The 10 most extraordinary eco buildings around the world

It’s a brilliant time to be in the business of sustainable design.

Cultural sites, landmarks, office buildings and residential areas across the world have made it their mission to push technological boundaries that meet the needs of our natural environment.

A lot of popular new features allow the visual language of these structures to become even more aesthetically pleasing, from the gloss of large moveable solar panels to the lush greenery of roof gardens.

One London-based energy company, Insulation4Less, commissioned a poll of eco-friendly Instagram locations that fit the parameters of contemporary sustainable design to find the buildings most shared by users on the platform.

Their findings evoke a wealth of exciting ideas worth admiring from across the globe.

Most of them are less than a decade old, symbolising an incredible shift in the way new buildings are constructed with sustainability in mind. Spaces spanning Europe to South America are making real statements about what the future holds for keeping green architecture fun but functional.

Take a look for yourself – here’s the top ten.

10) One Angel Square, Manchester

The North of England’s One Angel Square cost over €100 million to build and is now the head office of the Co-operative group and is self-professed to be one of Europe’s most environmentally friendly buildings.

It was the first in the UK to receive a Building Research Establishment Environmental Assessment Method (BREEAM) outstanding rating, most notably because of the architecture’s double-facade which heats in the winter and cools in the summer and the fact it is powered by biodiesel and rapeseed oil.

9) Marco Polo Tower, Hamburg

One of the only spaces on this list used for residential rather than business purposes, Marco Polo Tower’s quirky ridged design is a love it or hate it kind of specimen for residents of the city.

Residents can be assured they are living in one of Germany’s finest sustainability successes through the engineered vacuum collectors on the roof that turn heat into a cooling system for the apartments.

8) Cube Building, Berlin

The Cube has been labelled a true “cultural centerpiece” of BerlinGetty

The Cube “smart office” structure is a new addition to Berlin’s skyline unveiled last year by 3xn architects.

It has made headlines for its striking sculptural inward glass design glazed coated with solar panels, along with its claim to be Europe’s first office fit for the 21st century.

7) CopenHill, Copenhagen

The cleanest waste-to-energy power plant in the world, CopenHill works to convert over 440,000 tons of waste into clean energy annually.

It might also be the only power plant in the world with a year round, open-air ski slope on the roof.

6) Pricewaterhousecoopers Building, London

London’s base for accountancy firm PwC is a little different to what you’d find in its financial district – it was designed to provide insulation and cool air in all of the right places, and features a fully automated building management system that regulates its solar panelling and garden roof.

5) Museum of Tomorrow, Rio de Janeiro

The Museum of Tomorrow neofuturism was part of the cities port renewal before Rio 2016Getty

Over 25,000 people visited Rio’s Museum of Tomorrow on its first day of opening in 2015, where it was later awarded for its innovation by MIPIM, one of the world’s most reputable architectural bodies.

Described by The Guardian as “a captivating invitation to imagine a sustainable world”, the museum features moving solar panels designed to maximise the sun’s rays and a natural air conditioning system that requires

4) Vancouver Convention Center, Vancouver

The center’s eco-focused West Building extension was completed decades after the original workCanva

The Vancouver Convention Centre is home to the largest garden roof in all of Canada where more than 4,000 different types of plant life thrive among its visitors.

Its waterfront backdrop is an apt reminder that the centre saves the equivalent of 300,000 toilet flushes of water each year due to its dedicated efficiency system. The roof is also home to approximately 240,000 bees that are kept in check by a wholesome team of beekeepers.

3) Torre Reforma, Mexico City

Torre Reforma is potentially the greenest building in Latin America – the project, making use of old-school concrete embellishments, saves 30 per cent of its annual water consumption through reusable technologies and over 80 per cent of its materials were sourced from the local region.

What’s more, it’s earthquake resistant.

2) Shanghai Tower, Shanghai

The world’s second-tallest skyscraper boasts 43 different sustainable technologies, including renewable energy sources, landscaping for cooling the building, and a spiralling parapet which collects rainwater that is recycled into an air conditioning system.

It is by far the most expensive skyscraper on this list given that it cost a reported €2 billion euros to build over a course of eight years.

