Concrete is the most abundant man-made material on earth. There's a good chance you're standing on it right now, and it's holding up the buildings around you.
MONEY.CNN -- But concrete has an emissions problem. Its essential ingredient, cement, has a huge carbon footprint.
Cement is the glue that makes concrete strong, but the process of making cement requires superheating calcium carbonate, or limestone, and releases massive amounts of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere.
Cement is responsible for 7% of global man-made greenhouse emissions, making it the world's second largest industrial source of carbon dioxide, according to the International Energy Agency. Data from the United States Geological Survey -- the scientific agency of the US government -- reveals that global cement production was responsible for about 4 billion pounds of CO2 emissions in 2017 alone.
But a Canadian startup has invented a new system for making concrete that traps CO2 emissions forever and at the same time reduces the need for cement.
CarbonCure's system takes captured CO2 and injects it into concrete as it's being mixed. Once the concrete hardens, that carbon is sequestered forever. Even if the building is torn down, the carbon stays put. That's because it reacts with the concrete and becomes a mineral.
"The best thing about it is the mineral itself improves the compressive strength of the concrete," Christie Gamble, the director of sustainability at CarbonCure, told CNNMoney.
"Because the CO2 actually helps to make the concrete stronger, concrete producers can still make concrete as strong as they need to but use less cement in the process."
And using less cement is how producers can really reduce emissions.
Atlanta-based Thomas Concrete, a concrete producer, has been using CarbonCure's system since 2016. Thomas Concrete says it has since prevented 10 million pounds of CO2 emissions.
Justin Lazenby, a manager of technical operations at Thomas Concrete, said the move toward greener tech is a long-term decision the concrete industry should embrace.
A cylinder of CarbonCure concrete after undergoing a strength test.
"The industry as a whole has always kind of looked at trying to solve today's problems with yesterday's technology, which doesn't really work," he said.
Thomas Concrete pays to use CarbonCure and buys captured CO2 from a fertilizer plant where it's emitted, but the company says those costs even out with what they save by using less cement.
"We understand that to make environment impact, you have to make business sense," Gamble said.
CarbonCure's technology utilizes CO2 that would otherwise be a waste product from factories. Finding uses for captured CO2 is an economically-friendly way of incentivizing companies to capture their emissions.
"We're leading that movement right now [by] showing it is possible to take CO2 and turn it into something that makes financial sense," Gamble said. "This concept of beneficial reuse of CO2 is expected to be a one trillion dollar industry by the year 2030."
A new mixed-use development in one of Atlanta's trendiest neighborhoods, called 725 Ponce, is a real-life example of the impact of building with greener concrete. When it opens in 2019, it will become the largest structure ever made with CarbonCure concrete.
Construction is underway at 725 Ponce in Atlanta
Ultimately, the 360,000 sq. ft. office building, which will have a Kroger supermarket on the first floor, will save 1.5 million pounds in CO2 from being released into the air -- the same amount 800 acres of forest would sequester in a year, according to Gamble.
The building is a step in the right direction, but CarbonCure is far from widespread adoption. Right now, only 90 concrete plants in the US and Canada are using their technology -- a small fraction of the estimated 5,500 plants in the US alone.
CarbonCure isn't the only company working to make concrete more environmentally friendly, but it's one of the first to market. Carbicrete and Carbon Upcycling are two other startups working on more sustainable solutions for concrete.
Gregg Lewis, executive vice president of strategy for the National Ready-Mix Concrete Association, said these types of technologies will help push the concrete industry toward a more sustainable future.
"[It will] offer a huge advantage to how we build as an industry," he said.
CarbonCure's Gamble noted if the industry is able to reduce 5% of its carbon footprint, that is a significant change from where it is right now.
"If this technology is deployed across the globe, we could reduce about 700 megatons of CO2 each year. That's the same as taking 150 million cars off the road every year," Gamble said.
Although concrete isn't going away anytime soon, it appears there is room to make all that grey a bit greener.
"Everytime I see concrete being made, I see it as a missed opportunity to save CO2 emissions," Gamble added. "Maybe it will take 20 years; maybe it will take 50 years. Maybe something crazy will happen and it will happen in five years. But we're starting to see that process."
In explaining Canada's decision to nationalise the controversial Trans Mountain pipeline for $4.5bn, Bill Morneau went hard on the economic argument. “Make no mistake,” the finance minister said. “This is an investment in Canada’s future.”
THE GUARDIAN -- In fact, since 1999, more than $200bn has been invested into the Alberta oil sands for that future. But what if that cash had gone into wind energy instead?
