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Tesla’s Powerpack Battery System: Making the World More Sustainable

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Tesla’s dedication to sustainability is apparent. After all, it manufactures a car that doesn’t run on gasoline. And get this: its Nevada Gigafactory is powered 100% by renewable energy sources. But beyond being a pioneer in the EV market, Tesla’s Powerpack battery system is what shows its promise of truly making the world a more sustainable place.

So What Is The Powerpack? 

According to Tesla, the Powerpack is meant to be a system of “high-performance batteries for the grid”. In short, Tesla hopes to leverage its decade-long research and development into batteries to reach a market different from the direct consumer. Specifically, Tesla believes the Powerpack has four distinct descriptors:

  • Battery Pods: Every Powerpack has 16 individual battery pods and has an architecture that optimizes performance.
  • Design: Tesla has tested its architecture extensively through its work with the Model S. Turns out, Tesla isn’t really reinventing the wheel – it’s merely applying its existing tech to a different target market.
  • Temperature: Its thermal cooling system makes sure that it outperforms traditional air cooling in every climate. This is incredibly important especially considering we’re dealing with the power grid.
  • Weather: Customers can implement the Powerpack outdoors without any additional setup.

Key Benefits of The Powerpack

Smart energy consumption is incredibly important for businesses, both small and large. Tesla claims that its Powerpack allows businesses to operate on a localized grid, one that is independent of the main power grid. Naturally, this means that businesses can rest assured that large-scale outages wouldn’t impact their business.

Further, the Powerpack allows its clients what it calls “renewable integration”. In other words, it guarantees consistent output of energy generated from sustainable means, such as from wind and solar. To sum it up, Powerpacks would make it possible for Tesla’s enterprise clients to rest assured that outages wouldn’t wreck their businesses while generating energy through sustainable means.

Conclusions

Tesla’s Powerpack system seems like both a good way for Tesla to reach a different demographic of customers while providing a cost-effective and sustainable energy solution to enterprise clients. Unequivocally, Tesla’s focus on environmental sustainability encourages private-public collaboration towards “greener” policy decisions.

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Climate-Smart Farming Shows Promising Results

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Climate change has devastated the livelihoods of millions of farmers in the developing world. As frequent droughts threaten countries’ food security, the Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO) has recommended farmers undertake climate-smart farming initiatives. Climate-smart farming techniques include zero-till farming, surface seeding, laser land leveling, and organic crops usage. While the literature on the efficiency of climate-smart farming is sparse, several countries have shown promising results.

Success in Vietnam

Researchers from Ritsumeikan University found that climate-smart farming adaptations actually improved rice yields in Vietnam. The study looked at the technical efficiency of 352 farmers in the Mekong Delta, 71% of which practiced climate-smart farming. CSA pilot programs in the Mekong Delta provided local farmers with different rice varieties, sustainable fertilizers, and knowledge on new eco-friendly farming techniques.

While farmers often experience trade-offs in production when implementing sustainable farming techniques, climate-smart farmers in the Mekong Delta saw 13-14% increased efficiency. The authors defined technical efficiency to measure how competitive farmers were compared to peers.

Improving outcomes for women in Nepal

Over the past few decades, much of Nepal has experienced a cultural shift. As more men have moved to find migrant work, women have taken on huge labor burdens in agriculture. Therefore, improving agricultural efficiency is important for reducing poverty and labor inequality for women. Researchers from the Nepal Development Research Institute found that climate-smart farming reduced labor hours for Nepalese women.

Techniques like surface sowing and new technologies greatly reduced the number of labor hours women had to spend in the fields. Researchers hope that this reduced labor burden will allow women to have more time for education, other employment, and household decisions. Thus, climate-smart farming can be a surprisingly important tool for improving gender equality.

Growth potential in Africa

Many parts of Southern and Eastern Africa suffer from frequent droughts. Food production is also mostly supplied by small-scale farmers who are often not equipped to deal with extreme weather. Luckily, researchers, investors, and organizations have taken notice of the need for climate smart farming in Sub Saharan Africa. Over the next few years over $500 million will be invested in climate-smart farming programs in Sub Saharan Africa.

Kenya livestock insurance program

The Kenya Livestock Insurance Program (KLIP) was a unique climate-smart agriculture case since it dealt with livestock rather than crop yields. The Kenyan government partnered with the private sector to use satellites to monitor vegetation in pastures.

Based on vegetation levels, the government issued payouts to help farmers keep their livestock alive during droughts. As of 2019, the program covers over 18,000 farmers. Programs similar to the KLIP can be implemented across the world, but adoption is still low.