1) Bosco Verticale, Milan

Milan’s paired towers set the standard for European vertical gardensGetty

More a forest than a building, this residential set of towers is home to over twenty thousand square feet of exterior trees and shrubs. The vegetation brings a number of benefits, offsetting pollution through oxygen production, insulating the buildings to save energy and creating a biodiverse paradise in the middle of a major city.

Clean Energy Technologies to develop $15M biomass renewable energy project

Covanta Holding Corp., Morristown, New Jersey, reported its first quarter earnings on April 29.

Year over year, revenue increased from $468 million to $498 million, adjusted EBITDA increased from $97 million to $106 million, net cash provided by operating activities fell from $61 million to $52 million, and free cash flow increased from $18 million to $19 million.

Other highlights include:

  • Strong first quarter operating results, including 4 percent year-over-year waste-to-energy tip fee price growth
  • Metals prices significantly higher year-over-year on improving demand and tight market supply
  • Increasing 2021 guidance for adjusted EBITDA and free cash flow
  • Initiating overhead cost rationalization program for $30 million in annual savings by 2023
  • Establishing a long-term financial outlook with an expected adjusted EBITDA of $600 million and free cash flow of $250 million by 2024, as well as a leverage ratio below 5x by the end of 2022.

“Covanta is off to a great start operationally, and with strong waste and metals markets, improved visibility on waste-to-energy plant production for the balance of the year, and continued focus on cost control, we are confidently raising our guidance for 2021,” Covanta President and CEO Michael Ranger says. “I am also pleased to announce the first definitive steps in our strategic review process. We are instituting a comprehensive overhead cost rationalization program to right-size the level of support required for the business. In addition, we continue to explore third-party interest in discrete assets and develop plans to address underperforming operations. With our new UK projects coming online over the next three years, including Rookery in Q1 next year, and planned cost improvements, we have a high degree of visibility to meaningful growth from drivers under our control, which translates to a compelling outlook for cash generation.”

The company changed its adjusted EBITDA guidance for 2021 from its previous projection range of $435 million to $465 million to a range of $460 million to $480 million. Free cash flow guidance has been upgraded from its previous projection of $100 million to $140 million up to a range of $125 million to $155 million.

On the company’s earnings call, Ranger noted that Covanta has identified four principal components of its business during its previously reported internal strategic review process.

“Our review has identified opportunities in cost control, capital allocation, asset rationalization and medium- to long-term cash flow generation. The steps we will take will be different for each component,” he said.

Ranger explained these four principal components on the company’s earnings call:

“Our 21 North American waste-to-energy plants, we own 100 percent of these plants and benefit from long-term contracted waste supply and strong local waste markets. As a group, they represent the vast majority of the value of our business as configured today.

“Second, our Irish and UK waste-to-energy business, … we own these plants in partnership with financial and waste industry participants. Both the Irish and UK markets are much more favorable than North America in terms of waste and energy pricing and policy support. When the UK plants go into operation, we will have a new fleet of waste-to-energy plants in these markets, and as a group, they will make a meaningful contribution to both our near-term results and growing future equity value.

“Third, our environmental solutions business, which is an adjacency to our waste-to-energy business, sources high-value non-hazardous waste from commercial and industrial customers. It has more of a sales and logistics focus and is less capital intensive than our core waste-to-energy business.

“Fourth, [we operate] 18 [waste-to-energy plants owned by the public sector] in North America. While some of these operations are profitable as a group, they are contractually and financially challenged and we are developing plans to improve the value they represent through renegotiations and explorations. As we think about each of these components of our business in the context of our strategic review, we have engaged with third parties to obtain focused value discovery for each of these business lines. These are presently ongoing.”

Ranger said the company is focused on improving cash flow contribution of each financially challenged operation. If no path exists, the company will close sites and shutter operations. Ranger said the company is also working with some public sector clients to negotiate contract extensions in an effort to establish more profitable operations.

City to relaunch sustainable business recognition program and begin new solar initiative

The city relaunched its Sustain Evanston business recognition program and announced residents will be able to sign up for Community Solar to use solar energy without having to pay an installation fee, according to a Monday newsletter.