In 2017, the Alberta oil sands produced roughly 912m barrels. About 60% was turned into gasoline and diesel, enough to fuel 73m vehicles for 16,000km (the roughly average yearly driven distance).
Had $200bn been invested in the wind energy sector, at the current cost of $1.8m megawatt (MW), Alberta would have 111,000 MW of capacity. Based on what Alberta actually generated in 2017, it could power more than 122m electric vehicles for the same 16,000km.
CO2 driving emissions
Driving those vehicles would emit more than 325m tonnes of carbon dioxide. (Total CO 2 emissions for the UK in 2017 were 388m tonnes.)
No CO 2 emissions result from the operation of electric vehicles.
CO2 operations emissions
“Upstream” emissions – produced by essentially boiling the oil out of the ground – have reached an official 66m tonnes a year. (The figure does not include the energy to "clear" the boreal wetlands or build the facilities.)
No CO 2 is emitted by wind turbines while generating electricity. (The figure does not include the energy to build the turbines.)
At an estimated production cost of $40 per barrel, making oil in Alberta costs roughly $36.5bn a year.
Generating 111,000 MW of electricity at an estimated cost of $64,000 per MW = $7.1bn.
Fuel cost for drivers
Based on gas prices in Fort McMurray on 27 May 2018, driving a car with a fuel efficiency of 12 litres per 100km for 16,000km would cost drivers about $2,688.
Driving a Chevy Bolt electric vehicle using 28 kilowatt hours (kWh) for 160km at 6.8 cents per kWh (roughly the current cost in Alberta) the same distance would cost you $190.
30 YEARS LATER, DENIERS ARE STILL LYING ABOUT HANSEN’S AMAZING GLOBAL WARMING PREDICTION | DANA NUCCITELLI
30 years ago, James Hansen testified to Congress about the dangers of human-caused climate change.
THE GUARDIAN -- In his testimony, Hansen showed the results of his 1988 study using a climate model to project future global warming under three possible scenarios, ranging from ‘business as usual’ heavy pollution in his Scenario A to ‘draconian emissions cuts’ in Scenario C, with a moderate Scenario B in between.
Changes in the human effects that influence Earth’s global energy imbalance (a.k.a. ‘anthropogenic radiative forcings’) have in reality been closest to Hansen’s Scenario B, but about 20–30% weaker thanks to the success of the Montreal Protocol in phasing out chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs). Hansen’s climate model projected that under Scenario B, global surface air temperatures would warm about 0.84°C between 1988 and 2017. But with a global energy imbalance 20–30% lower, it would have predicted a global surface warming closer to 0.6–0.7°C by this year.
The actual 1988–2017 temperature increase was about 0.6°C. Hansen’s 1988 global climate model was almost spot-on.
In the WSJ, deniers again lie about Hansen
The incredible accuracy of Hansen’s climate model predictions debunks a number of climate denier myths. It shows that climate models are accurate and reliable, that global warming is proceeding as climate scientists predicted, and thus that we should probably start listening to them and take action to address the existential threat it poses.
Hansen’s predictions have thus become a target of climate denier misinformation. It began way back in 1998, when the Cato Institute’s Patrick Michaels – who has admitted that something like 40% of his salary comes from the fossil fuel industry – arguably committed perjury in testimony to Congress. Invited by Republicans to testify as the Kyoto Protocol climate agreement was in the works, Michaels was asked to evaluate how Hansen’s predictions were faring 10 years later.
In his presentation, Michaels deleted Hansen’s Scenarios B and C – the ones closest to reality – and only showed Scenario A to make it seem as though Hansen had drastically over-predicted global warming. Deleting inconvenient data in order to fool his audience became a habit for Patrick Michaels, who quickly earned a reputation of dishonesty in the climate science world, but has nevertheless remained a favorite of oil industry and conservative media.
Last week in the Wall Street Journal, Michaels was joined by Ryan Maue in an op-ed that again grossly distorted Hansen’s 1988 paper. Maue is a young scientist with a contrarian streak who’s published some serious research on hurricanes, but since joining the Cato Institute last year, seems to have sold off his remaining credibility to the fossil fuel industry.
In their WSJ opinion piece, Michaels and Maue claimed:
Global surface temperature has not increased significantly since 2000, discounting the larger-than-usual El Niño of 2015-16. Assessed by Mr. Hansen’s model, surface temperatures are behaving as if we had capped 18 years ago the carbon-dioxide emissions responsible for the enhanced greenhouse effect.