Further expansion

While climate-smart agriculture has shown promising results, there are still barriers to adoption. Researchers at the World Agroforestry Center reviewed about 150 papers on climate-smart agriculture. Based on said papers. They argue a lack of research on the economic results of climate-smart agriculture deters would-be investors.

Improving research on climate-smart agriculture’s effects on output and efficiency is key to accelerating the adoption of climate-smart agriculture.

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Adidas Launches The First Fully Recyclable Running Shoe

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Adidas is known for being an innovator in the shoe business. After all, it’s the company behind Kanye’s Yeezy’s and the NMDs. But yesterday, Adidas launched a new shoe, the Futurecraft Loop, and it’s not just any other running shoe.

It’s the first 100% recyclable running shoe.

The Convention

Most shoes are made of some 15-20 different components, many of which are plastic, according to Vox. This is generally a pretty critical problem because these shoes would need to be broken apart into components that are recyclable, which usually doesn’t happen.

Due to this strenuous recycling process, it’s no surprise that 91% of plastic is not recycled, according to National Geographic. To put it into perspective, some 8.3 billion tons of plastic have been produced since the 1950s.

That’s a lot of plastic, and conventional shoes are increasing this production substantially.

The Futurecraft Loop

The Futurecraft Loop is made from 100% Thermoplastic Polyurethane, which has many known recycling processes. Its design is also quite sleek, just as an added bonus.

adidas recyclable shoe
Adidas’s New Shoe (From https://www.adidas.com/us/futurecraft)

Adidas’s vision is to build a world where “plastic products are never thrown away but are given back”. It’s undoubtedly an ambitious goal, but it wouldn’t be surprising to see Adidas continue to make a shift towards sustainability in its products to come.

The Shoe Recycling Process

Adidas advertises a relatively straightforward shoe recycling process.

  1. Clean: Shoes get dirty. They need to be cleaned.
  2. Grind: Break the shoes down.
  3. Melt: Melt them.
  4. Form: Reform them into usable stuff again.

Conclusions

As various influential companies make strides towards environmental sustainability, others are starting to follow suit. And from Adidas’s efforts, it’s clear that sustainability is far from just being a trend among tech companies.

It would certainly be nice to see companies like Nike make a similar stride. The growing amount of plastic waste is a definite problem and it’s really up to the companies that use a lot of plastic in their products to fix the problem.

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Microsoft Announces New Initiatives Against Climate Change

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Microsoft has long been an environmentally-conscious company. In fact, it declared itself a carbon-neutral company as early as 2012.

Yesterday, Microsoft announced four new initiatives that would help it become a more sustainable company. These initiatives range from the more fundamental steps,

Building sustainable campuses and data centers.

To begin, Microsoft is looking to build 17 more buildings that won’t run on fossil fuels and will be instead run on 100% carbon-free electricity. Additionally, Microsoft hopes to decrease carbon levels associated with construction by some 15%.

Augmenting its efforts to build more sustainable campuses, Microsoft is looking to power its data centers with renewable energy as much as possible.

Taking More Data-Driven Approaches To Research

In 2017, Microsoft launched AI for Earth, an initiative that allows people working on sustainability issues to gain deeper, more numerically-backed insights into how the environment is changing.

Microsoft is also hosting large governmental datasets on its cloud-computing platform, Azure. These datasets contain satellite imagery, among other insights, and with Microsofts APIs, can be analyzed.

Besides the government, Microsoft also seems to be working with the people. Having given out some 230 grants to people tackling climate change, Microsoft is inspiring everyone to go out and tackle these problems.

Helping Its Customers Be More Sustainable

Aside from becoming a more sustainable company itself, Microsoft is also helping its clients become more environmentally-friendly. For instance, it’s helping Ecolab improve its water conservation efforts with Azure, IoT, and AI.

On a smaller scale, it’s also working with startup Silvia Terra. With AI for Earth, Microsoft has been able to keep a “national inventory of forests“.

The scope of Azure’s applications seems endless.

Advocating for Policy Change

Microsoft has also joined the Climate Leadership Council, a policy institute composed of business leaders, economists, and environmental leaders. As leaders in the public and private sector continue to find ways to collaborate towards solving problems in sustainability.

Conclusions

Microsoft is joining companies like Apple, Tesla, and Nespresso in becoming more environmentally sustainable. But like any other initiative, it’ll be imperative to see if the results are what Microsoft expect.

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