Both initiatives will help Evanston advance on its Climate Action and Resilience Plan, which strives to make Evanston carbon neutral by 2050 

CARP also has smaller benchmark goals to keep the city on track. It aims for 100 percent renewable electricity by 2030, and for the city to divert 50 percent of waste out of landfills from 2017 levels. 

Sustain Evanston encourages businesses to reduce their environmental impact, recognizing sustainable businesses with a storefront decal. Each recognized business also receives $350 to help offset costs associated with meeting the program requirements. The program previously recognized 17 businesses in 2019, including Kombucha Brava, Backlot Coffee and Evanston Rebuilding Warehouse. 

Businesses need to submit documentation and complete 10 required actions to be recognized. Some actions restaurants can take include providing clear signage for a recycling program and implementing composting. Sustain Evanston currently recognizes office/retail, restaurant, healthcare, landscaping and beauty/wellness/spa businesses, with actions varying for each type of business. 

In addition to incentivizing businesses to become more sustainable, the city has partnered with MC-Squared Energy Services, Metropolitan Mayors Caucus and energy provider Soltage to offer Community Solar as a renewable energy option to residents. 

Residents that join Community Solar will have lower electricity costs and will receive 20 percent savings on the energy supply portion of their bills according to the City of Evanston’s website. Community Solar will begin sign-ups on May 17. 

For every twenty participants in Community Solar, one low-income resident gets a “no-fee subscription.” Low-income residents on the Supplemental Nutrition Access Program or Medicaid are also eligible for 100 percent savings on the supply portion of their bills. 

Chicago firm MC-Squared has worked with the city to fund Community Solar. The city established a partnership with MC-Squared in early April with a two-and-a-half-year funding agreement. The firm will provide $1.25 million in revenue to the city over the 30 months to further consolidate electricity supply, according to the agreement.

“The remaining funding (will be) put toward things like low-income solar energy efficiency and other things that help reduce people’s greenhouse gas emissions,” Kumar Jensen, chief sustainability and resilience officer, told The Daily when City Council approved the funding agreement in April. “We may also use some of it to provide utility payment assistance.”

Email: [email protected]

Twitter: @yimingfuu

Related Stories: 

Sustain Evanston recognizes 17 businesses

Evanston enters 30-month partnership with Chicago firm for electricity aggregation program

As CARP deadlines approach, some advocates say city sustainability initiatives require increased funding and staffing


Joint Venture With Love’s Truck Stops Will Produce 80M Gallons of Renewable Biodiesel Made From 100% Waste

A giant agricultural company’s years of work on a renewable, sustainable diesel fuel is finally coming to fruition—and it’s made from 100% waste products.

A 50-50 joint venture between Cargill and Love’s Travel Stops, will produce and market a green fuel under the name Heartwell Renewables.

Its new production plant now under construction in Hastings, Nebraska, will have the ability to produce approximately 80 million gallons of renewable diesel fuel annually—while creating 50 new jobs there.

Cargill will provide feedstock in the form of tallow, the animal fat discarded during its beef processing, and also used cooking oil. Once the diesel is produced, the Love’s Family of Companies, which owns and operates truck stops in 41 states, will transport and market the product in the U.S.

RELATED: More Renewable Energy Used in 2020 Than Fossil Fuels For the First Time in World’s 4th Largest Economy

Heartwell Renewables will be the only entity of its kind to both produce and market renewable diesel all the way to the retail pump.

“When considering the environmental benefits and performance enhancements of renewable diesel, the creation of Heartwell Renewables is a long-term win for not only the companies involved, but also for consumers and the environment,” said JP Fjeld-Hansen, a vice president at Love’s Family of Companies.

The production process makes renewable diesel chemically identical to petroleum diesel with significant improvements in environmental performance due to its drop in carbon intensity and emissions. Renewable diesel also has a faster combustion speed, which brings more power to an engine and has been shown to lead to lower vehicle maintenance, according to a company statement.

RELATED: Daimler Trucks is Now Accepting Orders for All-Electric Freight Trucks, Having Tested Them on America’s Highways

“Through the partnership with Love’s, both companies can leverage their unique expertise and resources to address the growing demand for biofuels, while making an impact in the communities where we operate,” said Cargill’s John Niemann.

Operations should start in the spring of 2023. Once the plant opens, it will be one of only a handful of renewable diesel plants in the United States, according to the U.S. Energy Department.