They provided no evidence to support this claim (evidence and facts seem not to be allowed on the WSJ Opinion page), and it takes just 30 seconds to fact check. In reality, global surface temperatures have increased by about 0.35°C since 2000 – precisely in line with Hansen’s 1988 model projections, as shown above. And it’s unscientific to simply “discount” the El Niño of 2015-16, because between the years 1999 and 2014, seven were cooled by La Niña events while just four experienced an El Niño warming. Yet despite the preponderance of La Niña events, global surface temperatures still warmed 0.15°C during that time. There’s simply not an ounce of truth to Michaels’ and Maue’s central WSJ claim.
It’s also worth noting that Hansen’s 1988 paper accurately predicted the geographic pattern of global warming, with the Arctic region warming fastest and more warming over land masses than the oceans. And climate deniers in the 1980s like Richard Lindzen were predicting “that the likelihood over the next century of greenhouse warming reaching magnitudes comparable to natural variability seems small.” If anyone deserves criticism for inaccurate climate predictions, it’s deniers like Lindzen who thought there wouldn’t be any significant warming, when in reality we’ve seen the dramatic global warming that James Hansen predicted.
Michaels’ and Maue’s misinformation didn’t stop there:
And it isn’t just Mr. Hansen who got it wrong. Models devised by the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change have, on average, predicted about twice as much warming as has been observed since global satellite temperature monitoring began 40 years ago.
Once again, this unsupported assertion is completely wrong. I evaluated the IPCC’s global warming projections in my book, and showed in detail that theirs have been among the most accurate predictions. The climate model temperature projections in the 1990, 1995, 2001, and 2007 IPCC reports were all remarkably accurate; the IPCC predicted global warming almost exactly right.
Why lie? To keep cashing Koch paychecks
We don’t even have to guess at the motivation behind Michaels’ and Maue’s misinformation; they give it away toward the end of their opinion piece, asking:
Why should people world-wide pay drastic costs to cut emissions when the global temperature is acting as if those cuts have already been made?
Michaels and Maue don’t want us to cut carbon pollution, and it’s easy to understand why. They work for the Cato Institute, which was co-founded by and is heavily controlled by the Koch brothers, who have donated more than $30 million to Cato. As Michaels admitted, they’re basically fossil fuel industry employees.
But the answers to their question are simple. As climate scientists have predicted for decades, global temperatures are rising dangerously rapidly. Moreover, research has shown that the economic benefits of cutting carbon pollution far outweigh the costs.
Michaels and Maue want us to bet the future of all life on Earth. They want us to put all our chips on black – a bet that burning billions of barrels of oil and billions of tons of coal every year won’t cause dangerous climate change. They want us to make that bet even though their arguments are based on unsupported lies, whilst they cash paychecks from the Koch brothers.
We would have to be incredible suckers to take their bet.
Batteries will attract $548 billion in investments by 2050 as costs fall and homes and businesses push to use more clean energy.
BLOOMBERG -- That’s one of the conclusions of the New Energy Outlook released Tuesday by analysts at Bloomberg New Energy Finance. Batteries will become increasingly viable on the grid as demand for electric cars spurs manufacturing of lithium-ion systems, driving down prices.
Batteries will allow more solar and wind to meet demand -- even when the sun isn’t shining or wind isn’t blowing, helping end the era of fossil fuel dominance on the grid by mid-century, BNEF said. Battery prices are expected to fall to $70 a kilowatt-hour by 2030, down 67 percent from today, according to the report. BNEF expects 1,288 gigawatts of new batteries to be commissioned by 2050.
“It’s a matter of ‘when and how’ and not ‘if’ wind, solar and battery technologies will disrupt electricity delivery all over the world,” Seb Henbest, lead author the report, said in an interview.
Cheap batteries coupled with wind or solar power will soon compete head-to-head with coal-fired and nuclear plants.
BLOOMBERG -- Solar farms with about four hours of storage capacity will be able to sell power for about 3.5 cents within a few years, said Jim Robo, chief executive officer of NextEra Energy Inc., the world’s largest generator of power from wind and sunshine. Wind paired with batteries will be even cheaper, at about 2.5 cents.
The shift comes as battery prices are expected to slide 67 percent by 2030, according to Bloomberg New Energy Finance. Advocates of coal, natural gas and nuclear power often cite the intermittent power from wind and solar farms as a barrier to wider use of clean energy. Cost-effective storage counters that argument and will become a “disruptive” force in the utility industry, Robo said Tuesday at the JPMorgan Chase & Co. 2018 Energy Conference in New York.
