Last week, 78% of Germany’s electricity came form renewable sources.

Last week, Germany hit an extraordinary milestone: On July 25th, 78% of the country’s electricity was generated by renewable energy sources. How did they do it? The nation aggressively invested about 120 billion euros into low-pollution energy in the past decade — and then last week the perfect conditions helped them break their previous record.

British company Pavegen has developed a new paving tile that captures the energy of footsteps and turns it into electricity.

On a small scale, one day’s worth of foot traffic over a few tiles could power one street light overnight. In another recent field test at a music festival, dancers stomping on a dance floor with Pavegen tiles generated enough energy to recharge their mobile phones.

The company’s first big field test will come this summer at the London Olympics. Pavegen will be installing its system just outside the Westfield Stratford Shopping Center, one of Europe’s biggest and busiest urban shopping malls. The tiles will be placed on one of the main pedestrian thoroughfares leading into nearby London Olympic Park. Depending on the foot traffic, the company hopes its tiles might be able to power the mall’s entire lighting system. More.

(Image: Pavegen)


Chanel’s Eco-Couture: Wind Turbines and Solar Panels at the Grand Palais

The Chanel show at Paris Fashion Week, anticipated as much for its extravagant runway sets as its clothing, made an unusual nod to sustainability for its spring/summer 2013 collection. Rotating wind turbines lined a runway covered with a solar panel-like grid under the airy, glass-vaulted Grand Palais. Models, dressed in gossamer shifts, brightly-hued tweeds, and oversized fake pearls, weaved between the giant white columns. According to Chanel’s creative director and head designer Karl Lagerfeld, the show was meant to capture a certain optimism, freedom, and buoyancy. By associating renewables with luxury, fashion, and aspirational glamour—not to mention the famed Chanel label—Lagerfeld placed a powerful cultural stake in sustainability. Though the excess of high fashion has historically been at odds with this sentiment, the Chanel show still contributed a significant cultural message. Indeed, even the so-called tsar of the fashion world noted that “energy is the most important thing in life—the rest comes later.” If Lagerfeld takes his statement to heart, perhaps the next Chanel collection will be produced sustainably as well.
Costa Rica has only used renewable energy this year

Costa Rica has reached an environmental milestone by using only renewable energy to generate power for at least the first 75 days of the year, a record for any country.

The Central American country, which has long boasted of its green credentials on energy policy, was able to achieve the milestone thanks to heavy rain in the first three months of the year.


Make no mistake about it, though: the major fossil fuel producers – the world’s giant oil, gas, and coal corporations – are hardly going to acquiesce to this shift without a fight. Given their staggering profits and their determination to perpetuate the fossil-fuel era for as a long as possible, they will employ every means at their command to postpone the age of renewables. Eventually, however, the destructive effects of climate change will prove so severe and inescapable that the pressure to embrace changes in energy behavior will undoubtedly overpower the energy industry’s resistance.

Unfortunately, none of us can actually see into the future and so no one can know when such a shift will take place. But here’s a simple reality: it had better happen before 2040 or, as the saying goes, our goose is cooked.

—  Michael T. Klare, “2040 or Bust”

13 Renewable Energy Breakthroughs of 2013 

The rapidly improving technology, declining costs, and increasing accessibility of clean energy is the true bright spot in the march toward a zero-carbon future. Check out the top 13 clean energy stories from ThinkProgress.

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