(Featured photo by Khamkéo Vilaysing)

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Organic Valley loans dairy farmers funds for renewable energy | Greenbiz

Agriculture sustainability improvements have long-term positive outcomes both for the planet and the farmer’s wallet, but the upstart costs can be a preventative obstacle. Some big food companies trying to address their Scope 3 emissions have started working to knock down those barriers for farmers. 

In 2018, the Land O’Lakes Sustain program, now part of Truterra, provided loans for the cooperative’s farmers to adopt sustainable methods such as water-reuse systems and manure separation technology. Last year, Danone announced a partnership with rePlant Capital that would donate up to 40 percent of its $50 million impact fund to Danone’s farming partners, with the goal of supporting the conversion to regenerative or organic farming methods. RePlant’s first loan in January 2020 went to a Kansas family farm to install moisture probes to reduce water usage.

Organic Valley, the primarily dairy organic farmer-owned co-op, is the latest to join this burgeoning trend. Organic Valley’s farmers already practice many regenerative practices such as rotational grazing. The new loan fund made in collaboration with Clean Energy Credit Union, Powering the Good, is specifically designed to help farms reduce their reliance on fossil fuels. 

“The vast majority of [our farmers] do need to secure lending to make [renewable energy] projects happen, and sometimes they’re not able to secure that lending,” said Nicole Rakobitsch, director of sustainability at Organic Valley. “Our loan fund provides equal access across the country to clean energy funding. Not every member has access to a loan for this type of technology. And not all lenders are comfortable lending for solar.”

According to Organic Valley, the fund is the first of its kind in the industry to focus solely on renewable energy and energy efficiency. The money will go to helping farmers install solar panels, LED lighting, efficient ventilation, plate coolers that cut refrigeration costs, insulation and geothermal systems such as ground-source heat pumps. 

“When farmers are looking at their monthly expenses, oftentimes there’s competing needs on a farm right for capital projects,” Rakobitsch said. “And so when a farmer has to choose between what projects to do, sometimes solar doesn’t make the list.”

Organic Valley’s loans will have longer terms and lower interest rates that will allow the monthly loan payments to match the decrease in electricity costs — so farmers won’t be adding more expenses to their monthly bills. 

The loans for energy efficiency projects will have an interest rate between 2.275 and 4.25 percent interest to be paid over 10 years. The renewable energy loans will have slightly longer terms and higher interest rates — between 12 and 20 years, and 4.5 to 5 percent. Rakobitsch thinks that a traditional loan from a bank would be shorter and have a higher interest rate. That would make monthly loan payments higher than the decrease farmers would see in the electricity bill, she said A bank also would require collateral from the farm. 

This isn’t the first sustainability innovation from Organic Valley. The co-op recently transitioned all of its own facilities to 100 percent renewable energy to flatten its Scope 2 emissions and is creating a fully biodiesel fleet of trucks. All Organic Valley trucks in southwest Wisconsin run on biodiesel. The company is starting to work on a Scope 3 emissions goal, and this new fund is part of that process.

Working with the University of Wisconsin-Madison to do a life-cycle assessment on its member dairy farms, Organic Valley found that by switching to solar and other energy efficiencies, the company could reduce the carbon footprint of an individual farm (from soil to farm gate) by between 5 and 15 percent.

The loan fund has enough money to fund 15 projects, and any Organic Valley farmers across the United States can apply. Organic Valley’s farmers are mostly in Wisconsin and other Great Lakes regions, California and the North East. With 1,800 farmers in the co-op, that is a small fraction of the projects that would need to be funded to create a real difference. But Organic Valley hopes this is just the start. If there is high farmer demand, it plans to expand the program. 

Target Takes Sustainability to the Next Level

Target is proving sustainability is scalable. 

In fact, the big-box retailer has included sustainability in its business strategy before sustainable was even a buzzword. 

“We absolutely believe there is no end date to the goal of being a sustainable company,” Amanda Nusz, Target Corp.’s senior vice president of corporate responsibility and president of the Target Foundation, told Fairchild Media Group’s editorial director James Fallon during the group’s Sustainability Summit earlier this month. “We have to work tirelessly to identify what the problem is and then think creatively on how we can make progress. We use a design mind-set to embed sustainability into our business, into our products, throughout our operations and experiences. And it’s all in an effort to drive profitable sales and have a positive impact.” 