“That’s lower than the operating costs of existing coal and nuclear,” Robo said. “That’s a fact that most of the rest of the industry hasn’t come to grips with yet.”
In a truly remarkable feat of innovation, scientists have figured out how to create “hybrid” solar cells that generate power not just from sunlight but also from raindrops. This means we may soon see all-weather solar panels that work when it is cloudy and even at night, if it’s raining.
THINK PROGRESS -- Solar has soared in recent years, as panel prices have dropped so fast that solar keeps crushing its own record for the cheapest power “ever, anywhere, by any technology” — even without a subsidy.
But scientists and engineers around the world keep innovating, looking for ways to make solar panels more efficient and less expensive. Much of this innovation is now coming from China, the world leader in both manufacturing and deployment of solar energy.
For instance, China has developed “double-sided” solar panels that can generate power from light that hits their underside. That can enable a 10 percent boost in output, especially if you put the panels on a roof or other area that is painted white to help reflect the suns rays. Bloomberg New Energy Finance projects these panels could capture a remarkable 40 percent share of the market by 2025.
In another remarkable advance, researchers at China’s Soochow University have demonstrated a solar cell that can generate electricity from falling rain. A recent article in the American Chemical Society’s nanotechnology journal Nano describes the innovation in an article titled “Integrating a Silicon Solar Cell with a Triboelectric Nanogenerator via a Mutual Electrode for Harvesting Energy from Sunlight and Raindrops.”
The device makes use of a triboelectric nanogenerator (TENG), which converts mechanical energy — motion — into electricity. In this case, the solar cells harvest power from the movement of raindrops that fall on them.
Since solar panels typically generate only one tenth of their potential output during rain, and virtually nothing at night-time, the advance could address one of the biggest problems facing solar power: its variability.
“Our device can always generate electricity in any daytime weather,” as Soochow’s Baoquan Sun told the UK Guardian. “In addition, this device even provides electricity at night if there is rain.”
Here is a video of the basic principle behind TENG from Georgia Tech Prof. Zhong Lin Wang, whose group first demonstrated this kind of nano generator in 2011:
The potential applications of TENG include generating power from walking and typing. The recent Chinese breakthrough was to figure out how to make it work in a simple and efficient manner for a solar cell.
It could be a while before the technology makes its way into a commercial product for widespread use, though. We are still 3 to 5 years from a prototype according to Sun. He told the Guardian, “the output power efficiency needs to be further improved before practical application.”
But if the technology takes off, we may actually have solar panels that work rain or shine.
SAN DIEGO (KGTV) -- San Diego Gas & Electric, the energy provider for San Diego and Southern Orange County, is requesting its biggest rate increase in several years.
The California Public Utility Commission, known as CPUC, is hosting several public forums to help inform residents and give customers a chance to voice their concerns.
The biggest increase would come in 2019, about 11%. SDG&E estimates that would cost the average San Diego customer an additional $13.99 per month. That would be followed by a 6.9% increase in 2020, 5.1% in 2021, and 4.9% in 2022. The total would be a 28% increase over four years.
“We’re committed to delivering clean, safe, and reliable energy that every family and business in the region deserve and sometimes that requires modernizing and upgrading our infrastructure to do so," SDG&E spokesperson Wes Jones told 10News.
CPUC will hold several hearings before making its ultimate decision. It could vote to approve the rate increase, reject it, or set its own smaller increase.
Several San Diegans speaking at the first public forum in El Cajon cast suspicions on the company's request for more money.
"What would they need the money for?" asked La Mesa resident Henry Holt, a senior on a fixed income. "They have one of the largest incomes of all the utilities, gas and electric. No, they don’t need the money. I need the money.”
Several people who suggested the rate increase was a ploy by SDG&E after CPUC rejected the company's request to pass its expenses from the 2007 Witch Fire, sparked by SDG&E power lines, on to customers.
“For a while now, SDG&E has been wanting to foot the ratepayers with the bill for the 2007 wildfires,” said customer James Anderson during the public forum. "I just question the sincerity and honesty of them."
When 10News asked Jones about those concerns from customers, Jones said the requested increase has nothing to do with the decision over the wildfire, calling it a "separate issue".
Additional public forums will be held in the coming weeks, including one in Escondido and one in Chula Vista.
The world is going green. Global spending on renewable energy is outpacing investment in electricity from traditional energy sources like coal, natural gas and nuclear power plants, according to a report by the International Energy Agency.
