Costa Rica has successfully ditched fossil fuels for over two months! 

The Latin American country of Costa Rica has achieved an impressive milestone in green energy production by generating 100 per cent of its energy from renewable resources, with a combination of hydropower and geothermal for 75 days in a row.

Thanks to the favorable rainy conditions in the first months of the year, four of Costa Rica’s hydropower plants — Arenal, Cachí, La Angostura and Pirrís — are generating nearly enough electricity to power the entire country. Using a mix of geothermal, solar, and wind energy sources, the nation of 5 million inhabitants hasn’t needed an ounce of coal or petroleum to keep the lights on since December of 2014.

What an extraordinary effort by a small nation! Way to go!

Carbon capture is an idea that’s been around for a while, but it’s always seemed like a bit of an afterthought, a way to slightly slow the pace at which we’re pumping carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. But what if we could do at a scale that would suck all the carbon we’ve emitted since the industrial revolution right out out of the atmosphere, and turn it into something incredibly useful?

This is the claim being made by Stuart Licht, a professor of chemistry at George Washington University, who earlier this month published a paper in Nano Letters demonstrating a method of turning atmospheric carbon dioxide into solid carbon using concentrated solar power, with only oxygen as the byproduct. The process, called Solar Thermal Electrochemical Photo (STEP) carbon capture, is highly efficient, as it uses both the visible light and heat of the concentrated solar radiation.

They also claim this will reverse climate change. Will it work?

6

Ecocapsule Self-Sustainable Home

The Ecocapsule is powered by a wind-turbine and roof solar panels, so there is no need to worry about the lack of power as this amazing house has two efficient ways of generating its own power. It even has built-in rainwater and dew collection systems so your toilet, shower and kitchen sink are fully functional at all times.

8

A Solar-Powered Glow-in-the-dark Bike Path by Studio Roosegaarde Inspired by Van Gogh

This stunning illuminated bike path in Nuenen, Netherlands was just unveiled tonight by Studio Roosegaarde, an innovative social design lab that has risen to prominence for their explorations at the intersection of people, art, public space, and technology; most notably their research with Smart Highways that could potentially charge moving cars or intelligently alert drivers to hazards. The swirling patterns used on the kilometer-long Van Gogh-Roosegaarde Bicycle Path were inspired by painter Vincent Van Gogh (who lived in Nuenen from 1883 to 1885), and is lit at night by both special paint that charges in daylight and embedded LEDs that are powered by a nearby solar array. 

3

NASA engineers use origami as inspiration when they fold up solar panels for their trip to space. Shown here: the Miura fold. Once a piece of paper (or solar array) is all folded up, it can be completely unfolded in one smooth motion. You can read more about origami in space here, and learn how to do the Miura fold in this video:

Image: Astronaut Scott Parazynski repairs a damaged ISS solar panel (NASA)

You know how the gender binary is so strong that people assign pets to masculine and feminine traits?  So dogs are seen as masculine, and cats are seen (and sexualized) as feminine.  Despite the fact that they’re, oh, for starters, two distinct species.

I just had a conversation that was even more surreal, and that I can only hope is not mainstream:

Apparently, according to this man, fossil fuels are masculine!  And renewables like solar and wind are, therefore, feminine! 

This was said in response to me talking about wanting to put solar panels on my (hypothetical) future home, and him interrupting, saying that he didn’t want a “girly house” and that I should just go get a gas-powered generator in the next aisle over (we were in Home Depot). 

A short conversation ensued, with me being rather, and increasingly, incredulous as it went on, as this fellow tried to impose his (literally toxic) view of masculinity on me, and eventually just started swearing at me (using gendered slurs) for failing to conform.  That part I wasn’t surprised by; it’s not the first time I’ve had such arguments with men whose masculinity is as fragile as spun glass and the only way they have of buttressing it is by imposing it on others. 

No, the part that has me going “buh?” is seeing the extension the gender binary view to infrastructure. 

2

Germany generated so much renewable energy, electricity prices went negative

Over the weekend, Germany did something amazing: It produced so much solar, wind and hydro energy that the cost of electricity actually went negative for a few hours. Yes, companies were actually paying some people to use electricity. This is an incredible achievement, but it revealed a problem going forward.

Follow @the-future-now