Read more stories from the sustainability summit by clicking here.

The game plan includes everything from circular design to recycling programs (Target has recycled more than one million used car seats from guests), reusing plastic hangers in stores to selecting materials that help products last longer and incorporating eco-friendly initiatives, such as solar panels and renewable energy, into the company’s operations.  

The method seems to be working at least for Target. While some industry insiders cite increased expenses for their hesitancy to embrace sustainability, Target’s efforts seem to be having the opposite effect. Target logged $1.38 billion in profits during the most recent quarter, while its stock is up about 86 percent year-over-year.  

“Stakeholder expectations do continue to rise, especially in light of recent events,” Nusz said. “You have employees and communities and investors increasing their engagement in activism in social and environmental issues. The people that matter most to your brand are saying they care about sustainability and they want to understand where you stand as a brand.”  

There’s also the fact that consumers increasingly expect products to be sustainable. The pandemic, Nusz said, only accelerated this trend. 

“I can tell you from our tracking of sales, consumers are fueling strong sales and share growth in sustainably-marketed products,” Nusz said. “It’s less about getting them to buy in and more about making sure we’re meeting and exceeding their expectations.”

One way is through safety, something Nusz said is important both during a global health crisis, but also in an effort to adhere to sustainability practices in general. In addition to increased sanitation efforts in stores during the pandemic, Target was able to meet its renewable energy goals amid the era of coronavirus. It was also able to accelerate its sustainable material choice decisions and circular design approach, the executive added. 

“People in the space, they understand how interconnected these systems are, in terms of a health pandemic, racial equity and climate change,” Nusz said. “There was a heightened expectation on safety. And when you think about safety, it absolutely is correlated with sustainability and the assortment offering and how you make products, who makes the products and the efficacy and aesthetics of the products.”

Moving forward, Nusz said one of the best practices a company can employ is the notion of sharing information with competitors and brand partners in an effort to enhance sustainable practices. Target, for its part, is working with Walmart Inc. and CVS Pharmacy on the Consortium to Reinvent the Retail Bag. The retailer also works with third-party brands — such as Levi’s, Ulta Beauty, Journelle and Disney, among others — and treats every collaboration as a learning experience.

“Our partners, we see them as part of our team to deliver quality products to our guests that are sustainable,” Nusz said. “We want collaborations to have a bigger impact because we come together. We want to learn from [our partners] and we hope they can learn from us. 

“In the apparel industry, we are working in more collective ways,” she continued. “We are working in forums where you have brands coming together saying, ‘we are not going to compete on worker safety, or on worker empowerment, or on climate change. We’re going to come together and differentiate on other aspects of our brand.’ You are seeing more and more brands saying, ‘we cannot do this alone. We will go faster and further together.’ 

“Sustainability is not about having one more thing to do,” Nusz added. “It’s about further building in sustainability as an imperative, in how we operate, how everybody has a role at Target to deliver value that’s beyond profit, that differentiates us in terms of our business in the impact we can have on people and the planet.”

StormFisher Awarded Project of the Year by The Canadian Biogas Association


StormFisher, a leader in the circular economy and decarbonization solutions and Generate Capital, a leading diversified sustainable infrastructure company, announced today that their facility in London, Ontario has been awarded the 2021 Project of the Year by the Canadian Biogas Association. This award recognizes StormFisher for its renewable natural gas production system created to reduce greenhouse gases in the environment through the transformation of food waste into carbon negative fuels.

This press release features multimedia. View the full release here:

StormFisher Environmental Food Waste Digester in London, Ontario named Project of the Year by the Canadian Biogas Association. (Photo: Business Wire)

“The entire StormFisher team is extremely proud to receive this award. The addition of our renewable natural gas production system is one of the first to produce renewable natural gas from food waste to help solve both the food waste and carbon emission challenges,” says Brandon Moffatt, Co-Founder and Vice President of Development.

Decarbonization of the natural gas supply system is the next big challenge to meet the world’s collective greenhouse gas reduction goals. With over 15 years of plant operating experience across many facilities, StormFisher is a key driver in transitioning Canada’s dependence on fossil fuels into sustainable renewable energy through waste while growing the economy.