THE STREET -- Investments in renewable energy totaled $297 billion in 2016, the last time full-year data was available. That's more than twice the $143 billion that was spent on fossil fuels and nuclear power. The IEA estimates that renewable energy will account for 56% of net generating capacity added through 2025.
Demand for renewable energy is expected to increase 7% to 30% by 2022, according to the IEA.
The increase in investment comes as wind and solar energy represent the cheapest options for generating electricity after years of research and development.
China, which has a notorious air pollution problem, has helped lower the cost of renewables by investing heavily in domestic solar manufacturing, creating a glut of inexpensive solar panels.
Hydroelectric power consumption has also seen growth in non-OPEC countries, according to the IEA, growing at an annual rate of nearly 4% between 1990 and 2015.
Pope Francis has called for swift action to care for the environment and the planet.
NY TIMES, ROME — Three years ago, Pope Francis issued a sweeping letter that highlighted the global crisis posed by climate change and called for swift action to save the environment and the planet.
On Saturday, the pope gathered money managers and titans of the world’s biggest oil companies during a closed-door conference at the Vatican and asked them if they had gotten the message.
“There is no time to lose,” Francis told them on Saturday.
Pressure has been building on oil and gas companies to transition to less polluting forms of energy, with the threat of fossil-fuel divestment sometimes used as a stick.
The pope said oil and gas companies had made commendable progress and were “developing more careful approaches to the assessment of climate risk and adjusting their business practices accordingly.” But those actions were not enough.
“Will we turn the corner in time? No one can answer that with certainty,” the pope said. “But with each month that passes, the challenge of energy transition becomes more pressing.”
He called on the participants “to be the core of a group of leaders who envision the global energy transition in a way that will take into account all the peoples of the earth, as well as future generations and all species and ecosystems.”
In an era when the White House is viewed by many scientists as hostile to the very idea of climate change, with President Trump announcing the United States’ withdrawal from the Paris climate accord, Francis is seen as an influential voice to nudge oil executives to take action on the issue.
Robert Dudley, chief executive of BP, was among the oil executives summoned to a two-day conference in the Vatican, “Energy Transition and Care of Our Common Home.”
Among those summoned to a 16th-century villa in the Vatican gardens were the chairman of Exxon Mobil, the chief executive of the Italian energy giant Eni and the chief executive of BP.
Paul J. Browne, a Notre Dame spokesman, said the university’s president, the Rev. John I. Jenkins, had been inspired by the pope’s 2015 encyclical instructing “all schools and departments of the university to respond to Francis’ evocative appeal on behalf of ‘our sister,’ the Earth.”
Many had complied, he said, including by expediting plans to stop coal burning at the university power plant. Notre Dame’s Mendoza College of Business sponsored the conference.
In his 2015 encyclical, Francis, a vocal supporter of the Paris accord, warned that climate change represented “one of the principal challenges facing humanity in our day.” He called for a model of energy transition.
On Saturday, the pope reiterated his call for a transition from fossil fuels “to a greater use of energy sources that are highly efficient while producing low levels of pollution.” It was a challenge “of epochal proportions,” he acknowledged, but also one that presented an immense opportunity to “promote the sustainable development of renewable forms of energy.”
He said that though the world is affected by climate change, it was the poor who would “suffer most from the ravages of global warming.” Francis added that the transition “is a duty that we owe towards millions of our brothers and sisters around the world, poorer countries and generations yet to come.”
Last month, a group of investors representing more than $10.4 trillion in assets published a letter in The Financial Times urging the oil and gas industry to “be more transparent and take responsibility for its emissions,” which account for 50 percent of global carbon emissions, according to the Carbon Disclosure Project, an organization based in London.
To date, according to the Global Catholic Climate Movement, dozens of Catholic institutions have divested from fossil fuels, including Caritas Internationalis, a confederation of relief organizations; Catholic banks with more than 7 billion euros, or $8.3 billion, on their balance sheets; archdioceses; religious orders; and lay movements.
In “Laudato Si’,” Francis warned that climate change represented “one of the principal challenges facing humanity in our day.”
On Thursday, Equinor, the Norwegian oil giant formerly called Statoil, released a report saying that the world needed to move faster in adopting renewable energy to achieve the goals of the Paris agreement.
“The climate debate is long on targets, but short on action,” the company said. “We believe it’s possible to achieve climate targets set out in the Paris agreement, but that requires swift, global and coordinated political action to drive changes in consumer behavior and shift investments towards low carbon technologies.”
