to generate enough electricity to meet the annual power consumption of more than 17,000 homes. The solar plant is located close to the 149-MW Grand Renewable Wind farm, also developed by Samsung and the Six Nations community.

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Source: See News Renewables 


This Floating Solar Farm May One Day Grow 8,000 Tons Of Veggies Every Year

One architecture firm has an innovative idea to stave off a possible food security crisis — grow fresh vegetables at sea.

Designers at Barcelona-based Forward Thinking Architecture put together an eye-catching proposal for a solar-powered floating farm to grow food and raise fish near some of the world’s biggest cities.

The concept leans on vertical farming technology, a new-age agricultural method of growing food in soil-less greenhouses. They're stacked high with planter beds filled with nutrient-enriched water.

The idea has transformed warehouses and parking garages around the world into urban food-producing powerhouses, making it a promising field in agribusiness.

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Source: Huffington Post

Global Annual Revenue For Solar PV Set To Surpass $151 Billion In 2024

A new report from Navigant Research has concluded that the annual revenue from global solar PV installations is set to surpass $151 billion in 2024.

Navigant Research released its Distributed SolarPV report, which analyzes the solar PV market and provides forecasts for capacity and revenue, down through region and country through to 2024. The report highlights various emerging trends that the authors believe will affect the future of distributed solar energy generation.

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Source: Clean Technica 

Transmission line bottleneck requires Toronto to generate its own electricity

The lack of dependability of Torontos future electricity supply was confirmed by Ontario Minister of  Energy Donna Cansfield at a Canadian Urban Institute breakfast presentation.  The Independent Electricity System Operator (IESO) which operates the electrical power system in Ontario has informed the Minister that by extrapolating current usage patterns electricity demand will exceed supply by 2008. While the Toronto area demand for electricity is approximately 4,000 Megawatts, she indicated that “250 Megawatts of additional supply is need by 2008 and 600 Megawatts is required by 2010.”

The Minister explained that “transmission lines into the city are near capacity so importing electricity from outside the Province (for Toronto) is no longer an option.”  It is not realistic to expect additional transmission capacity by 2010 because of the complexity of the process for adding new lines.

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Source: Real Estate News Exchange 


Global shift towards clean energy is picking up steam: report

In the report titled "Tracking the Global Energy Revolution," the authoring organization Clean Energy Canada says investors moved nearly $300 billion US into renewable energy in 2014, up 17 per cent from the year before.

Investors also moved $50 billion US in capital out of fossil fuel stocks, likely driven by the crash in oil prices. 

Part of those changes is due to declining costs for technologies related to hydro, solar and wind power — $1 goes much further when building panels than it did before.

The report also says the entire clean energy market is now worth an estimated $788 billion US. 

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Source: CBC News 


Wind power generates 140% of Denmark's electricity demand

So much power was produced by Denmark’s windfarms on Thursday that the country was able to meet its domestic electricity demand and export power to Norway, Germany and Sweden.

On an unusually windy day, Denmark found itself producing 116% of its national electricity needs from wind turbines yesterday evening. By 3am on Friday, when electricity demand dropped, that figure had risen to 140%.

Interconnectors allowed 80% of the power surplus to be shared equally between Germany and Norway, which can store it in hydropower systems for use later. Sweden took the remaining fifth of excess power.

Source: The Guardian 

Why Unions Are Going Into the Co-op Business

“Too often we have seen Wall Street hollow out companies by draining their cash and assets and hollow out communities by shedding jobs and shuttering plants,” said United Steelworkers (USW) President Leo Gerard in 2009. “We need a new business model that invests in workers and invests in communities.”

Gerard was announcing a formal partnership between his 1.2-million-member union and Mondragon, a cluster of cooperatives in the Basque region of Spain.

Mondragon employs 83,000 workers in 256 companies. About half of those companies are cooperatives, and about a third of Mondragon’s employees are co-op members with an ownership stake in their workplace.

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Source: YES! Magazine 

Community Power 2011 - Eckhard Fangmeier Keynote - Jühnde - Green Home TV / OSEA

The First BioEnergy Village in Germany - Eckhard shows what can be done at a community level when people, technology and innovation come together.



Source: YouTube

Digital city dream or nightmare?

Can big data, open data, and real- time measurements of everything get us to such a thing as "evidence based urban design", fact-based city planning, and an approach that thinks long-term instead of in election cycles? In other words, can Smart Cities technology, i.e. the transition from analog to digital, bring about a more holistic, system-based and scientific approach to city planning? In light of the lopsided wealth patterns of US cities, the question also becomes: Can a more scientific, data based approach address issues of equity?

The answers vary depending on whom one asks. Big business, regular citizens, or professionals. The views range from dream to nightmare.

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Source: Sustainable Cities Collective