“These awards recognize and honour the accomplishments of industry leaders in the biogas sector. We are proud to showcase successful Canadian biogas projects and provide well-deserved recognition to organizations like StormFisher who are creating sustainable solutions to create a safe and clean planet,” says Jennifer Green, Executive Director, Canadian Biogas Association.

StormFisher’s London facility is one of the largest in North America processing over 120,000 tons of organics from restaurants, grocery stores, municipalities and other organizations including Enbridge, Maple Leaf Foods, Bartels International, Ontario Centre of Innovation, Labatt, and Waste Management.

The facility is owned by Generate Capital Inc., which has partnered with StormFisher to scale the biogas industry in Canada. “We’ve developed several sustainable waste management assets with StormFisher over the last several years and plan to do many more,” said Scott Jacobs, CEO of Generate. “We’re thrilled the hard work, dedication and innovation of the StormFisher and Generate teams were recognized with this award.”

“On behalf of the Ontario government, I would like to congratulate StormFisher for their leadership and innovation in the production of renewable natural gas from food and organic waste,” said Jeff Yurek, Ontario’s Minister of the Environment, Conservation and Parks and MPP for Elgin-Middlesex-London. “Private sector investments like these in clean, renewable energy programs is a great example of how industry can do their part by bringing forward innovative solutions that help Ontario meet its greenhouse gas emissions targets, while creating local jobs and powering Ontario’s economic renewal.”

To learn more about the project and the award please see the following video:—pWXEpJtk

About StormFisher

At StormFisher, our mission is to help mitigate climate change and create a safe and clean planet for people around the world through decarbonization strategies and solutions. We do this by converting food waste, water, and energy into renewable natural gas that can be used to power businesses, manufacturing plants, schools and other organizations. Visit for more information or follow up on social media:

TW: @StormFisher05

Insta: @StormFisher8

FB: @StormFisher

LinkedIn: @stormfisher-environmental-ltd

About Generate

Generate Capital, Inc. is a leading sustainable infrastructure company driving the infrastructure revolution. Generate builds, owns, operates and finances solutions for clean energy, water, waste and transportation. Founded in 2014, Generate partners with over 35 technology and project developers and owns and operates more than 2,000 assets globally. Generate is the one-stop shop offering pioneers of the infrastructure revolution tailored funding and support needed to get projects built. Our Infrastructure-as-a-Service model delivers affordable, reliable and sustainable resources to over 1,000 customers, companies, communities, school districts and universities. Together, we are rebuilding the world. For more information, please visit

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CONTACT: Chris Guillon

647-295-8440Emily Chasan




SOURCE: Generate Capital, Inc.

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Company launches Duke Energy Sustainable Solutions – offering renewable energy, resiliency solutions for commercial customers nationwide

  • New brand connects customers with sustainable energy solutions that inspire breakthroughs and meaningful environmental and social benefits.

CHARLOTTE, N.C. – Duke Energy (NYSE: DUK) today announced the launch of Duke Energy Sustainable Solutions, a new commercial brand that unifies products and services offered by several Duke Energy subsidiaries, including Duke Energy Renewables, REC Solar and Duke Energy One, under one comprehensive brand.

Duke Energy Sustainable Solutions offers customized clean energy and resilient infrastructure solutions at scale for private and public companies, government-led organizations and educational institutions nationwide. The new brand marks a significant step forward in connecting customers with innovative, future-focused sustainable energy solutions that will create real change for businesses and communities today and for years to come.

The organization leverages Duke Energy’s deep industry experience to deliver the sustainable energy solutions customers need and want, while empowering them to run stronger, more resilient operations that will help them meet their resiliency, sustainability and clean energy goals.

“We know customers are looking for energy solutions that can create real change in our communities while helping their bottom line,” said Chris Fallon, president, Duke Energy Sustainable Solutions. “We’re combining decades of experience in project development, operations and financing to design innovative solutions that fit within customers’ existing infrastructure or create new renewable energy or resiliency solutions that will address their needs and help them achieve their sustainability goals.”