Other oil companies, including Exxon Mobil, have endorsed the Paris accord and have called for carbon taxes, but the Equinor report appeared to be more explicit in its endorsement of more vigorous climate action. Still, Equinor remains a major producer of oil and gas, and it continues to search for hydrocarbons.
The Rev. Seamus P. Finn, a participant at a conference in 2013 that brought mining companies to the Vatican, said that exercise had been useful for the industry and the Vatican “to better understand each other,” and that follow-up meetings had “deepened the quality of the conversation.”
The Vatican is a “safe place for discussion,” said Father Finn, a Catholic priest and the chairman of the Interfaith Center on Corporate Responsibility.
“I think that all can agree that there needs to be a shift from fossil fuels to alternative forms of energy, but the debate is how long is that transition period going to be,” Father Finn said.
“For some, it’s tomorrow. For others who believe that climate change is not so serious, there is plenty of time,” he added.
The pope on Saturday said that the situation was dire. Despite the Paris agreement, carbon dioxide emissions and atmospheric concentrations of greenhouse gases remained high. He said the search for new fossil fuel reserves was “even more worrying.”
“We received the earth as a garden-home from the Creator,” Francis said. “Let us not pass it on to future generations as a wilderness.”
Jasmin Day is pregnant and when her girl or boy is born later this year—she’s keeping the gender a surprise—her baby will become the first child ever born in Babcock Ranch, Fla.
FOX NEWS -- “Almost all the boxes are undone,” she says while stepping over the just delivered new bed. She, husband Josh, and little kids, Judson and Elliot, just moved into their new house and this brand new community – dubbed the city of the future.
The young couple from Memphis, Tenn. could not be happier.
“To be able to be a part of a community of everyone that cares,” Josh Day said, “and wants that for them, not only for themselves but also for their children and their grandchildren, to have it be a more clean Earth whenever our children are older.”
His wife added: "I think we’re pretty all in! We live here. We work here."
Babcock Ranch, near Fort Myers on state’s west coast, was developed from the beginning with a massive solar power farm generating 100 percent of the electric needs. About 350,000 photovoltaic solar panels stretch across a swath of land the size of 200 football fields.
When developer Syd Kitson, a former NFL lineman with the Dallas Cowboys and Green Bay Packers, bought the 17,000-acre property, it was all old mining and farmland.
Babcock Ranch, near Fort Myers on state’s west coast, was developed from the beginning with a massive solar power farm generating 100 percent of the electric needs. About 350,000 photovoltaic solar panels stretch across a swath of land the size of 200 football fields.
It’s now the country’s first, fully solar city, with a very low carbon footprint, a soon-to-open school, electric shuttles that will eventually be driverless, a cute town square with shops and an emphasis on the environment and preservation.
Where most developers would build and sell as many homes as possible, for greater profit, Kitson’s vision from the beginning was preserving most of the open space, now encompassing several lakes and 50 miles of bike trails.
The homes run from $190,000 to about $499,000. Residents can work in the town, but are not required to do so. The fully completed footprint will eventually be 19,500 homes.
"We think about the way we develop differently…. It’s the most environmentally responsible, the most sustainable new town that’s ever been developed,” Kitson said. “And, it’s the first solar-powered town in America. And we’re very proud of that."
In January, the first two people moved in. Now, there are 150 homes under contract with an expectation that will there will be 250 families moved in by December. Eight developers are now building homes. The vision is a unique creation of a 45,000-person small city.
But first came the enormous solar farm. Kitson gave the land to Florida Power & Light for free, which then spent more than $100,000,000 installing all the panels, wires and storage batteries. That solar-generated power now is shared throughout FPL’s grid, as Babcock Ranch’s demand, at this point, remains very small.
John Woolschlager, an urban planning professor at nearby Florida Gulf Coast University, said all cities can ultimately follow Babcock Ranch’s model, but it will take years. Babcock Ranch’s huge advantage was that it’s being built from scratch with the self-sustainability and pro-environment philosophy on the ground first.
“I think, also, if you look to the distant future, it’s going to be a necessity,” Woolschlager said. “If we want to have a good life in the future, we have to think more sustainability, because if we don’t, we’re going to run out of energy, run out of water and run out of resources."
For Josh Day, he’s landed a physical therapy job in the town square’s Life Wellness Center. So, if he doesn’t bike to work and home, he can just ride a solar powered, electric shuttle, in a town which – for now – has no traffic nor rush hours.
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