From financing to planning, and construction and installation to management, Duke Energy Sustainable Solutions offers advanced technology and the latest breakthroughs to create smart and sustainable solutions, empowering companies to make a measurable impact, help reduce emissions and gain resiliency with future-focused solutions tailored to their business model, industry and specific location.

“Over the last several years, it’s become clear to us that customers would benefit from a strategic partner that can evaluate their sustainability, resiliency and ESG goals on a holistic level,” said Robert Vary, senior vice president, sales and relationship management at Duke Energy. “Duke Energy Sustainable Solutions lets us provide customers with a comprehensive approach to sustainability and resiliency, whether that be microgrid solutions, backup generation or power purchase agreements for on-premise or utility-scale solar or wind. We evaluate our customers’ needs and design unique solutions that will help meet their overall goals.”

To learn more about Duke Energy Sustainable Solutions, visit:

Duke Energy Sustainable Solutions

Duke Energy Sustainable Solutions is a nonregulated commercial brand of Duke Energy (NYSE: DUK) – a Fortune 150 company and one of the largest energy holding companies in the U.S. – headquartered in Charlotte, N.C.

Duke Energy Sustainable Solutions is a leader in sustainable energy, helping large enterprises reduce power costs, lower emissions and increase resiliency. The team provides wind, solar, resilient backup power and managed energy services to over 1,000 projects across the U.S., with a total electric capacity of more than 5,100 megawatts of nonregulated renewable energy. Visit Duke Energy Sustainable Solutions and follow on LinkedIn and YouTube for more information.

Duke Energy is executing an aggressive clean energy strategy to create a smarter energy future for its customers and communities – with goals of at least a 50 percent carbon reduction by 2030 and net-zero carbon emissions by 2050. The company is a top U.S. renewable energy provider, on track to operate or purchase 16,000 megawatts of renewable energy capacity by 2025. More information about the company is available at The Duke Energy News Center contains news releases, fact sheets, photos, videos and other materials. Duke Energy’s illumination features stories about people, innovations, community topics and environmental issues. Follow Duke Energy on Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram and Facebook.

Media contact: Jennifer Garber

A circular approach to electrification and renewable energy | Greenbiz

While electrification and renewable energy are key to decarbonizing the economy, the growing demand for solar PV may be creating a new problem. Today’s standard practices for solar manufacturing and disposal need close examination — especially as demands for the cheap, clean energy is set to increase. 

The market for recovered materials from modules alone could total $60 million by 2030 and $2 billion by 2050 in the United States. But if current, low recycling rates continue, decommissioned PV modules instead could add up to 1 million tons of waste in the U.S. by 2030. (That’s 1 percent of the world’s e-waste.)

To understand what it will take to tap into this opportunity, I spoke to Taylor Curtis, sustainability analyst at the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL), who focuses on analyzing the current regulatory structures in the U.S. that affect recycling, reuse and repair of solar modules, panels and balance of system equipment such as inverters. Curtis is the lead author on a new report that addresses drivers, barriers and enablers of a more circular approach to solar PV system materials. Our conversation has been edited for length and clarity. 

Lauren Phipps: What is NREL’s approach to the circular economy for the solar industry? 

Taylor Curtis: One of the pillars of NREL’s strategic objective is focused on creating a circular economy for energy materials. That is everything from design to more durable and longer lasting products, in addition to how to design those products for easier repair and end of life and sustainable resourcing from other countries. On the other side is addressing  [what’s] already out there: How can we get those materials back into our supply chains instead of just landfilling all of these materials?

In the U.S. in the last 10 years, we’ve lost 90 percent of our market share in solar and we’re importing most of the materials [for solar energy development.] We have a great opportunity here to try to recover those resources, to increase our supply chain stability, to create new and expanded job markets and to create manufacturing opportunities as well.

Phipps: The report quotes the current PV recycling rate at less than 10 percent in the U.S. What is currently happening to solar modules once a system is decommissioned? 

Curtis: For recycling solar modules, it costs anywhere from $15 to $45 per module, when you can dispose of them for as cheap as $1 a piece in some of the landfills in the U.S. That’s a huge discrepancy. 

That’s because recycling technology is not designed for modules. What we’re doing right now is only recovering the bulk materials like aluminum and steel from the backings, and glass, and we’re running them through existing glass lines in facilities. It’s not very efficient and we’re not recovering the high value materials that actually have money in the market. The cost to extract materials is way less than what they’re getting on the market. If it costs $45 to process them and you’re only getting $2 worth of materials out of it, then we have to figure something out there. 

Phipps: What is the biggest barrier preventing a more efficient and economically viable system?

Curtis: In the U.K. recycling only costs 70 cents per module and the rate is up to 95 percent. That is largely because they have a policy at the federal level that requires the implementation of recovery. In the U.S., we don’t have that. 

A lot of the U.S. laws — especially solid waste laws — treat recycling and disposal the same, making it more difficult to recycle and more difficult to reuse equipment. If there’s not a reduced regulatory burden, there’s not a whole lot of incentive to recycle when the cost is so much higher.

Phipps: What policies are you referring to? 

Curtis: The big barrier that I harp on in the report is RCRA, the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act of 1976, and how it treats disposal and recycling the same. This might be all well and good if everything else was the same in terms of cost and accessibility [of recovery infrastructure], but we’re not there yet. That is a really big challenge that we need to figure out. 

Some states are moving in the right direction on that, but there’s not a lot. 

Washington state is the only one that doesn’t treat disposal and recycling the same, but they’re also requiring manufacturers to reuse and recycle — and no other jurisdiction is doing that — so what I keep hearing is that solar developers are not going or sell into that state until there’s a need to because Washington’s not a huge solar market anyway. 

Phipps: What will it take to ensure a more circular system for solar? 

Curtis: There are a number of technical barriers and information gaps right now. We need more RD and analysis and more publicly available information that will make it easier for investments. But we also need policy, and I say that in a broad way. We’re going to need incentives and direct government funding for RD and research that’s needed. 

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Japan to tackle red tape to boost renewable energy

Japan plans to cut approval times for wind projects, open up abandoned farmland, boost grid capacity and other measures to slash red tape that has for decades impeded efforts to bring more renewable energy into the power mix.

Actions to reduce bureaucracy are set to accelerate after Japan on Thursday nearly doubled its 2030 target for cutting greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions as world leaders met for a climate summit hosted by U.S. President Joe Biden.

“The entire government will work together to make renewable energy a mainstream power source,” Japan’s Environment Minister Shinjiro Koizumi said on Friday.

Japan is the world’s fifth-biggest emitter of greenhouse gases. To meet its new target of cutting emissions by 46% by 2030 on fiscal 2013 levels, against the previous goal of 26%, the ministry will seek to expand use of rooftop solar power, faster development of geothermal power in national parks and quicker environmental assessment for wind power projects, Koizumi said.

“There are still many places where solar power panels can be installed, like on roofs of homes, companies and factories, and reservoirs, dams and abandoned farmland,” he said.

A series of deregulation has been decided already as the country has pledged to become carbon neutral by 2050.

The measures include easing rules for environmental assessment for wind power projects of up to 50 megawatts and for installing solar panels on uncultivated farmland.

The industry ministry is also considering doubling Japan’s inter-regional power grid capacity to help expand offshore wind farms as it plans to install as much as 45 gigawatts of offshore wind power by 2040.

Greenhouse gas emissions by Japan fell to a record low in the fiscal 2019 year to levels 14% lower than 2013 levels, with renewable energy accounting for 18% of electric power generation.

The big question is whether the new goal is viable.

“It’s not easy to achieve the ambitious target that is 70% higher than the previous goal,” industry minister Hiroshi Kajiyama said, adding the country needs “a maximum expansion of renewable energy.”

The Renewable Energy Institute, however, sees the new goal as achievable if Japan boosts renewable energy to account for 45% of the power mix, Mika Ohbayashi, a director at the think tank said.

“Japan can meet an even higher goal if the government takes all possible measures to promote investments for renewable energy and energy savings,” she said.

“It would be also important to introduce a carbon pricing mechanism to hasten the exit of coal-fired power plants and to bolster competition among power generators to make their portfolio greener,” she said.

If successful, it would lower the resource-poor country’s dependency on fossil fuels.

“Expanding use of renewable energy will reduce the cost of fossil fuels paid to other countries and thus contribute to energy security,” Koizumi said.

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